So this is something I've had bumming around for a while. This has nothing to do with any story I've ever written and I'm pretty much throwing out any cannon that been established because I'm feeling spectacularly special today and there are things I want to explore. Anyways. New Story! And I promise this one won't take 9 months to write.
That's enough time to make a baby.
Babies are terrifying.
No babies for me. My boyfriend/ "I'm going to marry you someday Renee you just wait" significant other says he wants Renee babies. I keep telling him I was a horrible child. A straight up heathen. A beast with braids.
No one listens to me.
I love babies. But none for me.
Anyway. I don't even know where that train of thought came from.
Bricks of Clay
Someone needed to fix that damn leak.
Tony grumbled and pushed his face deeper into the stack of papers scattered across Gibbs' desk, trying to ignore the drops of water that kept hitting the back of his neck.
He was fairly certain this counted as torture in some parts of the world.
Tony took a deep breath and tried to convince himself that he couldn't continue sleeping on his boss' desk.
No. His desk.
This was his desk.
Two months and he still hadn't gotten the hang of that idea.
He also hadn't gotten used to the fact that the bloody pipe was still leaking.
He shifted slightly to stop the water from hitting him. Cracking open one eye he glared at the drips. It was splattering on the reports now.
Not like that mattered though.
Tony sighed and pushed himself up, leaning back in the chair and rubbing his hand down his face.
Damn he was tired.
He closed his eyes tightly and rubbed the back of his neck, not wanting to face the still waiting stack of papers covering the desktop.
This was such a mess.
He reached out and began to restack the papers, trying to sort them into some kind of order.
He had come out of the directors office to find them dropped unceremoniously on his desk and his team gone home for the night. McGee's papers were intermingled with Ziva's, his neat ordered handwriting stained by coffee and Ziva's tight slanted scrawl randomly filled with Hebrew. At least McGee looked like he was still trying.
Her's wasn't even fully complete, he could tell where she got sick of the bureaucraticness of it all.
Like he enjoyed the bureaucracy.
Tony shook his head and squinted at the pages. It looked like all the information was there, in one way or another. He could fill in the blanks.
He glanced over at the clock, it was approaching five in the morning. Tony groaned and stretched. He had been here hours, since his date with Jeanne had wrapped up early. She had taken one look at him and ordered him to go home and get some rest. He claimed late night paper grading and early morning tutoring, and she had given him that look. The one where her eyebrow arched and her lips gathered to the side. The one that always made him want to gather her in his arms and breathe in her natural perfume.
He had smiled and kissed and ran his fingers through her hair, promising to go home and sleep for hours, dreaming of her, obviously. Tony dropped her off at home, waved until he turned around the corner and then drove directly to the office.
He stood and tried to work out the soreness gathering in tight muscles. There wasn't much of a point going home now, he'd have to be back in here in a couple hours anyway, and the reports still needed to be filed and corrected. He opened the bottom drawer and pulled out a clean shirt, he could clean up in the biohazard showers, no one would know the difference.
It wouldn't be the first time he stayed here all night since everything had gone to shit.
And it probably wouldn't be the last.
Tony jaunted up the steps. Ten minute shower, clean clothes and a package of nuts from the vending machine.
He was good to go.
"You ever go home Agent DiNozzo?"
Tony glanced to the edge of the room and smiled at the older custodian. Paul had been working for the building since before Tony had ever joined NCIS. He had always been friendly, happy.
"Hey Mr. Loggins. How are you this morning?"
Paul smiled at him and chided him quietly.
"It's Paul, Agent DiNozzo. We've been through this. And I'm good. Better than you at any rate."
Tony leaned against the half wall, rubbing his back over the edge trying to reveal the itch between his shoulder blades.
"Tony then. And I don't know what you're talking about. I'm a fine specimen of manhood."
Paul chuckled and reached down to the bottom shelf of his cart.
"A fine specimen that's about to tip over."
He pulled out a drink carrier and handed the weary agent a large cup of coffee.
Tony blinked once and took the steaming beverage with a smile.
He nodded and grinned, leaning against his cart, relaxed.
"You need to go home and get some rest Tony, you're here all the time."
Tony shook his head, gulping the scorching coffee and trying to ignore the burn down his throat.
He needed to wake up.
"I'm just doing my job, Paul."
The man frowned at him, wrinkles around his mouth pressing deeper into his face.
"Does your job involve living in the building? When was the last time you were home for more than just a change of clothes?"
Tony looked down into the cup and didn't answer.
Paul sighed at his silence.
Tony brightened slightly, looking eagerly at the other man.
"How's your daughter doing?"
Paul laughed and dug into his wallet, passing a photo over.
"Had twins yesterday morning. Two girls. Brian had photos out soon as they were breathing fresh air. I still can't get that e-mail figured out so my wife printed them out for me. Aren't the gorgeous?"
Tony smiled at the photo. Two babies, tinier than he could imagine were curled in close to a red-heads chest. Skin folding over sleeping faces, cheeks pink as anything he had seen. And the woman looked content, happy, staring up at her husband with unfiltered joy.
Tony swallowed hard and passed the picture back.
"They're beautiful. Congratulations."
Paul beamed as he carefully folded the photo back into his wallet.
"She's going to have her hands full, going to be just like her and her sister."
Tony laughed and Paul dug through the supplies on his cart.
"They were such a handful, thought Cheryl could tear her hair out before they were going to make it to high school." Paul frowned at him and pulled a white bag from a shelf, drawing a bagel from it and handing it over. He pointed to the peanuts in Tony's hand grumbled. "Those are not your breakfast."
Tony took a half step back and shook his head.
"I'm not taking your food Paul."
He clasped the younger man's shoulder, forcing the pastry into his hand before continuing down the hall.
"Bought enough for two. You've beat me here everyday the past week and brought breakfast two days ago. Just returning the favor."
Tony looked after him in regret before murmuring thank you and taking a bite of the cooling bread. He supposed he shouldn't be surprised, Paul had always been a nice fellow, they would always chat when Tony would pull all nighters.
He was grateful for the continued kindness.
It was becoming a rare thing.
Between the side remarks and the looks of blatant disgust from the team, he was clinging to any positive attention he could get.
Not the team.
He didn't know what they wanted anymore.
It certainly wasn't him.
And Gibbs didn't seem like he was coming back anytime soon.
He rolled his eyes and popped his back, it didn't matter. He was what they got, so he would have to do.
At least until this assignment was over.
Then if they still wanted him gone…
Well...he would see.
He knew this was difficult for them too. They missed Gibbs. And he most definitely wasn't Gibbs. They were all doing the best they could.
He was doing his best.
They understood that.
They had too.
Tony leaned closer to the body, studying the fingers brushing the edges of the ditch, black with waste. He shook his head and sighed. The boy, he really couldn't be called anything more than that, was on his first leave. Coming home to see his mother.
Tony closed his eyes and titled his head back, searching for a clean breath of air in the crisp fall afternoon, something not tainted by the death of the young naval man. The sounds of the busy street behind him and the mutterings from the golf course a few yards away that was in the process of being cleared broke the silence. He didn't understand how a street so busy, so filled with people could miss this poor kid for what looked to be the better part of a week. There were houses just a block away.
"What do we have my dear boy?"
Tony shook off the thought and smiled, turning his face to the doctor, seeing the older man tut as he tried to navigate the uneven terrain. He pivoted and pointed to the left, gesturing to the clean path he had made after clearing the scene.
"Looks like blunt force trauma Duck. Just need you to make sure. Looks like he's been here a couple days. We're still searching for an I.D."
Ducky managed to gain access to the muddy ground Tony was kneeling and leaned on the younger man's offered shoulder while Tony continued to snap photos.
The doctor winced looking at the state of the man half buried in the dirt and sighed heavily.
So much waste.
"Where is Timothy? Could he help Mr. Palmer with the gurney, I'm not sure he can get it down here alone. Those people at the golf course are still refusing to let us use their green to get everything across and I don't want to make this young man wait any longer."
Tony stood and popped his back, pealing his gloves off and slipping them in waste bag.
"I'll help him Duck."
Ducky opened his mouth to object but then looked around. The local police force was drifting around the perimeter, looking down at him and Tony with curiosity and Mr. Palmer struggling to get the gurney out of the truck and of course the yet to be named navy-man, but no Timothy. Come to think of it, no Ziva either.
"Anthony? Where is Timothy?"
Tony shrugged and started up the hill.
Ducky frowned but before he could anything a strange noise started to come from the body.
Tony swung back immediately and moved Ducky behind himself, bracing himself for anything.
Tony nodded shortly and approached the body carefully. He pulled a pen from his pants pocket and cautiously opened the man's lips.
Tony stared as the fat bees came swarming out of the man's mouth.
Tony swallowed hard when he saw the insects creeping out of his nostrils as well. Taking a deep breath, Tony squeezed his eyes closed tightly. This is why people hate Mondays.
"Okay Duck. Head back up to Jimmy, we need some protective gear before we move the body. I don't want to run the risk of someone getting stung."
Ducky nodded and started back up the hill, scrambling for a foothold. Tony followed his footsteps, swatting at any bees that came too close to the doctor. They weren't attacking, they were just defending the body. Which meant that this just got a lot more difficult.
Once they reached the top of the hill, Ducky scurried over to Palmer to explain the situation and Tony pulled out his phone.
"What do you know about bees?"
"What? Tony I don't want to joke right now. I'm at lunch with Ziva, we'll talk when I get back to the office."
Tony bit back his frustration. Getting angry wasn't the way to solve this problem, he needed to stay calm and understanding.
He could do that.
"No McGee. I need you at the crime scene right now. We can't move our body; it's full of bees. I need hazmat suits and somewhere to transfer the insects until I figure out if they're evidence or simply a really bad case of nature being a poorly timed bitch."
He could hear McGee sigh over the line and say something to Ziva. He was almost positive he didn't want to hear her response.
"Fine. We'll be right there."
The line disconnected and Tony stared at his phone with some dissatisfaction.
Things were going to get better.
Or he was going to shoot somebody.
Deep breath in. Deep breath out. I am the rain hitting the dust. I am the ice on the tree limb. I am out of my damn mind.
Jeanne swore by her "stress easing mind melts". To him, anything using the term "mind melt" was something from a 50's B horror flick that should be avoided at all costs.
He smiled quietly, letting the edges of his lips just barely turn up. He knew he was becoming dangerously attached to Jeanne. He was balancing a very dangerous line.
And sometimes he just didn't care.
Tony began to pace down the street, away from the smell of death and noise of a morbid crowd, working out sore and tired muscles while he waited for the rest of his team. He wasn't sure how they were able to justify a lunch break when they hadn't even made it in yet today, though it was possible they had been at the office all morning instead of the crime scene. Maybe they had never gotten his voicemail telling them were to go. Or his texts.
They could have gotten lost.
But if they did how did they know where to come without asking Tony where he was?
He sighed, so deep it felt like it came rushing from his toes.
Sometimes it felt like his entire life was a sigh. Just one giant breath of air rushing out of his lungs in a gasp of frustration and hurt.
Wincing he sped up. That wasn't a metaphor he wanted to dwell on.
Speaking of dwelling.
Tony looking up. He had wandered quite a few blocks waiting for his agents.
He could still see the crime scene a couple hundred yards behind him but he was now in the middle of a residential area.
He shook his head harshly, he needed to stay focused. He was no good to his team if he couldn't do his job and pay attention. Not to mention if Jenny believed he was slacking she would pull him from the undercover and that would be months of work wasted.
Or at least… he hoped she would pull him. It was quite possible she would keep him regardless of his ability to safely do the job. The longer he worked this mission, the more he observed her follow the movement of The Frog, the more he became concerned that this was on obsession. A dangerous one. And he didn't want to be caught in the middle when it all came to head.
Tony blinked once and looked down. He had drifted off again, caught up in Frogs and directors and potential betrayal.
He really needed to stop doing that.
There was a little girl standing in front of him. Brown pig-tails and the biggest green eyes he had ever seen. Freckles and a slightly gap-toothed smile. She grinned at him and waved bravely, not a lick of caution or any evidence of stranger danger awareness. Her jeans had mud splattered all over the knees and there were tear tracks on dirt streaked cheeks. She seemed unaware to her previous distress though and smiled up at Tony like he was the sun itself.
Tony quirked and grin and crouched down, getting on eye level with the child. He wasn't exactly...good with kids. They tended to avoid him or roll their eyes at him. Or just plain not like him. He kept his voice soft and his posture relaxed. He wasn't sure what she wanted, but he certainly didn't want to scare her.
She beamed at him, obviously happy he had finally acknowledged her.
"I'm Emily. What's your name?"
"I'm Speci- Tony. I'm Tony."
She nodded and pointed to his belt.
"Are you a police man?"
He looked down in confusion before noticing his badge clipped to his belt. His wallet had been destroyed a week ago and he had never gotten around to replacing it so he had just been keeping the most obvious part of his identification on his waist. It was bright on the waistband of his back-up jeans and glinted through his button up shirt.
He grinned down at the badge. He hadn't dressed this relaxed since Kate was around. Maybe he was turning out more like Gibbs than he thought. It had been weeks since he had worn a suit jacket.
"Yes I'm a police man. Well not anymore, I'm a Special Agent. NCIS. But I guess that wouldn't matter to you… um..." He was not good with kids. "Yes. I'm a police man. Are you alright?"
She giggled at him and grabbed his hand. He stared down at it in surprise. Her nails were painted a light purple, and only about half of each nail was painted, like whoever had done it didn't know what they were doing. She rocked their hands back and forth pointed up the street.
"Are you with all those other policemen? What are they doing?"
Tony stared at the group of officers guarding the crime scene. He may not know a whole lot about kids, but he did know you didn't talk to them about potential murders. Or dead bodies. Or bugs. Or bugs coming out of dead bodies.
"They're…keeping people safe. That's what policemen do."
She nodded, accepting that completely before turning back to Tony.
"Can you help me find my dad?"
Tony's mouth opened in shock then snapped closed. She was lost? How long had she been out here? Had she been kidnapped? Was she abandoned? Neglected? What kind of father would let his daughter just-
Oh. The kid was talking.
And she didn't seem traumatized.
"And then I heard the bell Daddy hooked to her collar so I chased her under Mrs. Nash's fence and then I ended up on the wrong street and I turned left because left takes me home but I got my left confused with my right so I went right instead and then there was a really big truck I thought it might hit me so I ran away and then I got really lost and I might have started to cry but that's alright because my dad says crying just means you can be happier later and there's nothing wrong with it."
She paused there, her face scrunching up and she studied Tony seriously and he suddenly wondered if she was seeing something he wasn't.
"Do you think it's okay to cry?"
Tony blinked twice and then nodded slowly, a little unsure of the right answer. If he said yes would she start crying? If he said no would he scar her for life? He didn't know how to talk to kids!
"I… I think that crying is fine. If you feel like you need to cry, and it'll make you feel better. And I suppose… I suppose sometimes you just need to. Yeah. There's nothing wrong with crying."
She squeezed his hand tighter and nodded before starting to talk again.
"Well I cried for a little bit, but then I saw you walking and I was scared again because my daddy says I should never talk to strangers and I should never go anywhere with them but then I saw your police badge and daddy says police will always help you and if you're ever in trouble just ask them and they will take care of you and won't let anything help you and they will always get you back to your family. So will you take me back to my dad?"
She looked up at him expectantly and waited patiently while Tony worked on processing all of that.
"Um. Of course. Do you know your address?"
She looked at him like he had personally insulted her and he raised his hands in surrender.
"Of course you do. Silly question. Let me call my friends to let them know where I am going, and then we'll get you home, alright?"
She nodded and Tony straightened, surprised to see that she still hadn't released his hand.
He pulled out his phone and paused. McGee would probably accuse him of slacking out of work and give him more shit, and Ziva more than likely wouldn't even answer her phone.
Ducky would do. Hopefully he would be back before they all got there anyway.
"Hey Duck. I uh…" he glanced down at Emily, trying to figure out how to explain this to the doctor. The little girl began to jump up and down and reached up.
"Are you talking to a real duck?!"
Tony's lips quirked and he glanced at the phone before handing it down to the child.
"A British duck."
Tony could hear Ducky's startled reply and listened as Emily regaled him with the story of meeting Tony.
"And he's going to take me home!… uh huh… okay. It was nice to talk to you too! Goodbye Mr. Ducky!"
She handed the phone back to Tony with a smile and he took it trying not to laugh.
"She is charming. I take it you'll be back as soon as you get the dear girl home?"
"As soon as I can."
"I'll handle things here then."
He ended the call and started down the street, listening to Emily's excited chatter. She skipped alongside him, his fingers still interlaced with hers while she bounced with the joy only found within children.
This was nice.
It had been a long time since someone had looked at him like he was a hero.
His daughter was missing.
She was gone.
What on earth was he going to do? His daughter. His baby. She was all he had, he couldn't… there wasn't… he didn't know…
Anything could happen.
Emily was a beautiful little girl. Curious, bright and lovely as spring.
Anyone, anyone, could see her and decide that they wanted, that they could take and then, and then…
He swallowed hard, dropping his head between his knees and trying not to vomit.
He was trained to solve problems like this, but it had never been his daughter. Never his baby. Not his Emily.
He couldn't lose his daughter.
Tobias turned the other way down the street. Maybe she had gone North.
She had to be somewhere.