The Iron Butterfly

By Wyndhamfan )

Summary: When Tony DiNozzo stumbles upon a murder, he is shot and left for dead by the perpetrators.

"Sure, boss. I'll do it. I'll drive to some godforsaken outpost to retrieve those files. Sure. Why not? I mean, those files probably wouldn't prove anything, but I'll do it anyway!" Special Agent Tony DiNozzo grumbled under his breath as he got out of his car. For added effect, he slammed the door shut.

Tony sighed, and slipped on his sunglasses as he observed the dismal-looking two-storey building. Located in the most deserted area of town, the building that had the honor of housing every single receipt that passed the Navy's hands had obviously seen better days. The (what he assumed to be) once-white paint of its walls was now a dusky gray, and the paint on the door was peeling.

Sighing, he promised that Kate would pay for telling Gibbs that he'd always wanted to visit Milwaukee Street.

"Minnesota Street, Kate. Minnesota. Where the jazz clubs are," he grumbled. Though he suspected Kate already knew that.

"Hello?" he called out as he opened the door.

Files. Walls and walls of files. Gibbs wasn't kidding when he said that the Navy never threw away paperwork. And from among these mass of files, he was supposed to find a receipt that would prove … what again? He couldn't wrap his mind around it right now because he was overwhelmed by the amazing amount of work before him.

"Oh yeah, she's going to pay," Tony muttered, already thinking about ways Kate would suffer.

He heard some scuffling sounds from behind the tall shelf of graying files and headed towards it.

"Hey? Service, please?" he called out.

The man who appeared suddenly shocked the bejeezus out of him by scooting from out of nowhere before him.

"Whoa!" he called out, holding up his hands in mock surrender. "I'm just here for the files."

The man – strangely out of uniform – blinked then smiled nervously. "Files? Er … well. The usual guy's not in," he said and then ran a hand through his sandy hair.

Oh. Wonderful.His day just got worst.

"And who are you? Is this casual Friday?" A pause, then, "Does the navy have casual Fridays?"

"Er … uh … I'm not a soldier," the man stood up straighter.

"Uh-huh. And what is a civilian doing in a naval office?"

"Well. Uh…"

Tony's "something's going on" antenna pricked up and he tried to get behind the guy. But, as he suspected, the man blocked his way. Tony frowned. Something was up. And it wasn't good. At least, judging by the man's nervous twitching.

He instinctively reached for his gun-

"Something the matter here, Ed?" a voice called out.

The flustered man – presumably Ed – stepped back and Tony saw a man in uniform approach him.

"Gunny Sergeant…" Tony began, eyeing the man's uniform.

"Gunny Sgt Harold Tims," Tims grabbed his hand. "Why don't I explain things a little here, huh?"

Wonderful, Tony thought as he opened the car door. The guy that manned this file museum was on sick leave. His temporary replacement was new at this. So new that he didn't know that they were still on a paper system. And the civilian was a "friend" visiting. That was totally none of his business, thank you very much.

Gibbs. Now, he could just picture his expression when he got back and told him what happened. And then he pictured Gibbs heading for that tenth cup of coffee.

Sighing, Tony slammed the car door shut again. Yes, Gibbs would want him to go through the files with or without that clerk.

Besides, he'd probably make him go back anyway.

"Looks like it's just me and the files today," he sighed. "You're going to pay, Kate. You're going to pay."

He stepped into the office, let out a loud sigh and walked towards the small glassed-off clerk's office at the end of the long corridor of files. No sign of Ed and Ensign Tim.

He was about to announce his presence again when he saw the blood.

There were only three dots of blood on the glass surface, but it was enough to set his danger antenna to high alert. He rounded the corner and entered the tiny cubicle, and then he saw it. The body of a man in a uniform. With a bullet in his forehead. The glassy green eyes had stared in shock as his life ended. He grabbed his gun -

- and heard a loud sound.

Stunned, he turned around and saw Tims pointing a gun at him. A smoking gun.

It was then that he realised that his shoulder and back hurt. A lot.

He lost control of his legs suddenly. Felt them go numb, buckle and then he was on his knees. He touched his shoulder, and his hand came away bloody. Then the world became fuzzy, and he slid sideways into darkness, wondering if Gibbs would be mad at him for being late again.

When he woke up – he didn't know when – the world was shaking. Each jolt sent a bolt of fire through his body and he groaned. The sound that escaped his lips was shockingly weak; it shook him enough to force himself awake.

It was dark. Musty. He lifted his head just an inch and nearly hit his head on something. A roof of some kind … he was in a cramped space… the trunk of a car.

Tony groaned.

Wonderful. Gibbs would love this. I've been kidnapped, he thought morosely. Again.

Another harsh jolt sent a wave of nausea through him, and it took him all his strength not to throw up. Groaning, he lay down limply, helplessly tiding out the waves of pain that accompanied each harsh jolt. Whatever road they were traveling on, it wasn't smooth. It reminded him of the "shortcuts" Gibbs was so fond of taking.

They're taking me someplace where the roads are barely serviceable …Tony frowned. He knew what that meant. Tims and Ed probably didn't want anyone finding him soon, if ever. And judging from Tims' actions, they weren't taking him to a retreat in the woods.

They're going to kill me.

Grimly, he wriggled his hands, tying to find a way to free himself from the bonds. His hands had been tied behind his back, hurting his shoulder even more. Each wriggle worsened the pain, and Tony was about to give up the struggle when he felt the bonds coming loose. Whoever tied him up didn't do a good job.

Groaning, he wriggled his hands free and then slowly brought a hand to his injured shoulder. He was still bleeding, judging from the wetness that he felt beneath his fingers. And the growing feeling of light-headedness, numbness and cold meant that he was rapidly going into shock.

Must not give in to it. Becoming unconscious now would be bad … very bad.

He felt the hood of the trunk, hoping that there was some kind of weakness he could use to force his way out of the trunk. While moving around, his elbow brushed against something hard in his jacket. Frowning, he reached into the inner pocket and … eyes widening, he took out what appeared to be his cell phone.

"You've gotta be kidding me," he whispered. Are they that stupid? To not search him and allow him to keep his cell phone?

Rather than question his amazing stroke of luck, Tony went to work, dialing Gibbs' number. The numbers before him wavered in and out of focus, and it took several tries before he got it right. He berated himself for not programming Gibbs' number on a speed dial. (He wasn't, after all, that keen on getting Gibbs on his cell phone quick.)

It started ringing.

Then the car stopped sharply.

He nearly lost hold of the cell, but he got it in time before it skittered out of sight in the dark confines of the trunk.

He heard footsteps coming towards him. Grunting in pain, DiNozzo shoved the cell into the inner pocket of his jacket, praying that they wouldn't search him again.

The hood of the trunk opened, and he saw Ed and Tims peering down at him. The light blinded him for a while, and DiNozzo blinked furiously before the glare went away.

"Special Agent DiNozzo. I see that you're awake," Tims said. A pale eyebrow arched upwards. "You're going to wish you hadn't wriggled out of those bonds, DiNozzo."

"Anything to make your life more difficult, Tims," he said, giving the man his best smile. He grunted in pain when Tims hauled him out of the trunk.