A gunshot punctuated the final notes of Frédéric Chopin's Nocturne in C Sharp Minor. Tony's gun was in his hand before he hit the stage of the Hippodrome Theater. He had seen his partner leave the room to answer his cellphone, and he knew that taking down the shooter was on his shoulders. Tony couldn't believe that his partner had left him alone. His cellphone should have been turned off. It was a theater, for God's sake. The ring tone had ruined Tony's favorite passage.
During the second half of the nocturne, two men had entered the theater and stood against the back wall. Tony shot glances at them over the top of the piano, as his fingertips struck the ivory keys. One man had a short beard and a class ring. The other one had silver hair and a coffee cup. Both had guns. Their entrances had been staggered, and Tony hadn't known which man was Victor Hosig until the one wearing a class ring drew a Glock from his belt. Tony had reacted a second too late. He felt a stinging sensation in his arm. It was just a graze, but it was bleeding enthusiastically. In the back of his mind, Tony registered the screams of the audience members as they struggled to reach the exit.
The stage was bright from the overhead lights. Tony knelt in the glare, and aimed his gun at Victor Hosig, but he was already on the ground. Tony didn't remember hearing a second gunshot, but he was a little distracted by the pain in his arm. The man with the silver hair was holstering a SIG Sauer. Tony aimed his gun at him instead.
"Drop your weapon," he said. "Baltimore PD."
"Special Agent Gibbs," said the man with the silver hair, flipping open his badge with his left hand. He was still holding the paper cup of coffee in his right hand. Tony could smell the Italian roast over the dust of the theater and the lingering sweat of the audience. "I work for NCIS."
"I don't understand," said Tony.
"NCIS stands for..."
"I understand that part."
A short man carrying a black bag entered the concert hall, and said, "Gibbs? Are you finished shooting people?"
"The body is over there," Gibbs pointed to Victor Hosig. He didn't break his eye contact with Tony.
The short man knelt next the corpse and withdrew a liver probe from his black bag. He stuck it into Victor Hosig's abdomen before turning to Tony. "Hello," he waved across the empty theater. "My name is Dr. Mallard."
Tony didn't know what to say, but he was saved from the trouble of deciding when his partner followed Dr. Mallard into the theater. He said, "What the hell happened?"
Tony didn't answer him. Instead, he asked Gibbs, "What does my case have to do with the Navy?"
"The second victim was identified as a petty officer. Your captain called me," said Gibbs.
"Captain Patterson didn't tell me that he called a Fed."
"Maybe Captain Thomas didn't give you a heads up because you don't know his name."
Tony laughed, and finally lowered his gun.
Gibbs walked past the empty seats, and climbed up onto the stage. "I need an officer to read me in on the case," he said.
Tony met his eyes for a long minute. He nodded. "Mark Astor heads a drug cartel. His business associates requested that he retire, and when he failed to acquiesce, they targeted his family. He turned himself in to Baltimore PD in order to secure protection for his wife, his sister and son. Captain Thomas thought that Victor Hosig," Tony waved a hand to indicate the corpse that Dr. Mallard was talking to, "would try to kill Astor's son when he played Chopin at the recital tonight."
He turned around to search the stage for the bullet that had torn through his upper arm. He saw the reflection of light on metal, and started to reach for the slug when he realized that he wasn't wearing gloves. He glanced at Gibbs. The white fingers of a pair of latex gloves were visible above the hem of Gibbs' pocket. Tony stole them without deviating from his monologue. Gibbs didn't react, but Tony thought he saw his hand spasm.
"I look a lot like Astor's son," he said, stretching the gloves over his hands. "Same bone structure."
Tony picked up the bullet and climbed off the stage. He handed the slug to Dr. Mallard, who accepted it with a nod. He was conversing with Tony's partner, who looked like he wanted to interrupt. Now and again, Dr. Mallard would address Victor Hosig instead of Tony's partner.
"You pretended to be Astor's son, and waited for Hosig to shoot you?" Gibbs asked, from the stage. His voice echoed off the walls. Tony walked up the aisle, so that he wouldn't need to shout. A member of the audience had left his silk scarf on the red velvet cushion of his first row seat. Tony picked it up, and sat down in the empty chair.
"I was wearing a vest," he said. His voice sounded defensive to his own ears.
Gibbs took the silk from Tony's hands and knelt on the carpet in front of him. The NCIS agent started to bind Tony's injured arm. Tony stiffened for a moment, but he leaned forward. Gibbs wrapped his hand around the curve of Tony's shoulder as he tied off the cloth.
"Hosig is dead, and we don't have a lead unless Dr. Mallard finds one on the body," said Tony.
"You need to go to a hospital," said Gibbs.
"First we need to identify Hosig's car," said Tony, "and find his address, and talk to his neighbors, and..." He trailed off when he saw the expression on Gibbs' face. "What?" he asked.
"I don't want to fight you for a body and a handful of drug addicted businessmen, but I will," said Tony. "I had to take photos of a girl's corpse last week. The Medical Examiner found crack in her system, and I know that Hosig fixed the price on cocaine. You can have the credit, and you can have the lead, but I want in."
"It's my jurisdiction," said Gibbs.
"I know. I'm sorry, but I want in."
Gibbs stood up. He grasped Tony's hand, and pulled him to his feet, before reaching up and hitting the Baltimore officer on the back of the head.
"What was that for?" Tony asked.
"Don't apologize," said Gibbs. "It's a sign of weakness. What's your name?"
"Dinozzo. I hope you can investigate as well as you can play the piano."
"My piano teacher hit me every time I made a mistake."
"I'll keep that in mind."