Title: Bad Moon Rising
Characters: Anthony DiNozzo, Leroy Jethro Gibbs
Warnings: Angst, drama, alcohol abuse
Spoilers: Various episodes up through season 5 "Requiem". It is AU after that in that Jenny did not die.
Summary: A dead naval officer leads to an unexpected reunion with a missing agent; but after living on the streets for over a year, can things ever be the same again for Tony DiNozzo?
Awareness came slowly to the inebriated man as he began to regain consciousness, shivering as the dampness of the ground seeped through his thin, ragged shirt. The stench of the stagnant water he was apparently lying in began to assault his senses, but at the moment, he wasn't sure if he had the strength to move. His head was throbbing, but he wasn't sure if he had hit his head on the ground or if the pain was self-induced by the copious amount of alcohol that he had consumed that day.
Opening his eyes, he found himself looking at the darkening sky; the sound of the thunder was in the distance. It took several attempts before the man finally forced himself to sit up and take in his surroundings. Looking to his right, he saw the still form of another man lying next to him, dressed in what appeared to be some kind of uniform. He blinked his eyes several times in an effort to bring the details of the uniform into focus, but it was no use. The only thing he could tell was that it was white, so he assumed that the man was probably in the Navy.
"Too much of a good thing, huh?" he mumbled to the figure lying on the ground.
He rolled over onto his hands and knees and unable to fight the waves of nausea that had been plaguing him, he began to vomit. After he was sure that he was done, he took his sleeve and wiped his mouth. Sitting back on his knees, he swallowed hard, hoping that he wouldn't start throwing up again. The man knew he needed to get to the shelter, but right now, he wasn't even sure he could remember how to get there. Plus, there was the matter of the sleeping Naval officer; he couldn't just leave him there with a storm coming.
The unkempt man shakily stood to his feet. He reached in his pocket for his flask only to discover that it was missing. That container and its contents were his lifeline. It was the only thing that took away his pain; actually, it was the only thing he could afford that took his pain away. "Where is it?" he slurred.
His eyes were drawn to the white uniform. He fell to his knees and began frantically searching the pockets of the uniformed man. "Where is it, you bastard?"
The drunken man felt something wet. Jerking his hand back, he mumbled, "What the…?" He stared at the sticky red substance now covering his hand.
A sense of panic began to overwhelm him; he had to get out of there. He started to stand up but dropped back to his knees when he heard, "Freeze! Baltimore P.D.!"
Despite his blurred vision, he saw two officers approaching him, their guns drawn, pointed directly at him. The man raised his hands, remaining perfectly still. He had learned the hard way that it was in his best interests not to piss off certain members of the Baltimore Police Department.
"What's this about?" he asked, knowing that it was useless to hide the fact that he was intoxicated.
"We'll ask the questions," the first officer informed him.
"Okay, so ask."
"Stand up and move away from the body, smart ass."
His mind seemed as if it were in a fog. "Huh?"
"You heard me," the officer said. "Now, move away from the body."
He tried to stand up but lost his balance. Two rough hands pulled him to his feet and shoved him against the nearest brick wall. He watched as the second officer knelt down to the still body and felt for a pulse.
The second officer shook his head, silently informing his partner that the man was dead. "He's a Navy Officer, Matt. Gunshot wound to the chest."
"Better call NCIS, Gary," Matt Wolford instructed his rookie partner. "You can also tell them that we have a suspect for them."
"A suspect?" Gary asked.
"Yeah, a drunk by the name of…what's your name, boy?"
The young man pinned against the wall suspiciously eyed the officer restraining him. "Todd," he answered.
"Last name, moron?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know your last name? You better be thinking of one by the time NCIS gets here."
"Yeah, we've had a few dealings with them. Like I said, if I were you, I'd be coming up with a good reason that you've got his blood on your hands."
Todd looked down at his hands. The officer was right; there was blood on his hands. "I was looking for something that belonged to me."
"What was that?" Wolford pressed.
"A flask. It was mine and I thought that he took it."
Todd winced when the officer tightened his grip. "You killed a Naval officer over a flask of cheap whiskey?"
"No!" Todd shouted. "I didn't kill anybody." He began to struggle against Wolford's iron grip. "He was there when I woke up," he tried to explain. "I didn't even know he was dead until your partner…"
Todd found himself facing the brick wall with his arms being jerked behind his back. He winced as the handcuffs cut into his wrists. "Save it for NCIS," Wolford growled. "You can tell it to them."
This couldn't be happening. He was living his worst nightmare. Todd had always done his best to stay out of trouble, but trouble always seemed to find him. "Am I under arrest?" he managed to ask.
"Not yet. I'm just making sure you don't go anywhere. Now, sit down," the gruff officer ordered.
Todd slid down the brick wall, watching the two officers as they talked amongst themselve. Why was this happening to him? He had done a lot that he wasn't proud of, but what he had done had been necessary for his survival on the streets; he didn't believe that he could actually murder somebody. Drawing up his knees, he rested his aching head and silently wished for a drink.
Jethro Gibbs stared out the window that overlooked the Navy Yard, sipping his coffee as he watched the dark clouds roll in, announcing the arrival of a storm. The storm brewing outside was nothing compared to the tempest that had erupted in the Director's office between him and Jenny Shepherd.
"Jethro, it's been over a year," Jenny said.
"I know how long it's been. I can tell you how long it's been to the second, Jen," he growled.
"Then you know what I'm going to say."
"I know exactly what you're going to say and you already know my answer."
"I'm sure that your answer is going to be the same as the last six times I've asked you, but I've got SecNav breathing down my neck to replace DiNozzo."
Gibbs clenched his fist, crushing the empty coffee cup. "I don't care if the President is breathing down your neck, Jen, I'm not replacing him. He's still alive and…"
"How do you know that?" she demanded to know.
"I know what losing a child feels like," the team leader snapped. "Tony isn't dead!"
"DiNozzo wasn't your child, Jethro. He was a federal agent who…"
"He's the closest thing I've ever had to a son!" he proudly declared. "Don't talk about him like he's dead."
"Jethro, are you listening to yourself? It's time for you to let go of your guilt and accept the fact that Tony is gone," she tried to reason.
He could hear the exasperation in the Director's voice, but her obvious frustration did nothing but fuel his anger. "My guilt?" he scowled. "My guilt? I'm not the one who sent him undercover so soon after the La Grenouille fiasco."
"No, you're the one who couldn't even manage a thank you after he saved your life, and the life of Maddie Tyler," she sharply countered.
He glared at his former lover. Gibbs knew that she was referring to DiNozzo's recent heroics that had saved him and Maddie from drowning in the freezing Potomac river. After he had been released from the hospital, his main concern had been making sure that Maddie was all right; he shamefully realized that he hadn't even asked about DiNozzo. The next day that they were both back at work, he had brought Tony a coffee and nodded his thanks. That was all he figured DiNozzo wanted or needed. The words 'thank you' did not find their way to his lips, but surely Tony had known how grateful he was.
"Don't you dare throw that in my face, Jen," the ex-Marine challenged.
"He went in without back up, Jethro," she continued, "because he was worried about you. Did you bother to even check on him afterwards?" She shook her head. "I didn't think so. If you had, you would have known that he had to spend the weekend in bed with a mild case of pneumonia."
Gibbs refused to let Jen continue to bait him. He turned sharply and headed towards the door. "I think we're done here. Until I get some kind of confirmation, I will continue to go on the assumption that Tony is alive and his space on my team will remain unfilled!"
He slammed the door behind him, ignoring the puzzled expression on Cynthia's face. Gibbs bounded down the stairs and went to his desk where he grabbed the fresh cup of coffee that McGee had waiting on him.
"Everything okay, Boss?" Tim nervously asked.
Jethro's gaze fell on DiNozzo's empty desk. "Everything's just fine, McGee. Just fine."
He fought to tamp down the rage that was still burning with him. Jenny had tried several times before to get him to replace DiNozzo, even going so far as to assign a temporary agent to his team without his consent. It had taken less than an hour for Gibbs to get rid of the agent and Jen hadn't pressed the issue again. Until today.
The sound of his cell phone ringing interrupted his thoughts. "Yeah, Gibbs," he gruffly answered. He listened for a moment and then snapped his phone shut.
He went to his desk and grabbed his gun and badge. "Gear up!" he barked. "McGee, gas the truck, we've got a dead navy lieutenant in Baltimore."
"B…Baltimore?" McGee stammered.
"That's what I said, now let's move!"
Within ten minutes, they were on their way to Baltimore. Gibbs was glad they had a case to help redirect his focus, but he wished that he was going anywhere but Baltimore. Memories of his first meeting with Tony came flooding to his mind as he recalled the cocky police officer who worked with him on a joint investigation. Gibbs had pushed the young man hard, but DiNozzo never wavered or complained. Jethro Gibbs had admired the officer for being willing to sacrifice his career for Gibbs and that was when the NCIS agent had realized that DiNozzo would be a perfect fit for his team.
He heard McGee clear his throat in an effort to get his attention. "Something on your mind, McGee?" he asked.
"We were just wondering if you knew any more details about the case?"
"Just that we have a dead Navy officer and that Baltimore P.D. already has a suspect waiting for us."
"Do we have a name on the lieutenant or the suspect?"
The rest of the trip was made in silence. It was usually Tony who kept the conversation going in an effort to lighten the moods of his teammates, but that casual banter had ceased to exist the day that he disappeared.
Gibbs saw the crime scene up ahead and pulled over next to the parked patrol car. He got out of the truck and began to shoulder his way past the onlookers. The team leader flashed his badge to the two uniformed officers standing guard at the crime scene tape. "Special Agent Gibbs. NCIS."
"'Bout time you got here," the first officer grunted.
Ignoring the jibe, Gibbs asked, "What do you got, Officer…"
"Wolford. Matt Wolford and this is my partner Gary Sims and over there is your dead Navy lieutenant."
Gibbs glanced around the officer to see the body. "All right. My people will take over," he insisted.
"We know how NCIS works. We were told to back off and let you guys handle it."
"I see your Captain still remembers his last dealings with NCIS," Gibbs retorted. He nodded towards the figure against the brick wall of the far building. "Is that our suspect?"
"Yeah," Wolford replied. "He's so drunk that he can't even remember his last name. Apparently killed the guy over some stupid flask full of liquor. I figured that you'd want to interrogate him."
"You figured right."
Calling back over his shoulder to McGee and Ziva, he gave them their specific assignments and began to make his way over to where the lone suspect was seated. He turned to ask Wolford one more question. "Wolford, what's the suspect's name?"
"Says his name is Todd," Matt answered.
Gibbs dismissed Wolford and Sims with a nod and went and knelt down in front of the man. He didn't miss the stench of cheap alcohol on the suspect's clothes nor did he miss the fact that the man's clothes were filthy. God only knew the last time he had a bath. He couldn't see the young man's face, but yet there was something achingly familiar about the way he sat hunched over, his head buried against his knees.
There was no response. He reached out gently shook the man. "Todd?"
Jethro figured that if the man was as drunk as Wolford had implied, his reactions were going to be slower than normal. He waited patiently as the man slowly lifted his head. Gibbs heart began to beat faster as Todd's face came in to full view.
He stared in disbelief. It couldn't be. Gibbs moved closer to the man called Todd and looked into his eyes. The individual sitting before him was unshaven and reeked of vomit; he had lost weight and the dark circles and the lines of fatigue etched in Todd's face spoke volumes about the life that he had been leading. However, the eyes were the same; although they were no longer full of life, the eyes were those of his senior field agent.
With a trembling hand, Gibbs reached out and pushed the hair out of the younger man's eyes.