Tony stood in front of the bathroom mirror in his apartment, adjusting his tie and thinking back over the last week and a half, which had flown by faster than Gibbs' driving. It had been a strange mix. There'd been good times – the days he spent with Abby searching for a new apartment in D.C., when they had laughed until their sides hurt, bad times – the afternoon he'd gone to his old precinct to clean out his desk and had run into Dawson, who'd been his most nasty, and heady times – the hours he spent with Gibbs, late at night, when they made love and then lay sated in the bed together, pressed close, silent but satisfied. Now it was 5:00 a.m., on Wednesday, July 25th, and he was getting ready to start his first day as an NCIS agent. Well, an agent in training, actually, until he completed the required courses at FLETC; but because another FLETC session wasn't scheduled until the beginning of August, and Gibbs' team was shorthanded, and about to become even more so, since today was Liz Templeton's last day, Director Morrow had decreed that Tony could begin early, as long as he remained on desk duty. Tony gave his reflection one last glance, then, satisfied with what he saw, he turned and went into his living room, dodging the stacks of cardboard boxes that lay scattered across the floor, into which he'd spent the last few days packing his possessions.
On Friday evening he and Abby had finally found an apartment that suited him. It was in an old building on the south side of town, on the fourth floor of a five story, brick building, painted white, which had faded to a pale grey with age. Flowering vines spread out across the surface, and Tony had been instantly charmed. There was an elevator, which had been out of service, although the super had assured Tony the repairmen would be there the next day. When the door to #4B was unlocked, and Tony got his first look at the apartment, he knew they'd found it. The floor was covered with wide rich oak planks, and the walls had been recently repainted in a warm ecru. The ceiling, which was at least ten feet high, coved over the main room, but what really caught and held Tony's attention were the double set of floor to ceiling windows, that looked out over a small courtyard at the back of the building. "This is perfect! I'll take it," he told the super, after he'd taken three steps into the room.
"After we see the rest, of course," Abby had quickly added, elbowing Tony sharply in the side, hoping to snap him out of the trance he seemed to be in. "Why don't you just let us look around, and we'll come down to see you when we're done." She watched the super leave, and then whirled around to face Tony. "Smooth, real smooth. It's going to be kind of hard to haggle about the rent, when you're so eager to have it that you don't even wait until you've seen the whole thing before you tell him you want it."
"I don't need to see the whole thing. The living room alone is bigger than my whole apartment in Bmore, and those windows are reason enough to take the place," Tony said.
Abby had rolled her eyes, and strode forward, intent on examining every nook and cranny in the place. In the end, she'd labeled the closet space as "adequate," the bedroom as "a little dark, but okay," the bathroom as "barely clean enough," and the kitchen as "in need of a face lift." Tony, on the other hand, had been thrilled to discover the walk-in closet in the bedroom, which was dark because its windows were covered by white wooden shutters that he labeled "awesome!" The claw foot tub in the bathroom, had immediately suggested all kinds of possibilities to him, most of which starred Gibbs, naked and wet. He was willing to admit the kitchen was a little outdated, but argued that it was consistent with the time the place had been built. To which Abby had snorted, "Yeah, the counters and appliances are genuine antiques."
In the end, none of Abby's objections mattered, and Tony had signed the lease agreement before they left that night. The super had told Tony he could move in next weekend, just as soon as the credit check was complete, and a few small maintenance issues were addressed. So Tony and Abby had gone out to celebrate, winding up in a local dance club, where they had both had too much to drink, and ended up taking a cab to back to Abby's place to sleep it off. Gibbs called on Saturday morning, on the pretense of making sure the apartment hunting had gone well, but really because he'd been concerned when he hadn't been able to reach Tony at his own place. A groggy Abby had thrust the phone at Tony, who lay in a heap on her sofa, having not moved since he'd collapsed there the night before, and announced that she was going back to bed, and didn't want to be disturbed for at least five more hours. Gibbs had grumpily agreed to pick Tony up and take him back to the club, so Tony could pick up his car. That had evolved into Gibbs following Tony back to Baltimore, and taking him out in his car to buy moving boxes, since a Corvette is not conducive to carrying large things. Once the boxes had been constructed, Tony had begun to toss his worldly possessions into them with wild abandon, pausing only for sustenance, which consisted of Chinese food, that Gibbs had taken to nibbling off of Tony's naked stomach, and sex, which Tony had decided was more important than food. By the end of the night, a small U-Haul truck had been reserved for the following Saturday, and Tony's living room and kitchen had been mostly boxed up, leaving out only the most bare essentials, to see Tony through the next week.
Monday had been hard for Tony. Gibbs and Abby were both busy at work, and in his hurry to start his new life, he'd packed up his tapes and VCR on Saturday, leaving him few options for entertaining himself as he waited for Wednesday to roll round. By late Monday afternoon he'd torn through the boxes, locating the VCR player and a few of his favorite movies, and had spent the rest of that night, and the next day, watching them, breaking the monotony occasionally by sorting through his clothes, packing those he knew he wouldn't need for the next week, and weeding out those he knew he'd never wear again, to give to charity.
But finally, Wednesday had arrived, and by 5:15, Tony was on the road, headed for the Naval Yard. He got there by 6:30, having stopped along the way for coffee, after realizing just how early he was. When he got to the gates, he encountered his first snag of the day. He didn't have an ID yet, and wasn't on the approved visitors list. The security guard on duty, a young Marine who looked like he'd take no prisoners, refused to let him in. Tony had explained the situation to him, telling him it was his first day, and that he knew he was early, but had been excited to get started, but the man wouldn't budge. Finally, Tony had taken out his cell phone and called Gibbs. When Gibbs heard what was going on, he assured Tony he'd take care of it. They'd just disconnected when the phone in the guard shack began to ring. The Marine had answered it, and then paused to listen. His face paled as he listened, and all he managed to say was an occasional "Yes Sir!" When he finally hung up, his hand shaking slightly, he'd pressed the button that opened the gate, and waved Tony in without saying another word. Tony had been surprised to find Gibbs waiting for him at the security desk inside the building, a laminated pass in his hand.
"Don't know what went wrong," he greeted Tony, as he handed him the pass. "I asked Liz yesterday to make sure you were on the visitor's list, since you wouldn't have the proper ID yet."
"No biggie," Tony had answered. "She probably got sidetracked, and forgot."
Gibbs just grunted in reply, and led the way to the elevator that would take them to the bullpen.
"You're early," Gibbs observed, as they rode up.
"Yeah, eager to get started," Tony admitted. "You're here kind of early too, aren't you?" he asked.
"Not really. I usually get here sometime between 6:30 and 7:00. No point in sitting around at home waiting for the day to start."
Tony didn't point out that most people would use the time to get a little more sleep, since he clearly had no room to talk, as he was there just as early. When the doors to the elevator opened back up, Gibbs led Tony to the desk that sat kitty-cornered from his own, which was empty except for a computer and a phone that sat on top of it. "This is yours. Go ahead and take some time to get yourself set up," he said, nodding to the bag Tony had carried in with him. "There are supplies in there," he said, pointing to a large metal cabinet, "Help yourself to whatever you need. Just make a list of what you take, so the administrative assistant can charge it to the right account. Someone from Tech Services will be up here at 7:30 to get you set up on the computer, and we'll have a briefing when Liz gets in, so you're up to speed on what she's working on." Gibbs then went to his own desk, and began to scroll through his emails.
Tony began to pull objects out of the bag. A Mickey Mouse stapler was placed on the desk, along with a large mug with his fraternity's Greek letters printed on the front, into which he placed several pens and pencils he liberated from the supply closet. Pictures were tacked to the partitions that encircled the desks, separating Gibbs' team from the others on the floor, and a rolodex and desk calendar were positioned to the right of the monitor. Gibbs covertly watched all of this out of the corner of his eye, barely succeeding in hiding his amusement when the bobblehead football player doll appeared, dressed in an Ohio State jersey. By the time Templeton arrived, a little after 7:00, Tony had the desk arranged to his satisfaction.
Liz eyed him carefully as she walked towards her desk. 'So this was the perfect Anthony DiNozzo,' she thought, as she took in his immaculately cut midnight blue designer suit, crimson silk tie and carefully styled hair. Abby hadn't stopped gushing about him since she had come back to work, and Liz was more than a little tired of hearing about his wonders. She couldn't help but notice his desk, already cluttered with personal items, as if he'd been there for years, a sharp contrast to her empty one, since she'd packed up most of her possessions days ago, in anticipation of her departure. Her lip curled when she saw the fraternity mug and football player doll. 'Bet he's a walking example of arrested development,' she thought to herself. He stood, as she crossed by his desk, a wide grin on his face, and held out his hand, ready to introduce himself, but she didn't stop, holding up the coffee cup in her hand as an explanation for why she hadn't taken his hand. "You must be DiNozzo," she said, as she set the coffee down, and pulled out her chair, which she eased down into, leaving him standing. "Gibbs mentioned that you were starting today," then she summarily dismissed him by reaching over and turning on her computer.
Tony stood there, looking at her. 'Well, that was nice,' he told himself. No 'Hi, how are you?' or 'Welcome to NCIS,' or even a 'My name is Liz Templeton.' He looked over at Gibbs, who sat at his desk, having taken in the entire encounter, and raised an eyebrow in question. Gibbs just smirked in reply, and turned back to what he'd been doing. Tony had just sat back down, when the elevator doors opened up again, discharging an excited Abby, who rushed into the bullpen, her boots clumping, and the chains around her waist and neck clanging.
"You're here!" she shrieked. "Why didn't you come down to see me?" she demanded. "I've been waiting for an hour," she said, as she reached over to punch him on the left shoulder, and then pulled him in for a quick hug.
"I didn't know I was supposed to," Tony defended himself, as he laughed at her. "No one briefed me on that ritual."
"Well, now you know. See that it doesn't happen again, Mister!" she said, absolving him in a regal voice. "Here, I got you a desk warming gift," she said, as she held out the black gift bag that had been dangling on her left wrist.
Tony began pulling out sheet after sheet of black tissue paper, decorated with white and holographic skulls and crossbones, to get at the object buried at the bottom of the bag. Finally he succeeded, and pulled out a garish hula girl figurine, whose hips swayed wildly when he gave it a little shake. "It's fabulous," he told Abby, as he shook it again, to watch the doll dance.
"Yeah, I figured in another month you'd be ready for a tropical vacation, and thought you could look at that and pretend you were in Hawaii," Abby beamed, as he placed it lovingly next to the Ohio State bobblehead.
"Aw, that's so cute. They're a couple," Abby gushed.
"And you're a couple of idiots," Gibbs said from his desk, although his voice held no malice, and Liz, who'd been watching the whole thing, thought she even saw a small smile play across his lips. "Don't you have tests you should be running, Abs? You can talk to him more later."
Abby looked over at Tony and rolled her eyes, but prepared leave. "Don't forget, you promised to have lunch with me and Ducky today," she told Tony sternly. Then she pulled him to her again, saying, "Just one more hug," she announced to the room. But then she pressed her face close to his. "Welcome home," she whispered in his ear, so softly that only Tony could hear her. Tony gave her a squeeze back in silent reply, and then gently extracted himself from her embrace.
Not long after Abby had left, the tech specialist arrived, and got to work showing Tony what all his computer could do. Tony was assigned a password, and shown how to access all of the various databases. An email account was set up, and Tony's computer was logged into the printer system. Finally, confidant that Tony could now navigate his way through the complicated web that was the NCIS computer system, the tech left, and Gibbs announced that it was time for Liz to bring Tony up to speed, then he leaned back in his desk chair, to watch what happened.
Liz started by pulling out a stack of files and plopping them on Tony's desk. "These are all the cold cases we've been reviewing lately," she informed him. "Case details are inside, along with reports from every agent who worked on them. Evidence is tagged and logged in down in the basement in the lockers. You'll find reports from forensics in there, too. There isn't really much more to say about them. Maybe you'll have better luck with them than we did using some of those unique investigative skills they teach at police academies," she snarked.
When it looked like Gibbs was going to comment, Tony gave his head an almost imperceptible shake. He didn't want to give Liz any reason to think he couldn't defend himself, and besides, he knew she'd be gone by tomorrow. "I do have my ways," he said to her, and wiggled his eyebrows at her, and smirked when she visibly bristled. He'd had lots of practice dealing with superior attitudes; that was all he'd encountered in Baltimore.
"I'm sure you do," Liz sniffed, and then she reached back over to her desk and grabbed another folder. "This is the only active case we have right now. A CWO," and she paused. "A CWO is a …"
"A Chief Warrant Officer, I know," Tony said, before she could elaborate. "They teach us to read at the Police Academy," he said with a smile.
Liz didn't rise to the bait, but it was clear that Tony had just scored a point. "As I was saying, CWO Jefferson Wilson, on leave, disappeared from his hotel on Monday, and no one's seen him since. When we searched his room, we didn't find any clue as to where he could have gone."
"So, how do you know he just isn't off having a little fun?" Tony asked.
"He missed a meeting he'd set up with his CO, and we found traces of blood on the floor in the bathroom of his hotel room," she answered.
"Did you pull the security tapes at the hotel?" Tony asked.
"Of course," Liz answered, "There weren't any signs of him leaving, although the security cameras didn't cover any of the service entrances."
"What about his credit cards or bank accounts? Any activity?"
"None," Liz said.
Gibbs listened to the exchange, impressed that Tony had jumped right in.
"Did you…." Tony began.
"Look, why don't you look over the file, then we can talk about it," Liz snapped, not willing to play twenty questions with Tony.
Tony agreed that was probably the best plan, and when he started looking over the file, Liz informed Gibbs that she needed to do an exit interview with HR, and suggested that this might be the best time, if they had someone available. When Gibbs had agreed, she'd picked up the phone and arranged it.
Gibbs had gone up to MTAC while Liz was gone, leaving Tony alone with the case file. By the time he got back down, Liz had returned, and was sitting at her desk, reading email. Tony was also on the computer, deeply engrossed in something. About an hour later, Tony looked up and asked Liz, "What about James Herbert? What did he have to say?"
"Who?" Liz asked, confused by Tony's question.
"James Herbert. Wilson was instrumental in busting him for drug trafficking eight years ago, which got him sent to the brig. He just got out of the United States Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth two weeks ago, and has reportedly moved back into the D.C. area. His wife left him when he got sent away, and he was a less than model prisoner while incarcerated. He might be worth looking into. According to the court transcripts, he was pretty vocal about Wilson needing to watch his back," Tony told her.
Liz just sat, blinking at him. She hadn't seen anything about that in Wilson's record. Of course, she'd only looked at the last couple of years, and when she hadn't found anything promising, had given it up as a lost cause. Gibbs, on the other hand, was on his feet.
"Do you have an address for Herbert?" he asked Tony.
Tony reached for one of the pens he had placed on his desk, and copied something down on a piece of paper. "This is the address listed on his release record. It belongs to his mother. Should give you somewhere to start."
Gibbs took it, and looked over at Liz. "Don't just sit there, let's go." Then he looked over at Tony and said, "We'll be back later. See what you can do with the cold cases while we're gone." With that parting order, he headed for the elevator, Liz trotting along at his heels.
It took them over six hours, but they eventually tracked Herbert down through a lead provided by his mother, and ultimately discovered Wilson's body in the trunk of the old beat up Dodge Aspen he was driving. Abby was perched on Tony's desk, laughing at something the young man had said, when Liz and Gibbs, followed by Ducky, returned. Ducky, who was delighted to see Tony, hurried over to greet him.
"Well?" Tony asked Gibbs, as soon as he was able to get a word in edgewise.
"He did it," Gibbs answered. "Still had the body in his car when we caught up to him. Claimed Wilson ruined his life."
"That's great," Tony exclaimed. "I mean, not the dead body, but that you got Herbert," he quickly added.
"Ducky said he'd only been
dead for about ten hours when we found him," Gibbs added, glaring
at Liz. He didn't need to say more. His meaning was
crystal clear. Liz had dropped the ball on this one by not
digging deeper into Wilson's background, assuming that because
nothing recent had seemed relevant, the same could be said about the
past. Liz, who had gone directly to her desk, looked over at
him, as he stood by Tony's desk, surrounded by Abby and Ducky.
It was clear who the outsider was. "Get your report done,
then you can call it a day," Gibbs told her. "It's 1730
now, so there isn't any point in doing much more." He
couldn't wait to see the back side of her. It had taken all
his limited self restraint not to chew her up at the crime scene, but
he knew nothing would be gained by it. After today, she wasn't
going to be his problem any more. A half hour later, Liz slid
her report onto his desk. After looking it
over, he grunted and said, "That's it then."
Liz didn't need any more instruction. Snatching her purse, and the small bag that held her remaining personal possessions, she made to depart. As she walked by Tony's desk, she paused. Looking at him she said, "Good luck. No one seems to last much more than a month. I wouldn't get too comfortable if I were you." Then turning on her heels, she stalked out, not bothering to tell Gibbs goodbye.
"Well, let's go DiNozzo," Gibbs said to Tony after she was gone.
"Where are we going?" Tony asked, but Gibbs was already by the elevator, and hadn't heard him.
Grabbing his backpack, he hurried after his boss.
When they got into the elevator, Gibbs reached over and flicked the emergency stop switch on the control panel, causing the elevator to stop. Crowding in close to Tony he said, "You done good today Tony," as he leaned over and ran his hands over Tony's ass, pulling his body close to him.
"Mmmm," Tony moaned, as pelvis met pelvis. "Is this your traditional reward for good work? 'Cause if so, I'm going to make sure I do my best every day."
"You do that," Gibbs said, right before his mouth closed on Tony's neck.
"Um, aren't people going to want the elevator?" Tony asked, as Gibbs worked his way up to Tony's jaw.
"They'll wait," Gibbs answered him, although he knew he needed to stop. "Can't do this often," he said to Tony, as he pressed into him.
"Didn't expect to do it ever," Tony panted, as Gibbs rocked into him.
"Really need some release. Was all I could do not to deck Templeton," Gibbs murmured, as he licked at the spot directly behind Tony's ear that always made the younger man croon.
"Well, she's gone now. Although, if I'd known she had this effect on you, I'd have begged her to stay," Tony moaned.
With great effort, Gibbs pushed himself off of Tony. Straightening himself back up, he flicked the elevator back on. "Chinese, my place," he managed to say.
"I can always eat," Tony said.
"I was counting on that," Gibbs said, as the doors opened.
Ducky, who was standing by his car, watched as Tony and Gibbs walked out of the building together and headed towards the parking lot. 'They look right together,' he thought with a smile. He watched, as they exchanged a quick word, before the both got into their cars and headed out of the lot, Tony's car right behind Gibbs'. When they both turned in the same direction, he smiled again. Whistling a little, as he climbed into his own car, Ducky turned on his car. Something told him Gibbs wouldn't be getting a lot done on his boat in the near future. The sense of rightness about that made him grin again.