She watched from her secure spot as the car seemingly lost control and hit the young woman, throwing her into the air only to come crashing brutally down on the unforgiving pavement. Sheer excitement coursed through her body as she watched the blood pool around the inert form and the crowd gathered around.
The driver jumped out of the car in hysterics as tears ran down his young face screaming over and over that he did not see her. His face contorted in horror as the crowd came closer, people calling on their phones for help in shock as they watched the life drain from the young girl.
Biding her time until she saw the opening she had been waiting for she ran from her spot screaming. “Tali! Oh dear God what happened?” Kneeling down beside her sister, she grasped her hand and began to pray as she waited for help to arrive.
The funeral was a formality that she had to endure …she had to keep the façade up in front of her family and it was becoming quite the chore. It was tiring playing the dutiful grieving daughter. In the end, she knew it would be worth it. Her father had already started to fiercely depend on her and hold her closer.
Only in the dark of night in her room or in Michael’s arms could she be free from that and be herself. She couldn’t imagine what she would have done without Michael. He loved her though she was unable to shift and that meant the world to her.
Her family could not do the same. They had tried to convince her otherwise but she had seen their true colors. It didn’t matter that they were all treated the same way- that things were equal in her house because she saw it in her mother and father’s eyes; the disappointment that she was unable to shift fully, that her animal was lacking in beauty and power and that she was their only failure.
They may not have said those words but she knew without a shadow of doubt that was how they felt. She had dealt with her sister and would no longer have to endure seeing her change into the beautiful Ocelot and no longer endure the ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’ that followed.
They would never again run their fingers through her silky fur or hear her purr and that gave her peace. She and Michael were working on a plan to deal with Ari; he needed to be dealt with soon. She found him looking at her as though he could see through to her soul and knew what she had already done.
She was following Michael’s plan and devoted herself to the Mossad wanting to show her worth and value to her father. Excelling at most tasks, she felt for once that she shined and had value and had made her father proud. This was a time where her attributes as a weasel were indeed a blessing.
She may covet the beauty and ability that had been her sister and that her brother had but she was not above using her abilities to accomplish her goals. Her father had taught her well and now it was only a matter of time until she was the only beloved child of Eli David.
She found herself coming here often…couldn’t seem to stop herself. Though why she would subject herself to the longing that came after she found her way home she didn’t understand. More than once the pain had been too much and she had found her clothes covered in blood and a body before her.
The euphoria that came as she extinguished their lives was almost enough to vanquish the darkness she felt. She ran her finger over the Star of David that she wore around her neck. It was Tali’s. It was given to her by their mother after her first shift and it was the one and only thing that she had wanted from her sister.
It served as her reminder of the mission she had embarked on and also a talisman of sorts. Michael understood as he always did when she asked him to place it around her neck. But today …sitting in in the shifter park she was finding no comfort as was more agitated than normal.
But she needed this today as much as she needed to extinguish another life and she had Ari to blame. He was the cause of her murderous rage that she felt. He had to show her up in front of their father. And though she tried to make the point that of course he had won the challenge in the obstacle course due to the fact that he had shifted. She had no hope of excelling against a gazelle.
Her father had agreed that was true but the point of the challenge was to have her find ways to persevere and manipulate the circumstances to her advantage. She had nearly bit her tongue off before she extolled the facts of just how much she had and would continue to manipulate her circumstances.
But she took a deep breath and presented a calm exterior to her father and Ari making it seem as if the teaching lesson has taken hold. She left as soon as she was able finding herself in front of the park. She knew that it was a risk coming here…but she needed to feel the blood of a shifter run through her fingers as their heart slowly stopped beating.
She searched through the animals knowing that she would know when she hit upon the one that would soothe her. She was still fascinated by the fact that all types of shifters could congregate in one area and the natural instinct of predator prey was quelled.
Logically she knew that they retained their human senses as she had been taught since birth. It was the education all shifter children went through. As a child, one learned about shifting, how to discover their animal and all the powers that came the ability to fully shift. Except for the unfortunate ones that nature had deemed unworthy like herself, those learned that unrelenting truth that they would never have the ability to shift.
Oh they were taught that they had still been bestowed a gift of an animal and that they would have attributes that would serve them well. But that was little comfort, they knew that they were lacking. She did not understand those that still felt it was a gift. How could they? There was no honor in failure.
He ran through the field reveling in the freedom being in his shifted form gave him. He needed to work off the aggression that the stench of deceit of his partner was causing in him. He needed to do something soon before he was unable to control it.
He was trying to put the pieces together to get a clear picture of what Danny had his hand in and what he had so far wasn’t pretty. But the man wasn’t clever enough to have thought of this all by himself so therein lies the crux of the problem.
There was a huge danger if he turned Danny in that he would be signing his own death warrant and though he had no desire to condone or look the other way he also valued his own skin and knew that he was going to need far more information than he had at this moment.
Tony slowed down his run and let the peace of the forest soothe him as he took in the others that had joined his foray in the woods. There was a sense of camaraderie about shifters that broke all species barriers. And in the parks you could see that clearly.
Not to say there weren’t issues among shifters, hell there was that among every race creed and religion and there seemed little hope of making that disappear. Most shifters had no issues with the mundanes, those born without the ability to fully shift, it was nothing to be ashamed of.
There would always be those that felt they were slighted and deserved the shifting ability as well as those that thought that the mere fact that they could shift put them in an elite group. He never understood that way of thinking, people were people both good and bad regardless of their attributes or lack thereof.
He had wanted to be in law as far back as he could remember much to his father’s dismay. But as his animal grew he also felt the power that came with it and knew that the motto to serve and protect was perfect for him.
And now he was facing one hell of a choice; turn his back on everything he believed his partner was doing and walk away or secretly investigate and see if he can get to the bottom of everything and bring them all down.
He knew what his tiger thought of this clusterfuck, he could feel the hunter lurking at the surface ready to put an end to this. Taking in a deep breath and scenting the air around him he chuffed out a breath of air. He knew what he was going to do, there really was no other choice.
Gibbs looked over at Stan and knew that this was it. The man couldn’t handle him, his moods or anticipate his needs with any sort of accuracy. It was grating on his nerves. He needed a partner that had the balls and power to stand up to him and his wolf.
Ducky had tried to coach Stan and him pointers in how to deal with him to no avail. Shame was that the man was bright and a quick study but when it came to standing up to him he backed down. The fact was that he found he was using the man more as a pack mule than an agent with skill.
He swore that he would never use the man’s animal with any sort of disrespect, but he was riding a fine line with Stan. It didn’t help that he was acting like an ass and continuously bitching his woes to anyone that would listen. It worked both ways as far as he was concerned, you earn respect and so far all Stan was doing was acting like the donkey’s ass that he was.
He had even told the Director that he was giving him an ulcer. He only demanded that he do his job and if he was gruff and surly occasionally, well, the job wasn’t nine to five and he needed results, damn it!
Rubbing his hands down his face, he sighed. All he wanted to do right now was run in the woods and get away from Stan’s constant braying, but right now they had a murder to solve and it was looking more and more like it was a serial killer.
What was worse, it seemed there was no real pattern to the murders. Other than the fact that they were full shifters, the victims had nothing in common. There was nothing that he was able to sink his teeth into and run with; no smells that he was able to notice yet at the scenes and that was frustrating him to no end. Hell the only reason this had landed in his lap was the mere fact that the last victim was a Marine Sergeant and he had barely managed to hold in his rage at the local LEO at the scene.
He had McGee doing full backgrounds on the victims. He was too green to be out in the field and had damned near contaminated what little evidence that they had. No one thus far had been able to link the murders, yet Abby had been the one to connect this murder to three others in the three surrounding states.
Morrow had fought to have the case turned over to NCIS and had warned him to rein it in. They would have to keep the FBI in the loop as it looked to be a serial killer. Frankly, Gibbs’ reputation had everyone gladly turning over the case knowing he would get results all with the exception of Fornell who saw it as a personal affront that the FBI wasn’t given full authority.
Michael watched as Ziva showered washing the blood from her body and found that he was both aroused and scared as hell. He had not been able to control her need to kill and it was quickly becoming clear that she was never going to want to stop. The glow in her eyes when he had discovered her covered in blood was enough to cause him to wonder if he had ever really known her at all.
He knew that she was insanely jealous of her siblings both being full shifters, but he had truthfully believed that that was where her madness lied and that once she was able to be rid of them she would settle and find out that she was every bit as wonderful and worthy.
He was quickly learning that her jealousy went far deeper than he had ever imagined and briefly wondered if she would eventually turn on him as well. He didn’t doubt her affection for him, more that he didn’t believe she was able to control the rage inside her. The blood baths that she seemed to revel in and find her inner peace were a sure sign that she was clearly unbalanced.
Still, he was unable to walk away from her and leave her on her own. He could only hope that when she had dealt with Ari and eventually became the apple of her father’s eye would she find her center. All he could do was stand beside her, clean up the messes and try to lead the investigations away from their doorstep. That was becoming increasingly difficult as she had left a trail of bodies since they‘d left Israel.
Between trying to keep them off Eli’s grid, what they were planning and making sure there was nothing that ZIva left behind at the scenes of her carnage, he was wearing down.
That was something he couldn’t afford, he needed some real peace and rest so that they could continue following Ari to DC. He looked at the drinks in his hand hoping that they would work and that he wouldn’t hate himself for it later.
Tony looked off into the distance and spotted a scrap of cloth that had been missed during the initial investigation of the latest crime scene. He had joined forces with the detectives from Norfolk when the fourth body had been found. Baltimore had the first shifter murder but Virginia had one other besides the one in Norfolk and wanted all the help they could get. Now with four murders all showing far too many similarities to be simple coincidence, it was looking like they had a serial killer.
The killer was a brutal son of a bitch who had ripped their prey to shreds. Little had been left behind to use for identification and Tony felt that was more out of rage than to suppress their identity. The intensity of the attack worried him; there was no control in their kill, it was pure rage and there was only going to be one way for this to end.
Unfortunately, his own investigation led him to believe that there were two people involved, but only one was doing the killing. The sheer uninhibited violence that had been unleashed on the victims did not mesh with the otherwise pristine crime scene.
There was no DNA or trace evidence anywhere on or surrounding the victims and that was damn near impossible considering their condition. The perp would have definitely left something behind during their killing frenzy presumably not being able to think of anything else during that time.
There was no sexual preference in the victim being both men and women and the only thing that they shared in common was the fact that they had all been full shifters. That also meant that they had been watched…stalked even. It wasn’t clear at a glance who could or couldn’t shift. One would have had to been at a place where they shifted without thought. Not even everyone who knew him knew he could shift or had any knowledge of what his animal was. He had always kept that personal and safe. The few times he had opened up and shared had left him gun shy.
His father had been far too envious of his tiger and the power that came with it so all he ever heard after his mother died were cruel barbs and taunts. They only intensified when his father realized that he had no desire to placate his inadequacies. He was relieved after having been disowned and sent away to boarding school. There he had come into his own.
A few great teachers and some great friends more than made up for his father’s lack of care. It wasn’t until Wendy that he had allowed himself to truly open up again and share all of himself. He was stood up at the alter because she couldn’t handle it.
He shook his head to dispel his journey down memory lane. He had enough to deal with. His mind was spinning with all sorts of possibilities and none of them good. But right now he needed to focus on the shifter killer.
He was certain that this hadn’t started just here though, there had to be other deaths that shared the same MO because he wasn’t going to believe that their perp simply snapped some six months ago. It was time to dig even further, spread their net wider and stop them.
Gibbs growled as he waited for the local LEO to get to the scene. What the hell was Morrow thinking? He had taken the case from the FBI and now he wanted him to work with some wonder kid from Baltimore. There was no way he was going to do that. However, apparently, the kid had managed to piece together a few things and his theories were sound.
Son of a bitch had figured out that there were at least two perps and that was something he hadn’t even considered. Even had a theory as to why it was shifters and the significance of the places they were found. He might admire the skills but that didn’t mean he had to like working with the man.
In addition, he was late to top it all off. Who the fuck did he think he was? Suddenly his wolf sat up and took notice. His blue eyes started sweeping the area feeling for a better lack of word, a shift in the atmosphere. Not really seeing anything out of the ordinary or suspicious he put it down to his tired nerves and took the last drink of his coffee, surprised when another cup was sat down in front of him.
Startled he turned to look into the greenest eyes he had ever seen and instantly understood what his wolf was feeling and immediately squashed that down not ready to even entertain any such idea. There was no way he was going to let that happen.
Raising an eyebrow at the man, he managed to express his displeasure without any words.
Tony shrugged as he grinned. “Better late than never. Besides I was actually getting some more info. I’m Tony DiNozzo, detective with the Baltimore PD.”
Gibbs snorted. “Know who you are. Been waiting here for a half hour. So Detective DiNozzo, please tell me what important information that you have since it required me to sit here on my ass twiddling my damn thumbs.”
Tony only grinned wider. “There are two confirmed murders with the same MO overseas, besides the three that I have and the two that you do.”
“Pretty much. I have a feeling before all is said and done we will find a lot more bodies and more than likely some missing persons that crossed their paths.”
Gibbs gestured to the chair in front of him. “Sit.”
Tony smirked. “Do you want me to beg as well? Because I gotta tell you it’s gonna take more than a cup of coffee for that.”
The head slap that followed was a surprise in more ways than one for both men.
McGee was searching through every database he could to locate the cases that Detective DiNozzo had sent over while he met with his Boss and he was astounded. The man had managed to piece quite a bit together.
Grabbing a Nutterbutter, he chewed it thoughtfully as he scanned all the data his cheeks puffing slightly as he added more. The Detective was so concise in his findings; one could start to see the path that the perp took on their way to DC. Now he was doing as he had been directed and mapped the killings in hopes that they may be able to figure out where they started.
Using the Coroner’s reports, which gave them a fairly accurate time line, he was able to tell the killings began overseas. However, if the Detective was right, this started well before they began to put the pieces together and track them. In addition, there were as he stated, likely others that hadn’t been found yet.
This was turning out to be huge. Nervously chewing as his fingers flew over the keyboard he knew that he wanted to confer with Abby and see if she had discovered anything unusual in the evidence that had been sent over.
Surprised that Gibbs had agreed to work with a LEO was an understatement, but the Detective was sure providing them with more than he had ever expected. He was looking forward to meeting the man provided Gibbs didn’t chew him up and spit him out.
Stan was already complaining to anyone within earshot that his ulcers were acting up and he didn’t have it in him to stand between the Detective and Gibbs. Everyone knew Gibbs reputation and the power of his wolf, why Stan kept going on about it was frustrating. They all had to deal with the man.
McGee learned early on that the man’s bark was worse than his bite unless of course, you deserved it and then all bets were off. He’d learned to control his chattering around his boss as well as the nervous wringing of his hands. He also knew that Gibbs did value what he gave to the team and that helped a great deal in his maintaining a cool demeanor around the man.
And when he started to feel overwhelmed he had his Nutterbutters. He could chew them and store them in his cheeks in a comforting manner as his fingers worked their magic over the keyboard and found all the information that they needed.
He also had had Abby she always managed to calm his nerves. Thinking of her reminded him that he needed to go down and see if she had found anything that could help them.
The electricity that had flowed between them could not be ignored though both men were trying their damnedest. The minute that Gibbs’ hand had touched his skin his tiger had roared to life and he accepted something that he wasn’t even sure was being offered or he wanted to accept.
To say this was the last thing that he was expecting was an understatement. It was the first time that his animal had made a connection before he knew what was going on. Still, he felt the intensity of it and he had no idea what to make of that. It was beyond his realm of understanding. Since when did his tiger rule him?
He knew he wasn’t alone. Gibbs was just as shocked as he was. Nevertheless, he had already noticed something deeper within - the pain…a pain of something lost. It was something he understood and could sympathize.
It was fucking irritating as hell when his tiger was so intuitive. It strained his ability to keep his mouth shut and not spout the truth. This was one of those times, as much as he wanted to ask a thousand questions and figure out what just happened.
But the look in the older man’s eyes was enough to tamp down his desire to ask. He could see the shock, anger, disbelief and a small flare of hope. Maybe this would be all right. All he had to do was figure out what this was.
He hadn’t felt this intensity with Wendy, hell after the initial shock he wasn’t all that pissed off that she had left him. Of course, it hurt but he almost felt a sense of relief that it was over. But this…this thing that he felt with Gibbs was beyond anything he had come in contact with. He had never felt such a pull to someone and he already could sense that if this were to pass by the wayside for any reason he would be left with a big gaping hole.
His Tiger damn well knew what he wanted and it was all wrapped up in Leroy Jethro Gibbs. And right now he couldn’t agree more. The sheer need he had to touch the man was overwhelming.
Gibbs was in shock. He was struggling to keep his hand by his side when all he wanted to do was touch the younger man again. Not since Shannon had he felt such a pull. Didn’t matter if he didn’t want it or had no idea what to do with it, the fact was his wolf had staked his claim and he was going to have to find a way to deal with it.
It was no secret to him what his wolf wanted…a mate…and in truth, he did as well. He wanted someone to share his life with and remind him to live. However, he had tried that three other times and they had all been failures of the highest degree.
He had to admit his wolf hadn’t been behind any of them. He had made the choice despite everything and he had been wrong; they hadn’t worked. They had been lackluster replacements for someone who was irreplaceable. The one thing he could say for sure at the moment was that this would be no replacement for Shannon.
Whether he was ready for such a step was another thing. Since his wolf had taken no part in any of his failed marriages, he knew that this was different. He knew wolves mated for life therefore this was a life changing meeting.
But he had no knowledge of what the younger man felt, wanted or even was capable of and ignored the howl from his wolf as he tried to put his thoughts together. This would be a risky venture and if he even decided to entertain it, he needed more information.
He had to tread carefully, there was far too much at stake for the both of them, because if he decided that this was indeed what he wanted and embraced those feelings there was no going back and he sure as hell would never let go of Tony. But right now they had a case to deal with and the rest would have to wait.
Abby gathered all the evidence that the Detective had sent over. She had to admit albeit grudgingly, that he was on point and had some skills…but this was her house and she didn’t like interlopers.
Gibbs was meeting him today and she had no doubts that he would set him right and put him in his place, so she worked happily with her babies to see what else she could find. She loved this part of her job; she gathered and searched through the minutiae to locate the parts that would put the picture in focus.
When she was a child, she would go on adventures in the scrap yard, looking at the junk cars and trying to piece together what happened. She finally asked her parents if it was her natural instinct driven by her Raven or by her natural curiosity.
Her mother had sat her down at the kitchen table and told her the lore of the shifters, that the spirit of the animals would feel the pull as a baby was born and joined with them. They knew all about their human and would complement their attributes and psyche. They did not influence their charge as they grew but merely followed their lead. The human part still had the ability to walk down whatever path they chose and their animal would embrace that and merely enhance whatever skills they could.
After that, she would stand for hours in front of the mirror thinking of ways to honor the animal that had chosen her. Wearing her hair in pigtails was in her mind a way to represent wings. She wore Goth attire because it suited her and her Raven’s personalities. She was proud of who she was on the inside as well as out. Additionally, it didn’t hurt that she could fly.
Tim walked down to the lab and stood transfixed as he watched Abby. He was definitely drawn to her though equally as frightened. She was everything he wasn’t; self-assured and secure in her own skin. He was getting better, not jumping every time Gibbs spoke and finding his place among the team.
It wasn’t that he doubted his skills or abilities, but he didn’t have the natural aptitude to be forceful out in the field. Hunting and gathering facts; storing and sorting them, hell he was brilliant there. However, making his voice heard with commanding authority, that he hadn’t mastered.
He needed a mentor of sorts, someone to guide him, kick him in the ass so to speak and help him. Gibbs had neither the time nor the patience for that on the scale that he needed and Stan…well he was simply too busy braying about dealing with Gibbs.
There was no doubt that Gibbs was most certainly an Alpha and the very definition of authority figure. He enjoyed being on Gibbs’ team and not for the prestige of being on the elite team. Personally he had the feeling that Stan over played his aggravation and exaggerated it to the extreme to get a rise out of Gibbs.
But because Gibbs demanded excellence and their all, justice and some form of resolution for the families. he made sure that they received it. He might not always play nice with other agencies but they damn well respected him even if they wouldn’t admit it.
Shaking himself out of his thoughts, he sighed as he proceeded into Abby’s lab.
“Abby. Find anything interesting?”
“Timmy!” She ran over and wrapped her arms tightly around him.
Tim laughed as she drew him in, her hugs were the best, problem was he wanted a bit more than that from her, but that was for another time.
“Find anything interesting Abs?”
“That this Detective is one smart cookie but-“ She whirled in his arms and gave him her best glare. “I don’t have to like him.”
“No, you don’t. Have you met him?”
“Ok. Then is there a reason that you have decided not to like him? That’s not like you Abby, you always give everyone a fair chance.”
“No…” She started pacing in the lab flailing her arms around. “But Gibbs wanted to share a case…SHARE Timmy he never wants to do that. The whole thing is hinky. He has these skills…sure that is all well and good, but we don’t need interlopers.”
“Team Gibbs can solve any case…he is the King of case solving. But this…this Detective comes in with a theory…ok it’s more than a theory and it’s really good. He has proof and ok…he has found out a great deal more about what we thought were local murders.”
“But…” McGee interjected.
“He’s not part of us Timmy. He is a stranger…from a foreign land.”
“Abby he’s from Baltimore, not that foreign.”
She narrowed her green eyes at the man, “Not the point McGee.”
“Abby, calm down and try to remember he is only helping. Do you really think Gibbs would put up with anything from him?”
Abby sighed deflated. “No, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
Fornell looked down at the bloody mess at the scene. “Call Gibbs, tell him we have another one.”
Saks huffed as he pulled out his phone. “Why the fuck did you turn over this case and to NCIS no less? We could have taken the lead, showed them that we are a force to be reckoned with. Hell we had two murders that we were working before the Marine was a part of all this. And I hear through the grapevine there’s a Detective from Baltimore involved now.”
“A Detective? When the hell did they become the go-to guys?” Sacks black eyes glowed with righteous indignation.
Fornell spun around and faced his SIC, his nostrils flared with anger. He was damn close to beating his chest sending Sacks a very clear message. “Do you even know what the hell you’re talking about? Did you bother to get all the facts before you opened your mouth? Because right now I am having a hard time remembering why you are my second.”
“You have no idea what this Detective brought to the proverbial table, what skills or accreditations he may have. All you heard was the word detective and your whiskers got all bent out of place.” Ron had the good graces to look chagrined, which merely made him look more rodent than human.
“If you had bothered to use those skills I thought you had, you would have found out that he was the youngest cop in the area to obtain a gold shield, no small feat Ron. He has a file full of commendations and in Philly took down the Maculuso Mob due to some fine undercover work.”
“Our esteemed Director has done some investigating of his own and wants me to put some feelers out for the man and get him on our side. This unqualified Detective, which you seem to believe he is, put together facts that substantiate his theories.”
“I didn’t know.” Sacks managed to eek out.
“And that is what is pissing me off. I’ll call Gibbs myself. Just get the hell away from me right now.”
Tony blew Gibbs away. He was slightly impressed when he had originally heard the man’s theories prior to meeting him, but this was on a whole other level. The way he had laid out the facts and he put the pieces together was true genius and he could see that he was right. His own team and the Feebs before them had missed several things. He needed to get this man on his team regardless of anything else he might want.
“This is some exceptional work DiNozzo. How you managed to find all the pieces and weave them together so that they showed the whole picture. How the hell does your mind work?” Gibbs looked over at the younger man.
Tony shrugged. “I just put the pieces together, made sense to me as I dug deeper.”
“No.” Gibbs tapped his index finger on one of the reports. “This is much more than that. You have a great deal of natural instinct. Puzzle solving and seeing things outside the box. You see things differently and make connections that most wouldn’t see.”
“Thank you.” Tony whispered.
His blue eyes glanced at the younger man taking in the demeanor and body language that clearly were at odds with the cocky confidence that he was showing. His wolf roared to the forefront wanting to hunt and destroy whoever hurt his mate.
Tamping down that urge for more than one reason, he realized the futility of even attempting to deny the pull he felt towards the younger man. It wasn’t just his wolf; he felt it too. He may not have wanted this, but he damn well was going to have to come to terms with the fact that he also didn’t want to let it go. He just wondered if he had enough time to do that.
“Ok. So we need to-“He held his finger up for a pause as his phone rang.
“Let me put you on speaker Tobias, Detective DiNozzo is here.” Gibbs was fumbling with his phone trying to find the damn button when deft fingers plucked it from his hand. Tony quickly set the speaker and laid the phone on the table grinning at Gibbs.
“You there Gibbs…Gibbs…bet he can’t find the damn button…”
“True…but I did. Detective DiNozzo at your service.”
“Ahhh the wonder kid. Agent Tobias Fornell from the FBI. Call me Tobias or Fornell your choice.”
“Call me Tony.”
Gibbs snarked. “Enough of the mutual admiration society. Get on with it Tobias.”
“What a ray of Sunshine you are Jethro. We have a body. Same MO as the ones your group is investigating. We’re blocking off the scene for you and will hold the local LEO’s at bay until you get here. North side of Rock Creek Park.”
“We’re on our way.” Slamming the phone shut.
“No goodbye…thanks for calling. Jesus Gibbs no wonder no one wants to work with you.” Tony shook his head as he started to walk out the door.
Shrugging his shoulder as he followed Tony out the door.
Michael awoke from his sleep as the tang of old blood assaulted his nostrils. He slowly reached for his gun as he felt Ziva quietly climb into their bed and then it all became clear. She had killed again. He stayed still until he was certain she was asleep and turned slowly to look at the woman he loved.
She was becoming harder to control and he desperately hoped that once this plan was in motion and she achieved her goal that her insatiable need to kill would be abated. He knew that that was highly unlikely but he held hope because the alternative was unthinkable.
He wanted to feel elation at the look of total peace on her face as she lie sleeping, but the cost for that was too high. Another innocent had died to give her that and the need for such sacrifices was growing. He had no illusions that he was a good man and that Gan Eden was going to be seen in his death, he had taken the lives of innocents as well.
However, he had not taken them discriminately; those were his orders, though he was certain that God would hold no distinction between his acts and Ziva’s. But he did. To take a life without any deference to their soul or one’s own was a far greater sin.
Sighing as he stood not bothering to clothe himself knowing he needed to follow the trail of death that his woman had left. He called upon his vulture and began the trek to insure she left nothing of herself behind. He wondered briefly if perhaps it would be better for her if he pretended that he had not smelled the blood and instead left the scene unclean, letting her be caught before another life was snuffed.
To do that he would have to turn his back on her and though a part of him knew that was in fact the very best thing he could do, his heart was not ready.
Kate was going over Abby’s reports and the Detective’s trying to put together a profile of their killer. Her pert nose wrinkled in distaste as she scanned the latest crime scene. The attacks were increasing in both ferocity and frequency. There was no pattern to the time frames which meant they had no idea when the next would occur.
Despite the inconsistencies, she was beginning to see what the Detective had also seen and pieced together. There were definitely two people involved and like he had surmised, more than likely a male and female. Honestly, she was excited to meet this Detective; he was insightful and creative in his thinking.
Then again, that might mean he was an arrogant prick. It could go either way. All she knew was that she had worked damn hard to earn her place on Gibbs’ team after the debacle with her time with the Secret Service. She had learned her lesson and Gibbs’ Rule 12 well and there would be no repeat of that mistake.
Still, it was hard not too hard admire this man’s brains. He put pieces together in the same way she was doing and his conclusions were spot on. Sighing, she stretched her neck and turned her thoughts back to the report. This was not the time to let her thoughts run rampant.
She had gone over everything many hours later and had the basis for a profile. The fact that only full shifters were targeted only meant that the killers were watching them in places where they let their guard down. There were countless places that could happen making it damn near impossible to figure out where their next strike would be.
There was no guarantee they were staying in the DC area, for all they knew they might have moved on. They had definitely been moving all over, but her gut, know where near as accurate as Gibbs, really felt that this was their intended destination. She couldn’t explain why she felt that way and that was irritating the hell out of her.
She knew her Shih Tzu was fiercely independent and prone to want to take over everything so she had learned temper that with distractions to hold her back, which often just made her more irritated. Right now, that was an understatement. However, that being said that did not always mean that she was wrong. Burying her face back in her notes she hoped to come across that morsel that led her to that belief.
Gibbs would demand her profile as soon as he was back from his meeting and she only hoped that he would be happy with what she had.
Ari hung up the phone. His father had given him his instructions and he was ready to move forward. He had managed to infiltrate Hamas in order to take them down. It had taken months of massive undercover work to meet the leader and then more to prove his worth.
So far, he had only been required to kill rebels that were inferior to the Hamas and that as his father had stated was a win/win situation. He was ridding the streets of more filth that threatened their way of life. When he had been given the assignment he knew it was going to be long and arduous but he missed his homeland…family.
His father said that Ziva would make contact with him and become his handler, though he had expected her and Michael’s arrival sooner. Yet to see a slice of home would be a welcome respite after all that he had done.
His soul felt weighted down by the death and destruction he was immersed in daily dealing with the Hamas. Thankfully, he had managed to gather Intel that would lead to prosecution for a great many thusly hindering their ability to spread more death and destruction.
He smiled as he walked to his kitchen and thought about the confidence and praise his father had bestowed upon him. He was not an easy man to please so when praise was issued it was something to take pride in and treasure. He wished Ziva could see her father loved her for who she was.
Stretching his long legs relaxing his muscles from his run he lay out on the couch. The shifter parks here were nice, but he missed the heat coursing through him as he ran. His gazelle loved the heat and chomped at the bit to come out more.
Time was tight. They were ready to obtain the drones and then the final pieces would be in place.
Gibbs walked into the bullpen and he called out. “Kate…McGee…Stan front and center.” The three jumped at the order and stood before him. “You all know that we will be working with a Detective DiNozzo from Baltimore. I know you have been going over everything he has sent over…keep at it. Put it with what we have and see what we can pick up. He’ll be joining us shortly.”
Stan sighed. “Why? Can’t he just share information?”
Kate was practically bouncing on her feet. “Actually Stan, he has some really great insight into this case. He found more murders by reaching out with his own contacts and found a trail. He knows a great deal more about this than we or the Feebs do.”
She held up her hand to stop his protests. “I know we don’t usually share and I don’t usually want to, but this time it’s different. I’ve dug through and read his reports and I see where he managed to put things together that if I were honest…I would not have been able to do.”
“You don’t know that, we may have come up with the same conclusions.”
Tim shrugged. “Maybe Stan, but we didn’t and even though I don’t like it we need to work with this guy.” Looking over at his boss, “Abby has all the evidence from the last scene and has her babies working on it.”
Stan looked around and saw that he was the only one totally against this person coming in. He didn’t like change and this was causing him more stress than normal. Not seeing any way to get anyone on his side he resigned to his fate of having the Detective in his space. Maybe he needed to look into a transfer before his ulcers became more than he could handle.
“We’re working with DiNozzo end of discussion.” Gibbs’ eyes narrowed dangerously daring any of them to argue. “Good. Now get to work.” He bellowed as he turned towards the stairs heading down to Autopsy.
Ducky turned his attention to what was left of the body on the table. “My dear, I am so sorry we had to meet this way, but I can assure that I will give you all the respect that you so rightly deserve. We shall endeavor to find the one who did this to you and the other that suffered the same fate. Trust me that you are in most excellent hands here.”
Shaking his head sadly, he took her hand in his. “What madness the individual must suffer to have inflicted such damage. I only pray my dear that you did not suffer much for you certainly deserved none of this.”
“Now let us begin to see if the culprit left anything behind so that we may make them pay for their misdeeds and your suffering.” Hearing the door open he turned slightly to acknowledge them.
“Ah, Jethro. I was wondering when you would make your way down here. However if you are asking for results I am afraid I must disappoint you. I have not begun my work on our newest guest and alas with the others there was nothing. They have been picked clean as it were of anything that may be incriminating. Though that is a clue in and of itself I do believe.”
Gibbs looked at the ME expectantly and waited.
Ducky shook his head. “No need for you to be silent Jethro, but I will give you my opinion since you so eloquently asked.” raising his eyebrow in displeasure. “I must agree with Detective DiNozzo’s most astute assessment. Looking through original ME’s reports and viewing the pictures, these crimes were definitely perpetrated by two individuals.”
“The one who does the actual killing is filled with such rage and hatred that they lash out with such fevered ferocity as you can see by the way the bodies have been found. This rage can not be controlled and has probably festered from a very young age.”
“The attacks are becoming more intense as I believe the relief they find for their inner rage is only abated upon their victim’s demise and that relief is becoming shorter lived. The second perpetrator in this duo is the one who cleanses the scene and insures that there is nothing that could lead anyone to them.”
“They may not condone the killing but neither can they stop them. I am sure by now they are wondering when this rage that they most assuredly see will be directed at them.”
“What I was afraid of Duck.”
“So what else brings you down here?” Ducky’s sharp eyes locked on the other man.
“DiNozzo…” Gibbs struggled to find the words. “My wolf…ah hell Duck. My wolf has decided that he is the one for me. Damn near had me leaping across the damn table and claiming him right there.” He ran his hands through his hear and paced with agitation.
“I don’t want this Duck…but I do. I haven’t felt a pull like this since Shannon.” He took a deep breath to get his emotions in check.
“Jethro my friend, Shannon would not have wanted you to close yourself off from life-“
“I was married three times Ducky. That hardly qualifies as closing myself off.”
Ducky narrowed his eyes at that remark. “You were a fool that rushed for anyone that made you forget your pain. Do NOT for one second believe that counts as living. You know exactly what that was. Now you have been granted a second chance, a chance that apparently your wolf is unwilling to let you ignore.”
“Be honest with yourself, do you want to let this man go? What if he moves on despite the pull of your animals? Another one’s touch giving comfort or love-“
“NO!” Gibbs roared.
Ducky smiled inwardly…yes,…there it was. The possessiveness, the need to protect and the jealousy. “Then be happy Jethro and accept it, treasure it and open yourself up to it.” Ducky watched as Jethro took deep breaths to prevent the shift.
Grinning unabashedly at his friend, “It would appear that the decision has been made. I can’t wait to meet this young Detective DiNozzo. Not everyone can lay claim to taming the beast.”
Gibbs tossed as glare over his shoulder as he walked out of the room knowing for certain Ducky was right. The decision had been made.
Tony knew this wasn’t the best time to go to the park, but he needed to get rid of all this, hell he had no idea what to even call it but everything that was swirling inside him. His tiger was ready to jump out of his skin since he had met one Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
He was hoping that running would alleviate something so that he could get his head back in the game, but this was beyond anything he had ever experienced. He knew what it was but that did not begin to describe the changes that he was feeling.
There was a lot to consider if he…they decided to go down this path. He was going on instinct trying not to let his tiger take the lead, He could feel the pull and urge from him, but this was more involved and complicated and as much as he wanted to give in, he needed to look at this from all sides.
This wasn’t some quick fuck for pleasure or stress release. This was the whole kit and caboodle. He wasn’t sure he was ready for that. He had a hell of a lot of baggage from his past; his father, Wendy, the fucking situation with Danny and lets not even mention that his damn tiger was practically roaring his acceptance.
He shed his clothes as he let his tiger come forward just as amazed as he had been since he was a child as his body changed from human to tiger. It was his second skin and he loved it. He had long since understood that he could control the power that came with it.
He felt the wind blowing through his fur as his paws touched the ground and he allowed both to soothe his frayed nerves. He began to run through the park letting go of the control allowing the power of his tiger to be front and center.
The strength of his animal combined with the innate grace was as organic as the grass beneath his feet. This was something that he didn’t do often enough and he really needed to work on that. He needed this as much as he needed to breathe.
He let his mind put the pieces of the puzzle together as he ran; this was where he was in his element. He knew they needed to figure out why the killers had made their way to DC. It certainly wasn’t by chance, the trail of bodies was its own map and now there were three bodies in the near vicinity.
What did DC have that drew the pair in? Were they after someone specific? They might have a profile but there were still so many unanswered questions.
He couldn’t shake the feeling that time was not on their side and that whatever this pair wanted was close. He pushed his beast faster roaring in frustration, wanting to feel the burn, needing to feel the power. Running as though his life depended on it because though it made absolutely no sense and there was nothing that he could lay a finger on to prove it, he was certain that in fact it did.
She watched in awe as the stunning man transformed into a beautiful white tiger. Torn between the lust and hate that had started to war inside the minute she laid eyes on the man. She wanted to feel his strength inside her just as much as she wanted to rip him to shreds.
He was unlike any other full shifter felines she had seen. The others of his kind had not carried themselves with such grace or power. He was truly one with his animal and embraced it. She hated him for that. Perhaps she would make him her next target…but she had never attempted one with such power before. Even with her Mossad training, she would lack against his strength.
That just added another tally in the kill column. She was no weak and delicate woman and she had no doubt that he would treat her as such. Men always did at their own detriment and she made them pay one way or the other.
Michael had never seen her that way, he saw her strength and reveled in it and made her feel like she could fly. However, lately she knew that he was watching and analyzing her every move, that he was increasingly concerned about her actions.
She knew that he was feeling like she had stepped over an invisible line in the sand of some sort and was beginning to question her ability to function normally. As much as it pained her, she wasn’t sure that he hadn’t outlived his usefulness.
But right now was not the time for her to think that way, they were so close to their end goal and there was no doubt in her mind that she needed him for that. There was no way that she could accomplish that on her own.
Her eyes never left the majestic tiger as he ran through the park, his muscles straining from being put through the paces. She likened him to the thoroughbreds her father liked to keep in their stable; his strength was beautiful and so innate, just simply a part of him.
She wondered what his fur would feel like in her fingers as she held him down. Would he register that his life was ending? Or should she take his life when he was in human form pinning him down feeling his strength under her as she attacked?
The idea of seducing the man had merit. He was beautiful and it would be no hardship to feel his hands upon her before ending his life. Perhaps she would go further and let him fuck her before spilling his blood. He was a man; she could use that against him.
She would have to find a way to deal with Michael first however. There was no way she was going to let him interrupt her play, whatever she decided on.
Gibbs threw his coffee against the wall in frustration and began pacing. “This is ridiculous. We still have nothing that we can use to stop these murders.” He looked around the bullpen at his team and DiNozzo. “There has got to be something that we are missing.”
Tony moved to stand in front of the older man. “You think we don’t know this? We have looked through everything repeatedly and I don’t believe we have missed a God damned thing. We are all fucking breathing this case day in and out. You need to take your frustrations out elsewhere.”
Blue eyes narrowed dangerously. “Just who the fuck do you think you are?” he moved a step closer to the younger man feeling the heat radiating off his body.
Green eyes held steady, the only reaction was a flaring of his nostrils. “Someone who doesn’t think having a temper tantrum is going to help anyone. We’re all trying to solve this and you need to stop acting like an ass.”
Three gasps simultaneously filled the bullpen. Kate wasn’t sure whether she needed or should even think of getting between the two men. Gibbs might be her Boss but she was in agreement with DiNozzo. They were all working their asses off trying to solve this.
Tim, for his part, was ready to hide under his desk except for the fact that he was unable to take his eyes of the two men. He wasn’t sure if the Detective was going to make it out of there alive. Never would he think about talking to his Boss that way.
Stan was fidgeting at his desk reaching for his antacids as he readied himself for the fall out. This was not going to be pretty. He felt like kicking his desk in frustration himself.
Gibbs knew that DiNozzo was right, sure as hell didn’t mean he wanted to admit it, but he was acting more like an ass than usual. He also wasn’t sure what he thought about the dressing down that he was getting in front of everyone. He was both impressed and pissed though his main thoughts about the man had no place at work.
Tony cocked an eyebrow at the older man waiting to see what he was going to do.
Noting the challenge the younger man was laying down he was half tempted to show him who was in charge…in many ways. However one thing was a given, he was a jealous bastard and there was no way he was going to lay claim to DiNozzo in the middle of NCIS.
Instead, he gave his best glare as he all but growled. “Fine. Get out of here. But I expect everyone to be here at 07:00 sharp- no excuses.”
The elevator doors closed behind the three fleeing agents before he had finished his sentence leaving just the two of them in a silence that spoke volumes.
Gibbs took a deep breath. “I will say this once. We have a lot to talk about…the fact that there is a connection between us and what that might mean, but right now is not the time. We solve this case first; we will talk and figure out…one way or the other.”
Tony let out a breath he hadn’t even been aware he’d been holding. “Ok.”
“I agree. And this conversation needs more time than we can give it right now. I may not like the fact that it needs to wait…but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand it.”
“I hear a ‘but’ in there.”
Tony’s green eyes turned predatory as he looked at the man who stood before him. “I expect us to do a little more than just talking.” He held up his hand to silence Gibbs for the moment. “I’m not expecting us to fuck. But, if we decide to act on this calling then I do expect us to lay some sort of claim. I will need to do that and if I am not mistaken you will too.”
Gibbs growled. “Damn straight I will.”
Ari felt unsettled since his visit with Ziva. It wasn’t something he could put his finger on, but the hair on the back of his neck stood on end and his gazelle definitely sensed something was very wrong. There was danger coming and he needed to figure it out.
He had picked up the phone a dozen times ready to dial his father and discuss it. It boiled down to finding the right words to explain his feeling. It was nothing more than a feeling, nothing he could put his finger on and with any certainty explain why he felt the way he did.
He walked outside breathing in the night air hoping to clear his mind so that he could look at it with a clear mind. It was possible that he was so concerned that the end of the OP was upon them and mistakes were not an option, that he was projecting his fears into another venue.
He really didn’t believe that was a slight possibility. It was difficult to picture his little sister in that light…but truthfully, he knew that she never felt like she belonged anywhere. No amount of encouragement and reassurance was ever able to change her mind.
She seemed to settle a bit after Talia died, almost seem to feel that she had found her place in the family. However, tonight he had felt a chill from her, her eyes were cold belying the words that came out of her mouth.
Thinking back on the evening he tried to ferret out if perhaps Michael had been the one to set off his alarms. Again, nothing that pointed to that but he knew better than to ignore his instincts and they were screaming danger.
Normally he would go to his handler, talk it out and make some decisions, but he was getting this vibe from his handler and he felt truly alone. All he knew was he was going to be on alert and ready to bolt.
Tony walked down to Abby’s lab to see if he could help her with anything. He was hoping to kill two birds with one stone by getting through some trace left at the latest scene and start the Abby thaw. She hadn’t been cold to him exactly, but she was certainly wary and keeping him at a distance and it was wreaking havoc with his need to protect her.
She was important to Gibbs and thereby to him as well. He knew that she wouldn’t stop the growing bond between him and Gibbs, but he would truly rather not have the man put in the middle of a tug of war. Therefore, he kept with his campaign to win her over.
He paused at the door stunned by the noise emanating from between the closed doors, Hell that was an understatement considering the walls were shaking as well. Considering the level of the noise, he half suspected they were begging for help. Steeling himself for the onslaught to his ears, he headed inside.
Walking through the door, he did his best not to cringe as he made his way towards Abby.
“Abby”. He called out hoping that she heard him.
She turned and looked to see who had intruded in her domain and was none too pleased to find out it was the Detective. Huffing she grabbed the remote and turned down her music sending him a glare.
“May I help you?”
Hoping he had his best ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth expression’ on his face before he even opened his mouth. “Wanted to see if I could help?”
Looking at the man through narrowed eyes, she realized he was serious…but she still had some reservations. “How do you plan on doing that?” Gesturing her hands at all her babies.
“You tell me what you need done and I will do it. I haven’t worked in a lab in a long time, but I have before when I interned in Baltimore”
Her curiosity peaked she had to know. “Thought you were a Detective.”
“I am, but before that I was taking a few Forensics courses. I kinda always want to know more.” He shrugged his shoulders and grinned shyly, “Surprises most people.”
She realized that she had committed one of her own cardinal sins…judging a book by its cover. She knew firsthand how that felt. OK…she still wasn’t sure about the man, but she could give him a fair shot. Taking a deep breath, she offered him a small smile.
“You can run that feather through Major Mass Spec over there”, gesturing to her left. “Have you used one before?”
Tony nodded and recognized the olive branch for what is was. “I have-“ Tony heard the bullet hit the glass and pulled Abby to the floor protecting her with his body as he dragged her out of the way of the window while pulling out his phone.
Making sure to leave her brass behind as well as the paper she had lifted from Ari’s apartment she left the rooftop smiling. Everything was moving along. Soon they would determine where the shots came from and send someone to gather evidence…leading them to Ari.
That would start the downfall of her brother. After painstakingly investigating Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his team, she knew the man’s weakness was women. He had a need to protect them, as he had been unable to do his wife and daughter.
The wheels were set and she was ready for phase two of the op. Once they found out that Ari was working with the Hamas at her father’s request, they would call in the FBI, as they were the second counter point to this.
They would vet Ari and state that he was indeed doing what they condoned. Of course, that was the truth - he was…however, they were sorely unaware that she was the one about to set their world on its axis. She was laying a trail that would lead them right to Ari and if all went according to plan, her to Gibbs.
She was quite surprised to see the shifter there; he was an unexpected surprise and one that she was going to play with. She knew he was not a part of Gibb’s team but she was now more curious about him than ever. She needed to have some idea of who he was and where he belonged.
This would require her getting away from Michael so that she could do some surveillance on the man. Perhaps she needed another task for her fine feathered friend; maybe send Michael on a fool’s errand to follow Ari.
Her plan was developing and she quietly left the area, making her way to the car that was waiting.
Michael was gesturing for her to come quickly as he noticed a flurry of activity happening. “Ziva, get your ass in here.”
“It’s fine Michael. Just drive.”
He wasn’t ready to relax until they had removed themselves from the vicinity. Finally breathing a bit easier he turned to Ziva. “You took too long to get back here. They were on the move; all your plans could have been wiped out.”
“You do not need to remind me what is at stake Michael. This is my life’s dream we are talking about. You forget that I had to lay evidence down with a certain amount of finesse. It had to look natural.”
“You are taking too many risks for someone so close to their goal.”
“Fine. I shall play it your way, but I need to get more items from Ari. Is it allowed that I may go to his home and obtain them, or is that too much of a risk for me?” anger was evident in her voice.
“Ziva, you know I do not doubt your abilities. You are far more capable than anyone realizes. But that is also why I am desperate to keep you from taking too many chances.” Trying to reason with her was like walking a tightrope but he had become an expert at balancing her needs with his reason.
“What if I go to Ari? He would not think twice if I show up and visit.”
She sat silently letting him believe that she was going to acquiesce to his plans, it was really too easy.
“I might be able to let you do that. But that does not mean that I believe you are right in regards to my taking risks. I know what is at stake and yes…I know that your heart is in the right place. It is hard for me to let go of control Michael…as you said I am so close to having it all.”
Reaching over, he gently stroked her cheek with his the pads of his fingers. “You are so close my love; I want to see you succeed. To be the one by your father as his eyes shine down on his only daughter. To see you be as cherished as you deserve.”
A flicker of guilt rose from her soul. The deceptions that she was planning would cause this man, who had done nothing but support her in this endeavor, so much pain that he would never forgive her. Nevertheless, it had to be done and she would have to ensure that he never found out, it wasn’t as if Tiger-man was going to be telling any tales.
Gibbs was ready to blow a gasket. “What the fuck do you mean he is a Mossad Operative working in conjunction with the FBI? If that is true then why the hell did he try to shoot Abby in the lab?” His blue eyes shot daggers at the group standing before him.
“Had DiNozzo not acted as quickly as he did Abby would be dead…by one of your so called joint operatives? What reason did he give you?”
Actually, Gibbs, he said he didn’t do it. Swore up and down it wasn’t him.” Fornell raised an eyebrow at Gibbs. “Did anyone get a description? An eyewitness? We need more than what you found at the scene. Not to mention you have no idea if the shooter was after Abby in particular. Could have been the wonder Detective or even a crazy taking a pot shot.”
Tony all but laughed aloud. “You seriously don’t think this was some random crazy who just happened to drop casings with Ari’s finger prints on it do you? That was a precision shot, done with a particular sniper rifle that Agent Gibbs happened to use in his Marine days. I for one don’t believe in coincidences.”
Sacs snorted. “What would you know about the weapon?”
Tony raised an eyebrow at the man. “Do you ever do anything but be an ass Slacks? Because seriously I don’t think so. You do know that Gibbs is a Marine and a sniper to boot or did that fact skip right over you?”
Tony tilted his head as if pondering that idea. “You know what? I don’t think that you have ever had an inclination to know anything about anybody, you have never bothered to truly look at people and you are too busy being a self-centered, self-righteous ass to do anything more than scurry around trying to cause everyone around you grief.”
Sacs moved to stand right in front of Tony training his beady eyes glaring at the man. “What the hell do you know? You’ve barely met me and have no idea what you’re talking about. You breeze in here acting like you own the place spouting off halfcocked ideas.”
“Sacs! That’s enough.” Fornell bellowed having heard enough from the man. He was all but pounding his chest in anger at the man’s incessant need to show off and be the top dog. “Keep your damn mouth shut for a change and listen.”
Seeing the affronted twitch in the man’s eyes Fornell shook his head. “If you spent half as much time observing and listening as you do being an arrogant ass you just might become a decent Agent.” Taking a deep breath, he glanced over at the Detective. “Sorry for the interruption, please continue.”
“The trajectory of the bullet shows that my theory is correct. There was skill involved and though I may not get why a man Mossad trained would leave behind trace, the fact remains that the evidence points to him and until we have something that shows us it was someone else, letting him free to play seems counterproductive.”
“What he’s doing is vital to national security for fucks sake. He infiltrated Hamas and is mere days away from taking them down. Frankly, I don’t see how he had the time to do this. People have constantly surrounded him. The Hamas don’t leave him alone and his handler has arrived and been in contact.”
“We need him to continue this infiltration. The end game is just around the corner and we’ll be taking down a terrorist cell. We’ll get some extra eyes on him, but he has to finish this. After this you can interrogate and investigate to your heart’s content.”
Gibbs roared. “He tried to take out one or two of my team and you want me to let him go? Just forget about that and pretend it didn’t happen? No way in hell.”
“Actually Gibbs you don’t have a choice.”
Gibbs made sure that everyone was safely tucked away and now he needed something…to take the edge off his frustration at having his hands tied and unable to deal with Ari in any fashion. He wanted to kill the fucker for daring shoot at Tony or Abby.
He tried calling Tony needing to…hell he wasn’t quite sure he was ready to admit what he needed but he knew that he needed to see the man. With that thought, he headed to the Shifter Park the man had mentioned betting that he was equally as frustrated at the turn of events.
As he pulled up to the park he felt like something was off, his gut was rolling with unease and his wolf was nearly jumping out of his skin as he quickly exited his car and removed his clothes. All he knew was that he needed to run and find Tony. He had no idea how he knew that the man was in danger but he wasn’t going to stop and analyze that right now.
He took off in a run allowing his instinct to lead without even thinking and felt his heart stop when the smell of blood overpowered his senses. Fuck, he pushed harder not seeing anything yet, the closer he got to the thick copse of trees on the far side, the heavier the scent grew, assaulting his nose.
Then he saw Tony, his Tony, on the ground and a glimpse of fair skin straddling his prone form as he neared. He howled in anger ready to rip whoever was touching what was his to shreds, He saw red and his rage was a force to be reckoned with.
The agent in him knew that he should have used stealth and approached more carefully in order to apprehend, but the wolf…the mate side wanted to reach the man…help him. There was no way he could lose him before they had even had a chance to tap what was between them.
Considering how intense every feeling coursing through his entire being was, nothing would stop him from claiming the man, but right now, he needed to get to him.
Ziva laid out her plans carefully knowing she was going to need to Ketamine to takedown Tiger-man. She hated having to have help, but she was no fool and if she wanted any time to enjoy her prize, she was going to need the drug.
She had already done some reconnaissance and found a place to acquire it with relative ease and had made quick work of it. Knowing how much she craved getting her claws on the man, she was ready to wait and if anyone crossed her path that was their fault.
Having managed to find a task for Michael that would keep him occupied she was ready and now only had to wait for the man and considering what had transpired at the Navy Yard she had no doubts that he would need to run.
She had dressed in a loose flowing sheath that was easy to remove and toss aside. She wanted to feel the man under her as soon as possible, she had thought about little else since she had seen him change. Pity that Michael had thought her extreme interest in sex was due solely to his prowess.
As he had moved inside her, her thoughts were on the long lean lines of the green-eyed man, his powerful legs and intensity that he carried with such grace. It would give her so much pleasure to feel his blood run through her fingers as she fucked him.
She had fantasized how she would slice him open slowly; precisely carve through his taught skin marking him as hers for eternity. Her heart beat faster as she imagined her hands sliding under his skin on his chest feeling the strength there as his heart struggled to keep up with her ministrations before it no longer beat at all.
She needed this…he was hers and there was nothing that was going to stop her. Scanning the park for any sign of her prey she continued to play repeatedly in her head what she would do to and with the man.
So lost in her thoughts she had almost missed his arrival. Her eyes trained on him as he made his way to the outer edge of the park and removed his clothes placing them in the cubbies that were scattered all across the park.
Her eyes turned dark with desire as she watched him stretch his muscles before he readied to shift. She was thankful she had chosen her hiding spot well and noted a bit of luck was on her side considering how close she was to him. Placing her hand in her pack, she wrapped it around the syringe containing the drug, and felt her pulse quicken.
Weaving her way quickly through the trees, she closed the slight distance between the two of them. Her steps were silent and sure knowing his senses were heightened. There was no way she was would call attention to herself before she was ready.
She was unable to take her eyes of his body and drank in the innate sexiness and power that radiated from him. He was beautiful and soon she would taste him…touch him …and have him and if she so desired, let him know her pleasure before she ended his life.
Though a part of her wanted to keep him as her pet, a plaything for her only, she knew that wasn’t going to be possible. He was too strong to keep restrained as a man as well as a tiger. She would have to drug him for the duration and that would be problematic for a long term anything.
Then there was Michael…she would not be able to hide Tiger-man from him for any length of time and right now, she still needed the man. Her affection for him was waning, it was hard to be under his scrutiny and his eyes didn’t miss much. He was becoming…troublesome.
However, she had far better things to occupy her mind. The time was now and as she stepped silently behind the man, her needle finding his neck before he knew what hit him. She watched with thinly veiled superiority as the far stronger man fell at her feet.
Not willing to take any chances she pulled him closer to the edge of the woods, which were a bit more secluded and gagged as well as joined his wrists together with rope, securing him to a tree. Finally, she allowed her eyes to travel slowly down the length of his naked body and drank in the details: his broad shoulders, strong torso with its smattering of chest hair, the contours of his abs and the trail of hair leading down to his groin. Her eyes grew even darker as she eyed his cock that even when flaccid was magnificent. She had believed that Michael was very well endowed, but this man took that to another level. She let her fingers trace what her eyes had greedily drunk in.
As her fingers trailed down his chest, she raised her eyes to meet his and found that she was looking into the eyes of the tiger. Never had she seen a shifter that could be both parts of themselves at the same time. This was more than she could have dreamed; she would be able to have both of them, something she had never had before.
The dose of Ketamine she had injected was doing what she had wanted, and rendered him incapacitated. She wasn’t completely sure about the dosage since he was both strong and quite a bit larger than anything she had attempted to drug before.
Her fingers found her prize as she took his cock in her hand reveling in the weight and feel. “I have wanted to do this since I saw you run, you are quite magnificent.” Stroking his shaft as she spoke, “I have thought of touching you in this way since that moment.”
“I have imagined how you would feel quivering under me as your life drained from you. But this…this is far better than I had imagined. I should tell you that I added another drug to the cocktail I injected you with to allow me to play for as long as I should choose.”
“And as you can tell, there is nothing to stop your body’s reactions to my touch…soon I will feel your cock in my pussy pulsing beneath me. Of course it is of no consequence to me that you are unwilling because I will take what I want…however I want it.”
Her finger glided over the cock head picking up the precum that had gathered there before she lifted her finger to her mouth. “I knew you would taste good. I must say that I find it a shame that you will not be able to enjoy me properly. But rest assured my enjoyment shall not be dimmed by that fact.”
She quickly removed her sheath revealing her body to her prey. Running her hands over her own body, she elicited responses and moaned. Her nipples hardened under her manipulation and she pinched them harder between her fingers. “I love a little pain with my pleasure. I wish you could see me clearly through the drugs, but I could not chance a lower dose.” Her skin beginning to glisten as a slight sheen of sweat covered her. Stopping for a moment, she positioned herself on her knees over the prone man and placed her knives beside him.
“Do not worry; I am not ready to play with those yet.” She let her hand travel to between her legs spreading her lips apart and felt the heat emitting from her center. She was so wet and wanted more, her blood coursing hot in her veins at the thought of what was to come.
Plunging her fingers inside her body, wetness coated her two fingers. “I can’t wait to feel your cock filling me as I ride you.” She purred as her fingers rubbed against her clit. “Fuck this feels so good.” Removing her fingers from her body, she smeared the wetness against his lips before licking it off.
“Shame you cannot taste our juices as they combine, it is a heady mixture of your strength and my darkness.” She wanted more…of everything, wanted to feel more of everything.
She licked her fingers clean before plunging them once again into her pussy adding a finger as she fucked herself to abandon. “I want to cum before I slide down your cock and fuck the life out of you. My cum will coat your cock branding it as I claim you and then take your life.”
Fucking herself harder, her moans filled the silence around them. “Yes.” She cried out as her body shuddered and her walls tightened around her fingers. “I’m so close.” Riding her fingers, she lowered her body wrapping her teeth around the man’s nipple and bit down hard as she found her release. Her breath was ragged as she released the nipple.
Not wanting to wait any longer, she roughly grabbed the man’s cock and with no hesitation slid down until her lips were at the base of his shaft. “Yes!” She cried screamed. “This is what I have wanted.” She began to ride the man picking up a knife as she did so. “I wish there was a way I could keep you as my plaything.” Groaning as she moved.
“I would not tire of you quickly. But I would never be able to hide you for any length of time”, She placed the point of the knife at his rib and slowly plunged it in and pulled it out just as slowly. “That is just the beginning. I want to mark you all over before I am finished with you.”
She moved the knife to his nipple tracing around the areola with slight pressure as she rode the prone man. “I have to say I truly wish that you were an active participant in our fucking. I can imagine the power you would have as you thrust into my body. However, this will have to suffice. I will go on with my life knowing that I was the last one to ever have you.”
Moving her knife to the man’s neck, she met his eyes seeing the haze of rage at what she was doing to him. “Ahhh…I see you are angry with me. But for which thing? Showing my superiority by being able to get the drop on you? My fucking you? Or the fact that I am going to kill you and there is nothing you can do to stop me?” She laughed.
“So many choices.” Taking the second knife from the ground beside them she ran the sharp blade down the center of his chest deep enough to cut through but not enough to kill…yet. Seeing the red run from the slice she had made her fervor heighten and she wanted more.
In what could only be described as blood frenzy as she suddenly let loose with the knife slashing anywhere she chose on the man and only ending her tirade was when she reached her sexual completion. Coming down from her orgasmic haze, she sneered with pleasure at what she had done.
Running her fingers through the pools of blood feeling the silky warmth as it flowed through her fingers she then brought her hands to her body painting her nakedness with the crimson red. Though none of the wounds was fatal, he was quickly loosing blood.
Her eyes narrowed as she looked at the man beneath her. “I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself, I wanted to play more.” Lifting the knife, she looked at his body choosing the next area to mark barely noticing the roar from across the park.
As she rose on his cock to take her pleasure with him again, she turned slightly to grab the knife from where it was embedded and saw the movement across the park heading in their direction. She knew without hesitation that whomever it was, headed her way and was pissed. She rose off Tiger-man quickly grabbing her gear and ran off in the deeper part of the park intent on getting away. All she could sense was the rage coming off the approaching figure and knew without a doubt that her death would be imminent if he caught her.
He gave no thought to the figure running off through the trees; though in hindsight he should have paid more attention. Nevertheless, as soon as he smelled the blood and could categorize how much of it there was, his only though was Tony.
Quickly he shifted back to human using the phone that he had attached to his dog tags as he reached the prone body begging and praying to any and every deity whether he believed or not, to save this man. As he called for help, his training kicked in and he began to work on Tony.
“Don’t you dare give up Tony. Hang in there.” He struggled to stop the flow of blood; there was so much of it and from so many openings. “You can do it.” He saw the glassy look in the younger man’s eyes and knew he had been drugged as well. The smell of sex permeated his nostrils, enraging him. He tried to gather any smell that he could to use for possible identification, but the smell of blood was overwhelming.
How dare someone touch what was his! He knew there would be trace evidence on the man; he could see the remnants of the encounter on Tony’s cock, as it was still engorged. As much as he loathed letting anyone see Tony in this state, regardless of the reason, he knew that it was unavoidable to allow prosecution. Though frankly he doubted that the predator would live that long.
There was so much that he wanted to say, but he was afraid if he voiced any of those things it would be as though he were giving up somehow on Tony surviving and thereby giving him permission to die. “You DO NOT have my permission to die…do you hear me?” He needed to lay voice to that and somehow enforce it.
Hearing the distant sound of the ambulance, he allowed a sliver of relief to course through him. Tony was still breathing and hanging on…there was more hope now. “Do you hear that Tony? Help is on the way.”
As medical personnel took over he stood close by his eyes never leaving Tony as if he kept watch the man wouldn’t dare let go. He never noticed a blanket had been placed around his own shoulders. His team as well as the FBI had arrived and he had answered the questions - what he had seen and was happy to turn over the scene as he left with Tony.
Arriving at the hospital, he was unfortunately unable to follow where Tony went and found himself at a loss. He didn’t remember being led to a waiting room and had lost all track of time as his eyes stayed glued to the door. He jumped to his feet when he heard footsteps hoping there was some sort of news.
He was struck with fear when Ducky came through the door believing that he was there to deliver bad news. Ducky saw the sheer look of desolation in Jethro’s eyes and hastened to reassure the man.
“Jethro, Anthony is holding his own right now. He is still in surgery and they have yet to close all his wounds. He was quite lucky you arrived when you did. I dare say the culprit that inflicted these wounds was carried away by their fervor as a few of them appear to be far deeper than intended.”
“How the hell can you call that lucky? His blood was flowing through my hands. He was drugged…sliced open within an inch of his life. Fuck Ducky, she raped the man for fuck’s sake. I lost him once in the ambulance, did you know that?” He started pacing back and forth his blue eyes mirrored the rage he was feeling.
“Yes Jethro, I call that lucky. Had you even been a few minutes behind that dear boy would be dead. You saved his life. Yes, he is struggling right now and will until they get him stabilized and blood back in his body, but he is here and alive.”
Ducky’s eyes softened as he looked at the state of the other man. “Go shower, the Doctor’s lounge is at your disposal and I took the liberty of having your clothes delivered here for you. Anthony’s will be going back to be examined for any possible trace, though I doubt there will be any.”
“There won’t be. He was too far into the woods he was getting ready to shift and run off his frustration with this case.”
“Do you think he was chosen Jethro, or wrong place wrong time?”
“Chosen. Just don’t know if it was because he is working the case or because he’s a shifter?”
“Do you know what he is?”
“Haven’t seen him nor asked, but I sense a large feline when he’s near.”
“Ahhh…not surprising really. The man has a natural innate grace and the quiet sense of power that surrounds him, a large feline would suit him. Well my friend, go clean up and I shall check on Anthony. I have arranged for you to stay with him. He was drugged during the attack and will more than likely wake up highly disoriented. Your connection with him should help settle him and you.” raising an eyebrow pointedly at Jethro.
“I don’t need settled Duck.”
Waving off that statement with a flick of his wrist, “We shall agree to disagree on that.” He left the man to go check on Tony.
Ziva sank in the bathtub allowing the warm water to soothe her nerves. She had showered immediately after arriving home to rid herself of the smell of blood and sex. Michael would be able to smell both of those the minute he walked in the door.
However, she knew how to rid herself of that; showering, douching and then bathing in a luxurious perfumed bubble bath. He would merely think that she was preparing herself for him and desired his body and after she used her persuasive ways, he would be none the wiser.
She knew anyone that followed her dalliance with Tiger-man would be found lacking. He had managed to take her to heights beyond her wildest dreams even when drugged. She could still imagine the feel of his cock filling her. She would never have that again.
She could not be sure whether the man died or not, but it did not matter, she would not be able to get anywhere near him and even though he was drugged, she could not be one hundred percent sure that he would not remember anything.
However she doubted his drugged haze would put a face to her so in that regard she was not worried. It was a shame that she had been interrupted before she was finished, but the rage pouring off the man running towards her was nothing like she had ever experienced. If she had not been so intent on escaping, she would have wished to find some way to identify him so that he may become her next prey.
She would need to find a substitute…and soon. Because as soon as she finished removing Ari from the picture there was going to be no way for her to continue this madness, not if her plan worked.
Gibbs sat in the hard plastic chair his eyes never left the slow rise and fall of Tony’s chest as he waited for the man to wake up. Somehow, it slightly soothed his frayed nerves, reminding him that the man was alive even if still in critical condition.
It took nearly seven hours for the doctors to put the man back together again and the list of damage inflicted was daunting. There was little doubt that the perp had intended to end Tony’s life and he was concerned that if they found out they were unsuccessful they would try again. His fists clenched tightly as he reigned in his rage at that thought.
McGee had stopped in earlier to check in and give him a Sit Rep from the scene though as he had already known, there was nothing left at the scene with the exception of what was left on Tony himself and that wasn’t a whole hell of a lot to go on. Still, they would have DNA, but unless the perp had a record, it was not going to get them anywhere.
Abby ran the samples while he sat in the waiting room, but his gut told him that they weren’t going to get anything from it. The assailant was an unknown, never been caught or in trouble with the law. He had no doubt that Tony had been targeted, but as he went over everything that they knew one fact stood out and he had mentioned it to McGee…the partner was not there.
He was sure of that, she had been the one to choose Tony and it was for her alone. He had no doubts now that it was a she…the DNA left on Tony…a woman definitely raped Tony. They may not have a clear idea of who they were but the why was becoming clear. She was the killer and the man cleaned up after her. The reason he wasn’t at the scene when she was with Tony was because she wanted Tony for herself on a personal level. As much as that new insight excited the investigator in him it more than enraged the man.
He was going to be hard pressed to be the wolf at bay and that was not even taking into account his own possessive jealous side. Right now, all he wanted was her blood spilled, for what she had done to Tony and for touching what was his. Yes he wanted justice for the other victims, make no mistake about that, but he would be lying if he said his need for blood was from anything other than the man lying in that hospital bed.
Tony wanted to open his eyes but they weren’t cooperating. He was starting to panic when he felt a warm calloused hand squeeze his and though he couldn’t make out the words that he was hearing the sound of the voice immediately calmed him and he allowed himself to drift off again.
That didn’t last long however his mind was sending hazy pictures…flashes of things happening that made no sense. His eyes flew open and alarms started going off as he fought to get out of where ever the hell he was.
He body was wracked with tremors as his tiger fought to get free, the need to escape was strong. Firm hands held him down from all sides but there was that voice again telling him to settle, that he was safe and in a hospital. As the words permeated through the fog, he began to calm down and the medical staff began to assess what damage he may have done to himself during his struggle.
Frantic green eyes searched the room for anyone that was familiar someone that could help him understand why he was in a hospital. Looking to his right he finally latched on the one face he knew and could admit that he was more than relieved to see. Gibbs.
He had no idea what was going on but one look into the pools of blue he knew he was not alone and from the tired look on his face, Gibbs had been there for quite some time. Did that mean he had been there for a while? He tried to talk but was unable to do more than grunt around the ventilator in his mouth.
“Hey, Tony, it’s ok. You’re at Walter Reed.” Gibbs worked on keeping his voice calm not letting any of the fear and anger he had been warring with for the past three days to escape. Relief was in the lead as Tony was finally waking up…three days…three days he had been hoping for this and he was having a hard time remaining calm.
“You were hurt, but doing ok. If you calm down and let the people here look at you, maybe the tube can come out. You gotta relax first.” Gibbs voice was steady as he spoke; his hand absently stroked the younger man’s hair off his forehead. “There you go - that’s better.” He gave Tony a small smile and the fear began to disappear from Tony’s eyes.
His eyes locked on Jethro’s as unnamed nurses and doctors poked and prodded ensuring he hadn’t done too much damage. Tony’s mind was swirling with questions and struggling to remember what had happened to end up there. Everything was fuzzy and so disjointed in his mind he had no true idea of what had happened.
His heart was pounding as he struggled to remember…anything and he was trying to do what Jethro had asked, but calm was not something he was able to obtain at the moment. The last thing he could vaguely remember was a meeting with Fornell and he had no idea how that landed him here.
Time stood still for both men each lost in their own thoughts and fears as the doctors rushed around the injured man checking his sutures, IVs and finally removing the breathing tube. Neither was sure where to begin once left alone.
Tony finally broke the silence, his voice rough. “What happened to me?” He pointed his head down his body to the mass of bandages that seemed to be everywhere. “I don’t remember this…anything.” His eyes closed as he struggled with the thoughts swirling in his head. “I hurt fucking everywhere…how can I not remember? I know what that means…I was drugged, but how? When? Who?” His breath was ragged as he was finally able to put voice to some of his thoughts.
Gibbs had dreaded this moment though there was nothing he could do to dispel the facts. He just had to make damn sure that his words for once spoke volumes because Tony was going to need more than a functional mute.
“You’re right, you were drugged and it seems that after the meeting with Fornell at the Navy Yard you opted to go for a run to clear your head.” Looking to make sure that Tony was ok, “Was actually a drug mix.”
“Ketamine? Rohypnol?” Tony tilted his head. “To get it that accurate they would have had to have seen me shift before, so that they would know what they were dealing with.”
“I agree. You have run there a few times since you’ve been here, we are going with the fact that you were chosen.”
“Looks that way. I interrupted her.”
“Were there two of them?”
Gibbs hesitated on his answer. “Didn’t see anyone else.”
Tony’s brow furrowed as he tried to piece together what he was told, wishing that he could fill in the blanks, but all he had was a head full of blanks.
Gibbs watched carefully knowing that at any moment Tony was going to put a few pieces together and realize the implications of the partner not being there. There was no way this was a chance meeting; it had been planned.
“Were we wrong? That there really is only one?”
“Don’t think we’re wrong Tone.” Not even realizing what he had called the younger man.
Tony so lost in thought trying to put the pieces together so that they made sense. That is when he realized. “She wanted me…fuck…” He all but whispered.
Reaching for the younger man’s hand not caring at all what anyone thought and not willing to hide what he was feeling. “That’s what we think. We’ll find her Tone, make her pay.”
“I’m a cop for fuck sake! This isn’t supposed to happen to me. I’m supposed to be aware of my fucking surroundings.” He all but shouted. “How am I supposed to be effective if I can’t even fucking take care of myself?”
Not willing to let the man even set one foot down that path Gibbs narrowed his eyes and looked at the man. “So, you’re omniscient now? You can sense the motives of everyone you come in contact with?” Pausing briefly to let the words start to sink in. “And that means of course that you can overcome drugs that are injected, well hell I just bet you have a bat symbol on your chest too. DO NOT think for one minute that this is your fault.”
“You being a cop does not make your impervious to danger or being a victim. If this same thing happened to someone else would you think this way?”
Tony glared at the older man as he managed to answer through his clenched jaw. “No-“
“There are no buts Tony, she drugged you. Planned this, watched and waited for you and there was no way in hell that you or any of us could have prevented that nor could we have known. And you had absolutely no control over this or your body for fucks sake. YOU WERE DRUGGED!”
“Doesn’t fucking change how I feel Jethro.”
“No, I don’t imagine it does, but that doesn’t change the fact that you need to remember that. You are not the first cop, agent or even soldier to be taken and tortured. And make no mistake about it, you were tortured.”
“And I can’t remember a mother fucking detail! And yes, there is a part of me that is relieved by that, But I have these brief…very brief flashes of memory and it is fucking pissing me off that I can’t do anything to help end this.”
“I can’t describe her…how she looks…height…coloring…all I see if a blob.”
“No you can’t. But neither can I. All I could see was you…lying there…I smelled your blood Tony. I needed to get to you and that was all I could think of, not what she looked like or any details…you. There was blood all over the ground. I tried to stop the bleeding, but there were so many wounds I didn’t know which to stop.”
“I could have lost you…”
Tony snapped out of his own pity party by the sheer desolation in Jethro’s voice, the unfiltered pain that was covering the man. “I’m here. Injured, bloodied, battered…damaged…but I am alive Jethro. You rescued me and did what needed to be done.”
“But nothing. I am here. Guess it’s not the best time to declare our intentions huh?”
Gibbs gave a weak smirk. “No. But considering it’s me I suppose this fits. I won’t blow smoke up your ass and tell you I didn’t fight this, but even before finding you and feeling my heart stop when I thought I wasn’t going to make it in time, I realized that fighting it was futile.”
“I’m not an easy man and I know we have a lot to sort out and talk about, because you are moving to DC…period.” Blue eyes narrowed possessively. “So, you wanna give a slightly battered, bastard of a Marine a chance?”
Tony knew his answer from the moment he met the man and only one word encompassed everything.
Gibbs all but roared. “Damn straight.” Leaning over placed a kiss on Tony’s lips, he whispered. “Mine.”
To say that the tension in the bullpen was heavy would be an understatement. There were no new leads on the serial killers and concurrently there was nothing they could pin on Ari. It was as though he was doing exactly what he said he was.
Director David kept assuring them that his son was in fact getting ready to place the Hamas at their feet and take down the entire cell in three states. That his daughter was Ari’s handler and had been watching him exclusively, noting nothing out of the ordinary. No one could argue with that as unfortunately they had found nothing, Ari was doing exactly what he said he was doing.
Gibbs was more of a bastard than normal mostly because Tony wasn’t there helping them. He was the one who put the pieces of the puzzle together and made the connections between the kills. He had been out of the hospital for two weeks and going through therapy, but the knife work that bitch had done on him needed more extensive therapy and healing. Gibbs had arranged for him to stay at his house, as if he had any other choice in the matter as far as he was concerned.
That was the only thing keeping him sane, the fact that every night he was able to go home to Tony. That centered him like nothing else. The younger man insisted on going over every new fact or bit of evidence they uncovered hoping that he could help find the one thing that could end this for all concerned.
Gibbs’ was relieved the younger man’s nightmares were coming with less frequency and severity. He was thankful that Tony trusted him enough to let him comfort him. Though this was by no means the way he wanted them to come together, it was the best thing that could have happened.
He understood Tony’s frustrations at his lack of memory about the event, and tried to assuage the guilt that came with it. Being an investigator, he felt that he should have been able to push past everything done to him in that moment and pick out anything that would give them a way to find the perp.
Therefore, when Tony’s anger came out in force he was there to bring him back down to the reality and do whatever he could to ease the guilt, the pain and the uncertainty that accompanied the aftermath. Tony’s injuries were severe and forced them to hold off on the physical side of their relationship much to the frustration of both of them. However, they were opening up and talking, though not a strong point for either of them, still together they seemed to do it quite well.
Now all they needed to do was catch the killers, prove that Ari was not quite all that everyone seemed to believe he was and they could go on with their lives together. Tonight however Gibbs was pissed. His gut was telling him they were headed into hell and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
They were missing something and he was certain that it was staring them in the face. But no matter how many times they all went over the evidence there was nothing that jumped out at any one of them. He could only hope that when it happened he would be able to keep his team, his pack basically, safe from harm.
Ari watched as they loaded the drone with the dirty bomb wishing there was a way he could get word to his handler or his contacts that this was taking place. It was a deviation from what had originally been planned and he was by no means comforted by this. And as of yet there had been no chance to get away and warn anyone.
Playing his role, he directed the men to guard the perimeter as well as the roof. There was activity in every corner of the warehouse and there was a part of him that couldn’t help watch in fascination as they moved under his directive. He had taken the disorganized group and turned them into a force to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately that had made them a bit more dangerous than he had originally intended, but he needed to make a name for himself and he had certainly done that. Now however he needed to regain control and quickly before this escalated into more than he had actually intended.
Stealing the drone was a definite need; however, the dirty bomb was an improvisation that he hadn’t bargained for. One of ‘his’ people had taken it upon himself to show him that he had initiative and had procured the bomb, if the stakes weren’t so high, he would be rather pleased with the man.
His enthusiastic protégé had also found a target that would be perfect for the message the Hamas wanted to send. What could be better than a dock full of civilians welcoming returning soldiers from five different ships? It would definitely send a message and the aftershocks that followed would be far reaching.
However, this was not the outcome that he wanted; his job was to end this Hamas faction in order to save lives, this new wrinkle was about to risk more lives than he was comfortable with. He looked around assessing the room and the players and finally saw a moment. There was not going to be time to contact everyone, but he was able to send a text message to Ziva and prayed that would be enough.
Gibbs drove like a bat out of hell, not even noticing that his three subordinates were hanging on for dear life. The anonymous tip was not a guaranteed fact or lead but they really couldn’t afford not to look into it. McGee had done some of his magic and the call had come from a warehouse near the docks, which gave more credence to the call.
They had no time to waste if they wanted to stop this and all they had to go on was the fact that the drone was to be launched today near the warehouse district. The last location that they had for Ari’s op was in that same district. Seemed that the Feebs pet project was playing dirty.
No surprise as far as he was concerned, but there was no way in hell he was going to inform Fornell or anyone about this tip. The way they were jumping in defense of Ari was utter bullshit and maybe this way he would catch him with his pants down. He had already attempted to kill Tony and Abby and for that alone he needed to pay.
Glancing towards the backseat briefly, “McGee, you gonna be able to work that thing-a-ma-jig?”
McGee hesitated for a moment chewing on his cheek nervously.
“Yes Boss. It might take me time for me to jam all three radio frequencies…but yes I can do it.”
“Good. Need you to be prepared if they get that thing launched before we take them down. Not sure how reliable the tip is - we need to be prepared for anything.”
They pulled into the alley near the area they where they traced the phone call’s origin and exited the car, grabbing vests, rifles and extra ammo from the trunk.
Stan had been looking around. “It’s going to take hours to search these warehouses, boss.”
Gibbs turned to Kate. “Gimme the shotgun.”
He fired a shot at a streetlight, and then pumped the gun again. An armed man leaned out from one of the rooftops shouting a warning. Setting the rifle Gibbs took aim at him and fired watching the man fall. He spotted another man on the rooftop who looked over in alarm.
“Stan, take the fire escape,” Gibbs ordered. “Kate, with me. McGee! Start jamming!”
The man on the rooftop pulled aside a canvas tarpaulin uncovering the drone and readied it for takeoff. The team took off running down the alley as the Hamas operative opened his flight control module and prepared it for use. Stan made quick work of climbing the fire escape wanting to put an end to this before the drone ever had a chance to take off.
Reaching the entrance to the warehouse Kate followed Gibbs’ lead as they entered. They wanted to stop the drone even before it got off the ground and all they could hope was that they are giving McGee enough time to find and jam the frequencies.
Unfortunately, one of the guards spotted them and opened fire. Ducking behind the fake police car, they managed to return fire. McGee heard the gunfight and ducked low behind the agency car while his fingers flew over the keyboard doing his damndest to locate the proper frequencies so he could prevent anything happening with the drone.
The pilot of the carefully picked up the human finger that had been on ice and placed the fingertip on the module’s sensor pad allowing the start sequence to begin. He had already placed it at the edge of the building to take flight once the drone was started.
The firefight inside the warehouse continued as Kate and Gibbs maintained their cover and returned fire. The terrorists began to dart in between packing cases intent on ending the battle. They split up and one continued to fire upon the trapped NCIS agents as the other shifted his position and fired at McGee.
McGee heard a noise and looked up to see the drone take off in flight. “Boss, they fired the drone!”
“Jam it, McGee.”
“I can do this,” McGee told himself as he tried the first frequency. The control module reported a “negative data link”. The drone continued its flight towards its intended target flying low over the water.
The flight control software showed a downloaded video image with a red X in place as the man used a joystick and the keyboard to steer the flying bomb. He smiled as he watched it encroach upon what he knew to be a waiting crowd ready to welcome home their heroes.
Stan finally reached the top of his climb and panted with exertion. He peered over the edge. “Got one down, boss,” he reported when he saw the first man Gibbs had shot. “No visual on anyone else.”
Gibbs and Kate had finally dealt with the men inside and made their way towards the roof.
“Let’s do it.” Kate opened the door carefully letting Gibbs step out onto the roof.
Stan climbed over the edge of the roof and silently dropped down to the asphalt as a terrorist opened fire on Gibbs. Gibbs grunted as he dove for cover. Kate fired the shotgun hoping to draw fire away from Gibbs giving him a chance to find his footing. She saw Stan approaching using the rooftop structures as cover.
Gibbs managed to get his footing when he heard the terrorists shouting instructions to one another nearby. As if in a synchronized move, Stan, Kate and Gibbs all opened fire on the terrorist holding the machine gun and watched him fall to the ground. The flight controller spots Gibbs approaching him and he momentarily releases the controls to pick up his gun. Stan wastes no time and shoots him from the side.
With all of the terrorist neutralized, the three of them approached the flight control module and watch in horror as the drone moved closer to its target.
“McGee, this thing is still flying!” Gibbs shouted.
McGee was furiously working down on the street. “OK, one freq down, two to go.” From a warehouse window, someone opened fire on McGee. He quickly dodged for cover further behind the car, leaving his laptop and the control module a few feet away as he returned their fire. However, the terrorist shot at the flight control module knowing without that the agents had little chance of stopping the drone.
“Boss, one of them shot my transmitter!”
Stan and Gibbs were watching the video screen. “You know how to fly this thing?” Stan asked.
“No, but I know how to crash it.” Stepping back, he shot the control module several times. They watched in relief as an eruption of water exploded where the drone went down.
“McGee! You OK?” Gibbs called out.
“I have one terrorist inside. I don’t know if I got him, but he stopped shooting.”
“Hold your position. We’ll flush him.”
Stan and Gibbs reload with their last clip. Kate shook her head when they silently inquired if she had any left. The rooftop door slowly swung open, and the remaining terrorist took aim at Gibbs. Spotting him Kate shouts. “SHOOTER!” as she leapt to block the shot with her body. The bullet finding its mark she fell to the ground.
Both men turn and returned fire killing the shooter. Kneeling down in front of Kate Gibbs gently turned her over breathing a sigh of relief that the vest did its work and prevented the bullet’s entry.
Stan pulled her gently into a sitting position. “You OK?”
Kate groaned in pain. “I just got shot at point-blank range, Burley. What do you think?”
“You’re not gonna be going to Pilates class tomorrow?”
She winced as they both helped her to her feet. “Easy, Kate.” Gibbs said gently.
She faced Gibbs and grinned. Stan chuckled as he stood behind her grinning widely. “You did good.
“For once,” Gibbs says with a smirk. “Burley is right.”
Kate chuckles. “Wow, I thought I’d die before I ever got a compli…”
A single shot rang out as a blood spot appeared in the middle of Kate’s forehead and Stan’s face is covered in blood spatter and brain matter as Kate’s lifeless body falls to the ground blood pooling behind her head. Her eyes were open and looking up into the sky.
Stan looked over at the distant rooftops as Gibbs trained his gun but couldn’t find a target. “Ari,” he whispered.
Gibbs walked back and forth in the elevator, wanting to punch the wall and find an outlet for all the rage that had built up inside. He was livid. God damned FBI was still hemming and hawing stating that he really had no proof who shot Kate. In fact, they were damn near ready to give him a fucking medal for managing to warn them about the change in the attacks.
If no one was going to fucking listen then he was going to have to take matters into his own hands. He was going to use the fact that they had a new Director to his advantage. Hell he had a past with Sheppard, one that he would rather forget, but he knew her and how to get around her and would use whatever means he had at his disposal.
Stan was working towards tracking down Ari’s handler as McGee was trying to find anything that they could use to track him down from the warehouse. The bullpen was silent as each of them worked towards finding Kate’s killer.
They were all tired, hurting and pissed and what they needed to heal that was still out of reach, they needed closure and they needed it now. They were unfortunately putting aside the serial to concentrate on this knowing that there was a small opportunity of time before Ari all but disappeared whether by the FBI’s choice or his own.
Fortunately, Tony understood of their change in focus and lent his talents to the hunt as well. He had had McGee set up their house with everything that Tony would need to contribute from home. As much as he would like him here, Tony wasn’t quite ready and he wasn’t going to push. He was just glad to have Tony helping.
What he really wanted was for life to get normal, or as normal as life could get. Ari dealt with and the serial solved so that finally he and Tony could get the time that they needed to explore one another and their relationship. He needed it and Tony needed it…but now was not the time for him to think about it. Squaring his shoulders he exited the elevator intent on finishing what Ari started.
Ziva did her best to console Ari who was pacing in her hotel room.
“Ari, I am certain that we will be able to clear your name and straighten this out.”
“Ziva, do you really think anyone will give me the time to present my side, the truth that I did not shoot their agent.” He shook his head. “They have made their mind up; Gibbs has closed his mind to any other possibility.”
“Then we must open it. Show him he is wrong.”
“How do you propose I do that? I can’t show my face anywhere without fear that I may end up with a bullet between my eyes. I do not have a death wish. I need to contact our father, tell him what is happening. Maybe he can find a way to help me.”
She needed to prevent that phone call at any cost. She had her own tale that she was weaving for their father and Ari’s version would ruin everything. “I will call him. You need to be careful Ari; they may be tracing your calls. Until we get this straightened out you need to lay low.”
“Please Ari; I can not lose you as well.” Her eyes turned towards her brother pleading with him.
“I cannot stay hidden forever Ziva, I have a life to live. I want to return home, see father and find my way in Mossad, let mother set me up for marriage. I need to live. I have been here for months for this op, alone here until you came. I am ready for this to be over.”
“I understand. I assure you that we will figure out something to end this soon. I too want to return home and take my place with father. We need to be at his side. Let me help you Ari.”
“Fine Ziva, I will hide for now and give you a chance to find a way to prove my innocence.” Sighing he fell on the bed. “But please hurry, I can’t help but feel I have very little time to do so.”
Tony was going through everything catalogued into evidence searching for anything that was going to help Jethro. He knew that meant that he was living in a bit of denial regarding what happened to him, but with everything that had happened and Kate’s death, he was more than fine with that.
It wasn’t as if he had any real memories of it, but the flashes that he would get were wreaking havoc on him. He wanted to remember enough to get a clear picture and deal with it. Somehow, the unknown was harder to deal with.
Logically he knew that nothing was his fault, that he could not have prevented this, but the man, the cop, the tiger were all at war with that. He needed to get a grip on this and let go of the guilt. He had tried to put himself in the role of the victim and remember all the things that he knew to say to reassure them that this was in no way their fault.
He finally understood the look of disbelief in the eyes of the people he had told that to over the years; their desire to believe what he said and the reality that that was just not going to happen. At least not right away and for some he doubted they ever believed it.
He read the report on his injuries, saw the detailed description on the mix of drugs that he had been given and the pictures that had been taken. Maybe it was something he shouldn’t have done, maybe it would have been better to leave it in the unknown but he simply wasn’t wired that way.
He needed to know and he seriously wished he didn’t. This woman hadn’t just carved up his body; she had played with him, fucked him and planned to kill him. Now he needed to know why. He didn’t think it would solve anything but that didn’t change his wanting to know why.
She had deviated from their norm…for him. That didn’t make him feel special - it fucking pissed him off. As much as he was trying to get a grip on his emotions it seemed like everything pissed him off and that pissed him off even more.
To be fair Jethro was weathering his storms well and had not hinted at all that he needed to get over it. No, those thoughts were all on him. He felt that being a man…a detective he should be able simply to let it go and indeed get over it.
He was struggling with the fact that he couldn’t and the realization that he really didn’t know why. Jethro had offered up the fact that maybe he needed a confrontation of sorts, a way to get everything on the inside out. He had all but looked at Jethro as if the man had two heads that was rich coming from him.
But the logical side of his brain knew what he was trying to say and believed he was right. All he had was the hazy images, his scars and the incident report to put his own story together, add a vivid imagination and that made it ten times worse.
He had no doubts that he would still be struggling with everything even if he had been fully cognizant of his attack, but if that were the case he would also have clear knowledge of who had done this to him and that would give him an actual face on which to focus his rage.
Right now he had nothing, he wasn’t comfortable in crowds and being out of the safety of the house if he was honest and he knew that was where a great deal of his anger came from. He was more than capable of defending himself, but the fact that his attacker was a woman that he would no more be able to pick out in a room disturbed him far more than he would have ever imagined.
He hated feeling this paralyzed and he had no idea what exactly he could do about it. Because if he couldn’t get past this, what was he going to do? Right now, he was more than willing to place all his faith in Jethro’s belief that he could do it and would when the time came.
Therefore, for now he was concentrating on healing his body and now helping in the hunt for Kate’s killer. If that meant he could live in denial for a little bit longer, he would take it.
McGee had managed to hack into the FBI and retrieve phone records from Ari’s phone. There was no reason to get the files regarding the man as Gibbs had stated by this time they would only get what they wanted seen. Not that he believed there was a conspiracy, but more along the lines that since they believed him innocent they would have further hidden anything that would lead anyone to him.
However apparently they did not consider past phone records important enough to remove or that anyone else would deem them important. McGee back traced all the numbers and ruled out all the ones that were no longer of consequence and that left three that needed further looking into.
Now he was attaching programs to the numbers that would let him know if the phone turned on and immediately begin to triangulate its location. The hope was that one of those numbers was that of his handler and they would be able to track Ari through him. Once they found Ari, it was possible they could end this.
McGee kept searching through the minutia that had been gathered since this whole Hamas/FBI bullshit undercover farce and was lost in cyber space for a moment when a pop up showed on his screen.
“Boss.” McGee turned towards Gibbs. “We have a hit on one of the numbers from Ari’s records, tracing it now.”
Moving towards the younger agent Gibbs looked over his shoulder at the screen. “How long ‘til we have a location?”
“Need a couple minutes Boss, but it is still giving us an area where they are calling from. But we don’t know who or what we are looking for?”
“Won’t matter. They are not who we are searching for, merely a means to get to Ari. We’ll watch and observe until we have a more clear idea.”
“Stan. Grab your gear and head out towards the Embasero Hotel. McGee will keep you updated as the location becomes clearer. Keep your eyes peeled for anyone who looks out of place or even like they may be meeting someone.”
“Got it Boss.” Stan made his way to the elevator.
“Gonna be close to looking for a needle in a haystack Boss. We have no idea who his handler is.”
“They’re gonna be set on getting Ari out of the country as quickly as possible. Someone is going to need to provide some sort of documentation for him so he can get out. Won’t be near as hard to spot as we think.”
“Hope so Boss.”
Stan parked a bit away from the hotel; his eyes constantly scanned the area looking for any detail that would lead him to whom he was searching. McGee had kept him abreast of the trace and the fact that the call was coming from the hotel.
He watched the few people that had gathered outside and so far, no one had even blipped his radar. Stepping out of the car he slowly made his way towards the entrance. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched a tall dark man speak with agitation at a much smaller woman.
What caught his eye was the Star of David around her neck, that in and of itself wasn’t that unusual but the way she was holding it like a talisman for some reason struck him as odd. He moved closer to them, intent on picking up part of their conversation.
He pulled out his phone and pretended to be engrossed in it as he listened.
“Dana will be here shortly to make an exchange.”
“Is that really necessary Michael?”
“Yes. Think of the whole picture. It is a necessary piece of the puzzle, without it the picture continues to beg for a finish.”
The woman sighed heavily almost petulant in her manner. “Fine.”
“Soon this will be over my love and your life will be your own again.”
Stan watched as the dark haired woman walked off. Keeping one eye on her as she walked down the hall and the other on the man who headed out the Hotel door, he quickly called Gibbs.
“May have a lead. Gonna keep my eye on a woman that was here. There was some sort of exchange taking place.”
“Keep me posted. Stay safe.”
“Will do Boss.” Stan started in the direction the woman headed making sure to check all avenues. He reached the entrance to the pool and carefully looked through the door seeing her swimming in the water.
He continued watching when another woman that could almost be her twin asked to pass. Smiling sheepishly to cover the fact that he was watching a woman swim he moved to the side awkwardly and opened the door for her.
He continued his vigil and continued watching as the other woman emerged from the dressing room wearing a white dressing gown. He watched as she asked the woman in the pool if she can join her and heard her reply that this would be her final lap and then the pool was all hers.
The new woman, whom he was beginning to believe was the mysterious Dana, hung up her dressing gown on a hook next to one that was already there. He snapped some pictures with his phone of both woman and the robes hanging side by side.
He continued watching as they switched places in the water and the woman he originally started watching exited the pool and went over to the hanging robes grabbing one and pulling it on before heading to the showers.
He took a moment to play back the pictures he took and believed that they were switching robes. It would make sense and a very slick way to do an exchange without raising any alarms. Now he needed to find a way to see just what it was that they were exchanging.
Taking a gamble, he rushed into the pool area as the woman he now thought of as Dana continued her swim. Taking off his coat he hung it up next to the robe, did a quick search of the pockets, and hit pay dirt. There was a passport with Ari’s picture with the name, "Rene Saurel.”
He quickly exited the hotel before being noticed calling Gibbs to fill him in.
Ari had picked up and put down the phone at least twenty times debating repeatedly if on the merit of his idea. Honestly, he wasn’t sure but neither did he trust inaction. He felt that his hiding was actually confirming what Agent Gibbs believed, that he had killed their agent.
He couldn’t say anything to the contrary, really. He had no alibi and according to Ziva, all evidence pointed to him. How that was he had no clue, he didn’t do it nor did he take a shot at the woman they called Abby.
Someone was out to get him and he didn’t know whom or why he needed help though something was telling him that Ziva wouldn’t be enough. He has no illusions that the FBI would be able to help him. Yes, they would send him away under the guise of protection, but that in fact was not the same as clearing his name.
He did not want to be placated; he wanted his name cleared and those that chose to drag it through hell punished. No, his only chance was Agent Gibbs. The man may be pissed but he instinctively knew that he believed in justice.
Sighing he picked up the phone and dialed the number he had looked up earlier hoping that he wasn’t making a huge mistake.
“Agent Gibbs…I need to talk to you.” He started to rethink the wisdom of the call as the silence stretched out.
Tony glared at the man in front of him. “There is no fucking way I am letting you meet with Ari alone.” His voice was low and dangerous. “I will be here and that is that.”
“Tony, we’re still not sure whether it was you or Abby who was the target in the lab. Do you really think I am going to put you at risk?” Gibbs took a step forward.
“And if you think you are any less at risk than you’re delusional.” The two men were now standing nose to nose neither backing down. “I’ll be in the shadows, but I will be there.”
“You’re a stubborn son of a bitch.” Gibbs growled.
“You have no idea.” The grin Tony that graced Tony’s face was feral. “So…where are we doing the meet and greet?”
Tony held up his hand. “No Jethro, we do it my way or I call Fornell and spill the beans.”
“Because if our positions were reversed and I was asked to meet with the one I believed killed one of mine, there is no way in hell I would share that information. I would want the first crack.” Tony sighed. “I get it, I do. You want to protect me, but I’m a big boy Jethro. I’ve been through hell lately and I know that you have seen the good, the bad and the ugly.”
“I am aware that I have some things that I am still working on…I’m getting there…just not quite. But I can’t let you do this alone. This …this thing between us may be new and we’ve really not had a chance to do much of anything about it, but I can’t take a chance with you either.” Nervously running his hands through his hair, “I need to be there.”
Seeing the warring emotions in Tony’s eyes, he knew this was a pivotal moment in their relationship and in Tony’s recovery and damned if he was going to be the one to fuck that up. Moreover, if he were honest, the man was right; he needed some sort of back up.
“Alright…I want you on my six. You stay out of sight and ready to pounce.”
Breathing a sigh of relief at the easy acquiescence before what the man said filtered through. He managed to look indignant as he huffed. “Pounce…really? Kittens pounce and I…am no kitten. I swoop, seize, ambush, dive and gracefully tackle.”
“Semantics.” Leaning over to kiss the man gently, “Come on, let’s get that fancy camera you’ve got set up in the basement. I want to record this meeting. I’ll have the tape recorder out in plain view, state that the meeting is being recorded, and give a vague gesture, which will cover the visual as well. Since he stated he’s coming to tell his side I don’t think he’ll mind.”
“Either way I want all our bases covered. Visual and audio in case this all goes sideways. You can be in the dark corner by the water heater, no one will see you but it gives you a great vantage point.”
“How long do we have?”
“Said he’d be here at dusk. That gives us roughly two hours to get it all set and tested.”
“Alright, let’s get this show on the road.”
Ziva pulled onto the street where Ari was staying surprised to see him getting into a cab. “The fool. Where is he going?”
Making sure she was well behind the cab she was puzzled to see them head to Alexandria. Then all the pieces started to fall in place…he was going to Agent Gibbs house. She needed to think quickly, he was about to ruin everything.
There was really only one reason that he would go there and that would be to clear his name. He was going to lay it all out for the man and with everything that she knew about the former Marine, at the very least, he would hear him out.
The cold fact was that Ari indeed did not kill their agent and most assuredly, the man would be able to hear the truth in Ari’s voice when he told his story. This would all go to hell very quickly if she couldn’t manage to stop him.
There was really only one solution that she could see and that would be to kill Ari. How she was going to do that before he arrived at his destination was another thing. There was no way to get close to him without revealing herself and that would be fine considering he would be dead before he could put all the facts together.
Nevertheless, there was always that small chance that he could get away and that was simply not an option. It would appear that she was going to need to take a few liberties with her already convoluted tale that she had planned to weave to her father.
Somehow, she needed a way to convince him that Gibbs had killed Ari in cold blood…that would work. Then she would be called home to take her rightful place. She had more than paid her dues. Nodding her head as the plan started to form she knew that everything hinged on her accuracy and quick movements.
There was no doubt in her mind that Agent Gibbs would be armed, he was meeting with a man that he was certain killed his agent…but would she be able to take out Ari and then him before he had a chance to react?
There would certainly be a moment of disbelief and slight confusion as Ari fell to the floor and that would possibly by her enough time to exert some control over the other man’s reactions. This was nothing like she had wanted this to go. Her plan was to eliminate Ari of course, but she had wanted to twist the knife in Ari a bit more.
Everything she had envisioned was no longer viable and though she had managed, barely, to come up with an alternative plan there was no denying that she was pissed that her ultimate goal was now in ruins. Unfortunately, she would not be able to extend the pain she had wished to inflict on her brother nor would he be aware that it was she who masterminded the hell he was now caught in.
Tony dressed all in black took his place in the corner hidden by the dark and the shadow of the water heater. They had done the camera test and found the best spot to capture nearly the whole basement and luck being on their side for the moment a place that it would be concealed. Now hopefully their luck would hold.
By no means was Tony comfortable with this meeting, there were just far too many variables and for the most part Ari was an unknown factor. There was also the concern that if in fact the man was being truthful, who would want to frame him in this way? Many things just weren’t adding up.
However, he was more than prepared for every contingency; with two guns and two knives he was not letting anyone hurt Jethro. His green eyes glued to the man who was seemingly at ease as he methodically sanded the wood on the sawhorse in front of him. He noticed the slight shift in the older man’s stance at the same time he heard the footsteps on the floor above him. Game time.
Gibbs lifted his head expectantly as Ari walked warily down the stairs.
“I hope you understand my hesitancy in being here. Your reputation precedes you and those who have the ‘pleasure’ of meeting you quickly learn that that reputation has been earned.”
“You wanted to meet Haswari. State your case before I come to my senses.”
“Right to the point I see Agent Gibbs. No pleasantries or small talk with you.”
Gibbs moved to stand in front of the man menace leaking from every pore of his body. “I make small talk with friends. You. Are. Not. My. Friend. Now tell me your damn story. I will be recording it.” Giving a vague gesture, “For posterity at the very least.”
Backing up from the irate Marine, he sighed heavily. “Is it too much to hope that you will listen?” Shaking his head, he began talking. “I did not intend on flying the drone into a crowd of people at the dock. It was never my intent to harm innocents in this op.” He turned and met the blue eyes that were boring into him. “And I did not kill your agent.”
“I do not understand why someone would go to so much trouble to plan all this and have me as the fall guy. I have only been in the US for less than a year and the only people I have associated with have been the few that could get me into the Hamas, the FBI and my family. There is no one that would benefit from me taking the fall.”
“Why should I believe you when you can’t even give me a reason why someone would set you up to be a patsy?”
“Because I did not kill Agent Todd.” He all but shouted.
Gibbs tilted his head looking at the man in front of him seemingly able to see through to his soul at least that was what it felt like. Ari never flinched hoping and praying that the man would find something that would show that he was telling the truth.
“I believe you-“ Stunned, he watched Ari fall to the floor blood pooling around his head. Reaching for his gun his eyes searched for the threat as a small dark haired woman came down the stairs.
“Place your gun on the floor Agent Gibbs.”
Tony stood silently as he watched the woman come down the stairs and Jethro placed his gun gently on the ground his eyes never leaving the new threat. There was something about her that seemed vaguely familiar…but even as he searched his memory, he could not come up with where he had met her before.
His instincts were to stay hidden and wait for the right time to show himself, she was a threat, of that he was sure, but he needed to know her end game. She had just managed to blow all their suppositions regarding Ari out of the water and right now, he had no idea what to think.
What reason could she have for killing Ari? And why here in front of an armed Federal Agent - not to mention that she called Jethro by his name so she knew of him. Of all the people, they had talked to and researched over this terrorist threat he could not remember her…but still he couldn’t shake the fact that he had met her in some capacity.
She entered the basement her eyes glancing over the entire room and landing on Ari before she turned them on Gibbs.
“Pity that you did not listen to him earlier.”
“It would seem that way.”
‘It is of no matter, he was always destined to die. You however were not. I had great plans for you and me.”
Gibbs let his eyes travel over her before shrugging. “Not really my type.”
Her eyes narrowed at the slur. “Do not be obtuse. I wanted to join your team, perhaps bring a bit of Mossad skills to your inferior agents. I knew of the death of your wife and daughter and planned to use that to my advantage, endearing myself to you as it were. I would have shined and made my father proud. I would have been the feather in his cap, the daughter that outshone the rest. But now, I will have to weave a tale of sorrow.”
“And just how do I fit into that tale.”
“You will be the star. I shall tell him that you killed Ari in cold blood not believing his story, though true. That I avenged his death and brought honor to our family. Your agents will be shocked by the callous nature of your actions and begin to question one another.”
Gibbs shook his head. “No. Not gonna happen.”
“You think you can stop me?” She sneered. “You think that they will not believe me?” She began to pace the basement, the gun never wavering from her target. “They have seen you obsess over your woman’s death…it will not take long before they lose their faith.”
Watching everything that was transpiring Tony found it far more difficult to stay hidden, to not jump out and take her down. They had more than enough proof to do so…but there was something niggling at him that kept him planted right where he was.
Taking a breath to steady his nerves he was suddenly assaulted by flashes of his attack…all in Technicolor and every vivid detail was laid bare to him. It nearly brought him to his knees as he struggled to keep his breathing quiet.
His hand clenched in a fist as the other fought not to grip his Sig too tightly. What the fuck brought this on? Then he smelled it…her…it was her. She was the one who attacked him…carved his skin…and raped him. He wasn’t sure how he was managing to keep everything under control at the moment, but for Jethro he had too.
She was not going to take any more from him than she already had and she was NOT going to lay one finger on Jethro. He had to keep it together…there would be plenty of time to fall gloriously apart later, when Jethro was safe, when he could finally put this behind him.
Realizing that he had stopped paying attention to what she was saying he shook the cobwebs out of his head and put his game face on. This ends now. Stepping out of the shadows his gun drawn, green eyes lit with fire that would rival those in hell as he pinned her with his gaze.
“Drop your fucking weapon.” His voice carried every bit of danger and power that coursed through his blood.
Hiding her shock her eyes glowed as she remembered their encounter. “Tiger-man we meet again.”
“I said drop the weapon.”
Gibbs watched the two of them puzzling over Tony’s demeanor.
Ziva tilted her head as she leered at Tony’s body. “You do wear clothes well, but I prefer you naked.” Raising her gun towards Gibbs’ head, “Perhaps if I threaten him you will give me a show, let me view my handiwork.”
“You’ll be dead before you even have a chance.”
Gibbs growled his anger palpable as the realization of just who was in his basement washed over him. He wanted to kill her, rip out her throat and tear her to shreds, but this…unfortunately for him and his wolf…was Tony’s kill. He knew the younger man needed to deal with this.
This was in no way how he had ever seen it happening, nor had he ever imagined that in fact they were looking for one killer. She had done her framework well, had planned it to a tee. That was her brother for fuck’s sake. Ducky was correct when he said that the serial killer had a great deal of rage, they were just a bit off on how much.
Suddenly overwhelmed with relief at their foresight to have planted the cameras and he was sure she hadn’t given the cassette recorder a great deal of thought. Who would? A few people might not even recognize an old cassette recorder. Everything would be captured here and though frankly he didn’t give a fuck about what anyone would say, it would definitely show that Tony had indeed asked her to drop her gun.
Tony never took his eyes off the bitch standing in front of him. “Why?”
“Why what? That is a vague question. Why you? Why them? Why Talia?” She shrugged. “Because I can. Because I wanted to. Because it should have been me. I was the special one…not Talia, just because you can shift does not make you better than me.”
“I will be not be overlooked any longer. Those peasants that I killed were nothing. They strutted their stuff without honor or respect. They should have been born a mundane. Every time my father looked at Ari or Talia when they shifted, I saw it. No one else did, I tried to talk to my teachers…friends…but they all left me behind. But not Michael.” She sighed. “Michael saw the beauty in me, the natural skills that I had and encouraged me to hone them.”
“He helped me with my plan to become the only child of Eli David, as it should have been from the beginning. He understands me…he loves me. He will be very disappointed in me if he ever finds out about you. You were something that surprised me Tiger-man. I did not expect to be so drawn to you…to crave you as I did and do.”
“It is unfortunate that I will have to kill you.” She grinned madly her eyes no longer holding any sort of sanity as she cocked the gun. “Strip Tiger-man, I feel the need to play once more.”
“Not a fucking chance in hell.” His aim was true and she dropped to the floor followed by the sound of his own gun falling from his hand as his knees buckled. Jethro leaped over the wood and caught Tony before he hit the ground.
“Wasn’t gonna let her touch you Jethro…couldn’t…she…I…she’s dead.”
“It’s over Tone. I’ve got you.” Wrapping his arms tightly around the younger man, he pulled him closer, knowing that shock had taken over after the adrenalin dropped. Pulling out his phone as pressed a kiss to the younger man’s temple repeating. “It’s over Tone.”
“Ducky. I need you here ASAP.”
“You alright Jethro? Is it Anthony?”
“We’re fine…but Tony’s going into shock. Long story, I’ll fill you in later. Suffice it to say that we managed to catch Kate’s killer and Tony’s attacker.” Jethro’s hand shook as the full reality hit him like a freight train. There was no way he could have explained this.
“Do I need to bring Mr. Palmer?”
“Yes. Two bodies. I’ll call Burley and have my team and Balboa’s out here. Probably call Tobias as well. This … this is beyond what we had even worked out.”
“Are you ok Jethro?”
“I will be. Just need to let this settle. Like I said Duck it’s one hell of a story, but we’re only gonna tell it once.”
“I shall be there post haste.”
“Thanks Duck.” Hanging up on the ME he quickly called Burley, relayed essentially the same details and asked him to fill in Balboa and his team as well. The essential done he quietly spoke to Tony.
“Hanging in there Tone.”
“Been better…been worse.” Shaking his head with all the energy he could muster. “This is one hell of a clusterfuck Jethro. If I hadn’t heard it all myself and then…her…I would have never believed it was possible.”
“Don’t think anyone could have foreseen this. We’re taking time off after we wrap this up. No arguments.” Holding the younger man closer, “Want time with you…time for us. I need it.”
“Not gonna argue Jethro. Better call the Feebs.”
“Yep. Next on my list.”
“Can you ask for just Fornell? I really don’t feel up to Slacks right now.”
“You got it.”
The group sat around Gibbs living room in shock at what they had watched transpire on the screen. The chilling tale was bad enough, but to hear it from the woman’s mouth was downright frightening. No one was able to speak nor could they formulate anything that could come close to reason with any action.
Abby had appointed herself as Tony’s very own teddy bear as soon as she entered the house, Gibbs didn’t even question how she knew that her brand of comfort would be welcomed…it was simply Abby. He was more relieved that whatever had held her at arm’s length away from his mate had resolved itself.
Tony was sitting as close to him as he could and Abby was helping him shield the man from anyone’s gaze. Tony was on his way to healing, but he was still holding residual anger at his inability to prevent the attack.
He was so relieved that this was finally at its end. He meant what he said to Tony, they were taking time off…by themselves. They had earned it and more importantly, they needed it. And by God they were going to get this boding between them worked out. They were not wasting any more time. He was reminded tonight of that…Shannon and Kelly…as hard as that was to hear from the bitch’s mouth it served to remind him that life was far too short.
Tobias for his part was both incensed and relieved. The facts were still astounding and hard to believe. He was glad that there was definitive proof that would clear Ari, but with that came the devastating loss that he was going to need to share with Director David.
There was no doubt that he was going to be shocked to say the very least. Certainly, his daughter had fooled everyone, but to have it spelled out to you by the death of your children was something that no one should have to endure. In one fail swoop the man was going to find out his daughter had killed her siblings in order to gain favor.
Ducky kept his vigil behind his two friends knowing that both had just about reached the end of their respective ropes. These two cases had taken their toll on everyone, but this final bit was more than either of them had anticipated.
Anthony may have found peace now, but at a cost, one that his new family would help him with. He felt no remorse at the death of the young woman that had caused his friend such anguish. The old adage that you reap what you sow was born from people like her.
Unfortunately, her siblings and the countless victims were never to know that peace, their last moments filled with terror and had no knowledge that their deaths had been avenged and justice had been served. All he could hope for was that on her journey to hell, Death took her through the long way and she experienced every level.
Burley watched Gibbs with the detective and knew that his decision to leave the MCRT would be well received. He wasn’t really cut out to watch the man’s six; he was far too intense for him. He could admit to admiration for the man as well as his tunnel vision when it came to solving the case and bringing closure.
He wanted those things as well, but he just couldn’t shut out everything else to achieve that. It was time for him to move on. The Director had mentioned the possibility of being Agent Afloat and that intrigued him. He would be the sole enforcer on a carrier, the Sherriff as it were. That would certainly relieve his stress level and should cut down on his need for Maalox.
Tony was a far better fit for the man and honestly, a better investigator than he was. He would certainly add a great deal to the team, he would be leaving it in more than capable hands. Gibbs needed a man who could stand up to him…challenge him when necessary and watch his six. His time on Team Gibbs was at an end.
McGee was horrified at the whole story. The woman was most certainly mad…but that had manifested itself into something far more sinister. This made his own issues with his family pale in comparison; of course, he had never ever even remotely felt the need to kill his sister. That was something that he couldn’t even imagine.
There were things that he had seen since working the MCRT that had made his skin crawl. But the depravity that this woman had sunk to, the demented need to remove all those shifters simply because they could shift.
He could not quite wrap his head around that, he was by no means a powerful shifter but he had always embraced his animal and in fact could not imagine being anything other than a chipmunk even if he were offered a chance to choose. It suited him.
Abby was a lover by nature, but far too many innocents had died at the hands of that woman. Her own sister and brother. She could never even harm a hair on Luca’s head. Though she herself was a full shifter, she didn’t understand that kind of deep seeded hate or jealousy.
It was a wasted emotion as far as she was concerned. But if the woman had still been alive she would have definitely used what she knew to make her disappear without a trace. OK, then she would have had to go to the nuns do some serious repenting and a ton of Hail Mary’s, but it would have been so worth it.
But for right now she would just be happy that they were all safe, that the Bossman could get his happy on with Tony and that Tony had finally been able to deal with the unknown and could now really put that behind him. Maybe she could talk Gibbs into letting her play with Slacks for a bit, they still had some unfinished business.
Tony was far too numb to feel much of anything. He had never truly imagined he would know his attacker, Jethro had firmly believed that he would but he had had his doubts. But when her scent hit him his tiger roared to life and remembered when he could not.
He needed out of here…needed Jethro…needed to run and let it all out. Everything that he had been holding inside, his anger, lack of control and fear that he was less than he really was. He needed to let it all go. Since he had killed ‘her’ he felt like he might just be able to do that.
He hadn’t admitted that not knowing was far more frightening than facing the bitch. He had survived and that was more than enough right now. At least it was a start and considering what tonight could have cost it was certainly something to hang on to.
He held Abby tightly accepting the comfort she was freely giving and feeling that surround him as if it were a tangible thing. They had come full circle since he first walked in the door of NCIS; they were family…or pack if you listened to Jethro. Either way he belonged and was grateful for that.
He had no idea where he was going to be working because he sure as hell knew he wasn’t going back to Baltimore. He could no more leave Jethro and these people than he could give up his right arm. If he felt this strongly what the fuck was it going to be like when he and Jethro actually bonded?
As tired and wrung out emotionally as he was glad that Jethro had already stated that they would be taking time off. He…they needed it.
Gibbs sat beside Tobias in the small conference room as both their Directors filled in Director David on what had occurred. To say that the man was shocked speechless was an understatement. Thankfully, Deputy Director Bodnar was able to convey their appreciation for keeping the details out of the news.
That was one thing that Gibbs had been adamant on, there was no need to drag anyone’s name through the mud considering that all parties were dead. They spun a story that stated a high-speed chase and a subsequent car explosion. May have been a bit cliché, but the public bought it and everyone could breathe easier.
Eli looked over the table. “The man…the one that Ziva refers to as Tiger-man…is he alright?” Taking a deep breath, he struggled to explain. “It is clear from the video that she had a previous…encounter with the man.” His hands were clenched tightly together as he continued. “Despite the atrocities that I’m sure were inflicted upon him, he still tried to get her to surrender. I am not sure honestly if I were in his position that I would be able to stay in control.”
“I admire that trait and just want to know that he is alright. Also, have you located Michael Rivkin? He is the one that she refers to…the ones she states accepted her.” He sighs deeply. “I fail to comprehend how she found herself to be lacking. We loved her deeply as we did her sister and her brother.”
“We never cared that she was a mundane. Her mother is a mundane…I wish to understand…”
Gibbs shook his head. “I don’t think any of us will ever be able to understand sir. It was all in her mind…how she saw herself and how she perceived that others saw her. Clearly, Michael didn’t see her as lacking. Her jealousy was deep, far deeper than anyone could have seen. She only showed you what she wanted you to see.”
Eli shook his head sadly. “It may take me a while to believe that Agent Gibbs.”
“It will take however long it takes sir. And as for your question on ‘Tiger-man’…he is doing better. There are some scars that remain both visible and hidden, but he’s getting there. He’s a good man, he may have had a part that wanted to pull the trigger indiscriminately, but that is not who he is at the core.”
“I’m glad to hear that he is on the road to recovery.” Standing he felt like he had aged ten years. “I need to make arrangements to get their bodies home. There is nothing more to say here. I must return home and begin the grieving process. I must find a way to help my wife come to terms with everything.”
“Maybe you could do with some time away yourself. Give you both some peace to reflect and grieve without having to put on a public front.” Gibbs offered knowing just how it felt to lose a child.
“Perhaps.” The door closed behind Eli leaving Gibbs and Tobias in the room alone.
“That went far better than I could have imagined.” Tobias sat back in his chair relief evident in his body language.
“Yep.” Gibbs smiled as he looked at his watch. “Gotta go.”
“Nope. Vacation.” Gibbs smirked as he walked out the door.
Stunned Tobias looked at the door that Gibbs had just walked through. “Vacation?” “Gibbs?” “Surely this is sign of the apocalypse.”
Tony looked far more relaxed than he had when they had first arrived. It had taken a week, but the shadows were disappearing and the sparkle was coming back to his green eyes. They had managed to talk about anything and everything and now all he wanted to do was finally lay claim to what was his.
He had always known he would know when the time was right, that he would sense when the healing had reached what it needed to in the younger man. When he had watched the younger man shift into the beautiful Siberian tiger to frolic in the water he knew that it was now.
He had watched him play in the waves, the play of muscles as he ran and jumped. He could see what was so alluring about the man, hell he saw that before he had even shared his second skin. Tony and his tiger were such a part of one another he wondered how he could not have seen what he was prior. But rationally he knew it was in part because he had originally fought the attraction.
No one ever said he wasn’t an idiot, but he learned from his mistakes and now here he was. They had run together as wolf and tiger on the private beach, once again he was thankful for his friends for suggesting the quiet off the beaten path getaway. They had allowed one another to become familiar with their animals reveling in the trust that came with that.
It had been a long time since his wolf had felt this comfortable with anyone and he was thoroughly enjoying the freedom that came with that. He hadn’t realized how much he had missed that sort of connection until he had it. It was reminiscent of what he had with Shannon and yet unique in its own right.
Some things remained the same; the jealousy and possessiveness. Those two things were simply part of who he was. He had been hard pressed after Tony’s attack not to stake his claim at that moment. No one should ever touch what was his.
But he held back knowing that wasn’t the right time to do it right. It was then that acknowledged he wanted it all; body, mind and soul. His blue eyes slowly traced over the man’s body as he napped in the chair. It was time for their next step and he was more than ready.
Moving closer to the object of his desire, he lowered his body into the chair with the younger man needing to feel him along the length of his body. As he settled, he allowed the scent of the younger man to surround him as he leaned in closer placing his lips on the neck in front of him.
They had kissed before and certainly, he could feel the pull towards the man, he had done that from the first moment they had met. But this…this was different. There was a charge between them that seemed to flow from within. He wrapped his arms around Tony pulling him closer against his body ready to feel their skin against one another with no barriers between them.
“I need skin Jethro.”
More than happy to oblige that request he made quick work of their clothes before taking his place back on the chair once again pulling the man tightly against his body.
“Much better.” Tony sighed.
Craving more Jethro began to run his hands along the hard planes of Tony’s body memorizing every scar, ridge and sound that came with it. The moment he had been allowed to touch, he knew that he would never be able to get enough; he was always going to want more.
Every single inch of Tony’s naked form needed to be explored and tasted and to do that he needed more room. He moved off the chair despite the whimpers from the younger man. Smirking as he rearranged Tony so that he was lying on his back in the middle of the chair and then he began to explore.
Every inch of skin was touched and tasted as he mapped the younger man’s body. He had managed to leave the cock alone for now as he traveled up onside and down another, much to the frustration of Tony, however he was ready to remedy that.
Giving himself up to Jethro’s ministrations realizing that this time he had no say in what was going to happen he let the desire, lust and passion flow through him. Truthfully, Tony had never experienced this level of intensity before and right now, every nerve ending was on fire. Dear God, what that man did to him.
Jethro‘s tongue flicked in and out of his belly button before dipping and teasing in the area underneath the younger man’s balls. Tony groaned when he felt hot breath and a heated tongue caress the sensitive area, still leaving his throbbing cock untouched.
The journey continued as he allowed his tongue to lick up the ball sack wreaking havoc on his body. Wanting more Jethro moved his tongue down further teasing the muscles of the tight puckered entrance.
“Fuck! Oh God that feels incredible.” was the last coherent thought he was able to express as Jethro’s tongue began an all-out assault on his puckered hole. Licking, teasing and pushing alternately entering the tight muscle causing massive amounts of pleasure to course through his body.
Jethro was relentless in his desire to claim every inch of the younger man and be the one to take him to the edge and back again. Keeping one hand on the man’s abdomen to still him, he used his other to grab the lube he had stashed under the chair and managed to pop the top with one hand while his tongue began thrusting in earnest in and out of the tight muscle.
Placing the bottle between his knees he liberally coated his fingers and replaced his tongue with his fingers at the same time he took Tony’s leaking cock in his mouth. The dual sensations caused the younger man’s whole body to shiver as his cock was engulfed the wet heat of Jethro’s mouth.
Immediately he thrust his fingers towards Tony’s prostate as his mouth travelled the entire length of the shaft, not stopping until his nose was buried in the coarse curls. Sucking hard, hollowing out his cheeks he began bobbing up and down on the cock as his fingers continually grazed the prostate and caused tremors throughout the younger man’s body.
Tony roared in pleasure as the intense orgasm rushed through his body and his eyes rolled back in his head. The older man continued milking him dry wanting every drop and licked him clean before releasing the now flaccid cock and gently removing his fingers from his ass.
Looking down Jethro saw the flush on his cheeks, his eyes closed; breathing rapidly with his heart pounding, he decided there was a no more beautiful or sexy sight.
“Please…I want…need more. I want you inside me Jethro.”
“Good…not ready to stop Tone. I want to feel your body tight around my cock.” Taking the lube and rubbing it on his aching member before he squeezed the base staving off his own release. He wasn’t sure how long he was going to be able to hold it off, but he sure as hell was going to try.
Jethro pushed the head of his cock past the tight muscle as Tony’s body began to accept the intrusion. Slowly inch by agonizing inch he filled Tony with his dick until it was fully buried inside the younger man. Both men trembled at the ecstasy of being joined together. There was nothing between them and the feeling was like nothing either had ever experienced before. This was what had been pulling them together since the moment they met…a connection that was more than just a mate, but a joining where you couldn’t tell where one of them began and the other ended. They were one.
Tony’s arm snaked around and grabbed Jethro’s hip pulling him impossibly tighter. Jethro began to pull out and thrust back in slowly as the tight heat of the younger man squeezed his cock. As they began to hit a rhythm Tony’s fingers ran down Jethro’s back grasping for purchase as he thrusted his ass into Jethro’s driving cock moaning as his prostate was grazed.
Jethro placed kisses all along Tony’s neck and shoulders as he thrusted harder and deeper into the other man setting a blazing inferno between the two men. Reaching down and grabbing the younger man’s cock, he began stroking it matching the same intensity as their thrusts.
“Gonna cum again… Can’t hold it.”
“Cum for me Tone.” Biting down on the man’s neck needing to mark him, he felt the warm release pour over his hand and heard Tony shouting his name. Unable to hold on as Tony’s muscles contracted around his cock he sent his release into the younger man’s body with Tony’s name on his lips. Collapsed together on the chair, they struggled to gain control over their senses.
Looking at the smiling face and the sparking green eyes of the younger man, he managed to gasp out.