Tony stepped off the elevator and headed toward the door to Jackson’s office at Grimes Tech. Since his meltdown he’d found himself spending more time there than he’d expected. Sometimes wandering around poking at things, sometimes shadowing or just shooting the shit with his Chief of Security Ronon Dex, and sometimes just hanging out in Jackson’s office. It was giving him time to not only finish healing, but it also was allowing him to get to know the people that Jax was closest to at Grimes Tech like Ronon and the Head of Research and Development Dr. M. Rodney McKay.
Both men were at the top of Tony’s favorite people at the company. It hadn’t taken long for Tony and Ronon to form a friendship, and Tony enjoyed spending time with the younger man as it was often filled with laughter and fun. The Native Hawaiian was a former SEAL and had gotten his job after saving Jackson’s life on one of the tech guru’s trips to the islands. When Jackson found out about Ronon’s military service, and that he was looking for employment, he’d quickly hired the man.
It hadn’t taken long for Dex to work his way up through the security ranks, and when Jackson’s former Head of Security retired the older man recommended Ronon to take his spot. Given that Jackson had been trusting Steve with his life for years, it seemed stupid to disagree with him at that point. So, Ronon had gotten the position, and Jax hadn’t regretted it since.
As Tony reached the office door, he paused in the doorway, and nodded to Ronon who was standing just inside the doorway leaning against the wall to the left of the door. Between the arms crossed across the man’s chest, and the expression on his face, Tony could tell that his friend was less than pleased by the conversation that he was hearing. Given that he’d been able to hear McKay yelling since before the elevator doors even opened, Tony didn’t have to think long or hard to guess who he was irritated with. As his eyes swept the room and found Jackson, Tony could easily see that his mate wasn’t much happier than Ronon was. Which led Tony to study the scientist that seemed to have lost control of his volatile temper.
Dr. M. Rodney McKay hadn’t been sometime that Tony clicked with immediately like he had Ronon, but the prickly scientist had become a favorite of Tony’s. He enjoyed sitting in the Grimes Tech main lab listening to Rodney tear his people to shreds when he grew tired of their stupidity. Despite what Tony had heard people in the building say, Rodney wasn’t all anger and insults though.
Tony had also heard the scientist praise his people or offer encouragement and helpful tidbits when needed. He just didn’t suffer fools as Ducky would say, and Tony didn’t figure that there was any reason why he should. McKay often proclaimed himself to be the smartest man on the planet. While he wasn’t sure if that was true or not, Tony recognized real genius when he saw it, and unlike McGee, Rodney McKay was the real deal. Since he knew that Jackson was also quite fond of his Head Scientist, the current scene was all that much more baffling.
Usually, Rodney only unleashed his tongue on those that deserved it. So, the insults being hurdled at Jackson at the moment were surprising. Relaxing against the doorway, Tony continued to study Rodney as something began nagging at the former NCIS agent at the back of his mind. While he’d parted ways with NCIS, it didn’t mean that Tony’s instincts had gone dormant, and the more he studied Rodney the more he poked at him. Turning his head slightly to Ronon, Tony spoke just loud enough so that Dex could hear him.
“What’s the deal?”
“Dr. McKay tried to take the data on the new phone we’re developing for First Responders out of the building,” Ronon said, and Tony could clearly hear the disgust in the man’s voice. While he understood the sentiment if Rodney was really trying to steal the plans for the new phone, it was hard for Tony to believe that it was true.
“How was he caught?” Tony whispered shifting closer to Ronon as his contemplation of Rodney’s body language became more focused.
“He had the whole project on one of those external hard drives in his briefcase. Said that he was taking it home to do work on it, and we didn’t have any business stopping him.”
Caught off guard by the stupidity of the whole thing, Tony turned his attention from Rodney for the moment to look at Dex. “So, you’re telling me that one of the smartest people on Earth tried to smuggle the information for the new phone out of the building on an external hard drive in his briefcase? When I know for a fact that he has access to work on things from home via his Grimes Tech PC linked straight to our network? Not to mention the fact that he’s one hell of a hacker and could just fucking break into our network from him and steel the shit if he wanted to and there’s a good chance none of you would know he’d done it. But instead of either of those things, he stole a fucking hard drive that he had to know would be seen when he went through the x-ray machines at the doors?”
“You tell me all the time that criminals do stupid shit,” Ronon offered, but after a couple moment gave a shrug. “Seems weird to me, but my guys caught him. I saw the footage. What do you expect me to say?”
Tony sighed and reminded himself that the younger man didn’t have any formal training in investigation or profiling. While he’d been one hell of a SEAL, he hadn’t done analysis work, and because of that couldn’t be expected to understand how not right this story was. If Dr. McKay had wanted to steal the information the man probably knew a dozen ways to get the information without being detected. And yet, in the end he chose one of the dumbest ways possible. Moving around Ronon so that he could get a better look of Rodney, Tony ignored the way Jackson was looking at him, and concentrated on the scientist until he realized just what in the hell was bugging him. The man looked terrified.
Because he’d spent so much time in Rodney’s main lab watching him interact with his minions, Tony was familiar with every one of McKay’s levels of anger starting with mild irritation to pure rage. The only time he’d seen the current expression was when one of his underlings had accidentally activated one of the incendiary devices that they had to use for some of the detection devices they were developing. The man hadn’t been in the main lab, and Rodney had been afraid that he wouldn’t be able to get there in time to shut things down.
Something had scared Rodney badly, and that part of him that helped Tony pull bits of inspiration needed to solve cases out of thin air, told him that the fear had nothing to do with getting caught. Despite how boneheaded the move was, Rodney still could have probably talked his way out of the whole thing, even if he really had been trying to steal the plans. Yet, that isn’t what he’d done. Instead, he’d all but confessed to trying to steal the plans to sell to the highest bidder just to make a quick buck. The more the man yelled about what he was owed, the more confident that whatever was going on had nothing to do with the shit coming from McKay’s mouth.
It wasn’t as if Tony had never been in an interrogation room with some entitled asshole trying to steel shit that didn’t belong to him to make some cash. Those people didn’t have the tinge of desperation in their tone that Rodney had. While he supposed that McKay could have some gambling debts or something of that nature that he’d need the money for, Tony wasn’t ready to buy it. Rodney wasn’t much of a gambler, and Tony knew the disdain he’d heard in the man’s voice they day he’d berated not just Tony but Jax and Ronon as well for their March Madness bets hadn’t been faked. Deciding that he’d heard enough, and it was time to get to the truth, Tony stepped away from Ronon completely and deeper into the room until he drew McKay’s attention.
“Rodney,” Tony called calmly and held up his hand for the other man to stop. “Drop the act and tell me what’s really going on. You’re scared shitless, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the hard drive. So, what’s going on?”
“I don’t have time for some pretty boy, ex-cop who’s barely smart enough to tie his own shoes,” Rodney spat, and Tony just shoved his hands in his pockets letting himself slip into the dumb jock persona that had bagged him so many criminals at NCIS.
“Well, yeah,” Tony threw back with a grin and a shrug, “I mean we all know I’m no brain surgeon, although the shoe tying thing is a little harsh McUptight! It isn’t like I had many career options once my ball career fell though, and we both know that colleges don’t actually make athletes pass their classes. Besides, who wants to do all that studying anyway. Am I right? I had parties to go to! Chicks to bang. Let me tell you there were plenty of them! Not that you’d know anything about that, huh? McIHaven’tBeenLaidInDecades?”
“Fuck you,” Rodney spat back angrily as his rage shifted away from Jackson and turned fully toward Tony. “There’s more to life than your dick, but rich brats like you wouldn’t know anything about that would they? While you were partying your brain away and getting bashed in the head like a Neanderthal, some of us were actually learning things so we can actually make a difference in the world! I had more important things to do than fuck all the sorority sluts I could find.”
“So says every rejected geek,” Tony laughed bouncing on the balls of his feet with a manic looking grin on his face. He thought it was a good thing that Rodney mostly sucked at reading people otherwise he’d know how fake Tony’s act was, like Jackson who was looking more and more concerned the longer Tony kept up the act. “I mean come on, if you had any play with the ladies you wouldn’t have to try and steal that information? What’re you doing? Selling it for some mail order bride? Picking up some chick from an internet site who’s desperate enough to want a loser like you? Please, have you looked at yourself lately?”
“Miko loves me and they’re going to kill her!” Rodney screamed. His face a deep enough red from the rage he was feeling that Tony was a little afraid the man was going to have a heart attack. “They’re fucking going to kill her, you worthless party boy! They’re… they’re…”
Tony wrapped his arms around Rodney absorbing the blows the man was landing to his arms and back, but he ignored them. Quickly the rage turned to tears as the man’s helplessness came out and his words became incoherent. Knowing that there wasn’t anything else that he could do at the moment, Tony just held on, and let Rodney get it all out of his system. When Rodney’s knees gave, Tony lowered them both to the floor, and as he sat on the plush carpet, he began to rock slightly until McKay quieted.
“They’re going to kill her,” Rodney said quietly and weakly once he could speak again, and there isn’t anything I can do to stop them.”
“I’ve finally found a woman who loves me despite the fact that I’m not a cover model like the rest of you assholes, who can keep up with me, and who won’t take my crap, and she’s going to die because I can’t figure out how to save her.”
Taking a deep breath, Tony tried to calm his own emotions, but doubted that he’d succeeded, because even he could hear the wobble in his voice when he spoke. “The thing is, Rodney, that you don’t have to. That’s what I’m here for, and it’s what Ronon is here for.”
“They said they’d kill her if…” Rodney started to argue, but Tony quickly cut him off.
“The thing is Rodney that they always say that,” Tony interrupted as Rodney pulled away looking embarrassed. “If they were going to kill her then she’s already dead. I’ve worked my fair share of kidnappings, and quite a few high-profile ones involving spouses, children, siblings, etcetera of famous or important people. I know what I’m talking about. This Miko is the scientist chick that just moved to the country that you met at that Think Tank weekend, right?”
Rodney nodded jerkily and Tony wished he had a notepad to take notes. Taking out his phone, he opened the memos to make do. “Her Uncle is the Prime Minister of Japan. He doesn’t have any children of his own. So, he and his wife have always doted on Miko like she was their own. She said that they weren’t thrilled that she and I were talking, but when the scumbag started trying to get her attention, they decided I was the lesser of two evils, I guess and sent her here to immigrate. She’s just been waiting for employment so finalize her paperwork. I was going… I was… I was going to talk to Jackson, but I didn’t… It’s my fault!”
“It’s not,” Tony insisted sternly as he pecked away at his phone. “This is absolutely not your fault, and when this is all over, I am giving you a stern lecture or thinking it is. For now, though tell me about this scumbag. What do you know about him?
“He’s one of those Japanese gangster people,” Rodney spat angrily, rubbing at his eyes, which were red and puffy. “His daddy’s some leader guy. Miko told me the word, but I can’t remember it.”
“Yakuza?” Tony questioned looking up from his phone. “The guy’s father is Yakuza? Is the father a Kumicho, maybe? Or a saikō-komon?”
Rodney nodded his head rapidly as two bottles of water appeared near their shoulders, and Tony smiled up to Jackson before he took his own letting it rest between his legs.
“Yes, he’s Yakuza, and it was the first one. Miko said he was some head guy. How do you know about these people? I thought they were only in Japan.”
“The vast majority are, but they have groups everywhere,” Tony explained typing away at his phone as he composed some text messages. “I have a friend who lives in Hawaii and they have a lot of problems with them there. We’re going to have to go to the FBI, Rodney.” When the scientist started to argue, Tony just held up his hand to stop him.
“Do you trust me?” Tony asked and was relieved when Rodney immediately nodded.
“You don’t act like I’m just an irrational asshole, and you invite me over for things,” Rodney shared rubbing his forehead. “You even went with me to that Sci-Fi marathon that I know you don’t really like but found tickets for it just because I said I wanted to go. I mean, if you were still an agent guy, I might have called you, but you weren’t and NCIS couldn’t have helped me anyway.”
“No, but the FBI can,” Tony explained as he tucked his phone away in his pocket. “I’m going to go talk to some friends. While I’m gone Jackson is going to ask you about Miko and you’re going to tell him everything that you know after you apologize for being an asshole. If you’re lucky he won’t replace your expensive coffee with Dollar General bargain stuff. You’re also not going to argue with anything he or Ronon tell you, and you’re going to be a good little scientist and follow orders, or I will personally handcuff you to Stanley.”
“That man’s an idiot!” Rodney screeched and Tony smirked before he stood.
“Then I guess you will behave,” Tony threatened and motioned for Jackson to follow him. Pausing at the doorway where Ronon was still looming, now looking angry for hopefully a whole new reason. “Jackson, I am totally going to boss your Head of Security around.”
“Have at it,” Jackson approved, “I think he likes you better anyway.”
Tony just snorted and drained his water bottle before addressing Dex. “You are not letting Rodney out of your sight. I don’t trust him to not try and do something stupid if he thinks it will save her. If he goes to the bathroom you follow. If he goes into a stall you lean against the door. If he makes a call you listen. If he texts too long you steal his fucking phone and see who he’s talking to. I can’t help her if I have to worry about Rodney getting in the way because he thinks that he knows better. From this second forward until Miko is back safe and sound, you are Dr. McKay’s shadow, capice?”
“You got it, Mrs. Boss,” Ronon agreed, and Tony snorted before slapping the man on the shoulder. “When this is done, you’ll explain how you knew?”
“Yeah, Ro,” Tony agreed, and this time let his hand rest on the shoulder. “This isn’t your fault either. This isn’t even close to what you’re trained for, but I will be happy to give you some tips and even lessons if you want when this is over. Jax, follow me down to my car, please?”
Not waiting for his partner to answer, and trusting he’d follow, Tony headed out. It wasn’t until the two men were standing next to Tony’s car that the former agent spoke. “I guess I know which job offer I’m taking,” Tony quipped, and Jackson just frowned looking concerned.
“Not even Rodney would want you to take the job just for this reason,” Jax argued, but Tony just waved his hand in the air as if to brush off the concern.
“It’s as good an offer as any, and I like the guy,” Tony promised with a smile he hoped was comforting. “I know he’ll have my back, and they want me badly enough that they’re going to agree to give me whatever I want. Look, I don’t want you beating yourself up either. You couldn’t have known any more than Ronon could.”
“I should have,” Jax started, but Tony stopped him with a quick kiss as he unlocked his car and then opened the door once they were done.
“No, J,” Tony disagreed, “you couldn’t have known.”
“Don’t you fucking do any stupid shit either. Distracting me from this case by making me worry about you or Rodney is the easiest way to get her killed. Promise me that you’ll stay out of it.”
“I don’t like it, but I promise,” Jackson swore stepping back and taking a deep breath. “I know you’ll bring her back.”
“I’ll do my best,” Tony promised and took a minute to study Jackson before getting in the car. Just before pulling out of his parking spot, Tony put in his Bluetooth and dialed the last person he’d been texting with.
“Hey, you on your way?” The man on the other end asked the second the call picked up. “The AD is meeting us at the office.”
“Yeah,” Tony informed as he sped through the parking lot happy that he wasn’t slowed down at the gate. “I’ll be there in about half hour-ish. I appreciate this Seeley.”
“I’ve got your back, man,” the former sniper swore intensely, “we’re going to get her back.”
“I won’t stop until we do,” Tony agreed and ended the call as he pulled onto the road. He had a job waiting and his first case already in progress. He would find Dr. Miko Kusanagi, no matter what it took.