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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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Kidnapping Goliath had gone just as smoothly as Tony planned.

Tony was rather proud of how well his plan had worked. It had taken only two days to establish Goliath’s routine and find a good place to take him. Having everything go exactly right was something Tony felt more than a little smug about. He did, however, try not to show it, at least not when he was around Gibbs, Ziva or McGee.

Ziva and McGee would only see any action on his part as grandstanding, like a peacock on display vying for attention. And even if they were to acknowledge how well things worked out, it was likely they wouldn’t attribute that success to him, but to Gibbs. Gibbs had been in charge of the operation. They would no doubt see the execution of the plan as what made it work not who had come up with the idea in the first place.

Around Gibbs, Tony wanted to maintain a professional demeanor. He wanted his former boss to respect him as an agent, to see him as an equal, not as someone seeking praise or approval. He wanted to be valued for what he could contribute to getting the job done, not just for his ability to lighten the mood and help hold the team together.

He also didn’t want Gibbs to think anything that had been said had gone to his head. Being told he was the best Gibbs had ever worked with had been surprising and intoxicating. It was far more than Tony expected or hoped to hear. He didn’t want Gibbs to have reason to regret saying it. So he didn’t gloat, didn’t strut, and didn’t act as though he expected any recognition.

Tony had laughed silently at himself when he realized how easy it was to do. After leading his own team for months, he’d gotten used to the idea that it was his job to give praise, not get it. He hadn’t hesitated to let Miri know she’d done well. She’d not only done her job, she’d refrained from venting the hostility he knew she was feeling. She’d worked with Ziva without complaint and without letting her emotions affect the job.

He’d forgotten for a moment that Ziva and McGee weren’t part of his team. The ‘well done’ slipped out without him even thinking about it. Ziva had regarded him suspiciously, before casual shrugging off his comment as if he hadn’t spoken. McGee had looked momentarily surprised, then proud and then embarrassed. Tony thought McGee might have been embarrassed to have been awarded recognition, however minor. But it was for more likely he was embarrassed at getting praise from Tony, someone he had so little respect for, and finding himself pleased by it. McGee had paled, the blush fading rapidly, eyes shifting away from Tony. He’d stuttered something about getting Goliath’s computer to Abby’s lab.

Not that accessing Goliath’s computer would have needed both Abby and McGee. Hell, Gibbs could have gotten to everything on the computer because Goliath had readily given them his user ID and password. Clearly the threat of meeting up with a pissed off client was good motivation. Tony couldn’t help grinning at his having called that correctly. Really, the man should have been afraid. If they’d done what they’d threatened, Goliath would have died a slow and very painful death.

Miri and Tony had focused on what Goliath had brokered and sold in the past, looking for a more solid connections to the explosives they’d found in Spain. There were still several hundred pounds missing, and Tony preferred to find them before they were used to kill anyone.

There was no need to look to find what Goliath had come to the US to broker. Goliath had admitted that what was being sold was ARES. And the bidding on it was going to be fierce.

Losing the secret missile targeting system was not an option. Keeping ARES and any other weapon out of enemy hands was the number one priority and was the main focus of Gibbs’ team.

They’d zeroed in on the buyers and sellers in Goliath’s computer. Knowing who the players were was important, not just to stop this sale but to prevent anything in the future. Several arms dealers were known only by code names. No federal or local law enforcement agency had pictures of them, nor were their true identities known. Even Interpol lacked important details about a number of known arms dealers. Tony mused that while the code names still struck him as silly, they had certainly been effective in hiding the real identities of the people involved. The information they were getting from Goliath would certainly help fill in a number of blanks.

Charles Harrow was who they were most interested in at the moment. He was the man looking to sell ARES. Tony had been mildly disappointed to find out Harrow apparently didn’t have a code name. In a list full of names like “the frog”, “black rose”, “green dragon” and “red dawn” that all had to be cross-referenced and verified against Goliath’s other lists, Harrow was unique for simply using his name.

Unless, Harrow wasn’t really his name. It was possible the moniker was simply a less imaginative code name. It certainly made for a more normal sounding alias, one that was unlikely to raise eyebrows.

Locating Harrow and ARES was vital. Failing that, they had to ensure the auction Goliath had arranged went as scheduled so that they could capture both Harrow and the winning bidder.

It was something of a long shot but McGee had located a Charles Harrow in the DC area. He was able to match the man’s name with a photo Goliath had on his computer. Apparently since he and Harrow had never met, he wanted to be able to recognize him. Tony was surprised they hadn’t opted for some sort of code like a red carnation in their jacket lapels or something equally ridiculous. Exchanging pictures seemed almost blasé.

Goliath actually had more than a dozen photos on his computer. They had been very helpful putting faces to names for a lot of wanted men and women. If they succeeded in doing nothing else, they had positively identified more than a dozen arms dealers. That information was invaluable.

Gibbs had ordered Bahl and Ziva to check the Harrow McGee had found, sending them with a copy of the man’s picture from Goliath’s computer. If he was the guy they were looking for, it would make things a lot easier. McGee kept working, sorting through everything on Goliath’s computer, making sure they hadn’t missed any pertinent information.

“Did you identify everyone, McGee?” Gibbs asked.

“There was only one picture Goliath didn’t have a name for.” McGee said. “According to him the unknown works for La Grenouille. Goliath wasn’t sure what role the guy plays, but he seems to be acting as Benoit’s right hand man and is apparently someone Benoit trusts.”

“Put it on the plasma, McGee.”

Tony stood, curious to see who they hadn’t labeled yet. Miri followed suit, handing Tony his cane with a stern look and then tossing him a small stress ball. Tony smiled when he saw it. They bounced it back and forth between them as a picture appeared on the screen.

“Well, son of a bitch,” Miri muttered when she looked at the photo on the screen.

“You know who he is?” Tony asked, unconsciously leaning on his cane as he looked from the picture to his second in command.

“Maybe.”

“Maybe?” Gibbs’ question was curt.

“Yeah, maybe,” Miri shrugged, unfazed by Gibbs’ harsh tone. “He’s a spook, or at least that was what we were led to believe. So it’s hard to know if anything I got is accurate or just lies.”

“When?” Tony asked, tossing the stress ball to her out of habit. She caught it easily.

“Before you came to Spain.” Miri pursed her lips, eyes narrowing as she thought, one hand squeezing the ball lightly. “Would have been almost a year ago. We had a murder on base. Except the victim didn’t appear to be in the Navy or the Marines and he wasn’t a Spanish citizen. Victim had no id, fingerprints weren’t in any system, and his dental records didn’t turn up anything. We didn’t know who he was or even how he’d gotten on the base in the first place much less who wanted him dead.”

Miri pursed her lips. “The more we dug into it the more roadblocks we encountered. Naturally, we didn’t let that deter us any.”

“Naturally.” Tony grinned.

“I don’t like to be told no.” Miri grinned back him. “Mouse either.”

Now there was an understatement if Tony had ever heard one.

“Anyway, our trail, such as it was, eventually led to your mystery man,” she pointed to the plasma screen. “Some guys in dark suits showed up and we got told to drop it. It was implied that he was a CIA agent and our inquiries were endangering his life.”

“You get a name?” Gibbs asked.

“Officially, no.”

“Unofficially?” Tony asked, arching an eyebrow.

“Told you, I don’t like to be told no.” Miri shrugged. “Since the MIB’s they were good enough to point us in the right direction—“

“MIB’s?” Gibbs frowned.

“Men in Black.” Tony translated. “Not the movie with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, but the same basic idea. Guys in dark suits who work for the government and tell you not to worry because they are here to help you.”

“I think I would have liked them better if they were aliens in disguise,” Miri mused. “And if I could get line on one of that big gun Agent K used, and that little flashy thing, that would be awesome.”

Tony snorted. “You’d abuse it.”

“Just until the novelty wore off, and admittedly that might take a couple of years, but really--”

“Hey,” Gibbs barked. “Focus.”

Miri looked at Gibbs and then looked at Tony. She waited until Tony dipped his head, signaling she should continue. He could see McGee gaping in surprise at her not immediately obeying Gibbs’ command. Clearly he hadn’t gotten the message yet. Miri didn’t answer to Gibbs, and really, neither did Tony any more.

“We made few discreet phone calls. Called in some favors. The name we got was Trent Kort. No idea if that’s his real name or not.”

Miri sighed softly, her eyes reflecting sorrow and regret. “Our team lead was diagnosed with terminal cancer not long after and, well, some things took higher priority than beating our heads against a wall trying to solve a case no one really wanted us to get to the bottom of.”

Tony had never asked how the position in Rota came open. He knew the team lead had left for medical reasons, but hadn’t been aware of how serious the issue was. His predecessor’s name had never come up and Tony had been grateful his new team hadn’t felt the need to constantly compare him to their old leader.

He wrapped an arm around Miri’s shoulders. He should have guessed their silence meant more than simple acceptance. Tony never mentioned Kate either. Some things just weren’t talked about.

“I’m sorry, Miri.”

“Don’t be.” She smiled sadly, leaning into him. “It’s not your fault.”

She straightened her spine a little, and Tony dropped his arm. Miri might give comfort unconditionally, but she only accepted it in small doses, especially when there were other people around. Tony knew better than to force the issue.

She tossed him the stress ball. “So, how do we verify that his name is really Trent Kort? And if he’s really a CIA agent, what is the true nature of his relationship with Benoit?”

“McGee,” Gibbs turned to the younger man, “find out more about Kort.”

McGee hesitated. Tony didn’t blame him. He had no idea where to start looking for information on an agent who was probably undercover at best, and rogue at worst. And it wasn’t like the CIA would just offer up details. They didn’t play well with others; at least they hadn’t in Tony’s limited experience.

McGee opened his mouth and then closed it. He nodded once. “On it, Boss.”

Tony was willing to bet some hacking would be done to get Gibbs the information he’d demanded. Computers were McGee’s go to solution for a lot of problems, and admittedly the younger man was good at ferreting out a lot of information with them. Tony wondered if the CIA’s security was good enough to keep McGee out. The Pentagon’s hadn’t been.

He looked at Miri. She nodded and headed for the desk they were using. She’d make a few more phone calls and check in with Mouse. They’d gotten a name once, maybe they could get more.

McGee would likely have seen Tony ordering Miri to help as second-guessing him, doubting his ability, or as a way to show him up by finding anything before McGee did. But Tony didn’t have a need to impress Gibbs the way he once had, nor did he truly doubt McGee’s ability. A back up plan was just good sense, regardless of how McGee might see it. It was nice he didn’t have to say anything to put it in motion.

“You want to go get a cup of coffee?” Tony asked Gibbs quietly, pitching his voice low enough that it carried only to Gibbs and no further. It’s not like there was anything to be done at the moment that someone wasn’t already working on. And despite their agreement, they hadn’t really had any time alone since Miri forced them to get a drink together. It had been two long days of being focused on the case and catching Goliath, and it was shaping up to be another long day.

Tony was rewarded with a quicksilver smile that happened so fast if he hadn’t been looking for it he’d have missed it. Gibbs nodded.

They headed for the elevator, walking in step. It stuck Tony as odd when he bothered to think about how naturally they moved together even though it had been months since they’d been anywhere near one another. Their thoughts might no longer be in sync but clearly their bodies still were. Tony immediately shut off that line of thinking, not wanting to dwell on how good the sex had been because they were so in tune with one another. Just because Gibbs had clarified what he’d meant when he said he’d missed Tony didn’t mean he wanted to pick up where they’d left off.

And really, what was the point, Tony thought as they got in the elevator and Gibbs hit the button for the lobby. Gibbs may have missed him and come to value what he’d contributed to the team, he may have even cared enough to not think of Tony as just an easy lay, but that wasn’t exactly a declaration of love. It wasn’t like Gibbs had turned to Tony to deal with the rediscovered loss of his wife and daughter. Gibbs hadn’t come to Tony for comfort or understanding when the powers that be ignored his warning and let good men die. He hadn’t come back from Mexico for Tony or even considered staying for him. So whatever feelings Gibbs might have, they weren’t the forever sort.

Tony had been surprised when he’d realized he wanted forever. He’d left DC not because of his teammates and their attitudes towards him---it certainly hadn’t helped, but it wasn’t the reason he’d taken the job in Spain. Gibbs acting like he’d forgotten everything, like what they’d had meant nothing, had been the reason he’d left. Had Tony known he mattered, even a little, to Gibbs then, he would have stayed. Had Gibbs even told him once after coming back from Mexico that he’d done a good job and was a good agent, Tony would have stuck it out. But now, after months away, it was nowhere near enough.

That thought made Tony smile and shake his head. It wouldn’t have been enough then either. He just hadn’t realized it until now.

“What?”

“Hmm?” He looked over at Gibbs.

“What are you thinking?”

“Time and distance make for interesting shifts in perspective.”

Gibbs frowned. That was obviously not what he’d been expecting. “You having one of those shifts?”

“I think I already had it.” Tony chuckled ruefully. “I just didn’t realize it.”

“Good or bad?”

“Dunno.” Tony chuckled again. “Jury is still out.”

The elevator pinged announcing their arrival on the main floor, the doors opening smoothly to reveal several people waiting to get on. Tony followed Gibbs as he stepped off, knowing no one who knew him would get in his way. Tony never understood why people didn’t understand basic physics when it came to elevators. The people inside have to get off before more people can get in. It seemed fairly straightforward to him, but an astonishing number of people simply didn’t get it.

The stroll to the coffee shop didn’t take long. Tony found himself enjoying the chance to be outside. He’d gotten used to a daily dose of fresh air in Spain. The sun wasn’t as warm as it was there, but it was warm enough.

Coffee in hand, Gibbs surprised Tony by suggesting they take a seat rather than head right back to the office.

“Sure.” The walk hadn’t been far or overly fast, but Tony’s leg was sending him little messages to let him know sitting down was a good idea. He’d be glad when his leg was finally healed. He hated needing a cane and he feeling like he was less than one hundred percent.

“Do you like Spain?”

Tony blinked. He hadn’t been expecting Gibbs to try making conversation. He smiled; pleased the older man had initiated a discussion about something other than work.

“Well, it’s—” Tony hesitated for a moment. He was going to say Spain was okay but it wasn’t home, except that in some ways it was. All his things were there. His job is there. His team too. The language, food and people were still foreign but they were becoming more familiar every day. There were still innumerable things he missed about the US, and probably would for his entire tour in Spain, but it wasn’t a bad place to be.

Tony smiled. “Yeah, I like it.”

Tony found himself telling Gibbs about his life there. He told him about the museums he’d gone to, the Roman ruins and Moorish castles he’d visited. The talked about the beaches he’d been to surfing with Mouse, the cliffs he’d scaled with Miri, the nightclubs he and Caleb had stopped in at. He had, Tony reflected, a rather full life in Spain. The only think lacking was a romantic entanglement. And trust Gibbs to notice.

“No dates with hot women?” Gibbs asked, his expression impossible to read. “Heard they are beautiful there.”

“They are. Very beautiful.” Tony shrugged. He was tempted to lie and make up stories about women he’d bedded, but he’d never managed to lie to Gibbs before. And he didn’t really want to.

“I’m just not interested in one night stands any more,” Tony said, forcing himself to meet Gibbs’ eyes. The truth was, Tony hadn’t had sex since last time he and Gibbs had been together before Gibbs had run off to Mexico. His right hand was the only one he’d been with, but he wasn’t going to tell Gibbs that.

“Guess, I had to grow up sometime,” Tony said, rubbing the back of his neck “Kate would be so proud.”

Gibbs stared at him. Obviously he hadn’t expected Tony to have stopped dating or sleeping around. Of course, Gibbs didn’t know Tony’s quit dating when they started to hook up. And Tony was glad he’d never told him. Especially given how Gibbs had been when he’d returned from Mexico.

Not want to dwell on his dismal sex life, Tony decided it was time to change the subject. Since Gibbs had opened the door to a more personal Tony figured it would be okay to return the favor and ask him something that wasn’t work related.

“So, you start a new boat? You never did say how you got the old one out of the basement.”

Gibbs opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by his cell phone ringing. He glared at it before answering with a curt, ‘Gibbs’.

Watching his expression, Tony knew it was bad news. He stood up, cane in hand, ready to move.

“We’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

“Trouble?” Tony asked when Gibbs ended the call.

“Harrow’s dead.”

“Dead? How?”

“When Ziva and the probie tried to question him, he ran.”

“What, into an oncoming bus?”

“No, DiNozzo,” Gibbs growled. “He had a heart attack.”

“Well, shit.” Tony tossed his empty coffee cup in the trash as the headed for the door and back to the office. “Did they at least get ARES?”

“No.” Gibbs ground out, sounding more than just a little pissed.

Tony sighed. He stretched his legs a little to keep up with Gibbs. It hurt, but he could handle it. He knew better than to try and get Gibbs to slow down.

They were almost back to the Yard when Gibbs turned to look at Tony. “Thanks.”

“For what?”

“For the coffee. And…the conversation.” Gibbs hesitated and then nodded once curtly.

Tony smiled. That was apparently all he was going to get. But it was more than he’d ever gotten before.

“You’re welcome.” Tony waved a hand toward the office. “We’ll do it again once we’ve taken care of this.” That came out as more of a question than a statement. Tony didn’t want to assume Gibbs would be interested in what felt more like a date than anything else.

Gibbs smiled. “Definitely.”

Tony smiled back.

They walked into the NCIS building as in step as they’d been when they’d left.

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