Another xenascully prompt: 'stuck in an elevator, slash' on the Author's Notes forum for fanfic writers and readers (NCIS, Supernatural and House M.D. focus at the moment, more fandoms to be added - xenascully dot com slash authorsnotes). Decided to do a sequel to September Fourteenth. Next chapter of Second Law coming soon, I promise… just getting all these little bunnies rounded up safely. Rated T for slashy moments, nothing too explicit.
Very, very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo sat in the passenger seat of the car, glancing over at his boss as they hurtled through the side streets of the warehouse district. They were following a lead, an anonymous tip regarding the missing petty officer they'd been trying to find for the past two days. There'd been no explanation for Jonas Bartlett's disappearance, except for one hint that perhaps he'd witnessed something he really shouldn't have.
"Some of these drug dealers are pretty ruthless, Boss…" Tony's voice trailed off as Gibbs shot him an indecipherable look. "Uh, yeah… you know that already." Tony grimaced and reached up to give himself a head slap. "Sorry, Jethro."
Gibbs simply nodded, keeping his eyes on the road, then reached out to pat and then squeeze Tony's leg briefly before bringing his hand back to the steering wheel. Tony's lips twitched into a small smile, relishing the changes in Gibbs' behavior ever since what Tony liked to think of as The Hotel Incident That Shall Never Be Spoken Of Again.
After their bizarre experience on September fourteenth a few weeks ago, Tony's and Gibbs' relationship had undergone an interesting shift. Tony had always been attracted to Gibbs for a whole variety of reasons, and that crazy night they'd found that the interest was mutual. Not that anything earth-shattering had happened yet, at least not unless you had a good understanding of Gibbs' character… though if you did, it was like being in the Twilight Zone.
Gibbs had mellowed considerably on the job. He was still his usual bastardly self with administrators, politicians, bad guys, and basically anyone who got in his way, but he was nicer to Tony. There were fewer head slaps, more smiles, more 'good jobs, ' and rule six had apparently gone on a much needed vacation. The change in demeanor had extended somewhat to the rest of the team, and Ziva and McGee had both noticed something was up. Ziva hadn't said anything but had taken to smirking at Tony and showing up suddenly in odd places whenever Tony and Gibbs were somewhere in the building away from the bullpen. McGee had a perpetually confused look on his face, as if he couldn't decide between liking this nicer version of Gibbs and worrying about why Gibbs was nice. It had given him a slight twitch.
Normally Tony wouldn't have liked this new and improved Gibbs. Off the job, though, Gibbs and Tony were spending a lot of time together, ever since sharing Gibbs' bed, just to sleep, on September fifteenth. Sometimes it was through a specific invitation for dinner, or a movie, or to help with the latest woodworking project. Sometimes one or the other just showed up. Gibbs never called Tony by his last name off the job now, and Tony was experimenting with what to call Gibbs. He'd settled on 'Jethro' at the moment, highly unoriginal, but nothing else seemed to fit. There were occasional touches and invasions of each other's personal space, but for some reason nothing more than that had happened. And for once in his life, Tony didn't mind, because he had a suspicion this could really be something.
Tony sighed as the car screeched to a halt and Gibbs cut the engine. Gibbs shot a curious look his way, and Tony glanced at him before gesturing toward the rows of warehouses. "Look. It's creepy."
Gibbs looked. There was no one in sight, no equipment visible, not even much in the way of litter on the street. He shrugged. "McGee said this area's been abandoned for several years."
"McGee's an idiot," Tony muttered, and Gibbs grunted in agreement. Their resident computer genius had been to a weekend gaming convention and had sprained his trigger finger so badly that he couldn't fire a gun; he was on desk duty until the finger healed and he could re-qualify on the range.
The two agents got out of the car, adjusted their NCIS jackets and caps, checked their weapons, and headed for the warehouse in question… number 27D. Tony sighed and wished Ziva were with them. She'd been pulled into MTAC for a cooperative venture between NCIS and Mossad; she was still a valuable go-between, despite having left that organization and gained American citizenship. So Gibbs and Tony were on their own, something Vance had said didn't matter for such a low risk case… which just proved that Vance didn't remember what it was like to be a field agent.
Gibbs took his phone off his belt and hit the speed dial for McGee. "What've you got for me?" He'd told McGee to get satellite information on the area, because he was intimately familiar with what it was like to be a field agent and wasn't going to take any chances… he too remembered The Hotel Incident That Shall Never Be Spoken Of Again and was being extra cautious with just the two of them out there.
"No heat signature in the building, Boss," McGee said rapidly. "The warehouse was used for medical purposes."
"What kind of medical purposes?" Gibbs asked, getting a look from Tony.
"No idea. The building was owned by a company called Genome Inc. They folded two years ago and I'm assuming they did a lot of genetic engineering based on the name."
"Never assume, McGee," Gibbs said before hanging up. He gestured toward the doors and set off, Tony following. Gibbs updated him with McGee's information was they walked.
They reached the door and Gibbs picked the lock while Tony watched, and then stepped back to the side a bit, hand on the handle, looking at Tony, who nodded once, gun drawn and ready. Gibbs pulled the door open quickly, and Tony moved into the open space, calling out "Federal Agents!" After a few seconds he stepped on in, Gibbs following close behind.
The space was huge, and was just that… empty space. There wasn't much to see; Gibbs hit the light switch and was surprised to find the power was on. Tony looked startled. "If the company's been out of business for so long, who's paying the electric bill?"
Gibbs shrugged. They spread out, looking for any sign of their missing petty officer.
"Got footprints here, Boss!"
Gibbs joined Tony and they looked at the footprints, visible in a particularly dusty area of the floor. There was only one set, leading to another door, presumable to a stairwell. "Know Bartlett's shoe size?" Gibbs asked.
Tony snorted as they followed the prints to the door. It was locked; Gibbs pulled out his picks and set to work, but after a few moments he made a frustrated sound and pulled the picks out to look at them. "Rust," he said. "Can't pick it."
Tony's brow furrowed. "Then why aren't there footprints heading in another direction?"
Gibbs shrugged, and set off toward the elevator door, a massive gated contraption. He hit the button to go up, and was rewarded with clanking and groaning sounds as the machinery kicked into gear. Tony wrinkled his nose at the noise but didn't say anything.
They got in and went up to the second and third floors, finding no sign of Bartlett, no footprints, nothing.
Gibbs looked around in frustration. "Nothing here." He went back to the elevator, pausing when his phone rang. "Yeah, Gibbs."
"Boss," said McGee, "I finally got some information on Genome Inc. The company was involved in highly illegal experimentation on animals; they were raided a little over two years ago and shut down for gross violation of research ethics and animal cruelty laws."
Gibbs shook his head. "Anything to connect to Bartlett?"
"I'm still looking… no connection through his immediate family, and since the company's no longer in business, their employment records aren't readily available."
Gibbs sighed and hung up, relaying the information to Tony, who looked slightly ill. "Dead end, huh, Boss?"
They got back in the elevator, closed the gates, and Tony hit the button to return to the first floor. There was a clanking noise, but nothing happened. Tony hit the button again, still nothing. "Great."
Gibbs scowled and moved to the inner gate, pulling on it to slide it open. It didn't budge. He tried again, pulling harder, and again there was no movement. He pulled his phone off his belt and hit he button to call McGee, but was met with only silence. Moving the phone to look at the display, he growled in frustration. "No signal."
Tony stared at him. "But it just worked a few feet away!" He grabbed his own phone and flipped it open. "Damn it."
They looked at each other and after a moment Tony shrugged. "At least McGeek knows where we are."
Gibbs nodded, then moved over to the buttons and hit the one for the first floor. The elevator shuddered and there was a mechanical groaning noise, but no further motion.
Tony swallowed nervously. "Maybe you shouldn't do that again."
"You may be right."
After a few minutes Tony sat on the floor, resting against the back wall of the elevator. "Might as well get comfy."
Gibbs looked at him for a moment, the corner of his lips twitching up into a barely visible smile. He joined Tony on the floor, sitting perhaps just a bit closer than he would have before The Hotel Incident That Shall Never Be Spoken Of Again.
They sat next to each other for a few minutes without saying anything. Tony took his cap off and tossed it on the floor nearby, then ran his hands through his hair. Gibbs followed suit, laying his head back against the elevator wall and closing his eyes.
Tony watched him, his eyes tracing the lines of Gibbs' face, trying to puzzle out what it was about him that was so fascinating.
A muscle in Gibbs' cheek twitched. "See something you like, Tony?"
Tony bit back a surprised laugh. "Yeah, actually."
Gibbs smiled. "Good." He laid his left hand palm up on the floor between himself and Tony, and after a moment Tony reached out with his right and interlaced their fingers.
"Should we be doing this at work, Jethro?"
Gibbs chuckled quietly. "There much work we can do stuck in this elevator?"
Tony smiled, the smile growing when Gibbs opened his eyes and turned his head to look at him. They looked into each other's eyes until Tony looked down at their joined hands and gently rubbed his thumb over Gibbs' skin. "You really think we can do this?"
Gibbs reached up with his free hand to unzip his jacket, then turned his body toward Tony. "One good way to find out," he said quietly.
Tony transferred his gaze from their hands to Gibbs' face, trying to read the emotions there. He thought he saw acceptance, caring, and if he wasn't mistaken, hopeful anticipation.
He really hoped he wasn't mistaken as he leaned forward, his eyes falling shut as his lips made careful contact with Gibbs'.
It was one of those tentative, soft first kisses that make a person's heart sing. Tony was lost in the slide of their lips together, and was only vaguely aware of Gibbs' arm encircling his shoulders and pulling him closer. He disentangled his fingers from Gibbs' and responded in kind, one hand going to the back of Gibbs' head and squeezing his neck.
He heard a sound from Gibbs, a muffled rumble, and then Gibbs' hand was in his hair, fingers running through it, and his kiss became more insistent, his tongue sweeping over Tony's lips. Tony made a sound somewhere between a whine and a growl and wrapped his arms around Gibbs, holding him close while their lips and tongues danced and Gibbs' fingers tightened in his hair.
Eventually the need for oxygen broke through the haze they'd descended into, and they broke apart, breathing hard. They stared at each other and were suddenly both grinning wildly.
"Guess we can do this," Tony said happily.
Gibbs just smiled at him. "My place, tonight?"
Tony was just leaning in for another kiss when he caught movement in the corner of his eye. He sat back quickly. "Did you see that?"
Gibbs immediately shifted back into work-mode. "What?"
Tony got up and moved to the gate, tugging on it to no avail. He peered through to scan the room, seeing nothing. "I saw… I dunno, but something moved out there."
Gibbs stood and walked next to him and looked out, shaking his head. "We cleared the room, and the door to the stairs is locked and rusted shut."
Tony nodded, then cocked his head. "Hear that?"
Gibbs stood listening, then nodded slowly. "Sounds like a dog barking."
Tony closed his eyes, focusing on the sound. "It's coming from inside the building, not outside. And it's not just barking… sounds like it's in pain."
Gibbs grimaced and yanked on the gate again. "Damn it."
Tony opened his eyes and looked around, jumping back suddenly with a yelp.
Gibbs moved quickly toward him. "Tony, what -?
Tony raised his arm and pointed out toward the empty floor. "I swear I saw a dog just now."
Gibbs gave him a searching look, then went to the gate, grabbing onto the metal and peering out. There was nothing there – and then he stepped back quickly, narrowly avoiding the large teeth that nearly closed on his fingers.
"What the hell?"
Tony stood there, gun in hand, staring wide-eyed at the empty floor. "I saw that, Boss. It was a dog… a beagle? It was there just for a second, almost bit your hand…"
Gibbs looked at Tony, then back out at the floor. "Aren't beagles the kind of dog used in medical research?"
Tony looked at him and paled slightly. "Not again. This is not happening again."
Gibbs started to speak, then fell silent and moved to the gate again as the faint sound of many dogs barking grew louder and louder.
Tony reached out and grabbed Gibbs' arm, tugging him away from the gate. "Boss… if these dogs died during research carried out here, they're probably pretty pissed off at people."
Gibbs nodded and looked around the elevator. "And we're the only people here… stuck in a cage."
"Like they probably were," Tony added. He looked down at the gun in his hands. "This isn't likely to do much good, is it?"
Gibbs shrugged, drawing his own weapon. "Maybe not, but it makes me feel better."
The stood shoulder to shoulder, watching as indistinct canine forms took shape in front of them. The silhouettes were transparent, blurry, weaving back and forth and seeming to meld together and then separate. Eyes and teeth were the most visible, and the eyes burned with anger and hate. Some of the ghostly dogs tried to work their way through the gates into the elevator, but something held them back; they could get their heads through, but their bodies were too wide, apparently too solid despite their translucence.
The barking, growling and snarling was getting louder and louder. The two men moved until their backs were against the elevator wall, well out of reach.
They appeared to be at a stalemate until the elevator began to tremble. The shaking was subtle at first, but then picked up until the floor was pitching and rolling beneath their feet.
Tony fell to the ground, sliding forward and bracing his feet against the front wall, in the front corner out of the dogs' reach. Gibbs wasn't so lucky; a particularly violent crash of the elevator against the walls of the shaft sent him forward into the gate.
"Gibbs!" Tony grabbed for his arm, but missed, thrown off balance by the violent shaking.
The dogs' snarling rose to a crescendo as they tore at Gibbs' jacket. Gibbs struggled to pull away, reaching for Tony's outstretched hand, grunting in pain as teeth sank into his upper arm. Then his hand met Tony's, and Tony leaned forward to grab Gibbs' arm with the other hand, yanking hard to pull him free of the dogs, both of them scrambling into the back corner and then just holding on to each other. The elevator continued to shake, making it impossible to take a shot, although Tony still doubted it would have much effect.
The shaking intensified, and Tony pulled Gibbs closer, shut his eyes, and prayed for the first time in many years, begging the cable to hold. He could feel Gibbs arms around him, and wished they'd had more time to explore their new relationship. Then the dogs' howling grew so loud that Tony couldn't really think anymore, and he just buried his face Gibbs' neck and let the familiar scent fill his senses.
The shaking and howling stopped so suddenly that both agents were momentarily disoriented. Tony cautiously raised his head and looked toward the elevator gate… there was nothing there except a few scraps of material from Gibbs' jacket.
Gibbs looked up, glanced around the elevator, then let go of Tony and pushed himself up to his feet. He cautiously made his way to the buttons and hit the one for the first floor. The elevator rumbled into motion, sliding smoothly along the shaft. Neither Gibbs nor Tony said a word the whole trip down.
When the elevator stopped, Gibbs took hold of the inner gate and pulled. It slid open easily, as did the outer gate. They made their way quickly out of the elevator, and then out of the warehouse, walking swiftly to the car and getting in.
Tony sank back into the front seat, silently thanking every higher power he could think of. He felt a touch on his arm and opened his eyes to see Gibbs looking at him… disheveled, a little scratched up and bloody, but alive.
They each moved forward at the same time, pulling each other close and kissing with none of their earlier hesitation or caution. This was almost frantic, as they grasped and gripped and almost clawed at each other in their relief. After only a few minutes, though, Tony pulled back, gripping Gibbs' arms firmly. "We need to get you to a hospital to have that looked at," he said firmly. Gibbs stared intently into Tony's eyes, then dropped his gaze and nodded.
Just as he was about to start the car, his phone rang. "Yeah, Gibbs."
"Boss, I just got a hit on the BOLO we have out on Bartlett. Local LEO's are reporting a body matching his description, about a block away from you."
"Which direction, McGee?"
"Uh… head northeast and take a left. Go straight, and you should see the flashing lights."
Gibbs hung up and looked at Tony. "Cops may have found Bartlett." He saw the protest forming on Tony's lips. "This can wait," he said, gesturing toward his arm.
Tony sighed, knowing better than to argue. "What the hell is going on here, Boss? Once, hey, that could be chance, but twice?"
Gibbs shook his head. "Dunno, Tony. But I don't believe in coincidences." Tony chimed in at the 'don't', finishing the sentence along with Gibbs, who smiled.
It didn't take long to reach the cops. The agents were greeted by a young officer, who led them around the front of his car to the body in question. "What happened to you, sir?" the cop asked, seeing Gibbs' bloodstained arm.
"Dogs," he said shortly.
The cop nodded. "We've been having trouble with a pack of strays roaming around here… people hear them, but no one's reported seeing them until now."
He stopped and pointed out where his partner was standing over the body of Petty Officer Bartlett. The older cop looked up and stood, holding out his hand to Gibbs and Tony. "Looks like he was mauled to death."
Gibbs and Tony both stepped forward and looked; Bartlett's wounds did look like dog bites and tears from fangs.
"We'll get our M.E. out here, he'll tell us for sure," Gibbs said.
The cop nodded. He glanced at Gibbs' arm but didn't say anything about it. "Animal Control's been out here several times, haven't seen or heard any sign of the pack that must have done this… and you,"
Gibbs' phone rang again, and he flipped it open. "Yeah."
"Boss, I found Bartlett's connection to Genome, Inc. His uncle by marriage owned the business; he's actually serving time for several charges including the animal cruelty ones I told you about earlier. Bartlett worked there part time through high school before he joined the Navy."
"Good work, McGee. Give Ducky this location and tell him to bring Palmer and the truck." Gibbs flipped the phone shut and looked at Tony. "Bartlett worked in there," he gestured back to the warehouse, "for several years."
Tony shook his head. "Wonder why the hell he came back here."
Gibbs stared over at the body, thinking about how close he'd come to ending up the same way. "Dinner tonight, Tony?"
Tony nodded emphatically. "Not just dinner, Jethro. Not wasting any more time, not after what could have happened today."
Gibbs' lips curved into a small smile. "Agreed. No more waiting."
They leaned against their car and waited for Ducky to arrive, while dog howls sounded faintly from the direction of the warehouse.