Tribute to Whom Tribute is Due

Chapter 4

Gibbs, McGee, and FBI agents Song and Irwin arrived back at NCIS headquarters after finishing up at the crime scene, which seemed pretty standard; a young naval officer appeared to have been killed and his body was dropped off and abandoned at a construction site in downtown D.C. When Ducky and Jimmy finished with the autopsy, they found that the victim had indeed been murdered by being poisoned. Now it was the team's job to figure out the truth behind his murder.

Several times throughout the day, Gibbs attempted to call DiNozzo, but every time, his phone went straight to voicemail, making the team leader more and more nervous, the longer his right hand was missing. He hated not being in the loop when it concerned his friends, especially knowing that whatever the younger agent was up to, he was about to get into trouble, if he wasn't already.

He put his phone away again after his latest attempt as McGee looked up at him from his desk and asked, "Still no luck with getting a hold of Tony?"

Gibbs shook his head, then responded, "Not yet. I'm sure he's fine."

"If that was true, you wouldn't be trying to call him so much," Tim replied as he looked back at his screen and continued typing.

"Have you found out who our John Doe is yet?" Gibbs asked, ignoring McGee's concern as he turned back to their case.

McGee answered, "Unfortunately, whoever this guy is, he's not in any of our databases. His fingerprints aren't listed, which means…"

Gibbs interrupted, "Which means that although our victim is dressed up in a naval uniform, he isn't really a naval officer."

"Why would whoever killed him take the time to dress him as one?" Agent Irwin asked. "Why would he want us to think this man was someone other than who he was?"

"We've had stranger circumstances," Gibbs responded as he moved to stand beside McGee so that he could see his computer screen to read over the information that was currently pulled up. "It's possible that whoever did this did this in order to target NCIS. It's happened more than we'd care to remember."

McGee continued, "He doesn't have any criminal record either, boss, or his prints would have come up after searching the criminal databases too. I'm about to search missing persons to see if anyone's reported him missing yet, but that might take awhile."

Gibbs looked up toward the director's office to see Leon standing on the stairs watching them from a distance, then make a motion for the senior agent to come up. Gibbs told McGee and the other agents to keep up the good work and then left the main room to follow up Vance to his office.

Leon spoke first saying, "So, you think that this killer is targeting NCIS."

"Or he could be targeting a specific member of NCIS," Gibbs replied. "We don't know hardly anything yet, including this guy's name. He doesn't seem to exist in any database. What's going on, director?"

"Have you gotten in touch with DiNozzo yet?" he asked calmly.

Gibbs glared at his boss as he said angrily, "No. What's really going on, Leon? What did he tell you before he left?"

The director answered, "As I told you before, he didn't tell me much, but I couldn't help, but feel that he was heading into trouble. He came off confident when he tried to explain the importance of this leave of absence, but I still got the sense that it was more of an act. You of all people know that the more confident he appears, the less he really feels."

"He's gone undercover again, without backup," Gibbs responded. "Seeing as you're worried about him, it means he's in trouble, Leon, which means that this case we're working on isn't our priority anymore. You need to reassign the case and allow me and McGee to find out the truth about what's going on with him."

"You're right," Vance replied. "I'll let Agents Irwin and Song know they'll be working with a different team. Hopefully when you get back, the case will be solved and all of us will still be standing."

Gibbs walked toward the door, then smiled and quickly stated, "Tell whoever you assign to the case that once they find out who our John Doe is, they should first take a look at his wife if he has one. Tony usually does and more times than you would think it's the answer."

Vance answered, "I'll do that."

"Come on, McGee, we're off to DiNozzo's apartment to try to find a lead on him," Gibbs stated when he walked back down into the bullpen, then walked to his desk, and pulled out his badge and gun from his drawer.

"Did something happen to him, Gibbs?" Abby asked worriedly as she came into the room in time to hear Gibbs' order. "You guys have to find him! Why didn't you tell me something was going on with him? Actually, I should have known something was wrong when he didn't come down to see me the past few mornings. He always comes by to see me when he comes in. I should have…"

Gibbs quickly cut her off saying, "Just take it easy, Abbs. We'll find him. He's going to be all right."

Abby asked again, "How do you know that, Gibbs? How do you always seem to be so confident he'll be fine whenever Tony gets himself into these messes?"

"Because, he's Tony and because Gibbs is the one that always makes sure that he is," McGee responded as he followed their boss toward the elevator. "We'll check in with you as soon as we find something out!"

"Timothy is right, my dear," Ducky spoke up saying as he too came walking into the room. "They will find him and Anthony will be back to coming down to say good morning to you every morning soon enough."

Abby wrapped her arms around him in a hug as she asked fearfully, "Why does this always happen to Tony?"

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