Tribute to Whom Tribute is Due

Chapter 9

As soon as they arrived back at NCIS headquarters, Gibbs and McGee escorted their latest detainee, Jason King, into one of the interrogation rooms, then both took a seat across from him as Gibbs spoke up sternly saying, "I told you that no matter what you say to your boss, it wasn't going to do you any good. Director Vance is speaking with him right now, pulling a few strings to make sure that you don't go anywhere until you give me what I want to know. You think that remaining silent is going to protect your friend? What about Tony? Do you care at all that you've put him in danger; that he could die trying to help you?"

Jason turned away as he answered, "He's more like a brother to me. I did what I had to do. I tried to go through the proper channels, but they said I had no case. I knew that NCIS would say the same and so I went to DiNozzo. He owed me and he is more than capable of finding my friend."

"And you asked him to go in alone, without his friends to be there to back him up?" McGee asked. "Why? What is the real reason why you don't want us involved in this?"

"Because my friend would be considered a criminal to you and I didn't think you'd be willing to let his discretions slide if you found him," King replied in frustration. "He's turned to illegal drugs to help him cope with the death of his sister and her son, which eventually led him assault a few guys in a bar. I convinced the bar's owner and those he attacked not to press charges. My friend tried to stop using, but the withdrawal only made him angrier. Five days ago, he disappeared and only someone with DiNozzo's skills and resources can find him."

McGee responded, "Drug withdrawal without the proper help is dangerous, which it looks like your friend has already discovered. You should have convinced your friend to go to a rehab center."

After reading Jason's sudden nervous expression, Gibbs cocked his head as he stated, "He did. Your friend was in one when he, disappeared. Keep talking. Who is your friend and where is this rehab center?"

"Can I get your guarantee that you won't arrest him, for anything?" King asked. "He isn't a criminal. He just made mistakes."

"I won't make any promises, but if he is as you say, then he will have no problems with us," Gibbs answered. "Where is Tony?"

King paused and then finally answered, "My friend's name is Craig Lucien and he's at a center called The Good Hope Institute. He wasn't there long before he disappeared. He called me every other night to check in with me, but when he didn't call one night, I had a feeling that something was wrong, and so I went to visit him. The nurses there told me he had checked out and when I spoke to a doctor, he told me that Craig wasn't receptive to their help and so he left. They were all lying and they knew my face, so I knew that I would need to figure out another way in. For what it's worth, Agent Gibbs, I didn't choose DiNozzo because I hoped that he would land himself in trouble. I may have my issues with him, but I certainly didn't wish him harm."

Gibbs was about to say something when Director Vance suddenly opened the door and motioned for Gibbs and McGee to come out, then as they got up, Gibbs looked at Jason King and said, "We'll do all we can to help your friend if he's still alive, but when this is all over, you'll have to answer for the trouble you've caused and if Tony's hurt, or worse, then I will make sure you are held partly responsible. You made a mistake the moment you chose to blackmail him, using his guilt to get what you want."

"What's going on, Director?" McGee asked after he and Gibbs exited the room and followed after their boss down the halls until they came to the outside of one of their conference rooms.

"We've got a visitor, who couldn't possibly have worse timing," Vance replied.

When the three walked into the room, they found Anthony DiNozzo Sr. standing at the end of the table, waiting for Agent Gibbs to arrive. The team leader looked over at Vance for confirmation on whether or not he had talked to Tony's father about his son missing, but the look on the man's face indicated that he hadn't, knowing that it would be better coming from Gibbs instead.

Vance left as McGee and Gibbs walked over to Sr. and motioned for him to sit, then Tony's father spoke up saying, "Agent Gibbs, Agent McGee; it's good to see you again, but I was hoping to come here to see my son. Seeing as you're here instead, I gather he's busy with a case. Is he all right?"

Gibbs looked directly at the older man as he responded, "I'm afraid we can't really answer that. He's been missing for the last few days now after he went off to help someone from his past and we're not sure what's happened to him. I assure you, we're doing everything we can to find him. Luckily, we've finally just received a good lead on his last known whereabouts. It's possible that he's not even in trouble at all…"

"But from the look on your faces, I see you don't really believe that," Sr. interrupted. "My son always did have a knack for getting himself in trouble."

"But he's also one hell of a fighter," Gibbs answered back. "He'll stay alive long enough for us to find him, but if we're going to in time, then we need to leave, now."

Tony's father nodded and then replied, "Do whatever you have to do. Please, just save my son."

Gibbs reached out to shake the man's hand and then with more confidence than what he really felt, responded, "We will. You're welcome to wait here if you'd like, or you can head to your son's apartment. We'll give you a call once we find him."

"Thank you, Agent Gibbs, Agent McGee," DiNozzo Sr. said.

"This is what we do," McGee spoke up finally as he shook the man's hand as well. "Unfortunately, danger just happens to come with the job, but we somehow always get through it. Tony will this time too."

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