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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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Tony's new team wasn't much like his old.

Other than being good with computers, Martin Rivera was nothing like Timothy McGee. From his looks to his upbringing to his attitude about life in general, Martin was nearly the antithesis of McGee.

Martin looked every bit as Hispanic as his surname implied. He had the dark hair, dark complexion, brown eyes and straight white teeth that were all the hallmark of his heritage.

He didn't have McGee's upper middle class family. Martin was born and raised in a poor neighborhood in Southern California and had the extensive family stereotypical of Hispanic Catholics. He was the youngest of seven children, and routinely communicated with his parents and siblings, not allowing time or distance to isolate him from them.

He also apparently had no objection to nicknames, having been bequeathed his first, Mouse, when he was still an infant. Over time, the name stuck, in large part due to his quiet nature and his short stature of five foot six inches tall. He'd told Tony to feel free to use the nickname since nearly everyone did.

He differed from McGee with regard to his education as well. Martin hadn't attended a prestigious university like MIT or John Hopkins. What Martin knew about computers he'd taught himself. Oh he had a degree or two---a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from a community college and a Masters he'd earned online only because the job required him to have one, but his expertise with computers was largely the byproduct of diligent personal effort.

He might have lacked McGee's breadth on the subject, but Tony would quickly come to appreciate that Martin was still damn good at his job. More so than his skill, Tony would find he liked the younger man's attitude. He was confident without being smug, and he was not so much eager to please as determined to simply do his best.

Martin had been diagnosed with hyper activity as a child, although he apparently did not have the normally accompanying attention deficit. Martin had issues with sitting still---it was something Tony could readily understand and relate to. He and Martin would develop a habit of tossing things to one another when working a case, almost like a team of jugglers. It helped both of them think to have something and someone to play with. People in the office learned to avoid the area and keep a wary eye out for flying objects.

Martin's parents had elected to give him something to expend that energy on rather than opt for an expensive drug regimen they couldn't afford. They introduced him to every sport the local YMCA had available--anything that kept him busy enough to wear him out. Martin hadn't cared for basketball or gymnastics, but had excelled at Tae Kwon Do. He now had a black belt in several martial arts styles. And he'd apparently taken to swimming lessons like a duck to water. He kept himself in peek physical condition, predominately by swimming and surfing.

Tony would realize very quickly that surfing wasn't a hobby for Martin, it was his religion. The man lived to ride the waves. His passion was undiminished by a shark attack when he was twenty that tore a sizeable piece of muscle from his left thigh, leaving Martin with impressive scars and a limp that was only noticeable when he over did it.

Martin had joined NCIS after a stint in the Navy. He had hoped to get an assignment in Pearl Harbor, or failing that, something on the West Coast relatively close to his family. He'd accepted Rota only when he knew exactly how close to the ocean it was.

During their first case, Tony would realize another important way Martin was not like McGee. Martin didn't use techno babble or geek speak. He was the most plain spoken, unassuming person Tony had ever met. It was refreshing to work with someone who understood not everyone cared about how the information was uncovered only that it was found. Martin didn't try to show how clever he'd been or play up the difficulty of what he'd done, he just presented the results.

Tony initially thought Martin's recitation of facts without embellishment or fanfare was because he was the new boss. He suspected Martin was testing the waters, waiting to see what Tony wanted and how to best approach him. But it hadn't taken long to understand that it was just the way Martin operated. He didn't compete with his teammates for attention or vie for praise--not that he had to with Tony as the lead agent.

Gibbs had always been stingy with recognition and praise but Tony wasn't. He didn't compliment everything done well, but he made sure to notice and signal approval on a regular basis. He also made certain everyone on his team was acknowledged, that he appreciated their efforts, respected them and their ability to do the job. He didn't play favorites, nor did he insult or deride his people.

Tony didn't go easy on them either; he made it clear he expected their best and accepted nothing less, but he didn't run them into the ground. If he had to be a bastard to get the best out of his people, he didn't want them on his team. If he couldn't show respect for the people he worked with, then he couldn't expect them to show him any in return.

He kept the rules he thought made sense and discarded those he'd never seen much value in. Always carry a knife and know how to use it was just good advice. It had saved Tony's life, so he kept it. Never trust a lawyer didn't always apply because sometimes legal counsel was needed as Michelle Lee had nicely demonstrated on more than one occasion. Never go anywhere without a back up weapon, two if possible, was another good, common sense rule that had come in handy. How to keep secrets wasn't something he thought his team should know how to do, certainly not from him. Always work as a team was his first rule. Lying was acceptable when necessary but it was never, ever necessary when it came to teammates or the boss.

That rule was something Tony's senior field agent, Miri Callahan, apparently would never have trouble with. She seemed incapable of lying. It was decidedly odd to work with someone who would honestly answer whatever was asked. It was imperative that he asked the right question, because while she always, always told the truth, she typically gave only the information requested. She wasn't prone to elaborating, not because she was trying to hide information or keep secrets, she just didn't see a point in offering any more than what was asked for. Miri characterized herself has having nothing to hide, but didn't supply any more details than what was requested. In many ways, it made her more of an enigma to Tony than Ziva had ever been.

The only thing she seemed to have in common with Ziva was her gender, and being beautiful. Tony couldn't help the soft whistle of appreciation that had escaped when he'd first seen her. She had just winked and playfully flirted with him. She didn't see his instinctive reaction as a challenge to her worth as an agent, wasn't hostile or disgusted the way most other female coworkers Tony had were. She wasn't insulted by it and didn't consider it demeaning. Flirting wasn't a weapon to Miri or a way to control another person; it was just fun. It also wasn't a means to spot or exploit a weakness the way it had been for Ziva.

The same way Martin's appearance reflected the heritage his surname implied, Miri's definitely showed her Celtic ancestry. Her blonde hair was cut in a textured pixie style that nicely accentuated her high cheekbones and firm jaw line. Dark blue eyes fringed with long black lashes consistently expressed an open frankness Tony often found disconcerting. He simply wasn't used to people who saw no need to hide what they were thinking or how they were feeling.

Only four inches shorter than Tony, she looked a bit like he imagined an Amazon might have. Long and lean, with the strong build reminiscent of an Olympic athlete. She was every bit as capable as she looked, but he didn't get any 'could kill you with a paperclip' vibes that Ziva tended to project. Oh there was no doubt Miri could be lethal, her marksmanship scores attested to that, but she wasn't the sort to lie in wait to take you out. She wasn't a sniper or assassin. If Miri wanted anyone dead, they'd definitely see it coming and they'd know why.

The first time Tony met her, not only was he stunned by her beauty, he was amazed by just how friendly and approachable Miri seemed. He'd never believed in auras, but she definitely projected something that made her seem like the sort of person you could say anything too. She might not have any secrets of her own, but she could be trusted to keep someone else's. Tony figured out quickly that she was the one on the team who should talk to victims and witnesses. She was beautiful, forthright and compassionate--a trifecta that would have people telling her everything and anything she wanted to know.

Although, she'd never actually mentioned it, Tony knew from reading her file that Miri was orphaned at the age of eight when a drunk driver killed her mother, father and two brothers. She'd been at a sleep over with a friend and had been fortunate, or not so fortunate depending on one's point of view, to have not been with her family when the accident occurred. She bounced around a few foster homes before settling at ten with the family she'd remain with until she graduated from high school at the age of seventeen.

By all rights, the loss of her family and less than ideal childhood could have left her bitter and cynical, but Miri was one of the most upbeat people Tony had ever meet. Not like Abby was hyper upbeat, wound tight with sugar and caffeine. Miri was less intense, quieter, more contained; she had a ready smile, positive outlook and raw determination that kept life from beating her down or overwhelming her.

She also had extraordinary recall. Miri could remember almost anything she'd read. Tony loved being able just ask her for information about any case, knowing she wouldn't have to look it up or check her notes. It definitely saved time.

In an ideal world, they would have a probie on the team, but the budget evidently didn't allow for that. Tony found it wasn't really a problem. When he'd first started working for NCIS, Gibbs only had a three person team. And for a time, they were just a two-man team when Blackadder went back to the FBI before Kate joined. Four agents had been something of a luxury.

And unlike Gibbs, Tony preferred to help work the case. When they got called out, Tony continued to shoot and sketch the scene. He was better at it than either Miri or Martin, and he found their talents better used elsewhere. It worked well for them.

The lab tech in Rota was nothing like Abby. Caleb Sanders never wore black and didn't have a single tattoo. He was into bright colors, the brighter the better. The brilliant blue dye in his hair reminded Tony of some exotic jungle bird. He resisted commenting on it, thinking it better to just go with the flow the same way he had with many of Abby's unique outfits. It was better to err on the side of caution when it came to lab techs. Tony didn't want to risk insulting someone whose skill and expertise might be needed.

Caleb wore the same sort of wireless frames Sarah Palin had made famous. He didn't really need corrective lenses; he just liked wearing them. He said they made him look smarter. Not that he really needed to look smart. If Caleb wasn't a genius, he wasn't far from it. When it came to forensics, Tony wasn't sure if Caleb was in Abby's class, or if he belonged in one of his own, either way he was damned good at what he did.

He always delivered his results while standing at parade rest. Tony knew for a fact Caleb had never served in any branch of the military. Caleb never had any desire to serve in any branch. Tony suspected Caleb wanted him to comment on his stance, and that was the reason he never did. It was fun to subtly tease the tech.

Their ME wasn't an American. He was on loan from the Spanish government. The American base in Rota was actually within the confines of a Spanish naval base; they shared many of the facilities and some of the personnel. The base itself was under the Spanish flag and under the command of a Spanish Vice Admiral. Tony reported to him as much as he did Director Shepard.

By having one of their people on hand to assist with any NCIS investigation the Spanish government could be actively involved without actually interfering. It seemed to work well enough, and Tony was politically savvy enough to know he wasn't going to be able to change it.

Unlike, Ducky, Doctor Jose Franco was fresh out of med school. He reminded Tony of Jimmy Palmer, without the glasses or the tendency to ramble. He was shy and awkward, especially around Miri with whom he was clearly infatuated. She didn't encourage him, but she wasn't rude or dismissive either.

A month after Tony had taken the job, he and Martin had a running bet on how long it would take Franco to figure out that he wasn't Miri's type. He'd stand a better chance if he were female. Miri was bisexual with a heavy leaning toward the lesbian side of the scale. She didn't advertize it but she didn't lie about it either.

Tony had only found out by noticing that Miri gave pretty women the same appreciative looks he did. And coming into the office one morning he'd seen her giving another woman a kiss that was a damn sight more than friendly and sure wasn't sisterly. When he asked her about it, in her characteristically blunt, honest fashion, Miri told him about her orientation. That she didn't deny it or try to hide it, was apparently unafraid to admit it, and clearly not ashamed, impressed Tony. He wasn't sure he'd ever have the courage to do that.

"This going to be a problem?" She'd asked. The question wasn't challenging. She didn't get in his face; she simply wanted to know if he had issues with her now that he knew.

"No." Tony might not be coming out of the closet, but he wasn't a hypocrite. He wouldn't judge her ability to do the job based on who she had sex with. He said as much, thinking being blunt was the way to go.

She'd nodded. "Okay."

And that was all the more that was said on the subject.

Given how slow Franco was to pick up on things, it was probably good that there weren't a lot of accidental deaths or homicides to be dealt with in Rota. It kept Franco's involvement in their cases to a minimum. He was good enough--understanding of and experience with women notwithstanding--but Tony found himself wishing for a more seasoned ME. Even Palmer had Ducky looking over his shoulder, guiding him through the process and teaching him. Franco was learning on the job and Tony knew how easy it was to make mistakes in that situation.

Most of their cases involved break ins, muggings, and harassment of military personnel and their families when off base. The Spanish government might welcome US Military presence but the Spanish people weren't always so keen on having them around. It was another reason Tony had Miri do most of the talking when it came to dealing with civilians. She could put people at ease, making American agents seem less intrusive, getting more cooperation than someone else would have.

Tony also made a point of making friends with local law enforcement, ensuring they were involved in crimes committed by American military personnel and offering assistance whenever possible. Tony saw the value in making allies. They were the minority, outsiders, interlopers and whether he liked it or not, making nice was fundamentally necessary to doing his job. He didn't have the latitude to act like Gibbs and simply throw his weight around or ignore the laws.

Tony tried not to think about what Gibbs would do. It didn't matter any more. He didn't work for Gibbs. He didn't answer to him now. There was no need to measure himself with Gibbs as his yardstick. None of his new team had ever worked for Gibbs. None of his new team even knew who Gibbs was.

The first time Miri called him 'Boss' Tony flinched. There was a time when he'd have reveled in the title; a time when it was something he aspired to, a badge of respect. Now, he found hearing it hurt, and it had him looking over his shoulder for Gibbs. Gibbs was 'boss' to nearly everyone Tony had worked it at NCIS---it wasn't his rank to assume. Something in his unease and pain communicated itself to Miri.

She asked him, "Would you rather I address you another way?"

He smiled wanly. "Caught that, did you?"

She nodded. "I did."

Tony hesitated. He shouldn't let it bother him. It shouldn't matter.

He expected Miri to ask, to want an explanation. She waited patiently, blue eyes studying him, no condemnation or judgment in her expression. With a sigh, Tony realized he had no idea what to tell her.

He'd been in Spain for just over a week at that point; he didn't want to dredge up all the shit that had been part and parcel to his leaving DC. Hell, he spent most of his time trying hard not to think about it at all. How was he supposed to explain that he been promoted and then demoted? That Gibbs had dumped his team only to retake them? That his old team had never thought he was good enough to be the lead agent? That he was never more than a stand in for the guy they all wanted? Would Miri and Martin end up question his ability to if he told them? Would they think like McGee and Ziva, that he wasn't capable of doing the job? Did he trust her enough to admit to having a relationship, one he couldn't even define, with his former boss that still left him aching for a man he was certain had not even liked much less respected Tony?

He didn't want to lie to her. It was a bad precedent to set. Especially when he'd already decided to be honest with his team. Leaving things out was one thing, an outright lie was another entirely. But he didn't want to tell her the truth either. No matter how trustworthy she seemed Tony still hesitated to tell answer Miri's unvoiced question.

After a moment, Miri smiled gently, reaching out to lay a compassionate hand on his shoulder. "Hey, it's okay."

He arched an eyebrow. "You're going to let me get away with not saying anything?"

"This isn't an interrogation, Tony. You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to. Just remember I gave you a pass if our positions are ever reversed."

She shrugged. "Everyone's got buttons. Not always a good idea to press them."

Tony didn't think anyone on his old team would have let him off so easily. But then no one on his old team would likely have even noticed his reaction to the word 'boss'. Or if they had it would have been to rub in the fact that the word no longer applied to him, that it was never his to begin with.

For not pushing and being so damned understanding, Tony could have kissed Miri.

"How about I just call you, Sir?"

"Sir?" Tony blinked. Gibbs had never liked being addressed as sir. Tony hadn't even considered it before.

"I'm sure you've heard the word before." Miri chuckled, blue eyes dancing. "It can be a polite way to address a stranger when you haven't been formally introduced." She patted his arm. "Or it can be a way to address a male superior, a sign of respect."

Tony snorted. "You think I've earned being a Sir?"

He seriously doubted her answer would be yes. They barely knew one another. He'd flirted with her not two seconds after they met which was hardly the mark of a serious agent or someone qualified to lead a team. He'd started the practice of tossing office supplies back and forth with Martin while working on the report for their first case nearly knocking out one of the clerks when the guy didn't duck the stapler. He'd already made a dozen movie references, quoting lines in a way that had always made his old team roll their eyes in annoyance. A plot detail from The Thomas Crowne Affair had ultimately broken the case, that his inspiration had come from a movie was the sort of thing his old team found worthy of derision rather than praise.

Again Miri surprised him.

"I gather from the look on your face someone told you weren't worthy of a sign of respect." She looked him in the eye, her gaze unflinching.

More than one actually, Tony thought but didn't say aloud. From his father to damn near everyone he'd worked with and for. Hell even Gibbs had only given him faint praise, and left him his team with 'you'll do'. It wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement of his ability.

"Mouse, Caleb and I...we read your file. Did a little checking on you. Figured it was prudent to know something about the guy who was taking over." She held up a hand, stopping him from speaking before the words had even formed. "Don't get your panties in a bunch. Nothing in your file, nothing we found elsewhere, led us to believe you hadn't earned the right to be a lead agent."

"Nothing?"

"Nothing."

"Not my degree in gym, my job jumping, the plague--"

"Nothing." She smiled. "And if any of us minded your approach to the job, we'd have said so."

Given what he'd already learned about his team, he knew that much already. They weren't shy about speaking their minds.

"Until you do something I consider unforgiveable, and there isn't much on the list, just so you know, I'm willing to follow your lead."

Her smile broadened. "I don't give a shit whoever told you, you weren't good enough. Their opinion doesn't matter. I think Sir suits you. And that's good enough for me."

She looked askance at him. "Is that good enough for you?"

Having this woman who barely knew him say he was good enough until he showed her otherwise rendered him speechless for a moment. No one had given him the benefit of the doubt. Ever. No one had assumed he might be capable until he had the chance to mess up. Usually they just assumed from the moment they met him he wasn't up to the job, and were shocked to find out not only was he up to it, he was good at it. He'd always had to prove himself first---boarding school, college, as a cop and again as an agent. His new team's acceptance and faith was a decidedly novel concept.

Tony grinned brightly. "Yeah, it's good enough for me."

"All right then. If it's okay with you, Sir, let's get back to work."

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