Disclaimer: Nothing's mine, except the plot and a few OC's. No profit is being made with this story.
A/N: I just got the call that I got my dream job and I thought I would complete the greatness of this day by uploading the first chapter of the sequel to "The Day Before The Day", soooo here it is!!!
Read this please, because I'm not going to say this again: This story is AU!!! The are some things I changed and some I didn't, so please try to refrain from comments like "But it didn't happen like this in the show." because I KNOW, okay?! My very wonderful beta for this story, which is by the way Ktwesterna, provided me with any necessary information that I didn't know yet and I'm perfectly aware that Gibbs didn't work for NCIS before Shannon and Kelly died, or that even Ducky didn't know about them at first! Once again: I KNOW all that!!!
Also, I would like to thank everyone who read TDBTD and nominated it for the NCIS "What if" Award over at lifejournal. Though I didn't win it was a great honor to have my story listed alongside all those other awesome authors and their wonderful stories. Thank you very much!
Enough with the author's note. Let's get on with the story, shall we?! :)
Their Day in Baltimore
The air was stuffy and hot that day when Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs entered the Baltimore Police Department.
Due to a broken air conditioner, everyone that set foot in the building was immediately assaulted by a wave of heat and the almost unbearable smell of sweat. Policemen as well as criminals were whining and complaining, cursing the city government for withholding badly needed support in the form of money.
Lesser men would have turned around and gone home but Gibbs wasn't one of them. He had never been one to complain about things that he couldn't change and it wasn't like he could feel the heat anyway.
For three years now, Gibbs was too numb to feel much of anything.
Three years since he'd become a widower and mourning father.
Gibbs would never forget the day he'd come home from the hospital after a disastrous case, only to find a police officer waiting for him at his home. Would never forget the young man's face when he'd informed him that a Mexican drug dealer had killed his wife and daughter during his absence.
He still remembered feeling as though he was falling into a deep, black hole of hatred and incomprehension that day. A hole that he hadn't been able to escape until he'd put a bullet between the eyes of the man that had killed his girls.
Killing the man had pulled him out of his stupor but it had proven to be a wake up call in the worst way possible. He didn't feel better afterwards, but dirty, and worse, like a fraud.
There he was, fighting crime, arresting criminals, when in reality he wasn't that much better.
He didn't feel regret, though. He knew that he should, but every time he came close to feel something akin to remorse, he remembered Shannon's dead body in the morgue when he had to identify her and the feeling vanished without a trace.
Nonetheless, the fact that the man responsible for his wrath and grief was irrevocably gone, left Gibbs strangely adrift.
Without a purpose.
Gibbs had always looked forward to growing old with the woman he loved, but he'd never imagined how terrible it would be to come home to an empty house. How hollow it would make him feel, every time he opened his mouth to call them, just to catch himself and shut it because he suddenly remembered that there was no one waiting for him. Not anymore.
He'd tried to fill that emptiness with other women. Tried to copy the happiness he'd felt with Shannon with another redhead. A little part of himself insisted that he should just try to forget her, but he fought that part tooth and nail. He didn't want to forget her. He just wanted someone he could love again, like he'd loved Shannon and Kelly.
The results were two divorces and another one in the making.
Sometimes he wondered why he even bothered anymore. He wasn't suicidal ('Not yet' that little voice in his head whispered), but sometimes he asked himself why he didn't just quit NCIS. Why he didn't just hide in his basement and drink bourbon till he could only remember the good times. Wondered why he kept doing this ugly job, where he had to face murderers, rapists, and other scum on a daily basis. The same scum that had cost him his wife and daughter.
'Because it keeps you sane. Because it gives you a purpose.' he thought and ran a tired hand through his hair.
This job was all he had left. All that kept him from going over the edge. When he caught a criminal and gave another family peace, he wasn't feeling as though he had to drown in his own misery.
And that's one of the reasons why he was now in Baltimore after a more than mysterious phone call, trying to solve the murder of Corporal Lance Sperr.
Gibbs had to admit that the call had intrigued him. It had gone straight to his mailbox because he'd been in the middle of an interrogation. When he'd finally been able to listen to the message it had been rather odd, to say the least.
The voice of a young man had informed him that they had a dead Corporal Lance Sperr and needed the assistance of NCIS.
No identification had been offered, just the information that he was a Homicide Detective and that he was calling from Baltimore. A dozen and more questions had plagued Gibbs after he'd listened to the message.
Why hadn't the guy said his name? Why was he calling him and not the director, as it was standard procedure? And where the hell did this guy get his number anyway?
It had been Gibbs' number for many years now and while he didn't keep it a secret, he wasn't sharing it with every next best cop either. The call had intrigued Gibbs more than the murder itself, so he'd stuck his head into Morrow's bureau, called a gruff 'I'll take the case', grabbed Ducky, and drove off to Baltimore.
So he didn't see Tom's confused frown and didn't hear his muttered "What case?".
Roughly half an hour later he stood in the middle of a police station and waited for a certain Detective Boston to fill him in. He wondered if this Boston had been the one to call him.
His cell phone rang and Gibbs took it out to look at the caller ID. The name Abby Sciuto flashed on the little display and Gibbs couldn't help the small smile that crossed his lips.
A few months after Shannon and Kelly's deaths, this woman had come into his life like a tornado. Every time he looked at or spoke to Abby, Gibbs was reminded of his daughter, though Abby and Kelly couldn't have been more different.
The young goth was always on a sugar high, always moving, and always talking.
Kelly on the other hand had always been a quiet child, almost shy. She could spend hours in her room reading or working with him on his boat in the basement without uttering a single word.
Abby didn't so much remind him of his daughter per se but of what she could have become if she would have had the chance to grow up. A confident, successful and happy young woman who went her own way.
Since day one, Abby had tried to worm her way into his heart and while she had succeeded to a certain degree, he still kept her at arms lengths. Like he did with everyone nowadays. Ducky was the only one who knew about Shannon and Kelly and if it was up to Gibbs it would stay that way.
He liked the reputation he had in the bullpen - Agent Leroy Jethro "The second B stands for Bastard" Gibbs.
It was good that the other Agents respected him or were at least afraid of him. They didn't need to know of his loss. It wasn't their business anyway. He didn't need anyone's pity.
Ducky had once asked him why he didn't tell Abby, but Gibbs had just shrugged and told him that she didn't need to know. The MD had made it pretty clear what he thought of that mindset.
While a small part of him knew that his friend was right, an even bigger part couldn't stand the thought of getting close to somebody else ever again. To get close to someone, just to loose them again, whether it was family or colleagues… he just couldn't wrap his mind around it.
So he kept to himself and refused any new Agent that Director Morrow sent him. Even Abby and Ducky were neatly pushed away every time they got too close.
And that was good, he told himself. He didn't need backup anyway.
And he almost believed it.
The ringing seemed to grow louder with each passing second and he finally picked up.
"What is it Abs?"
"And a 'Hello' to you too, Bossman." Abby's chipper voice floated through the phone. "Are you in Baltimore yet? How is it? Is it as hot as here? Because if it is I'm so glad you didn't ask me to come with you, although it would have been the nice thing to do, because I'm very sensitive when it comes to heat and my teint would-"
"Abs!" Gibbs interrupted her. Did she ever take a breath?
"Yes. Sorry. I'm babbling again. So how is Baltimore?"
Gibbs wanted to tell her that he wasn't here for sightseeing and that he wouldn't bring her a souvenir (which was no doubt one of the reasons she had called) but he wasn't in the mood.
He could practically hear her grin. "Hah. I knew it. Oh weather channel, you never cease to amaze me..."
"Did you want something Abby?"
"Yes actually I do. Just wanted to tell you that I just got the crime scene photos and a few evidence bags. The guys in Baltimore are fast, aren't they?"
Gibbs had to admit that that was pretty fast. Especially considering that this was a joint jurisdiction. Usually the police weren't nearly as forthcoming with evidence and information.
"Know anything yet?"
Abby tsked into his ear. "I'm flattered really but not even I am that good. Give me a few hours. Although those pictures are a little weird."
"Umm, I'd say a seven on the weird-o'meter."
"I meant what's weird about them?"
"0h. Well, apart from the fact that they are gross, there's something familiar about the way the bodies are arranged. Can't shake the feeling that I've seen it somewhere before."
"Try to remember and tell me if you get something."
"Sure thing Bossman. Hey, could you bring me a souvenir? You know one of those-"
Gibbs hung up on her with a smirk. Abby wouldn't be mad. She was used to it by now.
A tap on his shoulder startled him although he didn't show it. He turned around to come face to face with a man that was slightly older than himself, but about the same height. The man held out his hand and Gibbs took it without hestitation.
"Are you Agent Gibbs?"
Gibbs nodded. "And you are?"
"I'm Detective Michael Boston. I investigate the Park-Killer."
Gibbs raised an eyebrow. "Park-Killer?"
Boston laughed and Gibbs found that it was a nice sound. "Pretty dumb right? But we have to call him something and since his victims were found in a park..." he shrugged nonchalantly. "It doesn't matter what we call him now as long as we catch him and get his real name in the end."
Gibbs could only agree with that, although it was beyond him why every killer needed some kind of nickname nowadays.
Boston looked around as if he was searching for someone before he turned back to Gibbs. "I was told that you would bring your own medical examiner from DC."
"Dr. Mallard is already at the morgue. He will join us as soon as he's ready."
Ducky hadn't wanted to loose any more time and Gibbs had readily agreed. Two victims were already two too many.
Gibbs took a closer look at the detective. The man had a slight belly but it was not enough to call him overweight. He had kind green eyes and looked ready to retire although that seemed to apply to everyone that worked a few years on the road in a big city like Baltimore. He was sweating heavily and had loosened his tie until it looked more like a necklace. Boston's face was open and friendly while he endured his silent valuation and Gibbs hoped that it would stay that way during the investigation, since they would have to work together, whether they liked it or not.
"Are you the detective that called me?" he finally asked.
Admittedly, the voice had sounded like it belonged to someone a lot younger than Boston, but you could never know...
The detective looked confused for a second before he smiled. Gibbs thought that it looked a little bit forced.
"Oh no. That was my partner. He was the one to arrange everything." The way he said the word 'arranged' told Gibbs that this partner must have been the one to send the evidence as well. He grew more and more curious.
Boston looked around until he apparently found what he was looking for and pointed to a large office at the other end of the bullpen. "There he is."
One wall of the office was taken up by a big window, so Gibbs had a pretty good look at the interior of the room. The office held a big table and a flip chart with various pictures of two different men.
'The victims' Gibbs thought absentmindedly before his gaze fell on the only occupant in the room, who was watching them intently through the window. Gibbs got the impression of a young man with chestnut brown hair and hazel eyes before the man seemed to realize that he'd been caught staring. The young detective blushed fiercely and spun around.
Something about the reaction made Gibbs want to go in there and take a closer look at the face. Like he was supposed to see something that he should have seen a lot sooner. He didn't do that though. Instead he turned back towards Boston and raised an eyebrow in question. Boston looked nonplussed by the odd behaviorof his partner but caught himself fairly quick.
"He's young but a damn good investigator. Come on, let me introduce you two."
The man started towards the office and Gibbs followed, his eyes never leaving the figure that was still facing away from them.
"There he is. That's him." Tony whispered into the empty room and tried very hard - and failed miserably - to not openly stare at the man that had just entered the bullpen.
"Wow. He got old."
Tony almost snickered at that. If someone got old it was him, and not Gibbs. The Agent looked pretty much the same except for a bit more grey in his hair and more wrinkles around the eyes.
Tony didn't notice how he was nervously tapping his fingers against the window or how the little ventilator Mike had brought from his home blew cold air against his sweat drenched skin, making him shiver despite the heat.
His attention was solely on the man who was standing in the middle of the bullpen and speaking into his cell phone. Gibbs was wearing an expression that was a mix of amusement and exasperation while he talked to the person on the other line.
That face almost undid Tony, it reminded him so much of the time 15 years ago and suddenly he felt like he was that 12-year-old boy again that had followed this man into a family restaurant and that had eaten pizza and watched a James Bond movie with him.
It frightened him and he took a physical step back. While the memories were good ones ('The best!' he insisted silently) he didn't want to feel like that boy again.
He was a different person now.
He was an adult now, independent and confident.
After his father had disowned him, he had learned pretty fast how to function alone. Very few of the women he'd dated had been attentive enough to sense that he was holding back on them and that he only showed them what he wanted them to see. But those relationships never lasted very long.
None of his relationships lasted long in fact, but it didn't bother him all that much since that's how he liked it. He had fought so long and so hard to be loved by the person that should have done so without a second thought, that the idea of a total stranger offering to do just that, was so alien, so unbelievable to him that he just couldn't wrap his mind around it.
And so he opted for the occasional one night stand or loose affair. Little bits and pieces of affection and sexual intercourse without having to worry about feelings or questions he wasn't ready to face just yet.
And he had been content with that.
Or so he'd thought, because now here was Gibbs making him feel like a little kid again. A kid that desperately sought attention and acknowledgement. The urge to make Gibbs proud of him was as overwhelming as it had been all those years ago but suddenly Tony didn't feel like he deserved that pride anymore.
The Italian was suddenly very insecure about himself, his career, his life...
Tony hadn't felt like that for a very long time. He'd seriously thought that he'd left that part of him behind, back in his fathers office.
He was so deep in thought that he didn't notice how Mike approached Gibbs or how the two of them exchanged a few words. Only when Gibbs followed Mike's pointed finger and stared right back at him, did Tony realized what he was doing. When icy blue eyes met his he couldn't help but turn around to escape the intense stare. He almost stumbled in the process and felt his face grew hot.
"Great first impression, DiNozzo." he muttered to himself. "He must think that you're a complete idiot."
What was wrong with him? Where was that overconfident Detective from a few minutes ago? What was it about Gibbs that made him feel so goddamn... inferior? Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe he shouldn't have called Gibbs after all. He was obviously not ready to face the man just yet.
'But they need him' Tony reminded himself. The victims and their families needed Gibbs.
Tony forcibly shook his head.
Just because he was suddenly acting like a complete nutcase didn't mean that he should question his decision. He just had to get his emotions in check. If nobody noticed how much this took out of him then he could pretend to himself that he was perfectly fine.
He was good at pretending. Always had been.
A knock on the door alerted him to Mike and Gibbs' entrance and he schooled his expression before he turned around to face them.
He wasn't aware that he'd been holding his breath until he released it slowly when it became obvious that the Agent didn't recognize him. The older man observed him with a curious gleam in his eyes but there was no spark of recognition in them.
Tony found that he wasn't really surprised. A little bit disappointed maybe, but certainly not surprised. Gibbs couldn't have recognized him. He had changed too much. Gone was the little scrawny boy. He was now a well-built, well proportioned young man.
His own father wouldn't have recognized him.
Mike greeted him with a wave of his hand. "Hey partner. This is Special Agent Gibbs. Agent Gibbs, this is-"
Tony interrupted him with a pat on his shoulder and came forward to offer his hand. He greeted Gibbs with his most charming, confident and blending smile he had. Everything to hide his nervous anticipation.
"Detective Anthony DiNozzo. Long time no see, Agent Gibbs."
A/N: Did I mention that I love evil cliffhangers? Oh yes, I do!
You can expect the next chapter in a week, two tops. But remember: Reviews make me write faster! *snicker*