a/n - I'm still restoring files for Backfired, but in the meantime here's the other big story I'm working on.
Slave of my Heart
The ringing of the phone in the middle of the night was never a good sign.
"Yeah, Gibbs." He rubbed his eyes as he tried to focus on the small alarm clock sitting on the corner of the bedside table. 03.00 was a hell of a time to be awakened and his patience was short. "Whoever the hell this is, you better have a damn good reason for calling this early."
"I'm at a private hospital in Virginia with one of your boys. Is that a good enough reason?" The accent was familiar and one he didn't want to hear.
"Kort? Which hospital? What happened?" Now wide awake, Gibbs was already pulling pants on as he sprinting down the stairs. He stumbled and nearly fell at Kort's answer.
"Just get here, this isn't a secured line." He gave the address of a small private hospital north of Langley and hung up before Gibbs could ask anything else.
A clean shirt from the laundry room, a coat from the back of the sofa and shoes from the entryway, then Gibbs was out the door. "What in the hell have you gotten yourself into now, DiNozzo?"
The forty minute drive took a little more than fifteen minutes, but the nurse wasn't surprised by his early arrival. She was also already aware of who he was. "Agent Gibbs, they're waiting for you in room three."
He didn't slow down until he was outside the exam room door, and then only to not startle his injured man inside. His path was blocked when Kort left the bedside and steered him to a far corner. "What the hell is going on, Kort? What was all that secure line crap? My people aren't on any op with you." His frown increased when he realized that Kort was shirtless, wearing an assortment of leather straps under a motorcycle jacket, a far cry from his usual suits. "What did you get him involved in?"
Angrily Gibbs turned away, moving closer to the bed as the medical staff retreated, finally getting a stunned look at his injured agent. "McGee? Ah, crap." Not quite touching, his hand skimmed down the battered body taking in the bite marks, scratches and bruises. One of the nurses in the room touched his arm.
"He's sedated, not unconscious. The doctor thought it would be less stressful while we examined him and collected any evidence."
She moved away while Gibbs continued to catalog McGee's injuries. The blood blisters and torn skin on his wrists was stark evidence how hard the young man had fought against whatever had happened to him. Gibbs didn't look up from Tim's slack face when Kort came up behind him.
"It wasn't me that got him caught up in this, blame Stephenson for that."
"Stephenson?" Gibbs thought for a moment, trying to latch onto the name. "FBI? On Fornell's team?"
Kort jerked his head back towards the corner and Gibbs followed him. Once they were out of earshot if McGee and any of the nurses, he started to explain. "There's a hardcore, underground S&M club in the city that's being run as a front by some heavy duty gun runners. I've been working to get close to the guy in charge for over two years."
"FBI's been working on the money laundering end of the equation for a few months. Stephenson tried to take a shortcut by giving them a gift."
"A gift?" Gibbs had a sick feeling exactly what that gift was. "Are you saying that Stephenson kidnapped my agent and handed him over to be gang raped? And you stood there and let it happen?"
"Relax pops, your baby agent saved himself, I just helped." Kort was smiling slightly, but the fierce look on Gibbs' face forced him to school his features as he turned serious. "He was roughed up and molested, but he wasn't raped. It didn't get that far."
Gibbs returned to the bed, reaching out and brushing a fingertip over the marred skin. "It was still too far." He had a lot more to say on the subject, but McGee was starting to wake up. Gibbs moved closer still and bent down, wanting him to see a familiar face when he opened his eyes. "Hey, welcome back."
The green eyes flitted around, as if expecting to see his attackers lurking in the corners. He sounded young and frightened. "Boss?"
"Easy, McGee, you're safe." Gibbs lightly pressed his palm against McGee's forehead, keeping him flat on the examining table. The doctor moved back in, forcing Gibbs to step back, but he stayed in McGee's line of sight. Apparently, the doctor was pleased with the results, because a nurse arrived with a pair of scrubs. Gibbs took them from her and waited until she and the doctor left.
Discharge papers in the works, Gibbs turned his attention back to McGee, sliding an arm under his shoulders and helping him to sit up. Tim swayed and Gibbs held on, letting Tim lean his forehead against his shoulder until the dizziness passed. "Okay now?" He got a slight nod as Tim straightened up. The young man was quiet and complacent as Gibbs pulled the top over his head and then carefully threaded his arms through the short sleeves.
Once Tim was laying back down, Gibbs folded back the blanket, being careful to keep his modesty preserved for as long as possible. He had the pants pulled up to McGee's upper thighs before he fully removed the blanket, revealing the dark bruises and scrapes over his hips and groin. Tim was silent, blocking out the world with an arm over his eyes. Gibbs tapped an unmarred spot on his hip. "Raise up just a bit if you can, McGee."
McGee was trembling by the time Gibbs had him dressed, but the older man wasn't sure if it was from the pain, the stress or sheer exhaustion. A wheelchair made the trip out to the car easier, Kort following behind with a box filled with the evidence bags from the hospital. After he had McGee in the car, Gibbs took the evidence and locked it in his trunk.
"Don't trust me with it?"
"Not until I know exactly what happened. Our conversation isn't over yet." Gibbs gave him a hard look before getting into the car. "Call Fornell, have him meet us at my place. After McGee is settled, the three of us are going to have a long talk about just what the hell happened tonight."
It was a quiet ride back to Gibbs' home, but he didn't want to push McGee for answers quite yet, not until he had more information from Kort and Fornell. The headlights from Kort's car followed him into the driveway, illuminating Fornell's sedan waiting at the curb. Gibbs ignored both men as he concentrated on getting McGee out of the car and into the house.
"Easy Tim, I'll have you laying down in just a minute."
"No, please." Gibbs hadn't heard such a timid tone from McGee since his first few months on the team. "I... would it be all right if I showered? I really need... I need to wash them off of me... please, Boss."
Gibbs wanted to kick himself. McGee may have escaped an actual, penetrative rape, but he had been the victim of a brutal sexual assault with probably multiple assailants. He changed direction and steered the young man to the upstairs bathroom with its shower-tub combination. "Of course you can. Wait here and I'll bring you some towels and a pair of sweats to sleep in, all right?" He waited until McGee was sitting on the closed lid of the toilet before backing out of the small room.
Ignoring Fornell's attempt to question him, Gibbs gathered what was needed and quickly returned to McGee, helping him pull off the paper shirt before pointing out the soft sweats and towels laid out on the counter. "Yell if you need anything, and don't lock the door, okay?" After he got a shaky nod in return, he left to give Tim some privacy.
A quick jerk of the head sufficed as an order to follow him downstairs and the three men retreated to the basement. Gibbs didn't waste any time or pull any punches. "What the hell kind of operation is Stephenson involved in?"
Fornell stared at him, blankly. "Stephenson? Greg Stephenson? He's not, he's been in the office doing paperwork all week."
"So, his little foray into the S&M dungeons is just a side hobby?" Gibbs leaned his hip against the workbench, his arms crossed over his chest.
"What? No, that was an op, but we shut it down."
The FBI agent wasn't sure how Gibbs even knew about the undercover operation that had been canceled, or what his interest in it was, but he found himself answering. "It was considered too high risk. Greg claimed that only way for him to make any progress was to give them... well..."
"A gift? Somebody to tie down and..."
"Yeah." Pinching the bridge of his nose, Fornell cut him off, obviously uncomfortable with the entire line of questioning. He looked at Kort, taking in his garb. "The CIA already had someone in place, so our Director decided to cut our loses. He sure as hell was not going to put one of our agents through that."
Gibbs came off the bench in a hurry. "Oh, but it was all right to put one of my agents through it?"
"No. Like I said, the op was canceled." Fornell looked up at the ceiling, and then back at Gibbs, finally putting the pieces together. "Oh no, no way, Greg would not do something like that. If your kid ended up there, it had to be because of another reason."
Trent Kort spoke up for the first time since Fornell had joined them. "McGee was there because your man dragged his naked, unconscious body into the dungeon and chained him up."
"I don't believe it." Fornell pulled out his cell phone and started dialing. "There's got to be another explanation. I'll get Stephenson on the line and..."
"Oh, I don't think he'll be in any shape to talk to anyone."
Fornell closed his phone when the call went to voice mail. "What is that suppose to mean?"
"Do you need me to draw you a picture, Agent Fornell?" Kort made the title sound like a slur. "That club is populated by hardcore sadists that have been banned from every other club and scene all up and down the Eastern seaboard. Guys that are too brutal to keep their own subs, and Stephenson got them all worked up, then handed them a virgin on a silver platter. I guarantee you that when they lost the kid, somebody had to take his place tonight."
"And you let that happen?"
Kort gave him a disgusted look. "At least in our agency, the kidnapped victim has priority over the dirty agent that kidnapped him."
"I'm not ready to buy that." Fornell turned to Gibbs. "How do you know McGee wasn't helping him?"
"I don't care how long we've been friends, Tobias. Don't you dare turn this back on McGee. There is no way he'd willingly put himself in that situation, and sure as hell not behind my back." Leaving Fornell to stew on that, Gibbs turned his attention back to Kort.
"You said he saved himself. How did he stop them?"
Kort shook his head at the memory. At the time it had been quite a surprise. "He understood the scene enough to claim he was a collared sub, that Stephenson had stolen him from his master."
"That convinced them to let him go?" From his tone, Kort knew that Gibbs was far from convinced.
"Kid kept on about how his master was going to track each of them down and kill them."
Gibbs remembered what Kort had said earlier. "And you backed him up?'
"Over the years, I've made vague comments about the master that trained me, and I let them believe they're one in the same. Eventually it was enough to get them to back off." Kort glanced over at the water heater in the corner. The water had been running through the pipes ever since they'd come downstairs. "How big is that damn water heater, Gibbs?"
Gibbs quickly glanced down at his watch, alarmed at how much time had passed before heading back up the stairs at a dead run. He paused at the bathroom door. "McGee? Tim? You okay?" When there was no answer, he slowly opened the door. "I'm coming in." Through the shower curtain he could see the huddled figure in the tub. He slowly eased the curtain back, as to not startle the young man. "Ah, Timmy."
McGee was sitting on the floor of the tub, his head resting on his drawn up knees. He didn't react when Gibbs shut off the now cold water that was pounding down on him. Gibbs turned to the men that had followed him upstairs. "Kort, there's a package of Ducky's tea bags behind the coffee grounds. Not too hot, but make it extra sweet. Fornell, use the dryer and microwave to start warming blankets and these." He tossed the sweats and some of the towels to Fornell. Dismissing them from his mind for the moment, Gibbs turned his attention back to his man. With the next towel from the stack he gently blotted the water from Tim's hair before moving on to his face. Tim seemed only vaguely aware of his ministrations as he continued to dry him, wincing at the angry red marks that came from too hot of water and too hard of scrubbing.
"B'ss?" His awareness increasing, McGee looked around, surprised to find himself sitting in the tub. "Sorry... must have spaced out for a minute."
"It's okay, McGee, you've had a pretty rough night." By now Gibbs had him as dry as he could in this position. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Fornell arrive back with several large bath sheets, freshly warmed. "Let's get you up on your feet and out of here, all right?" He didn't really wait for an answer as he shifted to better lift McGee up. "Wrap your arms around my neck, that's it."
With his arms draped around Gibbs' neck and his face buried in the older man's shoulder, McGee was unaware of Fornell standing in the doorway watching as Gibbs lifted him out of the tub. For his part, Fornell found himself unable to turn away as he took in every scratch, bruise and bite mark that littered the younger man's body. Just one glance at the damage done to his wrists and ankles proved that he hadn't been a willing participant in whatever scheme Stephenson had cooked up. Silently he handed the warm towel to Gibbs and then backed off.
After the towel was wrapped around his waist, McGee straightened up enough to look Gibbs in the eye. "We're suppose to be on the same side, Boss, why would he do this to me?"
"I don't know, McGee. Do you feel up to telling us how he got his hands on you?" When he got a short nod, he walked Tim to the bedroom before helping him into the warm sweats that Fornell handed over. While Gibbs was helping McGee dress, Fornell returned back downstairs and came back up with a warm blanket, followed by Kort with a cup of tea.
Tim was obviously aware of the other men, but he only looked at his boss as Gibbs tucked the warmed blanket around him before pulling up the other blankets already on the bed. Enough pillows were behind him to allow him to take the cup even though Gibbs helped support it. He shuddered after the first sip.
"You're still in shock, you need the sugar." Gibbs brought the cup closer and Tim obediently drank enough to satisfy the older man. Setting the cup down for now, Gibbs shifted to lean back against the headboard so that Tim could rest against him
Gibbs waited, letting McGee set the pace. Seeing the sunrise starting through the window, he was willing to wait all day if necessary, but after a few minutes McGee began speaking in a low, monotone voice.
"I worked late down in cybercrimes helping them with a case. When I was finished, the rest of our team had already left, so I went home, too. I... I hadn't eaten all day so I stopped and picked up an order of clam chowder on my way. Stephenson pulled into the apartment parking lot right behind me." McGee turned to look directly at Gibbs. "He told me that Fornell was undercover and had missed his check-in. That you had gone in after him, but they'd lost the signal, that there was some sort of interference they couldn't break through. Stupid, I was so stupid because I believed him. I asked where the rest of our team was and he said they were outside the building, waiting for me to hack into the security system and find you."
"Not stupid, McGee. You trusted a fellow agent and tried to watch my back." Hearing the support, Tim dropped his head down onto Gibbs' chest as his trembling increased, the words becoming more difficult.
"He had it all planned out. As soon as I got in his car, he handed me a stack of printouts on a security system. There were probably over two hundred pages and I was so busy trying to sort it all out that I didn't even pay attention to where he was driving. He pulled into this alley. One of the FBI's surveillance vans was there and I didn't hesitate, just climbed in."
Gibbs was furious that McGee's drive to keep him safe was turned into a weapon against the younger man. "When did you realize it was a trap?"
There was a hitch in Tim's breathing and Gibbs waited, rubbing his back, until he could continue. "The second I stepped inside, I knew something was wrong. All the equipment was dark. It takes a good thirty minutes to get everything online and calibrated, and I started to yell at him for wasting time, but something hit the back of my head before I could even turn around."
Thick but sensitive fingers could still feel the knot on the back of McGee's head. "Were you knocked out?"
Tim struggled to recount the details. "No, but I went down. Before I could react he was on top of me. His knees were pressing so hard on my back I couldn't move and he grabbed my hair, bent my neck so far back, I thought he was going to snap it. And then..."
When McGee's voice faded, Gibbs continued to stroke his back, painfully aware now of the cause of the two large bruises, just below his shoulder blades. A point of painful submission, especially considering Stephenson's weight. After a few minutes, McGee took a deep, shuddering breath and continued.
"He shoved a cloth against my face, I remember the smell of the chloroform. I tried to hold my breath, but he slammed one of his knees into my back again and I gasped. I couldn't help it. The last thing I remember was him ripping my shirt open. When I woke up, I was... I was in that place. I was naked and hanging from leather cuffs and chains and my legs were spread wide and chained. I couldn't move at all. There were so many of them, and they were touching me and hurting me and they were arguing over who was going to get my ass first because their last toy died before everybody got a go at him." The words were tumbling out faster and faster as McGee relived the terror of waking up in that dungeon. Gibbs pulled him closer and gently rocked him while glaring at Fornell.
Fornell leaned heavily against the wall, feeling the weight of Gibbs anger and his own guilt over not recognizing what was brewing in Greg Stephenson's mind, while Kort used the opportunity to move closer and squat down next to the bed. "Claiming to have been stolen from your master was a stroke of brilliance, kid. How'd you know?"
When McGee didn't say anything right away, Gibbs made a guess. "Abby tell you about it?"
He finally nodded. "She told me a lot about the lifestyle, talked me into going with her to watch a scene once. It was nothing like this though. I just... I had to try and convince them because I knew I wouldn't live through what they were going to do to me, and..." Tim straightened and turned to look Gibbs in the eye. "I didn't want you to think I wanted that, that I thought so little of myself to let strangers use me like that."