A/N: Okay, here we go again. Well, some shiz happened with the family when I was supposed to get this up. Let's just say that we are down a car. :/
Warnings: Mentions of rape (not graphic at all, just in passing), language, and violence
Thank you for your support, guys! I love you all!
Thank you very much Kyuubiluvr68! Awesomest beata in the entire world. Seven Nation Army
by Tokio Rose
"Chapter 3: Suma Cum Laude and Kick Ass Marines "
"I came to tell you that if you don't solve this murder case. If you don't help me, I'm going to be next."
Tony was silent for barely a moment, contemplating. His lip stuck out unconsciously. His fists balled against the seat. And he levered himself up completely so he was resting in the corner of the car, wedged between child-locked doors and expensive leather interior.
"What do you mean?" Green eyes narrowed slightly, looking past the head of the maniac kidnapper who was taking him to the hospital. "Biiiiiggg bad CIA agent scared?" It had been quite obvious that Kort hadn't needed his help when dealing with La Grenouille, else he could have left Tony well enough alone. No, Kort hadn't needed help, he just used their help as a way to better himself, to gain him more connections, or in some cases, just to piss them off even more.
Kort let out a small, frustrated sigh. The sigh was something, at least. It wasn't the first time that Tony had gotten him off kilter. In fact, the NCIS agent had a feeling that he had gotten Kort off kilter many times in the past. Not even counting the whole Jean and La Grenouille mess. A familiarity washed around him in eddies. He had never been this familiar with Kort. It brought a whole new level of dislike to his relationship with the man.
"You generally bring bad, um," his mind slipped for a moment, "things into my life. Leave me the hell alone?" After that last lapse down Memory Lane, Tony felt more agitated. His tone had a sharp edge laced in it, testy. And his head hurt, dammit. It hurt a lot. And Kort babbling on like this wasn't helping matters any. He couldn't stand the man when he was being an ass. He could stand him even less when he was acting remotely human because it meant that Tony had to deal with him. That Tony needed to treat him as he would any other person that asked for help.
But damn the bastard knew him.
"Because right now your team is investigating a murder case," Kort stated. "And I know about the murderer."
"Then you should have told Gibbs... not kidnap the invalid."
"I don't trust Gibbs," Kort muttered, eyes scanning the intersection, pulling forward.
"You trust me?" His baritone dripped with sarcasm. His eyes were narrowed to slits, staring at the back of Kort's head. "And we were... hating each other so well."
"I think that I liked you better when you were passed out." Kort commented, voice harsh. Tony could feel the urge to hit and punch practically rolling off the man. His anger was going to get the better of him. Tony just knew. "But yes, I do trust you more than I trust Gibbs. I trust you because I know you."
"You don't know shit about me." Kort let out a barking laugh, mirthless, and the smirk reflected back from the windshield. His eyes held a spark of smugness Tony associated with him, and the ass-that-was-easier-to-deal-with was back, looking down at his fancy little sports car steering wheel.
"I know more about you than you think. I probably know more about you than you know about yourself about now." Tony huffed, rolling his aching head against the cool glass. His hair stuck, reminding him of the winter that was slowly edging toward them with cool fingers.
"Don't doubt it..." Kort made a noise of agreement. "So what do you need my help with?" What had made the great Trent Kort this desperate? The man shook his head, balding skin flashing a bit in the light.
"This conversation really isn't going to get me anywhere, is it?" Chagrined, annoyed. Tony could still pick up on the conversation, even though he was half conscious. He focused on the annoyed tone of his voice, the way that Kort's back was tight and his jaw was clenched. Tony knew that he wasn't of the best mind right now, and Kort knew it too.
"Probably not," Tony agreed with an easy, almost dangerous grin. "Our conversations really haven't gotten us anywhere in the past since you blew up my car!" He pinched the bridge of his nose, systematically attempting to dredge together some semblance of thought, pushing aside the pain for a moment. He gave a small nod to Kort.
"Do you recognize her?" Tony blinked, looking at the picture that Kort passed back to him. Her lips were full, pulled back in an easy smile. Laugh lines framed her lips, bracketing glossed slicked lips and white teeth. Her brown hair was wavy, pulled back into a side ponytail. She had on boxing gloves, raised in the air. Sweat slicked her skin. She was pretty. Very pretty. But that didn't mean anything. It was her eyes that drew Tony. They were a deep shade of mocha, happy and warm.
"No," Tony frowned. But he should. He stated as much.
"You should," Kort agreed. "Her name is Mellissa Sandoval. She was a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps." Tony gave a small snort. Well what did that have to do anything? "More importantly than that, she was a member of the CIA, Clandestine Services."
Why was Kort telling him THIS of all things.
"She was a friend of yours."
She was smiling at him. Tony huffed, sitting down on the floor. The nineteen year old offered him a hand, hoisting him up. Boxing gloves tapped his head, pink leather smarting in his vision. He grinned at her, rubbing the back of his hand against his forehead. She spit out her mouth guard, which he did in return.
"Beat your ass," She grinned, doing a small dance, boxing shorts swishing. "Finally."
"Of course you did," Tony groaned, resting his arms against the ropes. He crossed his legs before him, feet tapping on the mat and letting the older girl relish her victory. It wasn't every day that someone managed to beat him.
"You let met win, Chief?" Her arm snaked forward, and he lifted his hand, blocking the good-natured punch directed at his ears. He grinned.
"Maybe," She groaned, taking off the gloves and tying them together. "You would let me get my hopes up. You think that I'll ever be able to beat you?"
Tony shook his head, soft brown locks brushing his forehead. The easy care-free grin on his face was real. It held a note of happiness, contentment. Belonging.
"Naw. You might be older than I am, Mellissa, but I still can kick your ass any day, any time. Maybe you'll be able to beat me when we're old and gray and everything has finally caught up. But that ain't gonna be any time soon." Her brown eyes narrowed, staring at him.
"I'll be sure to beat you before then," Tony stood, wiping his hands on his shorts, looking around the nondescript gym. He couldn't tell where he was at, wasn't able to see the name that was written on the wall, but he knew that he should be able to see. Mellissa's face was already starting to fade to black, replaced by a square jaw, stubbled features, sharp eyes...
"Mellissa?" Tony whispered, reaching a hesitant hand forward. Kort released it without much question. His eyes scanned the quasi-familiar face, taking in features that were so familiar and not at the same time. She was a best friend yet a stranger at the same time. The youthful face didn't match up with the slightly haggard one, but the eyes were the same. So full of life and fight. "We were... friends?"
"Very good friends, if her file was correct," Kort informed, moving on like Tony hadn't just had a world shaking revelation. Tony's eyes narrowed.
"How did I know her, then?"
"How the hell should I know?" Something wasn't adding up. The sense of snakeyness that Kort exuded was almost high enough that Tony half expected him to stick his tongue out and taste the air or some shit like that.
"Then what were you expecting to gain from me!?"
"You know a lot about her," Kort informed. "Or you should."
"And what does this have to do with you being killed?" Tony looked up. His gut lurched painfully.
"She's dead," Kort growled out. "And she was part of my team, the last one alive, but we can discuss it in greater detail when you are not about ready to puke all over the back of my car, right?" Kort hadn't wanted to talk with him. Dammit. Kort had just wanted to tease him, to make him WANT to see and know what Trent knew and saw. Kort was just laying the bait, and Tony was going to buy it- hook, line, and sinker. It wasn't that he was stupid. Far from it. However, Trent obviously had drawn a line, thick and full of memories between Mellissa and Tony that Tony couldn't just IGNORE.
Especially when he could remember bits and pieces of the woman who had been a member of Trent's "team."
"Right," Tony intoned, gruffly. Kort smirked, expertly maneuvering the car into the parking space.
"Good, now be a good lad, don't cause any trouble for me, all right?"
"Where the hell is DiNozzo!"
Those were the first words that echoed around the squad room. Several agents looked up from what they were doing, casting furtive glances toward each other and typing an instant message to their buddy across the room before exiting out. Gibbs was in a mood. Not only had he been called to a possible rape case, but also, one of his agents was missing, assumingly disappeared into thin air.
"Abby has not seen him," Ziva stated.
"Neither has anyone else for that matter," McGee quipped, looking up from his computer. Gibbs had him running a background check on the murdered Marine; however, that didn't mean that Gibbs didn't expect McGee to do his own share in trying to find the missing agent. However, McGee was of the opinion that he would probably feel worse for the person that managed to get DiNozzo when he was in the mood that he had been. The man winced. After what he had done to Ziva, McGee had no illusions that DiNozzo could not take care of himself.
Gibbs let out a frustrated sigh. Times like this made him wish that he had a GPS device ingrained in Tony's skin. The man had gotten kidnapped, lost, and or beaten and left for dead on more occasions that Gibbs would care to admit. While he wasn't one for hi-tech gadgetry and invading Tony's personal life, a tracking device was probably going to be sneakily attached to Tony's next Christmas gift from every person on the team if Gibbs had anything to say about it.
"What about his cell?"
"It's off," Ziva stated, holding up her own as proof. Gibbs let out a growl of frustration, sitting down at his own desk and taking a compulsive sip of coffee.
"Check his phone records. I want to know the last time that he called and when he made the call..."
"That won't be necessary," Gibbs turned for a moment. Vance stood, resting his arms against the railing above them. His lips were pursed, unhappy. His arms were crossed over his chest, and he seemed displeased about all sorts of things. His eyebrows drew together in a frown. "Agent DiNozzo was taken to the hospital a few hours ago. He should be arriving now."
"What the hell sort of hospital is that far away?" Gibbs hissed, returning the frown. "It shouldn't take him that long to get to any hospital that is worth its salt."
"He was taken by a special agent. It wasn't my orders."
The scowl on Gibbs' face deepened. Since when had Tony DiNozzo warranted the attention of anyone that could order Leon Vance around? He could count on his hands the times that Tony had been on a mission that required the higher ups go ahead. And all those times, they hadn't ended well for Tony or anyone else.
"Let me guess, you can't tell us?" Vance stuck a toothpick in his mouth, swishing it back and forth, the frown melting away into a thoughtful glance.
"Professionally? No. But on a more friendlier level, I can say that it was someone that we have worked with before. I believe he was quite adamant on a certain case involving the late Director Sheppard and a certain French arms dealer."
"Kort," Gibbs hissed. Vance hummed in agreement.
"He said that Tony had some vital information on a top level homeland security fiasco. But you know as well as I do that it could simply be smoke and mirrors. Trent Kort has not exactly been forthcoming in the past." Of course he hadn't. He was like a pet snake. Nice in principle, but when you went to play with him, he bit. "But he came with his orders from SECNAV. Whatever is going on, he has pulled some major strings to make it work."
Vance stopped his chewing on the wood between his teeth for a moment.
"It worries me," He admitted after a moment, which left most of the people within earshot flabbergasted. "DiNozzo is nothing special." This was a hotly debated point, always had been. Vance was for the McGees of this world. Gibbs was for the Tonys. They had always disagreed, and probably always would. But Gibbs had to agree that DiNozzo might have been a damn good agent, but he wasn't special enough to warrant the attention of the CIA and SECNAV at the same time. Something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Vance shrugged. "Don't you have a murder you are supposed to be investigating?"
Gibbs took it as a dismissal.
"I do not like this," Ziva stated. "Kort is not known for his trustworthiness. I for one think that we should..."
"There is nothing that we can do right now, Ziva," Gibbs hated to say that because there was ALWAYS something that they could do. "We have a homicide on our hands right now." But they all knew that they would rather be going down to see if Tony was all right. "McGee, status?"
"Uhh, right," The man fumbled around for a bit, clicking a few buttons on his computer as a picture popped up on the screen. "Mellissa Ann Sandoval, born nineteen seventy, umm, uhh, graduated Suma Cum Laude from Yale with a degree in microbiology," McGee sounded impressed, which Gibbs guessed was hard to do. "She was a member of the First Reconnaissance Battalion, part of the..."
"First Marine Battalion," Gibbs grunted. "I know, pick up the pace."
"Uhh, she was scheduled for honorable discharge in December of 2009. She had been transferred over from one of the other military divisions..."
"What one, McGee?" The man seemed embarrassed.
"I... well, there doesn't seem to be any trace of the records on file. It just says that she was transferred from a special ops program. Doesn't give much else besides that," Gibbs shot him a look. "But I will look into it right away, Boss."
"You think?" Gibbs cocked a brow, looking at the serious picture on the screen. A twinkle still shone in her eyes, even though her lips were set in a hard line and her hair was pulled back into a serious bun. "What else?"
"Uhh, her file said that she was quiet. She really didn't have many friends in the battalion, but that's understandable, you know..."
"Today, McGee." Tony was gone, that left everyone a bit off kilter. They were worried, showing it in their own ways. Ziva had been silently working in her desk, looking up every so often, but her face was pinched and drawn. Though Gibbs wasn't certain if it was because she was worried about Tony, or she was worried about the answers that she would never get from Tony if he didn't come back in one piece.
"Well, she was an expert in hand to hand combat. She specialized in a form of martial arts known as She Quan, which actually, funny enough, is a type of martial arts used in this video game you know..." Gibbs gave a warning glare. "Okay, well anyways, combat sambo, Krav Maga," Ziva's ears perked at this.
"Israeli martial arts?" She looked at the person on the screen, a new sort of appreciation showing in her eyes. If the woman were alive, most definitely, they would have been friends.
"That's not even all of it," McGee flipped the remote so that is scrolled through a list. Not long, but it was a list, long enough to be more than four. "She knows various forms of martial arts. Also, her file says that she was fluent it about ten different languages. Get this, most of them were languages of countries that are under heavy surveillance from the U.S."
"Looks like we have found ourselves a sleeper," Ziva stated. "At least, that is what it appears to me," She studied the pictures. "Does she have any family?"
"Nope," Tim stated, looked at the computer and flipping to the next screen. "Service records say that her mother died when she was sixteen. Her father has never been in the picture. Only child. Grandparents immigrated here from Spain. Actually, even when her mother was alive, she spent most of her years in Rhode Island Military Academy..." His voice trailed off. Ziva perked.
"Well isn't Rhode Island Military Academy where..."
"Yeah, that's where DiNozzo went," Gibbs grunted, looking at the woman in a new light. She had probably been there when Tony was. Might have even known him. She was the type of girl that DiNozzo would fall in with. Smart, fun if her smile was anything to go by.
"Quite a coincidence," Ziva stated, knowing what would come next.
"I told you that I don't believe in coincidences, Ziva."
"Do you think that this similarity is what drew Kort to Tony in the first place," Gibbs nodded, once, swiftly, picking up his ringing phone with the other hand. He flipped it open, looking at Ziva.
"I sure as hell don't think that Kort was taking Tony to the hospital out of the goodness of his heart if that is what you are asking, Gibbs," He stated as soon as he was done with the explanation to Ziva who gave him a thoughtful look and brought up a few pages on her screen. "Yeah, mhmm, yeah. I'll be down there in a minute. Abby's got a hit." He snapped the phone closed.
"On what?" Ziva called as Gibbs began his rapid exit from the room.
"The tattoo," He called over his shoulder.
Black finger nails scraped along the metal table. Black pigtails were practically drooping with the lack of enthusiasm that the wearer normally exuded. Booted feet swung back and forth, tartan mini skirt clinking with the multiple belts slung about her hips. Black lips pursed, playing absently with the cuff of her white lab coat.
Abby was down. It wasn't because she hadn't gotten as many jobs as she would have liked to. It wasn't because she had seen such a beautiful piece of body art destroyed by some cave man that didn't know the price or pain that such a tattoo involved. No, it was because TONY was missing, and no matter how many times she was told not to worry, she couldn't help but do just that.
Poor Tony disappeared more often than she was comfortable with. In fact, if she had her own way, she would have chained him to her desk a long time ago, not allowing him to go anywhere until she left, and even then, they might be conjoined at the hip.
Okay, so bathroom breaks might be awkward then, but she could deal if Tony was fine.
"Whatcha got for me, Abs?" She looked up, letting out a small sniff and taking the caff pow from Gibbs yielding hands.
"You found him yet?" She asked, first and foremost.
"Yeah, he's on his way to the hospital as we speak," Before she could question, Gibbs held up a hand. "A training accident. They happen all the time. It's a long story, and we really don't have time for it..." She huffed, taking a sip of the drink and staring back at him.
"Tell me he's going to be fine, Gibbs," she stated, green eyes luminous with the desire to hear that her Tony was going to be fine. Gibbs tossed an arm around her shoulder, pulling her closer.
"He'll be fine," Gibbs stated, sure, deep down, that he would be. Abby let out a small huff, not a sniff, and turned toward the computer, motioning Gibbs over with a wave of her fishnet gloved hands.
"Okay," her jaw was set, and she stared at the computer, then back at Gibbs, then back at the computer again. If Gibbs said that Tony was going to be fine, then Tony was going to be fine. "I analyzed the blood that you took from the crime scene," Her thumb flicked through a few buttons, "and it doesn't come from just Corporal Sandoval," Five windows came up. "It, in fact, belongs to five other people."
"Five other victims?" Gibbs breathed.
"Well, no," She clicked another button, looking over at Gibbs with a faint glow of pride in her eyes. It was a marvel how she could bounce back. More importantly, it was a marvel that she cared enough about the team to be so down when one of them was missing.
"Abbs?" he grunted. Not angry, just busy.
"Well, you see, I did a DNA analysis of the other four blood types," a few faces popped up, one of which Gibbs recognized instantly. "I must admit that it is very The Dark Knight, what with the Joker and all," Gibbs made a face. "Right, not into movies. Okay, it was this major block buster hit and, you... really don't care. Moving on, anyways, in the movie," Tony would appreciate this, "in the movie, the Joker uses the DNA of several people to mark them as his next victims."
"So you are saying," Gibbs pointed to the screen, "That Trent Kort is going to be one of the next victims?" Korts face glared back at them, next to a picture of a woman. The other two were unidentified. And the woman who they could identify was currently serving on tour in Iraq.
"My guess is? Yes. Corporal Sandoval's blood was already mixed into the whole mess," She grimaced. "Nothing like a bad guy ripping his ideas off of movies."
"I'm sure that it's been done before," Gibbs' voice dipped a bit lower, looking at the two other blank faces on the screen. Two other people that they had no way to protect. No way to warn. No way to know. "This is just another sick bastard trying to send a message."
"Yeah, well, he certainly sent it by mauling her tattoo," Abby brought up the picture, staring at it oddly. "Beautiful piece of work Gibbs. Must have taken hours to sit for. Damn, and painful, look at the intricacies of the hilt," her eyes lit and she stared at it for a moment longer. "Well, I found the artists. He works out of the Seattle area. His name is Milo Vogel," She shrugged with the look. "He specializes in pieces like this. I matched it with the same sort of sword work, which he is apparently known for. I called him and asked him about it, and he was pretty tight lipped. My guess is that it has something to do with a gang, maybe."
"Do you know what was on the rest of it?"
"He didn't say, but he did send me a picture of one similar. Check it out," It was a man's back, strong and hard, and the lines of the sword fell down his spine flawlessly. Two wings, looking impossibly soft flew on either side, resting on his shoulder blades. "Hmm, symbolic, maybe? It was the only tattoo on the body, right?"
Gibbs gave a distracted nod.
"How can we find out what the words were on it?"
"Well my guess is that if it is a gang tattoo, someone else has one. Find the person with the tattoo, you find out what it said." Gibbs made a hum.
"Good work," She leaned over, and he placed a small peck on her cheek. "Find anyone that she might have had a connection with that would have that tattoo. The bastard took obvious steps to deface it. I want to know why."
"Yessir!" She gave a mock salute, turning back to her computer with a glare.
"Come on, baby, momma needs a new pair of bowling shoes."
"What are you doing?"
Whenever he asked these questions, he generally didn't want an answer. Ziva working on something all quiet like was bound to be something that was either a) illegal, b) bound to piss Gibbs off, or c) a combination. Ziva glared up from her computer, staring down McGee with hard brown eyes, lips pushed into a thin line. A decision was warring in her head. To let him in or keep him out. Tim waited, knowing that seeming too eager would shut him out before he even got a whiff of what was going on.
"Checking Tony's records," She stated, slowly.
"I thought that you already did that," Gibbs would be so pissed. They would be so dead. If he came back and found them going through Tony's dirty laundry when they were supposed to be interviewing people who knew the Corporal.
"Yes, well," She seemed annoyed. "I have to be missing something." The scene in the training room had been eating away at her since they had left Tony in the care of Ducky. There was just no way that Tony could have spoken like that, moved like that, ACTED like that if he hadn't had any proper training. It just didn't come naturally. Ziva herself had had to be trained for years before she was able to flip someone who had the upper hand, and while she had grown up with Arabic, it had certainly taken her much more to learn other languages. Much in the same way that it would have taken Tony much more effort to learn Arabic.
"They did a complete background check, complete with polygraph before he was even allowed to sit down at a desk," McGee frowned. "What could they have possibly been missing?"
"Documents can be falsified. You know this as well as I do."
"Yes, but do you really, HONESTLY think that NCIS wouldn't have caught it? That I wouldn't have caught it?"
"HA!" She held her finger out, whispering fiercely and leaning over her desk. "So you checked his records as well!" McGee seemed flustered for a moment, obviously trying to come up with an answer before his shoulders slumped and he looked over at her, moodily.
"Of course I did. Tony pinned you like a butterfly to a cork board and said some pretty weird things to you in another language. I looked it up as soon as I got back," McGee's face crumpled. "Everything checks out. I checked for signs of tampering with the material, even ran a search on his family. Everything checks out. And I've met Tony's friends. I know that he's not lying about college or anything like that." He moaned, frustrated. "And that's just it. Everything checks out. Tony shouldn't be speaking Arabic or fighting you, but he is. It doesn't make any sense."
"You see? This is why I am checking his records. It says fluent in Spanish and a bit of Italian," She read, looking down at his records. "Multiple injuries, the plague," She rolled her eyes and continued onwards. Not that she was making light of the situation, it was just like reading a dossier for a walking medical journal. "He seems to have lived a semi-normal life before he came to NCIS. Not top of his class, very good at sports. Everything that we would expect of DiNozzo."
"There any reason why you would expect anything else?"
Tim visibly jumped, and Ziva started, not much, but she had not been expecting the man to come through the door, new cup of coffee in hand and glaring at the both of them.
"Uhh, no Boss..."
"Then is there any reason why you are checking up on DiNozzo's dossier when you should be looking into Corporal Sandoval's murder?"
"Well, I was just trying to find a link between the too. Perhaps Tony knew her. Perhaps they went to school together." Gibbs snorted, looking over at the Mossad liaison and shaking his head.
"Which was probably exactly what Kort was thinking," Gibbs wasn't telling them everything. He was a bit quiet as he said the words, rubbing his jaw and taking a sip of his daily sludge. Sliding into his chair, he flicked on the computer, checking through the information the team had sent him, sifting through everything, determining what was relevant or not. He realized that the team was still looking at him. Ziva playing with her olive green sweater and McGee shifting from side to side, straightening his white collar. "What?"
"I mean, but don't you find it ODD that Tony's files are so perfect? That nothing's out of place, that his story checks out, despite what he did today?"
"No," Gibbs stated. Was it a lie? Perhaps. He wasn't quite ready to say that Tony wasn't Tony at all. That all these years together had been a lie. That his SIC, in fact, had been lying through his teeth the entire time, even though his gut was telling him that more was going on than met the eye. "What I find ODD is that I told you to drop it and you still are asking questions about it. We can ask DiNozzo when he comes back."
"If he comes back," McGee sighed, closing out of the window.
"Now I want you to tell me everything that there is..." He stopped, mid sentance, digging through his tan pants and pulling out his cell. Gibbs squinted down at the number, flipping it open with a rough "Gibbs," then a "yeah" and a "Yes, I am." Then "I'm on my way."
The phone snapped shut again. It sounded like a death sentence.
"That was Maryland General. Seems that our missing agent is all the way out in Baltimore. I'm going to go pick him up. I want something, anything from you, when you get back."
They both nodded as Gibbs disappeared, speedily, out of the room.
Wowwwww, done. XD Well, to tell you the truth, you might find this silly, but I am actually like... hearing them talk when they say things. Their inflections and everything. I wish that I could write sound into the stuff, but yeah. I've been trying to keep them IC as much as possible (there is going to be SOME OOCness for obvious reasons), so yeah.
Also, I beleive not uploading late at night might be in my future...
Review, and thank you guys for your paitience!