- Character Bashing
- Discussion - Murder
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
Chapter 11: To Outfox a Fox – Part 3
The name Garcia had sent them was a perfect fit for the profile they’d given. A Serbian refugee who had been part of the Srebrenica massacre. The saddest part of all of these murders in many ways was that in her mind she was protecting the young daughter that she drowned or suffocated – she didn’t want them to suffer what she had.
Hotch knew they had their unsub, this was now time sensitive. “Right. We better get moving then.”
JJ began. “I’ll stay here and update the public.”
Morgan added. “I’ll head to the unsub’s address with Rossi. We should probably get the local LEO’s to back us up in case it get’s ugly.”
Rossi turned to Tony. “You wanna come along? We can always use another good agent in situations like this.”
Emily knew what her and Hotch’s task would be. “I assume we are getting started on trying to identify a next potential victim.”
Hotch was so proud of the way his team was so well trained and used to working together that they could predict what needed to be done. “Exactly. If she feels threatened or cornered then I fully expect her to lash out and take out one last family.”
Tony was already preparing for a raid. He turned around to Hotch and gave him a hard stare. “Do I need to say it?”
Hotchner shook his head. “No.”
The team wondered what was going on and why the liaison seemed to be able to communicate with their leader without words. They would find out soon enough once they had tracked their unsub down. They just hoped they got there in time before she killed another family.
Tony knew the team wanted to know what was going on and they would share it with everyone but now was not the time to split their focus.
Jarvis and Jethro had discussed the best path through the following meeting. They were in perfect agreement that she had to go and they needed her to see reason and go quietly. Jarvis sighed. “Will she listen to reason?”
Gibbs shrugged. “She isn’t making rational decisions at the moment so who can say?”
Jarvis agreed. It was going to make this meeting interesting but he was smart enough to record it, should it need to go to prosecution. “Now go and be a good spy and hide behind the curtain.”
“Are you kidding me?” Gibbs had to ask.
Jarvis smirked because this was turning into a shitty day and the only bright side was teasing Jethro. “Well, she isn’t going to say anything if she thinks you’re here and listening.”
Gibbs didn’t have much of an opportunity to say anything else as his assistant informed him though his telecom that Shepard was already here. So he did as he was ordered and hid behind the curtain, certain he’d left this shit behind him. He wondered what Tony would make of all this, he would probably laugh at the cliche and quote a dozen movies with this same scenario. Thinking of a couple made him look down to double check his shoes weren’t visible beneath the curtain hem.
Jarvis watched his Director of NCIS swan in. She didn’t even have the grace to look worried despite being called to an impromptu meeting. Still, Jarvis greeted her cordially. “Hello Jenny, thank you for being prompt.”
She was beginning to look a little nervous but not as much as she should be. Her response wasn’t the smartest either. “Yes, well, when you are ordered to a meeting with your boss you attend.”
“Yes, you do.” Jarvis answered her in a tone that said she watch her own tone.
Jenny sat down carefully. “Why am I here, Mr. Secretary?”
Jarvis smiled at the question but Gibbs had to smirk from where he was hiding. There was no warmth in the grin, it was – to be blunt – a little sharkish. “Let’s talk about Rene Benoit, the Frog.”
“Why would we need to talk about him?” She answered in return, aiming for clueless but Jethro and Jarvis didn’t believe a second of it. She couldn’t hide that initial flash of hatred that marred her features upon hearing the name, there was no way you would respond that way to someone you didn’t know.
Jarvis wasn’t in the mood to play twenty questions so he asked her. “Why do you think, Shepard? And this time drop the clueless act, it doesn’t suit you.”
She flushed in embarrassment knowing that she had been caught out. “I am assuming you already know.”
Jarvis gave her a run down of all the things she should have informed him about. “That you attempted to coerce your MCRT leader into an unsanctioned operation and that after turning it down, he felt in danger for his life. Or, how about you have a terminal illness and you have failed to inform me or step down from the agency.”
She shook her head, stubbornly trying to refute it. “No, it was the wrong diagnosis. I am seeking a second opinion.”
Jarvis snorted because that wasn’t just denial this was something far deeper. He wondered if he had missed the pathological craziness. He would so be beefing up the psych requirements for NCIS. “Well, you will have all the time in the world to seek a second diagnosis as” and he slid the piece of paper and the pen across the desk, “I want your resignation before you leave the room.”
“You can’t do this!” She hissed. He couldn’t. She was so close to setting the operation up. She would happily step away to the side once she had her revenge.
“Why not Jen?” Gibbs asked, glad that he could step from around the curtain like the cliche he was embracing right now.
“This is you, you’re responsible.” She couldn’t believe that Gibbs would betray her.
Gibbs smirked. “No, I was on medical leave. For the record, Jenny, this was DiNozzo, it is not my fault you bought into the mask he wears at work.”
She sneered. “He was always your boy even when you threw him away.”
Gibbs shook his head. “No, he is his own man.”
Jarvis smirked because he was well aware of the scuttlebutt. DiNozzo was closer to Fornell than many realised and had been seen in the company of his little girl, who by all accounts treated him like a big brother. Jarvis was in no mood to pander to anyone trying to irrationally justify their choices so he cut her off. “You have one chance to go quietly.”
She sighed. “I will be gone by the end of the day.” She would go from NCIS as it was clearly time but she would keep her gun. There were less refined ways to get justice but as she was dying anyway it hardly mattered if the CIA shot her afterward.
She wrote the letter as quick as possible, after all, it was a mere formality. “Benoit is dangerous and should be taken out.”
Jarvis rolled his eyes. “Leave decisions like that to people rational enough to make them.”
Gibbs watched her storm out, he’d stayed as a witness so he could verify everything said. “So what now?”
Jarvis knew he wasn’t going to like his next order but it was tough luck. “You will be taking over, overseeing NCIS whilst I have the leadership of NCIS scrutinised and decide on a successor.”
Gibbs groaned but knew it was a consequence of his own making. He just knew that Tony and Fornell would get a kick out of this. Still, there was one good thing he could get out of this. “On one condition, block the publication of that trash that McGee is calling fiction.”
“What is this fiction?” Jarvis asked confused, he’d not heard anything about any of the agents publishing a book. “Has it gone through the panel to check it’s up to code?”
Gibbs snorted. “Let’s go with no.”
“I want McGee, JAG and that book in here within the day.”
“Sure thing.” Gibbs had never had a problem with following orders if they suited him. He had no intention of being in charge for too long but he would use it to his advantage while he was.
The suspect’s place was a mess, and not in the usual I’m-a-slob way, it was more trashed than that. Sadly, despite having searched each crevice there was no sign of their unsub, Miranda Kercja.
“She’s not here, Hotch.” Morgan reported.
“Understood, see if she left a hint.” Came the order.
Rossi, Morgan, and Tony scoured through her meagre belongings to see if they could gain a clue. She was feeling trapped and was looking to hit out. They had to hope she left a clue in her agitated state.
The mirror broken by a gunshot was damning, “She is now showing her psyche is fragmented.”
Tony nodded, “Agreed but by shooting the mirror is she trying to save the girl victim or trying to destroy what’s within her?”
Rossi shrugs because there would be now way for sure. “Difficult to say.”
Tony huffed. “So I speak little to no English, I am angry, I want to stop the demons in my head.”
Rossi nodded. “So I probably have a list, right?”
Morgan joined in. “So it’s probably on my work computer as it is the only thing I can translate into my own language and understand easily.”
As he said it, he was flipping his phone open ready to ask Garcia to work her computer magic, if anyone was going to know a computer algorithm for translation it was her.
“Garcia, I need to know where she is heading. Here is her computer IP address.”
They could all hear the sounds of Garcia’s fingers whizzing over her own keyboard. Tony knew that McGee only wished he had the skills of Penelope. “I got it – 922 Winwood Drive.”
Hotch’s command through the radio was simple. “Go.”
Rossi simply said. “You heard him, let’s go.”
The team was quick to prep before they arrived at the address as they knew it was likely a lively situation. They heard the scream as they pulled up and knew they didn’t have long to act.
Derek took lead with Rossi and Tony serving as his back-up and cover. The mother was tied up in the living room and by silent agreement, Rossi stayed to free her. Morgan and Tony kept on moving silently up the stairs as it was from up there they could hear the disturbance.
Derek entered first, swiftly followed by Tony. It was in that split second that she rushed Derek from the cupboard she was hiding in. The distance being too close to get a safe shot off, the child was too close. So Derek found himself wrestling with the unsub on the floor with the gun trapped precariously between them.
Tony reacted to the threat, he quickly moved to disable the unsub. He had factored in the gun between Derek and the unsub so cold clocked her with his own gun. The other scenarios ended with Derek potentially shot. She slumped almost immediately and Tony watched as Derek quickly shoved her off him, breathing heavily. Tony wasn’t judging, he had no doubt the guy was trying to get his adrenaline under control.
Other officers streamed through the bedroom door but it was all said and done. Tony waited until they had taken her out of the bedroom before he went over to Morgan. “Hey, are you done lying down on the job?”
“You’re a funny guy, you know that?”
Tony smirked. “Maybe I am.”
Derek took the hand held out to help him up off the floor. “Let’s finish this.”
With the capture of Kercja, the case had closed fairly quickly. Tony had been on the phone to people in Washington and the BAU members had all listened in shock to his genuine laugh. It was beautiful and whatever news he’d just heard was apparently seemingly mirthful in the extreme.
“Everything okay?” Derek asked wondering just what was going on.
Tony grinned. “Oh yeah. Gibbs is running NCIS for a few days whilst they appoint a new director.”
Rossi snorted. “Okay, now I see what is funny. He doesn’t have a political bone in his body.”
Tony smirked at that accurate assessment, after all, it was well known among the federal agencies. “I don’t know – the first thing he did upon agreeing to take over was to make sure SECNAV blocked a stupid book from being published.”
The team hadn’t left it there and sure enough, the whole sordid affair of Jenny, as well as Deep Six fiasco, had come out. JJ smiled in awe, to be honest at his resilience. “So her ego was our gain but why would Director Fornell place you with us, not that I am complaining, you’ve been a great help.”
Tony smiled at the compliment but he looked at Hotch and got the nod. It was high time the team was told. “As you may have guessed, you’re profilers after all, I am close to Agent Fornell and his daughter … and just as I came to him with my problem, there was a problem developing for Agent Hotchner.”
Rossi frowned. “Like what?”
Tony explained it thoroughly as he didn’t want the team to ask extra questions. He knew Aaron was a private man and liked to keep it that way. “There was, at the time, an unconfirmed threat against Agent Hotchner made by the Reaper.”
Prentiss ever the language expert picked upon his word choice. “You said at the time unconfirmed?”
Tony nodded. “When we went to visit the Fox, uber creep by the way. I never want to be hit on by a serial killer again for the record. We had it confirmed as the lead was not to do with our case but rather Foyet had been messaging him in prison.”
“Son of a bitch.”
Tony shrugged because to him it was neither here nor there. He had a job to do and he intended to do it. “So official story is I am here to play liaison … in reality, I am overseeing the Foyet operation. It wouldn’t be the first time that I have baited and caught a serial killer. If I can end up not handcuffed to this one, it will be a successful operation.”
Reid had done his reading. “You are talking about Jeffery White?”
Tony nodded. “Yep, undercover about stolen antiquities and end up handcuffed to a nutter.”
“You have the worst luck.” JJ remarked.
Tony smirked. “Or is the best luck? I am not too sure.”
Hotch gave perhaps the best answer. “You have interesting luck.”
“I will take it.” Tony said as that wasn’t a bad thing to have especially in law enforcement. “So if you all see me sticking close to the boss, you know why.”
Hotch found himself smiling at DiNozzo and the easy way he’d managed to break the news, alleviate the concerns of his team and distract them from the news. He was good at his job and he had no doubt the man was excellent undercover.
He found himself wanting the rumours to be true …
Chapter 12: Baiting the Trap
Tony reached the office and groaned, realising he wanted to stay with Hotchner tonight but he didn’t have a change of clothes. Great. Oh well, needs must and all that. He was greatly surprised by an agent waiting at their office holding a familiar bag.
Tony took his bag. “Um …. Thanks?” He wasn’t sure who he should be thanking.
The agent looked a little unnerved but explained. “DD Fornell told me to collect your belongings as he knew your operation had stepped up a gear.”
Tony chuckled. “Thank you Agent Ramirez and I will pass on my personal thanks to Fornell.”
Rossi smirked. “Pops being good to you.”
Tony shrugged. “It was probably Emily bugging him but I’ll take it. The last thing I needed was to do the equivalent of a walk of shame, having spent the night at the boss’.”
Hotch looked at him. “Why would you be spending the evening?”
He said this to distract from the idea of why Tony would be doing a walk of shame.
Tony rolled his eyes. “I have it now confirmed, admittedly by a serial-killer but The Fox said that the Reaper wanted to play pen-pals just to get a message to you. I won’t let him get you while you are sleeping”
The fact he’d be most vulnerable when you were asleep and potentially unaware went without saying.
Hotchner didn’t want DiNozzo to exhaust himself. “I thought you have a guard rotation set up?”
Tony nodded to acknowledge a valid point. “I do, and it’s not how I wanted to be invited over to your place but I would prefer to be on site. Killers have way too many tricks for us to think that we’ve closed every security loophole possible.”
Derek smiled. “Paranoid, I like it.”
“I am not paranoid, just prepared.” Tony responded with a faux pout.
Prentiss added a little wryly. “It isn’t paranoia if they actually are out to get you.”
Hotch gave in when DiNozzo pressed on because Tony was perfectly willing to play dirty if it got the results he wanted. “I would sleep better knowing that you’re as safe as can be. Besides, I don’t want to make Jack fatherless.”
“You play dirty.” Aaron had to observe, filing this information away for the future.
Tony shook his head. “No, I play to win and survive. Plus, I am selfish, I want you to survive so I can seduce you.” He added with a wicked grin. “I won’t be able to do that if you are dead.”
“Fine.” Sigh “You win.”
Tony smiled angelically. “Good.”
He didn’t make a comment about giving in not too gracefully as he didn’t want the stubborn man changing his mind. No one said anything when they left the office as they all just wanted Hotch safe.
Back at the apartment, Aaron was wondering how this would work but Tony settled it. “I’ll take your couch. It looks comfy.”
He finished not sounding too convincing. It wasn’t in reality. Aaron hadn’t spent much on the couch as he was rarely home to enjoy it.
Hotch snickered. “I thought you were good at pretending?”
Tony shrugged. “If it’s uncomfortable it’ll at least keep me on my toes, which is good. I don’t think he will strike tonight but I want to be prepared for the eventuality.”
Hotch didn’t know what to say so instead settled for. “I’ll go and make us some hot drinks.”
Tony’s phone rang and Tony had to admit he’d been eagerly awaiting this conversation with Gibbs. He asked a little too gleefully. “So how was your first day in charge, Gibbs?”
“Full of politicians.” Gibbs responded in such a tone that was only reserved for criminals.
Tony’s smirk grew. “Well, that is what sitting in the big chair involves.”
“You’re enjoying this aren’t you?” Gibbs asked, not upset as he knew he didn’t have a right to be.
“Yeah, I am.” Tony said with complete honesty. “I mean Karma can be an awesome but horrible thing to people. So how are Ziva and Timmy taking the changes?”
Gibbs snorted. “We need two new members on the MCRT.”
“What?” Tony had expected many things but not that. “How did that happen?”
Gibbs shrugged not that Tony would see it. “I met with Jarvis. He spoke, I spoke. Ziva was reassigned to language translation. She threw a snit and told myself and Jarvis that Eli would hear about it.”
Tony wanted to laugh because he could just picture the scene. “Seriously? She said to SECNAV – Wait ‘till my daddy hears about this?” Unable to hold the snicker in by the end. Oh, that was typical Ziva whose arrogance was always going to be her undoing. She’d never learnt diplomacy and it showed when working.
“She did.” Gibbs confirmed with his own chuckle. He’d been there and he couldn’t believe she’d said what she had. It was like she’d forgotten she was still a Mossad agent. It didn’t matter now as Ziva had made her bed and would have to suffer the consequences. Still, Gibbs wanted to be the one to let Tony know the full result. “As a result, she was packing up her apartment with a guard in tow and on a plane before night fell. In fact, the plane just took off before I phoned you.”
Tony sat back on the chair because this threw everything up in the air. He’d been unconsciously decoupling himself from NCIS, so sure that it was time to leave. If the MCRT was in such disarray he wasn’t sure how he could. “So how did McGee end up off the team?”
“Well, Jarvis and I had a meeting to discuss his book. It didn’t go well for him and in his anger, he was sent back to FLETC for training.”
“Jesus, he got busted back down to trainee agent? Is he stupid? What happened to all his supposed intelligence?” Tony said, disbelieving that anyone can be that dumb.
Gibbs snorted. “It started with his refusal to stop the publication of the book, even though we have Rabb’s review that it did indeed have sensitive case material in it.”
Tony was shaking his head and he could feel Aaron standing on his periphery listening in but not so close as to be hovering. It was comforting without being overbearing which was an impressive feat. “So he was stupid enough to refuse an order from SECNAV based off the JAG’s report?”
Gibbs carried on his tale. “Oh, it gets better. He then goes on to rant that it’s all your fault and you just needed to get over it. During the rant he lets it be known that despite being told you’re undercover, he’d asked Abby to find you.”
“Is he trying to kill me?” Tony asked horrified but at the same time not too surprised.
“No,” Gibbs responded but it did give Tony a sense of relief. “He also didn’t understand or was willfully ignorant of the potential consequences. Your fake file was breached today. Abby informed me, worried she was the cause.”
Tony sighed. “No, it’s a serial killer falling for the bait. I’m trying to set him to come after me rather than the young family we’re expecting him to choose.”
“Be careful, I can’t be there watch your six.” Gibbs responded.
Tony had to blink because admittedly it was a phone conversation but he didn’t think he’d ever hear that again. “I know but don’t worry, the team here watch each other.”
“We’ll get it back. We’ll choose carefully. Together.” Gibbs assured him.
Tony hoped they could but he wasn’t naive. “It will depend on the new boss unless you want the chair permanently?”
Gibbs snorted. “You’re a funny guy.”
“Why do people keep saying that?” Tony said with a smile on his face having enjoyed the conversation with Gibbs despite the heavy subject matter. “I gotta go but feel free to vent to me anytime.”
Hotch waited for the phone call to end. “Are you okay? Things sound complicated.”
Tony was caught by the suggestion. After all, he solved problems but not many helped him. “Are you sure you want to hear about all my problems?”
“Why not? It is not like you aren’t helping me with mine.” Was the logical response.
So Tony took a chance and shared his issues at work. He felt lighter after he did much to his surprise.
Aaron could tell something had eased in Tony and for that reason, he left it alone not wanting to ruin the moments they had shared.
A new routine quickly established after the first day. Tony kept a watch on Aaron’s ass (he had to enjoy perks pun intended where he could) and the team found him very useful and nearly every member of the team had appealed to Hotch to see if the liaison role could be made into a full-time deal. However, as keen as Aaron was to make it a reality he knew the twin pulls Tony suffered from. He would give him the option but ultimately Aaron knew he would support Tony whichever option he took. Dave was hovering in his doorway so Aaron wondered if it was Rossi’s turn to say his piece.
“Can I help you, Dave?”
“Your gorgeous Italian shadow has disappeared,” his old friend commented in the way only an old friend can comment.
Aaron looked up from his paperwork. “Well, I am informed that he will be staying until Foyet is caught.”
“You didn’t deny my comment about his looks,” Rossi noted.
Aaron snorted. “What response do you want to hear?”
“A truthful one.” Rossi replied intently.
Aaron sighed as that was a loaded question. “He is tasked with my protection, Dave.”
Dave smirked, knowing what to ask. “So what will you do when he is no longer tasked with your protection?”
Aaron stopped writing and for a second he let himself want. He hadn’t done that since Haley had walked out of the door. He had work and Jack, and he told himself he was okay with that – it had to be enough. That was before this gorgeous Federal Agent was dumped in his office and Aaron realised that he still wanted a relationship and ever since the interview with Arnold he could not shake the images at night that Tony had used to put Arnold off his game.
Hotch revealed to his old friend. “We’ve agreed to go on a date. Happy?”
Rossi grinned as he believed that he would have to do the heavy lifting or nag Aaron way more. Haley had certainly done a number on his confidence, and his love-life. “Best news. Don’t wait too long, you could be good together. You ready to run the gauntlet of Gibbs and Fornell?”
Hotch rolled his eyes. He thought he was done with meet-the-family dinners. He would face the wrath of the infamous agents on the grounds they could be happy. Whilst they had kept things professional, during the evening they had started to talk more about all kinds of topics.
“You are enjoying this too much, you know that?” Hotch couldn’t help but observe.
Rossi’s smirk grew. “Oh, I’ve said it before. I can’t wait for Hayley and Tony to meet. She won’t like the fact your new partner is prettier. Women never like that.”
Hotch quirked an eyebrow he could hardly say anything about looking at their liaison – after all, he wanted to do more than look. “And people assume you’re straight.”
Rossi rolled his eyes. “I am Italian in my soul and we are taught to look for beauty in all forms. Just, I know better than to go after someone who is pining and that man wants you.”
Hotch huffed not willing to think about it more than necessary while he couldn’t do a damn thing about it. “Get out of my office.”
“Sure, do let me know when you are inviting dinner guests around.” Rossi said, just having to get the last word in.
Tony was working well with the BAU and enjoyed the job even with the heavy toll that these types of criminals can cause. There was something wrong with Aaron because he’d been acting squirrelly since he answered the phone-call. It had set Hotch on edge and as soon as it ended Aaron was tearing out of the BAU. Tony was having none of that so he phoned down to security and asked them to stall Hotchner until he got there. The man was not allowed to get himself killed before he could even get him on a date.
Morgan queried. “What are you doing?”
Tony sighed because how best to answer the question without exacerbating the situation. “Something stupid. Send backup to my position but keep them at least a block away for now.”
That got Derek’s attention and Tony had to placate him quickly. “Look, sometimes less is more and until I know what we’re dealing with … more people could spook the situation.”
In his heart Tony knew what the situation was – Foyet was playing his hand. The question was, what was he bartering with to get Aaron’s attention. Was it Jack, Haley or both?