A/N: This is my first, probably my only M-rated story. The reason for the rating is because of the subject matter. This is a story about male rape. It's not particularly explicit, but the rape is front and center in the story. If that bothers you, please...do us both a favor and don't read it. As always, when I address a heavy and uncomfortable topic like this, I try to do so accurately and with sensitivity, but this is not the kind of thing people may want to read. I was uncomfortable about writing it (and unsure about posting it here)...so I can hardly blame others for feeling the same. ...but I feel that it is something worth...shining a light on...even in a medium like this. It does happen. It happens too often, and it is too often hidden away because of social views about the victims. So...long warning, but I'm serious about both the topic and about my warning not to read if it makes you too uncomfortable.

A/N2: The title comes from a quotation by Theodore Roosevelt and will come up later on in the story.

Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS and I am not making money off this story.

How the Strong Man Stumbled
by Enthusiastic Fish

Chapter 1

Business trips were the best things about being in the world of business. It was a chance to travel...on the company's tab, to be wined and dined by people who wanted either to be a part of the business or to get them to join in the business.

Lane and Mitchell had worked together for the better part of fifteen years. They were always sent out together on business trips because they fed off each other's enthusiasm. They had risen through the ranks together. Their wives were friends. Their children played together. The other employees had often remarked on how they seemed like twins separated at birth. They even looked something alike. Both were tall, good-looking, well-built, the same general shape. Lane was darker-skinned, a product of his Pacific Islander heritage, dark brown eyes that snapped with intelligence. Mitchell was white as could be. Raised in New England, rich parents, privileged upbringing...the works...but he was always the kind of person people were impressed with. He worked hard and had the successes to prove it.

They were the last two men in the world anyone would suspect of being serial rapists.


They always got two hotels when they went traveling. One was booked by the company...and that was where they stayed. The other...well, the other was for...special events. They switched off paying for it with credit cards used only for that specific purpose. The bills were paid online. No paper trail.

Now, they were in the club across the street, enjoying the atmosphere, enjoying the sights and sounds of the (slightly) younger set partying. They had an important meeting in the morning, and it was always a good idea to get into the right frame of mind for jousting with the competition. The music wasn't really their type, but it was an exciting place to be. The drinks were pretty good and the prices reasonable. Lane winked at their waitress, but only in fun. He loved his wife Patsy and would never dream of being unfaithful. Mitchell grinned but contented himself with leaving a large tip. Goodness knows, waitressing wasn't the most lucrative of careers.

After a couple of drinks, Mitchell pointed to his watch. (There was no point in trying to communicate verbally in the mayhem.) Lane nodded. The music stopped and he was about to stand when he was thrown back into his seat...by someone falling over top of him...along with something that was probably not water. Roars of laughter burst out from near the bar and his attacker fell with a thump to the floor.

"Sorry. I'm so sorry," he said, earnestly, trying to help Lane clean up the drink that had been spilled all over him. His gaze went to the bar. "Tony! You–" He broke off as Mitchell noticed the expression on the face of the man named Tony. He looked unrepentant. "I don't know why I even bother. I'm really sorry. Can I replace your drink? Or...I guess that was my drink I spilled...you can send me the dry-cleaning bill. That was total clumsiness on my part."

Mitchell raised a silent eyebrow at Lane who looked back with surprise. Tonight?

"That's all right. I'll bill it to my bosses," Lane said getting the confirmation. "It may not even be ruined. That was what? White wine?"

"Yeah...it was. You sure I can't make up for that?"

"For all of that, it was probably not entirely your fault, was it?" Lane asked, jerking his head toward the group.

"Probably not...but I was the one who tripped. I am sorry."

"Don't be. No harm done...nothing permanent anyway. I was just about to get my inebriated friend back to our hotel anyway. He'd probably have done worse to me if I let him stay any longer."

Mitchell crafted a convincing drunk look on his face, smiling blearily at the man.

"In fact, if you could give me a hand, that would be great."

Some people refused, some couldn't. This tactic didn't work all the time, but they both could see it. This guy wanted to do something to make up for his tumble.

"Yeah, I can do that. Just let me ditch my...friends." He grinned good-naturedly at Lane, showing that he was used to the treatment and didn't mind it, and then hurried over, obviously telling them what he was going to do...and, by the protests, he was also saying that he wasn't coming back. Even better. They could have dealt with an expectation of return. They had before, but it was so much better when they didn't have to.

Mitchell, in his role of drunkard, began to try standing. He wobbled, falling against Lane and then reeling backward, caught, as he had known he would be, by their new...friend.

"Whoa, this way is the exit. How about we walk forward?" he said bracingly. Lane took one arm while the man took the other and helped the weaving Mitchell toward the door.

"Make sure he doesn't barf on your shoes, McGee!" Tony shouted after the trio.

McGee. Hmmm...last name basis only? Interesting. Some people were like that, but mostly athletes. This...McGee...was not an athlete, but was plainly used to being addressed that way. Very interesting...especially because he used first names, not last names, himself.

"I'd be more worried if I were with you, Tony!"

Together, they reached the street.

"You have a car?"

"No, we're actually just across the street here, if you could give me a hand. I don't think Rachel would forgive me if I let him embarrass himself too badly."

The man...McGee smiled and continued to brace the mumbling and sagging Mitchell on their trek, across the street, into the hotel with the conveniently unmanned front desk (although there would have been an easy solution had the clerk been there), to the elevator. Mitchell was enjoying himself. He usually did. He liked being the drunk...because, in actual fact, he'd never been drunk, not once in his life. He enjoyed a good scotch as much as any other guy, but he'd never exceeded his limits. Lane had asked him once why that was, and he had credited Bill Cosby's sketch on drinking. In fact, that was where he had picked up his skills on acting drunk...so he claimed, anyway.

The elevator reached the top floor. (Fewer people to overhear.)

"How much farther? I think he's gone boneless."

Lane laughed easily in spite of his growing excitement. This would be great. Mitchell's idea was perfect. They always worked better after one of these nights. It made him feel like he could take on the world.

"Just over here."

"All right. You want me to take him while you get your key?"

Lane nodded. He was being so helpful...so helpful. The complete shock that would take the place of the tolerant and semi-exasperated smile on his face was almost better than what came after. Mitchell cleverly maneuvered himself around to Tim's left side, having noticed his handedness, and effectively entangled his left arm, leaving him with his weaker hand free.

"If you could just get him to his bed, that would be great."

"Sure." He and the "drunk" Mitchell lurched toward the bed and Lane closed the door behind them. He set his card, his wallet, his watch...his wedding ring. He set them all on the side table and then walked over to the bed.

Suddenly, Mitchell made the shift from a man who'd had one too many...to captor. Lane got one good look at the face, young-looking, wide-eyed with the shock that was so...exciting. Then, Mitchell used the element of surprise, the man seemed frozen with that shock, and pinned him to the bed.

Lane turned out the lights.


It was in a room on the top floor. It was a relatively high-quality hotel. The walls were soundproofed, although, if anyone had wanted to, they could have heard the screaming. It was loud enough to be heard through the door. There were occasional thumps. A lamp broke in the struggle...but it took mere minutes for the screams to fade to nothing, minutes for the sound of screaming to be replaced by business-like silence.

Mere minutes.