Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 3167
Warning(s): Other (See Author's Note)
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Episode Related
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Episode(s): 4-21 Brothers In Arms
Summary: A good mother always tries to protect her young.
Author Notes: Warnings: Language, spoilers for Brothers in Arms and Bury Your Dead
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement intended.
“No more tears now; I will think about revenge.”- Mary, Queen of Scots
Anthropologists have long argued that retaliatory acts help keep people in line where formal laws or enforcement don’t exist. Granted, it sounds a bit radical but recent research has even shown that stable communities actually depend on people who have an ‘intrinsic taste’ for punishing others who violate a community’s norms or standards. Crimes are committed, people are arrested, and brought, usually, to trial. These offenders are sentenced, incarcerated, and expected to reform while doing their ‘time’, all in an effort to make them more stable and acceptable members of society. But in some instances, known criminals are released on technicalities or errors and the court system allows them to go free, sending the rest of the law-abiding community into a disbelieving, outraged uproar. These livid, usually obedient people proclaim their dissatisfaction and look for someone, anyone, who can make this terrible wrong into a right. They simply look for vengeance.
But it doesn’t take an anthropologist to understand the idea of ‘vengeance’. It has been around for a very long time and has even been examined closely by those having absolutely no association with science. Any simple, uneducated person can easily understand the concept and form their own opinions.
‘An eye for an eye’, and, ‘Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord’, are recognized immediately as messages presented in the Bible and, sometimes, are taken quite literally by those who believe. It gives justification for perceived wrongs, allowing even the most civilized person to consider the more depraved and deplorable aspects of humanity, condoning retaliation and retribution without second thought. It’s quite scary to think of a world populated by people like this.
For Tony DiNozzo, revenge was something he saw regularly in his job and in many of the movies he rented on a weekly basis for sheer entertainment: from a craggy faced, squinty-eyed Clint Eastwood tauntingly murmuring, “Go ahead…make my day”, to a dark, stoic, incredibly focused Denzel Washington proclaiming, “Forgiveness is between them and God. It’s my job to arrange the meeting”, to a svelte, intellectual, almost-angelic looking Jodie Foster seething in righteous indignation as she yelled, “Now, who’s the bitch?”, the NCIS agent thought he knew everything about revenge, presented in all it’s brilliant Technicolor charm for him to enjoy in the privacy of his own home. He’d even heard about it, repeatedly, on the radio in his car over the course of the last several months, grimacing and wincing each time he listened to Carrie Underwood blithely sing, envisioning some wronged, vengeful woman taking a Louisville Slugger to the headlights of some poor, unsuspecting slob’s truck or slashing the tires and digging her keys into the side of the pristine paint job in retaliation for his cheating ways. Yep, revenge sure seemed awfully sweet to those people…
…but looking down the barrel of the handgun now focused directly on the center of his chest, DiNozzo wasn’t so sure the word ‘sweet’ was applicable. Surely, not in this instance anyway.
“I don’t know what you expect me to say,” he offered honestly, keeping his voice pitched low and soothing, standing perfectly still next to his just-vacated sedan. It was only one of the agency’s vehicles, a dark, drab, run-of-the-mill car used in his usual day-to-day job now destined to be driven until his own sweet ride could be replaced…if he lived that long. He tried not to think about that option. “I was just doing my job…”
“Your job?” The woman all but shrieked, her eyes wild and furious, and DiNozzo immediately knew he’d chosen the wrong words. “My daughter is *not* part of your job!”
He gently moved his upraised hand in a calming manner, trying to appease the angry woman’s ire, knowing he was quickly running out of time. There just didn’t seem to be any way out of this mess.
“No, of course not,” he agreed quickly, feeling a fine bead of sweat begin to slide slowly down the side of his face. “Jeanne means a great deal to me…”
“You liar!” The gun wavered and the woman instantly brought her other hand up to steady the weapon, the barrel dipping dangerously toward DiNozzo’s groin area. “You are nothing but a filthy liar and I refuse to listen to any more of your explanations!”
The agent winced and squirmed at the direction of the woman’s aim. He might survive a gunshot to that region but he honestly wasn’t all that certain he wanted to find out if he could. He swallowed nervously and tried again, feeling his testicles climb as they tried to find refuge up within his body.
“Okay, okay…no lies,” he agreed in a ploy to gain some more time, knowing the truth just might save his life…or his dick, “but you need to know I never intended to hurt her.”
“But you *did* hurt her!”
“I know I did,” he confessed bleakly and sighed, shaking his head and then looking up into the dark, moonless night. “You know, I was just trying to get information on your ex-husband…”
“Through Jeanne,” she finished hotly, the gun rising back to center unerringly on his chest. “You *used* her to get to Rene,” her face twisted into an angry scowl, “and that’s unforgivable. Unforgivable!”
“Yes,” he said quickly, looking straight into her hate-filled eyes, “I know that but I never expected our relationship to go as far as it has.” He tried to make her understand. “Granted, it started as part of the undercover assignment and, yes, I was ordered to get her to trust me but, believe me, I never expected to fall in love with her.”
“You don’t *love* her!” The woman’s voice had taken on a cold, brittle edge, her pale, complexion looking almost ghostly in the dim light cast from a nearby street post. “You don’t lie to someone you love, you don’t make plans to share a future with someone who’s just ‘part of an assignment‘, and you certainly don’t sit down and share a meal with her mother, pretending to be a potential son-in-law.” Her eyes…much like Jeanne’s…began to fill with bitter tears. “I don’t think you can even begin to understand how much she cared for you, how much she was sure you were ‘the one’ she’d been waiting for her whole life.”
DiNozzo swallowed thickly against the rise of emotion and let his hands slowly fall back to his sides. He didn’t care now, especially after hearing those words. He knew Jeanne loved him, had heard her say it over and over again, but had still tried to maintain his professional distance…and all the while fighting against his own deepening affection for her. He closed his eyes and dropped his chin against his chest in resignation. Maybe it was better this way, maybe he’d be saved from reliving the nightmare of seeing Jeanne’s horror-stricken face each time he tried to get some rest, and, best of all, maybe he wouldn’t have to worry about explaining his actions to Jethro Gibbs.
Shepard’s crazy undercover assignment had begun shortly after Gibbs had resigned…left…whatever…for Mexico and it’d seemed like the perfect solution for removing the older man from his thoughts. He’d had to concentrate fully on keeping his new cover from just about everyone, including those he considered ‘his’ team, so memories of his time with Gibbs had, finally, all but petered out, pushed ruthlessly aside in a desperate attempt to focus on the jobs at hand. He’d juggled both, working hard during the day as Special Agent Tony DiNozzo and fulfill his job as a new team leader and at night, as Professor Anthony DiNardo, building a solid, romantic connection with Jeanne Benoit. It hadn’t been easy but he’d managed as best as he could and thought, for a while, he’d be able to make a go of it.
Then Gibbs had suddenly been back on the scene and everything had gone straight to hell in a flash. All the old feelings had come rushing right back in, making the younger man seem unsure and insecure of his position within the team and within Gibbs‘ life, right when all he really needed was a huge shot of confidence and poise. He’d managed to deal with what he could, keeping himself available to everyone who demanded his time but wearing himself extremely thin in the process.
And this ‘new’ Gibbs was different somehow, more open to suggestion and not as easily irked. He spoke softly to his eager agents, gave them unexpected compliments, and never once looked at DiNozzo with anything other than professional interest. It had put DiNozzo on edge, kept him off-balance, and brought secret yearnings for the guidance and strength…and affection…he knew was still there, trapped under that hideous moustache and all those mostly-healed scars.
Through it all Jeanne Benoit had been his one, true constant, bright and lively, reciprocating his affections and desires, showing him possibilities he’d never before dreamed possible with any companion, male or female. She could see through his excuses, could find his playful soul, could ease his world-weary cares…but she couldn’t see the truth until he’d confessed it to her and, by then, he gone instantly from being her ‘special someone’ to being *the* man who’d irreparably broken her heart.
He raised his head and looked back at the woman. “She’ll get over me,” he sighed. “She’s a strong woman.”
“Oh, she’ll get over you all right,” she agreed quickly, finger tightening on the trigger, “and I’ll have my revenge. Both you and Rene can rot in hell together.”
“Rene?” DiNozzo frowned, immediately intrigued by her words, his keen mind working to put two and two together. He made sure his tone reflected some uncertainty. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
She smiled cruelly at his alleged confusion. “You don’t think I’d actually allow him get away with putting Jeanne’s life in danger, do you? It was bad enough that you had to break her heart but Rene…” she huffed out the name with a snarl, “Rene was her father, for God’s sake! She told me everything, all the information you passed on to her about him. He was a criminal, a dangerous and deadly man, and he knowingly put her in a position where she’d be hunted down by his enemies. What kind of father does that?” She asked rhetorically. “I had no choice but to kill him.”
Her final words were so cold, so precise, so unemotional. It took DiNozzo a moment to gather his wits before he could speak again.
“But he was trying to make a new start,” he said softly, somehow wanting her to understand. “He wanted to get out of what he was doing and…”
“I don’t give a damn what he wanted!” She yelled, eyes narrowing as she took a step closer. “I gave up caring what he wanted long ago but the moment he caused my sweet Jeanne pain was very the last time I’d ever let him get near her again. I made sure of that.”
DiNozzo swallowed, knowing his time was almost up, too. “Does Jeanne know? Does she know you kill for her?”
She smiled coolly and shrugged a shoulder nonchalantly. “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. She’ll be sad for a while but she’ll merely think her father’s sordid past finally caught up with him, that‘s all.”
DiNozzo nodded his understanding. “And what about me? You think you can kill a federal agent and not get caught?”
The cool smile evaporated instantly. “As far as I’m concerned, you’re nothing more than the liar who broke my little girl’s heart. The world will be a much better place without someone like you in it…and I’ll have my revenge.”
“You know what Gandhi said about revenge, don’t you?” He quickly tried to buy a bit more time, unable to help the words that rapidly spilled out. “’An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.’”
She smirked. “’One good act of vengeance deserves another‘. Ever hear that one?”
“No,” DiNozzo mumbled quietly, “can’t say as I have.” He brightened a bit. “How about, ‘Revenge converts a little right into a great wrong’?”
“Enough of this nonsense!” He could clearly see she was finished with talking now, her eyes lit from within by her consuming need for vengeance. “It’s time for you to think about death, not revenge.”
DiNozzo huffed and shook his head. “Believe me, that’s *all* I’ve been thinking about since this conversation started.” He took a deep breath and released it slowly, knowing it was time. “Okay,” he nodded and stood up as straight as his slightly shaking legs would allow him, “just…just make it a clean shot, okay?” He tapped the center of his chest and winced. “Right about here would be good.”
The unexpected, new voice took them both by surprise and the shocked woman whirled, bringing the gun around toward the sound, located somewhere toward the rear of DiNozzo’s parked vehicle. The young agent immediately moved and lunged at the startled woman, tackling her solidly and bringing her roughly to the damp, dirty pavement in a tangle of arms and legs. The gun discharged instantly upon impact and both figures went still.
“Tony!” Gibbs yelled as he rounded the back of the sedan, reaching with a careful hand to roll his agent away.
The gun clattered free and the man automatically kicked it aside, eyes searching to see who’d taken the round. When DiNozzo bit back a curse and reeled up to sit in a hunched curve, Gibbs could barely see the stain spreading across the upper sleeve of the younger man’s dark shirt.
“McGee!” Gibbs barked. “Call EMS!”
“Already done, Boss,” Tim McGee reported as he squatted down beside DiNozzo, one strong hand reaching out to support his teammate. He looked quickly back to the downed woman. “She okay?”
Gibbs finished examining the unmoving figure and then turned his full attention back to his agent. “Yeah. Looks like she knocked her head pretty hard when you tackled her, DiNozzo.”
“Good,” he said and then hissed as McGee clamped his hand tightly over the bloody wound. He didn’t even look toward Jeanne’s unconscious mother again. “Hope she stays that way.” He cast a wary eye toward Gibbs and gasped through the pain. “How long you been here?”
“Long enough,” came the grunted reply.
DiNozzo nodded. “Did you get the part where she confessed to killing The Frog?” He asked quietly, trying to get some sense of what Gibbs was thinking.
DiNozzo frowned at the unremarkable response and winced again as a new pain danced through his wounded arm. “Fuck!” He grit between tightly clenched teeth.
“Such language…” Ziva David scolded but her words were tempered by a small, reassured smile. Her dark eyes quickly took in his appearance, relief evident in her gaze.
DiNozzo watched her approach for only a moment before looking away and focusing again on Gibbs. The silver-haired man was awfully quiet, his blue eyes intense with something unspoken. They stared at each other silently for a few moments before DiNozzo finally gave in.
“Okay,” he huffed in rising frustration, “what?”
Gibbs looked briefly at McGee before speaking. “You gave up.”
“What?” DiNozzo’s head was beginning to pound and if Gibbs just didn’t come right out and say what was on his mind, the younger man was going to let it go all together. “Gibbs…”
Gibbs laid a warm palm against the center of DiNozzo’s chest, silencing him immediately with the gentle contact. “You willingly gave her a target to shoot at.”
DiNozzo felt his cheeks flush and looked away, unable to meet those knowing eyes any longer. In the distance, the sound of an approaching emergency vehicle could be heard but he just shrugged.
“Ah, you know,” he mumbled and leaned a bit against McGee, the stress and the wound beginning to make him a little light-headed, “ I was just talking…”
The slap to the back of his head caught him totally unaware and he yelped out his indignation. “Hey! Wounded man here!”
Gibbs smirked and got to his feet, knees popping slightly as he rose. He looked back down to where his three agents were sitting or squatting on the pavement and nodded, finally staring right back at DiNozzo.
“Ever hear, ‘Don’t get mad, get even’?” He asked as the flashing red lights of an ambulance could be seen down near the end of the street, the siren loud in the quiet neighborhood.
DiNozzo scowled but nodded his assent. “Yeah, of course. But what’s that got to…”
“Well, here’s the one I want you to remember; ‘Live well. It is the greatest revenge’.” He looked at all of his agents, one at a time, before homing back in on DiNozzo. “Don’t ever give up again, Tony. And don’t ever shut us out again. We’re here…all of us. Understand?”
DiNozzo felt his throat begin to constrict and had to swallow back the rising sting before he could answer. “Yeah, I…I got it, Boss.”
Gibbs nodded and brought his phone up to contact the LEOs, waving a hand distractedly toward the unconscious woman. A gunshot in a neighborhood like this would have been reported and he wanted to make sure they weren’t over-run with zealous officers. He saw David rise and shift immediately over to cuff the woman, smirking at the way she manhandled the unconscious figure. There wasn’t going to be any gentleness from that corner, especially with the way David had been hovering around DiNozzo lately.
As he spoke into his phone, he let his eyes drift again toward DiNozzo and wasn’t surprised to see the green gaze still fixed on his position. He offered a small grin as he related information to the person on the other end and was rewarded with one of the younger man’s rare, almost-shy smiles, the dimples at his cheeks folding in charmingly.
Gibbs let the pleased affection shine from his eyes. From this point on, he’d be there to make sure DiNozzo lived well…and that would be the sweetest revenge of all.