Chapter One: The House Comes Tumbling Down
Tony walked into his house tossing his keys in the bowl at the front door and then headed to the kitchen to set about starting water for tea to boil. Once that task was accomplished, he headed to the bedroom to get changed out of his suit. It was while he was changing clothes that the mental barrier keeping all the anger and betrayal safely locked away cracked letting it all loose. He’d been taking his pants off when his eyes fell on the book on his nightstand. It was by the same author that Ziva had been reading in the car.
In fact, it had been her talking about the novel in the office over the last week that had prodded him into buying one of the man’s books. Now, the sight of it on his nightstand made him want to puke. Forgetting for a moment that he had one leg half in and half out of the pants leg, he started to reach for it to toss it across the room, but instead, lost his balance and ended upon the floor laying next to his bed. Letting out an angry howl that was quite muted from its normal volume due to his sore throat, Tony pounded on the carpeted floor as angry tears leaked from the corner of his eyes.
Years of betrayals and swallowing down his opinions and ambitions. Years of setting aside his own wants, needs, and pleasures. Years of turning himself into a man whore because it was obvious that his life didn’t have time for a real relationship came out and by the time he got done screaming and pounding on the carpet, he was once again completely without a voice. When he was finally spent laying exhausted mentally and physically, Tony realized that he had nothing left to offer the team, and maybe even NCIS.
Not only did he not have anything left, but all he wanted was to burn the entire thing to the ground and let someone else start over who wasn’t corrupt and in the pocket of Eli David. Fighting the urge to curl up in a ball and cry some more, Tony pushed himself up, wincing when pain shot through his wrist and shifted to a sitting position. Reaching up behind him, he patted around on the bed blindly until he felt his phone where he’d tossed it, and pulling it down, sent a text to the one person he knew would get him what he needed at that moment, which was time.
Time to plot, time to plan, time to gather people around him that would go to the wall with him and for him. Time to see if there were even any of those people left in his life. Sending the text, Tony spent a few minutes in conversation finding out that no, Brad wasn’t on duty, and yes, he could come over asap with his bag. This was only after Tony promised to be honest about what was going on, but for once it was a promise that he was willing to give.
Normally, he would dodge Brad’s well-meaning questions, but for the first time since he left Baltimore, Tony felt like he had no one left to protect. Everyone around him at NCIS felt like a traitor. Ziva for telling Tim to turn off the coms. McGee for being so weak, or maybe so eager to be part of something, that he quickly complied without much of a fuss. Abby for considering what they’d done so insignificant that she hadn’t even bothered to alter the evidence but hadn’t reported it in her official report, either. Vance for not caring more about his people, even the ones he didn’t like. And Gibbs for… Gibbs for letting him down the most.
Maybe he should have gone to Gibbs, but by the time he made it out of the office, he had no confidence that the older man would be on his side. A part of Tony wasn’t even sure that his boss would care. He more than half expected Gibbs to just grunt at him and throw some line at him like what did he expect when Tony never took anything seriously. It was disheartening, to say the least.
A large part of him longed for days past when it had been just himself and Gibbs and they’d shared a friendship to go with their work partnership. At that moment, Tony understood that the gap between himself and his boss wasn’t just a small crack in the floor, but a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon. Hearing the kettle whistle signaling that the water was hot, Tony stood up and after kicking off his pants, headed to the kitchen to make himself some tea with honey. His phone in his hand.
Deciding the water was too hot to drink, Tony set the phone on the island next to the tea, and then made his way back to his bedroom to put on a pair of OSU sweats and t-shirt. Normally, he’d wear them just to tweak Brad because he was coming over, but tonight it was for comfort. Sometimes he wondered if OSU wasn’t the last time, he really had the support of people that didn’t have the last name Sheppard.
At least there, he knew that his frat brothers and his teammates had his back. Now, he ached for the comfort that unquestionable knowledge gave him. It wasn’t that he didn’t know his family would do everything they could to protect him. It was that in the year he’d known Patrick Sheppard was his father, he’d thus far fought hard and loudly about keeping his work life his. He felt like a hypocrite if he ran to daddy now. Of course, a little voice in the back of his head whispered reminding him that Patrick wasn’t Senior and would welcome him with open arms. It didn’t make him feel any less like a shitty son, though.
By the time Brad arrived, he had made his way through his cup of tea, now working on a second, and was curled up on one end of his couch watching Sports Center to try and keep his mind off of everything. The decanters of alcohol had been carefully put away, so they weren’t within his eyesight. Having been raised by two alcoholics, and having scared himself after Kate died, there were certain situations where Tony just couldn’t stand the sight of booze. Moments when he was feeling extremely negative emotions were one of them.
“What’s going on, Buckeye?” Brad asked as he set down on the other end of the couch, setting his bag on the coffee table in front of them. A bag that Tony knew he’d gotten just so he could help Tony when he didn’t want to make a trip to Bethesda. Technically, Brad was not the kind of doctor that would need to carry such things. He was an infectious diseases doctor. However, after the Plague, they’d struck up a friendship and Brad was willing to help out for minor things here and there.
“I need you to get me a medical leave. As long as you can.” Tony croaked, his voice little more than a whisper.
Tony understood Brad’s surprise and therefore patiently waited for his friend to recover enough to reply. “You are asking me for medical leave? Jesus, Tony, what the hell did they do to you? You sound like shit by the way. You’re barely even whispering. I should be telling you not to talk, but I need to know what’s going on to know what I can do.”
“Did you see the stories on the news lately about the DJ that got blown up?” Tony whispered before taking another sip of the tea. The warmth and the honey soothing his aching sore throat.
“Yeah, they said something about Domestic Terrorists. Was your team on that case?”
“We were,” Tony confirmed. “It’s why I have this lovely voice. Had to go around a whole neighborhood to get voice prints to match the terrorist cell member we were afraid had done the deed. Ziva and McGee got tired of listening to me though, so they turned off the coms.”
Like before, Tony just waited sipping on his tea when Brad just gaped at him. “They’re in jail, right? How the hell could they not know what kind of danger they were putting you in?”
“They’re not even getting written up,” Tony advised making Brad shake his head as if that would make the crazy stop. “Vance says if I can’t take it then I shouldn’t dish it out. I can’t… Even I have limits, Wolverine. I need time though. I’m afraid if they don’t have a valid reason why I’m not at work that the evidence will mysteriously disappear, the case be damned.”
“So, you’re doing something about this then I take it? It’s about damned time.” Brad swore some more as he opened up his bag and pulled out an ace bandage. “I notice you’re drinking your tea with the wrong hand. What did you do to your wrist?”
“Just tweaked it when I fell in the bedroom. It’s not broken. I don’t even think it’s sprained. It’s why my voice is so bad, too. I kinda lost it for a moment like a baby.” Tony said with a shrug which caused Brad to make a face Tony recognized as frustration.
“Stop it with the putting yourself down shit. You just suffered the worst betrayal someone in your profession can experience, and for the second time. Granted it’s a different set of people and circumstances than what happened in Baltimore but finding out that your partner or partners are assholes is still finding out your partner or partners are assholes. I would be losing my shit. As for your wrist, how about you let the doctor determine how badly you hurt it. What are you going to do since Gibbs doesn’t want to do anything to them?”
Tony let loose a nearly soundless unamused huff before replying. “I’m gonna dig out my insurance file and then go see my father. I know Gibbs thinks that he’s the only one who keeps shit, but he’s not. Anyway, Gibbs doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him. Don’t trust him not to side with the Turncoat Twosome.”
“I thought you hated Gibbs’ insurance file?” Brad questioned as he finished wrapping the wrist.
“The difference between myself having insurance and Gibbs is that I don’t plan on blackmailing anyone with them and I didn’t steal anything. I’m gonna lay out the entire debacle that is NCIS to my billionaire father then let him turn it all over to a lawyer. I think he knows AJ Chegwidden and I hope the fuckin’ building burns to the ground when AJ’s done. I just need time. Last I checked everything was still in its place, but I know it won’t be if anyone suspects I am anything but sick.”
Tony watched as the doctor headed to the kitchen and came back with a bottle of water. “I think you’re right. If it swells or shows any signs of it being worse than what it is, then come to see me for X-rays. I’ll be as vague as I can in your paperwork. I’ll use the combination of the voice and the wrist as your reason for leave. I’ll even call Gibbs myself to give him the happy news.”
“That’s a little above and beyond, Bradley,” Tony teased, and Brad just rolled his eyes before closing up his bag and turning toward the TV.
“If it means that you’re finally ditching those assholes, then I’m all for it. I have files in my office for all the times you’ve been hurt or gotten sick because of what I believe is their negligence. What are you gonna do if Chegwidden says no? When are you going to see Patrick? Additionally, does this mean you’re gonna finally stop shooting yourself in the foot and let your family in?”
Tony fiddled with his sweats plucking off fuzz balls instead of watching the TV. “I’m gonna go see Patrick tomorrow. He said I can stop in at Sheppard Industries at any time. Guess I will test that out. I don’t wanna take the chance that someone is tracking my phones by calling him first to find out if he’ll be there. I mean technically I have a burner phone hidden here but I don’t know if he’ll answer an unknown number. And, if they are tracking my phones, they might freak out if they see I called him. If Chegwidden says no, then I’m gonna go to Morrow and see if Tom has a recommendation.”
Tony didn’t have to be looking at Brad to know his friend had an incredulous expression on his face. “You still trust him, huh? Isn’t he partially responsible for some of this shit? At least for not reigning in Gibbs more?”
Tony finally looked at his friend and shrugged a shoulder. “Maybe so, but most of this crap would never have happened if he’d still been there. Certainly, Ziva would never have made it onto the MCRT if she was allowed to work for NCIS at all. Everything went wrong when Ziva joined the team. If I had my way, I’d scorch the Earth of her. As far as I’m concerned, everyone else who’s jumped on the Ziva bandwagon can burn with her.”
“I’ll be honest, buddy. I am liking this pyromaniac thing you’re developing. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.” Brad promised with a quip then demanded that his friend stop talking as they turned to the basketball game that came on ESPN to watch in a friendly silence. Eventually, they’d order Thai and by the time Tony went to sleep, he’d at least be able to rest knowing he had at least one person at his back. The next morning would tell him if he could increase that count to two.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Tony knew that Patrick liked to be at the office by 7AM every morning. Then he had a daily meeting with his division heads at 8AM and was usually back in his office around 9AM. So, at 8:59AM, Tony stepped off the elevator a little surprised how easily he’d gotten this far into SI. He flashed one of his best disarming the witness smiles but didn’t even get a chance to speak before the lovely brunette at the desk was announcing him to Patrick.
“Son, this is a pleasant surprise,” Patrick greeted with such honest happiness to see him on his face that Tony’s guilt over being a crappy son just increased. “What happened to your wrist? What brings you to my office?”
Taking a sip from the tumbler of tea he’d brought from home, Tony let out a sad sigh before speaking. “I apologize now if this is slow going. As you can hear my voice is mostly gone. Unfortunately, I have too fucking much to do to not speak. I want to start off by apologizing for being a crappy son. I’ve pretty much shit on your efforts to be a part of my life, and now that I need you, I’m here asking for help like a jerk. You deserved better from me in that area, and all I did was let you down.”
Patrick frowned and tilted his head to one side slightly before murmuring his response. “Antony, give me just a moment to call out to Jody to have my schedule cleared. It sounds like you and I have some things to clear up.”
Tony nodded his agreement and shifted his gaze to the amazing view out Patrick’s corner office window. His father and the rest of the Sheppard clan came into Tony’s life about a year prior just after Tony and the rest of the team returned from Somalia. Tony had his yearly annual and there was an extra blood test that was mandatory for all NCIS agents. It was explained as a test for some kind of rare genetic disorder they were concerned about.
Somehow whatever they ran led to them revealing that his father was not Anthony D. DiNozzo, Senior, but instead Patrick fucking Sheppard billionaire industrialist, and former Navy Admiral. He also discovered that he had two older brothers, David Sheppard, who was married to his wife Charlene, and John Sheppard, who was in the Air Force and away on a classified mission that kept him mostly out of contact. He then also had a younger brother Aiden Sheppard who was in the Navy and would soon be heading to SEAL training.
The year since the revelation had been harder than it probably should have been. Tony wasn’t what you would call trusting when it came to having someone who suddenly wanted to be involved in every aspect of his life. Because of this, he had fought said involvement tooth and nail. He’d felt back about it for a while, but it was just really hard for Tony to trust that this thing with Patrick and the rest of the Sheppards was actually real. Something Brad had been trying to get him to be more open-minded about, and also something Tony deeply regretted considering what a shit storm his professional life had become.
“OK, Antony, my schedule is clear for the day. I am yours. Do you want to have this talk here, or at the house? I know the family house makes you somewhat uncomfortable.” Tony turned his attention back from the view to Patrick and bit his lip as he turned over his options.
One of the first things Tony had done when he found out that the prick calling himself The Real Tony DiNozzo was the only Tony DiNozzo was to change his name. He was invested in being Tony, and didn’t want to change that, but didn’t want to be Anthony either. At the same time, while his mother wasn’t perfect, and certainly had her flaws, Tony had loved her and wanted to honor the one person who had actually tried to be his parent while she was alive.
Then at the last minute, as he was standing in front of the judge getting the name change, he decided to take Brad’s advice and not completely ignore Patrick’s place in his life. Thus, his name had changed from Anthony Dominic DiNozzo, Junior to Antony Sheppard Paddington. Brad had been happy with the change. Team Gibbs had been assholes about it, and even Gibbs tended to still call him DiNozzo when he thought he was making some kind of a point.
Patrick when finding out, just smiled and told him how much he appreciated the honor he’d given him in recognizing his place in Tony’s life. Just one more thing that Tony felt like a jerk about considering it had been a last-second decision. He was fairly confident that Patrick deserved better.
“Can we start here? At some point, I’d like us to bring in Admiral Chegwidden, and if he’s in DC this week instead of New York, this will be closer to his office than the house.”
“Are you in trouble Antony?” Patrick asked concerned, and Tony stretched his legs out in front of him after placing the now empty travel cup on the edge of his father’s desk.
“No, but if I have my way a shit ton of people at NCIS are going to be. I know you want details, but given how horrible my voice is right now, I’d rather not have to repeat the whole fiasco.”
Patrick nodded and placed a quick call to his friend making an appointment for 3PM that afternoon since Chegwidden was in fact in DC. Once done, his father leaned back in his chair, resting his elbows on the desktop, and steepled his fingers as he studied Tony.
“At no time in the last year have I thought you to be a crappy son or associated any other negative emotion or feeling to you in regard to our relationship. I can only imagine how hard it is to find out at 37 that the man who has treated you horribly your entire life and gotten away with it by claiming parentage, is not in fact your parent at all. Not in blood, and certainly not in his actions. While I can be impatient, and I’m used to people jumping when I make demands, you are not included in that.
“The fact of the matter is, Antony, that you are my son. I have never been a perfect father, and the fact is that I have not had John back in my life for much longer than you have been in it is because of my actions toward him. I’d like to think that with age, I have learned some hard lessons when it comes to my sons, and hope that you are reaping the rewards of those lessons. If you need my help, it is yours. If you decide at the same time that you are ready for us to try and build a relationship, I would love it and hold no ill will toward the time you needed to get here.”
Tony ran a hand through his spikey hair frustrated wishing he had more tea. “You have to understand that Senior wasn’t just a bad father, he was neglectful and at least verbally and emotionally abusive. By the time he disowned me at 12 for embarrassing him by getting caught when he forgot me in Maui, I had given up on the notion that he would ever be anything but my mother’s sperm donor. I’d become a bitter and angry kid who still missed his mother so much it felt like I had a literal hole in my heart, and didn’t have a ton of friends because I was so bitter and angry.
“The only time Senior appeared was when he wanted something. Fortunately, before you came into my life, he hadn’t wanted something for almost a decade. So, I find the idea that you actually want me for me and not for what you think I can do for you is… Well, it’s hard to trust.”
Both concern and anger were evident on Patrick’s face, and Tony hoped that while the former was for him that the latter was about Senior. “And my understanding of what kind of man he is, is what makes it so easy to be patient with you, Antony. No matter when you came into my life, you are my son, and therefore I love you. I will give you everything I have including my patience and my assistance with whatever you have found yourself caught in. Now, if you don’t mind hanging out here, let me have Jody bring you a tablet to use till we go see AJ for the meeting as well as some more tea. I’ll take the time to get some things done. That way we can spend some time together tomorrow if you’d like.”
“I’d like,” Tony said and moved to settle into his father’s sitting area waiting for Patrick’s assistant to bring him a Sheppard Mercury Tablet 4 and some more hot honey tea.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Around 3PM, Tony stood with Patrick in AJ Chegwidden’s outer office waiting for his secretary to give them the ok to go in. The woman kept giving him funny looks after stopping her flirting. Normally, Tony would be all over that, but that day just wasn’t the day. Somehow plotting the destruction of your employer put a stop to any thoughts of extracurricular anything. Besides, one of the things on the list he’d made for himself that morning had been no more settling including in his love life.
There was a huge whole part of his sexual preferences that he’d been ignoring since the Police Academy, but that was going to change. He thought that he could honestly say that he’d tested the heterosexual part enough to know it wasn’t working. He thought maybe it was time that he tested the other half of the market that he’d been ignoring. It had been something he’d admitted to Patrick previously, and was honestly shocked at how open his father was to the notion. It was only after that acceptance that he remembered his brother John was in a committed relationship with one of the male scientists on his base.
Hearing Madeline call their names, Tony stood and carrying the travel mug of tea Jody filled for him before they left SI, followed Patrick into Retired Rear Adm. Chegwidden’s office. Shaking the man’s hand, Tony then took a seat as directed at a conference table.
“What brings you to my office, Paddington?” Chegwidden asked settling in his chair. “I was damned surprised when Patrick called and said that you were asking for a rush appointment. You sound like shit by the way.”
“Yeah, it’s all kinda wrapped up in one big ball,” Tony started fiddling with the slider on the lid of his mug. His father’s presence at his side was both comforting and making him nervous. “Before we start though I have some questions for you because I am pretty much out of trust at the moment. If it was anything else, I wouldn’t bother. You’re the most by the book guy I’ve ever known though, and I know you’d never condone what’s going on. I just… Is there anything in your previous employment contracts or whatever or in your retirement stuff that would prevent you from handling a case against NCIS?”
Chegwidden’s eyebrow lifted, but the man shook his head no. “No, and as a matter of fact, I would say I might be the perfect person to do it given the position I held. What’s Gibbs done now?”
“You say that like you expect this is about Gibbs,” Tony pointed out suspiciously wondering if somehow, he’d been tipped off. This whole situation was making him paranoid and he hated it. Tony had always trusted his instincts, and he hated that they were making him doubt himself. Next to him, Patrick was sitting perfectly still, and Tony was wondering if his father was fighting the urge to squirm as much as Tony was.
“I’ve known the Gunny for long enough that I figured at some point he’d go too far. Mike Franks was a bad influence on him, and Jethro’s anti-leadership stance has never been the best mix. He, at one time, was a decent agent, but I have always questioned his suitability as a team leader. There’s a difference between being focused on justice and bullying people to get the outcome you want. From what I have heard, Gibbs has slipped into that bully territory. So, I ask again. What has he done?”
“I thought you two were friends?” Tony asked still not sure, even as he slipped his hand in his pocket to pull out a micro stick.
“We’re friendly, but I wouldn’t consider us friends. I am friendly with a lot of people. I was a damned lawyer, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t understand that most times being pleasant was easier than bludgeoning people to get what I want. Strict and bullying are not the same outcome. What’s on the stick, kid?”
It was harder than it should be. Tony wanted to trust this man. He wanted to be able to just hand over the audio files that he’d put on it, but that damned second-guessing himself was getting in the way. As he sat there watching Chegwidden, he could feel anxiety and a flight instinct trying to burst out of his chest. The only thing that was holding him back was that he really believed that this man was the best chance he had.
“You’ve come here for a reason, Tony,” Patrick pointed out. His voice calm and soothing, and Tony turned his attention toward his father.
The fact of the matter was that Tony had to have someone he could trust in the mess he’d become entangled in. He couldn’t imagine there was anyone better to offer his trust to than Patrick. Even though he knew what his father was doing, trying to calm him down, he couldn’t help but want to respond to it. Before Tony could answer though Chegwidden spoke again.
“Something serious has obviously happened, and I am guessing that a lot of us have underestimated the fucked-up-ness that is going on at NCIS. I can see you’re ready to run, and we both know if you do that none of us will ever find you. The problem with it though is you’ll be running for the rest of your life. You’ll be leaving behind your family and a level of protection that most people just don’t have access to. Frankly, that would be a real damned shame in my opinion, because I’ve never known anyone who enjoys life or deserves a family like the Sheppards more than you do.
“I promise you that whatever happened, I am on your side. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve known Gibbs. It doesn’t matter who Ziva’s father is, ‘cause there’s no way that harpy isn’t involved. The second you hire me, I am on your side first, Justice’s the second and damn everyone else.
“I have never been a fan of Leon Vance or thought that slimy prick was suited for the director’s chair, and Shepard was an even worse idea. I suggested Granger both times, but no one listens to me. Tell me what they did to you so that I can nail their goddamned asses to the wall.”
Tony’s fingers clenched around the memory stick for a moment before nodding and handing it over. “It’s not Gibbs. Not really. I mean, the fact that I didn’t even consider going to him probably says I should have examined our working relationship a long time ago. Gibbs isn’t the one who pushed me over the edge, though. There are two files on there. Listen to both and then we’ll talk.” Tony knew the wait might kill him, but he had no choice.
When Ziva and McGee’s voices came over the speakers of Chegwidden’s computer, Tony didn’t even try to stay where he was. Instead, he got up and walked to the other side of the room where he began to pace back and forth along the length of the room. At one point, he had to set his tea down because he was afraid, he would let it sail and bust something in the Admiral’s office. And Jesus he had to get control of his emotions. He couldn’t afford to be such an emotional seesaw in his profession, and he damned well intended to continue his profession. Fuck them if they thought they could chase him off.
When Vance’s voice started though, he moved to the corner window and stared out trying to force his mind to blankness. It was sickening to him that the Director’s betrayal hit him worse than Ziva and Tim cutting off the coms, but it did. He didn’t know what had made him record the conversation in Vance’s office, but he had. Even though he knew that it wouldn’t be eligible to be used as evidence, he knew it would give those he needed to trust him the full picture of what was going on.
A part of him was amazed that he’d been able to get the conversation recorded. It had been a spur-of-the-moment decision to even tell the man what happened. Tony had been at his desk late at night with the rest of the team gone when Vance stopped by his desk to make sure things had been wrapped up. Tony had been sitting at his desk contemplating carry out orders on his cellphone when Vance stopped in front of his desk.
He wasn’t sure what had convinced him to tell the man what happened, but his reaction absolutely hadn’t shocked him at all. Vance was like a saner and more crooked version of Sheppard. How the fuck someone had managed to hire two Directors in a row with close ties to Mossad, Tony had no clue. It wasn’t even like either connection was a secret. Part of his concern in all of this was Vance catching a clue and altering the evidence. Fortunately, the man had given Tony the perfect cover story saying he should see someone about his voice. He was hoping the fact that Vance had always underestimated him would work in his favor.
“Jesus Christ, Tony,” Chegwidden said, and Tony looked over to see the man had turned towards him at some point. “If you’re willing to trust me then I’m in. Those assholes have no right to get away with this bullshit.”
“I have more,” Tony said quietly before making his way back to where he’d been sitting previously. “Not blackmail files like Franks and Gibbs have, but insurance, nonetheless. Things where I think the law was bent too far. Things I suspect were covered up and the decisions made were not made by the people I was told they were. Most of it is reports and things I’ve kept over the years. The original copies before I was made to not include something or where I questioned things and it was ignored or removed.
“I even have Abby’s report where she proved that Gibbs killed Pedro Hernandez. I know it’s past the statute of limitation in Mexico, but it might help our cause.”
“You have… Gibbs did… Explain!” Chegwidden snapped, and Patrick looked ready to commit murder.
Tony shrugged and went to retrieve his forgotten tea before coming back and answering. “I didn’t know at the time all of what was going on, but a few years ago, Abby was working on a case for the Mexican Government. Some special case that they wanted her to review. I remember that she was really absent-minded and agitated at the end.
“When we had problems with that cartel that went after Jackson Gibbs, I suspected what happened, but I didn’t have proof. Then about six-ish months ago, the Evidence Bunnies gave me the wrong box when I was checking out a cold case. Just lying there on top for some reason was the report that Abby did. I have no clue how it got there, but I made a copy of it before giving the box back. It proves that the bullet that shot Pedro Hernandez came from Gibbs’s sniper rifle. The same one he uses to this day.”
“Holy shit, DiNozzo,” Chegwidden breathed before taking a drink from the coffee mug in front of him. “You could be more dangerous than Gibbs and Franks put together.”
“I’m not an asshole,” Tony protested with a scowl.
“I’d never use what I have to blackmail someone. I just… I tried to do the right thing, and I wasn’t going to have it thrown back on me someday when someone finally clued in. I’ve, I don’t know how I’ve overlooked it for so long. When I look back on it all now, it feels like NCIS is so corrupt that I don’t understand how black ooze isn’t just running down the walls. It was all more to cover my own ass than to take someone else down. However, given what they did, I am willing to turn it all over to you and whoever you think best. I thought maybe Morrow, but now I’m not sure.”
“You’ve already included Tom?” Chegwidden asked surprised, and Tony shook his head no.
“Not yet, but that was the next step in my plan if you turned down my request for help unless you think it was a bad idea. I trust Tom. Maybe I shouldn’t but he always did right by me, and he felt like he’s the only Director NCIS has had since I got there who valued me.”
“Tom’s a helluva idea,” Chegwidden approved pulling a notepad closer to himself and making some notations. “I think that you’re right that this shit at least would not have been tolerated. Let’s take a look at this evidence of yours and then we’ll involve Tom. I’d like to do that before we go after NCIS’ files, but that needs to happen quickly. I’d also like to keep this out of my office any further until we have what we need out of NCIS’s systems.
“I’ll contact Tom and see if he is available to come over tonight. I think that we should also involve FBI Assistant Director Evans. He’s as honest as they come, and technically this is something the FBI will have to be involved in I’d imagine. We’ll give them a rundown of what’s going on and then settle on our game plan. Then first thing tomorrow morning, I will go to the courthouse and make a motion for the records that we need. There are a couple judges there that I trust to help us out and keep it quiet. The last thing we need is this to get public. Unfortunately, that may limit some of the punishments, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
“The last thing I want is someone to go free because of this circus. I just can’t keep my mouth shut anymore, Admiral. I also can’t ever go back there. Dr. Pitt from Bethesda who on occasion acts as my personal physician has put in medical leave for me and has dealt with Ducky and Gibbs. So, hopefully, they won’t suspect anything.” Tony admitted and thought his father looked to be clenching his jaw so tight he was afraid he’d crack a tooth.
“Good, that’s good. We don’t want them catching wind of this before we’re ready for them to know. I don’t have words for how furious this makes me, Tony. I can assure you that once this is done, we’ll find a landing spot for you with people that will respect you. You’re going to have options. I am going to make sure of it. And, for God’s sake, call me AJ.”
Taking a deep breath, Tony nodded and took another sip of his tea as he made plans with AJ for the evening as well as giving him a heads up on what was in his files. Hopefully, by the time they were done, NCIS would be cleansed of the corruption and they could get back to what they were meant to be doing.
Several hours later, Tony found himself in the den at Patrick’s DC townhouse listening one more time to the recordings he’d provided his lawyer. This time it was being played for Director Morrow, Assistant Director Evans, and JAG Harmon Rabb’s benefits.
Morrow was the one Tony had been watching though, and the angrier the man’s expression got, the more Tony relaxed. When it was done playing and Morrow was done cursing, the man turned his intense gaze on Tony. Patrick looked just as furious this time as he had earlier in the day, and Tony just hoped that the man wouldn’t have a heart attack.
“When this is all over if there isn’t a suitable Director that Patrick, AJ, and myself approve of, then you are accepting that job offer I’ve been sending you every month since I left. I ain’t pussy footin’ around anymore. The fallout for this is going to be massive and probably extend beyond US borders with Eli’s little girl involved. He won’t like the stain on Mossad one bit, and from what I’ve heard he already isn’t your biggest fan. I’m getting ahead of myself though. AJ, we need those records now.”
Harmon Rabb, the current JAG Commander, sat up with eyes stormy from his own suppressed anger. During their conversation in the afternoon, AJ had convinced him that they need JAG involved as well since it could affect their case. It would also possibly muddy the waters enough to buy them more time.
“AJ and I have an appointment with Judge Butler in the morning. He’ll sign our warrants and keep it quiet. I’ve already told him that we aren’t sure how big it is. We need to go through Tony’s files tonight, so I have a better idea of what to look for. AJ and I agree that our best bet would be to get as much in the initial sweep as possible.”
Evans nodded looking up from the notepad he had been scribbling on. “I have some ideas for an investigative team. I was thinking of Ian Edgerton for the lead. I know it’s a little unorthodox. He’s better known for his sniper abilities, but the man is as incorruptible as they come. While he prefers to work alone, he knows how to work with a team, and he has personal knowledge of Mossad, the hating their guts kind of knowledge, I mean.
“Then, since we need some people more used to investigation and who have the skills to take on Sciuto and McGee, I was thinking of pulling some people from our Cyber team. They’ve been pulled from fieldwork for the moment because they’re going to be getting a new Team Lead. Like Ian, they all have strong moral compasses.”
Morrow nodded as he took a sip of scotch. “Ian is inspired. I personally highly approve of his place on the team. Who are the people from Cyber?”
“Elijah Mundo will be the one doing fieldwork with Ian,” Evans explained as he shifted to a more comfortable position. “He’s a former SEAL and not afraid to knock literal and figurative heads together when needed. Then Raven Ramirez and Daniel Krumitz are hackers that work with him. Krumitz has always been a white hat, but Ramirez is one of our former black hats. Honestly, I would put Ramirez and Krumitz up against anyone in the world. Between the four of them, NCIS isn’t getting away with anything.”
“And Vance?” Patrick asked pulling Tony’s attention away from Morrow and back to his father who had a rather deceptive calm expression on his face.
“Vance is going to find out that Tony has his own rather high-powered friends,” Morrow promised as Rabb growls.
“And if he’s compromised any of my damned cases, I’m gonna cut him off at the knees!”
Chegwidden snorted at his protégé before turning his attention to Tony. “I don’t know what’s going on in your head where Gibbs is concerned, but I think that we should talk to him. See where he’s going to fall. My recommendation with be to send Tom and Harm over to the basement for a chat.”
“That motherfucker,” Harm swore making Morrow smirk. He’d run across the younger man a time or two in his career and always enjoyed being in his presence. Maybe he needed to consider exploring if there was the possibility of something more there.
“So, it’s settled. Harmon and I will go visit Gibbs and not so gently remove his head from his hind end. Evans will put together the selected investigative team to see that McGee, David, and Sciuto get their comeuppance. AJ and Patrick will unleash their furor on Vance until SecDef and SecNav have no choice but to fire the man. Once that happens, we put our combined efforts into making sure Owen Granger is made NCIS Director.”
“I love it when a plan comes together,” Tony quoted with a grin, and the rest of the room just offered fond snorts and smirks.
End Notes: 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!