Tribute to Whom Tribute is Due

Chapter 8

It was late into the night when most of the people, patients and a few of the center's employees, were asleep, all except Tony, who lay awake on his bed in the darkness of his room as it was mandatory for all lights to be out by eleven o'clock. Tony wanted to sleep, but his mind wouldn't allow it, even if he wasn't working a dangerous undercover job on his own. Sleep had evaded him long before.

After lying awake for what felt like hours, Tony heard the sound of heavy footsteps and whispering voices outside his room, then continue on down the hallway, and within seconds, Tony was up and at his door, waiting for his chance to follow after the rehab's employees, one of whom he could make out as Dr. Woolsey, in hope that they would lead him to whatever it was really going on here.

Within five minutes, the doctor and the unknown employee entered what looked to be a storage room, but when Tony followed after them, he watched as they disappeared through another door that was labeled, 'employees only.' Tony continued on as he walked down what was a long tunnel that traveled beneath the rehab center and beyond it until he finally came to a mostly open area that reminded the agent of the famous rumble scene in the movie, West Side Story.

In the middle of the room, there was a large metal cage where two men, both of whom Tony recognized as rehab patients, were fighting against one another in a boxing match, without the boxing gloves, as a large number of men and women stood around them watching the fight while exchanging large sums of money. The big secret about this place was that the center's employees were funding and somehow providing fighters for an underground fight club. Tony had no doubt that the patients were all being given some kind of drugs to help rev up their aggression and adrenaline and that Jason King's friend was stuck somewhere in the middle of it.

Tony continued watching in dread as the observers screamed and cheered the fighters on while their attacks grew, when all of a sudden one of the patients struck a vicious blow in the side of his opponent's head and caused the man to fall hard to ground as he remained still and barely conscious. Suddenly, the fight came to a standstill when the fighter still standing swiftly reached down and brutally broke the other's neck, then began to shout out in triumph while the crowd cheered in pleasure of what he had just done.

It was then that Tony realized his mistake as this was far beyond what he could do without his friends at NCIS, but as he was about to leave where he had been hiding from the view of anyone who might recognize him to head back toward the rehab center, he turned around just in time to see Jenna, who smiled at him until her face grew cold as she suddenly tasered him on his neck until the agent collapsed up against the wall behind him and then to the ground unconscious.

Dr. Woolsey came over a few seconds later as he stared down at his latest patient on the ground in shock, then over at the nurse as he asked, "What happened here? How did he…?"

Jenna quickly interrupted, "Pull it together, Rob. Either Connor Bacic is too nosy for his own good, or he isn't exactly who he says he is. Either way, he's seen too much and can't be trusted enough to be put back with the other patients. We have to deal with him. I knew this would happen sooner or later. It was only a matter of time. Go talk with Emmett and I'll go talk with our backers. They can decide what we do with him."

"Whatever made you so cold, Jenna?" Woolsey asked. "How did you get pulled into all this and how can you enjoy it?"

"I was just lucky and I enjoy it because it makes me rich," she replied. "I came from nothing and now, thanks to Emmett, I have everything I could possibly want. He always told me that I would learn to like the fights and it turns out that he was right. You should learn to enjoy it too, just as you continue enjoying its rewards. Just go."

After Dr. Woolsey left, two guards from the rehab center that were down there to keep an eye on the fighters and to keep them in line if need be came by and dragged Tony away, then an older woman approached Jenna from behind, who spoke up as she asked, "Who was that gorgeous hunk of a man that your guards just dragged away?"

Jenna smiled as she responded, "He's a patient of ours that became too curious. I was just about to come and find you. His name is Connor Bacic, or at least that's what he told us, but I'm not so sure. What would you and your brother like us to do with him?"

"I'd like to get to know him a little better, but he looks like he would make a great opponent for our current champion," she answered as she looked back toward the crowd as they finished cashing out after the latest fight. "Go tell Lucien that he needs to prepare himself for another fight tomorrow night. He should be very pleased to hear it."

"Emmett and I will take care of everything," Jenna replied before turning to leave.

Three hours later…

Tony reawakened to find himself strapped down to an exam table inside what looked like an examination room of some kind, most likely back at the rehab center. The agent fought against the straps, but to no avail. His bindings were firm and tight, giving his wrists and ankles absolutely no room to twist around in hope of loosening them.

It wasn't long before someone Tony had yet to meet walked in and spoke up saying, "It's good to see you awake, Mr. Bacic. I was hoping to get the chance to get to know you before we go through with what we have planned for you. I'm Dr. Emmett Gisborne, Dr. Woolsey's business partner."

Tony glared at him as he responded, "I know who you are, doc. I've seen the pictures of you and the others throughout this place. So, how long have you guys been running an underground fight club, or is it that you don't talk about it because the first rule of fight club is not to talk about fight club?"

"I see you enjoy the movies," Gisborne answered and then chuckled. "So do I and I have to say that the one you just quoted helped to inspire me and a few friends. We were all a bit surprised to find you down there tonight, though it hasn't been the first time a patient of ours followed us. Unfortunately for him, he didn't get the same opportunity we're going to give you. He didn't exactly meet our criteria."

"And what opportunity is that?" Tony asked again angrily. "Is it that I get to become one of your lucky fighters? Sorry, I think I'll pass. I'm not exactly into fight clubs, especially not for another person's gain."

The doctor smiled at Tony's bravado as he replied, "I'm afraid you don't have much choice. We've got something that will help you to change your mind."

DiNozzo didn't like the sound of that as he spoke up again as he responded, "Sounds ominous. What exactly does that mean?"

"You'll find out soon enough," Gisborne answered. "Right now, I just want to know one thing. Are you really who you say you are; a man with no family or friends, with an addiction to drugs to help ease the pain you're in, and who considers himself a jinx?"

"How about you tell me," Tony answered smugly. "I'm obviously dead no matter what I say and so who I am doesn't matter in the slightest, but what you do need to know is that if you do this, you all are going to wish you hadn't. I can promise you that."

The smugness on the doctor's face disappeared and as he stood up, he glared down at DiNozzo as he said coldly, "You may or may not be Connor Bacic, but rest assured that whoever you are, very soon you won't know him anymore. Once we're through with you, your identity will disappear and you'll begin the fight of your life. I really do hope that you're the victor. I'd certainly like to get to know the real you."

Tony watched the man leave and then whispered to himself, "Come on, Gibbs. I really hope your gut is telling you something's wrong because otherwise, I'm a dead man, in more ways than one."

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