Keep Hanging On

by

Soul Music

For the time of year, the weather wasn't particularly cold, but it still felt that way. The wind that had just started to pick up was whipping through the thin threads of his suit jacket and causing him to hunch his shoulders against the chilly attack. The sky was a murky black, coloured only by air pollution and the occasional spark of a streetlight as he passed under their dull orange glow. His shoes were the only sound that echoed down the empty street. Empty was definitely the right word, only three cars lined the sidewalk and there wasn't another pedestrian down the entire pavement. At least not one that he could see.

Pulling one hand out of the confines of his pocket, he checked the time on the watch, having to pause for a moment under the street light glow to see the numbers. 11:26. Half an hour for the next morning to roll around. Running a hand through his brown hair, he continued on his walk down the quiet street, keeping green eyes out for the watch.

The buildings on either side towered up in black shadows reaching towards the even more shadowed sky. "Hey, kid!" A voice shouted from a dark alcove in the wall. He jumped, cursing himself for letting someone take him by surprise, but, he ignored the voice, continuing on his way. "Oh! Look who's high 'n' mighty, not payin' any attention to us. Ya see that, Brad? Ignorin' us."

Not going to get provoked, not going to help. The voice inside his head repeated on a loop like a broken record. Just keep walking. And he did, his pace measured. Speeding up right now wouldn't help. Or maybe it would. Heavy footfalls came into hearing behind him, the uneven sound of four flat feet thudding against the concrete of the sidewalk. He sighed, ignoring the voice in his head. He turned. "What?"

"He turned! Woah, kid has balls." The first, and taller of the two, exclaimed

"Something you obviously don't have."

"And a sense of humour." The second sniggered, crossing his arms across his chest.

"Look, I don't have a wallet, I don't have a phone. My watch isn't worth anything, but you can have my shoes, you could beat some sense into each other with them."

The taller's smirk faded, replaced with a snarl that made him look lopsided.

"Brad." It was an order as well as a name. The shorter sniggerer stepped forward, lunging out at his arm. All his fingers came back with was the fabric of a jacket. But that was enough to pull the kid towards him. The boy couldn't've been more than fifteen, but he brought his foot down on Sniggers toes, causing him to let out a yelp, releasing him into the night.

"What the hell was that!" shouted the leader, taking off after the boy with a long-legged advantage. He'd just reached the corner onto the bigger, more main street when the back of his jacket was grabbed, hauling him backwards into the grip of the leader. Brad appeared by his side a moment later, the face of a thoroughly pissed man plastered over his mouth.

"Little bastard. Don't know what's good for you." The leader hissed into his ear. Something cold pressed against his neck, the unmistakable steel of a pen knife. His adam's apple bobbed, but his jaw was set.

"Search him, Brad. With threads like these he's gunna have somethin' on him."

The boy was about to open his mouth to comment was a soft clicking noise behind the three 'buddies' caused the kid's capture to stiffen, his knuckles turning white against the handle of his blade. The boy couldn't see what was happening behind him, and didn't feel turning his head towards the noise would benefit him in the long run, since that would mean turning his neckline into the blade.

"Uh, Brad…I think we've got all we need, right."

"Yeah, I'd say so." And with that, in the quick second of movement, the kid found himself pushed into the wall, his head smacking into the brick. The footsteps were fading away when he'd finished sliding down the wall, blinking to clear his confusion. He brought his green eyes up to see the half-shadowed figure replacing a gun into the holster by his waist. Blue eyes turned towards the boy, watching for a second before extending a hand towards him. "Thanks." He muttered, taking the proffered hand, a double meaning of 'thanks for before and thanks for now.' The man didn't reply, didn't even nod at first, just watched him carefully, making the boy avert his eyes. He hated being stared at.

"What's your name?" The voice was surprisingly gentle for the exterior.

"Anthony DiNozzo. Are you usually in the habit of rescuing damsels in distress?"

Was that a smile he just saw? It was! A quick flash, finally the voice would match the face. But, no, it returned to the unreadable expanse within a second.

"Gibbs!" A voice hissed from the darkness. Another figure jogged up behind the white haired man, zipping up a jacket against the outside chill. The man now that had been addressed as Gibbs turned towards the runner, who was younger with a shock of blonde hair and a gun obvious in its holster beside his hip. "What's this?"

"This is a person who needs a name and doesn't like being called 'this'." Tony, since Anthony was such a mouthful, replied with attitude, brushing down his arm. His head still hurt, but he'd had worse. He knew what a concussion usually felt like, and this was just a goose-egg type job. Nothing life threatening. Gibbs gave another one of his half smiles which disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. He ignored the other agent's question, addressing Tony instead.

"Where are your parents, Anthony? It's late to be out." Tony shrugged at that, laughing softly.

"New York, probably. Or Miami, perhaps Cuba. They don't tell me. And Tony, I prefer it."

"So, what are you doing here?"

"Being forgotten about." Came the simple answer. Being forgotten about, Gibbs thought, internal bells being set off by those three simple words. Who would forget about their child, leave them on the cold streets of Washington. He didn't even have a bag on him. How old was this child? Fifteen perhaps, at a stretch. He'd go with a safer bet of fourteen, so he asked.

"Fifteen next March." Which did make him fourteen.

"Cadmen, get back the car. Where're you staying Tony?" Gibbs waved off the blonde agent off and he turned his back, revealing the letters 'NCIS' on the back of his jacket.

"I don't know. My father checked out of the hotel, took the bags." The boy looked down at the dark pavement, a shiver running through his lanky frame. A flash of anger flickered across Gibbs' blue eyes; he unzipped his jacket and held it out towards the cold teen. He wasn't all that surprised to see Tony flinch. A father like the one that had just been described to him wasn't going to be winning any awards for looking after their child. After a moment of green eyes carefully looking over the gesture, Tony took the proffered coat thankfully, wrapping it around his shoulder.

A light feeling of must was developing in Gibbs' chest towards this child. It had been less than ten minutes and already he felt some connection towards the boy, and a great deal of anger to those he called parents. "C'mon, you can come back with me." A glimmer of uncertainty, or was that fear, registered in Tony's expressive green eyes. "It's alright; I'm not going to hurt you." He reached inside a pocket and pulled out his badge. He didn't know why he'd said the words, but they seem to have worked. They'd felt right to say.

Tony accepted the offer by taking the step towards Gibbs and following him over to the second of two black sedans. The first was occupied by the blonde haired agent, Roy Cadmen, who had jogged over and another male agent in the passenger seat. The second was empty until Gibbs' opened the passenger door for Tony and the driver's side for him.

Gibbs pulled out first, Cadmen following with the quiet drive back to the Navy Yard. Somewhere on the straight lines and curving corners of the roads, Tony had rested his head back against the window and closed his green eyes. Sleep had followed soon after. The silence in the car hadn't bothered Gibbs, even if he did cast a concern filled glance towards the boy sitting next to him. Concern. Real concern. Not just vague worry that anyone with an ounce of humanity had for other people but true, exact, apprehension for his well-being. He hadn't felt anything close to it since Kelly. A surprise to say the least. He permitted himself a small smile as he pulled into the underground car park, killing the headlights leaving only the light from outside to illuminate the passengers.

And that's when he saw the bruises, the dark circles under the eyes, the barely healed cut hiding beneath the brown hairs.


First chapter done. Always a good sign. It's not beta'd, if anyone wants to beta I'd be overjoyed, but at the moment I don't have one, so I apologise for mistakes and such. Reviews are like chocolate cake and if I had virtual chocolate cake I'd give it to every reviewer. And that's it!

Soul Music!