"Senator James, I can you identify the young man in these pictures with you?" Agent Tobias Fornell was not pleased with this case. There was nothing good about it. The blackmailer had sent three pictures to the senator with a short note that he'd be contacted later after the senator confirmed that the photos were real. Senator Charles "Chuck" James hadn't bothered with that. He'd simply called the FBI directly to report the incident.
"Of course I can. I don't want him involved in this. It could harm his career. Simply find this blackmailer."
"Could your blackmailer be the young man in this picture?"
Sen. James chuckled. "I doubt it. If he wants money all he has to do is pick up the phone. It wouldn't be the first time he's needed a small loan to see him between paychecks."
Fornell blinked. "I take it you're on good terms with him."
"He just sent me a birthday card and a check to pay off the loan he needed to get his car back on the road. He doesn't like money between us. I don't begrudge him though and neither does Martha."
Fornell disliked misreading situations. From what he could tell, the young man in the pictures was a professional. "What's his name?"
"I don't want him involved."
"He's already involved," Fornell stated. He tapped the photograph that laid on the table between them. "This involves him. I need to see what he might now about who took this picture."
"His name is Anthony DiNozzo. He lives in Maryland."
The FBI agent nodded as he took down the actual contact information. He bit back a groan as he recognized the office number. This DiNozzo worked at NCIS now. Just what he needed to worry about, a suspect who was a cop.
"DiNozzo, with me." Gibbs snapped. The young man looked up in surprise, but followed after fishing out his weapon. Gibbs didn't stop the elevator between floors. DiNozzo watched him warily. There were questions in those changeable green eyes. His newest and only agent followed him like an unquestioning puppy as he walked to the coffee shop. He bought a tea for the young man without asking and a coffee for himself. Tony followed him to the furthest corner of the store. They settled in the booth there. Gibbs removed three photocopied sheets of paper from the inside of his jacket. He opened them and set them on the table.
DiNozzo paled. "You'll have my resignation in an hour," he said quietly. His fingers moved of their own volition to trace the edge of the senator's face. They were shaking.
"Like Hell," Gibbs snapped. The green eyes snapped to his own. "I don't give a damn what you do in your free time, DiNozzo. I want to know where these pictures came from."
"I don't know. I've never seen these pictures. There were other ones. In Peoria and Philly. I've never seen these."
"Your captain in Baltimore burned the ones he received."
DiNozzo's jaw dropped. "He never. . ." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "He's a good man."
"Yes, he is. He told me flat-out that if I was going to drop you because of your personal life I wasn't good enough for you and he'd make sure I never get ahold of you. He takes care of his people."
"Yeah." The younger man smiled then. "So did these come to you? He sent prints to everyone else."
"Oh, God. They didn't go to Chuck did they?" There was genuine distress in DiNozzo's voice. "They're trying to blackmail him aren't they? They want to publish them. Hell, I can do a press release saying that a jealous ex mocked them up to get at me. They'll lose their power that way."
"We're going to find who sent these photos. FBI wants to talk to you."
"Anything but that."
"The senator doesn't want you involved."
"He's a good guy too. The problem isn't the pictures. Hell, his wife knows and we could talk about the fact that it was a sex therapy session. He was having trouble performing and I managed to overcome his performance anxiety. He thought he was getting old and ugly. The problem is that I had a reputation in college."
Gibbs frowned. "More than a reputation according to the IRS."
"Hey! They got their share. I should've had a pimp. It would have been cheaper." DiNozzo gave Gibbs a quicksilver grin. "But yeah, a bit more than a reputation. But not with Chuck."
The senior agent frowned. He wanted to demand answers, but he already knew that the young man would dance around the topic in public. "We're going to talk to Agent Fornell. He's meeting us at the senator's house."
"Oh goodie. I can hardly wait. Want me to drive?"
Fornell met Gibbs at the door. He glanced at the young man next to him. DiNozzo stared back at him, face as flat as a mask. He led them to the senator's office.
"I told you not to involve him!" Sen. James snapped. "Hi, Tony."
"Hey, Chuck." DiNozzo smiled shyly. The senator opened his arms and the young man entered the hug without hesitation. James stroked Tony's hair. "God, Chuck, if you wanted to see me, you could have just called."
The senator chuckled. "Martha's here. And so is Lissa. You want to say 'hi' before we do this?"
"If I don't, I'll be off the party list." DiNozzo went out to the hall. "Marty!" he yelled.
"Don't call me that, Tony!" the senator's wife called back. "Come talk to me before you leave."
Lissa James ran by. "Saturday, 3pm. Here. Engagement party. Show up or die."
"Call me," Tony yelled at her retreating back. "Nothing's changed. Lissa's still the bossiest woman I know."
"It could be worse. She could still be a teenager," James stated. "Close the door. Sit down. Agent Gibbs, Agent Fornell told me that you're now Tony's boss. I think it might be best if you stepped outside."
"Chuck, don't worry about Gibbs. That's my problem, not yours." The age difference between the two men seemed to disappear as they stared at each other. The senator nodded.
"Very well. Sit down."
"When were these pictures taken?" Fornell asked.
"The day after I turned 21."
"How do you know that?"
"It's the only time I slept with him." DiNozzo's lips quirked up into a half-smirk. "Not the only time I wanted to, but the only time I actually did."
"Who took the photos?"
"I wish I knew. I'd strangle him."
"You're sure it's a man?"
"Yes," the young man said firmly. "He called me once with a scrambler on his mouthpiece. I didn't get to record it. Definitely a guy though. From the phrasing."
Gibbs snorted. "DiNozzo, report!" he snapped. DiNozzo straightened.
"The first time the photos were sent to my partner and my captain in Peoria, I received a call. The caller said 'You should have said yes and sucked my cock, boy.' And then he hung up. I was confronted with the photos a day later. The second time the photos were sent to my captain and my partner I didn't receive a call. The third time, he didn't send anything to my partner. I think the fact that she was openly gay told him that it wasn't worth the hassle. I just found out that he sent something to my captain today. I didn't know at the time."
"Were there any demands sent with the photos?" Fornell asked. DiNozzo's eyes stayed fixed on Gibbs.
"What photos?" James interrupted. "Tony?"
"Some sick bastard stalked me through junior and senior year. He took pictures of me with all of my dates."
The senator glanced at the older agents. He gestured Tony closer for a moment. Tony grimaced. "Gibbs already knows, Chuck. All it will take is a phone call and Fornell will know. I wasn't exactly descrete. Besides, I didn't have any legit dates, not counting you."
"Surely Amanda wasn't a client?"
"Yeah, she was. One of the best actually." Tony smiled fondly. "She had issues and needed the control."
"And you are a far better actor than I've ever given you credit for." James laughed. "You should have gone to Hollywood. Then we could have a proper scandal."
"At least I was legal with the pictures were taken."
Charles chuckled at that. "True. God, wouldn't that have been a mess."
"Hey, I'll have you know I was very much in demand at sixteen."
"By your classmates," the senator said firmly.
Tony grinned at him. "Of course. My classmates."
"Do you have any idea who might have been stalking you?" Fornell asked. "Or who might have been on the phone?"
"I've refused more than one person. Hell, it could have been someone who just wanted a regular date. I never had time for that." The young man shrugged.
The senator sighed. "I should have made you quit earlier."
"Chuck, leave it. It wasn't about sex."
"There's a big difference between being paid to escort someone to a play and having a date."
"I know that! But I needed to study sometime or I would've lost my scholarship."
"As long as you kept hitting three point shots they would have bent the rules."
DiNozzo's chin came up. "There was no way I was leaving that school with less than a B average. It would have proven my father right."
"And I should have had him investigated."
"He's not worth it."
"Is there someone who stands out in your mind? Someone you refused consistently?" The FBI agent was ready to separate DiNozzo from his patron. He tried to keep the sneer off of his face, but this boy was now a cop. He still looked like someone's kept toy.
Tony closed his eyes to think. He shivered. "There's three that stand out in my mind. There was one that one of my dates got into it with. He'd grabbed my arm and my date went ballistic. It took three security guards to separate them. I spent the rest of the night talking to the booking sergeant. They were both drunk though, so I don't think that's it. There was the man who wasn't, but he was never nasty to me. I think I actually did go out with him once. And there was the man with snake eyes."
"Did you refuse any of them point blank?" Fornell pressed.
"All of them. And there were others too."
"Which ones scared you?"
"There's too many people that fit that description. It might not even be someone who talked to me. I never was up for phone sex, but there were those who tried it." Tony shrugged. It was a careless gesture that made Fornell want to hit him. How the Hell had Gibbs ended up with this pretty boy on his team?
"Were you ever arrested?" Gibbs asked.
"For what? I never did anything wrong. It's not a crime to let old ladies take you to the opera."
"Anthony," the senator snapped.
"Okay, once or twice. But I never solicited. People had to come to me. They could never convict. I spent a lot of time talking to them though. About the people who hired me. But it wasn't about my, um, escorting duties. Turned out that one of them was actually interested in children. I got his ass arrested. And there was a lot of information that other people gave me simply because I'd been seen with all the right people. It's why I decided to go to the police academy."
"What were you arrested for?"
"Well, there was a bust at a bar and they thought I was drinking underage. I was sober though and the breathalyzer proved it. Then, I ended up in the middle of a drug bust. It was actually my reputation that saved my butt on that one. The booking sergeant chuckled at the officers who brought me in and told them that if they weren't booking me for prostitution, nothing would stick. They weren't happy with him at all."
"You ever get busted for prostitution?"
"Once, but they dropped the case."
"Why?" Gibbs demanded.
"Because they couldn't prove it wasn't a date. We'd been seen at dinner and then a play. He liked to give me gifts rather than straight cash. Smart move on his part. I was on a first name basis with the owner of the local pawn shop. I didn't pawn it all at once or anything."
DiNozzo's head snapped to Gibbs in surprise. "Assault. I got into a fight to protect Amanda."
"No, they didn't think it would stick considering how battered I looked."
"I remember that," the senator said quietly. DiNozzo's eyes dropped for the first time. Fornell could hear the steel in the senator's voice. "You didn't even bother to call me. I had to hear it from my brother." The young man winced.
"I didn't want to use you."
"They would have eaten you alive in lock-up overnight!"
"Half my frat was in lock-up that night. I wasn't in danger. I did miss one heck of a party though."
"Drunken frat boys and career prostitutes aren't put in the same cell."
"I was wearing my letters, Chuck."
"That was luck."
"We've already had this argument. It's over. Let it go. You didn't call me about this. I think we're even."
The two agents exchanged a glance. "DiNozzo, with me. Five minutes. Now."
Gibbs looked his agent in the eyes. "DiNozzo, stop playing games. You're getting off topic and Fornell's allowing it. Do you need to do this away from the senator?"
"I," Tony stopped. He looked at the floor. "Yes, I do. He never liked me escorting. He wanted me out and put enough pressure on me that I tapered off. I had a few fluffy sheep to fleece, but I stopped the penny ante stuff. He goes ballistic if I use the term whore or hustler or hooker, but they're the truth. Escort's just what I put on tax returns."
The older man stifled a sigh. He cupped his hands around the back of Tony's neck and used his thumbs to lift his chin. "Tony, I knew about all of this before I hired you. I don't care. You're a good cop and one day you'll be a great agent. Tell me about the one with snake eyes."
Tony shivered and Gibbs knew he was on the right track. "I don't know much about him. He didn't need someone like me. Or at least he shouldn't have. I don't know. Maybe he was actually looking for rough trade and thought I was old enough or desperate enough to go for it."
"Tell me what happened."
"Gibbs, I don't know why I remember him so much. I don't know why the thought of him touching me always makes me shiver. He never did anything. He approached me three times. He was never blunt. He was delicate. He was like a shark. He was beautiful, graceful, and dangerous. He'd touch my arm or my shoulder as he spoke. The last time I saw him, he touched my cheek."
Gibbs' eyes narrowed. "Tell me more."
"God. Okay, he was what I should have been looking for as a boy-toy. He was handsome. He was well-dressed. He had money, but didn't throw it around much."
"Enough money to hire a PI to tail you for two years?"
Tony gulped. "Yeah. He definitely had that. First time I met him was at the opera. The man I was there with kept me on a short leash. He had me get him a drink and help him to and from his seat, but he kept me close during intermission. He was showing me off. This gorgeous creature slithered up and started fawning over my companion. I responded with the smug satisfaction that I knew they both expected. The next thing I knew his hand was on my arm. It wasn't something that I could freak about or ask him not to do. My escort sent him away. He didn't just let go. He ran his hand down my arm as he let go. It was a hundred times worse than if he'd tried to kiss me." Tony leaned forward until his head rested on Gibbs' shoulder. "I don't want to have to do this too often, okay? And he's not the only one who's ever tried to push me into something." Gibbs rested his cheek against the dark hair. "I thought it was all over. When the captain didn't get anything, I thought he'd finally gotten tired and given up on me. Or maybe that he'd died, gotten medicated. I don't know. I drank him a funeral in celebration." Tony pulled back, laughing bitterly. "I should have known better."
"DiNozzo, it's over."
"It's not over! Now he's starting on innocent victims, Gibbs!"
"Stop it." Gibbs' voice was sharp. "None of them were innocent. Not one of them. They paid you, that made it their choice. Were any of the pictures of just dates?"
"No," Tony whispered. "They're all bedroom shots."
"Look at me, DiNozzo." The green eyes lifted slowly. "We're going to find this bastard. When we get back to the office, you're taking Abby out for pizza, beer and a talk."
"You are." Gibbs smirked. "You two gossip more than a couple of suburban housewives."
"Oh, sit in on a lot of housewife gossip do you?" DiNozzo shot back. Gibbs was glad to see him regain his equilibrium. "Let's get this over with."
"Stay here." Gibbs went to confer with Fornell. By the time they returned, Tony had commandeered the dining room and ordered coffee and tea. The senator's wife appeared as they were getting settled. She placed a kiss on the top of Tony's head.
"I'll keep Chuck out of your hair, dear."
"Thanks, Marty dear."
"Sit up straight. And always look them in the eye. It inspires confidence." She was gone with a nod to the two federal agents. The three men talked for nearly two hours.
Tony sat huddled in the car next to Gibbs. He wasn't sure if Gibbs was going to let him have two weeks or kick him out of the office as soon as they got back. At he knew that the man wasn't a big enough bastard to just leave him at Chuck's. Martha and Chuck would let him crash there, if he really needed it. He hated relying on them though. It made him think that he was right back where he'd been since he was a broke teenager in a fancy prep school. He bit at his lower lip. It would've been so easy to find someone last night, he thought. I should have done it. Just found a sugar daddy and skipped out on all of this. He laid his head against the window and stared out at the streets.
He glanced over at his boss. The man's face was as flat as a mask. Tony's stomach sank further. Yeah, he might get an hour to clear out his things and finish his reports before he was fired, but that was it. At least it had degenerated into a beating or something like that. He didn't think he could handle it if the man he had a serious crush on turned on him like that. The minute he'd met the older agent he'd felt lightening strike into his heart. He'd do anything for the man, including telling the full and unedited truth about his life as a whore.
"Gibbs?" he tried after clearing his throat.
"What?" The word was snapped and hit like a whip.
"Does anyone else have to know? Before the trial that is?"
Gibbs forced out a breath. "I hope not, DiNozzo. It'll just make things harder for you. Christ, you did a complete 180. Although now I know why you're good at undercover. I'd tell Abby though. She's likely to take offence if you keep it a secret. And I want Ducky to pull your blood and do a complete STD test."
"I do that every year, boss. I'm not an idiot. I know I'm a high risk group."
"And I expect you to find a shrink."
"What?" Tony's head whipped around at that. He stared at his boss, shocked beyond all measure.
Gibbs chuckled. "Or a two pints of chocolate ice cream and a willing female friend."
"Yes, I'll talk to Abby."
"And I'll have Ducky do blood-work." Tony chewed on his lip some more. "You pissed at me, Gibbs?"
"For, I don't know, any of it."
"Not trusting me? Yeah, I'm ticked off about that, but not the rest of it. You made some bad choices. You made some good ones. Hell, Tony, you could be wasting your talents deciding what color placemats to have the maid put out for your dinner party, but you're here instead. Or you could be doing time somewhere and fighting to protect your pretty face."
"Nah, that's what boyfriends are for." Tony replied. He felt giddy with relief. Gibbs wasn't going to fire him. Anything else was gravy.
"I'm pissed that you felt the need to do it. But it's not like you were a mass murderer. You were a kid."
"I was 18."
"And you expect me to believe that's when you started?" Gibbs said softly. "Your senator might not like to think about it, but you were telling the truth about being in demand at 16. I was watching your eyes. You can't lie to me, DiNozzo. Keep that in mind."
"Of course not, boss. Yeah, I was in demand at 16. There were plenty of moms who had me take their daughters to cotillions. I was in demand to accompany them to plays and movies and social events. Their parents paid me not to make a move. I don't know how many of them knew that I was taking money for asking them out. And no one knew about the oral in exchange for a private room. They all thought my father had just paid extra for it."
Gibbs fingers tightened. "I should have whoever was in charge of housing brought up on charges."
"I'll deny it," Tony said flatly. "Don't worry. I learned a lot at that school."
Tony could see the effort it took for Gibbs to relax his grip. "You said that just to push my buttons didn't you?" the older man said quietly.
"You should have seen Chuck's face when I said it to him. I thought he was going to have a heart attack. You handled it much better. You also believe me, so that's a switch."
"Who did you tell who didn't believe you?"
"The cops. When I was sixteen, I went to the cops about the suggestions some of my teachers were making. They didn't believe me. They thought that all the kids at my school were troublemakers. They didn't care." Tony shrugged. "So, I started a little sideline. I had plenty of money to get tapes and other things to make the time pass faster during the summers. I could have graduated early, I think, since I was there in the summers." He looked out at the streets, listless. "After I stopped, no one was supposed to know. I'm not ashamed of doing it. It was fun. I just never wanted it to affect my testimony, you know?" Gibbs' hand settled on Tony's neck. His hand was calloused, warm and heavy. It grounded the younger man.
"Just don't start up again."
Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard looked at his new young friend. He had high hopes that Anthony would stay as Jethro's partner. He needed a good partner. Anthony was shifting uncomfortably. "Gerald, would you excuse us for a few minutes?" Ducky asked his assistant. The young man glanced at the two men.
"Sure, Doc. See you later, Tony." Anthony gave him a nod and a smile that seemed very at odds with his body posture.
"What's wrong, Anthony?" Ducky asked.
"Will you run a STD screen for me?" the young man said after a long moment. His cheeks were stained with a deep blush.
"Of course. Have a seat and I'll draw your blood. Shall I send it to Abby or to another lab to be analyzed?"
"Abby's fine." Anthony's voice was soft. He seemed very unlike the brash young man who'd wormed into his circle of friends when he wasn't looking.
"Are there any symptoms?"
"No. Gibbs gave me an order. I'm following it. I had one done three months ago that came up clean."
"Still, no harm in being thorough," Ducky said with a fond pat on one shoulder. He waited patiently for Tony to roll up his sleeve. "Now, do you want to tell me what's prompted this order?" he asked as he drew the blood.
Anthony grimaced. "Nothing to worry about. Just the past coming back to haunt me."
Ducky's eyes softened. "Anthony, my dear boy, Edward Manning is an old friend."
The green eyes snapped to his face. "You knew?"
"A gentleman doesn't reveal secrets." Ducky patted the young man's knee. "He was quite worried about you when you left school."
"Do you know everyone, or does it just seem that way."
"Do you remember where Edward went to school?"
"Eton, but you're younger than he is."
Ducky laughed at that. "Edward is a year my junior, Anthony. It's simply that his hair has gone white."
Anthony frowned. "I'm going to have to call him. He never mentioned you to me."
"And why should he. We see each other once a year at the most. There we are. All done. Do you want to run it to Abby or shall I ask Gerald to do it?"
"I'll take it down. I'm under orders to talk to her too."
"That should do you a world of good. I'm here if you need anything, Anthony, remember that."
"Hey, Abs," Tony said. He held up the ice cream for her perusal, Phish food for her and Cherry Garcia for himself.
She closed the door behind him. "I'll get the spoons. You sit there." She pointed to the couch, sure that he'd obey. He liked to snuggle into the corner of it when they talked. She pulled the spoons out of the drawer, grinning. When they'd first met, she'd thought he was just an airhead-cop with a cute enough ass to catch Gibbs' attention. It had taken a few weeks, but she'd found out differently. Now, she considered him her best friend. By the time she got back, he'd taken off his shoes and was curled up on the couch, legs tucked under himself. "So, what's up with bringing the big guns?" She took her pint of ice cream and settled down across from him.
Tony sighed. "Well, let's just say Gibbs gave me the choice of talking to you or a shrink of his choice."
She blinked at him. "Oh, God. What's wrong?"
"An old friend? Mentor? Is being blackmailed with pictures of the two of us," he started. There was a strange hesitance to his words. She cocked her head to the side. There was something missing. She didn't say anything, just let him collect his thoughts. "I used to be a hustler, Abs," he said quietly. "I got run out of two departments because of the pictures this blackmailer's sent. He couldn't get me run out of Baltimore and he hasn't tried with Gibbs. I just. . ." Suddenly, the green eyes were watery. "I thought it was over. Then Gibbs shows up with pictures and then the FBI is questioning me about them and there's a hundred different things that I need to deal with and none of them are good except that Gibbs isn't firing me."
Abby carefully put down her ice cream. She reached over and took his pint to place next to hers. He didn't resist, just watched her with whipped-puppy eyes. She opened her arms in invitation and he hugged her tightly. He rested his forehead on her shoulder and let her hold him. The quiet between them wasn't awkward. "Oh, sweetie, Gibbs is too sweet on you to ever let you go."
Tony chuckled into her shoulder. "I'm good at that. There's old men who paid me to suck them off who'd die to protect me. I'm good at making people like me."
She knocked on the top of his head. "You're a blockhead. People like you because you're you."
He pulled back a little bit to look at her. "That's crap, Abs. I'm whoever they want me to be."
"No, you used to be. You certainly didn't change yourself to make me like you. You grew on me pretty quickly, but not because you tried to be someone else. And anyone with eyes can see that you adore Gibbs. And trust me, you try hard to make him proud of you, but you haven't tried to remake yourself for him. You're you. People are attracted to that."
"I don't know why. I’m just a slut now. I don't even have the excuse of money now."
"Tony," she said sharply. He winced. "I told you. I won't listen to you putting yourself down. That's my job."
"Yes, sweet Mistress of the Dark," he purred. They both broke up laughing. "Okay, okay, I know. No putting myself down." He stayed snuggled in her arms. "The ice cream's melting."
"I should get it."
"Yep. Talk to me, Tony-boy."
He sighed heavily, almost melodramatically and moved out of her arms. He didn't move all the way to the other corner though, just retrieved their ice cream and settled back next to her. "When I was fifteen my father cut me off completely except for tuition to a boarding school and the required books and uniforms. If I wanted anything else, I'd have to take a job. The boys I was with weren't. . ." He sighed. "I was in military school, Abs. Half the boys there were rich. A quarter of them were on scholarship. The rest were delinquents. It was their last chance school. I was somewhere between the last two. I'd started acting out when I hit twelve. I was just an annoyance to my father. When he found out I was bi, he nearly killed me, but that would have taken too much work. He just sent me away.
"Well, at school, I learned a really quick way to make friends and a little bit of money. I'm sure you remember how desperate high school boys can get. The rich ones thought it was worth the money for the thrill of it. The delinquents were willing to trade for more intangible benefits. They protected me, taught me, and generally kept me as a mascot. I was their go-between. Then, I managed to snag the head of the residence halls." He smirked suddenly. "I got a single room, so he could come see me easily. I got perks for my boys and punishment for my enemies. He let me set up the housing roster. It was fun. When I got to college, I was damn near dead broke. I'd kept a little in savings and I took out a few student loans. But I was sleeping on my coach's floor."
Tony took a long moment to eat his ice cream. He nibbled at it and lapped at it. The action was as practiced as it was habitual. She'd seen him do it a dozen times, but now she saw it through different eyes. He'd practiced making everything a seduction, even eating ice cream. She didn't mind. Flirting was always fun for her. It didn't mean anything to her. "So, why'd you stop?"
"My mentor convinced me that it made more sense for me to get a regular job that I could put on a resume. I worked in his local office."
"Yes. Senator James from Ohio. He sort of adopted me. Everyone thought I'd follow him into politics."
"Why did you become a cop?" She filled her mouth with ice cream.
"Hell, I don't know. It was a whim. I couldn't go pro." She raised a brow. He stuck his tongue out at her. "Not like that, Abs. I was already getting old. I mean, I could go back to it, I guess, but I wanted a real job. I wanted to do something that mattered and I spent a lot of time talking to the cops. I had one or two detectives who considered me a good informant and I got a lot more access than I should have because I was also a college student. They never asked how I learned what I knew and I never told them it was anything more than being popular. I liked puzzles. And the opening was there and they were hiring immediately. Then, I was good at it and I liked it and didn't want to stop. It was like coming home. It makes me more complete."
"You love it."
"With all my heart."
She smiled at him. "That's cool. It was like me finding my cars. Eat your ice cream before it melts."
Tony settled behind his desk and reviewed the case information. They hadn't caught an assignment yet, but there were a few things on the table he might actually go for if Gibbs let him. He looked up when Agent Fornell stopped in front of his desk. "Yes?"
"I need you to come with me."
Fornell looked at him steadily. "Demands have been made."
"Oh." Tony locked his system. He stood up. Gibbs walked into the area.
"Going somewhere, DiNozzo?" he snapped.
"Agent Fornell wants to speak with me."
"He's busy, Fornell."
Tony sank down into his chair.
"I could just arrest him."
"For what?" Tony demanded.
"Convince me you didn't set him up for those photos."
The cop glared. "Oh, yeah, because it would make so much sense for me to have waited years to use them. Get real." Tony looked at Gibbs. "So, should I put in for investigating the lead paint debacle in Norfolk or what?"
Fornell snorted. "He's coming with me, Gibbs. We have blackmail demands being made."
"I told you that I'd issue a press-release saying that they were mock-ups by an ex. I could probably even get Abby to fake up a report for me analyzing them as fakes."
"I want to hear these demands. DiNozzo, stay."
Gibbs turned on his heel to go up the stairs to the director's office. He was unsurprised to hear a sarcastic "woof" behind him. He didn't give DiNozzo the satisfaction of turning around or laughing at that. He did find a smile curving his lips and forced it away. He had to talk to Morrow and tell him what was happening. He deserved to know.
Fornell studied Gibbs' boy. The young man lifted his chin with an arrogant defiance that made the FBI agent want to smack him. His eyes narrowed. This little brat would not get away with manipulating him the way he did the senator. "If I find out you're involved in this, I will take you down, Gibbs' new toy or not."
"I'm not involved in this. I want to be as not-involved in this as humanly possible." DiNozzo's eyes were filled with something like shame. "I did what I needed to do."
"You could have just begged Daddy for a second chance."
"As any of his wives could tell you, that's not an option. Once he makes a decision, it's made. Besides, I'd honestly rather whore than take his money."
Fornell snorted. "IRS seems to think you made a good living at it."
"Worst pimps ever," Tony replied. Fornell acknowledged the joke with a lightening of his frown. The green eyes flicked over him, checking body language and face. The FBI agent took that in for a moment.
"Where does Gibbs fall?"
Fornell did laugh at that. "Senator James seems to think that you're trying to make-up for doing it."
"I just like being a cop. You can take a seat over there. I've got reports to work on." DiNozzo's phone rang. He answered it absently. Then, his face went white. He scrambled for his computer keyboard silently. "What do you want from me?" he asked, quietly. He typed something quickly into the system. "No, I haven't spoken with him today. That's not true." The young man's voice caught as if he were going to cry, but his eyes were hard and glittering with anger. "I am not for sale, you sick bastard." He was quiet for a long moment, then a shudder ran through his body. "This isn't about anything but power. Don't try to pretend it is." He winced at something the person on the other end of the line said. "Yes, I understand," he said formally. "Goodbye." He set the phone on his desk. "Come on Abby-girl, he whispered to the screen. Crap." He hung up the phone.
"Couldn't trace it?" Fornell asked.
"What did he say?"
"I want to wait for Gibbs."
Fornell almost snapped at the young man, but paused at the haunted fear in his eyes. "Okay," he said quietly. "So how'd you end up here?"
Gibbs looked at his agent with a frown. "Report."
"I received a phone call from our blackmailer. He's not content just to ruin my career or blackmail the senator. He just couldn't find me. He didn't have a way to find out where I'd gone from Baltimore. He was watching Chuck's house."
"What does he want?"
"Me." Tony's eyes glittered. The fear was replaced by anger. "He'll drop all of the other demands as long as I go to him." He laughed bitterly. "He even offered me a decent daily wage. I've got twenty-four hours to decide and then he'll move on Lissa and Marty. Lissa's engagement party is this weekend. He's giving me until after her party to make arrangements to leave."
Gibbs nodded. "We'll make arrangements then."
"Think of it as an undercover assignment." He and Tony looked at each other for a long moment. Tony gave him a very small nod.
"I should call Chuck."
"No," Fornell stated. "He'll talk you out of this."
"No, he won't. Not when he finds out that Lissa's a target."
"DiNozzo, he didn't want you involved in this. He doesn't want you involved in it and he refuses to see that there's no way for you to stop being involved in it. You will do whatever he tells you to do in hopes of making him happy." The FBI agent's voice was low and flat. Tony looked immediately to Gibbs for a final decision.
"Come on. Let's go to talk to Abby about getting a tracker for you to wear."
DiNozzo's lips tightened. He sighed. "Yes, boss," was all he said.
Tony looked over his shoulder as he mounted the stairs to his apartment building. He felt exposed and hurried toward the brighter light of the next landing. He didn't make it. The hand that settled over his mouth and pinned him to the wall was harsh. He looked into the snake eyes that he'd hoped he'd never see again. "Hello, Tony," the man said quietly. "Don't make a scene."
Tony nodded, eyes wide. He was released. He took a deep breath. "What do you want?" he asked quietly.
"Let's go up to your apartment and we'll discuss it." The man offered his arm. He was wearing a leather trench-coat over his well-cut suit. Tony took his arm, unsurprised when his hand was clamped into place by the man's body. "It's been so long, boy."
"Yes, it has. The last time was at the opera, right?" Tony fell into the automatic routine of pleasantries as he was herded up the stairs to his apartment.
"Yes, that's right. I'm so glad you remember." They chatted lightly about the opera they'd seen that day until they came to Tony's door. "Open it. Close it after us. Place your phone and gun on the floor just in front of the door. If you do anything else, I will have to take drastic measures." He felt the hard prod of a gun against his side.
Tony did as he was told. He straightened, still facing the door.
"Give me your handcuffs."
Tony reached carefully into his pocket and handed the cuffs over. He found himself roughly cuffed, his cheek pressed into the wood of the door. "I've forgotten your name," Tony said carefully. He shivered.
"You may call me hmm… let's see, what do I want to hear you calling out… For tonight, you can call me Adam." Tony noted the name. He knew he wouldn't forget to use it when the time was right. Adam frisked him quickly and firmly. He found the ankle-holster and the small pen-knife that he kept in his pocket. He was physically turned and marched through his apartment to the bedroom by the chain of his cuffs. Once in the bedroom, Adam smirked at him. "Sit on the bed." Tony did as he was told. Adam smiled coldly. "Lay face down." Tony shook his head. That gained him a sharp stinging slap across the face. The agent cursed himself roundly and followed the order. A moment later he was bumpered – one leg was bent up and caught by the cuffs on his wrist. He'd be able to get out of the position, but it would slow him down enough for his captor to get the upper hand. He tried his best to get free before Adam came back to the bedside. It didn't work.
"Duct tape is such a wonderful invention." He used the silvery tape to create a sturdy gag, then to strap Tony's wrists and ankles together. The new position was more comfortable, but more restrictive. Adam settled Tony on his knees by the bed. "You didn't really believe that I was going to wait, did you?" he asked the young man with a chuckle. He tousled the black hair fondly. "If you'd just said 'yes' back then, you wouldn't be here like this."
Tony watched with furious eyes as Adam started packing his things. I hate you, he thought. I want you dead. Then, a moment later another thought occurred. Gibbs is going to kill me for being sloppy.
Gibbs tried Tony's cell-phone again. He wasn't being paranoid, he told himself firmly, his agent had a habit of getting into trouble. The phone rang over to voice mail once again. He growled at the receiver. Tony knew better than to not answer his phone. Gibbs grabbed his coat and weapon. He headed upstairs. And if he didn't know better, Gibbs would teach him the lesson slowly and painfully until he got it. Tony had learned not to lie easily enough. He could be taught to answer his phone.
The younger man's apartment was open when Gibbs got there. He edged in slowly. He saw the phone on the floor. He glanced around at the usual mess, but something looked wrong. He pulled his weapon and slipped in further. A glance into Tony's bedroom gave him the answer. He pulled out his phone. He hit his speed-dial. "Fornell, DiNozzo's missing." He gave Fornell the address, then hung up. "If you just ran out on me, I'll hunt you down and kill you," Gibbs muttered to the room.
Tony blinked the blood out of his eyes. "We're not going to have to do that again, are we?" Adam asked sweetly. He ran his thumb over the tape that kept Tony's mouth closed. Tony shook his head, mostly in an attempt to clear it. "I've been planning this for a very long time, boy. Take a look at your new room."
Tony's eyes swept over the austere room. It looked a lot like a dorm room, with cheap, but sturdy oak furniture and metal-framed double bed. There was a computer and a handful of games. There was no color in the room. It was all beige and white. The door was metal and there were no windows. There was a small partitioned area and Tony changed his assessment. It was a prison cell. Adam fitted a metal cuff around Tony's ankle and double locked it. "You'll have the run of the room. The door will not be locked unless you try to escape. You can prop it open if you like." Adam kissed Tony's forehead. He flicked open a knife and cut through the tape on Tony's wrists and ankles. He placed the handcuff key on the floor. "Uncuff yourself. The key won't work on your ankle, I tested it." Then, the man left with the same gliding, shark-like gait he'd always had. Tony shivered, then worked hard to uncuff himself.
"The phone calls were a diversion," Fornell stated. Gibbs didn't bother to respond. He was working carefully, bagging and tagging hairs. "Why the Hell didn't he just grab him."
"He didn't know where he was. He let you do the work for him."
Fornell snarled a little. "Son of a bitch. He sends the pictures to the one person he's sure the boy's in touch with. Then, follows the senator."