- Death-Minor Character
Tony DiNozzo suppressed a sigh as he watched Kate hand over the last evidence bag while he completed the appropriate forms to sign over what they had gathered at the scene. She made a few comments and he did his best in response to set a playful tone to what was sure to be an exhausting investigation. He was pretty sure he fell short of the mark, but it wasn’t like he had a lot to work with, they had a failed bust and a dead terrorist to show for their efforts so far, and it was only 0700 for crying out loud.
“Honestly, that’s a little immature, don’t you think?” she shot back, turning away from the evidence clerk and heading back towards the elevator.
He gathered the energy to make a suitable joke but when she glared back over her shoulder, Tony swallowed back the words and picked up the pace with a sigh. It was simply too early to put that much effort into lightening the mood, especially if the probie was so hell-bent on being upset to have been stuck with the grunt work at the scene. He took a needlessly deep breath when a moment later, she chose to take his silence as some kind of insult, rolling her eyes at him as they waited for the elevator to descend to the evidence garage.
“Oh, come on Tony, do you really…”
Kate’s voice was suddenly lost in a deafening silence, the sound of his heartbeat roaring in his ears for a moment before it sounded like he’d been submerged in a few thousand tons of water. Sounds echoed in his head for no apparent reason, leaving him more than a little disoriented for several long seconds. Then, with sudden force, every bit of ambient noise exploded in his skull, drowning out the world around him for another endless heartbeat.
Tony blinked once, twice, as the early morning sounds of the evidence garage flooded back into his awareness. He took a shuddering breath, distantly noting that Kate was still speaking as she stared impatiently at the slowly opening door. She glanced over at him when it opened and he shook his head slightly before beginning to follow her into the elevator. He had just started to make a mental note to get a few extra hours of sleep the first chance he got when everything seemed to pause around him.
It felt almost like the whole world stuttered briefly. Then it fell away, and all that was left for a single moment was the muffled sound of a bullet being shot through a silencer. Only it wasn’t muffled. It was ear-splitting. And somehow he zoomed in on it like the shutter of a camera, following it at break neck speed back to its source. He was distantly aware of it when the world resumed around him, but his focus remained on that sound.
Tony barely heard Kate saying something as the elevator started to close, his feet already taking him in a different direction. He scarcely noticed a few people moving around him. He only distantly felt his feet hitting the ground as he closed the distance. The voices of Ducky, Gerald, and another man he didn’t recognize, however, rang clear and sharp in his ears. And the feeling of threat was so strong that it was almost a physical thing beside him.
Between one eye-blink and the next, was there. The lights were off inside autopsy, but he had no trouble seeing the man through the windows set into the doors. Tony easily took aim, and even more easily pulled the trigger. The man’s head jerked back from the force of the bullet, the noise of his gun hitting the floor on the other side of the doors was only slightly more muffled than the shattering of the glass in the doors themselves. Tony cataloged the crash of each shard as it landed, even as he noted the ping that had been made by the empty shell casing ejected from his gun in the instant after he pulled the trigger.
He heard every breath and gasp and shout as Ducky opened the doors and Gerald lunged for the phone to alert the rest of the building. And with each successive noise that followed the end of the threat, his ears began to ring. The cacophony of voices and sounds grew until it felt like his skull was going to shatter as completely as the glass had. By the time orders were bring yelled several floors up in the bullpen, Tony found himself struggling to stay on his feet.
The world suddenly became too loud and too bright. He covered his ears against the onslaught but it only became worse with every second that passed. His vision began to grey at the edges and he clenched his eyes closed against it even as he saw Ducky coming towards him. The older man’s voice echoed so painfully in his head that he wasn’t able to make out what any of the words. Then the smells wafting out of autopsy hit him. It was too much. Everything was too much. And it kept getting worse. People began to flood the hallway, questions and orders being shouted from every direction.
Tony fought the sounds and sights and smells, his awareness of what was going on around him was overwhelmed by just how much there was. Then, over everything else came a roar he felt as much as heard. In the wake of that one noise there came the inexplicable feel of fur under his hand and a huge, warm weight against his side. He tried to pry his eyes open far enough to see what it was, but it felt like being stabbed in the eye and he quickly gave up. Whatever it was, it made the worst of the cacophony dial back just a little. His hand clenched instinctively at the soft fur and then promptly buried his face in it as well.
The world seemed to draw back from him, held back by that rumbling presence until a single voice made it through. Something about the sound was less painful, less threatening as the others though the words didn’t make much sense.
“We’re here to help. We will not harm your charge, my word as a Guide. Will you allow us through?”
Before Tony could figure out who the person was talking to, the weight against him shifted and there were hands on him. “Sentinel DiNozzo, I am with the Online Response Team. You are experiencing sensory spikes so I am going to place an empathic buffer to help manage things until we get you to the Center.”
The words sounded jumbled in his head and made little sense. As he tried to decipher what was being said, a strange muffled feeling seemed to envelope him. The sudden relief that followed left him feeling exhausted and weak. But he pried his eyes open just far enough to see the person standing in front of him. Or at least he would have seen them if his attention hadn’t been immediately captured by the sight of the full-grown leopard leaning against his chest. The big cat’s bright green eyes met his and everything fell into place with an almost physical blow. He’d come online.