- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Canon Divergence
- Crime Drama
29 June 2009
After a good night’s sleep, Tony was feeling at least a little bit better about things. He still had no clue why most of the places that were after him wanted him, but he would listen to nearly everyone who decided to give him a pitch. Tony was lying in bed, deciding what he wanted to do for breakfast, when he got a text that Aaron Hotchner wanted to eat breakfast with him. Tony frowned at the phone because he had figured that the BAU pitch would wait until Fornell had his turn.
Has nothing to do with a job offer from me. I just want to make sure that you are okay.
The next text came as Tony was finally getting out of bed. He looked at the clock and saw that it was just after seven. Meaning that if Aaron wanted breakfast, Aaron wasn’t at work that day. That meant that a case had put him off work for the day, either a bad one or a late one, there was even the possibility that it was too many in a row. Tony remembered when Aaron had fought to make sure that the teams were not used so much that they were run into the ground. Gibbs had heard about it through the federal grapevine and had called them weak. Tony had kept his mouth shut as his friendship with Aaron had been new, and he didn’t want to actually get into it with Gibbs over that.
Two weeks later, the BAU and NCIS had fought over jurisdiction of a case that had to do with the death of a single off duty Navy officer. The BAU had won, and it was because, in the scheme of things, the BAU had not been coming off a case when NCIS had. Gibbs had bitched for hours about it.
Aaron wanted to meet at a place that Tony had never heard of, and he thought he had found most of the places in the DC area that were worth eating at. Aaron was not in a suit, which still was an adjustment because mostly they met up after work, and Aaron was always in a suit. Tony had dressed in a comfortable polo and a pair of chinos. It was interesting to see Aaron in what passed for civilian clothes for the FBI.
“Hello,” Aaron said as he stood up when Tony got close. Tony endured the hug, feeling the worry in every line of Aaron’s body, he was holding himself stiffer than he usually did. Then he realized that there was something wrong with Aaron. He was holding himself back in the hug in a way that he hadn’t ever done.
“I’m shocked you are not doing a pitch.”
“I’m working on it. I’ve got to do it right.” Aaron was grinning.
Tony started to laugh as he pulled out of the hug and sat down. It was interesting to see Aaron smiling as much as he was. Something was going on there, but he wasn’t sure what. Aaron sat down, and he was so careful, and a grimace of pain passed over his face.
“The Boston Reaper attacked me in my home. Stabbed me. I’m still on downtime from that.” Aaron laid his hand over his stomach. “So technically at the moment, I can’t do the offer until I’m back.”
“I didn’t know. Why didn’t you say something? You could have come stay with me.”
“He’s targeting Haley and Jack, they are in WitSec. I refuse to put anyone else in the line of fire like that. I can get around well enough on my own right now.”
“I understand.” Tony did. Anyone who was around Aaron could be a target to someone like that. Tony was glad that Aaron was okay enough to get around.
“Aaron,” a new voice said.
Tony watched as Aaron slowly leaned over to grab a gun at his ankle. Tony wasn’t armed at the moment, so he clenched his hand and eyed the plate in front of him to calm down. He looked at the man, and it took him a second to recognize Mac.
“Mac,” Tony said as he stood up at the time that Aaron offered his hand that did not have a gun in it to Mac.
“Jack,” Aaron said.
Tony was perplexed. Why was Aaron calling Mac, Jack?
“Tony DiNozzo, I would like you to meet Jack Garrett, he’s moving to a new Unit inside of the BAU called the International Response Team. He’s still building his team.”
“And while I hate to intrude, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put in my pitch to have him join the IRT,” Garrett said. He offered his hand to Tony, and Tony shook it by rote, still trying to figure out where the joke was. This man was an exact replica of Mac Taylor.
“Tony?” Aaron asked.
“I’m sorry. I just got a little lost there. You look exactly like someone I know. I just got a job offer from him in New York, and it’s a shock to see you here and not be him.” Tony’s head was spinning a little with all of that.
“Well, they do say that everyone has a twin, so obviously mine works in law enforcement?”
“He runs a crime lab in New York.”
“Very nice. So I’m assuming I don’t have to the do the whole spiel on what the BAU is?” Garrett asked.
“No, and please join us.”
“Actually, Tony. I have found that I am not up for this. I’m going to take a raincheck,” Aaron said. He stood up and laid a hand over his stomach. Tony hadn’t even noticed him sitting down again. He looked worn out and tired as hell. He figured that it was one of Aaron’s first forays into the world since he had got released from the hospital.
“Aaron, do you need a ride?” Tony started to get up out of his chair, but Aaron waved him back down.
“No, Dave has set up a car service for me. It’s over there.” Aaron pointed to a sedate sedan that was sitting with someone in the driver’s seat reading a book. “I’m not cleared to drive yet, and no one wanted me taking public transport or cabs. Tony, maybe tomorrow you can come over and bring breakfast with you. I don’t think I’m ready for the out and about stuff.”
“Yeah, that sounds like a plan.” Tony started to think about what he wanted to make. He knew that Aaron was asking for him to buy something somewhere, but Aaron needed good food to help with what was wrong with him and while diner food would be good, making something would be better. He knew that Aaron had a good setup for it. They could talk while Tony cooked.
Tony watched Aaron as he crossed the street and kept an eye on him until he was settled into the car and then was gone. He looked at Garrett then. The waitress came out with coffee and juices, stopping when she realized that one of them had been swapped for another.
“Oh, umm…” She looked baffled.
“I’ll take his drinks and whatever he ordered to eat,” Garrett said. He also handed over a credit card. “And I’ll cover the food.”
“He got sick and had to leave,” Tony said hoping to calm the woman down. She gave Tony a smile and nodded her head. She turned to leave after setting down everything. “I have no clue what Aaron ordered as he tends to order things before I get places to see if he can find something I won’t eat.”
Garrett laughed and spread a napkin over his lap before turning his head to look at Tony.
“So the International Response Team covers threats to Americans abroad. Just like with the BAU, we have to be invited in. We are set up to handle a case where an American is accused of a crime, commits a crime, or is the subject of a crime.”
“That sounds interesting.”
“So I know that you’ve kept a few bits of your security clearance, and NCIS is well loathed to actually let you go no matter what you want. So I have a case in Mexico that is brewing. I have your consultant status set up, and all you have to do is sign some paperwork.”
“You think that you can smooth talk me, just like that?”
“Each of the bodies found has been posed in old movie poster positions.” Garrett raised an eyebrow at that. “Aaron talks.”
“He is a regular Chatty Cathy.” Tony glared at Garrett, but he was going to agree to it.
* * *
The first-class tickets were a little bit of a shock, but the direct flight to Mexico was not. Garrett’s IRT was still in its infancy, and Tony would be the second agent recruited by Garret if he signed up with them. Tony had met Clara Seger at the airport. She had everything that was needed after Garrett had taken Tony to sign the necessary paperwork to make him able to at least go with the team and work the case, as long as he didn’t touch evidence or go on the bust to catch the UnSubs. The term was not unknown to Tony, but he did have to actually think to use it.
The first three scenes were only images taken by the local police, while the fourth scene was saved for them. Americans had only been used in the last two. Tony was a little shocked at that, but it meant that the UnSub or UnSubs doing this did not care about the race or gender of the victims.
Tony had seen a lot of horrible things in his stint working as a cop and then as a Federal Agent, but this was something different.
“You okay?” Seger asked as she settled in beside him at the table in the restaurant they were going to eat dinner in. Which of itself was something different. They took the time to eat meals. Lunch had been eaten while talking to the locals about the scenes and what was going on in the area.
“It’s a different adjustment. The whole being in a different place without the help that we would normally have. Not have Gibbs breathing down my neck for making sure that I’m eating or drinking while on a case. It’s a lot of changes from my normal. I’m glad that Garrett is letting me do this so I can see what it’s like. It’s very, very different than what I am used to, and I would hate to say yes, and it is something I don’t think I can do.”
“You are used to regular field work but not stranded on an island by yourself, and you have only your team to rely on. Garrett’s told me what he can of what happened at NCIS, so I can understand if it takes you awhile to get used to trusting us. Trust doesn’t grow on trees, and when you have a team you can’t trust, it takes awhile to trust anyone else.”
“Aaron left me alone with Garrett, that tells me that I can trust him. Garrett relies on you a lot, so I know I can trust you.”
“But you aren’t relaxed,” Seger said.
“No, but then I don’t relax on cases all that much, even with my old team.” Tony saw the look on Seger’s face as she took in his words and didn’t believe them. Tony didn’t care, as he didn’t believe the words that he spoke either. He was going to need time, time to adjust to his new life wherever he landed, and time to figure out what was going to make him happy. He felt himself give in to looking around the restaurant. Garrett was taking care of a phone call to his wife before she went to sleep.
“Relaxing when you can get it makes things better,” Seger said. She looked up, and Tony followed her gaze to see Garrett walking toward them. He had a smile on his face, and Tony was kind of jealous of that.
“I know the rate of divorce in the BAU. How are you planning on keeping that marriage happy with this?”
“The distance will be different, but we have longer cooldown times between cases unless it’s an emergency. Aaron and I have built this unit and its bylaws from the ground up from our years in the BAU. Aaron’s going to miss having a second lead like me gone, but he’ll deal. It’s going to be strange flying around the world. We might also take cases in Hawaii if another BAU team can’t. It’s just far enough away to be like another country.”
Tony was pretty sure that he made a face on that one, but Garrett and Seger said nothing. Tony didn’t feel like getting into that with strangers.
“So the placement of the bodies,” Garrett said.
“I thought this was a time to relax?” Tony asked.
“Relaxing time but also pondering time. How do you feel about the placements? First gut reaction.”
Tony’s stomach clenched at the mention of the gut. “That it has nothing to do with the movies themselves. It’s not someone who is obsessed. They did it for the flash of it. They want their crimes chronicled. They want to be noticed. Does Mexico still hold that serial killers don’t exist in their culture, and it’s just a fabrication of the American lifestyle?”
“The higher-ups in the government might think that, but the locals, the cops on the lower scale don’t. They are the ones dealing with this kind of stuff all of the time.” Garrett looked shocked at the question but thinking about it.
“That’s also discounting that many of the cartel killers are technically serial killers. This guy, or people, want the attention of being called serial killers. They want that attention to be drawn to what they do and what they are, despite what the government thinks.”
“That’s an interesting thought on that,” Seger said, and her tone wasn’t one of derision but thoughtfulness.
Tony felt a little pride that his first big idea wasn’t being dismissed out of hand. Tony knew that if he took the job, he would have to go through a shortened academy that was for transfers from other branches of the Federal investigative units. FLETC was going to make sure that he didn’t have to do the whole thing, but he needed to take classes on profiling, and he needed to make sure that he actually had the physical bits to qualify. Tony wasn’t worried about any of that. He was glad of what he had done to keep himself up to date.
Even if those at NCIS never saw past who he was, others had, and it was still strange to have so many people courting him to join them. Tony had the skills and the knowledge to adapt to nearly anything, even if he felt he was very under-qualified for some of the jobs.
Tony let the conversation wash over him as Seger and Garrett talked about local history for the area and how it might play into the crimes, but it wasn’t anything that he had a basis on so he let his mind kind of float.
“DiNozzo,” Garrett said as he poked Tony in the arm with a finger.
Tony looked at him to see their food had been set down. Tony gave Garrett a smile and a nod before he turned to his meal with a hum of appreciation. “This looks good.”
“I’m glad. I’m going to look forward to that perk of the job,” Garrett said.
“Well, we are going to be going to places all over the world. We will get to see cultures as they are and eat local food. Which in some cases can get dicey, as not everyone is going to be able to speak the language or read it, but we have Seger who should be able to muddle through most things. We will have translators with us as well, so that will help if Seger can’t do it.”
“I never thought about that.” Tony looked at his food. He was pretty open to trying anything, but there was a difference between real native food and the Americanized versions that a lot of places made. Tony knew there was an uptick in areas that made authentic food, but those were slow to catch on.
Tony’s phone beeped, and he looked down at it with his fork halfway to his face. It was from Aaron.
I’m fine it was just too much in too short of a time. I went and got checked out. No ripped stitches or anything like that at all. Are you having fun with Seger and Garrett?
Tony smiled at the text and allowed himself to actually laugh. He looked to see that Garrett looked at him and then turned back to the conversation about the trip they had taken two weeks before for a case in France and the food. Neither of them asked to know what had made him laugh on his phone. Aaron and Tony had made plans for a later time
That was an odd feeling, not having someone telling him that he was working a case and needed to take his personal stuff to a time when he wasn’t working. There was also no question on what made him laugh as others would have done.
Garrett and Seger are fine. I’m actually enjoying this.
Tony set his phone down and focused on his food again, watching Garrett and Seger eat theirs. Neither of them was eating the same thing, and neither one of them was eating things the same way. It was strange to focus on eating during a case. Tony could feel his nerves picking up about that. He was being lazy and needed to be doing something to work the case. Then he remembered that not only were they settling in for the evening but the locals who were working the case had already gone home.
“How do you balance the drive to get the case done, but also the cultures of who you are dealing with in getting the case done?” Tony asked.
“That’s something that we are going to have to learn along the way. Here it’s easy as we have dealt with those of Mexican heritage in our regular jobs in the FBI. We know the culture and the lifestyle also because it’s so close to us. Canadians would be different, and even the further south we go in Mexico things change. A lot of it will just be listening and following the lead of those we are working with if we are in a totally different culture,” Garrett said. He set down his fork and picked up his water to take a drink.
“I’m well versed in many cultures, at least enough to not screw up our first minutes with the locals. There will be certain cultures that will allow more leeway as we are foreigners, and then there will be the rigid ones, and nothing we do will make them happy.”
“Aaron’s talked about that. How they are invited in by the higher ups, but the lower officers and detectives are not happy, and they had to deal with that.”
“It would be like that yes. We will be making this stuff as we go, but that’s why I want solid agents to start this. I would like to expand to at least another team in at least five years. Americans get in trouble everywhere, Americans do bad things everywhere, people kill people everywhere. It’s just a fact of life. I want to make sure that Americans are protected, even if they have done the crime.”
Tony nodded his head, and the topic dropped. He had a lot of think about, and not all of it was the case. It was strange sleeping in a three-bed hotel room, but Tony could understand him not being allowed to be alone, and Garrett not wanting Seger alone either. When the team had more people, it would be easy for them to pair up for sleeping. Garrett was even talking about a jet that would allow them to sleep on it, as well as bring their own vehicles to places. That was a lot of red tape, but it could be handled when they were invited into the case.
* * *
Morning dawned early for Tony, who knew that it was technically later than he was used to getting up at, but they had stayed up late and eaten dinner very late.
“There has been another,” Garrett said as he exited the bathroom with shaving foam on his face. Tony heard the shower running and saw that Seger wasn’t in bed. Tony nodded his head at Garrett.
“Why don’t I get coffee and something to shove in our faces, and then I can take a turn in the shower?” Tony asked.
“Good plan. Two creams, two sugars for Seger, and I’ll be fine with black this morning.” Garrett went right back into the bathroom, leaving the door open.
Tony got dressed in his clothes from the day before and went down to the area where there was a small kitchen and found them things to eat and paid for them. By the time that Tony was in the room again, Seger was dressed and going over a file of some kind. Tony leaned over her shoulder to look at it. It was a new set of photos.
“The original Star Wars poster,” Tony said.
“Really?” Seger asked.
“Yes. It doesn’t look right because the male isn’t holding a lightsaber, the woman a gun, and there is no big black mask in the background. Where is the other half of the body?”
“Other—” Seger stopped.
Tony figured she just realized that the man in the background that was supposed to be R2-D2 was not only cut off in the frame but cut off.
“We have parts missing?” Garrett asked as he stepped out of the bathroom with a towel in hand. He had another wrapped around his waist, and his clothes were in hand.
“Half of a body,” Seger said.
Tony handed out the coffee and set the pastries on the table for everyone to pick what they wanted while he grabbed his ready bag and got into the bathroom. He took a shower that Gibbs would have been proud of and shaved just as quick in front of the mirror. He looked at his face and saw a fullness that had been missing for a little while. A sign that Tony needed this break physically as much as mentally. This case, though, reminded Tony why he was in law enforcement in the first place. A love that had diminished a little bit over the years in NCIS, and he hadn’t even noticed it.
The second half of the body was not with the rest of the bodies. There was a canvass over most of the area in a near mile radius, but there were no legs or waist to be found.
It was the break in the case that was needed because one of the UnSubs was caught trying to dump the other half of the body. It was Garrett and Seger talking to that man to get him to crack that led everyone to the others. A gang of five were doing it for fun.
“So, DiNozzo?” Garrett asked as he sat down beside Tony after getting the three of them bottles of water from the Stewardess who was trying to watch TV in the back. It was a middle of the night flight, so most of the people were sleeping.
“It’s different, and it’s something I could see myself liking, maybe. There just isn’t a lot of things so far that I have outright hated, and I need time.”
“Time I can give you. I will make sure that no matter the time if you want in on this, I’ll make sure you get a spot. We don’t have to do undercover in the normal sense of the word, IDs that have to hold up to a lot of scrutiny, but we might have to act like tourists and not, you know, Federal Agents on occasion, and it’s something that I can see you doing well at. You are a damned good agent, and I hate for you to be lost to the agencies forever by the acts of one bad group.”
“I’ve heard a speech like that a few times already.”
“It’s a normal thing. We like good, and we like having good on our teams,” Seger said with a smile as she leaned over to where she could smile at Tony from the aisle seat. She sighed and closed her eyes as she leaned back into the chair. None of them were tired enough to get any sleep. Tony had already filled out the paperwork that Garrett would need from him about the case, and Tony had been careful to just give observations on it and not touch a single bit of evidence. He had even sat in the car like a good person when they had taken in the UnSubs. Tony hated riding backseat, but he knew that he would not be held back like if he joined up. He would be a full agent and able to do the parts he liked.
Between flight time, disembarking with the rest of the civilians, travel time that included the start of morning rush hour in DC, Tony was walking in his front door at nearly eight a.m. with little sleep, but he was too keyed up to actually try and sleep. So Tony changed into his running clothes and took a run. He had missed doing it while out with Garrett, so he went until he couldn’t anymore before coming home and showering. Tony dropped down onto his couch and looked around, trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He grabbed a yellow notepad that was on his coffee table and the pen from the stand beside his couch and started to write up a list of all of the jobs that he liked, the ones Tony was very unsure of, and the ones that he knew he wouldn’t be taking. New York had a few of those, because he didn’t want a job he wasn’t qualified for.
At nearly ten, Tony set the list down. It had taken him longer than he thought to get his mind together on the jobs he had been offered. Tony smiled though, and grabbed his cell phone. He dialed Mac’s number.
“Tony, I didn’t expect to hear from you for a while. There are still a lot of people circling you from what I hear.”
“My head hasn’t quit spinning with everyone who had been offering me jobs. I called, though, because have you heard of an FBI agent named Jack Garrett? BAU.”
“Heard of yes, never met. Why?” Mac sounded a little cautious, and Tony wasn’t shocked.
“He’s splitting off from the BAU and doing an international version, but he offered me a job. The thing is. I swear you two are twins. Like separated at birth, twins.”
“The FBI, even after the times they have tried to get you for murder, want you?” Mac sounded shocked, even over the phone.
“Eh, the parts that have tried to get me haven’t come forward. More like special units. The main arm hasn’t sent word yet, but I’m sure once word gets back that I entertained the IRT, that the rest will come crawling out of the woodwork. Others will follow that have stayed their hands since I allowed the IRT to give a successful pitch.” Tony looked at his list and then flipped to a new fresh page. He leaned back on the couch and looked at the blank page. He had been offered many jobs over the years since he had started to stand out at NCIS.
Alphabet soup was a good name as any for the many agencies that were courting him.
“Huh? Sorry,” Tony said into the phone. He forgot that he was on the phone with Mac. “I got a little distracted.”
“I can tell. Look, I’ll let you go. Let me know how the headhunting goes.”
“I will.” Tony hung up and looked down at his list. There were a lot of people that still had to contact him. Adding in the ones that had come out that Tony had not known about, this could go on for a little while longer.