Disclaimer: I own none of the NCIS characters.
'Gibbs.' Jethro Gibbs answered his phone and answered a short reply before snapping it shut. His team looked up hopefully, desperately in need of a change from the cold cases they had been following up.
'Gear up' he ordered, and the three was on their boss's heels and in the elevator in a record time of 3.21 seconds.
'What we got Boss?' DiNozzo asked.
'Dead marine. Head and knife wound.'
'At Quantico?' McGee asked.
'No.' Gibbs replied.
After a terrifying drive by Ziva (DiNozzo lost the shotgun but was silenced from retaliating by a glare from Gibbs) the team started to examine the crime scene. Ducky turned up later, with Jimmy trailing behind, with Ducky again lecturing him on his lack of directional sense.
'McGee - sketch and shoot. DiNozzo - evidence. Ziva - with me.'
Gibbs and Ziva made their way towards a gradually growing crowd of people - being 7.45, people were starting to leave for work. One woman in particular caught Gibbs' eye which caused him to make a beeline for her, ignoring any people who shouted questions at him as he moved. He briskly ordered Ziva to question another person before flipping his badge at the woman.
'I'm Special Agent Gibbs. What did you see?' The woman swelled and gave the people around her a smug look before launching into her story and gushing out the details. Gibbs held a hand up to stop her.
'So you didn't actually discover the body?' he interrupted.
'No, the kid did.'
'The kid.' At this Gibbs senses went hyperactive - he hated anyone doing anything harmful to children. 'Do you know him? What time was this?'
'Sort of.' The woman replied. 'I have a picture of him on my phone because he used to babysit the Colonel's son and I did occasionally too. I saw him around 7.00.'
'Can I see the picture?'
'Sure. Sorry I can't be more helpful.' She found the picture - which took some doing as she wasn't the most technically advanced woman. Gibbs was becoming more impatient with the waiting so asked,
'You said he looked after the Colonel's kid? How old is he then? '
'I'm not sure.' She replied. 'He's an odd kid. I'm not sure what he's doing here today though - Max isn't here.'
'Max is the Colonel's son? Where is he?' Gibbs almost growled.
'Colonel Johnston is divorced. His mother picked him up last night.' Gibbs studied the picture the woman found. It was a boy, Gibbs reckoned he looked about eight or nine, was skinny with dark brown hair and blue eyes. He was grinning at a boy who the woman informed him was Max - who was laughing in the camera's direction. Gibbs was in disbelief.
'This kid found the body?'
'Where did he go?' Gibbs barked.
'I'm not sure.' The woman didn't seem at all concerned.
'You didn't try to find him? Ask him if he's ok? After finding a body?' Gibbs tone of voice had hardened, and the woman no longer seemed so keen to talk to him.
'No.' She replied. 'I told you - he's a strange kid. Well, I think he found the body as I only saw him come out the house and the body's right behind the car. The door is unlocked- see? An ambulance arrived in minutes, so I asked them what had happened and by the time I knew he'd gone.' Gibbs was infuriated with the woman's attitude - she obviously didn't have children because any sane mother would have tried to stop the kid. Gibbs called Ziva over to take a picture of the anonymous kid on her phone, nodded to the woman and gave her his card while telling her to call him if she remembered anything else.
McGee came over to Gibbs, 'I have a positive I.D. on the victim - Colonel Johnston. And a witness saw a black SUV leaving this street around 07.00.' Gibbs inwardly groaned - Really? A black SUV? One of the most popular vehicles in New York?
'Alright. Put a BOLO out.' Gibbs said.
'Already done Boss.'
'Time of death Duck?'
'About 06.50, I think. He's been dead less than two hours. There's very little signs of rigor mortis.' At this Ducky looked up at Gibbs, 'Jethro? Are you alright?'
'A kid found the body Duck. He can't be more than eight or nine.'
'Ah.' Ducky said understandingly. 'Have you spoken to him?'
'Oh. I'll get the body home, there's not much more I can do here Jethro.'
'Right. I'll see you back at base.'
'McGee. DiNozzo. David - get back to the van. We're leaving.'
'Sure thing, Boss.'
'On it Bossman'
It had been a silent journey back. Luckily Gibbs filled them in on his witness's statement, but the other ten minutes was painfully slow, even DiNozzo didn't crack a joke. No one messed with Gibbs when he was in this mood.
PING. Gibbs delegated tasks to his team. 'Tony take the evidence down to Abby's. Ziva talk to the ex-wife and check Max is with her. After that, give me anything we have on Colonel Johnston. McGee - run facial rec or some gadgety thing on this photo - I want to know who he is.'
'Me Boss? Why not Abby?.' CRACK. 'Got it Boss, Abby's busy with evidence.'
'I need coffee.'
PING. 'Boss! The kid - Matthew James Baxter. He's lived in the USA since he was six and is in the care of a Jack Harper. Not sure yet why he moved here.' McGee explained.
'Address already on your phone Boss. 26 Fifth Street.' Gibbs sent an appreciative glance in McGee's direction.
'DiNozzo - with me. McGee keep digging.'
'On your six, Boss!'
Gibbs and DiNozzo had rung the bell three times and checked round the back of the house but no one was home. Gibbs felt someone watching him, so spun around in time to see an old lady next door disappear behind a curtain. 'DiNozzo' he stated. After a nod from DiNozzo they headed over to the house.
They chatted with the woman before asking about the house and showing her the photo. 'Ah.' She said. 'You wont find him here. He only uses this place to sleep in. He spends most of his time at a diner two blocks that way.' She pointed in that direction.
The duo entered the diner. Being around 10.30, it was barely full but separate booths stopped them immediately seeing everywhere. They made their way over to the man standing behind the counter. Gibbs showed him the photo and explained, 'This is Matthew Baxter. We were told he spends a lot of time here?'
'James?' Asked the man, confused. 'Sure. He's (DING)... not here.'
'Get him DiNozzo.' Gibbs had seen the partial flicker of the man's eyes towards the door and he understood. DiNozzo took chase. Gibbs berated the man for lying and asked a few more questions about the kid's character before leaving. He was surprised by the answers. Matthew came in at random times, like 11.00 at night, and liked to help Henry (the owner) cook. And he drank coffee - Gibbs was getting a strange feeling about this kid.
After leaving the diner, Gibbs' first sight showed him a puffed DiNozzo half-dragging the boy back to the car. In cuffs. 'DiNozzo!' Gibbs yelled. 'You cuffed him?'
'Sorry Boss. I had to - he wouldn't hold still!' DiNozzo had to shout as he was still some distance away - plus the fact the kid was screaming at him in some foreign language Gibbs thought was Italian. Anyway, DiNozzo seemed to understand it because of the bemused way he was looking at the kid. Gibbs may have found it funny if he hadn't been so pissed that a kid had almost outrun his senior field agent.
'Matthew Baxter?' The boy stopped screaming but just glared at Gibbs. Henry came out from the diner.
'Sorry kiddo. They're cops. Talk to them.' In response, Matthew just glared at him. Henry sighed and went back inside.
'Matthew? Where's your godfather - Jack Harper?' Matthew, I'm an NCIS Agent called Agent Gibbs and Agent DiNozzo.' Gibbs gestured. 'Talk to us - you're safe with us.' Matthew just stared at Gibbs during this speech - keeping eye contact - which DiNozzo found unnerving as he found that difficult to do sometimes. Gibbs eventually realized he wasn't going to get an answer easily by asking gently so he glared instead. Matthew finally dropped his gaze.
''Matthew Baxter?' Gibbs said, it was more of a statement than a question. On closer inspection, Gibbs realized he was a bit worse for wear - he had a fresh looking bruise forming a black eye.
'Don't f**king call me that. It's James.'
'James. If you wont co-operate with us I will have to take you back to NCIS headquarters.' James still didn't respond, Gibbs sighed, and uncuffed him to take him back to the car. James made a run for it, taking DiNozzo by surprise, and leapfrogging his way over some bins before Gibbs went round the back and caught him. Back at the car, DiNozzo smiled wryly at James -
'You shouldn't have done that. You just annoyed an already irritated Gibbs.'
Gibbs put the unresponsive boy into the back , who had just rolled his eyes at that comment, and the ride back was even more unpleasant that the ride that morning.