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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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Gibbs had expected to hear some news from Tony and his team within a day.

Not hearing anything for several days made Gibbs antsy. He didn't believe in the adage 'no news was good news'. His gut was telling him something had happened, but he had no idea what.

He was equally certain Shepard suspected the same thing, but he doubted she was in the dark as much as he was. She would have been updated, Gibbs was sure. The Director was kept in the loop about a lot of things. At least Morrow always had been, and it was likely Shepard hadn't changed anything with regards to that. Gibbs wanted to ask her; his stubborn pride kept him from making the first move though. He would not, could not, admit to being worried.

Gibbs' eyes drifted away from the information on the desk in front of him toward the stairs that led up to MTAC. His pride notwithstanding, Gibbs was sorely tempted to go up and demand Shepard tell him whatever she knew. He stayed firmly seated. If she had anything concrete to tell him, she would--eventually.

He'd always watched ZNN, but now he kept an even closer eye on the news. He went so far as to check every international news report, regardless of the reporting affiliation. He figured out how to track the news on line as well. But what was happening in Spain wasn't exactly a hotbed of concern. Most of the reports he'd seen focused on the economy, the war in Iraq, and plans to expand efforts in Afghanistan. If something had happened in Spain, none of the international affiliates had made note of it.

Gibbs sighed silently. He tried to focus on the paper in front of him. It was important, but he simply couldn't concentrate.

He'd put McGee to work looking over the information DiNozzo's team had compiled about the two bombs they'd encountered and the militant group they suspected as being responsible for them as soon as he'd left MTAC three days earlier. He'd also given the younger man a quiet but serious reaming out for not checking the intranet bulletins. As Shepard pointed out to him, news about the two bombs Tony's team had encountered had been posted, alerting the entire agency to the danger posed by the then unidentified explosive.

McGee had the good sense to look embarrassed by his oversight. Computers were his thing. It wasn't something he should have missed. It was exactly the sort of thing DiNozzo routinely updated and would have known to check when he was Gibbs' senior agent. It was one of the reasons Gibbs didn't pay attention to that sort of thing; he'd gotten used to having DiNozzo take care of those details.

McGee knew not to apologize. Letting Gibbs know it wouldn't happen again was better than saying he was sorry. Gibbs knew it wasn't going to happen again, not only because McGee would be diligent going forward, but because he made a point of checking the intranet every morning for updates. He wasn't going to be missing out on anything in the future do to negligence. And he wouldn't make the mistake again of relying on an untried senior agent to know all his responsibilities without direct guidance from him.

Gibbs also instructed the younger man to broaden his search with regard to people who had access to the explosives. He wanted close friends, wives, significant others examined. Someone on the inside had to have been involved. If there was no money trail to them directly then it had be someone they knew, someone they'd shared information with, someone who had second hand access to the material, shipping procedures and delivery dates.

When McGee looked a little shell-shocked by what that directive would entail, Gibbs told him to get Abby to help. It wasn't like they had much physical evidence for her to pick apart. She should have time to help him work whatever magic they did with the computers.

He'd put Ziva and the probie to work trying to find out how and when the explosive had left the country. It had to have been transported to Spain somehow. Even if all they'd found so far was ten pounds of the several hundred that were missing, it was the only solid lead they had.

Tony's team had encountered the first bomb a month ago. That gave them at least an idea of when some of the material had left the country. The new explosive compound was very stable, and assuming whoever had taken it knew that, then they could have shipped it by boat or plane without having to worry about triggering an accidental explosion.

Reviewing flight and shipping manifests was going to take time, and there was no guarantee that anything would stand out as being unusual. Whoever had arranged for the explosives to be taken in the first place had covered their tracks very well. If the persons shipping it overseas had been equally diligent it was unlikely anything would stand out, but it had to be checked just the same.

There were also private planes and boats that could have easily been used to transport it. Gibbs called in several favors to get an idea of just how many there might have been leaving the mid-Atlantic coast in the past three months. The number was staggering. But with no way to narrow it down, every one would have to be checked. Pilots, captains, crewmembers and passengers would all have to be looked into as well.

So far McGee and Abby had located at least half a dozen possible suspects. There were two wives who'd recently filed for divorce and had dual citizenship in France and the United States. There was a former employee whose access code and badge had been revoked but according to the site records it had been used within the last two weeks. And there was a cleaning crew that had more access than they should have.

Ziva and the probie had no luck in narrowing down how the explosives had gotten to Spain. They were crosschecking any shipments against the suspect list to see if they were link in any way.

Ziva was also checking with her contacts overseas to see what, if anything, they knew about the new explosive being available on the black market. Gibbs was annoyed that Mossad hadn't provided any insight. Apparently they weren't the all seeing organization they made themselves out to be. Although, when Gibbs last checked, NSA, the CIA and Homeland Security didn't have anything either.

Gibbs sipped from his ever present coffee cup. He felt someone's eyes on him and looked up. Shepard was standing on the landing above the bullpen. She made a small 'come here' motion before turning and walking away.

Gibbs stood up quickly and headed up the stairs. He ignored the looks he knew were passing back and forth between Ziva, McGee and Dwight or Daryl or David or whatever the hell the probie's name was. If they wanted to know, they should be bold enough to ask.

He wasn't sure what he expected from them when he made it known the one new lead they had was courtesy of DiNozzo. McGee had looked surprised, vaguely guilty and immediately asked how Tony was doing. That's when Gibbs knew for sure McGee hadn't been in touch with Tony. He didn't know why, but clearly McGee had kept his distance.

Ziva had accepted the information without batting an eye and didn't ask a single question about Tony. Gibbs couldn't tell if it was because she didn't care or if she was simply much better at controlling her reactions than McGee. He'd bet his last dollar that she hadn't been in contact with Tony either.

He didn't know about Abby. Gibbs hadn't figured out how to broach the subject with her. And despite having apologized to Ducky, he didn't feel comfortable raising the question with him either.

But with what he'd learned, he had confirmation that what Tony had said about his being out of sight and out of mind was apparently well founded. The only one who'd bothered to stay in touch was Palmer. Gibbs wasn't sure what that said about his team.

Ducky had known Tony for nearly six years. McGee had known him for four. Ziva for two. And none of them had bothered to initiate contact. Were they all waiting for Tony to make the first move? Why would they leave it up to him? Because they always had, Gibbs realized with belated insight.

Tony was the one who initiated conversations, who invaded their space and asked questions, he was the one who checked to make sure they were doing okay. He could be an idiot at times, acting like a clown, but Tony looked out for his teammates. Given the nature of Tony's last conversation with McGee and the fact that he and Ziva might have been romantically involved in some fashion with her apparently putting an end to it, it wasn't hard to believe Tony wouldn't be stepping up to the plate to talk to them first. And clearly they weren't up to the task of bridging the distance, assuming they even wanted to.

Hearing about Tony's team and their involvement, the probie had asked, "Isn't DiNozzo the guy I replaced?"

Gibbs had snapped at him. "You aren't his replacement."

The probie was so damn green he practically glowed. No fucking way was he a replacement for a man who had been Gibbs' senior agent for six years. He would never, ever, consider giving this kid his badge and gun. Hell, at the moment he wouldn't consider giving it to McGee either.

Gibbs jogged up the stairs. He headed for Shepard's office. He nodded to her secretary before walking in without knocking. It wasn't like she wasn't expecting him.

"Jethro," she nodded to him.

"You got something?" Gibbs skipped the niceties.

"The bomb DiNozzo's team was checking out when we spoke to him in MTAC exploded that same day."

"Why the hell am I--"

"Because I didn't have any more information to give you. And until I had something concrete there was no point in mentioning it." She glared at him. "All I knew then was that it happened, nothing more. I was getting sketchy reports until today."

Gibbs took a breath. He really had to get a handle on his knee jerk reactions to her.

"Was anyone hurt?"

Shepard hesitated for a moment before she answered. "There were several casualties, and two fatalities."

"Tony?" He couldn't help asking, his gut clenching painfully.

"He fractured his femur and suffered a laceration severe enough to warrant several stitches, but he's otherwise okay. One of his team came away with a broken collarbone. The other got away without major injury."

Gibbs relaxed slightly. That didn't sound too bad. But he should have known about this when it happened. "Why didn't they call me? I'm DiNozzo's emergency contact."

Shepard frowned. "No, his emergency contact is Miri Callahan, his second in command. She has his authority to act as his medical proxy too."

That bit of information hit Gibbs as almost a physical blow. Tony had changed his medical proxy? Of course he had. Why wouldn't he? Tony had always made it a member of his team. Now that they weren't on the same team any more--Gibbs winced. He hadn't even thought about that. Who had he used when Gibbs was in Mexico?

Shepard sighed, drawing his attention back to her. "The two fatalities were Spanish citizens. A woman and her son."

Gibbs bit back a curse. He hated it when children got hurt. He hated it when their lives were cut short. It wasn't right.

"Two suspects were killed. They have one in custody. She's been questioned and Agent DiNozzo has requested a video conference to bring me up to speed. I thought you might like to sit in."

Gibbs nodded. "When?"

"Just as soon as we get there." She was already headed for the door.

"Jenny?"

She turned to look at him. "Yes?"

"Thank you." She didn't have to keep him informed, or make sure that their conversation was private. It didn't hurt to acknowledge that she'd done him a favor.

She smiled. "You're welcome."

He opened the door for her and then followed her to MTAC. Shepard signaled to one of the techs to make the connection. He nodded and hit a few buttons that Gibbs couldn't even guess were for. Most of the equipment in the room was simply beyond his ability to deal with.

The big screen went from a color test pattern to showing Tony a moment later. Gibbs was quick to note the younger man was sitting down. He looked tired and pale.

"Thought I told you to be careful," Gibbs said, lips curling upward in a little smile so Tony would know he was teasing, not finding fault. He didn't want a repeat of the way their last conversation ended. He was hoping Tony would accept the overture and wasn"t still be pissed at him.

"I was careful." Tony rolled his eyes. "I just zigged when I should have zagged."

"You doing okay, DiNozzo?" Gibbs couldn't keep the concern out of his voice and he wasn't sure why he thought he should. He expected to here the usual 'never better, boss'.

"Might be a little battered, but I'm okay." Tony smiled as he said it. He looked over at someone not on screen, his expression one of fond exasperation. It wasn't a look Gibbs had ever been on the receiving end of, and it bothered him. Who was Tony looking at? What had they done to warrant such tolerant affection?

"My team is taking good care of me, whether I like it or not."

Gibbs didn't think that was intended to be a dig at his old team, but he still felt a sting. Especially now that he knew they hadn't made any more effort to stay in touch than Gibbs had. Tony's anger when they last spoke was at least somewhat justified. No one appreciated being forgotten or ignored, especially not by people who had been as close as Gibbs had always thought his team to be.

"What have you got for me, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, drawing Tony's attention back to him and the business at hand.

"Martinez and her group bought one hundred and fifty pounds of your missing explosives."

That left over six hundred pounds unaccounted for. Assuming all the records they'd reviewed were accurate that is. And there was no way to know for certain they were. They still hadn't been able to determine how long the thefts had been going on.

"They used ten pounds making the first two bombs. Martinez claims she and the others had no idea how much was necessary to inflict the sort of damage they were hoping for. They made the first two essentially to test the strength of the explosive they'd bought."

Tony shook his head, looking equally bemused and disgusted. "Since both bombs were wired incorrectly, I think she's probably telling the truth about what they knew when it came to bombs."

Tony sighed tiredly. "All hail the internet and its ready supply of information."

He ran a hand through his hair, carelessly rearranging his usually well ordered style. Gibbs was hit with a sudden memory of Tony's hair looking just as wild, but it had been Gibbs' hands that had caused the disarray. He quickly banished the distracting memory and the other images it brought with it. He forced himself to focus on Tony's briefing, and do is best to ignore everything else.

"They used a little less than hundred pounds in the third bomb. Evidently they were upset that the first two hadn't accomplished their objective. So they were going for bigger and better and picked a target they were sure would guarantee a reaction. They thought blowing up a school while classes were in session made for an ideal target."

"A school?" Shepard asked, looking as outraged as Gibbs felt.

"We managed to redirect them." Tony grimaced, green eyes betraying the guilt he obviously felt. "It wasn't exactly ideal, but there wasn't a lot of time to plan for anything better. The goal was to get them the hell away from as many people as possible. Unfortunately, they weren't all that keen on cooperating, and the damn bomb went off while there were still civilians in the area. There were casualties. But most of those were relatively minor injuries."

Tony's posture straightened and swallowed hard. "There were two fatalities."

"Still better than the alternative, DiNozzo," Gibbs told him, catching Tony's gaze and making sure the younger man understood he meant what he was saying. There was no reason for Tony to carry a burden for what he hadn't been able to stop. Had the bomb actually reached the intended destination far more would have died than the two who did.

Tony nodded curtly. Gibbs knew it was really more an acknowledgement of what he said than an agreement with it. Gibbs carried his own misplaced guilt; he knew it wasn't a burden easy to lay down.

"We located the last forty-three pounds. They were right where Martinez said they were. If you would arrange for transport, Director, I'll see to it that it gets back to the US."

"I'll make the arrangements, Tony."

"Thank you, Ma'am."

"What did Martinez tell you about how they got the explosives in the first place?" Gibbs asked.

"Spain for Spaniards bought the explosives and a number of firearms from an arms dealer here in Spain. Emmanuel Sanchez. The Spanish authorities have been trying to pin something on Sanchez for the last five years, but so far they haven't had much luck."

Tony made a meaningless gesture with one hand. Gibbs got the impression the younger man was frustrated by the need to remain seated. Tony wasn't one to sit still for long and he'd always reported to Gibbs while standing, usually while playing with the TV remote or a file in his hands.

"Sanchez doesn't have the resources or ability to have gotten the explosives to Spain directly from the US. His usual means involve smuggling in weapons and drugs across the French boarder. The mountain regions are tough to patrol and some Basque people still aren't all keen on taking orders from outsiders. There are a number of groups actively pushing for self-determination for the Basque people, and independence from Spain. Odds are good that Sanchez is working with them to maintain a steady supply of goods for his black market operation."

France---Gibbs nodded to himself. Two of the people McGee and Abby had on their list of possible suspects had ties to that country. "Do we know anything about his contacts in France?"

"Unfortunately, not much as yet." Tony shrugged one shoulder. "Rumor has it there is only one arms dealer with the connections to not only know about a new explosive not even on the market yet but also have the wherewithal to get his hands on it. He's most likely the person Sanchez has dealt with, and is known by the code name La Grenouille." Tony looked faintly amused. "Not sure why anyone would want to be know as 'The Frog', but then I never claimed to understand the way the French think."

"Are you sure La Grenouille is involved?" Shepard asked sharply.

"No direct link, Ma'am. But from what we've learned so far, he is probably the ultimate source for Sanchez." Tony's eyes narrowed as he studied her. "You know him?"

"I know of him." Shepard's posture stiffened, her jaw tightening in a way that indicated a lot of anger.

There was a story there, Gibbs was sure. He and Tony traded looks. It would be up to Gibbs to figure out what. He nodded minutely, letting Tony know he'd look into it. It felt good to know they were on the same page.

Shepard cleared her throat. "La Grenouille may be French but it's not the only country he operates in. Interpol has been after him for years."

Tony's brow furrowed as he met her gaze. "Any chance they'd play ball with us on this?"

"It is hard to know for sure." Shepard frowned. "I can ask but I doubt they'll be keen on offering assistance unless we can tie La Grenouille directly to something they could use to bring him down."

Tony nodded. "I'll keep working things on my end then."

He looked at Gibbs. "Anything on your end that would help me here?"

"We haven't gotten the full details yet on how the explosives were stolen. We do have a few suspects that have ties to France though. They may give us a better connection to this Grenouille guy."

After what Tony had said, Gibbs had good reason to bring them in for interrogation. "I'll be questioning them later today."

Tony nodded, and muttered something too low for the microphone to catch. But Gibbs could read his lips and expression easily enough. Tony clearly thought asking to be kept in the loop was pointless because Gibbs didn't know the meaning of the word cooperation.

"I'll call you later if I get anything useful," Gibbs said, suddenly determined to prove Tony wrong. He wasn't a 'selfish, information hording prick'.

Telling Tony to keep in touch the last time had pissed him off--and not without reason. Maybe this offer to share information would help fix things, and show Gibbs was at least willing to make an effort.

Tony arched an eyebrow, green eyes measuring Gibbs. "Really?"

There was a time when Tony wouldn't have questioned him about anything. Gibbs squared his shoulders. He wasn't going to show how much that disbelief, no matter minor hurt.

"Really."

Tony smirked. "You voluntarily sharing information on an active case, Gibbs? I don't know. That might well destroy the fabric of the universe."

Gibbs rolled his eyes, enjoying the playful response. "I think we can risk it."

"Well, okay then." Tony grinned. "You have my number?"

"No."

Tony didn't look surprised. "You know, little things like that are posted on the personnel information site for each NCIS office."

Gibbs snorted. "Like I even know where to look for that."

"Right." Tony chuckled. "You and technology, not a good mix."

Tony told him his number. Gibbs repeated it back. He already had it memorized.

"Anything else, Director?"

"Not at this time."

"Very good, Ma'am. I'll send my full report to you once I've got it typed up."

"Thank you."

Tony nodded to Gibbs. "I'll be waiting, Boss."

Gibbs suddenly felt his heart beating a little faster, and found himself breathing easier. Tony called him 'boss'. The term wasn't just his rank or a title the way Tony said it. The younger man always managed to infuse an odd blend of affection and deference into the word.

Gibbs had missed that. Ziva rarely called him anything but Gibbs. McGee and the probie just didn't say it the same way Tony did.

"Take care of yourself, Tony." Gibbs smiled. "Better than you did the last time, you hear? No more zigging when you should zag."

"I'll do my best." Tony tossed off a sloppy salute and ended the call.

Gibbs suddenly found himself with new incentive to get information from their suspects. He wanted to have a reason to talk to Tony. He was looking forward to working with him again, even if remotely.

Gibbs thought he wouldn't miss Tony or think about him any more by now, but six months hadn't lessened the sense of loss he'd tried so hard to deny existed. Not that he was ever going to say anything to Tony. He wasn't going to admit to feeling regret over calling things off between them. He wasn't going to tell Tony that DC and NCIS held a lot less appeal without him around. He wasn't comfortable even admitting that to himself.

All he cared about for the moment was he had a lead on his case, and if he could get the information he needed, he'd have a legitimate reason to call Tony. It was more than he had before. And it was enough to feel like he was no longer standing still.

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