Tony looked up when the shadow fell across his notes accompanied by the very familiar scent of Chanel No.5. His first thought was, shit, of all the feds, and his second was, oh, and his partner. "Agent Mulder."
"Special Agent now, Mulder. And you must be Agent Scully. A pleasure to finally meet you." Tony didn't bother to smile. "What do you want?" He turned his attention back the man in front of him. He leaned back in his chair, pen twitching between his fingers. It had been one Hell of a long day already and it was going to be an all-nighter.
"Your case has the same MO of a case I was working a few years ago."
"I have case files. I have a profile. I'm just here to help."
"You're still a crappy liar, Mulder. This better not include one of your damned theories."
Mulder's lip twitched at the corner. "You believed the last one."
"I was young and impressionable. I didn't realize that the FBI was Satan's spawning ground until I met you. Besides, you had evidence. You have evidence for us from this past case you think is connected?"
"I can get it. If Scully can do the autopsy."
Tony snorted. "She can help out Ducky, but there's no way he'll let her take that over, even if she is pretty enough to turn his head."
Scully raised a brow. "I'm a doctor, Agent DiNozzo."
"I know, Agent Scully. Motor-mouth here introduced me to your entire family during a stake-out. How's your mother?" He smiled at her. She glared at him. "Ducky won't let you take charge of the autopsy, but if you want to see it or help him with it, I'm sure his assistant will curl into a ball in the corner whimpering from the presence of a lady in the autopsy room."
"Really." It could have been a question, but it wasn't. Dana's cheek twitched. Tony nodded at her.
"We'll take a look, but it's not my decision, Mulder."
"Your name came across on the search request."
"Search request?" Tony blinked. He turned to glare at the computer expert next to him. "McGee."
"Um, that is, I decided we should see if there was anything in the database. I didn't think they'd come in person."
"And you used my name?"
"You have a login," McGee pointed out. "I don't."
"Get one, Probie," Tony snapped. He turned back to Mulder and pasted on a sweet smile. "Sorry, Mulder, still not my call."
"DiNozzo," Gibbs barked as he entered the bullpen.
"What have you got for me?"
"Background on the parents is on your desk."
"And you're still here because?"
"We have guests. It seemed rude to leave them." Gibbs' eyes pinned him for a minute. He froze. He thought quickly. "These are Agents Scully and Mulder, FBI. They say they come in peace and want to help." Mulder seemed startled and Tony was gratified. At least someone thought he was capable of leading a team.
Gibbs looked over his coffee at the two agents. "Show me what you have. Back to work, DiNozzo."
"On it, boss." Tony grabbed his jacket and backpack. He slipped on his sunglasses. "Ciao, Mulder."
Mulder gave him a crooked grin. "Ciao." He turned to Gibbs, pulling out his badge. "Special Agent Mulder. This is my partner, Special Agent Scully," Tony heard as he left the area. He relaxed as he got into the elevator. He touched his throat automatically, to make sure there was no wound there. He shuddered. Vampires still made his skin crawl, but that wasn't the worst part of it all. The worst part was having to leave Illinois because of the rumors. The ones that didn't have him having kinky sex with a male Goth who thought he was a vampire, had him screwing a Fed. Neither option was conducive to a good working relationship.
The bats on his desk and the fake fangs he could deal with. The darkly muttered comments about fags and queers, he couldn't. And the worst comments of all were the suggestions that he was fucking a Fed to get a job at the FBI because god knows the FBI's full of queers, starting with J. Edgar himself. Just thinking about it made him want to put a dent in the wall of the elevator. Damned homophobic bastards. They didn't think twice about asking him to be a street-corner whore when it suited them, but just one hint that he might not be one-hundred percent straight and his captain was suggesting that maybe he should move on and his partner was requesting a transfer. He'd escaped the three assholes who'd tried to corner him for a quick dust up and was on his way to Philly the next week. Illinois had been a good gig too. Fucking Fox Mulder could go to Hell. He'd take the man's evidence, but he'd be damned if he'd ever let the man into his life again - no matter how good he was at hoops.
Tony settled in the driver's seat of the car. He closed his eyes and composed himself. It wouldn't do for him to look upset when he talked the Louisa Hernandez. She'd just try to mother him instead of answering his questions. He knew that she would give them a lead. He just needed to figure out what to ask.
Kate frowned in Gibbs' direction as the FBI agents introduced themselves. She didn't like Tony going off on his own. She didn't say anything though, not in front of the FBI. They had to present a united front. She looked over at McGee. He was staring intently at his computer. Kate sighed and started looking through the victim's school and medical records again. They were hoping that somewhere there was a link.
"We had six little girls, Agent Gibbs," Mulder said softly. "Then, suddenly, the chain stopped. He was arrested for something else, I think. This case looks like his MO. If he's starting again, I want to be there to catch him." His voice was intense, melodic. Kate glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. He stood well within his partner's personal space, but it didn't seem to bother the smaller woman. Scully looked capable of handling him. Gibbs was staring directly into Mulder's eyes. He nodded once.
"McGee, find two chairs and set up the temporary cube for them. I want all of your files and evidence, Mulder. Kate, take Agent Scully to see Ducky."
"Of course. Do you want to leave your coat?" Kate offered. Scully seemed surprised to find she was still wearing it. The woman smiled.
"Yes, thank you." She folded her coat and set it on the file cabinet behind Kate's desk.
"There's no food in there, right?"
Scully laughed. "Actually, there's a pack of sunflower seeds. Think they'll be safe?"
"Yeah, Tony only steals junk food." She led Scully to the elevator. "You've worked with Mulder for a long time?"
"Seems like my entire life sometimes. It's been at least six years now."
"That is a long time. I think I'll kill Tony before we get to that level."
"If you'd asked me a few years ago, I'd have said the same about Mulder." She smiled. "He really does want this case solved."
"Do you know what's up between him and Tony?" Kate asked in the elevator. She stifled the urge to stop it between floors.
Scully pondered that for a moment. "He's never mentioned him. I think. . . I think it may have been while I was missing. Mulder doesn't talk about that time."
"How long were you missing?"
"Several months. I don't remember what happened." She sighed. "We'd been assigned to different departments for awhile. He even had a new partner for part of it." There was a hardness in her eyes. "He disappeared the same time I did." The anger in her voice told Kate to drop the question even though she was now thoroughly intrigued. She'd have to get Abby to poke around for her.
"Hello, Caitlyn, my dear. And who is this? Another lovely lady to grace my humble autopsy?"
"This is Special Agent Dana Scully."
"And I am Dr. Mallard. You can call me 'Ducky.' Everyone does, you know." Ducky smiled at the agent and Kate noticed a small tension leaving Dana's shoulders.
"I think I attended one of your lectures once." Scully smiled. "I'm here to assist with the autopsy."
Ducky blinked. "A doctor, my dear?" His smile widened. "Mr. Palmer, a set of scrubs for our lovely lady." He tucked Dana's hand into the crook of his arm. "Let me show you the shower room. We have a spare locker you can use." Kate left the agent in Ducky's hands with a private smile.
McGee kept his head down at his computer. He messaged Abby: "Agent Fox Mulder and Agent Dana Scully have joined the investigation."
"I don't know them," she replied. "From another office?"
"Oh, boy. Better lay in extra supplies."
"I'll see you for dinner?"
"If Gibbs lets you off, sure. My treat."
"McGee," Gibbs barked out.
"Work up backgrounds on the new victims Mulder's brought us."
"On it, boss." McGee caught the tossed files. It was something he'd gotten used to in this office. Tony and Gibbs never bothered to get up when they needed to trade things. Kate didn't throw files, but she caught them. He wondered if Mulder and Scully would do the same once they were here for a few hours. Mulder was on the phone, transferring evidence. Maybe this pair of FBI agents wouldn't be that bad to work with.
"Did Ducky take to Agent Scully?" Gibbs asked.
"He did," Kate replied. McGee glanced up to see her smiling. Gibbs wasn't smiling, even though his question had been light. Kate seemed to catch on to his dark mood and settled at her desk.
Louisa Martinez was an older woman. Her children were all college age now and at least one was starting a family of his own. Still, she was at the playground every day. All of the children knew her and so did the mothers. She'd helped a few of them through child-birth. She smiled at the sweet young agent who'd come back to see her again. The smile was strained. She knew he was back about the little girl, little Sadie Marx who she'd found dead in the field.
His voice was soft and his Spanish held hints of the Italian that was more natural to him. He settled on the bench next to her, his notebook balanced on his knee. His eyes looked as tired as she knew her own must be. It pleased her that he was upset. Sadie deserved someone who cared to find her killer.
"What's your favorite part of the park?" he asked her.
The question seemed nonsensical, but she answered anyway. "The playground. There are so many happy memories being made here. I taught my Antonio to ride his bike on that path over there. And little Mateo pushed his sister off the swing over there and apologized to her for weeks afterwards."
"You know all the parents?"
"All the ones who come regularly. We get a few people who drift by or only come once."
"Mrs. Marx was a regular?"
"Yes, she and Sadie came every other day at 3:15 before she took her home to do her homework."
"Did she come the day before yesterday?"
"No, that was piano lesson night. She came the day before though."
"Did Sadie talk to you?"
"All the children talk to me. I bring them sweets." She offered a cookie to the agent and his face lit up for a moment.
"Gracias." He took a bite of chocolate chip cookie. "What did she talk about?"
"Piano and roller skating. She had started to collect stickers." A wash of sadness ran over her. Agent DiNozzo put a comforting hand on her shoulder. She swallowed, collecting herself.
"Anything new recently?"
"She said she saw a magic-man near the school. All the kids were watching him. He gave her a card."
"A playing card from one of his tricks. With her name on it with a heart. She showed it to me. It was special to her." He nodded in encouragement. His pen made a rapid tappity-tap against his leg, but she didn't take it personally. One of her boys had ADHD before it was easily recognized. "She was supposed to have a recital soon. She had learned a new piece. The Magic Carpet, I think. I remember the Spinning Wheel still." She laughed and saw a rueful smile on the young man's face.
"Who doesn't?" He moved his fingers in the remembered patterns and Louisa felt her smile grow.
"I wish I could tell you more."
"Did you ever get the feeling that someone had hurt Sadie?"
The emphasis on "hurt" was wrong. She frowned, thinking it over. "No, no one abused Sadie in any way. I have seen it before. None of the other children mentioned anything odd and none of the mothers here noticed anything."
"Thank you." He handed her his card. "If you think of anything, or if any of the kids do, please call me?"
"Of course." She put a hand on his knee. "Be careful, Mr. DiNozzo."
"I will. Thanks for the cookie." He left her sitting on the park bench. Even if what she had told him didn't do anything but rule out Sadie's parents, the talking had helped. She looked at the card. She tucked it away securely in her purse.
"Gibbs," Gibbs barked into the phone.
"Hey, boss, I'm heading to Sadie's school. She told Mrs. Martinez that she saw a magic-man there. He gave her a card with her name on it. I'm going to see if they had an assembly or if anyone else saw the show. Might be nothing."
"Might be something. Keep me informed." He shut the phone. "Kate, McGee, go back to the Marx's check Sadie's bedroom for a playing card with her name on it. Get it to Abby for printing. I want anything else that looks out of place too. Go." Kate and McGee scrambled out of their seats and towards the elevator. Mulder looked at him with a raised brow.
The FBI agent looked pensive. He stared down at the floor rather than at the pictures he'd posted around the temp-cube he was in. He slipped a sunflower seed into his mouth. Mulder pulled out a file, looking for something. He didn't speak. Gibbs watched him for a moment, then went back to his own perusal of the evidence Tony had left on his desk.
McGee looked around the little girl's room. It looked like the inside of a Hello, Kitty store. He supressed a smile. He'd have to get Abby one of those Hello, Kitty lamps. He'd have to paint the shade black, but she'd enjoy it. He took a look at the vanity and wanted to whimper. There was a stack of papers on it, half of which looked like the cheap math hand-outs he remembered from elementary school. He moved them aside, automatically checking the answers, until he uncovered what looked like a laptop. He lifted the cover. A pink laptop. He wanted to laugh, but didn't.
He bagged it to take back to headquarters. There was a very real possibility that their little girl was keeping a journal on it. He opened the drawers looking for anything else helpful.
"I've got it," Kate said in triumph. She shook the bagged card at him. "Wonder why this is so important."
McGee shrugged. "Gibbs said it was?"
Kate's lips quirked up into a smirk. "You're starting to sound like Tony, Tim."
"Well, sometimes he's right. Gibbs knows what he's doing."
"Can you try to find out what's up between Mulder and Tony? He hightailed it out of the office too quickly for them to have been friends."
"I'll look if I get a chance."
"I can take that. Besides you want to know too."
McGee shrugged, sheepishly. It wouldn't take too long to find out. Tony had access to the FBI database after all. Maybe he'd gotten that login from Mulder. He pondered that.
Scully smiled wearily at Dr. Mallard. The older man was prone to rambling, but she didn't mind it. It reminded her vaguely of Mulder when he was relaxed. His accent was soft and kind. He spoke to the dead girl like a grandfather would and after the first few moments when she imagined he was actually hoping for a response, she took that at surface value too. This wasn't an old man who thought his corpses spoke to him, he was a sentimental gentleman who treated the dead with more respect than anyone she'd ever met.
Palmer, on the other hand, was so befuddled by being confronted by Scully that he barely spoke. He did what he was told and that put him higher on her scale than most "assistants" she'd met over the years. He had even offered to get her tea.
Dr. Mallard stripped off his gloves. "Mr. Palmer, put our young guest to bed."
Palmer nodded like a nervous bird, then started cleaning up the small body. Dr. Mallard, she couldn't bring herself to call him "Ducky," stripped off his gloves into the biohazard container. "Come, my dear, let's get ourselves cleaned up and take time for a cup of tea before we beard the lion in his den." He escorted her to his office. He made a show of making the tea and Scully relaxed into the normalcy of it. "Now, Dana, tell me how you got mixed up in this dreadful affair."
Her smile faded. "It was a few years ago. Mulder and I weren't technically partners at the time. They'd shut our division down. I was in Quantico and he was working in DC. Mulder is the best, and I mean that literally, profiler the bureau has ever had. But he got out of profiling. It was killing him, Dr. Mallard. It devestated him emotionally. I didn't want him to get involved with this case."
She paused, suddenly rueful. Despite everything that happened, what she was about to say was true. "His partner at the time didn't want him involved. In fact, he was a dead set against it. He even asked me if I could come up with a medical reason to keep Mulder away from it. I couldn't. And Alex couldn't stop him. He started working on the case when they found the third little girl. It wasn't until it went completely dead that he stopped. When the database flagged him that someone was looking into it, he had to come. Mulder takes cases like this very personally."
Dr. Mallard nodded solemly. He glanced up at a picture pinned to his bulletin board. "We all have cases like that," he murmured. "At least these little ladies can be returned to their families." The conversation drifted for a few minutes, never touching on one subject for long. Scully relaxed. "Now, my dear, I'm afraid we need to go upstairs and let them know what we've found. Mr. Palmer should have a few slides for us on the system."
"Hey, Abs, got something for you," Tony said, waggling a tape.
"Oooh, is that the good stuff?"
"No, mores the pity. Just security tapes from outside of our victim's school. I did take pity on your poor, caffiene-deprived body, however." He handed over the Caf-Pow before Abby could threaten him for it.
"Tape," she said imperiously. She cocked her head to the side. "Now, does the reason you're hiding in my lab have anything to do with two FBI agents up by your desk?"
He shifted uncomfortably. "It might," he hedged.
Her eyes narrowed. "Talk."
"Mulder outed me in Pieoria. He didn't know he was, but," Tony shrugged. "And now he's up there, getting on Gibbs' nerves."
"Gibbs doesn't care who you sleep with, Tony," Abby soothed. "And no one will ever hear this conversation from my lips."
"That's my Abby." He grinned at her and she felt her spirits lighten. A not-smiling Tony was a bad sign. "So, think you can get me some stills?"
"No problemo. Now, shoo." Tony left her to work. McGee and Kate were there a few minutes later. "Hey, guys. You just missed Tony."
"And what did Tony bring you?"
"Security tapes. What do you have for me, McGee?" She grinned at him. Tim smiled back at her. He held up an offensively pink laptop and Kate held up a playing card.
"We need prints off of this."
"And printouts of all the files on this. I'll do it, if you've got too much to do here?" He offered.
"Nope. I'll do it." She took the laptop with a frown of distaste. "It's so. . . pink," she decided. "I didn't know Hello Kitty made organizers."
"Her parents were stationed in Okinowa."
"Ah, center of Kitty-mania. Disgusting."
Kate's brows rose. "You'll sift through porn, blood, and gore without any compunction, but a pink organizer grosses you out?"
"Exactly." Abby grinned. "And you get back down here for dinner, McGee. Or else."
"I'll tell Tony about the last time we got together."
"Believe me. I would."
McGee's eyes narrowed. She just smiled at him. Someday he'd figure out that Tony already *knew* all about them, but that day was not today. "Fine. I'll be here."
Kate's lips twitched and she bit back her laughter. Abby considered her job as head of morale done. "Off with you. Go calm Gibbs down."
"Security tapes are with Abby. Beyond that, no one remembers anything and they won't let me talk to the kids without a teacher hovering and if the teacher's hovering the kids won't give me a straight answer." Tony glanced at Mulder. The man was staring at pictures.
"We're missing some of his victims," Mulder said dreamily. Tony and Gibbs both turned to face him completely. "There's no way he went from Becka to Sadie without escalation in between. Not even if he went to prison."
McGee and Kate rounded the corner just then and Tony was glad to see them. "McGee, start trolling all the police databases anywhere we have a base. Look for similar cases," Gibbs stated.
"On it, boss." That was the best thing about their little probie, he didn't ask stupid questions.
"What did you find, Kate?" Tony couldn't tear his eyes from Mulder's face. He didn't hear Gibbs and Kate talking. The profiler looked drained, but dreamy and disconnected. He frowned then went to his drawer looking for one of the power bars that Kate despised. He unwrapped it and put it into Mulder's hand.
"Eat it," he ordered. He knew his voice sounded strange. McGee glanced up, startled from his desk. Mulder frowned at him, but ate the bar without asking anything. His color started to look better a few minutes later and his eyes more alert. Tony didn't say anything else. Scully would castrate him if Mulder died when she wasn't there to watch him, of that much he was sure. It would be like McGee dying while Gibbs was away. He'd get shot for not looking out for him. He settled at his desk and called up his research. He had financial details to track down.
He looked up when the shadow on his desk didn't move. Kate stood in front of his desk. She cocked her head to the side. "What else did Mrs. Martinez tell you?"
"Sadie played the piano. She was getting ready for a recital. I checked with her piano teacher, she missed her lesson yesterday. She was at the playground at 1515 like normal the day before. I can't figure out why there wasn't a missing person's report before then."
"Her mother didn't know she was missing?" Kate was stunned.
Tony blinked at her. He wanted to ask what the big deal was, but held his tongue. She didn't get information about his life like that on him. She wasn't trustworthy enough for it. "Maybe we just haven't found the report. She might have filed it with the local police. They lived off base."
"There was no report. Sadie's mother thought she was with her father," Gibbs stated. "Her father thought she was with her mother."
"Separate houses?" Tony couldn't help but ask.
"Yes. Trial separation."
Kate looked down and away. He glanced at Mulder. The agent was searching through his files almost frantically. "What is it, Mulder?"
"Where the Hell are your notes, Alex?" Mulder demanded just as Scully came around the corner. Her face paled and anger pulled at her lips. She shook it off.
"His notes are in the back of the file next to yours. His are the neat ones."
"Not those notes, Scully. His other notes, the good ones."
Her brows rose. "Good ones?"
Mulder looked up. "The unedited ones. Ah, here they are."
"He edited his notes and you didn't think maybe he could be working for someone else?"
"I told him to," Mulder replied. "There were theories in them. I kept them separate. He works best on paper."
Scully snorted. "What's wrong?"
"There had to have been others. He picks children who are in loving families. Both parents dote on them, but that doesn't mean that the parents dote on each other."
"And what does that mean, Agent Mulder?" Gibbs snapped. Tony winced and went back to work. The longer he stayed under the radar today, the better off he was going to be.
"I don't know yet. Give me some time."
Ducky cleared his throat. "We have the preliminary findings, Jethro. Abby is still running the blood and tissue samples." Tony looked up. Ducky took control of the pen. "Tony, if you'd pull up the slides for me." The pictures were in Autopsy's ususal folder. He didn't want to look. Kid cases were the worst.
Gibbs didn't even look up when Tony bolted from his desk. It was the first kid case he'd worked with Kate and McGee, but not with Tony. It was how he'd met the young man in Baltimore. Tony would be back and Ducky would fuss over him like a grandfather for looking pale. Then, the man would get back to work and find the killer. Unlike the FBI, NCIS wouldn't give up. Even if it took the rest of his career, Tony wouldn't let this case go. Kate and McGee didn't understand it. Tony was obsessive, possessive, and emotionally involved in every case they took on.
If he were honest with himself, Tony was also obsessive about being with Gibbs. And if, on occasion, letting Tony worry about him was what it took to keep him at NCIS rather than running to another agency, then that's what he'd do. He was rather cute when he was babbling. Tony was back soon enough, bag of nuts in his hand. He settled back in his chair. No one else seemed to notice. The details of the little girl's murder were horrific. She'd been raped, beaten, then strangled. There were no post-mortem desecrations. She'd been placed at the crime scene rather than dumped. The killer had broken her sternum.
Kate's face was cold. She held herself stiffly, arms crossed as she watched the screen. She worried him. Was she profiling or processing? he wondered. McGee looked faintly green. This was his first child murder case, of that Gibbs was sure. McGee was more likely to have been told to track down missing money or the occasional UA Marine. He'd have to watch both of his junior agents.
Mulder watched the screen, listening intently. Scully handed him a sheaf of notes and he nodded as he scanned through them. Get a copy of those notes, Gibbs told himself. McGee swallowed hard. The slides were over soon enough. McGee's computer beeped.
"Tony?" McGee said softly.
"The case file is in Spanish." Tony sighed. He folded his arms on top of McGee's head as he scanned the file. The younger man didn't bother to complain about it.
"It's one of ours."
The printer started spitting out pages while Kate and Mulder asked clarifying questions about the autopsy. Scully settled on the edge of the desk and looked Mulder over with concern. "Did you eat?" he heard her ask. Mulder held up the power-bar wrapper as evidence. She raised a brow. Her partner nodded in Tony's direction. Her eyes widened. Gibbs didn't know if she were pleased or not. He turned his attention back to his team.
McGee wanted to scream. The tension in the room was incredible. He hadn't realized how much he relied on Tony's exuberance to keep the team steady until the older agent retreated into a Gibbs-like silence. "Boss, I'm going to see if Abby has those print outs from the laptop," he said. Mentally he added, and spend as much time away from you as possible.
"Get her a drink before you go," Gibbs said.
"Yes, boss." He escaped before Gibbs could change his mind. Tony looked up as he passed by his desk. His eyes didn't really focus on him, so McGee put it down to instinct. He just needed to be out of it for a little while. The trip to the corner for the soda that Abby and he were both addicted to was too fast. He made it to the lab before he knew it. He let the backbeat of Abby's music wash over him before he caught her attention. She was giggling over the laptop's contents.
"God, this stuff is so cute. Listen to this: 'We got ice cream today. It was cold. I like chocolate chips. Daddy says that means that I have good taste.' I would have sworn she was too young to have a journal like this."
"Maybe she had help," he suggested. She took a gulp of soda and gave him a smile that made his heart flutter. Casual relationship, sure. Friends with benefits, she'd told him once and he was willing to keep to that for now.
"Like her mom?"
"Or a speech program."
Abby considered it. "Possible. I'm printing it out, but I don't think it's going to help."
"It's okay. It's a long-shot, but she might have described the killer."
"I've got stills for you to take up to Tony when you go. You wanna see my new decrypt program?"
He smiled at her. "Well, if you're bored, want to help me hack the FBI?"
"Rock on, McGee. What are we looking for?"
"The case Tony worked with Mulder."
Kate watched covertly as Mulder leaned over Tony's shoulder. The FBI agent was draped carelessly over her partner and she didn't care for it. Tony didn't seem to have noticed, his voice low as he translated the casefile in front of him. Mulder stopped him, pointing at something, maybe a chart or a picture that had caught his eye. Tony nodded. The tone of his voice changed and she knew it was a list of evidence. Mulder had settled his hand on Tony's wrist and was stroking it with his thumb.
He probably meant it to be a soothing gesture. He was a profiler and had to have noticed Tony's mood. But it spoke to a familiarity that she desperately wanted to know more about. She glanced at Scully who was openly watching the men. The red-head frowned at Mulder's actions, head cocking to the side. Her eyes widened suddenly. She cleared her throat and Mulder looked a question in her direction. She looked down at his hand then raised her brows. Mulder whispered something into Tony's ear. Tony's head snapped up.
"That wasn't funny, Fox," he snapped.
"I told you to call me Mulder."
"You call me Tony, I call you Fox. Deal with it. Do you want to finish this file or not?"
"What's the other option?" Mulder's voice had dropped an octave.
"Sorry. No way. Gibbs would kill me if I slipped out for a little one-on-one."
Mulder's voice dropped to a whisper.
"No," Tony said bluntly, voice cold and hard. "Never going to happen. Scully, put a leash on your partner for me."
"Mulder," Scully chided. "Didn't we have the don't harrass the other agencies discussion in the car on the way over here?" She was smiling though.
"Kate, what do you have for me?" Gibbs asked as he came down the staircase from MTAC. He stopped in front of Tony's desk. He glared. Mulder looked at him with a frown, obviously confused about something.
"I need another hour, Gibbs," Kate said.
"Thirty minutes. DiNozzo, with me." Tony stood immediately, grabbing his weapon. He followed on Gibbs' heels.
"Where we going, boss?" Tony tried as they moved out of earshot. Mulder blinked after them. He looked at Scully in confusion. Then, he settled in Tony's seat, looking at the pictures. Kate buckled down to finish the backgrounds on the previous victims' parents.
The elevator closed and Gibbs stopped it. "Boss?" Tony asked, mouth dry. "Whatever I did, I'm sorry."
Gibbs' brows rose. "You're not in trouble yet. And you won't be in trouble if you don't lie to me."
"Lie about what, boss?" Tony spun through the past few days. He hadn't done anything, damn it!
"What the hell was that all about?"
"You have no idea do you?" Gibbs' lips twisted up into a smirk. Tony shook his head. "Why was Mulder draped all over you? The only person you've ever let get that close to you is Abby."
Or you, Tony's brain supplied. "He has no sense of personal space. He's a toucher."
"How did you meet him?"
"He was in Peoria on a case. He needed bait. According to my boss he pointed across the bullpen and said, 'I'll take DiNozzo.' So they assigned me to fetch and carry for him and be his bait when he decided to try that." Tony thought his voice was remarkably steady.
"Something happened. You got hurt?"
"Not too badly. Bruised up a little. Got more bruises from the one-on-one basketball games Mr. Insomniac challenged me too when he wanted to think. I know more about his life than I know about yours."
Gibbs grunted. "What pissed you off?"
"He's also the reason I had to leave Illinois," Tony admitted grudgingly. He didn't want to have this conversation.
"If you don't tell me, Abby will."
Tony glared. "Fine. He's a toucher with no sense of personal space and I'm a flirt. Bad combination when the case also happens to involve a vampire who like brunettes. A male vampire, to be exact. Figure it out."
Gibbs frowned. "Did you get out before someone tried to hurt you?"
"I'm a better runner and I have a good sense of self-preservation. I headed to the East Coast and I haven't looked back except in moments of self-loathing. I should have taken the bastards to court, but it was almost eight years ago, Gibbs. It was a different world back then."
"I'll never ask, but I will tell you one thing. I don't care. I've got your six no matter what. Just keep it out of the office. No one will take you away from me, capice?"
"Capice, boss." Tony looked up through his lashes. "Are you mad at me?"
"No. We're going for coffee."
"We are?" Gibbs glared at him. Tony bit his lip. "Are we bringing it back for people?"
"Oh." He perked up. Time alone with Gibbs was always good for wiping away depressing thoughts.
The day passed fairly quickly. Abby popped up to the main office. She looked at the FBI agent who was sitting a little too close to her Tony. Only Gibbs was allowed to get close like that. She looked around the silent room. "Hello, all!" she said cheerfully. "Guess you don't want the results."
"Abs," Gibbs said with fond exasperation. The agent looked up at her hail. Okay, cute enough, she supposed, but not Tony's type. Well, to be honest, Tony didn't have a type, but he was hooked on Gibbs. Still, he was fun to go person-watching with. Mulder's double take was precious, as was the slow smile that crossed his face.
"Hi," she said with a perky smile. "New in town?"
"No, but I'm sure I'd love to have you show me around. I'm Mulder."
"Abby Scuito. And you stay out of her lab and out of her life, capice?" Tony growled low.
Abby blinked. "Jealous, sweetheart? Not like you to keep the cute ones away from me."
"No body art, Abs. Unless that's changed recently?"
Mulder shook his head.
"Besides, he's too old for you."
"You're the one who suggested Ducky."
Tony pointed his pen at her with a serious look. "But Ducky's worth it. Mulder isn't."
"How would you know?" She winked at him.
"Abby!" Gibbs snapped. "Today."
"Okay, cranky much, bossman? I lifted five sets of prints from the card. Looks like she was pretty tight with it. Most of them are hers. I've got one of her mothers. I'm running the other three. And the laptop coughed up. Here's the last printouts. She talks about a magic-man and she's totally got a little girl crush on him. Says he works the same place her Daddy does."
"Damn," Gibbs murmured. "Get me names on those prints, Abs." He took the papers from her. "Any luck on the stills?"
"Most of them check out as school personnel. McGee has the list in his email."
"Ms. Scuito, you should be getting the evidence from our previous cases soon." Mulder smiled at her.
"Cool. I'll see if we get a match. I owe McGee dinner, Gibbs. Can I steal him for an hour to help with database searches?"
"All yours. McGee, that's one hour. I want a report at the end of it."
"On it, boss." McGee offered Abby his arm. Tony grinned.
"She's too good for you, Fox," she heard Tony say as they walked away. "And I think of her as my little sister. You so much as breathe wrong around her, I'll castrate you."
Alex Krycek hated himself sometimes. This was one of them. He was sitting in Mulder's neatly made bed with case-files arrayed around him. So what if he hadn't really been just an FBI agent when he was working with his Fox? This case had gotten to him. He sighed and looked at the stack of six files. The database requests that were pouring in around the globe were all traced to NCIS and Mulder's cell-phone placed him neatly within that building. So, Alex knew he was waiting in vain for his lover to come home accompanied by the six cases of dead little girls.
"You better learn to appreciate me, Fox," he muttered. "And come home and sleep, you idiot. If you collapse, I'm not coming to see you in the hospital."
He translated another file. Mulder would recognize his handwriting. I shouldn't be doing this. It'll just encourage him to spend more time there rather than here in this perfectly good bed. He looked at the small body in the picture again. He closed his eyes and bowed his head.
"The things I do to make sure you sleep safely at night, Mulder."
"Agent Mulder?" the mailroom clerk said nervously. Mulder looked up.
"Yes?" he blinked.
"Package for you." He handed over the UPS overnight package and escaped Gibbs' area with such alacrity that it almost left a vacuum.
"Think you made an impression, boss," Tony said, a grin quirking his lips up. Gibbs glared at his second and Mulder nearly laughed. It was like watching a well-rehearsed play. It was nice to see Tony smiling again though. Mulder had tried to cheer him up by playing just a little bit, but whatever Gibbs had done or said in the half-hour they'd been gone had made the biggest difference.
Mulder opened the package, shocked to find six more case-files inside of it. There was a note on the top. "You have a comfortable bed. Why don't you ever use the damn thing? Hope these help." His hands went numb and his jaw dropped.
"Shit," he said softly, reverently. He reached for the phone and dialed his home number. "I know you're there, pick up the phone," he said to the machine. The tape clicked off. "Hi."
"Hi? That's it?"
"You got the package, huh? Why the Hell are you sleeping in the office instead of at home?"
"You know why. I want you here."
"No fucking way, Mulder."
"Yes. Dress professionally. Ah, you know what I mean. I'll pick you up." Mulder hung up on the protest. "I'll be back," he stated and headed out.
"Mulder?" Scully questioned.
"Six more victims in the pattern," he replied. "Case-files courtesy of your favorite person."
He watched Scully's eyes dropped to sub-freezing. "And you're bringing that rat-bastard into this office because?"
"He worked the original case, Scully. I want him here to fill in the gaps. You worked with him to keep me off the case, just play nice and he'll disappear at the end of this again."
Her eyes narrowed. "You know where he goes?"
"I've learned not to ask what I don't want to know." When he turned around, Tony was watching him. Mulder froze at the tightened jaw. "What is it?"
"I'm not sure," the NCIS agent replied. "Sounds like you're withholding evidence. You wouldn't do that, would you, Fox?"
"Files are there. Have at them."
"Your Oxford is showing. I should make you talk to Ducky." The dark haired agent gathered up files and took them to his desk.
"Split 'em," Gibbs ordered. Mulder held still watching the files fly across the room to Todd and McGee. The arcs were perfect and the catches relaxed. He left them there to work on the files. He had a partner to fetch.
Kate Todd was torn. On the one hand she wanted to know more about the FBI agents they were working with, on the other she wanted to solve the case. The case was more important and she knew it. They'd already spent one night in the office. Only Gibbs and Tony managed to look to completely normal after that. She cursed herself for not packing an outfit or three to keep near her desk.
Scully paced the length of the area looking over the autopsy reviews. She looked fragile. "Dana," Tony purred. Kate watched in fascination as Scully's shoulders dropped. "Can you walk me through this report?"
"Of course, Tony."
Another one charmed by DiNozzo. Christ, can't the man stop even in the middle of a case? At least this one probably isn't a murderer. She turned her attention back to the new cases.
A new voice raised her head. "Mulder, let go!"
"No, you've already tried to get out of the building three times."
"Once was the car," the new voice said. "Let go."
"No. I need you on this case. You will behave for once."
"I'm not some wet behind the ears first year agent you can push around. And if you don't start being nice to me, I'm going to actually start using some of my training and beat the shit out of you for once. For the last time, let go!"
The man standing there, rubbing his wrist against his side, made Kate's brain falter.
"Agent Scully." The two regarded each other like junkyard dogs determining whether or not to fight. "I don't want to be here. You don't want me here. Use the control you have over that over-grown adolescent you call a partner and tell him to let me leave."
Scully smirked suddenly. "Reverse psychology, Krycek? Iím surprised. Let him go, Mulder." v"No, I need him to look at the rest of the cases."
"How many more?" Krycek asked, face going flat.
"The six you gave me, six originals, and we've found one here, one in Spain. The searches are still running. Thirteen so far."
"Fine. But this is the last time, Mulder. I swear it. I am *not* FBI and I'm not paid to do this shit anymore. Alex Krycek." The man offered Tony his hand.
Krycek seemed to perk up at that. "Honestly? You don't look anything like your father."
"Well, depends on what gossip you listen to." Tony's face curled up into a half smile. He deliberately looked the man up and down, eyes lingering in several places. "Nice. Can I afford you?"
"I don't know. Depends. We'll talk later."
Mulder's shoulders tightened. Kate nearly smacked herself in the head. Jealousy and not professional jealousy, she assessed. That explains everything. She perused Krycek's form. And Mulder runs to type. Mulder turned Krycek around forcibly. Tony swallowed his laughter, but his eyes were dancing. "This is Gibbs, he's in charge. Agent Todd is their profiler. Agent McGee is downstairs right now." Gibbs and Krycek stared at each other. Gibbs nodded once.
"Welcome to the team. Don't do anything wrong and I won't shoot you."
"Comforting. Why don't you bring me up to date, Mulder?" The two agents moved to the temp cube and fell into a low conversation. Scully frowned at them for a moment. Kate turned her attention back to the case.
Krycek pulled at his tie. He hated the bloody thing. His prosthetic limb was starting to bother him for no good reason too. "Just so you know, I'm not wearing this tie all night." Mulder simply stroked Alex's back absently. "You're getting awfully comfortable about being public."
"What exactly could it do to my reputation?"
"True. But you're going to make Scully uncomfortable."
Mulder nodded. "And what does this mean exactly?" He asked as he pointed at a side-note on one of the cases.
"Her parents were contentious with each other," the younger man answered. He froze. "Are you telling me I was right?"
"Yes. You could have been a profiler. Not that I would have reccomended you working under Patterson."
"After what that bastard did to you? Prison was too good for him, Mulder."
"But you aren't going to do anything about it."
"No. So, we're looking for someone with a broken home in their past."
"Did any of the files you sent me refer to a magician?"
"One of them had a school schedule that included a magic show, but nothing else that I remember. I can check again."
Mulder nodded. Krycek went to get the files without thinking. He paused at DiNozzo's desk. "So, you busy later?" he teased as he picked up the files. The young man grinned at him.
"Well, that all depends on the boss. But I could always take a raincheck." He dropped his voice. "Especially if you're doing it to tweak Fox."
"You get away with that? He's got a bigger crush than I thought."
"When he remembers to call me DiNozzo, I'll call him Mulder. So, you're the one that broke his heart, huh?"
Krycek snorted. "Not by choice. Get me drunk some day."
"Is that an offer?" DiNozzo's smile grew more wicked. Scully looked up from where she was working at McGee's desk. Her brows were high. She looked between the two men, then over at her partner. Alex followed her look. "Oh, look, he's noticed that he's not the only person on the planet who likes to flirt." Tony froze, looking across the desk at Agent Todd. "Shit," he swore softly. "Left my flank wide open."
Alex looked at Todd. Her jaw had dropped. "Tony?" she said in a small voice.
"I'm not hearing a lot of work going on," Gibbs snapped, breaking the moment. DiNozzo's eyes moved automatically to the file on his desk.
"You need another coffee, boss?" he asked.
"Make a new pot," Gibbs replied.
"On it." DiNozzo cocked his head in the direction of the coffee room. Krycek followed him, carrying the files.
"Did you notice any magician references?"
"There was one in the file from Spain. And the case we just caught." The break room was deserted. The assassin's brows raised as he watched DiNozzo take a pot out of the cupboard.
"What's wrong with that one?"
"This is the Gibbs pot. Everyone knows that it'll eat your stomach lining off."
"Oh, the good stuff."
"I make it expresso strength. Dilute it with water or milk if you don't want an ulcer. So, about hiring you."
"I don't know. Depends."
"I am an only child. My step-mother has a prenup, but I'm her heir too."
"Deal. So, how long have you and Fox been back together?"
Krycek sighed. "We're off and on. Depends on making two vastly incompatible schedules work. He can be a jealous bastard."
"And you aren't?"
"Oh, I most definitely am. And I want to know exactly when and how he met you because he definitely met you before this case."
"You call him Fox."
"Ah. Well, Scully was missing and his partner was gone."
"I'm surprised you'll even talk to me."
"I know the difference between the truth and a man trash-talking through a broken heart."
"Did you ever?"
"No, just played basketball together."
"Good. Then I won't have to kill you."
"I'm glad to hear it. Gibbs knows."
"I'd be surprised if he didn't."
"If you ever come across a man named Ari Haswari, tip us a nod as to where he is and Gibbs will forgive you almost anything."
"I'll keep that in mind." Alex filed the name away. "How'd your father take it that you were going into law enforcement?"
"Cut me off at twelve when I didn't want to join the family business."
"They gave you a choice?"
"My parents sent me away to a military academy in hopes that it would bring me back into the fold. It didn't work."
"How much do you know?"
"Enough to be dangerous to my health if I'm not careful."
"I'm not family."
"I wouldn't be too sure about that. Kate didn't know."
"I figured. Gibbs does?"
"He's got my back."
"Is that all?"
Krycek watched the wry smile curve DiNozzo's lips up. "No comment."
"That's what I thought." The young man poured out coffee for his team. "Mulder takes it with cream only. Scully takes cream and Equal."
"I don't drink anything that shade of black anymore. I like my stomach."
"We have tea."
"Darjeeling, Oolong, or herbal crap."
"In the cabinet?"
"On the counter next to the hot water dispenser. I'll get it. You take these to Mulder and Scully." He nodded towards Alex's arms. "You can leave the files for me and I'll use them as a tray. Cream in your tea?"
"Please." Subtle, Krycek acknowledged. "Your money's showing."
Mulder scowled after his lover, then shook his head and got back to work. He was cross-referencing personnel lists from the Navy and Marine bases. Krycek would do what he wanted and there was nothing that Mulder could do about it. It didn't keep him from wanting to pin the man to the closest flat surface and nail him repeatedly until he knew who he belonged to. He stretched. This would be easier if they could get the computer to do it, but the information wasn't all on computer. The military kept current records that way, but hadn't transfered the old records into the system.
"Coffee," Alex said. Mulder nodded and took the mug without looking up. He knew when the younger man sat down next to him again, but didn't do anything about it. Krycek didn't say a word, just went to work on the lists. He didn't even ask what system Mulder was using. That made Mulder pause. Alex knew him better than anyone. It was terrifying. The one person he could rely on to know every detail of his life regularly spied on him to get the information. "Your paranoia's up, Fox," Alex soothed.
"Tea, aspirin, and files," Tony announced. He set the stack of files down neatly, not sloshing any of the tea.
"Aspirin?" Mulder asked.
"Thanks," Alex said with a smile. It hurt to see it. Krycek never smiled at him these days. "Is Gino still working for your father?"
"God I hope not. Man's a pest."
"He's one of the best in the business."
"Yeah, well just try sneaking out to go on a date when he's gaurding your room."
"That is the point. Although the way I hear it he doesn't gaurd your step-mother with the same skill he usually does."
"Good. She's only seven years older than I am. I wouldn't want to be trapped with my father all the time." Tony gave a full body shudder. "I will admit, she's earned her money."
Alex's smile turned into a smirk. "We really need to talk."
"Looking forward to it. Take at least two of those aspirin."
"You're going to be seriously sore if you don't take them now."
"Fucked up insecure and neurotic? Sure. But you're also in pain and we need you sharp."
"DiNozzo, call Mrs. Martinez again and ask her what other activities Sadie was involved in. Then, find me parents on this continent. I want them reinterviewed."
"On it, boss." Gibbs held up a file. Tony leaned over for it and got a smack across the back of his head. "What was that for?"
"Right, boss." Tony retreated to his desk. Alex shook his head. He knocked a few aspririn onto the top of the file. He closed the bottle carefully and Mulder dropped his eyes. He wanted to take the bottle and do it for him, but he knew he'd get snapped at for it.
"DiNozzo," Alex called before arching the bottle into the air. Tony caught it with ease and tucked it back into his desk. Alex swallowed the two pills with a sip of tea. Mulder rested his hand on the back of his lover's neck and massaged gently. Alex arched into his touch. Scully shot them a glare, but Mulder ignored her. "Names, or magic references?'
Kate found herself looking at her partner again. Tony was avoiding her eyes. He hadn't made any quips. In fact, since returning from the break-room, he had said practically nothing. He was working on finding current locations. He'd been upset since they'd found Sadie, but there was more to it now. Gibbs glared at her and she turned back to her work. Her mind was racing.
"Gibbs, Tony and I are going to pick up dinner at the Greek place. What do you want?" Kate asked.
Gibbs looked at her. Their eyes met for a very long moment. He nodded once. She got the message. She nodded in reply. "My usual. And baklava."
"Indulging your sweet-tooth, boss? What will Ducky say?"
Gibbs simply glared. Tony smiled sweetly at him. He got the orders from the rest of the group, then followed Kate out of the room. Once they were out of earshot, Kate spoke. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"That you're bi." She felt her cheeks flush.
He raised a brow at her. "Let's see, we'll start with Voss and work our way down. Let's not forget your response to every gay man and woman we've come across. You're a good Catholic, Kate. I'm not. I shouldn't have flirted with Krycek, but Mulder just drives me insane and I wanted to piss him off. I've been doing so well too. Only Abs knew for sure until Mulder got here."
"Doesn't ask. He's Gibbs though."
They were quiet until they got into the car. "Did you really think I'd hurt you?" she asked quietly.
"Yes," he replied just as softly. "I've already been run out of a department, Kate. You know the lifespan for a cop once his team finds out he's gay? In most parts of the country at least?"
"Is the extenuating circumstance that made me leave Peoria."
Things clicked into place. "How badly did you get hurt?"
"I was jumped three times. I ran from the third. My partner, shit, she distanced herself as quickly as possible. That's probably what hurt the worst. She didn't have my back, Kate. She was trying so hard to prove herself to the rest of them that she let me hang."
She parked the car. Then, she put her hand on his wrist. "I would never leave you in the cold, Tony." He met her eyes for a long moment.
"Why don't you trust me?"
"The only person I trust completely is Gibbs."
They collected the food without a word. He was letting her process and she knew it. She ran through everything she knew about Tony and Gibbs. She froze a step from the car.
"You love him," she said softly. "Why didn't I see it?"
Tony chuckled as he took the bags from her. "Because you, like everyone else, thinks I see him as a father-figure. Even Abs thinks it's a father thing, mostly."
"Not everyone," she said, eyes narrowing. "Holy crap, you were trying to make him jealous too."
"What?" He looked at her in confusion. "With Alex? Nah. Alex isn't my type."
They settled in the car. "He's cute though."
"So's McGee. He's just not my type."
"Abby knows you think McGee is cute?"
"She asked me!"
"You vet her dates?"
"No, just the ones I can get my hands on. And any guy that breaks her heart answers to me if I get there before Gibbs." Tony grinned. His smile faded. "Gibbs is pissed that I slipped up."
"Not really. Scully just thinks you're flirting with him because he's flirting with you. She wants Alex dead, but I don't know why yet."
"I know why, but it's not going to do her any good. He's besotted by Fox and isn't going away."
"So we're okay?"
"Yeah, for now. But if you let out the secret or turn your back on me. . ."
The office was mostly dark. The only team left was Gibbs' and their new partners from the FBI. Gibbs looked around the room. McGee was tracking current addresses for the names on the list that Mulder had pulled together. Tony was tracking down the parents, most of them now separated. Kate was tracking the financial history of their latest family. Scully was tracking the medical aspects, with Krycek as her translator. Mulder was making his profile. He had his reading glasses on and was writing constantly on the tablet in front of him.
Gibbs was pleased with their ability to work together. Kate and Tony seemed to have hashed things out. Scully and Krycek had pushed past thier dislike for one another. McGee wasn't green anymore. Maybe he'd do a little more poaching for NCIS when this was over. Tony's attention was caught by something. Gibbs watched him watch Krycek for a long moment. Tony fiddled with his pen. For the life of him he couldn't figure out what was causing Tony's lack of concentration. It couldn't be the fact that Krycek was at minimum a spy working for one of the a's, as Tony called them. Or the fact that the man had weapons. Tony pulled open his top drawer. The bottle sailed through the air directly at Krycek. The other man caught the bottle.
"Prego, Tony." Alex took one of the pills and sailed the bottle back across the room. Scully frowned, suddenly turning into a doctor.
"I'll be fine, Scully. I'm just a little sore."
"You'll be a lot sore if you don't take care of yourself like you should," Tony said suddenly. "We've got your back. No one's getting in here with a weapon. Bulletproof glass on the windows. We've all got weapons and I won't let Scully shoot you."
Mulder looked up at that. His eyes were a little glassy, not focussed on the real world.
"Let it go."
"There's no reason for you to be hurting and we're going to be here all night. The biggest threat you're going to have is a papercut. I've got a teeshirt you can borrow even."
"Why is this such a big deal?"
"Minored in sports medicine. Come on." Tony stood up. He motioned Krycek towards the elevator.
"I don't need help."
"Yeah, but when else am I going to see you without your shirt?"
Krycek glared at DiNozzo for a very long moment. "I'll be fine. It'll take too long if we have to leave suddenly."
"We're not going anywhere at two in the morning except to sleep."
"I'll be blunt. I don't trust you enough."
"Do you trust Mulder?"
Krycek hesitated. He looked at his lover. "He needs someone to take care of him, not be worrying about me. Just get back to your files and let me worry about myself. I know my limits."
"Fine." Tony turned back to his work. Scully's frown had deepened.
"He has a point," she said calmly. "It would be in your best interest."
Krycek snorted. "Scully, let's just go right back to you hating my guts, okay?"
Gibbs looked at the set of Krycek's shoulders. He looked at Tony. The younger man nodded once. So, he was positive that the man needed to do this. "Krycek, with me."
The man looked at him, startled. He obeyed the order though and followed Gibbs to the elevator. Gibbs stopped the elevator between the floors. Even after hours it was the only place with no surviellence. "What is it?"
"I'll garauntee your safety personally. I know what it's like to be on your own for so long that you forget what having back up is like. But while you're here, working with us, we're a team. We've got your back and Mulder's."
"Because your stubborness is worrying Tony and I need him focussed on his work."
Krycek relaxed a fraction. He nodded. "Pragmatism I can understand. Is there someplace I can change without letting Scully get a good look at me?"
Gibbs nodded and took the younger man to the gym. He opened Tony's locker. Krycek raised his brows. "Let me guess, you have the pins to all of his accounts."
"The legal ones," Gibbs replied evenly. "Not the ones he doesn't touch and refuses to acknowledge."
He watched as the assassin, and he definitely was given his levels of paranoia, effieciently stripped and removed his prostetic arm. "Wait, let me get some ointment on that rub before it gets worse." Gibbs took the Neosporin out of Tony's first aide kit.
"Don't worry. It's okay."
"No, it isn't. I won't have anyone on my team working at least than one-hundred percent. And as of this morning you are on my team."
"I feel like I should salute," Alex grumbled. He stilled and let Gibbs tend the wound with ointment and a bandage.
"Thanks." He pulled on the offered tee-shirt. Then wrapped his arm in the blazer and tie so that it wouldn't show. Without the blazer, the hoster in the small of his back was easily visible.
"What was that about?" McGee asked when Gibbs and Krycek had left.
McGee glared at Tony. Tony looked back at him. The younger man frowned. "You're worried about him?"
Tony shifted uncomfortably. "Let it go, McGee," he said softly. "It's an old habit."
Mulder's head snapped around. His eyes caught Tony's. "I thought you didn't know anything about that sort of thing."
"I've been out of it since I was a teenager, Mulder. Doesn't mean I'm an idiot," Tony hissed. "Even if you've always treated me like one. You know things linger. No one just leaves. You certainly haven't."
Mulder's back stiffened. "What are you talking about?"
Tony snorted. "You just don't get it, do you, Mulder? I'll explain it over a beer after we find the son-of-a-bitch who did this, okay?"
"Yes, you will." Mulder's voice was cold. He caught Tony's eyes. "He's getting a little too old for this, now. He's escalating. It's not enough anymore. The time is getting shorter. He's down from six months to four. We're missing cases. He's international." Mulder's voice changed, softening. "Military now, but not when he started. I thought he'd gone to prison before. He was shipped out. He's meticulous. They mean something to them. They're special."
Tim watched as Tony cocked his head to the side. "Why are they special?"
"He wants to save them."
"Why does he hurt them?"
"They don't behave. They don't love him for saving them like they're supposed to."
"Why does he want to save them?"
"Their parents are hurting them."
"How are they hurting them?"
"By breaking up. They don't feel secure anymore."
"And he takes them to give them security?"
McGee's eyes widened. Tony's posture was changing, hardening. He looked dangerous. The youngest agent swallowed. He didn't want to get between Tony and this killer. He probably shouldn't watch either.
"Exactly. His own family broke up. They tried to make him feel loved, but it failed. All he felt was pain. He could feel the hate between them. Then, his own marriage broke up and she took his little girl away from him." Krycek and Gibbs had stopped, listening. "He's not really tall, but not short. Just average all around. Everyone says he loves kids and would make a wonderful father, but he knows they're wrong. He does magic tricks. It was his escape as a little boy. He doesn't like people in general though. She broke his heart."
"The wife that left him and took his little girl away."
"So now he takes the little girls away himself. Who is he really trying to protect. The little girls or the fathers?"
"He doesn't make that distinction."
"Why rape them?"
"They need to be punished."
The look on Tony's face made McGee swallow hard. "They do? Not thier mothers?"
"The mothers are too strong. The daughters though, he can overpower." Krycek slid into the room. He paused at Tony's desk. He didn't say anything. McGee did his best not to do a double-take at the missing arm. So that's what had gotten Tony bothered, the other man had been wearing his prostethis for too long. Mulder shuddered and quieted. He turned back to his files. "I'll have a written profile soon."
"DiNozzo, finish up the cross-referencing. McGee, any other cases?"
"No, nothing new, boss."
"Then get that map made and go see Abby about the reconstruction scenarios."
"Boss, Abs went home to sleep. Remember?" Tony interceded. He raised his brows. "Unless you need to go take a coffin-nap, McGee?"
McGee glared at his fellow agent. Tony was unrepentent. The glint in his eye had changed from murderous to mischievious though and McGee was glad to see it. "It's comfortable," Tim stated.
"Oh, I know." He grinned and McGee felt a wave of jealousy that was unnecessary. Tony and Abby were close enough friends that they talked about everything. Of course he'd have spent the night at her place at least once. At least that's what he assured himself.
"Coffin-nap?" Krycek asked.
"Abby sleeps in a coffin."
"That's. . . mildly disturbing."
Scully looked up with a smirk. "Squemish?"
"I don't even want one when I'm dead, Scully."
"Good. I hear shallow graves are all the rage in certain circles," she replied. The sarcasm that dripped off her words made Krycek smile at her.
"You have spent far too much time with Mulder."
"No, trash dumpsters are more my style or abandoned warehouses," Mulder replied.
"Only abandoned ones? I seem to remember a report that you were found drugged in a full one. Paranoid as hell too. Now, what was that compound called?" Krycek smirked at Mulder.
"That was *Mulder*?" Tony said, laughing. "Oh, God, I thought Munch was just spreading his conspiracy theories. It explains so much though."
"Munch?" Gibbs asked.
"Baltimore Homicide detective that transfered up to New York after the shooting. That man has some wild theories. Who are the other three?"
"Trade secret," Krycek told him, leaning over the desk. "Besides, you'd never make it past the front door without Mulder."
"Back to work, people," Gibbs snapped.
Tony glanced at his boss. Gibbs was acting more and more snippy and it wasn't just due to the case. He crossed the room to lean on the edge of Gibbs' desk. "I've got a list of parents. You want me to bring them in all at once or in chronological order?"
"Set up appointments. We'll interview them at their homes." Gibbs glanced at the clock. "Call at seven."
"Got it, boss. You want your usual in the morning?"
Gibbs nodded. "You have backgrounds for me?"
"Working on them. There something bothering you, boss?" Tony tried, voice low. Gibbs met his eyes. They stared at each other for a long moment. There was something there that hadn't been there since Kate joined the team. Tony raised his brows a little in question. Gibbs' eyes turned sorrowful and Tony nodded a little. He leaned a little closer. "You know my number," he murmured, knowing the other man's hearing was good enough to pick up the barely breathed words. Gibbs inclined his head and Tony went back to his desk. He ignored the look from Kate. She didn't understand it and he couldn't tell her the reasons why child-cases were so bad.
He glanced at the school picture of Sadie he had resting against his paperclip holder. We'll find the bastard, honey, he promised. At least your father will know who did it. And if he resists arrest, it won't be for long.
Krycek did his level best not to look around the room every few minutes, but he couldn't help it. His paranoia was screaming at him. Even though he knew that he could take an attacker one handed, and always did really, he'd gotten used to having his protethis. He continued to translate for Scully, not having to think too much about the Russian. He translated the clinical details, wishing that Mulder were sitting next to him instead of Scully.
He glanced at DiNozzo and wondered how the man had gotten far enough away from his family to be a cop of any stripe. He briefly considered taking him to dinner to find out more information, but Mulder would probably freak out on him. Mulder just didn't need that level of information. Scully rested a hand on his wrist and he stopped reading. "How can you read that without any inflection?" she demanded.
"I've seen worse," he stated flatly. "Besides, I'm a translator." He gave her a shrug. "Want me to continue?"