Disclaimer: I was watching Prison Break, and I thought, "Fox River is in Illinois. And so was Tony's first department." So this time I own neither the plot, nor the characters. However, I do enthusiastically claim ownership for the nickname McStickler. If you thought of it first, don't tell me because it would make me sad.
A/N: This takes place sometime around Season Six, because I hadn't seen anything since then.
"It's clearly our jurisdiction," said Fornell as he and the Major Crimes Response Team slammed their respective car doors with their respective degrees of anger. Tony probably would have just let his door click shut, because despite the fact that he was the one bleeding he wasn't really all that angry, but Gibbs grabbed his coat sleeve, yanking Tony out of the car and taking most of his weight in one movement. Then he kicked the car door shut. Hard.
"Gibbs?" asked Vance. Tony hadn't even noticed Vance enter the parking garage. That probably didn't say a lot for his detecting skills, but he decided he'd done his share for the day.
"What?" said Gibbs. Said, not asked. He always managed to make it sound more like a dare than a question.
"What do you think about the interrogation?"
"I think I'm taking Dinozzo to autopsy, so if you want to have this conversation you'd better stop blocking the elevator."
"I'm fine, Boss. It's just my leg."
"Shut up, Dinozzo."
It was a tight fit in the elevator and Tony stifled a chuckle when McGee got a little more familiar with Fornell than he'd meant to.
"Maybe you should just call Ducky and have him come down here," said Vance as Ziva squeezed in. "He's bleeding all over the elevator floor."
"Oh, sorry. I could take the stairs."
"Shut up, Dinozzo," said Gibbs.
"It's okay. It'll give me an excuse to have the linoleum replaced," said Vance.
"I should get to interrogate him," said Fornell.
Gibbs shifted Tony's weight a bit. "Dinozzo's the one who tackled him. If anyone should get to interrogate Petty Officer Bartelmayo, it's him."
"No," said Vance. "I actually like the linoleum in interrogation."
"I think I have a towel in my gym bag, I could just-"
"Shut up, Dinozzo."
They shuffled into autopsy. Abby, Ducky and Palmer had been playing poker for Q-tips, but when they saw Tony, Ducky clucked his tongue and patted the autopsy table. Tony pulled himself up onto it. He thought about protesting when Gibbs started to untie his shoe, but he was up to three shut ups in about as many minutes and he didn't want to poke the bear.
He decided to pretend he hadn't noticed that his employer was treating him like a two year old. He tuned back into the conversation as Fornell was saying, "It's the Director's golf day. It'll be an hour before we get an answer."
Ziva shrugged. "That is fine. Gibbs likes to make suspects wait."
"So does Fornell," Tony said helpfully. Everyone turned to look at him. Even Ducky, which made Tony nervous because he didn't stop stitching. "What? I would know."
"When are you going to get over that, Dinozzo?" asked Fornell.
"When you apologize for having accused me of cutting off a girl's leg and then biting it, Tobias."
"Actually, I think he accused you of cutting off her leg after you bit it."
"Not helping McStickler."
"You'd be testy too if you were getting stitched up like one of Abby's voodoo dolls."
"Actually my needlework isn't as good as Ducky's. His stitches are much daintier."
"Nice to know my war wound looks dainty."
"Don't be dramatic. It's not a war wound," said Gibbs.
"There, I think that should do it, my boy. I'll just…"
"What?" Tony asked. Then he saw where Ducky was looking. The little white lines that went all the way around the last two toes on his left foot. The pinky finger toe and the ring finger toe. Tony wondered why there weren't names for toes like there were for fingers. Or maybe there were and he just didn't know them. He was only a phys ed major.
He tucked his feet underneath his body even though he nearly popped his new dainty stitches in the process.
"That's nothing. That's from a long time ago."
"Let me see your foot, Anthony," Ducky said, almost coldly.
"Do what Ducky says."
"It's from a long time ago. Can't we do this later?"
Ducky frowned. "No, we cannot discuss this later. There is evidence of medical history not in your records and I insist on an explanation now, young man."
"It's not like it's some sort of contagious disease or allergy to penicillin, Duck. It's just an injury that healed up in-"
"This is not just an injury! These toes were amputated!"
"Amputated? Like? Cut? Off?" Abby asked, and every word was a question.
Tony rolled his eyes. "They weren't amputated. And the bossman calls me dramatic. I stepped on a pair of garden shears."
That was what the boss had written in the official report. Not the boss like Gibbs, but the boss like the prison guard.
When he first joined NCIS, it had taken Tony longer than any other probie, before or after, to start calling his boss boss. Gibbs always said it was because he was stubborn, and he said it with that half of a half of a smile on his face so Tony didn't correct him, but the truth was every time he heard the word he smelled creamed corn and then he got this phantom pain in his left foot that was new and old at the same time, like a used car or a song sung by any teenage girl who had ever worked for Disney.
In his report, the boss said that Tony had stepped on a pair of garden shears and they went clean through his boot. His boot had been intact and three whole feet away from his one partial foot when they found him and then the rest of him, and there certainly hadn't been anything clean about it, but the boss didn't care about that because Tony was just a con. Worse. A con without connections. A fish.
"You don't have a garden," said Gibbs.
"There's a reason for that."
The truth was that they'd been trying to get information on a killer who was taking orders from a con in gen pop. One of those codependent master-padawan relationships that seemed so popular with both serial killers and Tony. He'd been undercover for so long that he started using his cover ID when he talked to himself in the SHU. He was getting deeper in the Fox River than he'd ever meant to, and his backup wasn't really living up to its name.
But they'd sewed his toes back on, although right now he wished their stitches had been daintier. They'd healed by the time the op was over and he hadn't felt the need to mention it to his not-backup. He figured there were worse things he could have lost than toes, but he wasn't really comfortable talking about that in front of the Director. Or Fornell. Or Ziva, or McGee, or Ducky, or Palmer, or Abby, or Gibbs.
"Like I said. It happened years ago. I'm fine."
He wished he could say something other than that, because he knew at least half of them were thinking: child abuse. But in some ways that was better. At least that was damage they already suspected.
Gibbs stared at him for a long moment before he said. "Great. Then if you're so fine, get upstairs and check on our suspect."
Tony put his shoe back on and left autopsy, but he was moving slow because of his leg and the used-Toyota-Hannah-Montana-pain in his left foot. The elevator was moving even slower than him, so he was still in the hallway, just a glass door away from Abby when she said, "He was lying, wasn't he?"
"Yes." That was the boss.
"Why would he lie?"
"Because he's Dinozzo," Gibbs said. Then he seemed to reconsider. "Some of the time."