The only person who's head didn't snap up when Gibbs snapped out "DiNozzo" was the first person who should have responded. Instead, Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo was simply staring at the computer screen, barely breathing. Gibbs stalked down the stairs from MTAC, shoulders prepped for a sharp smack to be delivered directly to the back of the unmoving head.
The printer behind him sprung to life and DiNozzo jumped about a foot. He blinked rapidly and looked up at Gibbs with such confused and frightened innocence that the older man's frown transformed from anger to worry. "If there's a game on that screen, we have an appointment in the gym." Gibbs stepped forward, blatantly encroaching upon the younger man's space. He leaned down to speak softly to him, leaving no doubt in his observers minds that a soft lecture was far more dangerous than his loud anger. DiNozzo had, after all, slumped down in his seat and paled at the soft words. "Tell me what happened."
"Look at the screen."
Gibbs turned his head slightly. He stiffened. His icy-blue eyes studied the evolving scene. "Where did that come from?"
"I don't know. I asked Abby to trace it, but. . ." DiNozzo shivered. "Boss, is it okay to be really creeped out right now?"
"Yeah," Gibbs said absently.
"Faint and you'll regret it."
"I'm a guy. I do not faint. Pass out, sure, but not faint." Tony's voice trembled even as he put his defensive mask back on. Then, he glanced at the screen. He stared in fascinated horror. "It's an underground space. No windows. The door has got to be either old thick wood, or metal like a bunker. The walls are concrete. And that is. . . is a staff sergeant who really doesn't deserve any of this."
"What's his name?"
"His shirt says Rogers, under the blood." Gibbs looked at his second sharply.
"McGee, is there any way to record this feed?"
"On it, Boss," McGee responded.
"Abby's got it recording. I told her not to watch."
"And you think she listened to you?"
"No, but McGee's still and innocent and Kate's still at the doctor's."
"Why didn't you call me?"
"Figured if I spoke, I'd throw up or start screaming. This is not good." Gibbs stood up, drawing Tony's eyes. There was a fine sheen of sweat developing on Tony's brow.
"Get yourself something to settle your stomach from Ducky."
"He has that powder crap right?"
"Good." Tony seemed steady on his feet, but Gibbs saw him slump against the inside of the elevator as the doors slid shut.
"Will I have to hide the body?" Morrow asked, as he leaned against Kate's currently empty desk.
"Only if he finally gets the backbone up to shoot me," Gibbs informed the Director. "Take a look at this."
Morrow crossed the space in three long paces. He glanced at the screen. He sighed. "You didn't tell me you were hiring a trouble magnet. Just tell me in advance when you're going to start destroying property. Keep me informed." Morrow glanced at McGee.
"Yes, sir." Gibbs nodded and Morrow stepped back. That was the best part of having Tom Morrow as his director. The man knew when to let the leash drop and let his people have the space they needed. "McGee, get me stills from the feed. Just grab them at random."
"I think Tony already did that, Boss." McGee bit his lip. "He told me that if I tried to hack his files that he'd make Kate's spars look like child's play."
Gibbs snorted. "Somehow I have the feeling the phrase, 'I've tortured geeks since high school' was involved in the threat."
"That might have been part of it, but I was a little more focused on the beat you until you can't stand up and lock you in your apartment until Abby pleads for your release instead."
A small smile twitched at the edge of Gibbs' lips. He glanced back at the screen and understood why DiNozzo had gotten so trapped in it. He closed his eyes, then forced them open. Hopefully, he'd find the clue Tony'd been looking for so intently that he hadn't responded. Gibbs frowned, that breach of discipline would have to be addressed. The young man knew better than to not respond. He watched, noting details on the yellow notepad sitting on Tony's desk. His own handwriting was neat and precise, compared to Tony's hastier scrawl.
Tony's hand settled on his shoulder. "My shift," he said quietly. Gibbs gave him a short nod. "Will you go argue with Abby? She thinks she should watch this. We don't even know if it's live or Memorex. I. . . I asked Ducky to come take a look."
"Tony," McGee said hesitantly.
"No." DiNozzo's command was sharp. Gibbs met his eyes for a moment. "Sorry, Boss," he said with a sweet grin that never reached his eyes.
"Not yet, McGee. Find out where this is coming from and how whoever's doing this got into this computer. I want the source found, now." Gibbs let Tony retake his seat. The intimacy of witnessing this was almost as torturous as watching the scene unfold. The victim lay still now. His torturer made a note on a clipboard that he then hung on a hook on the wall. The perp kept his back to the camera. He knew it was there. He snapped a vial under his victim's nose and Sgt. Rogers surged away from it, twisting in his bonds to vomit over the side of the table he was bound to.
"I don't want this one to make it to a cell, Boss," Tony said quietly, "but I think dying is too easy for him."
Abby frowned at the computer. It wasn't letting her do what she wanted to do. She was not happy about that at all. And Tony trying to tell her not to look at the feed he wanted recorded? As if that was going to work. Sometimes he was just so naïve. She left her programs running, attempting to get a lock on the feed's source. She opened up the feed and stared. She shivered. "Oh, God," she whispered. She crossed herself. She turned off the monitor. Her eyes widened as she looked at her reflection in the darkened mirror. She checked the clock. "Tony's been watching this for almost half-an-hour, Abigail," she told her reflection. "He'll be off his track and Gibbs will be in a mood, so you better find out where it's coming from so they don't take it out on each other." She pointed a finger at the screen. "Capice?"
She turned to her computers again, then picked up the phone instead. "McGee, come down and hack with me?" she asked sweetly. "Is Gibbs still in his meeting?"
"Uh, let me check. Boss? Abby wants some help." She heard Gibbs' voice indistinctly in the background. "Okay, I'll be down in a minute with my laptop."
"I'll get the cables out. Isn't Kate here yet?"
"Not yet." McGee hung up without saying good-bye, but Abby expected that. She expected that before too long, Tim would pick up plenty of Gibbs' and Tony's habits. It would do him good. The flicked the feed monitor to life again. It was worse going back to it than it had been to turn it on. There was none of the excitement of disobeying orders or the curiosity of the unknown to mitigate the sickening, creeping horror of what she was seeing. She didn't know how long she'd been watching until she heard Tim's strangled gasp behind her. "Is that the feed?"
"God. Turn it off."
Abby shook herself and turned off the monitor. "How can people do that to one another?" she asked, not expecting him to have an answer.
"I don't know. Gibbs went cold up there. He and Tony are taking ten minute shifts watching and taking notes. Kate just got here. She'll analyze whatever they come up with. Tony ordered me to not watch it."
"He was right." Abigail Scuito was not exactly innocent, but she knew she didn't have a strong enough stomach to watch real torture as opposed to mock ups. This wasn't some fantasy. She closed her eyes. "No one should have to watch it. We'll have to remind them to get lunch later. Even a Slim-Fast or something."
McGee nodded. "Tell me what you've been trying."
They settled into their usual positions, sharing a drink. The dark monitor stared at them.
Kate Todd did not like being coddled. She watched her teammates through narrowed eyes. "Is this because I'm a woman?"
"No," Gibbs said quietly. "This is so that one of us doesn't want to make this piece of scum scream when we bring him in." He laid a gentle hand on the back of Tony's neck and squeezed. Tony's eyes closed for a moment. He took a breath then looked across the desk to meet Kate's eyes. She startled back, even though she knew the anger in the gaze wasn't directed at her.
"I think you should look for anyone private who's purchased a large amount of concrete and rebar. This place is made to specifications and the bolts look to be concreted into the walls." Tony's voice was colder than she'd ever heard. "I don't think it's a cellar."
"No, it looks more like a cell," Gibbs commented. He'd given Tony the chair, but refused to stop watching. He cursed roundly as something on the screen changed.
"It's live, Kate. Sick bastard. I need to hit something."
"Keep it to the bag. Be back in ten." Kate was shocked by the harsh orders. There was something she'd missed between the two men today. Damn it, she hated being out of the loop. "And don't break anything. I need you field ready."
"Yes, *Sir*." The twisted emphasis on the "sir" shocked her. There was no hesitation in Gibbs' swing. The smack was harder than usual, actually knocking Tony forward. Tony met Gibbs' glare with his own challenge. Then, she could see him giving ground, shoulders softening. "Right, boss. Thank you, boss," he muttered, only partly sarcastic. "I'll go get some coffee." Gibbs inclined his head in permission.
She waited until the elevator doors had closed. "What was that all about?"
"Memories," the former Marine stated. He looked her dead in the eye. "DiNozzo's my responsibility, not yours. Don't push him on this, Agent Todd."
She blinked. "Uh, sure. Right. I'll just get back to the property searches."
Tony looked across the room to find Kate studying him again. "Don't you have actual work to do?" he asked. "Study those reports, not me."
"You can't give me orders."
He felt his jaw clench. "Gibbs isn't here. I'm the ranking officer. Get. Back. To. Work." He saw her swallow convulsively and turn back to her computer. He'd frightened her and that wasn't going to help him keep up the façade of frat-boy he'd worked so hard to create. He sighed. "Sorry, Kate," he said softly.
She looked up. "It's okay. You like control and whatever you've been seeing on that screen isn't in your control. It makes sense you'd look for someplace else to get it." A sly smile crossed her face. "But what's up between you and Gibbs today?"
"Control," Tony replied.
She was quiet after that. "He said it had something to do with memories?"
"Leave it." He tried to keep his voice steady but couldn't. "Oh, thank God. Let him be. Better yet get him some health-care, you sadistic prick. What I wouldn't give to lay one of Grandma's curses on you."
"Curses?" He heard the laughter in her voice, and ignored it. He knew that Abby would feel the same way. Maybe she'd even help him, if he could figure out how to do it. Of course, his grandmother had informed him that as a man, he didn't have the power to do it right. It was too bad, because if anyone deserved to be cursed it was the psychopath who'd just had the temerity to put up an "out to lunch" sign over the camera.
"Looks like it's lunchtime in psycho-world."
"And you should do the same," Dr. Mallard said as he approached. "I was about to suggest I collect lunch for the team."
"I'm not hungry, Ducky, thanks," Tony told the older man.
Ducky clucked and shook his head. "That will never do, my dear Anthony. Choose something or I shall."
"Soup then." Ducky nodded decisively and turned to Kate. While they were debating, Tony checked the status of the missing persons search. "Finally, a scrap of information," he muttered to himself. "Now, we just need to find you, sarge." He started scanned through the case-notes, looking for a name and location.
Kate watched her partner covertly. He was muttering to himself as he ran searches. It was strange, she hardly ever got to see him in this mode. Normally, he was on the phone or joking with other people in the office. This was the investigator the file she wasn't supposed to have accessed painted. He was too independent for his last lieutenant and too reckless for a partner, so the lieutenant had simply let him investigate as he wanted. There had been nothing but praise from Baltimore and nothing but derision from Philly. From his file, she couldn't see why he let Gibbs get away with half of the things he did.
Gibbs settled behind Tony's desk with a file. The younger man's head lifted, but he didn't move from his place behind McGee's desk. He assessed Gibbs' state of mind quickly and turned back to his work. That was something else, Kate realized, Tony seemed to be overly-aware of Gibbs. She didn't think it was fear. "Did you eat?" Gibbs asked.
"Ducky brought food. Yours is on your desk." Tony cocked his head to the side as he looked at Gibbs. It was too boyish for the moment. Kate frowned, wondering what game Tony was playing this time. "I didn't even steal the chips. Yet."
Gibbs snorted. "Yes, I'll eat it. And yes, you can have the chips when I'm done."
"Thanks." Tony turned his attention back to whatever he was researching.
"Staff Sergeant Rogers disappeared four days ago from Camp Lejeune. That's in North Carolina, Kate. He worked at the hospital. He didn't come in for his shift. When they checked his barracks, they'd been trashed and there was blood on the carpet. DNA's still waiting. Nothing was stolen. His wallet and cash were on the table just inside the door. No one saw or heard anything. He works the night-shift and most of his neighbors had gone to work for the day when he got home. There was a swastika painted onto the wall in the front hall."
"Was Rogers Jewish?"
"According to his service records he's Catholic. Doesn't mean anything. My records say I'm Catholic too. Doesn't mean I practice. He was a field medic, then was transferred State-side last year. He never made the mistake of getting married."
"Mistake?" Kate prodded.
"Marine Corps has a 70 percent divorce rate. Mistake," Tony replied. His irritation at being interrupted was easy to see. "He didn't have a steady girl. He barely dated. He was looking to go to Iraq, but the hospital needs people and he's getting close to retirement age. They want to hang onto him for as long as possible."
"How old exactly?" Gibbs asked, frowning. He retrieved the sandwich and drink. He ate quickly, efficiently.
"Forty-three. Went into the Corp at 18. Just a few insubordination write-ups. Nothing serious. Looks like he used to have a problem with getting up on time when he first started, but nothing since then. I don't get it. There's nothing about this guy that screams kill me. There's no hidden finances. He lives within his means. At worst, he's neutral. I'm still tracking his family."
"Kate?" Gibbs prompted.
"I haven't found any large amounts of cement that have been stolen. I'm still working on finding purchases that aren't part of a major construction project. I'm also looking for sites that might support an underground bunker."
"Anyone else having Ng flashbacks?" Tony asked, the wry twist to his lips didn't look much like a smile. "Did you get any work on that profile done?"
"White male, in his mid-thirties. He's been doing this for awhile and hasn't gotten caught. He wants some sort of recognition. This isn't a taunt, he's sharing this. He's got enough money that he can afford to own property and undertake a project like this without anyone wondering why he isn't at work. Something happened that made him snap. I think he lost the person he used to share this with." She paused, frowning. "He probably had some military training, though he might not have been in the service. He might have been a cop, or tried to get onto the force somewhere."
"Medical training?" Gibbs asked.
"Not exactly. I think he learned to torture from someone, not to heal."
"There are books," Tony said, eyes fixed on something on the computer screen. "Bet if you find the right person you can get how-to videos too. Terrorist camp?"
"I'd put my money on survivalist," she said after a moment of thought. "This is a ritual for him. It's very elaborate. He's been doing it for years. He's incredibly controlled. He doesn't have outside attachments to distract him. He thinks he has a right to do this."
"Why the swastika?"
"I don't know."
"Rogers' family was German. He's first generation American," Tony said. "Maybe it's someone who has a thing against immigrants."
Gibbs frowned over his sandwich. "He's back."
"Thank God he's not in Technicolor," Tony muttered.
"Get McGee to figure out what sort of equipment he needs to transmit this. Then, track purchases."
Abby frowned at the computer. "This is so wrong. It's like the signal keeps moving. It has to be broadcasting from somewhere! This isn't like the usual bounces."
McGee didn't answer. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the screen. "It's been off for two hours. Why didn't we notice?"
"It hasn't been transmitting for two hours. The channel was open, but there were no packets transferring."
The phone rang. "Forensics!" Abby called into the speaker phone.
"Abs! McGee! Give me a list of equipment you'd need to make this broadcast." Tony's voice was sharp. Abby hoped it was just an attempt to be heard over her music. "And where could it be found?"
"Any computer store," McGee informed him. "At least for most of it. You'd need a video card and a web-cam. It's not high-quality. Probably some extra memory so that it comes across as smooth. And an internet connection."
"Could it be wireless?"
"Crap. How new would this stuff have to be?"
"A couple years old would still work," McGee seemed apologetic.
"Way to dash my hopes, Probie."
"Nice twist of sarcasm on that one. Little Probie all grown up." There was a manufactured sniff on the other end of the phone. McGee rolled his eyes. "I'll have Kate add it to her searches. Any idea on the location of this?"
Gibbs looked at his second in command and frowned. Tony hung up the phone carefully. "No luck. McGee says this is standard purchase equipment. They're still trying to track it."
"Still? That's strange."
"Tell me about it. I think McGee is pissed." The young man managed a small smile at that. "So, my turn on the all-evil channel?"
"No, keep working."
"Right, boss." Tony leaned back in his chair and stared up at the ceiling. "Could this room be mobile? It might explain why they can't find it."
Gibbs frowned. "Kate, check to see what sort of vehicle could move a cement room approximately 10 by 10. DiNozzo, find me his other murders."
"Right, Boss. I'll run it past the Fibbies too?"
Gibbs grimaced. "What was the name of that profiler in Philly you worked with?"
Tony flinched back as if he'd been hit. "Angie Martins?"
"That's the one. See if she's still available."
"On it." Gibbs stared at the screen. There was a cold rage deep in his stomach. He could understand murder. He could understand control. But this level of sadism was beyond his understanding. Their perp could not be allowed to get away with this.
"Kate, figure out why he chose Tony," he said, as soon as Tony was engrossed in a conversation. Her eyes jerked to his in surprise. She gave him a small nod. She'd seen stills of the damage, but not the live footage. With luck he'd be able to keep it that way.
"Angie says that she'll only come if I'm willing to stand up for her at her wedding."
"At least you can use your tux."
"She's marrying Jimmy. She'll be here tomorrow."
"Jimmy Sands. The bartender I introduced her to after we went belly-up. They're the ones that convinced me to leave Philly."
"Can't wait to meet her."
"Who told you about that case?"
Tony snarled involuntarily at the name. "Cameron hated her on sight. One of the reasons I asked her out."
Gibbs raised a brow. "How long?"
"With Angie? Three weeks or so. Working, dating, sleeping, well, not really sleeping, but you know. And there was that incident and I introduced her to Jimmy because I knew they'd get along like crazy. She's intense."
"Intense?" Kate prompted with a sardonic smirk.
Tony didn't bother to look at her. "She taught me a lot. And she probably saved my career."
Gibbs snorted. "Cameron wouldn't have let you go down. I did that interview in person." He felt a smirk on his lips. "It was fun."
DiNozzo looked at him as if he'd just announced that he was taking up hula dancing. "Fun?"
"I won. It was fun."
"Ah. Too bad you didn't kill him."
"Tony!" Kate's scandalized tone made the cop smirk at her lazily.
"Trust me, you'd hate him too."
"And just who are we discussing?" Ducky asked as he rounded the corner. "Anyone I know?"
"I hope not. Jerk who worked me when I was in Philly."
"And how did Angie get permission so easily?"
"Because Angie's one of the best. She's got a lot of leeway. Hopefully, Jim will come to take care of her in the evenings."
Ducky pinned Tony with a look, asking for explanation. "And who would Angie be?"
"Special Agent Angela Martins. One of the best investigators and profilers in the country. Currently she works out of the Philly office."
"Anything intriguing?" Ducky asked Gibbs.
"Nothing worth having more than one person suffer. Get back to work," Gibbs snapped at his juniors. They turned back to their computers. A new note was pinned to the camera.
"Tomorrow. Same time. Same channel."
Tony ran a hand through his hair. "Boss, what if it isn't all cement. What if it's a truck or something?"
Gibbs frowned over the top of his coffee. He'd sent Tony to work at his desk and the younger man had given in gracefully. Well, almost gracefully, or rather graceful if you didn't count whine, moaning, and snapping until he'd received a sharp smack to the back of the head that had, in it's usual weird way, helped him focus. It was still sort of creepy to be sitting at Gibbs' desk. It offended Tony's sense of order. "Figure out what kind of vehicle it could be." Tony nodded an acknowledgement.
"Hello, Killer," a soft, almost growling contralto voice said.
"Psycho," he growled back. Angela Martins hadn't changed much in the four, almost five years since he'd last seen her. Her red hair was coiled intricately on the top of her head. Small gold hoops dangled from her ears. Her once-pretty nose was crooked ever so slightly to the left from being broken. Her suit was a conservative black with a skirt a shade too short and a red blouse opened a button too far. She wore stiletto heels and he knew for a fact that she could run in them if she needed to. Tailoring hid the gun she was wearing. The flair of her skirt hid the gun on knife she kept on her thigh. A thin black choker ringed her neck, showing off her collarbone and the knife scar that ran along it. Her nails were painted blood red and her lips matched. "You look like a stripper."
"Good. At least you'll pay attention to me."
"Attention has never been the issue." He met her eyes, spine stiffening. If he let her get the upper hand now, he'd never get it back. She sauntered across the floor. He met her in front of the desk. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him into a tight hug. He slid one hand under her hip-length jacket and under the waist of her skirt to determine just what she was and wasn't wearing. "Ready to get to work?"
"You are no fun today, honestly." She stepped back. In the heels she was only an inch shy of six feet.
"Be good, Angie-cat, and I'll let you torture my rookie."
She looked at him with narrowed eyes. He smiled blandly at her. "You've gotten much better at this," she told him with a cheerful smile. "Jim will be so pleased. You'll be having dinner with us."
"When the case is over."
"So, which of the suspects are you attracted to?" she asked, flicking a glance over Gibbs and then over Kate.
"No suspects yet."
"Damn. I thought this was going to be easy. Rule of thumb, if you're attracted to a suspect, he or she did it." She winked at him.
"And where were you last year when I could have used that advice? Boss, this is Special Agent Angela Martins. Angie, this is Special Agent Jethro Gibbs."
Tony watched at Gibbs and Angie sized each other up. He was willing to lay bets that she hadn't expected Tony to work well with someone as blatantly powerful as Gibbs. She'd known him when he was working for one of the nastiest head-case bosses he'd ever had. She backed down with a sweet smile that reminded him of Abby. He shook that disturbing thought out of his head. In fact, he was considering locking Abby in the lab so the two would never meet. He turned back to work as Angie introduced herself to Kate. "You're cute, in that girl-next-door sort of way. You could manage the Catholic school-girl thing."
Oh, great, like I need that image in my head again, he thought as he glared at Angie.
"Agent Martins, you want to get started rather than bothering my agents?" Gibbs snapped. Angie's eyes flashed with anger.
"Okay, let me see the body."
"It's live," Gibbs informed her. He stood up and let her sit down. He stood behind her, sipping his coffee. He settled a hand on her collar-bone. Tony raised his brows and got a patented Gibbs-smirk.
A nervous clearing of the throat announced Georgie's presence. "Agent DiNozzo, I have a package here for you."
"Thanks, kid." Tony signed for the small package. He didn't recognize the handwriting. He sighed. "I'll take this down to the lab."
Gibbs nodded and left. Angie's eyes were fixed to the screen in excited-horror.
"Okay," Abby said, frowning. "Someone just sent you a crystal ball. Why did someone send you a crystal ball, because if you don't want it, I'll definitely take it."
"Because I know just what to do with it. I have the book and it's all about scrying, but you need a real crystal, not one of those things that you can get anywhere. Those are just blown glass or something. That is a rock crystal and it's big. That's probably at least 1500 in your hands right now. And I cannot believe that someone just sent it to you without anything but some old scarf wrapped around it. Although, the scarf's pretty cool too. Do you think it's actually Victorian? I mean it has the look, but I don't know if it's really silk and silver or what. And those symbols look sort of familiar. But really, that should have been majorly packed with like cotton or something. It could get chipped. But why did they send it to you? Are you hiding something from me, mister? Have you been doing magic or something? Or are you just a gypsy in disguise?"
Tony held up a hand. "Abby!" he snapped. He sounded just like Gibbs. Abby shut her mouth with a snap.
"I don't know who sent it to me. I do know that it's real crystal. The scarf is silk, and you're supposed to insulate these with silk. I have a feeling that it's a clue for something. No, I have not been practicing magic. And yes, I have gypsy blood, but it's through my mother's mother, so I wouldn't have any power, even if I were going to use magic."
She stared at him. "Truth?"
He smirked. "Guess."
Her eyes narrowed. "Liar. Okay, take the crystal, leave me in the dark, see if I care."
"You just track down the sick bastard who's killing our boy. I'll worry about tracking who sent the package. I'm going to do the scut-work, you run the tests, deal?"
"Deal. But don't you dare put anything other than fingerprint powder on that crystal, you hear me?"
"Got it. By the way, FBI's upstairs. McGee, you don't want to get involved with her today. Give her a day and she'll be approachable."
"And she's not approachable because you put her in a mood?" Abby asked. So, she was being a little snarky, but honestly, Tony did not get to order her around in her own lab unless Gibbs was missing.
Tony sighed. "She's in a mood because she's insane. She wants to see if she can get me back into bed or something, even though I know her fiancée is here and we're good friends. I think she's just playing predatory because she gets a kick out of shocking people. She's not wearing anything under her skirt except her weapons and some thigh-highs. She really should."
Abby froze. "And how do you know this?"
"I gave her a hello grope like she wanted." Tony shrugged as he pulled on a set of latex gloves. He turned his attention to printing the crystal. He obviously didn't notice McGee gaping at him. "I mean really, she looks like a call girl and I think Gibbs is going all butch and drooling already because she's a red-head."
"I need to see the surveillance tapes of this one," Abby stated.
"Hey, Killer!" A joyful shout said from the doorway. "What sort of pressie did your current serial killer get you anyway? Get upstairs and read his note."
"He can do it here." Abby turned on the monitor. Tony spun on his stool and looked at the screen. The new woman settled on his lap, straddling his knee.
"I don't even know what language that is," he said. He ran a hand absently up her leg and under the edge of her skirt to rest on her thigh. "Do you think it's a code?" Abby hated her instantly for that. This wasn't her Tony. This was letch-Tony who normally only showed up under-cover. He'd never turned that strangeness on her and she was glad. It just creeped her out to see him doing it with an FBI agent of all things.
"No, I think he expects you to understand it. So start thinking. He's trying to bridge the gap."
"No, really? You think? And you get paid for that sort of thinking?" Tony demanded.
She put one red-nailed finger over Tony's lips. "I was wrong. React. Don't think."
Tony was staring at the screen again. His eyes narrowed. "I need to make some calls. Did those other cases pan out?"
"I think you've found at least two of them."
"The swastika is important."
Tony looked at the crystal ball. "Let me finish printing this. Then, I'll do some phone work. You can find the rest of his kills."
"I'd rather stay with you." The FBI agent pouted.
"Too bad. Upstairs," Tony ordered. She sighed, but acquiesced. Once she had left the lab, Tony spoke again. "Abs, do you know any linguists? We need to identify the language, even if we can't translate it."
"Well, there was this one guy I was dating. I'll see if he's home. He travels a lot."
"So what's the story with her?"
"Ex-girlfriend. She's engaged now."
"And she's acting like that?" McGee squeaked.
Tony chuckled. "Jim would be more disappointed if she didn't flirt with me. For some reason he likes knowing that she's all his even when she's flirting." He shrugged. "It doesn't bother me, though I'll probably have to set the limits a little tighter so Gibbs doesn't get mean."
McGee stared at Tony for a moment, then his eyes narrowed. "Define limits?"
"Only torturing you and not being quite so blatant when there's security cameras watching us. She's only doing it to prove she can. Besides, from what I know, Gibbs will put her in her place if I don't. He just won't be as nice as I will."
Abby grinned wickedly. "So, you and Gibbs huh? Can I get pictures?"
Tony blinked at her, confused. Then, his cheeks flushed and his eyes got distant. "Okay, I didn't need that mental picture right now."
Abby laughed outright at that. "But it's such a nice picture."
"Thought you needed music for that." He turned back to his work.
"I've got music playing. You're just so used to it that you tune it out."
"No, I have earplugs, you just can't see them."
"I turned it down just for you." She batted her lashes. "Any luck on prints?"
"I've got a few. With my luck, it'll end up being the store clerk that sold it."
"Go on. Keep Gibbs from shooting your ex-girlfriend. And I want stories later, by the way."
Tony grinned at her. "I figured." He headed out of the lab. "Don't forget to talk to your linguist," he called over his shoulder.
Kate studied the FBI agent for a long moment. Gibbs had disappeared for a coffee and Tony was watching the feed. Angie was watching Tony. "Why do you call him 'Killer'?" Kate asked her.
She smirked. "Because he fits the profile. White male between the ages of 25 and 35. Difficulty in maintaining meaningful relationships with women. An interest in law enforcement."
"Angie-cat, shut up before I call your husband." Tony's voice was silky and dangerous and Kate couldn't help but stare. He blinked, then smiled boyishly at her.
"Tony-sweet, have you called Rafferty yet?"
"Why would I do that? I haven't caught this one."
Kate and Angie both looked at him in confusion. Kate's "Who's Rafferty?" was drowned out by Angie's "What does that have to do with the tea in China?"
"I only talk to Rafferty when I've been successful. I write to him and send him pictures and things whenever I feel like it. But I only talk to him or call him when I have something enjoyable to share."
"And enjoyable is having caught a killer, not just chasing one? He'd love to be in on the hunt."
"Last resort." Tony's mouth tightened. "Besides, the warden doesn't like me to get him too hyped up."
"Hyped up? Rafferty? What's he going to do? He's kept in isolation."
"I've tried to convince them that they should let him into general population. He'd have a lot more fun there, but the warden's worried about body-count."
"It would be a solution to overcrowding if he could pick off the ones who haven't really started yet," Angie said. "He's good at picking out potential. I studied everything he ever did. It's incredible how much information he gathered."
"Don't taunt a dog on a leash," Tony informed her. "I can't let him hunt, so I don't talk to him about hunting. That's why he won't do interviews."
Angie snorted. "Are you enjoying your viewing?"
Tony ignored her.
"Who's Rafferty?" Kate tried again.
"Rafferty Connely," Gibbs said as he walked into the area. "Back to work, DiNozzo." He pulled the younger man up from his chair.
"But, boss," Tony whined sarcastically, "it's just getting to the good part. You know, when he turns and puts his face to the camera so I can see who he is."
"Figure out why he picked you."
Abby bopped into the center of the desks. "It's some form of Romany."
"The note," Abby rolled her eyes. "So he thinks you're a gypsy."
Tony frowned at her for a long moment. "Oh. Damn. Boss, I need my address book."
"Don't you have it all on your PDA?" The young Goth put her hands on her hips.
"Only ones I need often."
Gibbs opened Tony's backpack and took out the thick, leather bound organizer. He pitched it with a soft under-hand toss. Tony caught it and flipped it open. Abby frowned. Tony ran through the pages quickly, looking for his own arcane version of notes. He dialed Gibbs' phone, then flipped the planner shut. "Dr. Jameson? This is Tony DiNozzo. I'm part of the gypsy project? Yeah, I know, I'm not terribly enthusiastic about it, but. . . no, Grandma's fine, thanks. Last I heard she was threatening to sue my father for being an idiot and she wants my lawyer involved. And no, she's still not talking to you, doesn't speak the dialect any more and considers herself gadjo now. I need two things, first, have you shared that clan-list with anyone recently? And second, do you know anyone who can translate Romany?" Tony rubbed his temple. "You seriously want blood for that?" He bit his lower lip. Abigail and Gibbs both reacted with raised brows. "Yes, I'll give you a vial for your genetic tracing, but I want the list and a translator by the time I get there." He hung up without saying goodbye. "That man is creepy. Hey, Abby, you want to come to the Holocaust Museum with me? Dr. Jameson will meet us there in about an hour."
"Holocaust Museum? Like behind the scenes? Sure. Not as cool as a date with Ducky under the Smithsonian, but still cool. Can I?" she asked Gibbs. She was trying out puppy-dog eyes. Kate rolled her eyes. Gibbs melted as he always did. He nodded. "Yes!" She gave him a hug. "I'll go get a print out of the screen." She practically skipped out of the room.
Angie snorted. "So, is she your new girl? I didn't think you went in for the Goth-look anymore. I mean, considering the lack of eye-liner. Although, it would explain the looks I got down in her lab."
"From Abby? Nah, she's just a good judge of character." Tony slung his back-pack onto his shoulder and leaned against Gibbs' desk. "And just because I wear eye-liner better than you do, doesn't mean you get to whine about it."
Kate's eyes narrowed. She really didn't like this Feeb.
"Meow, meow. Connely should have kept you on a choke collar."
"Raff likes me better than you." Tony batted his lashes. "What else should I ask Dr. Jameson about?"
"The killer seems to be targeting people of German descent. See if he can get you a list of names of concentration camp guards. Especially for the camps in Poland."
"Gram was in Treblinka," Tony offered. The rest of his team stared at him. "What?"
"I thought your grandmother was Italian."
"No, she married and Italian-American soldier who helped her after the camp. If she'd gone to Auschwitz, she'd probably be dead. But she was sent to a work camp because she was the lover of the Nazi official who was doing the paperwork." Tony shrugged. Abby stopped by the desk with the print out in hand.
"Ah, so that explains your tat issues. Come on, tell me all about her and about this doctor we're meeting. Creepy can be good." She hooked her arm through Tony's.
"Nah. None of your boys are creepy like Dr. Jameson. He's creepy in that sociopathic scientist way." Kate hid a smile as the two left. She didn't want to give Martins anything to work with.
Abby tangled her fingers into Tony's hair while he drove. Her grip tightened. "Slow down or else," she stated. He glanced at her with a quick grin. “I’m warning you. I will throw up on this nice interior.” That got the car slowed down. “So, does Agent Slutty’s fiancé know what you’re really like?”
“He should. He’s my ex.” Tony put a finger to his lips. “Shhh. Don’t tell Gibbs.”
“Are you kidding me? That kind of blackmail material will be kept for a rainy day. And to completely jump subjects, when are you going to introduce me to your pet serial killer?”
“What is ‘never in this lifetime’, Alex.”
“Bzzt. Wrong answer, Tony. I want to meet him. You at least have to get him to autograph my forensic psych text.”
“That I can manage. God, I hate traffic in this area. Think Gibbs will go freaky if we stop for Chinese before we head back?”
“Only if you don’t bring back a heavy dose of pork lo mein for him.” They shared a smile.
“Can’t forget the egg rolls. Are you going to let go of my hair any time soon?”
“Nope. I want you to look debauched when we get there.”
“Abs, are you getting territorial because of Angie or are you just trying to get Gibbs to smack me for getting laid on company time?”
“Actually, I heard rumors that you know Connely in a Biblical sense and want details, but watching Gibbs smack you is fun too. You know, if you weren’t such a sub, he wouldn’t get such a kick out of it.”
Tony laughed. “Trust me, if you’d known me when Angie met me, you’d hate me. Raff made sure I could hold my temper. She and my boss back then,” Tony shook his head. “Let’s just say, just before my enforced two week vacation with Raff, I screamed at my boss so much that I lost my voice for a day and a half.”
“And you didn’t get put on suspension?”
“Nah, he liked it. He screamed at me. I screamed at him. Didn’t matter because I was still the best and he was my boss. He knew I’d do what I was told as long as I could yell about it first. He used to wind me up just to watch me spin.”
“Like Gibbs frustrates you to see how long you’ll take it.”
“No, Gibbs I work for willingly. Okay, we’re going to have to walk from here.” Tony parked the car.
“Just a second.” Abby ruffled his hair and kissed him. “There, that’s better.”
He laughed and found a tissue to wipe the lipstick off with. “You are a tease.”
“You could try asking me out.”
“Gibbs would castrate me.”
Angela Martins was well-aware that she was insane. It was part of why she was so good at getting inside the heads of killers. She also had a taste for very dangerous activities. She’d learned that at the feet of the master of dangerous activities Rafferty Connely. As far as she knew the serial killer-serial killer had six law enforcement students. Tony was the one who’d managed to get enough evidence to catch him. That meant he was the golden child. It also meant that he was more dangerous than he appeared. She smirked to herself. He’d always been dangerous.
The man on the screen who was getting such a kick out of his tortures? He wasn’t dangerous enough to be appealing. She started her profile on the notepad Tony kept on his desk. He believed that his victims deserved this treatment. He was utterly dispassionate about the actual torture, as if it were just a set series of motions. Except, there was a shake in his right hand every so often when he had held a knife over the man’s chest. He was controlling his impulse to go for a kill shot.
“Are you trying to impress him?” she murmured at the screen. “Do you just want his attention or are you showing off thinking he’ll be proud of you?”
Agent Todd was talking quietly on the phone. She didn’t know who she was talking to, but it seemed to be professional and not personal. Too bad, it would have been nice to get some more on her. Angela tapped her pen on the pad. She jumped when a ball of paper hit her on top of the head. She looked up sharply, but couldn’t identify her attacker. Her eyes narrowed, this could easily become a war. She started tapping the pad again as she watched.
Yes, there it was – the crack. She had him. She hoped she could be there when this one went down.
“I’ve got lists. Do you have the profile?” Tony asked as he settled on the corner of Gibbs’ desk. He didn’t know if he wanted comfort or power right then, but being near Gibbs gave him both. Kate raised her brows. Angie looked up from the screen, a hunting smile on her face.
“I’ve got it started.” She crooked a finger at him. “Come look.”
“Share with the class, Angie-cat,” he chided.
“He’s between twenty-five and thirty. Younger than Tony by enough to make him feel it. He moves around a lot. He’s not used to staying as still as this little adventure is forcing him to. He’s broken his usual patterns in order to get Tony’s attention. He wants approval. He wants to impress you. He’s taking more time with this kill than he usually does, so his other kills aren’t this elaborate. We need to be looking for men of German decent in their mid-thirties who had a swastika painted on the wall or on their bodies. There’s going to be a slew of them, I’m sure. He only uses a knife, not a gun, so that should narrow things down.
“He is looking for revenge for what he sees as the death of his family. He thinks that Tony will be impressed by that and might be willing to help him. He wants connection, family.”
“Clan,” Tony corrected smoothly.
She dipped her head in acknowledgement. “He’s transient. No fixed address. What we’re seeing is something that can move. He wouldn’t invest in a piece of land. There’s a rhythm and balance to his cuts that makes me think he’s working off of a prior plan or ritual. I think he orchestrated this. And he’s not used to this much blood. He’s developing a taste for this amount of elaboration.” She frowned. “He may be trying to recreate something he was told about. He’s using their money and goods. What was missing from this victim’s home?”
“We don’t know. There was nothing obviously missing like a television, but we don’t have a way of knowing what should have been there. He was single.”
“Damn. He’s fencing things. Probably does odd-jobs for cash as well. He just doesn’t have a steady job.”
“Could he be something like a drug salesman? Someone who travels a lot?”
She considered that for a long moment. Tony watched her eyes focus inward. “No, I don’t think so. Nothing slick. He does construction maybe. Or something on a level with that. Firmly lower middle class. Although he’s good with technology. He might be doing freelance computer work, the sort of thing you could learn at ITT. Or laying out fiber networks. His family died recently. They were the ones keeping him steady. That’s why he’s looking for someone new. On the lists, weed out anyone with a wife and family.”
Tony nodded. “McGee, did you get anything on this guy?”
"I’ve narrowed the broadcast range down. He’s somewhere in Virginia, Maryland or Pennsylvania.”
“DiNozzo, report,” Gibbs said before Tony could snap at the younger agent. He looked over his shoulder at Gibbs who looked at him levelly. Damn the man for knowing when to pull him up short.
"I've got all the lists that Dr. Jameson had. Took three vials of blood, but I'll find a way to get reimbursed for that." Gibbs snorted. "And I have a list of people who have accessed those lists in the last year. It's longer than I'd hoped. Looks like there's been a resurgence in interest. Could be part of the whole ancestry craze. I'll start winnowing. Unless you want me to take over watching?" He raised his brows at Angie. She gave him a sly smile. She shook her head. She was enjoying it far too much. Not as much as she would someone with a more established pattern, but enough to be creepy to someone who didn't know her. It didn't bother Tony. Once you knew Rafferty, there was nothing that anyone could do to really creep you out.
"What was the translation?"
Tony sighed. "It was crap. It said 'Come join me, cousin, and have our revenge.'" Tony rolled his eyes. "It confirms part of the profile, but beyond that, it wasn't helpful. It did narrow down the clan lists though because of the dialect."
"But he's part of whatever clan you are," Angie stated. "That's why he wants your attention. He didn't pick you because you're a cop or he's from the area. He picked you because you don't have direct clan either anymore because of your relationship with your father."
"He couldn't know about that. It's not in the records. Only the line through my grandmother and mother."
"Are you sure? Is your father in the records?" she pressed.
He frowned. "No. Gram didn't talk about him. She couldn't stand him."
"So he thinks you're without a clan too." She nodded to herself. "He's trying to get revenge for the Holocaust. I think he's trying to recreate he heard something his grandparents talking about."
"Great. Now tell me how to find him."
She smirked at him. "He wants you to find him, Killer. Not me. There's something here for you and you alone."
Tony's eyes met hers for a long moment, brain clicking too fast for him to really grab any of the thoughts. "Stop looking in the Virginias, McGee. He's in Maryland or Pennsylvania."
"How do you know that?" Kate asked.
"If he wants me to find him, he'll be someplace I've been. Philly, Baltimore, DC. I don't go to Virginia unless I'm pulling Gibbs out from under his boat." Gibbs snorted behind him and Tony felt his lips curl up in satisfaction. It wasn't often he got a strong reaction from his boss. That didn't stop him from trying. "Will that help your broadcast search?"
"Yes." McGee's fingers were already moving to change the programming.
"Any luck on the family background?" he asked Kate.
She shook her head. "I don't know why he picked this victim."
"He has the right look,' Angie said calmly. "He looks like he could have been a camp commandant."
"No," Tony stated. "Look farther back. We need to know what his family was doing in the thirties and forties. This one is specially picked for me. Look up the guard names for Treblinka." He kept hold of Angie's eyes as he spoke.
"You think he's trying to get revenge for your grandmother?"
Angie crooked her finger at him. "You'll think better over here." She stood up. He took his seat after dropping the list on his desk. He glanced at the screen. Their killer was taking a break.
"Do you think he's moving the site?" he asked the profiler as she settled in his lap. She curled an arm around the back of his neck. He could smell the excitement on her skin. He wrapped his right arm around her waist. He answered his own question. "No, because he expects me to find him. He's also found someplace he feels safe. McGee can't trace his connection any further because. . ."
"Because he has someone on the inside," Kate murmured. "That's how he got the receiver on your machine. One of the tech people must have put it in for him. She reached for the phone. Tony assumed she would call personnel.
"Someplace safe," Tony he whispered. "Not the pier, too much traffic. Not a warehouse, it's too big. A campsite maybe. He could have built this into a trailer of some sort."
"Define safe," Angie purred into his ear. She ground against him as she shifted. He knew what she was trying to do, and unfortunately it was working. He settled his hand on her knee, holding her still as he thought.
"Someplace where he knows the terrain. He understands it. It's off-season, if he's at a campsite. An RV park or something. The walls aren't concrete, that's why he gagged him. He can't let the sound escape." He closed his eyes and let her snuggle closer. "He has to have a place to clean up outside of the camera's view, but before can go outside. This can't be the first person he's kidnapped. He had to practice. Just like playing an instrument."
Kate frowned at the tableau. Martins was theoretically engaged, but she was more than flirting with Tony. If she pushed any further, it was going to be an issue for HR. For all intents and purposes they were heavy petting in the middle of the office. If it weren't for the creepiest conversation she'd ever heard going on with it, she'd be telling Tony to just take her down to autopsy or something and get it out of their systems.
"Does he get off on the torture?" Tony asked her, voice low and velvety.
Martins stroked his cheek and nuzzled his hair. Kate's eyes narrowed, hair that was surprisingly rumpled after a long lunch with Abby. Abby wouldn't, would she – not with Tony. Martins seemed to enjoy the feel of it on her face. "No. Not the torture, but he does get gratification from the kill. This is just to get your attention. The way Bledsoe did in Philly by leaving you packages of organs."
"But Bledsoe did that for all his victims. This one's been functioning for awhile."
"No, not that long in the scheme of things. Not like Green River or BTK. Maybe a year at the outside. He got lonely. He knows he needs a family. He can't do this on his own."
Tony made a hum of attention, but his eyes were closed. "What does he need, Angie-cat? What should I give him to come to me? An announcement in a the papers? Something on-line? Or do I just find the tech that's helping him and lean on him?"
"Find the tech. Then, we'll figure it out. You need to go to him, he won't come to you."
"He thinks I'm nomadic."
"Been over two years here."
"There's reasons for that though. It's not just the job?"
"No, not just the job," Tony answered. "He wouldn't want to be in Philly. Why compete with Raff?"
"What address does that list have for you?"
"DC. But there's no place he'd feel safe in DC."
"What does he need to stay hidden?"
"He's not hiding. He's acting the way he always has. He's only hiding his victim."
"Tony," Angie purred at him. She ground into his lap. "Where is he?"
"Maryland," he said firmly.
Kate's phone rang. "Hello?"
"I have the listing of techs you wanted, Agent Todd," the young man on the other end of the phone said. "You'll need to review it in my office though."
"I'll be right down." She hung up. "Tony, I need that list."
Tony leaned forward. He handed a copy to her. She didn't let herself glare at Martins. The profiler only glanced at her. Her fingers were curled around Tony's tie. It looked as if she were tightening it. Tony gently moved her hand away. "Not my thing," he murmured. "That's all yours." Martins' fingers found his lapel and wrapped around that instead. Her partner's eyes were distant and unfocused when he leaned back in his chair. She was fairly certain it was how his eyes looked behind his lids when he was "meditating". She left them there and went to do something that might actually give them hard evidence to support the profile that Martins was giving them.
Gibbs watched Tony through narrowed eyes. The instant he didn't feel the case was being helped by Martins' actions, he'd step in. Right now, while it was annoying, it wasn't detrimental. He still started a mental note to defend their actions to HR. Heavy petting in the office was frowned upon. That was a shame really because just look at the show they were putting on. He corralled his thoughts. He looked down at the copy of the background information Kate at dug up about their victim. He wasn't a stand out in any way beyond being considered reliable. He had a few reprimands and a few commendations in his file. He seemed pretty much an average man, doing an average job. He didn't have a lover that anyone knew about. There had to be something interesting about the man, but they had yet to find it.
"DiNozzo," he barked.
"Yes, Boss?" Tony looked at him with the hazy, half-focused eyes he got when he was busy thinking.
"How did he get access to the living quarters?"
"He asked someone to let him in. A woman. So he could 'surprise' his lover."
"She let him into the apartment or just onto the base?"
"Smuggled him out of the hospital side. He took the victim's car to leave. No one looked at the driver leaving the way they would have coming onto the base."
Tony's eyes sharpened. He'd been given a target to hunt and that always worked to excite him. He left Martins to her own devices and sauntered across to Gibbs' desk. He gave Gibbs a slow, seductive smile. "Can I use your computer?"
Gibbs nodded, rolling back with the print outs he was reading. Tony stopped his chair with a foot. Gibbs raised a brow. Tony leaned down to murmur into Gibbs' ear. "She's going to need to take a break soon. Somewhere private or she'll spin me up too high and we'll get into trouble. Smack her down. Take control or she's going to keep pushing the envelope." He winked. "Just don't really smack her. She'll think it's foreplay."
Gibbs smirked, but didn't comment. That could be interesting, but there really wasn't time for that. Besides, she was engaged. "Martins, head home. Be back tomorrow at seven. McGee, report on my desk before you go. Approach it fresh in the morning."
"What about me, boss?"
"Find the one who let him in."
Tony didn't bother to find a chair. He just went down on one knee and started typing. Gibbs hemmed him in casually and saw his shoulders loosen. Martins gathered her things. She handed Gibbs her card. "Call me as soon as he comes back on line. The timing could be important." Gibbs nodded. Her lips curled up. "See you later, Killer. Jim'll be here tomorrow."
"Goodnight, Angie-cat." She strode away, wiggling a little too much to be considered professional. "If there wasn't work to be done," Tony murmured.
"Only if you set up a camera," Gibbs said, voice low enough for Tony's ears only. The younger man's eyes snapped to his, searching his face. Then, Tony smiled slyly.
"I'm sure it could be arranged."
"Your knee going to be okay, working like that?"
Tony nodded. Gibbs went back to his own work. Eventually, McGee turned in his report. The young man looked at Tony for a long moment, but he didn't voice the questions that had run across his face. Instead, he packed up and left. "Go home, Kate."
"Sleep well." Tony barely turned his head. "We'll find him tomorrow or the next day and you'll need to be ready to keep him alive because right now, I'm his biggest danger."
The female agent blinked. "You won't kill him unless he attacks you. I don't care what she says."
Tony offered her a thin smile with narrowed eyes. "Thanks. Goodnight."
"Don't stay too late, okay?"
"Go home before I change my mind." Gibbs leaned over his printouts, leaning them into the light. When the elevator doors swished closed behind her, Tony sat down heavily. He leaned against the wall behind his boss' desk and closed his eyes. He didn't look tired. "If I send you home, will you sleep?"
"God no." Tony's fingers trembled slightly. "I'd forgotten this part of it. The rush of finding the crack in his armor. It's like the best sex in the world. This is why I will never go to the FBI. They'll want me to do this all the time and it's addictive."
"Do you know where he is?"
"I think so, but I need proof. McGee's search should get us a warrant."
"You don't think he's going to move again?"
"No, he wants me to find him. He has to stay still. Kate should have the tech by noon. The tech will give us the name. The name will give us the proof the judges want. Angie-cat has his profile written. She wants to stay for the take-down though. Not many people let her. They see her get crazy and judge her for it."
"Tell me what you need."
"I need to stay here. Right here. Just for a little while longer."
Gibbs nodded. "Did you find her?"
"I think so. I should have confirmation in the morning. Joe Spivey is in North Carolina. He's going to do the interviews."
Gibbs grunted. It was a good two hours before Tony curled up and fell asleep. Gibbs draped his windbreaker over the younger man and turned out the desk lamp.
"Did you really sleep here?" Angie demanded. Tony didn't answer here, just curled up a little more tightly under Gibbs' windbreaker. He didn't have to get up until Gibbs barked at him.
Kate's laughter was unexpected. It was a sharp crack of sound that did bring him to full wakefulness. He didn't want to miss the cat-fight. "Of course he slept here. It's a hot case for him. He actually has a toothbrush in his desk for just this sort of morning."
"And underwear in the file cabinet," Tony said. He looked up and got a wonderful view of Angie's cleavage. He pushed himself up.
Gibbs came around the corner with a cup of coffee. He frowned at the younger man. "Damn. You're up."
Tony smirked. "I can go back to sleep if you want."
The silver haired agent shook his head. "Get presentable. Report in twenty."
"Right, boss." Tony collected his things. He glanced at the computer screen. "Our boy's not up yet. He's still got his out of office screen up."
"Martins, you monitor."
Angie directed a lazy and insulting two fingered salute at Gibbs which she'd blatently stolen from Tony in Philly. It was nothing like the one he occasionally shot at his boss to prove he was listening. Oh, she was begging so sweetly for a spanking and Tony just didn't have time. He made sure to brush against her as she passed him to get to his chair. She put her feet up on the desk, exposing a lot more leg than she ought too and just a hint of her garters. She looked like a wet-dream secretary and it was going to throw McGee off his game. With a frown, he picked up her ankles with one hand and dropped them off the desk. Her brows rose in question. He narrowed his eyes at her, hoping she'd see the anger and intent in his glare. She folded her hands neatly in her lap and looked up at him sweetly. She was in a mood.
"Seventeen minutes, DiNozzo."
"Right, boss." She was Gibbs' problem then, obviously. Tony had a time-table to beat.
He made quick work of his shower and changed into the spare clothes he kept in his locker. He fingered the jeans longingly. Too bad it wasn't a weekend.
"Hey, DiNozzo, Gibbs finally trade you in for a red-head?" Balboa asked as they passed in the hall.
"I'm worth more than just one red-head." Tony gave his friend a wink and a grin and made it to the quiet haven of the elevator without running into anyone else. He leaned against the back. It opened on the amusing vision of Abby in a short skirt over her leggings as she fussed with an artfully deconstructed shirt. "Need a hand?"
She stepped into the elevator. "Figure out where this button goes." He studied the shirt, then realigned her buttons so that the collar was no longer attempting to choke her. That was the dog-collar's job after all.
"There. All better."
"I saw your ex-girlfriend's here. Think Kate's going to shoot her today?"
"She's got a higher tolerance than that. If we're lucky, Gibbs will put her over his knee. It's always fun to see her get what's coming to her. Think Ducky's still got that riding crop in his office."
Abby giggled. "Have you introduced them yet?"
"No, and I don't plan on it. That's dangerous thinking, sweetheart."
"So, you slept here, huh?"
"What gave me away?"
"The spiky hair. It only gets that way when you're in a hurry and don't have product enough to tame it." She paused. "Or was that time enough to tame it. The bossman has you on a short leash right now doesn't he?"
"Let's just say, I was given a tight deadline. What do you have for us, Goddess of the Evidence rooms?" he asked as they made it to the bullpen.
She tweaked his nose. "I have some DMV hits on the clan list you gave me. I also, have a reflection from the feed."
"I thought you weren't watching that."
"It's too late. I've already seen it. Tim won't watch any more. And I promise not to watch until it's time for analysis."
"Good," Gibbs grunted.
"Spivey is supposed to get back to me today," Tony said without bothering to look at his boss. He settled against the wall near Kate's desk. "He's interviewing Maria Carbellis. She was the nurse manning the reception station. She took a long lunch with a man they assumed was her boyfriend from the way he was chatting with her. He gave her a rose. It was pink and red, which if he's a traditionalist, means friendship turning into love. He's also going to be getting us the video feed from the front desk. I had the warrant faxed down to him last night."
Spivey was on their watch-list of agents to promote. Working with the best team in the country would be a feather in his cap. It would be a bigger one if they found something to note in his file. He was one of their kids from between Vivian and Kate.
"I cross-referenced the clan-list with the techs and got two hits." Tony bit his tongue to keep from blurting out their names. This was Kate's time to shine. "Brandon Tarkesh and Marcellis Vetter. I've got them meeting me in interrogation."
"DiNozzo will talk to them," Gibbs interrupted. "The truck?"
"Trailer," Angie broke in. "He's got a trailer. Maybe it's on a hitch. Maybe he's just sound-proofed an area of the RV, but it's not a truck. It belonged to whoever died, whoever he's doing this for."
"His grandparents." Tony looked down at the personnel files in his hands so that he wouldn't see Angie's smile. She knew that his profile was better than hers. And that wasn't pride talking. This kill was for him, so of course he'd see the answers more clearly.
"I've narrowed the search down the Maryland. There are several parks that have RV camping."
"I have a partial reflection of his face." She pulled up the photo on the big screen. "If you look here," she traced the image lovingly, "you can see dark hair and eyes. He's got a gold earring, but I couldn't get it any clearer than this."
"That's a start."
"It's a gold ring. He probably has both ears pierced." Tony fingered his own lobe. "It's traditional and our boy seems to be a lover of tradition."
"McGee, the list. Abby, the list of DMV hits with pictures. Did you narrow it down by age?"
"Yep. No one older than Tony on it. No one younger than eighteen."
Gibbs nodded. "Martins, I want a formal, written profile on my desk by noon. I'll take the feed. DiNozzo, break the techs. Kate, find me the vehicle."
They scattered to their tasks.
Tony flopped down in the chair across from Tarkesh. "Here's the deal. You talk to me and tell me what I need to know, you don't have to talk to Gibbs. You don't talk to me, I call and interrupt the boss right during his coffee run and get him down here without his coffee. You choose."
Brandon swallowed hard. "What do you want to know?"
Tony interrogated the tech for half an hour before deciding to leave him flopping on the line just in case. "I'll be back," he stated. "Don't go anywhere now."
Vetter was in the next room over. Tony studied him for a long moment through the two-way mirror. Yes, this was the one he needed to break. He strode into the room, looking at the file in his hand. It was stills of their victim being tortured. He sat down and put his feet up on the table. "Vetter," he greeted. "You worked on my machine a few nights ago, right?"
The tech nodded. "Yeah. I installed a new video card and upgraded the memory. I did all four computers in your area. What's up?"
"According to McGee, some extra software was added to my machine. It's allowing a streaming video to be sent directly to the machine. You have any ideas?"
"Huh. Well, they'd have to get your IP address. And we don't used a fixed IP for your machines." Vetter frowned. "Unless the settings were changed on yours."
"I'll have McGee take a look at that. Did you see anyone unusual during that time? Someone who didn't seem like they should be there?"
"Someone working later than you and Gibbs?" The tech raised his brows. "No, there wasn't anyone there."
Tony frowned. "Damn. I was hoping you'd seen whoever it was. Oh, Dr. Vampire from the Holocaust Museum is working up some DNA profiles. He wanted to know if you'd donate."
Vetter blinked his dark eyes. "Dr. Jameson? How'd you find that out?"
"He tagged me about it." Tony rolled his eyes. "He really wants my Nonna, but she won't give him the time of day."
"My parents won't either. Are you part of the gypsy project then?"
Tony sat up, dropping the file on the table in disgust. Two of the stills just "happened" to fall out of it. "Gypsy project. We're the same clan, by the way. On my mother's side."
"Really." Vetter's voice was choked. "What the Hell are those?"
"Those are from the feed." Tony turned them to face the man. "Some sick fuck is using that feed to send me an all-torture channel. So, if you can think of anything that can help?"
"His name is Luke. Luca." Tony nodded once. Vetter leaned forward. "Cooper, but he's traveling under Carter." The tech's eyes dropped to the pictures. "He said he just wanted a way to contact you, not that it'd be anything illegal."
"You could have given him my phone number."
The other man rolled his eyes.
Tony snorted. "Yeah. I know. Guess him sending an email was out too? Don't go anywhere." The field agent sighed. "I know why you did it, but I still have to report it."
"I know." Vetter's head dropped. "Just, find him. He's drawing too much attention."
Tony winked. He made a quick call to the security office and sent them down to talk to Vetter. Then, he turned Tarkesh loose with a handshake.
"Abby, look for Luke Carter. No middle name. Might be Luca."
"Don't I even get a hello?" The Goth looked over her shoulder at Tony.
"Hello, Abby. How are you today?" Tony pushed his voice into a higher timber. "And how long will the search take?"
"Be careful, buster. I'll call Gibbs down on you." She wagged a finger at him. "It should pull right about, now. I've got fifteen 'Luke's, four 'Luka's and no 'Carter's."
"Roger that. I've got fifty 'Cooper's, but only three Luke Coopers." She handed Tony a printout with a flourish. "TaDa."
"Thanks, Abs." Tony headed upstairs.
Martins looked up at DiNozzo. Her eyes brightened and her lips curled up. "You have a scent," she stated.
Gibbs looked at his second. DiNozzo, well-trained at this point, started talking. "The tech gave me a name. Abby's got three possibles from the DMV. Pictures should be ready by now. I've got the addresses on their licenses, but we all know those are meaningless."
"How do we all know that?" McGee asked.
"Most gypsies don't use their home address on paperwork for the government."
The younger agent frowned. "You do."
"I'm also a cop. And no, I don't. I use my lawyer's address. Except with Gibbs because we all know that Gibbs would skin me if I lied to him."
Gibbs smirked. "Bring up the pictures. McGee." Tony handed the paper to the younger man.
"Checking the RV Parks now."
Martins crooked her finger at DiNozzo. "He's live again."
DiNozzo went to watch the feed. Martins settled on his lap and Tony held her as if she were Abby.
"Where's my profile Martins?" Gibbs asked.
"On your desk. I printed it out last night. Come on, Killer. Tell me something special."
"You don't order me around, remember?" DiNozzo's voice was soft over a core of steel. "This is my hunt. You're just a guest. Remember that."
Martins snorted. "Tell me something special about this one, please?" Her voice was high and sweet. McGee looked up in surprise. Kate glared over the top of her screen.
"I've got a trailer and an SUV registered to Luke Cooper in Virginia."
"Send me the tag." The computer geek had his own hunting look on. Gibbs strode out of the office to get himself a refill and provide Abby with a Caf-Pow. She deserved it.
"Good. Gruff and grumbly is gone." Angie ground into Tony's lap.
She looked down at him and rolled her eyes. Something flashed through his veins, hot and angry. "Oh, I love it when you get that look in your eye."
Tony dialed Jim's number from memory. Jim was laughing when he answered. "Anything you want. You know her limits."
"Thanks, Sir." He hung up. "Come on." He escorted her to the elevator. She looked at him with smug satisfaction.
"So, where are we going? Lunch?" Her voice rang clear as the doors shut. Tony hit the basement button. When they were between floors, he stopped the elevator. The security crew was used to it. There were no cameras in the elevator. Abby had made sure of that. Tony just looked at the FBI agent for a long moment. She cocked her head to the side. "What's up, Killer?" She smirked. "Need to release some tension?"
Tony struck, slamming her into the doors of the elevator. He wrapped a hand around her throat and kissed her. "Now, you listen to me, Angie-cat. You've been pushing and pushing and I'm not going to put up with it any longer. This isn't Philly. These three aren't going to magically not notice your behavior. I know you're revved up over this, but you are going to be a good girl and wait for your lover." He tightened his grip.
She licked her lips, eyes dilating.
"And you don't get any relief until he gets here. You will be a good little FBI agent and stop with the sex-kitten bullshit. It's not who you need to be here. It's not what I want from you." His fingers bit into her throat and she began to look a little alarmed. "You and Cam call me 'Killer' for a reason, remember?" He did his best to keep his voice level. "I have a leash on it, but you're pressing me and I don't like it. Jim just gave me carte blanche with you and I know you don't want that either, do you?"
She shook her head. She rested a hand against his wrist. He released her throat. "Just a little teasing?" she pleaded. "Your rookie looks so good in red."
"And you look better in black and blue, but I'm not going to let that stop me from working. Get a leash on it or I will take you down. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, Tony. I'll be good. You're ruining all my fun."
"My forensic scientist is already planning how to kill you and hide the body. You don't want Kate to save her the trouble."
"That pretty little Goth is threatening to kill me?"
"That pretty little Goth is a genius. And she's like a sister to me." He smiled at her thinly. "A lot like you are. And I am the big brother in this twisted little family we've got."
She scowled. "I still don't know why he won't take my calls!"
"You're not me. I'll pass along your regards. Now, straighten your skirt, fix your scarf and get ready to go back to work."
She opened her mouth. He held up his index finger. Her mouth snapped shut. "Fine. Give my regards to Rafferty. You're still going to let me stay and see this one taken down, right?" She bit her lip.
"As long as you don't piss off my team anymore."
"Right. I can do that." She sighed. "I sort of miss the old you." She straightened his collar. "Right about now my panties would be on the floor and you'd be ramming me into the wall."
He shrugged. "But at least I haven't screamed my voice away."
"True. But that was fun to watch too."
Tony started the elevator. They picked up Gibbs on the first floor and returned to the bullpen.
McGee started talking as soon as the three entered the bullpen. "I've got the trailer at Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland."
"DiNozzo, get the warrant. Kate, call the Park Police. I want an ambulance, Ducky, and get Balboa and Eriksson. Martins, you armed?"
"Yes." She nodded. Her lipstick was a little smeared and her scarf was tied differently now, but she also seemed calmer. Gibbs didn't really give a damn why. The look in her eyes was feral, but leashed. He'd let her and Tony run after this one. This one didn't deserve to come in unscathed.
"Warrant will meet us at the van. I'll get Balboa and Eriksson."
"McGee, get three cars. Martins, you ride with me. Kate you're with McGee." Balboa and Eriksson jogged up to the bullpen, Tony lagging behind a few steps. "DiNozzo, pick up the warrant. You ride with these two. Get them up to speed."
"Ambulance is on standby. Ducky and Palmer have their van ready."
"We're going in to try to save the life of a hostage who's being tortured," DiNozzo said bluntly. "He'll be in bad shape. The bastard we're going after is Luka Cooper. We're not sure whether he's doing this or if he just facilitated the doing. He kidnapped a Marine. We're assuming he or the person in the RV's armed and dangerous. You'll want weapons and jackets." Tony took off his suitcoat and replaced it with his windbreaker. He moved off with the other two agents, taking the lead instinctively. Gibbs hid his smile. That was the Tony he'd met in Baltimore with a pretty partner who called him "Cary" every time he called her "Lana."
Martins on the other hand was thrumming with energy. She took off her scarf, leaving it draped over Tony's monitor. She checked the gun she carried high on her thigh and moved her knife down to her ankle. "You can run in those?"
"I can do anything in these heels," she purred, cocking a hip in his direction. "You should see my spin-kick." She pulled her hair back and then deftly secured it with her scarf. Kate raised a mildly impressed brow as she strapped on her bullet-proof vest. "Do you have an extra vest, School-girl?"
"I'd rather see you shot." Kate's voice was dry. She handed over the extra female vest without pause. She was securing her own weapon and extra ammo.
This case was mostly guesswork and hunches. If they didn't play it completely by the book from here on out, the bastard might wriggle out of it. Gibbs didn't plan on that happening. "Move out."
Angie fidgeted in her seat. She was still horny, damn Tony to the pits of Hell. Gibbs didn't look at her except out of the corner of his eye. That was a good thing, considering the way he drove. "And I thought Killer was bad with the driving. Jesus, will you at least consider staying in a lane?"
"Listen carefully to me, Martins. I'm going to let you and Tony run this son of a bitch down if we need to. I'm not even going to blink if he comes in a little bloody. But if you distract my agent, or you fuck up this arrest, I'll beat you myself. Are we clear?"
She licked her lips. "Crystal. So, Gibbs, have you been exploring this domination kink with my ex-boyfriend? Enquiring minds want to know."
Gibbs snorted. "Tony is my second in command."
"That's not an answer. Hell, Cam was willing to take him over a desk if he'd just agree. I spent half of my time with him pushed up against walls in the parking garage or the elevator. And it was damned good."
"You're engaged. Remember?"
Angela smiled. "Yeah. Tony's going to be my maid of honor. Only fitting. I would have him give me away, but my father would shoot him."
"How well does he know Jim? That name didn't come up during our background check."
"You're a gossip!" she said. She clapped her hands in delight. "Tony finally found someone who's just like him. I'm so happy. He knew Jim for as long as he was in Philly. He introduced me to him after all. He worked at Jim's bar when he needed something to keep himself busy and not drinking."
Gibbs nodded. "And Cameron never knew him."
She laughed outright at that. "Cameron didn't care about Killer outside of work. Well, he didn't care unless it meant that he was willing to bend over and give him a shot. I should have killed that fucker."
"Nah. There's too much paperwork. Just set him up." Gibbs' lips had curled up. "I nearly punched him myself. Only managed to keep from doing it because I had a probie waiting for me in my office."
"You know about his degree right? He hasn't been hiding that?"
"The Masters? No it's a job requirement. He couldn't make senior field agent without it."
"What's your degree in then?"
"Military history. Naval battles."
"Wow. That's a lot more esoteric than I'd guessed. I thought you'd be a criminal justice major."
Gibbs snorted. "I know the law. I'm not going to be bothered spending my own damned money on it. Hang on."
Angie gulped, grabbed her seatbelt and prayed. "Remember not to kill us until after we catch the unsub. Okay?"
The grey haired man shook his head. "You and Tony wouldn't last. You know that."
"Yeah. But that doesn't mean I want to see him hurt. If that means stealing him for the FBI, that's what I'll do. If that means getting a collar on him and dragging him out of DC by a leash, that's what I'll do. And if it mean getting Connelly to tell me all his deep dark secrets. I'd do that too."
"Tony's not going anywhere. I've got his six." His voice was gentle.
"You better or I'll kill you." That got her nothing more than a smug smile. "Oh, now that's just a challenge. You know that right?" She loosened her deathgrip on the seat belt and rearranged herself. "Holy shit! Don't you have a siren or something when you drive like this?" Her knuckles returned to white on the thick fabric strap.
"How long was Tony involved with Jim?"
"I told you from when he started in Philly."
Gibbs grunted. "And you were a fling. So why do you give a damn?"
"He's Tony." That was all she could think of to say for a long moment because she was swallowing a scream as they passed a line of traffic and barely missed an eighteen wheeler. "Do you and Killer have some sort of competition going on? Who can give me a heart attack first? You're winning."
"Oh, you're just a sadist. I get that. I do. Now, run me through this take down, Gibbs. I'm not an NCIS cowboy."
"You'll be fine." He swerved back into a lane. "And I won't cry too much if this motherfucker ends up dead."
She smiled. "I wondered where the Marine in you was hiding."
Tony took the safety off of his gun and pulled on his windbreaker. He put his favorite cap on his head. Dressed in his armor, he turned to Balboa and Eriksson. "Balboa, find the head of the Park Police. Eriksson, start getting people corralled. No one leaves."
McGee popped out of the evidence van with Kate. Ducky and Palmer arrived shortly later. They fell into a light conversation with the EMT team that was waiting there. Ducky'd seen a few of the stills from the torture. Hopefully, he'd be able to give the EMT's more information. Gibbs' car screeched to a halt. Tony's sharp eyes sought Angie's reaction. She was pale and looked like she wanted to throw up. A twitch of a smile made his lips curl up at that. She shook out her right hand as she got out. She headed straight for him. Gibbs headed straight for the park police.
"Jesus fuck, that man is a menace."
"I know. Ain't it great. Can you shoot with that hand?"
"I shoot with my left and you know it."
"Gibbs give you an overview of how we do things?"
"Nothing I didn't learn at Quantico. Except you don't always negotiate."
Tony gave her a cruel little smile. "Less paperwork for the military."
Her mouth turned up and a flush of excitement bloomed over her cheeks. "Will you fuck me after we get him?"
"Nah. You'll have to wait for Jim."
Eriksson coughed and changed his trajectory away from them. "I'll, ah, just got help McGee with the taping or something."
"I think you scared him," Tony informed the FBI agent.
"DiNozzo." Gibbs' voice was like a whip. Tony's head snapped up with immediate obedience. The Senior agent nodded once. Yes, the leash was off and it was time to hunt. Thank whatever God would still listen to him.
"Martins. Todd. With me." The two women flanked him immediately. He was mildly surprised that they didn't snap at one another. The row of RV's on the right was eerily quiet. There was an orange marmalade cat curled up on one of the dashboards. A maze of lawn chairs, pink flamingos, cars, and awning wires let them approach the last RV on the line obliquely. Tony's ears pricked at the sound of someone following them. A glance in the shiny surface of the Airstream told him it was Balboa. That meant Gibbs was sliding along with his usual cat-like stealth.
The air was heavy with pollen and blooming flowers that were twined into the undergrowth of the blooming trees. A dappled pattern of shadows played over the cheap white side of the RV. A construction grade pick-up truck of dark navy blue was parked next to it. There was no decoration in the slot, and no awning up, making it seem abandoned. He gestured Kate forward and she slipped to the front and left side, covering the door and the truck. He waved Angie forward with his other hand, all of his attention on the door and RV. Gibbs had his six after all. Angie pressed against the side of the RV, gun in hand. Kate made a small moue of distaste when it became clear that she wasn't going to be clearing the RV with him.
Tony glanced back to see how Gibbs had set himself up. Balboa was covering the front door from the right. Gibbs was behind Tony. The older man glanced around, then inclined his head slightly. Tony pounded on the door. It jumped under his hand, frail and thin, like a aluminium screen door would be. "NCIS, open then door." His voice echoed back to him slightly, making him feel like a voice over announcer for a fight. Tony glanced at Angie. Her eyes reflected the hungry fire he knew his own had. The hunt tasted so good. It would be so easy to become what Connely wanted. He could see Angie standing on the edge of that knife as well. "NCIS," he called once more. He pulled the door open. It hadn't been locked. He and Angie cleared the front room.
The air was stale and smelled of cigarettes, cheap incense, and cooking grease. Under it though, was the tang of copper and decay. A map of the park was pinned to the wall. A host of electronics was against the back wall along with another door. There was one more door. Angie flipped the door open to reveal a tight bathroom with nothing more than a shower stall and toilet. The sink was outside, a part of a cheap kitchenette area. That left the last room. Tony flipped the latch at the top open, then pulled the door open. The overwhelming smell of blood, urine, and shit was mixed with the unmistakable smell of fear.
Rogers pulled feebly at his restraints. His eyes were focused on nothing. He was still alive, but just barely. "Staff Sergeant," Tony barked in his best Gunny Gibbs imitation. The man stilled. His eyes seemed to focus as well as could be expected through the bruised and swollen lids. "Sgt. Rogers, you're safe now. My name is Tony DiNozzo. I'm with NCIS. We'll have you out of here and to a hospital in no time. You did good, Marine." Tony undid the restraints. "I'm going to get my partner to come stay with you while you wait for the EMT's. Her name is Kate Todd. She used to protect the president." He leaned down. "Not to mention, she's pretty damned hot in a bullet-proof vest." A vague glimmer of interest flashed in Rogers' eyes. Tony squeezed the man's hand.
Angie was in the main room, studying the maps when he came out. "Clear! Bring the ambulance down. He's still alive!" Tony called out the front door. Angie was past him a moment later, focussing on the hunt still. He glanced over the map, seeing what he was sure she'd seen as well. "Kate, come stay with Rogers. He's in bad shape, but still alive. Just keep talking to him, okay? Make him believe it's safe. He's still trying to fight." Kate nodded. "I'm going after Cooper."
Tony followed Angie down the gravel trail. He could hear her feet moving on the trail. Angie was made for the inner city, not the woods. Tony had Gibbs to teach him all the back-woods tracking he'd never wanted to learn. A hunt was a hunt, however. He saw the man just beyond Angie. He was dressed in all black except for a red wristband on his left arm and a red scarf at his neck. His black tee-shirt showed off corded muscles on his arms and chest. His bright gold earrings glittered in the sun like a homing beacon. His hair flopped into his eyes, making Tony's seem tame by comparison.
"Luka! It's Tony. Didn't you want to talk to me?"
Cooper scowled at Angie. She still had her gun in her hand and looked ready to use it. "Who is she?" His anger and distaste were easy to read.
"My girlfriend." Cooper relaxed a bit at that. Tony drew up next to Angie. He had faith that Gibbs would follow. Angie put her gun away, making a point to draw up her skirt and give Cooper a good view of her leg. He smiled appreciatively at the effort. "So, you want to tell me what's happening here, Luka?"
"Revenge. Isn't it wonderful?" This close Tony could tell how short he was. There was a hunting knife at his waist and a high-quality digital camera on his shoulder. Luka, it seemed, only like hunting humans. He smiled broadly showing crooked, nicotine stained teeth.
"Luka Cooper, you are under arrest for the abduction and attempted murder of Staff Sergeant Rogers. Put your hands on your head and kneel down."
Cooper laughed at that. "You won't arrest me, cousin." His smile was smug. "Does your girlfriend like playing cops and robbers?"
Tony leveled his gun on the suspect. He sighted down it, ready to place a bullet in his skull if he attacked. "You'd be surprised. Hands on your head. Now."
Cooper took off at a sprint. Angie bolted after him. Tony took half a breath to gauge the terrain. He took off. His longer legs gave him an advantage. He tackled Cooper with a sack that would have made his old coach proud. Angie stepped on the wrist closets to the knife. Tony flipped the knife out of its holster and away. He moved the camera out of reach. He put his gun into its holster. Angie had her gun sighted on the back of the man's head. Tony cuffed him. He twisted each arm just a little more harshly than necessary. He was angry. He wanted a fight, not this cowardly run. "You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights?"
"Fuck off." The words were soft, but Tony pushed his knee into the man's back a little more. He didn't do anything more violent though. Gibbs was right there. Gibbs wasn't Cam. He wouldn't turn a blind eye to it. Gibbs pulled Cooper to his feet as Tony got to his feet. There were blood running down Coopers' face from sharp bits of gravel and a split lip. He spat at Gibbs. "Don't touch me."
"Hey now." Tony shook Cooper by the back of the neck. "Let's go."
Gibbs turned on his radio. "McGee, bring one of the cars to the scene." His wolf-blue eyes were assessing. He took possession of Cooper and Tony stepped back to guard him. Tony just had to last until he could find a gym or get home and make a phone call. Angie walked next to him, her shoulders tight with emotion. Her cheeks were flushed with excitement. He wanted to throw her against the nearest tree and fuck her until neither of them could stand, but that could never happen. They were professionals, not Connely's proxy-killers.
Director Morrow leaned against the wall in the interrogation observation room. "I'm surprised he didn't fall down the stairs on the way here," he commented to Gibbs.
"No stairs available."
Tom smiled at that. "DiNozzo's doing the interrogation?"
Gibbs just nodded.
"I think I might just stay and watch."
Tony rolled his shoulders. "Well, it's all over except the paperwork and interviewing Rogers. Did you call Jim?"
Angie nodded. "He's on the way here." Adrenaline made her stomach sour. "It wasn't enough. A few pieces of gravel and a lifetime in jail or a psych ward. It's nothing compared to what he's done."
"It never is." Tony paced between the desks. School-girl was scowling at her computer. "You can use my machine to type up your report. I'm going for coffee."
"I'll come with you," Timothy offered. "I need to take something to Abby."
Angie wanted to kiss him for that. Killer didn't need to be alone right then. His eyes were still a little dangerous, making him look like a caged animal. She was sure her own didn't look any better. She stretched and twisted to get rid of the tightness in her back from the bulletproof jacket. If that had the effect of showing off her cleavage or shortening her skirt, that was just a plus.
She could feel Tony's boss frowning at her and pulled her shirt back down. She unwove the scarf from her hair and used it to cover the darkening bruises around her throat that Tony had left. The ring of black and blue didn't bother her. She rather liked being marked by him. She fixed her lipstick and hair. Jim was coming after all and she wanted to look her best. School-girl Todd rolled her eyes at her. Angie stuck her tongue out.
"Ladies." The grey-haired man's voice was mild, but it was enough to reign in the want for now. God, where the fuck was Jim?
"Tony?" Tim put a hand on the older man's arm, only to have it thrown off.
"Not a good idea to touch me right now, Probie."
McGee assessed the look on the senior field agent's face. He put his hand back on his arm. "You need some grounding. I don't think you should go to the coffee shop right now. You should go see Abby or Ducky."
Tony grimaced at the hand. "Abby will want to hug me and Ducky will want me to talk to him."
"And you think going to someplace with a lot of people is a good idea?"
"When did you grow a pair anyway?"
Tim ignored that. He knew he was right. "Go to the roof or the gym. You're more tense than I've ever seen you. And if you're tense, Gibbs is going to be horrible."
That startled a laugh out of Tony. "Okay. Bring me back a chai latte, Angie'll have a green tea. You know everyone else." Tony gave him two twenties. "I'll be on the roof trying to make sure I don't scare the natives. That work for you, McGee?"
McGee just nodded.
"Then stop touching me."
He dropped his hand.
Angie wrapped herself around her fiancee with something like desperation. Jim held her for a long moment before he looked toward Tony. His breath caught. He hadn't seen the man look that feral since before Connely. Tony's grin was bright, but his eyes were dangerous. "Come here," he ordered gently.
Tony's obedience was instant. Jim cupped his hand around the side of Tony's neck, the darkness of his skin contrasting against the Italian's paler skin. It was something that never failed to arouse. They stood, looking eye to eye. Jim tightened his grip gently. The feralness leaked out of Tony's eyes, leaving his brilliant smile.
"That's my Tony," he said with quiet approval. Tony's eyes lit up. "So are you going to kiss me or not?" It was the choice he always gave. If Tony needed him, the kiss would be chaste. If Tony didn't need him, it wouldn't. Jim didn't mind either way.
Tony mirrored Jim's pose, then leaned forward to offer a sweet, hot kiss. When they separated Tony leaned his forehead on Jim's shoulder. "Thanks, Jim."
"You know I'll always be here for you."
"Can I watch?" Angie asked. She slid her right arm around Tony's waist. The three way hug was comfortable.
"I'm just going home. Can we meet for dinner tomorrow?"
"Just dinner?" Angie pouted. "But I wanted to see you blow my fiancee."
Tony's shoulders shook as he laughed silently. "She's been an evil flirt. Giver her a nice spanking just for me, okay?" Tony pressed another gentle kiss to Jim's lips. "And call me sometime. Angie's got my number."
"We're having a power exchange ceremony the day after the wedding. Will you come?"
"Depends on you."
Jim smacked Tony's nose with two fingers. "Be serious."
"Of course I will." Tony kissed Angie's cheek. "I hooked you two up for a reason. You're good for each other."
"And do you have someone who's good for you?"
Tony didn't answer immediately. That was a good sign. Tony lied on a regular basis. There was nothing malicious about his lying. It was just his way. When he took his time, though, it was usually the truth. "I'm happier than I have been in years. Baltimore gave me a new start, but NCIS has given me a family."
Jim ruffled Tony's hair. "Be good. Call me."
Tony nodded. "Yes, Sir." He yawned. "I'm going home. Take care of each other."
Gibbs stayed in the shadows. Tony headed toward the parking garage. Angie and the man he assumed was Jim turned toward the visitor's parking. Gibbs sipped his coffee. He'd known Tony was bisexual since the day they'd met. But Tony was quiet about it. Jim must be damned special.
Gibbs frowned. He'd need Abby to clear the recording. Luckily, both he and Tony were friends with security. They wouldn't do anything to jeopardize Tony's career. Gibbs finished off his coffee. He had some damage control to do.
"Hello, Warden Brown, it's Tony DiNozzo. Can I talk to Connely?" Tony laid down on his soft leather couch and put his stockinged feet up on the arm. He'd changed into his sweats when he got home. The well-worn cotton was like a hug. "If you check, I think you'll find I can call any time I like," he said harshly at the refusal. "It was part of his plea negotiation." The man on the other end of the phone grumbled and typed something. "Thanks," Tony sneered as he was connected.
"Hello, Tony. Good hunt?" Rafferty Connely's broad Boston accent tinted nearly all of his words.
"Excellent," the agent purred into the phone. "Angie-cat was here too. Almost like old times. She practically came on my lap from watching the asshole work."
"Surveillance caught him?"
"No. He got a feed to my computer for a live show."
"Tell me more." Tony recounted the entire tale, answering every question the serial killer posed. "Good work, Tony." The shiver of pleasure that he got from hearing those words used to worry him, but now he just accepted his need. "And how is your unhealthy attachment doing?"
"Gibbs is fine. I think he's a little shell-shocked from seeing me with Angie though. And seeing me kiss Jim might have ticked him off." Yes, Tony knew exactly where Gibbs was at all times. He wasn't obsessed, he had a crush, it was completely different.
"I thought he knew about your tastes?"
"Knowing and seeing are two different issues. Seeing Abby with another woman would throw him for a loop too."
"I take it that you've already seen her with another woman?"
Tony laughed. "Yup. She was completely jealous of Angie by the way. I don't think she liked her." Tony's voice was innocent and Raff laughed.
"And you enjoyed that." It wasn't a question. "I sent revisions on your dissertation out yesterday. Be sure to call me before your orals."
"If I can deal with you and Gibbs, I can handle my review committee. They won't kill me."
"Now, Tony, I'll only kill you if you do something stupid like disobeying me when we have a deal."
"I keep my word."
"To the letter," Raff agreed. "Go to bed, Tony. It's late."
"Sleep well, Tony." Tony closed the connection. He flipped on his television and was soon lost in the romance of a forties black and white world. A sharp knock at his door made him jump and reach for the gun he wasn't wearing.
He peered out the peephole. He opened the door. "Boss?" he asked. "We have something?"
The grey-haired man shook his head. "We need to talk."
"That sounds bad."
"Nothing bad. I just want to talk and it's not a talk we can have in the office."
"Should I pull out the liquor for this?" Tony shut the door behind his boss. Gibbs hung his jacket up on the coatrack.
"We both need to be sober for this. Don't worry. I'm not going to shoot you."
"Is this going to be quick?"
"Hell if I know."
Tony laughed. "Then sit down. I'll start a pot of coffee."
Gibbs settled in the armchair. He was wearing jeans and an old Marines sweatshirt. Tony relaxed a bit more. If the conversation was going to be nasty, Gibbs would still be wearing his suit. He'd have been gearing himself up for it since the office day ended. He wouldn't have gone home.
Tony waited for his little four cup machine to spit out the coffee. When he got back to the living room, Gibbs was browsing the bookshelf. "What do you read for fun?" he asked, gesturing at the shelf.
"Who has time for that? At least I argued that NCIS was my internship." Tony set the coffee cups down on the glass coffee table. Gibbs sat down again. "So, what is this about?"
The former Marine sighed. "I saw you with Jim."
"Yeah?" Tony fidgeted.
"Relax. I knew you were bi when I hired you."
Tony gave Gibbs a half-smile. "So what's the problem?"
"Are you planning to be out at work?"
The young man blinked. "Oh. No, I wasn't. Why?"
"Because I want to be able to plan for it. I've had to go to bat for Abby and Gerald before. I can't watch your back if I don't know what I'm watching for."
"I can take care of myself."
"But you don't have to."
Gibbs sipped his coffee. "What makes Jim different? You're usually much more discrete. Is it something long term?"
"He's marrying Angie."
"That wasn't the sort of kiss your best man gives you. I've had four weddings. I'd have noticed." Gibbs gave Tony a wry smile. Tony was the only one on the team besides Ducky who knew the majority of the story of Shannon and Kelly.
"Jim is. . ." Tony gestured helplessly. "He's Jim. He's always been there when I needed him. It was never about sex between us. I introduced him to Angie because I thought he'd be good for her." Tony was quiet for a moment. Gibbs waited as patiently as he would in an interrogation room. "You know about Raff. He broke me. Jimmy helped me get put back together. He helped me accept the things Raff made me face. If he hadn't intervened, I'd be crazier than Angie by now."
"You mean you aren't?" Gibbs blinked at him with an incongruously little-boy look.
"Yup." They were quiet for a moment. "So is there anyone serious in your life?"
Tony blinked, cup frozen half-way to his mouth. "With my schedule? Raff's the closest thing I've got to a lover and that's scarier than Hell."
Gibbs smirked. "Good."
"Is this one of those 'if the boss ain't happy' things?"
"Nope. This is: if I don't have a lover, why should you?"
Gibbs smirked at him. "Why else would I put up with you?" He stood up. "Thanks for the coffee."
"That was all you wanted? To know I was lonely and miserable?"
"I'm a sadist remember? I've got a boat waiting for me." Gibbs put on his jacket. He looked over his shoulder. "I could use a hand."
"I don't have any plans." As if Tony'd let that offer pass.
Gibbs jerked his head toward the door. "Come on. I'll give you a ride." He paused. "Or you could bring your kit and spend the night too."
Tony felt the smile on his face widen. "Why, Gibbs, was that a proposition?"
"Nope. More of a proposal."
"Can't get married until after the doctorate."
"That should be long enough for us to know if it's going to work."
"Or for you to kill me."
Gibbs leaned against the door while Tony hurried toward the bedroom.
"You could deny that!"
"I'll only kill you if you lie to me."
Tony laughed. "You and Raff'll have to toss a coin on that one."
"Compare me to Connely again and I'll smack you so hard you'll see stars."
Tony smirked to himself. If Gibbs thought that was going to stop him, there was a steep learning curve ahead.
Back to the NCIS Bedroom