So They'll Know
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: Tony doesn't think he's getting out of this one.
Category: Gen, H/C
Warnings: Adult themes, violence, attempted non-con, potty mouth and intentional
So They'll Know
They want him to beg.
He just wants them to stop.
A spike of white hot pain catches him in the back and he pitches forward, his forehead scraping across the dirt and rocks and he thinks how fortunate he is that his head has broken his fall. He grimaces at the pull in his shoulders and he's not sure how long his hands have been bound behind him, only that his fingers feel puffy and numb. He watches from the corner of his eye as a boot comes into view, then another and someone's walking around him, the snap and crunch of twigs unreasonably loud and he's gasping and blinking rapidly, wetness from his eyes streaking the grime down his cheeks and son of a bitch, that hurt.
But he isn't going to beg.
DiNozzo's don't beg.
They might sit face first in the dirt, gulping back bile and lunch, but they do not beg.
"Fuckin' pig," He feels the spit hit him just below his left ear and he scrunches his face in disgust as it slides down his neck. How original, he thinks. He'd been a cop for six years before coming to NCIS. It isn't the first time he's been called a pig or been spit on. What he hates about spit is this way he has of becoming intensely aware of it. As though all of his nerve endings are connected to that little bit of skin where the liquid slowly slides down and the way it's cold and warm all at once and it's the only thing he's aware of for a small moment of time and all he wants is to Wipe. It. Off.
He rolls his head down and his shoulder up and thinks he does a half decent job of wiping it on his shirt, but now he can smell it. He can smell the guy's breath on his shirt, on his neck and it makes the bile rise a little higher. He swallows compulsively, praying not to vomit. And maybe it's stupid not to want to puke in front of the bad guys. After all, if not for them, he wouldn't feel sick at all, but it was like crying in front of the schoolyard bully. Why give the asshole more ammunition?
"You like it on your knees, cop?"
Oh God. His heart trips and a shaft of fear spears through him. He feels rough fingernails scrape across his scalp and a large hand grips his hair and pulls. Hard. His eyes water and his neck screams in protest as he's bent so far backward that his back is bowed and his fingertips go past his shoes and skim the dirt.
Fetid breath blows in his face and he knows this is the same man that spat on him. He decides the guy needs an altoid in the worst way. He blinks through the grit in his eyes and finds the guy's face inches from his own. He's massive. Sharp features set deep within a square face. He has dark hair and eyes to match it. Tony hadn't seen this man before tonight. When the other two men he'd been sent undercover to bring down had joked about only needing one man to act as muscle for the drop, Tony thought they'd been over confident. Now he thinks it's overkill. Altoid bends closer, his eyes boring into Tony's and he leers in a way that makes the agent's stomach roil.
"I like you on your knees," The man's tongue slides out between his lips and he licks them slowly. Tony's heart is hammering but he leans forward anyway, smiling slowly.
"Go ahead and try it," He says and bares his teeth and snaps them several times, only inches from the guys face. The man startles back and Tony has that one brief moment of satisfaction as Altoid's face flushes scarlet and blotchy with rage before he releases Tony's hair. His fist swings out and catches Tony above the right ear, hard enough to snap him to the side where he rolls once and comes to rest on his left side. His head feels as though someone replaced his brain with a bowling ball and is pinging it off the sides of his head. Nausea rolls through his gut and for a moment all he sees are blotches of red and black.
He doesn't hear Altoid approach, but he feels the sharp pain spike through his back, above his kidney and he hears his strangled cry of pain. The blow sends him rolling again and this time he lands on his back. He looks up through bleary eyes, back muscles seizing, his lungs frozen as the breath is knocked from him. His mouth hangs open before finally air rushes back in and he gulps in lungfuls of it, pain ripping up his back at the effort. His eyes water as Petty Officer Roy Addler comes to stand over him.
He'd hated Roy on sight. There's no reason for it. As far as they know, the man had never killed anyone. He'd never been convicted of violent behavior or even had a speeding ticket for that matter. He called his mother every Sunday and walked his dog every morning. But there had been something in his eyes that Tony hadn't liked and he'd felt only marginally better when Gibbs had seemed to feel it too.
"Watch your six," Gibbs had said as he'd left the office that morning and there had been a meaningful glance to the plasma where Addler's picture was displayed. Now he's looking into the craggy features of Addler and he understands what he'd only glimpsed before but had only known subconsciously. It had been there in the shadows of the man's eyes, in the way he moved with intent, the smile that never put him at ease but set a chill in his spine. Predator. A monster that enjoyed the chase and wanted to play. There are no shadows now. Addler is in full force and not hiding who, or what, he is. No, this man has killed before.
And enjoyed it.
"No one's ever going to find you,"
It's a cliché. But looking up into that grotesque smile, the gleaming eyes…Tony believes him.
"Oh, they're going to find him," That's Lt. Jerry Chesney. His voice is smooth. Everything about him is smooth. His hair, his face, his hands, his car…he makes McGee look like an axe murderer in comparison. Tony had kind of liked him in a- 'I'm still going to cuff him and send him to prison for the rest of his life' kind of way,- or so he'd rapidly told Gibbs. After the head slap, of course.
God, where is Gibbs? The man had to be frantic by now. Well, maybe not frantic. Leroy Jethro Gibbs doesn't do frantic. He does mildly concerned. And then he does one hundred and ten on the freeway.
Chesney crouches down, resting on his haunches and steeples his hands between his knees. Tony's looking at him upside down, his teeth gritted and tries desperately not to pass out.
"Yes, Agent DiNozzo, your friends are going to find you," Chesney leans in, a smile playing at his lips and Tony finds that he can't look away. "They're going to find what's left of you," He's almost whispering and Tony has to strain to hear over the pounding in his ears and it's as though everything else has fallen away and there is just that voice and the stillness of time, as though the world has stopped breathing and they're standing in the eye of the storm. "We're going to set you as an example. They're going to know we killed you slow. Our competitors are going to know what we're capable of," Chesney reaches forward and Tony doesn't even flinch as Chesney runs a finger over the cut above his eye, smearing the blood that's oozing sluggishly. He brings the bloodied digit to his face and stares at it in seeming fascination and speaks again, "Your fellow agents are going to find you here. And they'll know they were too late," he looks Tony in the eye, "they'll know you died on your knees, weak and helpless,"
Something snaps in the stillness as Chesney easily gains his feet and looks to the others. Tony rolls his head and sees Addler's insanity rising in unadaltered joy; watches as Altoid rolls his shoulders and rubs his crotch and something is breaking open. Tony stops breathing. He stares unseeing, past Chesney, the canopy of branches swaying gently above him and the stars beyond.
On your knees.
A crystal clarity is overwhelming him and for one bright moment he is gone from this. He is a shadow standing over his own broken corpse, his clothes torn and gone to show the extent of his agony and now it is morning and he sees Gibbs entering the clearing, gun drawn. The others follow, alert the way their training demands and they see the body, his body. They look away with quick jerks of their heads. They finish clearing the area and then he sees the look on Gibbs' face. He can see the grief he'll never admit to. He can see McGee is trying to hold it together, keep his horror in check and he's still so damn green. He'll have the hardest time coping, but he'll do it. He'll do the job, for him, for Tony. Kate will cry later. Abby will be inconsolable. And Ducky…Ducky will tell Gibbs…
"I'm so sorry Jethro. The beating, the well, the other things done to him...he didn't have a chance. From what your witness stated, he'd already been beaten before he was taken from the warehouse. He was in a weakened state by the time they got him to that forest and what with his hands bound behind him so, there was no way he was able to fight back. I'm just so sorry."
And he can see the anger and rage on Gibbs' face and the sorrow as he takes in the damage his agent was forced to endure before the end. But there is something else there, something besides the grief and rage. Something small and Gibbs will hide it from the others, will do his damndest to deny it to even himself, but Tony can see it as Gibbs reaches out his hand and then pulls it back before he can touch his corpse.
Because Tony had died.
On his knees.
Altoid is bending down and digging his fingers into his shoulder and he's being hauled up and he can see Addler, the glint of a knife glancing back and forth as he waves it in excitement and Chesney is standing back to enjoy the show and he's on his feet now and Altoid thinks he's weak so he isn't holding him to restrain him, just to give Addler easier access and so doesn't react when Tony rears back with all his strength and smashes the back of his skull into Altoid's nose. He can hear the crunch of bone and cartilage as it breaks, even over the roar of pain and rage Altoid makes. His shoulder is released and he stumbles forward and Addler is laughing and lunging for him and Tony drops to his hip at the last moment and swings his legs around, sweeping Addler off his feet. He goes down with a yelp and without thinking, Tony swivels on his ass and brings his heel down again and again and again and he can't see for the tears of pain as he pushes his abused body beyond its limits and the grit and grime but he is not going to die helpless. His team, his friends…Gibbs is not going to find him like that.
There's a wet gurgling sound coming from Addler and he's bringing his foot down again but it doesn't connect because he's jerked from the ground and now he's flying through the air. He hits the ground hard and rolls, the air knocked from him, his nose in the dirt and before he can do anything, his shoulder's in a vice and he's shoved onto his back. He grunts as Altoid drops onto him, the man's thick thighs on either side of his hips, knees digging into the side of his ribs and Altoid is bent over him, one massive hand gripping his hair, forcing his head back while the other is going lower, and the blood from Altoids' broken nose is dripping onto Tony's face and he can hear Chesney swearing obscenities in the background and he knows he's pretty far gone when the profanity makes him smile.
"I don't know what you're grinning at asshole, but I'm gonna wipe it off your fucking face when I rip you apart,"
It's the jerk of his pants' fly that brings him back. This isn't going to happen. They aren't going to find him this way. He knows he's going to die tonight. But not this way.
"Not. This. Way."
And with what strength he has left, he rears up, hoping to God his head is as thick as everyone thinks it is and smashes it into Altoid's already crushed nose. Altoid screams and sits back, his hands going to his face, blood pouring between his fingers. Tony bows his head and rears forward again, hitting the guy in the chest, throwing him off balance and he wastes no time in scooting backward, out from under the man mountain and he stumbles to his feet, falls, gets to his knees and tries to stagger to his feet again when he's jerked back and there's no air and he's being pulled back by something wrapped around his throat, a belt, and he kicks his heels as he's dragged across the dirt and rocks and he gulps and puffs his cheeks in and out and black spots are crowding his blurred vision and this is it and it's not okay but Altoid is too enraged to play now and that is okay.
Blackness creeps its inky fingers across his eyes. One more hard pull and there's a flash of blinding white light across his vision and he sees it, sees them.
"What do you have for me, Duck?"
And Ducky is gentle and reluctant, but determined and he turns and waves his finger for Gibbs to follow and he's leading him to the autopsy table where Tony sees his body lay, bruises stark against the grey skin. "You see here, the bruising to the back of his head here?"
"Yeah, what about it?" Gibbs asks hoarsely. And he looks impatient and curious and sick all at the same time so Ducky goes on, looking at him intently with that way he has.
"I find it coincidental that the suspect you brought in for his murder has a severely broken nose, which would be consistent with blunt force trauma. The kind of trauma one might receive if one were holding someone from behind and their victim reared back, "
Gibbs gives a ghost of smile, "You know how I feel about coincidences,"
"Yes, quite. Which is why I also found the bruising on his heel odd. Unless of course, you contribute it to the crushed esophagus of Petty Officer Addler. I suppose we can't be completely sure until we've compared the blood sample found on Anthony's shoe with Addlers'," Ducky looks at him now. At his closed eyes and bruises and yet sees beyond. "But I would think, based on conjecture, our dear boy went down fighting,"
And this time, this time, Gibbs moves forward, and carefully skims his hand along Tony's forehead, his eyes drowning in sorrow and pain and loss and one more thing.
"We don't need those bastards to be sure, Duck,"
Fire rushes up his throat as air returns. He arches his back and screams hoarsely at the pain that rips through him from the movement but the scream takes what's left of the air and he gulps and struggles and there's just. No. Air.
There are hands now and they're pulling him up and God it hurts but he's being leaned against something soft and he doesn't understand and he's still gulping and gasping and what the hell is going on?
"Easy now, that's it, breathe. Just breathe. I've got you. We're here now. We're right here," and the murmuring goes on and on and through the roaring in his ears the words finally register as does their owner.
"Shh, just breathe. I'm here,"
He feels a roughened hand slide across his forehead and gently pull his head back until he's resting against Gibbs' shoulder and he feels Gibbs' press his lips to the crown of his head and the tears that fall then have little to do with grit and grime and pain. He feels Gibbs' rest his chin lightly on his head and allows himself to fall a little further into the warmth of Gibbs' body. He's cold. Terribly cold all of sudden and he thinks shock but it's okay now because Gibbs is here and Ducky will be there eventually. Not because the ME is lost again but because he doubts Palmer is brave enough to keep up with Gibbs on back roads in the middle of the night.
He doesn't realize his eyes are closed until they slit open of their own volition. Through the grit in his eyes he can just make out a dark lump, it's booted toes pointing upwards and he knows it's Altoid and he knows why his feet are sticking up like that.
Gibbs huffs a small chuckle and he can feel the air ruffle his hair as it puffs out.
"Yeah, well, I left my Gucci shoe in my other holster,"
It takes him a second but he gets it as he carefully glances to the left where another dark lump is stretched out. It's a little misshapen around the head area. McGee is taking pictures and even through the blur that is his vision he can see how green the probie is turning. The kid looks his direction and startles to see Tony watching him. But then he smiles, like he's happy his daily tormentor is okay and there's something else in his gaze. Something like, like awe perhaps. He smiles around the crack in his lip, feeling it puff and swell but he doesn't care.
"…they're Xenga, Gibbs,"
"Of course they are,"
He feels the arm around his middle tense and the hand resting on his side curl into a fist.
"Kate and Balboa have him in the car,"
"…thought he'd need a…a body bag once you got here," He's pleased his breathing is getting easier. Well, when Gibbs doesn't tighten his grip it does.
"Bastard gave himself up,"
There's another huff of air above him, Gibbs version of amusement. They sit quietly a few moments. He's working on taking air in and out, trying to quell the pain that sears through his back with every breath. A part of him realizes his hands are free now, arms hanging limply. His fingers might be twitching, but he still can't feel them so he doesn't know for sure. He'd rather concentrate on his numb appendiges instead of other things. He's trying not to think about Altoid's leering face and what could have happened and for the most part he doesn't. Doesn't mean he won't later but he shoves the thought down deep and lets himself float. His team is here now. Gibbs is here now. Isn't it enough for now? It's a moment more when his sharp ears pick out the high tone of an ambulance. It's still a few miles out and he thinks it's one of the most beautiful sounds in the whole damn world.
It's McGee. Tony continues to stare forward, letting everything wash over him, happy in the little daze he's achieving. He feels Gibbs' shift his head so he's looking up, but doesn't otherwise move.
"Ducky just called. He's leading the ambulance in,"
He feels Gibbs nod, "Go wait for them and direct them here,"
"Yes, boss," There's a hesitation, "I'm glad you're okay, Tony,"
Tony blinks and sluggishly lifts his head. He smiles because it's funny. He's not okay. He hurts like hell and knows he looks worse, if possible. Yet, somehow, he knows he will be. So he smiles his real smile, because it's nice to know Tim cares.
"Me too, Probie,"
McGee nods and runs off to wait for the ambulance and it's just them. Well, them and the corpses.
There's a gentle squeeze from the arm wrapped around him.
"You did good, Tony," Gibbs says softly, relief etched in every syllable.
He wants to hear this. He really does. But the pain is getting worse and he's exhausted and he doesn't deserve the praise anyway so he mumbles,
"Because someone at the warehouse recognized you. Not because of something you did,"
Well, that was good to know. The warehouse was one big blank. He remembers walking in. Remembers an argument, then pain. He remembers waking up as they dragged him from the trunk.
"So I…I did good?" His eyes keep sliding closed and he thinks it's not really fair. This is the only part of the whole freaking night he wants to remember. Not sleep through.
"Yeah, you did good," The arm squeezes again and the thought worms it's way inside his mind that Gibbs must have been worried. Honest to God worried. Warmth floods his chest and it has nothing to do with internal bleeding. "You stayed alive until we could get here,"
His eyes are closing. "Had to make you know," Gibbs says something but it's far away and he's floating and he can hear the ambulance and there are other voices getting closer and he's jostled and that's Gibbs speaking again.
"What Tony? What did you want me to know?" He says it like he's been repeating it and Tony mumbles once before he lets the darkness steal the pain away.
"…that I fought back…didn't die without a fight..."
"Aw hell, DiNozzo," He's already unconscious so doesn't hear anymore and he doesn't feel the arms tighten around him. "I'd know that anyway."