Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 018 Word Count: 37993
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Other Female Character
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Romance
Pairing(s): Tony/OFC, Gibbs/OFC
Summary: What if Tony fell in love with just an average person? My AU, season twoish.
Author Notes: Title: He Knew
Author: CJ aka WritinginCT
Rating: PG-13 -Teen
Disclaimer: I don't own the recognizable characters I'm just inspired by them. Hopefully they've had fun playing in my sandbox.
Comments: What if Tony fell in love with just an average person? My AU, season twoish.
Feedback: Love it? Hate it? Want to offer me a book deal to write original fiction? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
"What the hell happened to your eye?" he demanded without preamble as she opened the door.
She put the ice pack back up to her eye and teased, "I walked into a door?" She stepped back so he could come in.
Annoyed he replied, "I know youíre a klutz but Iím not buying it. Try again and I want a name."
"Low flying pigeon?"
That got her a raised eyebrow.
"Laura. Who gave you the shiner?" he asked through gritted teeth.
She could see he was getting angry and confessed, "I did." She headed for kitchen with him following behind her.
He noticed that she was wearing workout clothes and had her wrists and hands taped for some reason.
She pulled a pair of boxing gloves out of her knapsack and laughed. "I zigged when I should have zagged and the speed bag caught me in the face."
He was thoroughly confused, "Since when do you box?"
She laughed again, and now that he knew she was really okay he let it wash over him. Her playful laugh was on his list of the top ten things he loved best in life, she just didnít know it.
"This was my third lesson. A couple of my guys decided that I needed to learn how and are teaching me. But I think I flunked."
"Lemme see your eye." He gently took the ice pack from her and studied her growing shiner. He could see her eyes dancing. She had the same zest for life that he had and could find humor in everything. It got them both in trouble more than once. "Well when you do something you do it right, thatís going to be a grade A black eye tomorrow."
"Hopefully it will fade a little by Monday or itís going to be miserable trying to explain it to everyone."
He chuckled, "So you still up for going out tonight or would you rather just rent a movie and stay in?"
"Isnít that new spy movie opening tonight that you wanted to see?"
"Yeah. Itís going to be good."
"Well why donít we catch that and then grab some fish and chips later?"
"Sounds good to me."
"Let me shower and change. Grab some coffee its fresh. Iíll just be a couple minutes" She headed down the hall to her bedroom and he headed into her small kitchen and poured himself some coffee and settled himself on her couch.
He knew many things.
He knew that this was his favorite corner of her couch.
He knew that he was drinking coffee out of his favorite of her coffee mugs.
He knew that she would come out wearing a faded pair of jeans and a white t-shirt with her little silver dolphin pendant flashing against it.
He knew that she would grab her favorite navy blue denim jacket to put over the t-shirt.
He knew that the scarf she would grab to top it all off would be the ocean printed silk one that he had given her for her birthday.
He knew they would enjoy the movie even if it stunk and critique it together in the car on the way home.
He knew they would get fish and chips from the little take out shack near the beach and that they would find a spot to sit in the sand to eat and laugh and enjoy the sound of the waves lapping at the shore.
He knew he would bring her home and he would walk her inside and make sure she locked the door behind him, and that he wouldnít kiss her goodnight.
He knew they werenít dating.
He knew they would do this all over again next Friday night, and the next, and the next.
He knew they werenít dating.
He knew that the eight months that they have known each other have been the most contented of his personal life, ever.
He knew they werenít dating.
He knew that this was the healthiest relationship he had ever had with a woman.
He knew they werenít dating.
He knew that he wanted her in his bed, wanted to sleep curled up around her after making love to her, wanted to wake up with her and see the sun make her copper hair catch fire on his pillow, and that he dreamt it every night.
He knew they werenít dating.
He knew that she didnít see him that way, they were just friends in her eyes.
He knew they werenít dating.
He knew that if he kept telling himself long enough that they werenít dating that he might actually believe it eventually. Or not.
What he didnít know and couldnít figure out was why exactly they werenít dating. It just didnít make sense.
8 months earlier
Tony was sitting at his desk after lunch with the rest of the team trying to catch up on some paperwork odd and ends, it was a Thursday and they had had a surprisingly slow week. Gibbís phone rang and Tony heard him tell the person on the other end to "send her up".
"DiNozzo. The front desk is sending up a woman who claims to have been sent evidence relating to a missing Marine. Meet her at the elevator. Letís see what sheís got."
"On it Boss."
Tony headed over to the elevator and waited for the doors to open. When they did his interest was instantly peaked and he somehow guessed that Gibbs would be handling this particular interview. She was a red head. Her auburn curls cascaded gently around her face to her shoulders and emphasized her creamy complexion marred only by a sprinkling of light freckles. She was on the shorter side; Tony guessed about five four or maybe a little less. She wasnít a tiny woman; he guessed the term that the womenís magazines would use to describe her would be average sized. Her age baffled him a bit, he didnít think she was as young as she looked but couldnít be more than thirty-five. She was dressed casually in a pair of khaki pants and a white button-up shirt that accented her full bust nicely. But although he took notice of all the rest, it was her eyes that absolutely captivated him. Light green and accented with a just a hint of makeup they were conveying a range of emotions from worry to curiosity, and a hint of a question as she asked when she saw him, "Agent Gibbs?"
Laura took in the man standing before her who looked like a poster child for being a federal agent. His navy suit was impeccable and he had an air of casual self-confidence. Tall and broad shouldered there was no question that he was amazingly good looking. And sexy too if she were willing to admit that to herself which of course she wouldnít, at least she wouldnít until he smiled at her when she asked if he were Agent Gibbs. Then she was done in, he had a smile that lit up his entire face, and it was genuine smile, something he did often she sensed. She had a feeling it was going to be a long day if he turned out to be the Agent Gibbs she needed to work with.
"Ah no, Iím Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, Special Agent Gibbs asked me to meet you here and escort you."
She extended her hand, "Nice to meet you Agent DiNozzo, Laura Paquette."
Tony escorted her over to their desks and introduced her to Gibbs. She was floored all over again; did they make it a requirement for all agents to be unbelievably handsome? Was it some sort of interrogation trick to put women off? She had never seen eyes that blue before, and had never been the subject of such an intense gaze before either. It was totally disconcerting. Then he smiled and extended his hand. And she felt a headache coming on. It was only her worry for Daniel that kept her wits about her.
"So Miss Paquette you told the guard that you have evidence regarding a missing Marine?" Gibbs asked pleasantly as he took in the woman in front of him.
"Yes Corporal Daniel Castille, he went UA three days ago and Iím afraid something has happened to him."
"Why do you think that?"
"Because of this." She reached into the briefcase she carried and pulled out a hardcover book that was in a plastic zipper bag and a handwritten letter.
"Daniel visited me Monday telling me he was on leave and gave me the book. Then the letter arrived at work in this morningís mail."
Gibbs quickly slipped on gloves and took the letter which was dated Monday.
If you are reading this instead of me explaining things to you in person then I am in trouble. Big trouble. If you donít hear from me before they call to tell you I am UA take the last book I gave you directly to NCIS. Itís important. Iíve heard that there is a Special Agent Gibbs that is supposed to be the best. I think you should be able to trust him, he was a Marine. If all goes well I will contact him myself today and you wonít need to.
Laur, you gave me a life when no one else cared if I lived or died and I donít know if I have told you enough through the years but I love you and I am as proud of you as you are of me. Weíve made a good team all these years. Even if youíre not a Marine.
Please tell Agent Gibbs that the Corps is my life and that I honor my country and my uniform and I am disgusted by what I found. He was a Marine and will understand why.
Be careful Laura, and be strong no matter what happens.
Love you always,
He put the letter down and regarded Laura for a moment then picked up the book.
She offered, "Weíre always giving each other books. I didnít have time to even look at it since he gave it to me on Monday afternoon. But I pulled it back out today when I got the letter and noticed that there is a lump along the spine that shouldnít be there. I didnít mess with it at all, just put it in the baggie and brought it here."
Gibbs ran his finger down the spine and felt the little square lump she was talking about.
"McGee, take this down to Abby and find out whatís in the book, tell her I need it yesterday. Kate find out about the status of Corporal Castille. Tony please take Miss Paquette to Interrogation Room One, Iíll be right in."
Laura could see the tension in the man, and was relieved that he was taking the letter seriously.
He sat back and watched Laura for another moment as she followed Tony, collecting his thoughts. It was obvious from the letter that she and Corporal Castille were close, but what was their relationship? And what was in the book? And what kind of trouble was he in? Too many questions. Time for answers.
Kate had quickly pulled up Danielís service record along with Lauraís personal information. Danielís photo showed a handsome twenty-six year old Marine with an exemplary eight year service record. He was two years into his second six-year hitch and from all indications intended to be a career Marine. With the exception of the current UA status he had never even received a reprimand before. On paper he was the perfect Marine.
What threw Gibbs momentarily as he read the information file was that listed as Danielís next of kin was one Laura Paquette, mother. There was obviously no way that she was his biological mother given their ages so the relationship intrigued Gibbs.
Tony had gotten Laura situated in the interrogation room and went into the attached observation area. He noticed her rubbing her temples a little like she had a headache and she spent some time rubbing and wringing her hands together with a worried expression on her face, not worried like a suspect would be worried about being caught but worried like a parent about a child.
She interested him, interested him like no woman had in a very long time. He wondered if she was seeing this Corporal Castille. He hoped that she wasnít involved with the case in an adverse way. She seemed like a nice normal person and he would certainly like the opportunity to get to know her more. Then he sighed, remembering the unspoken rule in the office about Gibbs getting the first shot at all available red heads. It was so unfair.
Gibbs sat down across from her and handed her a bottled water. His gut was telling him that she was just a bystander to whatever trouble Corporal Castille had gotten into.
"Iíd like you to tell me all you can about Corporal Castille. And I think a good place to start would be why you are listed as his mother on his service record."
Tonyís eyes grew huge in the observation area at that question; he couldnít wait for the answer.
Laura shook her head and smiled, "I met Daniel ten years ago Agent Gibbs. I was working at one of the public libraries in downtown Washington. And this teenager came in one day, he was dirty and skinny and scared to death that I was going to throw him out. But he had this look, I guess it was a hungry sort of look. When I asked him if he needed help he wanted to know where the books about the Marine Corps were kept. Daniel spent four hours that first day going through books. And what really surprised me was that he put them all away perfectly when he was done with them. He came in day after day looking at those books. He was always respectful and polite. And one day I watched him for a while and realized he was just looking at the pictures, he couldnít read. So I started giving up my lunch hour to teach him. He worked so hard."
She paused for a moment then continued, "He didnít want to tell me about his personal life, but given his appearance I didnít think his home life was great. I started packing an extra sandwich and apple for him every day and you never saw someone appreciate bologna that much. I finally asked him why he was so interested in the Marines and he said that he had seen some Marines at the Memorial Day parade and he liked how people treated them. And he wanted to know what he had to do to be able to become a Marine."
Gibbs eyes softened a bit, he knew the impression Marines in full uniform could have on a kid, "Marines are impressive Miss Paquette." There was a subtle innuendo there that both she and Tony picked up on instantly. Tony sighed again as Laura laughed at Gibbsí comment.
"Depends on the Marine Agent Gibbs."
Gibbs smiled, he just couldnít help it, it was the perfect comeback and they both knew it. So did Tony.
"Anyway, I took a day off and Daniel and I went to visit the local recruiter to get some information. The recruiter was great, spent a long time with Daniel answering questions and gave him all sorts of literature and loot. But I think the best thing he did for Daniel was to offer his hand to him as we went to leave. And when Daniel took it and the recruiter realized that Daniel didnít know how he showed him the proper way to shake hands and he told him to always stand straight and be proud of who he was. You have never seen anyone stand as straight as Daniel did when he shook that recruiterís hand goodbye and said ĎThank you Sirí. It was the first time in his whole life that anyone had treated him like a man."
Tonyís voice broke into the interrogation room to tell Gibbs that Abby needed him.
Gibbs excused himself and headed for the lab with Tony right behind him.
Abby was in overdrive when they reached the lab. She had found a digital camera flashcard hidden in the spine of the book along with a letter from Corporal Castille.
According to the letter written in the same handwriting as the other letter Castille had been asked by his CO Monday morning to use the office digital camera to take photos of the damage done by a falling tree branch to one of the buildings on base. Castille had discovered a series of photos on the camera depicting the rape of a young blond woman by what appeared to be three marines in fatigues wearing ski masks. After seeing the photos and realizing that it had to have been someone in his office that took the pictures he didnít know who to trust. So he swiped the flashcard and hid it in the book until he could find someone safe to report it to.
Gibbs looked at the photos in disgust and recognized the young woman; it had been all over the news a week ago. She was an intern to a Senator who was found raped and murdered.
Gibbsí gut was telling him that Corporal Castille was indeed in big trouble. And this evidence would have to be turned over to those handling the murder case but right now he was more concerned with finding a Marine that could still be alive. But he needed more information about the man to try and locate him. And right now, until he could interview others in Castilleís office, Laura was his best source of intel.
"So where were we?" Gibbs asked as he sat back down.
"I was telling you how I became Daniels mother without giving birth at the age of nine."
He smiled, he liked her quick wit.
"After Daniel and I met the recruiter he worked even harder on his reading and I found out some other things about his home life. Or lack of one I should say. He had lived with his grandmother who died and somehow he fell off the radar at the Department of Children and Families. By the time I met him he had been living on the street alone for two years. He didnít want to get put into the foster system. Well to make a long story short I contacted a social worker and through a legal circus was able to be appointed his legal guardian and by the time he was seventeen I legally adopted him, I was twenty-seven. But he didnít have any family and neither did I and it worked out well for us both. He worked hard and got his high school equivalency diploma, scored an almost perfect score too. And he started taking a couple of community college courses. He was just a great kid Agent Gibbs. When he turned eighteen he enlisted, and didnít even hesitate to sign up for a six year contract. Proudest day of his whole life was when he graduated from basic training. He got a kick out of telling everyone I was his mother. And just to make it perfectly clear Agent Gibbs Daniel and I have a brother/sister sort of relationship. We care about each other very much and support each other like any other family would."
"So he has no other family?"
"No, just me."
"His best friend is a kid named Ryan Thompson, heís a Private First Class. Iím not sure where he is stationed at the moment. He and Daniel served in Iraq together for six months. Daniel sort of took Ryan under his wing and watches out for him. Heís only nineteen. Other than Ryan I donít know. Daniel liked all the guys in his unit in Iraq. It wasnít until he came back here that he didnít seem to always fit in."
"Daniel is extremely polite and what we women like to call a perfect gentleman. And heís not afraid to tell the other guys to mind their manners if he thinks something is too obnoxious. His grandmother instilled some wonderful values in him before she died. But there are some guys that think heís just putting on an act, trying to butter up to his superiors and stuff. They donít realize thatís just how he is."
"Any problems with anyone in particular?"
"A couple months ago when he first got back and took this new assignment he invited me on base for lunch and to meet his new CO, a Sergeant OíNeill. I really like the Sergeant, heís got a great sense of humor and Iíve become friendly with his wife Helen since then, theyíre just really nice people about my age. Anyway we were walking to lunch when another Marine in the office was, well leering I guess would be the word. He made me very very uncomfortable. And apparently after I left that afternoon he made some extremely sexual comments to Daniel about me that were not well received. Daniel reported him to Sergeant OíNeill and from what I understand disciplinary action was taken against him because it wasnít the first time this Marine had done something like that."
"Do you remember the Marineís name?"
"Hanson maybe or Hanely? No, it was Hanson I remember now."
"Any other problems or any incidents stick out in your mind?"
"Not that he mentioned to me. But Iíll tell you Daniel believes strongly in procedure and the chain of command, if he had a problem he would have brought it to Sergeant OíNeill."
"Does he have a girlfriend?"
"He dates casually but no one steady. He keeps telling me that he wants to wait until he finally gets the assignment he really wants to settle down."
"What does he want to do?"
She laughed, "He wants to be a recruiter."
Gibbs chuckled, "Thatís not for everyone."
"I think he wants to try and help other at-risk kids. Show them that they can have a life to be proud of. I think the recruiter we visited so long ago made a huge impression on him."
"Does he like what heís doing now?"
"Agent Gibbs I love Daniel and you canít tell him I said this but the Marine Corps could have him fixing toilets the rest of his life and he would be happy with someone telling him heís doing a good job. He just wants to be a Marine. But to answer your question I donít think he minds it. Building and facility maintenance is a good fit for him while he finishes his college degree. Heís not stuck behind a desk and he gets to work with his hands doing repairs which he likes. And without getting him in trouble, Sergeant OíNeill will sometimes give him a little time to study during the day if he knows Daniel has an exam."
"Any issues when he was deployed?"
"No, nothing other than complaining about the heat and the sand getting in everything. His unit seemed like a pretty tight group that really looked out for each other."
"Okay so tell me about Monday. Was he acting any differently did he say anything peculiar?"
"He popped into the library maybe one thirty in the afternoon, nothing unusual he would generally stop in and say hello when he could. He told me that he only had a few minutes because he had errands to run and that he wanted to give me a book he thought I would like. Because I was short handed, I had two people out with the flu, I didnít have a lot of time so he told me he would put in my desk drawer for me to look at later. I honestly forgot all about it until I opened the letter this morning. Iíve just been swamped."
"Where do you work?"
"I am the Director of the Newton Public Library."
Gibbs recognized the sleepy bedroom community but was still finding it hard to believe that she was a librarian. Tony could though. In fact he was having inappropriate mental images of the things they could do hidden in between the library shelves. He really wanted to get to know her better.
Gibbs was quiet for a minute and she could almost see the gears spinning he was thinking so hard.
"Agent Gibbs is Daniel in trouble? Did you find something bad in that book? Please tell me."
"There was a flashcard from a digital camera in the spine of the book and a note in the same handwriting as the other letter you gave me."
"Daniel doesnít have a digital camera. I was getting him one for his birthday in a couple months. Why would he have a flashcard?"
"Thatís what we have to find out. There are some incriminating photos on that card of a crime in progress. We need to talk to Corporal Castille and find out how he came into possession of it."
He didnít tell her that he thought Castille was in danger. His gut was telling him that Castille was already dead they just hadnít found him yet. The other part of the equation was Lauraís safety. If they in fact had already killed Castille they might suspect that she would have the flashcard.
He saw her rubbing her temple, "Headache?"
She gave him a weak smile, "Missed getting my coffee fix all day, caffeine withdrawal."
He laughed, "That I can fix. How do you take yours?"
"Black is fine and the stronger the better."
Tony was glowering in the observation area. He had come to the same mental conclusion about her safety as Gibbs. He was trying to figure out how to connive his way into being her protection detail. It would be the perfect opportunity to get to know her. And maybe get her away from Gibbs before he proposed to her.
Gibbs stood up to set some things in motion but something else crossed his mind as he reached the door, "What did Corporal Castille mean in his letter when he said ĎEven if youíre not a Marineí?"
She rolled her eyes and smiled, "He tells me all the time that my only flaw is that Iím not a Marine. He thinks I should have been a Marine, he says Iím tough enough and have heart and he couldnít ask for a better person to watch his six."
Gibbs was chuckling as he left the room. God he loved red heads.
Gibbs sent McGee for coffees and headed for the Directorís office, he needed to be briefed on the evidence. The Director agreed with Gibbsí assessment that the needs of a Marine that could possibly still be alive outweigh the needs of an intern that was already dead. He promised to speak with those handling the other case and inform them of the situation.
Getting back to the bullpen Gibbs took his coffee from McGee and quickly filled everyone in on the interview and the game plan.
"DiNozzo, you and McGee take Corporal Castilleís quarters. Tread softly though I donít want anyone to know that we have those photos until we can figure out who they are. Right now weíre just looking for a UA Marine. Plain and simple. Kate, you pull up info on Castilleís current CO Sergeant OíNeill and anyone else in that department. You and I will head over there."
Tony didnít like the fact that there was no mention of the potential danger to Laura so he piped up, "Boss shouldnít Miss Paquette have some sort of protection? If anyone suspects that she has that flashcard she could be in real danger."
Gibbs stood up and gave Tony an amused raised eyebrow, "One step at a time DiNozzo, right now Iím going to convince her to spend the rest of the afternoon here then weíll see about the rest." He took a second cup of coffee and headed for the interrogation room.
He sat across from her and handed her a coffee and he chuckled when she groaned in obvious delight at the first sip, "Did I ever need that. Iím such an addict."
He sipped his coffee and gave her a serious look over the top of the cup, then asked casually, "If I bribe you with all the coffee you can drink can I convince you to stay here the rest of the afternoon until we get back from interviewing Castilleís co-workers?"
She looked at him and he could see her trying to put together the puzzle pieces in her head, "Agent Gibbs is Daniel in danger?"
"I believe so."
"Because of what was in those photos?"
She thought for a moment then said matter-of-factly, "You think Iím in danger if anyone thinks that I have that flashcard."
She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples and when she opened them she looked directly into his eyes and asked, "You think Daniel is dead already donít you?"
He decided to be honest, "I hope Iím wrong, but yes."
She nodded and replied, "Iíll stay here Agent Gibbs."
He stood up and headed for the door, "Iím going to do everything I can to find him Laura, thatís a promise."