It is Halloween, the night when all the lost souls roam the Earth. I don't think this part is scary, except for my writing, but I hope you like it nonetheless.
So, pull up a chair, grab a bowl of candy, and enjoy.
Doctor Julianna Kristoff knocked on the door of room 237. She knew the occupant of the room was alone at the time, but she always felt knocking on a patient's door before entering was a polite thing to do. It gave them the choice of saying 'come in' or 'go away'. Most of her patients appreciated that choice, when so many others had been taken away from them.
No answer came from the other side of the door. She could not see through the window, as the blinds had been pulled tight.
'Blocking himself from view', she thought. 'He doesn't want anyone to look at him.'
It was a common reaction. Many victims of sexual assault didn't want to be seen afterwards, to be looked at even by their loved ones. They were afraid of being pitied or judged. In the case of male victims this reaction was at times worse then from a female. A man thought he should always be seen as strong, in control. He would never want to be looked at and found to be weak, less then a man. In her experience, weakness was a trait that most men did on look on fondly.
She thought over what she knew about the man who's case file she held.
Anthony D. DiNozzo. No note for what the middle initial of D stood for. A special agent for 10 years with NCIS. A federal agency. She had dealt with feds before. Mostly FBI, but a few Secret Service agents were also regular patients of hers. She knew how hard working for such an agency could be on a person. Also, being an agent, Anthony DiNozzo would likely view himself as the hero. The one who saves the victims, not one of the victims himself. Not only would he have to reconcile being an agent and a victim, he would have to come to terms with the assault itself.
Men can not be raped.
It was an old, and widely accepted, but most definitely wrong myth. Although the case of rape against a man was not as widely reported as those against woman, they were none the less just as frequent. The sad fact of matter was, men seldom reported their attack. They feared ridicule, disbelief. They thought they would receive no help, so they were left alone to suffer in silence. Society in general treated male rape as taboo, never to be spoken of or acknowledged, while woman were afforded all the help and resources available.
Doctor Kristoff found it sad, and regrettable. Thus, she had made it her mission to work as much with male survivors as with female, treating one no differently then the other. They were all, in her estimation, victims of a heinous crime, and deserved all the help she could give.
She knew she would have to tread carefully with Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. Approach him slowly, make sure he didn't jump away like a frightened child.
She knocked again. She heard a groan from the other side of the door, then a deep male voice ask, "Who the hell is it?"
Anger. Symptom number 1. Check. "Agent DiNozzo?" She called through the closed door. "I'm Doctor Kristoff. Can I come in?"
What she heard could have been a chuckle, although with a sarcastic edge to it, then, "It's your time, my money, Doc."
She turned the knob and pushed the door inwards. She saw a young, good looking man in his thirties. Tall, and in good shape. Nice eyes, which on closer inspection she saw were a deep green in color. Although his face, marred by healing bruises was hard as stone, his eyes were sad. Lost and frightened. This man was haunted, and not just by his recent ordeal.
"Hello, Agent DiNozzo. I'm Doctor Julianna Kristoff. I suppose Doctor Santea mentioned I would be coming to see you."
"Oh yeah." He pushed himself into a sitting position, damning all uncomfortable hospital pillows and wishing for his own fluffy, down filled ones at home. "The shrink. Let me save you the trouble, doc. I'm messed up, okay? Not any news there. I've always been. This was just the icing on the cake."
"What exactly makes you so sure you are 'messed up'?"
He regarded her standing there at the end of his bed. She certainly didn't look like any shrink he had known. In fact, she looked like a rocker chic. Her white lab coat covered dark jeans encircled by a black silver studded belt at her waist. She had short, spiky, seriously red hair. Like, magenta red. And then there were the boots. Stiletto boots. It was a surprising picture considering that she had to have been at least 60.
He got the feeling hospital dress code made exceptions for her the way NCIS did for Abby. He made a mental note to introduce this doctor to his Goth Lab rat. He had a feeling they'd hit it off.
"Well, lets see. I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but my father later choked me with it at age 12, at which time he shipped me off to school. My mother, who died two years before that, had a thing for men in uniform, proven by the fact she dressed me up in sailor suits until I was 10. Any relationship with my father became null and void when I decided to enter law enforcement. I traveled around like a freaking nomad for years, city to city, department to department, until…for some great unknown reason…NCIS snapped me up. Once there I managed to screw up frequently and get several people killed. And now to make my sorry joke of a life complete, somebody made me their bitch. Did I leave anything out?"
She actually grinned at him. "I do believe that's the most I've gotten out of somebody at first meeting. Tell me, how long have you been holding all that in?"
He shrugged. "I've been know to let it out once or twice, usually when I'm stressed. I think this counts."
"I admit, I'm rather surprised."
"Why is that?"
"I was told you are rather secretive. Good at getting others to reveal things about themselves while keeping yourself hidden."
"I'm a federal agent." he said unapologetically. "It's my job to get people to talk."
"Mind too." She rather liked this Agent DiNozzo. He had spirit that didn't seem to have been permanently damaged. He wasn't broken. With any luck, she could help him to heal.
"Yes, well. In my case I'm trying to get someone to confess to a crime. You are just trying to get them to admit to being crazy. I don't need to admit that to myself, doc. I've always known it. In fact, you can ask anyone. They'll tell you I'm nuts."
She laughed. "Crazy people don't realize that they are crazy, and hardly ever admit to it. Which I guess would make you perfectly sane."
"You're the strangest shrink I've ever met."
"I'll take that as a compliment. Thank you."
Tony stared down at his hands in his lap, wrists still wrapped in gauze. A nurse had come in an hour ago to rub ointment onto the healing wounds. He had seen the grooves left in his skin from the tight ropes. They were beginning to scab over. He wondered if he was going to have scars there. Well, just more to add to the collection, he supposed.
He wondered what this Doctor Kristoff would do if he started showing off all his scars, ala Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 3. Or Richard Dreyfuss and that old fisherman guy who always made him think of Mike Franks in Jaws. Of course, he'd rather show off his scars with Renee Russo, so Lethal Weapon it was.
"Do they hurt?" The doctor asked him. He looked up at her again. There was none of the condescending attitude in her face that he had witnessed with so many other psychologists he'd been forced to see over the years. She seemed willing to let him set the pace, not trying to rush him through, diagnose him with lingering daddy issues, and moving on with nary a backward glance. He still didn't know if he could talk about the…damn it he couldn't even think the word yet, so talking about it was useless.
"Can I ask you something?"
"You can. Can't guarantee I'll answer though."
"Fair enough. You said something before about your mother dressing you in sailor suits and liking men in uniform. What did you mean by that?"
"No what you're thinking. It was embarrassing for me, but that's it. There's no Oedipus complex here, doc."
"Okay. Sorry. Just need to make sure there are no underlying issues we've got to get out of the way first."
He issued another one of those sarcastic, barking laughs. "Oh, believe me, there are plenty of underlying issues, but that isn't one of them."
"I'm glad you're being so forth coming with me, Agent DiNozzo. Most people in your situation tend to close themselves up. I thought before when I saw your blinds closed that you were trying to shut yourself off from view."
"No. Just trying to sleep. Not an easy thing to do in this place. Besides, I've already been stripped bear. Trying to hide myself would be moot at this point."
"So you're not angry?" She asked, trying to gage his reactions. Agent DiNozzo was very good at controlling his facial expressions. But those eyes…those eyes flashed like green fire when she pushed the right button. It was exciting to see. If only she were 20 years younger.
"Angry?" He said, eyes on fire. "Hell, yeah, I'm angry. Not at me. I know I didn't do anything. I've worked in law enforcement long enough to know how a victim feels. A lot of them blame themselves. I've told more then my fair share that they have nothing to be guilty about. No reason I shouldn't listen to my own advice, is there?"
"No, there isn't."
"Are we going to be at this for much longer? My boss will probably be here soon."
"Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs." She said, reading the name off the notes in her file, "Interesting name."
"You better just call him Gibbs. Definitely not Sir. He hates that."
"I'm too old to call anyone Sir. Besides I know how he feels. You should see my reaction when somebody calls my ma'm."
He grinned, and her heart stopped. Oh, this young man was so…she had no words. Her mothering instinct was kicking into overdrive, and that hardly ever happened. How did he do that?
"He probably wouldn't mind whatever you chose to call him. You're not bad looking."
"Young man. I'm old enough to be your mother."
He shrugged one shoulder with nonchalance. "Age is a number. Besides, you are a red head. In my Boss's world, that's a point in your favor."
"No according to Mother Nature I'm not." She wrote a few things down on a yellow pad. "I can't wait to meet your Boss. Something tells me this will be an interesting time."
"How long are we going to have to do this?"
Hmmm. Now there was a question. It would seem Agent DiNozzo was in something of a hurry. It was noted in his medical file that he had a dislike of hospitals. Understandable, considering his history. She noted several instances of broken bones a child, a rather serious knee injury in collage, 4 gun shot wounds, and more concussions then was really necessary in a man his age. Not to mention the bout with the plague.
The plague? Seriously? Now that was a story she wanted to hear.
She also saw notations of his having been checked out after a previous abduction. Really, with a past like this she was surprised he wasn't already under a therapists care.
"I take it you're not a fan of psychiatry?'
"Nothing personal. I just don't see how talking about your problems will make them disappear."
"It won't. It will just make it easier to deal with. I don't offer miracle cures, Agent DiNozzo."
"I don't want to deal with it. I just want to forget it ever happened." He laughed. "Ha! The irony. Just the other day I wanted someone to tell me what happened. Now I wish they never did."
"And there." Doctor Kristoff said with a satisfied smile. "Is where we shall begin."