AN: Yes, it's yet another 'How Tony Met Gibbs' story, started long before 'Baltimore' aired, so no spoilers. It's a bit of a different take, rather dark and not so pleasant, focussing not so much on the case, as on a specific moment within, the case being secondary (or tertiary) and not of much importance. It's the first time I post a multi-chapter story, so I hope I can figure it out properly! It's done, I'm just doing a final re-reading and nit-picking.
AN2: A HUGE thank-you to my beta for looking this over, despite having so very little time. Any mistakes are mine, because every time I re-read, I can't leave it alone.
Warning: This story contains material that is adult in nature, at times graphic, and not for everyone. It deals with the aftermath of rape, and whilst it does not depict the event itself, it does contain a detailed description of a main character going through a rape exam. I've tried to stay as true as possible to reality, but I have taken some liberties; this is fiction, after all ;) It also has some heavy-duty swearwords. If this isn't your thing, do not read.
Disclaimer: Not mine, I can only dream.
Forensic Specialist Abby Sciuto lifted her head again, sensing rather than hearing the stifled whimper as Baltimore Homicide Detective Anthony DiNozzo shifted yet again on the comfortable sofa upon which he'd seated himself.
Worry peaked in Abby's eyes as she watched him surreptitiously. Just the fact that the undeniably handsome and freakishly observant young man hadn't yet noticed her eyes upon him told her something was wrong.
She hadn't known him long; only a few days since she had been ordered down here on the case, a joint effort between Baltimore PD and led by NCIS, but she already knew this wasn't right. Although younger and not so experienced, certainly not in the same areas, it hadn't taken her much time to realise that he was as observant and reflexive as Special Agent Gibbs, whom she'd come to help.
Maybe the other man would know what was wrong, even though suspicions were poking uncomfortably at the back of her mind. She didn't like the conclusions she was drawing. But then again, hindsight was 20/20, and if she (and he) were lucky, she'd be wrong.
The young man shifted again, obviously trying to keep it quiet and unnoticed, his attention completely focussed on the task at hand.
Abby bounced to her feet, noting with some concern how the sudden movement made him jump. She'd noticed that he was uncomfortable with physical contact when they'd met, but she wasn't even near him at the moment. "I need a Caff-Pow!" she announced. Ducky and Gibbs were together right now, going over the autopsy report of the latest victim. Tony, apparently, had already been through it and understood the medicalese that could stymie Abby at times without Ducky's succinct, if colourful, explanations.
"There's no Caff-Pow! machine here" Tony said, whilst Abby told herself that she was just reading the pain into his voice. The bruise around his right eye was swelling faster than she would have guessed, and was now a shockingly dark red, purplish colour. She wondered if he'd really told the truth about getting checked out, or if he'd just lied to get Gibbs off his back. Then she wondered if anyone could actually lie to Gibbs and get away with it.
"I'll figure something out" Abby chirped before scarpering. Any highly caffeinated beverage would do.
Gibbs and Ducky were right where she'd expected to find them; hunched over the oval sofa table in Ducky's room, case file open, and more than a few grisly photographs spread across the table. She imagined the room had never seen such horrors. Then again, it was a hotel room, and hotels held more than their fair share of secrets.
"Got something, Abs?" Jethro asked immediately. He'd requested that everyone have keys to everyone else's room, to facilitate easy communication throughout the case.
"Hello to you too, Gibbs, Ducky." Abby nodded at them.
"Abigail" Ducky greeted her with a smile.
"Abby" the lead agent growled.
"Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed today. Or, yesterday, actually, since you haven't been to bed since the day before yesterday, which means you couldn't have gotten up-"
"Abs" he warned, his patience worn thin from lack of sleep, and an annoying homicide Detective who couldn't keep his mouth shut.
"Right. Got something, yes. Case-related, no. Or, maybe, actually. I'm not sure."
"Spit it out" Jethro advised, not having the patience for her ramblings.
"Ladies don't spit" Abby promptly announced.
"Since when has that stopped you?" Jethro wanted to know, well aware of Abby's less-than-ladylike tendencies.
Abby glared. The former Marine returned the look until finally growing impatient. "You said you have something?" he reminded her.
She nodded, suddenly looking unsure. "Did . . . did something happen to Tony that you didn't tell me about?" she asked, her voice suddenly small. The two of them hadn't exactly hit it off; his big mouth, too-good looks and leering eyes quickly ensured that she pegged him as nothing more than a rich play-boy with brains that resided in his pants. But it hadn't taken long for her to see through the mask, past the shiny shields, and she was now his biggest fan.
"Detective DiNozzo?" Ducky asked, his brow furrowing. "Is the young lad all right?" Despite the rocky start with both Gibbs and Abby, Ducky had taken immediately to the cocky, smart-mouthed young detective, realising all too quickly that the rich-kid, frat-boy mask hid a perceptive, intelligent mind and a very big and sensitive heart.
"He's putting on a good show" Abby said. She dragged her black leather platform boot along the yellow line in the patterned carpet. "Did we really get there in time?" she asked quietly.
Jethro's head shot up, and she took an involuntary step back at the sudden fire in his eyes. "What do you mean?" he growled. The detective had heartily assured everyone that nothing had happened during that fifteen minute lapse between his entering the office in the warehouse and the rest of the team following suit. Jethro had already torn him a new one for not waiting for back-up, though he'd had little choice in the matter.
"He can't sit still. He keeps shifting so he's more on the side of his butt and stifling these whimpers and groans, and he flinches when something moves or someone comes near him" Abby said. "And he didn't even notice me staring at him."
To the average person, it might not sound like much, but to a highly trained investigator as Leroy Jethro Gibbs, despite the fact that he had known Detective DiNozzo a mere eight days, and it felt like they'd known each other nearly a lifetime, he knew there was something wrong. It had taken all of ten minutes to realise that the man was deceptively brilliant, and not much longer for him to see through the bullshit, to the real person hiding behind the admittedly excellent façade.
He remembered now, the wild look in those normally well-shuttered emerald eyes, the almost panicked way DiNozzo had wrenched his arm from Jethro's grasp, the flash of something he now recognised as fear when his colleagues had clustered round him.
He let his fist fall on the thick wooden table, making Ducky jump as photographs and loose pages fluttered about.
"He said he was fine!" Jethro shouted, leaping to his feet.
Ducky's sharp voice stopped him, and, halfway to the door, he turned to face his old friend.
"What?" Anger radiated from him, but Ducky didn't seem to notice or care. There were few people in this world who could talk Jethro down from one of his rages, and Ducky still wasn't sure if he was one of them or not. Perhaps on a good day.
"A few things" Ducky said calmly, also rising. "Are you certain, Abigail?"
"As sure as I can be without asking" she replied.
"Then, Jethro, you need to calm down" Ducky lectured firmly. "If you go in there with all guns blazing, that boy is going to close right up and flee, and he will never trust you. There is a reason he lied when you asked, and it would do you well to keep that in mind. And lastly, if Abigail is right, rape is an incredibly traumatic event, and no matter how well he hides it, he is not okay and he is not functioning on all cylinders. You need to be prepared for any one of numerous outcomes when you confront him with this, and you need to remember that he is both a victim and a cop, and will react as such."
"He lied to me, Duck." Jethro's worry typically expressed itself as fury, and he was trying not to wonder right now just why he was so damn furious.
"Yes, he did. Have you not wondered why?" Ducky asked. "He will surely have a good reason; at least, one that he believes is good."
What Jethro believed to be good could differ greatly from what Tony believed to be good, and they had both quickly learnt that the young man was not above sacrificing himself for someone or something else.
"I'm going to kill him" Jethro growled, but the other two could both see the fire was gone from his eyes, the fury now directed at the perpetrators and not the detective. The young man had somehow wormed his way into Jethro's heart without even trying, arousing some powerful protective instincts.
"That's better" Ducky nodded. "Gentle, Jethro!" he called after the agent's retreating back, before he and Abby hastened to follow.