Kate: How did you get into NCIS?
Tony: I smiled.
I know the odds. I don't need one more person telling me the god damn odds. I know it's been more than forty-eight hours, and I know what that little factoid means to the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department. But there haven't been any bodies. So, I have to ignore the odds.
I have to ignore the feeling gnawing at my gut that tells me that my team is no longer complete.
I want to slam my fist into the wall and scream out my frustration. Hell, I want to head home and go down to the basement, never to emerge. Instead, I hold my ground; I can't show my weakness. Not now. Not if it means being tossed off the case, and there is no way I am getting tossed. Not with that bastard still out there. Not with my people out there, counting on me to bring them home.
I can't lose another family. I should be with them.
I should have seen it coming. We knew it had to be someone in law enforcement or military, someone who was familiar with crime scenes and forensic investigations. He knew too much and covered his tracks far too well to be anything but. All the pieces were right there in front of me and I missed it. I missed it because
I trusted him.
That's the worst part. I trusted him. And I. Don't. Trust. People.
But that smile. That god damn disarming smile.
I let him into my house. I practically handed Abby, Pig, and Ducky to him before sending Fi and Baker off to protect him. And the irony is that the only people in this world that I truly believe could catch this guy are presumably his latest victims. The Baltimore PD sure as hell isn't going to get him at the rate they're going. Not unless some sort of miracle happens or he turns himself in.
I look up as a familiar figure appears before me, pressing a cup of hot coffee into my hands before dropping down into the seat beside mine.
"Fornell," I greet dully, not even bothering to look at him. I know why he's here. I'm being relieved of duty.
"Gibbs," he replies, his voice equally dull. I hear him take a swig of his coffee as I do the same.
"You're not taking me off the case," I tell him, challenging him to tell me differently.
"Wouldn't dream of it," he assures me and I relax a little bit. "Thomas is down in interrogation." I look up sharply. "Patrick Thomas, not Baker," he clarifies, his unspoken apology spread across his face. Baker's brother, the bastard's partner. I cover my disappointment with another sip of coffee. "If he knows anything, we'll get it," he gives me the requisite empty assurance. "They didn't find anything else at the safe house," he admits with a wary sigh.
Safe house. I smile bitterly at the term. It wasn't exactly safe, now, was it? Not judging from the amount of blood Baker left behind. In another cruel twist, it's the first time there's been any trace of any of the victims left at a scene. The first time anyone has even been able to prove that there's been foul play at all. Up to now, the bastard's been too careful. The only thing linking the cases together at all has been the distinct lack of crime scene evidence, and the failure to find even a trace of the victims after they're reported missing.
The victims themselves don't even have links other than being young and beautiful men and women. Factoring in my team, there are now a couple anomalies in that data. Ducky's a solid forty years older than any of the previous victims--forty-five if omitting Fi and Baker. Pig isn't really the right look to fit the profile, either. But Abby? Abby fits the victim profile perfectly, and I may as well have gift wrapped her for him when I invited him into the lab.
"Jethro…" I look up again at the informal address. "Go home. Get some sleep." Before I can protest, he adds, "I will call you if we get anything." I keep his gaze for a few moments and see the earnestness. The last thing I want to do is sleep, but I haven't done so in almost three days now. I've been over and over the scenes at the safe house and the bastard's apartment and have come up empty. I'm no good to my team while I'm dead on my feet. Maybe a couple hours of sleep will help me get a fresh look when I go back for another sweep.
"You'll call immediately. No matter how small it seems," I state my terms.
He agrees with a nod and raises back to his feet. My jaw clenches as he turns and places his hand on my shoulder. "They're good people," he tells me what I already know. "We'll find them." I have no doubt of that; I will search until my dying day if I have to. It's whether or not we find them in time to do anything more than bring them to their final resting places that concerns me.
I'm almost home when my cell phone rings. I snatch it up and flip it open.
True to his word, Fornell informs me, "We got an alert. John Doe brought in to County ER; fits his description." It's a tiny lead, an even tinier spark of hope, but it's more I had a moment ago. I snap the phone shut before he can instruct me to wait for his agents. Making a U-Turn and flooring it, I head back toward the hospital at top speed. I want a chance to crack him before the FBI gets to him.
"Sir, you can't go back there," I hear someone calling after me as I breeze past the triage desk at County. I'd like to see them try to stop me. I push open the first exam room door, but it's not the right one. I'll apologize later, but for now I move on toward the next room. "Sir!" I keep walking even as I pull my credentials and flash the badge at her. I'll make my introduction once I've got him in my sights.
I find him in the fourth exam room.
"Where is my team?" I demand without even announcing my presence. I angrily grit my teeth when he doesn't even open his eyes.
"What team is that, special agent?" he sneers. Playing dumb.
I force out a fake chuckle as I take a step closer, examining the work my agents have clearly made of him. His face is a mottled mess. Probably Fi's work, though part of me really hopes that at least some of it came from Abby. I feel a lump in my throat as for the first time I let myself acknowledge the fact that she's his type and he's had her for over two days. I don't know the fate of his victims, and the possibilities torture me.
"Baker?" he prompts, one of his eyes opening to a slit as he looks toward me. "Perhaps Little Piggy who went wee-wee-wee all the way home?" he suggests, his mouth stretching into a grotesque parody of a grin that holds none of the charm I once observed in him. His other eye opens and he studies me intently, not recoiling even slightly as I take another step closer. "Or how about sweet little Abby?" he needles, raising his eyebrow suggestively.
I snap and am on him immediately, my fist gathering in his gown as I drag him bodily from the bed and shove him to the wall, pinning him with my full weight, my free arm across his throat. "If you have hurt one hair on her head!" I spit, feeling slight satisfaction as his head cracks against the plaster. "I will rip you limb from limb."
I'm almost impressed as he meets my gaze without so much as flinching. There's something in his expression, though, that catches me by complete surprise. Beneath the calm, cocky exterior he's maintaining, I can see it. The devastated look of hurt…betrayal. I'm so startled, I almost let go of him.
"Where's my team?" I ask again, barely able to keep the exhaustion and fear out of my voice. He continues to stare at me, searching me. I close my eyes for just a moment. It's a move that if I'm wrong, could prove to be fatal, but I'm not wrong. You can't fake the haunted look I saw in his eyes. I open my eyes again and look at him warily, trying one last time. "Where is Abby, Detective DiNozzo?"
He stares at me a few moments, and I see a small spark of understanding.
And then he smiles.
Author's Note: I'm new to the fandom and have only seen a handful of episodes past the first season. I say this to pre-apologize for any continuity errors that I make with things that have been revealed about the characters later in the series.