DiNozzo's Rule, #1

Shellie Williams

Warning: Rated K+ for violence and strong language. This is pure H/C, folks. You may think you see a plot, but it's a figment of your imagination. The story begins in the middle of the action. How they got there is anyone's guess.

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or places of NCIS.

Summary: McGee and DiNozzo find themselves in a dangerous situation with only each other for backup. With each willing to give his life so the other can survive, will either of them make it out alive?

Tony peered cautiously around the corner. His eyes traveled down to the floor and his breath caught in his throat. Forgetting about safety and the fact that three armed men were somewhere in the warehouse, he broke cover and knelt beside McGee. McGee lay on his side. When Tony rolled him to his back, his head lolled disconcertingly against the floor.

"Crap! Tim? Tim, buddy, you with me here?" Tony carefully set his gun on the floor. He cupped one hand beneath McGee's neck and tapped his fingers gently against Tim's cheek. A patch of reddened skin adorning Tim's cheekbone and a split lip created a vision of a beating in Tony's mind. "Aw, Tim. Why didn't you wait for me?"

As if in answer, Tim moaned softly. Encouraged, Tony braced his neck with both hands. "Wake up, Tim."

Eyelashes fluttered and opened. Confusion gazed out at him. "Tony? What happened?"

"I think you found Frazier. How'd you get away from them?"

"I -- I didn't --"

"Then where --?" Tim's widening eyes and the way his focus shifted to somewhere behind him warned Tony an instant too late. He released Tim, but the moment his hand moved toward his gun, a voice spoke.

"Hold it." A foot entered his vision and kicked his gun away.

Tony held both hands up in surrender. A gun dug into his back between his shoulder blades. "Get up."

Gritting his teeth, Tony stood. He turned and found himself face to face with Frazier and two of his henchmen.

"Get him up."

Tony grinned and kept his focus forward. "He's taking a nap right now and I really think we should just let him rest. He's had a hard --"

Frazier moved fast. He punched his fist into Tony's gut. Tony doubled over and laughed weakly, albeit without much humor. "Maybe he's awake now." Turning, he knelt beside McGee. McGee struggled to his feet with Tony's help. His balance seemed off; he stumbled and leaned against Tony before finding his feet.

"Which one of you is McGee?"

"I am," Tony and McGee answered at the same time, then looked at each other.

"Cute." Frazier lifted his gun and held it to Tim's head. "Now, let's try this again -- which one of you is McGee?"

McGee answered quickly. "I am."

"Stop trying to be the hero, DiNozzo." Tony shrugged and grinned at Frazier. "He's always putting himself in harm's way to save others; it's just what he does. I'm Timothy McGee."

Frazier shifted his gun to point at Tony. "You're the computer geek who broke my code and hacked into my system? How'd you do it?"

Tony swallowed hard. "I could tell you – but then I'd have to kill you."

Frazier's lips rolled in and his face turned red. He drew back his gun to hit Tony, but Tim stepped in front of him.

"I'm the computer geek. I bypassed your mainframe using a program I'd written. Once I got through your firewalls, it was easy."

"Easy?" Frazier pointed his weapon at McGee again. Tim took a step back. "Easy? You managed in one hour to bring down an operation that took me nearly seven years to build. I've got the Russian mafia on my tail and the West Side Gang ready to cut off my head. Easy? You've destroyed me, you stupid computer geek. I'll probably be dead by midnight." Fast as a snake strike, Frazier reached out, grabbed Tim by the throat, and pulled him close. "But I'm going to have fun making you pay, first." He grinned and took a step back. "Tie them up. We're bringing them down with us."

The two men behind Frazier reached for Tim and Tony at the same time that two others stepped out from behind them. Outnumbered and outgunned, Tony could do little more than struggle uselessly while his arms were pulled roughly behind him, and his hands tied behind his back. Beside him, Tim suffered through the same treatment.

The men dragged DiNozzo and McGee deep into the warehouse. They entered an office area and walked through it into a tunnel-like corridor. Faint light glowing from recessed bulbs. The passageway wormed its way through the long building.

Tony managed to glance behind his shoulder once and caught a brief glimpse of Tim. They were practically dragging McGee; his head hung low between his shoulders. He didn't have time to get a better view; his handlers jerked him back around to face forward.

The corridor ended at an iron door with a wheel in the center, reminding Tony of his days as an agent afloat. An old sign, faded and covered with a thin layer of filth, announced: Warning! Restricted Area – Do Not Enter. And below that, scrawled across the door in yellowed letters read: Condemned.

Tony cringed with the unearthly squeal that blasted through the corridor when Frazier turned the wheel. "Uh -- guys? I believe the signs say 'Keep Out'. Not in so many words, but they definitely give the message that we should turn back at --" A hard jab to his kidneys stole his breath and effectively shut his mouth.

"Shut up and get in."

Because of the narrowness of the passage, the men ended up one behind the other. Tony found Tim behind him. He slowed down until Tim was nearly leaning on his back. Dropping his voice, Tony checked on Tim.

"How ya doin', Probie?"

"I'm OK." Tim sounded breathless. Tony remembered how he'd found him half-conscious on the floor, and wondered if he had any internal injuries he didn't know about.

"Hang in there, Tim. Gibbs is --"

The man in front of Tony whirled around. Before Tony could defend himself, the guy punched him hard across the jaw. The force of the hit drove him against the wall. Pain drove like a hammered nail into his cheekbone. He blacked out for a second. When awareness returned, he found himself on his knees, pressed against the wall. Tony struggled against the person holding him down, until he heard Tim calling to him.

"Tony! Be still!"

Men's voices rumbled through the corridor, jumbled and confused. He realized that Tim was protecting him, shielding him from the others' anger. Two hard grunts were forced from Tim's body; Tony felt Tim's ribcage convulse against him. He was taking hits meant for Tony.

Alarmed when Tim cried out again, Tony pushed against the wall and made it to his feet. "Stop, stop! I'm up!"

Tim sagged against him, breathing heavy. Unable to offer much support, Tony just set his feet in a wide stance and did his best to keep Tim upright. Someone shoved hard against his shoulder.

"Get going."

Afraid of adding fuel to the anger already building around them, Tony complied. As he turned, his questing fingers found Tim. Patting his side gently, hoping the encouragement he intended was conveyed, Tony continued forward. He was relieved when Tim briefly bumped into him and whispered, "I'm OK," before falling back and following behind.

The ground began sloping downward. Tony stumbled when the floor seemed to drop away beneath him, but then realized they'd moved into a type of stairwell. Whatever faint lighting they'd had faded away. Someone near the front switched on a flashlight, and the beam cut through the darkness like a laser. Another flashlight shown from the rear, so the blackness was held at bay again.

They walked for what seemed like hours. The air turned cooler and damp. Tim stumbled against him once, grunting when he rammed into Tony's back. Tony set his feet, allowing Tim to regain his balance, but they continued walking quickly, afraid their captors would start hitting them again. Although his feet found a rhythm, a sort of mindless cadence, his thoughts churned. He was so engrossed, he almost missed the moment when they came to the end of the passage. They all stopped. Tony bumped lightly into the man ahead of him, then felt Tim do the same behind him. A squeak announced the opening of a door, then light flooded the corridor. For a moment, Tony was blind. He squeezed his eyes closed and moved forward unwillingly as hands grabbed him and pulled him.

Finally, he blinked his eyes open. It took a moment to adjust, and by then they'd walked into an underground room. It had to be underground, but how in the world they'd dug out this much space and managed to get the equipment down here to fortify the walls with concrete and these huge beams, was beyond his comprehension. He was aware of his mouth hanging open in awe, but he made no attempt to close it. Instead, he turned to McGee.

He gasped when he first caught sight of his partner. McGee's face was bruised and bloodied. From his hunched position, Tony guessed his ribs were hurting, too. But the expression on Tim's face mirrored his own: awe. It looked like they'd hit pay dirt. And when McGee caught his eye and gave a small nod, Tony knew he was right.

The calm moment was short lived.