Lying Eyes Part 25 of 25
After DiNozzo closed the door to interrogation, Gibbs told Wilson to continue. The story he told was the same as Abby's version at its root, but Wilson told it to put himself in the best light. It was all Abby's fault: she instigated it, she provoked him, he couldn't help it. He didn't mention anything about demanding Gibbs' name, or about the names he called her. Gibbs let him get away with it. It didn't really matter. All that mattered was that they had the confession on tape.
"Is that it?" Gibbs asked.
"That's the whole story. So you see how she made me do it."
"If you say so." Gibbs flipped open the file folder and spread out the rest of the contents. Photos of the six other known victims, including Natalie Pharris.
"Now let's talk about these women."
Wilson looked at the photos, then looked up at Gibbs. Gibbs saw the moment Wilson realized he'd been conned.
"You son of a bitch," he said under his breath. Then aloud: "You God-damned son of a whoring bitch."
Which was the only warning Gibbs got before Wilson threw a hard right jab straight at Gibbs' left shoulder. The impact threw Gibbs backwards, tipping his chair over. His head hit the floor, his glasses flying off, and for several seconds he saw stars. The pins and needles that had been in his shoulder exploded across his body. It wasn't pain, exactly, but it wasn't pleasant: It felt like he'd been hit by a line-drive. Dimly he saw Wilson stand up and move past him out of his line of sight. Gibbs struggled to free himself from the chair and get upright. He got as far as his knees, leaning on his good hand, before Wilson reentered his field of vision.
"You wanted to know what I did to Abby? How bout I give you a taste," Wilson growled, and reared back to kick Gibbs. Gibbs turned away from it as much as he could and grunted as he took the hit against his right flank. As Wilson withdrew, Gibbs grabbed a fist full of the bottom of the leg of his jumpsuit near the ankle. Wilson was already off balance, and it was a simple matter – even one handed – for the retired Marine to twist hard and pull Wilson off his feet. The bigger man hit the floor near Gibbs' legs, and Gibbs spun toward him. He swung a hard right of his own at the side of Wilson's head, but Wilson ducked at the last second and the punch just clipped his ear.
Rising quickly to his knees, Wilson grabbed Gibbs' shirt in one fist and used the other to punch Gibbs in the stomach. Gibbs oofed as the breath was knocked out of him. His left arm dangling uselessly at his side, Gibbs grabbed Wilson's throat in his right hand, wrapped his fingers tightly around Wilson's windpipe, and squeezed. He felt the power of muscles and tendons strengthened by years of working with his hands flex and grip. Wilson shoved Gibbs backwards again, landing full out on top of him. Wilson grabbed Gibbs' forearm with both hands and tried to pull it away from his throat. Gibbs held on with all the strength he had. Over Wilson's body, he saw the chair wedged under the door handle. The realization that he was on his own was almost an abstraction.
Abandoning the attempt at making Gibbs let go, Wilson instead went on the attack. He began pummeling Gibbs with punches, even as Wilson's face reddened as he tried to draw a breath through his restricted windpipe. Gibbs took the hits and held on.
There was a sudden crash against the door to interrogation, making both men start. Gibbs took advantage of the moment to shove out against Wilson and roll them both hard until he was on top of the bigger man, Wilson's head pressed against the baseboard of the wall opposite the mirror. He let go of Wilson's throat and hit him with a quick rabbit punch to the temple. It worked just like it was supposed to, ringing Wilson's bell and giving Gibbs the few seconds he needed to force his left forearm up. He laid it across Wilson's throat and leaned down hard.
"You like it rough, huh?" Gibbs said through his teeth and slammed his fist into Wilson's gut, just because he could. Gibbs was breathing hard, and beneath him, Wilson was again fighting for breath. He struggled, punching at Gibbs' sides and trying to throw him off. Gibbs hit him in the temple again and Wilson's arms fell to the ground. Behind him, another crash against the door. Gibbs straightened up part way and moved so he was sitting on Wilson's hips, knees atop Wilson's elbows.
The adrenalin was flowing fast through Gibbs, demanding he to act to put down the threat to his family that Wilson represented. The pins and needles in his shoulder and down his arm had faded under the rush, and the places Wilson had hit him were – for the moment – not even an issue. He knew he was putting a lot of pressure on Wilson's throat, and was close to completely cutting off his air supply. The whistling sound coming with every breath Wilson took told him that, even if he couldn't feel the pressure through the numbness of his arm. It reminded Gibbs of how his own breathing had sounded when he first woke up in the hospital. Which this son-of-a-bitch was also responsible for. Wilson raised a knee behind Gibbs and slammed it into his back, still trying to throw him off. Gibbs punched Wilson in the face, this time connecting hard with his cheek. There was a satisfying sound as Wilson's cheekbone cracked.
Gibbs knew it would only take a few twitches of his arm to crush Wilson's windpipe and kill him. The temptation was huge. He could finish this right now, get justice for Abby, for all the women they knew he'd raped, for all those they didn't know about, and for Tony and himself. He caught and held Wilson's eyes. Volumes of information passed between the two men in seconds.
A final crash against the door, and the chair Wilson had put under the handle skidded across the floor, the door slamming back against the wall.
"Boss!" DiNozzo shouted. Gibbs ignored him, keeping his focus on the man beneath him. Wilson was still struggling, though he was weakening fast. His face was turning purple, his eyes bugging out as he fought to breathe. His hands were grappling ineffectively against Gibb's thighs. DiNozzo sized up the situation and spoke calmly.
"Let him up, Boss, we're here now," he said.
"Get out of here," Gibbs said, not breaking his stare.
"We're not going to do that," DiNozzo said, his voice still calm. He knew Gibbs didn't want witnesses for whatever he was thinking of doing. DiNozzo wasn't about to leave him.
"I said: Leave," Gibbs said, a clear order in his tone. He backed off for just a second, letting Wilson draw a breath, then pressed down again.
"No," DiNozzo said. "None of us are going anywhere." Gibbs tore his gaze away from Wilson to look over his shoulder. DiNozzo, McGee, and David were all in the room, spread in a loose half-circle behind him.
Gibbs shook his head in annoyance, and returned his attention to Wilson. The breath he'd been allowed to take had lessened the bugging out of his eyes, but he was still purple. Just a little more pressure would do it.
"Gibbs!" Another voice. "You have to let him up." Gibbs blinked. No.
"Abby, you shouldn't be here," he said, misery in his voice.
"Please, Gibbs. Let him go," she said. She moved into his line of sight, against the wall to his right.
"You don't understand," Gibbs said, his voice breaking.
"Yes I do," she said, her own voice rough with emotion. "I know you want to kill him. For me, and for all those other women. I wish you could do it. But you can't. And you promised."
There were a few moments tense of silence in the room. Then, with a roar of frustration, Gibbs threw himself backwards away from Wilson. DiNozzo and David stepped in quickly to secure him. For his part, the big man was too busy trying to breathe to resist. Abby approached Gibbs and carefully knelt next to him.
"Thank you," she said softly, and caught him in a hug. Gibbs, still breathing hard, held her like his life depended on it.
Wilson was taken to the jail ward at Monroe University Hospital to treat and document his injuries. Gibbs refused to go back to Bethesda. Instead, he allowed Ducky to check him out. No significant new injuries, though he'd taken some heavy blows that would hurt like hell by morning, and he'd done his shoulder no good. Ducky gave him an ice pack for the lump on the back of his head, and made him put his arm in a sling, since he'd left the immobilizer at home. Gibbs didn't mind: Once the shot wore off, the pain had returned with a vengeance. He'd taken pain meds, but they hadn't helped that much.
News of the fight had spread fast. Jenny, a member of NCIS's legal department, the on-call District of Columbia prosecutor, and two JAG lawyers had been in a closed-door meeting in the conference room all afternoon. They were going over the case against Wilson and reviewing the recording from interrogation. They would be making the decision about what charges to file against Wilson, and how much damage the fight might have done to their bargaining position.
The Internal Affairs investigation had already begun, preliminary interviews with the members of his team already taking place. He'd told them all, as they hovered around him in autopsy awaiting Ducky's pronouncement on his condition, to tell the whole truth and leave nothing out. He would not allow them to risk their own careers covering for him.
For his part, Gibbs was ambivalent. He knew Abby's intervention had saved his career, but his final actions against Wilson and the words to his team – dutifully recorded for posterity by the interrogation room cameras – would almost certainly result in a black mark in his file and some unpaid time off. He really didn't care about that. He only cared that Wilson was going to get what was coming to him. Right before he'd released Wilson, he'd seen defeat in the bastard's eyes. Wilson had known his life was in Gibbs' hands, and he'd accepted that he was going to pay for what he'd done. Whether they went to trial or made a plea bargain, Wilson wouldn't be free to terrorize women again for a very long time, if ever. And he knew, if he ever did get out, that Gibbs would be waiting for him.
Gibbs was lying on the couch in Jenny's office, the blinds drawn, the door closed, waiting for the meeting with the lawyers to finish. He'd waited at his desk at first, but the stares and whispered comments from his colleagues and the number of people who suddenly found some urgent need to be on the third floor drove him nuts. He was starting to feel like some kind of circus animal: Come see the scary beast. Careful, he bites. With Jenny locked up in the conference room, he figured her office was the only place in the building where he was certain to be left alone. He would have rather gone home, but Jenny had ordered him to stay, and he was inclined to make nice with her. For now.
A tentative knock at the door woke him from a light sleep, but Gibbs ignored it. A moment later, the door slowly pushed open. Abby stuck her head through.
"Hey Abs," he said, and sat up. He felt complaints from several places on his upper body, but they were muted by the pain meds he'd taken. At least the meds had accomplished something. She came in without turning on the light.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"I'm fine. How'd you find me?" He ran a hand over his face, then scratched gently at the back of his head.
"I looked everywhere else," she said.
"Even MTAC and the men's room." She came over and sat beside him.
"And how, exactly, did you look in MTAC? You got a fake security clearance to go with that fake ID?"
She giggled a little. "No. I called up there and pretended to be calling from the SecNav's office looking for you."
"Really?" Gibbs asked with raised eyebrows.
"Yup," she said with a nod and Gibbs shook his head. He ought to know better than to ask.
"So you're not hurt?" she asked hopefully.
"A little bump on my head. Otherwise Ducky says I'm fine," Gibbs reassured her.
Abby twisted her fingers together for a moment before continuing. "Are you going to get into trouble?" she asked.
"Nah," Gibbs said. "Nothing to worry about."
"Are you sure? The internal affairs guys already interviewed me about what happened."
"Did you tell them the truth?"
"Yes," she said.
"Did you tell them you asked me to promise not to kill him?"
"Yes," she said hesitantly.
"And did you tell them I promised?"
"Then you did fine. It's evidence that I didn't intend to hurt him."
"Really?" She sounded like she didn't believe him.
"Really." He gently bumped his good shoulder against hers.
"But what if they try to fire you?" Abby asked.
"He hit me first. I was defending myself. They can't fire me for that, Abby," Gibbs assured her.
"They could suspend you or send you off to Antarctica or something," she said.
"They can try. But you know that box of metal Tony has in his desk drawer?"
"Your service medals," Abby said. Gibbs nodded.
"If they try to bother me too much, I'll shake those at them. They've got to be good for something."
She smiled, accustomed by now to his self-depreciation. "So you're not worried?" she asked.
"Nah," he repeated. "It'll be fine."
Another minute passed in silence before Abby spoke again. "I'm sorry," she said.
"For what?" Gibbs asked. He hoped she wasn't going to try and apologize again for any of this mess.
"For distracting you and Tony, in interrogation. I wasn't thinking."
"Yes you were," Gibbs countered. When she looked at him quizzically, he gave her a small smile.
"You were thinking I was offering to let Wilson skate on three rapes just to keep you from having to testify. And you were thinking that wasn't fair to those women, and you had to stop me from sacrificing them on your behalf."
Abby sat stunned for a moment. "Who did you talk to? Tony? McGee? Or was it Ziva?"
"I didn't talk to anyone. " She considered him again, then smiled and shook her head. Of course he would have figured it out.
"Anyway, I'm sorry. I should have trusted you."
"Yes, you should have," he agreed, a gentle rebuke. Abby sighed.
"But it's alright, Abs. What happened was probably going to happen anyway, had Tony been there or not. He was looking for his chance, and so was I."
"I know. But I'm glad you stopped," she said, then suddenly turned and hugged him tight. Gibbs said nothing.
There were voices from the outer office, and the door opened again. It was Jenny, talking to Cynthia over her shoulder. She took a few steps in, flipped on the light, turned toward the room and stopped short.
"Jethro, Abby," Jenny said, surprised. "What are you doing in here?"
"Borrowing your couch," Gibbs answered.
"I was just leaving," Abby said, and slipped out.
Jenny dumped a stack of files on her desk and moved over to her sidebar. She poured a finger's worth of bourbon into a tumbler, then turned to him.
"Drink?" she offered.
"Head injury," he responded. He glanced at the clock on the wall and was surprised to see it was already nearly 5:30. He must have slept for awhile.
She nodded and tossed back the alcohol.
"How are you feeling?" she asked as she set the glass back down.
"Fine," he said automatically. She looked at him critically, then came over and sat on the chair adjacent to the couch.
"Let's try that again. How are you feeling, Jethro?"
He smiled and gave a small head shake.
"I'll probably feel like I got run over by a snow plow by morning. But for now, I'm fine."
"So what happened in there?" she asked.
"You saw the tape," Gibbs said. He leaned back against the couch, staying as casual as he could manage given the situation.
"I did. Now I want to hear it from you."
"He hit me, I subdued him," Gibbs said simply.
"You nearly killed him," Jenny said.
"What stopped you?" Jenny asked.
"Abby," he replied.
Jenny stared at him. "And if she hadn't come in when she did?"
"We'll never know, will we, Director?" he asked with a just-noticeable bite.
She didn't respond. The silence built. Surprisingly, it was Gibbs who broke it.
"So what did the lawyers say?"
"JAG wasn't happy with what you did, but they don't think it's going to hurt our case that much. After all, he'd already made one attempt on your life, and he did make the first move. They feel there's plenty of evidence to take him to trial on the murder and the military rape victims."
Gibbs nodded, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"The DC prosecutor wasn't happy that you promised not to charge him in the three civilian rapes, until legal and JAG pointed out that you very carefully did not promise that no one would charge him, and in fact obliquely hinted that someone else would. Assuming he was read his rights at some point, those cases should be fine, even if the DA decides to prosecute them independently."
"DiNozzo Mirandized him at the motel, and Metro repeated the warning before they transported him here."
"Good. There was a lot of debate about whether to take Abby's case to court or plead him out." Jenny paused, but Gibbs said nothing. "I know how much you hate plea bargains, but I'm pretty sure we'll get some good traction this time. The lawyers are going to meet with Wilson and his attorney in the morning."
"Has he said anything?" Gibbs asked.
"The locals interviewed him briefly. They said he was 'uncooperative'. For now, he's been booked on second-degree murder, two counts attempted murder for you and DiNozzo, six counts of rape, two of battery on the rape victims, one of attempted rape, three counts of assault on a federal agent, two counts of domestic assault, nine counts of making terrorist threats via electronic communication, and several lesser charges including manufacturing and possessing a controlled substance, theft, and burglary." She rattled off the charges like she was reciting the alphabet.
"Burglary?" Gibbs asked.
"It's the old 'entering a dwelling with intent to commit a felony' routine," Jenny said. "When he pushed Abby into her apartment, intending to assault her, it was a technical burglary." She shrugged. "Everything they can throw at him is one more thing to convince him to deal. Like the theft count for Abby's PDA. By itself, it does nothing. But it might add a year."
"What kind of deal are they going to offer him?" Gibbs asked.
"They'll offer a total of 25 to life on all counts as an open. Their low end will be to bring the murder two charge down to involuntary manslaughter with discretionary sentencing and dropping the charges completely for the assault on you in interrogation in exchange for confessions on the military rape victims and all the assaults."
"What about the civilian victims?" he asked.
"If they're happy with the deal he makes with us, DC says they'll take the minimum, to run consecutive. If he doesn't, they'll try make their own deal. He will pay for those, too, Jethro. You played that very well."
Gibbs nodded, accepting the compliment and her assessment of the deals. If his lawyer was worth anything, Wilson wouldn't take the opening offer. But if he agreed to discretionary sentencing and they managed to get him before the right judge, he'd spend at least that amount of time in prison anyway.
"As for you and internal affairs," Jenny continued after a moment. "The initial interviews and the review of the tape all point to self defense, until the last few minutes. But so far, it looks like they're willing to chalk that up to the heat of the moment. You'll probably get three days unpaid at the most, unless Wilson decides to make something of it."
"He won't," Gibbs said. Jenny looked at him strangely.
"I saw it in his eyes," Gibbs explained. When Jenny still appeared confused, he elaborated.
"All the women, even Abby, said he had such nice eyes. After I came face to face with him, I understood what they meant: his eyes were very easy to read. They showed exactly what he was feeling. When he was with them, he was pleased with himself, and his eyes reflected that. The women saw that pleasure and assumed it was because of them. That was the lie. When I had him on the floor, and he knew I could easily kill him, I saw him give in. He was pissed, then he was resigned, and it showed in his eyes."
Gibbs paused, then continued with a note of something hard in his voice. "He won't make something of it because he knows if he does, I'll be back for him."
Jenny watched him, and felt a shiver run down her spine. She'd seen the interrogation tape, watched the last few minutes several times over after everyone else left. What she'd seen right at the end had actually frightened her. She knew Jethro Gibbs was a good man, knew that he was honorable and moral, and was certain that he would never kill someone purely out of revenge. But there'd been something on his face when he was leaning over Wilson, slowly squeezing the life out of him, that told her not only would he do it, but that he might have found pleasure in doing it before…
"Can I go home now?" he asked, pulling her out of her thoughts.
"Yes. Go home. Stay there. I'm putting you on the disabled list for the rest of the week, pending the outcome of the IA investigation. Rest, recover. I'll be in touch."
With a nod, Gibbs pushed himself up off the couch. As he pulled open the door, Jenny spoke once more.
"Between you and me, Jethro, would you have done it? If Abby hadn't stopped you?"
Gibbs paused in the doorway, his back to her, for a long moment.
"Yes," he said finally. "Without a doubt."
He pulled the door shut behind himself, leaving Jenny to stare after him.
...Fade to black...