The Difference A Bullet Can Make – Chapter Two

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Chapter Two

The next morning, Tom was at the hospital early to check up on Tony and meet with Eliot to find out how things were going security-wise. According to Spencer, things were quiet so far, but he wasn’t fooled into thinking it was going to stay that way very long. Mossad needed time to find out what happened and get the people they wanted inside the borders. They all knew it was only a matter of time before that happened. While he liked to think that the investigation would be kept quiet as it should until they had conclusive information, he was not naïve and understood that every major agency had their leaks.

Not that he thought Jubal would be spilling secrets. Morrow had been very happy to hear who the FBI Director chose for this operation when he learned about it. At first, Tom had been concerned that Tobias Fornell would be involved, and while he is a good agent, he’s too in Gibbs’ back pocket to be what they needed on this case. What they needed was someone who could not only stand up to Gibbs and tell him back off but was as willing to say the same to Eli David when he came poking his nose into things.

Anticipating this, Tom had a late-night meeting the night before with the president and some of his advisors to warn what could be coming. They were all in agreement that while officially they needed to be sympathetic to the Mossad Director’s grief, unofficially they all knew that he’d gotten himself into this position, and they would be breaking no policies for him. Tom had brought up his suspicion that Jenny Shepard was somehow going to have her fingers in this mess, and it was made clear that she would be quickly yanked at the slightest hint of impropriety on her part. The president also made it clear to SecNav that whomever they replaced her with better damned well not have close ties to another foreign intelligence agency.

That meant that Leon Vance would not be getting the promotion he had been eyeballing, and instead Morrow’s original choice, Owen Granger would most likely be getting the nod. Of course, that was all supposition and guesswork at that point. The investigation was in its very early stages, and they hadn’t even had time to verify Tony’s mostly incoherent claims that he had been the one to kill Ziva.

While Tom appreciated being kept in the loop as to what was going on, he was trying not to breathe down Special Agent Valentine’s neck. Most likely Gibbs and Shepard would be doing more than enough of that for him, themselves, along with several other people. Tom just hoped that Valentine was really as strong as his reputation suggested, because otherwise they all, and specifically Tony, would be screwed.

During his meeting with Pitt, Tom had put out some vague feelers about the man’s interest in joining the SGC. Of course, he couldn’t call it by name, and since it was really Jack’s call, he couldn’t even officially make an offer, but he’d felt that he needed some kind of idea if it was even worth trying. Tom would hate to take Tony out of Dr. Pitt’s indirect care, but knew that it would have to happen because chances were, they were going to need to remove Tony from the hospital for his safety well before he was ready to leave.

In that vein, Tom’s guest house was currently being transformed into everything the medical personnel would need to treat Tony, whoever they ended up being. Despite it being a rush job, Tom was still trying to keep it as quiet as possible. It wouldn’t serve to wave a red flag for Mossad to signal exactly where Tony was being kept. While Morrow was pretty confident that it wouldn’t take Mossad long to determine where Tony had been taken, he felt like his home was better defensible.

Having never married, and hating even the thought of neighbors in his business every day, Tom’s estate was out in the country surrounded by a high wall and the neighbors were far enough away that people would be able to beam in and out as well as have security patrolling around the property without making anyone nervous or upset.

Tom had been pleasantly surprised when Dr. Pitt hinted that under the correct circumstances and depending on who he would be allowed to bring with him, that he would indeed consider a transfer.  Especially if it meant that he’d be allowed to continue to monitor Tony’s health. Confident that he had as much done as he could in DC to prepare for what was coming, Tom started his travel to the mountain, extending Col. Caldwell a nod in greeting before being beamed inside Cheyenne. Offering the people in the gate room a good morning, Tom made his way through the mountain, stopping in the mess for some coffee and a breakfast burrito to munch on as he made his way to General Jack O’Neill’s office.

O’Neill was a legend, and Tom had, in the beginning, been a little worried about how the two of them would get along. It was well known that Jack and Hammond were close and that Jack had been in the running to take over Homeworld. When the two of them met though, the first thing that Jack had done was shake his hand and thank him for saving him from more paperwork and endless meetings with stuffy politicians. In the end, it turned out that O’Neill was, while pretty much as people said, a man that Tom genuinely liked.

In fact, Morrow could see a lot of the things that he appreciated about Tony in Jack, and almost from the start had thought for that reason alone Tony would finally be able to find the place he deserved working alongside the General. If only Tom could get the Special Agent away from his very grumpy Team Leader. A week ago, Morrow had thought it would be impossible, but if the rumors and whispers were true, and if Tony really had killed Ziva David, Tom had more hope than ever that he’d be able to pry Tony away from NCIS and get him into a much more healthy and appreciative atmosphere.

“Morning, Jack. Sorry about the breakfast on the go. I appreciate the meeting. I know you’re busy.”

O’Neill just waved a hand as if to brush off the apology and waved to a chair at the small table in his office. Tom immediately moved to get settled, putting the folders that he’d been carrying under his arm in front of the other seat, the coffee he’d been carrying in front of himself, and quickly finishing off the burrito he’d been trying to eat. There had been a time when Tom could easily miss a meal on a busy day and not pay for it later, but that time was gone. So, after finishing off his meal, and wiping his hands on the handkerchief he kept in his inner pocket, he shook O’Neill’s hand after the man joined him.

“I really do appreciate you making some time for me. I have quite a mess already, and I have a feeling that it’s only going to get worse. I am hoping that you have room in your program for some new people.”

“I’m always happy to take in a stray or three,” Jack joked as he opened the top folder, which just happened to be Dr. Pitt’s. “Your email sounded urgent. I am always happy to put off doing more paperwork. Tell me what is going on, and why Pitt changed his mind. I remember his name from our last search when Janet died, but we were turned down. What’s changed?”

“In Pitt’s case specifically, my guess is that the offer didn’t include the correct people to accompany him. Specifically, the nurse he most frequently works with Emma Ingraham. Unless I am reading their vibes wrong, something is going on there that he wouldn’t want to leave behind. In addition to that, his favorite former patient is the specific reason why I am hoping that you can take him in. Bottom folder, Jack. Special Agent DiNozzo is one hell of an agent but is picky about what doctor he uses.

“If I read between the lines of hints DiNozzo has dropped over the years, he saw enough doctors who either refused to help him or allowed themselves to be bought off by his rich, abusive father that he doesn’t have a high opinion of the profession. On the other hand, he was a high performing college athlete and knows how important it is to take care of his body. I’ve heard people including his own team members suggest that he doesn’t take care of himself when he’s sick, but that’s not my experience.”

Morrow paused to take a drink of his coffee and wished that he had brought a second burrito. Instead, he’d have to make sure he made time in his busy day to grab something for lunch.

“After having a conversation with Tony when it was suggested to me that he’d slip out on necessary treatment, I learned a little about his trust issues and the fact that he tends to heal faster than most, which some doctors and co-workers don’t want to take into consideration. It’s not like he laid his entire childhood at my feet. I got enough detail though and a frank statement that as a former high performing athlete he knew the importance of taking care of his body. He’s just a little pickier than most people who he allows to help him do that.”

“So, this Dr. Pitt and his nurse, possible illicit love affair partner Nurse Emma Ingraham are being recruited to my team in hopes to do what with this Special Agent DiNozzo? What is going on there that you suddenly believe that he’ll want to leave NCIS and come here?”

“He was recently trapped in a shipping container for most of the day with a teammate. When they were found, Special Agent DiNozzo was shot and his teammate was dead. Per him, she died at his hands. I don’t have many details to share with you beyond the rumors and whispers that have been coming my way. Before my current position, I was the Director of NCIS, and I still have quite a few contacts there that keep me updated on the goings-on at the Navy Yard in particular.”

“If this agent killed his teammate, why would I want him in my command?” Jack asked sharply as he pulled Tony’s file from the bottom of the stack and flipped it open.

“Tony’s Team Leader is one of the orneriest people I have ever met in my life, who seems allergic to giving compliments unless you’re one of his daughter substitutes. Yet, he calls Tony the best young agent he’s ever worked with. I can tell you from my time watching them together, I would agree with him. I can also tell you that even without any evidence to back it up that there’s no way Tony killed Ziva David unless he was forced to.”

“David?” Jack questioned pausing in his review of the file and looking sharply at Tom. “Why does her name sound familiar?”

“Her father is Eli David, the Director of Mossad,” Tom answered simply and then let Jack go back to his perusing of the uncensored copy of Tony’s file that he’d brought the man.

“This file says that Special Agent DiNozzo is the Senior Field Agent on the Major Crime Response Team. Why would you put a Mossad Agent on an investigative team?” Jack asked looking up from the paperwork in front of him to frown in Tom’s direction.

“No clue,” Tom admitted as he watched Jack narrow his eyes before going back to his perusal of the file. “I didn’t, for the record. She was put in place by the current Director, Jenny Shepard. Her father is part of the reason why I hope you let me place DiNozzo here in the mountain.”

“I’d say that he’s going to be in danger if it is proven that he did kill her, but my guess is he’s in danger either way.” Jack supposed and Tom just tilted his head to one side already having thought and said similar.

“It’s not a secret that we could use an investigator around this place. I was thinking more than one, though. I mean, they’d need to cover the mountain, Area 51 and Atlantis. We’ve never been able to find the right people for the job though. I see that there’s an updated security clearance report in here. I assume that means you’ve been thinking about this for a while. When did this shooting happen?”

“Night before last,” Tom informed and frowned at his empty coffee wishing he had more of it as well.

“Feels like longer, but yes. I’ve been thinking Tony would be perfect for this place since I found out about the SGC and its lack of investigators. I have a couple ideas for partners for him. There’s an FBI agent who is a former Marine and an expert in battlefield forensics named Elijah Mundo. He and his wife recently split up after a freak accident killed their only child about a year ago. From what I have been able to find out he’s become restless at the FBI and has made noise about joining up again. I think that he’d be a good fit with Special Agent DiNozzo. I have a couple other people I have been eyeballing. I’d like them to have a real forensics person.

“There’s a CSI in Las Vegas who was at one time one of the top DNA specialists in the country that I think would be a perfect fit. There’s a younger FBI agent that they were eyeballing to someday be part of their top Behavioral Analysis Unit. Unfortunately, her adopted father, Jason Gideon, pissed her off and she has since jumped the FBI shift and come to Homeland, which is how she got on my radar. She also has a connection to Tony through his Team Lead Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who is her real father.

“If this investigative team works out, I can see us expanding to put an actual team at least on Atlantis and possibly one in Area 51, but that one I’m not as sure about. That’s all putting the cart before the horse though. Right now, I need to know if you’d accept Tony DiNozzo into the SGC as an investigator. He’d still answer to me to keep things on the up and up. If you agree, I will approach Agent Elijah Mundo as well. I can have his file forwarded to you for review. I’d like them both to start at the same time. Tony would be the lead between the two of them and anyone who was later added.”

Tom sat quiet, mostly bemoaning his lack of coffee and burrito, as he watched Jack review the three files in front of him. When he was done, he watched the other man sit back in his chair, and after a pause give a nod.

“I think I’ve already said that we tried to get Pitt in here once. If I’d known he turned us down cause he’s secretly knocking boots with one of the nurses, I would have assured him that he can bring her along. I will take your word on DiNozzo, but I would like to hold off on a final ok until the investigation into his teammate’s death is further along. I know that you believe he had his reasons, but I have to be able to justify why I brought him in. I’d like to think no one here will know about what happened, but I know how fast things are sniffed out around here.

“As to the others, I like the idea of Mundo and would definitely like to see his file. Technically, I could probably see about forcing him back into service, but I understand that he needs to be answerable to someone other than the immediate command structure in the mountain. I have no opinions on the other two and would need to see their files. So, two yeses, two maybes, and two no opinions based on a lack of info. Do you need the rest of Master Chief Spencer’s team to help with security for DiNozzo?”

When the door opened and two fresh cups of coffee along with two more breakfast burritos were brought in, Tom wondered if they had psychic’s amongst the staff. Not willing to bite the hand that was feeding him however, he instead took an appreciative bite before answering Jack’s question.

“Yes, actually, and another team possibly based on Sgt. Maj. Spencer’s security assessment. We’re going to move DiNozzo to my guesthouse as soon as possible. It’s not the perfect place to stash him, but I trust it more than I do the hospital.”

“Why not move him here? How badly is he hurt?” Jack questioned and Tom bought himself time on answering by taking a sip of his coffee.

Tom made a face as he thought about Tony’s condition before answering. “Bad enough that he’s still asleep more than he’s awake. Also, I would like to have him available for the investigation as long as possible. I have a feeling that things are going to be uncovered that will affect more than just Tony.”

“This about those rumors and whispers you mentioned?” Jack asked and Tom just nodded his answer as the files were handed back to him signaling his time with the General had come to an end.

“I’ll have those other files sent to you within 24 hours, and if you decide you’re interested we’ll start the vetting process. I appreciate this O’Neill. I think once he’s recovered, DiNozzo will truly be an asset to this program, and not only in an investigative manner. I’ve always thought that Tony would be one hell of an intelligence analyst and would like to see him offered more opportunities in that area.”

“Well, let’s hope that he agrees then. We can use all that help we can get in that area. While you’re here, you have time to go over some other things? I could use a couple second opinions.”

“As long as you keep the coffee coming,” Tom agreed and settled back into the seat happy he had time to finish off the second burrito as he got a rundown of what else was going on in the SGC.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Gibbs stood next to Special Agent Jubal Valentine at the FBI morgue watching as the ME pulled open the drawer containing Ziva’s body. While he wasn’t allowed to be part of the investigation in any way and was only being kept in the loop as a courtesy, his request to see his agent’s body had been granted providing that he agreed to have Valentine watch. Since the autopsy hadn’t been started yet, they needed to make sure someone involved in the investigation was nearby to make sure he didn’t do anything to the body.

For once, he wasn’t arguing. The conversation with Morrow had taken some of the air out of his sails. He knew that there were some that were suspicious of his non-actions, but truth be told there was no nefarious subplot. Finding out that Tony trusted him so little that he’d transferred his Medical POA to a man he rarely ever saw had been an eye-opener, and he found himself inside his own head trying to figure things out.

Lifting his hand, Gibbs started to brush some hair off Ziva’s face before catching himself. Forming his fingers into a fist, Gibbs dropped it to his side and offered Special Agent Valentine a quiet sorry for his lapse. The action subdued him further, and he couldn’t help thinking back to the “replacement daughter” comment Tom had made and knew that his former boss was thinking of more than just Abby when he said it.

The previous night, after it became clear that neither he nor any of the other members of the team would be allowed in to see Tony, he’d made them all leave the hospital. Then after getting home and eating a quick dinner of take-out he’d picked up from the diner, he’d gone down to his basement and poured himself a screw jar full of bourbon and set out to sand down his most recent project.

Gibbs was aware that there were some that thought he spent all of his time in his basement trying to pickle his liver. While it was true that the bottle was always on hand, it wasn’t cracked open every night. The beer in his fridge upstairs wasn’t just there for DiNozzo when he came over, and most nights neither were opened.

Really, the thing that he did most every night, and certainly anyone where he had something on his mind, was work with his hands. Usually, it was sanding a piece of wood for whatever project he had going. It was how he worked through whatever issue was on his mind. Like DiNozzo using his movies to make connections on cases, Gibbs used the soothing action of sanding a piece of wood to get rid of all the splinters and sharp edges to make connections in his own mind.

What Gibbs had come up with the night before was that he’d fucked up.

Somewhere along the line as his always intense case focus got homed in on Ari Haswari, and he’d forgotten everything that wasn’t his target. If you weren’t helping him put the man behind bars, then you weren’t important. Along that vein, if you were trying to get between him and the focus of his attention then you were bowled over or pushed out of the way.

More than once during the length of his hunt for Ari, Tony had made clear his dissatisfaction with what was going on. Between the quips about Captain Ahab or the dissatisfied looks, Tony made his feelings clear about his boss’s actions. When Ziva killed her brother, Gibbs unconsciously forgave her for any part she may have played in Kate’s death because she’d helped him achieve his goal. When Jenny placed her on the team, it hadn’t taken Gibbs long to see a woman with daddy issues thus causing him to overlook the problems it would cause.

Looking back now, Gibbs could guess that was of course exactly what Ziva wanted. He would like to think that at some point he would have pulled his head out of his own ass, but he knew himself well enough to recognize the unlikeliness of that. Chances were things would only have gotten worse. He would have continued to favor Ziva because somehow, he had equated that bullet of hers as her choosing him over her brother Ari, and in reverse, continued to discount his SFA because he hadn’t. Which was, Gibbs now knew, complete bullshit.

Between that and the ‘I love you/I hate you’ thing that he had going on with Jenny, Gibbs had become completely distracted from what was actually going on around him and specifically with his team. Looking back, he could see how Ziva had begun to manipulate everyone around her from the first day they’d met her.

The dinner party the other night was just one of the examples of her goal, which now that he looked back was pretty obvious. Her intention had been to alienate the rest of the team from DiNozzo and to isolate him from his support chain for some reason.

Gibbs couldn’t help but wonder how much of a hand Jenny had in all that, and if she was softening Tony up for something that she had planned in the future. Tony was a people person and didn’t deal with isolation well. He guessed it had something to do with an early childhood that was spent mostly on his own from the stories Tony told here and there since he’d met him. The problem in Ziva and Jenny’s plan though was that Tony wasn’t just rolling over and accepting Ziva because Gibbs said so.

Gibbs couldn’t help but wonder if Jenny was projecting her experience working with him as a partner onto Tony. It was like she assumed that because Gibbs himself had accepted Ziva’s presence with only a courtesy question or two that Tony would do the same thing just because that’s how things were.

The problem was though that Tony didn’t work that way. While Tony rarely pushed things in front of other people, there were moments when it was just the two of them in some abandoned hallway at the Navy Yard and regular visits to the basement when Tony would voice his displeasure with something Gibbs was doing. When Morrow was around, he’d been aware of those things, and it hadn’t been odd to see the Director pull Tony into his office to find out what was going on.

After Ziva had been placed on the team, Tony had tried numerous times to reason with Gibbs that she didn’t belong on the team, that she was a liability to the team, or that her placement on the team was highly suspect. Every time Gibbs had ignored him, eventually getting rather sharp the last visit and making it clear that he supported the placement and expected Tony to just shut his mouth and get with the program.

Snorting and shaking his head, Gibbs knew that was the very moment when Tony had realized his boss was no longer someone he could trust. He wouldn’t be surprised if he learned that the very next morning his Senior Field Agent had set about changing his paperwork and started making the plans he would need if he had to exit NCIS in a hurry.

“He was right,” Gibbs murmured shaking his head as he glared down at Ziva.

“You had no place on the team, and I should have listened. You weren’t trained for the work we do, and your every action was done with the purpose of achieving your goal whatever it was. I picked Tony for my team, I only overlooked your placement and didn’t push when I should have. If I lose Tony from my life over this, that is what I will regret. Your death is the result of your own actions. While I am sorry you died, I won’t regret that Tony lived instead.”

Turning away from her, Gibbs looked at Special Agent Valentine who was watching him with an unreadable expression on his face. “I know I’ve been an ass, and I apologize for that. I’m willing to answer whatever questions you have. In fact, I think that there are some things that you should know about Ziva and her placement on my team. As much as I hate to think it because Jenny Shepard was my probie, I have a feeling that somehow she has a hand in whatever happened.”

“Apology accepted, Special Agent Gibbs,” Jubal Valentine offered shaking the man’s hand when it was offered. “I do have some more questions since the last time we talked, and some others I would like to go over again. We’ve all had our heads up our asses at some point in our careers. I just want to find the truth about what happened in that shipping container. Did Special Agent Tony DiNozzo murder his teammate because he believed she didn’t belong on his team or did something else happen before it that prompted him to kill her to save his own life? That is all I care about, and if I find out anything else while looking for that answer, you can bet I will look for those answers as well.”

Nodding, Gibbs followed Jubal out of the morgue, pausing at the doorway to see the ME closing the door to where Ziva lay. He couldn’t help but feel like finally, something terrible was over. Now, he just needed to do his best to get Tony out of the mess Gibbs’ indifference had gotten him into and see if maybe he could fix what he’d broken in their friendship.

Gibbs couldn’t help but think just maybe it really would all work out all on its own. For once, he thought maybe it would be best for him to just sit back and let the FBI agent do his job. It would give him time to work some things he’d been avoiding, like his grief over Kelly and Shannon’s deaths. If Ziva David wasn’t a clear indication that it was interfering with his judgment, nothing was.

He’d already ordered McGee and Abby to stay out of things. If they didn’t from this point forward, there was nothing he could do about it. It was becoming more and more apparent that he needed some space to get his head together and do some more thinking. Then, maybe it would be time he parted ways with NCIS. Maybe Morrow would have a place for him at Homeland, or just maybe he’d get on his boat and sail off into the sunset. Once he knew Tony was safe that was. Tony was his primary focus. He’d forgotten that for a while, but now that he remembered he wasn’t leaving until he knew his agent and friend was safe.

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 Two

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

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

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