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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
Warnings: DARKFIC!!! rape, violence, brutality
Summary: Tony vanishes and Gibbs tracks him into the violence of a human slavery ring. The NCIS team shows up at the hospital. Without a Trace crossover.
Tony woke warm and comfortable for the first time in memory. Gibbs lay over him as a heavy weight, immediately identified through scent and that little whistle-snore he'd developed after a fight the month before. Tony sighed in deep contentment, burrowing closer and pressing his lips to the other man's...shirt?
Blinking further awake at the touch of fabric, Tony suddenly remembered they were free and in a hospital. He peered out from around Gibbs and, sure enough, discovered the sight of a standard hospital room. A private one, thankfully.
Gibbs stirred at his movement and pulled him back down, tugging Tony back under him with a mumbled, "Back to sleep, Tony. You need to rest."
Smiling, Tony teased, "Look who's talking."
Gibbs' eyes finally opened at that and he observed, "You're feeling better."
"Why wouldn't I be? We're out, Gibbs! I never thought..." Tony's voice drifted off as a thought occurred to him.
A frown surfaced on Gibbs' face as he prompted, "What? What's wrong?"
Tony couldn't look at the other man as he said, "We're out, Gibbs. We're not...there anymore. I um, I appreciate you sticking around, but you can..."
"Don't you finish that sentence," Gibbs growled. "I didn't go through hell with you just to dump you when we got out. I meant what I said in there, Tony. It's you and me, no matter what."
"No buts. No ifs. No ands. That's the way it is until and unless you tell me you don't want me to be with you. That's the only way you're getting rid of me."
Intense relief swept through Tony and his arms wrapped around Gibbs' waist to hold tight. Pressing his face against Gibbs' chest, he mumbled, "Never leave me. Never ever."
Gibbs' arms went around his shoulder as he promised, "I never will."
For a long time, Tony drifted in the haze of comfort and security. That lasted only until he heard the door open. A rash of fear hit him in the gut, the certainty that it was all a cruel joke and Sir was smiling that cold smile he'd seen so very often.
"Ssh, Tony, it's okay, it's just Agent Malone, you're safe," Gibbs murmured against his ear. "Come on, look up for me, okay? It's not Sir, I swear it. We're really safe."
Hating the weakness that kept him paralyzed, Tony forced himself to look up and follow where Gibbs' hand pointed. A dark-haired man in his late-forties or early-fifties stood a few feet away, dressed in the traditional dark suit that FBI agents always seemed to wear. Standing behind him was a younger man about Tony's age, tall and slender with brown hair and a concerned expression.
Tony took a breath and let it out, shaky but in control again.
Gibbs pushed the button that would raise the bed and arranged them so Tony remained on the inside, closest to the wall. "More questions, Malone?"
The older agent nodded and said, "Just a few for the mop up. We've pieced things together from the...less traumatized victims, but do either of you know the names of the men in charge?"
Shaking his head, Gibbs answered, "We only called him Sir, and the other two not even that."
"What about any of the guards? A few of them got away, but we have pictures of the ones in custody. Do you think you could ID any of them?"
Tony stiffened at the revelation, his hands twisting into Gibbs' shirt.
"How many got away?" Gibbs demanded.
Malone admitted reluctantly, "We're not sure. We've got twenty-four in custody, but that's only the ones on duty, of course, and who knows if it's the full complement? None of them are talking."
Gibbs told him, "They lived on-site. I was working on one of them and got that much out of him."
"What else?" Malone questioned.
Shrugging, Gibbs answered, "Not much. His name was Henry and he'd been a guard there going on three years."
The younger man hissed in surprise and repeated, "Three years?"
Gibbs sounded almost amused as he pointed out, "You didn't really think that this sprung up overnight, did you?"
"No, but that's..." the agent cut himself off at a look from Malone. "Sorry. Go on."
But Gibbs shrugged and said, "That's it. That's all I know."
"It's more than we had before," Malone countered.
The younger agent stepped forward and said something to Malone that was too soft to hear. Malone nodded and said, "Your team is here. We called them once we ID'd you last night and they came right up."
Panic of a different kind flooded Tony and his fingers dug into Gibbs' back, even as he pressed right up against him, hiding his face against the other man's shoulder. He couldn't face them. Couldn't even stand the thought that they knew what had happened, and they had to if Malone had called them.
"Who's here?" Gibbs asked.
Malone reported, "McGee, David, Mallard, and Sciuto. They're out in the hall."
"Give us a minute?"
"Sure. I'll tell them to hold off."
Once the door closed behind them, Gibbs tried to turn, but Tony's grip stopped him. "Tony, let go."
It took a few seconds before Tony could make himself do so, but when he did, Gibbs turned and pulled him in close. Stroking a hand along Tony's back, he said softly, "We won't see anyone you don't want to see. Relax, okay? You're going to set off the monitor. That's it, just breathe a little slower. Good."
Tony sighed deeply and told him, "I can't, Gibbs, I really can't."
"Then you won't," Gibbs promised firmly. "But I think it would be good for you. Maybe just one of them? What about Ducky or Abby? They won't touch you, if you don't want, but you could at least let them see you?"
Tony shook his head vehemently.
Sighing, Gibbs kissed the top of his head and told him, "Okay. Let me just go tell them it'll have to be another time."
Even knowing that he'd disappointed the other man, it took all Tony had to shake his head again and blurt out, "Ziva! I'll see Ziva!"
Gibbs gave him a surprised look and asked, "Are you sure?"
"Yeah. But, do it quick, before I change my mind," Tony begged.
Kissing him hard and fast, Gibbs nodded and rolled off the bed, striding out of the room. He was gone for a long time and Tony heard Abby's loud squeal of happiness, and then her almost as loud reaction of disappointment to the news that Tony didn't want to see her. He could see them there in his mind, McGee doing his best to look supportive, Ducky shaking his head in paternal distress, Abby with her eyes all big and hurt...
The door opened and Tony flinched as Ziva entered the room sans Gibbs. She took a few seconds to look at him and he wondered what she saw. He knew all too well that he was nothing like the man she remembered. He was afraid of his own shadow and worse, without any honor at all anymore.
Ziva drew in a breath and let it out explosively before approaching the bed. She stopped beside it and said quietly, "I watered your plants while you were gone. Surprised me you had so many."
Tony blinked at her in surprise, but still couldn't find his voice.
She sat on the edge of the bed and for a moment, tears swam in her dark eyes before she seemed to regain control. Offering a smile, she told him, "I thought we could just sit together for a while. How does that sound?"
Tony nodded hesitantly, relaxing a little against the bed.
"Can I hold your hand?" Ziva requested gently.
Biting his lip, Tony thought about it for a minute, but she didn't rush him or repeat herself. He finally nodded and reached out to her. Her hand was small and smooth under his, the contrast of her pale skin vivid against his scraped and bruised knuckles, the torn nails. Her other hand came up to cover his lightly.
It wasn't until he was sure that she would do nothing else that Tony let out the breath he'd been holding. He relaxed further onto the pillows and closed his eyes, glad that his heart had stopped pounding against his ribs. That tenuous connection filtered slowly through him, the lack of judgment and her understanding that it was hard for him to talk at all.
His hand tightened on hers as he began to hope that maybe he wasn't completely broken after all.
***Next story in series: Changes.