Miami Vacation
(Terrorist Trap)

by MJ

Chapters 7-18 added 22 June 2008

Fandoms: CSI: Miami and NCIS, slight mention of Magnificent Seven.
Genre: Slash, Pre-Slash, Hurt/Comfort
Pairings: Tony/Gibbs mentioned, Ryan/Eric unrequited possibly pre-slash.
Rating: FRAO


"Hey Ry, it's Tony. Gibbs approved my vacation time so I'll be in Miami on Thursday. It's a late flight so if you can't get me I understand. I know I am gonna meet with my frat brothers but I really want to spend some time with you. You've sounded... I dunno... off or something ever since you started this new job in the labs. Anyway Gibbs is giving the evil eye, I gotta go. Give me a call and leave a message so I know if you can come and get me..."

Ryan listened to his message with half an ear. He would have to call his cousin back and tell him that barring a case he would come and pick him up at the airport. It would be fun to have his cousin come for a visit. They had not seen one another since Ryan had left patrol. Ryan had been unable to attend the yearly Columbus Weekend in NY because he had only started in the lab a few weeks prior to the holiday.

He had initially planned to attend and try and distract himself with all that the city had to offer plus the company of close friends and family. Within the first few days in his new position he realized that would be a bad idea. That asking for a few days off would be met with scorn and ridicule.

At the time he thought that at least he would be able to try and get a couple of days off for some of the holidays, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years, thinking that he could take the long drive up to Orlando and spend some time with Tony's family at least see his nieces if nothing else. Unfortunately for some reason he wasn't able to get any time at all off for any of the holidays.

Ryan had at least hoped to be able to take a few days in the beginning of January off. No one else should need those days and since Tony's family celebrated Eid he had would have settled for going to that holiday. It wouldn't have been turkey with all the fixins, more likely than not some unusual Moroccan dish, but at least it would be somewhere that he knew he was liked, loved even.

When he asked for the days off, the reaction he got, he was still bewildered by it. A quick no, a decisive no from Horatio, no reasons given. Even when Ryan tried to explain to Horatio that Ryan would be losing accrued days, Horatio had just looked at Ryan, would not let him finish his sentence and told him to go to autopsy to get a report from Alexx.

He heard about it later from Delko of all people. Heard him telling Calleigh that the new guy thought he could just go and ask for time off, not even in the lab for 6 months. You overheard it and knew that normally Delko would be correct except in the case of someone who was already part of the PD BEFORE they joined the lab, that time carried over in terms of days accrued off, time spent on the job for purposes of seniority and granting vacation time and preferences.

Ryan knew that he could have pushed the issue with the union and he would have most likely been successful. No one else had requested the time he wanted to take off. He had time that he was going to lose on the books. In the end he realized it wasn't worth it. He was already shunned by his coworkers, if he pushed this issue he knew that he would make no friends. Plus he didnít want anyone investigating too closely exactly which days he was taking off. He had learned Ezra's lesson well, better to bury any connection to an Islamic family, even a tenuous one.

Mary however, was well and truly upset. He had had to do some very fast talking to prevent her from making a trip down I-95 to visit him. Both Joe and Sam had stopped in for very quick visits in the past month. Just meeting him for coffee before they had to catch a commuter flight back to central Florida when they were in the area on business, but he knew that Mary had sicced her minions on him. Considering how long ago the last visit was, it would not surprise him in the least if Tony's seemingly last-minute trip to Miami wasn't somehow orchestrated by his cousin's adopted mother.

Ryan continued listening to his messages, the rest were solicitations with one from his Uncle Ron checking in on him. He deleted all but Tony's message and put the mail he had been sorting through in a neat pile next to the phone. He was tired, it had been a long day with a child killer nearly going free because they left nearly no evidence behind. Days like this he almost hated his job. Seeing how a parent - a mother - could kill her baby only 5 months old.

Ryan looked at the kitchen, the sofa and the bedroom door trying to decide if he wanted to eat something, sit down before he passed out. Or just skip all of that and head directly to bed.

Ryan finally decided to skip everything - he didn't need to eat -and just walked to his bedroom, stripping down to his boxers and climbing into bed after neatly placing his clothes in the hamper.

His last conscious thought before sleep overtook him being, 'I wonder if Tony is bringing Gibbs with him.'

Chapter 2

Tony sighed in contentment as he settled back into the plush chair of the private plane. He rarely was able to use the private jet, since it was normally reserved for business use. In fact, the last time he was on a private plane was for NCIS. If his trip had truly been a vacation, then he would have been flying commercial. This was not a vacation however; he was on a reconnaissance mission. His cousin Ryan had not come to any family gatherings since his lover died. He missed the annual weekend in New York, he missed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Yearís. He had not made the 5 hour drive from Miami to central Florida in months. The final straw came when he missed Eid, or the family reunion as Tony had taken to calling it, not wanting to talk about celebrating a Moslem religious holiday where he could be overheard. If Ryan could have even gotten one day off to get to Orlando this could have been avoided. He wasnít sure if his cousin was trying to isolate himself from people or if his new job was really that demanding. Even Tonyís own job with NCIS allowed him some time off to spend with friends and family, he couldnít imagine a job that ate even more into someoneís personal time than the one he held currently.

At first, once Mary had realized Ryan was not going to come and visit anytime soon, she had taken to sending Joe and Sam periodically to check on Ryan. They could come and go without making Ryan suspicious, using the excuse of business as a reason to be in the area. Her next course of action was to send David and his family on a nice mid-winter break to the Miami beaches, thinking that some company, some time to play with Mina, would do Ryan good. Ryan would never be the wiser that it was all planned by Mary.

Mary was not pleased with what they reported back. According to Maryís spies the young CSI was pale and drawn-looking, very weary. She was getting ready to pull out the big guns when Tony intervened and volunteered to visit his cousin for a week, being able to pass it off to his coworkers as a fun in the sun vacation. He feared that if Mary had been the one to visit Ryan, the young man would be out of a job. Ryan had confided in Tony; he knew how much Ryan was resented by his coworkers. Tony also knew Mary very well, if she had the slightest clue what the dynamics were at Ryanís job, the young man would be looking for new employment immediately. Mary had come to know Ryan while he was still a teen. Tony had asked if his cousin could join them during a school break. Ryanís parents did not cope well with his OCD. They were more than grateful to have their son be in someone elseís care for a school break. He wasnít as close to her as Tony or Ezra were, but she did love him and was very concerned for him. She knew how sensitive he was and worried how he was coping in the aftermath of the death of his love, add in the stress of a new job and her nursing instincts, or motherís instincts were screaming at her.

So, since Maryís instincts were screaming at her, Tony was on his way to Florida to see his cousin. He didnít mind, he was a little concerned about the younger man himself. He had tried several times to get Ryan to pull together his CV and apply to NCIS, or the NYPD. Heck, he even suggested the FBI - although he really didnít like that agency - or the ATF. Anything to get him away from the position he was in now. Anything to get him someplace that Tony could protect him. Working in the same place the person he loved most in the world worked, working with the other manís coworkers, people who now resented him for taking the other manís place.

Tony hated feeling so helpless, and he did feel helpless not knowing what he could do to make Ryan whole again. He knew that Ryan had met the love of his life and lost him. Tony sighed, he wished he had that kind of love.

He had been sneaky with Ryan, leaving him messages on his home phone at times he knew the other man would be out at work. He didnít want to have to answer any questions. He was pretty sure that his cousin expected him to bring Gibbs with him. If he was truly going on a vacation with his frat brothers he just might have done that. All of them were aware that he was bi and wouldnít have been upset at the addition of Tonyís S/O. But this was about family and Tony had yet to tell anyone he worked with anything significant about his family life, even Gibbs only knew what he had to for the files and the little bits that Tony has slipped into conversations over the years.

Tony had also done this so he could keep it secret until the last minute that he was coming on the private jet. Once his cousin knew those 2 things, Gibbs not coming and the mode of transportation, he would know why Tony was visiting him. It was better if Tony was already in Florida at that point, to deal with the fallout.

He hated the fact that he was responsible for Timís death, and that he never told anyone about it...

Chapter 3

Ryan groaned as he glanced at his watch. He had lost track of time while he was doing some work in the lab. He looked at the work he still had yet to do and sighed. If he didnít leave soon he was going to be late picking Tony up. He knew he should go and see if H would let him leave and come back to finish after he went to the airport. He could bring Tony back here to wait or leave him at his hotel to rest.

Ryan slowly, methodically and neatly gathered up the evidence he was working on, replacing each item in its envelope and making the appropriate notations on them. He then returned them to the evidence locker. The last thing he needed was another screw up. His OCD made him check 3 times that he had tagged the evidence bags correctly before turning them in and that no small pieces were forgotten. He policed the work area several times to make sure it was tidy before leaving the lab to look for his boss.

He was pretty sure Horatio would let him take the hour or so it would take to go to the airport and get his cousin but he didnít want to make the assumption and be proven wrong. He had planned to make this his meal break. Worst case scenario he could call or message Tony to take a cab and they could meet later.

He was somewhat surprised that Tony had gotten vacation time, remembering how difficult it was for the NCIS agent to get time off. It made him wonder yet again if his boss and lover was coming with him. He wasnít sure since he had yet to speak to his older cousin, playing voicemail tag and only sending text messages back and forth to each other. Both men were working active cases recently, keeping them both busy and out of their homes.

Then again, Tony wouldnít voluntarily let Gibbs this close to Mary on a bet. He had yet to tell most of his adoptive family about the relationship, Ryan and Ezra being the notable exceptions. He thought that Mel may know from some things she had said, from observations she made to him, but he was sure she was never told.

He also knew that if Tony had his way, the relationship would not be so secretive. The only thing holding his cousin back from publically acknowledging them as a couple, to the rest of the family at least, was the fact that Tony was so unsure of Gibbs.

He remembered the phone call he got 10 months ago after Tonyís coworker had been kidnapped by what was his name again... he couldnít remember. Just a few months before Tim died.

The call that told Ryan that the terrorist had threatened the girls. The call that told him that Tonyís boss had made his move.

Tony was terrified. He was mildly afraid for the girls but he refused Ryanís offer to have them stay in Miami. He knew that Ryan and his lover didnít need the added strain of an instant family in their relationship. Plus, in his heart, he knew the girls were safest in the rural area of Morocco that they were in. It would be difficult for any stranger to get them even if they were Arab, because the area they were in was Berber.

No, what Tony was totally terrified and freaked out about was that his boss very definitely let Tony know he was interested in the other man sexually, but apparently not as a relationship.

He had gone over to Tonyís place several times and they had had great sex but Gibbs didnít acknowledge it in any way outside of the acts themselves, outside of the bedroom. He left while Tony was still too strung out on the endorphins to really know what was going on. At the office he ignored Tony, well he didnít treat him any better, in fact Tony was more sure than ever he was almost on his way out of NCIS, off Gibbsí team, due to the way he was being treated by his team leader. When Tony tried to get the man alone, Gibbs eluded him. One time when Tony gathered up his courage and actually went to Gibbsí house, finding his boss working on the boat in the basement, Gibbs looked up from his work, saw Tony on the stairs and asked if they had a case. When Tony answered no, Gibbs then ignored him. Tony had stayed there, sitting on the stairs for almost an hour before getting up to leave. As Tony was putting his jacket on he was pushed up against the wall from behind and again he didnít know what hit him. In minutes Gibbs had his pants and boxers around his ankles and he was moaning Gibbsí name over and over again, Gibbsí cock up his ass. Tony was coming and seeing stars, gasping a few short minutes later. Gibbs told him where he could clean up and told him to make sure he shut the door on the way out of the house.

This was the point that Ryan received a frantic call in the middle of the night. Tony was scared and confused and looking for advice. Tony had loved Gibbs for years before this had happened. That was the reason that the 2 year mark came and went and Tony never even thought of leaving NCIS.

Tony didnít like Ryanís advice one bit. The younger cousin thought that Tony should try and end the relationship. He feared that the older man was only using Tony and he didnít want his cousin hurt.

Tony ended the call shortly thereafter and proceeded to call Ezra for his thoughts on the topic. Ryan had no idea what advice Ezra had given, but he was aware they talked. Ryan called Tony a few days later and told his cousin that while he didnít think that he should continue the relationship, he still was supportive of it and would be more than willing to let Tony use him as a sounding board, if only to call and bitch and complain about his older lover.

Thatís how he found out that the relationship was changing, of late Tony had told him how Gibbs would stay sometimes all night and he would wake up in the other manís arms, feeling safe and loved. Or how when Gibbs was unable to stay he would hold Tony and stroke him in the afterglow, letting him feel loved. Surprisingly enough, they even went out to dinner like a date. Tony called afterwards, shocked that Gibbs had actually taken him on a date.

Even though he was opposed to the relationship at first, Ryan was thrilled that it seemed to be working out now. He had actually liked Gibbs the short amount of time that he had seen the man when he visited Tony at NCIS. Ryan was no fool, he spent most of his visit in the basement with Abby, where any smart forensic scientist should be. In addition, Abby was a cool person to hang with. The lab here was really straight-laced in many ways, he would love to bring Abby here with her loud music, huge Caff-Pows and Goth clothes and see how the CSIs reacted to it.

Ryan strode through the halls of the lab with a purpose, looking for Horatio but finding Delko instead.

"Hey Delko, have you seen Horatio?"

"Yeah Wolfe, I think he was in ballistics with Calleigh but he said he was heading towards Alexx, he had to ask her something."

"Thanks."

"Iíll come with you, I need to ask him something too."

The two men found Horatio and Alexx discussing the latest case. Alexx was telling H about the possible cause of death. They waited until Alexx was finished and then Ryan spoke to H.

"H, I have to go and get my cousin from the airport. I planned it so that I can use my lunch break. Is this okay with you? If not I can call him and tell him to take a cab."

"That is fine, Mr. Wolfe. Take one of the Hummers. And take Eric with you."

Chapter 4

Ryan sat in the passenger side of the Hummer. He still wasnít sure how he ended up going to the airport with Delko of all people, to pick up his cousin. He had planned to use his lunchtime to run a hopefully quick errand of playing taxicab for Tony. He thought clearing it with his boss a mere formality. Casting a sideways glance at Delko, the other man seemed to be no happier to be here than Ryan was, at least if the expression on his face was anything to go by.

"So what airline is your cousin flying in on?" Eric couldnít believe H had him chauffeuring around Wolfe of all people.

"What - uh hmmm, I forgot to check."

Ryan fumbled for his cell phone to look at the messages. He knew Tony had left him one with all of the information about his flight this morning. Ryan hadnít looked at it before now, since he already knew what time to go to the airport.

Eric gave Ryan a dark look. "You donít even know where we have to be!" he exclaimed incredulously.

Ryan blushed slightly at the tone of his coworkerís voice. "I wasnít expecting company to be quite honest."

As he checked the message he hoped that Tony hadnít gotten a military transport flight. Usually he didnít when he had the time to come to Miami, which wasnít that often. When he came for the funeral he caught a military transport and getting him in and out of the base was an interesting proposition.

He looked at the message and found out it was worse than a military plane. Tony had the private jet. That certainly cleared some things up. It explained the constant phone tag; Tony was ducking his calls. Gibbs was definitely NOT going to be tagging along on this trip. Tony was not just on a vacation, there was something else on his mind; the jet was rarely used for recreational purposes. It was used for business and charity functions. It was used to transport family members in an emergency. Not for a vacation that was frivolous. Commercial travel was more than adequate for a vacation.

Ryan was kicking himself mentally, he should have checked the message earlier. Now Delko was gonna think that he was some rich spoiled kid. If Ryan had checked the messages earlier he could have found some way to go to the airport alone.

"Itís the private plane terminal," Ryan muttered under his breath after looking at his phone.

Eric glanced over at Ryan, sure he didnít hear correctly. "Iím sorry, what did you say?"

Ryan took a deep breath and let it out. This was going to be painful. "The private terminal. Somehow he is flying in on a private jet." Ryan then continued in a sotto voce, "At least he isnít on a transport."

Now Eric looked over at Ryan and said, "Huh?"

Ryan shook his head, smiled slightly and said, "Never mind, not important."

Ryan lay back against the seat and placed his head on the headrest, closing his eyes. He needed to regroup. This wasnít a "vacation", something else was going on and he figured he would need his strength to deal with whatever his cousin had in mind. He would need all of his strength to rein in his cousin regardless of the reason Tony was here. Ryan had a really good idea of how Tony interacted with women sometimes. Had seen it in person. Then he got to hear all about how Tony and Kate interacted through Abby. Kate would complain to Abby about something Tony did or said and then the next time Ryan spoke to Abby she would tell him what was going on.

Now he was going to have to take Tony back to the crime lab with him. Since Eric was here and he had a county vehicle, he knew he couldnít drop Tony at his hotel... if he even had a hotel, which was looking more and more unlikely. He really didnít want to bring Tony home, at least until they had a chance to talk and Ryan could get an idea what was going on.

Ryan rubbed his forehead. He would have to lay down the ground rules to his cousin as soon as he saw him. Somehow he didnít think that Calleigh would react well if Tony started adjusting himself in front of her like he was prone to do with Kate. He didnít think Calleigh would react well to most of the stunts Tony pulled. Oh God! What if he started flirting with her. No! First order of business was getting Tony to drop at least part of the act, and warn him off Calleigh. Even though Ryan knew he was involved with Gibbs, Ryan also knew he kept up the straight guy act. Heck, he was the one who told Ryan to never let your colleagues even begin to suspect youíre gay. Advice Ryan followed to this day. It was the reason none of his coworkers knew that Tim and Ryan knew each other, never mind that they were lovers.

Tony had learned firsthand on his first job in Peoria how dangerous it could be for a cop who wasnít completely straight. Tony didnít want Ryan to ever have to go through what he did prior to leaving that area. Once it was clear that Ryan was determined to follow in his cousinís footsteps, Tony drilled into him the need for discretion in his personal life, especially if he was in a homosexual relationship.

Ryan knew that none of Tonyís coworkers were aware of the relationship he shared with Gibbs. Even Abby, who Tony trusted enough to let her know he was bisexual, had no idea.

Tim had really wanted to introduce Ryan to all of his friends at the lab, especially Horatio and Eric whom he was particularly close to. Ryan, using his cousinís example and knowing the very compelling reasons behind it, refused. It was one thing that they fought over frequently, though Tim always gave in since he had known Ryanís reason after being told what had happened to Tony.

Then Tim was shot and killed and it was too late to tell anybody anything. At times Ryan wondered if things would have been easier on him with the other CSIs if they had known about their relationship. At other times he thought it may have been harder if they knew. At least this way he didnít get pitying looks and whispers behind his back about taking it up the ass. He still had some friends from patrol so, while being somewhat of the outcast among the CSIs, he still had some people to hang out with, to socialize with. If he were "out" he might not have anyone.

*******

While Ryan was wool gathering Eric sat there, contemplating his newest coworker. He knew in his head that it wasnít Ryanís fault Speed died. That just because the younger man was hired to fill the position left in the wake of Speedís death, Wolfe wasnít the reason that Speed died. It didnít make a difference in Ericís heart though. He didnít want anyone else to take Speedís place. It wasnít fair it, wasnít right. He didnít like the new guy, but in a way he did. Sometimes Wolfe looked so lost and lonely; you could see it in his eyes. They were so expressive. Sad beautiful green eyes.

Eric squashed that thought. This was the guy who took Speedís place on the team. He didnít know how to work with other people. Come on, he took credit for the key gun you found, remember all of that.

Whatís this about his cousin flying on a private plane to come for a visit? Those things cost a pretty penny. Guess Wolfe must come from money, gotta find a way to tease him about that.

Chapter 5

Tony stood leaning against the wall in the lounge area of the private jet terminal, his bags at his feet. He didnít mind too much because he wasnít looking forward to seeing his cousin. Ryan would already be suspicious because of his mode of travel. Tony wasnít too concerned about that though. No, he was much more concerned about the way Ryan would take the news he had to tell him. Tony still wasnít sure how he was going to broach the subject, but he couldnít put it off any longer. He had had the info about Timís death a little over a month now and if Ryan knew he was holding it for even that long without telling him then Tony would be in trouble. The only reason he didnít speak to his cousin immediately about it was he wanted to speak to Fornell about it first.

In order to do that, Tony had to calm down first, which took several days. Then he wasnít sure how to explain to his cousin what had happened. Even with the tape and the info Fornell had given him, he still wasnít sure how it had happened. How exactly the killer had been able to pinpoint Tim.

How do you tell your cousin that youíre the reason his lover died... Well, he knew he would have to do it in person for one thing. This spring break idea was just too good an opportunity to pass up. Gibbs even fell for it. He hoped he had some time to go and get a tan while he was here or else the team, Kate especially, would think he spent his whole vacation drunk.

*******

Ryan and Eric drove the rest of the way to the airport in silence, arriving there in short order. Ryan exited the vehicle to search for Tony; Eric killed the engine and followed him.

Upon entering the terminal, Ryan found Tony in the lounge. He walked up to his cousin, calling his name in greeting and gave him a hug.

"Tony, itís good to see you!" Ryan gripped his cousin tightly in the hug.

Tony returned the embrace; he could tell that Ryan needed the physical contact that this greeting offered. "You too, Runt."

Eric raised his eyebrows at the nickname, and smirked to himself.

Tony clapped Ryan on the back once before ending the embrace. He grabbed his younger cousin by the arms and searched his face. Tony nodded to himself, apparently satisfied with what he saw there. Then he winced as he noticed the clothing that Ryan was wearing.

"Did you get dressed in the dark or something Ry?"

As they were speaking, Ryan had grabbed one of Tonyís bags while Tony took the other. Tony continued, "I have GOT to take you shopping while I am here!"

Ryan shook his head at Tony and snarked at him, "We canít all afford hundred dollar ties Tone, some of us have student loans you know, not everyone gets a full scholarship."

Eric listened to the banter going on back and forth. He had never seen Ryan so relaxed before. He had not even realized how tense Ryan was most of the time in the lab; it was his normal state of being. Seeing him relaxed and talking with this Tony person was a welcome change. He had resented H for sending him with Ryan on a personal errand, now he wondered if H didnít have an ulterior motive.

Tony stopped walking and turned to Ryan. "Youíve been talking to Abby again, havenít you. Had to have been last night, we just had that conversation about my tie a couple of days ago."

Ryan smiled at his cousin and said, "I talk to Abby almost EVERY night, we are working on that journal article together, remember. If we donít talk, we IM or email."

"Did she talk you into researching crop circles with her?" Tony asked, only half-kidding.

Ryan groaned. "Please, please, please, DO NOT MENTION crop circles to that woman again. If you happen to see one somewhere, pretend you didnít and tell McGee the same."

Eric had amused himself listening in on their conversation, at this point he couldnít contain himself any longer and had to interject, "Crop circles?"

Tony looked over and saw the tall, good looking Hispanic man. He quirked his eyebrow and looked at Ryan. "You planning on introducing us?"

Ryan blushed at his lack of manners. "Ooh! Excuse me. Sorry, I was so caught up in seeing Tony I forgot you were there. Tony, meet my coworker, Eric Delko. Eric, my cousin, Anthony DiNozzo."

The two men shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

"Weíd better get moving, our boss let us take a county vehicle but I donít want to be out too long. So where are you staying, weíll drop you on the way," Ryan said, almost completely sure that Tony was planning on staying with him.

"Ah ...Yeah...Well, see about that..."

Ryan looked over at Tony; he knew the moment that he found out about the private plane that Tony would be staying with him. "Okay, let me guess... Mary sent you here. This was a forced vacation and you are staying with me.... Am I right so far?"

Tony sighed and looked at his cousin. "More or less... I have some stuff to talk to you about that Mary doesnít know about though, and yes it has to be done in person, so I am staying with you."

"Please tell me it has nothing to do with my parents, or yours for that matter."

"That I can tell you; it has absolutely nothing to do with our parents."

Ryan grinned at Tony; if it didnít have to do with their mutual family it couldnít be as bad as Tony feared. "Good, then it canít be too terrible then." Ryan walked away from his cousin and went to store the bags in the rear seats of the Hummer.

Eric happened to hear Tony mutter, "Donít be too sure about that, Cuz."

Chapter 6

As they were driving along, Tony got a chance to get a good look at the "extras" the crime lab Hummers were equipped with. He saw the computer fingerprint analysis equipment, basically a mini crime lab on wheels. He was very impressed. NCIS didnít have anything nearly as nice as this. The NCIS truck was useful but this was cool.

The trip to the lab was made mostly in silence, other than Tonyís quick comment, "Hey Ry, cool toys."

Ryan muttered something under his breath in response and Eric smirked to himself, civilians! Upon arrival at the lab, Eric went inside while Tony and Ryan transferred Tonyís bags to Ryanís car.

Walking into the lab, Ryan decided the time had come to try and rein in his cousin, lay down some ground rules.

"Tony, I donít care how you react to Kate. How you are at NCIS is no oneís business but yours and Gibbs... but please try and act a little more mature here."

Tony grinned like a little boy and put on his most innocent expression. "I have no idea what you mean."

They had entered the building and stopped at the reception desk where Ryan was arranging Tonyís visitorís pass. Eric, who had been walking past the desk, stopped as he heard more of the strange interaction between the two men. He could honestly say H sending him with Wolfe had not been boring.

Ryan gave Tony a considering look. He guessed he would have to be blunt. He sighed. Ryan should have known better; blunt was always best when dealing with Tony.

"You are really going to make me say it, arenít you?" He gave his cousin a considering glance. "Okay, no Ďadjustingí yourself in front of my female coworkers. No talking about your conquests. I donít want to hear about your dating a coed."

Tony cut him off, laughing, "So I guess you do talk to Abs a lot then. Hmmm, gonna have to curtail that, donít want to give away all of my secrets... So Kate told her about the time the ĎBoysí needed a little space to breathe while out in the field, huh."

Ryan just rolled his eyes and said, "Like you could stop Abby and me from talking... even if you wanted to."

"Runt, I could just sic Mary on you," Tony said with a teasing look in his green eyes.

Ryan shook his head and smiled at his cousin. "She wouldnít do anything to me. She loves me," he said with a huge smile on his face.

Tony sighed, ducked his head, cocked it, and smiled sheepishly at his cousin. "She would at that."

Eric shook his head. He had been watching the cousins way too long. It was time for Ryan to go back to work, so he interrupted their playful banter. "Wolfe, come on, we gotta review the case over in layout."

Ryan turned his attention to Eric. "Delko, I was in the middle of processing..."

Eric cut him off, "Cal finished it when we went to get your cousin from the airport. Letís go."

Eric and Ryan set off to the layout room. Tony shrugged his shoulders and followed the two men. He sat quietly in the corner as they set up the photographs that they were reviewing. Tony was not really paying attention.

Eric had noticed Ryanís cousin following them. He smirked evilly to himself, the photographs they were reviewing were rather graphic. The murder investigation, a very bloody one. Eric knew Tony would be turning green any minute now. He could never understand why civilians thought they could handle police work.

Tony for his part, had not really been paying attention to the crime scene photos. He saw enough of that at work, and even though Mary had made him come to Florida, this was still his vacation. He did not want to be reminded of work. Hopefully this would be the only day he came with Ryan to his job.

Instead of paying attention to his cousinís work, he let his mind wander, thinking of all he had to accomplish with Ryan this trip. First thing, he needed to go visit the cemetery. Next, he had to explain to Ryan what had really happened to Tim. Finally, he had to impress upon Ryan the need to visit Mary. Tony knew if Ryan did not see Mary soon voluntarily, she would make the decision for him and come visit Miami.

As Tony was lost in his thoughts, Ryan and Eric had the crime scene photos completely laid out on the table and were discussing the case. Actually, they were arguing about the placement of the victim. This brought Tony out of his reverie. He glanced up and looked at the photos, paling when he noticed the marks on the body.

Even though Eric had been arguing with Ryan, he had still kept a furtive watch on their visitor. He noticed almost immediately when the other man first realized what Ryanís job entailed. Typical civilian.

Ryan noticed Eric staring at Tony. He looked over towards his cousin and saw his pallor. He knew that it was not the gore in the photos that caused his cousin to pale. Ryan approached Tony, but before he could say anything his cousin asked for his car keys and said he would be back in a little while.

Tony left the two men there, one positive that Tony could not handle the crime scene photos, the other concerned for his cousin and wondering what about those photos had his cousin leaving so abruptly. He shook his head and went back to arguing the case with Delko. If Tony wanted to talk to him, he would eventually. Ryan was not going to worry about it.

Delko could not believe Ryanís actions. This was his cousin, the man got really upset, and it was like Ryan did even notice. "Yo man, that was cold."

Ryan looked up from the picture he was contemplating. "Huh? What are you talking about?"

"Your cousin, he seemed spooked."

"Tony? Nah, heís fine." Ryan lifted a few photos and shifted them around.

Eric stared at his coworker. He couldnít believe that Ryan was so callous. Eric shook his head and went back to his work.

Chapter 7

Tony left the layout room as soon as he had Ryan's keys in hand. Damn, that case looked all too familiar to him. He had worked on a serial killer case in Philly just before he left the force there in the wake of Ezra's shooting. The serial killer was never caught.

The positioning of the bodies. The letter carved into the chest of the victim. The Waterford crystal toasting flute. The expensive champagne. He needed to call Abby and have her dig through his file folders for him... Hey it could be worse, it could be an old unsolved NCIS case and then Gibbs would bring the whole team down here... Oh what fun... NOT! He seriously needed a break from Kate and McGee. Gibbs, well normally he wouldn't mind having the older man somewhere that would force him to show off his body... But he would really rather not have Gibbs meet any of his family. When Ryan came to NCIS he was introduced as a friend. Plus it was too close to where his daughter and her grandparents lived. Gibbs had met the older couple one time and didn't know they were in any way related to Tony and he planned to keep it that way. At least until he knew where he stood with the man.

Tony returned his visitors pass to the receptionist with a flirtatious smile. Tony walked out the door of the crime lab and headed towards Ryan's car, he called Abby on the way and asked her to look for the file on the serial killer that he kept with all of the other files he worked on in the wee hours of the morning. Abby was one of the few people along with the night staff security personnel who knew of Tony's nocturnal habits. He had been asking her lately for some help on hacking into some databases. She knew where his files were kept and she promised to scan them so she could email it to him. She was also going to overnight the file to him care of the crime lab.

He noticed all of Ryan's coworkers were busy and knew this would be the perfect time to take care of one thing that he wanted no one to be aware of. The perfect time to slip away and visit the cemetery. By the time he was finished, Abby would have scanned and emailed all of the documents to him. Then he could approach Ryan about why he was so spooked.

Tony was not familiar with Miami, luckily he had thought ahead and map-quested directions while he was still in DC. He utilized these to go to the cemetery and didn't get lost.

Tony had last been to Tim's grave on the day he was buried, lending support to his cousin along with as many of the rest of his "family" that could make it. He was lucky Gibbs had felt generous and gave him the day off once he told his boss he needed to attend the funeral of a friend who worked in law enforcement and was killed in the line of duty. His boss even going so far as to arrange military transport for him, one of the few times Gibbs actually did something nice for him, as an act of a lover, since they actually became lovers.

He wished he would have had more time in Miami then, to spend with Ryan and support him in his grief, but Tony had learned early in his career you don't "out" a cop even to your own gay lover, so he didn't tell Gibbs that this particular death was of a family member, the gay male lover of the only blood relation he remained in close contact with.

He left Ryan in the care of Mary and Mel and the rest and went back to DC, back to NCIS. Initially, he didn't want to look into the case that caused Tim's death. It was a closed case, a solved one, unlike the one that took the life of Ezra's wife. The case he had been working on in his spare time for nearly 5 years. In time however, he became curious and through his sources in the Miami Dade PD asked for a copy of the report. They were unable to obtain it for him. Apparently the FBI had become involved and the file had been turned over to them. This was not a well-known piece of information. It shocked Tony's contact. It made Tony even more curious as to why the FBI was so interested in the case of a cop shot in a jewelry store. The FBI's involvement had been kept very quiet. It took several months but eventually Tony was able to obtain a copy of the FBI report with huge portions of it redacted and blacked out, even with his level of security clearance. He was lucky that he had kept in contact with Martin Fitzgerald of the FBI office in NY. Martin used his father's contacts as a deputy Director to get Tony the file. Otherwise he doubted he would have ever seen the file. There was also a videotape of the security camera footage from the jewelry store sent too.

One night after work, when he knew Gibbs wouldn't be coming over, he sat down with a beer to read the file. There wasn't much information in it. Most of it was blacked out. Then he inserted the videotape in the player and returned to his seat to watch his friend be gunned down. He saw Tim and his boss enter the store and speak to a man, a man who Tony instantly recognized. He knew immediately why the FBI was so involved in this case. If he had Fornell in front of him right now he wouldn't be responsible for his own actions.

"SON OF A BITCH!" the beer flew from his hand and through the screen of his expensive plasma screen TV. Tony was not normally prone to fits of rage but that was the only thing you could call what happened next. He literally tore his apartment apart, destroying many things in his wake.

When he was finished he sat on the floor in the corner of his living room crying and apologizing, "I'm sorry Tim. I didn't know, please forgive me." Rocking himself and repeating it over and over again.

Eventually he came back to himself and removed the tape from the remnants of the VCR; luckily the tape had not been damaged. He took the file and locked it in a safe place with the tape until he could place it in a safety deposit box in the morning.

Now he was here at Tim's gravesite to apologize in person for being responsible for his death. He knew it was his fault because he didn't warn Tim and Ryan about the danger they faced through knowing Tony. He thought that his connection to Ryan was distant enough to keep him safe. Tony was wrong about that and Ryan and Tim paid the ultimate price.

So Tony slowly walked to Tim's grave and sat on the moist earth and started talking to his dead friend.

"Tim, I am so sorry. It's my fault buddy... all my fault that Ari killed you..." Tony sat there crying and apologizing to his friend.

Chapter 8

Tony wasn't sure how long he sat there in the peace of the cemetery. Long enough for his crying jag to stop and to calm himself. He felt emotionally drained, and he knew that was nothing compared to what he still had to deal with, with Ryan. Oddly he also felt at peace. He had kept this information bottled up for months, telling no one, and it had started to eat away at him. Now, though he only spoke to a dead man he felt as if a weight had been lifted from him. He started to collect himself, left the flowers he had brought with him next to the headstone and was walking away from the grave when his phone rang.

"Hey Abs, whatcha got?"

"Hey Tony, I was able to scan all of the files; they are in a compressed file that I emailed to you."

"Thanks Ab, what about my original file? Are you gonna be able to send it?"

There was silence on the other end of the line. For a minute Tony thought he had lost reception on his cell phone until he realized he had his satellite phone and it was nearly impossible to lose a signal with that.

"Abs? You there?"

"Ahh... Ummm, well see, here's the thing."

"Abby!" he said sternly. It wasn't like the Goth lab rat to be so hesitant.

"It wasn't my fault, really it wasn't. I went up to your desk after Timmy said Gibbs had gone out for coffee. I should have had plenty of time. But he came back and he was being all Gibbs and stuff and snuck up behind me. About scared the life out of me. So of course he asked me what I was doing in your files and you know I can't lie to him, so I had to tell him. I was surprised that he actually let me do the scanning for you. But then he made me look up some old unsolved naval and marine cases, looking for similarities to the one in your folder..."

"No," Tony said quietly. This wasn't an NCIS case. It wasn't. It couldn't be. "Abby, I want the next words out of your mouth to be anything BUT Gibbs is coming down to Miami."

"Gibbs is coming down to Miami. And he is taking the team with him."

Tony took a deep breath, chuckled slightly and said in a teasing tone, "I told you not to say that."

"Tony, I am so sorry, it's just bossman was being all Gibbs and stuff and he wouldn't stop until I found a connection between the case and an old NCIS case. I swear he snuck up on me..."

"Shhh, Abby it's alright, take a breath before you pass out... Breathe... Are you better?" Tony broke into Abby's babble before it took her over. At her 'Uh-huh' he continued, "Is the boss still there or has he left yet?" Tony continued walking towards the car. Regardless of what time Gibbs was arriving, he should start briefing Ryan's Coworkers before The NCIS team arrived. There would be hell to pay with Gibbs otherwise. Plus he had to familiarize himself with the current crime scene and results. He shuddered to think what Gibbs would say to him if he weren't ready with a full report when Gibbs got to the crime lab.

"No, not yet. It was only decided 15 minutes ago that the team was making the trip to Miami. I wanted to let you have as much of a heads up as possible. You know how much Gibbs hates unsolved cases."

"Okay Abs, give me a call back with the flight info, be it commercial or military. I will either get them or arrange something. I need to head back to the crime lab and review the evidence that they have on this case. I also want to download the email you sent, let them know they are working a multi-jurisdictional case."

Abby sounded shocked when she relied to Tony, "You mean you haven't done that yet?"

"No Abs. I had no idea that this was an NCIS case, the files I sent you to get for me are from my days in Philly. I have no jurisdiction for that case these days. I was planning on sharing the info with the Miami CSIs after you sent it to me. Gibbs worked this case when Burley was still on his team, while I was still in Baltimore."

"Oh... I never thought about you not having jurisdiction. So where are you then?"

The line went silent, then realization dawned. "Forget I asked Tony, I know where you are." Abby knew exactly where he was but not why. It was one secret of his that he had not shared with her. His involvement with Gibbs another.

"Yeah, I haven't been since the funeral, I wanted to spend some time here while Ry was at work."

The conversation ended shortly thereafter and Tony started the car to drive back to the crime lab. This was not the way he wanted to spend his vacation. He had planned on ogling beauties of both sexes on the beach. Spending some time getting seriously drunk. Going up north and spending the weekend with his daughter. All of this after he spoke to Ryan about both Ari and why he had been hiding the past several months.

Instead he would be working a case with Ryan's coworkers. A case that Gibbs worked with Burley. For some reason Tony was never jealous of any of Gibbs' wives but Stan Burley made him forest green with envy.

Gibbs hated when he had an unsolved case, so he would be pushing the whole team hard to get this one solved. Tony really wasn't looking forward to it. Now he would have to play the clown for real. If he acted the way Ryan wanted him to, Kate would think Pod People took over his body. He would have to try and strike a delicate balance and act as expected to Kate and McGee and act halfway normal to Ryan's teammates. He chuckled. Nothing like trying to act the part of the schizophrenic and hope no one notices.

One thing was certain, he was going to try and get paired off with Ryan. It would make things a whole lot easier if he could arrange that. He could just act like himself then and not worry about masks for the most part.

Well, he had plenty of time to worry about what would happen once Gibbs and the team arrived. For now he had to go back and warn his cousin... Miami was about to be invaded...

Chapter 9

Tony returned to the crime lab and waited by the reception desk for Ryan, whom he had called as he was pulling into the parking garage. Mentally making lists of things and prioritizing tasks in his head. First a computer connection while he asked Ryan to get his boss and gather the team.

While he waited, he realized he had NOTHING with him. He had left everything but his NCIS badge and ID at home. His gun, his pack with all his supplies, even his knife... and if Gibbs caught him without that again, he didn't even want to think of it... Then there was his wardrobe. What he was currently wearing was the closest thing to semi professional that he had brought with him. The rest were casual clothes, mostly shorts and swim suits along with some clubbing stuff. He had to call Abs and have someone go by his apartment and get his stuff. He pulled out his phone to make his call.

"Abby... I just realized that I don't have..."

Abby finished for him, "Your pack, gun and any clothes you may need?"

"Yeah and my knife too. Is there any way you could go to my place and get it to send with McGee for me?"

"Already done. I sent McGee to your place as soon as I knew the team was going. Told bossman that he was going to get me a cafe-pow. I'll call and make sure he has your knife."

Ryan had walked up during the exchange. Tony held a finger up for him to wait as he quickly finished the phone call. "Thanks Ab, you are a goddess among women! He should have seen the knife, it was near my gun. Any word on flight info yet?" At her negative reply he closed the conversation. "Okay, call me when you know. Bye."

Tony closed his phone and turned to face Ryan. "I need a computer and we need to talk... You might want to get your boss for this... Maybe even your whole team."

Ryan looked at Tony, a confused expression on his face. "What's wrong? What's going on? Delko said that you looked weird in layout; he gave me grief over it. I know that what was there is nothing compared to some of the stuff you have told me about... I remember that case in Baltimore, the one with the dismembered bodies..." Ryan trailed off, suddenly the pieces all fell into place. "This case... I knew it seemed familiar but I couldn't place it... You're the reason it seems familiar. You TOLD me about it! This is that case you were working just before Ezra got shot! The one in Philly with the..." Ryan trailed off again, stopping himself from actually saying the words. A multi-state serial killer had set up in Miami. He needed to get the team together quickly.

Tony sighed and rubbed his eyes. "Yeah, I had Abby scan my personal file about it so she could email it to me, that's why I need a computer." Tony looked at Ryan, "It gets better."

Ryan gave Tony a quizzical look.

"After the Philly case, either while I was out of work when Ez was recuperating, or after I started with Baltimore, the killer went after a bunch of naval personnel. It was Gibbs' case. He'll be here in a few hours."

Ryan looked at Tony with something akin to horror. Horatio's style when chasing a suspect was intense but mellow compared to the few times he had seen Gibbs in action, or heard about the impossible deadlines given to his subordinates from his discussions with Abby and Tony. Combine that with the way most of his coworkers treated him and Tony's male chauvinist act... well Ryan could feel the headache coming on already and the urge to start scrubbing the lab's floors was starting, something that never happened before.

Tony saw the flash of panic on his cousin's face. "Don't worry Runt, I'll make sure that Gibbs splits us up so one NCIS agent gets assigned to one CSI. I'll do my best to make sure you get me or Probie." Tony grinned at Ryan, trying to humor him out of his near panic attack. Although pairing Ryan with Kate would be great for a laugh, he would have to live with the consequences for years afterward. Ryan could be sneaky when he felt you owed him a payback.

Ryan sighed, his day was about to get a whole lot longer. He rubbed his face and told Tony, "Here, use the computer in the trace lab. I'll go and get the others. I guess the layout room would be the best place to have this discussion."

Ryan set Tony up on the computer and set out to find his boss and the rest of the team. He wondered if they would need Alexx too, but he figured Horatio could decide if she would need to know what was going on. Next time Tony called him and told him he was coming for a visit, Ryan was gonna tell him to stay home!

Chapter 10

Ryan approached his boss who was standing in the hallway. No one liked to have the feds involved in an investigation. Ryan was sure that the news that he had to give his boss would not be welcome. Although, if it helped them solve the case then maybe it would be worth it.

"Horatio," Ryan called to his boss as he walked up to him.

"Mr. Wolfe, was there something you needed? I trust you had no trouble picking up your cousin from the airport."

Ryan grumbled in Italian, under his breath, about interfering cousins and needing to stay home, out loud he answered, "No, no trouble at all. What I needed to talk to you about is the case. There has been a new development and I need you to come to the layout room. Actually, I think you'll want everyone there."

"What's going on Mr. Wolfe?"

Ryan looked Horatio in the eye. "I have reason to believe that the murder we are investigating is part of a multi-state serial killing spree. I am having some of the evidence from one of the other cases placed in the layout room. I would like to see what you and the rest of the team think."

Horatio gave Ryan a hard stare. A serial killer case was a very serious thing, especially if it was multi-jurisdictional as Ryan seemed to think it was. "Okay Mr. Wolfe. Gather the team. Would 30 minutes be enough time to have the presentation ready?"

"It should be... I need to tell you H that if this is a serial killer case, there is a good chance that the feds will be involved..."

Horatio cut Ryan off, "I am well aware that the FBI generally get involved in these cases once state lines are crossed Mr. Wolfe."

Ryan nodded his head. "I wasn't talking about the FeeBees Horatio. Some of the earlier victims were in the Navy. NCIS is most likely on the way here already, or will be shortly."

"YOU notified them, Mr. Wolfe?"

"No, no I didn't. The source that informed me that this was a case of serial killing did... It's complicated, I will explain once the layout room and presentation are set up, okay?"

Horatio looked at his newest CSI. He knew the young man always tried to do his job to the best of his abilities but sometimes he was his own worst enemy, Horatio hoped that this did not turn out to be one of those times. That the rest of the team didn't resent the intrusion of whomever NCIS sent to work this case.

Ryan left Horatio after their exchange and quickly located Delko and Calleigh, informing them of the meeting to take place in the layout room and its purpose.

Ryan went back to Tony to assist him in downloading the files and setting up in the layout room. Tony had never used the equipment in there so Ryan showed him how to use it. They were just finishing up as the CSIs started heading in.

Tony's phone rang and he noticed the ID said it was Gibbs. He knew better than to ignore that call, regardless of whatever else he was doing.

"DiNozzo."

"We'll be there in 5 hours, Miami International on Delta flight 456. Don't be late."

As Tony was answering, the phone went dead, "Okay Bo..." Tony was used to it by now. Tony closed the phone and put it away. He turned to face the Miami CSIs. He knew the local LEOs never liked when the feds came in, and tried to take over. He really hadn't planned on this when he made the trip down here. He was aware that Ryan didn't always have the best relationship with these people, Tony just hoped he wasn't about to make it worse.

He really hated this part of the job. Generally when they were working with another agency Gibbs was the one to do the initial contact. All Tony had to do was gather evidence, maybe work with a new partner on a case. One thing was certain, he wasn't going to get into a jurisdictional pissing contest. That he would leave to his boss once he got here. Gibbs did the alpha male thing all too well, more than happy to be the one to establish NCIS's dominance in any investigation. Tony was more than willing to let Gibbs do the jurisdictional shuffle. It was bad enough he was the one bringing the feds here. He didn't need to make things any more difficult for his cousin.

*******

Ryan's coworkers filed into the layout room. Other than Horatio, none of them had been told anything other than they needed to discuss a new development in the ongoing murder investigation. Eric saw Ryan's cousin already in the room and was about to object, the man had not handled the first set of photos he had been exposed to very well, he didn't need to see any more, even if he was trying to prove something to Ryan. At least that was the only reason Eric could think of for someone to subject themselves to a sight that obviously bothered them.

Once everyone had entered the room Tony straightened up, nearly coming to attention as he generally did when giving Gibbs a report or update on a case. He cleared his throat and he began to speak.

"Hello, I'm Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, but please call me Tony," he said, trying to put everyone at ease. "I'm with NCIS, which stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service. I am also Ryan's cousin. I came down here for a vacation, quite honestly."

Tony turned toward Eric and addressed him. "Ryan said you noticed my reaction to the crime scene photos you were reviewing earlier. You were correct, I did react to them, but not for the reason you most likely thought."

Tony returned his attention to the group at large. "Five years ago I was working homicide with the Philly PD, we had a string of killings, bodies positioned after death, expensive champagne, broken Waterford crystal toasting flutes." Tony had described the scene of the Miami murder to a T.

"Due to family commitments at the time I was unable to see the case through to its conclusion. There was never an arrest in the case. We found evidence that the killer had struck earlier in Ohio, approximately a year before the killing started in Philly. The pictures and notes you see before you are from my personal files. There are notes about the case in Philly. Some notes about what went on in Ohio. I was lucky to obtain copies of the crime scene photos from the murders in Philly."

The CSIs looked through the photos that were spread out before them.

"I had one of my friends, someone I work with back in DC, go through my files to scan and send this via email so I could share it with you guys... unfortunately my boss caught her.

"He looked over the file and he noticed similarities to an old open NCIS case, from about 4 years ago. That was before I started there, so I don't know anything about that investigation. They should be bringing any information with them.

"Honestly, I'm on vacation. My plan had been to spend some time with Ry, go clubbing, get a little drunk... maybe get a little lucky..." His green eyes twinkled and he smiled a patented DiNozzo smile at the beautiful blonde he had yet to be introduced to.

"Personally I blame Ryan... he should have never brought me here." Tony's eyes were twinkling again in amusement, a grin on his face. His expression telling Ryan he was being teased.

*******

Eric grimaced, the feds, the God damned feds. They always, without fail, screwed things up. Eric glared at Wolfe, the least the younger man could have done was warn them. Knowing the feds, they will probably take credit for the case and the arrest, making us do all of the work. He absolutely despised them.

To think I was concerned for this idiot. AndÖ Oh No, he didn't just flirt with Calleigh!

*******

Ryan watched the proceedings, he saw Eric with his temper barely being held in check... lord, that didn't bode well. If he was like this now, just wait till Gibbs got here and started rubbing everyone the wrong way. Thank goodness Tony was here. If his cousin had gone on vacation somewhere else and NCIS had gotten wind of this case... He didn't want to think about dealing with Gibbs without the buffer of the older man's lover nearby.

Ryan was standing in his typical contemplative pose, one arm over his abdomen, the other elbow resting on top of it with one hand over his mouth. Then he saw Tony flirt with Calleigh. He bowed his head and covered his eyes, rubbing them while shaking his head. Tony hadn't done anything objectionable or overly suggestive so he wouldn't call his cousin on it. He knew Tony's behavior now that the NCIS team was coming was going to be a little more outrageous than it would have been otherwise. He had a reputation to maintain, after all.

*******

"First, I think we should get to know one another, then I really need to be briefed on what you have on your case so far. I also need to tell you that the next victim, if the killer holds to pattern, will be male. We only have 4 hours until my boss gets here, so we really need to get started."

Horatio Caine looked up at that last bit. "Male?"

"Yes," Tony referred to his notes. "The profiler on the case back in Philly felt the killer was obsessed with the ritual of marriage. The first vic in Philly was a female and the second a male. The same set up with the champagne and flute, like a wedding night."

Tony steered the conversation towards introductions. He needed to know who he was working with first and their strengths.

"I already know Ryan obviously, and I met Eric Delko when he came with Ryan to pick me up at the airport." Tony looked expectantly at Ryan. He knew his cousin had better manners than this; they had been drilled into both of them while they were still in diapers.

Ryan flushed slightly, but took the hint and introduced the other members of the team to Tony.

Horatio gazed intently at Agent DiNozzo. He was sure he had heard that name before but he couldn't place where at the moment. He tilted his head and shook the younger man's hand, "Agent DiNozzo."

Tony responded with a firm shake and, "Please, call me Tony."

"Tony," Horatio agreed.

Which pissed Ryan off no end. Here he was with the team over 6 months and he was still called Mr. Wolfe. Tony was here less than 6 hours and he had Horatio calling him by his first name.

Ryan introduced Tony to Calleigh next. Tony actually behaved himself. He charmed the southern woman, for sure, flirted with her, of course, but did not do anything overly objectionable and for that Ryan was grateful. In fact, it seemed like they were getting along rather well. They were reviewing the case together and Tony said something that made Calleigh laugh.

Eric came up to Ryan while the younger man was looking at his cousin interact with Calleigh. "So Wolfe, did you plan this with your cousin? I mean it's awfully suspicious. He's here a few hours and suddenly we are going to have feds crawling out of the wood work."

Ryan looked at Eric a little startled. "Huh, what do you mean?"

"Come on, you mean you never discuss work with your cousin?"

It was true, he did often call Tony or Ezra and Vin for that matter, heck he used many of the contacts he had in law enforcement when he felt it was warranted, for a fresh perspective or new insights to a case. Tony's brain was wired differently than most other people he knew. He thought of things in terms of movies often times. He was also amazingly perceptive in spite of that, or perhaps because of it. He had not discussed this particular case with Tony because the older man had been avoiding him. That was something they had yet to discuss. No, Tony didn't come to Miami because of this case, but he didn't come here purely for a vacation either.

"You know what Delko, you are right, I do discuss stuff with Tony. Being in a similar field he understands a lot of what I do at work without explanations." Ryan thought to himself that if he had some more support from this team, he could hash out ideas here instead of having to go elsewhere. Luckily for Ryan, he did have elsewhere to go. He regularly called Tony, Abby and even Ezra or Mel when he needed advice or a sounding board about a case.

"Tony's been a cop with three different police forces and now with NCIS, so he has quite a bit of experience to draw upon, not to mention contacts and resources that quite frankly I'm envious of. I'm not ashamed to say I ask him for his opinion sometimes. This particular case however, I never had a chance to speak with him about. He just closed a case in DC yesterday and when he has an active case it's almost impossible to get a hold of him. His boss is a real bastard. Runs them into the ground." Ryan grinned, thinking of Eric dealing with Gibbs and his demands. "You'll understand once the rest of the NCIS team arrives." Ryan started to walk away.

Eric grabbed his arm and asked, "You've met them?"

Ryan studied Eric, "Yeah, went on a trip to DC around this time last year, met his team, got a tour of the building... Look, I didn't compromise any cases, I was working patrol then..."

Eric had apparently gotten over his anger at Ryan for "bringing the feds into the case"... or maybe he just believed him now that it was just a coincidence. He waved Ryan off. "No, I was wondering what they are like."

"Well, I already told you his boss is a bastard, tells everyone he meets exactly that, proudly too. The team has a profiler, seems good at her job, Kate Todd, didn't spend too much time with her. There is a new member who I didn't meet, his specialty is computers, Tim McGee." Ryan started smiling. "The agents don't do their own forensic tests the way we do here. They have a tech who works with several teams, at least that's the way it is supposed to work. Gibbs pretty much keeps Abby all to himself. She usually doesn't travel with the team though, so you may not meet her unless they do a video conference. She is pretty much a Jill of all trades."

Eric interrupted him then, he vaguely remembered a snippet of conversation from the ride back from the airport. "Your cousin mentioned an Abby when the two of you were talking in the hummer. Something about a paper..."

Ryan rubbed his forehead. He had not planned on telling any of the people in the lab about the article unless it was published and then only if they happened to read it and ask him about it. Abby was after him to do at least one published article now that he was working as a criminalist instead of patrol. She had approached him while he was still in patrol and he flat out refused, now however he could see why he needed at least one article. So he had finally agreed, as long as she was the senior researcher listed for the article.

"Yeah, she needed some help with a research project, so I agreed to help her. She has some very interesting views on the field of forensics." Ryan smiled as he chuckled internally, thinking that to Abby Science is a Religion.

Ryan was about to explain to Eric about Ducky and how he carried on conversations with the cadavers, in a way that wasn't too different from Alexx, actually, when Tony interrupted him.

"Ry, I was telling your beautiful coworker here about my team. I was about to discuss Ducky but I wanted to ask your ME something first. You want to call her up here?"

Ryan was suspicious of Tony. He had a mischievous gleam in his eye.

Ryan looked at Tony with a questioning look on his face. "Sure Tony, any reason why?"

Tony was the picture of innocence a sure sign to anyone who knew him he was up to something. "I need to ask her some questions about the Post on this case, compare it to what I know about the Philly cases."

Ryan went to call Alexx and Eric moved to join Tony and Calleigh at the pictures and notes. Tony and the two CSIs briefly continued to review the case file. Then, out of nowhere, Tony started asking questions about the Miami ME, he was leading them somewhere.

"Our ME may come too, Gibbs usually insists he come. Ducky is unique, but don't let him tell you a story or you will be there all day and in the end be left wondering what the point was."

Ryan had rejoined the group at this point and watched his cousin. He found them betting on whether Alexx knew Ducky. Ryan had never broached the subject with her but after the stories that Ryan had heard from Tony, Ryan would be surprised if she didn't know the older doctor.

Alexx entered the lab and Ryan introduced her to his cousin. "Alex, this is my cousin Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, Tony, our ME, Dr. Alexx Woods. Alexx, Tony recognized similarities between our current murder and a serial murder spree from when he was with the Philly PD 5 years ago."

"Dr. Woods, it's a pleasure to finally meet you, Ryan talks about you quite a bit." Tony poured on the charm, as he shook her hand. It was not difficult in the case of the beautiful ME. Not only was she beautiful, but she had taken his cousin under her wing, treating him much more kindly than any of his other coworkers. "And please call me Tony."

Alexx glanced toward Ryan as she took Tony's hand. "Yet he has never mentioned you..."

Tony's smile dimmed somewhat and he said as he extracted his hand from the ME's, "We tend not to talk about family very much.

"I need to ask you some questions if you don't mind. My boss will be here soon and if I don't have a comprehensive report ready for him... I really don't want to think about how he would react."

Alexx stood there looking at the young man before her, she could tell he was a charmer, but there was something underneath, something a little like what she saw so openly in Ryan's face. If she wasn't careful, this one too would end up as one of her boys. She could see how he tried to hide his caring nature but no one was so good that they were able to hide that from Alexx Woods for very long. She did however decide to play along... for now at least.

Alexx gave Tony a considering look, "So Special Agent... Are you with the FBI?" She nearly sneered the words.

Ryan winced. As much as he knew that the FBI was no one's favorite federal agency around here, Tony and Ryan had reason to hate them. The way they treated Ezra and the lackadaisical way the investigation into his wife's death and Ezra's shooting was run were more than enough reason for both men to treat agents from that branch of the federal government with suspicion.

Tony actually shuddered, "God no. I am with NCIS now. Apparently between the time I worked in Philly and when I started at NCIS, this guy went after some sailors and killed them in the same manner." Again Tony turned on the patented DiNozzo charm, smiling at Alexx. "So, my boss will be bringing down our team. They should be here shortly, which reminds me, I need to ask you something."

Tony looked at Ryan's coworkers, then back at the ME. "Do you know a Dr. Donald Mallard?"

Alexx had thought she was brought up here to be questioned about the autopsy she performed. "Ducky? Honey, everybody knows Ducky."

Tony grinned and collected his winnings; Ryan's coworkers would be paying his next meal.

Alexx glared slightly at Tony, "Did you need me for something?" She wanted him to realize she had work to do, that he couldn't use her to win bets with her colleagues.

Tony turned serious, he liked levity to lighten situations and to help him charm his way to information. Information from witnesses and suspects alike. His personality had people opening up to him and he used that aspect of himself frequently in his work.

Most of Tony's team didn't realize he could also be serious. He didn't really get it, when the situation warranted it, he could be and had been deadly serious. He guessed his mask was so good they just didn't notice the times he slipped it.

Tony proceeded to ask the ME several questions about the autopsy findings. After he was finished, he thanked the beautiful doctor for her time, charming her as he did often with beautiful women. Ryan just smirked and shook his head at his irrepressible cousin.

Time was against them and Gibbs would be arriving soon. Tony asked Ryan to see if his boss could spare some vehicles to pick the NCIS team from the airport.

Tony continued to work with the rest of the CSIs while Ryan found Horatio. A shadow stopped at the door of the layout room and stilled. Tony moved from where he was working and without a word to Calleigh or Delko went to the person who was standing in the doorway.

Eric sized the newcomer up. He had never seen him before but he looked like a typical Feebee. Suit. Tie. Practically straight out of the FBI handbook. From the looks of it, DiNozzo knew him and didn't seem too happy to see him. Eric didn't think too much else of it. For all he knew it could be a member of the NCIS team that DiNozzo didn't particularly get along with, he dismissed it from his mind and went back to work. This case was looking to be the most complicated one they had come across in a long time.

Tony had sensed someone at the door to the layout room. He had thought at first that it was Ryan returning with news about how Tony was going to get the NCIS team. Tony was unprepared for the person who was standing there.

DiNozzo wasn't stupid. He knew the FBI would assign people to this case. He didn't expect however to see the one Agent he had been trying to avoid for the past month.

Tony strode out of the room and up to the FBI agent and growled in a fair imitation of Gibbs, "Fornell. What are you doing here?"

Chapter 11

Tony knew the FBI would be turning up at the Miami crime lab sooner rather than later, but he had not expected the agent in charge to be one Tobias Fornell. Why would he be sent here? Granted this was a case that the FBI would and should take an interest in, but it was not so important to send an agent all the way from DC to cover the case.

It was also suspicious to Tony that the FBI was here so quickly. Tony had only let the CSIs here in Miami know a few hours ago that this was, in fact, a serial killer and not a random murder. As far as he knew, Ryan's boss had not even notified the FBI. Yet they beat the NCIS team on scene, a team who had a much longer advance warning.

"Hey DiNutzo, has the dress code for NCIS slipped even lower?" Tony was definitely not dressed for a work situation. While he was wearing pants and not shorts, they were an older pair of jeans, worn for comfort not style, paired with a comfortable T-shirt and capped with an older pair of well-worn sneakers. Though technically he could get away with this outfit if he had to, Tony generally didn't go this casual in the office.

"No Fornell, I didn't expect to be here today... well that's not entirely true. I didn't expect to be working today. I'm on vacation. One of the CSIs is a cousin of mine and I came here to visit him, spent the day at his job and noticed some similarities to an old case of mine."

From what Tony had seen, the lab appeared to have little in the way of private conference rooms. Other than the case, Tony really needed to speak to Fornell in private without even his lapdog agents around. Unfortunately they weren't in NCIS HQ. If they were, Tony would have no compunction at all in stepping into Gibbs' "conference room" and using it for himself... at NCIS, though he was sure he would be setting himself up for a headslap at least. Here, in Miami, Tony did not feel comfortable tying up the elevator. He took hold of Fornell's arm to escort him from the building, stopping to point a finger at the few Feebees standing around and saying, "Stay."

Fornell glared at DiNozzo and asked, "Going to give them a Scooby snack for good behavior?"

Tony glared right back at Fornell and continued to escort him from the building, muttering under his breath, "Don't tempt me."

Tony led the FBI agent out the front door and continued towards the corner of the building, out of the way of the general traffic. Tony stood looking at Fornell, not sure where to begin. Ask him about the last trip he took to Miami, maybe? Ask him how the hell he knew to get here already? Rage at him for assuring Gibbs that Ari was working on "their side". When he had seen Fornell at the door, Tony had grabbed his backpack with the file he intended to show Ryan. It was only a copy, he still had the originals someplace safe; paranoia was a wonderful thing.

"I find it interesting that you made it here before Gibbs, when the notification to the FBI has not even been made yet," Tony finally said after staring at Fornell for several minutes. He was sure that if Fornell was here, the FBI agent knew the case's connection to the Navy and that NCIS would be involved.

Fornell looked momentarily surprised but then hid it well. Tony made a mental note to have Abby or McGee check the NCIS phone and computer system. There had to be some way that the FBI found out about this case.

Fornell had almost looked guilty for a minute, before covering his expression up completely.

Fornell made no comment and Tony cocked his eyebrow in response. Gibbs, hell even Ryan's boss - what was his name again... oh right, Caine, could get into this with Fornell later. For now Tony had other things he needed to "discuss" with this agent.

*******

Ryan returned from speaking with Horatio. Ryan had not been sure how many people would be making up the NCIS team. It could range anywhere from 3 to 6 depending on who Gibbs had been able to authorize for the trip. H had been able to release an unmarked car and a hummer for the ride to the airport.

Once Ryan reached the layout room, he knew immediately that something was wrong. In the hallway, there were suits standing chatting aimlessly with one another. They could only be Feds. Since the NCIS team wasn't due for another hour at least, that left the FBI, not an agency Ryan was looking forward to working with. He idly wondered who had notified them and brushed past the milling agents without saying a word or acknowledging them and entered the layout room.

Once inside he realized that someone was missing. He immediately went up to Delko to ask the older man where his cousin was. Ryan had a really bad feeling about this. While Ryan actively disliked the FBI, Tony basically hated them. When Ezra was shot and nearly killed a few years ago, Tony almost killed one of the FBI agents who had been working with Ezra.

The man had made an off color comment about Ezra and his wife who had been killed in the same shooting that Ezra was injured in. Ryan wasn't sure exactly what was said, he had been dozing in a chair at the time, but they all knew that Ezra had been taking heat at the Atlanta FBI office for having too many contacts in the Islamic community. The fact that his wife was Moslem was also a point of contention. Tony lost it. He was lucky he didn't end up in jail. Luckily the FBI Agent had actually thrown the first punch so Tony was defending himself.

The FBI being on this case made him nervous. If Gibbs were here already, he knew the older man's mere presence would keep Tony in line, even if they were working with one of Ezra's old coworkers. Since Gibbs was not here, Ryan felt responsible for his cousin. First he had to find him.

Ryan walked up to Delko and asked him, "Where did Tony go?"

Eric looked up at Ryan, irritated at being interrupted. "He left with some suit, seemed like they knew one another, figured it was a member of his team."

Ryan wanted to yell and scream at Delko. Just a few hours ago the older CSI was chastising him for not taking care of his cousin, now Delko had let Tony go into a potentially dangerous situation alone. Ryan held on to his temper, barely, under normal circumstances he fought with Eric way too often. Currently, with the key gun debacle still fresh in both their minds, he didn't want to start another argument with his coworker, especially when company, Federal company, was witness to every word. He calmed himself with the knowledge that Eric wasn't aware exactly how bad an idea it was to leave Tony with a Feebee.

Ryan turned from Eric as the other man finished talking, already dismissing the Cuban from his mind. Only one thing occupying it now, the need to find Tony. Apparently neither Eric nor Calleigh had any idea where the NCIS agent was.

Ryan thought about asking the Feebees standing in the hallway but they appeared clueless. Ryan knew Tony well enough that if he left the hallway he would be looking for at least an illusion of privacy to have whatever talk or more likely confrontation the NCIS agent planned to have with the lead Feebee. The lab's walls were mostly glass and even the interrogation and interview areas were glass, no privacy there. The lack of privacy left two possibilities to Ryan's CSI trained mind. The elevators or outside.

Somehow he didn't think that Tony would use Gibbs' trick of commandeering an elevator and pushing the stop button to use it as a personal conference area. At least Ryan didn't think Tony would do that anyplace OTHER than the Washington Navy Yard. Outside it was, then.

Eric called to Ryan as he was heading out to look for Tony, hoping to find his cousin before he did something stupid. "Where are you going, Wolfe? We have lots of work to do here."

Ryan gave Delko an incredulous look; just a few hours ago Delko was ready to coddle Tony. Now it seemed he didn't care what happened to the NCIS agent. "I'll be back in a few minutes, Delko. First I have to find Tony."

Ryan was worried for his cousin and it wasn't just the fact that he was off with some unknown Feebee. Tony had been acting strangely; Ryan knew something else was going on with his cousin. He was almost positive that Tony had been recruited to visit him by Mary. He expected that after he had not been to visit the closest thing he had to family in all the many months since Tim's death. He knew Mary worried about him. It wasn't just that however, there had been the comments Tony made at the airport. Ryan had tried to play them as joking about their parents, but something had Tony upset.

Then Tony had taken his car keys and disappeared, gone somewhere. Ryan had a suspicion that he knew where Tony had gone.

Speed had been a friend of Tony's since the two had met at a law enforcement seminar back when Tony was fresh out of the academy back in Peoria, just after college. Tony had not been to Miami since Speed's funeral. It would not surprise Ryan in the least if Tony had made a quick visit to the cemetery. That could also have caused the strange mood he seemed to be in at the airport. Tony did not deal well with the death of loved ones.

Now however, with Tony disappearing with a person who was most likely an FBI agent, Ryan didn't know what to think. He hoped that Tony wouldn't have difficulty working with the Feebees. Ryan thought that, unless through some quirk of fate one of the agents who worked with Ezra during his shooting somehow got assigned to this case, Tony should be able to work with them. Ryan knew Tony worked with the FBI occasionally through his job at NCIS.

As Ryan was having his silent discussion with himself, he had been checking out the corners and cubbies of the lab on his way out of the building to try and locate Tony. Unbeknownst to Ryan, he had picked up a tail.

Eric followed Ryan out of the layout room where it looked like they were going to be set up for the duration. The newest CSI infuriated and confused Eric by turns. Currently the relationship that Ryan had with his cousin totally baffled Eric.

DiNozzo was definitely spooked when they were initially reviewing the crime scene photos. Ryan couldn't care in the least. Now his cousin seemed fine and Ryan was looking for him like a mother would a missing toddler. It made no sense. Eric didn't like things that made no sense. It was one of the reasons he loved being a CSI so much. He was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together until they fit and made sense. That's why he was following Wolfe. Eric needed to make sense out of what was going on.

*******

"Actually Tobias, you can duke it out with Gibbs and the Miami guys about how you got here and who has jurisdiction. I have something else that I need to talk to you about."

Fornell's eyebrows had risen at the use of his given name. Something serious was going on here. Tony was never overly friendly to the FBI. He was professional but whenever he thought he would get away with it he would make snide comments and asides. Tony had never used his first name before. Fornell suddenly was worried that more was going on here, something that he was going to be blindsided about. He hated it when NCIS bested his teams and they consistently seemed to do that. Hell, he had turned to Gibbs to clear his own name when he was framed, rather than any fellow FBI agent.

Fornell made a silent gesture for the younger man to continue.

Tony gave Fornell another considering glance as he pondered the best way to phrase his next statement. He wanted to make a proper impact.

"I've been wanting to ask you Tobias, if you have heard from our friend Ari since he kidnapped Kate and tried to bring down Marine One."

Fornell's gaze centered on the younger agent and sharpened. There was something in the way the question was asked that warned Fornell that this wasn't an idle question. He was under orders however and couldn't divulge anything he knew about the double agent.

"DiNutzo, you know I can't talk about him. Where he is and what he is doing is highly classified. Beyond whatever clearance you have."

Tony smiled a humorless smile at the one FBI agent he had actually not had too much of a problem working with. The man was a lot like Gibbs in many ways. He pulled out the files he had in his bag and opened them as he said, "I wouldn't be too sure about the level of my clearance if I were you Tobias. Look in this file, it has your name in several prominent places... at least the ones that are readable."

Fornell looked at the file and was stunned. He remembered the shooting here in Miami just 6 or 8 months ago. The one that killed the Miami cop. What a disaster that was! The FBI had to come in and take over the case. How in the world was DiNozzo involved, how did he get this file?

"Where did you get this?"

Tony's smile became a smirk. "I have my ways. I find it interesting that you never told Gibbs about this."

Tony's tone became conversational, if you weren't looking at the man you would never know how angered he was. His expression was one of fury. "Tim Speedle was one of my closest friends. I don't know if anyone in the FBI looked into his life or even cared to find out anything about him but he was a damn fine CSI. He was also gay and involved in a long-term relationship with my cousin. I'm a lot like Gibbs, he trained me. I don't believe in coincidence Fornell. He was targeted; they were targeted, because of me."

Chapter 12

Fornell didn't know what to tell the younger agent. He knew his duty, Ari's cover had to be protected at any cost. They had never before been able to place any agent in the Al-Quaeda hierarchy. Ari was too valuable an asset to compromise.

Tony ran a hand through his hair. He wasn't really sure what he expected from Fornell. A denial, a promise to apprehend Haswari. He laughed mirthlessly, they were now leaning against the outer wall of the lab building. "Nothing to say? Tobias, you disappoint me. I never thought I would see the day that the FBI would side with a terrorist in the killing of a policeman." Tony hit the brick wall with the flat of his hand in anger and frustration. "Now I have truly seen everything."

*******

Ryan rushed through the halls, he had to find Tony, it was nearly a compulsion now. Eric followed in his wake. Ryan hit the front door at a dead run. He stopped outside to survey the area and find his wayward cousin. He turned and saw Tony with an older man about Gibbs' age, dressed in a stereotypical FBI suit, just in time to see his cousin swing his arm. Ryan rushed forward knowing he wouldn't get there in time to prevent his cousin from belting the older man but yelling at him anyway, "Tony! NO!" Ryan hurried over to the two men, trying to prevent any further escalation of hostilities.

*******

Tony looked up from his intense encounter with Fornell and saw his cousin hurrying toward him with Delko following behind. Tony leaned in to Fornell and whispered in his ear, "This isn't over." Tony stood up straight and called out to the Miami CSIs.

"Ryan, Eric, there's someone here that you need to meet."

Ryan was relieved to see his cousin had not decked the FBI agent standing with him. Actually, the man standing with Tony didn't appear fazed in the least with the exchange that had occurred between the two men. It was at that moment that Ryan finally realized that Eric was following him. He spared a glance at his coworker and quirked an eyebrow at him. Eric just shrugged and fell into step with Ryan as they quickly walked the remaining distance to the relatively quiet corner of the lawn in front of the CSI lab.

"Gentlemen," Tony began as the 2 CSIs joined them, "This is SAC Tobias Fornell of the FBI, Fornell this is Ryan Wolfe and Eric Delko. They both work for the Miami Dade PD as CSIs.

"Agent Fornell is based in DC. We have worked together in the past. I am curious what brings a DC team all the way to Florida however, care to enlighten us?"

Tony had quickly replaced the folder with the information about Speed's death back in his bag and shouldered it, distracting the CSIs with the introduction to the FBI agent and deflecting their attention to him. He wasn't ready to tell Ryan yet what he had learned about Speed's death and he definitely didn't want to out his cousin to a coworker who had been just this side of hostile to him since Ryan had transferred to the labs. Tony was the one who had counseled both Speed and Ryan on the need for discretion while working for the PD. The need to keep their relationship a secret. It was a hard won lesson that Tony had received just before he left the Peoria PD.

Ryan both knew Tony and was a CSI trained to be observant, and was not distracted by the introduction of the FBI agent. He saw the thick folder than his cousin surreptitiously placed in his bag. He didn't comment on it, but it deepened the mystery of what Tony was actually doing in Miami.

Fornell was oblivious to Tony's manipulations and Ryan's observations, he shook the hands of the CSIs and decided to answer DiNozzo's question.

"I was assigned this case when Gibbs worked on it for NCIS, 4 years ago."

Tony noticed he didn't mention how he was notified of the case this time and Tony still had his suspicions about some kind of plant in the NCIS phone or computer systems. He would have to talk to Abby or McGee as soon as possible.

Tony started walking back towards the entrance to the building. His encounter with Fornell had wasted enough time. It was nearly time to pick up the NCIS team from the airport and Tony still wasn't sure what Ryan had been able to arrange with his boss to pick up the NCIS agents. Tony broached the subject with his cousin, not wanting to be late to the airport.

"So Ryan, what did your boss say about the cars to get my teammates?"

Ryan opened his mouth in an attempt to reply and slammed it shut at the words of Fornell.

"Don't bother DiNutzo, I have a car waiting at the airport for Gibbs. They should be here shortly."

Tony was less than pleased by this. He knew that Gibbs would be irked that the FBI had beaten his team to Florida. He would also not be pleased with Tony. Tony was supposed to meet them, not some FBI suits.

Ryan looked at his cousin, he could practically hear the internal conversation. Ryan knew enough about Gibbs from having met the man and all that Tony had told him.

This was going to be an interesting case, no doubt about it.

Chapter 13

As the four men walked back into the CSI lab, Fornell received a call and hung back to take it. The remaining three continued on into the building contemplating the case they were working on, occasionally discussing points of interest to the case with one another.

They passed the reception desk and a cry was heard.

"Ryan."

A blur of black pigtails ran into Ryan's arms with enough force to cause him to take a step back. Tony looked on in amusement. He had been subjected to an Abby greeting on many occasions.

Abby, Ryan thought as his arms wrapped instinctively around the body hugging him as if her life depended on it.

"Ryan, I didn't know that Tony was coming to see you. He only told us he gonna see his frat brothers." She shot Tony a dirty look and punched him in his arm as her babble continued. "It's so good to see you. You missed NY this year." She punched his arm this time, letting her displeasure at his absence known and continued without taking a breath, "I'm so sorry I haven't been able to get here for a visit. I know it's been rough for you..."

Ryan tried to cut her off before she could say something he would rather not be made public.

"Abby," he interjected.

Abby continued as if she had not heard him, "...ever..."

"Abby," Ryan said a little more forcefully, a little louder, but she still either didn't listen or didn't hear him.

" ...since the fune..."

"ABBY!" Ryan yelled and shook her slightly. She looked at him a little guiltily.

"Take a deep breath Abby."

She looked at him with slightly sad, slightly guilty eyes, took a deep breath and said, "Are you okay?"

Ryan glanced at his cousin. If he were going to get away with telling a lie, it would be to one or the other of these two people, not both. He settled for a truth that he hoped would satisfy both of them.

"Getting there." Ryan gave them the simplest answer that would not cause any further questioning. He had feared that Abby's greeting would bring questions from his coworker, for once his team's neglect of him working in his favor as Delko apparently had lost interest in Ryan. He appeared very interested in Tony's coworker Kate however.

Abby seemed satisfied with that answer, as did Tony. She hugged hard once again and then stepped out of Ryan's arms.

Tony watched the interaction between his friend and his cousin. He knew they were close, but he wasn't aware exactly how close they had become. How working together with Greg on that DNA project had drawn the geeks in his life together. Tony shifted his gaze, unconsciously looking for his lover.

Initially he only saw McGee and Kate, then he happened to catch a glimpse of Gibbs just outside of the lab talking to Fornell. Wonderful!

The expressions on Gibbs' face were a clear indication of his mood. The man was angry.

Tony's hopes that his lover's ire was directed at some other person were quickly and decisively dashed once the rest of the team joined him. Kate and McGee had been talking to Delko for a few minutes before they came to join Abby, Tony, and Ryan.

Kate was the one to clue him in to exactly how much trouble he was in. Making sure to include a jab with it.

"Having the FBI do your grunt work now, Tony? That's low even for you."

Tony winced and glanced at Fornell and Gibbs once again. He looked back at McGee and Kate and asked, "How mad is he?"

McGee answered him, " On a scale of 1-10... I'd say a 20."

Abby, who had still been talking quietly to Ryan about their research project, looked up and joined in on McGee's conversation.

"Oh, come on guys, it wasn't that bad. Gibbs just went all Papa Bear since Tony wasn't at the airport."

Tony wasn't sure that was any better than what McGee was saying. Gibbs might be a papa bear with Abby but with Tony, he usually meant it when he reprimanded the younger agent.

Tony was about to make the introductions while waiting for the two older agents when a thought occurred to him.

"Where's Ducky?" he asked.

Kate rolled her eyes slightly. They all loved the elderly ME but he tended to tell long-winded stories that in the end, if you listened that long, generally had no point to them. The team tried to redirect him when he started on one of them.

"One of Fornell's men seemed a little green, Ducky is talking to him about the Korean War I think," McGee supplied helpfully, muffling a snicker which the rest of the team, including Abby and Tony, shared with him.

Ryan smiled, but he genuinely liked the ME on Tony's team. "Don't tease about Ducky, I like his stories," Ryan scolded gently and gave Tony a pointed look. They had had an older gentleman in their lives growing up, a Grandfather figure who was much like Ducky in his storytelling. Tony nodded in acknowledgement. He liked Ducky's stories for the most part and would listen to him when time permitted, if not on a case.

McGee took the opportunity to introduce himself to the man who had just spoken.

"You know Ducky? I'm Special Agent Tim McGee." McGee held out his hand to Ryan and then to Delko in greeting.

Tony introduced the rest of the team as McGee and Ryan talked.

"Yeah, I met him when I came to visit Tony last June or July. I'm Ryan Wolfe, I'm Tony's cousin." He shook McGee's hand.

Kate vaguely remembered Ryan, he had only been to the NCIS building one time. She thought that he came to visit with another man but she couldn't remember his name.

By this point the introductions were over and Tony noticed Gibbs and Fornell entering the lab and walking towards the group. Gibbs' laser blue gaze zeroed in on DiNozzo and narrowed.

"DiNozzo," he barked.

Tony winced internally but nothing, not one speck showed externally. Ryan looked at his cousin though and Tony knew that Ryan at least was aware of what was going on inside his head.

Tony knew the reprimand was coming. He stood still, again not quite coming to attention in classic military stance but coming damn close.

"Yes boss?"

"Why were there FBI agents waiting for me at the airport and my own agent was not?" Gibbs asked, eyes flashing.

Tony knew that Gibbs didn't really care why he wasn't there. The fact he wasn't there, that Gibbs had told him to be there and he wasn't, was enough to cause the reprimand. He also knew better than to apologize. He went with the best answer he could, trying to get a little cheeky with the answer.

"Time got away from me boss, so I delegated." The happy go lucky grin was in place. Time to play the fool.

"I don't pay you to ogle bikinis, DiNozzo. I expect you to be where I tell you to be. Understood?" Gibbs' expected head slap was delivered mid-sentence.

Tony jumped slightly at the hit and rubbed the back of his head. "Won't let it happen again Boss," was his reply, even though even Gibbs knew that it most likely would happen again and likely in the very near future.

Gibbs looked into his younger lover's eyes. Something was bothering Tony and had been for several weeks. Gibbs had hoped that this vacation would help Tony resolve whatever was bothering the younger man.

He wasn't happy to find out that Tony was not where he said he was going to be and, when they got a minute alone together, Gibbs was going to find out exactly why his lover was at the wrong end of Florida. He suspected that it had something to do with whatever was bothering Tony, at least he hoped so.

Now this case had come up. A complication he was sure Tony never counted on. Gibbs would have to watch his lover and see if everything personal was taken care of while still solving the case.

Chapter 14

Tony led the way back to the layout room he had used for his initial presentation. Ducky had joined them after regaling a very junior FBI agent with a tale that had the young man still scratching his head.

Tony had quietly told Ryan to call his boss and have the rest of the team meet in the same room that they had earlier.

The three groups introduced themselves and quickly got to work. The previous case files were presented and then the current one.

Tony was leaning against a corner of a desk with a pad and pen, not really taking notes, just tapping the writing implement against the paper in a rhythm similar to the one he tended to do with his hands when driving a car.

He had thought of something from the case he worked back in Philly that apparently was not noticed or acted upon in any of the subsequent cases.

"Delko, how cohesive is the Spanish community here? Is there an underground economy for illegals? I know that a large number of the Hispanic population here is Cuban which makes most of them legal, but how large is the non Cuban community?"

"There is a medium sized permanent non Cuban community and we have our fair share of illegal aliens living here, both Hispanic and other ethnicities," Delko replied, his expression clearly conveying the question of why.

The rest of the NCIS and CSI teams also looked at Tony with questions obvious in their expressions.

Tony digested that information for a moment. The silence was broken by Kate. "Was there a reason to ask this question or are you looking for a new housekeeper?" she snarked at him, knowing he employed someone to clean his apartment.

Tony looked at Kate and smiled. "No Kay-te," over emphasizing the first syllable in her name on purpose. "The profiler on the case in Philly felt that the reason we were having such a difficult time getting a handle on this guy and his habits was because he was a drifter, possibly an illegal alien. Most likely an illegal from what I remember. They weren't sure of his ethnicity at first, but had narrowed it down to either Asian, which statistically was the lowest possibility, Hispanic, or Arabic/Moslem. They narrowed it down due to the ethnic distribution in the greater Philadelphia area. These groups were the most populous, so they were the ones that were looked at; though the incidence of a serial killer being of Asian heritage is statistically highly unlikely."

Kate looked shocked. "It's all in the reports that Abby copied for you Kay-te." Tony again accented the wrong syllable.

As Tony was speaking, Ryan slowly made his way closer to his cousin, that son of a bitch! Tony was called in on this case because of Ezra's contacts to both legal and illegal Islamic groups. I'm gonna kill him! That's why he's always so damned guilty about Tamilla's death and Ezra's being shot. Why he took that swing at one of Ezra's coworkers. Ryan's eyes narrowed and hardened. They had a lot to discuss before they went out on this case.

Tony continued to explain. He wasn't sure about the case in North Carolina, but in the Philly case and to some extent in the Ohio one, the only commonality they could find was the use of the same landscaping service and dry cleaners. The workers in both places were migrant and changeable. Most were illegal and the paperwork that was kept on them was nearly nonexistent.

Tony continued, "The owners of the businesses weren't even held responsible. This was before 9/11 and the increased awareness of immigrants in American society."

It was decided that the FBI would provide the support, both technical and firepower. The CSIs and NCIS agents would pair off with one another and canvas businesses that would likely hire migrant or illegal workers.

Kate rolled her eyes at the pairing of Tony with Eric, actually saying, "Well we wont get much work out of the two of them. Bet they get more phone numbers than any real information." Calleigh snickered and then schooled her expression. Eric was quite the ladies man, remembering him talking about 'toothing'. McGee had been paired with Ryan and Calleigh and Kate had been paired together. Abby was going to go over the tests that the samples had already been run through and think up a few new ones to run.

Ducky and Alexx had already retired to the morgue. The elderly ME wanted to look at the body himself, though he was aware of Alexx's work and her excellent reputation.

Tony went over to Abby after asking Delko to wait. He couldn't work in the clothes he was wearing. Well, he could, but he would never hear the end of it from all sectors, his boss, Kate and even Fornell. He knew Abs had something in the bag she carried for him.

Tony took his clothes and asked Ryan where he could change. Ryan took him to the locker room, figuring that if Tony hurried he could catch a shower and store the clothes he was wearing in Ryan's locker. Besides, Ryan had some questions he wanted Tony to answer. The locker room should be pretty empty this time of the day.

*******

Tony sat in front of Ryan's locker, damp towel draped over his neck, pants on but shirt off. He pulled on his socks and tied his sneakers. He was a little surprised to find Ryan waiting for him as he got out of the shower.

"We have to talk." Maybe he shouldn't have been surprised. He had hoped that with his glossing over the illegal alien aspect of their case Ryan would miss that he was involved with that case solely because of Ezra's contacts. And further that his use of those contacts most likely precipitated the attack on Ezra and the death of his wife.

He looked at Ryan and said with a sigh, "I'd rather not."

Tony took his towel and roughly dried his hair one more time before pulling on his Tee shirt.

"You owe me cuz."

Tony looked at him quizzically and quirked an eyebrow at him. "How do you figure that?"

Ryan smirked at Tony and simply said, "One fractured cheek bone."

Tony glared at Ryan but he couldn't argue with the kid. "Squirt!"

"You were used by the PD in Philly, weren't you? Someone there knew about Ezra and you were drafted for that task force you were on. I'm right, aren't I?"

Tony nodded tightly to him without answering. He knew it was coming. Ryan was a bright kid. He would know that Tony was the reason that Ezra's life was turned upside down.

"So you think your inquiries are the thing that tipped the balance? The reason the shooters targeted them."

Tony again didn't answer. He didn't think it, he KNEW that he was the reason.

Ryan looked at Tony. "Have you ever talked with Ezra? Asked him what he was working on just before the shooting?"

"No, there was no reason to. He left Atlanta to transfer to the ATF less than 2 weeks after coming back from sick leave. I didn't want to stress him out." Tony sat down on the bench seat next to the locker.

Ryan shook his head, Tony always took the blame on himself. "About a year after he moved I asked him about it. I didn't want to bring up painful memories but I also wanted to know if he had any idea who had attacked him and if he thought he was still in danger."

Ryan had sat down next to his cousin.

He placed his hand on Tony's shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly. "Tony, you take too much on yourself. Ezra was investigating links between Terrorist groups and government entities both here and abroad."

A look of horror passed over Tony's face. "That fool!" Even though Ezra had been attacked prior to the 9/11 terror attacks, the FBI had been actively investigating terrorist groups. Maybe not as vigorously as they did now, but it did happen. It was then and still was a dangerous area to be involved in. To try and find moles in the government, both here and abroad, was almost akin to suicidal.

Ryan nodded his head. "Don't get too upset with him. He didn't want to do it, somehow he was coerced into it. He wouldn't tell me how. Flat out refused. Just don't blame yourself."

Tony nodded slowly, he still blamed himself in a small part but he now knew more about what Ezra was working on prior to the shooting. Maybe it would help him in his search for the people who were the actual shooters in Ezra's attack.

One confession down, one to go, Tony thought to himself. Might as well get it over with. It was pretty deserted now, the late hour meaning the day shift had left for the most part and the evening shift was much smaller and they were in the middle of their work and unlikely to need use of the lockers.

Tony looked into Ryan's eyes and said, "I've got something else you need to know -- something about Tim's death."

*******

Alexx Woods was a woman who prided herself on her professionalism. She had worked with some of the sorriest excuses to have ever graduated from medical school and had no problems. It made her a little guilty to escape from Donald Mallard in the CSI locker room.

Without a doubt Ducky was one of the most brilliant medical minds she had ever come across. He also matched her compassion for the corpse, something that she had seen in far too few in her profession.

She just needed to escape for a little while from his unending story telling. The first and even second pointless story she was able to tolerate, he was on his fifth now and she made an excuse to escape for a short time. She would have to think of a way to redirect his storytelling without causing him to veer off into another story tangent.

Alexx shut the door to the lockers silently, for fear that someone would hear and track her down. She stood there for a minute before she realized that she could hear the murmuring of voices. She moved a little closer to see who it was and saw her baby talking to his cousin. They looked involved and serious. Alexx's mothering instincts kicked in. She was worried that Tony would hurt her baby. She couldn't have known that Tony would do whatever was necessary to protect Ryan, and always had, even as a child.

She heard them talking about another person, a man named Ezra. Ryan had told her so little about his family that she had no idea who Ezra was. She could hear the pain in Tony's voice and his conviction that he was at fault and her heart ached for him.

She heard Ryan reassure his cousin and the two men seemed even closer to her than they did when Ryan introduced Tony to her mere hours ago.

She had stayed where she was once she realized that the men were trying to talk in private. She would never betray the confidence they had unknowingly given to her and she didn't want to disturb them by attempting to leave. She also needed a slightly longer respite from Dr Mallard.

She had thought the men were finished, then she heard Tony say something that caught her attention.

Ryan had lost someone, at least that's what it seemed that Tony was saying. They were talking about the death of someone... someone named Tim... No, it couldn't be... then she heard Ryan say, "What? What about Speed's death?"

Chapter 15

"What? What about Speed's death?" Ryan asked, clearly shaken by the turn the conversation had taken.

Tony stood up and began pacing. "You know that I have been investigating Ezra's shooting whenever I have the chance." Tony stood and looked at Ryan, running his hands through his hair. "I do that with a lot of the open cases I have never had a chance to solve."

Tony turned and started pacing again. "I never intended to look into Speed's death. The perps had been caught, it wasn't an open case." Tony continued pacing, waving his hands around as he spoke to emphasize his words.

"But the more time that passed, the more concerned I became." Tony stopped again and faced Ryan, looking into his cousin's hazel eyes. "You never mentioned a hearing, an arraignment, a trial, no legal action at all. There should have been something, a bail hearing at least. I asked one of my contacts to find out what was happening."

Ryan looked at Tony in amazement; he never realized, it never crossed his mind, how could he forget that his lover's killer never went on trial? Well, not the killer, Horatio had taken care of the man who took the actual shot, but the owner of the store. He had gotten so wrapped up in his grief and his new job that he had not even realized the passage of time. Tony had resumed pacing and continued with his monologue.

"My contact did not even find an arrest record, no fingerprints, no mug shots, absolutely nothing in the system relating to an arrest in the death of CSI Speedle. There were some rumors that the FBI had become involved. I tried to obtain any information from the FBI about Speed's death or an investigation, federal charges, anything. I kept coming up empty. Finally had to call my old friend Fitz. He got..." Tony's voice broke and his eyes became moist, Tony cleared his throat and continued, "He sent me a file. Took me a few days to look at it, needed to make sure I would be alone and have the time to really read the contents, you know." Gibbs spent a considerable amount of time at Tony's apartment. Tony wanted to view the file when he knew he would be alone.

Tony went silent at this point. He had no clue how to tell his cousin about the actual identity of the man who owned the jewelry store where Speed was shot and killed. Ryan knew about Ari, hell after Ari kidnapped Kate and Marta nearly killed Tony, the whole family knew about Ari and what he had done to Tony's team. Mary had pulled a bunch of favors and visited NCIS with Mohammed as the wife of a presidential advisor. She played the part of an Islamic wife to the hilt. Tony nearly didn't recognize her. The news of exactly who the intruder at NCIS was ran through the family like wildfire. Everyone knew about Ari.

Once Fornell told Gibbs that Ari was actually a Mossad agent undercover in Al-Quaeda, then Tony had felt that there was no need to fear him. The fact that he was wrong meant Tim paid with his life.

Tony took a good look at Ryan. He knew the younger man had been having a rough time ever since Speed's death, the last thing he wanted to do was to upset his cousin any further, but he HAD to tell Ryan what he had learned. It would be easier to keep the information to himself but it would be deceitful, and if Ryan ever found out Tony had kept something so important from him then their relationship might never recover.

"I read the file, at least I read whatever had not been blacked out. It didn't really tell me much, but there was a videotape with the file." Tony had resumed pacing, he didn't want to see Ryan's face for this.

"I watched the tape, then I trashed my apartment."

"Why?" The words sounded old and rusty, as if the person speaking them had not spoken in eons. Ryan cleared his throat and tried again. "Why trash your apartment? I mean, I am sure it was a shock seeing -" Ryan's voice broke and he cleared his throat again, " seeing Tim," the tears started falling as Ryan's voice broke again, " gunned down. You guys were friends for a long time, but it shouldn't cause that strong a response." The tears continued to pour down Ryan's face.

Tony came to sit next to Ryan again on the bench. Tony lowered his voice. "It wasn't," Tony cleared his throat and started again, tears were running down his cheeks as well now.

"It wasn't that he was gunned down, as aw-wful as -- that was." Tony paused to take a breath and try to collect himself. "I saw the face of the man who owned that damn jewelry shop, the man who had him killed and I know him. I saw that same damned face for 3 months on the computer on Gibbs' desk, running through facial recognition software constantly, day in and day out."

Ryan stopped crying though his cheeks were still wet. "What are you saying Tony?" Ryan was completely bewildered. He knew of only one person who Gibbs had done that for.

"I'm saying that the owner of the jewelry store where Tim was shot is the same guy, the TERRORIST that Gibbs was looking for for 3 months last year. The guy who shot Gerald in the arm and disabled him to the point that he has been unable to come back to work. I'm saying that the guy who called himself Rudy Solvenko is really Ari Haswari. Mossad double agent. I'm saying the FBI did a massive cover-up." Tony wasn't shouting, he knew that he couldn't shout, he didn't want this information to go any further than it had already gone, but the intensity of his voice had increased exponentially.

Ryan sat there in stunned silence. He knew the answer to the next question, he had learned early in life that there were no such things as coincidences, at least not with something of this magnitude. He still had to ask to confirm with his cousin that he thought the same thing. "You don't think that it was just an odd occurrence do you? A freak coincidence."

Tony laughed mirthlessly, "I sincerely doubt it. This man led us on a merry chase. He had me stalked by a jogger. He had a team pull Kate off the street. His team was polished, they knew exactly what they were doing. It was no accident or coincidence."

Ryan felt his OCD closing in on him. He had felt on edge all evening, ever since he knew the NCIS team was going to be coming to Miami. He needed to get out and get some air. He started hyperventilating mildly. Pale as a ghost.

"I have," Ryan took a gulp of air. "I have to get out of here." He quickly exited the locker room, never seeing Alexx standing in the shadows.

The ME was shocked, to say the least, and felt somewhat betrayed. Why didn't her baby let her know he had found someone special?

About Ryan she was torn between being angry with him that both he and Timmy kept this a secret from her, and a nearly incomprehensible sadness for the pain that Ryan must be going through both because of what his cousin just told him and because of the way he had been treated by his lover's former co-workers. She was glad she had come around on her own before she found this out. If she had waited, she knew that Ryan would never have accepted a relationship with her.

Alexx made a move to leave, staying as silent as possible, half-thinking to track Ryan down and make sure he was all right, when a deadly quiet voice stopped her cold.

"Hear anything interesting, Dr Woods?"

Chapter 16

GET OUT. GET OUT. GET OUT.

Those words were chanting through Ryan's head as he left the locker room, looking for the fastest exit from the building. He needed fresh air before he lost it. He wasn't sure if he would throw up or start crying again or wailing and screaming, but he knew he needed to be by himself for at least 5 minutes, he needed to regroup. In some distant corner of his mind he realized that Tony blamed himself for Speed's death. It wasn't the truth, but Ryan couldn't deal with that now. That was for later. He had to get a handle on these emotions. He had to go back to work. Thankfully he was going to be paired with that new guy on Tony's team. Hopefully the man wouldn't be able to pick up on his mood.

UP! UP! UP! Ryan hit the stairs and made his way to the roof.

Finally! Ryan pushed through the doors to the roof access. No one ever came up here. The love of heights was a taste he acquired from Ezra. Generally no one came looking for you up high and you had a vantage point to see them from when they did eventually come looking for you, allowing you to either slip away unnoticed or to reveal yourself at your own discretion. He knew that Tony would come looking for him eventually. Tony would know just where to find him too, Tony was ambivalent about heights. They didn't bother him, he used them as needed for his work or to escape his own thoughts, but he didn't love them the same way his other two cousins did.

Ryan sat on the ledge of the roof with his eyes closed, at first taking in great gulps of air eventually slowing that to a steady pattern. Letting the warm breeze ease the agitation from him. Ryan let his thoughts drift.

Okay, it was a shock to find out that Speed was more the victim of a sadistic terrorist than a random theft turned murder. It didn't change anything. Speed was still dead, it just meant that the motives for the killing changed. It also dumped a huge load of guilt on his cousin's shoulders. He would have to try and get Tony to see that this wasn't his fault.

Ryan continued going over the conversation that he had with Tony in the lockers. The FBI was mentioned. He wondered if that had anything to do with the altercation he had seen Tony get into with the lead FBI agent. Definitely something he had to investigate further.

Ryan was calmer now. This changed nothing really and he couldn't do anything about it. Speed's death still hurt, but it didn't cripple him like it did initially. The first week after Speed's death he couldn't even remember. Nothing, not one thing about it. He knew that Mary stayed with him for three weeks afterward and he thought that he had at least one other person staying during that week, but the whole thing was a blank.

Ryan really didn't want to repeat that portion of his life so he continued to tell himself that this changed nothing and went on as he had this morning and every morning after that first week, mourning the loss of his lover but determined to continue on with his life, to heal as best he could.

Ryan got up from his perch. He wasn't going to wait till Tony came looking for him. He knew enough about Tony's boss to know that he really needed to meet up with McGee and start on his assigned tasks. The last thing he wanted was a pissed off Gibbs gunning for him.

Chapter 17

"Hear anything interesting, Dr Woods?"

Alexx's stomach bottomed out at those words and she started. She was relatively sure that Ryan had been completely unaware of her presence in the locker room. She had hoped that Tony was similarly unaware of her lurking in the shadows.

Alexx was torn, she really wanted to follow Ryan. He was very upset when he left but she had a feeling that Agent DiNozzo would not be letting her leave the locker room for a long time. She was also pretty sure he wasn't any happier about this situation than she was.

"Come and sit down Dr Woods, I think we need to talk."

Alexx moved out of the shadows and glanced at the door, making a halfhearted motion with her hands and said, "...But Ryan..." She trailed off as Tony interrupted her.

"...will be fine on his own for a little while, in fact knowing him he would prefer it."

"Oh really," Alexx said, she had moved to be nearly standing next to Tony and now had her hands on her hips, looking at him with a challenge in her eyes.

"Yes really, as a child he acquired an... affinity, shall we say, for heights. I can almost bet he is on the roof now, thinking things through." Tony could have given her more information, told her about their other cousin, Ezra, and how he had gotten Ryan hooked on the solitude of high places. But to do so would betray more of Ryan's confidences. He wasn't sure how much, if anything, this CSI team knew about Ryan's family, but it wasn't Tony's place to say anything, that was for Ryan to share with them if and when he was ready to.

Alex sat down, but Tony decided to take a position against the lockers, remaining standing. He affected a nonchalant pose, giving him a deceptively genial air. He would be as polite as possible to Dr. Woods until he wasn't. That would happen the minute he felt she was a threat to Ryan.

"So," he began conversationally, "how long were you there? How much did you hear?"

Alexx sighed; she really had not meant to listen in on a private conversation. "I heard you talking about a person named Ezra, just caught the tail end of that part of your discussion. Then I heard you talking about Speed's death. Which reminds me, how well did you know Tim exactly? I was the only person who ever called him by his given name." There was a small taint of almost a jealous tone in the ME's words.

"I knew Tim a long time. Long before he ever even thought of moving to Florida, never mind meeting you. Met him while on a trip to NY with the team I was on in college. Some student leader thing that I went on cause I was the team captain. I knew Andrew." Tony had been studying his hands as he spoke and chanced a glance at Alexx when he mentioned Andrew's name. He wanted to gauge exactly what Tim had said to the woman he claimed as a mother. "He was destroyed when Andrew died."

Alexx acknowledged that with a nod. "I know. When he first started in the lab I knew there was something that was bothering him, eventually he told me about Andrew and his death."

"I guess you realize, now at least, that Tim had a relationship with Ryan," Tony said with a sigh and a rub over his face with his hand. It had been a long roller coaster ride of a day and he still had to try and make some headway on the case or Gibbs would skin him alive. Being lovers with the man wouldn't spare Tony from his older lover's wrath if he didn't work to his fullest potential.

Tony tended to be blunt and sometimes even crude when he was tired, and boy was he tired right now. "A romantic relationship, a sexual one, I hope you won't have a problem with that."

Alexx sat there and actually thought about what Tony said. She wasn't upset at the thought of either of her babies involved in a relationship with a same sex partner. Her own children were coming of age and she had faced the possibility that one of her own children might follow that path and had come to terms with it. She could do no less for these two grown men that she claimed as if they were her sons.

And yet she still was angry, furious in fact. And hurt and upset. Angry and hurt in turns that she had been kept in the dark, that they did not trust her. Upset at the way she had treated Ryan when he first joined the labs. He must have been, probably still was, hurting more than any of the CSIs and he took their abuse and never said a word.

"No, I don't have a problem with it per se. I am more hurt and angry that they kept this from me," Alexx finally answered Tony. "I am also upset with myself for the way I treated Ryan when he first came to the labs, plus I am angry at Speed now and feel guilty about it..."

Tony shifted against the locker he was leaning on and checked his watch and winced. He knew he couldn't put off this conversation, just like he couldn't put off the one he had with Ryan, but Gibbs was going to ream him when the Marine finally caught up with him. He rubbed the back of his head, already feeling the slaps he was likely to receive.

"Don't be too upset with Tim, he wanted to tell you but Ryan wouldn't let him," Tony told the ME.

Alexx frowned at that. Why would he want to keep it a secret, wasn't Timmy good enough for Ryan? She opened her mouth to ask just that question and was forestalled by Tony's next statement.

"Ryan didn't want any of you to know because he knows what the police mentality is like, and that information like this would spread like wildfire throughout the department."

Alexx absorbed that information. "But the team would have never let anything happen to Timmy."

Tony acknowledged that with a nod, "Yeah, they would but where was Ryan working all that time, Doctor?"

Alexx winced as she realized the point that Tony was trying to make. "Patrol," she said in a small voice and waved him off when he would have provided more information about how dangerous revealing a homosexual relationship would have been to Ryan while he was still in Patrol.

"They still could have come to me," she muttered. She had lost so much time that she could have used getting to know the young CSI, taking care of him after his lover's death. She could have been happy for the two of them that they were happy with each other.

"Don't be too mad with either of them, in a way it was my fault that they didn't tell you."

Alexx patted the bench beside her and told Tony to sit down because that statement needed more of an explanation.

Tony sighed and sat down next to the ME. He had not discussed his beating with anyone after the department psych specialists cleared him. Well, he mentioned it in any new employment history but that was just a clinical recitation of the facts on paper.

"When Ryan was in his second year of college. I was hurt very badly at work. I was jumped and beaten nearly to death." Alexx looked at him quizzically. "Seems my ex-girlfriend had begun telling my coworkers that I played for both teams." Alexx gasped in horror. "Cops in Peoria don't take too kindly to that sort of stuff."

"Oh my God! Why would she do something like that?"

"She was upset that I refused to marry her. Well, it was more complicated than that but the jist of it was she thought that she would get a free ride marrying the heir to the DiNozzo fortune and I had to dissuade her of that notion. Plus she felt I'd strung her along under false pretenses when she found out that my father had disowned me.

"That's beside the point. I had several close friends and family members in law enforcement, pretty much made it an order that if they had any aspect of their life that wouldn't stand up to the scrutiny of other cops to keep it silent. For the most part that is directed at my gay and bi friends, but there are other applications to it too," Tony said, thinking how Mel didn't listen to him and how she was ultimately hounded out of the NYPD due to her Islamic heritage in the wake of 9/11. Not by the brass, but by her fellow officers.

"I digress, my actual point is that I was badly hurt, really badly hurt. It scared Ryan to the point that he wouldn't even entertain the thought of "coming out" at work. It wasn't his own safety he was concerned for either. He was afraid that Speed wouldn't get patrol backups if needed if their relationship were known. Heard them fight about it often enough. Speed had pretty much convinced him to invite you over or out for drinks or dinner and tell you about them... Then he died. You know what happened after that."

Tony started gathering everything up. He took his bag and placed it in Ryan's locker.

"How did they meet?" Alexx asked. She wanted to know all about their relationship but she was leery to ask Ryan about the details.

"They met a few times through me," Tony said as he gathered up the wet towels and placed them in the hamper. "But they never spent much time together until Ryan decided to come here after college. I asked Speed to take him in and help him out. They were roommates. I didn't want Ryan in a city more or less all by himself. I know his uncle lived here, but the man has his own life."

"I think I remember Tim saying that he was going to have a roommate, the brother or something of a friend of his... that must have been Ryan?" The statement turned into a question at the end and Tony nodded in the affirmative.

"That was years ago," Alexx mused.

"Yeah, they had been together for 4 years I think when Speed was killed."

Tony continued speaking, he had to know why Alexx had been hiding out in the locker rooms. "I'm pretty sure that you didn't mean to be eavesdropping Dr. Woods, but why in the world were you in here? I would think the morgue employees would have their own lockers and showers."

Alexx smiled a little sheepishly, "U--ummm... Honestly I was hiding from... umm..."

Tony got a huge grin on his face. "Ducky's stories getting a bit much for you?"

Alexx hastened to recant the impression she had given. "Dr. Mallard is a wonderful man and a brilliant physician..."

"Yeah doc, but he can be a little long winded. If he gets to be too much, try and redirect him or just tell him later Ducky. Always seems to work with us, especially with Gibbs."

Of that Alexx had no doubt. They started to depart the locker room. Then it dawned on Alexx, she had no idea how Tony knew she was there.

"How did you know I was there anyway? I thought I was being careful," she said as she pushed the door to the exit of the lockers.

"I work for a Marine. I am used to someone a lot stealthier than you trying to sneak up on me. Sometimes I even catch him at it too."

Alexx's laughter rang through the locker room as the door closed as they made their exit.

Chapter 18

Tony had been gone entirely too long to only be taking a shower. The younger agent had not given his personal report to Gibbs yet, and the NCIS team leader was certain more was going on around here than met the eye.

He remembered the skinny kid that Tony introduced as Ryan, along with another scruffier looking kid from their visit to Tony, and NCIS, over the summer. Tony appeared to be close to them, but Gibbs had not spent a lot of time with the three men. Abby had, making Gibbs think that she was glued to the trio, and so he wasn't certain exactly what type of relationship they shared.

A few months later, Tony came to him personally to ask for a day off. He had never seen the younger agent as upset. Gibbs didn't refuse him, but he did take him into his private "office" to find out what the problem was.

Of course, he had heard the news, a cop killing usually made the national news even if it was just a blurb; everyone in law enforcement paid attention to those blurbs. Gibbs had heard about it a day or two ago on his way home from work, listening to the radio. He was surprised to learn that the victim was one of the young men that had visited Tony only a few months earlier. Generally, Gibbs was a hard ass, especially to Tony, but all his younger lover was asking for was the time to go to the funeral and burial. They had no active cases, so Gibbs gave his consent. They were a federal agency, but he knew that DiNozzo had worked local law enforcement long enough for a police funeral to be important to him. He found out that the former cop had attended several of the 9/11 police funerals in NYC, while doing the extensive background check on the younger agent.

He arranged for DiNozzo to fly in and out on a military transport. Not the most comfortable of flights, it would save the price of a commercial flight.

That night, when Gibbs came over to Tony's apartment, he found the younger man getting his suit ready for the following day.

As soon as Tony opened the door, Gibbs pushed him to the opposite wall and pinned Tony against it, shutting the door behind him as he moved.

Gibbs could tell how upset Tony had been earlier when he asked for the time off -- hell, Tony even asking for the time was a clear indication of how upset he was. Gibbs knew just how to make him forget all about what was bothering him.

Gibbs started kissing the younger man passionately, running his hands through the soft hair. Initially, Tony had his arms outstretched in shock. He wasn't expecting Gibbs tonight. He slowly moved his arms to embrace his lover; the kisses became more and more intense. Tongues dueled one another, mapping out the edges of teeth, the curves of gums, the unique flavors of each other. Tony's hand moved restlessly over his lover's back, finding the collar to the jacket and pulling it off then going to the waistband of the pants and pulling out the shirt, moving his hand beneath the shirt to find the warm skin underneath, affirming life. Gibbs skillfully started moving them out of the foyer and towards the bedroom.

That night was the first time that he had spent the entire night at Tony's rather than leaving soon after their encounter. He felt the younger man needed the reassurance of the embrace of another person. It was not the last time they spent the night together, that first time together opening up their relationship, allowing them to spend nights together.

Gibbs took the younger man to the military airfield in the morning before heading to NCIS. He never asked Tony about the funeral or about his relationship with the other man, though he probably should have. He just wasn't sure how to ask.

Now it seemed like he really could use the information that he had neglected to ask his lover months ago. He hated when there were nuances in a situation that he could sense but had no idea what they meant.

Gibbs stopped someone who had been walking in the hallway, asking for directions to the locker room. He slipped silently into the room, intending to sneak up on his lover, and if he was alone to possibly join him if he had not yet taken his shower.

Gibbs stopped just inside the door. He heard voices so he knew that Tony was not alone. His libido wilted. He was about to break up whatever love fest DiNozzo had gotten himself involved in this time; it amazed Gibbs at the situations Tony found himself in.

In general, Tony was a good agent and a fine investigator, but he still got distracted far too easily, at least, as far as Gibbs was concerned. This was Gibbs' cue to break up whatever had kept Tony occupied in the lockers after his shower.

That was until he heard Tony say with a certain amount of menace in his voice, "Come and sit down, Dr Woods. I think we need to talk."

The last time he had heard Tony use that tone of voice had been when the younger agent had still been with the Baltimore PD. Gibbs had never seen him use that tone again, so he had thought it an aberration. Apparently not.

Gibbs listened as Tony spoke of his close association with Ryan and the dead CSI who apparently went by the nickname of Speed. Gibbs heard Tony basically out Ryan and Speed to this woman, who only seemed upset that they didn't trust her enough to tell her themselves. He was sure there was more to the relationship between Tony and Ryan, but he just wasn't sure exactly what that something "more" was. There had to be if they had known one another as children.

He vaguely wondered why Tony had not let him know that the two men were a couple when they visited NCIS, but thinking back to that time, he realized that while they had been sleeping together in the "having sex" sense, they didn't have a relationship. These days, they were more of a couple, and it was sad to say that the death of Tony's friend was the impetus to cause Gibbs to change the relationship.

Gibbs smiled to himself as Tony used his charm to ease the ME's feeling of guilt. As Gibbs continued to listen, he learned more about his own lover's insecurities and some of the reasons that Tony hid his own sexual orientation. As bad as his ex-wives could be, none of them had ever done anything close to what that one ex girlfriend did to Tony. A lot of the short-term relationships the younger man had been involved in began to make a whole lot more sense now. Some of the women he had been interested in had been down right dangerous. Couple this with the few things the younger agent had let slip about his childhood, and Tony's reckless behavior at times when undercover was beginning to make sense to Gibbs.

The thought of how badly injured Tony must have been angered and upset Gibbs, but he refused to dwell on it. He couldn't let Tony know he was aware of the severity of the injury or the reason for it, not unless the younger man confided in him. He really didn't want Tony to be aware that Gibbs had spied on him.

The hospitalization was part of his file so Gibbs knew about it, but the file contained a clinical detached recounting of the injuries and did not convey how badly hurt Tony apparently had been.

The conversation seemed to be winding down. Gibbs had noticed Tony checking his watch several times. His senior agent was well aware that he had spent entirely too much time on tasks not related to the current investigation.

The next thing he heard had Gibbs grinning. Ducky had apparently sent this ME running for a bolt hole. It was funny, but if it took Ducky so little time to cause the Miami ME to look for respite from his stories, Gibbs knew he had better ask to elderly ME to try and curtail his storytelling, at least around the Miami people. Fornell's agents were still fair game. Gibbs moved deeper into the shadows of the locker room. He had been undetected thus far, no need to reveal himself now.

The last thing he heard before the duo left the lockers was Tony telling the ME about Gibbs and his ability to sneak up on his subordinates. Tony was getting much better at catching him at it, but as the current situation attested, the younger agent still had a lot to learn.

To Be Continued

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