Alrighty, possibly a teeny-tiny bit AU or OOC – there will no doubt be some who have issues with LEO's about to take the route that these blokes are. Also, just a warning, there's a wee bit of rough language in here, but it's much, much less than a Tarantino film. There you go.

Chapter 11.

Tony couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Gibbs lowering his weapon. "Gibbs, what the hell are you doing?" he hissed.

Gibbs looked at him and cocked an eyebrow. Tony took that to mean trust me and the loyal St Bernard in him was inclined to do just that… and yet, he hesitated. "Don't make me order you, DiNozzo," the older man said softly.

Kenneth was elated; he'd half-believed that they would've put a bullet in him by now. "A wise move gentlemen. Now, I suggest we make our way out of here and allow this poor fellow to continue his recuperation in peace."

"Hold on a minute doc," said Gibbs. "Where's the syringe?" Kenneth held it up and waved it. "Place it on the floor, and kick it over here."

He complied with the lead agent's order, his movements slow and arrogant. The vial rolled over the floor and came to a stop a few feet from where the two agents were standing. Tony leant over and picked it up, slipping it into an evidence bag he'd fished from his pocket.

Kenneth clapped his hands together in a businesslike manner. "Right then chaps, shall we move?" He started to walk out of the room, oozing with a cockiness that made Tony want to scream.

The three men walked down the hall of the ICU, Tony and Gibbs half a step behind Kenneth. The doors to the Unit suddenly flew open, and an angry voice roared, "where is he?"

They stopped, the agents both reaching for their holstered guns. They watched, mesmerised, as a large figure barrelled down the hall and launched himself on Kenneth in a rugby tackle. "Cameron," breathed Tony.

The Lt. Commander had his older brother pinned to the ground, one hand holding him down at his chest, the other clenched tightly, ready to punch. "You killed my boy!" he screamed, fist punctuating each word.

Gibbs and Tony watched for a second longer before trying to pull him off Kenneth. They eventually succeeded, the three falling to the ground in a heap. "Stand down sailor!" Gibbs roared in his best Gunnery-Sergeant voice. Cameron instinctively snapped to attention, mentally at least, before coming to his senses once again. He broke down in sobs, his body heaving and shaking with the sudden flood of emotions. Gibbs wrapped his arms around him, in a futile attempt to comfort him. Tony sat back, stunned. Had Wilkerson said what he thought he'd said?

Kenneth took advantage of the momentary lapse in the agents' judgement to try and sneak away. He crawled along the floor for a few paces before pulling himself up and, managing a rather lopsided run, tried to make his getaway. His escape was cut up short with McGee walking in and pointing a gun directly at his head.

"Going somewhere doc?" the young agent enquired, before grabbing the other man by the front of his shirt and slamming him against the wall.

McGee read Kenneth Wilkerson his rights as he cuffed him, making sure the cuffs were just a little too tight for comfort, and handed him over to O'Hare's team, who had arrived on scene just after him. "Throw him in Interrogation; we'll process him when we can," he called to them. He headed over to Gibbs, who was standing off to one side, watching as Zeke's treating doctor spoke quietly to Cameron. "Boss?"

"What happened?" Gibbs didn't look at McGee, but he knew not to take it to heart.

"Chronic heart failure Boss. Kenneth overdosed him on… well, they're not sure on what exactly, the tox screens will come back with that info. His little body was having difficulties adjusting to the new treatments, on top of the flu antibiotics and the meds that Dr Barnes prescribed. Dr Wilkerson might've thought that he had all the answers but he screwed the pooch."

Gibbs rubbed a hand over his face. "What about Ziva?"

"Drugs are wearing off; he stuck her with a morphine shot straight to the neck. Lucky the dosage wasn't high, it could've killed her."

"How's she doin'?"

"She's pissed that he, and I quote, 'got the hop on her', but otherwise she's fine," McGee said, a trace of a smile in his voice. "Babbling in a combination of Hebrew, German, Spanish, English… you know, the usual. Kind of like Tony on painkillers but a little scarier. And I'm pretty sure I now know the word for paperclip in four different languages."

Gibbs managed a smile at the information, but as he thought of Tony his face fell once more. "Where's DiNozzo?"

McGee hesitated. "He's in with Zeke."

Tony sat next to the bed where the child lay. The machines and IV lines had all been disconnected, if it weren't for the intubation tube sticking out of his mouth and the slightly grey pallor of his skin, Tony could've sworn he was asleep.

"I'm so sorry big guy," he said softly, reaching out to brush Zeke's hair from his forehead. "I'm sorry we couldn't get to you in time, I'm sorry I didn't make an effort to see you again after your Dad came home, I'm sorry for a lot of things.

"When I looked after you all those months ago, it made me think… y'know, that maybe one day I might get the chance to have a kid of my own. All I could think was I could never hurt a kid the way your mom hurt you. The way my own parents screwed me up. I shoulda tried to keep in touch with you kid, you were always gonna have a rough time of it."

"You were his hero," a voice said from the doorway. Tony stiffened in his seat at the sound; he knew exactly who the voice belonged to.

Cameron leaned against the doorframe, gazing at his child. "He would run around the house getting me to play the bad guy, and he'd be Agent Tony coming in to save the day." He smiled a little at the memory. "He used to say that when he grew up, after he finished in the Navy and had won a gold medal at the Olympics, that he'd join NCIS and you and he could catch the bad guys together."

Tony grinned slightly. "Ambitious kid."

"You're tellin' me. And now…" his voice trailed off.

"Yeah, well, whose fault is that?" Tony stood up and began to walk from the room.

"Don't judge me too harshly, Agent DiNozzo," the other man said quietly, blocking his exit. "I'll live with the guilt forever. But at the time I honestly thought I was doing the right thing. I would've done anything if it meant my boy had a chance of a normal life. I hope to God that you're never in the same situation."

Tony glared at him for a moment, but Wilkerson just met his eyes with a calm acknowledgement of defeat. It was a look Tony was familiar with; it was the look that his own father had used on him the last time they met. Finally, Wilkerson moved out of the way, and Tony swept out of the room, not looking back.

Tony sat slumped on his couch, ESPN playing on the television in front of him. He mindlessly took another swing of whiskey, this one directly from the bottle. He'd learned years ago that drinking never eased the effects of a rough case, but he didn't care. Tonight he just wanted to feel nothing. He didn't want to see the kid's face every time he closed his eyes, he didn't want to see his boss lowering his fucking weapon when they had the perfect shot in front of them, he didn't want to see his partner lying unconscious on the floor because of some psycho… the only scene he liked to replay from the day was the younger of the two brothers beating up on the elder.

His phone buzzed next to him. He contemplated not picking up, but decided it would be better in the long run if he just answered.


"Hey man."

"Hey Probie, what's up?"

"Just checkin' on ya, makin' sure you're alright."

"All sunshine and rainbows on this end McPity," he said a little sharply. There was silence on the other end, followed by a sigh.

"It's not pity you dumbass, its concern. But forget it, I know you're alive and by the sounds of it well on your way to getting hammered, so I'll just see you tomorrow. It's your turn to pick up coffees."

"Tim, hang on a sec. That came out all wrong. No I'm not fine but yes I will be. And yes I am getting drunk. And yes I'll pick up coffee. Sorry for snarling man. We good?"

"'Course we are. Want company tonight?"

"Nah, it's all good. Besides, I'm sure you've got your hands full with Ziva."

"That's the understatement of the century. Next time, you get drug-addled Israeli duty, we clear?"

Tony laughed a soft genuine laugh. "Crystal, Probie. See you tomorrow." He rung off before the other man could reply.

Shortly after McGee's phone call, Tony found himself dozing off on the couch. A knock on the door snapped him back to reality. He climbed a little clumsily to his feet and answered the knock.

"Thought you might like company," said Gibbs by way of greeting.

"Uh… Boss? No offense, but I really don't. Not tonight anyways." Tony enunciated his words carefully, not wanting to give the older man more than a hint of how much he'd had to drink.

The piercing blue eyes assessed him frankly, and Tony shrank a little under the gaze. "How much've you had tonight?"

"Oh… a little," he hedged.

"Uh-huh." The blue eyes continued to bore into Tony's, seemingly into his soul, until he turned away squirming.

"Okay, more than a little, but can you blame me?" he snapped, going to the kitchen and grabbing two beers.


"I mean, we had the perfect shot! We could've taken the sonofabitch down and you lowered your gun! Whatever happened to not negotiating with terrorists?"

"He wasn't a terrorist DiNozzo."

"Maybe not the strictest definitions of one but he's still a fucking nutbag!"

"Okay, I'll buy that," Gibbs nodded and took a swig of his beer. "So where do we draw the line? Where's the line between law enforcement and a vigilante?"

Tony turned on him, a murderous glint in his eye. "Don't you fucking dare pull that card on me Gibbs! You took the law into your own hands with Hernandez!"

Gibbs didn't flinch. "You're right. Did I feel better? A little. But not enough. And look where it got me… hell, all of us in the end? Damn near got us killed. Where does it stop?"

Tony said nothing, just took another swig of whiskey and followed it with a long draught of beer.

"Vance got the Director of the CIA involved."

Tony looked at Gibbs in surprise. "You're kidding!"

"Would I kid about that? Seems the good doctor has pissed off a lot of people, and the fact that he went after the kid of a decorated Naval officer… well, that was just the icing on the cake."

"Who did the interrogation?"

"I did. He was bragging about his research, so we just gave him enough rope to hang himself. You should've stuck around Tony, you missed a hell of a show."

Tony didn't say anything, just picked at the label on his bottle. "I fucked up, Gibbs."

"Yep. We all did, DiNozzo. But drinkin' isn't gonna change anything."

"Maybe not. It'd be nice not to feel anything though."

"Rule 10. Hardest of the lot." Gibbs clapped a hand on Tony's shoulder and squeezed gently. "You didn't fail him Tony. His father did."

"Yeah, well, small comfort that is." Tony put his now-empty bottle on the coffee table and leaned back into the couch with a sigh.

Gibbs reached around and smacked the back of his head, albeit gently. "Suck it up DiNozzo. We got the bad guy. You've been in the game long enough to know that it doesn't always work out for the innocent ones."

"So what then, Boss? We just keep doin' what we're doin' and hope for the best?" he fired back angrily.

"Yep. We do it for the ones we couldn't save. Zeke'll become your talisman, your reality check. He'll keep the fire lit in ya. Just gotta believe it Tony."

The two men sat in contemplative silence for a few minutes, watching the game on the television, neither really seeing it. Tony finally broke the quiet. "Thanks Boss."

"Anytime, DiNozzo."

That's the end of the story! Thanks to all of you that read, reviewed, alerted, favourited, etc etc. Special thanks to my lovely friends WCUGirl (Jen) and scousemuz1k – you guys rock! Incidentally, if anyone at all cares where the title of the story came from, it's a Paul Dempsey song - he's an Aussie rock muso, brilliant guy, ex-frontman of the band Something for Kate. I suggest you check him out! xoxoxo