- Where do I belong? – Parts 1 and 2
- A Love to Mars and Back – Part One
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- First Time
Tony had travelled to the Seahawk depressed and angry. He was also kind of furious with the people back at NCIS. Yet again, he had trusted people he thought of as family and then when things got difficult – he’d been sent away. This time he didn’t even get to stay on dry land – he was being sent out to sea.
So Vance wanted him to be Agent Afloat? Fine. Tony was going to make it work but he would lay the groundwork to extricate himself properly from NCIS. As much as he wanted to quit when Vance came in and acted like a dick, he couldn’t, he was an adult with adult responsibilities.
Tony walked along the dock where the Seahawk was moored. She was an impressive ship and a monument to strength. Much to his surprise, as he stepped on the deck Tony was greeted by the Captain of the ship. He’d pulled up the NCIS file on Captain Richard Owens before he left and liked what he read.
“Agent DiNozzo. A pleasure to meet you.”
Tony shook the man’s hand, pleasantly surprised that the man greeted him himself. It was easily a duty that could have been passed off to an XO or officer on duty. “Thank you, Captain Owens. I appreciate you must have a busy schedule so thank you for greeting me.”
Owens smirked. “You’ve read my file so you know I run a tight ship.”
Tony nodded. “Which means you meet everyone to get a feel for them.”
Owen’s smirk if possible got wider. “Exactly. So now you know why I will be inviting you to the evening meal in my room, seven o’clock. I can guarantee it’ll be good.”
Tony chuckled despite how miserable he felt. “I will be there, I have a feeling I don’t have a choice.”
“Now you’re getting it. Welcome to the Seahawk, you’ll like it here.” Owens said with confidence.
Tony had very much doubted that on the journey here. It was a consequence of being left alone with his own thoughts. He realised that despite all the crappy events that had got him here, he had a chance to reinvent himself and be who he wanted to be – not who he was expected to be. “I think so too.”
Owens had delivered on his promise of a mouthwatering dish made by the chef. “So tell me why you are here – the real reason.”
Tony sighed, “The new director broke up our team and I am being punished for the previous director’s death.”
Owens was well aware of all this, SecNav had given him all the gory details. He wanted DiNozzo to use the assignment as a way to test his suitability for the role of Agent Afloat but on a very special assignment. Owens decided to ask boldly. “Okay, so did you shoot her?”
“Of course not. My partner and I were tasked with bodyguard duty and she sent us away so she could go and meet a cold war enemy and die in a Mexican stand-off.” Tony answered, offended at the suggestion he would shoot his boss.
“So you followed your director’s orders and your new boss is punishing you.”
Tony shrugged. “It is the only explanation I can arrive at. Ziva was sent back to Israel, McGee, the Junior Agent, was sent to cool his heels as the head of cyber crimes and myself … well, I went from SFA of the MCRT to Agent Afloat.”
Richard could see the analysis. “And it has nothing to do with a power play against Gibbs?”
Tony gave it proper thought as it was a good question. The first and most logical conclusion was new director flexing his muscles and exercising his power in a way to show who’s the boss. There was another potential scenario that fit the situation and he groaned. This was a stupid plan if it was what he suspected – a mole.
Richard quirked an eyebrow. “Go on.”
Tony sighed. “With all due respect, I have to ask. Your security clearance?”
The Captain was pleased by the question, he liked people that never assumed anything. “High enough that SECNAV shared with me your full file.”
Tony nodded because that in itself answered that question but raised more interesting questions. “Why would Davenport share my file?”
Owens could be stubborn – it was how he’d risen to the rank of Naval Captain. “What’s your suspicion about Director Vance first?”
“There is a mole,” Tony said and the more he thought about it, the more it made sense but why split the MCRT? Huh. That was an unsavoury thought. The need to flush out a mole without them being aware was important but there was something more to consider. “He believes Gibbs is a threat to his leadership within the agency, or the mole is someone Gibbs can flush out. Most likely it is a mix of option one and two.”
Owen nodded his head. “Good, so here is what is going to happen. You’re here and for whatever reason Vance can’t see the wood from the trees that don’t mean SECNAV can’t. He has told me to inform you to consider yourself on secondment directly to the Navy.”
Tony listened more and any thoughts of diving into a bottle was rapidly disappearing. “What do you need? Or do I have orders already?”
Owen grinned at the keenness to sink his teeth into a new challenge. It was almost too bad that he would not be staying with the Seahawk. “There’s a chopper waiting to take you to where you will be briefed on an assignment they want you on.”
Tony shrugged glad that he hadn’t unpacked his bag. “Okay, where will this be?”
“You’re going back to Washington and you’ll be given further details there.”
Tony had no idea what was going on but he liked the fact he wasn’t thinking about murder and misery for once. It was refreshing.
Tony was reporting to the Pentagon for his first meeting with Davenport and a General O’Neill. On the upside, it was far away from the Naval Yard so he was unlikely to run into any of his former teammates.
He knew how to play the military game, he was in his best suit which was ironed to perfection. “Hello, General O’Neill, Mr. Secretary.”
Davenport grinned. “Sit down, Tony. Now listen, you have to know that Vance’s opinion is all his own making and it is not how the higher ups think.”
Tony nodded. “I do, Sir. I think that is why you had me head to the Seahawk. I must say that if Richard gets tired of being Captain of the Seahawk he should train as a shrink. He was of more use than my last seven combined.”
O’Neill chuckled. “That’s because he has been there and done that. He is not an academic stuck on a chair pretending they know what you are going through.”
“You may be onto something there, General.” Tony could guess that the same could be said of O’Neill. The man didn’t strike him as a career desk jockey.
O’Neill threw his hands in the air. “Call me, Jack. I only have two stars so I am not a complete asshole.”
“How many stars will that take?” Tony asked, wondering because he’d spoken to a few jackass generals during his time at NCIS.
Jack grinned. “I am told five but I think the President just wants me to aspire to new goals. So let’s get down to business.”
“Glad to,” Tony admitted. “I’m eager to understand the ruse of sending me to the Seahawk. For the record, am I to assume that for the duration of this assignment I am still on the Seahawk?”
Jack smirked. “See, I knew you were smart and yes. Don’t worry, Owens will send you any relevant details of cases you break back on the ship.”
It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d pretended to be somewhere he wasn’t and learnt enough not to be suspected. “So where will I be based for this project as I doubt it will be Washington… Too many chances I could run into familiar people.”
O’Neill smirked. “You are going to mix with the Air-Force, specifically the Academy.”
Tony sighed. “Am I teaching or working a case?”
Jack smirked. “Both. Here are your credentials…”
Tony had the pass thrown to him and noticed his name and oh boy, did the General have a sense of humour, or Davenport did. The name read – Major Anthony DiNotezo.
“So what is the case?” Tony asked, sidestepping the name issue. He could see the ID was top notch and he knew it would bear up to scrutiny so he was guessing as would the legend established. This was important to the Air-Force and higher-ups, he would deliver and he wouldn’t screw up – he would show Vance in the best way possible.
O’Neill looked grim. “I have an important project that has an infestation problem. You can have redacted files but what I need you to do is identify anything rotten you see in the files.”
Tony wanted to sigh but he would manage somehow. “Is the reason I am being brought in because you are not sure who is a rat?”
Tony wondered why at the moment so many of his problems revolved around rats and moles. Still, he should be grateful that he wasn’t stuck in the middle of the ocean although, he had a feeling he might have enjoyed it with Owens as the Captain.
“Exactly, the NID is part of the problem.”
Tony made a mental note of all the ways he could investigate this. He read the project synopsis and already mental alarm bells were going off in Tony’s head. He wouldn’t ask about the project because if there was one thing Tony understood, it was the necessity of keeping secrets. “Oh, for the record the cover story is probably why so many people are trying to find out what is going on. It sucks and I am saying this as an undercover expert.”
Jack smirked. “I happen to love deep-space telemetry.”
“Did Special ops have many opportunities for you to indulge in your passions, Sir?” Tony asked, curious to see how he reacted.The cover story was the worst one in the world but Tony could already
The cover story was the worst one in the world but Tony could already slot a few things into place. There was a lot of money in the project, O’Neill screamed black-ops warrior and if he was running the program it was serious.
“I love it, I imagine all the pain in the ass politicians floating around the sun.”
Tony snickered. “If you say so, General O’Neill. Well, it was a pleasure speaking with you both. I assume I will be heading towards Annapolis now … with some light reading.”
O’Neill stood. “You guessed right, good job you didn’t unpack. Oh, and for the sake of this operation, you will report to me and only me. You will have one other officer who I will introduce you to when we discuss your progress in forty-eight hours.”
Tony frowned for a second. “The recruits or your rats.”
O’Neill smirked. “Both, I know your reputation, DiNozzo, and I see behind masks all too easily.”
Tony nodded hearing the unspoken comment – O’Neill used them too. It goes back to the old adage – you can’t fool a trickster.
Tony landed at the Academy and was met by the Commandant who seemed glad for Tony’s arrival. “Oh, thank god, I thought O’Neill was blowing smoke.”
“No Sir, I am not career Air-Force but I know my way around undercover operations.”
Andrews chuckled. “The first being you are now an Air Force training officer.”
Tony smiled softly. “Tomorrow, I will report for the first class and you won’t know I am not … providing I have the uniform.”
Andrews liked the easy confidence but it lacked arrogance – an impressive balance. “O’Neill ordered you have secure quarters and additional materials were delivered from the mountain as well.”
Tony said nothing because whilst he would gladly discuss the training course with the commandant – the extra operation was to be discussed with O’Neill only and one other person O’Neill would be introducing him to. “Thank you, Sir. Is there anything else I should know.”
“Dinner for staff is at eight this evening, think of it as recon and first round.”
Tony grinned hearing the challenge in his voice. “I’ll be there.”
Tony quickly arrived at the quarters and unpacked a few belongings and checked the safe he had. It passed muster so he finally took the files out of the secure satchel he’d been given. It was a major amount of security considering the majority of the reports were blacked out.
The operation had three elements; a battalion of pilots out of Peterson and the mountain based soldiers, plus the support staff that seemed like a lot of eggheads. Space Telemetry. It was funny but that wasn’t his concern. He separated the people into groups and entry times to the program. He’d asked O’Neill as much as he could about the traitorous group and when they became known to him. The group wasn’t so much the problem, according to O’Neill, rather the new leader who’d slithered to the top with all the grace of a snake. O’Neill’s words. Tony could admit that Cliff Simon seemed more cult leader than shadow group leader – after all, who calls himself Ba’al willingly.
The reading was intriguing and by the end, Tony had, even more, reasons to hate the politicians in Washington than he’d had before he started.
The next reading he had was on the course he was teaching. Of course, the special ops/black ops officers would need undercover training. Tony had to laugh at the note on top of that file. It was in O’Neill’s handwriting stating that he had full permission when all was said and done to reveal his true origins. It would be a good lesson for them to learn never trust anything they’re told or assume that they know everything.Tony looked at the course material and it was a good system but they were missing some vital elements. Oh well, guess he better go and speak to the Commandant – the last thing he needed was to be noticed for breaking the rules. He needed people to know he could do his job without looking too closely at his background. He’d checked his background himself and Tony had to shake his head at what O’Neill and his team had done. They had kept his history but rather than joining NCIS after Baltimore – he’d joined the Air Force.
Tony looked at the course material and it was a good system but they were missing some vital elements. Oh well, guess he better go and speak to the Commandant – the last thing he needed was to be noticed for breaking the rules. He needed people to know he could do his job without looking too closely at his background. He’d checked his background himself and Tony had to shake his head at what O’Neill and his team had done. They had kept his history but rather than joining NCIS after Baltimore – he’d joined the Air Force.
Tony walked along the corridor with the right military gait to go unnoticed. His time at RIMA coming in handy once again. He knocked on the Commandants door.
Tony walked through the door, adding a crisp salute to highlight the differences in his character.
Andrews nodded impressed, he’d met the Agent a few hours ago and the changes were marked. “What can I do for you, Major DiNotezo?”
Tony sighed. “How important is it that I stick to the course material?”
Now Andrews was paying attention, O’Neill had told him that the agent coming in was an expert in dicey undercover operations and always coming out of them alive. If there were suggestions he was making then Andrews would be wise to pay attention. “What do you suggest?”
Tony sat down in the chair he was offered. “Well, the agencies look for style, it is the ability to adapt and blend. The files of those taking it are illuminating, they have skills: proficiency in flight; in air humping; in marksmanship and languages but you only have two naturals in that group.”
“You can tell that from the backgrounds?”
Tony nodded. “I am consulted by the Feebs and Homeland Security for picking their UC’s. I know what to look for. The others will train but shouldn’t be used in extreme situations.”
Andrews didn’t doubt it because within a few short hours he’d changed his clothes, his haircut and even how he walked to fit the environment. “So what do you suggest?”
Tony shrugged. “Simple challenges. Could any of them walk into a house and snatch a black book, or swipe electronic files? You aren’t going to know their mettle unless you test it.”
Andrews chuckled. “O’Neill said before you leave … He wants you to rewrite the course so that it is useful.”
Tony stood up letting out a breath of relief – he’d been willing to fight his corner because he didn’t want anyone dying. “Thanks for listening.”
“Who are the naturals?”
“Black and Cadman.”
Andrews picked up his phone, choosing the direct line to O’Neill. “Are you sure we can’t bring him in as a special commision?”
O’Neill may be in Washington but Andrews could tell that he was smirking. “I am floating the idea and we will see how far we get. Oh, and I have Lt Col Cameron Mitchell coming to you this evening to make contact with DiNozzo for me.”
The choice of partners would be more consequential than they ever knew.
Chapter 2: New Friends and more?
Tony had gone back to his quarters to replan his first lesson the next day and to group the suspects O’Neill thought may be involved. There were lots of different elements to the program; you have the career armed services, along with the scientists and all the support staff. The notes suggested that thorough background checks had been conducted for all employees.
Well, there was his first problem – a background check was good for entering the job but not necessarily for ongoing employment. If someone had racked up unimaginable debt or had a loved one hurt in an accident, or any other such event that could be used as leverage then it would be missed.
Tony re-sorted the suspects by date of their background and would redo the checks and dig deeper into their lives. He would start with those attached to the program for the longest. It was his gut working – if this program was important as he could piece together, then it would make sense to embed the sleeper undercover agents in long before you needed them.
An alarm went off to remind him about dinner because he had a tendency to forget. Also, he was reminded of the Commandant’s words, if he was to be successful then he needed to blend. Tonight would be a perfect chance to observe and catch any mannerisms he may not have caught yet.
The mess hall was conveniently not too far away and when he opened the door he noticed it was quiet. It made sense, after all, it was the officer’s mess and being the Academy there weren’t many officers. For Tony, this was both a blessing and a curse, fewer officers meant less people to convince but being that there were fewer officers – more potential scrutiny. Oh well, he would do what he needed.
As he entered the mess, the Commandant called to him. “Major – over here.”
Tony wasn’t stupid enough to ignore the man and walked over seeing all the chest candy – he knew what he was about to be told. Tony would be having words with O’Neill about subtle contacts. “Hello, Commandant. And?”
“Major DiNotezo, I would like to introduce you to Lt Colonel Mitchell.”
Tony offered a crisp salute as protocol demanded. “Pleasure, Sir.”
He had to remind himself not to flirt with the cute guy. He was smack bang in the middle of the military-industrial and while DADT was in the past, it didn’t mean the attitudes had changed. Tony would know all about it working in law enforcement.
“I’ve heard good things about you, DiNotezo.”
Tony could only really say. “Thank you.”
Andrews looked at his cellphone with a frown. “Well, I will leave you to get acquainted as I have unfinished business to attend to.”
Mitchell smiled, all easy charm. “Sure thing, Commandant. I’m sure they didn’t mean to do it.”
Tony snickered. “Oh they did, they just didn’t mean to get caught. You remember how it is.”
Cameron found himself smiling at the memory. “Oh, I do. I also remember not being caught.”
Tony snickered. “Let’s eat and we can share stories.”
They shared dinner easily and anyone who watched them would think they were old buddies rather than meeting for the first time. Tony didn’t get it. He never spoke this much on a first meeting and after their dinner, Cameron shook his hand and slipped him a pen drive with more information.
He faked a sigh. “And now I need to organise an exterminator for my apartment.”
Wow. Gorgeous and quick on his feet. Tony was rapidly falling for the guy. Still, he put any infatuation to the side to do his job first. He would take the opening. “Yeah, well you know what they say about old buildings, you should check the woodwork … It is always the oldest parts of the building where they liked to sleep.”
Mitchell had caught his implications. “Thanks, I’ll sort it. Hopefully I can thank you in person.”
Tony really hoped so too. He wasn’t the type to get shivers just from someone talking to him but it seemed that Lt Colonel Cameron Mitchell was his exception.
Cameron couldn’t get a laughing pair of green eyes at of his mind as he drove back to the mountain. He remembered he was a colonel and strapped his big boy pants on and reported to his boss’ boss as Cameron was ninety-nine percent certain that O’Neill didn’t trust Landry yet.
“So what you got for me?” O’Neill asked without preamble.
Cameron stood up straighter as the video feed kicked in for the conference call. “Well, sir. I made contact, your man is settling in at the academy and suggested you check your oldest suspects backgrounds out … again.”
O’Neill smirked. “And how did he communicate this to you?”
Mitchell wasn’t too sure who was being tested here but he answered the question. “We spoke about a theoretical rat infestation.”
O’Neill grinned. “And you said you couldn’t play spook.”
Mitchell rolled his eyes, he wasn’t like O’Neill, he was a pilot first and everything else second. “Not like your guy. You wouldn’t believe he isn’t one of us.”
O’Neill snorted. “And his boss was stupid enough to let him go … I am not above taking advantage of such stupidity. He could do with a friendly face and you like football, right?”
Mitchell didn’t deign that with a response. To ask him did he like football was like did he enjoy flying. “Sure thing, Sir.”
There were times when following orders were a genuine pleasure. It was not like Tony was uneasy on the eyes. “And he still knows nothing about the program?”
O’Neill shrugged. “He has the employees and the project title but no.”
Mitchell was intrigued. “And he is an investigator?”
O’Neill nodded. “Yep, but one with a security clearance that means it wouldn’t be too difficult to read him into the stargate.”
Cameron’s eyes did widen at that. “How does a Federal Agent get a clearance that high?”
“By being the go-to undercover agent for all the agencies in Washington,” O’Neill responded.
O’Neill signed off cackling at the way Mitchell was lost in thought. He was kind enough not to say what the look on Mitchell’s face looked like. He didn’t need to tease the man, he had a meeting with the joint chiefs soon – he would save it until after when he had the time to really enjoy the experience.
Andrews could admit to being amused by his new staff member. He was currently watching the recruits for the undercover class all get hoodwinked. Tony was sitting amongst them, chatting about their instructor and what might he be like. He spread disinformation and created a rather unique character.
The commandant noticed Cadman and Black staying back. “Cadman, Black, why have you stayed quiet?”
Cadman, the blonde weapons specialist smirked, “The marines teach us not to get too friendly with the officers’ sir, especially our instructors.”
The group froze but Tony stood up with a matching smirk. “Good instincts, thank you, Commandant.”
Andrews rolled his eyes. “Yes, well it seems I have a phone call to make.” and bets to settle he didn’t say.
Tony finally went to stand by the lectern. “Right. Now the class is in session. So what did the majority of you do wrong there? And what can we learn from it?”
Sanders chuckled. “We assumed the situation was safe and that you were just another one of us here for the class.”
Tony nodded. “You did. Cadman why did you not assume the same thing?”
Cadman sighed. “You carry yourself like an officer. I noticed you arrive yesterday and go to the Commandant. Plus, when Commandant Andrews was in the room, too often he stared at you and then looked vexed.”
Tony smirked. “He lost a bet, he thought none of you would fall for the ruse. Don’t take it personally as I’ve been doing undercover work since some of you were in preschool. Now we are going to discuss the do’s and don’ts of undercover work. The first, don’t be lazy. You are inhabiting a character that you have to eat, live and breathe. If there is any lax work in that or your background legend creation … then you may as well not have bothered to begin with.”
Mitchell was being sent back to the Academy to let their man know he was bang on with his suspicions. He’d been directed to the shooting range. “You don’t learn to shoot like that anywhere but the Marines.”
Tony whirled around. “Hey, Mitchell. Was there a question in there?”
Mitchell shrugged. “Nope, I’m here from O’Neill to tell you he likes your frightening efficiency. He would say it in person but he is too busy ripping people in the know a new asshole. He wants them to know it took an investigator with redacted files less than forty-eight hours to figure out what they couldn’t.”
Tony shrugged because it had been easy if you knew what to look for. “Okay and pizza?”
Mitchell grinned. “It is wildcard weekend and I thought we could catch the game.”
Tony grinned. “My quarters have a decent TV and all my classes are finished.”
“Lead the way.” Mitchell said trying to keep his thoughts chaste. It was a little harder when he got to stare at DiNozzo’s ass the whole way back to his quarters. Still, there was a silver lining to all this – DiNozzo was done with finding the Trust problem so they could date if they wanted.
He really hoped they did.
The quarters were spartan but it didn’t matter. “You can have the uncomfortable chair or we can share sitting on the bed?”
Mitchell tested the waters. “Are you always this forward, DiNozzo?”
Tony admit the nickname came from the southern charm he could hear. “Baby, if you think that is forward people have been flirting with you all wrong. Oh, and it is Tony if we’re going to be flirty”
“Cameron then, and if I do want us to be flirty?”
Tony grinned eating the pizza. “It is my solemn duty to fix that. If you are agreeable?”
Cameron wasn’t even watching the game anymore. “I’m more than agreeable.”