- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Canon Divergence
- Crime Drama
23 June 2009
Tony looked at his computer and shook his head. Somewhere, behind all the code that supported the world wide web was an artificial intelligence that saw anything and everything – and had enough sentience to reach out and find help for a problem that hadn’t been anticipated. He wasn’t sure if he was weirded out by that or not. But… he did feel a bit happier knowing that someone was there for the forgotten.
The job called to the parts of him that wanted justice, right then and there. But he owed it to himself to see what else was out there. So, he was going to leave that to John and his people for now and wish them luck while he looked. In the meantime, he had another appointment he needed to keep. Mac Taylor was a damn good man and Tony wouldn’t mind working with him.
Reaching out, he snagged his phone off the bedside table. Thumbing through his phonebook, he found the man easily. “Mac?”
“Hey, Tony,” Mac answered after two rings. “What can I do for one of my favorite former Feds?”
“You emailed me about a bunch of jobs you had to offer?” Tony asked. He felt damn weird reaching out to the man for a job, but Taylor, and New York, had a lot of opportunities for him.
“Yeah, I do,” Taylor admitted. “Can you meet me at that bar I took you to the last time you were here?”
“Gonna buy me a drink and try to butter me up?” Tony asked.
“Well, I’ll buy you a drink at least,” Mac promised. He sounded amused. “Maybe even feed you a bit.”
Tony laughed and shook his head. “See you at seven then?”
“Seven it is,” Mac confirmed.
Tony ended the call feeling a bit better. His list of options wasn’t getting shorter it seemed. It was getting longer.
* * *
Mac slid into the booth at the bar he was meeting Tony in and handed over a stack of letters.
Tony took them and stared. “I wasn’t expecting this many. What is this?”
“Letters from SWAT, the Chief of Detectives, S&R, lab oversight, and the Chief of Police. They all want to put in requests that you consider settling here and coming to work for them. Also, the Commandant of the Police Academy would like you to consider them as well.”
Tony shook his head. “It’s like the world went mad when I stopped working for NCIS.”
“Tony, you are one of the best in the business. And yeah, you’ve rattled a lot of cages, but things will settle down,” Mac promised.
“Uh huh,” Tony stared at the letters. “Somehow I’m not too sure of that.”
“Why not?” Mac asked.
Tony tapped the letters and shook his head. “You are job offer number five, and these are six through eleven.”
“Well, aren’t you a popular young man,” Mac said with a smile.
“Mac, we’re not that far apart in age. Seriously,” Tony reminded him. “And what in the hell would I be doing with the Academy?”
“No idea,” Mac admitted. “Why don’t you read through those and I’ll get us both a beer, okay?”
“Sure,” Tony muttered before he picked up the first envelope and tore it open.
Mac went to the bar and quickly got their drinks and an order of potato skins to sop up the alcohol. He had taken a cab and he was certain that DiNozzo had as well. Neither of them was the type to drink and drive. Besides, it was a cop’s bar, and the chances of either of them getting out inebriated were less than nil.
“I hope you still like potato skins,” Mac said as he slid back into the booth. “And I got you a dark ale.”
“Sounds good,” Tony sounded distracted. “Are you angling for a new job?”
“No,” Mac drawled out. He looked at the envelope in the other man’s hands and sighed. The letter from the Chief then. “What did the old man have to say?”
“He’s offering me the mid-town lab?” Tony waved the letter and shook his head. “I don’t have the credentials for that!”
“Can I read it while you go onto the next one?” Mac asked. When Tony handed over the letter, he read it quickly. Damn the man for trying to push him out. Mac was utterly comfortable where he was. And he wasn’t trying to go anywhere else, nor was he looking for a promotion. Placing the letter face down on the table, he frowned.
“Seriously, is everyone in New York looking for me to do stuff outside my wheelhouse?” Tony asked. He sounded vaguely irritated as he dropped the next letter to the side and pulled out the next one. From his angle, Mac could see that it was the letter from SWAT.
“You’re adaptable, you learn quickly, and you have skills that every single one of those departments want. Desperately in some cases,” Mac reminded him. “And I’ve seen your resume. It’s impressive as any that have ever come out of the Alphabet Soup – and objectively, you know this. It just makes you uncomfortable that you are being headhunted so ardently.”
“Well, yes. I mean, what in the hell?” Tony sat back and took a long pull from his beer. He looked at the glass as he swallowed and nodded. “That’s good stuff. Anyway. SWAT is within the realms of doable, but I’m older than most of the recruits to those teams. While I’ve done the job a few times, I’d have to go through some serious retraining to learn all the ins and outs of the job as it’s done in New York.”
“I’m sure that was factored in,” Mac allowed. “What about the lab oversight group?”
“I’m not the inspector,” Tony growled. “And I sure as hell am not IA. They can go piss up a rope.”
Mac started laughing and just continued as Tony looked deeply disgruntled. “I totally get that.”
“Good,” Tony muttered as he snatched the first potato skin as their waitress delivered their plate. He moaned around his initial bite. “Good stuff.”
“It is. What about S&R?” Mac asked as he took a skin for himself.
“I’m hesitant about that one,” Tony admitted. “I like the idea of it, but I don’t know if I could do that every day. It’s a hard gig and there’s even more heartbreak in that than there is in the usual job of being a cop.”
“Fair point,” Mac said after he worked his way through the food. “What about the other offers?”
“Lemme check,” Tony said as he pulled the rest of the envelopes out of the pile. He absently smacked Mac’s hand as he reached for the skin he was going for.
Laughing slightly in glee at how playful Tony was being, Mac took another potato skin off the plate and leisurely ate it while sipping at his beer. He took the time to give the other man a careful once over.
He looked rested. That was the biggest change that Mac could see easily. Unlike the times they had met at cop conventions, DiNozzo didn’t look borderline exhausted. He looked like he was getting enough sleep each night, and that the sleep was restful. He also had use of both arms. If he had been wearing a cast as reported, it must not have been needed long. All good things for a man who had as many departments after him as the rumor mill hinted at.
“The Commandant wants me to teach undercovers and ethics,” Tony tapped that letter and looked thoughtful. “I’m thinking the ethics class would be a full-time gig with the undercover classes as I get someone who can handle the process. Also, there was something about classes on working with the Alphabets and how to actually keep from pissing off the Feds.”
“Things we actually do need,” Mac said. “And that’s not make work or blowing smoke.”
“Oh, I know that,” Tony admitted. “Remember, I was MCRT and we got all the cases that no one wanted to try and push with you. Mainly because you were about the only person who could tell Gibbs to fuck off and make it stick, but that he was still willing to work with.”
“Gunny doesn’t scare me,” Mac said with a grim smile. “Never has. And right now, I’m just pissed at him.”
“Me too,” Tony agreed. “The last one is from the Chief of Detectives and I really don’t know. He’s offering me a Lieutenants position and wanting to attach me to your lab. Any reasons why?”
“Eh,” he waved a hand as he chewed on his latest potato skin. Swallowing quickly, he cleared his throat. “I think it’s a case of… We have a number of police officers we work well with and making sure we have someone who is well versed in how to work with the CSI’s from the start is a gift you don’t pass up. We won’t have to train you in how to treat a scene for one thing.”
“True,” Tony hummed. “And your offer?”
“Oh, mine is to be my Second. Stella is planning on moving, and I need someone to take her place,” Mac explained. He wasn’t happy about Stella leaving, but he understood. No matter how much he wanted things to stay the same, change was inevitable. “She’s not planning to leave until next year, so that would let you update your skills in evidence collection and the like, while learning from her what the job entails. When she does leave, you slot into place.”
Tony tilted his head as he considered that. “I have most of the classes for a degree in forensics, but I’ve only rarely used the various machines outside of class and the refresher trainings. So that would be a legit issue. Also, why aren’t you looking within the NYPD for someone to take that slot?”
“I am,” Mac said. He sounded vaguely petulant to his own ears, so he wasn’t surprised when DiNozzo pinned him to his seat with a glare. “My choices within the NYPD are currently limited. I have some people who need more time in grade before I can try to move them up, and others that are not politically smart to put in place,” he explained.
“Mac, if you try to say that Messer doesn’t have the experience, I’m going to take your beer away and dump it over your head. You know he’s one of the best you have,” Tony bit out. “If you are letting his last name dictate what he can do, you are no better than the assholes who expect him to be on the take because his family is full of crooks.”
“But he’s not,” Mac protested and then sighed. “I get your point.”
“Good, I’m glad you do,” Tony snapped. “I can tell you right now that I can’t take any of these. I’m not qualified for some, and others I just don’t feel right trying for. Let the Commandant know that I will be considering his offer, but it wouldn’t be for this semester. Aside from the timing, I’ll need to head back to DC for trials, so I’m thinking I’m going to keep my next few months free. It’ll let me explore my options a bit more.”
“Okay,” Mac shook his head. “I take it those ‘noes’ include me?”
“Yeah, Mac, they do,” Tony admitted. “I wouldn’t mind working with you and your lab, but you need to figure out what you want to do once Stella leaves. If it really truly means having a new person in as your Second with all the attendant drama, add me to the list. But if you want to hire from within and damn the consequences? I’ll consider some of these other options as I get in a position to do so.”
“Right,” Mac agreed. “So… Now what?”
“Now? Now I’m going to eat that last potato skin, then I’m going to catch a Broadway show or two, maybe see if the Commandant can seduce me with a tour or two of the Academy, and let anyone else out there put forth their offers.”
“Hmmm. Just work offers?” Mac asked after he took drink of his beer.
“I’m not opposed to the other types,” Tony said, batting his eyelashes as Mac. “What do you have in mind?”
Mac laughed and shook his head. “Not that, you tease. How about an evening at a jazz club, playing piano?”
“Now that sounds even better than a Broadway show,” Tony breathed. He snatched up the skin and took a quick bite. “Let’s go!”