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- Episode Related
Agent DiNozzo glanced around the nearly empty shooting range; the range master was signing out the last two agents. Checking his watch he had about an hour before the place closed for the night. Tony loved it when he had the place to himself, he didn’t have to hold back or play the stupid competitive games Kate had been pulling him into lately.
He waved a greeting to the range master – who had grown used to the Agent’s nightly routine- before Tony set up at the firing lanes. He was halfway through his firing patterns using his right hand when he knew he had company.
Tony paused after the reload, pulled down the ear protections and turned to face his team lead, “How’s the arm, Boss?” gesturing toward the older Agent’s right arm in a sling.
Gibbs grunted from his seat a few feet behind Tony, “Just a sprain, or I’d be out here with you comparing spreads,” he said before giving his Senior Field Agent a hard look, “Can you stick with the plan, Dinozzo?”
Tony scoffed, “Why do you think I’m here now, Boss? I can’t let all your hard work, let alone mine go to waste because we’re testing a new agent.”
Gibbs regarded him silently and Tony had to fight the urge to fidget or let loose a witty remark. In that respect this ‘undercover assignment’ with Kate was a bad influence; which probably explained his Boss’ little check in.
“She’s pushing your buttons, I agreed to it to a certain extent. But you’re letting those buttons wake things that I thought we’d solved. If she’s going to be a problem, I need you to be honest with me. I can tell the Director where he can shove his idea of what the MCRT team should look like, we’ll go back to the two-man team set-up,” Gibbs said seriously.
Tony’s eyebrows rose, “I can’t believe you just said all that, where did the monosyllable responses go?” He teased, hoping to deflect from the seriousness of the subject.
Tony gulped at the scathing look he got in response; he crossed his arms and berated himself internally for the defensive stance. He couldn’t meet his mentor’s gaze and found the pattern of wear on the range floor interesting.
“You gotta understand something Gibbs, you can’t solve everything. You taking me from Baltimore, teaching me and caring about what happens to me has gone a long way in healing some deep wounds. Over the last three years, the wounds have scabbed over and yeah… Kate’s picking at the scabs, but I’ll be ok,” Tony reassured, meeting his gaze steadily.
Gibbs regarded him seriously and tilted his head toward the firing range, “Are you waiting for an engraved invitation? I want to see your spread with your left hand. If you get finished in time, I might be able to call in a favor with the range master to stay open long enough for you to show me if you’re slipping with the riffle,” Gibbs couldn’t hold back his grin at the animation he saw in his SFA.
“I’m on it, Boss!” Tony said, repositioning the ear protections and shifting his stance and weapon to his left hand. He was determined to get some time with a rifle, it had been three months and if he had to break every record he had set himself for Gibbs to get that favor then he would.
They left the range two and a half hours later, Tony was storing his spreads and his personal gear in his trunk.
“Need a ride, Boss?” Tony offered with smile.
Gibbs nodded, “You feel like steak?”
“Yeah, just like old times!” Tony rubbed his hands together in delight as if the food were right there in front of him.
Gibbs smiled sadly at the excitement he heard in protégé’s voice, they settled into the car.
“I’m not sure how long I can put up with Todd and her supposed profiling skills,” Gibbs admitted softly.
Unfortunately, Tony was already driving so he couldn’t get a good look at his face to interpret his meaning, “Boss?” he tried to prompt for clarification.
“She sucks at it,” Gibbs said plainly.
Tony chuckled, “Ok… I’m gonna need more than that, do we need to go back to the range? You were wordier back there, I might have a chance of understanding what you’re saying here,” He glanced at his mentor quickly before turning his eyes back to the road.
“She’s accessed my file three times… She’s never once looked you up.”
Tony shifted in his seat, “She’s falling for the personas we’re projecting, that’s why we tagged the files, why I’m dumbing myself down, you wanted to test her profiling and her intelligence gathering.”
He didn’t know why, but Tony felt like he had to remind Gibbs of the reasons they came up with the charade. It all started when the Director point blank told Gibbs he had to get a third agent on the team or the choice would be made for him.
Tony could feel the agitation rolling off the older man, Gibbs shook his head, “We’ve redacted a lot of your file, especially your education. But your FLETC scores are accurate; she would know you’re qualified with both hands and with a rifle! It’s all there in front of her!”
Gibbs huffed, “If she knew her damn weapons, just looking at your service weapon she’d know something wasn’t fitting the profile and do some damn investigating,” he bit out.
Tony nodded, he let Gibbs fume in silence; he’d learned over the last couple of years that sometimes he just had to let Gibbs be. They finally pulled up into Gibbs’ drive way.
Gibbs hand reached out for Tony’s, stilling him before he could open the door of the car.
“If Todd draws blood from any scab, she’s gone.” He said seriously, he didn’t give Tony a chance to respond before he was out the car.