"DiNozzo, this is Special Agent James Patton. He'll be working with your team," Director Morrow stated.
Tony shook the man's hand, evaluating him. He was tall and thin with alert grey eyes. His hair was a tawny brown. Sears suits and Rockports, he added to the mental tally. "You can sit there."
Patton smiled. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
Tony hid his snort of amusement behind a smile that would have done his father's political friends proud. "Oh, I doubt that. Special Agent Caitlin Todd, Special Agent Tim McGee." They nodded politely to him.
Director Morrow pinned Tony with a glance that just screamed "be good." Tony gave him an impish grin.
"So," Patton began, "what are we working on?"
"We're catching up on paperwork. You get to get me copies of you range certification and emergency contact information. I also need your home phone and a copy of your key in case of emergencies."
Kate's lips twitched, but she maintained a poker face. "McGee, do you have that database link for me?" she called across the room.
Her email beeped a moment later. "Yes."
Patton looked around the room. "Listen, I don't know why you don't want me here, but I've been with NCIS for six years now. I know what I'm doing."
"Who did you work with?" Tony asked, mildly interested.
"Brown and Samuels."
"In cold cases?"
"Huh. I'm surprised we haven't met. Gibbs always had me down there on the holidays."
"Oh, I don't work holidays or weekends," Patton said seriously.
"I have a daughter. She's eight."
Tony raised his brow. "Sorry, Patton, that changes. You'll be taking at least one holiday. And if we stay late, we stay late. Do you have someone who can watch her?"
Tim looked at him and said very seriously, "Good luck, Patton."
"Now, McGee, would I ruin a man's marriage?" Tony put on a pout.
"Depends on how pretty the wife is," McGee replied.
"Or how pretty the husband is," Kate murmured. Tony threw a wadded up piece of paper at her.
"We'll see what we can do, but honestly, Patton, we've been known to work around the clock. If you can't do that, I need to know."
"Define around the clock."
"I slept here for a week once," Tony replied. "Kate and McGee have slept here at least three days in a row before. And we work at least the first forty-eight hours. After that," Tony shrugged, "it depends on the case."
Patton looked around the room. "You're serious?"
McGee nodded. Kate gave him a grin. "I haven't had a date in months."
"Now, Katie, your lack of success cannot be blamed on the team."
"Two words, Tony, frat brother." She glared at him. He smiled back innocently.
"But what about the doctor? You never called him back."
"He was twice my age!"
"So? He was nice. I mean Ducky's up there, but he's worth the effort. And he's single."
"Kate, that went out the window at least a year ago."
"Rule 12?" Patton queried.
"No dating co-workers," the three chorused at him.
"Ah. That makes sense. Is there a handbook of these rules?"
Tony jerked a hand over his shoulder. "See the knife sticking in the wall? The piece of paper it's holding up is the rules of conduct around here. Seriously, though, Patton, I'll do whatever I can to make sure you get home to your little girl. But I don't do preferential treatment. And I expect your work to be as near to perfect as you can make it."
"And you don't have to use the 'sir.' It's starting to creep me out."
"Feeling your age?" Kate prodded.
"Let's just call it a trained aversion." The phone rang. "DiNozzo. Where? Okay. We'll be there. We've got a dead Marine in Rock Creek." He tossed the keys to McGee. "Get the truck. Kate, call Ducky. Probie gets the trunk. Grab your gear." Tony grabbed his backpack and gun and headed for the elevator. Patton gaped at him, but scrambled to catch up to the team.
"Gloves on, Patton," Tony snapped. "Is this your first crime scene?"
"Uh, yes, sir," Patton stuttered, staring in shock and the Marine whose blood soaked the ground beneath him.
"Rule number one, always wear gloves at a crime scene. Kate pictures. McGee, 100 yard perimeter. Patton, stay with me. Don't touch anything unless I tell you. And for God's sake, watch your step!"
Tony strolled into the lab, Patton following him, still looking faintly green. "Special delivery!" Tony called.
"Oooh, presents. You're so good to me." Abby signed the bags. "And who's this?"
"James Patton. Our new probie. Patton, this is Abby Scuito, the best lab tech in the world."
"Thanks, sweetheart," she grinned. "Nice to meet you."
"Hi," Patton said with a smile. "I didn't realize there was a dress code for the lab." He glanced between them. "Black only?"
Abby laughed. "No, you can come in. Tony and I just have a vibe going on right now. Oh, I have that video for you."
"Great, I'll pick it up with the results. How long?"
"I am not a magician, Tony. Give me at least two hours before you ask me for anything."
He looked down his nose at her.
"And you so do not have the bossman glare down yet."
"And I've been practicing." Tony pouted. She laughed.
"Okay, you can call me in and hour and a half. No sooner or I won't do anything else." She wagged her finger at the team lead.
"That's not what I want you to waggle at me."
Abby laughed lightly. "Off with you. Out of my lab."
Tony grinned and led Patton up to the bullpen once more. "Patton, I want a complete background on Ellis." He pulled out his phone and hit the speed-dial. "What have you got for me, Kate?"
Patton stared at his computer screen. He was used to doing backgrounds and financial investigations. He wasn't used to working on as tight a schedule as this team seemed to keep. He wondered if it were because he was new on the team. However, DiNozzo seemed to be pushing himself at the same pace. "Probie, what have you got?" DiNozzo snapped.
"Nothing unusual. He went to school in Virginia and joined the Corps straight after graduation. He's got three speeding tickets. His military record is clean. No living family. His bank statements look average. Overall, he's just average."
"Girlfriend? Wife? Enemies. Come on, Patton." The senior agent picked up his phone and dialed. "Hey, Patti, how're you doing?" His voice turned immediately to a soft purr. Patton stared for a moment, then went back to work on expenditures. Maybe he could find something in the man's phone records. He kept one ear on the conversation. "That's too bad. Oh, I'm still alive. That's all I'm asking for these days. Can I pick your brains? Do you know Pat Ellis? He's stationed at the Pentagon. You do? What can you tell me? He got a girl? Or a boy?" There was a suggestive teasing in DiNozzo's voice now. "Well, you know me, honey. What's her name?" He scribbled down some information. "No, he's more than in trouble. Yeah. Thanks, Patti. I owe you lunch sometime. Call me." He hung up.
"He had a girlfriend?"
"Fiancée. She's flying back into town this afternoon. Let's go meet her." DiNozzo tossed the keys in his direction. "Get the car."
Patton stared for a moment, then headed for the elevator. Tony whistled sharply. "Probie, forgetting something?"
"N-not that I know of."
"Weapon and gear?" Tony prompted. Patton flushed and returned to his desk. He secured his weapon and grabbed his bag. He left. Tony pinched the bridge of his nose. "God, Boss, I think I'm going to have to kill him," he murmured.
"No killing them until you get a few years under your belt," Gibbs replied. He didn't materialize and Tony wasn't sure if he wasn't just hearing his conscience for once. It had sounded like Gibbs for years. He did a quick search on Misty Carmichael, getting her driver's license picture and address. He dialed McGee. "Tim, I'm emailing you a name. I need a background."
He hung up on the younger man's "On it." He found Patton gassing up the car. He frowned at the man. He'd given him enough of a head start that it should have already been done. Patton had been in the agency long enough to know the procedures. Tony glanced at the clerk who paled. He stalked towards him.
"Listen, Agent DiNozzo, we didn't know he was on your team. I thought he was still in cold cases."
"Meaning?" Tony snapped.
"I, um," the clerk gulped. "The delay will never happen again, sir."
"It shouldn't matter who the Hell he works for. You process the vehicles quickly. You never know when a case is going to go hot. If you ever impede an agent ever again, you'll wish it were Gibbs who came down on you and not me, capice?" The clerk gulped, nodding jerkily. Tony turned on his heel and took the keys back. "Don't ever let them push you around again. If they stall you or don't help you, call them on it. If that doesn't work, tell me. Got it?"
"Yes, boss," Patton said, nearly snapping to attention.
Tony got into the car, while the probie finished the fueling. He dialed quickly as he waited for Patton to get into the car. "What's the word, Ducky?"
"You are as charming as your lover," Ducky sniped.
"I've been practicing."
"He was stabbed forty times. The killing blow was in the back. It went straight into his heart."
"I doubt it. There was no deflection from the bone. If I were to venture a guess, I'd say our poor boy was killed by a professional." Tony put the car in reverse and hit the gas. Patton gripped his safety belt with white knuckles as they turned and peeled out of the garage.
"Thanks, Duck. Let me know if you find anything unusual."
"Anthony, be careful."
"Aren't I always?"
Ducky chuckled. "Good luck, my boy."
"Thanks, Duck." He hung up. Tony glanced at the white-knuckled probie and bit down on his grin. "Haven't lost a passenger yet. You have a weak stomach, Patton?"
"I didn't think so, but now I'm not so sure. Jesus Christ! Watch the road."
Tony gave Patton a grin and gunned the engine.
Misty shrugged her carry-on over her shoulder and adjusted the grip on her suitcase. She scanned the crowds for her fiancee. He's late again. I'm going to kill him, she thought. She was a fairly average woman for this airport. She stood about five-five and was dressed conservatively in a pantsuit. She looked like every other business traveler in the madness that was baggage claim.
"Misty Carmichael?" a strange dark-haired man asked.
She looked at him warily.
"I'm Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo with NCIS," he said offering a badge. She looked at it.
"I'm Misty Carmichael. What is this about?"
"Harold Ellis. I'm afraid he won't be able to pick you up today."
"What's wrong? Has he been arrested for something? Has there been an accident?"
"If you'd come with us, ma'am, we can discuss this at headquarters. The car's this way." He gestured for her to go in front of him, hand hovering like a gentleman behind her back. She studied him for a long moment and decided that beyond the soft professional smile that she wasn't going to get anything out of him. He escorted her to the call and ride area. "This is Special Agent James Patton, Ms. Carmichael."
She gave him an equally professional smile and let Agent DiNozzo take her bag. He put it into the trunk and then handed her into the backseat of the car. He settled in the passenger seat. "Get us back to headquarters, Patton."
"At least I'll get us there in one piece," Patton muttered.
DiNozzo rolled his eyes at her. "You take one or two curves at speed an you never hear the end of it."
She felt her smile melt into something a little more genuine. "What's going on, Agent DiNozzo?"
"Let's wait until we get back to headquarters. In the meantime, why don't you tell me about how you met Harold?"
She laughed. "That's quite the story. You see, I was working on my laptop at the coffee-shop."
Tony didn't even glance at the row of agents waiting in the Director's office. He didn't bother to set an appointment with Tom's secretary. In fact, he didn't even bother to knock. He threw open Morrow's door and stalked over to his desk. "I want the files of everyone who has ever requested being on Gibbs' team from the time Viv left." His demand was sharp.
"Agent DiNozzo," Morrow said, eyes narrowed, "I'm in charge of hiring." He ignored the wide-eyed stare of Agent Michaelson who was now cowering in his chair except to note that the reaction not bode well for his advancement.
"Someone just took pot-shots at my Probie. He's been on my team for all of four days. I just signed off on his transfer request. I want to know who wants him off the team. I want to know every agent that tried to impress Gibbs with qualifications, every 'I want to be the best' idiot, and every starry eyed hero-worshipper who wanted on his team."
The Director leaned back, not letting the looming agent see his lips twitch, though he was pleased with the actions. They'd finally hit the anger stage of grief. Either that or he was actually channeling the man. "Give me a reason, DiNozzo."
"Because I've got it. I know that one of those people killed Gibbs. He or she took shots at my new teammate. I need those files to find out who it is."
DiNozzo's face was flatter than his voice. His eyes were sparkling with anger. Morrow'd warned Gibbs that he'd need to tame the younger man. Now that Gibbs was gone the most he'd hoped for was that DiNozzo wouldn't take anyone down when his temper flared up. This was an unexpected, but welcome difference. If DiNozzo was here, he was asking permission to storm the office and take the Gibbs case away from Bonito and Freeman. "I'll have Louisa get the files for you. I'll tell Freeman you're taking the case."
DiNozzo nodded sharply, back stiffening into an almost military-correct posture. "Thank you, sir." He turned in an abrupt about face and stormed out of the office. Morrow felt his lips twitch up into a grin. He chuckled, startling Michaelson out of his trance.
Tony stopped short at the rail, looking down over his team. The adrenaline and anger that had fueled his actions drained. "I just yelled at the Director." He blinked. "Oh my God, my mother was right about turning into your spouse!" He took a deep breath and released. He jogged down the stairs, past his team to Freeman's desk. "Where's the file?"
Freeman blinked in surprise. He didn't have to ask which file. "Director said you weren't supposed to work it."
"Just talked to the director. My case. Give me the file." Tony took a deep breath, held it, then released. "Please, before I channel him any more than I usually do."
That startled the other agent into a laugh. "I'll let you know when you start to go grey."
"You mean I haven't? Not that my stylist would let me be seen with grey in my hair."
"I can't give you the file without the director's okay, Tony."
Tony bent over the man's desk and started flipping through his files.
"Jesus, DiNozzo. Chill. Let's keep it proper."
"Someone just took potshots at my probie. I'm a little pissed."
"Are you sure it's not the case you're working?"
"We wrapped it up yesterday. I was taking him to practice on an outside range. Before you say it, we were in the parking lot. Two shots into the car about two inches to either side of his head. It was a sniper. And it wasn't Haswari, because he doesn't give a damn about me without Gibbs to compete against. I'm still gonna find the steaming pile of excrement, but this isn't him."
Freeman's phone rang. He answered it and listened. "Yes, he's right here, sir." He handed the phone over.
"Yes, Director? No, I haven't been snooping in his files. Well, not often. I snoop in everyone's files. Can't help myself. So, I can take it now? Thanks." He handed the phone back to the other agent. "He says goodbye. You've got your okay, where's the file? Please?" Tony batted his lashes. Freeman snorted. He handed over the thick file.
"Good luck. Bring him down hard."
"That's the plan." Tony registered the surprise in Freeman's face and knew that his smile was a little more feral than was healthy. He didn't care. He would find out who had killed his lover. And his team would back him one-hundred percent.
G & Mr. D #1
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