Note: Sorry this is late! I am posting two chapters here on WordPress today to make up for forgetting last week.
Chapter Summary: Jason Gideon is not done by a long shot, and eyes his next victim. Which agent’s past case will be targeted this time? Then, the results are in from Ruby’s various tests. We find out if she’s qualified for the EU&IU.
Chapter Twenty-Five: Prelude to a Kill & A Heart to Heart
Jason Gideon stepped out of his car and looked at the outside of the building in front of him. The Traveling Hippy Café was owned by one Steven Carlson, the next person on his list. This was someone Aaron had let go free, however, his time escaping justice had ended.
Things were going to be harder now, but a part of him relished the challenge. He’d excelled in everything he’d ever done, and this would be no different. He was going to teach them all a lesson.
He wished he knew who was leading up the investigation. He hadn’t gotten that information out of that hacker chick before their connection had been terminated. He hadn’t been able to reach her and assumed that she’d gotten caught. Just as well. She’d escaped her own justice for far too long. He felt not an ounce of sympathy for misleading her. She was after all a criminal and should count herself lucky that she still lived.
Maybe he’d add her to his list.
That would, after all, be the perfect message for his former team. That would tell them that not anyone would escape the Instrument of Justice.
A few days after his interview with Ruby and Clay Miller, Tony was sitting in a back corner of a sports bar that he and Derek had found they liked. It was frequented by several of Tony’s LEO buddies and seemed to cater to the local and federal law enforcement community. He needed to have an open discussion about the results of Ruby Miller’s qualification. He’d considered doing it in one of their conference rooms, but Derek suggested Schmitty’s, and Tony jumped at the idea.
It would be nice to get out in a social setting. He’d been somewhat of a hermit other than his couple dates with Aaron, and he felt it. Tony was always at his best when he had an active social life. Most people assumed that it meant picking up chicks way too young for him in clubs, but frankly that hadn’t been the truth for several years before he met Aaron.
As he sat in the back corner waiting for everyone to arrive, he considered the fairy tale that was his life versus the reality. Dingy chicks, seedy bars, and drinking until he passed out were what everyone had believed. Truth be told though it was more like quiet nights behind the piano at his favorite jazz club during open mic night. Sitting for hours on a weekend at a local art museum staring at a picture trying to see every little nuance and brush stroke. Basketball games with underprivileged kids at an afterschool and weekend club one of his frat brothers ran. Sitting curled up on the couch watching a movie that he could recite every word to, but still held him fascinated in its grip right to the very end. Even Tobias had been a little surprised to find out what the DiNozzo social life was really like when he’d hit three weekends in a row on the couch on a Saturday evening.
He’d like to take Spencer and Aaron to the jazz club where Aaron could play guitar, and Spencer piano. He’d like to take Derek, Elijah, Will, and Robert to the club to help with the kids. He’d like to show Aaron his favorite paintings and sit in front of the holding hands all day. He’d like to go watch Aaron run one of his triathlons with both teams there to watch. Maybe spread out throughout the course to cheer him on. He’d like to really be a part of these people’s lives and have them really be a part of his. The cookout was fun. The nights out with both teams were relaxing, but he wanted more.
“What are you daydreaming about?” He heard whispered in his head, and startling turned his head to see Aaron grinning at him. The man had somehow slipped into the back bench seat of the long booth he’d selected without Tony realizing. He must have been more in his head than he’d realized.
“Come to the art museum with me tomorrow?” Tony asked quietly and without hesitating. When Aaron smiled puzzled but nodded his agreement. Tony bit his lip shyly but was quite pleased. Soon after that, the others joined them and the meeting soon began.
“So,” Elijah started sipping on his beer. “How did our potential recruit stand up to Madame Former Interpol?”
“She kicked my ass,” Emily drawled as Derek chuckled. “That chick is serious business. I’m not kidding. I am not pissing her off. I’m obviously not the expert, that is Derek’s position, but I’d guess she has continued to not just learn new martial art styles. She’s also learned how to combine them into a wickedly effective fighting style.”
Derek nodded seriously. “She knows her business, QB1. There ain’t nothing that she needs to learn from me. In fact, if you do hire her, I plan on talking her into helping me teach my classes. That girl is off the charts good, and it’s a waste, in my humble opinion, not to be using her talents to teach others.”
Tony nodded happily, feeling a small tight ball of worry in his stomach begin to relax. When Aaron spoke, it fully unraveled. “Sounds like she was a hit all around then. You definitely have your own team sniper. She passed all of her weapons testings with nearly perfect scores. In my opinion, there was no reason for her boss to hold her back from this position. She seems to be more than capable of holding her own. Did you do more research into her time with Vice?”
Elijah raised his hand. “That was my job. Her former CO had nothing but glowing remarks for her. Said that they lost one hell of an operative when she decided to go to FLETC, but that he had been behind her decision 100%. When he found out that we’d had her hiding doing only translation, he tore me a new asshole. It wasn’t until I informed him that I was with the team trying to get her into a position more suited to her skills that he calmed down and at least stopped cussing me out. He told me that if she hadn’t left, they would have moved her into their long-term undercover division.”
Tony nods and looks at Aaron. “They have officially fired Graham Nelson. They tried to move him to another division, but they couldn’t find another Section Chief willing to take him. Apparently, they all know what a dinosaur he is. In the end, they gave him a retirement package and told him it was either that or being fired. I guess he’s making noise about suing them for age discrimination, but Fornell assured me that it won’t fly. They have more than enough documentation from even before this fiasco with Ruby, and apparently, this isn’t the first gender discrimination complaint that’s been filed against him.”
Derek snorted shaking his head. “The man needed to be moved on years ago. Who knows what kind of good young talent the FBI has lost thanks to him. Better late than never, I suppose. So, sounds like you have a full team, at least for the moment. Did you get your proposal submitted, Tony?”
Tony nodded. “AD Evans said to give him a month or two, but it would most likely be approved. So, I’m gonna keep my eye out for people that fit in. Believe it or not, I think the investigator is going to be the biggest problem. I’ve been through the FBI applicants a thousand times, and there just isn’t anyone that I really just loved. I think that I’m gonna put out word through the DiNozzo Network that I’m looking for a seasoned investigator who has undercover experience, and see what turns up.”
“Seriously, I keep hearing about this DiNozzo Network,” Emily started sounding like she thought she was being had. “This isn’t real, is it?”
Aaron almost snorted beer out his nose and had to put the bottle down before he choked. Tony gave him a pat on his back, grinning before answering. “The DiNozzo Network is very real, my dear Emily. I will have you know we are an international organization and have better snitches than the mob.”
Derek let out a loud barking laugh and clinked beer bottles with Elijah, who was also laughing. “He’s not kidding, Emily. You should see it in work. A few days ago, another department needed a lead on a scene they couldn’t get anyone to talk about. Tony said he’d see what he could do, and two hours later three witnesses had come to talk to the lead investigator. Do not diss the DiNozzo Network. They believe in cement shoes.”
This time it was Tony who nearly spits out his beer, and swallowed quickly before he choked. Then he joined in the laughter at the table. This was nice. Being able to talk shop with people he liked, and not feel like he had to justify his very existence and jump through hoops to prove every idea he had was a good one. In his head, he felt the book titled NCIS shut and moved to an archive where he kept things he didn’t need anymore. There wasn’t anything that he needed from inside of it any longer.
End Note: Only five chapters left!! It’s hard to believe that the end is in sight for this story. That said… I do have plans for additional stories to this. So, not everything will be wrapped up in a neat bow at the end. Hopefully, you continue to enjoy this to the end!
On a different note… I have some other things in the works. Unfortunately, the musi are being stubborn, but I am close to completing my November Nano that I did on Rough Trade. For those that don’t follow those challenges, it was the Tony/Sam fic called Apocalypse Reinvented I posted for my EAD. As a reminder, once I have it completed, it will be deleted from the EAD series.
One of the things I am working on and excited about is a Tony crossover with the show Queer as Folk which would have a Tony/Brian/Justin pairing. I like doing pairings I don’t see much, and this definitely qualifies. Plus I have such a thing for the Brian/Justin pairing. I also signed up for the Slow Burn Big Bang challenge. I will be doing a Tony/Steve McGarrett pairing and it’s a 100K requirement. Fortunately for me (maybe unfortunately for you) it’s a year long challenge and doesn’t post until sometime in late 2018. But, I’m excited about it. I’m also pecking away at my Tony Bond fic, and ideas are forming for my 2017 NANO challenge on Rough Trade.
As always, thanks for reading! You all blow me away with how many are reading this, and I am truly thankful.