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Moving Forward

by: ksl (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 030 Word Count: 111544
Rating: ADULT
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Alternate Universe
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Episode(s): 4-03 Singled Out
Summary: An AU where Tony accepts the position in Rota, Spain when Shepard offered it in season four.

Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30

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The first thing Gibbs did every morning for the past three weeks was check his e-mail.

He still wasn’t proficient with computers but he’d gotten better. Necessity ensuring he could use what he needed. He could use e-mail now and routinely checked the intranet for updates. Both were important to him because they were his primary way of staying in touch with Tony.

His first phone call with Tony had also been his only one. He’d quickly come to realize what Palmer and Tony had already learned--time zone differences and work schedules made it hard to converse in real time. Particularly when the only reason he had to justifying calling was their joint case and they weren’t exactly making the sort of progress that required immediate or constant communication.

Gibbs had never really known how to make small talk, or how to have a meaningful conversation about anything when he wasn’t face to face with someone. And sometimes even when face to face he couldn’t find the right words, preferring to let the other person do most of the talking. But during their one brief call, Tony didn’t seem inclined to discuss anything with him that wasn’t work related.

The call had taken less than ten minutes. It was far too short, but Gibbs hadn’t known how to draw it out. He was at a loss as to how to do more than simply relay information on the case and discuss where they should go next with the investigation.

It bothered him that Tony hadn’t include movie references, hadn’t made any jokes or even asked any personal questions about Gibbs or his former teammates. Gibbs had taken those things for granted when Tony was in DC. During all the years he’d worked for Gibbs, the younger man habitually drifted off topic, referencing movies or anything else that came to mind, needing to be brought back into line with a stern look or a head slap. He got overly curious about every aspect of his teammates activities and lives, expressing amusement and concern in equal measure. He wasted time, procrastinating until the last possible minute with paperwork. He played video games and planned practical jokes. Tony had rarely stayed serious long.

But now--in his e-mails, Tony’s approach was more focused and mature. He didn’t embellish his missives with details unrelated to the case. He didn’t add anything of a personal nature. He didn’t ramble or get side tracked. He didn’t suggest they should speak again or try to arrange a time to do it.

Gibbs found himself hating it. He couldn’t tell if this was a byproduct of Tony suddenly growing up or if it was just something that he was doing to Gibbs now that he wasn’t on his team. There was nothing for Gibbs to use to push things in a direction other than work related topics. There was no obvious opening for him to ask about Tony’s new team or his life in Spain. Gibbs felt like he had no avenue for finding other things to discuss without acting out of character and endangering the limited communication he had with Tony. If he got to pushy, or did something Tony didn’t like, the younger man was fully capable of shutting Gibbs out completely. Nothing case related had to be discussed directly between them when Shepard could easily act as a go between. So no matter how much he wanted to, Gibbs simply couldn’t figure out how to just have a conversation. He had no idea how to connect on a more personal level.

It was new territory for Gibbs. Back when they had a sexual side to their work relationship, he’d never wanted anything more from Tony than for him to be a willing participant and to keep his mouth shut about what they did. And when Tony was working for him, all Gibbs cared about was that he got the job done. It was a bonus that Tony hadn’t been reserved; he threw himself into his job and life in general with joie de vivre so counter to Gibbs more cynical, wary nature. He shared nearly every thought and feeling whether his audience wanted it or not. Back then Gibbs hadn’t wanted it--now that he did, it was no longer being freely offered and he had no idea how to ask for it. Gibbs wasn’t immune to the irony.

The only thing he and Tony had as common ground that made communicating easy now was what Gibbs had mentally dubbed ‘the explosives case’. They were continuing to make progress but at a much slower pace than Gibbs expected or was used to. And for once he wasn’t entirely disappointed by the slow going. It gave him a reason to continue staying in touch with Tony, even if it did happen to be through a stupid computer rather than the phone or face to face.

Interrogating the two suspects McGee and Abby had found with dual citizenship in France and the US, Gibbs had found the one who’d initiated the theft of the explosives beginning nearly a year ago. That was much longer than the six months they had initially suspected. And the thefts then were for even smaller amounts than the later thefts Gibbs and his team had known about.

Mrs. Sonya Danson was a native of France by birth and an American by marriage. She was an angry, bitter woman, and when confronted by Gibbs she had no problem telling him everything he wanted to know. She ranted for more than an hour, slipping between French and English, making Gibbs glad he still remembered most of the French he’d learned and that Ziva was fluent in the language.

Sonya’s husband and soon to be ex, Carl Danson, had been one of the main researchers working on the new explosive. Sonya was decidedly disappointed to find that his work wouldn’t generate the sort of revenue she’d expected when she’d married him. She’d thought his work as a contractor for the US Military meant big money and an easy lifestyle.

She reminded Gibbs of his second ex-wife and he felt a certain amount of empathy for Carl Danson. The man had apparently been blind to her ambition, her desire for wealth and prestige. He probably had no idea how much credit card debt Sonya had run up, or had any inkling of her plans to take him for everything he owned.

She’d started looking for a way to get enough money to indulge in the lifestyle she’d always wanted and felt Carl was denying her. She wanted financial freedom to ditch her husband and start over somewhere new. Preferably with a new husband who would be capable of maintaining the standard of living she sought to achieve.

She knew about the new material, and its value on the black market. She’d even managed to connect with a buyer--ironically by using contacts Carl had with the State Department. She sold the explosives to a Victor Molynuex. Molynuex spoke French, but Sonya was sure he was Canadian. She’d haughtily informed Gibbs that his accent was provincial and for all his money he claimed to possess she thought Molynuex lacked class. He was, in her opinion, just a hired thug, but really, who else could she sell explosives to?

Gibbs had his team researching Molynuex to see what they could come up with on him. Other than his name, a cell phone number and her suspicions about his origins, Sonya didn’t know much about him. He always paid in cash, Euro’s not dollars. She’d wanted funds she could use when she ‘escaped America’ and had horded as much of the money as possible in a safety deposit box under her maiden name. The money, by its very nature, was essentially untraceable via any computer simply because it hadn’t ever been officially logged into the banking system.

McGee had secured a warrant for the deposit box. There was nearly a million dollars in Euros inside. It was a staggering amount of money to find in one place, but not to Sonya. She didn’t get nearly what she believed the material to be worth and she wasn’t happy about having to share the proceeds.

Despite her knowledge of the material and access to a buyer, she didn’t have a way to get her hands on it directly. She had to have help. Her paramour, another member of the research staff at Dahlgren, Michael Blevit, was more than happy to help her out once he knew she had a buyer. He was the same one whose access card and code had been in use for more than a month after he’d been fired. According to Sonya, he was the one who suggested stealing a little at a time. It created a delay she found intolerable, but she couldn’t convince him to actually go for a ‘big score’.

Tracking down Blevit wasn’t difficult. Gibbs found out he’d been dead for nearly three months, a victim of a hit and run. Gibbs couldn’t prove it was murder, because the body had been cremated when no one claimed it. Blevit had no family and evidently had no friends close enough to report him missing.

None of his coworkers have given his absence more than a passing notice because they’d been told he was being reassigned to new project at a facility in California. The facility in California never reported him as missing because they weren’t expecting him to show up until about the time Randall Brown died while transporting the explosives from Dahlgren to the Naval Research Lab and NCIS got involved. Blevit’s personnel record listing him as fired rather than transferred was evidently a clerical error, and that was not brought to light until Gibbs and his team began their investigation.

Given the situation, the only person who would have noticed Blevit missing was Sonya. And she thought he’d skipped town taking the money from the last sale to Molynuex that he’d gone on alone.

Even though there was nothing left of Blevit’s body to examine, both Gibbs and Tony agreed the circumstances were decidedly suspicious. Sonya wasn’t a suspect in Blevit’s death because she had a solid alibi and seemed to be genuinely surprised to find out he was dead.

When he stopped returning her phone calls and there was no one at his home she thought he’d gotten greedy, and had decided to cut her out of the deal. She was livid over it, spewing the sort of angry comments Gibbs hadn’t heard since his third ex-wife stopped calling on their anniversary. She’d been convinced that he’d finally grown balls big enough to actually take more than the minor amount they’d been stealing and had secured a fortune that was rightfully hers.

Molyneux had cut her off about the same time which she assumed was because without Blevit she could no longer supply the explosives. She wasn’t in a position to challenge him, having no way to find him. And she certainly couldn’t accuse him of anything without implicating herself. Having no immediate recourse, she’d continued with her plans to divorce her husband and leave the country with the money she’d already amassed. It was just dumb luck Gibbs and his team had gotten to her before she could.

The most recent thefts had obviously not been done by Sonya. And with Blevit dead, it had to be someone else who’d picked up where he’d left off. Probably the same person who’d run him down with a car, taken his pass and had gotten his access code. At some point whoever it was had to have realized that eventually someone would catch on that Blevit was no longer employed as a researcher and his code would no longer work. It was likely that was when they stepped up the amount being taken, although not by a great deal obviously understanding that too much would be noticed immediately. They clearly knew the time was short and that they couldn’t get away with it forever.

It was small consolation that there weren’t any more thefts, but as Tony pointed out, it was one less thing they had to worry about. Security had been noticeably tightened and better controls were now in place to prevent any more unauthorized removal of material.

Now they were focused on figuring out who’d killed Blevit and what connection Molyneux might have to La Grenouille. So far it had been slow going. If Tony had restricted authority in Spain it was even more limited in France. Interpol was willing to offer their assistance, but only on narrowly defined basis.

Gibbs sighed, sitting down at his desk and turning on his computer. They’d had other cases to handle as well as this one. Several of which came with unwelcomed distractions like US Army Col. Mann. She was pretty enough, and her efforts to flirt with Gibbs had been flattering, but Gibbs hadn’t been interested. He hadn’t been interested in anyone since ending things with Tony. He’d been ignoring that fact with the same diligence he put into ignoring most things he simply hadn’t wanted to deal with.

Gibbs shook his head. That wasn’t important now. What was important was he and Tony were talking--sort of. And they had a reason to keep doing it. So far Shepard hadn’t asked them to declare it a cold case yet. And he suspected that was largely due to the potential La Grenouille was involved.

It was Tony who’d actually found the connection between Shepard and La Grenouille. Gibbs was torn between being annoyed and proud that Tony had beaten him to the punch. Interpol had collected a detailed dossier on Rene Benoit, AKA La Grenouille, that they had shared with Tony. It included information on possible dealings with Jenny Shepard’s father, Col. Jasper Shepard, in the late eighties and early nineties.

Tony had dug into it as much as he could. Nothing had ever been proven, in part because Jasper Shepard died before he could be formally charged with anything. His suicide twelve years ago certainly suggested at least some level of guilt.

Gibbs had raised the subject with Shepard. She’d glared at him, and had done her best to avoid answering him, but Gibbs wasn’t going to be put off. He’d continued pressing for an answer. He wasn’t going to get caught up in some messed up vendetta.

She had ultimately admitted knowing about the charges against her father, and what his suicide implied about his guilt. She wanted to question Benoit, to find out the truth. On one hand, Gibbs felt for her, understanding the need to know if her faith in her father’s integrity was misplaced, if he wasn’t the man she’d always believed him to be. But on the other hand, he seriously doubted she simply wanted to talk to Benoit. She had too much barely controlled rage for him believe that.

Gibbs opened his office e-mail. He couldn’t help smiling when he saw a new message from Tony. It wouldn’t be quite what he wanted to get from him, but it was definitely better than nothing.

He’d found out by accident that Tony and Abby were also communicating via e-mail. He’d overheard her commenting on how pleased she was to hear from him to Palmer. It was evidently something recent. She alluded to some sort of technical glitch, and how relieved she was that Tony didn’t hate her.

Gibbs wasn’t sure why Tony would have reason to hate Abby. Or why Abby thought he did. Gibbs was sorely tempted to ask her what she and Tony talked about, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. The messages Tony send Gibbs were always short, work related and lacked almost all evidence of Tony’s personality. Gibbs wasn’t sure he could take finding out Abby was getting all the things he couldn’t find a way to ask Tony for. It was better not to know.

He read Tony’s e-mail.

Gibbs,

We’ve managed to track down a possible connection between Molynuex and Benoit. But he isn’t French or Canadian. And we might have bigger problems than missing explosives.


Gibbs blinked at that. Bigger problems?

We’ve uncovered an Israeli arms dealer who sells to a number of terrorist groups, and who has worked with both Molynuex and Benoit in the past. I haven’t found anyone who seems to know what his actual name is but his code name is ‘Goliath’.

Gibbs could almost see Tony shaking his head at that name. He was disappointed there wasn’t a movie reference or a joke made about it. An Israeli calling himself 'Goliath’ was just ripe for comments about slingshots.

He’s been known to buy a lot of merchandize from sellers in the US and smuggle them into African countries. Zaire was one of his favorites, although from the sounds of it he won’t be doing business there for a long time. He evidently sold some inferior weapons that were more dangerous to the user than whoever they're pointing them at.

Again Gibbs expected a movie reference. The Lords of War with Nicholas Gage, or maybe Blackhawk Down, some other action film involving warlords and weapons. He shook his head and kept reading.

According to some of the chatter we’ve been hearing, something big is on the market. Something Goliath has been acting as intermediary between the seller and the buyers with deeper pockets than he has. No word on exactly what it is or who is trying to sell it, but La Grenouille is rumored to be on the list of interested buyers.

Gibbs arched his eyebrows. Something big? He’d also heard similar rumors recently. And one of the possible targets on the list was ARES. It was a cruise missile guidance system and would be very valuable on the open market.

Goliath is supposed to be flying to the US sometime in the next three weeks. I’ve attached a photo of the man Interpol suspects is him. At the moment, he’s on vacation here in Spain.

In his head, Gibbs clearly heard Tony saying, ‘I didn’t know arms dealers took vacations, but I suppose everyone needs a little R & R now and again. Where better to do it than the beach with pretty women and bikinis? A little sun, some sand, and hey, all the comforts money can buy. What’s not to like?’

Given his connection to Israel, I’m thinking Officer David might have a better chance of finding out for certain if the guy I’ve got my team following is really Goliath, and what exactly he’s acting as a broker for. If the guy isn’t on Mossad’s watch list someone there isn’t doing their job.

Gibbs smirked at that. He wouldn’t be at all surprised Mossad knew about ‘Goliath’, but they probably weren’t going to share anything they knew with someone outside their organization. Tony was right to suggest Ziva ask the questions. Of course, they might not tell her the truth either. She’d been assigned to duty in the US long enough that someone in Mossad might consider her an outsider. Especially if they had any plans to do anything about Goliath themselves.

So far it seems the only information I have on your missing explosives is that no one else here in Spain seems to have any. This is a good thing for me, but clearly not good for someone else. My team will continue looking and I’ll keep you posted on what we find.

They hadn’t found any sign of the missing explosives either. Finding Molyneux would be there best bet to securing the rest of the stolen ordinance.

Gibbs smiled when he read the last line of Tony’s message.

I’m sure we’ll figure it out, Boss. Watch your back.

Whenever Tony referred to him as ‘Boss’ Gibbs couldn’t help but smile. That he used ‘we’ also made Gibbs feel better. They were working together on this. And it felt good.

Gibbs reread the message, making sure he hadn’t missed anything. He nodded to himself. If 'Goliath' was coming to the US sometime in the next few weeks, and Tony’s team was following him, then maybe, just maybe, their collaborative effort could be done with a lot less distance between them.

That would be good, Gibbs decided. Maybe. If he didn’t fuck up and put his foot in his mouth all the way to his knee. If whatever happened to make Abby think Tony hated her wasn’t still an issue. If the rift between McGee, Ziva and Tony wasn’t something they couldn’t bridge.

I need more coffee, Gibbs thought. It wouldn’t lessen the stress, but it was a comforting ritual.

“One thing at a time, Marine,” Gibbs whispered to himself. “One thing at a time.”

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