- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Discussion - Murder
- Hate Crimes
- No Beta
- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
- Crime Drama
- Urban Fantasy
Tony found himself wondering how he had been able to ignore the man in the corner. There was a lot of presence there. No magic at all but a hell of a lot of presence. He was a good-looking man with what looked like prematurely grey hair, and when those icy blue eyes met his for the first time, Tony knew that with this guy there would be no compromise. That could be very good or very bad.
The man now faced the Lieutenant and pulled a wallet with a federal badge and credentials out of his coat pocket. The Lieutenant looked at them and then met those blue eyes with a hard look. He said, “M.C.I.S, huh? Heard about you guys. It’s been, what, three or four years since that bill passed?”
The man said, “Not quite three. Took some setting up. We’re only now getting started good. I’m Special Agent Jethro Gibbs.”
Fox gestured to a chair. Gibbs pulled one out, well away from the table and sat. Fox did the same. Tony noticed the other cops in the room, as well as Murdoch, had backed up against the walls, watching intently.
Like most mages, Tony had very mixed feelings about the M.C.I.S. It was supposed to be based on the idea that the best people to police mages were other mages. In the bill that had passed, creating the new federal agency, there was supposed to be a mix of magic users and non-magic users, working together, keeping each other honest. Eventually, he knew, all crimes that were believed to be perpetrated by mages and all crimes perpetrated against mages would be handled by these people. That would be, of course, a huge big deal when it happened. He wasn’t sure how that could possibly even work. But that was supposedly the future. For now, the new agency was supposed to be getting started, working on cases a few at a time, mostly in the DC area, working out how, or if, it would all work.
In theory, it sounded like a good idea. In theory. But in theory, mages shouldn’t need a special bunch of Feds to do what local LEOs should have been able to do themselves. If they were honest. If there was no bias against magic users. If, in other words, they lived in a completely different world than the one Tony lived in.
He knew that they were staying low profile. The first case that had hit the news was their arrest of a necromancer who had been using children as lab rats. Tony had found a couple of other things in the news, including a tiny paragraph in the local paper that said M.C.I.S. had proven a mage living in Silver Spring guilty of a series of burglaries with associated assaults, but had cleared him of using magic during the assaults, thus saving his life. Over all, they seemed to be concentrating on finding rogue mages, but Tony couldn’t help but wonder if the mages in question really were rogue.
So Tony found the M.C.I.S. agent interesting, without being willing to trust him for a single moment. Fox was asking him how he had ended up coming here from DC. Gibbs told him that when the Magic Council got the heads up about Tony, the Magestra defensor had insisted on coming up to see what was going on, and had invited him to come along.
“My boss said this would be a good time to expand our reach a little. So here we are, ready to stick our noses in.” He gave a little self-deprecatory smile and a shrug.
Fox said, “So she’s some kind of big deal at the Council?”
Gibbs glanced at her, then returned his attention to Fox. “She only works for them part time. She acts as a sort of teacher at the Council and sometimes comes out to represent them in cases like this.”
Fox looked at her again. Tony could see him trying to make sense of what he saw. Fox was no sweetheart, but Tony never ever thought he was dumb. Murdoch’s reaction to her was telling, and Tony knew Fox was going to be asking questions, probably of Murdoch, and he wasn’t sure of how worried he should be about that. Finally. Fox turned back to Gibbs and said, “So we’re an experimental expansion, hmmm?”
Gibbs shrugged again. “Baltimore is DC area. Almost.”
“So how is this going to work? You’re feds. I suppose you’ll be like when the FBI deigns to consider one of our problems one of their problems.”
Tony wondered if the M.C.I.S. guy could hear the disdain that boiled under the surface of what Fox was saying. He didn’t seem to. He was smiling a little now, shaking his head.
“Naw. Not really. Not looking to take your credit.” He leaned in just a little, waiting until he had Fox’s eyes. “We’ll be looking for the truth, Lieutenant. We’ll follow where that goes.” He cocked his head to one side, no longer smiling. “Understand?”
Fox met his eyes with no visible hesitation. “I understand. The truth is what I want.”
Gibbs settled back in his chair. “Ms. Sciuto is going to talk to Detective DiNozzo for a bit. While she’s doing that, I would like to look over some things. The reports filed on his case, of course, but I may want to see other stuff. Is there a place where I can do that?”
Fox stood. “You can use my office. I’ll be around the station for a couple of hours, then I’ll be going to a meeting at three. You’re welcome to take advantage of the privacy.”
Tony wondered if Gibbs was going to search the office. It would be illegal. And probably pretty stupid, since if there was anything in the office that could show Fox in a bad light, he wouldn’t have just handed it to Gibbs on a platter. Gibbs just grunted and stood. Fox gestured to the door and said, “So how did you end up in M.C.I.S.?” as they walked out together.
There was a sense of relaxation in the room. Boss is gone. Except, Tony thought with a grim little smile, for the recording equipment. It was there, quietly working away over on the end of the table.
The MC rep had turned to him for the first time since her confrontation with Murdoch. She gazed at him now, her expression interested, but neutral. She settled into the chair across from him, putting the parasol on the table. She said, “May I see your mage mark?”
He sighed and put his right hand, palm down, on the table. He saw her reach into what must have been a rather large pocket on the dress and pull out a thin tablet. He’d heard about them, sort of mini-computers with touch screens you could carry around and even enter data into. Right now they were too expensive for most people to think about buying, but he thought it was pretty cool.
She was looking at his mark. “Hmmm. That’s interesting. I’ve never seen one like that. Where was it done?”
Tony looked at the tattoo on the back of his hand. He wondered if she had any idea what the heavily stylized octopus, whose arms formed the border around the required zigzag of black ink, meant. He had no intention of telling her.
“I manifested when I was 12. I was in Hawai’i. That’s a design used there sometimes.” Not an actual lie, but definitely deceptive. He reminded himself to keep his body relaxed and be ready to look her in the eye. He could not outright lie to her without her knowledge, he knew, but there were other ways to hide the truth.
She nodded. “As long as you’ve brought it up, I need some basic info.” She looked down at her tablet. “Full name, date of birth and date of manifestation, please.”
He sighed. They were going to force him to go over the thing with his father. “Anthony Dominic DiNozzo, born June 3, 1973, manifested July 10, 1985. And you already have all that on your little data base thingy.”
She looked up at him. “What I have is an Anthony Dominic Paddington, born and manifested on those dates.”
Tony looked her in the eyes. “That’s because my father decided that I couldn’t possibly be his son. He said there was no magical contamination in his family and he’d had the Paddingtons ‘looked into’” He made air quotes. “before he married my mother so he knew that the Paddingtons had no magic users at least three generations back. So, he had a paternity test done and the report said he was right, that I wasn’t his son.”
She blinked at him.
He went on. “My mother had been dead for four years at that point, so she wasn’t there to call him a liar. He got his name removed from my birth certificate. Then he sued the Magical Registry, as it was called at the time, and forced them to take his name off of my registration entry.”
She was watching him carefully. He knew she could see the old anger he was trying to hide, but after all, who wouldn’t be pissed?
“Getting a mainstream lab to falsify paternity in such cases is very expensive. Was your dad rich?”
He shrugged. “Depends on what you call rich. He could afford it. Just like he could afford to have the record of the accident that killed my mother say nothing about the amount of alcohol he had in his blood at the time it happened. Rich enough, I guess you could say.”
She nodded. She was doing something on the tablet. Taking notes, perhaps. Then she looked up at him. “I’m surprised you insist on using his name, then.”
Tony couldn’t keep his little bitter smile from showing. “I had my name changed back to DiNozzo as soon as I turned 18. Not using his name implies my mother was unfaithful to him.”
“And you don’t think she was?”
“I know she wasn’t. Well, to be more accurate, I know I didn’t happen as the result of an affair. I got a paternity test. Took a little arranging, but I got some of his DNA. He’s my father. The fact that neither of us like that fact doesn’t change it.”
She nodded and went back to work on the tablet. “I’m changing the name on the Registry back to DiNozzo, and noting what you’ve told me. He won’t be able to get it changed again. The laws have changed. We managed to convince some people that we need accurate ancestry data, so we do our own testing now. What we didn’t tell them was that we have better computer guys than they do. They haven’t been able to hack into the Registry files in the 10 or twelve years they’ve been trying to use the data against us.” She looked back up at him. “Okay, tell me what happened to get you into this trouble.”
Tony snorted, then rubbed his face with both hands. “I have no idea. They haven’t bothered to tell me what I am supposed to have done.”
She reached out a hand to touch his. “Look at me Tony.” He met her eyes. “Did you use your magic on a non-magical person without written permission?”
“No,” he said flatly.
For the first time since entering the room, Dan spoke up. “He’s lying, lady. We know he did it. I saw him do it.”
Sciuto’s eyes went to Tony and then to Tony’s former partner. “Then perhaps you will tell Detective Dinozzo exactly what what he is supposed to have done so he’ll look a little less confused.”
The lawyer cleared his throat. “Ms. Sciuto, please remember that this meeting is being recorded.”
She smiled at him. “Oh, I know.” Then she looked concerned. “I just realized, you haven’t had time to talk with him in private, have you? Do you need to?”
Cooper smiled benignly at her. “Not at the moment. He already told you the only thing I needed to know. I’m more interested in hearing exactly what Tony’s being charged with.”