"Agent DiNozzo, there's a visitor on the way up. Name's Amanda Dawson. If she's an ex, I think she wants something."
"Thanks, George, I owe you," Tony DiNozzo replied. He checked his gun and tucked it into his holster. He carefully took off his watch and put it and his wallet in his top drawer. He stood up then leaned against the desk to greet his guest. As he figured she was wearing a tight black dress with a three-quarters' length jacket. Her high heels were designer, Prada he guessed. Her smile was bright. Her hair matched the red of her lips.
"Anthony, sweetie!" she greeted. She slid easily into Spanish in the next sentence. "I've missed you so much."
"Don't try that on me, woman," he replied. He crossed his arms over his chest as she opened hers for a hug. She batted her lashes at him. "I'm immune. Where's your boyfriend? Not the ex-cop, the other one?"
"I don't know why you're so upset with me," she pouted. "I just gave you a little adventure in your life."
"Let's see. You tried to get my trust fund signed over to you. You got me arrested. Framed me for robbing a jewelry store. Got me in trouble with the gangster who owned said jewelry store. And then, had the indecency to nearly get me thrown off the force."
She wrinkled her nose. "Oh, it all worked out in the end. I mean look at you. All grown up and a federal agent."
"I have the FBI on speed dial. You have five minutes to explain to me why I shouldn't call them."
"You remember Adam? I think you met him at Joe's? He was arrested for killing a Naval officer, but he didn't do it!"
"And you know this how?"
"He was with me."
"So, if you can alibi him, why do you need me?" Tony asked, voice hard.
"Because of what we were doing at the time." She winced. He felt the headache beginning just behind his left eye. Oh, why wasn't Gibbs here right now? He wanted nothing more than to give Amanda a dose of Gibbs' ill-humor.
"Stealing some antiquities. I mean, sweetie, theft is one thing, but murder? No. Just because he had a sword on him, doesn't mean he did it."
"Antiquities." Tony's eyes popped open. "From where?"
He groaned. "You know that is probably the *only* thing you could have said to me to make me even consider not arresting you right now. Where are they?"
She bit her lip.
"I can't make deals without knowing the quality of the information." She laughed at that. "That's never stopped you before."
"Rookie mistake." Tony sighed. "McGee," he said switching to English, "call the lab. Tell Gibbs he needs to come up."
"Um, Tony, I. . ."
"Probie!" Tony snapped, never letting his eyes leave Amanda.
"Now, be a gentleman and offer me a seat," Amanda demanded.
"Only with handcuffs, though I know those won't stop you."
She winked. "I knew you were kinky."
"I hate you."
"Oh, sweetie, I'll make it up to you."
"I know, I should try duct tape. Abby swears it works well as a restraint."
Amanda's eyes lit up. She grabbed Tony's chair and wheeled it into the walkway. "You have a girlfriend now? What's she like?"
"Adopted sister. You'd probably like her. She can be flexible when she needs to be. Not girlfriend. Her, I'd trust to give me directions."
"Now, now, I did get you to Joe's."
"After he got me out on bail. My own partner believed the charges."
"It must be that sweet face of yours."
"I'm not that big of a sucker." He ignored Kate's raised brows.
"Not tall, dark and brooding. The irritating one who tried to convince me he was a cousin. I owe him something."
Amanda's eyes narrowed. "What?"
"A right hook." Tony rubbed his jaw. "Of course, I'm feeling a lot more generous towards him than I am you. He's motivated by charity in addition to pure, unmitigated greed."
"Hey! That's not fair."
"I checked your bank statements, darling," he said sweetly. "It's amazing what you can find out with a little research these days."
"The Amazing Amanda, what an unpleasant surprise," Gibbs said. Her eyes went to him automatically and she froze. She put on her best smile, but Tony could see she was worried.
"Gregor, how nice to see you again."
"Special Agent Gibbs, this lady, and I use the term lightly, has knowledge of the missing antiques. She's willing to trade them as long as we reinvestigate the case that has he partner in prison."
"He didn't do it. I know you wouldn't let an innocent man get prisoned for a crime he didn't commit. It's not in your nature."
"But I only have your word for that. And do you know how highly I rate that? Next to nill. You're a better liar than I am."
McGee and Kate were staring at him again. Gibbs glanced at him. "Get me information on the case. Then, put her in interrogation. You didn't do anything stupid did you?"
"Besides not shooting her as soon as I saw her? Nope."
"Good." Gibbs smacked him. "New rule. No kissing women named Amanda or any variation thereof."
Amanda's eyes jumped between them. "Gregor."
"Agent Gibbs," Gibbs corrected her. "And I should have turned you in to the KGB. You owe me, Amanda. You double-cross me again and you won't hear me coming."
"Boss, can I watch when you kill her? Please?" Tony asked, giving Gibbs his best puppy-dog eyes.
"Sure. You'll have to help clean up afterwards."
"No problem. I've got a sword. I fenced sabre. I'll make sure it's nice and sharp."
"Well, I was thinking of cutting off her hand first, just to show what she is."
"Now, sweetie, calm down. We got you out of that trouble, didn't we?"
"After you got me into it! Did you at least have the decency to sleep with Joe before you took his name?"
Amanda looked good. She never seemed to look bad, even when she was hiding in his closet and begging him not to turn her over to the authorities. Still, she hadn't changed much except her clothes and hairstyle in the years since he'd met her. DiNozzo kept glancing at her, but he looked more pissed than anything. She crossed her legs and leaned over to watch Tony typing. His fingers were moving faster than usual. The typing course must finally be paying off. "Back off, woman," Tony snapped.
She folded her hands in her lap and batted her lashes at him. "Now, don't be like that, sweetie."
"Don't 'sweetie' me you. . ."
"DiNozzo," Gibbs said quietly. The young man glared at him, but shut his mouth.
"Naval officer was killed by decapitation. ME says it was a sword. They found Adam with a sword and are waiting for the blood traces to be matched up," he reported.
Gibbs raised his brows. "Go."
"Right, boss." Tony glanced towards Kate, but Gibbs shook his head. They were just taking a look to see if it was worth the deal Amanda was offering. He didn't trust her. In fact, he didn't even want her in his bullpen. He watched Tony put on his watch and tuck away his wallet with a little smirk.
"I'll go with him," Amanda said, rising.
"Sit down, Amanda, before I arrest you. You did confess to a crime right in front of me," Tony said, as sweetly as Gibbs had ever heard. "Be a good girl and Gibbs might just give you the spanking you want." He batted his lashed at her. Gibbs bit the inside of his cheek to stop the laughter that wanted to erupt. Tony's lashes were better than hers. That had to drive her crazy. Tony left, not bothering to even look back.
She pouted quietly for a moment, then wheeled her chair closer to McGee's desk. "Aren't you a cute one. I'm Amanda Dawson."
"Amanda," Gibbs barked. She glanced at him.
"What is it, Gregor?"
"Stay in the middle where I can keep an eye on you."
She took off her coat to reveal her short, tight black dress. He saw Kate stiffen out of the corner of his eyes. She stalked across the room and leaned over Gibbs' desk, giving him a good view of her cleavage. Too bad that wasn't going to help her. He preferred women whose drapes matched the carpets. At the moment, he was attached to a brunnette. She batted her lashed. "But I'll get bored, Gregor."
"You? Get bored when you're being watched? I don't think so."
"You are so mean to me."
"I'm not a dog."
He looked at her, unsmiling.
"Fine," she huffed. She sat down on the chair, arms crossed over her chest as she pouted.
"Oh, crap. What do you want with our suspect, DiNozzo?" Jack Carson asked.
"A source intimated that he had something to do with the case we're on. I just want to talk to him."
"Is it just you? *He* isn't here, right?"
"I wouldn't be talking to you if he were. So, where is he?"
"Follow me. I had him brought up from holding when you called. Christ, DiNozzo, tell me you aren't going to mess up my case."
"We'll see. If he *is* involved, he might have an alibi."
"You trust your source?"
"Not as far as I can throw her."
Carson smirked. "I shouldn't be surprised it's a girl."
"Believe me, if you want her, I'll hand her over cheerfully. I'll even give you keys to the cuffs."
Tony rolled his eyes. He took a moment to gather himself and put on his cheerful mask to enter the interrogation room. "Adam Pierson, I'm Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo."
Adam's hazel eyes widened for a moment, then flashed with amusement. He didn't let himself smile though, which was a shame. "A pleasure, Agent DiNozzo." Adam offered his hand. They shook. Tony settled across the table from him.
They studied each other for a moment. "There is a lady who swears she knows where you were when the murder went down. I want to hear it from you."
Adam frowned. "If we're thinking of the same woman, I'd hardly call her a lady."
"Normally I wouldn't either, but she's making an effort to look after her partner in crime." Tony gave Adam a wry smile. "I just want to see if your story matches hers."
"I doubt you'll let me go." Adam's eyes narrowed. "I've got a suspicion that you're merely here to allay my fears of capital punishment."
"Was he a good gamesman?"
"I couldn't say. I'd never had a chance to meet him for a match."
"That's a shame. Did she bring you in for expertise?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"A scholar like yourself would be useful in determining the value of artifacts."
"I do have some talent in the realm."
Their eyes met. Neither one of them wanted to let anything telling slip. Tony knew he was going to lose the contest. "They've charged you with murder, Adam."
"I'm aware of that."
"It could be theft."
"Of my life? Certainly. But I'm sure I can withstand the rigours of prison life."
Tony smiled. "A confident man. I'll be back. I know you'll have more information for me."
"Anthony," Adam called as the agent left, "would you be so kind as to make a call for me? I seem to have misplaced Joe's number."
Tony gave him a smirk. "I had the last stalker arrested. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that would you?"
"We look after our own, Agent DiNozzo."
Tony winked. "Look after yourself, Adam. I need you in good condition."
Adam's chuckle carried Tony into the hallway. "What the Hell was that?" Agent Carson demanded.
Tony shrugged. "He has information I need."
Carson's eyes narrowed. "You're going to call Gibbs aren't you. Listen, DiNozzo, I'm not letting you ruin this case."
"Have you gotten the forensics back?"
"They're still being processed."
"So, hold him for me while I get evidence for my case. You prove your case, fine. Maybe I can get him to roll for a lower sentence. Just don't let him get away." Tony shrugged. "Can I see what you've got on him so far? I don't want to waste time if the story she fed me's not possible."
"Gibbs," Gibbs barked into his phone.
"Hey, boss. I think she's telling the truth, bizarre as that might seem."
He grunted in response.
"I'm getting the information from Carson. I'll call after I've read the case file. Is she still there?"
"Couldn't get rid of her if we tried," Gibbs muttered. Amanda's eyes flashed at him. She pouted prettily, but his immunity was holding out. She stiffened, glancing over her shoulder. Gibbs hung up. "Paranoid, Amanda?"
"Not exactly," she murmered, distracted. A cheerful whistle preceeded a young man as he came down the hall. Gibbs saw McGee's jaw drop and Kate stiffen. He took in with a glance what had caught them. The young man was tall and fit. His hair was dark where it peaked out from under his hat. His shirt sleeves were rolled up. And he was wearing suspenders that did the same job Tony's holster would to define his shoulders. A second glance made him stare. Tony was an only child and he had only one male cousin. This wasn't Peter DiNozzo. Amanda's face lit up. Gibbs nearly growled. The last thing he needed was another distraction in the office. The young man kissed Amanda soundly.
"Hey, doll. Going to introduce me to tall, light and brooding over there?" He grinned cheerfully at Gibbs.
"Cory, this is Special Agent Gibbs. He's our boy's boss."
Cory's green eyes twinkled with mischief. "Really?" he purred. "So, boss, anything up?"
Gibbs snorted. "What do you want?"
"I came to check on my girl." Cory gave Amanda's waist a hug. "And see what trouble my favorite flatfoot's gotten into."
McGee's lips were twitching into a smile. Gibbs understood the reaction. Cory's accent was amusing. He spoke like he was living in a black and white movie. Cory settled DiNozzo's desk and pushed his hat back. The agents who were moving past their area paused to do a double-take. Gibbs hid his own amusement. This could be interesting.
Kate did her best not to stare at the outsiders in the room. Amanda she'd gotten used to. She had a prowling sexuality in her nature that made Kate think of hunting cats. This new man, however, set her teeth on edge. He wasn't predatory anymore than Tony was, but he was much more dangerous. His smile was bright. He sat on Tony's desk, one leg swinging idly in a thumping rhythm that set her teeth on edge. "So, boss, tell me just why you've got my girl sitting all alone. She'll get cold." Kate looked up at that words, to get a glimpse of twinkling green eyes.
"She's hot enough. She knows how to entertain herself," Gibbs replied easily. Kate glanced at him, surprised to see him leaning back in his chair slightly. A smile was pulling his lips up. He was keeping eye contact with their new visitor.
"Well, I know how to entertain myself, but it's much more interesting with a helping hand, don't you think?" Cory's voice was low and sultry. Kate gave up trying to be discrete. He wanted an audience, she'd give him one.
"Too bad I'm not interested in giving *her* a helping hand." Gibbs' emphasis made Cory's smile broaden. He winked at Gibbs.
"Really? Would you give me a helping hand? I tend to get bored."
Gibbs chuckled. He reached into his drawer and pulled out a magazine. He threw it across the room. "Enjoy."
Amanda's laughter filled the room as Cory glared down at the gun magazine.
DiNozzo rubbed at his temples. Carson frowned a him. He didn't like where this was heading. Gibbs only ever sent Tony out to sniff cases he was thinking of stealing. And everyone knew that if Gibbs wanted a case, he'd take it. "Mannaggia!" Tony cursed softly. "Mind if I take a copy of this with me?"
"I'm not letting you steal my case, DiNozzo!"
"I don't want your damned case. I want the freaking antiques back! And your suspect is one of the people who knows where they are. This case will help us with timing."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, he can't be killing your man and stealing our antiques at the same time, right?" Tony said reasonably. Carson relaxed. That made a lot of sense. He nodded. "Great. I'll make a copy and be on my way. Three hours back, if I'm lucky in this traffic. Gibbs is going to kill me."
"He's had to deal with my informant. She's… I don't know how to describe her. Okay, take a model then add a large dose of larceny and a non-malicious ability to get into trouble that she needs help getting out of."
"Got in over her head huh? Wants you to get her out?"
"Something like that. I don't think she's realized just how much I want to arrest her finely shaped backside."
Carson's brows rose at the predatory smile that graced the senior agent's face. "Be careful. I don't want Gibbs coming down on me because of something going wrong."
"Nah, he'll just smack me a couple of times and he'll be just dandy."
Jack froze at that comment. "So he really does hit you? I thought that was just rumor mill stuff."
Tony blinked at him. "What are you talking about?"
"Gibbs hits you?"
"Oh, geez, relax would you? Even the Director doesn't get snippy about head-smacks. What happened? You go to one too many of those workshops? You've really got to work harder at getting out of them." Tony rolled his eyes. Carson relaxed.
"Fine. Fine. Just let me know if you want to see him again."
"Will do. Thanks, Carson."
After Tony left, Carson leaned against his desk. "He's gonna steal my case."
McGee watched with glee as Cory took another bite of pizza. He was making a point of flirting with anyone who was watching. Amanda was doing the same thing. Abby would have a field day with these two. He'd tried to get her to come upstairs, but she was busy processing trace evidence. McGee was attempting to keep his mind on his work, but he was having too much fun people watching. He glanced at his boss who was pointedly ignoring both of their guests. Wait a minute, what the Hell was Gibbs doing with the sauce? Gibbs was licking the sauce off his fingers in a "distracted" manner that kept drawing Cory's eyes. It garnered Gibbs a sultry smile from Amanda and a lingering look from under Cory's lashes. He couldn't wait until Tony got back. The office was mostly dark. All but a few of the other agents had left. Even the Director was gone. The soft lighting made Cory look even more like the forties rogue he seemed to enjoy acting like. Honestly, if he called Kate "doll" one more time, they'd probably be cleaning bits and pieces of him from the carpet for years.
The elevator dinged. Gibbs looked up as Tony entered the bullpen. Tony dropped the casefile onto Gibbs' desk, then stalked towards his desk. "Hi, Tony-boy, how you been?"
Tony took the rest of the piece of pizza out of Cory's hand and put it into the box. Then, wiped off his fingers. He turned back to Cory and gave him a left hook that spilled him to the floor. "Where is she, you bastard? What did you do to her?"
Cory looked up with a cherub's smile. "Don't worry, she only gathered a couple of bullet holes. I had them fixed."
"Bullet holes? She was cherry! Cherry, Cory!" Tony's knee bent to deliver a sharp kick.
"DiNozzo, stand down!" Gibbs barked.
"This is personal, boss," Tony snapped. "Cherry!"
"Hey, calm down, sweetheart. I'll even give you the keys back. There was a gorgeous Mustang downstairs I'd love to give a spin."
Tony pulled his gun. Gibbs caught his wrist. "Keep it holstered, DiNozzo."
"Right, boss," Tony said sweetly. "I'll just tear his balls off if he steals *both* of my babies."
Cory laughed. "I can't help it that I've got good taste in cars. Your left's gotten better, flatfoot." Tony lunged, but Gibbs hadn't let go yet. Cory took that as a sign to keep baiting Tony. McGee winced. It was bad enough when Gibbs got nasty, but if Tony got upset, there'd be no one brave enough to alter the mood. "Now, calm down, cuz, it's not like I intended the Aston to get hurt."
"Did you or did you not use my car in the commision of a crime?" the senior field agent growled. One of Gibbs' hands settled on the back of Tony's neck, the other remained firmly around Tony's wrist. McGee sent an emergency plea to Abby: "Need help. Come up. Tony's upset." If that didn't get her upstairs, nothing would.
"Now, Copper, you know I won't tell you that."
"You never tell me anything until it's too late," Tony said, with a sigh. "I want both of my cars, Cory. Buy one. Leave mine out of it."
"Just having some fun, Ant'ny."
"Oh, come off it. I know damn well, that's not your accent anymore than it's mine."
"But it fits, sweetheart."
Gibbs' continued grip seemed to steady Tony's need to beat the man who could well be Tony's cousin. McGee studied them together. Yes, he could see the simliarities. Gibbs grip tightened and Tony's shoulders hunched up. "Conference room, now," Gibbs stated.
Tony slouched against the wall of the elevator as it jerked to a stop. "Talk," Gibbs snapped.
"Those two nearly wrecked my career! They got me arrested. Nearly got me thrown off the force. Tried to steal my inheritance. Stole my grandfather's 1948 Aston Martin. What do you want me to do? Be *happy* to see the son of a whore?"
"You hit him without provication. And you nearly drew on an unarmed man."
"I wouldn't have shot him. I'd have kept my safety on." Tony pouted. "They swear up and down they've adopted me, Gibbs. Adopted me in order to make my life a living hell! Do you know how many times I've been questioned about Cory's crimes? How many times I've come home to find things rearranged because Amanda took it into her head to redecorate and maybe relieve me of one or two little baubles I don't need? I have been accused of being an accessory after the fact of at least two big heists when I was so deep undercover that I didn't even call in for three weeks. You're damned lucky the only thing I did was hit him."
"You drew on an unarmed suspect," Gibbs growled. "Not to mention the fully recorded assault charge he could file against you."
"But he could, DiNozzo. That's the point. I refuse to waste that time. You've been on edge since White. I know this case is getting to you." Gibbs stepped into Tony's personal space. Tony shivered slightly, head ducking down defensively. "If you *ever* attack a suspect again, I will do more than smack you. Do you understand me, DiNozzo?"
Tony looked up through his lashes.
"I will get the whole story out of you later. I want to know every detail and you won't sleep until I have them."
Tony winced. "Right, boss."
Gibbs started the elevator again. It took them down to collect Abby before heading back upstairs. Abby looked Tony over critically, making a point of looking for bruises. She glared at Gibbs. "What did you do to him?"
"Abs, I’m fine. We just had a *conference*."
She winced. "You're lucky no one's bugged this elevator." She put her arm around Tony's waist, giving Gibbs a glare. Gibbs looked back at her impassively. "You're supposed to take care of him, not yell at him."
"He hit a suspect," Gibbs said flatly. Abby's eyes widened.
"He deserved it. He stole my car."
"No, my Aston Martin."
"Oh my gosh, you really have one?"
"Had. He stole it."
The elevator disgorged them onto the proper floor. Cory was sitting on Tony's desk again, playing with the stuffed ball Abby had gotten Tony last Christmas to throw at the walls when Gibbs irritated him. "Think fast, flatfoot." Tony caught the ball. He tossed it into the air. He caught it easily.
"I'm a detective, not a beat cop."
Abby smiled broadly. "Can we keep him?" she asked, bouncing slightly. "He's cute."
Tony wrapped his arms around her waist, lifted her up and carried her over to McGee's desk. He set her down. "Stay away from the cute thieves, Abby." He pointed at McGee. "Geeks are okay. Jocks are okay. Thieves are *not* okay."
"Relax, cuz. I won't steal your girl."
Tony rolled his eyes. "And if you believe anything out of that man's mouth, you need to reevaluate your trust levels."
"Take these two to interrogation. Keep them there." Gibbs' glared at the younger man. Tony glared back. "No violence."
Tony stiffened to attention. He collected his charges and herded them to the interrogation room.
Abby bounced on her toes. "Can I watch you interrogate them, Gibbs?"
"You can watch Tony in interrogation, but you may not enter the room. Clear?"
"Go on then."
Abby gave Gibbs a quick hug before nearly dancing down to interrogation. Tony was leaning against the door. "I wondered who he'd send to make sure I don't shoot them. I was expecting Kate."
"So, are they exes? I'm thinking not."
"Not for lack of trying. They adopted me when I was a patrolman. Amanda was trying to get my trust fund signed over to her. She didn't realize that I was sleeping with the bank manager she was trying to seduce. And Cory? I really want to shoot him, Abs. I do."
"Bossman says no violence." She punched Tony in the shoulder. "I'll be watching." She wagged her finger at him. "I'm sure he'll be down soon though. To make sure I haven't wormed my way into the room."
Tony sighed. He looked up to the heavens, then shooed Abby towards the observation room. He steeled himself for a moment longer before entering the room.
"Come on, Tony-boy," Cory said immediately. "Interrogation?" He snorted. "For what?"
"Because the boss said to put you in interrogation. If it were up to me, I'd bury you in a well."
Amanda shook her head. "You don't really hate us."
"No, I'm pretty sure I do."
"If you hated us, you wouldn't be so approachable," Cory pointed out. They turned twin smiles on him. "In fact, if you hated us, you'd treat us the way you treat your father."
"No, that would imply that I don't have any emotional attachment to you." He flopped into a chair and put his feet up on the table. "Robbed any banks recently?"
Cory laughed brightly at that. "Just a pawn shop." He leaned back in his chair. "So, who are you seeing?"
"Liar," Amanda opined.
Tony rolled his eyes. "I'm not dating anyone."
"Ah, a fine hair-splitting line." Cory took up the interrogation. "So, you want to be dating this person, but they don't want you?"
That wasn't true, but he couldn't talk about this. He had to find a way to get them off of the subject without lying to them. They'd know if he were lying. It was a talent. Tony fiddled with the cuff of his shirt as he thought, making sure it covered the mark on his wrist. It was healing pretty well.
"Tony?" Amanda's voice was quiet.
He blinked. He'd drifted off. "What?"
"What's wrong, sweetie?"
"Nothing's wrong except that you're in town and you know where the antiquities I nearly died for are."
Cory and Amanda sat up straight. "Who?" they snapped as one.
"Don't worry, he's dead."
"You're sure?" Cory pressed. His mouth was stern.
"Positive. Ducky did the autopsy."
They relaxed a bit, but didn't lose the wary edge. "When did this attempt take place?" Amanda asked.
"About three days ago."
She frowned. "It wasn't us obviously."
Tony rolled his eyes. "It has nothing to do with you except that I want the things back before there's a diplomatic incident."
Amanda exchanged a glance with Cory. "We'll make sure they get to the proper owners."
"Now see, that's the problem. The proper owners aren't in the states."
"They aren't in Iraq either."
"I've seen the paperwork."
"That doesn't mean it's right."
"So someone hired you to steal them?"
Amanda opened her mouth, then shut it again. "You didn't even read me my rights."
"Should I have?"
"If you're going to be interrogating me officially, yes."
"Amanda Montrose, Cory Raines, you are under arrest for theft." Tony's lips twitched. "I've wanted to say that for years."
"I have nothing to do with it."
"You're just in the area? I don't buy it." He recited their rights. "Do you understand these rights?"
"Yes," they each confirmed. "Now, you get to call our lawyer."
"I hate you," Tony stated once again. "I'm serious. I hate you." He sighed. "What's his number? And do you seriously want him involved in this? I'd think he'd be worse to face than the judge."
Cory winced. "Unfortunately, yes."
Tony's eyes narrowed. "What haven't you told me? Wait, do you know who actually killed Lt. Holmes?"
The two exchanged a glance. "Not Adam. That's all I can tell you."
"DiNozzo?" Tony was leaning against the door of the interrogation room.
"They want their lawyer."
"And he is?"
"Hopefully picking up his messages. I don't think we can hold them, boss. But we can put a watch on them."
"You think they'll stick around?"
Tony nodded. There was a rueful smile on his lips. "Yeah. They're serious about Adam not doing it. And I believe his denial too. You may have to take me off of this one. I know too many people involved. It will be suspicious."
Gibbs studied him for a long moment. He entered the observation room. "Abs, go back to the lab. DiNozzo, in here. You, out." The tech nodded. His hand hovered over the recording button. He raised his brows at Tony. Tony nodded. The tech left. Gibbs closed the door. "There's something else going on here."
"Yeah. There is. I think they're trying to run interference."
"For the killer?"
Tony shook his head. "For me. Amanda and Cory show up in this office? Where they'll have to break in to steal all the records? It doesn't wash. If they didn't want to keep an eye on us, they would have just shown up in my apartment."
The younger man grimaced. "That's what it feels like."
"You think there's a threat to the team on this one?"
"At the very least me. Because I know those two and I think they have a clue who did in Holmes. I think they just don't know the real name."
Gibbs considered that for a long moment. "Do you need to camp out at my place?"
"No, I have to do some maneuvering. I think there are some people I have to talk to."
The senior agent considered his second. Tony had a wide network of friends. When he started making phone calls it was like Ducky walking into any police department across the country. If he didn't know someone immediately, he knew who to get an introduction from. "Anything on the record?"
"Not yet. If I find someone willing to testify or some hard evidence, I'll do it by the book." Tony glanced over his shoulder. "They really do think of me as family." He met Gibbs' eyes squarely. "And I think of them as family. They've done more for me than any blood has. At least until I met you."
Gibbs took the silent reminder of their relationship as it was intended. There were some times when you had to ignore regulations. "I'm transferring Adam up to DC. I want all our ducks in one place."
"Tell them to be careful. He's smarter than he acts and stronger than he looks."
That brought Gibbs up short. "Dangerous?"
"Not to our agents, but to an enemy, yes. He'll assume that his transfer has to do with my visit. He won't cause waves."
"Get me his full background."
"We won't see anything he doesn't want us to see. He's better than McGee."
"You think he's created that good of a history?"
"Yes. Pretend he's been undercover for fifteen years. What sort of background would he need? It's better than that."
"Jesus. What have we gotten into the middle of?"
Tony shook his head. He placed a quick peck on Gibbs' cheek. "Are the kids still upstairs?"
"I'm sending them home. Get their contact information and send them home with watchers."
He didn't know what brought the amused grin to Tony's face, but it made him want to take the man there and then. "I will. I'll do it all on the record too."
"Dawson," the gravelly voice on the other end of the phone said.
Tony put his feet up on the coffee-table. "Hello, Joe. This is Tony DiNozzo. Remember me?"
"To my dismay. I've got a sighting for you. I've got Amanda, Cory, and Adam here in DC. Adam says he lost your number. I figured you'd call his lawyer."
"What's the charge?"
"Murder, but according to my cousin, he was busy stealing a load of Iraqi antiquities at the time, so it's probably theft. You have a nod for me on who killed a Navy officer in Norfolk?"
"I'll drop a dime if I find out. It wasn't Adam."
"So he told me."
"I'll be in DC by tomorrow."
"NCIS headquarters in Anacostia. I'll leave your name with the guard. You want me to make arrangements for you?"
"No, I'll do it. I've got an assistant in the area." There was humor in Joe's voice. "She's pissed at Adam."
"Oh, did he ditch your daughter again? Can I take her to dinner?"
"You stay away from my daughter."
"Come on, Joe, I'm a good catch." Tony grinned into the phone. "I've currently got the wonder-twins under surveillance. Want to take bets on how long that lasts?"
"I give them a night, if they want your help."
"At least they haven't shopped in my apartment yet. We may have to bring my boss in on the secret. I can't lie to him."
"I heard you were better than that."
Tony touched his throat, feeling the blade against it. "I made a promise. He doesn't care if I lie to anyone else, but not to him. He's my partner."
Joe was quiet. "You're not one of mine, so I can't order you to not tell him. Talk it over with Adam."
Tony sighed. "I'll talk to Cory. Oh, crap, I forgot to call you. I found a game on-line. It's called the Immortals. You might have a serious leak. We had a kid kill himself thinking he'd come back after his first death. He'd gotten himself a sword. Sharpened it and everything."
"I'll look into it."
"One more thing, Joe. They want MacLeod here as their lawyer."
"I'll contact him."
"Slumming?" Tony asked at Cory and Amanda settled against his desk like a pair of bookends.
"Now, sweetie, be nice," Amanda admonished. "Go get me a chair."
Tony looked at Cory. "Where's my car?"
"I don't know. Where did you leave it?"
"You know exactly what I'm talking about."
"I have no idea what you mean," the bank-robber said, batting his lashes.
"And you think I don't hate you?" Tony sighed. "Chairs are at the end of the aisle. Or I could take you back down to interrogation. Maybe get a confession on tape?"
Cory snorted. He ruffled Tony's hair. "Keep that positive attitude, kiddo."
McGee choked on his laughter. Tony glared at him. Kate's lips twitched up as their two visitors settled their chairs in front of Tony's desk and proceeded to interrogate him. "So, about this girl you aren't seeing?"
"Oh for God's sake! Let it go."
"No way, Tony-boy. Spit it out. Who are you seeing?"
Tony stared at Cory for a long moment. His lips twisted into a mocking smile. "When you tell me where the antiquities are." Amanda pouted. Cory shook his head.
"You won't get us to back off that easily. It's my appointed duty as the older and wiser one to warn them off of you."
"You? Wiser? Aren't you the one who used a nineteen twenties roadster as a get away car? And then wondered why you got caught?"
"Hey, those charges were dropped."
"And who did you sleep with for that?"
"That is uncalled for."
"But I notice that you didn't say that it wasn't true or that you were actually innocent."
"I haven't been innocent since I was a teenager."
"DiNozzo, what have you got for me?" Gibbs asked as he swept past the trio to his desk.
"Background on Pierson's in your inbox. He's a linquistics specialist. Got his doctorate a couple years back. He's the acknowledged world expert in Sanskrit and Cuniform. He speaks at least ten languages. I've got glowing references from five of his professors. He inherited Shakespeare and Company, a chain of bookstores, when his employer Don Salzer was murdered. The murderer escaped from prison about a year after the murder. His body was found in the river decapitated. There's no evidence that Pierson was involved with the death. He's invested in a blues club in Chicago. He teaches at the University of Chicago as an adjunct professor. His finances are pretty tight, but he makes enough from the bookstore and club to live on.
"He married once. She died of cancer about eight months later." Amanda made a small sound at that. "Something to add?"
"Her name was Alexa," she said softly. "Her death really tore him up."
Tony inclined his head to acknowledge that. "He was listed as a person of interest in the escape of Evan Caspari, a serial murderer. Caspari was found dead in France, so they dropped the investigation. No arrests. Originally from Wales. He's spent most of his life travelling on school grants for research. He worked for an historical society for several years and traveled the world for them, verifying antiques and translating documents. One of his references is from the Smithsonian. I've got an appointment to talk to her in person this afternoon."
"McGee, the videos?"
"Nothing, boss. They were looped for three hours."
"Who was on duty?"
The younger man winced. "Jones and Martinez."
Gibbs practically growled. "Get them into interrogation."
"On it, boss!" the younger man snapped. Tony's lips twitched at that.
"Kate, you want in on the pool as to whether or not they last out the day?" he asked.
Gibbs glanced at his lover. "You betting against me, DiNozzo?"
"Good. Report, Agent Todd."
All three agents winced at that. Gibbs was not in a good mood. "There's no missing trucks or recently purchased trucks in the area. I've got a list of possible storage areas and warehouses."
"Are they still in the country?" Tony asked Amanda. She smiled, then reached over and pinched his cheek. She didn't bother answering.
"McGee, do we have anything from the traffic cameras?" Tony asked when it looked like Kate was done.
"I couldn't find one close enough to see the entrance. We can't prove the truck is coming from the depot."
"I want a list of all the vehicles. Now, McGee!" Gibbs snapped.
"Jones and Martinez are waiting for you by interrogation."
"DiNozzo, with me."
"Don't touch anything on my desk."
Tony winced as Gibbs' voice hit his stride. The tech exchanged a look with him. He shook his head and ran a finger over his throat. Tony nodded. Oh yeah, these two were out. If they were lucky the FBI would pick them up. They fell asleep on a stakeout. Unless they could prove they'd been drugged, these two were gone. One of them needed to stay awake at least. Tony's cell buzzed. He looked at the text message. So, Dawson and McLeod had arrived. Things were going to get interesting quickly. Gibbs slammed out of interrogation. "Well, at least they didn't wet themselves," Tony muttered to the tech.
The tech snorted. "They're not smart enough to be that scared."
"DiNozzo," Gibbs snapped as he opened the door.
"Better not be," Gibbs murmured as Tony fell into step with him.
"But you're cute when you're pissed," Tony answered when the elevator doors had closed. "Dawson and McLeod have shown up."
"McLeod's the lawyer?"
Tony nodded. "Dawson owns the blues club that Pierson's involved with. He's a former Marine. Vietnam. Double amputee from a land-mine."
Gibbs nodded an acknowlegement. Tony followed Gibbs a pace behind as always. He saw Dawson leaning on his cane and carefully didn't smile a welcome. Cory was arguing with McLeod about something, but it had degraded into a toddler-style argument that didn't give any clues as to the actual issue. Amanda was watching them with a little smirk. McLeod literally threw his hands up in the air. "Forget it!" Cory smirked in pleasure.
"Who are you and what do you want?" Gibbs snapped at the two men.
"My name is Duncan McLeod. I'm representing Mr. Raines and Ms. Montrose. This is my associate, Joe Dawson. He's here to see Mr. Pierson."
Gibbs grunted. "Charges haven't been pressed."
"I was under the impression they had."
Gibbs frowned over his shoulder at his second. Tony sighed. "Well, they were starting in on my personal life, what else was I supposed to do, Mac?"
McLeod did a double take. "I didn't recognize you out of uniform." He smiled and offered a hand. "Just as well I'm in town. Did you ever get your car back?"
"Not yet. But I'm not letting him out of my range this time."
"So you will be pressing charges."
"As soon as the boss lets me."
"Pierson's being transferred to our holding area," Gibbs informed Dawson. "We'll let you know when he arrives. McGee, where's that vehicle list?"
"Todd, do you have something useful?"
"Nothing yet, Gibbs."
"Amanda, get your hands out of that drawer," Gibbs snapped. The thief dropped the file back into the drawer and smiled sweetly. "Do it again and I'm calling the Russians."
Tony deftly avoided Cory's extended foot and Amanda's wandering hands as he made his way to his chair. "Make yourself useful and get Joe a chair," he told the bank-robber. Cory looked mildly guilty at the lapse and got up to find two more chairs. He returned with two chairs from the conference room. Joe settled into the chair. Tony emailed Gibbs. "The blood on Pierson's sword came back negative. It's not our petty officer's. We're holding him on suspicion of robbery now. If Amanda recants, we'll have to let them all go."
Gibbs' answer was a quick: "Fuck."
He reconsidered. "Do it, but set up a surveillance team. Let them lead us to the goods."
"Right, boss." Tony acknowledged the emailed orders. He picked up the phone. "Abs, you got something?"
"Maybe. Come down and see," she said over the music. "And you can tell me all about your pretty new toys."
He smirked. "Going down to see, Abby," he informed his boss. He was given leave with a nod. Kate and McGee probably assumed that Gibbs had him working something related to the two who'd screwed up on the guard job. "Oh, Amanda, did you happen to drug the security force when you stole the stuff?"
She opened her mouth to answer, then reconsidered and closed it. "Sorry, honey. Prove I was there and I'll tell you what you want to know."
He glanced at Gibbs. A bare nod later and Tony was in the elevator on the way to Abby. After that, he'd grab a kit and go back to the storage unit. It was unlikely something had been missed, but Gibbs hadn't let him go on the original call. It had been too close to Jeffrey White's death and Tony's own near-miss for him to be back at the scene. He still didn't understand why they hadn't just moved the boxes to someplace more secure.
Amanda chewed on a fingernail. "So, where did you send Tony, Gregor?" she asked in Russian after about ten minutes. Part of it was to see if she could get under the man's skin, the rest was to keep things that the kids shouldn't hear a secret.
Gibbs smirked at her, looking ridiculously appealing. "He's hunting you."
"But I'm right here. I haven't even started to fly," she argued. Then, she paused. "You let him go to the crime scene alone? He told me someone tried to kill him!"
"Man who tried to kill him is dead. What are you worried about, Amanda? Did you leave us evidence?"
She stiffened her spine. "I'm worried about my cousin. You don't take good enough care of him. He looks tired."
"Someone stole the antiquities he nearly died for."
Duncan looked at her with a frown. "Where did the antiquities come from?"
"No, they didn't," Amanda stated. "And we really don't have time to discuss it. Is he going alone or is he taking the Abby he was talking about?"
Gibbs frowned. Amanda met his eyes evenly. Tony was one of hers damn it, and she didn't have that many to worry about. He pulled out his phone and dialed Tony's number. "Report in every fifteen minutes." That would help, but it wasn't enough. She scribbled the address of the unit down on a sticky note.
"I'll drive," Cory said, plucking the note from her fingers. "Come on Mackie-boy, we've got a flatfoot to find."
"Kate, go help Tony at the crime scene." She blinked at Gibbs.
"Right." She gathered her things and armed herself.
"No," Amanda stated. "Let Cory and Duncan do it. Or make her wear a vest." She maintained the Russian, knowing that the order had to come from Gibbs or it wouldn't happen.
Kate met Gibbs' eyes. "Am I going to help him at the scene or just watching his back?" There was something in the tone of her voice that made Amanda give her an appraising look.
"Watch his back."
"You think White didn't do in all of his accomplices?"
Gibbs snorted. "It's DiNozzo. You think his luck's that good?"
The brunette snorted. "Right. Fifteen minute check ins," she confirmed before she left.
"What's going on, Cory?" McLeod demanded.
The bank-robber sighed. "Short version? Those things we stole were already stolen. We're trying to return them. Adam's financing the operation for someone else. There's at least two other Immortals involved in this and they've got pressure on the Secretary of Defence's office to get those items to Iraq where they'll disappear. And they can't, Mac. They're important.
"One of our Immortals dropped a dime on Adam and got him arrested for a Challenge. He didn't do it and I'm pretty sure from Tony's reactions that he believes that. If the guys who stole these things from the original thieves weren't military we'd be working with Matthew on this instead. And I think these idiots are just smart enough to know that Tony's mine, I mean, ours, ah fuck. We adopted him, Mac. Can't let anything happen to him."
McLeod sighed. "And you had him call me to act as your lawyer. What did you do, walk in and announce that you'd stolen the things?" Mac sighed. "Amanda."
"Pretty much. Not that Tony wouldn't have figured it out as soon as he saw her. He doesn't have anything on record and his partners don't speak Spanish, so it's just his word. Not that that helps in Amanda's case."
"Come on, Duncan, you're a good man at your side in a fight. And I don't know how many mortals are involved in this. It's Tony's case though. Well, really, his boss' case, and damn that man is intense. Flirts well when you get him going, but Jesus."
"Like I'm really going to try to steal Tony's boyfriend? Get real. And no, that's not general knowledge. They're completely in the closet because it could get them both fired." Cory thought for a moment. "In fact, I don't think Tony knows that I know. So, don't tell him, okay?"
Mac shook his head in exasperation. "I won't tell him that you've been spying on him. Tell me about this location."
The older Immortal rolled his eyes at Duncan. "It's a storage unit. I big one. Not a warehouse. It was where the US government decided to leave the things. They were supposed to be shipped out, but they got stolen. Tony and his team took care of finding the things. Amanda, Adam and I took care of making sure they moved to the right place."
"Are they still in the area or have you fenced them?"
"They're not going to be fenced. Keep up here, Mac."
A twitch of McLeod's lips made Cory frown. "Stop teasing. This is important."
Tony sighed when he caught sight of the car. "This is a crime scene, Cory. Keep your ass in that car."
"Sorry, don't think so, flatfoot." Cory shut the car door with a thump. He started scanning the rooftops. McLeod did the same thing.
The agent frowned at them. "You know something I don't know?"
"I know a lot, Tony-boy, but in this case? Just taking care of what's mine."
"Somehow I doubt the car is yours." Tony wasn't dense, but he also wasn't going to give Cory the right of claiming family. "Don't contaminate my crime scene and don't get in my way or I'll call the locals and have them remove you."
"Federal power's going to your head," the thief chided. Tony turned away and got back to work. He could ignore Cory and Mac the way he couldn't ignore his teammates. He didn't have to put on a show for them. And he didn't have to worry about protecting them. He studied the room, looking for any place that might have collected information. He didn't think he'd find anything. Amanda and Cory were too good to leave evidence. And there was no reason to think there's be anything missed by the rest of the team. Still, he had better eyes and more experience than anyone on the team except Gibbs. He looked at the ground. He pulled out his camera to record the tracks from the forklift. He couldn't remember if he'd seen pictures of them or not.
He worked quietly, not bothering to check on the two men who'd decided to stand guard over him. The sound of another vehicle brought his head up. It sounded like an agency car. He blinked when he saw Kate in a bulletproof vest. She shrugged on her windbreaker and headed across to him with another vest in her hand. He saw her professionally judge every possible angle for a shot. "Here." She held out the vest.
Tony didn't question it. He simply put on his vest, then shrugged his windbreaker back on. "Gibbs?"
She frowned. "Off of something your girlfriend said."
"I thought Amanda sent those two."
"She did. Gibbs sent me. What are we looking for?"
"Anything at this point. Keep an open mind." He gave her a sly grin. "Think like a crook, Kate."
Duncan McLeod of the Clan McLeod had been many things in his life, but first and foremost he was a clan leader. He understood the need to protect his clan. Amanda and Cory were part of his clan. By extension any mortal they'd put under their protection was one of his. Beyond that, he liked Tony. Still, when Kate showed up, he tensed. She gave every indication of being ready to take a bullet for her partner with the calmness of a professional bodyguard. He was not going to allow that to happen.
He scanned the rooftops and alleys. A glint of light had him in motion before he registered it. By the time he'd reached the two mortals they were already moving further into the room and out of the line of fire. "Go," he barked at Cory. The thief took off across the parking lot. "Stay down," he ordered. The two agents had their weapons out. Kate pushed Tony against the wall with a hard look. He nodded. He pulled out his cellphone.
She pelted across the parking lot in a swerving tangent to Cory's path before he could stop her. Torn, he watched her run for a moment. He looked back at the young man who was ordering back-up and looking forlornly after his partner. "Yes, boss. Kate's working with Cory. Yeah, I do trust him not to throw him off the roof. I don't trust him not to pick his pocket." Tony gave a short bark of laughter. "Life sucks sometimes, but at least I'm armed. Crime scene's toast. Too many people have been here. Stop talking and just drive, Boss. I can hear McGee whimpering. I've got cover and I've got a sight-line. What I wouldn't give for a rifle." Tony tucked away his phone without saying anything else. "So tell me, Mac, do you have a rifle in that car?"
McLeod chuckled. "No. Not a rifle."
"Ah, sharp pointy object that won't make it through security. I see. I know how you hide yours, but where the heck does Cory put it in a leather jacket?"
"He doesn't. He uses knives if he can't make an appointment."
"How long will it take him to wake up if I shoot him?"
"Not long enough."
A car squealed into the parking lot. It disgorged Gibbs and McGee. Amanda, it seemed, had been left behind. Duncan hoped should wouldn't just break Methos out of jail. It looked as if they were on course to get him released formally. "Report," Gibbs snapped.
"Cory and Kate are on the roof. Going after a possible sniper. Could just be watching. Amanda say I was a target?"
"Yes. Stay back. McGee, rifle in the trunk."
In short order, the rifle was in Tony's hand, Gibbs and McGee were headed toward the building to close off the exits. Duncan was left as bodyguard while Tony set his cheek to the rifle and used the scope to watch the action on the roof. "What's happening?"
"Cory has the guy's attention. Kate's coming from the opposite direction. Guy's cornered. He doesn't have a rifle. I doubt he's a Watcher though. Damn, he's armed."
McLeod went silent. He watched the surrounding buildings, but there was no evidence of anyone else in the vicinity. "Kate's got him in cuffs. Cory's being a smart ass."
"How can you tell?"
"He's got that grin on that makes me want to shoot him."
Duncan laughed. "No, he wears that all the time. Use a small bullet. It'll stay inside after the wound heals and have to be popped out about an hour later."
"Good to know, Mac. I'll keep it in mind. So this guy didn't set off the radar. Was he too far away or is he definitely mortal?"
"Too far for me to tell. Cory will let you know."
"Right. If he is, it's going to be such a mess. Gibbs will have to be told if there's any hope of keeping him out of prison."
McLeod frowned. "You're not a Watcher?"
"Let me think, no way. I keep my ear to the ground. Call Joe if something comes up, but I'm a cop. I couldn't keep to the never interfere manifesto. It' not my style. Besides, they'd want to stick me with Amanda or Cory as my assignment. Joe's already told me that. Gibbs is sending Cory toward us." Tony lowered the rifle and unloaded it. It wouldn't be any good to him in close quarters. "Let's just get everyone back home in one piece. Then, I can shoot my wannabe-cousin."
The suspect sat in interrogation. He tapped his fingers against the metal table in a vaguely familiar rhythm. Tony was fairly certain it was the latest pop song, but he wouldn't swear to it. Gibbs entered the room. He sat down in front of the suspect. "Martin Tollins. Wanted for smuggling, and robbery. You've just added attempted murder to that list. Why?"
"I want my lawyer."
Gibbs stared at him. Tollins didn't twitch. Tony was impressed. Gibbs left him in the room. Tony met his boss in the hall. "Have him taken to holding. Have them leave the restraints on."
Tony cocked his head to the side. "His lawyer will have a field day with that."
"He had a sniper rifle and was aiming at a federal agent. He stays restrained until he's in maximum security."
"They're going to freak when they find out Cory. Oh, of course, because Cory didn't arrest him, Kate did."
"And you were on the roof with her while he targeted your cousin."
"You're scary sometimes. Do I get to cut Adam loose?"
"There's no evidence he killed our man and no proof that he or Amanda was involved in the theft."
"Yet." Gibbs confirmed. "Go get him processed and bring him up to the pen."