If I Only Could

It doesn't hurt me.
You wanna feel how it feels?
You wanna know, know that it doesn't hurt me?
You wanna hear about the deal I'm making?
You be running up that hill
You and me be running up that hill

Ranger Richmond was a lanky man, his uniform covering his almost six foot four frame, boots tightly strapped up and hat tilted forward slightly. The sound of an engine could be heard for miles around here, the echoes bouncing off each of the cliff ridges and coming back to you so it was hard to tell from the direction the sound was coming from. However, from his vantage point up here, there was a long drop down beside the car where the Ranger could see the road, and the small convoy of two driving up; one a run-of-the-mill Ranger's truck and the other a slick government car.

Tipping his hat up slightly, the young ranger paced back to his truck, fingering his rifle slightly. This was wolf territory. They'd only had reports of the wolves, no sightings so far, but the dismembered bodies, those that the Coyotes had been at fiercely so organs were...well, not there. Right now they had sent out the occasional search party, the scouts looking for tracks and evidence. Nothing so far...well, except one of their scouts had been attacked and more or less disembowelled.

The rumble of the engines was closer now, and Ranger Richmond stepped to the side of the beaten track, watching the cars arrive. He gave a nod to his fellow ranger he'd sent to meet the agents at the gate and stepped forward to greet said agents. Two of them, one slightly older than the other, one slightly taller. The silver haired agent held himself strictly, holding up an ID before his hand. The obsidian haired agent did the same, offering a brief smile before returning to the business face.

"Car was found about three hours ago, no sign yet, we were waiting on your call." Richmond started straight in after introductions, leading towards the company car identical to the one parked behind them.

Gibbs gave Sullivan a slight nod and the camera was brought out clicking, flicking, the shutters snapping up each imagine.

Richmond stayed quiet, waiting for instruction, surveying the men before him. The obvious older of the two, the leader by all sights, had a tension in his shoulders and neck, his stance upright and military, the haircut as well, the piercing eyes were a cold blue, taking in every detail. A gloved hand was opening each door, searching each seat and beyond, paying close attention to anything.

The younger of the two was looking grim, occasionally shooting glances towards the older. His slim build was slightly hunched at the shoulder, onyx hair styled up out the way, deep almost navy blue eyes searching through the camera lens for each photograph. There was something odd about this team, or maybe it was the situation which gave Richmond a shivery feeling down his shoulders. The dark haired agent moved around to the side of the car, leaning down slightly to look in a closed window.

"What do you think? They abandoned it themselves?" The New York accent was quiet, contemplative. He was met with silence for a moment before Gibbs called for Richmond. The ranger approached quickly.

"How far could someone get on foot in three hours?" He asked calmly, extricating himself from the car.

The ranger thought for a minute, casting his eyesight around. "On foot the only real way is up from here. We would've seen 'em if they'd come down the cliff, so three hours they could've about just reached the peak of Creffeld. Otherwise there's only some old hunting cabins, but they're all locked up and empty now, they get checked every month or so. Nothing on last inspection which was..." He paused, trying to think. "Hey, Carl, when did the Creff cabins last get checked." The second ranger, who had so far stayed in his car on the radio, looked up.

"Three weeks, the twenty eighth." He called back, returning to his radio.

Gibbs hmmed softly, thinking. "We'll need to check them." Was his only response. Sullivan nodded his head in a 'well that was expected' type way, clicking the lens cap back onto the camera, keeping his eyeline down.

Something cracked in the underbrush. Four weapons were aimed in that direction, each snatched from a holder in a moment. Two rifles aimed into the dirt, two hand guns held steady as the undergrowth crunched again, something approaching at speed.

There was silence amongst the gunmen, each with eyes trained straight into the dense brush, each shadow a threat. A figure dashed from the brush, wide eyed, wild, shaking. A shot was fired from shock, going wide and smacking into a tree.

"Hold fire! Hold fire!" Gibbs loud, authoritative voice shouted, grabbing the end of the fired rifle and yanking it down, glaring at Richmond, who was still staring ahead of him, shocked.

"My god..." Sullivan's quiet declaration was murmured, the figure in front of him was bloody, scratched, mud clinging to his suit, a twig in his sweat slicked hair. Dirt and blood streaked his too pale face, the panting audible from here.

"Tarrigan?" Gibbs asked softly, taking a step forward with Sullivan. A whimper escaped the agent, tumbling to his knees. The younger agent lunged in to catch him around the chest, staring wide eyed as the ruined jacket fell opening, blood blossoming on the shirt beneath.

"Carl, call a medic!" Richmond came back to his senses.

Gibbs knelt quickly as Sullivan searched for the wound, pressing his hands down to the jagged gash on Tarrigan's abdomen.

"Liam? Liam, can you hear me?" Wild eyes looked over at Gibbs, a cough rattling out. A blood stained hair stretched up, grabbing onto Sullivan's jacket. The younger agent jumped slightly, applying pressure again.

"Sn...si...ag...hs..." Was choked out unintelligibly, blood on the agent's lips.

"Liam?" Gibbs voice was urgent, holding the agent's head in place. "Liam, where are Tony and Robert? What happened?" Sharp and direct.

The hand on Sullivan's NCIS jacket tightened.

"R...ob...ober." The man choked out again, head surging up against Gibbs' firm grip.

"Liam. Tarrigan, what happened."

"Snn...sn...atch...atchers." The whites of his eyes rolled into view, the body going slack in seconds, eyelids closing. Gibbs checked the pulse...still there...just.

"Where're the medics?" Sullivan's voice yelled darkly, coldly. "ETA?"

"Ten minutes, they're coming." Richmond replied back, swallowing. Gibbs was sitting back on his heels, staring out into the underbrush.

"Boss?" Sullivan tried to no result, and when Gibbs didn't hear you, he wasn't listening.

"This wasn't a wolf, boss, this wasn't a wolf." Sullivan's voice didn't shake as much as he thought it would, but there was a quiet tremor in the New York lilte, a smattering of Irish upbringing coming in through fear.

"No, Andy."

You don't wanna hurt me,
But see how deep the bullet lies.
Unaware that I'm tearing you asunder.
There's a thunder in our hearts, baby.
So much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don't we?

Tony blinked at the man in front of him, his vision still blurry at the edges.

"It seems you haven't much of a choice what I call you, Tony, but I never did much like calling you Tony. It was a name your mother used on you. I much preferred Anthony. Tony was my name."

A snarl from behind the gag and the green eyes of the agent hardened from understanding, recognition...and fear. The dark coat fell around the tall frame, immaculate as ever.

"Now, it took a while for you to get here, you might be feeling rather sore. You'll have to excuse Parker for that, he has no sense of manners. Quite like you did, Anthony." A soft, refined chuckle filled the small, cold room.

"You should know, The Protector is still going strong, stronger than ever." Another chuckle. "That is why you're here, Anthony." Green eyes widened, the whites showing more than anything else. A grunt made its way through the rag gag, struggling against his hand restraints, soft keens emitting from the tied man.

"Now, Anthony, you know better than to get worked up." That horrifying calm voice chided. A gloved hand reached out, tracing the line from Tony's cheekbone across his jaw line, even as the young agent attempted to pull away frantically. "You remember, The Protector, of course you do. Although it has been many years."

A scream, out of this world pitched, pain streaking the room, blood cooling to sub zero temperatures just at the shrill tone. The young agent stilled, his heart thumping wildly against his ribcage.

"Focus on me, Anthony. You always were unable to keep your attention on one thing for more than a minute. Used to upset your mother so."

The scream died off, leaving a horrible, empty silence. Tony shivered, eyes still bulging like dinner plates. Round and terrified. A whimper escaped him as the gloved hand he knew so well drew a stinging line down his cheek again, tenderness betraying his real intentions.

"Don't fear, little one." The voice crooned. "Daddy won't let it hurt you." The weak scream which followed made a small smile quirk the sides of Anthony DiNozzo Snr's thin lips. "Too much."

You, be running up that hill
You and me, be running up that hill
You and me won't be unhappy.

Gibbs sat behind his desk, staring at the case file in front of him. Edward Bryno had a colourful past, that was to be sure. Juvenile delinquent until he was fifteen, seemed to drop off the radar until he joined the Navy, looked clean up until last year. Although, a lot of the time, even if the public thought it was the other way around, you were always dirty until proven clean. Everyone was suspicious. And everyone panicked. Everyone was only human. But, sometimes, you had to be more than human to save those you loved. Correct? Impossible, but correct. Why do you think so many cases go unsolved?

In times of panic, people do stupid things. They can lie to get themselves off, scream and swear without much of a mind. But, oddly enough, panic mostly brings out the truth. There's so much going on in the mind that you can't decipher between what you can say and what you should say. Sometimes it can be liberating; a secret you've held through fear of the consequences. Or it can be ruining; a snide action that no-one was supposed to see. Either way, panic can bring about change.

And everyone panics. Some don't show it. Some leave it for another day and laugh in the face of it. They don't want to think about it, to have to deal with it. There are so many examples, exams being an easy one. If you are nervous about passing, you can be two types of people; the type that study and revise every free moment they have, cramming information into their minds. Or you can put it off. You can put it off, worrying that you'll never learn it. These two types of people fall into many different categories and subjects.

Most people don't want to be either, as usually one is never better than the other. Work yourself into such a state you can't function or don't prepare. Neither is better than the other. But, if taking those two options in this situation, Gibbs would always be the former. He wouldn't stop and he wouldn't pause. They say no rest for the wicked, but that's only because the good guys never rest either, and they are forever on the tail of the wicked, no matter the consequences.

You think it's clich├ęd? No, it's true. Humans form bonds far tighter than people imagine until the point when they bond might break. Painful, but true.

A phone rang. Shrill and needy on Sullivan's desk. The New York agent jerked slightly out of his reading, meeting Gibbs eyes for a moment over his own case file before picking up.

"Agent Sullivan...yes." There was a long, growing pause. Sullivan's pure blue eyes refused to meet Gibbs stare, his features hard and blank. "Thank-you." Sullivan put down the phone with a click just as Gibbs own phone rang. Oh this was a fantastic day wasn't it.

Sullivan looked up sharply as Gibbs answered, listened for less than thirty seconds and hung up on the voice still speaking. Both men looked at each other, seeing who was going to speak first. It wasn't exactly a long stare because Sullivan would always cave within the first few seconds.

"Tarrigan didn't make it through surgery." Gibbs already tense jaw clenched. Many, many swear words flitted through his mind at this point, each more horrible and longer than the last. Sullivan continued to watch Gibbs.

"Grab your gear." Was the reply he got, which he followed, not entirely thinking he would like where this was going.

The car journey was tense, and silent. It wasn't until the slick NCIS government sedan passed the boundaries of the park, Creffeld Ridge stretching away to the East before them, dark and shadowed in the afternoon light, that Sullivan spoke up.

"Boss? They've towed the car away by now." Gibbs eyes never left the track.

"Not here for the car." There was another pause. Fantastic, was Sullivan's thoughts, He's gone into 'ask and I might tell mode'. A mood which infuriated himself, Stan Burghley, the Director, and...well anyone around him. Just the worry talking. This is just how Gibbs worries; silently.

"Okay, so why've we come back?" Sullivan asked lengthily, weighing each word.

"A Ranger found Agent Cooper."

The onyx haired agent looked around roughly , staring at Gibbs.

"What? In what condition?" Gibbs hands tightened with a soft creak on the steering wheel.

" 'Wolves'." Came the cold, glacial reply. Oh good lord. Help him. Preserve him. Save him.

And get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building,
If I only could, oh...

Well, look at that? Oh, and yes, I have two character's called Sullivan, sorry for the confusion. I wrote this Sullivan before thinking about it and then wrote a different Sullivan. I just like the name Sullivan. I have no idea why. Anyhow. It's a chapter, a late and odd chapter, but a chapter for the new year. Happy New Year. And seriously, just poke Eryn with a large stick, it does help. Pancake anyone?

Eryn [Soul Music]