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Series: 1) The Ring, 2) Respite, 3) Death Match, 4) Whore, 5) Broken, 6) Vows, 7) Please, 8) Liberation, 9) Real, 10) Visitors
Warnings: DARKFIC!!! rape, violence, brutality
Summary: Tony vanishes and Gibbs tracks him into the violence of a human slavery ring. Jethro's self-inventory and an unpleasant surprise. Without a Trace crossover.
Abby's obvious shock at seeing Jethro had been nearly as great as when he'd told her that Tony didn't want to see anyone except Ziva. He hadn't really thought about what anyone else saw when looking at him since being released; all his energy had been focused on Tony. But he now stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom of Tony's hospital room. Clothes still felt wrong, but the reason he didn't have them on was to really look at himself. It was time to take inventory.
His face was the most noticeable change: a deep scar slashed across his left cheek, courtesy of a ring on a guard's fist. On top of that, he was still bruised from his last fight. There was something more, though, something that looked and felt alien to him; the utter lack of emotion staring back at him. After years of trying to deny his emotions, Jethro figured that he'd finally gotten his wish and no longer had them.
Except when it came to Tony.
His body was, as the doctor had mentioned, in great shape. He'd been well fed and given the use of a weight room whenever he'd wanted it. And since he'd needed almost constant distraction from thoughts of what might be happening to Tony, Jethro had spent a lot of time in that room. There wasn't a single ounce of fat anywhere on his body. The middle-aged spread that had started its slow, relentless push on even his body, was gone. And thanks to the fighting, his reaction time was double what it had been when he'd been taken.
Physically, he looked...very different from the last time he'd seen the team. It was no surprise that Abby and McGee had looked shocked and even mildly horrified on seeing him. That hadn't stopped Abby from throwing her arms around him with a shriek of happiness. Even now he smiled briefly on remembering the feel and smell of her because she hadn't changed, not outwardly anyhow.
McGee, on the other hand... The last six months of responsibility had brought out the confident agent that Jethro had always known was inside the young man. He stood tall and without any of the hesitancy that had marked him as a Probie. It gave him a glimmer of pride, knowing that he'd helped bring that about. McGee had told him that the Director had recalled Stan to join the team and Michelle Lee had requested, and been approved, to join in training as a field agent. He'd been shocked when the Director had said he was to lead the team. Jethro wasn't, though, and had told him as much. The embarrassed pleasure on McGee's face had made the words worth it.
A tap at the door brought his wandering thoughts back to the present and he grabbed his shirt from the sink, pulling it on. He opened the door to find a swaying Tony there and quickly steadied him. "What are you doing out of bed?"
Tony half-smiled and said, "Just making sure you didn't fall in."
Huffing in amusement, Jethro pulled him in for a slow, gentle kiss before telling him, "I didn't. Back to bed with you."
Leaning on him with a contented sigh, Tony let himself be brought back to the bed. Once Jethro had tucked him back in, he asked, "When do you have to leave?"
Jethro glanced at the clock and answered, "Not for a few more minutes."
Tony sighed. "Wish you didn't have to go."
"Me, either, but I need to do this for both of us," Jethro replied. "We have to know how many of the guards got loose and that means me making IDs."
Tony captured his hand as he said, "Be. Careful."
Jenthro bent down for a lingering kiss and then told him, "Malone knows his stuff, but I will. And Ziva should be here any minute to keep an eye on you."
Nodding, Tony sighed again, but didn't protest.
The door opened a few minutes later and Ziva walked in holding a plant. She placed it on the tray table by Tony's bed and greeted, "For your red thumb."
"Green thumb," Tony corrected automatically.
Jethro smiled and said, "Time to go."
Tony's hand spasmed tight around his, but let go. Jethro forced himself to turn and walk away before he succumbed to the silent pleading in those hazel eyes. It was only day three after their release and Tony was better, but still so very fragile. Jethro hadn't realized just how much of a show the other man had put on for him during their captivity. It was only now when they were safe, that Tony had let himself fall apart. He couldn't help wondering at what Tony had gone through, even as he raged inside and didn't want to know.
Jethro had, at least, gotten the story of Tony's 'nice' guard confirming to him that Jethro had been killed by another fighter outside of the ring. One of the guards had tried to jump him after returning from the viewing box with its rich clientele that he'd serviced and Tony had uncharacteristically fought back...until told of Jethro's supposed death. He hadn't believed the news until the 'nice' guard had 'explained' that it was the reason Tony hadn't been at the last match. They'd assumed he would flip out when he saw that Jethro wasn't in the ring.
Jethro fully intended to pay that 'nice' guard a visit if he was in custody, once he'd slipped loose of his escort in the building. Until then, he would just have to be as cooperative as possible so Malone and the others didn't suspect he was up to anything.
* * * *
It was during the fourth viewing that Malone got a call and promptly handed the phone over to Jethro. Surprised, he took it and answered, "Gibbs."
"Gibbs, it is Ziva. You must return immediately."
Already standing, Jethro headed for the door while demanding, "What happened?"
"Tony's father was here and blamed him for the abduction and everything that happened! Tony's had another breakdown, they had to sedate and strap him down again."
Unadulterated fury lanced through Jethro and he snarled, "I'll be there in fifteen minutes!" before tossing the phone back at a startled Malone and running out of the room. Footsteps right behind him indicated that the other agent had followed and, as he waited impatiently for the elevator, Jethro told him, "Tony's had another breakdown. I need to get back there now."
Malone nodded and said, "I'll get you there, just take a breath and don't give yourself a heart attack, got it? Tony's gonna need you calm."
Not for the first time, Jethro appreciated the man's dogged calm. He seemed so utterly unflappable, which had to come in handy in his chosen field. Jethro did as suggested and took a breath, but mostly so he could plot what to do with Tony's father when he got to the hospital. Assuming Ziva hadn't given the elder DiNozzo something more permanent than words to remember.
They got back to the hospital in twelve minutes flat, lights and sirens going the entire way, and Jethro jumped out at the curb. He ran up the stairs to the third floor and down the hall to Tony's room. After sparing a few seconds to catch his breath, Jethro entered the room and silently raged at the sight of his lover strapped down to the bed.
"Gibbs, I am so sorry," Ziva said, meeting him halfway. "Tony has always been so vague...I did not realize that there truly was bad blood between them or I never would have allowed his father entry!"
Jethro didn't even look at her. "How long will Tony be out for?"
"The nurses said about an hour, so thirty-five more minutes."
"Get out and don't let anyone else in until I say otherwise. No one, Ziva."
She nodded soberly and left the room.
Jethro unbuckled all the restraints and pulled off the flimsy hospital gown that barely covered Tony. He stripped down, climbing into the bed and tugging Tony into his arms. They hadn't had a single flashback whenever Tony woke draped over him.
It was a long half-hour, but Jethro let himself drift and relax until the first stirrings told him that Tony was close to waking. Rubbing his hand over the other man's back, Jethro murmured, "Welcome back."
Tony sighed deeply and nuzzled at his chest as he mumbled, "What happened?"
"You tell me," Jethro replied, cautious.
It took a few seconds for Tony to come to the right memory, but he tried to pull away once he did. Jethro held on, even as the struggle became harder to combat without hurting them both. Finally, Tony just collapsed against him, breathing in great, wracking shudders that had Jethro wincing in sympathy.
"I hate this!" Tony snapped. "I hate it!"
Jethro grimaced when Tony's fist slammed into the mattress, brushing against his side. He didn't say anything though, letting Tony work through it however he needed to.
"What is wrong with me? I'm not this, this weak thing! I'm not! But all my father has to do is call me worthless and I collapse like a little girl!" Tony raged.
Waiting a few more seconds to make sure the words were done, at least temporarily, Jethro finally answered bluntly, "What's wrong with you is that you were held captive and forced to fight and rape others, as well as get raped repeatedly, over the period of a year. What's wrong with you, is that it's only been three days since the end of that nightmare. What's wrong with you is that you're human, Tony. Anyone who went through what you did would react the exact same way."
Tony's words were barely audible as he mumbled, "You don't."
Jethro sighed and said, "You can't compare what we went through, Tony. It's apples and oranges."
"No, it's not. You were held captive, you were forced to kill people, Gibbs, and that's gotta be worse than getting fucked in the ass."
Gripping Tony's face tight between his hands, Jethro snapped, "Don't you do that! Do not dismiss what you went through!"
"Then you don't either!" Tony shouted, glaring at him.
Taken aback, Jethro just stared at him a few seconds before a rueful grin surfaced. He kissed Tony and told him, "I won't."
"Just like that?"
The suspicion was well-deserved and Jethro amended, "I'll try not to."
Looking a bit mollified, Tony lay back down on him and said, "We're both pretty messed up right now."
"We are," Jethro agreed, putting his arms around Tony again. "You want me to kill your dad? Because I could and we can claim PTSD. I bet I'd get off scott free."
That sparked a laugh from Tony who poked him in the side and answered, "No, but thanks."
Jethro really smiled at the warmth and amusement in Tony's voice and kissed him on the temple. If they could still laugh and mean it, maybe things weren't as bad as he thought.
***Next story in series: Alone.
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