The Difference A Bullet Can Make – Chapter Five

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Chapter Five

It had been a couple weeks since Tony had given his report of the events in the shipping container and then been read in on the Stargate program. Tom was pleased with how well Tony was recovering and adjusting to the notion that aliens were really out there and not all of them were as friendly as E.T. Tony had made use of the team protecting him, and had kept them busy answering his questions as they kept him safe.

Unfortunately, they had yet been able to get him to the SGC to get the shoulder area injury and ribs healed because the investigation wasn’t yet closed. Tom hadn’t wanted to take the risk of someone questioning a miraculous recovery and he hadn’t wanted Tony to have to fake still being injured even if he knew the younger man could pull it off. Fortunately, it looked like things would be wrapped up on the investigation within the next day or so, which would allow them to get Tony all healed up.

Things on the Mossad front hadn’t gotten much better. They had been aware of at least two Mossad agents have entered the country and rumor was that at least one more had snuck in illegally.  Because of the ongoing threat, Tony was still being closely guarded. While Tom knew the continued confinement was driving him crazy, Tony had been sent a tablet loaded down with various files to get himself familiar with the program. Then, a week prior they’d finally recruited Elijah Mundo, who would serve as Tony’s partner adding someone else to help keep Tony’s mind busy.

Tom was sitting in his office at home working on some paperwork that he’d brought with him when security notified him that Jethro Gibbs was at his front gate. Gritting his jaw with frustration, Tom had a terse conversation, and only after finding out that the NCIS agent was there to see him and him alone, was he allowed in with the understanding that he would be escorted to Tom’s office and better not try to stray.

By the time the pain in his ass had made it into the office, Tom had a cigar lit and was pouring himself a scotch. Turning he looked at Gibbs and held up his tumbler but was surprised to be turned down. Making his way back to his desk as Gibbs settled into one of the chairs in front of it, Tom took the time to study his visitor, who seemed more subdued than normal.

Whatever the reason for the visit there was definitely something weighing heavily on the man’s mind. Tom couldn’t say that he was upset by it or felt sympathy over it. It was about damned time, in Tom’s opinion, that the man started using his brain for something other than keeping his skull from caving in.

“Sorry about the intrusion, sir,” Gibbs started, and Tom just grunted his acknowledgment of the apology. “I didn’t know Tony was in residence, although I suppose it makes sense. I know that you always saw the potential in him.”

Tom just arched an eyebrow at the assumption and Gibbs shrugged with a half-grin. “Saw the Not-A-Homeland-Agent at the hospital. Knew they had to be Special forces of some kind. I’m glad Tony agreed to the protection.”

“Unlike some people, Tony doesn’t have his head logged up his ass, despite the rumors to the contrary. I better damn well not hear his location getting out, or you’ll be the first one to disappear. So far Mossad either hasn’t figured it out or hasn’t made a move, and I wanna keep it that way.”

“Won’t hear it from me,” Gibbs murmured subdued and Morrow just frowned at the out of character behavior by the man in front of him.  “Last thing I want is to cause Tony any more harm. Fact of the matter is, while I know you aren’t gonna believe it right now if I’d known Tony was here I prob’ly would have waited and talked to ya at your office. I don’t really wanna see DiNozzo right now. Not because of anything he did, more like I don’t think he will wanna deal with me after he finds out what I have to say to you.”

“I see,” Tom offered his stomach beginning to churn with unease. “Why don’t you get to it then and tell me what the hell is going on. Because I gotta tell you, Jethro, I am getting more suspicious the longer this pod person routine of yours continues.”

“I can understand that” Gibbs acknowledged before delving into his tale. “This isn’t gonna be quick, but I figure I need to say some other things before I get to the meat of what I came for.”

“When I joined the Marines, I was an angry teenager with authority issues because of my mom’s death and dealing with a small-town cop who was more interested in the power his position gave him than keepin’ people safe and finding justice for victims of crimes and their families. The Core did a lot for me in the authority issue part, at least when it comes to people above me in rank. It prob’ly put a dent in the anger thing, at least for a while.

“Then Shannon an’ Kelly were murdered, and things went off the rails again. I was angrier than when m’mom died and never expected to survive the things I did in the aftermath. Lookin’ back I can see that maybe I wasn’t thinkin’ as clearly as I normally would, and that was taken advantage of.  Only, I never saw it that way, and just kept goin’ along with things acceptin’ them for what they looked to be.”

When Gibbs paused, Tom fought from speaking immediately. Instead, he took a sip of his scotch and then spoke when Gibbs hadn’t continued. “So, what the hell did Mike Franks talk you into doing that you shouldn’t have? Does this have something to do with that drug dealer who killed your family bein’ murdered?”

Gibbs nodded looking down at his hands. “After you an’ I talked, I was… Well, pissed off doesn’t begin to touch how I was feelin’. Everything seemed to be fallin’ apart at once. Wasn’t that long ago that Tony was layin’ under blue lights thinkin’ that plague was gonna kill him. Then Kate was murdered by that rat bastard, Ari. You left and Shepard was put in your place an’ she couldn’t seem to decide if she wanted back in my bed or to prove she had a bigger dick than I do or maybe both. Ziva killed her brother and on the surface, it seemed like she had made a tough choice and saved me insteada her brother.

“Then ‘bout a week ago, I ran into my former CO from when I first got outta basic. He asked how things were going, an’ I guess that was the blow that broke the dam. Everything came out and prob’ly more than should have, but he’s got some position on the Commandant’s staff an’ says his security clearance should cover it all. After I was done unloadin’ he kicked my ass pretty well, an’ then told me some things I didn’t really wanna hear, but I guess I needed to.

“One of the things he told me was that I needed to come clean about a couple things an’ take whatever consequences come my way. So, that’s what I’m here to do. When I met Tony in Baltimore, I made a promise to him that I wouldn’t screw him over the way Danny had. Seems to me that I haven’t held up my end of the bargain on that lately. Once he finds out what I did, an’ I’d appreciate you makin’ sure he knows cause I figure he deserves the truth, I’m pretty sure he’s gonna lump me in the same category as that partner of his.”

“Tell me what you did, and I’ll see what I can do,” Morrow advised without making any promises.

“Killed Pedro Hernandez as you guessed. Also, let Mike get away with killin’ somebody. At the time it seemed like I didn’ have any place to talk considerin’ what I’d done. Guess Mike knew that. I also didn’ say anything when he bashed Tony over the head on the same case, an’ I shoulda. Mike hates Tony. Never figured out why that is, but they’re like oil an’ water. Mike insisted that he didn’t mean to hit him that hard, an’ at the time I believed him. Now though after some thinkin’ an’ getting my ass kicked things look different. Seems now like there’s a lotta things at NCIS I wish I’d a done different.”

“Like what?” Morrow asked picking up a pen from his desk and holding it between his hands to keep himself from breaking something.

“Shoulda never rolled over when Jenny placed Ziva on the team. Shoulda never started playin’ the power game with Jenny when she was put in your spot. Shoulda encouraged DiNozzo to take that spot you offered him instead of playin’ on his guilt to make him stay. Shoulda never taken Kate on the team and after I did there’s ‘bout a dozen things I shoulda done different. Shoulda handled both the Jeffrey White an’ the Atlas cases different. Tony needed more’n what I gave him when they were done. Hell, lookin’ back I’m not sure I shoulda ever even taken a team lead spot. Seems like I’ve fucked it all up pretty good.

“Jus’ do what you have to, to me. I ain’t gonna fight it. Jus’ promise me you’ll take care of Tony wherever you’re sendin’ him. Cause it sure as shit ain’t Homeland Security.”

Morrow let himself simmer quietly as he tried to glare holes into Gibbs’ head as he considered the clusterfuck that had been laid in his lap. The Hernandez thing wasn’t much of a revelation. He’d done a thorough check into Gibbs’ background both when he took over the Director spot at NCIS and when he decided to make Gibbs the Team Lead of the new MCRT. Hernandez had stuck out like a red thumb both times. It wasn’t a stretch to think that the husband and father of the victims, serving in the Marines as a sniper, may have had something to do with the victim being shot by a long-range sniper rifle.

In the grand scheme of things though, while he didn’t love the idea that his MCRT leader had murdered someone, he hadn’t been about to lose sleep over something he couldn’t prove without stirring up a hornet’s nest. Of course, it should have occurred to him that if Gibbs had killed Hernandez that he was compromised at least with Franks, who Morrow knew kept shit like that in files to use later when it became necessary.

While he didn’t remember the details of the case where Franks had been in danger, he did remember how concerned the doctor was. Tony was already a CTE risk going back to his days playing college football. The concussion from the blow to the head by apparently Franks hadn’t been a mild one either and Tom was well aware of how much more serious it could have been.

“You do realize that not only does this prevent you from taking a position with Homeland, but I would have to insist that at the very least you are ineligible from working for any federal agency again.”

“Yeah,” Gibbs admitted with a quick nod, and Tom understood clearer now the look on his former agent’s face.

“I gotta couple things lined up if I don’t end up in jail. I’m gonna start doing some work with an organization that helps kids of military members who have been killed or are listed as missing in action. They have a little boy who is interested in woodworking whose father is a Marine killed when the vehicle he was riding in hit an IED. Then my old CO says he knows of a couple opportunities once I get my shit straight. He gave me the name of someone I’ve started talkin’ to.”

“Well, obviously, I can’t make any promises. I’m going to have to talk to a couple people about both of these things. The Hernandez issue is well past its statute of limitations. The Franks issue though could draw an obstruction of justice charge if JAG decides that it’s worth the risk. Where are you standing when it comes to Franks after these near miraculous insights?”

“Can’t promise that it won’t change, but at the moment, I’d be happy if our paths never cross again. At the very least it seems he took advantage of me when I was at my lowest point for his own gain. I certainly wasn’t thinkin’ right back then. Since then it seems like he’s jus’ played my weaknesses against me more n’ more. S’not an excuse for what I’ve done, but… I’m not lookin’ to let him add onto it any further.”

Tom nodded and just shook his head wondering if the fallout from that damned shipping contained incident would ever stop coming. Just when they seemed to be at the end, something else was uncovered. As much as he knew that these things needed to be exposed, he was more than ready for the bleeding to stop. He just hoped that this was the last of it and they could all move on with their futures from there.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

A few days later, Tom Morrow was sitting in his office at the Pentagon with Special Agent Jubal Valentine,  Interim Director of NCIS Owen Granger, and Retired Admiral AJ Chegwidden who was acting in a Special Advisor role to the FBI as questions kept coming up about how certain things would affect current and former NCIS investigations. Special Agent Valentine was about to give everyone a rundown on the final findings of his investigations. Once he was done, Morrow would be leading a conversation about what Gibbs had dropped in his lap.

“This investigation seems to be the case that keeps on giving,” Special Agent Valentine quipped as he pulled out the notebook that he’d been using to keep everything straight. Tom knew that he’d been less than thrilled to find out about the Mike Franks issue that was once more preventing him from going back home to New York City.

“Let’s start with Special Agent DiNozzo. He’s been fully cleared of any wrongdoing in regard to the shooting inside of the shipping container. It was clear that Mossad Officer David took at least one shot at him when he returned fire in defense of his life. In the following investigations into the additional issues unveiled, there was also no wrongdoing uncovered on the part of Special Agent DiNozzo. Special Agent McGee tried to claim that Special Agent DiNozzo made the shot because he was jealous over not being included in a dinner party, but there was nothing uncovered to back up this claim.

“In the course of our case, we were hacked a couple of times, and the FBI’s cyber team traced that hack back to both Special Agent McGee and Forensic Analyst Sciuto. Fortunately, they were stopped before they could get into any of our files, so the investigation was not compromised. They both claim that they were just trying to see what was going on because they weren’t getting answers.

“Charges have been filed, and it is my understanding that a plea bargain has been or will soon be presented that will remove them both from future employment with any law enforcement or intelligence agency along with some required community service, probation, and a monitoring of their online activities. McGee caved pretty quickly once pressed. So, I would expect that he’ll take the plea. Sciuto had something of a meltdown both times while she was being questioned. She was highly uncooperative and belligerent. It is my understanding that since the last time we spoke to her she’s sought seclusion with the Sisters of St Bernadette.

While going through the information we were given by Special Agent Lagina, we uncovered some troubling activity on the part of Officer David. Special Agent DiNozzo was correct. She did indeed have way too much access to material classified well above what she should have been allowed and had taken advantage of it. We turned over a list of the information that we could determine she sent back to Mossad to Interim Director Granger for review to determine how badly our troop activity or ongoing investigations were compromised. Obviously, with her death, there isn’t anything further we can do about her actions as far as she is concerned.”

When Jubal turned his attention to Granger, the Interim Director spoke up. “Director Shepard has been put on suspension and will be relieved of her position by the end of the day tomorrow. It’s my understanding that SecNav is waiting on the results of something uncovered during a medical exam that was required because of some irrational behavior on her part witnessed during the investigation. Once it’s been determined what they are doing with her, I will be appointed the new Director of NCIS.”

After a round of congratulations, Jubal continued with the next item on his notepad. “The issues that Morrow dropped in my lap a couple of days ago are still being investigated, although it was verified that we are beyond the time limit for murder charges in Mexico. So, most likely all that will come of that is he will be prevented from further work with any federal or intelligence agency. The whole letting Retired Special Agent Mike Franks get away with murder boggles my mind. We’re still trying to determine if we can do anything about that now. I can’t even begin to tell you how disgusted I am with these people, and I swear to God Tom if you drop anything else in my lap, I’m losing my mind.”

“I make no promises,” Morrow quipped and just gave Jubal a smirk when the FBI agent glared at him. “Anything else that you have to tell us, and is there anything else you need Special Agent DiNozzo for? If not, we would like to let him move onto his new assignment.”

“Nope and nope.” Jubal offered, putting his notepad back in his inner suit coat pocket. “The FBI is done with Special Agent DiNozzo at this time. It’s my understanding that if anything comes up with the remaining investigation that the Director has made an agreement it can be done over video conference. So, unless you need me for anything further, I’ll get out of here and let the three of you talk about things over my paygrade.”

“Thank you for your time and dedication, Special Agent Valentine,” Morrow offered as he stood to shake the younger man’s hand. “Your honesty and efforts are very appreciated by not just myself but also a lot of people who have been watching this case unfold.”

As he sat, Tom watched as Jubal shook hands with Granger and Chegwidden before exiting the office. Once he was gone, Morrow enabled his security protocols to lock down the office so that they could not be interrupted or overheard.

“Owen, I am glad to hear you are finally getting the chair,” Morrow offered as he relaxed in his chair. “If I had my way you would have gotten it originally, but it wasn’t my decision. I was being told that they wanted a female in office, but with how things have unfolded I can’t help but wonder if she had something on someone that helped her placement along.”

“You aren’t the only one, and it’s my understanding that is being looked into,” Chegwidden agreed as Granger just huffed.

“Seriously, aliens? What the hell.” Granger swore and Morrow couldn’t help but chuckle. While there hadn’t been suggested that Shepard ever be read into the program, Morrow fought and eventually won the argument that Granger be read in. Especially if it would allow them to leave DiNozzo at NCIS and assign him to the SGC in an Agent Afloat type position.

While Morrow really wanted Tony under his command, it was mostly because he knew he could trust himself not to screw the man over. However, if things unfolded the way it was looking, they’d end up with a new SecNav and Tony would be perfectly safe where he already was allowing them to assign him to the SGC without any further training issues if he transferred to a new agency.

“It’s my understanding that SecNav’s removal from office is a done deal,” AJ agreed, and Granger just smirked.

“Well, you would know sir, or should I call you future SecNav?”

“I do have to go through congressional hearings and all that jazz you know,” AJ griped, and Tom just looked at him unimpressed.

“You could have said no,” Morrow pointed out, and this time it was Chegwidden’s turn to glare.

“Like I’m going to turn this down,” AJ grumbled as Granger and Morrow shared a smirk.  “Is DiNozzo ready for the SGC and how soon can we get him to the mountain to be healed?”

“He’s more than ready. If we don’t move him soon, I think that he’s gonna lose his mind. DiNozzo has never dealt well with boredom, and he already has a list of things he wants to investigate once he gets to the mountain. I don’t think O’Neill has any idea what’s coming his way.”

“It’ll be good for him,” Morrow said with a smile. “There’s been more than one person who has pointed out the similarities O’Neill and DiNozzo share and a lot of us can’t wait to see Jack having to deal with someone just like him. Hammond called me just to tell me I better keep him in the loop once he found out. How in the hell he knows DiNozzo, I don’t know, but then I learned long ago not to question how Tony knows half the contacts he has.”

“How are things going with DiNozzo and Mundo?” Chegwidden asked and Tom could see Granger was equally curious.

“Good. In fact, they’re gelling better than I thought they would be considering in some ways Mundo is very similar to Gibbs. Fortunately, in the important ways, he’s nothing like Jethro. I expect to be able to move them both to the mountain tomorrow. They’ll both have to pack up their things and move residences at some point. I’m still working on another couple agents to work with them, but Sanders is on board, and is just finishing up a case in Vegas then he will officially move as well.”

“So, it sounds like things are going to work out then?” Granger asked in his normal stoic tone. “What happens if they don’t press charges against Franks? I am familiar with both him and Gibbs and while I never would have seen the personal changes Gibbs has made, there’s no way in hell Franks will go quietly.”

“Oh, don’t you worry about Franks,” Morrow assured flashing a dark smile. “I have a plan for him should he end up anywhere other than a jail cell.”

“I don’t wanna know,” Chegwidden inserted immediately. “I really don’t wanna know.”

“No need to, AJ,” Tom assured as he started closing down his computer deciding he deserved a short day. “I have everything under control.”

Last Chapter

Note: I write fanfiction for fun. It’s a hobby and a stress relief. I refuse to angst over my writing. What you see is what you get. Errors, plot holes, and all. Thank you for reading my story!

2 thoughts on “The Difference A Bullet Can Make – Chapter Five

  1. Pingback: The Difference A Bullet Can Make – Chapter Four | AngelicInsanity

  2. Pingback: The Difference A Bullet Can Make Master Post | AngelicInsanity

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