Bang bang, he shot me down
Bang bang, I hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, my baby shot me down.
~Bang Bang by Nancy Sinatra
Tony picked up the phone and ordered McGee not to leave Abby's side as Gibbs walked off with the Director. He wasn't sure if he should hum something cheesy and 70's pornish or 80's music. Even without Ian's contacts, Tony would have pegged the new Director as a man eater. He hoped like hell Gibbs knew what he was doing, considering … well, everything that had happened.
Although maybe he should put a guard on McGee too. He wasn't sure the Probie could take care of himself some days. Hopefully McGee would focus on protecting Abby so he should be watching his own back as well. Tony was beginning to understand his lover's paranoia. Then again, as the old saying went, it's not paranoia if someone really was out to get you.
As it was he was damned glad he hadn't taken security's word that the office was secured. He'd taken a long look at the building, looked at it from Ian's point of view and had found several holes in security. He had badgered for changes and Gibbs had backed him up, bellowing at anyone who dared talk about budget when one of their own had been shot, and they'd finally gotten things secured in a record two days time. Which was a damn good thing considering the window to Abby's lab had been changed to shatter-resistant glass and had saved her life when Ari tried to shoot another one of his friends.
If Gibbs didn't put a bullet in the bastard's head, Tony was planning on it. Several in fact, possibly silver ones. He was damn well going to make sure he was good and dead without getting close. Because the first rule in surviving a horror movie was to never check to make sure the monster was dead. That was when they'd jump up and get you and, right now, Ari was the number one of Tony's Monsters I Really Hate list, right up there with Michael Meyers, Jason Voorhees, Pennywise and the mysterious Mr. Straker. Freddy Kruger had been bumped to the B-list.
Tony snorted to himself and then looked up to find a dark-haired woman walking up to the bullpen. She was in her early to mid-thirties, with her dark hair pulled back, and looking casual, but dangerous. Tony picked out at least three concealed knives at first glance, along with lock picks. Looked like he was going to have to kick security's collective asses.
“Hey, can I help you miss … “
“Ziva. Ziva David, Mossad.”
Tony snorted. “How very James Bond of you. What can I do for you, Miss David?”
Dark eyes flashed for a moment and then dismissed him. “Nothing. I am here to see Special Agent Gibbs.”
Tony frowned as she sat in Kate's chair. They didn't have anything really sensitive in their desks that weren't under lock and key but it was annoying. Then again he was a little touchy on the subject of Kate right now.
“He's not here, he won't be back for a few hours. I'm Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, his senior agent. Can I help you?”
“You? You are not Gibbs, so I don't think so.”
Okay, this woman was getting on his nerves.
“Well, he's not here so you're stuck with either waiting around or telling me what you want so I can help you out. And I really doubt that any business important enough for Mossad to send an agent to speak to Gibbs personally can wait a few hours. Besides, he'll probably make me do all the grunt work anyway.”
Ziva sniffed and Tony was reminded of one of the co-captains of the cheer leading squad back at Ohio State. Stephanie Brown had been a cast iron bitch who always thought she was better than everyone else on campus. She ruled her sorority house with an iron fist and even Tony's frat thought she went too far with hazing pledges, and his frat had gotten in trouble once or twice before the Chapter Head put his foot down and made new rules.
Ziva struck him to be cut from the same cloth. Beautiful and deadly and having bigger balls than half the men she worked with. Then again she'd have to, being Mossad and all. It still didn't mean he had to like her, or trust her.
“You cannot help me, because I am here to stop Special Agent Gibbs from killing a Mossad officer.”
Tony felt like he'd been punched in the gut.
Ziva tilted her head up and her jaw was set in defiance.
Huh. Tony couldn't tell if she actually thought he was innocent or not. Either way, she was going to end up being very disappointed. He got up and leaned over Kate's desk.
“I'd wish you luck, but I want the bastard dead too. In fact, you'll find there's a list of people wanting Aswari dead, and Gibbs isn't anywhere at the top of the list. He's just the most vocal about it.”
Ziva's dark eyes flashed in anger but Tony didn't give her a chance to say anything. He walked behind her and gestured for her to stand.
“Since you're insisting to speak to Agent Gibbs and he won't be back for a bit, I'll show you to one of our conference rooms and get one of the Marines to bring you coffee.”
“That is not necessary, I will be fine waiting here.”
Yeah, like hell that was going to happen. Gibbs would wear a tutu and sing show tunes before Tony would leave an agent from a different country to just kick their heels up behind one of their desks. Especially Kate's desk.
“Please, I wouldn't want you to be uncomfortable. I pride myself on being a gentleman.”
Tony waited and she finally came to her feet and allowed him to guide her into a conference room. He'd station a Marine outside the door, to escort her to Gibbs when he came back and was ready to talk to her. They reached the door to the room and Ziva turned and gave him a look.
“You know, you are not what I had expected of Gibbs' senior agent.”
Tony snorted. Not only was that a loaded observation but it was obvious David was trying to dig.
“Why thank you, Miss David. If you'll just have a seat, I'll let Gibbs know you're here as soon as he gets back.”
“That wasn't a compliment.”
Tony shrugged and turned to leave the conference room. Security would be on her in a matter of minutes.
“These days, I'll take what I can get, Miss David.”
Tony stood outside of the room and watched as Abby and McGee tried to make awkward conversation. It was painful to watch because it was obvious that neither one of them knew exactly what to say. He wasn't surprised McStutter was floundering, but Tony was honestly surprised that Abby was having problems. Usually Abby could be counted on to babble through just about any kind of uncomfortable situation but right now words seemed to be failing her.
And he was going to have to go in there and carry the conversation. Again. At least Kate's family had gone back home. Now he knew why she had called him her favorite brother. He was the least annoying one. Her brothers by blood had made him want to kick the crap out of them more than once the past week. Never mind her parents. It was no wonder Kate was a bit repressed when it came to sex, her dad had all but said that she would have been better off staying home and popping out kids. Her mom had been a shadow of her father, saying next to nothing, her rosary beads sliding through nimble fingers, but she didn't seem to really connect. Understandable, considering the circumstances but Tony couldn't help but be glad they were gone and it was just the team left to deal with the aftermath of the shooting.
Well, Tony and Ian mostly. Ian had flown home that night, when Tony had called him, Kate's blood sticky on his face. Ian had flown directly from New York and had taken time off. Tony would have been a blubbering mess without him and even now, Ian was supporting him. Following Ziva so Tony could be here for his people.
So Tony was gonna suck it up, bury his feelings and be there for the Probie and Abby, because they were so obviously flailing at the moment. He would go in there and be the class clown and cheer everyone up because that's what he did best, and he did it because the team needed it.
That, and he owed it to Kate.
Tony straightened himself up, pulled the cuffs down on his suit and grabbed the bag he'd put down momentarily in the chair outside of the hospital room. Tony hated this place, he hated hospitals in general with a passion but in this one case he was glad to be making daily visits despite the stink of sickness and antiseptics. It could have been worse. If Kate hadn't turned her head in at the last second, the bullet that had taken Kate's sight would have taken her life.
At least Kate was out of ICU. The first couple of days had been a blur of doctors droning on like the adults on a Charlie Brown cartoon. Ducky had translated but it still came out blurred with Tony only recognizing one word out of ten. Words like skill fracture, ocular nerve damage, bone shards and facial reconstruction. His mind kept skittering around the words, but the result of them was obvious when he looked at Kate's bandage-wrapped head.
His best friend was blind, and it wasn't a temporary thing. Not that Tony gave a shit, he was just glad she wasn't on a slab in Ducky's morgue.
But Tony knew Kate and knew she'd hate getting any kind of pity. Her family could barely stand to look at her and it looked like the Probster and Abby was having the same sort of difficulties. It was time for him to save the day. Again.
Tony barged into the room, making sure to make a lot of noise before he tossed the bag he'd been carrying on the rolling table beside Kate's bed. A half-empty bottle of water nearly tipped over but that and the box of tissues were all that was on the table so nothing really hit the floor.
“Hey, Stevie Wonder? How's it going?”
There were horrified gasps of breath from the two visitor chairs but Tony got a chuckle out of Kate, albeit a weak one, and that was all that mattered.
“Anyone tell you you sound like a herd of elephants coming into the room?”
Tony all but picked up her feet and moved them over so he could sit at the end of the bed. That way Kate would have an area to focus on. Her voice was muffled and odd sounding, probably from the broken nose and facial damage that lay hidden under all the bandages.
“Hey, I'll have you know I passed the course on sneaking at FLETC!”
“You know, back in high school you could get straight D's and still pass.”
Tony gave a fake sniff of anger.
“Shows what you know, I got C's.” He grinned despite himself. He loved it that she was finally up to bickering with him. Kate was still Kate. She was just going to have to find a way to adjust. And while she was going to have to do a lot of the work herself, that didn't mean Tony couldn't help her with it. “Brought you something to do, Katie!”
“Tony, call me Katie again and we'll see just how bad my aim is when I throw the bed pan at you.” Kate was leaning forward in the bed and Tony would have bet if she could have been, she would be glaring. “Well, what is it? It's not like I'm going be able to peek.”
Tony's eyes flickered over to McGee and Abby. They both had looks of horrified fascination on their faces. He had to keep himself from giggling. If they had been horrified earlier, they were going to have heart attacks in the next few minutes.
“I brought you a laptop that'll play DVD's, so I brought you three classics. Daredevil, with your favorite, Ben Affleck; Scent of a Woman, with everyone's favorite Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnell back when he was in his boy toy years; and finally Wait Until Dark From 1967 with Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin. It's a real classic, even made BRAVO's top ten scariest movie moments.”
Abby was all but vibrating in her chair in indignation and the Probie looked green around the gills. That was okay because Tony wasn't there to entertain them and make them feel better with the situation, he was there for Kate. And Kate had a smirk on her face. Well, what bit of her face Tony could see out from all the bandages.
“Let me guess, one of them is blind?”
“Yep. Audrey Hepburn. She gets a hold of this doll a mule had hidden heroine in and the bad guy comes after her. I'm not going to give it away, because it's actually a very good movie and an even better play, but at one point Alan Arkin jumps out of the darkness at Hepburn and, well, let's just say if you drank too much pop at the beginning of the movie, you're gonna be needing a mop.”
“Gee, thanks ever so much, Tony. Just the thing I want to listen to while in the hospital.” Kate kicked at his leg and Tony didn't move. “Did you and Ian co-ordinate your gifts? He brought me a pair of sunglasses and The Best of Ray Charles earlier this afternoon.”
Tony chuckled and ignored the renewed looks of outrage on Abby and McGee's face. “You know that's one of the main reasons Ian and I get along so well. We have a matching sense of humor.”
Kate grimaced. “Please, let's not go into the other reasons.”
Tony laughed, glad that Kate was finally up to bantering with him. He'd been lost the last week, unsure what to say to Kate while her family was there and Kate was either unconscious or deathly quiet. He wondered if she was really beginning to deal with the fact she was blind now, or if it was just the fact that her parents had gone that was letting Kate relax a little. Tony bet it was a little of both.
Tony nudged Kate's leg, since he couldn't very well trade looks with her anymore. There was Mount Abby about to explode. They both genuinely liked Abby but it was just so much fun winding her up. Same with McGee. Hell, even Kate was easy to wind up and Tony had his own buttons that were easy to push. It got annoying sometimes but it was fun when it wasn't you in the hot seat.
“That's my name, don't wear it out!”
Abby made a little screeching noise, and McGee lost his grip on her and she bounced up to hit him in the arm.
“OW! What did you do that for?”
“You! You shouldn't be pointing out Kate's … new development like that! It's mean and inconsiderate!”
Kate snorted. “I'd rather Tony be blunt and treat me like he always does, than have him sit there in uncomfortable silence trying to figure out what to say. It's not like I didn't notice I'm blind now. I might not be able to see, but I haven't lost any IQ points and the two of you trying to talk around my being shot and what's happening at the office is painful at the very least.”
Both McGee and Abby looked sheepish and Abby threw Tony an apologetic look which he shrugged off. He'd expected Abby to react that way, had pushed it actually, trying to get the elephant in the room dealt with so they could move on to other things.
“Let's talk about something else, like Kate's plastic surgery. When are you meeting with the doc, and are you going to pick a celebrity nose? I mean, you don't want to go back to the same nose you had, do you?”
“I'm meeting with the plastic surgeon tomorrow and what the hell was wrong with my old nose?!”
Tony grinned at McGee and Abby. Now that they saw he was teasing Kate to get her out of their shell and showing that he didn't pity her, they had relaxed.
“Well, nothing I guess. It's a perfectly nice nose. Kind of reminds me of the nose that belongs to that Methos guy on Highlander: The Series.”
Kate's jaw dropped. “It does not!”
Tony ignored her protests and went on winding Kate up. The nurses had stopped protesting her increase in blood pressure when he visited two days ago when they noticed Kate's mood improved after he'd been by to provoke her.
“You should get some other work done while you’re at it. Get a boob job and see if NCIS will pay for it.”
Just about everyone choked on their spit from that one and then both girls were fussing at him. Tony grinned in triumph. It was a pain in the ass to always be the class clown but it did feel good when Tony managed to dispel the deadly quiet and get everyone going and making things feel normal, at least for a little while.
He stayed for a while, chatting about the new director and the fact that Ducky had taken Kate's dog home with him and might not give Toni back. Abby finally got over being pissed enough to bug them about who Ian was. Actually, she was thinking Ian was Kate's new guy, which had both Tony and Kate all but pissing themselves with laughter. He and Ian had decided not to hide their relationship if asked, since Gibbs had no problems and Ian's bosses were just glad he had someone – anyone – before he snapped and started shooting at people from a clock tower.
That didn't mean he was going to make it easy on Abby or McGee. If anything it would give them a few good afternoons of amusement waiting for them to figure things out.
Tony started thinking about heading out. Ian was watching Ziva for him, but it wasn't his job and Tony was anxious to get back. Not that following Ziva David was interesting but it was his job, but he'd promised to visit Kate and Tony didn't trust anyone to spell him while he got something to eat, visited Kate and switched out cars, and he was going to have to head back soon. Ian was his lover, not his back-up. Besides if Abby and McGee were going to hang around a while, Ian could come and visit Kate and get in on the teasing.
Just as Tony was about to break into their conversation his blackberry buzzed that he had a text message. Then he had to bite his tongue to keep from swearing bad enough to make Gibbs blush.
Somehow, Kate had picked up on his frustration. Any worries Tony had about her being able to function in her new world went out the window. Despite being in pain and blind, she'd picked up on his non-verbal cues before McGee and Abby had even thought about it.
“Ducky's gone off into the night and lost his guards. Probie, I'm gonna need the two of you back at headquarters to check phone records and co-ordinate with Gibbs. I have my own mark to follow, this was my dinner break. And keep an eye out for any tails besides your own guards. It's getting dark and you can't be too careful.”
He really needed to have that last part engraved on a card or something. Tony was beginning to be more paranoid that his lover.
Tony looked at McGee and Abby in frustration. “Yeah, guards. You have a couple on you two when you're outside of the Navy yard, which is why I want you back there PDQ.” He gave McGee the eye. “You did see them as you drove to the hospital, didn't you?”
“N-no. I didn't see any guards on Kate either!” McGee's chin had come up as he tried to stand his ground and snipe back at Tony.
Tony sighed. He was beginning to understand why Gibbs like to head slap people who were being stupid. Tony's head had gone unslapped for a good month, thank god. “McGee, do you really think that is a nurse is standing outside in the corridor folding linens for the past half hour? No, she's one of Kate's Secret Service buddies. Since the new Director and Fornell have put their noses into the investigation I've had to get more creative and call in a few favors. Katie here is well guarded, so don't worry about her. Worry about getting back to the office and finding Ducky!”
They both jumped up and all three made their goodbyes to Kate, and then Tony followed McGee and Abby down to the parking lot. They were both giving him odd looks, but that was okay. He figured it was because he was taking the grumpy bastard role over from Gibbs, since he was being all soft and fuzzy around the team and the new director. That was okay, someone had to keep the team's balance by being the bastard.
The parking lot was dark and Tony moved to his rental quickly while yelling directions as McGee. Their car was parked two cars away from his. “Get Ducky's phone records – home, work and cell! Abby, make sure his Mom's okay.” If anything happened to Mrs. Mallard, they'd all rue the day once Ducky got a hold of them.
McGee just nodded but Abby was bouncing on her toes in worry. “Don't worry Tony, we'll find him! He probably just went home and saw his guards and slipped them, thinking they were the bad guys!”
Tony smiled at her and didn't pop her bubble of disillusionment. Hopefully she was right and they'd find Ducky at home sipping a cup of Earl Grey or whatever tea it was that Englishmen outside of Star Trek drank. “I'm trusting you two to find him and point Gibbs in the right direction. I doubt if he knows how to *69 someone, much less run a trace on their cell phone.” He pulled Abby in for a quick hug and then smacked McGee on the back. Okay, he was a little more forceful than he needed to be but that was half the fun with McGee. “Make sure you check the back seat before getting in the car Probie.”
“Uh -- back seat?”
Tony snorted and turned off his rental's security system before checking under the car and in the back seat. “There's a reason the killer is always in the back seat in the movies, Probie. It's a good place to hide. Most people don't look back there unless they're dumping junk in the back seat. Some guy with a piano wire could be back there just waiting for you to get somewhere quiet before … URK!” Tony made a gagging noise and acted as if someone was strangling him before smirking at the two. “So be careful!”
He got in his car and waited until he saw they were both safely inside their own vehicle before pulling out. Out of the corner of his eye he could see his own guards following along in a brown sedan that looked as if it was on its last legs. Tony hoped they'd taken the time while he was in visiting Kate to get something to eat, because between following Miss David of Mossad and finding Ducky, it was going to be a very long night.
Even before hooking up with Ian, Tony had loved going to the shooting range. There was something almost zen-like in the repetitive motions. Thanks to a crappy childhood, Tony knew that one of his flaws was that he needed approval, from his boss be it Gibbs or Howard, or from his friends and colleagues.
But at the shooting range, Tony didn't have to worry about that. He had a visual gauge on how well he progressed, and in his datebook he kept track of his scores and was not only able to compare them to the top scores shooting ranges usually kept track of, but his own past scores and track his progress. He didn't need Gibbs to tell him he was doing a good job when he managed heart shots ten out of ten rounds he knew it. Tony knew how each of his guns felt in his hand and how the trigger felt when they pulled and could feel it when he made a bad shot, often before the bullet hit the target.
Of course, A.I. – After Ian – range time became a multitude of things. If he was a good shot before Ian, he was an excellent one now as Ian explained the physics of the shot and wind velocities and how everything from drinking too much coffee to having to pee really badly could throw off your shot. Then there was the fun parts, playful bets with anything from who was buying dinner to sexual favors as the forfeits. Foreplay, with Ian standing behind him, breathing on the back of his neck until Tony was so hard he could barely walk to the supply closets in the back of the range.
Tonight was the first time he'd come without Ian though, but the Range Officer had seen him often enough and let him in. Tony couldn't stand to use the NCIS range right now, he was too angry and frustrated at his own people. He needed to be here, in Ian's area of influence, so he could shoot and think and eventually come to terms with the past couple of weeks rather than just shooting Gibbs in the ass out of frustration.
While it wasn't unusual for Tony to get pissy with Gibbs, this time he was furious. So he'd gone to Quantico and pulled his back up piece of its ankle holster and his SIG-Sauer and started firing at targets.
Forty-five minutes later he'd gone down from furious to just plain pissed off. About twenty-five minutes in, Ian had show up and watched him for a few minutes before putting in some range time on his own. Now though, Tony could feel his lover's eyes on him but he didn't turn around. He was still too mad to really talk about things rationally.
“Here.” A box appeared in front of Tony. “I was going to give it to you for your birthday but I thought you could use cheering up now, so … “
Ian's eyes were full of understanding when Tony grinned at him, and Tony couldn't help but be thankful he had a lover who understood therapy by gunfire. Then again surprises always had Tony's mood changing “An early present! Thanks, Cara Mia. I needed something to get me out of my anger rut.”
Tony opened the box and his breath caught. Inside was a .45 automatic. Not any old automatic either, but a Colt Government Model. If he was a lesser man, Tony might have cried.
“It's not authentic, it's a replica, but I just figured you'd like it all the same.”
“It's the same gun Thomas Magnum used on the show. I fucking love it!” Tony grabbed Ian and pulled him in for a hard but quick kiss. “I so wanna get in your pants right now.”
Ian laughed and pulled back. “You can't, Morgan just took his geek to the supply closet. Besides, don't you wanna see how it fires?”
Tony leered. “I'd rather see how you fire.”
Ian laughed. “Just shoot the damn gun so we can get out of here. The Range Master won't care if we fuck in one of these pens but one of the Deputies with the sticks up their ass is making him enforce the rules.”
Tony laughed and turned his attention to the gun. Magnum's gun. He made sure it was clean and ready to fire before taking aim and pulling the trigger. The gun wasn't comfortable in his hand, not like his familiar Sauer, but it didn't pull badly. It wasn't nearly as powerful but he'd never use a gun like this for the job, this was more of a collector's piece like the pair of pearl handled revolvers Tony had gotten for Ian's birthday two months before.
“It's great, Ian! Thank you!”
“You're welcome.” Ian helped him collect his guns and cleaning kit and they made their way off of the shooting range. “You ready to talk yet?”
Tony sighed. “Talk, maybe. Rant, definitely.”
Ian nudged his arm. “Tell you what, Tiger, let's head home. We can stop on the way and get some pizza and beer, and we can talk after you've eaten.”
Tony sighed as he got in the elevator that would take them to the lobby of the building. “Comfort food sounds damn good right now, Ian. Thanks.”
Now Tony had some time to figure out just how to tell his lover he was pissed because Gibbs was being an asshole without sounding like he still had feelings for his boss. Great.
As the elevator jerked to a stop, Tony figured he'd buy the good imported beer. It could only help.
The pizza and beer had worked wonders. Okay, so the pint of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food had helped too. Finally Tony figured he could talk to Ian without sounding like an idiot. Still, it was difficult for him to start. Tony was crap with talking about his feelings. It was one of the reasons he was damned glad Ian could read him like a book, he didn't have to talk all that often.
“First of all, I can see myself hating Miss Mossad of 2005. She acts like she's better than me and if I have to deal with her much longer it's going to get annoying.”
Ian laughed and nudged him on the shoulder. They were sitting curled up on Ian's couch in his apartment in Alexandria, and Live and Let Die was playing on the DVD, more out of a need for noise than any interest. Then again both of them agreed that Jane Seymour as Solitaire was a total looker, if a bit young at the time.
“You know, Tony, that's partially your own fault. While Miss David may have hacked into your files and read up on your background, you had Langly hide most of your background. All she saw was a Physical Ed. Major with a minor in the Dramatic Arts and a spotty employment record starting in Peoria. Not the guy who double Majored in Criminal Justice and was offered a place on Chicago PD with an eye towards the SWAT team.”
Tony made a face. “Nice offer but I'd rather not have to wear the uniforms, never mind getting shot at constantly. Philly was a much better choice for me.” He'd spent a year working as a detective in Vice before moving over to Special Victims. Neither one was all that fun, although his undercover skills were honed in both squads. Still, he'd been about to lose his mind if he saw one more abused child or rape victim, which was why he'd moved to Baltimore Homicide.
Not that looking at dead bodies was all that great, but at least he didn't have to try to console them, just their families.
Tony shook his head and got himself back on track. “And yeah, I let her see my tail, mainly because I knew Miss David would be expecting one so she didn't see McTaggert and Ellis tailing her too. Still, the 'Anything you can do, I can do better' attitude is annoying.”
Ian was giving him an incredulous look. “How is it you know just about every musical ever filmed and people still don't get your bi?”
Tony snorted. “Yeah, like I'm gonna entertain Gibbs with an Annie Get Your Gun reference. He's much more of a John Wayne, The Quiet Man kinda guy. Or, well, anything with Maureen O'Hara really.” Tony was firmly convinced that Gibbs had a secret crush on the Irish-American actress. It would explain his attraction to feisty red heads.
“That is more than I needed to know about your boss, Tiger.”
Tony ignored Ian and went back to his rant. “And then there's the whole cell phone thing. I mean, I know NCIS isn't a big agency like the CIA or FBI, but you'd think we'd have a big enough budget to have dependable cell phone service. I mean, we don't need a satellite phone like you use, Ian, but me and Gibbs were both in the DC area, we should be able to talk on the phone without static. It can't be that much more money to sign up with the 'Can you hear me now' guy!"
Tony made a move to get up and pace but Ian wrapped his arms around him and wouldn't let him up. “And then there's the whole missing plutonium thing. A small amount, the Boss says. That's like saying someone's a little bit pregnant! It's plutonium!! And Mossad is supposed to be taking care of it, the same organization that trusts Ari! And no one seems to be batting an eye! It's like it's a plot point inserted into a movie that's there just to prove the bad guys are bad guys and never mentioned again! What the hell?”
Ian made a noise that Tony took for agreement with his outrage and kept on going. “Then there's Gibbs. Now, don't get me wrong, lover, I don't have any romantic feelings for him now, but I've been his back up for years! Starsky to his Hutch! Riggs to his Murtaugh!”
“Pinky to his Brain?”
Tony snorted and then found himself laughing, amused despite the fact he had been enjoying his anger. This was the reason why he was head over heels for Ian Edgerton. He was the bad-ass, Sniper God who could kill with ease and yet he'd come out with stuff like that that seemed to out of character for him that it made Tony feel warm and fuzzy that he was the one who got to see Ian's weird side.
Not that Tony would admit it to anyone, not even Ian. Because if he pointed it out, Ian might stop.
“Actually I was going to say Hooch to his Turner, but okay. Really though, if I was going to make an Animaniacs comparison, Gibbs would be the cranky Slappy Squirrel and I'd be the annoyingly cheerful nephew but hey, Pinky and the Brain works pretty well too.” Tony sagged in Ian's arms. He was glad for the humor, he'd been so pissed off he'd been giving himself a headache. “Pinky would be really hurt if Brain tried to take over the world without him, not once but twice! In one week! With people he couldn't trust!”
“Gibbs trusts Sheppard, and Sheppard trusts Ziva.”
“Yeah, well, he shouldn't trust either of them, it's been a long time since he really knew Sheppard. Rule number eight, never take anything for granted. Just because he could trust her back in Paris in the Nineties, doesn't mean he should trust her now.”
“Did you tell Gibbs that?”
Tony snorted. “Yeah, not that it mattered that much. It's Ari, he gets so damned focused it's like tunnel vision. He can't see any way but his way and if you don't like his way he'll run you over. Gibbs took me criticizing Sheppard about as well as he'd take de-caffeinated coffee.”
Ian gave a laugh. “I'm betting that's an understatement.” Ian's hold tightened on Tony and made him want to squirm in delightful ways. It was obvious to him that Ian was trying to get him in a better frame of mind.
“What I want to know, Tiger, is if you're so sure that David can't be trusted backing up Gibbs, why aren't you following him now?”
Tony went back to almost growling. “Madam Director called me in for a 'little chat', which was basically a lot of meaningless gossip interspersed with Sheppard trying to dig information out of me about Gibbs' habits and personal life, while at the same time asking me what I thought needed changing at NCIS. I was getting whiplash trying to figure out what she was looking for, and I just know Gibbs put her up to it, the whole NCIS angle of that little chat was all him. By the time I got free of her claws, an hour had passed and Gibbs was long gone. Asshole.”
“I thought the second B was for Bastard.”
Ian sighed. “We could go track him down, see what's happening.”
It was obvious Ian was only saying that to appease Tony, and Tony loved him for it. Still … “Part of me loves that idea, but it's not practical. It could blow up in our faces, and get Gibbs killed.”
“And part of you hope it blows up in Gibbs face, without you there. Just so you can say 'I told you so.'”
Tony slumped in Ian's arms. His lover knew him all too well. “I don't want anyone to get hurt or anything, but yeah, there's this little voice in the back of my head that hopes it all goes to hell without me there to back Gibbs up.”
And he hated that part of him, but it was there in all its nasty glory. Tony liked to think he was mostly a nice guy. Okay he was arrogant, and smug and probably picked on McGee more than was truly necessary to bring the younger man out of his shell, but he wasn't deliberately nasty for the most part. So he really hated the part of himself that was kinda hoping Gibbs would get his ass kicked just so Tony could say 'I told you so.'
Ian shifted both himself and Tony around on the couch so he could look Tony in the face. “That is because part of you hates to think that Gibbs doesn't need you, that your place in Gibbs' life is threatened by David and Sheppard.”
Tony felt himself flinch, he knew his lover was right now that Ian had said it. He'd been pissy when both Kate and McGee had joined the team, back in the day. “Ouch. Direct hit, Ian. Makes me sound like a spoiled brat, doesn't it?”
“Yes. Then again I like you bratty.”
Tony found himself laughing and leaned forward to quickly kiss Ian on the lips. “That's probably a very good thing, because I don't see it changing anytime soon.”
A calloused hand caressed his cheek and Tony leaned into it. “You, Tiger, love to be the center of attention. Sometimes I wonder why you didn't go into acting, since you love movies so much. You'd make a great leading man.”
Tony found himself laughing. “That would have been cool, but not as rewarding as catching bad guys. Although I'd love to see the Oscars live just once in my life, and go to the after parties. I'm convinced George Clooney is at the very least bi and it's just a big Hollywood secret, al la Rock Hudson.”
Ian just rolled his eyes and then took Tony by the shoulders and shook him slightly. “Listen to what I'm going to say, Tony, because after this, we're going to leave off talking about the whole Gibbs and Haswari showdown for the rest of the night. I've been talking to the bosses, and while the guys over Fornell's head are convinced that Haswari is mostly on our side, my bosses aren't. Hell, right now Haswari could save the President himself and they still wouldn't trust him. They're waiting to see what Gibbs does, but I promise you if something goes wrong tonight, if Gibbs doesn't get Haswari, I will. And it won't be a capture order I'm given, do you understand?”
Tony listened to his lover, but more than that he saw him. This wasn't the Ian he was used to dealing with, the lover who liked the same beer and could make Tony melt with just a touch of his hand. This was Special Agent Ian Edgerton, the hard ass who could take out his target without being seen. This was the man who didn't have a problem using 'unnecessary force' if he was questioning a real danger to society.
This probably should have scared Tony, but it didn't. If anything he was relieved. And really turned on.
Tony leaned forward and kissed Ian. It wasn't a quick kiss either,Tony was doing his best to double check Ian's tonsils. Ian's couch was nice and big, thankfully, so Tony was able to stretch out on top of Ian without it being awkward or uncomfortable. When he finally broke off the kiss, both men were breathing hard.
“God, I love you.”
Ian grinned and answered Tony with one of his own movie quotes. “I know.”
Tony groaned and brushed his groin against Ian's. They were both hard. “Okay, first you give me a gun – Magnum's gun – then you offer to bring me the body of the man who shot my best friend and now you're quoting Star Wars. You are so getting lucky tonight.”
Ian's hand came up to play with Tony's nipples through the tee-shirt he'd thrown on when he'd come out. The feeling of it made Tony grind his dick into Ian's even harder. He seriously needed to find some button fly sweatpants or something because, Tony wanted to touch his lover but didn't feel like breaking apart long enough to pull down their pants.
At least he'd put on a pair of easily washed sweatpants. He'd die of embarrassment if he took a pair of come-stained dress slacks to his dry cleaners.
Tony's scattered thoughts got even more scattered when Ian pulled him in for another hot kiss, their dicks rubbing against each other through their sweatpants. Ian's capable hands were on Tony's ass and they felt damn good. When they finally broke apart to breath, Tony was nearly crazed with lust.
“I'm thinking that if you're over with your ranting about Gibbs, we'll both have time to get lucky tonight.”
Well. There was only one way a hot blooded man like Tony could answer that statement. Especially when all of said hot blood was in his groin. Tony carefully got up from the couch and gave Ian a hand up before pulling him towards the bedroom.
Ian's sex therapy worked on Tony until the next morning when Tony caught sight of Gibbs' truck in the parking lot. Problem was, there wasn't much Tony could do about it at the moment. Gibbs wasn't at his desk when Tony came in and still hadn't made an appearance by mid-morning. Of course there were rumors flying around, from Gibbs killing Ari and being awarded a medal, to Gibbs was being fired to Gibbs had committed an act of war and they were about to bomb Israel.
Tony didn't believe any of them, except maybe the Ari being dead one. Gibbs had too much dirt on his superiors to be fired, and he hated getting medals. Most of the time Morrow gave them to the man as an odd way of getting back at Gibbs for making Morrow's hair fall out. Tony just accepted the award for Gibbs when he couldn't squirm out of it and tried to stay out of the crossfire.
By lunchtime Tony's temper was flaring and McGee had fled to Abby's lab for protection. Tony realized he was being snappish with the man, and felt bad about it but couldn't help but get defensive when McGee started picking at Tony about Gibbs leaving him behind. That was a sore point at the moment and Tony was never good at ignoring people who picked at his weaknesses.
Still, it wasn't fair to be too nasty to the Probie so Tony figured he'd just superglue all the caps on his pens and leave it at that. The rest of the time he tried to catch up on all the paperwork that had fallen by the wayside as they secured the building and searched for Ari. Sheppard had been busy too, and there were various memos out about seamless transitions and banding together during difficult times. Tony deleted those after scanning them, probably like everyone else had. He bet it wouldn't be a week before new rules was being posted and Sheppard started pushing her weight around to show she was the new sheriff in town.
Tony was not looking forward to it.
The entire day, Tony was grouchy. He hated to be out of the loop, with Gibbs off doing his own thing. He felt like there was a lack of trust or something. He figured Gibbs had a good reason for it, but it was a Gibbs-type of reason and was probably stupid. It wasn't like Tony could really confront the man either, he'd gotten on Gibbs' last nerve about it the day before which was why he'd been punished with talking with Sheppard. He couldn't very well prank the man like he would McGee either. Most pranks Gibbs would either turn back on Tony or he'd just avoid. Gibbs usually went out for coffee so he wouldn't care if Tony snuck and put decaf in the break room and Tony figured if he snuck in Gibbs' basement to pee on the boat, Gibbs would shoot him.
And Tony had tasted Gibbs' bourbon, he probably wouldn't even notice if Tony pissed in the bottle it was so nasty.
By two p.m., it was obvious Gibbs was avoiding him. Which secretly thrilled Tony, just a bit, if only it was because Gibbs knew he was wrong but, like Fonzie, Gibbs couldn't actually say he was wrong. The sun would probably go backwards or something. So Tony sent McGee to look in the cold case files in the basement for a half hour to find them something interesting to do and while the man was gone Tony went out to the garage and took the distributor cap off of Gibbs' truck.
No more Mr. Nice DiNozzo.
With that done Tony was able to kick back and finish up his paperwork and annoy McGee in to a quivering pile of Probieness. He even managed to call and annoy Kate into slamming down the phone. Around four he went down to the morgue and managed to guilt Ducky out of one of his Jaffa cakes from home and all was good. Well, it was good as long as the scuttlebutt was right and Ari was dead. If not, Tony was going to blow his top and then get himself some pom-poms while he watched Ian track Haswari down and shoot him in the head.
Hell, Tony might even wear a skirt if it encouraged his lover. Even if he would be the world hairiest cheerleader.
Five o'clock came and McGee was out of his chair and in the elevator to go home like he was being chased by the hounds of hell. Which, Tony admitted, wasn't far from being wrong. He was frustrated and bored and McGee, by virtue of being the only other one in their section of the bullpen, had a target on his back. Tony felt guilty and went out and got the man a “I'm Sorry” card and a gift card to Subway.
He also got some clear nail polish to paint the Probie's pencil leads with it so they wouldn't write and some duck tape and a small dog toy so he could jury rig the toy to squeak every time he shut one of the drawers on his desk. It was a twenty-five dollar sandwich card so if he was going to pay up for his pranks, Tony figured he might as well get his money's worth and McGee should be glad the drug store didn't have whoopee cushions.
When he got back from his errand, most of the cars had cleared out of the employee parking lot. Not Gibbs' truck though, it was still in its appointed place, the man himself leaning against it looking like he was ready to shoot someone, and that someone was Tony.
Tony, however, had long since become immune to Gibbs' glares, especially since he felt like he had the moral high ground. He parked beside Gibbs, ignoring the fact that it wasn't his space and smirked as he got out of his rental. The distributor cap was in an evidence bag and he handed it to Gibbs.
“'Reverend Mother, I have sinned.'”
For a moment, Gibbs' angry face was replaced by his confused face. Not that there was a lot of difference since Gibbs didn't like being confused and it pissed him off.
“Sheesh, Gibbs. Tell me one of your exes hasn’t forced you to watch Sound of Music at some point in time, and I'll eat my best tie. The part at the end where the nuns disable the Nazi's cars was the best part of that whole movie!”
Tony enjoyed the confusion on Gibbs' face. It wasn't often that he got Gibbs off his stride. Problem was, now that Tony had the man pinned down he wasn't sure what to say. He figured he might as well be rude and blunt. It wasn't like he would hurt Gibbs' feeling after all.
“So, killed any terrorists since the last time we talked?”
Gibbs scowled. “I was going to talk to Kate first.”
“Too late, Abby bounced over there with all the gossip during lunch. She then called me, wanting to confirm and I had nothing concrete to give her, which make Kate even more cranky than the fact they're trying to wean her off pain meds. If you're going to visit, stop and get her something really good first. She's got really good aim for someone newly blind and several blunt objects on her nightstand.”
“Why the hell did Abby go and do that for?”
Tony snorted. He liked Abby, really he did, but sometimes her enthusiasm got her in trouble or caused her to speak before she thought. You could never stay mad at her though, because she usually was truly repentant. And when she wasn't she turned on the little girl charm and made you feel like you were killing puppies by not forgiving her. Tony gave Gibbs five hours, tops, of being pissed at Abby before he was wrapped around her pigtails again.
“Because Abs was excited and wanted to share the good news. Even if it was just gossip. Gotta warn you, boss, I've heard everything from you killing Ari with a head shot to a troupe of acrobatic ninjas crept into your basement and offed him before he could kill you. I'm hoping they're like those chicks from Octopussy because that would be cool. Better than the rumor that you've started a war with Israel and we're about to be bombed off the face of the earth.”
Gibbs gave him a dirty look and went to the front of his truck. The hood was unlatched already so he just had to prop it up to replace the missing part.
“Don't people have better things to do that make up stories?”
“No, not really. Especially since you and the Director and IA were holed up all day in various offices. No one died on a base or anything today so no new cases. I got caught up on paperwork finally and still had time to annoy people so the other teams who haven't been behind thanks to Haswari had all day to fool around.” Tony gave the back of Gibbs' head the hairy eyeball. “You still haven't answered my question. Is Haswari dead?”
“Ari's dead and the Mossad has evidence he had turned.”
There was something wrong. Maybe it was the fact that Gibbs had said that while slamming the hood of his truck down and didn't quite look at Tony.
“Tell me you did not kill Ari in front of David, Gibbs.” He wasn't sure if Gibbs knew he was Ari's sister or not, but he knew she'd been his controller and that would be an uber-assholish thing to do, even for Gibbs, the second B is for bastard.
“I did not kill Ari in front of Officer David.”
This time Gibbs was looking at him, but Tony still felt like there was something up. Still, he let it slide, for now at least. This conversation was painful enough as it was.
“Good. So, party in Kate's room? I bet Abby has dragged McGeek over already. Ducky was going to go by after checking on his Mom so he should be there soon.”
“Sounds like fun.” This was said in such a flat voice that Tony had to laugh. Gibbs was not the party type of guy. Well, unless he was standing in a corner with booze.
“I wonder if the party store on 12th sells 'Congratulations on a Successful Kill!' banners. If they do I should really invest in one, hang it over the bed after Ian's successful snipes.”
“More than I needed to know about your private life, DiNozzo.”
Tony just laughed and ignored Gibbs' glare. It was a mild one so he wasn't really all that annoyed. He reached in his car to get his bag of impromptu prank items. He figured he'd give Gibbs a few minutes to stand awkwardly in Kate's room, facing her wrath before coming in and distracting Kate. After all, in Tony's mind Gibbs was in the wrong and if she beaned him with one of those little hard plastic water pitchers, well it was karma.
Gibbs moved to get in his truck but before he could leave Tony had two more things to say.
“Hey, boss! I put myself in for Monday off and forged your signature. Deal with it.”
“There'd better be a good reason.”
“Kate's going in for more reconstructive surgery.”
Gibbs knew better than to argue. “Fine then.”
He got into his truck and went to start it and this time Tony was tapping on the glass on the driver's side of the vehicle until Gibbs rolled it down.
“Hey boss! Just one more thing.”
“What, DiNozzo?! I'd like to get to the hospital before Kate hears any more weird rumors.”
Tony looked Gibbs straight in the eye. “The next time you go off on your own and break rule number one, we will have words Jethro Gibbs.”
“What the hell, Tony?”
“Rule number one: never screw over your partner. You ditched me and took someone unreliable as back up. And you know it was wrong or else you wouldn't have fucking hid from me all day. Come to think of it, you broke several of your own rules yesterday. Rule number three: never be unreachable. Rule number eight: never take anything for granted. And rule number fifteen: always work as a team. If I had broke that many rules, you would have head slapped me so hard, Ducky would be checking me for a concussion. I've been your partner longer than anyone else on the team, and I'm your senior agent. I should have been there last night. Whatever plans you made, you should have included me.”
“I didn't want you to have a black mark on your records.”
“That is the lamest fucking excuse in existence, Gibbs, and you know it! You may be able to float that with the new Madame Director, or McGee or even Abby but I bet Ducky would call you on this shit and so am I. You just went all Captain Ahab again. Ahab spent years hunting the white whale that crippled him. A quest for vengeance. But in the end it destroyed him, and his ship. You got lucky Gibbs, and no one's dead. Yeah, Kate's hurt but she'll learn to adjust and it'll be okay. But you were so obsessed, you couldn't see the big picture. Any number of things could have gone wrong and instead of you avoiding me, you could be dead. Hell, Ari could have ignored you entirely and put a bullet in my head, or Abby's and McGee's, or just left town. So I guess I'm stuck in the Starbuck roll, the guy saying this whole quest is nuts. The next time you get this weird? I'm hitttng you in the back of the head, tying you up and sitting on you till you come to your senses. Understood?”
Gibbs face was blank, but Tony could sense equal parts fury and pride coming from the man. That was okay, in fact that was good because to Tony that meant the he'd gotten his message across. Which hopefully would save Gibbs' life, if not Tony's.
And if anyone found out he'd quoted heavily from a Star Trek movie, Tony would have to crawl under his desk and die of embarrassment. Even if Alfrie Woodard had given that speech ten times as good as he had.
“You can't tell me you didn't want Haswari as dead as I did.”
“Nope. In fact, that's part of the reason I'm pissed. I deserved to extract my own pound of flesh. Still, you get obsessed like this and it's not good, Gibbs, for you or the team. Next time it happens, and you'll rue the day. Just wanted to give you fair warning, so it doesn't come out of nowhere, okay?”
Gibbs gave a quirk of his lips that could have been a smile. “I'll rue the day, huh?”
Tony stepped back from Gibbs' car, satisfied this really uncomfortable talk was over with for now. “Oh yeah, boss. Much rueage. I haven't even started being annoying.”
“You should be, boss!” Tony turned and started walking into the building. He still had a few things to wrap up and McGee's desk to booby trap. “Tell Kate I'll be in to visit after a while, boss, and don't forget to duck!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Gibbs peeled out of the parking lot as if he had the hounds of hell after him. Tony had to laugh. The only reason why the conversation had been so painless was because Gibbs knew he was in the wrong. Otherwise he'd still be arguing, like the man had yesterday. Or at least that's how Tony figured it.
Still, there had been something off about Gibbs. He was too … well, meek wasn't the right word. Un-argumentative was about the best Tony could think of, even if he doubted it was a real word. Usually having Tony up in his face made Gibbs snarl, his alpha personality not happy when his beta started nipping at his heels.
Well, he'd worry about it later. Right now he had Probie's stuff to fool around with, Kate to annoy and Ian was probably depressed his skills weren't in need. Tony really should comfort his lover to keep him from being too disappointed.
Still, if Gibbs went off the rails again, he really would regret it. Maybe he should start thinking up something suitably horrible, so he'd have a prank ready to go. Just in case.
At least, Tony thought as he went past security, Ari Haswari was dead. A Monster he wouldn't have to worry about anymore. Because unlike in the movies, once the bad guy was dead, they stayed dead.