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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, 11) Changes, 12) Alone
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.
The airport was crowded enough that Tony kept close to Jethro as they shuffled up to the ticket counter like the rest of the herd. Even though they got both disgusted and irritated looks, Tony rested his head on Jethro's shoulder, leaning on him, needing the connection of him to keep control. He managed to ignore everything else and concentrate on the hand that rubbed his lower back, under his jacket and shirt.
He had to let go at the counter, though, stepping aside as Jethro started the check-in process. They didn't have any suitcases or bags, which made it quicker than it otherwise would have, thankfully.
Tony couldn't miss the barely-whispered, "Fags," as they walked away. No one could have.
Jethro turned to find out who'd spoken, looking pissed enough to bash in the speaker's head, but Tony grabbed Jethro's hand and said, "Let's go, come on. It's not worth it."
With a final glare around the ticket-area, Jethro let himself be brought away. They headed to the terminal, again bound together by physical contact. It seemed like the notion that someone might gay-bash them there, even with all the security, had entered Jethro's head. He kept a protective arm tight around Tony's waist the entire walk.
The security check line was massively long and the closer they got to the front, the harder his heart pounded. The guards kept looking at him, as if sensing he was going to be trouble. Tony thought, Maybe ticket-guy called ahead to warn him, and wished that he'd taken Jethro's offer to drive back to DC instead of flying. It was too late to do anything about it.
Startling at the question, Tony managed a brief smile and admitted, "About to jump out of my skin."
Jethro looked concerned and took Tony's wrist in hand, obviously feeling for a pulse. Concerned changed to worried and he said, "You're going to give yourself a heart attack, if you don't calm down, Tony. Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths for me, okay?"
Tony did and had just managed to calm down a little when a deep, unfamiliar voice asked from right behind him, "Everything okay here?" He yelped in fright and spun automatically, fist connecting with the unknown man's jaw.
The man was big and wearing a security uniform. He didn't go down from the glancing blow, glaring at Tony as he grabbed his arm and snapped, "What is your problem?"
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to...you startled me," Tony exclaimed.
Jethro came in close and tried to step between them with a quiet, "Let him go."
Shifting his glare to Jethro, the guard exclaimed, "Back away, or I'll take you in, too!"
"You're not taking him anywhere," Jethro stated. "He apologized and that's the end of it."
Tony nodded and babbled a little desperately, "I really am sorry, I have a, a problem with people sneaking up on me like that. Well, not a problem, it's more like a phobia right now, but we're working on it. Soon it'll probably just be a little problem and I'll be totally able to come out in public without this kinda thing happening..."
People around them had stopped what they were doing and now stared openly at the altercation.
The guard yanked him forward, interrupting loudly, "Shut up, queer!"
A few gasps from around them told Tony that everyone had heard that and he mentally groaned. The guy was already on a short fuse. All they needed was for someone to...
"Hey come on, man. He apologized already!" This from a surprisingly butch looking body-builder type who came a few steps closer.
Tony tried to discreetly tug his arm free, hoping to avoid a full-scale brawl, but the guard jerked him a few steps away and snapped, "That's it! You're coming with me to Security. Hey, I bet you'd like a body search, wouldn't you?"
Jethro growled, "Sonuvabitch!"
Spotting a few other guards striding towards them, Tony held up a hand and begged, "Jethro, no, don't. It's okay. I'll be fine!"
"The hell you will! You're about to pass out!" Jethro snapped.
Which was true, but Tony was doing his best to ignore the need to let his knees buckle. He did his best to keep up, but the man jerked him forward one too many times and he overbalanced, stumbling against him. This got what was probably a knee-jerk reaction from the guard, who shoved Tony back with enough force to send him crashing into the nearest wall. Groaning at the painful contact, he took a few seconds to collect himself.
But then the guard followed up his move by pressing his arm across the back of Tony's neck, snarling, "Don't you ever touch me, faggot!"
Tony reacted to the pinning move without thinking, his arm slamming back to collide with the guard's head. As the man fell backwards, the other guards rushed him. Tony dropped to his knees and covered his head in what had become standard protocol for taking a beating. A beating that didn't come. When he looked up again, it was to find that Jethro had knocked out two of the guards and had the third on the ground, arms twisted up and behind him, probably at the breaking point from the man's pained expression.
He opened his mouth to call Jethro off when more guards came. One of them shot Jethro with a taser while two of them grabbed Tony by each arm. It was the first time he'd been handled roughly since being rescued, but it was more the continued sight of Jethro jerking from the volts of electricity that did him in.
Shouting in pure fury, he struggled against the men who held him in an effort to get to his lover, now unconscious on the floor. He kicked and threw his weight around, even getting close enough to bite someone in the arm. Other guards joined in, bringing him down to the floor and pinning him there. They yanked his arms back and cold steel cuffs locked into place around his wrists.
Someone ordered harshly, "Put them in separate cells!"
Tony keened as panic swamped him at the sight of Jethro being bound, helpless and vulnerable now to whatever anyone wanted to do to him.
"Jesus! What's wrong with him?" someone else demanded.
A third man snapped, "Just sedate him, already, would you?"
Tony's voice failed him at the sharp jab of a needle in his shoulder. Blessed darkness took just a few moments longer.
* * * *
Tony woke up some time later with sore shoulders and wrists, but no other obvious sign of injury. He also woke up to the sight of Agent Fitzgerald gazing at him with concern. Rubbing his shoulder, he sat up and asked, "Where's Gibbs? Is he okay?"
"He's fine," Fitzgerald answered firmly. "He's got a pretty massive headach, and is sore, but otherwise okay."
Malone appeared in the doorway and said, "The good news is that the airport's going to comp your tickets and rental car in an effort to get rid of you. After reviewing the security tape and seeing you on the ground but their people going after you anyhow, they're praying you don't sue them into next century."
"Which you should," Fitzgerald added, a spark of anger in his voice and eyes.
Tony stood and told him, "I just want to see Gibbs."
Malone nodded. "Yeah, I thought you would. Come on with me."
Tony followed close to the agent, feeling safer with him than anyone else besides Jethro. It could be transference from Malone being the one to free him or the solid calm the other man exuded. Probably both, he admitted to himself.
It took a lot to ignore the guards eyeing him as they walked through the security office to a first aid station where Gibbs laid on a sofa, a gelpack on his head. Tony rushed the rest of the way, exclaiming, "Jethro!"
Jethro pulled aside the gelpack and sat up as Tony reached him.
When he held out an arm, Tony sat, but didn't touch him, instead asking, "Are you okay?"
Nodding, Jethro promised, "I'm fine, just sore as hell."
"Are you sure?" Tony pressed anxiously. "Because you don't look fine."
And he didn't. Exhaustion had etched itself into Jethro's face, giving him an almost haggard appearance, the scar seeming to pucker deeper than usual. He was also paler than normal.
Jethro's hand gripped the back of Tony's neck as he ordered, "Take a breath."
Tony did so, feeling mildly better at the commanding tone. If Gibbs could order him around, then he was probably fine.
Looking over Tony's shoulder at the FBI agents, Jethro asked, "What're you doing here?"
Malone snorted. "Nice to see you too, Gibbs."
Jethro grimaced an apology.
Fitzgerald explained, "They found Jack's card in your wallet and called us."
"Probably wish they hadn't now," Malone added maliciously. "And what were you thinking, taking on airport security these days?"
When Jethro tried to stand up, Tony quickly moved to put his shoulder under the other man's arm. The fact that Jethro didn't protest told him just how wiped out the older man was. Of course, getting shot through by 10,000 volts of electricity would do that to anyone.
Jethro shrugged. "They went for Tony."
Flushingat the simple statement, hating that he couldn't even take care of himself anymore, Tony looked down at the floor. Gibbs squeezed his shoulder, prompting Tony to look at him. He found a half-apologetic, half-worried expression in place and had to smile. Only Jethro could manage that look.
Malone chuckled and said, "I think they'll be taking some emergency management courses in the near future. Like how to recognize which is a real threat; the old guy with scars, or the young one on the floor."
Jethro snorted, retorting, "Maybe I should dye my hair."
A petite, pretty blond woman in her thirties entered the room just then. Not a bad move for the airport, sending a woman to plead their case and, possibly, seek any chivalrous nature from the wronged. She began, "Mr. Gibbs, Mr. DiNozzo, my name is Amy Grear and I represent the airport in this horrible misunderstanding. Please let me formally apologize for the incident! I'm sure that you can both understand that in this day and age, mistakes like this happen."
Jethro eyed her and replied, "All I understand is that your goon squad went after my partner who was in no way a visible threat."
She swallowed nervously. "Yes, that's clear now in hindsight, but at the time..."
"At the time," Jethro interrupted, "Mr. DiNozzo was on his knees with his arms over his head. No one can construe that as a threat."
Tony wanted to squirm in embarrassment at the flat recital of facts, but kept still. He knew Jethro was going somewhere with it, even if he didn't know where. From Malone's suitably serious expression and Fitzgerald's still angry one, he also knew that they were going to follow Jethro's lead.
Jethro continued, "You're still going to hear from our lawyers, but if you want to...avoid a messy PR situation, you can start by arranging a car for us and a hotel room somewhere nice."
"Yes, of course!" she agreed instantly. "And a rental to wherever you need to go after."
He glared at her a moment longer before nodding. "That's a start."
"We'll escort them out to make sure there's no other trouble," Malone stated.
Tony couldn't wait to get out of there, but went slower than normal due to the way Jethro leaned on him. Getting zapped had taken more out of the other man than he wanted to admit, obviously, and Tony let him get away with it. Asking for a wheelchair would likely push the other man too far. A towne car waited out front for them and they shook hands with both Malone and Fitzgerald there.
"Try to make it home without any more trouble, okay? I don't think
can take it," Malone said dryly. New York
A grin flashed briefly over Jethro's face as he replied, "No promises."
Tony grinned and climbed into the car, buckling up while Jethro and Malone had another exchange, a quieter one he didn't hear.
Jethro finally climbed in, a thoughtful expression in place and buckled himself in as well. He took Tony's hand and closed his eyes, saying, "Wake me when we get there."
A sense of pride filled him that Jethro would trust him to watch his back, even in Tony's current state. He brought Jethro's hand up, kissed the back of it and answered, "I will."
***Next story in series: One Step At A Time.
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