I'm back! Sorry for not updating the others AGAIN, but this was just too good to pass up. Will update this one quickly, I feel it in my waters. DISCLAIMER: I own nada. Please read and review! Much love xoxo
"...and that, my dear Zee-vah, is why you should never date someone who has an identical twin," concluded Anthony DiNozzo, with a cheeky smirk on his face.
Ziva David was simultaneously impressed and horrified that her partner had managed to get himself into that kind of situation at his age. "Tony, are you ever going to grow up?" she asked.
"Why? What's the point? Our job gets shittier and shittier all the time, least we can do is blow off some steam. Which reminds me of the time I went camping with the frat brothers two years ag- HEY!" he cried as ball after ball of screwed up paper rained down on his head.
"DiNozzo, David! Back to work! Don't make me come down there!" a familiar voice barked from the upper level. Once again, Gibbs the Omnipotent made his presence known.
Ziva sat back down at her desk grinning at her partner. She knew he was just trying to get a rise out of her and, damn him, it was working. Tim McGee walked past her desk and casually placed a large coffee in front of her. "Oh, perfect timing, thank you Tim," she said gratefully, inhaling the rich aroma deeply before taking a tentative sip.
"Where've you been McTardy-to-the-Party?" asked Tony, reaching for his own coffee.
Tim made as though he was giving the senior agent the hot beverage before neatly slipping it out of reach. "Keep giving me crap Tony, and not only will you not get this delicious hazelnut latte, but you won't find out why I'm late!" grinned McGee.
Tony snorted. "As if I care," he muttered, all the time staring longingly at the coffee the other man dangled so tantalisingly close to his nose. Finally, he caved. "Okay, okay, sorry for giving you shit. Now can I have my coffee?" Tim relented and Tony clapped his hands in delight. Popping the cap off, he took a deep sip and sighed appreciatively. "Probie man, I just wanna let you know, if I ever give you a hard time again –"
"You'll be back to your old self," interrupted Gibbs, striding down the stairs and into the bullpen.
"Refill, Boss?" asked McGee, waggling a large 'Gibbs special' in front of him.
Gibbs said nothing, just smiled and took the proffered cup. His phone rang just as he seated himself at his desk. "Yeah, Gibbs." He listened, the expression on his face growing stonier by the second. "On it." He slammed the phone down.
"We got a case boss?" asked Tony. He knew that look on his mentor's face never boded well. Gibbs looked at him, and a flash of emotion raced through his eyes – was that pity? Tony wasn't sure, and when he looked again, his boss was all business.
"Grab your gear," he said standing up. "Zeke Wilkerson is missing."
Flashback – 6 months ago:
Flashback – 6 months ago:
Tony had seen the look of sheer joy on the little boy's face as he was reunited with his father. A feeling that he couldn't put his finger on raced through his body – was it jealousy? Anger? Sorrow? He didn't know; all he knew for sure was that he had to get out of there.
Placing his hand on the child's back, he echoed Jackie Vance's words to the overjoyed father: "Look after him, that's all the thanks I need." He turned sharply on his heel and headed towards the elevators, feeling overwhelmed.
A tug on his jacket brought him a little out of his reverie. Zeke. The child hugged him tightly and asked if he could come to visit. "Anytime kid," he said. He pulled a business card out and gave it to the young man. "You ever need me – need someone to talk to, or you're in trouble, you just call me okay? I'll come running, you just watch me." The elevator doors opened and Tony slid through them, desperately reining in his emotions.
He'd driven around mindlessly for hours, trying to make sense of this mess. The case had had a happy ending of sorts – kid reunited with his doting father – so why wasn't he feeling it? He eventually ended up at the only place he knew he could lose the façade – Gibbs' basement. He'd vented his spleen onto the man he looked at as a mixture of father, older brother and best friend, finally acknowledging that this case had stirred something deep inside.
Tony was unnaturally silent in the car on the way to Quantico Marine Base. Gibbs drove at his usual breakneck speed, stealing the occasional glance at the younger man. They arrived at Lt. Commander Wilkerson's house and came to an abrupt halt, the truck with Ziva and McGee right behind them. Tony made to open the door, but was stopped by a hand on his arm.
"You gonna be alright to work this one?" Gibbs asked. Tony just glared at him and, throwing the hand off, got out of the car and slammed the door. Gibbs felt in his gut that this could go pear-shaped very easily, and resolved to keep a closer eye than usual on Tony.
Together, the four agents made their way up the footpath and to the front door. Gibbs took the lead, weaving his way through the gathering of MP's and off-duty Marines, looking for the Commander. They found the man looking much older than his 38 years, head in his hands and sitting on the kitchen floor. Gibbs knelt down next to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Cameron, it's Gibbs from NCIS," he said softly.
Cameron Wilkerson looked up at Gibbs and the other agents with haunted eyes. "Gibbs – my boy, he's gone!" His voice cracked, but he managed to hold on to his composure.
This was too much for Tony to take. "I'm gonna check the kid's room, see if I can find anything there," he muttered to no one in particular before making good his escape. He walked through the house and familiarised himself with the layout, looking for any signs that would indicate a struggle. He headed down the hallway and began looking through doors before eventually stumbling onto what was Zeke's room. The house was different to the previous one – Wilkerson had requested a move, saying the house contained too many bad memories. Tony stood in the doorway of the room, taking it all in. So focused was he, that he didn't notice McGee come up behind him. He flinched a little when McGee put a hand on his shoulder, but didn't say anything. He felt tired. He felt old, and defeated.
McGee stood behind the senior agent for a moment and then put his hand on his shoulder again, gently turning him around. To his surprise, there was none of the usual spark and fire in the green eyes, instead a coldness that he hadn't seen since… well, since Jeanne. "Tony," he said softly, putting his other hand on the spare shoulder, "we'll find him. I know you and I know our team, and we will find him."
Tony gazed into the hazel eyes of his Probie, before offering up a ghost of a smile. "You're right, Tim. Let's get to it," he said, snatching the camera from around McGee's neck.
The two men worked in silence processing the child's bedroom. Everything was photographed and documented – the toys, the books, the messed-up bed, even the knocked over water glass. McGee dusted for prints along the window and window sill, finding a few partials and little else. Still, he believed in what he'd told Tony, and he was determined to follow through with it. The bedside lamp had been knocked over and trodden on; McGee bagged it up as a 'just in case'. Casting an experienced eye over the room, he saw little else that could be construed as evidence. Meeting DiNozzo's eye, he knew the other agent felt the same.
They eventually finished up and rejoined the rest of their team.
"What've you got?" Tony asked Ziva shortly.
She shot her head up at the tone in his voice, but caught the expression on his face and changed tack instantly. "I have been outside and searched for evidence; there was very little – a few footprints in the dirt but that's it. Gibbs is still with the Commander. He believes that Zeke may have been snatched in the early morning, around dawn. He was at a dinner last night in the Officer's Club with a few friends, and a babysitter was looking after the child. Wilkerson returned home last night just before midnight and sent the girl home."
"We got a name?"
"Yes. Lara Bowie. She is the daughter of one of Wilkerson's colleagues."
"Why does Wilkerson think Zeke was taken around dawn?" asked McGee, his brow furrowing.
Ziva shot a nervous glance at Tony. "He wakes up each morning at 0500, and goes running. Each morning, he locks the door behind him and leaves Zeke at home asleep. He is home no later than half past six, at which time Zeke normally wakes up."
"Creatures of habit," murmured McGee.
Tony mulled over this for a minute, his anger growing. "How can anyone leave a kid this age on their own for that long, for Christ's sake!" he hissed angrily. He could feel his temper rising and he wasn't quite sure why.
McGee stepped in. "Because when you live on a naval base, you feel as though it's the safest place on Earth," he reasoned. "When we were kids and Dad was at sea, Mom would often leave us on our own while she went shopping or whatever. You just don't think that these sorts of things can happen on Base Tony. Lots of parents have made the same call."
What McGee said made sense, and Tony knew it. Changing tack slightly, he asked, "what about this kid's illness?"
Ziva went blank for a moment and then remembered. "Oh! I am not certain, Gibbs is still talking to the Commander."
"And now, Gibbs is here," boomed the voice of the Lead agent. "C'mon, there's not much more we can do here. I got three search parties coordinated with the MP's, they're gonna search every inch of this base and check in with us regularly. Meantime, we've got work to do. Back to the Yard; the faster we work, the sooner we'll find him." He dismissed his team with a jerk of his head and turned to head back to the kitchen.
"Boss," a voice said quietly behind him. Gibbs turned around to see Tony standing somewhat uncertainly close by. "What about the kid's illness?" he asked again.
Gibbs took a deep breath. "Wilkerson's specialist has got Zeke on some pretty powerful meds. They're hopeful they can slow the onset of the virus, but it's imperative that the drugs are administered regularly. All of the kid's meds are still in the cupboard." He hadn't wanted to tell the younger man that last piece of information, but he knew it would light the fire inside once more.
He was right; Tony's eyes took on a hardened edge. "This son of a bitch is gonna suffer when I get my hands on him," he vowed. "You comin' back with me or you wanna come later?"
"I'll be back later, you head back with Ziva and McGee. Get moving!" Gibbs barked, smiling grimly to himself. The fire was lit, and Anthony DiNozzo would be back on the top of his game within minutes, of that he was certain.