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by: ksl (Send Feedback)
Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 030 Word Count: 111544
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Alternate Universe
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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Gibbs didn’t say anything to Tony until they arrived at his favorite home away from home, the coffee shop he frequently visited which was just down the street from the office.
He’d half expected Tony to say something, to ask a question and demand answers, but he didn’t. It was better that way since Gibbs would have to put him off until they were somewhere out of the building. Not that the elevator wasn’t a good place for a private chat. Gibbs had used it enough in the past, but his paranoia had him wanting to put as much distance between Tony and Shepard as possible before he started talking.
And he needed time to find the right words. Probably more time than he could get in the elevator since someone was bound to start bitching if he kept it stopped between floors for more than a few minutes. There was no easy way to explain this latest development, and Gibbs wanted them to have as much time as necessary to deal with any fall out.
How exactly was he supposed to tell Tony, his current lover and former senior agent, that his former lover and current boss had what was starting to look like an unhealthy obsession? And that she wanted to use Tony to bring down an international weapons dealer by getting Tony to sleep with Benoit’s daughter? It might take more than a moment or two to figure out how to phrase things better than ‘Shepard wants to pimp you out’. And some fortification in the form of caffeine certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Not only did he need time to find the right words, Gibbs needed Tony to trust him. And he wasn’t sure the level of trust they’d managed to restore so recently would be up to the task. Would Tony take Gibbs’ word for it that Shepard wanted to launch an unsanctioned operation? Until now, she hadn’t acted like she was crazy. She hadn’t seemed unreasonable, obsessed or likely to do something to jeopardize the position of authority she’d worked so long to achieve. It wouldn’t actually be hard for Shepard to concoct a fairly reasonable cover story to refute everything Gibbs planned to tell Tony. She’d probably had something ready even before Gibbs had left her office.
Shepard had always been quick on her feet when it came to protecting herself. It was a shame that ability didn’t extend to the people around her. It was one of the reasons their partnership had failed. Gibbs couldn’t trust her to watch his back as well as she watched her own.
Would Tony believe Gibbs wanted to protect him? It wasn’t as though Gibbs’ track record was exactly stellar when it came to making Tony’s well being his first priority. It might be hard for Tony to believe Gibbs had seen the error of his ways, and was no longer put getting the job done ahead of the people he cared about.
He was making progress in that regard, but having to test Tony’s belief in his new attitude so soon wasn’t something Gibbs had expected would be necessary. He’d thought he’d have a few weeks at least.
Would Tony scoff at the need to be kept safe? He was a grown man. He’d proven himself to be capable of making his own decisions and taking care of himself. Would he resent Gibbs for thinking he might need him to intervene? Would he see Gibbs’ actions as a lack of faith in his ability?
There was a time when such things wouldn’t have even been an issue. There was a time when Tony would not have questioned Gibbs’ honesty, his integrity or his motives. He’d have taken Gibbs’ word for it, relied on his judgment, and put his faith in Gibbs’ to handle the problem. God, but Gibbs missed that. He’d been such a damn fool to throw away such abiding loyalty.
Gibbs was both relieved and worried when Tony hadn’t say a word. Silence from Tony in the past hadn’t always been a good thing. Gibbs had kept shooting glances at him the whole way to the coffee shop, but he’d simply followed quietly where Gibbs led, taking his cues from Gibbs’ demeanor.
Ultimately, Gibbs deiced he grateful that Tony could and would still follow his lead, accepting the need for time and distance without batting an eye. It was something McGee had yet to learn. He was getting there, but he almost always opened his mouth to ask a question before thinking better of it.
Every time Tony did something to show he hadn’t forgotten how to read Gibbs’, that he still understood his moods, mannerisms, actions and looks without the need for clarification, it had made the lingering pain in Gibbs’ chest ease a little more. He was reminded that he wasn’t building a relationship from scratch. They had a foundation, one that had been strong and was still strong. But now knowing that Tony would be safer in Rota, that it would be best if Gibbs abandon any real thought of Tony staying in DC made Gibbs’ whole body ache with regret, denial and rage.
Damn you, Jenny, Gibbs thought viciously. She was fucking him over again, just like she had in Paris. At least this time he was aware of it while it was happening, and not finding out after the fact.
This wasn’t what he wanted. This wasn’t how he’d fantasized things would work out. Hell this wasn’t even what he’d hoped would work out. Not that he’d had a good image of the ultimate end game, and Tony going back to Rota had always been an option, but Gibbs had hoped he might be able to at least make a good argument for Tony staying.
Gibbs strode into the coffee shop, ignoring the other patrons as he walked up to the counter. He ordered a large, black coffee. He ordered a coffee for Tony too. He got him a smaller cup with hazelnut cream and sugar.
Tony smiled when he took his cup; he was clearly pleased Gibbs remembered what he liked. It was reassuring to have Tony smile at him. Gibbs had missed his smile most of all.
Tony headed for a table in the back. Gibbs once again was grateful for Tony’s understanding of the things he hadn’t said. The table Tony had picked was isolated enough to give them privacy, and was still public enough for them to see everyone coming and going.
Tony sat down. One hand idly rubbed his thigh, and Gibbs felt momentarily guilty for not making sure Tony had his cane. Tony must have seen something in his expression, and rolled his eyes.
“Knock it off. If I needed the damn thing I’d have made sure to grab it.” Tony sipped his coffee. “So you want to tell me what happened while you were upstairs with the Director?”
Gibbs sighed. Beating around the bush wasn’t something he’d ever seen the need for. He wasn’t good at trying to mince words. Blunt worked for him. And acting out of character now would only foster the distrust and disbelief Gibbs was trying to avoid.
“Shepard wants to involve you in an unsanctioned operation,” Gibbs said brusquely, not giving himself a chance to procrastinate any longer than he already had.
He softened a few things, trying not to make Shepard’s plan sound quite so sordid as he lined out for Tony everything she’d said. He added his own take on her reasoning, expressing his belief that she might be so obsessed with bringing down Benoit she was no longer rational. He didn’t say he thought she was crazy, but he implied it. He didn’t downplay the danger he felt her plan posed to Tony. It was an unsanctioned op that could only end badly. If there was the weight of the SecNav behind it, or if the CIA had already written Benoit off, it wouldn’t be so risky to bring Benoit down. But as it stood, any involvement could just as easy get someone killed by another agent as the enemy. And that someone was most definitely not going to be Tony. Not if Gibbs had anything to say about it.
Both Tony’s eyebrows rose as he stared at Gibbs. Gibbs tried not to read his expression as skeptical. Everything Gibbs had said sounded far-fetched, but it was also the truth. He waited, bracing himself for Tony’s reaction.
“You think she’s just dipping her toes in or has she already leaped into the deep end of the insanity pool?”
Gibbs felt the tension drain out of his shoulders. Tony believed him.
“I don’t know.” Gibbs rubbed a hand over his face. “She was looking for help to put this together. And she might have been looking for approval, to have someone else back her crazy plan.”
“Well, I can’t fault her for thinking you might be the right guy to go to for that.”
“Meaning what?” Gibbs glared at Tony, not liking what he thought Tony was implying.
“Hey, it’s common knowledge you are an eye for an eye kind of guy. And it’s not as if you haven’t bent the rules once or twice in pursuit of justice.”
“I’ve never made someone else do my dirty work.” Gibbs snarled, unable to stop himself from leaning forward, getting into Tony’s face.
“No, you never have,” Tony agreed mildly, not intimidated by Gibbs’ actions or his tone. “And that’s likely another reason she came to you.”
Gibbs frowned, not understanding. “What?”
“If you agreed with her that Benoit needed to be taken down, she wouldn’t have to do anything. You’d do the heavy lifting.”
“It was you she wanted doing the heavy lifting here, Tony.”
“I know. I heard you.” Tony smiled sadly. “And she knows if you’d told me to, I would.”
Gibbs swallowed hard. “Even after—“
“I like her. As my superior officer, I followed her orders. She took a chance on me, saw that I could be a good team leader and gave me the opportunity to prove it, but I was never her lap dog. I never followed her orders without question.”
Tony reached across the table to lightly brush his fingertips against Gibbs’ knuckles. “She knows I might not have liked you much for awhile, Boss, but after years as your second, I am still more your agent than hers. I never questioned your judgment on the job. Your methods maybe, but never your motives.”
Tony smiled warmly. “You might be clueless when it comes to almost everything else, but your gut has rarely been wrong about anything work related.”
Gibbs felt his cheeks flush.
“And I never stopped respecting your commitment to doing what you thought was right, even if I didn’t always agree with you. I’d still follow your orders. I trust you to have my back, and to tell me the truth.”
Tony tapped Gibbs hand once. “I’m not just saying this because of last night either.”
“Didn’t think you were,” Gibbs said thickly, stunned by the faith Tony had in him even after everything that had happened and before he’d managed to fix much of anything.
Tony nodded. “Good.”
Gibbs curled both hands around his coffee cup, resisting the urge to grab Tony’s hand when he pulled back. He wanted to maintain contact but they were in public. And even though no one in the place seemed to care about them or even notice what they were doing, Gibbs still felt the need to be discreet.
“So what do we do now?” Tony asked.
“You are going back to Spain.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “Gibbs, if she’s hell bent on bring Benoit down, my leaving won’t make much difference. She’s just going to find another way.”
“But you won’t be involved,” Gibbs insisted stubbornly. “You won’t get hurt.”
Tony’s green eyes warmed, sparkling with a fond affection that made Gibbs wish he could kiss him and to hell with anyone who might see it.
Tony cleared his throat. “While I appreciate you having my best interest at heart, and I do appreciate that, believe me, I’m not so focused on my own well being I’m willing to throw someone else under the bus.”
Gibbs sighed. “You should.”
Tony chuckled. He held out his hand. “Hello Pot, I’m Kettle.”
Gibbs snorted, amused in spite of himself. He shook Tony’s hand, holding it longer than strictly necessary. “Asshole.”
Tony grinned. “So, what do we do about the Red Queen?”
Gibbs arched an eyebrow. “Red Queen?”
“She was nuts and more than a little vindictive. Alice in Wonderland, Boss. You have to know that story.”
“You read the book?”
“Hell, no, I saw the movie.” Tony laughed.
Gibbs shook his head. He should have known.
Gibbs sipped his coffee, his light-hearted feeling fading as he seriously considered Tony’s earlier question. “She hasn’t actually done anything yet.”
“That we know of,” Tony responded, shrugging one shoulder. “For all we really know, she’s been plotting since the day her daddy put a bullet through his brain.”
Tony grimaced. “I am increasingly glad that my father was never the sort of man to prompt true devotion. I shudder to think of how many people he might have wronged over the years I’d have to defend him from. Not to mention the number of people I might have to take on who would have gladly killed him if they thought they could have gotten away with it.”
Gibbs wasn’t sure if he’d have been hell bent on vengeance for his own father if the man had been the victim of a horrible crime or had lost his reputation to the manipulations of an evil man. There actually weren’t many people Gibbs would break the law for. It was a short list, and at the moment, Tony was at the top. For him, Gibbs suddenly realized, there wasn’t much he wouldn’t do.
Tony sipped his coffee. “Thinking it would be best to start looking into what Jenny has been up to. See if we can find anything to give us a better idea of just how far into the deep end she’s gone. Maybe she hadn’t gone totally around the bend.”
Gibbs was fairly confident the more they looked into what Shepard was up to the more they’d find she had an unhealthy fixation on Benoit. She’d been weird about him ever since he’d come up. And the gleam in her eye while she was telling Gibbs her plan was anything but sane.
Getting hard evidence was a good idea. Tony was right when he said his going back to Spain likely wouldn’t stop Shepard. Gibbs was simply hoping to keep him out of her line of fire. The best way to keep anyone from getting hurt would be to get Shepard removed from a position where she could easily act on her obsession. And getting the director of a federal agency removed would take more than hearsay.
Gibbs played with is coffee cup for a moment. Getting any proof of wrongdoing would mean telling McGee. He was the right person to go to when it came to computer searches. Shepard’s digging into Benoit’s history, his current activities and his family was bound to have left some trail. There was likely a record of her activities somewhere. Whether or not they would incriminate her was another matter.
Gibbs wasn’t certain McGee would be willing to hack into Shepard’s computer records and phone log. He’d probably do it if Gibbs told him to. He’d done things like that before, but hacking into the CIA for a case was one thing, spying on their own Director was something else. While both actions could easily be career suicide if he got caught, not to mention possible jail time, McGee wouldn’t have the protection of the agency to cover his unauthorized, highly illegal activities this time.
“We could ask Mouse if you don’t want to involve McGee,” Tony offered, clearly getting was thinking without him having to say a word.
“You think Mouse would do it?”
“In a heartbeat. He’d enjoy the challenge.” Tony smiled wryly. “And Mouse doesn’t always see the consequences the same way McGee does.”
Tony’s expression sobered. “But I do think McGee would be game, if you asked him.”
Asked, not ordered, Gibbs noted. And there was a difference, one that truly mattered, especially in this case. “It’s a lot to ask.”
“Never worried you before.”
“I know.” Gibbs nodded. He made eye contact and held it. “But it does now.”
The way Tony shyly looked away, Gibbs knew he understood he wasn’t just talking about McGee, or even just this case.
“What about the others?” Tony asked.
“Abby would be in.” Whether he wanted her to help or not, Abby wouldn’t be one to be left out. Besides, McGee might need help, and Abby was the only one who was adept enough at the geek stuff to do that.
“Ducky and Palmer too,” Tony added with a quicksilver smile.
Gibbs knew Palmer had been willing to help Tony when he’d wanted to help Ziva deal with trouble from her countrymen. She’d already called Gibbs in Mexico by that time, but that didn’t change the fact that Palmer had been willing. And he was Tony’s friend. The young ME was definitely loyal, providing support Tony hadn’t gotten from his teammates or Gibbs.
Ducky would no doubt be delighted to be included. He liked being involved in whatever the team was doing, and had claimed them as family on more than one occasion.
“Miri?” Gibbs asked.
“Couldn’t keep her away.” Tony chuckled. “She’s fearless.”
Gibbs suspected a lack of fear wouldn’t be Miri’s motivation, any more than it would be for Mouse. She’d already proven herself to be a damn good second; she was fierce in both her loyalty and determination to protect those she considered friends and family. She wouldn’t appreciate what Shepard had proposed having Tony do.
“What about Ziva and Bahl?”
Gibbs frowned. Bahl was so green he practically glowed. He was a young agent, with a promising future. He’d only been on the team for a few months, and during that time his teammates hadn’t exactly gone out of their way to make him feel welcome. He might not be interested in putting his neck on the line for people who hadn’t been all that friendly or helpful. It would be asking a lot to involve him in this.
Ziva had a history with Shepard. Gibbs didn’t know all the details but he did know Ziva had saved Shepard’s life once. She might not be too keen on investigating her friend. Or risking her own position at NCIS. She was only there because of Shepard. While Ziva was first and foremost Mossad, Gibbs got the distinct impression she was happier in the US. She might not be willing to risk rocking the boat if it meant going home.
“What if they don’t want to help?” Gibbs asked finally, reluctantly voicing his concerns.
“It won’t change anything.” Tony shrugged. “If they say no, we still have plenty of resources.”
“And if they talk to Shepard?”
Tony shrugged again. “Not like she doesn’t already know you don’t approve of her plan. She has to be thinking you might do something to stop her, especially given how quickly she tried to call me. Having them confirm you are up to something won’t really change anything.”
“Except for what she’ll do next.”
“We’re not going to be investigating what she might do, Gibbs. We’re looking into what she’s already done. The SecNav isn’t going to remove her for planning to do something. No judge or jury would convict her for it either.”
Tony grinned. “Thanks.”
Tony’s grin faded quickly. He bit his lower lip. Gibbs waited, wondering why Tony suddenly seemed nervous.
“I think it’s best if we tell everyone on the team because they are on the team, regardless of whether or not they help or hinder us in this. I get that some stuff needs to be kept secret, but I also know that keeping secrets from my team is a very bad idea. I trust my people, and I need them to trust me. If I can’t be honest with them, that isn’t going to happen.”
Gibbs couldn’t help but hear the slight chastisement in what Tony had said. He’d kept information from his team on more than one occasion. It had always worked out for the best---in terms of closing the case---but Gibbs now wondered how much of that contributed to Tony’s decision to leave.
Gibbs reached across the table to capture Tony’s hand. To hell with what anyone might think about it, he need the connection, knowing the touch would convey far more than words.
He laced their fingers together, smiling gently. “You’re right.”
Tony smiled back at him. “That hurt to say?”
Gibbs squeezed Tony’s hand again, and reluctantly let go. “Let’s get back to the office.”
“On your six, Boss.”
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MTAC - NCIS Fic