I hadn't intended to start another story so soon after finishing "Breathless," but this one Gibbs-slapped me as I was waking up and it won't go away. I know it's been done before, but my muse will not leave me alone until I put my own spin on it. This story starts after 9x13 and goes AU from there.
She was tired of running. Tired of making up stories about where she'd come from and where she was going, and tired of pulling up her hood and walking quickly each time ZNN ran its top headlines. Thanks to Greyhound, the Metro, and a bit of good luck, she had found her way to the Navy Yard – and NCIS headquarters. She only knew of them from the Internet, but she knew enough to realize it was not the best place for a young lady who did not want to be found.
This was a terrible idea.
She should have called first. But then they'd have probably tracked the phone and recognized her name from the news.
She might as well have just turned herself over to the police. But she thought perhaps he could save her.
He didn't even know her. He might not even care. But she had to try. She was going to be in a lot of trouble once this was over, and if she didn't go in, it would have all been for nothing.
The security guy was kind of cute. She scribbled her name illegibly on the visitor's log and prayed they wouldn't recognize her from her ID, wouldn't read the date of birth too closely and realize she was underage. It wasn't like she was trying to buy alcohol.
"Now why did you say you were here again, Miss?" the security guy asked her after she'd cleared the metal detector.
She took a breath. "I'm here to see Anthony DiNozzo."
He nodded and pointed to a man in a suit who was approaching them. "This is Agent Carlton. He'll escort you."
Her nerves nearly got the better of her as she walked with the agent, politely answering his questions with as little detail as possible. She hoped he didn't watch the news. His expression was unreadable.
"This is the squad room," Agent Carlton said as they walked into a large room, filled with desks, people, and activity.
"Thank you." She looked around, trying to find the man who matched the pictures she'd seen.
"That's Agent DiNozzo's desk." Agent Carlton pointed. She looked, and at the sound of his name, the man who had been searching through a bottom desk drawer sat up. "And this is Agent DiNozzo."
He smiled, and stood up. "Yes, I am." He extended a hand, which she shook. "How can I help you?"
She shifted from foot to foot. "I...I'm kind of in trouble, and I don't know who else to go to." She looked into his eyes, and despite seeing nothing but concern there, she chickened out. "I'm sorry. This was a bad idea. I'll go now."
"No, no." He stepped out from behind the desk, made a shooing gesture to Agent Carlton, and put a hand on her shoulder. "If you're in trouble, I want to help you. How old are you?"
"Seventeen," she said.
"Do your parents know you're here?" he asked.
"That's kind of part of the problem." She squirmed. "My mom's out of the country and my stepdad...he's the reason I came here."
"Okay." He smiled. "You're safe here. I'm Tony, and this is my partner, Ziva." He gestured to a woman who was working at a desk across the aisle. "What's your name?"
"Antonia." She drew in a sharp breath as the plasma screen behind them displayed ZNN's news highlights and hoped something nationally important had happened in the past hour to generate some different news.
Tony's smile widened. "Good name. They call you Toni?"
"Annie, actually." She steeled herself. "I was named after my father. He never knew about me." He was starting to look uncertain, and she knew it was now or never. "My mother's name is Stacey Fuller."
She studied his reaction. His mouth opened, then closed. She braced herself for rejection.
"I...you're about to tell me I'm your father, aren't you?" Tony asked. He was staring. Across the aisle,. his partner was obviously trying very hard to look busy.
Annie nodded. Her mother had told her he was a cop, to find him if she was in trouble. Her mother hadn't mentioned how to apologize for the lack of a birth announcement. "I'm sorry to spring this on you, but I didn't know where else to go."
"No...no, don't apologize, it's...a lot to take in, but you made the right call." Tony cocked his head at her. "I feel like I should hug you or something."
"Okay." Annie reached out to hug him, finding comfort in his nervous embrace. He wasn't freaking out or telling her to leave, and that was good enough for her. "Um, I should probably also tell you that I ran away."
"I kind of figured," Tony said. He squeezed her arm. "We'll get it all sorted out."
"So you guys aren't going to make me go home?" Annie asked hopefully.
"Not until we're sure no one's going to hurt you there," Tony told her. "Now tell me what's going on with your stepdad."