The sun was warm, but not hot the way it'd get within the next month. There were plenty of tourists in DC already, but since the team was playing tourist it didn't matter. Abby was hanging on Tony's arm and laughing up at him as he attempted to talk Gibbs into the American History museum. Ziva was eating a popsicle from the snack cart half a block back. Ducky was regaling McGee and Palmer with tales of behind-the-scenes seductions in the Smithsonian basement.
Out of the blue a voice cried, "Daddy D!" A teenager around thirteen years old came barreling at them. Her multi-colored hair bounced in rainbow array as her red Chucks his the ground. She ran directly into Tony's arms and he held her tight.
"Where's my hug?" Gibbs asked. His eyes were dancing. The girl threw herself at Gibbs next. "You're getting tall, Little Rain."
McGee and Ziva watched in silent shock. Ziva's popsicle dripped down the back of her hand and onto the sidewalk. Abby settled on Ducky's offered arm. They smiled like indulgent parents.
"Nice threads. Where'd you find silk that purple?"
"Dyed it myself. What do you think of the dress."
Tony studied it. "You need to tuck up the left shoulder about half an inche and try darts in the back to shape it a bit more."
She wrinkled her nose. "That's too girly."
"If you want to go androgynous, then you need to pull it in. Loose just makes it look like you're hiding."
The girl nodded. A man and woman caught up. They were breathing hard and red-faced. There was terror in their eyes that faded as they saw to whom their child had run. Gibbs looked at them with a face flat enough to be facing a serial killer.
Ziva lapped at the liquid on the back of her hand. "Do you know this girl?" she asked McGee.
He shook his head. He stared at the group in front of them.
"Mr. and Mrs. Compton." Gibbs didn't offer to shake hands with them. Tony ignored their very existence. "Little Rain" was looking at the seam technique on the cuff of Tony's button-down.
"Call me Laura. This is Neil, obviously." She bit her lip. "I... I wish we had never listened to that hack of a shrink. It took two years, but we finally found a good family counselor. What happened wasn't any more fair to you than it was the kids. We're trying to get custody of Michael."
Tony looked up. "Does he even remember? He was three."
The teenage snorted. "Hack-boy fucked him up. He's nearly catatonic and his fuck-wad parents dumped him in a state hospital for retards."
"Language!" Tony and Gibbs snapped. The Comptons snickered.
"We're heading to American History. I want to see the ruby slippers and Mom had a crush on Fonzie."
"So did I," Tony whispered in an equally confidential tone. "We'll introduce you to our team and you can tell us how school's treating you."
Lorraine Compton was not a normal teenager. She wasn't even a normal little girl. Normal was over-rated. Her friends complained about their parents and schoolwork. They wanted to be outrageous and fascinating, but didn't know how. Lorraine looked at the team Daddy D and Daddy G had gathered and smirked. They were fascinating without even trying. She snuggled into Daddy G's side and stole an onion ring.
"So I'm going to get every piece of contact information right? And I can pass it on?"
"Of course." Daddy D made a business card appear from behind her ear. He wrote down two additional numbers, two email addresses and three IM screennames. He then reached into Daddy G's jacked and fished a card out of his wallet. He scribbled one number on the back.
McGee's mouth was hanging open. Ziva's eyes narrowed. Lorraine didn't like either of them. They didn't understand. They only knew the act. Fools. Anyone with eyes could see Daddy D was totally married to Daddy G, stupid rules or not. Ducky, he was too good at using his stories. He hadn't said anything real since hello. Abby though, Abby was perfect. Aunt Abby, her daddies had called her.
"Did Daddy D make your shirt?"
Abby blinked. She looked down to see what she was wearing. "Oh, no. Not this one. Looks like the mod-job he did on my old Lip Service though. That's why I got it."
"Tony can sew?" Ziva's face was so full of bewilderment that Lorraine had to laugh.
Daddy G laughed with her. "He makes his suits."
"I thought they were designer," McGee said.
"Never assume. Check and re-check." Little Rain batted her lashes. "Mom, Dad, you're going to let them visit right?"
"We'll make arrangements." Her mother's lips were tight. "As long as you promise to come home."
"I can't run away and join the Marines. I'm too young. Besides, NCIS doesn't take teenagers. I'd have to work retail."
"Not the sort of retail a girl your age would end up in. We'll arrange a weekend, if that's okay with your blood parents." Daddy G ruffled her hair.
"Once every few months? Unless you want to join our therapy sessions for a few weeks?" Mom raised her brows. Daddy D fidgeted. "He'd love to meet you."
"What do you think, Little Rain?"
"I want you to come to a few sessions."
"Then we'll figure out the schedule. Are you in contact with Justice and Becca?"
"Becca remembers. And Justice is," she stopped. She leaned close to Daddy D's ear. "Justice is in trouble. He's going to run away. His mother's boyfriend is, you know."
"Give him my number and email. Is he still in Maryland?"
She nodded. He ruffled her hair. "If your parents hadn't been sober, I would have fought to keep you."
"I know." She laid her head on his shoulder. She stifled a yawn.
"It's been a long day. We'll make arrangements to see you soon."
"I promise. And you know Daddy G'll hold me to it."
She nodded. She left with her parents, though she looked over her shoulder. Daddy D had his eyes closed. Daddy G watched until the door closed between them.
Tim knocked on Abby's apartment door. He had a six-pack of her favorite wine coolers and a pizza as a bribe. She opened the door dressed in bat-emblazoned sleep-pants and a tank-top that declared her "positively batty." She studied his offering with critical eyes.
"Is there pineapple on that pizza?"
"You may enter. I withhold the right to refuse questions."
"Will you confirm correct guesses?" He knew the rules around Gibbs. Abby was almost violent about protecting him. He settled on her couch wile she logged off her game and chat sessions. She opened a wine cooler and curled up in her armchair.
"Gibbs and Tony fostered Lorainne."
Abby's nose twitched. "They took care of her for nine months and argued for custory for three more."
"And she wanted to stay."
"Yes, she did. But her parents..." Abby drifted off. She shook her head. "Tony was heartbroken."
"No, Commander, if you don't have scholarship money available, I'll cover it."
Gibbs looked up from his monitor. He raised his brows. Tony waved him a quick "later" signal. He was on he personal cell and their case queue was currently empty. Ziva and McGee were doing fetch and carry for their cold cases. It was time to have new eyes looking at them.
"Yes, sir. I just wanted to be sure that there's a place for him before I contact his mother. Well, sir, he's talking about running away and I'd like him to have a place to run instead."
Gibbs' lips quirked up. Tony sounded actually respectful. He never bothered with that with his captain in Baltimore and Gibbs never demanded that sort of careful obsequiousness. Tony hung up with a smile. "And that was?"
"Rhode Island Prep. I'm making arrangements for Justice. His mother always liked us. I'm going to see if she'll agree to let him go without him having to run away to Dupont."
"And straight to your apartment?"
"No idea what you mean. I live in Anacostia."
Gibbs snorted. It was nice to have finally fallen back into an easy rapport. "Find a case or finish the requisition forms."
"Sign the ones on your desk first. I need to restock the phone drawer. Turns out Ziva has as much trouble as you do."
Gibbs dragged the stack of paper over. "You're authorized to sign these, you know."
"But then you'll get used to me doing all the paperwork. I'm not that stupid anymore."
"You *like* requisitions. It's shopping."
"But not for something cool like Abby's perfume collection."
Gibbs snorted. "Has she updated your nose recently?"
"We went to the mall just last week." Tony shrugged. "I was more interested in finding her a suit that doesn't make her look like Career Barbie."
"Did you find something not in pastel for her then?"
Tony grinned. "I found her a suit and tailored it down so that it makes her look like a powerful woman. Forget trying to pretend she's sweet. It's a charcoal grey pinstripe to pair with a simple black shirt with a mandarin collar. Pantsuit so she doesn't have to wear hose. And a nice pair of kitten heels that she can actually walk in. And a pair of glasses that don't make her eyes cross. Even got her some subtle make-up. It was perfect. I still need to get her the right jewelry though. If she doesn't have a bracelet and necklace on she'll be distracted and that's just what we don't need."
"Good. Can't wait to see it. When are we meeting Little Rain's therapist?"
"I've got us booked for next Thursday. I put in for a few hours early for each of us on the schedule. He's fully aware that we may not make it though. So, we're authorized for any week we can actually get there."
"Did you tell her we'd be there?"
"I told her we'd be there if a case didn't come up. She seemed to understand." Tony chewed at his lip. "I would have fought for all of them. I did get him fired though, so I'm fine with that."
Gibbs grunted. He remembered the campaign. It had taken Tony almost six months, but he had recordings from multiple sessions and statements from nearly twenty-five different officers that got the man fired from his court position and all of his case assessments reassessed. He'd called Tony a "guinea-fag" and Tony's friend Martinez from Baltimore a "spic". He deserved to be ruined.
The therapist's office was a warm buttery yellow with cherry-wood panelling in the waiting room. Tony stared at the magic-eye poster on the wall. It was a little sailing boat and he could just imagine being on the water with Gibbs. They were early for the session. Gibbs was reading a book on childhood phobias that he'd found in the corner of the office. His reading glasses were perched on his nose.
Tony's contemplation of the ship was interrupted by the appearance of a teenager in his lap. "So, you've started using White Diamonds?"
"Yup. I figure it's a good standby and I'll be able to make it my signature smell." Lorraine pulled out her mending from her backpack. "Okay, so see this seam? I can't figure out where I went wrong in the shaping."
Tony shook out the skirt. He frowned at the line. "You were trying to roush it up?"
"I wanted to make it puff up without making it a balloon skirt. But the ribbon won't pull through the holes properly." She pointed out her arrangements. Tony nodded.
"Okay. Did you bring pins? Daddy G, hold this." Gibbs rolled his eyes. He tucked his glasses into his pocket and put the book aside. He held the skirt open with his hands. Tony set Lorraine on her feet and knelt down to look at the fall more carefully.
"Ripper?" she offered.
"Thanks." He ripped the seam that wasn't working. "Okay, here's what we're going to do. We're not going to baste it and pull it up the way we would a valance. We'll tack it up like so. Is that more what you wanted?" He made equal little puffs of fabric with pins. It shortened the skirt by half.
"Yes." Lorraine leaned on his shoulder. "So, what do I do?"
"Little satin stitches. Tack it into place on the underside, here."
The therapist cleared his throat. "I hate to interrupt, but it's time for your sesison, Lorraine."
"I'm Bill Cranston." He introduced himself to the two men he was sure were Daddy D and Daddy G. Maybe they'd be more forthcoming about what had gone on during their captivity.
Lorainne rolled her eyes at them as they settled in the one couch that would let them see all the entrances and exits. It was her favorite seat and she flopped down on top of them without a care in the world. Gibbs snorted. "Sit up. You'll mess up our response time if you're pinning us down. Plenty of room between us."
DiNozzo frowned. "Have you been doing any sports? No dieting just to fit in for dance or gymnastics?"
"No. I do soccer and softball. And I am still trying to convince Mom that I need to get into target shooting."
Gibbs nodded in approval. "Good. Mrs. Compton, she needs to keep up her skills. I'm sure they're already getting rusty. I'll take her to the range."
"I don't want my daughter shooting guns. And I told you to call me Laura."
DiNozzo shook his head. "You're lucky he remembers one name. Don't try to make him remember two. Guy before me had five years of being called the wrong name."
Lorainne muttered something to her "Daddy G". Gibbs smacked the back of DiNozzo's head. "I didn't teach her that! She learned it at school," the younger man protested. "Laura, your daughter needs to know how to protect herself. Knowing gun safety is just as important as knowing how to cross the street. Do you know how many accidental deaths I've seen? Just from people not knowing how to treat weapons? This is for her own safety. Besides, she's already been shooting."
The Comptons stiffened up. Bill looked at the group. "I'm sensing some tension. Why has Lorainne been shooting if her parents don't want her to?"
The entire room stared at him for a moment. "Little Rain, how much does he know?" DiNozzo asked.
She snorted. "Less than you and more than Dad."
"You speak to him privately then?" he clarified.
"Sometimes. In the beginning – always. Then, he convinced the parentals that they needed to be here."
"You understand that Little Rain was in captivity with us for nine months? During those nine months we taught her many things and still regard her as our child. And if the Comptons hadn't had their AA keychains visible, we'd still be fighting for custody."
Laura and Neil winced at that and looked down for a moment. Bill contained his glee. Finally, he was getting some of the harder answers. Lorainne was not firmly attached to her parents. She seemed rather to regard them as foster parents. "And you stopped fighting for custody?"
"Because they seemed genuinely interested in practicing their step 4 with Lorraine and making up for all the stupidity that had gone before. For the neglect and the loneliness and the fact that my Little Rain could cook, clean, and take care of herself when she shouldn't have had to. My parents had the decency to have a nanny when they were drunk off their heads. The Comptons didn't." Gibbs put a calming hand on the younger man's shoulder, which had the added effect of pulling both of them closer to Lorainne.
She stared defiantly at her parents. "They don't understand that I don't need them. They keep trying to pretend that I can't do things around the house and don't understand when I get frustrated. Mom never stacks the dishes properly and the pans aren't clean enough. And Dad always thinks he can fix things and never listens when I tell him something different than what he thinks. And they cut me off from my Daddies. I told the judge I wanted to stay with Daddy D and Daddy G, but he didn't listen to me. He listened to that dick of a counselor the government had."
"I got him fired," DiNozzo told her cheerfully. "I got half of the people he had suspended, convicted or otherwise screwed over free. Racist son-of-a..."
"Language," Lorainne reminded.
"Jerk," DiNozzo ended smoothly. He tugged on her hair gently.
"Tell me more about the nine months you spend with Mr. Gibbs and Mr. DiNozzo."
"Daddy D and Daddy G," she corrected. "And does anyone call you Mr.?" she asked Gibbs.
"Or just 'Boss'," DiNozzo added.
"And what does Aunt Abby call him?"
The younger man smirked. "You're too young yet."
"Right." She rolled her eyes. "Anyway, I woke up in this underground bunker. It was all cement, but it had been painted white. I started screaming when I noticed that I was all alone. I heard running in the hall and then Daddy G was there. He opened the door cautiously. When he saw I was there he got this sad look on his face. 'Hello, Sweetheart, what's you're name?' It took me awhile to talk to him, but he wasn't bothered by that." She paused, eyes distant. "And then I found out what it was like when adults actually do look after you. I only did the dishes occasionally. And Daddy D made sure I kept up with lessons. And taught me Spanish and Italian too. And Mickey and Becca and Justice were there too. And Mickey was the worst off. He's autistic." She grimaced. "They dumped him, you know," she told her Daddies. "Those fuckers put him in an asylum and left him there."
The look of absolute fury on DiNozzo's face made Bill rear back. "If you'll excuse me for a moment."
"We'll get custody later," Gibbs stated, his own eyes flashing. "And then you'll get your lawyer to ruin his parents."
"That won't be hard. I've got probable cause for sending a tip to the BPD."
"What did you do?"
"Not a darn thing. They did it all themselves. Oh, and language, sweetie." He tapped the top of Lorainne's head with two fingers. She batted her lashes at him innocently.
"Tell me more about Becca." Bill hadn't heard the name at all when she was with her parents.
"Becca is two years younger than I am. Her parents were junkies, but they hid it better than mine ever did. She said her Dad used to get into bed with her." Lorainne stumbled to a stop. "That he used to touch her and he told her that she shouldn't tell anyone because relationships between dads and daughters should be secret. She was so confused when Daddy D and Daddy G didn't want to touch her like that. She asked me what was wrong with her or if I was their secret pal for now and that she'd get a turn later." Lorainne shook, but her frown wasn't sadness, nor was the shaking of her voice. "I asked Daddy D for a gun lesson that night. I was so angry at her father. But I didn't want to tell her that she was wrong for liking the attention. She didn't know any better. I told her that Daddy G and Daddy D were secret pals instead. She accepted that." Her hands fisted. "But if I get my hands on that man, he'll be lucky to be his own secret pal."
"Hush, Little Rain. Hush. He's in prison. I made sure of it. Her mother still has custody. She's in a new relationship, I think, but I haven't found anything on him."
"Becca says he doesn't visit her at night. And she read the books I gave her about sexual abuse. She's talking to her priest. But she wants to be home. Did you get a call to Justice?"
"He'll be headed to Rhode Island in two weeks for the full-year courses."
Lorainne sagged against them. "Thank you."
"Of course. Still, I'm the only DiNozzo in the phone book."
"That... *thing* they called a counselor told us that we weren't allowed to contact either of you because it would interfere in your recovery."
Gibbs' eyes narrowed. "He was wrong. Took me three months to get around the court orders to even be able to check on all of you. I thought Daddy D was going to punch holes in the house."
"They said I had to get my own apartment because it wasn't healthy for use to live together." DiNozzo rolled his eyes. "No one said a thing about it not being healthy for us to work together. I'll call my lawyer as soon as we're in the car and get started on getting Mickey's custody."
Lorainne nodded once, sharply. "Good. I'll testify."
"If we need it. I'm considering just getting the papers for guardian transfer and having his parents sign it."
She snorted. "They don't care. The fucking asylum probably has custody."
"Where did you learn that mouth? It wasn't from me," Gibbs stated.
Lorainne rolled her eyes. "Come off it, Daddy G. No one believes you don't curse. Oh, and Becca says that she wants you to make her confirmation dress if she can't come home right now."
"Right. I'll call her mother and make arrangements to get her measurements." DiNozzo dropped his arm around Lorainne and gave her a quick hug. The casual affection made the Comptons wince. "You got a dance coming up?"
"Girls are a viable option," DiNozzo pointed out.
"No," Laura stated.
DiNozzo's eyes hardened. "If you even think about saying one damned thing about homosexuality or bisexuality not being acceptable, I will, with malice aforethought, take you to court and take her. Don't think I won't. I never wanted to give up the kids and I will not have them be taught any form of hate."
Laura swallowed. "Her school won't allow it."
"Which school?" Gibbs asked. "We'll change that policy."
Lorainne laughed at all of them. "Pace. Pace. Not girls either. I am so not into dating."
"That's alright then." DiNozzo was mollified. "Have you kept up your language lessons?"
"Yep. I have French now too."
"Bien," Gibbs said. "I'll start teaching you Russian this fall."
"Ziva's giving me Hebrew lessons. Interested, Little Rain?"
"Da," she laughed. She snuggled more deeply into DiNozzo's side, nearly daring her parents to comment. Gibbs and DiNozzo's cells went off at the same time.
They answered in unison. "Right, we'll meet you there. Full kits and, Probie, grab my windbreaker from behind the desk."
"Ziva's got the car. We've got a case. Sorry, sweetheart." Gibbs kissed Lorainne's forehead.
"Call me later, brat, and we'll schedule more time together. Remember to use a small needle for the stitches. And tell Becca to call if she needs me."
Lorainne saluted. "On it."
"That's my girl." The two agents were out of the room with no more than a nod of acknowledgement for the rest of them.
"Well, that was very interesting," Bob said. "We're nearly out of time, but I want to address several of the things we learned today next week."
Back to the NCIS bedroom