- Violence - Canon-Level
- Canon Divergence
19 May 2009
Tony stood at the end of his bed and stared at nothing. He knew exactly what he needed to do, but he couldn’t bring himself to put one foot in front of the other. The objective was simple: pack a bag and then take a taxi to the airport to meet Gibbs, Vance, and Ziva.
The actions were simple, but what they meant was anything but.
Instead of grabbing his duffle, he opened the bottom drawer of his nightstand and pulled out an old flip phone, dialing a number from memory.
“Rabb,” came over the line a second later.
“Harm, it’s Tony.”
“Hey. I didn’t recognize the number. You get a new phone?”
He hesitated. “I—”
“Tony?” After a beat, Rabb asked, “You okay?”
“I’m not sure. I thought I was, but now I have to do something that I don’t even understand.”
“You want to fill me in?”
“I killed a Mossad operative last night—from their Kidon unit.”
“Holy shit,” Harm breathed. “What happened?”
“I tried to arrest him, but he wasn’t okay with that. It got out of hand.”
“I think you’re leaving some stuff out.”
Tony practically twitched with the need to rub away the headache he had, but he had one arm in a cast and the phone in the other hand. “The guy, he, uh, killed an ICE agent.”
“Jesus. That thing at SecNav’s house?”
“Yeah. But now Vance and Gibbs are dragging me to Israel—”
“What?” Harm yelled.
“Man, don’t yell. My head is killing me.”
“How hurt are you?”
“Just knocked around a little and a broken radius.”
“And they’re putting you on a plane? Yeah, I don’t think so. I’m coming over.”
“I’m supposed to meet them at the airport in thirty.”
“Absolutely not. You do not go anywhere until I get there and we talk. Do you hear me, DiNozzo? I’ll have a fucking squad of Marines detain your ass if I have to.”
“Just agree, Tony. It’d be better if we talk first and then handle this quietly, but I’ll be loud and flashy with putting a stop to this if I have to.”
Tony was so damned tired that his brain wasn’t easily making connections the way it normally would. “Put a stop to what?”
“Tony…” Harm sighed. “You get that we don’t hand our people over to foreign agencies like this, don’t you? I know you know that. Not without a lot of investigation and the damn State Department getting involved. Them whisking you off to Israel when no one even knows anything happened is shady, and I’m not having it. I’m already in the car, so keep your ass in one spot until I get there.”
Tony wasn’t sure what he should do.
“Man, did you hit your head or something.”
“Okay, I was kidding, but now I’m calling your judgment severely impaired. Keep your ass there. Don’t make me come find you. Better yet, stay on the phone and talk to me while I drive. I’m only fifteen minutes away.”
“What exactly do you want to talk about?”
“Is that a real question? Tell me what happened—start at the beginning.”
* * *
Tony sat on the very comfortable couch in the office of the DCIS Deputy Director of Investigative Operations, Allen Wright. Tony hadn’t even known that Harm knew the head of criminal investigations out of the DoD Inspector General’s office, but he shouldn’t be surprised because Harm was good at networking.
Harm had confiscated Tony’s regular cell phone, turning it off before NCIS had started to call, and then hustled Tony to the DCIS office in Alexandria. Harm had taken on the task of explaining the situation as Tony filled in any blanks when Wright had questions. There had been a lot of questions. Wright had then taken off and left Tony on this very comfortable couch.
“I never want to leave this spot.”
“You look beat.” Rabb was slouched down in a chair, watching Tony closely.
“It’s been a long couple of weeks. Long year.”
“Tony, man, you had to know this wasn’t kosher.”
“Yeah.” Tony rubbed his hand over his face. “I know, I just… We’ve always worked things out on the team. And maybe that never worked like I thought it did because when Gibbs said I’d have to take one for the team, that it was my word against a dead guy? I don’t know… It was like my brain shut down.” The more time passed, the more upset Tony got. “I know I fucked up going to talk to Ziva alone, I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt—to give some reasonable explanation for what we found. But NCIS is acting like I fucked up for defending myself.”
Before Harm could say anything, the door opened and Wright came back in. He went to the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of scotch, pouring three glasses. He handed them around, holding on to Tony’s. “You on pain meds?”
“I figured.” He passed over the glass. “You’ve got that pinched look that says you’re in pain.”
Tony sipped the scotch, appreciating the burn of it.
“So,” Wright began, settling in the other chair, “the interesting thing is that there’s nothing about any of this in any official report. Vance is keeping it quiet. What I could confirm was that Vance, Gibbs, you, and Mossad Officer David were all on the passenger list for a military transport tonight out of Andrews.”
“I also found reports from DCPD about the explosion at David’s house but that NCIS had claimed jurisdiction, which was highly inappropriate; they should have ceded jurisdiction to the FBI immediately.”
Tony blew out a breath. “NCIS doesn’t play nicely with the Bureau boys.”
“They’re not going to have much of a choice this time.” Wright slipped on his reading glasses and picked up his notepad from the side table. “We’ve got a few issues to deal with. First, the FBI needs to officially clear you in the death of Rivkin, which they should have been called in to do in the first place. I’ve called a friend of mine in Criminal Investigations, and I requested that he keep Agent Fornell out of the loop. I want to believe that Agent Fornell would not let Gibbs get away with anything inappropriate, but I’m not taking the chance.”
Tony winced. This was going to get ugly, but he’d rung a bell when he’d called Rabb, and he couldn’t exactly un-ring it. “So the FBI is going to be investigating me for murder.” He rubbed his hand over his face. “Again. Great.”
Wright’s eyebrows shot up, and he stared at Tony over the rim of his eyeglasses. “Explain.”
Tony quickly rattled off the details of Chip framing him then Jeanne’s accusations, which the Bureau had known to be false, but they had used it as leverage to get close so they could investigate Shepard.
Wright snorted. “That’s some shitty luck, DiNozzo. I think fate was telling you to get the hell out of there years ago. In any case, the FBI is not going to be taking an adversarial position here, unlike what might have happened in the past. The investigation is routine and should be closed quickly. There will be some probing questions, of that I have no doubt, into why you went there without backup, but most of us in law enforcement understand why you’d give your partner the benefit of the doubt and ask for an explanation prior to attempting an arrest.”
“As Gibbs keeps pointing out, there’s just my word against that of a dead man.”
“And we don’t need Officer Rivkin’s word for anything. You didn’t get those injuries by shooting first and asking questions never. Clearly, there was a violent altercation. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s the evidence NCIS found pointing to Rivkin as the man who killed an ICE agent at the home of the Secretary of the Navy. Further, he was then sheltered by another Mossad officer in the employ of NCIS who lied to her superiors about it. Based on all accounts, you didn’t know Rivkin was there since it had been presumed that he’d already left the country.
“Which brings us to the second issue. DCIS will begin an immediate investigation into the actions of Vance, Gibbs, and David. Them attempting to take you out of the country without any sort of investigation or coordination with the State Department is so far outside of bounds it makes me wonder what else is going on over there.”
Tony sighed. DCIS digging into NCIS certainly wasn’t what he expected or even wanted, but once something went to the Inspector General, you couldn’t just tell them to back off.
“I will also be notifying Director Morrow that NCIS attempted to bury the information about who killed his agent. And the State Department will no doubt have something to say about all this because Mossad does not get to run operations on US soil. And they sure as hell don’t get to kill people with impunity.”
Tony downed the scotch then let his head fall back against the couch. “This is going to be a nightmare.”
* * *
“Agent DiNozzo, how are you feeling?” Agent Morris said from the doorway. After they’d moved to the Hoover Building, somehow he’d wound up giving his statement from the infirmary because Wright and Rabb decided he needed to be checked over again. His protests that he was fine had fallen on deaf ears. Also, the FBI wanted to document his injuries for themselves, apparently not trusting anything NCIS had gotten their hands on.
The FBI agents handling the investigation had been treating him like hothouse flower ever since he’d arrived, and he had no idea what to do with that.
“May I?” She gestured to the chair next to the bed he was sitting on. Harm was off getting coffee and probably having conversations he didn’t want Tony to know about.
He nodded his acceptance.
Morris took a seat. “I wanted to give you a quick update. Unless we find anything in the course of our investigation to contradict your statement, our official findings will be that the shoot was justified. You’ll face no penalties other than the hassle of firearms requalification.” She shot him a look of commiseration.
“At least I didn’t break my shooting arm.”
“Your file says you shoot left and right-handed.”
He blinked. “Nice research. Yeah, I’ll have to retrain with my left, but it won’t keep me out of the field.”
“Additionally, the director of DCIS has had several conversations with Secretary Davenport about the issues at NCIS. The FBI was able to seize all the evidence regarding Rivkin and David. Gibbs and Vance have been temporarily suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, but Officer David…”
Tony closed his eyes and blew out a breath. “She took off?”
“She refused to come with the agents sent to question her and, yes, she’s in the wind. She did issue some threats against you, so, unfortunately, we’re going to have to place you in protective custody.”
“She threatened me?” he repeated. He wanted to say that she wouldn’t really hurt him, but he suddenly didn’t feel like he actually knew her. Because, for starters, the Ziva he thought he knew wouldn’t have been stealing classified information.
“Quite colorfully, yes. As I understand it, your coworkers at NCIS don’t know that you’re good friends with Captain Rabb?”
“No, I don’t talk much about my personal life at work. Harm and I were on the opposite side of the investigation where he and I met, so no one would have any reason to think we hang out.”
“Then I feel safe in taking Captain Rabb up on his offer to have you at his home until the investigation is complete. There will be either DCIS or FBI agents watching from the exterior. We’ll be keeping your existing cell phones, but you can get a new one at your leisure as long as you contact no one from NCIS.”
This whole thing was a fucking nightmare. Tony wanted to put the genie back in the bottle, try to stop this whole thing, but he knew he couldn’t. All he could do was go forward and hope no one got hurt.
He nodded, not sure what to say.
“Again, please, no contact with anyone from NCIS or anyone people might be monitoring for a sighting of you.”
“You guys are taking this very…” He wasn’t even sure how to put it.
“Seriously? Yes, we are. Aside from the complete breach of protocol that DCIS and the State Department are all over, no agent is going to be okay with NCIS trying to bury the information about who murdered a fellow agent—doesn’t matter that ICE is part of another agency. Also, I find it deeply offensive that they’d place yet another agent into the hands of a foreign intelligence service for interrogation and possible trial when he did nothing wrong. It’s so…” She shook her head. “It’s not acceptable, Agent DiNozzo, and you have my sympathy that you were caught up in this and betrayed by people you obviously trusted.”
It was like a knife to the gut, but Tony wasn’t up to talking about it, so he just nodded his acceptance of what she’d said. “Will I be able to get out of here soon?”
“Very soon. Captain Rabb is making arrangements, and he’ll come collect you when he’s ready to leave.”
“Right. I guess I’ll just stay here, stare at the ceiling, and contemplate all my life choices. And what I’m going to do for a job.”
“They can’t fire you for this.”
“They may not be able to legally fire me, but no one does well at an agency where they went around their entire chain of command.”
She frowned. “It’s not like you’re a whistleblower or something. If my director were trying to hand me over to Mossad, you can bet your butt that I’d be doing something to stop it. And if the director’s dirty secrets came out as a result, then he’s the one who should have made better life choices. No agent would see it otherwise.”
“I appreciate the sentiment, but agents don’t run agencies.”
“If you don’t think our management chain and the leaders of DCIS and Homeland aren’t mortally offended by what’s happening here, you’d be mistaken.”
Tony was doubtful, but he wasn’t going to argue about it either. The bottom line was that he’d inadvertently ended his career by picking up the phone to call Harm, and if that was the price, so be it.
* * *
“Tony, wake up!”
Groggy as fuck, Tony rolled to a seated a position, trying to get his wits about him. Harm was standing over him, and there was an FBI agent in the doorway.
“What’s going on?” He glanced at the clock. They’d only gotten to the house about four hours ago. Because he needed sleep and his arm was killing him, he’d popped a pain pill and crashed. Since he’d be asleep, there’d be no one to hear him ramble stupidly because of the narcotics.
“We gotta go. Your location was leaked.”
Tony rubbed his hand over his face. “This can’t be happening.”
“Yeah, well, it is. I’ve got your stuff. Here, put the sling on.” He held out the sling Tony had dropped by the bed. “Slip on your shoes and coat and let’s go.”
“I’m in my pajamas.” Tony was doing as requested even as he protested.
“There’s no time. Let’s get a move on.”
“You’re explaining this in the car,” Tony grumbled as he shoved his feet into some loafers he’d worn because they were easy to slip on and off.
Tony was feeling alert and edgy from the adrenaline by the time they were all piled in the car. Being surrounded as the precious little daisy in a protection detail was not his idea of fun. “All right, what the hell happened?”
“I don’t even know the whole story.” Harm shot the FBI agent in the front seat a look. “Well?”
“All we’ve been told is that the Department of Transportation was hacked and traffic feeds from cameras around Agent DiNozzo’s apartment were accessed. The source of the hack was what led to our evac.”
“Dammit.” Tony rubbed the back of his neck. “I can guess the source.”
Harm shot him a questioning look.
Tony leaned close and whispered, “Abby and McGee.”
Eyes widening briefly, Harm cocked his head and looked to be considering it. Then he winced. “I’m not sure an FBI safe house is going to be any safer considering who the hackers are. FBI records could be compromised.”
The FBI agent got on the phone, and Tony dropped his head back to thunk off the seat rest. “How is this my life?”
A minute later, the agent got off the phone. “The hackers have already been arrested and the situation contained from that end. The person who received the information is being questioned now. We’ve been given the go-ahead to proceed to the safe house.”
“Joy,” Tony muttered under his breath. His best guess was that Abby and McGee had hacked on behalf of Gibbs and that it was Gibbs himself who was in the hot seat for receiving the information. Tony really hoped Gibbs hadn’t done anything stupid with that info they got.
* * *
“You look pissed,” Harm remarked as he sat down next to Tony. He’d been brooding at the kitchen table, glaring at the brewing coffee, while Harm had been coordinating with the FBI.
“I am pissed.”
“Want to talk about it?”
“I’m not even sure who I’m angrier with: me or Gibbs.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“There was a moment there where I wasn’t sure what Gibbs would do with the information he got from Abby and McGee—I actually hesitated about whether or not he’d tell Ziva. The doubt? It infuriates me. Because I used to trust him without reservation, and I don’t know when that changed.”
Harm was silent for a long time. “And why are you mad at yourself?”
“Because I’ve been ignoring a lot of stuff that was right in my face, and the fact that I stopped trusting Gibbs at some point but obviously didn’t want to think about it is clear proof of that, and it pisses me off.”
“Is now the time to tell you that you were right about who did the hacking and who the information went to?”
Tony snorted. “I already knew I was right.”
Harm sighed. “Look, I can’t really pretend to know what you’re going through right now, but I know how it is to not want to rock the boat, to not look too closely at stuff because you’d rather not have to deal with it. It’s human, Tony. Stop kicking yourself in the ass for being like everyone else.”
Tony considered that for a long time. “I want to talk to Gibbs.”
“I need to clear the air with him. This isn’t working. And, honestly? They have the best chance of catching Ziva if she comes after me, which can’t happen if I’m at a damn black site. She’ll expect me to go to Gibbs at some point, and then—”
“—they can grab her. It just has to be—”
“Tony! They already got Ziva.”
His mouth fell open.
“I heard just before I came in. A very astute Agent Morris thought Gibbs came with them a little too easily and had a team go back to Gibbs’ house. They found Ziva camped out, waiting in his basement.”
“And Gibbs knew she was there? Never mind. Dumb ass question, of course he did.” Tony thunked his head on the table. “He thinks he’s fucking justified in hiding her because, in his mind, she didn’t do anything wrong and the big bad FBI are persecuting all of them. This is really the worst type of object lesson.”
“When did Gibbs develop such a god complex?”
Tony lifted his head and stared at Harm incredulously. “He’s always been like that.”
“Wow. He hides it well.”
“Not really.” He stared at the very slowly dripping coffee. “So, we don’t have to stay here?”
“I don’t see why we can’t go if they caught her.”
“Good. The FBI stocks shitty coffee.”
“Tony…” Harm sounded worried.
“Just tell me if literally everyone I worked with has been arrested.”
“Not everyone,” Agent Morris said from the doorway. She had three cups of coffee from Starbucks. “A little birdie told me you prefer a flat white.”
“Bless you,” he said, eagerly reaching for the coffee. Harm accepted his with a nod of thanks.
“Vance has been suspended. In custody, we have Sciuto, McGee, and Gibbs.” Morris’ expression was inscrutable, and she watched Tony closely.
“What about Ziva?” He worried that she’d been killed.
“She was handed off to agents from Homeland Security. The State Department is fielding calls from Mossad. I believe the Secretary of State finally got fed up and called the Prime Minister directly about the actions of his intelligence agency and the violation of their agreement with us.”
Wow. “Busy night?”
“Yes. There are a lot of people very angry right now. Director Morrow, in particular, requested a private interview with you. I gather you know each other?”
“Yeah. And I have no problem talking with him.”
“We’ll arrange it.”
“I’d like to talk to Gibbs.”
Morris’ expression gave nothing away. “I don’t think that would compromise the investigation in any way. Do you think it’s wise, though? The last thing Officer David said in my hearing was that she was going to blow your head off—after her father secured her release, of course.”
Tony winced. “Great.”
“Agent Gibbs was sheltering her. Is there anything he has to say that you want to hear?”
“I’ve worked with Gibbs for eight years. I think something needs to be said.”
“All right. I’m not sure when we can arrange that, but I’ll be in touch.” She shot him a speaking look. “Do you think Mossad might come after you?”
Tony wanted to deny it, but he wasn’t sure. “Clearly Gibbs and Vance told Eli David enough of what happened for him to start making demands. That everything then went to shit would probably lead him to believe that it’s my fault. I think Mossad being angry with me is a very real possibility.”
“Then until the political side of this has been sorted to everyone’s satisfaction, you’ll stay in protective custody. Hopefully, it won’t be for more than a few days.”
Tony really wanted to yell and express his temper, but no one in this room had done anything to deserve that. Instead, he drank his coffee too quickly and tried not to think about it.
* * *
A Week Later
Tony entered the conference room at the FBI and found Gibbs standing on the other side of the table. It had been a week of protective custody, shitty coffee, and too many heart-to-heart talks with Rabb.
In that week, everyone had been released from FBI custody, but they were all still on suspension, and Tony had no idea if charges would be filed. Ziva was still being held by Homeland Security, and everyone was close-mouthed about the state of the investigation.
Harm had accompanied Tony to this meeting, and Fornell was standing with Gibbs.
“You really screwed the pooch this time, DiNozzo,” Gibbs said without preamble.
Tony’s mouth fell open.
“Jesus, Jethro,” Fornell muttered, running his hand down his face.
Tony could practically feel how furious Rabb was. He shook his head, indicating for Harm to let Tony handle it. He focused back on Gibbs. “I did what now?”
“All you had to do was keep quiet and everything would have been fine.”
“Take one for the team, right?”
“Yes, you remember the team right. The partners you screwed over?”
Something inside Tony just snapped. “And how did I do that exactly? I mean, other than not letting you and Vance break the damn law?”
“We wouldn’t have let anything happen, DiNozzo!”
“How fucking reassuring. You had the nerve to say it was my word against a dead man’s.”
“That didn’t mean I didn’t believe you!”
“Sure could have fooled me. And the FBI didn’t need the dead guy’s word for anything since he’d worked with Ziva to steal classified data and had then killed his way across the country. His body count included a federal agent, but you and Vance were just going to let that slide. How dare you try to blame me for this.”
“All you had to do was suck it up and—”
“And nothing! I’m not obligated to help you skirt the law, Gibbs! That’s not the duty oath I took. NCIS is not your personal fiefdom, and I’m not actually your lackey!”
“Abby and McGee are going to lose their jobs!” Gibbs spat. “They might face criminal charges. You don’t betray your people that way.”
“I didn’t. You did, you hypocritical ass. Did you put them up to hacking city and state systems to find out where I was?”
Gibbs jaw clenched.
“All those two had to do was ride it out and they’d have been fine,” Tony yelled. “That they chose to break the law to help you track me down—whether you asked them to do it or not—is on them. That Ziva chose to steal classified intel and then flee from the FBI is on her. That Rivkin chose to murder people on US soil and then try to kill me is definitely on his head. That you would stand there and put all this on me? Well, that sure says something, doesn’t it?”
“All you had to do was keep quiet, but you can’t ever do that, can you?”
“Just bend over and take it, right, Gibbs? Is that how it is?” Tony shook his head. “I thought we’d have something to say to one another, and I honestly believe your head is going to part ways with your ass one of these days and you’re going to see what you did here. But it’ll be too late by then.
“I know you’ve got dirt on a lot of people in DC, and maybe it’s enough to keep you out of trouble for harboring a fugitive and for your lapses in judgment when it came to the Rivkin investigation. Maybe Vance is in the same boat, and you’ll both still be sinking that ship day by day. But I just realized I’m so done. If you are ever able to take an honest look at what happened here, feel free to keep it to yourself. Because I have no fucks to give.”
Tony turned on his heel and walked out.
“DiNozzo!” Gibbs called after him, but Tony kept walking.
He stopped in the lobby of the Hoover building and blew out a breath. “Wow.” He felt weird, like his whole world had tilted. “That was messed up.”
“I think Gibbs is a little insane,” Harm muttered. “You okay?”
“I think I am. It’s like a lot of weight just slid off my shoulders. It’s dizzying, but also feels…kind of okay.”
“When you say you’re done, do you mean with Gibbs or NCIS or all of law enforcement?”
“Definitely the first two. I don’t think I’m ready to call it quits on law enforcement yet. Assuming I can find another place to go.”
“I don’t think that will be a problem,” Harm said dryly.
“I’m pretty sure you’ll do fine, Tony.”
“I hope so. I hate looking for a new job.”
“Come on, let’s go shop for a new cell phone, so you have a shiny new phone number to put on your resume.”
It looks amazing, Jilly!
Amazing chapter. Looking forward to what comes next.
One hell of an opening.
Well, then! I love it!
Loved it tremendously!!
Rabb & Tony really are wonderful friends. Gibbs there really is no way of talking about him without cussing up a storm. Good for Tony calling Rabb & finally someone giving a damn about him. great first chapter
I love the Tony and Rabb friendship here. That was really messed up, and it was good for Tony to just walk away.
And, we’ll be opening with a BANG tonight!
This is great. I love Rabb’s reactions and Tony’s gradual re-calibration. This was immensely satisfying to read. Love it!
All Hail Jilly…for the blood sweat and tears of pulling this all together. This is great!
I was so excited to see the announcement post for this that there might have been some embarrassing happy noises and clapping. Fortunately I live alone.
This is an awesome kickoff. I am going to have to be very firm with myself to go to bed tonight and leave some for tomorrow.
Great start. I love when tony stands up for himself
I think this first part is a very effective hook. It makes me want to know what happens next. I also really like that Tony isn’t a wimpy pushover who rolls over for Gibbs’ B.S. Quality characterization!
Fantastic as always! Thank you for sharing.
I am in awe that y’all put this together. This was an amazing kickoff!
This is what needed to happen in canon. I stopped watching the show when the writers ignored laws, ethics and professionalism.
Real friends are a treasure. So happy this tony was able to reach out to his.
Reading this now, when I know all the things that follow, is as exciting as reading it back at the very beginning. It’s different but still makes me look forward to more.
I love your writing, well done Jilly, thank you
That kickoff was many flavors of awesome. From friendship with Rabb, the feds taking it seriously and everyone seeing that Gibbs and NCIS are completely off the reservation.
So great to have Harm come in and give Tony perspective as he was in no state to fully appreciate how wrong things were, even if something had him reaching out for help.
It breaks my heart when Tony has no expectations of anyone. He’s surprised when someone takes him at his word and backs him up. Maybe that’s helping him heal and rebuild his self-esteem? I loved his face-to-face with Gibbs.
This is a Terrific first chapter!!
my low baritone just went up a few unnatural octaves when i saw this . Once again you guys make having bronchitis a bit more bearable. Thanks
This is great and it sets a great tone for the stories to come. Thank you!
I just came across this offering and am truly hooked! You are off to a great start.
I love this story already.
I’m really looking forward to all the other chapters! (I did find this via a link from another participating author, and I’m impressed and happy about finding this project)
This is a fabulous series and I especially enjoyed this first story. the writers of the NCIS show were either uneducated hacks or just did not care. As your story points out so beautifully, NCIS, Vance, Gibbs, etc. committed so many outright criminal violations it should have put them in prison for decades. The show writers wrote whatever they wanted, without even giving a nod to real law and the operations of actual real law enforcement agencies. Your story here was wonderful, not only giving Tony vindication, and letting him realize how badly he had been treated but saw to the people responsible getting their just deserts.