Disclaimer: I'm not Bellesario or CBS, so I don't claim to own them.
Challenge: NFA Cynthia Knows Challenge
Spoilers: General Story Lines for Season 4 & Early Season 5
Word Count: 2800
Crossposted: ncisfanfic; ncis_haven
Summary: The start of a new relationship for Cynthia Sumner could spell disaster for Director Shepard and the NCIS agent working under her command.
Cynthia Sumner sat at her usual table at the little outdoor café she had grown to love since she started at NCIS as the director’s assistant. It was a peaceful place to sit during her lunch break and read a book or write letters. She was startled from the pages of Deep Six when she heard an accented voice above her ask a question.
“Is this seat available?”
Looking up she met the eyes of a handsome man with rugged features. The gentle look he had on his face kept her from panicking as she glanced around at the rest of the tables. It appeared that they were all filled and hers was the only open spot left during the lunch rush.
Blushing at her delay in responding, she replied, “I don’t mind. Apparently everyone took the sunshine as a hint to eat outside today.”
“Sunshine can do that to a person,” he said smoothly as he slipped his light jacket off to drape it on the back of his chair.
The waitress noticed him taking the seat and stopped by to take his order. “I’ll have the burger platter and,” he glanced at Cynthia’s almost empty glass, “another drink for the lady.”
“You don’t have to,” Cynthia argued lightly as the waitress walked away.
“The least I could do for letting a complete stranger have a seat,” he smiled in return. “Travis Roark by the way.”
“Cynthia Sumner,” she responded as she reached across the table to shake his hand. She felt a flutter in her stomach as he gently took her hand and brought it to his lips for chaste kiss.
“I didn’t think there were any of you left in the world,” Cynthia said quietly as she tried to calm herself from his actions.
“Any what?” he asked as he released her hand.
“Gentlemen,” she said with a smile. “It’s rare to find them now-a-days.”
“So Cynthia,” Travis began as his food was set down along with Cynthia’s new drink. “What job do you have that lets you come outside for lunch on such a nice day.”
“I’m the assistant to the Director of NCIS,” Cynthia said with light pride. “That stands for N-“
Travis finished for her, “Naval Criminal Investigative Service.”
“You’ve heard of it?” Cynthia asked with shock in her voice. Most didn’t even know that it existed, let alone what the letters stood for.
“Yes,” Travis responded. “I actually work for the government too. I’m an international courier for the CIA.”
“Really,” Cynthia asked with interest. “What places do you travel to?”
“Mainly the European nations and, on occasion, Russia. Have you done any traveling?”
With that, Cynthia continued to enjoy their conversation until she suddenly looked at her watch. “Damn!” she muttered quietly, and then blushed as she realized she said that out loud. “I really have to head back to the office. I lost track of the time.”
“My apologies,” Travis said as he stood up to offer her assistance. “Perhaps we could continue this conversation at a later date.”
“I would enjoy that,” Cynthia said as she pulled a business card out of her purse and scribbled her cell number on the back. “That’s my cell and you have a better chance of reaching me on it.”
“It’s been wonderful,” Travis said with a smile as she walked away.
Cynthia was sending one last look back to Travis who was putting a cell phone to his ear when she crashed into an older gentleman. “Oh! I’m so sorry,” she said quickly.
“No harm mademoiselle,” a kindly accented voice responded. “Here’s your purse.”
“Thank you and sorry again,” she said and rushed back toward the office; unaware of the turn her future was about to take.
Back at the table, Travis Roark was speaking quietly into his phone. “Operation Lode Stone,” he paused, listening to the other end. “Authentication TK2513. This is Kort. I have an in at NCIS. It’s the assistant to Director Shepard. I’ll determine her agenda toward La Grenoille and then we can prepare a course of action to remove her from affecting Lode Stone. Understood.”
He disconnected the call and watched the older man walk toward him. He smiled when he heard the greeting from La Grenoille. “Ah Mr. Kort, what a pleasant choice. Perhaps we should invite my daughter next time we meet here.”
“I’m sure she would love the ambiance,” Trent Kort said with a gleam in his eyes. “Now what of that shipment to Iraq?”
“Food before business Mr. Kort,” La Grenoille chided as he signaled the waitress.
Five weeks later, Cynthia smiled as she glanced over at the flowers that adorned her desk. Travis had sent them that morning as an apology for missing their date the previous night. The card held promise that they would get together the coming weekend and Cynthia was already counting down the days.
Her romance with Travis had been a whirlwind compared to her few and far between relationships since college. It had been so hard to find a nice man who didn’t mind a working woman, but she was beginning to think that Travis might be the one.
She was pulled from her musings by the teasing tone of Agent Anthony DiNozzo.
“Should I be jealous of the guy who evidently did something wrong, Ms. Sumner? I’m gone for a few weeks and you’re already getting apology flowers from someone else. I’m hurt, crushed even!” Tony wrapped up with a fake stab to his heart.
Cynthia laughed lightly at his antics. “Maybe I should be worried about whatever pretty blond I’m sure you picked up in Germany,” she said teasingly. “How was your trip?”
“The trip was wunderbar, but now, duty calls,” he finished just as the Director stepped out of her office.
“Agent DiNozzo,” Director Shepard greeted the agent. Then she turned to Cynthia and added, “Cynthia, I would like you to join us for the meeting. There are some things that Agent DiNozzo will need your assistance with.”
Intrigued by the invite, Cynthia gathered her note pad and followed the Director into her office with Tony closing the door behind them.
Once they were seated around the conference table, the Director opened with an express need for secrecy.
“This meeting and any future meetings or details that Agent DiNozzo may need are to be considered classified and not discussed with anyone outside of this room.”
Cynthia nodded her understanding and pushed a sense of unease that tried to settle in her stomach away. Whatever this was seemed to be important and likely dangerous and that worried Cynthia for herself as well as Tony and the Director.
“For the past two weeks, Agent DiNozzo has been securing an undercover persona named Tony DiNardo. His assignment is to get close to a woman named Jeanne Benoit. This assignment is being kept as ‘need-to-know’ which means that I do not want Tony doing anything that could jeopardize the mission. This means that he cannot go through normal channels when dealing with expense accounts and other paper filing in regards to his persona. This is where Tony and I will need your assistance, Cynthia.”
Cynthia looked over at Tony who seemed more interested in some pattern on the table surface. She was shocked to learn that he had apparently not been in Germany for the last two weeks and now it seemed he was hooking up with a woman while undercover. Cynthia wasn’t a stickler for knowing every rule in the book of law enforcement, but she was sure there were some iffy boundary lines being breached with the assignment.
“I’ll help in whatever way I can, Director,” she responded, though her mind and heart were telling her to say no.
The next few hours were spent pouring over accounts and fake job information for Tony DiNardo and every item that Cynthia learned about turned her heart further away from the idea that there was something seriously wrong. She had to wonder why Tony had agreed to the assignment. She knew that had Special Agent Gibbs still been around, Tony wouldn’t have even been approached about the assignment. She was sure of that.
When the meeting wrapped up, Cynthia followed Tony out of the Director’s office and when the door was shut she risked looking into his eyes. After a few seconds, he caught her looking and flashed a wide smile.
“So, ready to join the ranks of undercover agents?” he joked.
“I think I would prefer sitting on the sidelines,” Cynthia responded quietly. Then she risked adding, “Is this the right thing to do? I mean, she won’t know you aren’t this Tony DiNardo.”
Tony stopped walking and stood silent for several moments. “If it helps put away an arms dealer that has many deaths on his hands, then I’ll do my job.”
“But is it right?” Cynthia asked again.
“It’s not my choice,” Tony said before turning around to make a hasty retreat.
Cynthia returned back to her desk and looked over at the flowers that had lightened her heart just hours before. She felt a pang of sympathy for the woman she knew in name only. She also felt sorry for Tony because he was a nice man around all the flirting and jokes. She could only hope the Director knew what she was doing.
Cynthia curled in close to Travis and relished in the feel of his strong arms wrapped around her body as they lay in her bed. They had been sleeping together for a few weeks now and every time with him felt like the first.
And as she lay in the comfort he provided, she let her mind drift to thoughts of work and how Tony had become so entangled in the assignments from the Director. She felt sorry for the agent, but short of telling Gibbs who had returned from Mexico, she didn’t know of any other way to get him out of the hole the Director was digging for him.
Every day she saw receipts for another romantic item he had purchased as Tony DiNardo to give to the woman who didn’t even know the man’s real name. Cynthia knew that there was no way the situation could end well for either party.
As she sighed in slight frustration, Travis pulled her closer and breathed in her ear. “What’s troubling you? You haven’t been here for a while now. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve lost my touch.”
“You haven’t lost any touch, Travis. Touching is wonderful,” she said languidly, rubbing back against him. “I’m just… I’m just concerned for a friend.”
“Does this friend have a name?”
“It’s someone from work. I’m not really suppose to talk about it,” Cythia said quietly.
“Ah, classified and all of that. You do know that I have a higher security clearance than even your Director, don’t you?”
Cynthia gave a short laugh. “You don’t have to brag to keep me in bed you know.”
“I’m aware of that,” he intoned as he ran a hand down her body leaving goose bumps in its trail. “But I can listen if you need to talk. I promise it won’t go beyond these walls.”
Cynthia held back a moan as his fingers found a pleasurable place to rest. “I shouldn’t say anything, the Director said it was need-to-know.”
“Did you sign any papers?”
Cynthia’s mind stopped short at the question. “No, it was just her words.”
“Then it must not be too classified. I think it would help if you got it off your chest. I know it would help me to have you less preoccupied in bed.”
Over the course of the next hour, Cynthia slowly let details slip regarding the undercover assignments an NCIS agent had been given and that he was, even as they talked, pretending to be someone else in order to get close to a woman. And all of it was being lead by the Director herself.
Cynthia let out a sigh as her eyes started to close. “I just don’t see how he can knowingly lie to her about who he is, even when she might be falling in love with him. How can someone do that to someone else?”
“I don’t know, sweet,” Travis said quietly into her ear. “Why don’t you get some sleep?”
Thirty minutes later, Cynthia was sound asleep and unaware of the short conversation that was occurring in her bathroom.
“This is Kort. I want someone on NCIS Agent Anthony DiNozzo. I want to know who he meets, who he’s sleeping with, even what time he took a crap in the men’s room.”
Then “Travis” closed the phone and returned bed with the beautiful woman who was spread out before him.
Cynthia couldn’t believe what she was seeing and hearing. Tony was dead. His car had exploded and they had his body in autopsy. Not only that, but Travis, the man she had been with for what seemed like eternity was more than just a CIA courier. He was a deep cover CIA operative named Trent Kort.
Her stomach twisted in fear at all the details of Tony’s assignments she had shared with him while they lay in bed. Granted, she had never told him Tony’s name, but the CIA had means to find that out.
Now Tony was dead and fingers were being pointed and the man she had fallen in love with was potentially to blame. But she knew, no matter what, that it was her fault. She had been taken in by Travis’ nature and never seen his manipulation of getting information out of her.
She was to blame for Tony’s death. She couldn’t even bring herself to go down to the bullpen where Gibbs’ team was trying to make sense of all that had happened. They hadn’t even been aware of Tony’s assignment, and now they are learning about it after it was too late to help.
Then Cynthia heard a commotion in the bullpen and hesitantly walked down the stairs. At the bottom, she found herself looking right into Trav-Trent’s eyes as he faced off against Gibbs demanding to know where Tony was.
He only gave her the barest flicker of recognition. She had been in love, or close to it, but now her heart was being ripped from her chest. She saw no remorse in his eyes; no hint that he was the man that she thought loved her.
Then she stayed, rooted to the spot, as Tony arrived in grand fashion and guns were pulled on Trent. Her heart was torn, wanting to protect him from the guns, but at the same time wishing one would fire just to kill the bastard who had used her.
As the elevator doors slid closed on CIA operative Trent Kort, Cynthia knew she would never see Travis Roark again. Unable to stand, she collapsed onto the stairs beneath her and breathed out. “I never knew him to begin with.”
A week later, Cynthia found herself sitting at the café she had first met Travis at. Her heartache was still fresh, but she vowed to move on, to not let it hurt her permanently.
“Is this seat taken?”
The words made her jump because they were so close to what started the journey so many months before. Then she looked up to see eyes that matched the expression she had seen every time in the mirror since that day.
“It’s open for you Tony,” she said quietly.
He sat down without the enthusiasm he used to display and started playing with a napkin from the table. “I hear that Kort was using you,” he opened finally.
Cynthia gave a small snort. “He didn’t even have to try. I was an open book to him. I’m sorry,” she added softly.
“You don’t have to be sorry. You were a woman in love. None of what happened is your fault.”
“It’s not yours either.”
Tony snorted that time. “You know… I started to let myself think that I could make it work, that I could figure out a way to live the lie.”
“Nobody can live a lie Tony. It’ll always get them in the end.”
“I know. But lies are so much better than dealing with the truth.”
“You loved her, didn’t you?” Cynthia asked with a knowing look.
“Yeah, I did,” he admitted quietly.
“That’s where you and Trav-Kort are different. I was never anything to him, just work. You gave her the truth in everything except your name. You don’t need to be ashamed.”
“But that doesn’t keep it from hurting,” Tony said as he tore a piece of napkin away and watched the wind blow it off the table.
“No, but it says that you are a good man, Tony DiNozzo,” Cynthia said resolutely.
Tony graced her with his smile.