The Difference A Bullet Can Make – Chapter One

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Chapter One

Tom Morrow stepped off the elevator with an impatient huff because before the doors were even closed, he could hear Gibbs bellowing. Forcing himself not to roll his eyes, Tom turned knowing the men with him would follow and headed toward the sound of Gibbs’ voice. When they passed the nurses’ station, Tom saw Master Sergeant Moss Dougal veer off to explain the situation to the nurse as Tom continued toward the sound of Gibb’s yelling hoping that Tony’s Dr. would be there with him.

Well, not his actual doctor. Dr. Brad Pitt was a close friend of Tony’s, who volunteered to be a go-between, running interference for his actual doctor so the woman could do her job, instead of spending all of her time dealing with Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

Since Morrow had already talked to Dr. Pitt on the phone, he knew that Pitt was just back from an assignment and was taking some time to work on a paper he was planning to publish when he volunteered to help out. Rounding a corner, Director Morrow was proven correct when he saw Gibbs standing in front of Dr. Pitt with fire practically shooting from his eyes as he tried to get information on his agent, Tony DiNozzo.

“Gibbs, that’s enough,” Tom ordered with authority as he strode forward and held out his hand to shake Dr. Pitt’s. “I think it’s obvious by now that Dr. Pitt isn’t going to give you any information about Tony. Obviously, things have changed. Maybe you need to go get a coffee or something and think about that. When I’m done with the good doctor, I will fill you in on what I know and then you and I can have a little heart to heart.”

“Why the hell would you…”

“Gibbs, I said enough,” Tom returned with steel in his voice and saw both Sergeant Major Eliot Spencer and Staff Sergeant Karun Basu straighten slightly. He wanted to facepalm because all three men accompanying him were in plain clothes for a reason but knew that with the amount of time that they’d spent in the Marines that some things were instinctive. He couldn’t help but get a little thrill out of knowing he still had the ability to command respect, and his inner Megalodon was practically preening with glee.

When Gibbs tried to glare him into submission, Tom just arched an eyebrow unimpressed until the NCIS team leader gave an angry huff and stomped off. You’d think that with as many years that he had worked with Gibbs that the man would know he wasn’t someone he could intimidate. Apparently, the rumors that the Gunny was preoccupied with his new Director were true. God knows when Morrow had been Director, Gibbs knew better than to try and pull that bullshit intimidation act on him. 

When Eliot gave a head nod in Gibbs’ direction, Tom shook his head slightly guessing that Eliot was asking if the man should be followed. It was better to let Gibbs commune with his relaxant of choice at the coffee shop in the hospital alone and let him cool down. While Tom respected Eliot and his ability to keep his mouth shut, he’d seen Gibbs break men more seasoned than Spencer was. There was no need to risk the former sniper getting bits of information that would cause an even bigger FUBAR situation than they were already in.

“Thanks for that,” Dr. Pitt offered as Tom watched him check out Eliot and Karun then Moss when the third man came trotting up. “Why don’t you and I step into Tony’s room. I can fill you in on what I know at this point hopefully before Gibbs gets back. If you would prefer, I can call his actual doctor if you would rather talk to her.

“The hospital is a little short-staffed at the moment. There’s a bug going through the medical staff. It’s partly why I’m helping out here. The rest of the Team Gibbs are in a waiting room down the hallway. I’d like to get out of sight before someone else decides to start in on me though. This isn’t the only patient I’m helping out with.”

Tom turned and nodded slightly toward the three men with him. “I hope the bug is nothing serious. As to interference, I think you’ll find that it’s going to be a lot harder for Team Gibbs to get into Tony’s room. I’d like Basu to join us if you don’t mind. He has medical training and will be staying around to help out with Tony’s care and protection once we leave here.”

“No, just a minor illness, but it’s still causing enough of an issue that they’re a little thin in the ER and other non-specialized areas. I’m happy to have your man come along.” Brad agreed before leading the way into Tony’s hospital room. Tom was pleased to see that the NCIS agent had been given a private room as Tom requested.

It would certainly help with his protection, not having to worry about unknowns in the room with him. As they headed in, Tom saw Spencer and Dougal settling on either side of the room door and felt his shoulders relax a little. When Tom got the call that Tony had been gravely injured and Ziva seemed to have been killed, Tom immediately made a call to Lieutenant General Jack O’Neill. Jack was overseeing Stargate Command and Tom was hoping he’d agree to a protection detail for a possible future SGC asset.

Before Tom left NCIS, he had a meeting with Senior Field Agent Tony DiNozzo and tried to get the younger man to follow him to Homeland. Tony had an incredible mind that was being wasted not only on Gibbs but also in his current situation. The younger man had a history of people undervaluing his mind and not seeing the brilliance that was in front of him from his conman father all the way up to and including his current Team Leader Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

When Gibbs brought Tony in, at first Tom saw exactly what Tony wanted, which was a dumb jock who had lucked his way up the food chain always somehow managing to be in the right place at the right time. However, Tom hadn’t survived DC and the Cold War to get to where he was by not seeing underneath a façade, even one as good as Tony’s was. One thing that quickly became apparent was that Tony’s mind needed to be kept busy. It was when he wasn’t that stupid things happened, and he got himself into trouble.

So, it didn’t take long before Gibbs was feeding Tony cold cases and as much other busy work as he could. Every once and a while Tom would slip Tony a special cold case or evaluation of combination test and training of that incredible mind. While he knew that at that point, Tony probably would never get as far as he could have if he had been encouraged sooner, Tom still believed that DiNozzo could be a valuable intelligence asset if they could get him away from Gibbs.

Tom’s concern about Tony remaining on Gibbs’ team had only increased in the short time that he’d been away from NCIS. It hadn’t taken long for the whispers and rumors to start about Gibbs’ former flame being his new boss and how quickly the atmosphere in the building had changed because of it. When Kate Todd died, Tom’s worry had grown higher. Special Agent Todd had been the one most often partnered with Tony, and Tom knew that created a special and sometimes complicated relationship between people.

While Tom had some immense regrets at ever agreeing to the woman’s spot on the team, he knew that Tony respected Kate and her relationship to him was a layered and complicated one even more so than normally seen between partners. Some days it had seemed like the two had a sibling relationship, others it seemed like they were trying their best to get in each other’s pants, and yet others it seemed like they were going to bicker each other to death.

 Although, in Tom’s opinion nothing would have come from the flirting. The former NCIS Director was aware of the accepted opinion on Tony’s feelings toward relationships, but he also knew much of the serial dating was due more to not having time for much else than the perceived lack of appeal for a commitment.

Giving Gibbs the ability to pick his own team had been a bad decision on Tom’s part, and one he now greatly regretted. His choice of Tony had worked out so well that Morrow had been hoping he’d strike gold again with Todd and McGee. He should have known better though because if nothing else, experience told him that agents like Tony DiNozzo didn’t come around every day. Kate Todd had been a Secret Service Agent with a shaky reputation, not the profiler that she and Gibbs both liked to insist that she was.

Tim McGee was certainly a wiz at computers but had been incredibly green and never should have been placed on a team with a personality like Gibbs’. Then there was the fact that a high-profile team like the Major Crime Response Team should have seasoned agents who were the cream of the crop. Tony’s hiring should have been an exception, not a template. In Tom’s opinion, neither Todd nor McGee had come even close to the payoff that NCIS had gotten from hiring DiNozzo.

When the whispers and rumors that ran through the DC agencies shifted to insinuate that the new Director had put a Mossad agent on the team, Tom’s gut had genuinely begun to churn. When the whispers quickly started to include Tony’s protests over the placement, his calls to try again to lure Tony away started back up. When the whispers and rumors didn’t stop and instead became more insistent and concrete, Tom knew that there was a potentially dangerous situation developing.

There was no doubt in his mind who the Mossad Agent was. It hadn’t taken much to verify that Shepard had indeed placed Eli David’s daughter and worse yet, the handler of Agent Todd’s killer, in the very position that her half-brother created when he made that shot. The very idea made Tom’s gut churn. We were forced to question just what in the hell was going on with not only the Director but if SecNav was paying any attention to the federal agency under his purview at all.

Tom had learned long ago to trust his instincts, and because of that, he had started making possible exit strategies for Tony from NCIS. One of those included a placement in Stargate Command in an Agent Afloat type situation with some extra intelligence analysis type job duties to keep him busy. The problems that the SGC had with moles over the years from the NID to The Trust and heaven only knew who else should have signaled to them that they needed someone like Tony much sooner.

After taking his new position at Homeland, which really was just a cover for him taking General Hammond’s position over Homeworld when he retired, the first thing Tom did was review the structure of Homeworld and the SGC. The need for some kind of investigative agent had become quickly apparent and Tony was the first person he thought of.

The investigation into Ziva David’s death and what the hell had happened in that shipping container was in its early stages. However, there wasn’t a doubt in Tom’s mind that Tony was in serious danger from not only Eli David and Mossad, but maybe also his own people. There was something highly suspicious about Ziva’s placement.

Because Tom was very well aware of Jenny Shepard’s obsession with her father’s death, he suspected that somehow that was involved in Ziva’s liaison position. If Eli David were indeed helping get Shepard information on her father’s death, Tom knew that she wouldn’t take the death of Eli’s only reason to help her well. So, after getting the call that Tony was en route to Bethesda via Air Lift, and they were requesting that he come to the hospital as Tony’s Medical Power of Attorney, Tom’s first call was to O’Neill to request the protection detail.

When they got into Tony’s hospital room, Dr. Pitt didn’t question the team of people Morrow brought with him, but instead just starting in on his explanation of Tony’s condition, which included a bullet wound in the shoulder area that had miraculously missed any vital blood vessels but had caused some bone damage. To make things more complicated, Tony had come in with some hypothermia which may have helped the shoulder injury but was a cause for worry where his lungs were concerned. There was also some blood loss from the bullet wound that they’d had to deal with.

With the various medical issues that they were treating, according to Brad, Dr. Hanson was trying to keep Tony asleep as much as possible to try and help him recover. Tom was relieved to hear that Tony had been somewhat conscious when they first found him although not completely coherent. Thankfully, he’d managed to at least express his need to get to Bethesda instead of the local hospital citing his bout with the Plague within the last year. It was a complication that the local hospital hadn’t wanted to deal with, and therefore an Air Lift had been brought in to get him back to DC.

“What do you want to be done about visitors? Gibbs isn’t the only one wanting in to see Tony. I know from previous experience that Gibbs’ team is hard to keep away even when the patient shouldn’t have a lot of visitors. Abby, in particular, has been making a fuss about getting into the room.”

“No visitors,” Tom said immediately and firmly. “I know that Gibbs isn’t aware of the change in Tony’s Medical POA, and I will take care of that situation. There is too much going on otherwise, and I don’t want any exceptions made here. NCIS is a shit storm right now and it’s only going to get worse. The only people I want in this room are myself, the three men I brought with me, and Special Agent Jubal Valentine from the FBI.

“The three men I brought with me will be serving as Tony’s protection detail. So, I would like to get a list of the medical people who will be authorized for entry into the room and their pictures. I am not taking the chance of someone slipping into the room disguised as a doctor, nurse, or some random technician. There is a serious threat to Tony’s safety from Mossad. Do you know anything about Tony’s situation beyond his medical files?”

Brad nodded as he shifted his stance where he was standing at the end of Tony’s bed. “We developed a friendship while he was here with the plague. It helped that we kind of knew each other previously from college. I know that things have been… tense at NCIS since Kate’s death. Ziva’s placement on the team only made things worse, at least for Tony. I also know that he had big issues with Ziva, even if I don’t know all the details on why. I mean, Tony bitched to me a lot, but he would never risk breaking his confidentiality agreements and such just to complain about co-workers.”

“Well, I am going to give you a little more information then, because I want to make sure that you and whoever will be treating Tony while he is here is more aware of his situation. The woman who died in the shipping container that he was stuck in was a Mossad officer and the daughter of the Director of Mossad. Her half-brother died within the last year, and Ziva was the Director’s last known living child. It’s my opinion that no matter what the investigation uncovers that Tony is going to be in danger from Mossad’s retaliation.”

“Hence the concern of someone getting into the room impersonating hospital staff,” Brad commented with a nod as his eyes flicked to Staff Sergeant Basu with a new sparkle of curiosity. If it were anyone else, Tom would be concerned, but he trusted Dr. Pitt and already had a contingency plan to bring him into Stargate Command if necessary. The doctor had developed a good reputation from what Morrow had learned after treating Tony’s bout with the plague, and Tom couldn’t help but think that they could use someone like that at the SGC to deal with all the odd alien illnesses and diseases that seemed to crop up.

Tom stood quietly and listened as Basu asked some questions about Tony’s care both in the hospital and after he was released. Once they were done, Tom saw Dr. Pitt turn his attention back his way. He knew that Pitt was a specialized Infectious Disease doctor but was hoping if, or more like when, they had to move Pitt he could get the man to come along.

“I had already transferred my nurse Emma to become Tony’s primary nurse while he was here. I thought a familiar face would help. His Primary Physician and I are concerned with his mental health having another significant medical situation less than a year after the plague. We’re doubly concerned knowing that he was trapped in a shipping container with a dead co-worker for who knows how long. No matter the situation on the team, whether they were friends or mortal enemies, that’s going to be an issue.

“So, you’re going to need to make sure you have someone with the right clearance level so that Tony can speak openly. I am not blind to the fact that there is a lot of things going on that  I either flat out don’t know or at least don’t know or understand the nuances of. While we have in house professionals I could recommend, I am willing to leave that detail in your hands if you’d prefer. I was impressed by your concern and care of Tony’s wellbeing from the first time, and I don’t see any reason why it would be different now.

“I am going to go speak with the Hospital Director and Tony’s Primary Physician Dr. Pamela Hanson about what’s going on and forming a team to deal with Tony’s care to cover all shifts. I’m going to fight to keep this sort of go-between position I’m working. Once I have that done, I will get you the names and pictures so that you can do your thing. I am sure you’re going to want to check them out for risks. For now, I will make sure Emma is handling as much as possible for the next hour or so while I work out details.”

“If it helps, you can advise both the Hospital Director as well as Dr. Hanson that I would prefer that you stay on in your current capacity. I say that as not only Tony’s Medical Contact but also as my official position within Homeland Security.” Tom offered, receiving a nod of thanks from the somewhat tired-looking doctor.

When Dr. Pitt left, Tom called for Sergeant Major Spencer to join them in the room so that they could work out some details. The one detail that Tom was having trouble with was where to put Tony once he was released from the hospital. He would love to just dump Tony in Cheyenne mountain where he knew that physically he would be safe. However, he wasn’t blind to the concerns Dr. Pitt had raised concerning Tony’s mental health.

To say that the last year had been difficult for Tony would be an understatement. It had all started with that damned letter and Tony’s fight to survive the plague, but it also included the drawn-out ordeal with Ari Haswari and Kate’s death in addition to the normal stress of Tony’s job. Then there was the added issue of fighting Ziva’s placement, which had to have made the atmosphere on the team tenser than normal. Tom doubted that Tony’s objections were a secret at NCIS.

Tom hoped that he would have considered the need for a psychologist for Tony on his own, but nonetheless, he was glad Pitt had mentioned it. Mentally, he ran through the names of the people associated with the SGC and thought he had the perfect person.

Dr. Marcus. Stephenson was new to the program but at least on paper seemed to be the perfect person to assign to Tony’s case. In addition to a history of helping both high-level law enforcement personnel and military members, he had spent some years overseas in England in his youth. Tom thought that might appeal to Tony considering his mother’s background, and he couldn’t help but wonder if he couldn’t get Tony to agree to use this as an opportunity to work through more than just this past year.

Morrow was well aware of Tony’s ability to talk circles around people when he wanted to, and that included psychiatrists and psychologists. He suspected that there were things from Tony’s past that had never been dealt with and hoped that maybe now Tony would be open to at least considering being open and honest if like Dr. Pitt said they got the correct person.

When Sergeant Major Spencer joined then, Tom pushed his worrying over Tony to the side and filled Eliot in on what they had learned. “I am going to get someone to run a risk assessment on the best place to put Tony while he’s recovering. While the mountain would be the safest place, I don’t think he’s going to mentally be ready for that. I have no doubt though that he’d cope if he had to and would probably argue that he’d be perfectly fine.

“My concern is that the mountain itself can be overwhelming from my experience, and he would be mostly trapped inside. Not being able to escape the confines of being so far underground isn’t the best idea at this time, I think. That isn’t even taking into consideration the fact that he’d have to be read in on everything else.”

“Aliens are probably a little much of a mind fuck to ask him to deal with at the moment,” Spencer conceded with a nod as he crossed his arms over his chest and Basu seemed to agree.

“Dealing with the fact that aliens exist, and we’ve been interacting with them for years was a mind fuck for me and I was in about as good a mental place as you can be as long as I’ve been in the Marines. There’s no way that Special Agent DiNozzo will be ready for that yet. I don’t care who he is. Whoever you pick for his Doctor definitely needs some time with him before we throw that at him.”

“Does this mean you’re considering bringing him into the program?” Eliot asked looking calm and as hard to read initially as DiNozzo in his early years. This was Tom’s first time meeting Sergeant Major Spencer and his team, and so far, what little he’d seen had impressed him.

“I am if I can get Tony to agree to leave NCIS and a couple other conditions. Staff Sergeant Basu, I was considering appointing Dr. Stephenson as Tony’s therapist. Do you have any experience with him? If so, do you have an opinion on it?”

Karun took a moment before answering, and Tom appreciated that he was giving the notion some thought instead of just rattling off an answer. “I haven’t dealt with him personally in a professional aspect. He does play basketball with us in the gym on occasion. Without revealing anything I would rather not though, I know that one of the members of the team has been talking to him and really likes him. This person has been assigned other therapists in the past and hated the experience but says that Stephenson is completely different and likes how he relates to him.

Tom watched as Karun glanced at Eliot and guessed they were having some kind of silent conversation. He guessed about whomever Karun had mentioned. While he was curious about who this person was, he was willing to give them their privacy. He understood when shit just wasn’t his business even if he could demand the answers if he wanted.

“Since I don’t know Special Agent DiNozzo myself, it’s hard for me to say if they’d be a good fit. I can tell you though that this person is pretty quiet about his personal life. He drops little tidbits of information here and there, but he’d been with the team for a good while before he really opened up about anything familywise. He can be an emotional guy and has a temper on occasion.

“This person is protective of his sibling even though their relationship is complicated, and absolutely does not get along with his father. From what he’s told me the experience with Dr. Stephenson has been different than anyone he’s seen before, and they even ventured into a couple topics unrelated to the immediate reason for him going. So, if any of that sounds like your Special Agent DiNozzo it might be worth a try.”

Tom gave a nod and turned his attention to study Tony as he lay in his hospital bed. He wasn’t sure why he was always felt so damned protective of this particular agent, but it seemed like he had almost from the start. Regardless of the why though, he did feel protective and wanted to see Tony in an environment where he could really flourish and find a place to belong. Despite having been with NCIS when Tony came in, Tom absolutely could not get past the notion that the agency was not where Tony belonged or that it would not be any good for him long term. God only knew that Gibbs certainly wouldn’t be.

Another of his regrets was that he hadn’t interfered and severed the connection between Gibbs and Mike Franks. He always questioned if the relationship between the two of them was too firmly set by the time Morrow took over NCIS or if something could have been done.

He knew that the deaths of his wife and daughter changed who Gibbs was fundamentally, but he suspected that Mike Franks hadn’t helped any. The last thing he wanted was to see history repeat itself and for that same manipulative and unhealthy relationship to repeat itself with Gibbs and Tony.

“If I don’t put Tony in the mountain, then I have to find a better place for him. Jack offered his place, but again, I would have to explain to Tony who Jack was, and the man is way too sharp not to put together pieces of the puzzle before we are ready for him to. It’s the same reason why I haven’t already tried to transfer his care to the SGC so that he can be healed. While Homeland has safe houses around town that we could use, I don’t like that idea either.”

Tom cupped a hand over his mouth as he considered the instinct that he’d been fighting since the moment he heard Tony was hurt. After a few moments of contemplation, he decided that fighting his instincts had never gone well.

“To be honest, my first instinct is to have Tony stay in my guest house. That would keep him safe, but yet give him privacy and add another layer of protection to your security detail. I’m just not sure if that is too obvious of an idea. I think I will have one of my people run a threat assessment on the idea I wouldn’t mind though if you had one or two of your people do the same Sergeant Major Spencer. Do you have anyone on your team to do that?”

“Sergeant Payton and Staff Sergeant Matthew Simmons would both be good for the job. In fact, they often have done similar things for other situations and make a good team. Payton is our communications guy primarily but also is really into computers and Simmons has gotten a degree in psychology while he’s been in the service. I can set them both on it asap. I would think they’d be able to get you an answer in 24 to 48 hours. I would assume that DiNozzo will be here at least that long given he’s still unconscious.”

“That’s my guess,” Morrow agreed and after another glance to Tony gave Eliot a nod. “Let’s do it. Once I have both assessments, I will make a decision on where to put him. For now, we’ll make him as safe here as possible. If you feel you need to bring on more of your people do so. My top priority is that Special Agent DiNozzo stays alive. I have plans for him and will be damned if I let Mossad or some rogue portion of NCIS get in my way.”

Giving both men a nod, Tom then headed out of the room to hunt down Gibbs. It was time to remind the stubborn and sometimes blind bastard who the biggest shark in the ocean was.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The elevator doors opened to the main lobby greeting Tom Morrow with the site of Leroy Jethro Gibbs waiting to get on. He wasn’t surprised at the site of two paper coffee cups from the hospital coffee shop in his hands. He was surprised when, after stepping off the elevator, Gibbs automatically took a step back to allow others to get on and handed Tom one of the cups. Nodding his thanks, Tom headed towards the main entrance offering Gibbs nothing more than a simple, “let’s talk.”

Once the two reached a nearby park, Tom found a bench for the two to sit on and found himself watching traffic for a couple moments as he organized his thoughts. “I know you want details on your agent. So, here’s how this is going to work. I am going to give you an update on his current condition. You’re going to tell me what you know about what happened, and then the two of us are going to have a chat. None of this is negotiable and for once you’re going to do what the hell I tell you without giving me crap about it. Am I clear?”

“I already have one agent dead, Tom. I just want to know if I’m going to end up with a second funeral I have to attend.”

“Fair,” Morrow conceded before sharing what he knew.

“Tony is in intensive care at the moment as you know. He came in with a bullet wound to his upper chest near his left shoulder with no exit wound. Fortunately, it missed any major blood vessels, and thanks to the heavy coat he was wearing stopped before hitting the scapula. It looks like he used the sweater that he was wearing to stop some of the bleeding. Dr. Pitt also advised that the shipping container being so cold helped to slow the bleeding.

“He has cracked ribs from the bullet and is suffering from shock along with some mild hypothermia from being in the cold so long. Pitt is worried about an infection setting in due to the bullet being in him so long, and has him on a course of strong antibiotics.”

“What about his lungs?” Gibbs cut in asking. Morrow let it go because he could hear the concern in the team leader’s voice.

“They are worried there as well, but they are hoping that the antibiotics help stop anything there before it starts, too. He’s minimally conscious at this point, but Dr. Pitt is hoping that he’ll stay asleep as long as possible. He said that he was awake for a brief moment once he got to the hospital and that the EMS stated he was in and out both at the scene and on the flight to Bethesda.”

Gibbs nodded having curled his hands around his coffee cup and Morrow wondered if it was already empty. “He was rambling when he was on the phone with me and when I saw him. Told me Ziva was dead and he had to kill her. He wasn’t making much sense though. Kept telling me that he had to kill her, and he was sorry he couldn’t trust me anymore. That why you’re his Medical Power of Attorney?”

“Tell me what you saw at the scene and then we’ll get to that,” Morrow countered, and Gibbs huffed angrily. Tom let him drink his coffee before answering and when the cup was thrown in a nearby trash can he guessed it had been emptied.

“Ziva was dead. Her body was hidden behind some crates. Tony wasn’t far away. It’s unclear when she got killed. The only proof we have until ballistics comes in that Tony did it is his ramblings. He was pretty out of it when we found him. If McGee and I hadn’t arrived when we did, he probably would be dead. N’Diaye was standing over Tony inside the shipping container when we got there.

“McGee certainly didn’t help things. When he heard Tony say he’d killed her, he started spouting off, accusing Tony of killing her because Ziva hadn’t invited him to her damn dinner party. Kid is a damned nightmare. I shoulda never let Tony convince me to take him on. He musta run directly to Abby because she’s all wound up too. She’s switchin’ from hysterical about Tony being hurt to screaming that he didn’t have to kill her just because he was jealous. As if Tony would ever kill someone because he missed a damned dinner party. I’d like to head slap them both into next year.”

“If it were Tony, you would have. So, I don’t know why you are holding back now. But then, Abby is your favorite replacement daughter.”

“How dare you,” Gibbs started, only to be cut off immediately by Morrow, who was in no mood to put up with the man’s bullshit.

“Try it on someone who doesn’t know you, Jethro. I would never besmirch Kelly’s memory, but you seem to try and fill in that empty hole in you with every woman with daddy issues that you meet. I have a shitstorm in my lap that you are a huge part of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and I am in no mood to play games with you. So, let’s move this onto the part where I tell you some hard truths.

“This whole mess could have been prevented if you hadn’t just rolled over for your ex-flame. You and I both know that Ziva David in no way was competent enough to be on your team. She didn’t have the skills or training to be an investigator. Unless your team has suddenly turned into a group of assassins, Ziva David didn’t know how to do the job. Don’t even get me started on the huge liability she was. Eventually, some sharp defense attorney would have figured out that NCIS had a foreign agent touching evidence and intel that she shouldn’t have had access to.

“How the hell J.A.G didn’t throw a massive hissy fit over her I have no clue. The fact that Tony continued to push it should have told you all that you needed to know. The fact that you sold out Tony for a woman who was manipulating you with her mistreated little girl routine and a bullet that might as well have come from Eli David’s gun disgusts me.”

Morrow snorted unhappily and crushed his own empty cup in his hand as he glared at the angry NCIS Team Leader beside him. “You know, I remember the day that you came to me and practically ordered me to make sure no one poached DiNozzo from underneath you while he was at FLETC. When you told me about his former partner and the promise that you’d made him, I really believed that you had a chance at being everything Mike Franks never was. Unfortunately, it seems that you’ve decided to be just as manipulative and cowboy as he ever was.”

“Apparently, you’ve forgotten that I wasn’t appointed Director of NCIS. Jenny Shepard placed Ziva David on our team. I don’t know what the hell you’re trying to imply. I assume that you’re referring to Ari, but you must be slippin’ if you don’t know that I killed him. Ziva wasn’t even there.”

The fact that Gibbs thought he could hide his lie staring Tom straight in the eye told the Homeland Assistant Director and Homeworld Director all that he needed to know about where Gibbs’ ego was. “And apparently you have forgotten that I know how to read goddamned ballistics and forensics reports. There’s no way that you killed Ari. The bullet trajectory is all off from your position. So, cut the crap. You fucked up.

“You and I both know that you had options other than rolling over for Shepard. Hell, if you had put your weight behind Tony’s complaints Shepard would have had to remove her or come up with a goddamned good reason why she wasn’t. You and your ego have screwed the pooch and if I have my way neither you nor NCIS will be able to do it again.”

“Now you wait a damned minute,” Gibbs seethed, and Morrow thought that if he had been a cartoon character there would be smoke coming out of his ears right then. “DiNozzo is my agent, and he’ll leave my team when I say so.”

“Not if I can offer him something you will never be able to compete with. If you really cared about Tony, you wouldn’t push this. How safe do you think he’s going to be when Eli David finds out he was present when his daughter died, let alone what will happen if Tony really did kill her? You aren’t just going to be able to hide him at your house and hope that Eli’s too stupid to figure out where you live. The bottom line is that you created a situation that you can’t stop the consequence of any longer. The only option you have at this point is to step back, keep your damned mouth shut, and let those of us with the resources protect DiNozzo.”

“This got somethin’ to do with those three you brought with you that are no more Homeland agents than I am?” Gibbs asked with a surly sneer that signaled to Tom the other man knew he was beaten. The last thing Morrow needed though was to have Gibbs or worse yet Sciuto and McGee digging into something though and decided to make things perfectly clear to the former sniper.

“I am only going to say this once, Gibbs and for once you aren’t going to argue with me or question me. Those men I brought with me are Homeland agents. You aren’t going to look into them. You aren’t going to have Sciuto and McGee look into them. If you disregard me, and the three of you end up thrown in a hole somewhere and are never seen again, I won’t help you or even care. This is your one and only warning. Keep your nose out of it. Keep their noses out of it. Fix yourself. Cooperate with the investigation that is coming and make sure what’s left of your team does the same.”

Gibbs turned his head away, and for a long while, Tom thought it was the end of the discussion. When he spoke again though, Morrow figured he should have known what was left to pick at.

“Why the hell am I not being allowed to investigate this? Hell, you could have at least let Tobias investigate. He knows the team and the people involved.”

“And that is exactly why I made damned sure that Tobias Fornell would not be allowed to be included in this investigation. If it hasn’t already, it will soon be made very clear to him what will happen to him and his career if he sticks his nose into this. Jubal Valentine is one hell of an investigator, and better than that, he isn’t going to be bullied by you or anyone else. He’s going to find out answers that a lot of people at NCIS, including you, aren’t going to like, and frankly, I don’t give a shit. Stay away from this or pay the price. If even half of the rumors I’ve heard are true, you’d deserve just disappearing.”

Done with the conversation, believing that there wasn’t anything more he could say, Tom Morrow stood up, and after throwing away his empty cup, headed to his car. The team inside of the hospital didn’t need to be told to do their jobs. Tom needed to make a quick jaunt to the mountain. He had a general talk to about a new doctor, nurse, and agent for his program.

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 One

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

  2. Great dialogue and snappy pacing. I could feel the emotions projected by the characters words. Taut plot and enough background to understand some of the why’s of Tony’s situation. Lovely read. Thanks so much.

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