The Difference A Bullet Can Make – Chapter Four

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Chapter Four

Tony’s nightmares had changed. Ziva’s voice had been muted as his mind waffled between him killing her and her killing him. In the background, almost like a soundtrack, there was this husky voice singing country music which was odd because country wasn’t generally a genre that Tony listened to. This singer though was amazing, and Tony could almost see his words soothing the ragged edges on Tony’s mind.

He woke up in the middle of the night. The room was dark, and the window was partially blocked by the body standing in it looking outside. The uniform the man was wearing had a patch on the shoulder that Tony couldn’t place but could see enough to know he didn’t recognize it. He was definitely a soldier though. If the uniform he was wearing didn’t clue him in, the automatic weapon that he was using did.

The soldier was a good 3 to 4 inches shorter than Tony was with long dark hair that touched his shoulders. To Tony, it screamed some kind of Special Ops team because amongst the various branches he knew they were all almost universally given more leeway in their looks. If the song coming off his lips was any indication, this was the source of the music that had suddenly started to dominate Tony’s dreams. He couldn’t place whatever the man was singing at the moment, but it sounded somewhat melancholy seeming to be about someone you let go.

When the song seemed to be finished, Tony couldn’t resist a soft clap drawing the man’s attention. “You have an amazing voice,” Tony complimented drawing the man’s attention. “I’m guessing that you are the source of the soundtrack that’s taken up residence in my dreams.”

“Oh, uh thanks,” the man offered before clicking his headset and advising he was checking on the package. “Sorry ‘bout that. I didn’ mean to disturb you.”

“Oh please, no disturbing. I meant it when I said I was enjoying it. Was there one about a Native American who killed a woman’s father and she ran away with him? That one’s my favorite.”

“Spirit Boy,” the man offered almost bashfully as he stepped up next to the bed and held out his hand. “Sergeant Major Eliot Spencer at your service Special Agent DiNozzo. M’glad my songs have helped. I admit it’s mostly me tryin to fill the silence in the middle of the night. It’s a bad habit I’ve never quite been able to fully break.”

“Please, it’s Tony, Sergeant Major Spencer. There’s no one around right now to care about us being formal. You really have helped.” Now that the man was closer, Tony could just barely make out the patch and knew it wasn’t one he was familiar with, which he found intriguing. It made him want to ask questions that he knew Sergeant Major Spencer wouldn’t appreciate or be allowed to answer. So, instead, he kept his mouth shut.

“Then call me Eliot. You should go back to sleep. Doc says you’re still battlin’ a li’l bit of infection.”

“M’tired of sleeping,” Tony protested as he yawned and then rolled over. He could sense Eliot moving back to the window, and when he started singing Spirit Boy, Tony found himself drifting into sleep with a smile on his face.

The next time Tony woke up, he felt more alert and awake than he had been. Eliot was gone, and in his place was First Sergeant Matthew Simmons whom Tony found out was the second in command of the team of 7. Before he could find out more though, Brad and Emma came in for his checkup, which saw Matthew exiting as Tony endured the poking and prodding of his friend and his favorite nurse.

Once they were done and he’d been helped back into his bed after a quick trip to the bathroom, Tom Morrow came in as Emma was helping him get resettled sitting up straighter. After promising she and Brad were well within earshot, she left with First Sergeant Simmons following her out at Morrow’s request. “It sounds like you’re starting to feel better, Tony. I’m glad to hear that.”

Tony squirmed to find a more comfortable position wincing as he jarred his shoulder and ribs. Morrow arched an eyebrow at him as Tony swore under his breath. Tony almost regretted asking Brad to hold off on the next round of pain meds so that he would have a clearer head for his talk. He was hoping that if he got some answers, his nightmares would start to settle down.

“Shoulder and ribs hurt like a bitch,” Tony admitted touching it absentmindedly, “but Brad thinks that the infection that had set in is mostly gone.”

“He thinks once this course of antibiotics is done, I’ll be able to stop that. The shoulder and the ribs are what they are for the moment, but he says he might have more information for me, but we have to talk about something before he can get into that. Which is weird, because I wasn’t aware you were a doctor, Sir. Are you moonlighting on me?”

Tony watched Tom chuckle and took a deep breath trying to settle his nerves wincing at the pain it caused his ribs. “Not so much, but I do have something I need to go over with you. I have asked a couple people to join us to help with that, but I wanted to be able to talk to you alone before that happened. I know you have questions and I thought maybe I’d have a better chance at finding out how you really are if we were alone.

“You know, when you asked me to be your Medical Power of Attorney, you promised you’d explain when we could get together. I know my schedule has been hectic, but you didn’t have to get yourself shot to arrange a talk. You’ve known where my house is for a while, son. Knowing your luck though I should have known better.”

Tony rolled his eyes at his former director who was smirking at him. “Har, har,” Tony offered with a fake laugh and couldn’t help but smirk as Morrow outright laughed at him.

“Seriously though, I do appreciate that you did this without much explanation. I dunno, maybe I need to join the Dionne Warrick Psychic Friends Network. Things just… It seems like NCIS went to hell in a handbasket really quick and when I realized I couldn’t trust Gibbs I didn’t know where else to turn. I’ve known for a while that Gibbs has a weak point when it comes to women who show daddy issues, but I never expected something like the current crap fest going on right now. What’s going on with the investigation? How much trouble am I in? Hell, I don’t even know how long it’s been.”

“It’s been about almost a week. Today is day six since the incident. The FBI has mostly determined that you were defending yourself. I think they have a report or two they’re waiting on, but I’m not worried at this point. They found the bullet from when Ziva shot at you, and as Special Agent Valentine, dead women can’t shoot their guns. So, it was obvious that you were defending yourself.

“There were already some questions about how she managed to not hit anyone at the original scene. I think there’s an investigation going on to see if Mossad had some ties to your perps. There’s been a few other situations develop stemming from things they found while doing their due diligence.”

“Like what?” Tony asked as he reached for the glass of water on the tray over his bed.

“There are some pretty serious questions for Shepard about why she placed Officer David on your team. For that matter, it’s puzzling why she even allowed her into NCIS, to begin with. It’s been speculated that there was an ulterior motive to that, but we’ll see.

“McGee is being looked at for possibly trying to alter some evidence. I wish I didn’t have to say this, but you deserve the truth. He tried to insinuate that you’d shot Officer David because you were jealous about some dinner party you weren’t invited to, but everyone else was. Gibbs seems to have gotten an idea how far he’d lodged his head up his own ass and appears to be trying to extract it, but we’ll see about that too.”

“And Abby?” Tony asked somewhat reluctantly, trying to pretend that hearing McGee accuse him of murder didn’t hurt worse than his shoulder and ribs.

“I don’t know much about her except that she didn’t take the whole thing well,” Tom admitted with a sigh. “Gibbs called me to let me know if you asked that she’s put in for a sabbatical and is going to be staying with her nuns for a while. They have a therapist in residence that is going to see her.”

Tony turned his attention away from Tom for a moment to study the blanket covering him. When he realized how bad things had gotten at NCIS, he didn’t at first know what to do. It wasn’t until Brad had asked him if he really still trusted Gibbs to make the right decisions on his behalf that it occurred to Tony that he needed to make some big choices and quick.

During the recovery from the plague, Brad Pitt had become a friend and someone that Tony felt he could trust to tell him the truth and not just what he needed to hear. Brad had revealed to him his secret relationship with Nurse Emma, and Tony in return told him about as much as he could concerning his frustrations with his team. When Kate died, Brad helped to keep his head on straight. Tony appreciated it, afraid that he would have crawled into a bottle otherwise no matter how much his parents’ drinking problems affected him.

Despite the friendship that was growing between them though, Brad was just out of town too much to be used as a Medical Power of Attorney. So, when the issue came up, Tony had a hard time trying to figure out who to replace Gibbs with. The fact that he had to replace him at all had been a blow that took almost a week to get over. One of the things that had occurred to him while he was making his decision was that with how little he could trust NCIS, he might need someone that could watch out for more than his health. Tom Morrow had been a late-night inspiration.

Tony’s lawyer had thought he was crazy, but he’d been firm about his choice. In all of his time at the PDs and then NCIS, Morrow was one of the people Tony respected the absolute most. He might be pretty no-nonsense and gruff, but he cared about his people and Tony knew he could trust the man to find out the truth of whatever situation Tony was caught in. The change had been made and the papers were delivered a little more than a month prior. Even Tony hadn’t anticipated that his former Director would have to use the new paperwork so quickly.

“I really appreciate you doing this, Tom,” Tony expressed quietly turning his gaze back to the older man. “I think maybe I should have followed you to Homeland after all and fuck the Ari situation. Who knows what that would have changed. Hell, maybe Kate would even still be alive.”

“No,” Tom said sternly. “You aren’t doing that. Kate’s death was in no way your fault. You told me that you talked to someone about that and got your head on straight. You know, Tony…”

When Tom trailed off in the middle of his sentence, Tony almost spoke up, but seeing the concerned look on the man’s face decided to stay quiet and wait. “If anyone else in the world had called me and asked me to be their Medical POA outside of my family and a handful of close friends, I would have asked them if they were crazy. There’s been something about you though since the day Gibbs came back from that case and said he’d found his new partner that just… got me.

“At first it was the intrigue of finding out what kind of man Gibbs willingly choose to be his partner. I mean, I tried pushing dozens of agents at him, and most didn’t even last a week. Hell, a few didn’t even make it to the end of the first day. You though came in like this bright light through the dark cloud that Gibbs can me. You were confident, intelligent, and you were absolutely not afraid to tell Gibbs what you thought of him and his nonsense.

“As good as an agent that Gibbs was, you made him better. His solve rate went up. His conviction rate went up, and the complaints from the local law enforcement and other agencies went down. When it came time to form the MCRT, I knew it had to be Gibbs, but I was worried about what would happen when you were boss and subordinate instead of something more like partners.”

Taking a drink of his water, Tony coughed as it seemed to get stuck in his throat and it was only his undercover training that kept his burning eyes from misting over. “I should have never allowed him to put Kate Todd on the team. She wasn’t the right fit no matter what Gibbs wanted, but you’d worked out so well that I hoped I would be wrong. Unfortunately, she was a piss poor profiler, she was too stuck on the idea that anything she didn’t get was because she was a woman, and her religion was a serious cloud on her judgment.

“I actually think McGee would have worked out ok. Maybe not the way Special Agent McGee thinks it would have. However, knowing that you were the one that fought for him, I think if outside forces hadn’t interfered, he would have become a decent agent. The problem is Gibbs is a horrible Team Leader and I can only imagine what happened when someone like Eli’s little girl came on the scene. When I got the offer to switch to Homeland, I knew that if I didn’t take you with me, I’d regret it. I also knew that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that you’d go with me at that time. I hate the fact that I was right.”

“You and me both, Sir,” Tony admitted, his voice husky from the emotions that he was suppressing. “I think that if I could turn back time, I would have taken that job offer and left NCIS in the dust. Instead, I have a co-worker dead at my hand. I have a probie that can’t see the forest for the tree, and the man I thought I could put my faith and belief in turned out to be just another person to let me down. I don’t… I don’t know what to do now, sir.”

“The first thing that you can do is accept my offer,” Morrow insisted leaning forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “It’s still on the table. Granted it isn’t what you think it is, but frankly, I need someone like you desperately. Take my offer, and I’ll have you out of NCIS before the end of the day tomorrow. I’ve already talked about it with SecDef and he’s ready to approve the paperwork himself.”

“SecDef?” Tony questioned, his eyes getting big with surprise. “As in my boss’ boss’ boss’ boss? What the hell are you getting me into?”

“Let’s just say it’s an opportunity out of this world, and there is no way you will refuse once you get all the details. You need to get out of NCIS, Tony. Even if we can get this cleaned up and by some miracle, Mossad gives up their hunt for your head, they don’t deserve you. You have one of the most amazing minds that I have ever seen. Your insight and out of the box thinking are needed by this nation to keep it safe. There are men and women on a special project I oversee that are risking their lives daily that have no one like you looking out for them. In my mind that is a goddamned travesty.

“Come to work for me. There’s an FBI agent I have picked out that I’d like to be your partner. I’ll send over his file and you can review it. If you like what you see, then we’ll get it done. If not, then I have a whole stack that you can go through. I have handpicked the best damned forensics person in the country I could find to work with your team. If this works, I have another name or two we can add. Leave NCIS and come work for me.”

“I don’t… what about Gibbs? He’ll have a coronary,” Tony argued weakly already half-convinced but a little afraid to believe that a project that big would want him.

“Gibbs is taking a leave of absence. He’s going to get his head on straight. Work out some personal issues that have been eating at his soul. Once he’s done, he’s coming to work for me personally. Not on this project, but as a bloodhound for me on my other duties. If you want to work things out with him, he’s open to it. If not, he understands. He told me to make sure you knew he was going to work on his shit and that he was breaking rule numbers 5, 6, and 8 but you’re worth it.”

“Fucker,” Tony cursed and rolled his eyes when Morrow chuckled. “I’m not deciding that today. There’s too much going on. I should think about this, but I’m not blind to the fact that even if the FBI says it was a just shot, I’m still in deep shit. Eli David is not going to stop until I’m six foot under. This new project, will it be able to protect me? Does it have something to do with these people you want me to talk to?”

“It does,” Morrow confirmed not bothering to try and hide how much he wanted Tony to say yes.

“OK, sir. Let’s do this. Get me out of NCIS. Bring in these people, whoever they are, and let me know what I’ve gotten myself into.”

“You won’t regret it,” Tony offered, slapping Tony’s leg lightly as he stood and headed to the door to call for O’Neill and Jackson whoever they were.

Five minutes later, Tony was studying an Air Force Lieutenant General and guy that looked part warrior and part professor. After Tom introduced them as Lt. Gen. Jack O’Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson an archaeologist, he turned the floor over to O’Neill who Tony thought was grinning at him in a way that made him want to hide.

“So, Special Agent DiNozzo. Tell me. How do you feel about aliens?”

“Jack!” The Doctor exclaimed at the same time that Morrow glared at the General. “Jesus Christ, O’Neill”

For his part though, the General didn’t look regretful in the slightest if the grin on his face was any indication. 

“Daniel, give the man his paperwork to sign and then tell him what he’s getting himself into. Don’t forget the little naked grey guys. I miss them.”

“For fuck sake, O’Neill,” Tom swore, and Tony just let his head fall back on his pillow as the largest Non-Disclosure Agreement he’d ever seen was set in place on his tray.

“Let me help you go through this since you only have one hand, Special Agent DiNozzo. Then I’m happy to tell you all about our adventures in outer space.”

“Fuck my life,” Tony muttered before picking up his pend and digging in.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

A couple nights later, Tony woke up from a dream that was probably as much a fault of the pain from his injuries as his ordeal with Ziva.  He’d had his first session with a therapist associated with Stargate Command, which had scraped off the scab that had started to form over his mental injuries.

“You ok, Tony?”

Looking over the window to see Master Sergeant Moss Dougal looking at him concerned, Tony waved a

hand as he eased himself up straighter and swung his legs over the bedside.

“Yeah, just…” Tony waved his good hand in the air and fortunately, Moss nodded. “I’m gonna go get some of the pain meds Brad left me and sit in the recliner for a while.”

Having been taken off his antibiotics the day before, Tony had been given the ok to roam around the guesthouse as he wished, as long as he was careful. Mostly, he spent his time moving from the bed to the recliner in the living room. Brad and Emma had gone to visit Cheyenne mountain to check out their new working environment. So, it was mostly Staff Sergeant Basu that was overseeing his medical care.

“OK, holler if you need somethin’,” Moss urged helping Tony stand and DiNozzo nodded his agreement before shuffling out feeling like a 90-year-old man.

He’d just settled in the chair with a bottle of water, some chips, and ESPN on the TV when Eliot Spencer came in.

“Moss said you had another nightmare and you were hurtin’?” Eliot asked concerned as he sat down at the end of the couch closest to where Tony was sitting. “Did you take somethin’? Sucks that you gotta wait till you get to the mountain to get that shoulder and those ribs fixed. I guess it makes sense, but I hate to see ya in pain.”

“I took one of those pills Brad left,” Tony assured as he studied the other man. In the couple days that he’d been coherent, Tony had found that he really liked all of the team assigned to his protection, but there was something about Eliot that was different. There had been a time or two when he’d woken up wanting to scream from the mental and physical pain he was feeling, only to hear Eliot singing to try and soothe his ragged nerves.

“Have you ever regretted joining Stargate Command, Eliot?” Tony asked and watched as Spencer advised he was taking his earpiece out before answering.

“Nah, there are much worse places I could be than here. This place is like a family. There may be assholes, but mostly it’s good people who look out for each other as we try and kick some alien ass and keep the world safe in their beds. Truth is, I’d probably have gone down a real bad road if my old Commander hadn’t gotten me into this gig.”

“I see,” Tony offered quietly in understanding as he turned his attention away from the TV so that he could study the younger man. They had something of a getting to know you question and answer session that night he’d found out about Stargate, Atlantis, the Gao’uld, and the Wraith.

He’d learned that Eliot was almost two years younger than him. They were both bi-sexual. They were both musicians who wrote their own music, and both had complicated relationships with their fathers. Although, Eliot’s father was at least not a criminal. Fortunately, Spencer had refused to hold Senior’s ill deeds against his son.

“Can I ask you something pretty personal and fairly serious?” Tony asked after they’d sat in silence for several moments with only the light of the TV brightening the room.

“Shoot.”

“Have you ever met someone that made you wanna be a little reckless? Made you wanna not wait as long as you should? Made you ache for something before you should? Made you wonder if maybe there really wasn’t some bigger plan in the universe directing something whether it’s a God or Fate or whatever?”

“Yeah, I uhh… I…. yeah. I’d have to say I have.”

 “Here’s the thing. I’m not in a place right now to start something serious. I have a messed up shoulder, broken ribs, and I’m a little shaky about the trust thing right now. Despite all that, I can’t get you out of my mind. The only thing that seems to chase my dreams away is your songs. When I’m awake, most of the time I really just want to spend it getting to know you. I’m nowhere near ready for a relationship and physically, sex isn’t even an option, but I can’t help but think that if I don’t say something… If I don’t make sure you know how I feel and what I want when I am ready that I’ll really fucking regret it later.”

“Well, I guess that’s two of us then,” Eliot said. His husky voice sending shivers down Tony’s spine.

“I can’t say as I have anythin’ to hold me back right now, but I can see that you aren’t in the place to start somethin’. I ain’t really worried about that though. One thing I have in spades is patience. So, you jus’ do your thing. We can get to know each other better. You can get to know m’team better cause they’re the closest thing to family I have. Then when you’re ready, we’ll see where this path takes us.”

Tony thought maybe that was the best news he’d gotten since Tom Morrow announced he was leaving NCIS. Maybe he really had found his true path in life.

Next 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 Four

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

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

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