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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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Over the years, Gibbs had developed a number of different ways to spy on his team.

The one he liked to use best, however, wasn’t one Gibbs had discovered on his own. His own methods typically involved stealth and timing, not technology. Shortly after his return from Mexico he’d caught Tony using his phone to listen in on his teammates. It was astonishingly easy to link his cell phone to his desk phone. The desk phone’s hands- free speaker option simply transmitted nearby conversation to him. To anyone watching, he looked like he was making a call on his cell phone.

When Gibbs had caught Tony doing it, the younger man had assumed it was already a method Gibbs used. It might have been, but Gibbs didn’t remember ever doing it before. The lack of certainty had made him uneasy. He hated having holes in his memory. So Gibbs did what he’d always done whenever he felt uncertain, he’d fallen back on behaviors and patterns he knew were familiar. He’d upstaged his team a few seconds later with information they hadn’t known, just like he had hundreds of times before.

Now, he found himself using his desk phone to listen in whenever he wanted to have a clear view of his team. He could stand on the mezzanine above the bull pen and watch while he listened in via the phone. It gave him a better view than lurking around corners ever had, and sometimes seeing the gestures and expression that came with the commentary was important. It helped put everything into context, especially when the people he really wanted to watch were Tony and his senior field agent, Miri Callahan.

He bit back a curse when he realized Tony wasn’t in the area. Gibbs had gone out for coffee, coming back to the team floor via the stairs. He’d slipped up to the mezzanine unnoticed, hoping to sneak in a little quite observation. He hadn’t realized Tony wasn’t in the bull pen. Maybe Tony had simply gone to the rest room, or the break room. They’d eaten several hours ago; more than long enough for Tony to be looking for a snack.

Gibbs waited listening intently to what was going on below as he sipped his coffee and watched. He could hear Miri on the phone with someone. She was standing in front of the desk she and Tony were temporarily assigned to, leaning one hip against it as he listened to whoever she was on the phone with.

“Yeah…I know…I know that too, Mouse.” Miri laughed. “Be nice or I won’t bring you back anything….No. Definitely no. That doesn’t travel well and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get it through security…you going to pay to have it sent express?” Miri laughed again. “That’s what I thought, you cheap shit. Now quit your whining and go to bed. I’ll call you later, Mouse.”

As Miri ended the call Ziva stood up from her desk. She and the probie had gotten back to the office before Gibbs had gone for coffee. He’d been briefed on where Goliath was and what he’d done from the airport to where he was staying. Gibbs had told her the Director wanted her to work with Miri while letting McGee and the probie know their roles in the upcoming operation. Neither woman had given any indication that working together would be a problem. Of course that had been while both Gibbs and Tony were present.

Even then, they were both cool toward one another. Gibbs had seen Ziva sizing Miri up. She apparently hadn’t thought much of the beautiful blond if her expression was anything to go by.

For her part, Miri had done the same to Ziva. If she knew anything about Ziva’s background, and it was a good bet she knew some of it, Miri clearly hadn’t been intimidated or impressed. In fact she looked like she might be willing to go toe to toe with Ziva just for the fun of it. But one look from Tony was all it took for Miri to remain polite and stay focused on the case and planning the kidnapping.

Gibbs hadn’t been overly worried—well, not much. Both women were professional. They’d be able to work together without killing one another. Maybe--as long as they weren’t left alone too long.

Ziva had barely spoken to Tony other than to say hello. Gibbs had expected more. If getting dumped by Ziva was really one of the reasons Tony had taken the position in Spain, Gibbs thought there would be more hostility. But is seemed Tony had even less to say to her than he had McGee.

They were polite to one another, as if they were strangers. Tony didn’t offer his hand or try to hug her. Not that Tony had ever hugged Ziva that Gibbs could remember. He’d seen Tony ruffle her hair in the past, but he now seemed careful to stay at least arms length from her. The same way he’d been careful not to get too close to McGee when they ate. Gibbs had never seen Tony show much concern about personal space before. It was…strange.

“Why do you call your teammate Mouse?” Ziva asked Miri. It was a good question. Gibbs wouldn’t mind knowing the answer to that himself.

“Is he a coward?”

“Coward? Mouse?” Miri shook her head. “No, Rivera is one of bravest guys I’ve ever met. Or maybe the craziest. Wouldn’t catch me getting back in the water after a shark took a piece out of me. I’d have moved to Kansas or somewhere so far removed no one had ever even seen the ocean. But then he refuses to base jump with me because he says I’m nuts so the boy may not have lost all sense of self-preservation.”

Shark? Base jumping? Gibbs frowned. Is that what they did for fun? He really needed to read the personnel files on Tony’s teammates.

“Then why do you--”

“It’s probably a nickname Tony saddled him with,” McGee offered, looking up from his computer screen and sounding derisive. “I’m sure the guy hates it.”

For all McGee’s insistence that he hated being labeled ‘probie’ he hadn’t hesitated to dub their new recruit by the same name. And he seemed almost disappointed that Tony addressed the probie by his name, which Gibbs made a point to try and remember was Darien Bahl. It struck him as wrong that Tony knew the guy’s name and Gibbs hadn’t. Either Abby or Palmer had filled him in, or Tony had looked him up to see who the new guy was on Gibbs’ team.

“Actually, it was Rivera’s older brother who dubbed him Mouse.” Miri said, her expression every bit as cool as her tone when she focused her attention on McGee.

No love lost there, Gibbs thought grimly. He wasn’t sure what she knew about his team or what Tony might have told her, but clearly it was enough for Miri to take an instant dislike to McGee and Ziva. She seemed okay with Abby. And had been warm enough with Bahl.

Miri’s gaze shifted back to Ziva. “Mouse is just a nickname. Something for friends and family to use. It is not indicative of his nature or his status on the team.”

“He doesn’t mind you refer to him that way?” Ziva asked.

“Friends and family, Officer David. I fall in both categories, so no, he doesn’t mind.”

That was all Miri seemed to have to say on the subject. She turned away from them and stepped behind the desk.

Gibbs frowned. Did she mean family as in blood relative? Or was she referring to the team as ‘family’ in a broader sense? Did Tony’s team consider each other family? Abby had always thought of the team as family. And Gibbs suspected Tony had too, at least until he’d left for Spain without saying a word. Gibbs’ jaw clenched, old anger resurfacing. It still pissed him off that Tony hadn’t said good-bye. Not that he would ever admit that out loud to anyone else.

“Are you sleeping with Tony?” Ziva asked bluntly, her voice carrying easily through the phone.

Gibbs nearly banged his head on the railing, and wished passionately he could deliver a head slap from a distance. While he wouldn’t mind knowing the answer to that question, he wasn’t sure he’d have asked it quite that way, or at all. Trust Ziva not to be embarrassed or let social convention get in her way.

McGee nearly choked on whatever he’d swallowed the second Ziva asked the question. Bahl’s eyes widened comically, and he looked ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble.

Miri looked more amused than offended. And there was absolutely no hesitation in her answer. “No.”

Gibbs frowned. He almost believed her. But Ziva apparently did not.

“Liar.”

Miri chuckled, a low throaty sound. “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it. I have. Every time he goes surfing.” Miri licked her lips. “That wet suit of his leaves damned little for my imagination to do. Rather considerate of him when I think about it. And I should probably thank him, but really, Tony’s not my type. And I’m not really his.”

McGee scoffed. “Every woman with boobs is Tony’s type.”

“No, not every woman.” Miri eyed Ziva, a small, enigmatic smile in place. She leaned forward her voice so soft when she spoke the phone nearly didn’t catch. “Not every woman, right, Officer David? Tony might have flirted, played and teased, but he was never going to do the deed with you. Ever.”

Gibbs blinked. Had Tony said something to Miri? He must have for her to sound so sure. But if Tony hadn’t had a sexual relationship with Ziva…what did that mean? If Tony hadn’t started sleeping with Ziva as soon as Gibbs left for Mexico did Tony have stronger feelings for Gibbs than he’d realized? Did it mean more to him than Gibbs thought? Did Tony still have feelings for Gibbs at all after all these months?

So far Gibbs had managed to at least let Tony know he’d been missed. But he knew better than to think admitting that was enough to square things between them. It wasn’t as if Tony had said anything back---not that Gibbs had given him the chance, but still he hadn’t made any sort of declaration. And the cold shoulder he’d given everyone but Abby, hadn’t helped matters. Gibbs couldn’t tell what Tony was thinking or how he was feeling, and it was decidedly unnerving. He’d never had trouble reading the younger man, not from the day he’d met him, but now, he was lost. It was one of the reasons he’d wanted to observe. He needed more experience watching the new Tony DiNozzo who’d stepped off the plane.

“I would not have had sex with him, no matter how much he begged.” Ziva asserted, the acerbic tenor of her voice drawing Gibbs attention back to what was happening below him.

“I doubt Tony ever begged.” Miri smirked. “And I’m equally skeptical that you were ever completely adverse to the idea of doing the horizontal hula with him.”

“I have no interest in him. I never did.”

Gibbs blinked at that. He’d always thought there was a sort of mutual attraction between Ziva and Tony. They certainly flirted enough with one another to imply they were at least interested. It was why Gibbs suspected they’d had sex while he was in Mexico. With him gone, and no reminder of rule twelve—however invalid it might have been at that point given the number of times he and Tony had broken that rule---there was nothing to keep them from sleeping together.

Miri smirked, nodding sagely to Ziva’s comment, everything in her posture screaming disbelief. “Of course not.”

“It would have gained me nothing.”

“Or conversely, it could have gotten you everything. But you’ll never know now, will you?” Miri shook her head. She clucked her tongue. “It is your loss.”

Ziva huffed indignantly. “I doubt that.”

“Then why ask the question?” Miri arched an eyebrow. “You change your mind and now want to take the pony for a ride?”

“No.” Ziva almost bit off the word it ended so sharply. She cleared her throat. “You two seem very close. I was… merely curious as to how close.”

“Close compared to who?” Miri snorted. “You and,” she waved hand to encompass the bull pen, “your team?”

There was something in her tone that made Gibbs’ hackles rise. What the hell was she implying? There was nothing wrong with his team. Ziva apparently heard the same thing. He could see her stiffen.

Miri shook her head. “The relationship you have with your teammates and what they have with you is nothing like what I have with Tony.”

“Since we are not sleeping together, I would have to agree,” Ziva said, her sneer audible even if Gibbs couldn’t see it.

Miri shrugged. “Believe what you like, but I didn’t lie. I haven’t had sex with Tony, nor am I likely to any time soon. We are close because we trust one another implicitly.”

She cocked her head to one side, studying Ziva. Her expression was almost compassionate. “And trust isn’t something I think you’ve had much experience with. At least not the kind that comes without strings.”

The last statement was delivered without malice, but it was still a direct hit. Gibbs couldn’t swear to it, but he thought he saw Ziva flinch. McGee definitely did. Bahl’s gasp was loud enough for the phone to pick it up, but went largely ignored by everyone else.

“For the record, Officer David, I don’t lie. I’m damn near pathologically incapable of it. It is a trait that makes me piss poor at undercover work, but otherwise very reliable.”

“I would have characterized you more as dependable or trustworthy,” Tony said as he strolled around the partition, cane in one hand and two sodas in the other.

“Those work too.” Miri said, not jumping at Tony’s sudden appearance the way Ziva, McGee and Bahl did.

She caught the can he lightly tossed to her, a bright and cheerful smile breaking out as she saw what he’d gotten her. “Root beer? You are a god among men, Sir.”

“We are going to talk about your unnatural obsession with that beverage some day.”

“Long as we do over ice cream, sure.”

Tony looked between the two women. “I miss anything?”

“Just Officer David’s interest in my sex life.”

Tony looked from one to the other, both eyebrows rising. “Oh?”

“She thinks we’re sleeping together.” Miri laughed.

“I’m not good enough for you now, Callahan?”

“Nothing about you comes up wanting, DiNozzo.” Miri winked at him. “But you and I both know we aren’t compatible.”

Tony laid a hand against his chest as though injured. “Miri, my love, you wound me.”

“Deeply, I’m sure.”

“Quite.” Tony snickered and then sobered. “I might never recover.”

“I like knowing I have that kind of power.”

Tony clucked his tongue. “Vicious, vicious woman.”

“But you love me anyway, right?”

Gibbs felt a wave of anger that nearly blinded him when Tony nodded. He didn’t care that Miri might be joking. He hadn’t wanted Tony agreeing with her.

“Like the sister I never had and didn’t want.”

Miri stuck her tongue out at him. “Asshole.”

“You get everything squared away with Mouse?” Tony asked, his tone less playful and more focused.

“I did, Sir.” Miri accepted the back to business demeanor easily.

“You and Ziva have everything mapped out here?”

“As much as we can.” Miri shrugged.

“We will need more intel on Goliath’s patterns here before we can move on him,” Ziva interjected. “That will take another day or two.”

Gibbs couldn’t see McGee’s face, but his posture was easy to read. The man wasn’t quite hiding behind his monitor but he wasn’t far from it. Bahl was watching it all warily, like a nervous antelope amid a pride of lions. What the hell he thought was going to happen, Gibbs wasn’t sure. Bahl was always seemed like a nervous sort so this wasn’t entirely out of character for him.

“I expected as much,” Tony said calmly. They couldn’t grab Goliath until they were sure they could get away with it. And they knew exactly where he would be that would make it possible.

Tony sighed softly. His gaze shifted around the bull pen for a moment, and Gibbs got the impression he was seeing the way things used to be. Gibbs saw those ghosts too. Kate still at her desk. Tony at his. McGee so young and uncertain. The team joking, bickering, working together. Old memories that faded but hadn’t disappeared entirely.

Tony took a breath and released it. He leaned on his cane, his weight shifting off his right leg. “We got any other loose ends?”

The question was directed at Miri. Tony once more all but ignoring Ziva.

Miri shrugged one shoulder. “Nothing we can tie fast tonight.”

“You ready to go?”

“What?” McGee popped up. “You’re leaving? Gibbs didn’t say you could leave.”

Tony’s expression hardened. Not the right thing to say, McGee, Gibbs thought as he started down the stairs, still listening in.

“I don’t need his permission to leave, McGee.”

No, he didn’t need Gibbs’ permission. He hadn’t needed it to go to Spain either.

McGee practically sputtered in response to Tony’s coolly delivered statement. “But..but…but the case—“

“Has gone as far as it’s going to tonight. And some of us started today yesterday, McGee.”

Gibbs hadn’t really given much thought to the fact that Tony had to be tired. He’d probably been tailing Goliath last night, and then gotten on a plane to fly to DC to spend several more hours working on the case. It made for a very long day.

“There is no point in staying here doing nothing until the wee hours of the morning. It’s not exactly a productive use of time.”

“And sleeping is?” Ziva sounded both incredulous and sarcastic.

“Sleeping is what?” Gibbs asked as he rounded the corner, cancelling the connection between his cell phone and his desk phone in a move that looked like nothing more than him pocketing his phone.

“Necessary for general health and well being. It’s also the most valid use of our time at the moment,” Tony said without missing a beat.

“DiNozzo’s right.”

“He is?”

“Yes, McGee he is.” Gibbs resisted the urge to sigh. Did the man have to sound so surprised? It wasn’t like Tony had never been right before for crying out loud.

“There are agents watching Goliath. Cyber crimes and Homeland Security are keeping an eye out for any uptick in chatter that might tell us what Goliath is trying to broker. You’ve arranged for all the equipment and checked it so we’ll be ready when the time comes.” Blue eyes focused on each member of his team. “Was there something else we should be doing?”

Ziva looked to McGee, and they both looked at Bahl. To Gibbs’ surprise it was the probie who actually spoke up.

“No, Boss, there isn’t anything else.”

“Then go home.”

Abby had already gone home, after saying good-bye to Tony and eliciting a promise for them to spend some time together tomorrow. Ducky had the day off, giving a guest lecture at a pathology seminar at Bethesda. But from what little Gibbs had overheard of Abby’s good-bye conversation, he would likely be joining her and Tony whenever they got together. Palmer too, if his course schedule allowed for it. With Ducky out today, Palmer had elected to get some additional study time in for his upcoming exams.

Gibbs wanted to rub tiredly at his eyes, but refused to display even so little a weakness. “Go. We’ll pick it up tomorrow.”

His team still looked uncertain but they started moving to turn off their computers and pack up their things. Miri grabbed the bags she and Tony had come with, handing Tony the carryon.

“I’ll give you two a lift to your hotel.” Gibbs tried hard to make it sound like a polite offer and not an order.

He could probably find out where Tony was staying by getting McGee to pull the credit card records, or check the phone logs, or something, but he didn’t want to involve anyone else. Especially not when it would mean admitting he wasn’t man enough to simply ask outright and that Tony hadn’t already informed him. And he was hoping that this way he might get a few minutes alone with Tony. A chance…he shuddered to even think it…to really talk.

Tony and Miri exchanged a look; one Gibbs couldn’t read. An entire conversation was happening silently. This was almost worse than when the two had commandeered a conference room for nearly half and hour after Gibbs and Tony had met with the Director. He still had no idea what they’d needed the room for, or what they’d talked about, and there hadn’t been any way to eavesdrop. He could actually see what was happening now, but still had no idea what the hell they were saying to one another. It was just one more frustrating thing to be added to a growing list.

“Thank you, Special Agent Gibbs,” Miri said. She smiled at him. “We appreciate the offer.”

Gibbs’ felt his gut twinge. He couldn’t tell yet whether this would be good or bad. Either way, he was committed. Suck it up, Marine, Gibbs told himself, you need to do this, so just suck it up.

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