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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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There was one area where having Shepard know Tony was less than ideal.

Getting Tony wired for sound was easy. Micro transmitters were plentiful and not hard to conceal. But visual wasn’t really an option. All the miniature cameras they had on hand were incorporated into glasses frames. Shepard knew Tony didn’t need corrective lenses so there was no way he could wear a pair when he met with her and not have her question it.

Button cameras were an option, except that there weren’t any readily available. And they didn’t have time to track one down.

Sneaking a camera into Shepard’s office wasn’t possible either. There was no guarantee she’d want to meet Tony there. And the existing security cameras would no doubt catch them trying to place something. No one wanted to give up the game too soon, and illegally placing surveillance equipment would weaken their case. They needed anything they found on Shepard to stick if they were going to succeed.

Admittedly the computer searches by McGee and Mouse hadn’t been entirely above board, but enough of what Shepard had accessed was so easily traceable it wasn’t an issue. She’d done a lot of it at the office, which made anything done or kept on her work computer technically property of NCIS. No warrant would be needed to examine her log history or files.

And the same security cameras that would thwart placement of surveillance in Shepard’s office would give them eyes. Abby had already hacked into the office security cameras on more than one occasion, usually to spy on an interrogation, but she could access Shepard’s office just as easily.

They were as prepared as they could be. Everyone was ready to move at a moments notice. Gibbs fought down the desire to abort the mission. He didn’t like it, hated the idea of knowingly putting Tony in danger, but he couldn’t call it off.

When Tony’s cell rang, he looked at the number and nodded to Gibbs and then McGee. Even though they knew who was calling, McGee would trace the call and tape it. They’d tapped Tony’s phone as a precaution, just in case Shepard said anything incriminating over the phone. Since Tony had given his permission, it was quasi-legal; Shepard not knowing she was being taped kept it from being completely above board, but they agreed that if anyone asked it had been done simply to test the equipment, no one expected to record anything incriminating.

Gibbs wasn’t entirely surprised Shepard wanted to meet Tony somewhere other than the office. She no doubt wanted to have their conversation away from prying eyes and potential witnesses. And it wouldn’t hurt to isolate Tony.

If she’d offered this assignment while Gibbs was in Mexico or shortly after his return, Shepard would probably have succeeded. Without someone to watch his six, and no reason to question Shepard’s motives, Tony would have probably accepted the assignment. Gibbs was suddenly very grateful Shepard hadn’t taken advantage of his absence, and that Tony had said yes to Rota.

Although, it really only delayed the inevitable. Because Shepard was still fixated on Benoit, and was going to make the offer, Gibbs’ gut was sure of that. She wasn’t going to give up her plan to take down Benoit, not when she had a year at most to see it through. She might modify things because of her conversation with Gibbs and the three days it had taken for her to get to talk to Tony but she was definitely still planning something.

Tony ended the call. “I’m meeting her in the park.”

It wasn’t really necessary that he say anything since Gibbs had been listening in, but Gibbs appreciated getting a verbal report. The park was a small green space down the street from the Naval Yard. A lot of personnel used it when they wanted a breath of fresh air. Mid afternoon wasn’t a busy time of day and it should be essentially deserted.

Gibbs wasn’t entirely thrilled with the location. It would be a hard place to keep Tony in sight without giving away their surveillance. There was no way they could be close and avoid being seen. The park wasn’t that big, and the area too open to conceal much. They’d have to stay at further away than Gibbs wanted, but there was no way to change it.

They just have to make it work, Gibbs thought grimly. Fortunately, a contingency plan was already in place in case Shepard wanted to meet outside the office.

Miri and Bahl went downstairs to wait. They would head out after Tony and make their way toward the coffee shop. That would take them past the park, and give them a reasonable excuse to be in the area. If Shepard had picked a further destination, they would have taken the new rental car Miri picked up the day before. It was less likely to be known to Shepard than one of the agency vehicles.

McGee would stay with Abby to monitor the equipment. He hadn’t looked happy about it, but hadn’t fought Gibbs on the assignment. He was their best when it came to the electronic equipment. Ideally they’d have monitored things from the van, but there was no way to conceal one, so Abby’s lab would have to do.

Ziva would go with Gibbs. They would try for stealthy observation, aiming for the backside of the park where they would be less likely to be seen.

If spotted, Gibbs decided their cover story would be that he needed a private place to dress Ziva down. He hadn’t taken her to task yet for Harrow’s death. If for some reason that wasn’t believable, he could always bring up her treatment of Bahl if more justification was needed for why they were out of the office.

He and Ziva moved at a brisk pace, wanting to be where they could see without being seen as much as possible before Shepard and Tony arrived. There wasn’t much cover, but there were a few places they would be at least mostly out of sight.

“Leaving through the front door.”

Tony’s voice carried easily through the mic. Gibbs scanned the area wanting a visual. He spotted Tony entering the park. He took a seat near the fountain. The flow of water was a quite murmur in the background that Gibbs heard through one ear and through the receiver in his other. For a moment he feared the water might drown out any conversation, but he could still hear all the other ambient noise so he dismissed the fountain as an issue.

He spotted Shepard entering the park a moment later. Her red hair glinted in the sunlight. It had been a beacon once that attracted Gibbs like a moth to a flame, but now it just made him long for a sniper rifle. She was such an easy target.

Tony stood to greet her. “Hello, Ma’am.”

“Tony, I’ve told you before about that.”

“Yes, Director.”

Gibbs didn’t have to see Tony’s smile to hear it. Nice and easy. Exactly the way he would have greeted anyone he wanted to see.

“I thought maybe you were avoiding me."

Not exactly cold but definitely not the same level of warmth Shepard’s voice that Tony had greeted her with. Gibbs bit back a curse hoping the plan wasn’t dead before it was even truly ago.

“I’m sorry about being unreachable. I know, I owe you an update on the case, but I forgot to recharge my phone and well, to be honest, Jenny, I was sort of avoiding the office for a bit.”

“But not me?”

“No, not you.”

Shepard sat down. “Who then?”

Tony sat with a frustrated huff. “Gibbs.”

Even though he knew it was part of the plan, Gibbs still flinched listening to Tony make several biting comments about him. Nothing overly harsh or entirely unprofessional, but enough to ensure that the distance between them Shepard had witnessed in MTAC and since Tony’s return to DC was still in effect.

“I know I worked as his senior agent for years. Believe me, it’s not something I could have forgotten, but I’ve got a team of my own now. He’s not my boss and I’m not his agent any more. And really, he ran off to Mexico without worrying about whether or not I could handle the job and now suddenly he’s sure I couldn’t tie my own shoes without help. Jesus.”

“And this whole Benoit thing wasn’t even my case. Not really. I expected to be sent back to Spain once Miri and I did our part. Don’t get me wrong, Director, I like seeing things through, and coming up with a plan to get Goliath was fun. I was happy to help, but Gibbs isn’t the sort to share, so I figured I’d be on the next flight out. You know what I mean?”

Shepard laughed softly. “Oh believe me, Tony, I know.”

“And it’s not like I was truly needed. You could just as easily have coached Ducky. He just needed an experienced agent on hand to guide him and you are more than qualified.”

Gibbs could read enough of her body language to know she was pleased Tony thought she should have been in the van running point. She’d fought Gibbs on that, but no one actually heard them fight about it. Tony mentioning it now, so very casually, sounding so sincere, was a nice gesture to get further into her good graces.

“You are an excellent undercover agent, Tony. I’m sure Ducky was very pleased to have you along.”

“Thank you. I’m glad someone thinks so. God knows Gibbs will never give me that much credit.”

“Gibbs has always been a little…spare with praise.”

“Yeah, I know.” Tony sighed. “Not that I expected anything else. I just didn’t want to have to deal with him for a little while. Thought focusing on my own case might be a better use of my time. Especially when the CIA hijacked the Benoit case. Miri’s still pissed that we had to actually let him go.”

“And how do you feel about that, Tony?”

Shepard’s question was just a bit too sharp to be truly casual. She was more invested in the answer than she wanted to let on. Gibbs grimaced. She had never been as good at hiding her emotions as she thought she was.

“Mixed.”

Gibbs could see Tony shifting to lean forward, elbows resting on his knees. The curt answer and his posture had the desired effect. Shepard definitely wanted more.

“I mean, on one hand, job well done. We did exactly what we were supposed to. ARES is well on its way to being the Trojan horse the CIA wanted. But on the other, we let an arms dealer go free, and it is supposed to be my job to keep stuff like that from happening.”

The slight emphasis on ‘my’ was a good subtle addition. It made the whole thing personal without going overboard.

“To me, Benoit isn’t exactly much above a terrorist. He’s not strapping a bomb to his chest or blowing up a building but he is making it easier for someone else to do it.” Tony rubbed his thigh. “Got first hand knowledge of what it feels like to be caught by some whack jobs little homemade vengeance.”

Another little personal touch. It was definitely a good move. That hadn’t been part of the plan, but it would make Tony wanting in on Shepard’s personal vendetta a little more believable.

Gibbs watched Tony shift, turning so he faced Shepard more directly. It made it harder for Gibbs to see his face, but it was easier to see hers.

“Gibbs told me you didn’t want to leave things lie they way the CIA wanted. He said you might want to talk to me about it, but that I wasn’t supposed to listen.” Tony snorted. “Like it’s his call to make.”

Tony shook his head, his shoulders slumping a little. “Although, I’m sure by now he convinced you there were better agents to help you out than me. Someone more experienced, more driven, or capable or something.”

Those insecurities were no secret. She had to know about them. Gibbs grimaced. There was really no need to make it easy for her to use them.

“He wasn’t keen on having you involved.”

Shepard managed to make that sound as though Gibbs had agreed with Tony’s assessment, that Gibbs had found Tony lacking. Gibbs jaw clenched. He wanted to smack her one. It galled him that Miri had been so right about how they could play this.

“But his opinion on the matter isn’t the one that counts here. Mine does. And I know better than Gibbs what sort of agent you are. I wouldn’t have offered you Rota otherwise.”

“I know.”

Tony’s response lacked conviction. It was an opening they’d agreed she’d take. Tony needed a chance to proof himself, an opportunity to prove Gibbs wrong and Shepard needing someone to seduce Jeanne Benoit.

Gibbs restlessly scanned the park. He didn’t want anything to interrupt now that they were getting close.

“What did Jethro tell you about what he and I’d discussed?”

“He didn’t give me details, because really when has he ever, but he made it clear he did not approve of your plan.”

Shepard sighed. “I’m beginning to think I should have filed his retirement paperwork. The man is going soft.”

“Soft? Gibbs?” Tony laughed. “You might not want to mention that to Bahl any time soon. Not sure he could handle a harder Gibbs.”

Shepard shook her head. “I should have reassigned that poor kid.”

“Nah. He’s getting the hang of it.”

“After six months. It’s a wonder he didn’t quit.”

“With a little guidance--“

“That’s not something he’s going to get from Gibbs. Seriously, Tony, the team functioned better under you. The others won’t ever admit that, but it is the truth.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re the only one who thinks so.”

“You rated your own performance a solid B.”

Gibbs frowned. Tony gave himself a B? Why?

Gibbs shook his head, filing the questions away for later contemplation. He needed to focus on what was happening now.

He listened closely as Shepard made her pitch. She told Tony that he was perfect for her plan to bring Benoit down. Gibbs had to admit, she was good. She played it exactly the way she should, not too overt or too subtle. She didn’t come on too strong or leave any obvious gaps that would have raised logical questions.

Under other circumstances Gibbs could see Tony falling for Shepard’s efforts to portray herself as someone with an earnest desire to see an arms dealer brought down. Without the background information Tony already had, there was nothing that would have led him to suspect Shepard had ulterior motives.

Tony asked a few probing questions, letting Shepard dig the hole even deeper as she revealed more and more of her plan. Atta boy, Tony, Gibbs thought proudly.

“Tell me you are getting all this, McGee.”

“Getting it all, Boss.”

“Good.”

Even watching closely and listening to every word, Gibbs missed the exact moment it all went sideways. He wasn’t sure what Tony did or said that made Shepard suddenly aware something wasn’t quite right. It was possible Tony hadn’t done anything to blow his cover; Ducky had privately warned Gibbs that paranoia might well be a side effect of her growing obsession.

Ducky also thought it possible that her grip on reality might be slipping because the narcotics proscribed to combat her growing pain could easily affect her cognitive ability. The impact would be minimal, little more than momentary confusion and loss of concentration, if she were following the recommended dosage, but Ducky didn’t think she was following the drug regimen as directed. He had no way of knowing for certain and had only voiced his worries to Gibbs rather than the entire group not wanting to raise undo concern.

Shepard stood abruptly, her head turning back and forth as her eyes scanned the area. Gibbs hadn’t seen Miri or Bahl so odds were good Shepard wouldn’t spot them either. Ziva was effectively hidden from view by a shrub hedge. Unfortunately, the tree Gibbs was using wasn’t nearly as good at concealing him from someone actively looking for him.

The second she spotted him, Gibbs knew he wouldn’t get a chance to employ the excuse they’d come up with for his being there. Shepard would never buy it. She knew him too well to believe it was a coincidence he was there. He expected her storm over to him and give him a piece of her mind. He was ready for that.

He wasn’t ready for her to round on Tony. He expected her to lash out verbally. It was more her style than getting physical, but she’d been a capable field agent once; she had skills. And while Shepard wasn’t in Ziva’s class or even Gibbs’ she was still capable of inflicting damage.

Gibbs shouted a warning, moving without conscious thought to intercede even though he knew he was too far away to stop Shepard from doing anything. Tony dodged her first strike, his hands up in a placating gesture, non-threatening. Gibbs could hear him trying to calm her down, his tone soothing and reasonable.

“Traitor.” She screamed at him. “I gave you a chance. I promoted you. And this is how you repay me??!!”

She lunged at Tony. He dodged again, and Gibbs saw sunlight flash on the knife that was suddenly in Shepard’s hand. Gibbs cursed. Of all the rules he’d tried to teach her rule nine would be the one she actually learned.

He was surprised when Tony lashed out. Gibbs thought Tony would keep backing away, dodging her while looking for a way to subdue her without hitting back. Tony, like Gibbs, had always been bit old school about hitting a woman. Tony would spar with Kate and Ziva but he’d never really gone all out with them, always pulling his strikes a little, letting openings pass rather than hitting back. Kate had never noticed, but Ziva had. She thought it made him weak. She’d refused to spar with him any more.

There was nothing weak about the punch Tony landed on Shepard. Tony hit her hard with a solid left jab to the chin, following it up with a left backhand to her cheekbone. It was a combination that knocked her on her ass.

Gibbs was moving to cuff her before Shepard could fully recover. Miri was there a second later when Shepard started to struggle, helping to hold her in place. How she got there before Ziva, Gibbs wasn’t sure but he’s glad she’s there. Tony’s second had no qualms about putting a knee into Shepard’s back and holding her face against the concrete. There was nothing old school about Miri Callahan, Gibbs thought with a mental smile. And she had no issue with hurting Shepard if the situation called for it.

“Director, I’d recommend you remain still.” Miri’s voice was even, almost conversational, but far from friendly. “I will not hesitate to fuck you up if you keep struggling, comprende?”

Shepard stopped moving, correctly understanding Miri meant every word. “I’ll have your badge.”

Miri snorted. “Whatever.” She looked up at Tony. “You okay, Sir?”

Tony’s left hand was gripping his right bicep. There was blood on his fingers. Gibbs hadn’t realized Shepard had scored a hit. Shit.

He abandoned Shepard to Miri, Ziva and the now arriving Bahl. “Tony?”

“I’m good.” Tony smiled, warm and reassuring. “Just a scratch.”

“Let me see.” Gibbs demanded.

Tony grimaced but didn’t argue. He moved his hand. The fine wool of his jacket and the silk of the shirt he was wearing hadn’t done much to stop the Shepard’s blade. The bloody furrow underneath wasn’t overly deep, but it could do with a few stitches. Gibbs breathed a bit easier knowing the injury wasn’t too bad.

“Bahl, be sure to bag that knife.”

“On it, Boss.”

Tony grinned. “Told you he was getting the hang of it.”

Gibbs rolled his eyes. “Ziva, Miri, put her in a holding cell.”

“Gibbs! You bastard! You are not putting me--“

Miri leaned harder on Shepard, driving the air from her lungs. “You have the right to remain silent, Director. Now would be a good time to exercise that right.”

Gibbs shook his head. He’d deal with her later. There were more important things to be dealt with first.

“C’mon, Tony. Let’s get Ducky to take a look at that.”

“I don’t need--“

“Now, DiNozzo.”

“Yes, Boss.”

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