See, now You've made Me Angry
"Look at what you've done now. You got me angry. And I'm not the angry type, really. I'm usually the cool guy you want to hang out with on weekends. But then you do this kind of things, and I'm not the likeable guy anymore. Do you know why, Mr. Jones? Because when I get angry, I get cold. And cold people aren't charming and likeable unless they're psychopaths playing a part." He looked up then, and his lips twitched in his most feral, cold smile.
"My boss, he knows how I get when I'm angry. You know, earlier he ordered me not to approach you. I told you, he knows how I get. He thought I might try to harm you." Sneer. "He even warned the guys guarding your door not to let me in, you know, lest I accidentally killed you." Laugh. "But really, I'm not that kind of guy either. I don't like getting my hands dirty. And so many people are more skilled than I am for these kinds of manual labours. By the way, you're not half bad yourself, I have to hand it to you. But you're not that good either, Mr. Jones."
He put his hand in his pocket and took out an evidence bag. Carefully, he opened the bag and turned it upside down. The piece of paper it contained fell on the table between the two men.
"Do you recognize your work, Mr. Jones? This was your first mistake. You were so careful before, Mr. Jones, you disappointed me. A partial finger print on the left corner." Before he could react, the man snatched the paper from the table and just turned it around in his hands before throwing it with a victorious smile.
"Look at that," Tony went on unimpressed; he barely blinked. "Now your fingerprints are all over the evidence, and you did it with a surveillance camera recording it. Our forensic analyst would be so upset about my rookie mistake... if she knew there was incriminating evidence in the first place. Oh yes, haven't I told you? I was the only one in the lab when the result of this thing here popped up on the screens. And there it was, your picture looking at me. You weren't even a suspect. But you've had your hands on this piece of paper before, Mr. Jones, so you and I both know the truth, don't we? I don't need to keep the actual, tangible proof of what you did, so I took the liberty to delete the result after I read it. I learnt how to do it thoroughly after I got it wrong one time in Detroit.
"Oh, you didn't know, Mr. Jones? I was a detective there for a long time. And in Oakland before that. Oakland was my first. I didn't know my angry self that well, back then. I was young, lacked control. You know how it is. It was my last case there. It often is. A bad case." He shook his head and pretended to be affected. "You know how it is. I couldn't stay there after what that man had done, and no one would believe me when I said it was him. So I left. That's the good thing when you're filthy rich like me. I don't need to actually work, but doing what I do helps. You know, with the coldness inside. Still, I could stop, just like that." He snapped his fingers.
"At Oakland, my colleagues made it easier still. Rich boy got tired of playing cops, they said. You know they actually had a betting pool on how long I'd stay? I made a man very lucky the day I left. I heard them say they knew I wasn't cut out for the job. I couldn't take it. The world isn't all shiny and glittering, they said."
Laughter again. The man sitting opposite him was looking uneasy, but kept silent.
"Poor guys. They were so swamped with work that they didn't even realize who their morgue welcomed on December 25th. At the time, I didn't realize that my father's men really would do anything I asked them to, so I'd done it myself. The rich boy that was so naïve." Snort.
"You know, I learnt a lot from my mistakes. Oakland taught me about myself. What I could do. My power. Detroit, well, it helped me improve my technique. You know, practice makes perfect and all that. In Detroit I understood that my father's men knew a lot of people who could do a lot of things for money, and do it well. I also learnt that I didn't need to quit before. I could use my job to help me. It taught me that every forensic result processed by the computers left traces. I nearly got caught, but I wasn't. Instead, NCIS hired me. My current boss thought I showed so much passion for the case, when we were working it and not making progress... He saw my frustration and thought it meant that I was driven. He didn't realize then." Laugh.
"I also learnt that it was easier to pass it as a coincidence after when you didn't look affected by the criminal in question before. Why would anyone think it was me? I didn't even look twice at the guy. It works even better when 'the guy' isn't considered a real suspect.
"Do you know, Mr. Jones, that you can get up and leave whenever you please? You're not under arrest, you know. You're just here as a witness for the case of the first victim. I wonder what kind of letter you sent her then. Before you murdered her, that is. Or is it something you started later? With victim number two? Number five, maybe? Are you like me, Mr. Jones? Did your work evolve with your experience? Because personally, my methods have changed. I find it fairer to warn the men in advance now. Do you send them the letters because you think it's fairer too? No, I wouldn't think so. Careful now, I hope it is not just complacency. You should know better than to think that you mastered you work perfectly.
"That's another thing I learnt. No matter how many, it's never enough to slack off. NCIS has been good to me. I've been here nine years now, and I'm getting tired, but how could I stop? How could I continue my personal work if I quit? You understand me, Mr. Jones, don't you?
"Maybe you don't, actually. Maybe you're wondering, why would he be angry at me, if we're so alike? Because it's true that I am, Mr. Jones, so like you. And so angry too. I hadn't planned you. My last one was so soon, too soon, actually, so I cannot actually deal with you now. Except that I am like you, Mr. Jones, and I don't forget.
"You know what is going to happen when my boss enters this room? He's going to call me outside, and he's going to tell me that we have nothing on our killer, so I better try and squeeze some kind of information out of you. Anything. A memory from that night, if you heard something unusual outside, oh, and where were you then? The basics. You should probably have tried not to murder you neighbour, Mr. Jones, but I saw the pictures and I can understand. She was a beauty after all. Now, had you not sent your last letter, Mr. Jones, I would have never deleted the results from my friend's computer down at the lab. They would have found it, found you, charged you and closed the case. Then your lawyer would have succeeded in ruling the evidence undependable, because it's only a partial finger-print and it isn't a perfect match. And you would have walked free.
"Exactly as you are going to walk free from here today. Except that, after you leave today, the case will go cold, and in a week's time nobody will remember your name, your face, or your part in all this. And then some more time will pass, because you've happened too soon, and then it will be my time. And by that, I mean yours.
"I see the question in your eyes, Mr. Jones. Why is that last letter so important?" Tony looked down a the piece of paper still in between them." Not because it is bad poetry, Mr. Jones, even though it would be reason enough for my father." He paused.
"'Twinkle, twinkle little star, fives points at your neck calling my fingers to collect.' Ziva's star of David is very precious to her. I gave her one not so long ago. I don't like my gifts being used in cheap poetry threatening my friends. And this only served to show me what an amateur you really are. So volatile. So thoughtless, going after a woman you saw once running in a park. Never stopping to wonder what kind of life she had. That she is a trained Mossad assassin that now works for an American federal agency.
"You're lucky she brought us the poem in the hour, Mr. Jones, or else she'd have sliced your throat before you could get close to hers. But the harm is done now, and because of you she was upset. And I can't allow that now, can I? Because I am the Senior Field Agent, and I have my partner's back. When you thought you could touch her, you insulted me. And I don't like being insulted.
"That's a lot of things I don't like that you did, don't you think? You've made me very angry, and I should warn you that I like to take my time when I am this upset. I don't rush into things. Not even when I will have you pinned by your hands and arms to the working table.
"And now, Mr. Jones, you are going to understand the difference between you and me."
The door opened right on cue.
"DiNozzo, I need to talk to you outside," came Gibbs's voice as he didn't even bother to fully enter the room before leaving it. Tony got up with more life than he had shown during his whole monologue. He left the door slightly ajar while he was told to find a way to make the witness remember something, anything.
When they reentered the room, DiNozzo was a new man as he took a second chair to bring it next to Gibbs's and sat. Even his posture had changed. His eyes were alive with new warmth.
"See, I told you my boss wouldn't make us wait too long! I know you have plenty to do, but this is very important, so please bear with us like all your neighbours have been doing this morning. As you know, two years ago Mrs. Lee, one of your neighbours, was found dead in her house. We now believe there were other victims of the same killer and we have re-opened the case, so we are reviewing all of the potential witnesses the police already interviewed at the time. Do you want to hear what your statement was two years ago?"
The witness didn't answer. He was pale and absolutely frozen. Tony frowned, intrigued, and looked at his boss, who had also noticed the strange behaviour.
"Do you want us to read you your first statement?" Gibbs repeated.
Before the witness could answer, someone knocked and opened the door. McGee came in with a videocamera in one hand and its tripod in the other, excusing himself for the interruption. Jones looked in confusion from the newcomer to Gibbs and Tony. He seemed to start panicking.
"Oh yes, sorry about that, Mr Jones," Tony said amiably. "We have a little technical problem with the usual surveillance camera." He pointed at the camera and shrugged. "The thing hasn't been working for two days now, so we've been using regular cameras. This here is Agent McGee, and he's our very own technical genius."
Tony was being perfectly charming, putting the witness at ease as he always did when Gibbs wanted answers. But Jones suddenly blanched, his eyes wide.
"Everything you say will be recorded... starting now," Tony informed distractedly as he watched McGee settle the device. "Damn, Probie, look at you doing it like a pro. If NCIS doesn't work out for you, you could always-" Gibbs's headslap interrupted his sentence, and Tony made a show out of wincing and then apologizing in his overdramtic way.
Timmy sighed, rolled his eyes and went back to the door, addressing Mr. Jones before he left. "Excuse my colleague, he still thinks he's in eight grade sometimes." Tony chuckled and Gibbs went back to business as soon as the door closed.
"Mr. Jones, you know why you are here. We want you to tell us more about the statement you made two years ago about the murder of your neighbour-" Gibbs started back from the start to have his question recorded too. Tony was looking at the camera. The screen was turned their way so they could see themselves being recorded. He straightened his tie, smoothed his hair, and tried a few smiles, trying to find which one suited him best. Gibbs was perfectly oblivious to his agent's antics, but Jones couldn't help his eyes from coming back to Tony despite his effort to focus on Gibbs. He seemed amazed and terrified at the same time.
"Hey!" Gibbs called in his usual wake-up call voice to have the witness look at him. "You've been awfully quiet, Mr. Jones. Remembered something you want to tell us?"
The team leader's calm was obviously starting to slip, and DiNozzo looked at the man opposite them with a curious face, as if the question had intrigued him and he wanted to know what would be the answer.
"I want a lawyer," was the first thing Jones said. His voice cracked a bit, as if it was rusty.
Gibbs looked at Tony with a small frown, the only sign of his surprise, and then back at the man.
"You're not under arrest," he said slowly.
"I want a lawyer, and I want a protection detail," Jones said again, his voice rising in what could have been anger but Gibbs knew was actually frantic with fear.
"Why?" Gibbs asked. The annoyance had left the boss's face, and he was now leaning in, back in full 'this is my break' mode.
Jones's eyes flickered from one man to the other. "This man threatened me. He's a murderer," he blurted out. His whole body seemed to wake up from some heavy daze as he was becoming agitated.
"What man?" DiNozzo asked, surprised, turning to see if anyone was behind him.
Jones refused to look at him, his eyes locked on Gibbs's, pleading. "He's killed before, he told me! He told me he killed in Detroit and- and Oakland!"
"Oh maann," Tony whined, "don't tell me I'm accused again! Did Jeanne send you or something?" he added, and then looked at Gibbs to ask him what to do. The leader's face was stone cold.
"Are you accusing my agent of the murder of Mrs. Lee, your neighbour?" Gibbs cleared.
"No, no! He is going to kill me. He told me!" Then, turning to Tony to address him for the first time, "Now you can't do it. I told them! They'll know it's you if you do it!" he exclaimed, nearly yelling.
Gibbs's eyes fell on Tony, admonishing him into silence and calm. "Why would my agent want to kill you?"
"Because I- I want a lawyer! Now!"
"Sir, you're not even under arrest, you can just leave," Tony said, putting the jokester aside because he could see that Gibbs was about to snap.
"No! I don't want to leave! I want to stay! I want you to get him the hell out of here!" Jones started ordering again, this time getting up brutally. His chair fell with a clatter in his hurry.
"DiNozzo, get out," Gibbs ordered, the other man would obviously only get more agitated as long as the agent stayed.
"But boss!" Tony yelled, indignant.
"Get out, let me clear that mess," Gibbs said between clenched teeth. The other man was so agitated he back-pedalled to a corner away from Tony.
The agent didn't try to hide his annoyance. He huffed and got up in a quick movement that was unexpectedly smooth in its violence. Turning around the table, he passed by Jones, throwing him a betrayed look. He was about to get out when he stopped in his tracks and got closer to him instead.
"Are you trying to deflect the attention on me because you know who the criminal is and you're trying to protect him?" he asked, now suspicious.
"DiNozzo," Gibbs warned.
"It's not gonna work," Tony went on anyway. "Gibbs doesn't get fooled like that. If you know something, just tell us, we'll protect you."
The leader of the MCRT was about to order his agent out, but stopped when he heard his tone change into one smoother. Tony seemed to have guessed right, because the man stilled at once, looking drastically different from the fidgeting mess he'd been a second before.
"Don't touch me," he whispered with a mix of spite and fear that the two agents didn't seem to understand.
"I'm telling you, we can protect you. I've been in charge of tons of protection details and-"
"Make him leave," Jones repeated in an even smaller voice, still stiffly frozen against the wall.
"Maybe you should get out of here for a bit. We have a cafeteria, you could grab something to eat," Tony kept talking, getting even closer and locking eyes with Jones. He seemed absolutely genuine in his concern, and was trying extra-hard to tame the witness so he'd stop accusing him so outrageously.
"I know what you're trying to do. I'm not leaving this room. You can't do anything," the man seethed.
"I don't want to do anything to you! And you can't stay here forever anyway, you-"
"I can! I did it! I killed her!"
Tony sighed and shook his head, drawing away with his hands raised in the air. "You don't need to lie just to stay here, I get it, I get it, I'm leaving now."
"You weren't in town the day she died. Why would you lie to us? Are you trying to protect someone?" Gibbs intervened, his face serious and his tone unexpectedly soft.
"Myself! I killed her! I was there. And I killed the others too," the man said, now desperately trying to make them believe him. The two agents shared a look and sighed again, as if disappointed by where the interview was taking them.
"Why don't you believe me? I choked them! I followed each one of them home when they were coming back from work. I chose Fridays because I knew no one would notice during the weekend. I drugged them. Chloroforme when they were on their doorsteps. I'd tie them to their bed, wait till they woke up, and choke them. And they couldn't even fight back. They were at my mercy. Why don't you believe me? Don't you think I can do it? Don't you think I have it me? I am a man. I am stronger than these women."
Jones's fear had apparently given place to anger, he slammed his hand on the wall he'd been leaning on and yelled again. "I am a man!"
Gibbs was dead serious now, staring at the man to try and gauge him, his eyes looking like they could actually pierce his skin and look into his souls for his sins.
"I don't believe it, boss. We checked where he was that night, and he wasn't even in the state. There's something hinky going on."
"You... You think you can do it better than me? I'll bring you down, Mr. Agent! I did it, I have proof. I taped everything! I have the proof in my own garage, they can't let me go free now," he said to Tony directly. He seemed mad, his eyes were lit with fury, and there was something so wrong with the way he moved and talked as he was still trying to impose himself while keeping his distance from Tony. Then turning to Gibbs, he shot toward the table shouting, "And I have more!" Gibbs didn't even flinch at the sudden jolt. The team leader was perfectly calm, analysing everything he heard and saw. He could see the crazed glint in Jones's eyes.
"And I have more! Your agent is a serial killer too. A psychopath. He kills the criminals that get away. He told me! He did it in Oakland! He did it in Detroit!"
Someone knocked at the door, and two security agents in uniform got in, apparently having been called by someone in the observation room. McGee came after them, slapping his phone shut. The two uniforms went to Jones, restraining him immediately.
"Boss, I had a car sent to Jones's, Ziva insisted on going with them. They should be there in five," he informed.
"And him! He killed someone in Oakland when he worked there, December, 25th! Check it! Check it!" the man yelled, trying to get away from the guards to get to McGee.
Probie seemed confused. He looked at Gibbs and then at Tony. "But... Tony never worked in Oakland," Tim said, frowning. Jones immediately stilled, blanching. His eyes went to Tony, who stood there as calm as they come.
"No," he murmured, eyes wide open, face blank.
"Nor did he in Detroit," Gibbs added quietly.
"No!" Jones said, raising his voice. "You lied? You... No! I don't believe it! Your eyes! I could see it in your eyes! You weren't lying! I don't believe it!"
McGee's phone buzzed and he looked down at the tiny screen. "Boss, they found it. He was not lying," McGee said gloomily.
"You weren't lying! I know you weren't! Tell them! Tell them what you told me! His father helps him!"
"Take him," Gibbs said to the two agents with a shake of his head.
But Jones wasn't ready to leave. He struggled, trying to punch the men holding him from each side. A third agent came running to help and they effectively dragged him to the exit, though Jones was still trying to wriggle out of their grasp. He became hysterical when they approached the door, yelling louder and harder, twisting in the firm hold taking him out. He managed to turn his head enough to find Tony's eyes on him.
The senior field agent was still frowning and shrugging as if he was just as surprised as the others, shaking his head in disbelief. Jones's eyes widened and they seemed haunted. He looked so deranged it seemed impossible that just a few minutes earlier he was so calm and composed. The man they had brought in the interrogation room and the one they were forcing out had nothing in common. Jones went suddenly quiet then, but his face... his face had McGee stepping back. It was the face of a madman, dangerous and wild, but there was more to it, and that was what had the agents so stunned. Jones's face didn't only reflect his sudden anger, he actually seemed shocked and incredulous, as if suddenly terror-stricken and yet offended. It made no sense. It was like... the man was realizing he was mad before their very eyes.
McGee looked at Tony, then at his boss, looking for some sort of explanation, but both men seemed just as perplexed, silently staring. Jones kicked the wall in front of him to stall his progression, and tried to look one last time. He looked like he was seeing the devil itself in the room with the federal agents.
That's when Tony's eyes quickly scanned the room before they caught the suspect's reddish ones. The perfect genuineness vanished then, with the sharpness of a guillotine descending on a neck. Snap. And he smiled. For Jones's eyes only. His expression feral and his eyes amused.
Jones's face contorted in horror and disbelief, and his wailing yell echoed in the corridor. McGee closed the door.
The three remaining agents stood silently for several and long seconds, just staring at each other, wondering what the hell had just happened.
"I have to tell Ziva. And Abby. And Ducky," McGee realized, taking out his phone and scurrying out the door without missing a beat.
"And Palmer, he always forgets Palmer," Tony said, shaking his head as he made a step to follow his partner. But Gibbs's hand shot out to stop him, grabbing him by the arm. Tony frowned, surprised, and looked from the clutching hand up to his boss's face, only to find piercing blues eyes that seemed to read his mind looking at him grimly.
"Good work, Tony," Gibbs said.
He didn't let go immediately, gaze still trained on his agent as if he was trying to uncover some deep truth. Tony let him, raising his eyebrows, his face open and guileless.
"Thanks, boss," the younger man answered with a question in his voice.
The team leader's eyes wandered to the camera, still recording on the tripod facing them, and he seemed to mentally shake himself from his thoughts, because he let a small smirk appear.
"Yeah... good work," Gibbs repeated with more conviction, and Tony could feel that the boss was now very aware that they were still being recorded. He released his agent's arm and went to the door, looking back a last time before he left. His eyes always seemed to know much more than they should, than they told.
Left alone in the room, Tony took his time going to the camera and shutting it off. He then turned to the glass separating the room from observation and smoothed his suit in his usual vain but light fashion, throwing his reflection (and whoever would be behind) a few seductive smiles before he chuckled at his silliness and gave the glass his back to pick up the tripod and leave.
The opposite wall was the only witness to the satisfied sneer that played on his lips before his face went blank again, and he left the room without so much as a last look behind.