Thanks once again to everyone who has taken the time to read and review this story; it has been greatly appreciated and kept me going through to the end. A special thanks to Mysteryfan17 who took the time to message me with corrections and for the help with the medical jargon.
This is the final chapter for 'Baltimore' although I am considering doing another fic. that deals with Tony's early days at NCIS, as well as a one-shot where Téa comes to visit Tony at NCIS after spending a few years in the Witness Protection Program.
This ended up quite a lot longer than I had expected it to be; in fact, instead of being the shortest chapter it is the longest one, so it's less of an epilogue and more of a whole other (final) chapter…sorry!
"Hello Agent Gibbs," Tony said as the Senior Agent eventually answered his mobile phone.
"DiNozzo," came the greeting. It seemed as though the reticent Agent was even more so on the phone.
"Listen, I know I'm supposed to be in DC tomorrow to register with Human Resources and everything, but I was kind of hoping for a lift sometime today, and I was kind of hoping you would give me that lift. The problem is that I'm not really up for driving at the moment and Sam's leg is nowhere near healed enough for that yet and I really wanted to get there and start sorting stuff out. I don't think I could manage public transport too well with my bags and everything and…" he would have continued if the older man had not interrupted.
"When and where?" Gibbs asked.
"You give me the when," Tony supplied with a sigh of relief. He been getting himself worried that once he was forced to write out a forest's worth of forms he would have no time to get to the equally important tasks of finding an apartment, changing his doctor, arranging physical therapy at a DC hospital and learning all he would need to know about what would be expected of him at NCIS before work got in the way of it all.
"As for the where, there's a little diner just across the street from the 22nd Precinct. The coffee there is really good," he supplied with a grin, all too aware that coffee would always be a selling point with the NCIS Agent.
"Sure," Gibbs agreed. "Lunch time ok with you?"
"Yeah that's fine," Tony agreed, glad that Agent Gibbs was being so accommodating, even if he wasn't being particularly loquacious about it.
"One o'clock, then," Gibbs confirmed before hanging up.
"Thanks," Tony said to the dial tone. "Alright, good talk."
"You didn't expect him to talk about the weather, did you?" Sam asked with a wry grin.
"It's been an unusually warm day," Tony replied with an equally sardonic smile of his own.
Sam had been the one to recommend calling Gibbs for a lift, certain that the Senior Agent would agree to it and make sure that his partner would arrive safely and in one piece; Tony had a few very choice comments to make about the man's driving skills to countermand that particular argument: 'he drives like he's dodging bullets and bombs, not afternoon traffic, although that does become essential when driving on the wrong side of the damn road!'
"Come on, let's get to the diner," Sam suggested. "It's past eleven and I know you haven't had breakfast yet; I'm not sending you off to DC on an empty stomach."
Tony had been staying with Sam under the belief that together, they almost made up one whole and healthy person; together they could just about make a meal and sort out cabs to and from the hospital and do the grocery shopping.
Cathy had been in and out of the apartment checking up on her father and his partner; she had threatened Tony with all manner of unspeakable acts if he was uncooperative in any way with the doctor's orders.
Several people from the 22nd Precinct had been stopping by with food and offering lifts to various different hospital appointments, and many more just to talk and check up on the two injured men; Sam thought it had done to kid some good to see that not everyone in Baltimore thought his leaving was a good thing.
Last night, the two of them had been alone and Sam was grateful that Lisa Wells had managed to curb any more impromptu visits from co-workers; between hospital appointments, people stopping by and the sheer exhaustion they both felt at the end of the day, the two men hardly had time to talk.
They spent most of the evening talking about the job and the various cases they had worked together; they talked about first impressions and when things had started to change in their working relationship. They laughed and had a good banter, as they so often did; impressions of the inept Captain Barnett followed their own law enforcement version of the Darwin Awards.
They talked about a lot, but neither of them was really saying anything.
It wasn't until the end of the night that the topics of DC, Gibbs and NCIS came up.
"You know I'm never going to hold it against you, right?" Sam asked after catching another look of barely concealed dejection cross his partner's face. "I mean, I'm the one pushing for you to go."
"I know," Tony said quietly, finally giving up trying to mask his emotions. "I just…I feel like I'm abandoning you to deal with…well…all this," he gestured towards Sam's knee and the walking stick by his chair.
"Hardly," Sam almost laughed, finding the idea of Tony abandoning anyone ridiculous; the kid's own abandonment issues meant that he was rarely the one to let go first in any situation.
"I know you call me the mother-hen, but kid, you are just as bad, if not worse, than I am; you're always there making sure I'm taking my meds and eating as well as acting like my own one person cheer-team. Half the time I have to bite my tongue to keep from strangling the life out of you," he smiled at his partner to show that, while Tony's concern for his welfare could become slightly overbearing, he had always appreciated it.
"Yes, well…now you know how I feel," Tony returned the grin, completely unrepentant.
"I do," Sam nodded fervently. "And I still won't stop making sure you've taken your own meds and that you're eating right, just as I know you're not going to forget about me the moment I'm out of sight."
Tony looked up at that, directly into his partner's eyes and Sam could read the anguish in them despite the reassuring words he had tried to give to his young partner.
"I won't be in Baltimore, Sam," Tony quietly pointed out.
"I know," Sam nodded, finally having a fair idea of where it all was going.
"DC is over an hour away…at least it is if you drive like a normal person," Tony supplied, thinking of Gibbs and his unique approach to something that vaguely resembled driving.
"Tony, even if you end up changing your next of kin to someone you find in DC, I'm not going to just abandon you," Sam stressed. "If you get wounded, or even if you just have a really crappy day, I would still be more than happy to travel down Route 95 and make you buy me a whiskey. Just because we're going to be in different cities that doesn't mean we're going to stop being family."
Tony looked up sharply at that.
Sam had never hid his feelings about Tony and the fact that the kid had a place in his small family, but the words had rarely, if ever, been spoken aloud.
Tony was worried about being away from Sam and in a different city; he didn't know anyone in DC…he didn't even know the city!
If something were to happen to him in DC, he would be alone in a city full of strangers.
If something were to happen to Sam in Baltimore, how would he even know?
"Come on, Tony," Sam tried to reassure his young partner again. "I'm not even a cop anymore; I'm going to be in far less danger than I have been. The last time I was nothing more than a civilian was just before I joined the Army; it'll be nice not to be facing the business end of a gun for once," he joked.
"Have you had anymore thought on what you're going to do?" Tony asked, changing the subject; he knew his partner might be depressed about his new disability, but he also knew that Sam was not ready for retirement and the relative inaction that it promised.
Sam sighed at the change in topic but didn't push his partner; he knew that there would be plenty of phone calls and visits to sort through everything once Tony was in DC and everything had fallen into perspective.
"I don't know," Sam finally said with a sigh. "Maybe I'll try and get a job as an instructor or something at the Police Academy; if they'll have me."
"They'd be stupid not to," Tony pointed out, a fierce frown across his forehead. "I'm only as good as I am because of you."
"You're not, but thanks anyway," Sam replied with a smile. Tony was insecure about many of the more personal aspects of his life, but he had always been confident about his abilities as a policeman. "You were a good cop long before I ever got my hands on you, Tony; I just used you to make me look good," he grinned and was relieved to see that his partner was smiling a genuine smile.
"I always suspected," Tony winked. "But in all seriousness, it would be a mistake not to hire you; I might have had the instincts before, but you're the one who taught me how to harness them."
"Thanks," Sam said. "Maybe I'll fill in an application the next time a post opens up; if I'm good enough then I'll get the job and if I'm very lucky, who knows, I might get a whole class full of Nixons to teach."
Tony almost spat out his beer as he choked back a laugh.
The diner was relatively quiet, having finished with the morning rush; Sam limped to a table by the window and watched as Tony carefully eased himself into the seat. Technically speaking, the kid should still be chowing down pain medication, but as stubborn as ever, Tony had refuse to refill his prescription and was struggling through the pain.
When the physiotherapy had first started Tony had been more than grateful for the painkillers, as they managed to take the edge of the worst of the exercises. However, as the mobility in his upper body was returning, the kid had decided to try and ride out the pain; Tony hated being out of control, especially of himself, and the drugs really did seem to affect him more than most.
Sam had an appointment with his own physiotherapist just before one and time was running out before he'd have to find a cab.
"You'll call me once you get there?" he asked his partner.
"Yes, Dad," Tony replied with a patient smile. The two of them had spent their morning talking about what was going to happen over the next few weeks; Tony felt almost sick at the thought of going back to school.
Correspondence with Agent Gibbs had been brief over the past few weeks, but the Senior Agent had told him all about the classes he was expected to take at the FLETC; Tony thought that his time at the Academy and on the job should have been enough for the Agency, but apparently not.
"And you'll take it easy?" Sam inquired with concern. "Just because you've decided that you don't need the painkillers anymore, that doesn't necessarily make it so; you're still a long way from fully recovered, Tony, and you've still got a lot of physio to get through."
Tony released a sigh that spoke of long-suffering. "You are definitely the bigger mother-hen," he decided firmly, one eyebrow quirked in amusement.
"I'm being serious, Tony," Sam gently reprimanded him. "You never take care of yourself when you're injured or ill and you really don't understand the idea of 'taking it easy' no matter how simple a concept it actually is; you're climbing the walls after half a day of being forced to stay indoors."
Tony didn't say anything as he knew that Sam spoke the truth; half the time he felt like climbing the walls and bouncing off the ceiling before throwing himself out of the window, just for something to do. Tony had never done well sitting still and doing nothing.
Thankfully a waitress came and saved Tony from having to find a response.
"I feel like a bacon bagel and a coffee please," he told the woman, ignoring Sam's overly dramatic eye-rolling at his dietary habits. "Bacon is a good source of protein, thank you," he said with a knowing grin towards his partner.
"Eating something that isn't dripping in fat is not going to kill you, Tony," Sam replied dryly. "Vegetables are good for more than just pizza toppings."
Tony did not look convinced.
Gibbs found the Detective waiting for him inside the small diner they had agreed to meet at; the younger man had told Gibbs that the coffee was good and the Senior Agent could hear the grin that accompanied that little titbit over the phone.
He ordered two coffees to go; he was happy to drive to Baltimore to pick up his future agent, but that didn't mean he had the desire to hang around the city all day. He picked up the Detective's belongings stopping DiNozzo in his tracks from doing just that, before nodding to him and gesturing towards the door; the younger man had clearly expected an abrupt departure as he had his own little go-bag full of food.
"Have you got anything else?" Gibbs asked the younger man, gesturing to the two bags he had just placed in the boot of the car.
"No, this is everything," Tony answered, gesturing to the rucksack that he carried.
Gibbs nodded and closed the boot; he wasn't sure what he should feel at the fact that DiNozzo could pack two years of his life into two bags and a rucksack.
As they climbed into the car Gibbs could not help the systematic assessment of the younger man. From the careful way he moved, Gibbs could tell that DiNozzo was not yet fully recovered; it was to be expected with a chest wound and Gibbs was glad that the courses at the FLETC would keep the man occupied until he was in a better physical state.
Jacobs had warned him that Gibbs' new partner was anything but co-operative when he was ill or injured; the last time he had been shot, DiNozzo had apparently decided that 'down-time' meant helping his elderly next-door neighbour repair and repaint his living room after the apartment above had sported a leak.
Gibbs was not going to let the younger man compromise his health simply because he was bored but on the other hand he knew what it was like to need distraction from an aggravating wound and the boredom that down-time inevitably entailed.
Ducky seemed to manage well enough trying to ensure some measure of Gibbs' co-operation during recovery; the elderly M.E. could do the same for Tony and then Gibbs wouldn't be forced to spew forth a hypocritical diatribe on the merits of bed-rest.
Apart from the pain that DiNozzo was almost a master at controlling, there were other signs that the young man was less than happy. The small, tight lines of pain surrounding his eyes aside, the dark circles spoke to more than just sleepless nights; Gibbs didn't expect the man to be completely happy at leaving Baltimore and his former partner behind, but he hadn't expected the almost haunted look that seemed to permeate his eyes.
The man whose spirit seemed to be almost irrepressible was clearly depressed.
He figured it was more to do with Sam Jacobs than anything else; DiNozzo was loyal to a fault to the man and Gibbs envied that devotion aware that his own team, what was left of it at any rate, felt no such sense of complete loyalty or faith in him.
He would have to try and lift the dark cloud that DiNozzo seemed quite content to shroud himself in; he didn't want to younger man to regret his decision before he even had a chance to see what Gibbs was trying to offer him.
He would have to get the man talking, but he suspected that if he were to start asking questions about Jacobs he might just get a fist to the jaw for his troubles. He knew that DiNozzo had a temper, one that he was far more adept at controlling than Gibbs could ever hope to be with his own; however, the man would react if pushed further than he was willing.
Gibbs was used to people reacting to his own temper in a few ways; Ducky would give him a disappointed look, or worse, an understanding look at a time when Gibbs really didn't want to be understood. Abby would inevitably give him a hug or slip into ASL with silent words of comfort that Gibbs would never share with anyone else.
However, Blackadder and Burley and so many other names and faces reacted in a predictable fashion; a hasty 'yes, Boss' as they scrambled to obey his every whim no matter how much passion and anger were fuelling their Boss' actions into the unpredictable and the unreasonable.
Although Gibbs never liked his orders to be questioned, he knew what could happen when there was no one to do such a thing; he'd seen negative results as both a Marine and an Agent with NCIS when a superior chose to do as they pleased rather than what they should have done.
In DiNozzo, he believed he had finally found someone who would follow his orders, but not unquestionably so; he had enough confidence in the younger man to know that if DiNozzo thought the situation warranted it, he would say the ever fateful 'no.'
Gibbs also knew with certainty that DiNozzo had the discretion to do so quietly, without causing a scene or compromising someone's status.
"How have things been going in Baltimore?" Gibbs asked, finally breaking the silence in the car. He was curious to know the answer, but more than that, he hoped to glean something from DiNozzo's reply; he wanted to know just how much the events were affecting the young man, because he had no doubt that DiNozzo was feeling an impact.
"Pretty much how you'd expect," Tony shrugged as he watched the Baltimore scenery speed by him. "It's a bit like how I imagine 1950's America to have been…you know, with McCarthy and HUAC and naming names; 'I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the Lamb organisation'."
"Are there a lot of people going down for this?" Gibbs knew that DiNozzo would be less than happy with someone getting away with their crimes, especially someone who had been breaking the very laws they were supposed to be upholding. He wondered what Tony would say if he ever found out about Gibbs' own mission of vigilante justice down in Mexico.
"Less than we thought," Tony said with a frown. "So far, all the evidence suggests that Lamb had nowhere near the amount of cops on her payroll as we originally thought and was simply using the fear of a lot of dirty cops to control others; those few were, however, very widespread. She had a couple of Feds, a couple of US Marshals, various Detectives and Uniforms from several different departments…hell…she even had a traffic warden," he shook his head a little bemused at that.
"Some people aren't going to be facing prison time, because they were coerced into co-operating, like Carlson was," Tony didn't know what to think about that; on the one hand they had their lives and the lives of their families threatened, on the other hand, none of them had even attempted to report the situation.
"Carlson isn't going to prison?" Gibbs asked incredulously, thinking of the US Marshal who had killed his partner in a panic while attempting to follow Lamb's orders.
"No, Carlson will definitely be going to prison," Tony assured the older man. "I think that they're probably going to go for a lesser charge, though; manslaughter, third degree murder at the most."
"You ok with that?" Gibbs inquired softly, thinking of the young man's staunch devotion to upholding the law.
"I think so," Tony nodded. "I mean, he killed his partner and he should definitely pay for that, but at the same time the guy was terrified of what was going to happen to his family. I just can't help but wonder what might have happened if he had tried to report it to someone," Tony shook his head sadly as he thought of all the lives that might have been saved.
"No point in wondering about it, DiNozzo," Gibbs supplied, knowing all too well that the game of 'what if…' never got anyone anywhere. "He didn't know who to trust and that would have been a hell of a risk to take with his family. Besides, who is to say that we would have closed down the trafficking ring?
"We might have caught some of the people involved…we may even have caught Lamb, but there was no guarantee that we would have found out about the girls or Club Abër if the murders hadn't led us there."
"Yeah," Tony sighed. "Maybe you're right," he offered unconvincingly. "Closing down that ring came at a hell of a price though," he muttered softly as he returned to watching the remains of Baltimore fade into the distance.
As they entered DC, Tony pulled out his wallet and looked for an address he had written down. "Do you know where the Potomac View Motel is, just off the 11th Street Bridge?" Tony asked.
"Sure," Gibbs said before questioning "Why?"
"I've got a room there," Tony informed him. "I needed a place to stay while I looked for an apartment and it was just the other side of the river to the naval yard; it seemed like a pretty convenient place to be," Tony shrugged.
Gibbs couldn't help the frown that creased his brows; he knew that everyone said the second 'b' was for bastard but had DiNozzo honestly not expected any help in his move to DC. The younger man wasn't just moving to a new job, but a new city, and he was wounded to boot!
"DiNozzo, I've already set up the guest room," Gibbs tried to keep the frustration out of his voice; they hadn't even approached the topic of work yet and already the younger man's insecurities were shining through. Gibbs hadn't hired DiNozzo with the intention of leaving him floundering in paperwork and the courses at FLETC while the Senior Agent just got on with his job.
Hell…his job was to look after DiNozzo!
If the younger man was going to secure a permanent spot on Gibbs' team then he was going to have to get used to the Senior Agent barking out directives with regards to his team and their welfare. Gibbs might not be the most approachable of people and he certainly didn't want to share what he considered to be insignificant personal details, but he did like to know that his team was safe and whole and able to do their job without issue.
"The guest room…your guest room?" Tony questioned. "I'm staying with you?" he couldn't hide the surprise in his voice.
"DiNozzo, unless I imagined the whole affair in Baltimore where you were shot and had extensive surgery to remove a bullet from your chest, I'm pretty sure that you are going to need help with a few things," Gibbs supplied dryly.
He didn't think much good would come out of telling DiNozzo that Jacobs had been on the phone several times and threatened severe bodily harm if Gibbs allowed his wayward new partner to come to any grief. Jacobs might need a walking stick to move but Gibbs knew there was nothing wrong with the man's trigger finger.
"I'm fine," Tony insisted, frowning at the implication that he would need help.
Gibbs tried hard not to roll his eyes; Jacobs had also spent a great deal of time explaining what, exactly, 'I'm fine' could incorporate. Apparently it could actually mean that Tony was fine, but more often than not it meant that he had been shot or was suffering from a concussion or a fever or broken ribs or any number of injuries and ailments.
"Good to know," Gibbs replied. "Now, you'll be fine at my place for a few days."
Gibbs' house was not entirely what he had expected, but then he had never really expected to see the place, either, so he'd not spent a lot of time contemplating the potential décor.
It was almost homely and the sofa had an actually cushion and a blanket draped over the back of it; of course, Tony noted the lack of a television and saw that there was only one small bookcase and wondered what the man did to entertain himself.
He should probably call Sam and let him know that he had arrived safely; they had spent their time together at the diner purposefully keeping their conversation away from DC and all that the move entailed, desperately clinging onto the normalcy and stability of their friendship.
"Guest room's this way," Gibbs motioned as he carried the younger man's bags up the stairs. "Bathroom is down the hall to the right," he nodded. "I've left you some towels on the bed."
The room was quite small, but large enough to hold a double bed, a wardrobe and a desk. Gibbs' entire house seemed to be full of well-polished wood in various different colours and textures; Tony thought that it made the place seem warmer and more comfortable.
"I'll leave you to unpack," Gibbs said as he left Tony alone; the Senior Agent was a little unnerved by how quiet the younger man was being. He'd taken the rest of the day off work to try and help get the younger man settled and make sure he had everything he needed to get through the coming weeks.
He heard a quiet 'Hey Sam' through the door and left the younger man to it. The two of them would have to go out grocery shopping later; he hadn't wanted to go without DiNozzo in case the man had any particular dietary requirements.
Bringing a new agent onto his hand-picked team was turning out to be a whole hell of a lot more work than he had anticipated.
"What's that?" Tony asked as he slowly eased himself down onto the steps, unsure of whether or not he had the right to go further into the basement.
Dinner had been a quiet affair; when Gibbs had been cooking he kept on trying to shove Tony out of the kitchen and onto the sofa, but Tony couldn't abide sitting there with nothing to do, so he would return to the kitchen only to be shooed out again.
He'd tried to sleep, exhausted from the day despite having done relatively little. He'd wandered downstairs trying to find Gibbs for some late night conversation and distraction after he heard the noises drifting up from the basement.
"A boat," Gibbs replied, briefly pausing in his sanding to look at the younger man.
"You're making a boat?"
"In your basement?"
"Why?" Tony asked after allowing a moment of silence to fill the room.
"It's something to do," Gibbs shrugged. He had many reasons for spending his hours down in his cool basement, not least because the woodwork kept his mind from dwelling too much on the past and enabled him to slowly work out his anger or his stress through the rhythmic sanding and the more physical requirements of sawing and putting the different sections together.
"You ready for tomorrow?" Gibbs asked, aware that the man's anxiety had occasionally cracked through the mask.
"Sure," Tony shrugged, not sure how else to answer. "Nixon's not there is he?" he joked, trying to direct Gibbs' knowing look elsewhere.
"No," Gibbs answered. "Nixon has thankfully gone from the DC office. He was a TAD; he was just out of the academy and given a place on another team, but the Director, in all his wisdom, decided that I needed another Agent, so he temporarily assigned me Nixon under the misguided belief that he would make my job easier."
"Why did the Director think you needed another Agent?" Tony asked curiously. He'd heard a few things during their time working together that suggested Gibbs had difficulty keeping much of a team together.
"There was just me and Blackadder, and she's not really…well, she's got a lot to learn," Gibbs finally settled on. "Banks' team had two experienced Agents on it, and the Director gave me their probie."
"Probie?" Tony asked, puzzling over the term.
"Probationary Agent," Gibbs supplied.
"Oh, like a rookie?" Tony asked for clarification and received a nod. "Probie," he tried it out. "I kind of like it. Just so you know," Tony started with narrowed eyes. "I've gone through the whole rookie thing…many times over. I've done all the shitty jobs: the dumpster diving and the coffee runs; don't expect me to do all that crap for you," he warned the older man.
"You've spent six years on the Force, DiNozzo; I'm not going to treat you like some damn probie," Gibbs supplied, knowing that DiNozzo was unlikely to stick around if Gibbs started treating him like he'd never done a day of investigative work in his life. "I expect you to do what you've been trained to do; I'm not expecting to hold your hand while I potty-train you."
It was a compliment that, judging by the furrowed brows, DiNozzo had clearly missed; Gibbs had simply meant that he knew the younger man did not need much in the way of professional guidance.
"You should get some sleep," he finally suggested. "Tomorrow is going to be a busy day."
"Sure," Tony carefully pulled himself up on the railing. "Good night, Agent Gibbs."
"Night," Gibbs said, watching the figure move up the stairs. They hadn't even started working together and already the younger man's attitude was beginning to frustrate him; he thought he had clearly explained his reasons for hiring the man, but clearly DiNozzo doubted Gibbs' sincerity on the matter.
Gibbs climbed out of his shower to the smell of bacon and wandered downstairs to the kitchen to find DiNozzo leaning over the small cooker; Gibbs narrowed his eyes as he took in the running clothes.
"You're up early," he said, satisfied at the slight jump he managed to elicit from the younger man. "You're not thinking about going running, are you?" he said, unable to hide the menacing tone as he took in the slightly sweaty form and found his answer.
Tony's eyes crinkled in confusion as he turned to meet the Senior Agent. "I've already been," he said, nonplussed about the man's reaction.
"DiNozzo, are you even supposed to be running?" Gibbs asked, although he doubted that he'd get a completely honest answer out of the man.
"Why wouldn't I?" Tony asked, wondering what the man could be so angry about so early in the morning.
"I don't know, maybe because you got shot!" Gibbs felt his anger and incredulity at the situation rise. Apparently the younger man really saw no problem with pushing himself beyond his physical limits at a time when he should be allowing his body to heal.
"Yeah, and now I'm fine," Tony insisted. He couldn't see the problem; he was doing his physical therapy…he needed to be back in shape, especially if he was to complete the necessary requirements at the FLETC.
Gibbs threw up a hand in despair at the man's cluelessness. "Ok then, why are you cooking breakfast?"
"Aren't you hungry?" Tony asked, confused, as he served up a couple of bacon rashers and a fried egg for the man. He couldn't survive the day if he didn't have something for breakfast, whether it was a bowl of cereal or a slice of cold pizza he always needed something to get him started.
"I can fend for myself," Gibbs said, almost indignantly. He was annoyed that the younger man seemed to think he had been invited to stay so that he could take on the household tasks; the table had been tidied and the pots from last night had all been cleaned, dried and put away, and now DiNozzo was cooking him breakfast.
Gibbs had promised Sam Jacobs that he would look after Tony, but the younger man apparently wanted to make that an impossible task, doing everything in his power to do exactly what he shouldn't.
DiNozzo need more than a seriously good smack to the back of the head as a wake-up call!
The car ride into NCIS was made in silence; Tony stole furtive glances towards the Senior Agent trying to figure out how he had screwed up and how he could remedy his mistakes.
He couldn't come up with anything.
Gibbs marched him through the bullpen, shouting out a fierce 'DiNozzo!' as the man paused to take in his new office. He could hear the murmurs start up as he was guided towards the Human Resources Department and left at the door, Gibbs turning quickly and leaving him alone.
He breathed in a long, deep breath as he tried to calm his nerves; his first day wasn't off to a very good start. He hoped that meant that it could only get better.
At around lunch time, after filling out more forms than he had thought imaginable, he had finally finished. One of the people in HR handed him a whole load of literature about NCIS, his future courses at the FLETC and all sorts of other scraps that were considered important.
He went to look for Gibbs, wandering through the bullpen and being stopped by various people asking all sorts of questions. Some of them were rude, some of them condescending, some of them genuine; all of them were clearly geared towards finding out the skinny on the new guy.
His excellent hearing allowed him to pick up more than he wanted to; whispers of 'Banks reckons he won't even last two days, man, let alone two weeks!' did nothing to assuage his fears that he was making a big mistake.
He needed to leave the bullpen quickly, unable to hear much more of the gossip. He put his head down in an effort to make sure no one saw how he was feeling and walk off around a corner…straight into another person.
"Sorry," he mumbled as he bent down to pick up the file he had knocked out of the other guy's hands.
"Its fine, don't worry about it," came the most friendly tone he had heard all day. "Hey, you're DiNozzo, right?"
"Yeah," Tony confessed almost wearily, unsure of what was going to come his way.
"Congratulations," came the unexpected almost jovial response. "I'm Chris Pacci, another Agent with the MCRT here. I've got to say, I'm looking forward to seeing what you can do."
Tony studied the man's face trying to find any hint of maliciousness that he had overheard in the bullpen, but he could detect no animosity on the slightly chubby face.
"Oh yeah, why's that?" he asked cautiously, still unsure of whether or not this conversation was going to have a pleasant ending to it.
"Gibbs is kind of a hard ass, but he's a damn good Agent with pretty exacting standards; the thought of him willingly choosing to work with a Baltimore cop…well…let's just say that no one really expected it. You must have impressed him," Pacci himself sounded impressed.
"Hardly," Tony relaxed slightly. "He's pissed at me and I have absolutely no idea why."
"Yeah," Pacci smiled. "He can get like that; just give him time to let whatever it is blow over and you'll be fine. He wouldn't have gone to the effort of hiring you just to fire you on the first day."
"Ha!" Tony let out with no attempt at hiding the bitter tone that seeped into his voice. "I've only been here one day and already the…er…what do you call it? The scuttlebutt?" Tony waited for Agent Pacci to nod before continuing. "Well, already the scuttlebutt is that there is a betting pool on how long I'll last; so that doesn't exactly fill me with hope."
"The scuttlebutt always needs something to run on," Pacci shrugged. "It's not a big deal, in a couple of weeks everyone will be bored of watching your every move and their attention will undoubtedly turn elsewhere."
"I hope so, I'm sick of the whispers and the not so subtle asides already," Tony scrubbed a hand across his face trying to erase some of the frustration that he knew was present in his expression. "I'm going to go down to Abby's lab and see if Gibbs is there because I have no idea what the hell I'm supposed to be doing right now."
"I'm going to end up shooting him long before he ever completes his courses at the FLETC," Gibbs angrily stated as he marched into autopsy.
"I take it you're talking about young Anthony," Ducky arched a brow in amusement.
"He's not even been here a full day and already I want to kill him with my bare hands," Gibbs made a gesture of wrapping his hands around a neck to emphasise his point.
"I'll just take these samples up to Abby," Gerald said quickly, beating a hasty retreat; he knew better than to be near Gibbs when the man's temper was so explosive.
Once Ducky's assistant was gone, he turned to his friend, "Really Jethro, he's not been here long; what could the boy possibly have done to earn your wrath."
"You know that there is a betting pool going on upstairs about how long he'll last here and the dumbass is actually listening to the scuttlebutt; as if I'd ever make a decision based on the damn scuttlebutt!"
He hadn't meant to eavesdrop on DiNozzo and Pacci's conversation but he'd heard them talking and DiNozzo's wary tone had caught his attention; he wondered what could possibly have put the man so on edge that he would be so careful around an amiable man like Pacci.
Needless to say that the conversation he heard had done nothing to allay his own anger; did DiNozzo honestly believe that he would fire him simply because some other idiots in the Major Crimes Unit thought Gibbs had made a mistake.
He hadn't blindly hired DiNozzo and he sure as hell hadn't been forced to take the man on board, but apparently the former Detective was still having doubts about Gibbs; he didn't know whether to be offended at that or worried that DiNozzo apparently had such little faith in the people around him.
"You know, he actually thought he had to make me breakfast and clean my damn kitchen, as if that was the only reason I had him staying with me; of course all of that was after he decided to go for a run. Who goes for a run when they've been shot!" he exclaimed, the anger once again rising as he thought of the almost cavalier way DiNozzo seemed to treat his own health.
"What the hell was the point in bringing him to DC if he doesn't want to be here," he half asked, half stated, thinking of all the paperwork he'd done, the calls he'd made and the time he'd spent convincing Morrow that he wasn't making a mistake. Without waiting for a response he turned and left autopsy.
"Well, it certainly seems as though young Anthony will liven things up around here," Ducky murmured to the corpse on his autopsy table.
Abby might have felt sorry for the man as she had read through the evidence of his less than stellar childhood and she had certainly sympathised with him when his partner had been shot and DiNozzo had been almost catatonic with worry. They might even have bonded a little in the time she spent working alongside him; she had certainly been more upset than she would have expected when she heard about his own shooting.
None of that however, meant that she was going to give him a free pass; he had been here only a matter of hours, and already her Bossman was beyond pissed off. No one got away with affecting her Silver Fox like that!
Gerald had come rushing into her lab seeking sanctuary from Gibbs who was apparently on the warpath because of one Tony DiNozzo. The man hadn't even been at NCIS for five minutes and already he was causing problems for her Bossman.
Then she encountered Gibbs who was looking for test results from a cold case and couldn't find them; he also couldn't get his computer to cooperate and Gibbs and malfunctioning technology had never been a good mix. She had launched into an explanation on the possible causes before he had cut her short and shouted angrily at her that he didn't care about they 'why' and that he just wanted her to fix it.
She had been shocked as her Silver Fox left the lab; Gibbs had never shouted at her like that before, not without immediately apologising at any rate.
It had to be DiNozzo!
And to think...she had actually been considering going out for drinks with him and helping him look for an apartment!
Abby might not have the upper body strength to beat him into oblivion for even daring to upset her favourite Agent, but she knew a hundred and one ways to poison him without leaving any forensic trace.
Speak of the Devil…
"Hey Abs, have you seen Gibbs?" he asked tiredly.
Oh, so that's how it was going to be, was it; DiNozzo was just going to wander into her lab without an invitation and act as though he hadn't done anything wrong!
"It's Scuito to you!" she replied angrily, and felt the inexplicable urge to explain her hostility when evident confusion entered his eyes. "You've only been here one day and you've already managed to piss off the Bossman!" she stated angrily.
"Apparently so," Tony shrugged nonchalantly, hiding his real feelings behind that gesture. He had no idea why Gibbs was so pissed at him and he was too tired to waste his energy on coming up with something. He certainly couldn't understand why Abby might be in a bad mood; he'd hoped that the two of them had got past their initial unpleasant meeting.
Abby narrowed her eyes at the almost glib reply; the guy didn't even seem to care!
"What have you done?" she asked accusingly, the thought that Gibbs might be the one in the wrong never entered her mind.
"Nothing," Tony replied defensively, finally letting some of his anger slip into his voice.
"You must have done something! Does the pretty little rich boy playing at being a cop think that the rules don't apply to him or something? Trust me, you're totally replaceable and if you piss Gibbs off anymore, then you're not even going to make it to the FLETC!" Abby said viciously, happy to see the man's eyes narrow and his posture shift into a defensive position; she was glad to know that she could get to him so quickly.
"What is your problem?" Tony demanded. He had thought that Abby was going to be an ally in his new workplace; apparently not. He had spent his morning trying to deal with Gibbs inexplicable bad mood and then he'd had to deal with the rumours and the pointed comments that seemed intent on following him around the building.
He didn't know what he had said or done to gain so many enemies so early on in his career at NCIS, but if things carried on as they were, he might just have to rethink the next two years of his life.
"My problem?" Abby asked incredulously. "I'm not the one pissing off Gibbs for no reason!"
"No reason?" Tony replied, confusion evident in his tone and his every gesture. "I don't know why your boss is so pissed at me; perhaps if he used his words like a big boy, I would know what it is that I'm supposed to have done wrong!" He hadn't gone to lab with this conversation in mind, but after a whole day of brushing off Gibbs anger and other people's sometimes condescending sometimes malicious words, he was feeling more than a little defensive.
"Why did you even say 'yes' to coming here?" Abby shook her head, trying to understand why Gibbs had asked this man to work for him.
"I said 'yes' because he looked out for my partner when I couldn't, and because he watched out for me when he didn't have to. I said 'yes' because he kept a promise that I made to Téa when I wasn't in a position to keep it myself. I said 'yes' because he told me he was going to see the case through to the end and that no amount of bargaining was going to get Radoslav off the hook, and that's exactly what he did. I said 'yes' because he's a damn good Agent and I think I could learn a lot from him; but mostly, I said 'yes' because after all of that, I trust him. Is that good enough for you, Miss Scuito? Because right now I'm beginning to have serious doubts that it's good enough for me!"
He didn't wait for an answer before turning to go, leaving behind a very confused Abby, still tense with an anger that was fast fading and turning towards embarrassment.
Pacci caught sight of the prospective agent coming out of the elevator looking like he wanted to kill someone; he would never have thought Abby would have been the one to bring the new guy so close to the brink.
"Everything ok?" he ventured.
"No, I have no idea what the hell is wrong with everyone here," he snapped loudly, not caring who overheard him.
"Abby?" Pacci guessed hesitantly. He didn't know the new guy and had no idea just how far he could push him, but he figured the poor kid needed someone on his side right now.
"I don't know what I've done to offend her, but apparently the fact that Gibbs is angry means that she's got to be angry."
"I wouldn't take it personally," Pacci advised the younger man who was still visibly seething. "She gets rather short-sighted when it comes to Gibbs; the man can do no wrong in her eyes and I'm pretty sure she would fight anyone to the death who thought otherwise. She's a little possessive and very protective; you'll get used to it."
"I'm not so sure about that," Tony replied, already thinking of the possibilities Boston might have to offer.
"Come on," Pacci said with a pat on his shoulders, stopping him from going further into the bullpen and being forced to hear more whispered voices. "You look like you need some lunch. There's a nice little Italian bistro not far from the Navy Yard; I'll buy."
"Ah, hello Abigail," Ducky said with a smile as he looked up from his notes. The smile faded when he took in her appearance. "My dear, are you ill?"
Abby numbly shook her head; she had shouted at DiNozzo and said all manner of horrible things, but the man hadn't really said anything to elicit such anger. Gibbs had shouted at her and she had taken it all out on Tony and now she was feeling terrible; it wasn't that long ago when she had considered him a potential friend.
"I said some really terrible things to Tony," Abby finally confessed as she sat on the edge of an autopsy table, watching her legs swing to and fro rather than face the disappointment that she knew she would find in Ducky's eyes.
"That poor boy is not having an easy time of it," Ducky shook his head sadly, holding back any words of condemnation as he saw just how sincere Abby was in her regret. "There is a betting pool, as I understand it, on how long he is expected to survive in Agent Gibbs' care; I think the short odds are on a two week survival period."
"Gibbs isn't going to let him leave though, is he?" Abby knew the answer, despite her earlier harsh words to DiNozzo, but she still needed to hear it from someone else.
"My dear, Jethro has finally found someone he wants to work with; he is finding young Anthony to be entirely frustrating but not in the way many of the Agents in this Agency seem to believe. Mr. DiNozzo seems completely oblivious to his own health and safety and, despite Jethro's rare attempt at explaining things, the young man is still unsure of his position on Jethro's team.
"Jethro's anger is less to do with anything that Anthony may have intentionally said and done, and more to do with the way the young man perceives himself," Ducky tried to explain his own understanding of the situation. "He is a highly competent young man with a lot of potential that I know Jethro intends to fully explore; however, he comes with his own issues and I believe Jethro is finding himself to be more affected by them than he had perhaps expected to be so."
"I should go and find him," Abby nodded to herself, her resolve strengthening as she hopped off the autopsy table.
"Very good," Ducky smiled encouragingly. "I think you will find him to be quite forgiving. I believe young Anthony could do with a friend to remind him why a future at NCIS might be a good thing. Once Jethro has calmed down, I have no doubt that he will want to talk to Anthony himself; however, we both know that Jethro's cooling period can be a little longer than most."
Abby had looked all over for the future NCIS Agent and had almost given up hope when she heard two agents snickering about how the new guy hiding away on the roof almost guaranteed they would win the betting pool.
She didn't know why so many people seemed to have turned against Tony so early on, but she suspected that some of it was jealousy. Despite Gibbs' reputation as a fearsome team leader, he was known as one of the best agents belonging to NCIS and his case-closure rate was legendary, even while working with the inexperienced agents he had recently been landed with.
DiNozzo was not much to look at upon his entrance to NCIS; he had lost a lot of weight during his stay in the hospital and his once healthy glow had paled. The expensive suit he wore like armour had merely reinforced the misconceptions about his wealth and heritage, and the rumours of a simple Phys. Ed. Major did little to impress the scores of agents with more academic based degrees.
Simply put, no one could understand why Gibbs, who had been granted the rare privilege of selecting his own team, would choose a sickly looking jock that came from money and who reputedly couldn't stay in the same place for more than two years.
She found him on the roof, looking towards central DC and the famous landmarks that featured in the skyline. His jaw was clamped tightly together and his whole posture was tense.
"Hi, Tony," she said softly.
He turned to meet her and she could see the anger burning in his eyes, barely contained. It seemed as though NCIS was gaining another fiery temper, although credit where credit was due, DiNozzo did seem to be holding on to his better than Gibbs.
"I'm not some pretty little rich boy playing at being a cop," Tony said firmly, sincerity in his voice and posture and shining brightly through the anger simmering in his eyes. "Is that enough for you?" Lunch had calmed him down and Pacci was a nice guy, but the moment he stepped back into the bullpen, all eyes turned his way and he felt caged-in and angry once more.
Abby winced as she heard her own words thrown back at her; Tony had done it politely and gently, but he had still used her own harsh words to make a point. She wondered what else had been thrown his way to make him struggle so fiercely for self-control.
"I guess," the Forensic Specialist finally shrugged helplessly, after struggling for something to say. She wondered if she would see a lot of the fierce, more serious side to the Homicide Detective…no…the former Homicide Detective, or if his jokester personality would make a reappearance.
"I'm sorry I was such a bitch," Abby said, grasping his hand in impulse, pleased that he did not turn away. "Gibbs was in, like, a really bad mood and he shouted at me…he doesn't ever shout at me; I knew he was pissed at you and that made me pissed at you. I'm sorry…I bypass defence and pretty much jump straight on the offensive line when I think someone's hurt a person I care about."
"Its fine, Miss Scuito," Tony sighed. "I get it." And he did. He had always been the same way with Sam, jumping to his defence regardless of the situation and any potential extenuating circumstances.
"Tony, you can call me Abby," she offered with a tentative smile. It was clear that Gibbs was going to be keeping DiNozzo around for a while yet; they might as well try to get along better.
Apart from Pacci, Abby was the only one who had really talked to him. The fact that she was apologising meant more to Tony than he could adequately describe; people didn't normally waste that much time or effort on him.
Tony smiled brightly and flicked one of her pigtails, winking at her before leaving with an 'see you later then, Abby,' that was laced with the sort of flirtatious behaviour that the Forensic Specialist suspected would be commonplace now that DiNozzo had found a friend and was well on his way to earning his Special Agent status and ensuring his stay at NCIS.
It was nice to know that she had been so easily forgiven, but she felt that she was going to have to work extra hard to make sure that Tony knew just how sorry she really was. It was clear that Tony let too many things roll off his back, letting people get away with all sorts of vicious words and condescending deeds; coming from money in the law enforcement world was almost as bad as coming from the criminal underworld.
Maybe she would have a bet of her own in that little betting pool they had going on in the Major Crimes bullpen; she would have to work very hard to ensure that Tony was going to break his two year record.
Ducky found Gibbs outside of his favourite coffee stall with yet another coffee in hand; he had long since given up attempting to warn his friend about a diet with so much caffeine, knowing full well that his advice fell very much on deaf ears.
He had a busy day scheduled which allowed him no time to talk to the latest addition to the NCIS family, but he knew that Gibbs needed someone to talk to and someone to listen to before his quick temper and reticent manner ruined the transfer before it had even been completed.
He sat down next to him and waited for his friend to meet his eyes; when blue eyes finally looked up, Ducky asked, "Feeling any calmer?"
"Some," Gibbs confessed, scowling into his coffee cup.
"Jethro, it doesn't sound as though the poor boy is having a very friendly reception; I would have hoped that you, at least, might have tried to ease the transition for him."
Gibbs looked up at the mildly reproachful tone. "That's what I've been trying to do, Duck," he confessed quietly.
"Yes, in your usual blunt 'bang the message through with a sledgehammer' manner, I'm sure. Really, Jethro, some people need a softer touch," he scolded his friend lightly. "I'm not suggesting you spend the next few years coddling him, but he has just left his partner, his job and his city behind; he's taken a huge risk in accepting your offer and the least you can do is show that you are not regretting your decision."
"I'm not," Gibbs furrowed his brows, wondering where Ducky had got that impression from.
"I didn't say you were, but that may well be how young Anthony has interpreted your ire," Ducky said. "He seems like an intelligent young man who is very capable when it comes to his work, but outside of that you have to recognise that he has certain failings; I don't think I've ever encountered anyone who can switch their emotions as easily or as fluidly as he can.
"There is never a happy reason behind such an ability, Jethro. If young Anthony feels that he has to hide his true personality just so he can fit in, then you can never be truly sure of his motives or his emotions, as he is truly adept at hiding them both. He must be worried and feeling out of his element; what he needs is reassurance, not a reprimand."
"He won't look after himself," Gibbs pointed out. Sam had warned him as much and he had arrogantly assumed that he would be able to get DiNozzo to cooperate.
"I know another who tends to push himself further than he should," Ducky arched an eyebrow in his directed with a pointed look. "He is a physically active young man and the desire to get back into shape is not altogether surprising; both you and I can ensure he doesn't overdo things, but I doubt whether we could stop him entirely.
"He has also lived a rather solitary life, by all accounts, and so learning to be dependent on someone else for any period of time, no matter how short, will be difficult for him; that is a character trait that I'm sure you can understand yourself."
Gibbs frowned; sometimes he really wished that the Doctor didn't know him quite as well as he did.
"He's in the conference room, I believe," Ducky informed his friend as he got up from the bench. "He is attempting to go through the vast amount of information that the secretary in Human Resources will have undoubtedly given him." With that, he left and headed slowly back to work to the three autopsies he had waiting, confident that his friend would do the right thing.
Gibbs could see the worry and anxiety build up in DiNozzo as he read through the training manuals from the FLETC and the various pieces of literature that related to NCIS, its' rules and protocols. The conference room table was covered with bits of paper as Tony haphazardly went through them one by one before starting all over again.
"I need a Masters before I can become a Senior Field Agent?" Tony asked, wondering what the hell he could possibly specialise in.
"Yep," Gibbs nodded. "You can figure that out later, for now it doesn't matter." He saw that DiNozzo was not even slightly appeased by that response. "I took a part time course and slowly worked up to getting it while I was still working; some of the colleges around here run some pretty good night courses and they're pretty flexible."
Tony nodded at that looking slightly happier although still disappointed by the idea of going back to school; he wasn't stupid but he had never been a big fan of academia, preferring being outside and active to naming Presidents and reciting the dates of their terms in office.
Everything he was reading in the brochures and manuals made him further doubt his decision to come to NCIS. So much seemed to be required from him, so many skills and certificates and degrees that he wasn't sure he'd be able to accomplish.
He was beginning to further doubt Agent Gibbs' wisdom in hiring him.
"Why'd you really offer me the job?" he finally asked, despair crawling over him as he read about the computer course requirements at the FLETC.
"Because you smiled," Gibbs offered wryly with the lift of an eyebrow.
"Come on, Gibbs," Tony was not amused. "Do you really think I can do this?" he gestured to the wad of information about the FLETC. "I have a Phys. Ed. Major, not a degree in quantum physics!"
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs said sharply, slapping the younger man upside the head to get his full attention. "I wouldn't have offered you the job if I didn't think you were up to the task. I don't care if you can solve the Three-Body Problem or if your only qualification is that you can walk in a straight line; I hired you because you are a damn good cop.
"You can write, can't you?" he waited until DiNozzo nodded rather hesitantly, clearly unsure of where Gibbs was going with that question and whether or not he should be insulted. "So you're a damn good cop who can do his own paperwork; I'm not asking for anything more than that just yet."
Tony nodded, not completely buying everything the NCIS Senior Agent was throwing at him; Gibbs was definitely not the kind of man to settle for 'acceptable' so it was clear that he was going to demand something more substantial than just doing his job and the paperwork that went with it. Tony just hoped that he wouldn't let the man down; the more time he spent at NCIS with Agent Gibbs and around people like Abby and Pacci, he so very much wanted to make it work.
"You'll do ok here," Gibbs tried to assure the man who could be almost overly confident one minute and completely insecure the next.
"You think?" Tony asked quietly, trying to find some truth to the Agent's words as he looked into Gibbs' eyes.
"You'd better," Gibbs said as he got up and walked around the table, coffee in hand. "I've got a hundred bucks riding on you in that betting pool everyone has 'secretly' got going on you. You're here for the long-haul, DiNozzo; this is not a two year sabbatical."
"Yeah, I kind of guessed that," Tony laughed, relief at Gibbs' obvious support lifting a weight off his mind. "Is it cheating if I double that bet," he asked with a mischievous glint to his eyes.
"Not at all," Gibbs shook his head, a rare smile gracing his features. "You can buy the steak and beers when that day comes around."
"Sure thing," Tony grinned back; staying at NCIS for more than two years was beginning to seem like a real possibility and he was actually looking forward to working alongside a man that had been termed a great many things, most of them negative. The second 'b' might be for bastard, but he was going to have at least a few years to figure out what the first 'b' stood for.
"Come on, I've got to get you to the hospital," Gibbs stood up, sweeping the leaflets and brochures and manuals into a pile on the conference room table. At Tony's confused look he continued, "Ducky's set you up an appointment with a physiotherapist there; he said if you didn't like her then he could find you someone else before you slip behind in your sessions."
Gibbs had smiled at Ducky's wisdom in finding a pretty female physio, all too aware that DiNozzo was more likely to cooperate with her than with a guy he would feel no need to try and impress.
"Abby wants us at Murphy's Bar for a celebratory drink tonight and I'm too tired to fight her off. I think she's dragging you off apartment hunting over the weekend, so I'd make sure to get plenty of rest over the next couple of days, because she'll be on a whole hell of a lot of caffeine and sugar to get her through the day," he smiled another one of those small smiles that DiNozzo would come to recognise as a rarity that he would enjoy teasing out of the older man over the next few years.
"Sounds good," Tony nodded; he was glad that his new team seemed to be prepared to take a chance with him and help him settle into his new life. He'd have to tell Sam not to worry about him; that he'd found a whole team full of mother-hens to keep him out of trouble.
"Come on, DiNozzo," Gibbs said with an exasperated sigh as he head-slapped the younger man to get his attention.
"That's going to become a pretty frequent thing, isn't it?" Tony asked knowingly as he rubbed the back of his head.
"Only if you carry on earning them," Gibbs replied with a raised eyebrow.
"Whatever you say, Boss," Tony snorted as he walked past the man and out of the room; he suspected Gibbs would head-slap him whether he had truly deserved one or not. Oddly enough, he found that he didn't really mind.
There you go…finally at an end. It feels like I've been writing this for a long time.
Darwin Awards – a series of awards given (posthumously) to people who manage to improve the gene pool by eradicating themselves from it in a spectacularly stupid fashion. My favourite is the guy who walked around a cop car and into a gun shop full of armed customers and a policeman and tried to rob the place; needless to say he didn't walk out of there.
FLETC – Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre.
ASL – American Sign Language.
HUAC – the House of Un-American Activities Committee. One of many committees that were used to investigate suspected Communists, among other things; HUAC was geared towards investigating both private and public people and organisations. It was HUAC who black-listed the 'Hollywood Ten.'
Third Degree Murder – a murder that was not premeditated and where the intent was to harm rather than to kill.
Thanks for reading and I hope you've enjoyed the story. Huge thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and review, especially those of you who have stayed with me since 'Quiet Anger' and 'Two Weeks Notice.' Thanks to everyone whose reviews I couldn't reply to through the IM system.