A father's lost
by: AMS_inc (Send Feedback)
Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 011 Word Count: 15598
Warning(s): Other (See Author's Note)
Character(s): Tony DiNozzo
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Summary: No parent should ever have to bury a child no matter how old or young they are and no child should grow up without the love and security provided by a father. A stalker sets eyes on Tony.
Author Notes: Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 1Chapter 1
Tony was happy, running through the back alleys situated around the University area while chasing a suspect. He thought how the number of people that considered ‘freeze’ a nice incentive for running was increasing. His old coach would never believe the effect of this word on suspects and how fast they run after hearing it.
Truth to be told, he had lost some precious seconds cursing McGee’s naiveté at yelling the ‘f’ word to the group of suspects before the team had the chance of assume position, sending the suspects running to different alleys and forcing them to split. He would love to kick the probie’s ass, but Gibbs would demand his share first. Since he had to observe the chain of hierarchy, he would satisfy himself with never leaving the McGeek forgot the incident.
The back allies were relatively clean of doors and obstacles and he thanked God for small mercies, because he wouldn’t have to worry about chasing the suspect inside the surrounding buildings or evading objects the man could thrown at him. No hostages either. He thought, That is worth to celebrate.
He was thrilled with the chase. Chasing a suspect like this, wind blowing away his hair, sun shinning, adrenalin pumping in his veins… Days like this showed him how much he loved his job. Tony was about 2 meters behind the suspect and was getting closer at every second passed, he could actually see the light in the end of the tunnel.
Unfortunately, the proverbial light also indicated the end of the alley, because he could see a large park in front of them and that would only complicated things. Soon or later the man he was chasing would find an innocent bystander and was very likely that he would make a hostage. He had to stop this chase as fast as he could. After a bust of speed, he managed to grab the suspect and bring him down just at the sidewalk’s end. They ended up rolling down the stairs built it at the park’s entrance.
A little dizzy from the landing, Tony got up and secured the man, preventing further escapes. He was still out of breath while he was reading the man’s rights. “You have the right to remain silent.” He said, picking his cuffs from his back pockets, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. AND – this is my favorite part - you have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him present with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you, if you wish, big guy.”
Using the man as support, he tried to stand up only to fall back on the floor after realizing that his left foot refused to cooperate with the rest of his body. It didn’t look to bad, but there was no way he could take the prisoner back. Cursing McGeek’s lack of insight, he pulled his cell to call backup.
He never had to make the call, because Gibbs voice stopped him from doing so “You OK DiNozzo?” Tony looked back to see his Boss at the top of the stairs, blue eyes inspecting him in order to detect any injury his agent might had suffered.
“Fine Boss. Jerry here won’t be giving any more trouble, right Jerry?” Tony said giving the handcuffed man small pats over his shoulder.
Gibbs rolled his eyes, praying for patience, before forcing the answers from the younger agent “I meant with you, DiNozzo.” Gibbs went down the stairs and offered him his hand, training his eyes on his agent’s face as if daring him to lie.
Looking sheepishly at his Boss, Tony decided to cave in. Accepting the help, he said “I think I have sprained my left ankle, Boss.”
Gibbs helped DiNozzo to sit down in one of the stairs and returned seconds later to guard the prisoner. It didn’t take long to the rest of the team met them at the park with their prisoner safely tucked in the NCIS car.
An ambulance arrived a few minutes later at Gibbs request and much to Tony’s disappointment to provide medical support for the injured ones. As it turned out to be, Tony’s prisoner only had some small scratches and bruises, but the NCIS agent needed to be transport to the closest hospital available in order.
Hearing the paramedics talk about taking him to the Uni Hospital, Tony remembered his visits to Jeanne and winced internally at the prospect of finding her friends in there. Now, he had no intention to ever cross those doors again if he could help it and, moving according these convictions, he physically distanced himself from the paramedics.
His escapade was aborted by Gibbs standing right behind him, “Where do you think you are going DiNozzo?”
“Boss! I really don’t need to go to the hospital Boss! I’m fine, I swear!”
Annoyed by his agents antics, Gibbs grabbed him by his clothes and forced him inside the ambulance. Before closing the ambulances doors, he sent McGee and Ziva back to NCIS and ordered them to interrogate the suspects while he accompanied Tony to the Hospital. He had no idea why Tony was so anxious about going to the hospital, but there was no way he would let the agent return to work before being checked by a doctor.
It was a short drive to the hospital and Gibbs kept a silent watch over Tony, noticing the anxiety the younger man was experiencing as the ambulance came closer and closer to their destination. Only when the ambulance’s doors opened at the University Hospital emergency entrance, Gibbs realized what was bothering the younger man.
“Ok DiNozzo. Let’s do this.”
“Front and center DiNozzo” Lowering his voice, Gibbs said to his ears only “I have your six, Tony! Let’s do this get the hell out of here.”
Those were exactly the words Tony needed. The Jeanne debacle was recent and still painful, but he wasn’t exactly alone. They weren’t alone. Gibbs saw the effects of his words the minute that idea crossed Tony’s mind: his postures relaxed and a small smile came to his face.
Things were chaotic inside the emergency room. Dozens of patients were in the reception, waiting for their names to be called. Apparently, some accident had occurred on the highway and several doctors and nurses on DC area were designated to help the surviving victims.
The short hospital staff was having serious problems to attend the patients and deal with the victims of the accident, also, now and then, they were forced to calm down parents and relatives angry at the lack of attention or information.
Gibbs had no hopes of leaving the hospital anytime soon and, after finding a wheelchair to Tony and ordering him to stay put until his return, he stepped outside the reception to make a few phone calls.
Tony never liked hospitals and seeing the distress that people were showing around the hospital corridors only made him want to stand up and to something to help them. He was particular watching a huge man yell at the nurses in hopes to provide medical help for his sick daughter when a gray haired doctor came strolling down the corridor.
The minute the man saw the doctor, the situation went sour. The man’s actions escalating to borderline violent and the commotion sending the other patients to the deep end. The doctor, probably on his 50’s, must have noticed the same things since he was now trying to lure the man away from the other patients in a calm voice, trying to isolate him and prevent a riot inside the reception.
Everything was going fine, until the man lost his mind and punched the doctor, knocking out the older man. Unsatisfied with his punch, the man moved closer to keep hitting the doctor, managing to kick his side at least once.
Not seeing any help arrive, Tony launched from his wheelchair and put himself in the line of fire. Knowing he was in no condition to fight a man twice his size, he tacked him down as fast as he could and pray for Gibbs to show up.
Gibbs heard the commotion but wasn’t fast enough to stop the man from punching Tony’s face a few times. “Hey! Stop that! Son of…” Realizing there was no way of talking the man back to his senses and mind full of the children watching the scene, Gibbs hold the man’s neck in a fierce lock, making breath a hard task for the offender.
“You OK, Tony?”
“Hey Boss… What took you so long?” Tony said breathless, touching his brand new cut over his right eye.
“DiNozzo! I swear, one of these days…”
A third person interrupted Gibbs tirade by clearing his throat. The NCIS agents turned around to see the doctor standing up at their sides. “Thank you gentlemen, I’m not sure what would had happened to me with you hadn’t stopped him. Specially, you young man…” He said turning to Tony.
He went down on his knees and brought his hands to Tony’s face, gentle fingers holding his head in a determined position to check the small cut. Blood was seeping and the doctor searched his pockets for his handkerchief in order to stop the bleeding.
As the doctors green eyes fixed on Tony’s, Gibbs couldn’t stop himself from thinking about how strange the whole scene seamed to be. Looking more particularly at Tony, he saw him mesmerized be the doctor’s gestures, his silence completely unnatural to his irrepressible persona.
“I’m being rude... I’m doctor Robert Atwood. What’s your name, young man?” The doctor asked him.
“Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo” Gibbs answered a little more forceful than needed “He sprained his ankle a few hours ago and now got himself into a fight.”
“Ouch. That’s not fair Boss! I was sat exactly where you told me to be! I never went looking for trouble.”
“Of course, not! You’re never looking for trouble, Tony. It finds you!” Gibbs went on satisfied at their familiar banter.
Chuckling at Tony’s indignant face, the doctor offered his hand to help him standing “Why don’t we go to the infirmary so I can stitch this cut of yours while your boss here take this man to the Security, huh?” Turning back to Gibbs, he said “I’m really sorry for the trouble. As you may have noticed, we are really short handed here. Nurse Brown will accompany you to the Security office and, once is taken care of, she can bring you right to the infirmary. What do you say?”
Gibbs was surprised by the doctor’s change of attitude, the man seamed to have snapped of whatever spell he was under. Seeing that Tony would get the needed treatment, he saw no harm in letting them go, but not without a warning. “If he gives you any hard time, you let me know. He’s not a very big fan of hospitals.”
“Not a problem, Mr….?”
“I’m Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Tony’s boss.” Turning to follow the nurse, he tossed over his shoulder, “I’ll be backing as soon as possible DiNozzo. Don’t even think about signing any AMAs in my absence.”
“That thought never crossed my mind, Boss.” Tony added sheepishly.
Chapter 2Chapter 2
When Gibbs came back 45 minutes later, he not only had given his statement to the hospital securities officers, but successfully finished their coffee pot. Outside the infirmary, he heard Tony’s animated voice discussing basketball and couldn’t stop himself from hearing the story.
“Anyway, there I was I the middle of the court, four seconds away from the end. I had to shoot!” Gibbs was picturing Tony’s green eyes shinning at the memory and shook his had a little, smiling at Tony’s happy memories. “Now, Pearson - Mercyhurst’s point guard - was standing right in front of me and there was no way I could get a clean shoot. So… I swear Dr. Atwood… I pulled up a Jimmy Dolan shake and bake! It was beautiful! Best day of my life” He finished.
“A Jimmy Dolan shake and bake, you know? Kevin Bacon in The Air Up There …?”
‘And here we go…’ Gibbs thought.
Tony changed his voice and started to imitate Kevin Bacon, “Well, it's a three step process. First, you think I'm going left. But I don't. So now you're thinking, am I going to go right or even confuse him by going left. So I go left again. Now you think I'm finally gonna go right but what I'm really gonna do is... And slam!” Tony’s hands are in the air, imitating the shoot. Faking seriousness Tony concluded “And that my friend, was the three points shoot that made us win the game! Of course, my landing wasn’t so perfect since I slipped and sprained me ankle.”
“You do understand that you could have just said ‘Yes, I do know what to do’, right?” Dr. Atwood asked amused.
“Now, where is the fun in that?”
Gibbs chose that moment to come in the room “So, what news do you have for me, doctor?”
Dr. Atwood pointed Tony’s x-rays on the mounted light table and explained Gibbs that his agent’s ankle was merely sprained, recommending that the young man stayed off it as much as possible for the next few days. Once he had finished, he turned back to Tony and said “Remember Tony, keep it elevated when you get home tonight and put some ice on it. Anyway, please keep it wrap it for the next few days. I’ll be happy to remove the stitches next week.”
At this point, Gibbs intervened, “Thank you doctor, but there is no need to bother. Tony’s personal physician can take care of that.”
“Oh. Very well... Give his name and address to the nurses on the reception desk outside and I’ll fax Tony’s exams to him. What’s his name, anyway?”
Gibbs was helping Tony walking when he heard the question. His guts were churning and he had to turn back to gauge the man’s intentions towards Tony. Staring at the man’s eyes he answered a calculated “Dr. Donald Mallard” and wait for a reaction.
“Good. I’ll have the exams send it to him this afternoon.” Robert Atwood smiled at the suspicious man and moved to pick another patient’s file from his desk.
Seeing that Gibbs was in no mood for pleasantries, Tony shouted over his shoulders a hasty thank you and goodbye for the doctor, leaving him alone on the now empty room.
Gibbs waited until they were back at the reception to resume any conversation with Tony. “McGee is already waiting for us at the front door.”
“Are we going to interrogate Jerry and his friends or should we find the money they stole first?”
“Abby already found it. They kept the money in fake accounts on the local community bank.”
“That’s not very smart, not at all.” Tony commented.
“And apparently, one ride in the elevator with Ziva was all what we need to convince Addario to confess.”
Tony imagined a geek like Petty Officer Addario facing an intimidating Ziva alone in a camera free zone and snickered. He didn’t blame the guy for giving it up. Returning to his conversation with Gibbs he offered “That leaves us to interrogate Summers and my old pal Jerry. Sweet!”
“No. That leaves me to interrogate them and you to go home to keep your ankle elevated and on ice. We will give you a ride home” He said in a tone that dared Tony to contradict him.
Tony, being Tony, took the bait and protested “Come on, Boss! I had a sprained ankle before is no big deal!” Tony said whining that was effectively stopped by Gibbs slapping the younger man on his head. “Got it Boss, but I’ll not be responsible if I die for starvation! God knows there is nothing eatable on my apartment.”
At that, Gibbs rolled his eyes in exasperation.
Dr. Robert Atwood opened his house door to find his housekeeper feeding his wife. He stopped at the door, hurt by the scene. His wife suffered a severe shock with their son’s death and, after struggling for two months with an anxious disorder, she woke up one day in a catatonic state.
Since his son Michael had die from cancer only a couple months ago and having to work to support the rest of the family, Atwood wasn’t in any condition to provide the company and the care his wife Antonia needed. That was when Kathleen came into his life.
The young blond woman took care of his house, kept his wife company and cooked them three meals, everyday, until he had finished his work and returned home. He had no idea what he would do without her invaluable help.
“Dr. Atwood!” Kathleen’s voice broke into his thoughts.
“Hello Kathleen.” He greeted moving closer to his wife “How were things today Kathleen?”
Seeing the doctor kiss the top of Antonia head, Kathleen waited until he was looking back at her to answer the question “She was a good girl today, right Antonia? We took a stroll in the park, made some shopping and Antonia got a hair cut! Isn’t she pretty?”
Atwood gave a tired smile and complimented his wife “She is always pretty. Aren’t you honey?” He touched the silky brown hair cascading for Antonia’s head.
“Well, I need to go. Your dinner is on the oven. She has been bathed and fed, so you only need to put her in bed.” Kathleen informed him while putting her coat. “I’m really sorry I need to leave this early dr. Atwood…”
“No need to concern yourself with that, Kathleen. We’ll be just fine, thank you!” Atwood said waving the young woman goodbye. A few seconds later, the front door closed and he was alone with his wife.
Bringing his wife to the kitchen, he sat on the table and, to break the overwhelming silence, told her about his day while having dinner. It was a habit instilled by Antonia in the small family when their son was alive, that now he cling on it to keep the loneliness away.
It didn’t take long until dinner was finished and the dishes were load on the dish washer, leaving the man to complete his work by finishing the patients’ reports. He wheeled Antonia’s chair to his office and placed along his side, setting the tv sound on low.
After powered up his notebook, he fished the patients’ file from his briefcase, Anthony DiNozzo’s file being the first one on the top of the pile. He picked it up with a fond smile on his face. The young man looked so much like Michael that it hurt him a little and they have so much in common!
Unable to control himself, he searched for the younger man on the internet, finding a few articles on his mother’s death and his father’s many marriages. Tony not showing on those pictures made him wondered if he didn’t get along with his father. ‘Such a shame’ He thought ‘the man has no idea how precious the love of a child is.’
There were brief mentions on his name over Rhode Island Military Academy website, but he only found what he was looking for at Ohio State University website. There, on the Official Athletics website, he found Tony’s basketball team picture. He could see that the young man hadn’t change it all, same irrepressible smile and happy attitude.
Focused on the image, he never saw his wife catching a glimpse of the picture herself, her face morphing into something akin to hope.
“Michael…” She said lifting her right arm to touch the picture. Heightening her voice, she repeated “Michael…?”
That shocked Atwood away from his trance. He couldn’t remember the last time his wife had said or moved. “Did you say something dear?”
“MICHAEL” She said touching the notebook’s screen, tears rolling down her face.
Atwood was terrified: his wife first signal of reaction in months and it was over a picture the reminded them of his lost son. He couldn’t stop his own tears when he moved to brace his wife “I’m sorry, honey. He… he is not Michael. Michael is gone, he…”
“MICHAEL! MICHAEL! MY SON! GIVE ME BACK MY SON!” She kept repeating, screaming for her son and fighting the gentle arms that were supporting her.
“I can’t, Tony. I’m really sorry, but I can’t. This is a different person… he came to the hospital this morning. His name is Anthony DiNozzo, see? Works for the NCIS. He is not Michael. Not him… I’m sorry.” Atwood said hugging his wife.
“NO. It IS him. Is my baby… my baby…”
Chapter 3Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Gibbs showed up later that day, bringing much needed supplies to his senior field agent’s apartment. He found Tony in his living room with a pack of ice over his foot and Abby in the kitchen, unsuccessfully looking at the cupboards for food.
“Hey Boss!” Greeted Tony from the couch, smile brightening at the sight of groceries bags.
“GIBBS!” yelled Abby “You brought food! Thank God. Tony cannot grasp the concept of food shopping.”
“Hey! I resent that comment!” Tony protested.
“And I resent the fact that there is nothing here to eat or drink… Well, except water… but even the water seams hinky in this building.” She rambled on.
“Come on! This is a perfectly nice building…”
“Yeah! To dump a body.” Gibbs interjected. “I brought you enough food for today. Ducky saw your exams and you are on sick leave for the next three days.”
Tony was mortified “Three days? What I’m suppose to do in here for three days?”
“Suck it up, Buster!” Abby said to him “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time!”
“I didn’t to it on purpose Abby!” As Tony thoughts considered the day’s events and pointed him the only responsible for his bad luck, he uttered venomously, “Probie! He is so paying me for this!” Gibbs slapped Tony’s head before he could continue. “Ouch Boss! What was that for?”
“For whatever you were thinking to do with McGee. Don’t” He said looking straight into Tony’s eyes and handed him a slice of pizza. “What are we watching anyway?”
“The Air Up There. Tony is reviving his days in College.” Abby told him happily, while sitting in the couch with Tony.
Gibbs shook his head in amusement and prepared himself to another movie night with Tony and Abby.
Tony was having a dream about his mother and couldn’t stop himself from surrendering to the dream’s sensations.
His mom was there with him in his room and she was caressing his hair, her gentle voice calming and soothing him, sending him to a deep slumber. The same loving way she did when he was seven years old and got a nasty cold from playing outside in the snow. He had developed a fever during that night and couldn’t remember much just that his mom had stayed with him the whole night, singing a long forgotten lullaby. He couldn’t force his eyes opened, but he could call her; his sleepy voice resonating in the room like a small child “Mom…”
She kissed him in the head and said whispering to his ears “Shhh baby…”
Tony woke up gasping in the morning with his mother’s words ringing through his ears. He used his shaky hands to wipe the excess of cold sweat from his forehead, trying to stop the words from echoing in his ears. He felt physically ill, unable to comprehend why one of the sweetest memories of hi mom was causing such a strong reaction in his body.
Knowing he wouldn’t be able to fall sleep again, he rummaged through his drawers looking for a clean shirt and a pair of socks in his drawers. He needed to get out in the open get rid of the energy accumulated during the days he was forced to stay at home in sick leave as ‘courtesy’ from Ducky and Gibbs.
Running didn’t help him relax, quite the contrary: he felt unnerved by the unshakable feeling he had been watched all the time he was jogging. He tried to identify a reason for his paranoia but couldn’t find anything.
Tough the minute he crossed NCIS front doors, the feeling disappeared and he was able to relax a little. It was still early in the morning and the only people around were the security guards, minding their own business. Tony smiled a good morning for the agent operating the scan and put his badge, gun, knife and backpack in the small tray.
He was already feeling better and blaming his recent bout of paranoia to the boredom of being stuck at home for too very long three days. ‘Gibbs rubbing of on me, now I know for sure. I’ll probably end up sleeping under a boat on my basement…’ Horrified at the prospect, he thought ‘Thank God I don’t have a basement! That and the fact that I don’t have the slightest idea on how to build one.’
Moving to his desk he threw his backpack over his desk, powered up his computer and went for the coffee room to look for something eatable to have for breakfast.
Gibbs arrived in the Bullpen half an hour later to find Tony reading details on all the cases he had missed during his “sick leave”. He looked discreetly at his watch to check the time and realized that the younger man had come too early to work.
He knew the younger man could never stay still for too long, so he was honestly amazed by the fact that Tony had waited the whole three days before return to work. He had visited Tony a few times during the younger man leave, mostly to make sure that he had something to eat and company to keep him sane.
Yesterday he had found him asleep on the couch with his door unlocked. That feat would normally earned him a dressing down for his careless in such a suspicious neighborhood if Abby hadn’t showed up a few minutes later and explained to him that she probably had forgotten the door opened when she had gone out for ice cream. Since it was Abby, he satisfied himself with giving her an exasperate look.
It was odd that Tony hadn’t wake up to his entrance in the apartment. The younger man has a keen sense of awareness even in his sleep, instinctively knowing when there were people around him. The fact that he had woken up disoriented and gasping made it even more estranger.
Back to the present and looking at his agent, Gibbs concluded that Tony still looked a little anxious. ‘Probably because he was stuck at home…’ As he went for his sacred cup of coffee, Gibbs thought amused that looking over Tony and Abby was a full time job.
Gibbs was returning to the bullpen with a cup of coffee when Tony phoned him to warn him that they had a case. “We got a dead body, Boss. McGee went to bring the truck around while Ziva is contacting Ducky”
“Good. I’ll meet you downstairs.” Gibbs said and abruptly finished the call.
It was a short drive to Patuxent River State Park where the crime scene was located. The body had being pulled by two fishermen from the river. They had noticed it floating down the river around 6 a.m. in that morning with no id or any identifiable evidence on it, except the gray shirt and black trousers similar to the ones wear by the navy sailors.
As the team spread around the area to process the scene and Gibbs went to interrogate the fishermen and the LEOs in the area, only Ducky and Palmer remained with the body.
“Very well Mr. Palmer.” Ducky said while supervising the young man’s work “Now, what can you tell me about time of death considering the post mortem findings?”
Palmer never got the chance to answer the good doctor as a shot coming from the woods hit the older man on his shoulder, the impact force sending him to the ground. Before the younger man could understand what had happened, a second shot hit the area between Ducky’s right arm and the astonished man’s feet.
Gibbs threw himself over the standing man to protect him from other shots while McGee, Ziva and Tony took off in the direction where the shots were coming with their guns drawn.
Gibbs heard Ducky groaning and looked at his old friend’s shoulder, blood seeping from the shot. “You alive Ducky?” Then he shouted for an ambulance.
“Yes, of course, Jethro. Mr. Palmer, please, bring me a towel and begin to apply pressure in this wound… I’m afraid I won’t be able to perform this autopsy Jethro...”
“Not a problem Ducky…” He said looking at the trees, trying to find anything.
The ambulance didn’t take too long to arrive and take Ducky to the hospital. Gibbs had taken the time to order McGee to come back to the crime scene and accompany the ambulance to the hospital, in order to provide protection to the old ME.
Gibbs’s suspected that the body had being used as bait to attract his old friend to the local, since the sniper had waited his team to spread around the area before targeting Ducky.
A second NCIS team had been sent by the Director to help process the scenes, some agents were snapping pictures while other were re-interrogating the LEOS and the fishermen in hopes they had seen anything.
It took a whole hour before Tony and Ziva returned from the woods with nothing. The frustrated look in their faces told him what he needed to know. “Sorry, boss” Tony said. "We looked everywhere, but we haven’t found any casings or footprints.”
“I can't even tell where the sniper took the shot from without a ballistics report.” Ziva added, seeing the furious look Gibbs’ face was assuming “I'm gonna go take a look over there.”
“What do you think, Boss?”
“That we were lured here and the sniper intended to kill Ducky. The sniper waited until we were far away from Ducky start the shooting. But he missed, which means he or her has no expertise.”
“Her, Boss?” Said Tony.
“Well, I always believed Ducky had his share of ex-wives.” Gibbs said before turning to supervise the other NCIS team’s work.
Chapter 4Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
The team was in Bethesda’s family room, waiting for news on Ducky’s surgery. Tony had done some investigation on his own and, after flirting with some of the nurses attending the emergency room, he had learned that Ducky had suffered a clean shot through his shoulder, so the old M.E. was in no particular danger. He had share the good news with the team as soon as he got several nurses home numbers, his grin faltering for a few seconds at Gibbs’ annoyed stare.
Trying to deflect Gibbs attention, Tony inquired after clearing his throat “heh… Any leads from the Park, Boss?”
“Nope. Agent Atkinsons’ team was unable to find any evidences on the scene.” He said lifting a half fool cup of coffee to his lips.
“Well, when you think about it, it isn’t such a surprise. We couldn’t even see where the shots where coming from…” Tony commented.
“Still, someone was bound to see a person carrying a riffle in the middle of the morning.” Ziva protested.
“That won’t help.” McGee offered “This is season hunting. A person carrying a rifle inside the Park area wouldn’t stand out from other people visiting the area.”
At that moment, a doctor came to family room asking for Doctor Mallard’s family. Gibbs, taking the lead, moved to speak with the doctor, who was already surrounded by the rest of the team.
“We’re Ducky’s family, Doctor. He has a mother, but she is in no condition to come here on her own.”
“I see. Well, he’s physically fine. He is lucky: it’s a clean shot and there are currently no signs of infection. But, because of his age and the blood loss, we’ll be keeping here over the night for observation.”
“Whoever shot him may try to attempt to kill him here, so we are restricting his visits and posting agents at his door for protection” Gibbs explained to the doctor. Turning to his team, he said “DiNozzo, I want you to go to Ducky’s house and pack him and his mother a bag. They will be staying in a safe house during this investigation.”
“On it, Boss.” Tony answered.
“Ziva, keep him company until our guys assume position at his door. I want to hear from you the second Ducky is awake.”
“Not a problem.”
“What about me, Boss?” Ventured McGee after Ziva had left to find the nurse station.
“Back to the bullpen, McGee. We need to check it out Atkinsons’ findings. We need to figure who did this to Ducky. Besides, Abby must be going crazy with the lack of news.”
By the time Tony had finished to convince Ducky’s 96 year old mother that he wasn’t a gigolo trying to kidnap her and/or steal his son’s clothes, drive her to the safe house and talk her out of bullying the NCIS agents responsible for her security, he was feeling truly exhausted.
Gibbs smug voice over to phone had him believing that it was all a plot to keep him miserable and away from work until he got a clearance note from a doctor. Of course, the fact that Ducky would be out of commission for a few good weeks made him worried over what kind of new inventive ways of torture Gibbs would come up with to busy him during the long hours of desk duty.
His thoughts were interrupted by a call from Uni Hospital Administration Desk, asking him to come by and correct some information on his personal file since he apparently had forgot a few digits of his social number. He called Gibbs to warn him that he would be making a fifteen minutes stop at the hospital to correct and sign some papers and change the route to the hospital.
While he was wandering along the hospital corridors, trying to locate the administration officer, he was fortunately enough to bumped in to Dr. Atwood. The older man took a few seconds to recognize him, but he seemed genuinely happy to see Toy again.
“Hello Dr. Atwood.” Tony said smiling at the man, offering his hand to shake.
“Anthony, please, call me Robert. How are you, young man?” Dr. Atwood said while shaking Tony’s hand “Did you come here to remove your stitches?”
He brought Tony’s face closer to give a better look at the cut, making the younger uncomfortable by his familiarity. “ah… Call me Tony! Not really. It seems there is a problem with my health insurance and I came here to solve it. Do you mind in pointing me where the admin office is?”
“I’ll tell you what, why don’t you come to my office and we remove these stitches while one of the nurses goes fetch those papers? That will save you time.” Without waiting for Tony’s answer, Dr. Atwood put his arm over Tony’s shoulder and directed him to his office.
Unable to resist the opportunity to get an all clear from a doctor, Tony left himself be dragged charmed by the prospect of getting back to field work.
“You seem a little tired. Is your sprain giving you hard time at work?” Dr. Atwood asked him while removing the stitches.
“Huh? No, not really. It’s been a long day at work, that’s all.”
“Dr. Atwood? Would you mind in giving me a clearance note? I needed to show at work or I’ll spend the rest of my life on desk duty…” Tony whined.
Chuckling at the other man’s behavior, Atwood said “Not a problem, Tony. I’ll check your sprain and if everything is OK, I give you the note.”
“Come on! I swear that I’m OK!”
“Of course you are, young man. But just in case you are anything like my son, I’ll sleep better if you let me check it for you.”
“You have a son?” asked Tony as he propped his leg over the exam table.
“Michael. He used to play basketball just like you.” A sad smile blossomed on the man’s face “Sprained his ankle every year until…He… he died a few years ago. He had cancer.”
“I’m sorry for your loss! I didn’t mean to pry.”
“Please, it’s not your fault. You remind me so much of him; the same attitude.” He reminisced. “Your ankle is fine Anthony. I’ll clear you to normal activities.”
Tony couldn’t help but notice how lonely the older man seemed to look, speaking over his son’s death. “Thank you. Look, if you ever need someone to talk too… My mom died from cancer a long time ago, but I can relate to the feeling of loosing a family member.”
“You are a very gentle young man. Thank you.” Dr. Atwood said, waving goodbye from his office door.
By the time Tony finally made back to the office, Gibbs was seriously pissed. There were no shred to evidence to help them identify the shooter and Tony had disappeared for whole two hours, which could only mean that he was up to no good.
Contrary to others believes, Tony could recognize signs of danger and if the looks coming from Gibbs were anything to go by, he was in serious problem. He was almost tempted to go hide on Abby’s lab, almost. Any attempt to escape was aborted when Gibbs noticed he was back at the office
“DiNozzo! Where the hell have you being?”
“Hey Boss. I was in the hospital correcting my insurance number when I ran into Dr. Atwood and he offered himself to remove my stitches.” He rambled on. Tony saw Gibbs stiff his posture at hearing Dr. Atwood’s name being mentioned and knew instinctively that the doctor had rubbed of on Gibbs in the wrong way. “I got my all clear note!” He said showing it as a peace offer.
He was spared from Gibbs dress down by a call from Ziva informing them that Ducky was coherent enough to answer Gibbs questions. “What?” Gibbs stared at Tony signalizing their conversation wasn’t over before focus his attention on the speaker.
“Stay with him until we get there.” Shutting the phone without saying goodbye, he turned to Tony and said “Call Abby. We are heading back to the hospital.”
It was around 10 pm when Gibbs finally made it home, frustrated by the lack of leads and Ducky’s inability to help with the investigation. The old M.E. had simply stated that he had no idea who would try to kill him and that neither he nor his mother had received any threats. Feeling a head ache coming, Gibbs went to kitchen and started a fresh pot of coffee. He would needed caffeine to mull over some thoughts while he was working on his boat.
At that moment, his cell start to ring, its caller Id flashing DiNozzo’s name. Smiling a little at the welcomed intrusion, he answered after the third call “Gibbs”
The unexpected sound of an unknown voice greeted him over the phone “Good evening, Special Agent Gibbs. This is your first and last warning… He is mine. You keep away from him!”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
There was something in distorted voice, maybe its tone that had Gibbs terrified. He couldn’t pinpoint it exactly, since it wasn’t the utter madness underlined in the threat or words itself. It was something far more primal that sent his instincts on, the urge to protect his own. And just like that, he knew he had no doubts on the seriousness of the threat.
Now, there was something to be said about Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He was an experienced former U.S. Marine sniper, who served in many difficult military operations. That meant that the man was not only gifted with infallible intuition, but he had the stubbornness and the patience to get his target.
Ordinarily, the man wouldn’t take a no for answer, letting go was not in his nature. Period. If someone was foolish enough to tell him to ‘back down’, that would only guarantee that Gibbs would made sure to participate and be kept in the loop. Everybody who had ever worked with him knew that.
See, Gibbs had learned a long time ago that threats and intimidations weren’t worthy enough to listen and he certainly wouldn’t let others dictate his life or his ways to do his job. More importantly, he firmly believed that no order telling him to abandon something really important to him was worthy to follow. He didn’t back of on important things, like his team, like family – like DiNozzo -, that only made the old marine barge in at full force, like a force of nature.
He called McGee and Ziva on his way to Tony’s apartment, managing to arrive at his senior field agent in less than 7 minutes despite of the fact he didn’t live very close to it. He had try Tony’s land line and cell phone, but no one was answering the phone.
He didn’t wait for his back up despite the fact he had told McGee and Ziva to meet him in Tony’s apartment, it was too much to ask him at that moment. He just broke his own rules and dared any fool to call him on that.
Gibbs climbed fast the stairs, un-holstering his weapon as he approached Tony’s door. He had no concerns on being silent since whoever called him had to know for sure he would come in to check on his agent.
Positioning himself on the left side of the door, he paused a little trying to discern any sounds inside the apartment. When nothing was, he lifted his foot and kicked the door open. Moving in as quickly as he could, he searched the Tony’s living room for intruders, only to found it completely empty. No apparent signs of breaking and entry.
Crossing the small corridor, he checked the bathroom and the guest room, before moving to the closed bedroom door. At that point, he was a little unnerved with the possible scenarios running through his head. Tony’s apparently lack of answer to his apartment’s invasion made it worse and he drew a deep and long breath before opening the final door.
For sure, there lay Tony: completely still over his bed, sheets pulled up to his chin, like a child that had been tucked in. For a few seconds, Gibbs believed in the worse; he thought that Tony didn’t answer his phone or reacted because he was dead and his murder had tucked in his body to mock Gibbs.
Blood rushed from his face and he tightened his grip on his weapon. It took long seconds and calming breathes before he could see Tony’s chest move up and down. He was breathing, slow and steady in an almost imperceptible, but it was there. The movement alone was one of the most beautiful things Gibbs ever saw, like Kelly’s birth memories.
He approached Tony’s bed warily, afraid that his eyes had play him wrong. Right arm stretched, he looked and found Tony’s pulse. Lifting the sheets covering his agent, he found no wounds. ‘Alive, but unconscious’, he thought.
Ziva and McGee more subtle arrived on the scene almost caught him, but knowing Tony was alive made him rational again.
"NCIS! Drop your weapon!"
“Call 911, McGee!” Gibbs ordered him.
“Boss! Right!” McGee pulled his cell and went talking to dispatch while Ziva turned on the room’s lights.
“Ziva, call headquarters and tell them to send a lab team over here now! This is a crime scene. Also, have them check on Ducky and his mother and to send someone to pick Abby at home. No one stays alone until we figure what the hell is going on here!”
“Ambulance ETA is 5 minutes Boss!” McGee informed him.
“Good. Search for any signs on forced entry. Try to locate his cell phone too.”
“His cell phone, Boss?” McGee inquired further.
“Whoever called me used DiNozzo’s phone. I wanted fingerprinted and send it to Abby.”
“Gibbs. Nothing happened on the safe house or Bethesda. They’re sending a team to collect evidence here.”
“I’m ridding with him to the hospital once the ambulance is here. I’ll be back as soon as I get news from him, but I expect you to have finished interviewing the neighbors by the time I’m back!”
“All right, Gibbs.”
The paramedics’ first assessment on Tony’s condition was that the young man had been drugged and there was little they could do except bring him in to identify the drug used on him and wait for it leaves his system. That didn’t surprise Gibbs and he wasted no time in ordering the paramedics to collect Tony’s blood sample for a more thoroughly test in NCIS labs.
They were leaving to the hospital when the other NCIS teams arrived. He briefly considered the necessity of informing the Director on the recent events, but give up the idea realizing that something like that had already reached Jenny’s ears.
Tony was brought to Bethesda and settled alongside Ducky to Gibbs peace of mind. He was watching over the convalescents for a few hours when Jenny finally made it to the hospital.
“I came as fast as I could Jethro.” She said softly not wanting to disturb the sleeping men on the room. “I reinforced the protections around in this room and Ducky’s mother. Also, I’m assigning other agents to provide protection for your team. You won’t be receiving new cases until this mess is sorted out.”
“Don’t you dare pull me out of this investigation Jenny” Gibbs warned her in a voice that promised retribution if she even dared to imply such idea.
“No use in ordering you that Jethro. We both know that you won’t follow that order”, was her calm reply. “But you need back up to do it and you will use it, after all, it is the second attack on your team in less then 24 hours.”
“I’m not so sure about that, Jen. Ducky was shot, Tony was drugged.” He explained to her rubbing his right hand hard over his eyes “and someone called me from Tony’s cell to warn me to stay away from him.”
“I see. So someone is targeting Tony…” She followed his logic and looked at the unconscious younger man.
“And using us to achieve it” Gibbs completed.
Back in Tony’s apartment, McGee and Ziva were getting a little frustrated.
They had searched the apartment and hadn’t found signs of forced entrance or evidence that someone other than Tony had been in the apartment. That ruled out Tony inviting over whoever drugged him inside, but also meant that he or she had easy access to him. They discovered a lot of prints and a single brown long hair near Tony’s couch, which were sent to Abby together with the second NCIS team’s findings. They had to wait for the lab exams’ results.
They had no luck with Tony’s neighbors: no one had saw or heard a thing and the same answer came from the next building tenants. The run down building that Tony lived in had not security cameras, but they hoped to find something useful on the traffic cameras installed on the street.
When they left Tony’s place with NCIS agents posted to secure the crime scene, they couldn’t help but fear Gibbs reaction on hearing their reports.
Chapter 6Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Gibbs could honestly say that it had been a long night and it would be a hell of a day. McGee and Ziva showed up at the hospital around 4:00 am to report him they found no witness and they were searching for something in the traffic tapes. Abby had called at somepoint to explain that due the amount of fingerprints inside Tony’s apartment – she needed time to process and identify them all. She had found a considerable amount of some sort of benzodiazepine on Tony’s beer and babbled on how incredibly smart - in a hinky way – a person had to be to think on something like that, since it was guarantee that Tony would only be drugged during the nights. He hadn’t appreciated the fact at all, because it showed him that whoever did it knew a little too well Tony’s habits.
In the morning, he could no longer denied himself a cup of coffee and, trusting in the two marines guarding his unconscious agents, he went down the hospital cafeteria to unwind. Half an hour later he walked back to the room only to find Dr. Atwood animatedly discussing with a now very awake and talkative Ducky.
“That is truly fascinating Doctor Atwood. A few years ago, I took a trip to study the burial rites among the Ariaal nomads and I found myself intrigued for this precisely particular aspect of their culture. You see…”
The whole scene seamed very disturbing to Gibbs: he had a bad gut feeling over that man and here he was, sitting at an unconscious Tony bedside and chatting with Ducky like he belonged in there. As “Dr. Atwood” lifted his hands to brush Tony’s hair away from the young man’s face, Gibbs realized that he had enough. He walked stiffly in to the room and out his hand over Tony’s head, mentally screaming at the man for even consider touching what belonged to him.
That gesture wasn’t lost to Atwood, who, after inconspicuously retreat his hand, decided to challenge Gibbs by holding to his ground at Tony’s bedside. There was a strange light shining on the doctor’s eyes as if he had not a care in the world, as with Gibbs was nothing else than a figure from the past.
“Jethro! I’m glad you are back! I believe you already met Dr. Robert Atwood. He was the doctor responsible for Tony’s care at the Uni Hospital?” Ducky told him oblivious to the tension between the other men.
“Oh, I remember him. Ducky. So Dr. Atwood, what brings you here?” Gibbs asked him scrutinizing the other man’s posture as he searched for any signs of lies.
“I thought about inviting Tony for breakfast, he was very kind to me the other day listening an old man’s whines. I wanted to thank him for lend me his shoulder.” Atwood bragged about it, making Gibbs eyes narrow in annoyance.
“Young Anthony can be remarkably understandable and kind, even with total strangers…” Ducky rambled on unaware of Atwood’s reaction at being compared to a stranger.
Gibbs eyes lighted up in satisfaction at his friend’s unconscious barb and carried on “And how do you know his was here?”
“The NCIS agent securing Tony’s apartment told me I could find him here.”
‘Ex NCIS agent’ Gibbs corrected mentally. He would make sure whoever spilled Tony’s location to a complete stranger during a stalking investigation would be transferred to North Pole by the end of the morning.
Gibbs felt Tony stirring under his hand. “About damn time DiNozzo!” He said to the awakening man.
“Boss? What…” Tony moved to sit up, by was stopped by two hands holding him down “Where the hell I am?”
“You’re in the hospital, Tony!” Dr Atwood explained to him gently.
“What?” That didn’t seam right to him and he mentally retraced his steps, trying to figure out what could possibly send him to a hospital bed. He had came home after spending some time at Ducky’s bedside, set the TV to watch some movies and opened up a beer and… and what?
Seeing Tony growing more and more anxious, Gibbs told him “Someone drugged you Tony. We think that fancy beer you buy was spiced up.”
“WHAT?” Now, he was officially freaked out. “I don’t remember…”
“That was probably some sort of benzodiazepine, lad.” Dr. Atwood explained to him “It won’t cause you any harm, but that’s probably why you don’t remember a thing.”
“Dr. Atwood here is right, Anthony. It is an awful experience, young man, but we should be thankful for small graces. The substance itself is harmless when compared to others sold on the streets.”
“Like GHB? Was I…?” He couldn’t say it; his mind was going into overdrive…
Gibbs took his face on his hands and fixing a steady glare on the younger man told him seriously “Hey! No, they simply drugged you. I believe you got yourself a stalker, DiNozzo! The SOB called me to brag about it.
“But, who would do such a thing?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll find it out!” Gibbs assured him. ‘And then there will be hell to pay!’ he thought.
Hearing those words from Gibbs worked like a charm on Tony. ‘Gibbs is here, he wouldn’t lie to me or let any harm come to me. He’ll work the things out.’ Turning his sight from his Boss and looking at Dr. Atwood, Tony’s curious nature got the better of him “Hey Doc! What are you doing around here?”
Back at the Atwood’s residence, Kathleen came back from the kitchen were she had been preparing Mrs. Atwood’s breakfast for the last 30 minutes and considering the small changes on her job.
The Atwoods never had mistreated her and were always generous to her, paying here almost double of the salary usually paid to nurses, giving her flowers or small tokens of appreciation for her hard work. She was happy to work for them and started to consider them as family or something as close as possible to it.
That’s why she couldn’t help but notice the changes on the couple’s behavior for the last week. It started with Mrs. Atwood, but that was only normal since she was the most sensitive in the house. The brunette woman seamed more distant than usual during the last days, like she was retreating farther and farther away from reality. Kathleen could barely got a reaction for her these days!
And there where the small disappearances of her to consider, since from times to time the woman would leave, driving Kathleen crazy with concern for hours before she could finally found her sat on the wheelchair at some point of the house or the front garden, like she was trying to run or hide.
Or maybe Kathleen was going crazy… When was the last time she got a vacation?
But then there was Dr. Atwood as well. Unlike his wife, he was smiling and more energetic these days, like he had opened up to the world. One morning he had told her about his son and showed some pictures of him running, playing basketball in college, partying with his friends. There was a proud smile on the man’s face and she couldn’t help but compliment the young man on the pictures.
That had been the first time he showed her Michael’s photos but, after that day, they were placed around Dr. Atwood’s library and kept it zealously behind closed doors. She knew this only because she had being the one responsible to take the pictures to a shop in the mall and having them framed.
Her personal opinion on the Doctor’s behavior must have been easy to discern, because he had later explain to her that his wife’s strong reaction to the photos forced him to hide them in the library.
She agreed and let the whole thing go, no longer questioning the appearance of new photos, cds and movie dvds around the house, or inquiring the sudden urge to leave the house even before the sun arise, or his late arrivals at home. ‘There was something going on with the couple...’
Shaking herself from these paranoids thoughts, Kathleen went to feed Mrs. Atwood.
“What do you think is going on around here, Mrs. Atwood?” She asked patiently to her charge. The woman never answered her, she wasn’t expected to, but her eyes turned to the family picture carefully placed over the fireplace
Chapter 7Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
“Hey Doc! What are you doing around here?” Tony asked drawing attention back to Dr. Atwood. Gibbs internally cheered Tony’s irrepressible curiosity, there were no doubts about the young man on bed was a good investigator.
“I went to your house to invite you for breakfast and take you on your offer.” The blond man said a little amused.
“Huh. Things didn’t work out the way I planned. Really sorry.” Tony replied.
“That’s because you are prone to accidents, DiNozzo!” Ziva said from the room’s door with a smug smile on her face.
“What can I say, Zi-va! I’m irresistible.” Tony quipped back. “Where is the rest of the gang?”
“McGee is at the office following some leads and Abby…”
“ Abby is working on the lab; will come by later.” Gibbs stopped Ziva unofficial report and made her a signal to leave the room with him.
A little annoyed from being excluded from the conversation, Tony shrugged his shoulder and turned to resume his conversation with Dr. Atwood.
“Are you seeing each other?” Atwood asked him.
“Ah? NO! We just work together.” Tony answered a little disturbed on the intimate question. Ignoring the sound that came from Ducky’s bed that sound suspiciously like a snigger. ‘Ducky doesn’t snigger, right?’ He pondered.
Atwood chuckled understanding the situation perfectly. “Right... Me and my wife, Antonia, use to act like that.” At seeing the young man was about to protest, Atwood changed the subject. “I’ll tell you what, since I need to get back to work and you won’t be staying longer in hospital, why don’t I stop by at your apartment tomorrow to check on you?
“It is not necessary…” Said Tony.
Atwood’s hand move to the top of Tony’s head and rested there for a few seconds, while the man looked intensely to Tony’s eyes. The action and the stare got him unnerved, but whatever thoughts were forming inside Tony’s head were effectively stopped by Atwood’s next words.
“I know son.” That made a tinge of red spread on Tony’s face, no one had ever said that word to him with such an affection. ‘Not that Gibbs needed to say, but…’ Atwood’s voice made him return to the real world “I know you don’t need, but I want to. I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?” The man said while leaving the room.
“Ok.” Tony said to him, watching the door close. Turning to his roommate, “What do you think Ducky?” Getting only a sound snore from him, Tony shook his head amused.
Following Gibbs to the hospital elevator, Ziva wondered what was going on to him. She could swear that the man walking in front of her was completely pissed, but she didn’t think it was the lack of leads on their case. Whatever was happening, she was almost convinced that she should have stayed at the office and let McGee visit Tony’s first.
“Talk to me.”
“Director Shepard told us to treat Ducky and Tony’s cases as one and the same, so McGee is trying to ID the body and Abby is watching the 36 hours of video that we managed to get from the Department of Motor Vehicles. She says she needs more time to process the rest of the fingerprints and that the ones she had ID belonged to Tony’s friends.”
They ended up inside an unoccupied room, facing the elevator door. “She knows that why?” Gibbs questioned her while waiting for something to happen.
“She met them. What are we doing in here?” Ziva asked him impatiently.
“Waiting.” She opened her mouth to say something, but Gibbs cell’s rang that moment. “Gibbs. Keep digging. McGee! Find me whatever you can get on Dr. Robert Atwood as well.”
Seeing him closing his cell with no sign of telling her what just happened, she decided to take a stand “So? What did he tell you?”
Debating the possible outcomes of an idea, Gibbs pondered his chances before answering her. “McGee ID the body we found. It belongs to an Andrew Smith, PE teacher, works on a local private school, reported missing for 2 days.”
“How come he showed up dressed like a sailor on the State Park?”
“Someone one lured us in.” Gibbs saw his target move to the elevator “And I want to know who. Ziva, I want you to follow the good Dr. Atwood. Whatever you do, don’t approach him.”
“Why??” Ziva inquired a little infuriated by the man’s lack of explanations.
“Check in every hour!” Gibbs ordered over his shoulder on his way to the doctor lounge.
Moments later, Gibbs barged on the doctors’ lounge and, having located Tony’s doctor, asked to have a private conversation with him by staring the other doctor around hard enough to throw them out of the said room. Seeing that they ere alone, Gibbs set his plan in action “Tell me Doctor, how is Tony?”
Already used to the man’s blunt questions, Dr. Petrov only told him “He’s fine. The last blood tests we ran told us that drug has left his system. I’ll probably discharge him by the end of the day.”
Concealing his annoyance over the fact, Gibbs considered the doctor standing in front of him. Dr. Petrov seemed to be a hard but fair man, one that wouldn’t easily pushed in doing something he wasn’t comfortable doing. He had to risk.
“Could you find a reason to keep him here?” Gibbs asked the man looking straight at his eyes.
“Why I’ll do such a thing?” Petrov stared back demanding a reason.
“I believe he is being target by a stalker. If he remains in the hospital, keeping Ducky company, I know whoever did this won’t dare to came here and try again.” What Gibbs didn’t said was that having his injured people staying in the hospital – a.k.a. Tony away from trouble – he would be free to personally investigate the leads they already have.
“That is highly irregular.” Petrov offered back. He considered the last time he visited the young man’s room and the sheer concern emanating from Gibbs. He gave in with a heavy sign “Fine. I’ll do it, as long as you give him the bad news.”
“Trust me! I have absolute no problem in doing that” Gibbs told him evilly.
Unable to gauge Gibbs reasons, Ziva moved fast through the stairs in the direction of the hospital parking area, losing a few minutes to locate the man opening his very distinguished black pickup. She smiled after concluding that she wouldn’t have any problems in finding the car in traffic and went for her vehicle to tail her target.
Driving around the town following his car, she couldn’t help but wondered aloud “What could possibly be the reason for Gibbs sudden interest in you?”
The man drove to the other side of the town and entered an unnamed salvage yard, puzzling Ziva with his behavior. She debated over step down the car and look around in hopes of finding something useful or stay in the car and come back later with back up. The choice was taking away from her hands and Dr. Atwood drove out of the salvage yard area after spending no more then 15 minutes inside it.
After that, the Doctor drove to Uni Hospital and spent his whole day in there, providing Ziva with one of the longest and frustrating days of her life. She called every hour to report to Gibbs, informing him about Atwood’s visit at the salvage yard and the man’s current location.
She was about to fall asleep and someone knocked on her window, scaring the lights out of her. She yelled an undignified ‘eep’ at the noise, getting more and more embarrassed after realizing that it was no one but Gibbs standing at the car’s door.
“I brought coffee” He stated after getting in the drivers seat.
“Thanks” She said happily as her hands move to the cup of coffee Gibbs had in his hands. A quick slap on her hands made he retreat back to the passengers seat, unable to gather what she had done wrong.
“For me. You, I brought sandwiches.” He explained, eyes lighting in amusement at the sight of Ziva’s annoyance. “Anything happened?”
“No. He is working in there since 10 am, must have took lunch in the cafeteria since he never left the building. He should probably leave work in a couple minutes. Why are you so interested in him?” She said between large bites on the sandwiches he had brought her.
“I got a good look on Mr. Andrew Smith’s face. As it turned out, I’ve met him before.” Gibbs offered her calmly.
“5 days ago. He was the man who attacked Dr. Atwood and got caught by Tony. What an odd coincidence.” Gibbs concluded sarcastically.
“You don’t believe in them.” Ziva prodded.
“No, I don’t.”
Chapter 8HI GUYS!
I’m very sorry for the delay, but I’m not having much time to writ these days. So I decided to post a small update to let you know I’m still writing the end of this story. Anyway, thank you for all your reviews they are very important to me. Also, I know my English sucks, but I’m doing my best and I really don’t know where to find a beta… One day I’ll study English properly to give you a decent story! Until then, please have patience with me!
The photos showed a disguised woman breaking into Ziva’s apartment. Mostly of her hair was hidden under a cap, but you could still see some brown hair falling from the cap. Only the information came too late.
Dinozzo failed to report back from the Director’s new assignment and the Atwood’s house was found empty. There was no sign of NCIS vehicle near the Washington area for long hours until the Police Department informed them about an accident involving an abandoned car and a goods train in the outskirts of DC.
Several years of hard military training prevented Gibbs from pointing the sheer stupidity in the Director’s actions. No logic in sending a stalker away with their intended victim. The Gunnery Sergeant stood silently, blue eyes staring at the NCIS Director for long moments before he made a heist exit from the office.
“You deaf, McGee? Gear up! We have a crime scene to investigate”. Gibbs said, unable to look at Tony’s desk.
The NCIS team arrived one hour after Police Department informed them about the accident. Half an hour earlier thanks to Gibbs shortcuts.
The car was left on the tracks about 10.30pm and a goods train had smashed into it a few hours late. Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs walked the 100 meters that separated the original point of impact from the carcass of the car, searching for any leads that could point him to Tony’s current whereabouts.
He was pissed at the crime scene condition, knowing it was deteriorated by EMT, Firefighters and every single available LEO around the area. The chances of finding any leads were dwindling very fast as Aby’s hacking revealed him that all Atwood’s bank accounts were closed 2 days ago.
The extensive damages of the car did not impress him for he knew that no body or blood was found on the inside; the only victim of the accident was the driver of the train, who now sported a small cut over his left eye.
He walked around the scene without caring about the Firefighters warning against a possible explosion since the damned train was powered by LP gas. Looking at his left, he saw that McGee and Ziva were following his example, flashlights illuminating the area around the collision.
They needed to find something and they needed now.
It was just like the dreams promised to her: beautiful house on the suburb, a big garden, a dog, her husband working on the table and their son sleeping on his bedroom. It was a nice place to her family, away from nosy people, several hours away from that damned city. They drove for hours with their son sleeping in the back of the car, tucked away from peering eyes.
She was finally heading to happiness. ‘Such a nice dream’ She thought to herself, caressing her boy’s hair while he slept oblivious to her actions. ‘You grew up so fast, honey. I could barely see it happening, but don’t worry I refuse to lose another moment of your life! No one will keep us apart from now on.’ She smiled.
As if he was sensing that something was wrong, Tony moaned in his drugged state and moved a little further from her. “Boss…” The mumbled plead cut trough her heart, realization setting on her mind. “Don’t worry honey! I’ll take care of him for you. Shhhh… Go to sleep...” It seemed she still had some small final adjustments to do.
Chapter 09Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
I’D LIKE TO SEND A VERY SPECIAL THANKS FOR SELENE AND HER WONDERFUL WORK AS MY BETA! It wouldn’t be this good without your precious help!
L.J. Gibbs DOES not believe in statistics, since they are all a bunch of accommodating lies. A damn collection of interpretations over data, designed to tell people what they should be, eat, wear and shit. No one would tell him what he was, how he was supposed to act and specially what he should or shouldn’t hope and dream.
Gibbs would tell them, if he so wanted.
Statistically, about 25,500 —of the missing persons are men. About four out of 10 missing adults are white. In sixty percent of cases where a person is abducted by someone they know they are not harmed, but that doesn’t mean that they are found.
If more than two days go past, the chances that they will be found alive drop dramatically. And many of the missing person cases – like Tony’s – are never solved, which means that every year hundreds of people disappear… for good.
Nope, Gibbs didn't give a damn about statistics, tough the fact that Tony was missing for more than 48 hours was quite unnerving. Swallowing his bitter coffee while driving to Tony's apartment, he thought how much forever meant. It was a very long time without knowing where Tony was.
But mulling over Tony's possessions was useless, since his team wasn’t able to find any leads over the Atwood's whereabouts. He knew that, but he couldn't fight the urge to do something, anything, but go to his house and surrender to his boat. He was halfway across town when his cell rang, flashing DiNozzo in red.
“Gibbs.” He answered, almost unable to hide the hope in his voice.
“I don't have much time Special Agent Gibbs, so I need you to listen to me.” Atwood said. “I'm leaving this cell on for you to trace Tony’s whereabouts”.
That sent chills over Gibbs spine. No kidnapper ever revealed the location like that, unless...“What the hell did you do to him??! You…” Gibbs said livid.
“I don't have time or energy to explain anything to you. You want to help him? Come alone and quick. We don't have much time to spare.” Atwood's tirade ended.
Gibbs heard the cell being thrown on the floor and started to hear voices over the speaker. Frantically, he searched for a pay phone on the street, all the while keeping his attention on the conversation he could overhear threw the line.
“Robert?” A woman called.
“What are you doing here, alone? Don't you want to help me make dinner?”
“Of course, dear. I just needed sometime to consider our chances.”
Gibbs finally found a damn pay phone a few blocks later, screeching his car to a stop in the middle of the street and getting Abby over the phone.
“It's your dime” Abby greeted.
“Gibbs!! Where are you? I was looking for you all over the...”
“Not now Abby! Look for the trace you put on Tony's old cell! NOW!! It's still on!” Gibbs shouted.
“I'm doing it!! I'm doing it!” Abby typed on her computer, kicking McGee out from her desk. “It's a residential area an hour away from DC, Gibbs!” She said after a few seconds.
“Give me the exact address!” He said holding his cell and listening as the couple’s discussion got heated.
“What do you mean, Robert? We have our son back; we have enough money to pay the bills, a lovely house...” Antonia reasoned.
“Stop it! He isn't... I... That young man is not our son, Antonia. I wish he was, but he isn't. We can't...”
“Yes, we can! He belongs to us now! You told me he never had a real family, remember? We can be his family!”
“But he won't accept us, dear. He won't! And we kidnapped him!”
“NO! You hear me! We brought him into our home! He will see that! He will love us as his parents” She said, tears running down her face. “Please, Robert...! Don't give our family up! Please! I can't loose him again! I can't!”
Her hopeful voice broke Atwood's heart and he cursed his family's bad luck. “Listen to me, honey: what can we do? We can't keep him sedated for the rest of his life, it will kill him! And we can't keep hiding from the police.”
A 35 minutes drive at break-neck velocity got Gibbs in the address that Abby provided. A lovely suburb just outside of DC, more specifically a big house, surrounded by an even bigger garden. A place isolated enough to keep other neighbors at bay without raising suspicions or hearing screaming fight between a couple.
Gibbs refused to hang up his cell, extracting as much information as he could from the fight he had heard over the phone. Also, he couldn't bring himself to shut down the last connection he had with Tony's location, despite of the fact he already had an address to find him.
He parked outside the house and went to check his gun for ammunition. He would be flying solo for now, since there was n way he would wait another 25 minutes for his backup to arrive. Grabbing a lantern from the back of the car, he pocket his cell and went for the house.
All the lights were turned of, except by a single room in the first floor, so he approached it carefully, recognizing the trap for it was. A silent walk around the house showed him that there was someone on first floor, making small noises while walking.
As the person seamed to move for the front door, Gibbs moved faster for the opposite side, deciding to find Tony first and bring him to a safer place while his backup didn't arrived. Judging by the Atwood's discussion, he was willing to admit that the doctor had changed his mind over the kidnapped, but there was no proof the man hadn't set him up. He just had to wait and see.
When the kitchen door opened up at his touch, Gibbs' doubts on been set up found all the prove they needed. The moonlight shone through the windows, showing him an untouched dinner table set for two persons.
The minutes ticked away, while Gibbs searched the house for its inhabitants. He had checked the kitchen and the small storage room he had found in there with no luck, the only places missing were a room placed a few meters away from the kitchen and the living room.
Trying to locate the source of the sounds he was hearing before, he moved closer to the the room. His guts churned when his hand touched the door, warning about the immediate danger he was about to face.
All the sudden, something clicked inside the room – probably a riffle, he thought – and seconds later a small cry of pain. Using the momentum, he opened the door and got inside the room only to see a person in front of the window.
“NCIS! PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE!” When the figure standing against the window didn't move, Gibbs realized that there was someone else inside the room. By then, he could only feel the shot sending him back to the corridor and towards the wall, his head knocking merciless on it in his way down..
Antonia moved from her spot after she heard the man fell to the floor, blood coating the corridor's wall all the way down to the man's head. She looked one more time to her late husband and placed a chaste kiss over his face. Robert Atwood's body was hanging just aside his desk. She knew it was a fitting place for him, who dedicated all his life to his family and his work.
He would explain to Michael how his father gave up his life protecting their small family later. How brave her husband was giving up his life so his beloved wife and son could scape from their enemies. She knew Michael would always cherished this memory.
Bringing her riffle with her, she stepped over the man's dead body and ran to the upper floor. She didn't have much time to bring their bags and Michael to the car. Already sedated the young man was kept in his room to prevent him from noticing the traumatic events of that night.
After checking that he was alright, Antonia wasted no time in grabbing some of the bags she had stored and carry to the car inside the garage.
Chapter 10Chapter 15
Gibbs was forced back into awareness when an unconscious move jarred his injured shoulder. Fighting against the blackness blurring his vision, he tried to stand up. The pain his his shoulder increased. He fought hard to stay awake, swallowing a gasp of pain.
He remembered being shot – by a desperate house wife no less. He would never live to hear the end of that story. Knocked his head on the wall. small concussion, He guessed by the way things were dancing around his vision. He couldn't have been unconscious for long, since McGee and Ziva hadn't arrived yet.
He needed to get to Tony and take care of Atwood's wife! Sitting on the floor he searched his backup gun and moved to stand up. Gibbs could hear something heavy being dragged upstairs.. He had to move fast. Bracing himself against the pain he reentered the room and found Robert Atwood's body hanging from a rope attached to the ceiling.
His eyes were closed and he had no pulse, but there was no apparent wound. Gibbs guessed his wife didn't approve of his change of heart. He had called Gibbs, but it had probably cost the poor bastard's life. With one less problem to worry about, Gibbs turned back to the corridor and waited.
As in cue, Antonia's head showed up in the top of the stairs, her attention completely focused on the task at hand. For what it seamed like a lifetime, Gibbs, watched her dragging something down the stairs, fearing it was Tony's body. He exaled in relief the minute he spotted the bags on the floor, all of them too small to carry an adult body.
Hidden in the room, he saw her moving to the front door and closing it softly behind her, he guessed she was gathering her belongings to run away before the police could arrive. After all, the garden couldn't stop any neighbor from hearing the shot.
He waited for a few more seconds before taking the opportunity to reach the second floor. He wanted to get Tony into a secure position and barricade both of them in there until the backup arrived. He had lost too much blood to have a clean shot and couldn't loose this chance of getting Tony back. There wouldn’t be a next time, specially now that Robert Atwood was dead.
He found Tony on the last bedroom, completely out of it. He hazarded that no amount of head slaps seamed to bring him back to consciousness. With his shoulder injured, Gibbs couldn't take the younger man anywhere. which left him to come up with something to protect themselves against Tony’s captor and fast!
He would have sworn out loud if he hadn’t heard the front door being closed in that exact moment.
Antonia took her time to collect herself once she was back in the house. It had taken too long, but now that the bags were in the van, she could worry about how to bring Tony downstairs.
She was pondering her problem while standing at the bottom of the stairs when she looked into her husband's office, only to notice the corridor's floor was empty. Unable to grasp what her eyes showed her, she moved closer, trying and failing to see Gibbs’s body.
Her blood went cold at the realization that the horrible man was alive. Her mind went blank! She couldn't remember where she had left her rifle and looked around frantically, trying to find something to protect herself and Michael. Running to the kitchen, she grabbed the first knife she found and went back to the leaving room.
That man could only be upstairs, and there was absolutely no way she would allow him to take her son away. Not again. Steeling herself, she went back to the second floor, holding the knife in front of her.
Antonia noticed a small trail of blood on the second floor, leading to her son's bedroom. The house was completely quiet except for her footsteps resounding trough the wooden floors. All that silence made her realize how much she had lost already, Robert wasn't there to support and love her. There was no one, no one but Michael. She needed to remain strong for her son!
She opened bedroom’s door afraid of hat she would find inside. The lights had been turned off and she couldn’t see anything, what forced her to enter the room and look for the light switch. She passed the knife to her left hand and pressed her right hand to the wall, trying to find lightswitch.
She was shaking; her heart was beating fast on her chest, her eyes wide with panic. She cried in relieve the minute she turned the lights on and saw Michael sleeping on his bed. Sobbing uncontrollably, she missed Gibbs coming from behind her, by the time she noticed the barrel of a gun close to her head and the safety being turned off, the ex Gunnery Sergeant was calmly ordering “Drop the knife. It's over.”
She turned around and saw the man, bleeding from his left arm and leaning on the bedroom's door for support. The knife waved in her left hand while she weighted her opponent and her options. Staring in those hard blue eyes, so different from her husband’s and son’s, she concluded she had very little to loose.
Gibbs hid in one the other rooms, hoping to stop the insane woman the minute she showed up to check on Tony. He saw her following his bloody trail and enter the bedroom. Saw her despair and heard her cry.
By the time he went back to the room he was feeling dizzy and nauseated by the blood loss and knew he only had two options: convince her to surrender or shoot her. He wasn't sure which exit Antonia Atwood would choose, but he would be prepared.
When Antonia finally turned around to face him, he saw an array of emotions swimming in her eyes. Tears stroke down her face and her hand shook, making the knife move a few inches at every second. The woman was at the end of her game and he wondered how close he had been , to being on her shoes when Kelly died.
Gibbs vision blurred a little – from blood loss or suppressed tears, he would never know – and in the next moment Antonia made her decision. She launched herself against him, the knife pointing to his jugular. A shot was fired and the woman flew back. Blood seeping to the floor, the knife slid trough the floor and came to a halting stop at Gibbs feet. He looked it, trying to understand what exactly happened while swaying at the bedroom's door.
Tony moaned and shifted in the bed, gaining Gibbs attention. He came closer to the bed and held the young man's hand. He sat like that waiting for his team to arrive, whispering to Tony that it was over, that everything was going to be alright, trying very hard to convince himself.
There were a few things in life that Tony would take to his grave. This was one of them. And for some inexplicable reason it was fitting. Tought, not one membrer of his team would agreed to it, what was probably a good thing he had sneaked out of the hospital without telling anyone.
Gibbs had just left for his moring PT session scorted by Ducky when he read the news on the paper that someone had left over his bed. It was no bigger then a foot note, but he knew he had to do it and no amount of threating, bribing or whining would help. So he left a note on Gibbs bed telling he had an important apointment and left the hospital by the service door. It only took him a phone call to get a ride to his current location and some unexpected phisical effort to find the exact spot, but here he was, out of breath, out of his mind, in a soon to be world of trouble with Gibbs, but facing the Atwood's grave site.
He supposed he needed some sort of closure and his team members – with all their fussing - couldn't provide him that. Their perspective was different. Hell... he had no perspective of things. At least, not this time...
He shivered remembering his last concious thoughts before the drug Mrs. Atwood injected him knocked him out for good: his body went numb and he bareally could speak, but nightmares would never let him forgot the woman's glassed eyes looking at him, telling him that they would be a family now and that no one would tear them apart. Apart from that, he had no recollection from the time he was under the Atwood's care, wich disturbed him in more ways that he could count. He had slept to wake up in a hospital bed, alongside a grouching and recovering Gibbs.
“It figures... only a psico would want me as a son...” His self-deprecating thought reached a stunning halt with a rapid series of head slaps raining on his head.
“What. The Hell. were you thinking, Dinozzo??? Do you have any idea what this little escaped of your caused? I had to stop Abby from calling the FBI again!” He yelled while he moved to stand in front of the younger man to better access his phisical and – more important – mental condition. He had noticed how Tony seamed less talkative since he was told what had happened since his kidnapping untill his rescue by Gibbs. His mood only got worse when he was told that Robert Atwood had sacrificed his life revealling his location and how Gibbs got shot in sholder.
He had waited for Tony to open up on the subject, but it got him nothing. Not even Abby managed to get him out of “dark place” as the Goth called it. He would probably waited a little longer if he hadn't hear what the young italian said about himself. That sort of thing called for action! “I want straight answers Dinozzo!”
“Boss, I... I don't know... I...” Tony stammered, a multitude of thoughts crossing his mind.
Gibbs gentled down his tone “What you don't know Tony?”
“Why? He lost his life and...” a single tear slipped unnoticed by him “It was a nice family, boss... I... why my father... Why wouldn't he...”
Gibbs saved him from keep going by getting his hand on Tony's neck and pulling him closer. He hugged the younger man he loved like a son. “I don't have any answers on your father Tony, but you get this straight: they were not your family, they never were... We got you first, get it?”
Tony lifted his head to look Gibbs in his eyes, he needed this, to understand that he hadn't lost someting he thought he never had. He took a long breath an noded his head “Got it, boss.”
“Good! Now, you are on your own.” Gibbs declared while stepping out a little.
Stunned, Tony looked over to see a NCIS' car come to a screeching hault in front of the cemetery and his team members leaving the vehicle looking extremely pissed at him. He could already feel his ears warming up to Ducky and Abby's lectures while Ziva and McGee looked like they would never leave him ou of sight. “Boss...” he whined
“Your mess Tony. You clean it out. Besides, don't think they're your only concerns... You still need to make it up to me and Director Shepard...” Gibbs announced already hearing Ducky and Abby outrageous expressions.
At seeing his family little get toghether, a smirked blossom on Gibbs' face. 'Yup, no normal family could handle our Tony...”
MTAC - NCIS Fic