Gibbs surveyed the crime scene. DiNozzo and David had exchanged a glance before getting to work. It amused him that those two hadn't teamed up on the red-faced McGee. The youngest of his agents was stammering in a way he hadn't in years. Gibbs let him off the hook and sent him to canvas the street for witnesses. DiNozzo's pencil was scratching quickly across the page, noting evidence locations and body details.
He knew DiNozzo had seen worse than this. Ziva seemed to make a point of not reacting to things. She was also smart enough to know when to follow Tony's lead. If he worked in silence, so did she. A few minutes later Ducky and Palmer arrived for the body.
Gibbs allowed himself a moment to look at the young woman still handing from her writs. She was wearing nothing but a corset, high heels and a gag. There wasn't much left of her skin. The floor was soaked with her blood and other fluids. The cuts on her body weren't deep, but there were far too many of them. He didn't know if shock, blood-loss or something else had killed her.
His agents had started working the scene methodically from left to right. He left them to it. "Duck, time of death."
"Good morning to you too, Jethro."
"This poor dear seems to have died around two a.m. But until I know a little more I can't be sure of that. The blood-loss complicated matters. Mr. Palmer, bring the gurney. Let's get her home." Palmer returned a few minutes later.
"Help Palmer get her down."
Tony glanced up at the restraints. He reached up and undid the snap-hooks. He caught her by the wrists. Palmer lifted from her waist. They maneuvered her onto the gurney. When they were gone Tony gestured Gibbs over. "She let her killer do this, Boss, at least to start. That was a quick release clip.
Gibbs nodded. "Find her playmates."
DiNozzo jerked his head towards the room. "After I finish up?"
Gibbs nodded once.
"So how did McGee take it when he found her cache?" Abby demanded as Tony signed out the victim's address book.
"He went bright red. He keeps thinking I'm going to tease him about it."
"You mean you aren't?"
"I don't want to scare him off of it. He's not up for teasing yet."
"But soon?" Her voice was wistful.
"Depends on what kinds of questions he ends up asking. You have someone who can ease him in if he wants to explore?"
"You still sure he's straight?" she said spinning her chair. Tony winked at her before answering. She took that to mean that McGee was in the hall.
"If he's not, he doesn't know it yet."
"Isn't he a little old not to know?"
"Abs, you were raised by the coolest, most supportive parents in history. They don't care if you bring a purple-spotted turtle home as your mate. Most people aren't that lucky. Let him go his own speed."
"And why can't you answer his questions?"
"Because you're much better at it. I've got to go before the boss gets pissed."
Tony hung up after another useless conversation with Victoria James' family. Her parents lived in California and didn't talk to her more than once every few months. She never discussed anything but work with her brother. Her sister knew she was into bondage, but she hadn't had a steady S.O. since she joined the Navy.
"DiNozzo," Gibbs snapped.
"With me. Conference room."
"Can we book a real room for once?"
Tony followed Gibbs into the elevator. He was going to helpfully hold the door open, in a vain attempt to get another agent to save him from his fate. The only other agent glanced at them, then backed away. "Coward," Tony muttered. Gibbs stopped them between floors. "What's up, Boss?"
"How are you doing with this one?"
Tony blinked, not expecting that question. "Fine. I've seen worse."
Gibbs studied him. The young man tried not to fidget. "And if we find out it was a regular game that went too far?"
"Then her Dom needs to be shaken for not even trying to call for help. She might have lived if he'd noticed when she passed out!"
"You're sure it's a male?"
Tony paused for a moment. "I'd lay good money on it."
"Because of the chain. It wasn't on a winch. The victim was too short to have clipped her wrists up by herself and she was taller than the average female, even in three inch heels. Palmer couldn't have reached the clip without a stool. There was a good ten inches of chain below the clip. So, yeah, a guy. And all of the people with hearts next to them in her book are male."
"And what did you and Abby determine on McGee?"
"Nothing. She'll answer any questions he has though. So will I. We'll keep him out of trouble."
Gibbs raised a brown. Tony felt the heat in his cheeks.
"I am not a trouble-magnet," he stated.
Gibbs smirked. "Of course not," he soothed. Tony glared at him. "Have you thought that he might ask you questions more than Abby?"
"I don't think he will. He trusts me with his life, but not his love-life."
"If you didn't tease him. . ."
Tony laughed. "He's got to thicken his skin or he'll be eaten up. He's better than he used to be."
"I'll grant you that. Is this case stirring up anything I need to watch for?"
Tony took the question seriously. He thought it over. He met Gibbs' calm blue gaze easily. "No, I'm fine. Besides, I've never used that position. Becca had breathing problems."
"No gags then."
"Nothing that restricted breathing. We actually argued about it." Tony ran a hand through his hair. "She and Tom are getting married in October."
"She wants me to stand up for her." Tony shook his head. "I was more upset about what happened than she was. She loved it. After a little more time to think, we just realized that we were never going to be on the same page." He shrugged.
Gibbs snorted. "Are you okay with it?"
"Not yet. I have to tell you, Boss, I really never thought I'd be having this conversation in an elevator."
"Or with me?"
"No, I knew we'd have it at some point."
Gibbs cocked his head to the side in silent question.
"Reading people is what I do best, Gibbs. At least when it comes to certain things."
Gibbs smirked. He ruffled Tony's hair. "Have you found her playmate?" Tony leaned into the older man's touch.
"Not yet. We need to do face to face interviews. Should I take Ziva or McGee."
"Ziva's a power struggle waiting to happen."
Tony raised his brows.
"Get the list. We're going. Ziva and McGee can call if they find anything."
He couldn't repress his smile. He loved working with Gibbs.
Tony collapsed into his chair. He spun around once. He put his feet up on the desk. He closed his eyes. Gibbs didn't bother him about it. He'd give him ten minutes before he called him. "McGee, what have you go?"
"She has a lot of charges at a place called McAllister's and a few on-line shops."
"McAllister's in Blatimore?" DiNozzo asked, not opening his eyes.
"Yes. There's nothing else."
"Was she at McAllister's the night she died?"
"She was off-duty that night," Tony said quietly. "Trip to McAllister's?" Tony opened on eye, revealing a sliver of green through his lashes. Gibbs checked his watch.
"What time do they open?"
"Six. They serve dinner."
"Not for the price. There's a crab-house two blocks down. McAllister's food is for being seen eating."
Gibbs nodded. Tony knew every restaurant worth knowing in Baltimore and DC. "Get Annie Riggs on the phone. Ask her about the place."
"On it, Boss."
Gibbs considered his junior agents. Ziva would be no trouble, but he did worry about McGee. He worried enough that he was going to leave him at the office until he knew more about the place. "McGee, David, go catch dinner. By tomorrow I want a complete background check on Annie Riggs, Ben Thilburg and Patrick Beauchamp."
The phone rang. "Hey, Gibbs. No prints on the cuffs and clip except our girl's. Her blood's clean. No drugs. Find this idiot, Gibbs."
"We will," he promised. He hung up. McGee and Ziva had left in those few minutes.
"How are we going to do this, Boss? Tourists or cops?"
"Straight-forward." DiNozzo pouted. "If we need to go back with more people, we will."
"Got it. Annie says it was Victoria's favorite place. It's low-key."
"You ever been there before?"
"Never risked it. Not after Peoria."
"Let's go." Gibbs didn't bother to wait for Tony to grab his bag and gun. The young man caught up with him at the elevator.
The manager looked the two men in front of him over. "What do you want?"
"Do you recognize this woman?" Gibbs offered Victoria's picture to the man.
"Yes. V's a regular. What's this about?"
"We want the tapes from last week," Tony stated.
"Get a warrant," Paul McAllister snapped. Gibbs nodded and Tony got on the phone. "Why do you want my tapes? Talk to me or take the baby-Dom and get out of here."
Tony glanced at Gibbs, lips quirking into a smile. "Yes, put me through to Lisa Gavin please."
"She's dead," Gibbs said bluntly.