Chapter Warnings: Murder, Description of Murder, Character Bashing – Gibbs
Chapter Summary: We get a reminder that there’s a killer out there on the loose that no one knows about. Then Tony gets a surprise visit from someone close to him who explains the difference between a boss and a leader to him.
Chapter Twelve: The Austin Brothers & A Surprise Visit
Fayetteville, AR – July 2011
They’d been scarily easy to subdue. A couple drops in their beer when they weren’t looking, and they were all his. Following them from the bar, he’d been slightly concerned that they’d hit someone, but he reasoned that sometimes sacrifices had to be made in the name of justice. Fortunately, they’d run harmlessly off the road into a field. The car came to a stop when the driver let his foot off the gas.
Getting them out of the truck had been a hassle. Fortunately, the brothers were riding in an older pickup truck, and not one of the newer ones with automatic locks. A well-placed tire iron solved the problem of unlocking the doors. They were heavy to drag out of their seats, but he managed. They didn’t want to sit up on their own, so he’d leaned them against each other with their foreheads touching. After that, he’d been able to take his time. For what they did to that woman, they deserved this. They were monsters just like all the rest. It didn’t matter that the victim had recanted. Victims did that.
They got scared. They got intimidated. They got paid.
That didn’t mean that monsters didn’t deserve to die, though. Someone had to make them pay for what they’d done. He used the army knife to cut off their t-shirts. He could feel the rage in his veins. He wanted to make them hurt. He wanted to annihilate them. He wanted to make them bleed. He wouldn’t be ruled by his emotions, though. It wasn’t time for that. They hadn’t caught on yet. The game hadn’t yet begun.
Setting to work he applied the tattoo to Bo and Bart Austin’s backs. Bo began to moan as he was putting his on. The younger brother, Bo, moved slightly making Bart, the older one, tilt to one side. Aggravated he decided that he didn’t want to wait any longer. Tilting Bo’s head back with a fistful of hair, he could see his eyes fighting their way open.
“This is what happens to the guilty. You may have fooled those that don’t know humanity as well as I do, but you won’t escape my justice.”
Letting Bo’s hair go, he walked around to the older brother, and with a swift confident motion slit his throat from one side to the other. When Bo made a sound of anguish and tried to move away, he just snorted. Kicking him in the head solved the weak rebellion.
“This is justice being done.” He snarled in the man’s ear as he set him up and repeated his actions. Setting the younger man back up, he wiped his hands off on the shredded shirt and went back to his car. One more city was cleansed. It was time to move to Charlotte, SC. There were two separate incidents there that needed his justice.
Quantico/DC Area October 1st, 2011
Tony walked out of the office building and waved to various people that he saw and knew, as he headed toward his car. He was looking forward to a night of relaxation, and maybe a good movie. Tobias wouldn’t be home. His unit had a case that had heated up, and he felt that it was best if he stays in the building in case they needed him.
Getting into his car, he threw his computer bag on the passenger’s’ seat then settled in putting on his seatbelt, and adjusting the rearview mirror. He then almost put his head through the roof, as Trent came into view in the back seat.
One hand clenched on the steering wheel, and the other over his chest, he tried to calm down, as his cousin laughed in the backseat. Once he’d pulled himself back together, Tony glared into the mirror, as he made his way through the parking garage, making sure to wave at the security guards as always while Trent hid in the back of the SUV behind the darkened glass.
“One of these days I am going to shoot you when you do that. It will be your own damned fault when you end up dead.”
Trent sniffed amused looking wholly unconcerned. “As if. You don’t scare me, DiNozzo. I have seen you shoot. Are you going to pull over so that I can get up front?”
“No!” Tony shot back petulantly, ignoring the snort from the backseat.
“Fine, I will just take a nap then. Let me know when we’re home, James.”
Tony gritted his teeth irritated when his cousin indeed shut his eyes and laid his head back. He had no doubt that the irritating older man would be asleep shortly. He’d turn the radio on loud, but he wasn’t quite that petty. Instead, he contemplated all the ways he could prank the bastard between the time they reached Tobias’ house, and whenever Trent had to leave.
It didn’t seem to matter how old he actually was. Whenever Trent showed up, Tony felt like that little kid, again, who was being saved from a father who just didn’t care about him. His entire life, Trent was the only person that he always knew that he could count on no questions asked. Unfortunately, their jobs kept them apart more than he liked, so he’d learned to make the most of their moments together.
When they reached Tobias’ home, Tony got out and didn’t bother waking Trent. He knew his cousin had woken up the second the car stopped. It was an annoying condition caused by years of not being able to depend on anyone else to watch your back when you were in the field. Sure sometimes Jeremy had been there, but normally Trent was sent in alone, and backup was days and continents away.
Once they were both insides and had changed into more comfortable non-work clothes, Tony headed directly toward the kitchen to start cooking. He wasn’t even going to ask if Tobias knew about this. He’d wondered what was up when the beef bottom round had mysteriously shown up in the refrigerator. This followed Tony finding out someone had been in his Trent’s Alton Brown Food List document, and Tobias claiming he’d been looking for something else.
Getting out his breading trays, Tony set the necessary components out on the counter. He was making chicken fried steak, red skinned mashed potatoes, and Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon. For dessert, he was just going to chop up some berries that were in the fridge and put them over vanilla ice cream. He should make homemade biscuits, but he didn’t have the time or the patience that night.
Fortunately, he still had a bag of frozen ones in the freezer that he could bake. They weren’t as good as homemade, but they would work in a pinch. His cousin liked to watch Alton Brown’s old show Good Eats while he was on assignment. This lead to a list of things he demanded Tony make for him using Alton’s recipes. Fortunately for TK, Tony was happy to oblige.
Trent came into the kitchen wearing a pair of old jeans and t-shirt in French while Tony was deciding what to start first. He ignored the CIA agent as the older man grabbed two bottles of water from the fridge, then got settled to watch his cousin cook by turning around a chair straddling it. “How are things? Have you found all of your little ducklings yet?”
Tony snorted and shook his head. “No, I still need one more agent, preferably a female. I don’t suppose you have any more surprises up your sleeve? I am thinking I will need a bigger team than what I have, but that will wait.”
Trent grinned and shook his head. “Sorry, I am all out of friends I am willing to sacrifice for the cause. Besides that, I am pretty sure that any of the female operatives that I know would eat you alive, Poco Tino. Father sends his best, or as best as his best gets anyway. He is proud of your advancement. I told him that you would be just thrilled over his happiness.”
Tony laughed but kept cooking. “Your father isn’t horrible. He’s better than mine is.”
“Poco, I love you, but your mastery over the obvious is droll. Saying that someone is a better father than yours is not exactly a ringing endorsement. Although to be fair, I am not sure the ol’ man deserves any better than that.”
Tony couldn’t help but laugh again at his cousin’s sarcasm. “You’re such a cynical old man, TK. You and I have both seen much worse than your dad. His treatment of me has nothing to do with how good of a father that he was to you. All things considered, he wasn’t all that bad to me either. He could have made you stay in England, and left me here completely alone.”
“It’s an old argument, Poco. Let it be. Tell me about your new team.”
Tony rolled his eyes at his cousin but did let it drop. They had been arguing about Trent’s father for years, and it would not be settled that night.
Trent tended to be overprotective and felt that his father should have stepped in and done more to protect Tony from Senior. Tony, however, recognized that the man didn’t have to do anything for Tony at all. Sending his only son to go to school in another country had been a huge sacrifice for the older man who adored his only son. Tony only hoped that his cousin set things right with his father before he’d never have that chance again.
Deciding that the potatoes needed to go on first, Tony dumped the whole bag into the sink to wash and peel as he thought about his new team. “They’re good. I owe you huge for suggesting Will. With hiring someone with almost no undercover experience he’s going to be a big help. He’s already started doing little things to teach Raven about undercover work.
“I think Elijah will turn out to be the perfect SIC for me. Our personalities mesh well, and I like his military background. Plus, he’s a sarcastic bastard who understands keeping things light when it’s needed. Chin Ho Kelly is the King of Zen. I don’t think that I could reach his level of calm if I meditated for a year. He will be basically sharing duties with Raven, and I think he’s set himself up as a mentor for my former black hat hacker birdling. She’s going to need a little extra attention. Her last boss created some trust issues.”
“You sound affectionate toward them already, Tino,” Trent observed as he got himself some of the iced tea in the refrigerator quickly tired of the water. He’d mostly gotten it out for Tony’s benefit. He knew his cousin forgot to keep hydrated as he cooked, and preferred water which wouldn’t mess with his taste palate.
Tony thought about it and shrugged after a few moments. “I suppose that I am. It makes me… I don’t understand how Gibbs could play us against each other for so many years. I can’t imagine doing that to my team, and I’ve only had them for a couple weeks.”
“The difference, Poco, is that he’s bossy, and you lead. Being bossy does not make you a good leader. Being driven and end goal oriented doesn’t make you a good leader of men and women. You have to be able to see the big picture.”
“You understand that running your people into the ground won’t get the case solved faster. You understand that a good leader helps solve the case, not just scream at others because they haven’t gotten the solution yet. A boss screams at people, demeans them, and hits them on the back of the head. A leader teaches them, works with them, and celebrates victories together. Gibbs is a boss. You are a leader.”