Title: Untitled at this time
Story Fandoms: NCIS and Criminal Minds
Story Relationship: Tony DiNozzo/Aaron Hotchner
Story Characters: Tony DiNozzo, Aaron Hotchner, AJ Chegwidden, Other Characters from Various Fandoms
Story Content: Angst, NCIS AU Post Season 10 Finale, Other Warnings Will Be Added for Final Version
Notes: This will be part of my Italian Southern Comfort series.
Tony sat at the bar with a tumbler of whiskey in front of him, and a cloud of doom hanging over his head. The singer on the stage was singing Ain’t No Sunshine, and it wasn’t helping his mood in one bit. The fact that it eerily matched his current situation wasn’t helping things in the least. Only in this case the her wasn’t a person, but an agency. Two days earlier, he, along with Ziva and McGee, had turned in their badges to save Gibbs and the agency from a DOJ agent with a vendetta. An action that Tony was more than a little angry about.
A part of him wanted to just say fuck you all, and let the chips fall where they may. Tony knew that his ass was covered, because he’d refused to run over that line like the others had. While he knew sometimes you had to bend the rules to get the job done, he ever broke them completely. Another part of him though had whispered a question that he couldn’t stop turning over in his head. “Did he really want to stay anyway?”
How many times could he take the blame? How many times could he lock his conscience up when it was screaming at him that whatever was going on was wrong? When was enough, enough? He was pretty sure that he had the answer to that question.
He didn’t want to be Gibbs’ loyal St. Bernard anymore. He didn’t want to be the mentor to McGee that the younger man didn’t seem to want or listen to. The fiasco with the off the books investigation showed that he obviously wasn’t listening. He didn’t want to be Ziva’s entertainment anymore, or… whatever the deal was. He was tired of trying with her. He was tired of letting her take out her anger on him to keep everyone else safe. He was tired of being less than what he was.
He wanted more for himself. He wanted a career that he could be proud of, and every day with NCIS it seemed to be harder to look himself in the mirror at the end of the day. He wanted friends that he knew he could trust. He wanted to stop pretending that he’d forgiven his father for all the crap that he’d done in the past, when he knew that it would just continue happening.
He wanted to be himself. He was tired of the masks and the need for subterfuge every second of every day of his life. He wanted love. Not a quickie at some random chick’s house. Not some flirtation in the dark corner of a bar he was afraid to be seen in because he knew what happened to cops who weren’t all that entirely straight. He wanted more.
Unfortunately, he’d just quit his job in the middle of a DOJ investigation putting a cloud of suspicion right over his head. The chances of any place he really wanted to be overlooking that were slim to none. So, that left what? A Career change? To do what? Since the moment he’d accepted that there would be no pro ball career for him, he’d put all his eggs in the law enforcement basket. Hell his BA was in Criminal Justice, and pretty much useless at this point. He was weeks away from arguing his thesis, and suddenly didn’t see the point. So, what the hell was he going to do now?
“I’ll have whatever he’s having, and give him a refill on me.”
Hearing the familiar and very unexpected voice, Tony looked up from the tumbler that he’d been staring into to the mirror behind the bar to see Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden sitting next to him.
“You’ve certainly thrown a monkey wrench into things, son.”
“Sir?” Tony asked, more than a little surprised to see the man next to him.
“When I heard you had fallen on your sword for Gibbs, I was more than a little surprised, and the disgusted that I hadn’t anticipated it.”
“It seemed the right thing to do, Admiral,” Tony offered draining the tumbler he’d been holding as the new one was set in front of him. “Although, at the moment I’ll be honest when I say that I am not sure why.”
“Because you’re the most loyal man I’ve ever met in my life, and you have more honor in your pinky finger than some have in their whole bodies,” AJ responded.
“No offense, sir, but neither of those things are going to do me a hell of a lot of good now. You can’t get many jobs based on loyalty and honor these days. At least none that I am trained for. And, besides, it wasn’t just me. McGee and Ziva quit, too.”
“That may be, but their quitting isn’t quite the loss that losing you is. McGee may be damned good at computers, but he’s still too easily lead around by his nose by any strongly willed person. And, Ziva David won’t be welcomed back into NCIS or any other law enforcement agency. Hell, she’ll be lucky if she’s let back into the country after this bullshit with Bodnar. No, you are the one that none of us what to lose, including SecDef and the Attorney General.”
“I don’t,” Tony started before pausing to try and understand what was being said. “I don’t understand, Admiral.”
“Please, it’s AJ, kid. We’re not in a courtroom, and I’m retired.”
“Yes, si.. uhh AJ. Why would my quitting NCIS even register on the radar for the AG or SecDef? I’m just an investigator. Ziva is Eli David’s kid, and according to Vance McGee is the future of NCIS.”
“Vance is a moron, and Ziva is a spoiled princess,” AJ retorted making Tony lift an eyebrow. “Despite the huge pain in the ass that he is, no one really wants to see Gibbs fired. Between you and me, this was supposed to be a warning shot to make Vance and Gibbs pull their heads out and get back on track. Unfortunately, they assigned an overeager paper pusher who has no concept about what it really takes to do your job. So, I had to go in and save Gibbs’ ass, and we’ve maybe lost an agent that a lot of people had an eye on. That’s you, just in case you didn’t catch that, DiNozzo.”
Tony frowned and shook his head before taking a sip of the whiskey. “It’s probably going to sound like I’m looking for compliments when I say this. But, I really don’t understand.”
“The fact that I cant tell you mean that just makes me wanna go back and let Gibbs and Vance hang themselves,” AJ spat before taking a sip of his own drink. “Morrow never should have left you under Gibbs when he left. He was supposed to take you to Homeland with him. He got cold feet at the last moment and didn’t want to piss off Gibbs. He thought Shepard as his boss was going to cause enough turmoil. Tell me the truth. Do we have a chance at keeping you?”
“I think I’m in my very own episode of the Twilight Zone. Keep me for what? I quit NCIS during a Department of Justice investigation,”
“Of which not a single shred of wrongdoing on your part could be found,” AJ advised. “And trust me, that little jackass was looking. He’d take his grandmother down if he could. Especially if he thought that it would get him a step higher up on the ladder, and then you quit despite that to protect Gibbs. Trust me, a lot of people are impressed by you right now.”
Tony sat quiet for a moment and studied the bar top as he tried to determine what he wanted his next step to be. “Rule #5, DiNozzo,” he heard and quickly looked up at the Admiral.
“Even if Gibbs forgot it, and Vance never figured it out, the rest of us haven’t. Anyone that can stand that sourpuss for as long as you did with the amount of success that you did earns respect from a hell of a lot of people. If you’re interested, there’s a brand new team that will report directly to the Secretary of Defense with your name on it.”
“And, does SecDef know this?” Tony asked tilting his head to one side, only to get a snort and an eyeroll in return.
“Who the hell do you think sent me here, DiNozzo!”
Tony’s lips twitched as a smile finally broke though. “Wow me, AJ.”
A soft chuckle was let out by the older man before the older man proceeded to break down the new job. “SecDef wants a special investigative team to be built that would report directly to him that would handle major crimes that cross military branches with both domestic and international aspects. There’s too much fighting over who gets what cases, and he feels that things are getting lost due to too many hands in the pot. This would not be an instance where you would be working with the NCIS or Army CID or whomever. The second it is determined that more than one military investigative branch is involved the entirety of the case moves into your purview. The only time you would be liaising with another agency is if there was military and civilian agencies involved.”
“And what does SecNav and the rest of them think about this? I doubt that Jarvis will be thrilled to have me in this position.” Tony pointed out, but AJ just finished his drink looking unconcerned.
“Since he reports to SecDef, I doubt that O’Neill is terribly concerned about Jarvis’ feelings on the subject. However, SecNav and SecAF have already been notified and the AG and the President have already signed off on this position. There is also a possibility that you will be assigned non-cross branch cases as requested by either the AG, the President, or SecDef. Your main team will have four members including yourself. Three of you will be investigators and one will be a profiler. You will also have a traveling ME and someone who will work as a combination Technical Analyst and Forensics Tech. So, six people total including yourself. All selected by you from files approved by SecDef’s office.”
“And I get to work directly with O’Neill?” Tony asked seeing AJ nod quickly.
“Yup. Knowing Jack you’ll talk to Paul as much as you do SecDef, but yes.”
Tony didn’t know SecDef personally, but he knew of him and he knew what his reputation was. Rumor had it that he was a good man. Batshit crazy, but still a good man. Plus, this way his years at NCIS wouldn’t be wasted. His degree wouldn’t be wasted. Maybe, just maybe this would be the last stop. Maybe this would be the place that he could call home.
“I’m in,” Tony decided holding out his hand. “When do I start?”
EndNotes: All stories are also posted on AO3. Should anything posted for EAD be completed, the EAD preview will be deleted without warning.