WHAT LIES BENEATH
DISCLAIMER:- I do not own NCIS or its characters and no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N:- This story is quite different from my last two that were lighter and more humorous. It explores a darker, edgier side of Tony that we glimpsed in episodes Bury Your Dead, Internal Affairs, Judgment Day 2 and Cloak and how the team rallies to support him through an extremely difficult period. The story is long and, due to the subject, quite intense in places. Jenny Shepard is featured as the Director. Contains a tiny spoiler for the episode, Probie.
WARNING:- The story begins with the murder of a child and revolves around the subsequent investigation. Please do not read if you feel this will upset or distress you in any way.
Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. He was bone-tired. He and his senior field agent, Tony DiNozzo had spent every day for the previous three weeks, as lead witnesses in a high profile narcotics trial against drug lord, Luca Corelli.
Corelli had been using Navy personnel to distribute illicit designer drugs all over the country. NCIS had received a tip off and Gibbs' Major Case Response team had launched a successful operation, resulting in Corelli's arrest. Gibbs, as lead agent had coordinated and supervised the logistics of the operation and support teams. DiNozzo had been the undercover operative who had infiltrated Corelli's organization and secured the evidence. Corelli's high-priced attorneys had taken every opportunity to refute and discredit the agents' testimonies. A guilty verdict was returned but it had been an exhausting and gruelling process.
Gibbs and DiNozzo had rejoined their team and had been back on rotation for only a day when they were assigned a kidnapping case. They had been working around the clock, yet they were no closer to finding the missing girl. Rebecca Barnes had now been missing for 53 hours. Gibbs knew that ransom was not the motive here. A ransom demand would have been made long before now.
Rebecca was eight-years old and the only child of Navy Commander Peter Barnes and his wife Helen. Commander Barnes had been a JAG officer for the last 15 years and was a prosecuting attorney with an impressive conviction record. He was also one of Tony DiNozzo's best friends.
Becky's disappearance had been devastating for Tony. Gibbs had almost removed him from the case, thinking he may be too personally involved. However, Tony knew the family, he knew the child and he was a hell of an investigator. If Gibbs could keep him focused and not too distracted by his emotions, Tony could be the one to break the case.
Gibbs took a long draught from his coffee cup, forgetting he had finished it some time ago. He threw the Styrofoam cup into the trash and looked around the bullpen in the muted light. Ziva and McGee were both asleep at their desks, their first break in 48 hours. Gibbs let them rest knowing they would both be hard at it again in an hour or two. Then he looked with concern at the empty desk of his senior field agent. 'He should be back by now,' he thought anxiously.
Earlier, that afternoon, McGee had performed an extensive computer search of the Commander's history as a prosecutor. He compiled a list of names of over 300 people successfully prosecuted and convicted during the Commander's fifteen-year career with JAG.
Tony left the office around 1600, to review the list with the Commander. They were specifically looking for anyone who may have threatened him or his family and may have recently been released from prison. Gibbs had wanted to accompany him but had been called to a meeting with Rear Admiral Dennis Holmes, Chief Administrator of the Washington JAG office. Tony was instructed to phone him immediately if the list provided any leads. That was over four hours ago. Gibbs chest tightened.
Reaching the end of his patience, Gibbs grabbed his cell, intending to call Tony. Before he could dial, the cell rang. He answered it with the usual "Gibbs."
"Boss, it's me," said the hurried and whispered reply.
"DiNozzo?? Where the hell are you??"
"I got a lead from a friend at Metro PD. Someone heard a child crying in a vacant warehouse. It could be Becky," Tony explained. "Boss, I think I've found them. I need back-up."
"Tell me where you are," he demanded startling Ziva and McGee awake with the urgency in his voice.
"Piermont Industrial Estate, Warehouse 10B, it's deserted but the caller said….."
"DiNozzo??" Gibbs' felt his pulse rate increase. "Tony!! Answer me!!"
"Boss, she's here. Becky. I can hear her!!" Tony whispered breathlessly.
Gibbs opened his desk draw and removed his weapon.
"Tony, we're coming. We'll be there as fast as we can. Don't move!!" he ordered.
"She's crying. I can't wait…I'm sorry, Boss…I'm going in."
The sound of a child's terrified scream was the last thing Gibbs heard before the phone connection was cut.
"DiNozzo!!" Gibbs yelled to dead air.
Gibbs, Ziva and McGee rushed from the building to their car. He briefed the younger agents on where Tony was and what he'd said. He then instructed McGee to contact the EMTs in case the child was hurt and told Ziva to contact Ducky as well. If the child had been hurt and Tony got his hands on her assailant, Ducky's ME skills would definitely be required.
At that time of night, Gibbs made the 45-minute journey in 25, Ziva and McGee, hanging on for dear life. The estate had been closed down for over a year, the factories and warehouses deserted. The area had been fenced off to the public, and there was a gatehouse at the driveway entrance where a rather perplexed looking security guard watched as they sped past without even slowing.
Gibbs parked the car next to Tony's, far enough away from the warehouse that their arrival would not be heard, but still within sight of the building. They alighted from the car, slipping into their bullet proofed vests and NCIS jackets. They checked their weapons; their spare clips and secured their com-links and earwigs.
Seemingly without any communication, Ziva and McGee ran to opposite sides of Warehouse 10B to check the perimeter of the building. Both reported no sound and no movement in a singular word.
Confirming there was only one way to enter or exit the building, they swiftly made their way back to Gibbs at the entrance. There was no sign of Tony or the little girl. Gibbs' gut twisted. He had a bad feeling as he tried the door and found it to be open. Silently, they entered the building, stopping briefly to allow their eyes to adjust to the darkness. McGee located the power board, flicked a few switches and the warehouse flooded with muted light.
The warehouse was, by and large, one expansive room with two small offices at the entrance and another two supply rooms at the far end of the building. Having secured the front offices, Gibbs, Ziva and McGee stepped into the large, empty storage area, scanning the vacant expanse with keen eyes, their Sig Sauers ever ready.
If Tony and Becky were here, they had to be in one of the far rooms. They crossed the distance to the rooms without incident and their stomachs knotted as they saw Tony's Sig lying on the floor near a small pool of blood and his cell smashed beyond repair. They cleared the first room and cautiously entered the second room - audibly gasping at the gruesome sight.
Tony was seated with his back against the wall, his legs outstretched in front of him. His eyes were closed, his head hung so that his chin touched his chest. Blood from a head wound, caked in his hair and flowed freely down his pale face and his hands and shirt were covered in blood. In his arms, he cradled the body of Rebecca Barnes, her eyes gazing lifelessly at Tony's still form.
"Oh my God" muttered McGee quietly.