"Agent DiNozzo." The woman's voice was flat and low.
Tony looked up. "Agent Addams." His voice matched hers. He stood and pulled on his suitcoat. "Boss, Agent Addams and I have some paperwork to deal with."
Gibbs nodded. "Bring back coffee."
Agent Addams turned as Tony joined her. The swirl of her skirt brought to mind a black octopus as she moved. Tony's hand rested gently in the small of her back as he escorted her from the pen.
Ziva looked to Gibbs. "You have a tracker on him, yes?"
The senior agent snorted. "Addams knows not to keep him out for more than an hour."
She frowned, unconvinced. "I will notify Ducky."
Gibbs' bark of laughter froze the office. "She won't do anything on company time."
"The plague? How glorious."
Tony smiled at her. "Jethro informed me that I wouldn't die from it."
"I had wondered why you were still with NCIS." She tapped a finger on the parchment. It crinkled under her pressure. "Does he torture you properly?"
"Oh, cara mia, you know you're the only inquisitor in my life."
"As it should be," she said regally. "Mother has done the calculations. The date is set. Father's reserved a home in the Everglades."
"Can I feed your brother to an alligator?"
"After the ceremony."
"You'll need to be at the house June 21st. No later than 12:30."
"I'll put in for leave. Shall we sign?"
She inclined her head. She removed a crystal inkwell and simple fountain pen from her purse. She signed in careful strokes.
"Your middle name is Penelope Hestia?"
A brief smile crossed her face. "Full names have power."
Tony signed in his formal scrawl. "Do we need to do the finger-prick thing this time?"
"No. Our blood's mixed into the ink. It seemed more practical."
"When's the wedding?" Gibbs asked without looking up.
Tony jerked at the sound. He looked around the empty office. "What time is it?"
"January third. You're invited as my witness. I might have Abby stand for me." Tony bit his lip. "I'll need three days in June." He took a breath. "And it might be nice if you'd come with me. About time to introduce you to her parents."
Gibbs raised his brows. "Put in the paperwork. Is this a 'family' deal?"
"No. Her father wants, well. He's got one son already. I'm related. Second cousins or third or something. He wanted to adopt me straight out, but Father wouldn't give up rights." Tony scrubbed a hand through his hair. "Betrothal was as close as he could come. It's not like I didn't like her."
Gibbs nodded. He kept his gaze steady.
"It's not going to change anything. She's still going to be FBI and I'll be NCIS and we'll see each other occasionally." Tony shrugged. "I'm not sure if we're even exchanging rings."
"You will be inviting McGee, Ziva, and Ducky as well."
"Yes, Boss." Tony sighed.
"Right after you, Boss." The younger man smirked. "Have to get my kicks before I'm a married man."
Gibbs snorted. "Call in dinner."
Wednesday's head lifted from her spreadsheet. She didn't know the agent in front of her. She studied him impassively.
"I'd like to speak with you privately."
"And I would like to finish my reviews."
The man frowned. "DiNozzo is dangerous. Watch your back."
"Thank you for your concern." Her voice never left its normal monotone. "Anthony is the least dangerous man I know. He hasn't tried to kill me in years."
The agent who hadn't bothered to introduce himself took a steadying breath. He leaned over and held himself up with his hands. How amusing. He was attempting to loom over her. She inhaled the scent of his cologne. "Did he hurt you?" His voice was soft, as if she were a victim. She stared at him.
"I have work to do."
"I can protect you. Just tell me what he's done."
"You must be Slacks," she said. She mimicked Tony's smile. "You arrested him once. You were wrong." She dropped the smile. "Go arrest someone who's actually harmful."
He closed his eyes for a moment. He pushed himself up. "Just give me the word and he'll be out of your life."
"Don't be foolish. I'll simply kill him and feed his corpse to the crows."
She saw the repressed shudder and smirked inwardly. Violent Crimes agents were so easy to scare.
Fornell looked down at DiNozzo. The younger man looked back up at him. "What do you want?" he asked.
"Your fiancee says you tried to kill her."
"When we were eleven, I pushed her into Lake Erie." Tony laughed. "And when I was learning to drive, we were T-boned by a pick-up truck." He bit his lip and studied the ceiling. "Gave her food poisoning once from not cooking the pork chops long enough. Beyond that? Can't think of anything."
Fornell snorted. "When's the wedding."
"Next year. I'd invite you, but you'd give the gators indigestion."
McGee and David stopped moving. McGee's mouth hung open until DiNozzo glared at him. The young man's jaw closed with a snap. He looked back to his computer. David stared at them with calculating eyes that reminded him of Addams when she was dissecting a ledger. No wonder DiNozzo seemed to like her. Jethro was unsurprised by the idea of DiNozzo's marrying. Interesting."
"Yep. Don't worry. We'll inform the local branch we're in town so they can report back. If they make it out alive, of course. I won't kill them, but I make no promises when it comes to Wednesday. She'd castrate me."
Fornell's brows rose. The corners of his eyes crinkled. "She dissects accounts, not people. I think I can handle her."
"Fifty bucks on Addams, if he shows up," Gibbs stated.
"I'm not betting against my own fiancee. It lacks class. Now, was there some real reason you stopped by?"
"Just wanted to be here to watch Sacks arrest you. Must be having trouble with the warrant."
Tony blinked. "Did he imply to Wednesday that he might arrest me? I better call her off and tell her it's a joke. Her father's got Kilngman on retainer."
Gibbs and Fornell both shuddered at the defense attorney's name. Fornell sighed. He turned to Gibbs, surprised the man had let the teasing last this long. Must be feeling sentimental. "Arms dealer. Had two crates of Navy weapons." He dropped the thumb drive on DiNozzo's desk. "Tell me where he got them." Gibbs' blue eyes drilled into him.
"Boss?" DiNozzo prompted.
"McGee, check the data. DiNozzo, call Abby before someone tells her the news."
A quickly bitten off curse preceded the young man's grab for the phone. "Damned FBI. Can't keep a secret to save your badly dressed ass!"
Abby stood in front of Tony's car, hands on her hips. "I don't think so, Buster. I want details."
"Okay. Okay." Tony held his hands up in surrender. "You provide food. I'll provide details."
"And I want to meet her."
The look that crossed his face made her frown. He blinked. "No. No. It's not like that. I swear. It's just... I think she'd probably kill you, unless." He drifted to a stop. "I'll have to give her fair warning. It's not that she has anything against Gothic lifestyles. She'll simply make some unfair assumptions." He shook his head. "Do you want me to meet you somewhere or will you ride with me?"
Tony gave Gibbs a quick peck on the cheek on his way to the bedroom. "You approved time off in June."
"Did I?" Gibbs' voice was mild. He'd learned that showing too much emotion just encouraged fantastic stories. Bored or mild interest would get him the truth.
"We're going to Long Island so I can introduce you to Wenesday's family." Tony emerged a few minutes later in jeans and a BPD tee-shirt. He collapsed onto the couch and fished his book out from under the newspaper on the coffee table. "There's a pre-ceremony or maybe it's just the engagement party. At any rate, I need you there."
Gibbs raised his brows. "You're bringing your lover to your engagement party. Won't your wife-to-be have something to say about that?"
"Meet my girlfriend? Or maybe, don't let him drink the punch; there's arsenic." Tony shook his head. "She likes you. And it's not like she and I have the romance of the ages. You'll like her lover. She's in construction. Carpentry, to be exact."
Gibbs laughed. "You're both gay?"
"Bi." Tony grinned. "With leanings. Oh, we have a great time torturing each other. And we lost out virginity together. but we've been engaged since we were ten." The younger man paused. "Well, earlier, but Gomez didn't call on the contract until after my mother died."
"How old fashioned."
"Old money, what can you do? On Mother's side at least. I believe she's Morticia's cousin. Whatever. Genealogy gives me headaches.” Tony opened his book to his place and slumped down until his head was propped on Gibbs' leg. "In any case, it let me stay with them during breaks." He leaned his head back, exposing his throat in a way that made Gibbs' mind dive toward the gutter. "And we'll get you a good suit." A salacious smile grew on Tony's face. "And then I can blow you in the dressing room."
"No, Tony." Best to cut off those ideas quickly. "Elevator maybe."
Tony shivered. "Holy fuck, Boss." His eyes dilated. "Your elevator."
Wednesday set down her vintage suitcase. She rang the bell and waited for Lurch to answer the door. "You rang?"
"Hello, Lurch. Take my suitcase up to my room, please. Tony and his beau are coming. Did Mama tell you?"
Lurch inclined his head. She went to find her mother. She avoided the trap door and the new net-traps. Her brother was decorating for Tony. It was nice of him to go to the effort.
"Mother," she said.
Her mother smiled at her over the planting table. "Ma petite," she opened her arms and crossed the room to meet her daughter in the middle of the room.
Morticia kissed her forehead. "You look practically tanned, Darling. Are you quite well?"
"Anthony convinced me to meet him in the park to discuss arrangements over lunch. It was supposed to be overcast."
"My poor babies." Morticia brushed a strand of hair of hair to rest behind Wednesday's ear. "Your father is in the library. Go say hello and I'll make you some tea to sooth your system."
"Now, don't freak out. The Addams are more Goth than Abs without the horrible music. Oh, and don't drink anything that I don't okay."
"It might be bad for your health."
"Don't hedge, DiNozzo, or I'll pull this car over and bury you in a ditch."
Troy blinked. "Fuck. You'll fit in just fine. Pugsley will try to poison you. Wednesday will just drug you. Her parents will like you, I think."
Gibbs fingers tightened on the wheel. "You're marrying into a family of killers?"
"I fell in love with you, didn't I?"
Gibbs snorted. "No wonder you liked White. Any other hints?"
Tony was quiet for a long moment. "I can't even begin to explain it. I don't think they'll actually try to kill you. And they know that you won't take the treatment to be part of the family because of Shannon and Kelly. But I'm bringing you to be my soul keeper."
"What the Hell does that mean?"
"This ceremony. It, um, God. How do I explain this?" Tony studied the beige felt of the ceiling. "The idea is that my soul will be moved from my body to a container. Gomez used to keep mine in his safe, but I want you to take care of it."
The older man grunted. "You've done this before?"
"Every summer. So that I didn't need to worry about how I played with Wednesday."
Gibbs didn't respond immediately. The sound of the road filled the car. "I'm missing something."
"Having my soul out of my body means I won't die and I won't hurt."
Tony winced away from the harsh sound. "You don't have to believe that part. Just look after my soul." He rested his hand on Gibbs' thigh. "It means I trust you best."
"We will talk about this. I'll take care of anything you give me, but this worries me."
A lump filled Tony's throat. He spoke around it. "Thank you." It came out tight, low, like his vocal cords were bruised.
Gomez Addams explained Tony's personality much better than DiNozzo Senior. The man greeted Toy with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He gave Gibbs a large grin and a firm handshake. "So you're the man who stole our boy's heart." His eyes were dark, twinkling, and dangerously sharp. Gibbs inclined his head, not breaking eye contact.
"It's good to meet you."
"And this vision of beauty is my wife, Morticia."
Gibbs found himself kissing her hand in greeting. "A pleasure."
"Oh, Anthony, you've found a gentleman." Her voice was smooth and musical compared to her daughter's measured tones. He released her hand and stepped back to study the couple in front of him. Gomez was a small man. His suit was good quality and he wore a bright yellow shirt with a purple tie. He was confident, but not arrogant.
His wife was model-tall with an hourglass figure that her fitted dress emphasized. Her skin was so white that it nearly glowed like moonlight. Her lips were painted in a dark berry that was almost black. Tony was right. Abby was a kitten. Morticia was a panther.
A rotund man near Tony's age thundered into the room and bowled Tony over. They wrestled until Tony ended up straddling the other man with his knife held to his throat. Gomez was chuckling and Gibbs took his cue from that and didn't pull his gun. "Hi, Pugs," Tony said. He was breathing hard. He looked delectably disheveled. "Pugsley, this is my lover, Jethro."
"Nice to meet you."
"If you're nice and don't try to kill him, he'll teach you to break a man's neck."
"Deal." Tony put away his knife and helped his brother-in-law up.
"No torturing Tony until his soul's out," Gomez reminded.
"I'm not ten anymore." Pugsley rolled his eyes at his father. He gave Gibbs a handshake. "You were a Marine, right?"
"Cool. Wednesday's in the dungeon reading. I told Thing to let her know you're here."
"Thanks." Tony wrapped a proprietary arm around Gibbs' waist. Gibbs settled an arm over his shoulders. Tony's shoulders were loose. This house and its gaslit rooms, taxidermied animals, and lingering smell of gunpowder was good for Tony. For that alone, Gibbs decided to ease off pressuring him about the soul bullshit.
Wednesday appeared. "DiNozzo. Gibbs."
"Addams." Gibbs nodded at her.
"Cara mia." Tony greeted her with a kiss on the cheek.
"Mon cher." A small smile twitched across her face.
"There's no electricity at all?" Gibbs raised his brows at the candlelit bedroom.
"Oh, there's power, there's just no lamps. It's more romantic. Gomez has a computer in his office. Wednesday and Pugsley have laptops." Tony shrugged. "We never watched television here. There as just always something better to do."
Tony leaned against the headboard. He had a glass of wine. There was a crystal decanter of scotch with a matching tumbler on the nightstand. Gibbs settled on the bed. "This safe?"
"Let me smell it. Yeah, it's clean. Lurch must have provided it."
"So Lurch is the giant butler?"
"And chauffer. He's not a great conversationalist, but he’s a great guy. Really cares for the family. And he makes a brandy-laced hot chocolate that would make angels weep. When Mama drowned, I ended up crying on his shoulder. He sat with me when I couldn't sleep. I don't think I would have made it through without being here."
Gibbs sipped his drink, not surprised that it was excellent. "And what about Thing?" Gibbs had thrown the disembodied hand across the room and nearly shot it before Tony'd caught his arm.
"I think he's just excited that you sign fluently."
"Oh, uh, I'm not sure. I think he just showed up one day. And they took him on as a servant. You might be able to get more from him since you can communicate more easily than I can." Tony settled his head on Gibbs' shoulder. "You're doing really well with all this."
"It's important to you. And Gomez has excellent alcohol."
Tony huffed out a laugh. "They like you."
"Grandmama, I missed you yesterday." Tony greeted the hunched over old woman with a kiss to the cheek.
"Good to see you too. And this is your man?"
"Jethro Gibbs, ma'am."
"Coffee's on the stove." She gestured to the old coast iron stove and the dull copper percolator. He nodded a thank you. "Looks horribly healthy and tanned."
"He can shoot a man a mile away and put the bullet through his eye, crack a man's neck in less than ten seconds, and would take a bullet for me. What else do I need?"
"What's he like in bed?"
Tony pulled the collar of his tee down to show off the hickey on his collar bone. She cackled and patted his hand. "Good enough. Sit down. The eggs'll be ready soon. You too, Jethro. You can go running in the forest. Pugsley will be glad to hunt you."
"No arsenic for Jethro. It'll upset his stomach."
"Delicate constitution, eh? Happens."
Gibbs mouthed "arsenic" at him. Tony shrugged and smirked. Wednesday and Pugsley joined them. Tony held her chair out for her. "JoAnne couldn't make it?"
"Couldn't take the time in the summer." She turned a speculative eye toward Gibbs. "Is it true that Fornell married one of your ex-wives?"
"His third ex-wife tried to murder him before the divorce," Tony informed her.
Gibbs' lips twitched. "Good reason to swear off women."
Wednesday's deadpan didn't change. She accepted a plate and kiss form Grandma. Pugsley frowned at Gibbs. "No arsenic?"
"Bad for the digestion."
"Oh, that's right. You can't cook." Pugsley smirked. Tony kicked him under the table. The older man grinned brightly. "You still run in the mornings?"
"I'll get the crossbows out."
"Paintball." Tony countered. "Gibbs is running."
Pugsley rolled his eyes. "Wednesday, are you running?"
"I'll hunt. I need a silver scalp in my collection."
Gibbs' brows rose. "Why aren't you a profiler?"
"I frightened the serial killer they took us to interview."
Tony grinned when his partner snorted. He was obviously adjusting to the situation. Then again, he'd always liked Wednesday. Morticia wouldn't rise before eleven. She thought it was uncivilized and cruel. In other words, only something she'd do for Gomez. "Is Fester traveling again?"
"Transylvania," Pugsley confirmed. "Said he was going to find a proper wedding present."
"Maybe he'll find that vampire hunting kit you've always wanted." Wednesday sipped tea from a delicate teacup with a spider sitting on the side of it. Gibbs stared into his coffee cup.
"Do you need anything from the woods for dinner, Grandmama?"
The older woman smiled a semi-toothless smile. "Only if you run into some mushrooms." She paused and looked at Gibbs. "I can dry them for later."
Tony nodded. Fuck, he'd forgotten that Gibbs would need special food. The family liked him though, so he was fairly certain they'd make sure he survived.
The ceremony room was in the highest tower of the house. Gibbs stood just to the right of the door and studied the scene. There was a copper circle etched into the floor. Candles in black, red, white, and purple lined the uneven bricks of the walls and the battered wooden table that ran the length of the right wall. A low stone altar was nestled against the far wall.
Tony was sitting on it, with a wine glass from dinner in his hand. He was chatting amiably with Gomez. In the center of the room an iron pot was boiling happily under the watchful eyes of Morticia. Wednesday stepped into the room with an ornately carved rosewood box in her hands. She set the box on the worktable, then crossed the room to stand next to Gibbs. She smelled faintly of copper and sulfates. He really didn’t want to know.
"You're worried," she said.
"He seems to think this will make him immune to getting hurt."
"That is the point. He'll be a bit more ruthless as well." She cocked her head to the side. "He knows how to hide the effects. You won’t see much of a difference. Would you like a demonstration?"
Gibbs' brows rose. The offer seemed to be genuine. He nodded. The FBI agent pulled a switchblade out of the pocket of her dress and flicked it open. She lifted her wrist to let him see it. He ran his fingers over the skin. She sliced it while his fingers were still looking for her pulse. He could see exposed ligaments, bone and muscle. His throat worked. There was no blood. It was like looking inside an embalmed corpse.
"Now, if I want blood." She blinked. Blood began to flow, soaking her cuff. She pressed her hand to the wound. "And now, it heals." She offered her wrist. there was a scab there. As he watched it changed to a scar. "By the end of the ceremony, the scar will be gone."
Gibbs frowned at her.
He shook his head. "What do I need to do to keep him safe, Addams?"
"Take care of his soul. He'll want it back after the wedding."
"And you’re fine with marrying someone you don't love?"
"Of course I love him, Gibbs. He's Tony." A pale ghost of a smile twitched across her face. "He's an incubus on his mother's side."
Gibbs snorted. "Right." His own lips quirked up. "I should bring that up the next time he blows me."
Her laughter was unexpected. Tony looked across the room. Gibbs could see that he was pleased. Addams prodded Gibbs in the side with one bony finger.
"Go give him a kiss. We'll be starting soon."
"Why should I kiss him?"
"Because I want to see it."
Tony laid curled up next to his lover in the big canopied bed. Thing had closed the curtains for them. The candle light from the thick candles at the bedside made the curtains glow like underwater luminescence. Gibbs turned the crystal vial around in his hands. It glowed a faint blue.
"Put it away and kiss me."
Gibbs shook his head.
Tony sighed. "I know this is freaking you out, Boss, but I'm fine. I'm still me."
"What happens if this breaks?"
Was that the problem? "My soul comes back to me."
Tony winced. "Not lying."
"Not exactly telling the truth."
"It'll come back to me, but I'll be broken. Unstable."
"Yes, but who'd notice?"
Gibbs snorted. He settled the crystal into the carved box and fastened it shut. He set the box into the shelf on the headboard. He pulled Tony into a soft open-mouthed kiss. "I'll protect it."
"I know." Tony tangled his fingers into the soft sliver strands of Gibbs' hair. "I trust you with my everything. Now, blow out the candles so I can show you what hasn't changed."
There was a subtle difference in Tony, Gibbs realized as he watched him goad Ziva. He was more grown man than frat-boy. Tim and Ziva seemed to ascribe the change to his engagement. They didn't see the sharp edge on his smile. Tony's eyes shifted to Gibbs' face.
He sat up and dropped his teasing. He worked on his paperwork for a few minute before searching out Gibbs for approval. Gibbs gave him a small nod. Tony's lips twitched into a mischievous smile. Oh, he needed to find something for him to do and now.
The phone ringing made all three of his agents perk up. "Gibbs." He listened, scribbling notes. "Gear up. Dead Marine in Alexandria. Ziva, get the truck."
"I'll ride with Ducky." Tony's offer was sweetly innocent. Ziva threw a less-than-polite hand signal in his direction as she left the pen. They piled into the van, McGee in the back as usual. Ziva's driving didn't turn Tony green. Gibbs tucked that into his file of new oddities, then turned his focus back to the case.
Tony leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. There was something that bothered him. He could feel the frown on his face. He wanted to brush it away, but it was necessary. Without the frown, McGee would think he was sleeping. He built the crime scene in his mind, every last detail, from the angle of the blood on the wall to the smell. There were trappings of some ritual around and under the body. The smell was blood, decay, death, Easter incense, and White Diamonds perfume.
"Where's the girlfriend?"
"No girlfriend." Ziva's voice sounded as if she were at the other end of a tunnel.
"White Diamonds. There's a female involved. Girlfriend, sister, best friend, fiancee. Whatever. And we need to talk to his shrink." There was something warm near his knee. He pressed against it as he registered the smell of sawdust.
"What's the ritual?"
"I'll just call Grandmama." He opened his eyes. Gibbs was studying him with sniper-eyes. It was frightening and intensely arousing at the same time. He almost offered to go to his knees when the minute change in Gibbs' frown reminded him that he had to make and effort to be the DiNozzo his team expected. He didn't have as much practice playing normal as Wednesday. He reached for the phone and dialed from memory. "Grandmama please, Lurch."
Wednesday's eyes narrowed at the financials in front of her. There was something wrong with the company names. They all looked familiar, but not in the way that indicated they belonged to another "family."
When her cellphone rang, she didn't recognize the ringtone. It had to be Anthony. He was the only person who had the nerve to touch her electronics. "What do Honeydukes, Glad Rags, and Botts have in common?"
"Is this the start of a bad joke or are you just out of touch with your pop-culture?" His voice was light and teasing.
"Harry Potter. Someone risking the wrath of Rowling? Nevermind. Can you translate Latin for me? Grandmama's looking in her books, but I've got a note here and Google doesn't like me."
She made a note in her file. "Email it to me. Your pronunciation is horrible." She hung up.
"They wanted to become immortal?" Gibbs confirmed.
Tony bit his lip and looked back down at the translations. "No, they... well, yes, I think they did, but to do so they had to remove that which was Immortal first. They didn't know how to do it. When we catch up with the girlfriend, she'll be either attempting to suicide or she'll be completely convinced that he'll be back at the full moon. Grandmama says there's a time relationship. And Wednesday's translation implies it too."
"Got a hit on his license plate in DC," McGee broke in.
"Ziva, McGee, go. DiNozzo, get us a third translation from one of the universities. Someone we can put up on the stand. Ducky might know someone."
"On it, Boss."
Gibbs studied the young woman in the interrogation room. She was milkweed pale and draped in layers and layers of gauzy blues. A silver band about one inch wide was wrapped around her wrist. Her eyes were pale brown. She was shaking, but held her chin up proudly.
Tony was leaning against the wall. "You thinking something traditional?"
"You want to play her white knight?"
"Actually, I was thinking of playing her demon." Gibbs frowned. He glanced over his shoulder. Tony was staring through the double-sided glass. "You play the stern angel. I'll play the seductive devil. She's wearing a cross next to her pentacle."
"We'll see what reaction I get from playing the heavy."
"Good cop or sweet demon ready and waiting. Do we have anything from her computer?"
Tony watched Gibbs and the suspect. He wasn't as good at reading as Gibbs, but he was getting there. Most people didn't understand. Gibbs' techniques would never work for Tony. McGee and Ziva, yes.
"Maureen Ellen Bridget Bellows," Gibbs stated. His face was flat. He crossed the room and sat across from her at the metal table.
Tony called McGee as Gibbs started pressing for answers. "I need her nickname, Probie. What did her lover call her?"
McGee grumbled. "Most of her notes are signed Ellie. The ones from our victim call her Mo."
"Sweetheart? Honey? Any of that?"
She was crying over pictures of the crime scene now. "Tell me the truth," Gibbs ordered. She wiped fruitlessly at her tears. "I know you were there." She stared at him with wide, wet, brown eyes."
"He's not dead. He can't be! You're just trying to trick me."
"He is dead, Maureen. You drove a knife into his chest and he drowned in his own blood."
Her chin tipped up and she took a half-choked breath. "I don't believe you."
Gibbs cocked his head to the side. "What do you think I'm lying about?"
"You don't know I was there."
Gibbs snorted. "Every human leaves traces wherever they go, Maureen." He stood. "Just imagine all the traces you left my team to find."
Tony watched her shiver as the door shut. A moment later, Gibbs was next to him. The heat of his body made Tony lean toward him in the overly air conditioned room. "You think they'll go for an insanity plea if she keeps insisting he's not dead?"
"Probably. Warm her up for me."
"Shall I seduce her with water?" Tony grinned.
Gibbs smirked back. "We need her prints."
"Lovely." Tony fetched her a cup of water. He slipped into the room. He set the glass down on the table. "Take a drink and calm down. Talk to me, sweetheart," he purred.
She blinked at him. "And who are you?"
"Anthony DiNozzo. You can call me Tony." He settled himself casually in the chair across from her. He smiled and looked up through his lashes at her as he reorganized the crime scene photos. He pretended to study the chalk circle. "You were Rowen's HP?"
"Oh, yes. We've been practicing together since high school."
"Slowed down when he was deployed?"
"He had a group there. The Marines were a lot more progressive than we thought they'd be."
"And the guys in his unit were fine with it too?"
"Rowen's a big guy. They respect that."
"So there were some problems?"
"No. Not the way you're talking. They never tried to harass him. They fought about his wearing what they thought of as evil symbols. Nothing else. At least not that he told me."
"Something went wrong. What is this spell supposed to do?" He tapped the picture on the table.
Bellows stared down at the paper. "Make us immortal."
"But it went wrong? Or did you want him to die?" Tony dropped his voice. He leaned closer. "Was he cheating on you, Mo?"
"Don't. Don't call me that."
"All right, Ellie." Her eyes widened. "Who was he cheating on you with?"
"He wasn't! He wasn't like that. He'd never cheat," she snarled.
"He found the spell?"
"No. I found this old book. The spell brings immortality. He'll be alive by the new moon."
"Did the book tell you what to do with his body?" Tony leaned forward and raised his brows expectantly. She went still and stared at him. He stared back with a benign smile that he'd copied from a priest in Philly. "And where did you store his soul?"
She swallowed hard. "I... I didn't have anything to store a soul in. Maybe it got caught in the mirror? I didn't cover it."
"And you just left him there bleeding?"
"No, of course I didn't leave him alone."
"So you stayed until his heart stopped beating and his soul flew away."
Tears welled up in her eyes. "He's not coming back, is he?"
"No, Ellie." Tony let her cry. It was a stupid mistake on a bad translation, but she'd been sloppy in any case. Now she had to live with the consequences. He couldn't say he cared.
"I do not understand why you haven't sent up the list. Mother is preparing the invitations."
"I only have one person who has to be there and I know Gibbs is on the list."
"Anthony." Wednesday's voice caressed his ears with all the delicacy of a scalpel against his skin.
"Wednesday," he returned.
"Don't you think the rest of your team wants to see you married?" She sipped at her tea.
Tony leaned back in his chair and looked over the cafe with lazy eyes. "Most of my team already think I'm insane. There's no need to confirm it for them."
"I'll send their names to Mother regardless. What did you do to Agent Sacks? He seems to think you're dangerous." She took a dainty bite of her croissant.
"Sacks arrested me for a murder I didn't commit. He's convinced he simply hasn't found the right murder."
She huffed at that. "I will have to disabuse him of the notion that I'm a victim in waiting."
"Gibbs will be my witness, of course. Do I have to set up anyone else for positions against your bridesmaids?"
"Why would I need any of those? No, it will be our witnesses only. Shall I tell mother to invite your father?"
"No, Gibbs won't let me feed him to the gators, so I don't see the need." Tony slurped something, probably soda. "I'll send the list of the team. And if I don't invite my big brother from the frat, I probably won't be forgiven."
"Does that matter?"
"They are strong alliances," he explained. Things were different when his conscience wasn't niggling him to be nice to people. He'd out-grown most of his college friends. "Okay, if I were trying to find my way through an island based account, who would I contact?"
"You need my assistance, Tony?" she chided. "Is there a warrant?"
"Send it to me and I'll do it this evening after my day job. Then, when I deliver the results, you will cook me dinner."
"Deal. What's the fax number?"
She rattled off her fax number. "Lunch is over. I'll see you for dinner."
"Yes, my sweet mistress."
She laughed, deep and low. "I'll bring the whips, you wear your collar." She hung up. She looked across the room as her boss dropped his cup. The coffee splashed down the front of his pants. She maintained her flat countenance. He was staring at her. "Is there a problem, sir?"
He shook his head. "You're getting married?" He wiped uselessly at his pants, then at the floor. "And who does he work for again? Some local CSI?"
"NCIS," she corrected. "The Navy." She arched one brow. "Have you met Tobias Fornell?"
"Ask him about Tony DiNozzo and see what he tells you." She collected the papers off of the fax machine and nodded to herself. Child's play.
"Tony, tell me that you haven't done something to incur the wrath of your fiancee," Gibbs stated.
Tony gave him a slow, smirking smile and lowered his lids half-way. "But that's so much fun, boss." He added a little cat-like growl at the end of the statement. "She knows just how to hurt a man."
"Let me change that sentence. Tell me you haven't done something I need to punish you for." Gibbs leaned against the cubicle wall. The overhead lights were down to emergency lights only. Tony's face was highlighted by the soft, indirect light of his task lamp. It made his lashes darker and made his lips shine when he licked them absently. Tony cocked his head to the side.
"Boss." He affected a pout. "You'd know if I were looking for that. And you'd already have smacked me," he added, sitting up. "No, Wednesday is sending over some financial information she found on our suspects overseas accounts."
"You sent the warrant to her?" Gibbs raised his brows. "I didn't think she'd do favors like that. She normally won't."
"She's feeling sentimental. And she forced me to deal with wedding details over lunch. Even trade, given her abilities."
"I assume that you're going to introduce her to the rest of the team formally before the wedding." Gibbs loosened his tie and undid the top button of his shirt.
Tony looked up at him. "Do you think I need to? It's not as though it's going to change anything when I marry her."
"Yes, or else they're going to be shocked by her family so much that they'll kidnap you before the ceremony."
The younger man laughed at that. "What fun! I think Gomez would approve. Morticia would have my head though, I'm sure. I'll have to remember to take an extra knife for Ziva to use during the reception. I'm sure she'll want to learn the knife dancing that Gomez does."
"A martial art dance?" Gibbs perked up. "Sounds better than any of my weddings."
"It's very impressive. You'll love it. I've never learned it though. I was clumsier as a teenager. Growth spurts nearly killed me when I was learning knife fighting from Gomez." Tony smiled wistfully. "Reminds me a little of learning to fight from you."
"I always wondered who softened you up for me."
"He approves of you. Of course, if you ever betray me, be ready to run."
"That's what a family is supposed to do for you." Gibbs nodded with a smile. "I like them. They're good for you. Now, if I can just convince your father to go for a run and let your brother-in-law loan me his crossbow..."
Tony laughed. "I knew there was a reason I fell for you. And it had nothing to do with that wonderful smile. Chinese as soon as the paperwork gets back from Wednesday?"
Wednesday stalked around Abby with a considering frown on her face. "Does she scream nicely?"
"I've never found out."
Abby put her hands on her hips. "Excuse me."
"She has perfect cheekbones and I'd like her eyes."
Tony nodded encouragement. "She is adorable. And she enjoys teasing."
"Poor Tony, stuck with only *teasing*. I'm sure Jethro would be upset if you went further than that. Although, there are so many things to do that don't require ... consummation."
"Hey!" Abby wagged her finger. "Stop using me as a flirting toy."
"Hush. You love it." Tony rolled his eyes. He paused. "Although, if you're up for being another sort of toy for a night or two, I think it could be interesting."
Wednesday settled her hand in the crook of his arm. A slow smile slid across her face. Abby's mouth opened, then closed. She looked between the two of them. "Just how interesting are we talking?" she asked finally.
Wednesday didn't smile, but there was a brightening of her eyes. "How adventurous do you think you are?"
Tony's smile was sly and his eyes narrowed. Abby stared at him for a long moment. Her own eyes narrowed. "Negotiations over dinner?" she proposed.
His fiancee inclined her head. "It's too bad they don't sell live octopus here," she said wistfully. "You really haven't lived until you've felt your prey struggling down your throat. I've heard they've even killed before."
"Have you had fugu recently? It found a chef that leaves enough poison to make your lips tingle. You have to be willing to check your badge at the door though. It's not a strictly legal place."
"Why, Anthony, I thought you'd never ask."
Abby looked between the two of them. "I've never seen this side of Tony. Well, not outside the flirting with extraordinarily dangerous people. And put himself in the way of bullets."
Wednesday stroked a finger down Abby's cheeks. "Perhaps we can come to an agreement on sharing stories about mon amour."
Abby stretched and her shirt rode up to expose a thin stripe of skin. "I like your fiancee," she told Tony. Then, she settled back to work. McGee's brows rose.
"You've met Agent Addams?"
"She has the best deadpan I've ever seen." Abby peered into her microscope. "I'm surprised I'm not sitting funny."
"She always restrains herself on first dates." Tony lounged against the table and peered at the toxicology report. "Oh, look arsenic. My favorite."
Abby looked up suddenly. "I always wondered how you got your hair so shiny."
He grinned at her. McGee snorted. "Don't tell me arsenic is a hair product?"
"Old policeman's tale, Probie. Sherlock Holmes even, I think? You can develop a tolerance to arsenic, but your hair gets shiny and your skin is very clear. And your nails get yellow, which means you need manicures much more often."
"I don't remember where I heard about it either," Abby frowned. "It was something about telling the suspect that the Turkish delight he'd been eating was covered in powdered arsenic."
"That's the story I remember too. Must have read it for school." Tony waved it away. "No, arsenic, defenestration, and decapitation are my favorite murder methods."
"Should I be worried that you have favorite methods or just wait until I develop my own favorites?"
Abby grinned at him. "You'll develop favorites," she told him. "And then you'll realize that you listened to Ducky talking about his work over dinner and didn't even slow down. And then, you'll be at the level of Tony's fiancee."
"She thinks serial killers are often over-rated. And she scares the profilers." Tony yawned. "Anything for me to take up yet?"
McGee looked at Tony for a long moment. "Are you worried about the wedding or something? You normally don't let anyone see you this edgy."
Tony bit his lip. "It's not the wedding. Not exactly." He rubbed at his hair, looking a little more normal. "It's just, I don't have to be Tony the goofball and womanizer because everyone knows I'm getting married. Wouldn't do for me to be running around on a fiancee."
Abby rolled her eyes. "I don't think she cares."
Tony's answering smile was thin and off-kilter in a way that made McGee shiver. "Oh, it's not her I care about. My cara mia knows exactly what I'm like. It's the rest of this agency of busy-bodies. And the FBI is still looking for a way to get to me and they seem to think putting pressure on Wednesday will do that. Boss will never forgive me if I do something to piss off the FBI before the wedding. He's taking far too much glee in the idea of helping plan the damned thing. Wednesday's mother adores him."
McGee blanched. "Gibbs is helping plan your wedding? No wonder you're on edge."
Abby laughter bounced off of the equipment and there was nothing more wonderful than that. He smiled at her happiness. Tony had relaxed at the sound too. "Oh, Boss is good with weddings. It's the staying married that's the problem."
"McGee, Ziva, meet me at Patrick's at seven. I'm buying." Tony shrugged his bag over his shoulder. McGee gave him a quick smile. Ziva simply nodded. "It's time for you to me Wednesday properly."
McGee stumbled. "Should I bring an extra gun? Bullet-proof vest?"
"I don't know. Abby ever get you a collar?" Tony looked politely interested as he called the elevator. "Don't worry. She won't bite." McGee didn't look convinced. "Much," Tony allowed.
Ziva frowned at both of them. "She has met Abby and Gibbs, but not Ducky?"
"I think Ducky knows her actually." Tony frowned. "But Ducky just seems to know everyone, so I can't be sure about that. I'll introduce them separately though. I think they'll spend the entire night dissecting the Ripper murders and I just am not in the mood for that tonight."
"You mean you haven't solved it yet?" McGee blinked, teasing.
Ziva snorted. "I am surprised. You Wednesday is a profiler, yes?"
"No, she works on the financial trails for organized crime. The profilers were too freaked out by her." Tony sighed. "They've got horribly weak stomachs."
Ziva shared a glance with McGee. "What did you do to them?"
"Bullcrap," McGee accused. "That's your 'it was so much fun' grin."
"I didn't do a single thing to them. I simply didn't react to the marzipan shaped like human parts that she fed me. They were not amused by the cherry filling."
Ziva's lips did not twitch. There was no camera in the elevator to prove it at least. Not in Gibbs' elevator. He would not allow such a thing.
Wednesday regarded Agent David with predator stillness. This woman was beautiful and deadly. He was surprised that Tony hadn't slept with her already. Perhaps she would be willing to pursue a shared night. Her eyes took in the angle of her chin and the wave of her hair. She let them linger on the Star of David. No, she decided, possibly sparring though.
McGee brought to mind nothing so much as a good-natured version of Pugsley at his most mature. His jokes likely didn't include tiger traps and dynamite, but beyond that he had the familiar roundness to his middle. His eyes though were slightly worried, but more intrigued than anything.
"Anthony tells me that you're a writer, Timothy," she stated. It wasn't a question, but it was enough to break the tension. McGee nodded.
"I didn't think he'd read my books though."
Tony returned with drinks. "Don't be silly, Probie, of course I read them." He paused. "Okay, so Gibbs shoved them into my hand and glared at me until I read them cover to cover and then proceeded to grill me on the contents and whether or not we should run them through justice."
"I know you did. I made sure I checked your paperwork before you sent it in, remember?" Tony settled into his seat and Wednesday let him curl an arm around her waist to tug her closer. They had always fit together well.