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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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Small Blessings

Tony hung up his phone and stood up from his desk chair knowing the movement would draw his team's attention.

"Okay, people, campfire. Mouse, let Caleb know I'd like him to join us."

Mouse hit a button on his phone. He'd keyed it to the forensics lab. It wouldn't ring the lab phone, but it would cause a small light to flash letting Caleb know his presence had been requested in the bullpen. The team had taken to referring to the button as the 'igniter', voting down Miri's suggestion of 'bat signal'.

After the case in DC where the computerized recording of the team's campfires had been hacked and given away vital information, Tony no longer recorded them. He simply had all the team members involved at the same time. This way everyone had access to what had been discovered without him having to repeat the details. To Tony is just seemed more efficient than having him go to Autopsy, and to the lab and then pass on the information the way Gibbs did. That McGee and Ziva had hated Tony's 'campfires' hadn't changed his mind on how useful they were. His new team hadn't commented on them, but Tony took their willing participation as a good sign.

Initially, he'd had his new team meet in Caleb's lab, but Caleb didn't like having so many people in his space. He was very territorial of his lab, and Tony could respect that. Meeting there hadn't given the field agents access to their equipment, if anything was discovered during a campfire being away from the bullpen slowed down their ability to act on the new information. So they'd rigged the igniter and had Caleb come to them.

It would have been easier if the office were equipped with the same sort of video feed that was available in DC. But even that video link only allowed for Ducky and Abby to communicate, it didn't feed to the bullpen. Tony and his team made do with what they had.

Caleb jogged into the bullpen, entering from the stairwell. He never took the elevator and Tony suspected he was mildly claustrophobic. Everything in his lab had been arranged not for ease of access but to give Caleb the most room to maneuver.

Caleb's lab coat was a dark teal color that Tony was fairly certain he'd dyed himself. Although, for all Tony knew, it was possible to order lab apparel in any number of colors. Abby, Ducky and Palmer had only ever worn white, but that certainly didn't mean it was the only color available.

Tony tossed a nerf ball to Mouse. Mouse caught it with ease and tossed it to Caleb. They'd taken to stocking up on the soft toys when it became apparent that tossing office supplies back and forth could do some damage. During a campfire the one holding the ball usually started.

"Okay, Caleb, what can you tell us?"

Caleb adopted his usual at ease stance, holding the ball behind him. "The explosives used in the bomb were high quality, and should have been very stable. My initial analysis would make it comparable to Semtex. If what I found is correct, then odds are good the ordinance isn't the reason the bomb exploded early. I'm still running further analysis on the chemical components to confirm my initial assessment and pin down the exact make up. With that we should have a better idea of how and where it was manufactured."

"Faulty wiring?" Tony asked.

Caleb shook his head. "What you recovered of the trigger was good. Not the best, mind you, but more than adequate to do the job. From what I could piece together, it looks more like the bomb was built by an amateur. They didn't put it together correctly and that was what caused it to detonate."

Caleb sighed softly. "If he'd known what he was doing, we'd be having a much different conversation."

Tony grimaced. A few more hours and there would have been untold numbers of injuries and fatalities. That was a conversation he'd like to avoid having. Tony wondered how long their luck would hold. They couldn't rely on their perp being stupid forever.

"Miri, what do you have?"

Caleb tossed the ball to her. She caught is easily with her left hand, pointing the remote she held in her right hand at the plasma screen. Several of the photos Tony had taken at the crime scene appeared.

"We are operating under the assumption that the bomb was placed in the ball field of the playground because the area is predominately used by Americans. The way it was placed and where doesn't seem to indicate any particular person was the target. We've got nothing to indicate this was intended to be a personal attack."

"Just hoping to hit anyone in the area." Mouse gave the screen a disgusted look.

"Pretty much," Miri hit another button the remote. A close up of the debris appeared. "We've got nails, ball bearings and metal shavings for shrapnel so I think it safe to say whoever set it wasn't looking for precision, they just wanted to inflict maximum damage. With this claymore set up they could have easily killed a lot of people."

She brought up another picture. This one displayed a number of anti American groups.

"We've got three groups active in the area that have been the most vocal in their anti-American sentiment. Most of their organized protests have been non-violent, more shouting slogans and rhetoric, carrying signs and making a nuisance of themselves than anything truly violent. Backgrounds on the leaders and key members don't indicate any leanings toward militant action. Except for a few more outspoken members of a relatively new group calling itself Spain for Spaniards."

She hit another button on the remote. The pictures of four men and a woman appeared. "These guys are the leaders and have been touting a harder line. Not exactly death to Americans or kill all the infidels, but similar stuff."

She isolated one photo. "Marco Sanchez. He's the founding father of this little band of malcontents. And he's by far the most vocal."

Tony studied the photo, committing the man's image to memory. "Any military background?"

Miri shook her head. "No military service or demolition experience or anything else that would indicate a familiarity with explosives. But you know as well as I do you can find everything you really want to know on the internet without much difficulty. Of course, being able to apply it is something else. And that would explain our less than stellar construction of this bomb. They didn't quite understand the instructions."

"Any thing to link him directly to our bomb?"

Miri tossed the ball to Mouse. He caught it, bouncing it back and forth between his hands.

"Not him, no, but the landscape company van spotted in the area might give us something to go on. The landscaping company, Greenway Lawn Care, is legit. They are contracted to do maintenance at the playground, but according to the owner, Jesus Valderez, they haven't been there all week. In fact they weren't planning to be there until after the game. He checked the schedule, but couldn't find anyone on his staff who should have even been in the area."

Mouse nodded to Miri and she hit the remote. The picture of the woman that had been up earlier reappeared. She looked young to Tony, way too young to be wrapped up on something like this.

"Maria Martinez. She recently started working for Greenway and she's a member of Spain for Spaniards. She's the only link between the two we've got."

"What else do we know about her?

"Not a lot. She was born in Madrid, and moved to Rota four years ago. She bounced around from job to job for a bit before getting hired with Greenway. Talked to her boss a bit more and found out Maria was dating a Marine, Lance Corporal Dale Johnson. He was married, but the wife was stateside and apparently they were considering getting divorced. I'm guessing his fooling around might have been part of the problem."

Tony snorted. "You think?"

Mouse shrugged, unfazed by the sarcasm in Tony's voice. "They apparently reconciled, because his file still lists him as married. Johnson shipped out to Iraq about twelve months ago after spending six months stateside. As far as I can tell his relationship with Martinez ended when he went back to the US eighteen months ago."

Tony pursed his lips, eyes once more on Maria's photo. "Women scorned?"

"Possible, Sir." Mouse shrugged again. "If he promised to leave the wife and kids for her and then left her high and dry when he the wife forgave him and he got new orders, it might explain her decision to join an anti American group. She became one of the founding members about the same time Johnson went home. I've got a call into his CO to see if we can speak to him directly, but it may be awhile."

Mouse tossed the ball to Tony. It was Tony's turn to fill them in on what he had.

"I've checked with everyone here in Spain and overseas that I can think of. No chatter anywhere about a terrorist threat or an upsurge in activity. No one is claiming responsibility for this and that adds credence to our amateur bomber theory."

"Why, Sir?" Caleb frowned.

"Because if they had a good spin doctor, they'd know to claim the explosion as a warning. They'd make it seem like not hurting anyone had been the intention, not a mistake. They could still drum up press for their cause."

Caleb nodded. "Gotcha."

"Could be they just aren't that bright," Miri mused.

"Here's hoping they are idiots. That should make them easier to catch," Mouse muttered.

"Caleb?"

"Yes, Sir?"

"You said this stuff was stable?"

"Yes, Sir." Caleb nodded.

"Definitely not homemade then?"

"Won't know until I get a full analysis back, but I don't think so. It's possible, anything is, but I would have expected someone with the knowledge of how to make explosives to know how to wire the bomb correctly. Although, whoever produced the explosives could have sold them to our bomb maker and not had any more to do with it than that."

Tony nodded. He thought as much. That was why he'd checked into more than just terrorist groups while his team was working their angles.

"I checked on explosive ordinance here in Spain. There are no reports of anything stolen or coming up missing. Although, there is no guarantee our Spanish hosts would tell me the truth if it is something of theirs that got misplaced. But I do know the Navy and Marine Corps would be honest with me; they haven't had anything go missing, but they are double checking everything to confirm."

"So we're looking for someone with the skill to make the explosives, or the wherewithal to smuggle it in?" Miri asked quietly.

"Looks that way."

Tony's phone rang. He answered it with a curt "DiNozzo." He'd stopped being overly pleasant when answering the phone not long after he'd taken over for Gibbs and hadn't gotten back into the habit. The only people he'd made a point of being polite to on the phone were standing in the same room with him.

Tony's jaw clenched as he listened to what the caller had to say. "We'll be there in ten minutes. Keep everyone back and don't let anyone touch anything."

Tony hung up. "Grab your gear. We got another bomb. This one hasn't exploded yet."

Miri and Mouse moved quickly, pulling their guns and equipment.

"Caleb call EOD. Tell them we're going to need help."

No one on his team had experience in defusing a bomb. Ziva or Gibbs might have been willing to handle it themselves, but Tony wasn't eager to put himself or his team in unnecessary danger. He wanted his team on site to help secure the area so no got hurt if the damn thing went off. And to be there to recover evidence so they could catch the bastard who'd set it.

It was far better to call in the experts and let them deal with it rather than risk killing himself or his team. The only reason they'd gotten the call was because the second bomb had been spotted by a Navy Corpsman who knew about the earlier explosion and that NCIS was handling the investigation.

Tony handed the lab tech a slip of paper with the address on it. It was another playground. "That's where we are headed."

Whoever set the bombs was clearly targeting non-combatants. While Tony didn't have any children of his own, and likely wouldn't at this rate, he hated knowing there were people in the world who saw children as nothing more than pawns or acceptable collateral damage.

"Call me as soon as you find out anything more about the first bomb. It might be useful for defusing this one."

"Will do, Sir."

Tony drove with a controlled sort of recklessness, determined to get to the scene and keep anyone from getting hurt. Miri was in the front seat, pulling on a flack jacket, surprisingly at ease with his driving. Mouse was in the backseat, looking a lot less comfortable than his teammates, but otherwise calm. He'd gotten his flack jacket on before they'd left the garage. He also carried a shotgun. It was the sort of firepower Tony's old team hadn't usually gone to a scene with, but in this case, Tony figured Mouse was probably justified in wanting something with more knock down power than their side arms. Just because the bomb was the danger they knew about didn't mean it was the only danger they could be facing.

Miri laid a flack jacket on the seat. "Put that on before you get out of the car."

He arched an eyebrow, giving her a hard look. "Telling me what to do now, Callahan?"

"Only when it comes to keeping your ass in one piece, Sir." She grinned at him. "Rest of the time, you're in charge."

"Good to know."

They arrived at the scene in just under ten minutes. Tony put on the flack jacket before leaving the car, ignoring the approving look he got from Miri and the satisfied smirk on Mouse's face. He wasn't so stupid as to go into a dangerous situation unprepared, but it was nice to know his team would look out for him.

Tony eyed the off duty, obviously military personnel keeping everyone well away from where the bomb had been reported. The crowd appeared to be made up of military families--women in casual dress and children in baseball uniforms. They were all calm, but the number of anxious expressions made it clear they were fully aware they were being kept at a distance from something dangerous.

He strode forward, keeping his pace measured, expression calm. He held up his badge.

"I'm Special Agent DiNozzo. Who's in charge here?"

"That would be me, Sir." A well built man who looked to be a few years younger than Tony stepped forward. He was in casual dress, but the ramrod straight posture, high and tight haircut, and the crisp 'sir' were all indications he was military.

"And you are?"

"Lieutenant Dale Anders, Sir. I work at the infirmary on the base."

"You called in the bomb?" That was the name Tony had been given, but it never hurt to be sure.

"Yes, Sir."

"Good work, Lieutenant, and good thinking on keeping everyone back."

"Thank you, Sir."

Tony gave the younger man a tight smile; surprised Anders seemed pleased by his praise. He hadn't thought his opinion would matter much to the man.

"How did you spot the bomb?" All indications were that the first bomb had been partially buried. If there was a change in MO that could be significant and Tony wanted the details. If Anders has messed with the scene, he wanted to know that to so he could account for it.

"I spotted a duffle bag on the bleachers when I arrived." Anders pointed to the seating area. "I help coach the team and I always come out to the field a little early just to look things over. Make sure everything is ready. There shouldn't have been anything on the bleachers, so when I saw the bag I went to check it out. I opened it." Anders grimaced. "As soon as I saw what was in side, I backed away, called NCIS, and started working on keeping people away from it."

Tony patted the man on the shoulder. "We're going to help you with keeping everyone out of harms way while we wait on EOD to get here."

"You are not going to defuse it, Sir?"

"If it's all the same to you Lieutenant, I prefer to let the experts handle shit like this."

"I hear that." Anders shuddered. "I've worked on guys who've been hurt by shit like that. Would just as soon never be one of them."

Tony turned toward his team. "Callahan, Rivera, we're going to help them secure the area and make sure no one leaves. Just to be on the safe side, let's get everyone to back up a few more feet. EOD should be here shortly. We'll let them deal with the bomb. Our job here is to make sure no one gets hurt in the mean time."

"Roger that, Sir." Came from Mire and Mouse at the same time.

They moved forward, identifying themselves, and politely requesting people stay together and move back even further. No one in the crowd protested, although many looked anxious to leave. Tony didn't want them going anywhere until he had a chance to talk to them.

It was a long shot, but it was possible one of them saw or knew something. And it was equally possible that one of them might be affiliated with whoever placed the bomb. Arsonists like to watch the fire, it wasn't impossible that their bomber wanted to stay and see the affects of the bomb. Especially in light of the first one being a failure. Tony discreetly took out his camera and got several shots of the crowd as well as the cars nearby and the surrounding area. Documenting as much as he could would only help them in the long run.

If EOD could defuse their bomb, they should have a lot more information on their bomber to work with. If they couldn't, well, at least no one got hurt with this one either. It would be a small blessing; one Tony was more than willing to accept. He'd learned a long time ago that small blessings were often the best most people ever got.

Not looking a gift horse in the mouth wasn't one of his rules, but when this was all send and done, it might well make the list.

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