The White Hat Sneakers

Chapter 9: Finding McGee

“Where’s Reams, Matthews?” Gibbs shouted into the interior.

“Did you not get the meaning of the ‘Fuck You’, cop?” Matthews yelled back, firing again at the door.

“That’s Agent Gibbs to you, now where’s your boss?”

“Gone!” Matthews started to laugh. “Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone!” He was firing again.

Gibbs frowned. “Where’s he gone, Matthews?”

Fornell shot again into the interior through the window, and then quickly ducked back, throwing Gibbs a wry frown when Duncan blew out the rest of the window’s glass. He shook his head, then threw a thumb over his shoulder—he was going to find another location to fire from. Gibbs nodded at him, and the FBI Agent turned to follow the wrap-around porch around the corner. Gibbs covered him when Matthews started shooting at the windows that Fornell's shadow ducked past.

Duncan stopped firing when Fornell was gone—with nothing to aim at, it was a waste of ammunition, which he obviously knew.

“I got two more of these rifles sitting on the floor next to me and lots more bullets,” Duncan warned. “So, any of you try to get in here, I’ll cut you in half!”

“You can’t stay there forever, Matthews!” Gibbs yelled.

“Neither can you! Especially since Reams is probably on his way down to the barn to kill those geeks—starting with yours! He wants your boy dead, Gibbs, more than anything, he wants him dead! Since you’re not getting the better of me anytime soon, maybe you should focus on that!”

“I am,” Gibbs muttered softly, his gaze switching to the barn down the hill. The room on the end was still flashing with explosive gunfire.


Tony winced at all the noise surrounding him. On top of the drowning amount of the gunfire, the metal vats were echoing everything and creating a painful amount of tintinnabulation. Having his back pressed to this empty metal vat was akin to having his head trapped inside a ringing church bell.

Growling, he shifted away from it a little and looked up at the massive object he’d taken cover behind. There was a ladder, leading to the top about a dozen feet up.

Slowly, he smiled.


Fornell rounded the side of the house, frowning up at the solid wall behind which he knew Duncan Matthews was positioned as he jogged past. No way in from this side. He backed up, looking up at the porch roof. Maybe he could climb up onto the…
“Agent Fornell!” Redford’s sharp call over the radio in his ear had Fornell turning to look towards the cement structure. Redford was in the open between it and the house about twenty yards away, his gun pointed up at the roof.

“Redford?”

“Man on the roof right above your head,” he said into the radio. “I think he’s casing you.” Then, louder, he shouted. “You on the roof! Freeze! Federal Agent! Don’t move!”

The crack of a rifle split the air, and Fornell watched as Redford flinched when something kicked up the dirt at his feet. With no cover, all Redford could do was start firing up at the roof. Fornell spun around, pointing his gun upwards at the wooden slats overhead—then lowered it with a curse; there was no way he was piercing it with a gun.

He heard something hit the roof hard, followed by increased gunfire.

Redford cried out again, this time in pain, and Fornell saw his agent go down. No!

The person on the porch roof moved again, and Fornell followed the footsteps.

Then he saw a foot dangle over the edge. Redford had been wrong; clearly whoever it was didn’t know Fornell was there. He didn’t even think. He holstered his gun and waited. As soon as more of the lower body of the man appeared, he reached up and grabbed, yanking hard.

Reams fell off the roof, crashing into the mud below. Fornell quickly pulled his gun again, pointing it over the railing at the prone figure. “Don’t move!”

Reams blinked up at him, a little dazedly at first, then with more clarity. At seeing the gun in Fornell’s hand, he rolled on his side to look at where his rifle had hit the ground a couple feet away. Fornell shook his head.

“Don’t even think about it, Reams.”

Reams rolled back turned back to him, and smiled thinly. “You’re not Gibbs.”

“I’m not. The name’s Fornell.”

“Fornell?” Reams repeated, his eyes brightening. “Of the FBI. You’re Stokes’ boss.”

“I am. Where is she?”

Reams’ thin smile perked a little at the corners, and he sat up a little. “Funny you should ask. I just left her. She upstairs, tied naked to a bed, with one of my partners. He’s supposed to kill her and come after me. If you hurry,” he tilted his head to look up at the roof as he spoke, “you might stop him in time.”

Fornell’s eyes narrowed, the urge to look upwards at the porch roof powerful. “You’re lying.”

“I’m not. Actually…” Reams’ smile grew downright mean. “Looks like I was wrong. You wouldn’t have made it in time.” Reams suddenly looked up, as if yelling at someone. “Shoot him!”

Fornell did look up at that, switching his aim to the edge of the roof, expecting to see another shooter.

Reams pulled the gun hidden in his waistband and fired, hitting Fornell squarely in the chest with at least two rounds and throwing him backwards a step. Reams shot again when Fornell tried to fire back, this time catching him in the FBI Agent in the shoulder. The first two shots had hit the vest, stinging but not immediately life threatening. The second burned through his shoulder like a hot poker, and Fornell hit the side of the house.

Gasping for air from the first two shots, he watched through blurring eyes as Reams smiled at him before turning and running around to the back of the house.

Ziva.

He hit the radio in his ear. “Ziva,” he said breathlessly, “Reams coming round back.”

As his vision began to gray, his legs crumpling below him, Fornell turned his gaze to Redford. His agent hadn’t moved.

It was the last thing he saw before he blacked out.


Ziva’s eyes widened, and she moved quickly through the kitchen to the back door. Reams was already around the corner on the ground, aiming in her direction. She didn’t even have time to get a round off before she was forced to duck back inside. Shots shattered the windows and splintered the door frame.

“Gibbs,” she hissed. “Reams is outside—he’s back here.”

At a gap in the firing, she got up and managed to get a few rounds off herself—enough to get Reams ducking under the porch.

She backed off, needing to reload, and she risked looking towards the doorway into the living room. She couldn’t cover both. Reams shot another hail of bullets into the kitchen from the outside, and Ziva backed up further, using the kitchen cabinets as cover.

When he finally stopped, she straightened and pointed her gun outside again.

At nothing.

She crept out further, checking the porch in both directions, then risked stepping out ever further.

Reams was gone.


Tony splayed himself across the top of the metal vat, inching around the tilted cap, his gun raised. From up here, he had a good view of the large room and its contents. There were four large vats, numerous smaller ones and a bunch of pipes filling the space. Presumably, Reams didn’t bother to clear this room when he made his other renovations. Opposite the entrance was another wall, a newer one based on the coloring, with another metal door in it that presumably led to the rest of the barn. It was open and, from the looks of it, Agent Royce was using the door as cover, firing into the room. There was red blood on the white concrete near her—she might have been hit. Tony could also see Sacks through one of the large windows, firing into the room in spats.

Two men were pinned down in the room, each behind a smaller vat, and they were focusing their aim on the three locations of the agents. Tony was pleased to see one of them kept checking his vat, but not the top of it. They were expecting Tony to come out from the side or from the bottom.

He shimmied forward a little more, then pointed his gun at both men—from up here he had the drop on both.

“Drop your weapons!” he shouted. “Or you’re both dead!”

The two men looked up in surprise…and the one on the left aimed his gun up at Tony.

Tony’s shot was true—straight through the man’s head, no hesitation. He switched his aim to goon number two.

“I said drop it!”

“Do it!” Sacks said, more visible now. The door to the rest of the barn was pushed open, and Royce pointed her weapon into the interior. Her left hand was holding a bleeding right shoulder, but the aim of the glock in her right hand did not waver.

“No way out,” she informed the man quietly.

Goon number two passed his gaze from Royce, to Sacks, to Tony. He closed his eyes, swore in Russian, and dropped his gun to the floor.

Sacks jumped into the room through the window, and, with Royce and Tony still covering the goon, made his way over to the man, pulling his handcuffs as he did so.

“On the ground, on your stomach, hands on your head,” Sacks ordered. As soon as the man was down, Sacks was on him, putting the cuffs on. “Royce,” Sacks called as he worked, “you okay?”

“Just a graze, Ron,” she replied. “Hurts like a son of a bitch, though,” she admitted.

Sacks just smiled thinly, twisting the goon’s arms a little more roughly than was needed to get them into the cuffs.

Tony slid backwards off the vat, and slid down the ladder. In seconds he was over by Sacks. Royce was still in the doorway, still covering the windows and doors with her weapon. Tony knelt down next to the man’s head so he could see his face.

“How many of you are there?” he demanded. The goon said nothing. Sacks whacked the back of his head.

“How many?!” Sacks shouted.

“Four,” the goon replied sourly, his accent thick. “Two down here, two up at the house.”

“Andrei Reams and Duncan Matthews up at the house?” Tony asked.

The goon looked mildly surprised, then sighed. “Yes.”

“Where’s our people?” Tony asked then.

“Down the hall. Rooms marked with numbers 1, 2 and 3.”

Tony’s gut turned. “Only three rooms?” he asked softly.

The goon looked up at him, his gaze cold. “Yes.”

"Is one at the house?"

"No."

Tony looked at Sacks. Sacks frowned, and nodded.

“You two go,” he said. “I’ll call Gibbs and keep an eye on him.”

Tony took off at a jog, brushing past Royce. He heard her start to follow him, despite her arm.

“They called to me as I passed by the doors and I turned the lights on for them,” she called to his back. “They’re still alive!”

He better be, Tony thought.


Gibbs gritted his teeth when Duncan Matthews shot up the doorway he was hiding next to again, the bullets shattering pieces of the porch. This was getting monotonous! To make matters worse, Ziva had radioed that Reams had vanished, which frustrated her and worried Gibbs. In the dark, she couldn’t see where he had gone—which meant he could be anywhere, forcing Gibbs to keep an eye on the other side of the house in case Reams found a way around the front. Meanwhile, what the hell had happened to Fornell? He hadn’t said a word since warning Ziva about Reams.

He winced as more bullets hit the doorframe.

“Getting tired of the standoff, Agents?” Matthews jeered. “'Cause you could always back off and let me go!”

“I’m getting tired, alright,” Gibbs answered. “But mostly of your mouth.”

“If you let me go, you won’t hear my voice anymore,” Matthews called gaily. “How ‘bout that?”

“Not happening,” Gibbs replied. “But if you gave up, you’d have the right to remain silent, one I’d hope you’d take full advantage of.”

“Ha!” Matthews punctuated the laugh with more gunfire, this time aimed to where Ziva was positioned in the kitchen, now that she was focused again on holding him down.

At almost the same moment, the radio chirped in his ear, and Gibbs quickly hit the earpiece. “Talk to me, Tony.”
“This is Sacks. We’re in control of the barn, captured one prisoner, killed another. Prisoner says Stokes and the others are here in the barn, and DiNozzo and Royce have gone to find them. Prisoner also informed us that there are two others up in the house—one is probably Reams and the other—“
“Duncan Matthews,” Gibbs finished tightly as more bullets tried to pierce through the wall behind him. “Yeah, we know about him. Anything else?”
“No.”
“Call me when you find McGee and the others,” he ordered.

"Will do. Sacks out.”

Gibbs nodded and lowered the radio. Bullets hit the wall anew, and he swore again.

Where the hell was Fornell?


Tony slammed open the first metal door he found, moving inside gun first. He checked the corners even as he kept an eye on the motionless figure sitting on the cot against the far wall. He felt Royce split off to get to the others as he stepped deeper into the room. Despite all the noise, the figure on the cot hadn’t moved. Neither had the woman sitting on the chair at the end of the bed, facing him.

McGee was sitting with his back to the wall and his legs bent so he could rest his head on his knees, his face hidden. His hands were behind him – tied? From his view of McGee’s profile, he could also spotted the bandage wrapped around Tim’s upper arm; both it and McGee’s shirtsleeve were stained with dried blood. He grimaced.

“McGee?”

Tim didn’t look up. He didn’t even twitch. If it weren’t for the fact that he could see him breathing, Tony would think he was dead. Moving closer to the cot, Tony glanced at Agent Tara Stokes, about to ask if she was alright.

The words died in his throat. The gunshot wound on the side of her head sort of answered the question. But from the way she was sitting, it was if she were looking right at McGee. What the hell?

Ignoring the body and its macabre set up, Tony sat on the bed in front of the sitting figure. There was a matching bandage on McGee’s other arm, and more bloodstains. He frowned.

“McGee. Tim. Wake up.”

When there was still no reply, Tony hastily put his gun away and rested a hand on McGee’s left knee and gave it a light shake. “McGee?”

The knees closed more tightly together, but that was it. Tony frowned in puzzlement, then frowned in anger.

Quick as a snake, he whacked the back of McGee’s head. “Probie! Wake up!”

The body jerked instantly, and the breathing grew more labored, as if he was waking up from a nightmare. McGee’s head lifted, blinking rapidly against the fluorescent light. He swallowed roughly, and when the red-rimmed, green eyes focused on Tony, they widened slightly.

“Tony?”

It was so weak, Tony almost wanted to cry. Instead he smiled, brash as he could.

“About time you noticed me, Probie. Thought I was impossible to ignore!”

McGee just blinked at him a few more times, then looked over Tony’s shoulder. The senior agent shifted, trying to block the view, but McGee clearly knew what was there. His eyes scrunched closed, and his shuddered.

“Tony, please,” he begged, “please close her eyes. Please.”

Tony frowned. “Why haven’t you already—“

“Hands are tied. Please.” McGee’s head was back inside his knees, hiding his face again. Tony grimaced, and his whole body shook with suppressed anger—not at his friend, but at the monster who had done this to him. Standing, he quickly walked over to the body and closed her eyes. Then he pulled out a knife and returned to McGee, intending to cut the ropes tying his friend’s hands.

Twine wire, partially frayed until it reached the metal cord in the center, held McGee’s wrists tight. Blood and scraped skin showed how hard the man had tried to get away.

It took everything Tony had not to run and help Gibbs and Fornell take the bastard down. He wanted to kill Reams so badly right now, it hurt.

Instead, he hit his radio, hard enough that he actually hurt his ear.

“Gibbs.”

“Yeah, Tony?” came the tinny reply.

“McGee’s alive. I’ve got him. Tara Stokes is dead.”


Gibbs released a pent up breath, bowing his head where he was kneeling next to the door. Thank God. A twinge of guilt hit his chest, but his relief was too profound for it to matter. After a long moment, he nodded to himself.

“Okay. What about the other two?”

“I heard them yelling. They’re alive.”

“Good. Go ahead and call in the cavalry. We need backup.” He looked up again. His relief at hearing McGee was alive finally faded under the recognition that Tara Stokes wasn’t, and that Fornell was not going to take that well. “Fornell, you get that?” he asked over the radio.

No one answered. Gibbs’ shoulders tensed up.

“Fornell?” He tried again. “Fornell, what’s your status?” He made to stand, though he didn’t know where Fornell might have gone. His movement was answered by a renewed attack on the doorframe from Duncan, forcing him to duck down again.

Damn this kid!

“Nearly got you that time, didn’t I, Gibbs?” Duncan shouted. “I warned you! I’ll cut you in half, you try that again!”

Gibbs rolled his eyes slightly, listening as Ziva tried to take advantage of Duncan’s attention on him by shooting at the TV—she was probably trying to knock it over, but it was too damn heavy. The AK-47 was aimed away from him again and at the kitchen, forcing her back. At some point, that gun was going to cut through these walls—it was powerful enough. They needed Fornell.

Duncan took that moment to start terrorizing the doorway again, and Gibbs tightened his grip on his weapon.


“Agent DiNozzo?” Agent Royce’s call from the doorway was tentative, as if unsure she should come in. He turned to look at her, and his face obviously spoke volumes, because her own expression went completely blank, especially when she saw Tara. It was obviously her defense mechanism. “Is he alive?”

“He’s alive,” Tony replied brusquely. He nodded at Tara. “But she’s—”

“Dead,” Royce finished quietly. “I know. I heard.” Tony just nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Royce continued, keeping her voice even, “Angela Zelnitz and Nick Cheevers are in the rooms opposite this one, both alive. Cheevers has a broken leg, and they both have some ugly bruising, but, otherwise, they seem to be okay.” She took a breath, looking at the sitting woman. “They told me that Agent Stokes was murdered last night. She was placed in here to....” She frowned slightly instead of finishing, betraying a break in her walls, but she quickly had them up again. “She was placed in here to punish McGee, after they found out about the messages they were sending to your forensic scientist.”

Tony just nodded again. He’d freed McGee’s hands, finally. The metal cord had really needed a wire cutter, but Tony was too determined to get him free to wait. McGee had said nothing, even though the knife cutting through the cord had to have hurt his sore wrists like hell.

Royce cleared her throat. “Have you called for backup yet?”

“Not yet.” Tony glanced at her again as he sat down on the cot, resting a hand on McGee’s still bowed back. Damn, the kid was cold. “Can you—?”

She nodded, and backed out of the room, tapping the radio in her ear.

Tony didn’t listen, trusting Royce to tell them everything she knew. “Hey,” he called, rubbing his hand across his friend’s shoulders, not liking the icy temperature he could feel through the thin shirt. “Hey,” he tried again, “you okay?”

“No,” came the soft answer.

Tony just nodded. At least it was an answer. “Okay, I get that.” He grimaced and looked towards the door. Royce had gone—presumably to go back to Zelnitz and Cheevers. He turned back to McGee. “Look, we need to get you out of here, okay? We don’t know how many people are in on this—“

“Seven, at least,” McGee interjected. He lifted his head and spoke in a monotone, as if reading a report. “There are four people here, including the leader, a guy named—“

“Andrei Reams. Yeah, we know.”

McGee turned his head to look at him, showing his puzzlement. “How?”

“We figured out how and why they picked you, and put the pieces together, just like we always do.”

“Oh,” McGee just nodded. “Good.” He blinked dazedly, and rested his head on his knees again. His hands were now loose by his sides, as if he were too tired to lift them up.

Tony prodded him in the back. “You said there were seven?”

McGee lifted his head. He looked confused. “What?”

“You said there were seven,” Tony repeated. “Name ‘em.”

McGee frowned slightly, before focusing once more on Tony. “Seven, that I know of,” he said. “There may be more.” He seemed to get some energy back then, and, blowing out a breath, he straightened up slightly. “There’s four here. Reams, this kid Duncan—he’s crazy—and two big guys who never spoke but were good at hurting people. Ed and Doug. They’re just hired muscle.” He blinked slowly. “Reams also talked to a couple of others on the phone. Called them Onegin and Lensky. And there’s also someone named Jarvis, but…” McGee blinked slowly again. “I think…I think you may have Jarvis already?” McGee pinched his eyes shut, and then opened them again. He looked like he was having trouble thinking. Tony just nodded at him.

“We’ll get them all, Probie,” Tony promised. “We already have the goons. In the meantime, while the rest of said bad guys are still on the loose, it’s my job to get you and your two fellow geeks to someplace defensible until the cavalry gets here.” He stood up and held out a hand. “You got any injuries I should know about? And can you walk?”

Tim raised his head, stared at Tony for a moment, then nodded slowly. “I can walk.” Slowly, almost lethargically, he stretched out his legs and let them fall to the floor. When that seemed as far as he was able to go, Tony quietly reached down and got his arm underneath Tim’s shoulders. He hadn’t missed the failure to answer the question about injuries, though he couldn’t see anything obviously wrong.

Still, as he wrapped his arm around him, the cold was more obvious—Probie was practically frozen.

“I said I could walk,” Tim said suddenly, bristling at the touch and weakly trying to push Tony off. Frowning a little, Tony backed off, raising his hands. Tim frowned slightly, as if surprised that Tony gave up so easily, and put his hands on the cot. Then he made to push off…

He made it about halfway up before his legs collapsed under him. Tony was there, grabbing him tightly and holding on, preventing McGee from pitching forward onto the floor. He set him back down on the cot to sit.

“Sure you can walk, McStumbles,” he muttered. “Want to try that again with my help?”

Tim gave a short laugh at the nickname, and looked up at him, eyes appearing truly open for the first time.

“Tony?” he asked quietly. “You’re real?”

“Yeah, kid,” Tony replied with a smile. “I’m real.”

Tim’s eyes widened, and he reached out, grabbing Tony’s wrist. “Tony, you have to be careful. He’s after you.” He gripped tighter. “Run, Tony. Get away. Please.”

Tony’s eyebrows lifted. “Uh, what?” He snorted. “And no. Not leaving without you.”

“DiNozzo,” Royce called from the entrance, getting Tony’s attention. She was standing in the entrance. Behind her, he saw a red-headed woman with scraggly hair half carrying a blond man in a jean jacket—Zelnitz and Cheevers. Both looked exhausted and strained to their breaking points; Zelnitz’s face was a mass of bruises, while Cheevers was balanced on one leg. Royce still had her gun out, and was as much watching the corridor as him as she spoke. “They’re on their way. Also.” She tilted her head at the two geeks. “These two wanted to talk to you. I told them that Reams was missing, likely on the run. They don’t think he is. They’re pretty sure he’ll come down here.”

“He will,” Zelnitz said, coughing a little, her eyes rimmed with shadows. “Reams really doesn’t like Tim. He doesn’t like any of us, but he really had a hatred for McGee.”

“Understatement,” Cheevers added. He frowned when he saw Tim still sitting on the cot. “He’s been drugged, you know.”

Tony’s eyes widened. “What?”

“Part of his punishment,” Cheevers explained, snarling a little. “Ecstasy and Tara at the end of his bed. Staring at him. Reams knew Tim would blame himself for her being killed.”

Tony’s gut twisted, and he looked down at his friend’s bowed head. Tim’s glazed eyes were locked on the ground. Tony frowned, his anger returning, and he looked again at Cheevers.

“Reams do anything else to him?” he asked quietly.

Cheevers nodded. “Gave his stomach a real working over, and you can see the cuts on his arms. Oh, and Tim was having trouble breathing—I think he's sick. We all are.”

Tony’s jaw set, and he looked at Royce.

“Let’s get them to the room with Sacks and the vats until help comes. It's warmer.”

They weren’t out of this yet.


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