A SOLITARY ACT

CHAPTER 10

One Week Later

Penitentiary

It had been a week since Tony had gone too far with Andrew Swanson, Linnea's older brother, and Gibbs still hadn't quite forgiven him. It was nothing overt, just a more curt conversation than usual. The 'Breakfast De-Briefings,' as he'd come to call them, had stopped being the friendly banter that it was in the beginning, it was business. Eat, report, and get out.

Had he gone to far? Ok, yeah, maybe he did. But he just couldn't listen to that bastard whine about himself anymore, when his sister had been through hell. He was an hour early for his shift, but he planned on looking in on Linnea first. He was just walking in the infirmary door when he saw a familiar face coming around the corner from Linnea's room, accompanied by Nurse Maria.

"Lost again, Officer Magnum?" Maria smiled at Tony coyly.

Brad Pitt's eyebrows rose. He knew Tony was undercover, but…. "Officer..Magnum?" He couldn't control the smile. Leave it to DiNozzo!

Tony smirked at Brad, then smiled brightly for Maria. "Nurse Maria, how are you today? Looking beautiful as ever, I see." He turned to Brad. "And you are…?"

"Dr. Pitt. From Bethesda Naval Hospital."

"He's here checking on a patient." Maria signed papers on a clipboard, and handed it to Brad for his signature.

Brad glanced at Tony, as if to tell him to pay attention. "I'm pleased with Ms. Swanson's progress, Maria. I want to continue with that new medication we've got her on. No more of the relaxants or the other pain meds. I'd like to skip the antidepressants as well, unless the symptoms become worse. The nausea should be controllable with the anti-emetic, but if not, give me a call, and we'll see about starting her on a low dose of paroxetine or buproprion." He looked at Tony again, then back to Maria. "If she continues to improve, she could be back on the block by next week."

Maria blessed herself. "Your lips to God's ear, doctor. And thank you for what you said to Dr. Myers. It's about time someone took him down a peg."

With a little half-smile, Brad returned the paperwork to Maria. "Let me know if that pompous ass gives you any more grief. He's already got two strikes against him, one more and I'll have his license to practice pulled. With pleasure."

Maria simpered. "You're a great man, Dr. Pitt," she sighed.

Tony wanted to gag. "Yeah, Dr. Pitt, you're a great man." He smirked.

Brad turned to Tony. "I'm sorry, " he began conversationally. "But you look familiar. Ever play football at Ohio State? You look just like the star of the team…who's leg I broke when I tackled him."

Tony stopped smiling. He had to bring that up. "No, never been to Ohio. Sorry." Oh you'll pay for that, Pitt!

"You must have that kind of face." With a smirk, he turned and said good-bye to Maria and walked out the door.

"Nice guy," Tony snorted. "He any good as a doctor?"

Maria's face lit up. "Oh yes! Remember that patient you saw last time you were in? Well, Dr. Pitt took her off all the drugs Dr. Myers had her on. She gets more lucid every day. He's cut back severely on the pain meds, so she is in pain, but without all that other crap in her system, she shouldn't have a problem for too much longer. He added an antibiotic, but other than that, well, like the man said, she should be able to go back to the block next week."

Tony smiled, relieved. "That's good. I hope she keeps it up, then." He made a show of looking at his watch. "Almost time for briefing. I'd better go. Maybe I'll….get lost on my break later?" He winked with a toothy grin.

Coming over and brushing her ample cleavage against 'James'' arm, Maria smiled. "Looking forward to it." She waved coyly as 'James' gave her a small wave on his way out the door.

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As Tony walked through the penitentiary, he text McGee the good news about Linnea Swanson. He'd let McGee tell Gibbs. Putting away his phone, he took a 'shortcut' through the old jail. He did this a couple of times a night, hoping to catch Sully in the act, but there had never been anyone down there. Until tonight. He saw the door propped open with a chair - the signal that 'the tombs' was occupied.

Tony listened at the door a moment but didn't hear anything, so he decided to start down the stairs. The closer he got to the bottom, the more noise he heard - the grunting and moaning of sex. And crying. Dammit, he didn't know what to do - he was supposed to be one of them, but the law enforcement officer - hell, the man - in him was telling him to act. Hoping he looked nonchalant, he strode down into the old cells. There was an officer he didn't recognize just finishing up with an inmate. Tony could tell by the color of her prison garb that she was from another part of the pen. "Whoops! Sorry," he said with a predatory smile.

The officer wiped himself off and zipped up. "I don't know you. Should you be down here?"

Tony pulled out a set of keys specifically for this area. "Sully just presented me with my keys a couple of weeks ago." He made a note to remember this guy's name - Miller.

Miller slapped the woman hanging onto the cell bars on the ass. "Welcome to the club, then. Let's go, Nolan." The woman let go of the bars and shakily pulled down her prison dress and began to leave the cell behind Miller.

Thinking fast, Tony stopped them. Miller turned. "You, uh….mind if I….." Tony gestured to the woman. "I'll walk her back when we're done…this will be my first go 'round down here."

With a smile, the other officer pushed the woman back into the cell. "Consider this your inaugural fuck. Nolan, here, will take care of ya'. Right, Nolan?"

"Yes, CO," the woman said, either bored or resigned. Or both.

Miller gave Tony a conspiratory wink and left, whistling. Tony waited until he heard his footsteps walking away before he turned to the inmate. "How d'ya want it?" she asked. When Tony looked confused, she rolled her eyes. "On the cot, standing, do you want a blow job…what?"

"No." Tony shook his head. "None of that. Are you gonna rat on me?" It was the prisoner's turn to look confused. "Do you…what's your first name?"

"Shelly," she answered suspiciously.

"Shelly, do you want to do this?" Before she could answer, Tony continued, "I mean, are Miller or any of the others holding anything over you? Say they'd hurt someone, your family, if you didn't? Or do you enjoy this?"

The woman still wasn't sure she trusted this CO. "Let's just get this over with, ok? What do you want?" She began lifting up her dress. Tony reached over and stopped her.

"That's not what I want, Shelly." He grimaced when the woman started to drop to her knees in front of him. He pulled her back up. "I want answers, but I need to know if you're going to rat about what happens here."

Shelly looked at him suspiciously. "Answers to what?"

"When you tell me whether or not you're gonna' talk, I'll tell you."

She came right back, "When you tell me what you're asking, I'll tell you if I'm blabbing." She crossed her arms over her chest, tapping her foot impatiently.

Sighing, Tony figured if he didn't tell her something, they'd keep going like this. "Look, I'm not one of them, I'm not looking for sex. I'm looking for them. I need to know if you can keep quiet about this, if I can trust you. Otherwise we're done here."

Shelly shifted nervously. "You mean, you're a rat?"

"Depends. Are you going to rat on me?"

"You're really going to put a stop to this?"

Tony took a step away from her, giving her space, to show he was serious. "If you'll tell me what I need to know. And keep your mouth shut about me."

Shelly thought for a minute. "You'll make sure nothing happens to our families?"

His ears perked up. "Who's he threatening, Shelly?"

She swallowed so hard Tony could hear it. "He had pictures. Of my daughters. At school, at home…said he and the rest could get to them anytime if I didn't….do this. Said maybe my girls would if I wouldn't. They're fourteen and sixteen, my daughters, and they pretty much hate me for what I did, and for being in here. But they're still my babies, and I'll do anything….anything to protect them."

Tony gestured for Shelly to have a seat on the cot, and he stood across the cell, reassuring her that he meant her no harm. "That's the kind of stuff I need to know, Shelly. How many, besides Miller? Whatever you can tell me, to help me stop them….no matter how small you think it is, I want to know."

Shelly bit her nails, still unsure. "You'll protect my daughters?"

"I can't promise personal, round the clock protection for your daughters, but I can promise you that any officer you give me today will be watched 24-7. If they go near your daughters, or anyone else's, we can stop them." Tony could see she was scared. "You may be in prison, Shelly. But you're still a human being, and you don't deserve what's happening to you. None of you do. And with your help - and the help of any of your block mates you think might want out of this - we can stop it. For good."

Deciding there was no harm in trusting him - what was the worst that could happen if this fell through, more of the same? - Shelly sighed. "What do you want to know?"

Tony gave her his biggest, genuine smile, and took out his notebook.

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A/N - HOPE YA'LL ENJOYED THIS CHAPTER! I'M STILL DEALING WITH WRITER'S BLOCK ON THIS ONE, SO I HOPE THIS WAS OK. THANKS TO GaGaMidnight FOR GIVING ME THE PUSH I NEEDED TO GET BACK ON THIS STORY WAGON. ALL THE USUAL DISCLAIMERS APPLY.

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