Title: From the Ashes
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, Jethro Gibbs, OC
Spoilers: takes place pre-series, AU/not based on the canon episode "Baltimore"
Summary: My take on how DiNozzo and Gibbs met
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I still don't own NCIS.
Author's note: Here it is! As requested, here is the first chapter to my Baltimore story and I hope that it is everything that you, my readers, expect. Thank you all for casting your vote and I assure you that I'm going to do the other stories as well after I finish one of the other ones that are already in progress. Anyway, I'm anxious to hear what you all think! Thanks in advance for all your support and encouragement; it means more than I can say!
Captain Mitchell Waters had just popped his third antacid in the past hour and he had a feeling that before the day was over, he would more than likely be working on the second bottle hiding in his desk drawer. It was barely the beginning of his shift and the day had already had the makings of yet another day from hell; maybe he should have just called in sick.
Today was the day that the thorn in his flesh, better known as Detective Anthony DiNozzo was returning to work and he was not looking forward to seeing his face any time soon. Because of DiNozzo's actions, his entire precinct was now under scrutiny from Internal Affairs, creating an atmosphere of resentment and hostility amongst the ranks; fortunately most of that hostility was directed towards DiNozzo and the Captain firmly believed that the troublesome detective deserved every physical and emotional blow that he had been dealt.
"The stubborn fool keeps coming back for more," he mumbled to himself, opening DiNozzo's file to put in yet another reprimand for fighting; maybe with a few more provoked incidents, he could officially get rid of DiNozzo, provided he lived that long. Waters stared at the photograph in the detective's portfolio. "You would think that you would've learned by now; if you can't run with the big dogs, you better stay on the porch."
His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on his door. He glanced up and motioned for Lieutenant Paul Morgan to enter. Morgan had been under his command for several years and he considered Paul to be one of his closet friends and confidantes; they had weathered many storms together and now they were facing the tempest that DiNozzo had unleashed on the department.
"What's up, Paul?" he inquired, unsure if he actually wanted to hear what he had to say.
"We've got a homicide," the lieutenant announced. "A Marine Sergeant and his family were found dead in their home and it looks like it could be linked to the Griffon murders. I know normally, we'd hand this off to the Navy cops, but since we're still investigating the other murder, I wasn't sure what you wanted to do."
"Isn't that Detective DiNozzo's case?"
"Yes it is."
The captain leaned back in his seat, a sneer escaping his lips. "We'll share jurisdiction; DiNozzo can handle the Navy cop."
Morgan's grin now matched his own. "You know that DiNozzo doesn't work well with others."
"Yes, I know," he gloated. "But at least it will keep him out of our hair until we can figure out how we're going to get out of this mess that he's created."
"I'll place the call to D.C. and then I'll inform DiNozzo that he has a new development on his case."
Waters glanced at his watch. "He's due in any time now. Let me know how he takes the news."
"Will do, sir." Morgan headed back to the squad room with a promise to join the captain for lunch.
He knew DiNozzo well enough to realize that the young man would resent NCIS being called in on his murder investigation; the detective had become quite the loner ever since his former partner had taken his own life. Afterwards, Tony had preferred to work alone because he felt there was no one he could trust and now he was being ordered to work with a federal agent. Failure to cooperate with a federal agency in an investigation was a dismissible offense, especially when one had as many black marks on their record as DiNozzo had on his.
Maybe it wasn't going to be such a bad day after all.
Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs despised rush hour traffic; what should have been a forty-five minute drive had taken him almost two hours. After being forced to navigate several construction sites and idiot drivers who had no business possessing a driver's license, he was not in the mood to deal with the local LEO who was supposed to be his liaison with the Baltimore PD.
The Baltimore PD had informed him of the dead Marine and his family and that he would be meeting one Detective Anthony DiNozzo, who would be working with him when he arrived. Ever since Mike Franks had retired, he had preferred working alone; Gibbs had learned the hard way that there were very few people that he could count on to have his back and now, he had been asked to place his trust in a complete stranger.
Pulling up to the crime scene, he saw the familiar sight of flashing lights and yellow crime scene tape; he cut off the engine, grabbed his coffee and made his way through the crowd of on lookers. Flashing his ID to the uniformed officers, he crossed under the barrier and made his way to the house that no longer rang with the laughter of a happy family, but with the stench of death.
He pushed down the memories that threatened to resurface; the death of his own wife and daughter still ate at him like a cancer that had no cure. There were times that their deaths seemed surreal but he knew that there was nothing he could do to bring them back; he had avenged their deaths and now he had to move on. Unfortunately, that was easier said than done.
Gibbs held up his badge once again as he nodded a greeting to the officer stationed by the front door. "Gibbs. NCIS."
"You're the Navy cop?"
"That would be me."
"I figured you'd have a uniform or something."
Gibbs pinched the bridge of his nose, forcing himself to mentally count to ten before he supplied the other man with an answer. He was not going to waste his breath trying to explain the significance of NCIS to the officer; the agent had a murder to solve and he was not in the mood to engage in such a pointless conversation.
"I'm supposed to be meeting Detective DiNozzo; is he here yet?"
The NCIS agent's eyes narrowed, his piercing blue orbs studying the officer's nametag. Officer W. Dayton was wearing on his already frazzled nerves. "Officer Dayton, I don't make a habit of repeating myself. Now, it's a rather simple question; is Detective DiNozzo here yet?"
"Uh, no sir," Dayton stammered. "He's not here yet."
"Where is he?" he demanded to know.
"I…uh…he probably had to report to the Captain this morning; he's been on leave and…"
Gibbs turned around at the sound of his name to see the familiar face approaching him. The agent motioned to the medical examiner, his eyes following the older man's semi agitated movements. He and Dr. Donald Mallard, usually referred to by his comrades as Ducky, had been through a lot together over the years and he counted on Ducky's knowledge, expertise, and friendship to guide him. "Hey Duck," he greeted.
"I'm sorry I'm late," Ducky apologized. "The directions I was given were atrocious and then when I got going the right way, I ran into quite a bit of construction and…"
He raised his hand, abruptly cutting off the physician. Ducky could take the simplest detail and weave it into a tale of grand proportions for anyone who would listen. "No problem, Duck; we still managed to beat Detective DiNozzo to the scene."
"We're sharing jurisdiction?" the ME inquired.
"Not if he doesn't get his butt down here," Gibbs growled.
"Are you looking for me?"
Gibbs turned around to see a dark haired man walking up the stairs. He was young but his eyes spoke of a wisdom that could only come by playing the hand that life dealt you. Detective Anthony DiNozzo was dressed in jeans, sneakers, and a red hooded sweatshirt with Ohio State emblazoned on the front; his natural good looks clashing with his casual attire. He wasn't at all what Gibbs expected.
The detective carried himself confidently but his movements were slow and deliberate as if he were in pain and attempting to hide his weakness; something he had done several times himself. As DiNozzo stood toe to toe with him, Gibbs could see the fading bruises on his jaw; his gut was telling him that someone was using Detective DiNozzo as a punching bag, which would explain the pale purple and yellow marks adorning his face. Any feelings of concern that he was experiencing were quickly tamped down; he couldn't afford to get involved in DiNozzo's personal matters, there was a murder to solve and time was wasting. Who knew how long they had until their killer struck again?
"I am if you're Detective DiNozzo," Gibbs grumpily countered.
"That would be me, Anthony DiNozzo at your service; I guess that means you're the Navy guy," the detective deduced.
"Gibbs, NCIS; stands for Naval…"
"I know what it stands for."
Gibbs glared at the brazen young man; DiNozzo certainly didn't seem to be easily intimidated, a trait that he truly appreciated. The agent nodded towards the ME, who was taking his role as the silent observer to heart. "This is Dr. Donald Mallard; he's the Medical Examiner."
Tony extended his hand and greeted the doctor. "Dr. Mallard; it's nice to meet you."
"It's my pleasure, Detective DiNozzo and you can call me Ducky," the doctor replied. "DiNozzo; that would be Italian."
"It's about as Italian as Mallard is Scottish."
"Very good, Anthony; are you a student of ethnic origins?"
DiNozzo shook his head. "Nope; I've just watched enough James Bond to know my Scotsmen."
"You must be referring to Sean Connery, a brilliant actor in his own right; have you ever seen him in…"
Gibbs cleared his throat and stepped between the two men who were acting like they were long time friends instead of mere acquaintances. "Do you think we could get to work?" he barked.
Tony lifted up the tape that was blocking the front door. "After you, Agent Gibbs."
As they entered the house, Gibbs noticed Dayton visibly bristle as DiNozzo walked by him; he was sure that the detective also recognized the officer's obvious dislike for him, but Tony simply smiled at the man in the uniform and said, "Hey, Dayton. How ya doin'?"
Dayton purposefully spit in DiNozzo's path, causing the detective to stop in his tracks. Gibbs saw the daggers shooting from Tony's eyes, hatred and frustration emanating from the expressive orbs. "Is there a problem, Detective DiNozzo?"
DiNozzo stood tall, his gaze never leaving Dayton's neutral expression. "Nope. No problem, Navy guy. I'm sure Officer Dayton just missed the grass; I'm sure he didn't mean to possibly contaminate a crime scene."
Gibbs' piercing gaze followed Tony as he stepped past him and entered the house. Something was definitely amiss with the situation that had just played out in front of him; neither Dayton nor DiNozzo were willing to expound upon their obvious dislike for one another and Gibbs couldn't help but be concerned that the personal war waging between the two officers would become an obstacle as they searched for a killer.
The agent joined DiNozzo as he was kneeling next to Ducky, intently listening to the ME describe the probable time and cause of death. Glancing around the room, he knew that they would be at the crime scene a while, especially with three bodies to process; he decided that it may be a good idea to keep an eye on Detective DiNozzo. Gibbs considered himself to be a good judge of character and he wanted to be sure that his instincts were right about the Detective; if they were, then Anthony DiNozzo was in over his head and no one was willing to throw him a life preserver.
"Our victims names are Sergeant Raymond Milner, Victoria Milner, and their daughter Grace Milner; according to Mr. Milner's brother, Robert, they were supposed to get together at their parent's house for a barbeque. When the Sergeant didn't show, Robert came over and discovered the bodies. He's coming down to the station to give a full statement a little later, or so I've been informed," Tony announced to Gibbs and the ME as they watched Ducky take another liver temperature.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Gibbs asked.
"It means I'm telling you all the information I was given before I left the station; isn't that what we're supposed to do since we're sharing jurisdiction?"
Detective Anthony DiNozzo had only been on the clock for a little less than two hours and so far all he had managed to do was to ignore the slurs and the stares of hatred and betrayal that seemed to follow his every movement. Truthfully, the hushed whispers and the thinly veiled threats no longer bothered him; he was in the right and he refused to back down despite the constant pressure from the department and the brass.
He had been informed that another family had been murdered with the same MO as the Griffon murders and that he would now be sharing jurisdiction with NCIS since the father was a Marine Sergeant; of course, no one bothered telling him that the Navy cop was a former Marine as well and that sense of brotherhood could be a problem during the investigation. Gibbs had never confirmed that he was a Marine, but the haircut gave it away; after all, Tony was a detective and he was quite adept at putting together puzzles that didn't have all the pieces.
Gibbs was a tough man to read, but given time, Tony believed that he would have a good handle on the man that he was going to be forced to work with; one thing was for certain, the NCIS agent didn't believe in playing games and he was grateful for the change because within the past couple of months, his life had become nothing but a game to Internal Affairs and the Baltimore Police Department.
The Navy guy certainly had him on edge but he refused to permit the agent to see behind the mask that he so efficiently wore; he was used to hiding his discomfort and insecurities from others, it was something he had been doing for years. The agent would be going back to DC and he would still be in Baltimore and hopefully, their paths would never cross again. He had enough on his plate without worrying about making a good impression on Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. If Gibbs didn't like him, he could file a complaint with Captain Waters; it wouldn't be the first and it probably wouldn't be the last.
If Gibbs wanted to be impressed, he should be impressed by the fact that Tony managed to reign in his temper when Officer Dayton spit on the ground in front of it; it had taken every ounce of Tony's reserve not to take Dayton to the ground but doing so would have resulted in yet another mark against him. He had been warned by IA to stay clear of everyone and keep his nose clean until the investigators figured out who was telling the truth. Tony had tried to do as he was told, but being a detective made it nearly impossible to stay away from the precinct.
Maybe this case would give him a bit of a reprieve; it would be refreshing to work with someone who had no ties to the Baltimore Police Department or Captain Waters. He scrubbed his face, the sensation of two day old stubble tickled his palm; Tony's mind momentarily drifted as he attempted to remember the last time he had shaved. Maybe Gibbs wouldn't take too many points off for his unkempt appearance. Then again, why did he care what the Navy guy thought of him?
After he had provided the names of their victims and Ducky had given his initial evaluation as to what he believed to be the cause of death of the Sergeant, he began shooting pictures of the crime scene, leaving Gibbs to converse with the ME. He heard the physician telling the agent that the Marine had been stabbed in the heart while the two females had their throats slit; there was a compassion in the ME's voice that DiNozzo rarely heard in the field of police work. Tony had to admit that he liked the Scotsman; he had immediately put Tony at ease and the easygoing nature of the elderly man had momentarily encouraged him to lower his defenses so he could enjoy conversing with the doctor.
As he was snapping a picture of the young girl known as Grace, he noticed that she bore a fake tattoo that had been carefully placed on her small arm. It was the same tattoo that had been placed on the Griffon girl's arm prompting him to start looking around the body for the paper that the tattoo had come on; the lab was supposed to trying to figure out where the tattoos were sold, but like everything else, most of his requests were put on the backburner.
"You got something, DiNozzo?"
He looked up to see Gibbs standing over him, his eyes sparkling with curiosity. Tony pointed to the tattoo on the girls arm. "Amy Griffon had this exact same tattoo on her arm. It's one of those tattoos that you can put on with water; sometimes you can get them out of those machines in stores."
"It can be traced, right?" Gibbs inquired.
"Yeah, I'm uh…I've been working on it." Tony knew that he had basically just lied to Gibbs, but thankfully, the agent didn't press the issue. He made a mental note to go to the lab and see what the forensics department had discovered about the tattoo.
"Anything else similar about the two cases?"
"Yeah, they were all more than likely killed together."
"And how did you draw this conclusion?"
"The amount of blood in the room; I doubt we'll find blood in any other part of the house. The child is killed first, followed by the wife and then the husband; the Sergeant was more than likely made to watch his daughter and wife die."
"Jethro, judging by the time of deaths of the victims, Detective DiNozzo is correct in his assumption," Ducky declared.
"What else ya got?" Gibbs wanted to know.
"As Dr. Mallard has already confirmed, the Sergeant was stabbed in the heart after the throats of his family were slit; now whether that's supposed to be symbolic, I'm not sure; but the MO matches the Griffon case to a tee."
"I think you need to bring me up to date on where you are on the Griffon case; I'll have their bodies taken back to DC where Ducky will do the autopsies. Any objections?"
Tony shook his head. "Nope."
"I'll let you both know the results as soon as I can," Ducky promised as he busied himself preparing the bodies for transport.
Tony and Gibbs assisted the doctor in placing the bodies in the bags and lifting them onto the gurneys. He noted the care that both the agent and the ME demonstrated as they secured them. "You'll hear from me soon," the ME stated.
"Thank you, Dr. Mallard."
"You're welcome, Anthony; remember, my friends call me Ducky."
Tony waved as Ducky escorted the bodies to the ME's wagon to take them back to DC. After the ME left, he found himself staring at the ground where the bodies had lain. He could almost taste the fear that the family had to have experienced as they faced their tormentor; how many more families were going to die before he caught the person responsible? The killer was going to slip through his fingers all because he was being punished for doing the right thing by Waters and his loyal followers; was being right worth the injustice being served?
"You okay?" the agent asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine," he lied once again. He seemed to be doing a lot of that to the Navy cop.
"Are you ready to go over the evidence you collected from the Griffon case and see what other similarities pop up?" Gibbs suggested.
"Yeah, I'll have to drop by my place and get the files; there's a coffee shop just down the street from my apartment."
"Something wrong with the police station?"
Tony blew out a pent up breath. "Too much going on; it's hard to hear yourself think in the bullpen."
"Something wrong with your apartment?"
"It's a mess," Tony answered through clenched teeth. "I wasn't expecting company; my maid hasn't had time to clean."
He could tell by the smirk that Gibbs was wearing that he didn't buy either story that Tony had just concocted, but he didn't care. His top priority was bringing a killer to justice and he would do it with or without Gibbs' help; his personal affairs were none of the older man's business and if pressed, Tony would be more than happy to tell Gibbs where he could put his shared jurisdiction.