Disclaimer: As I've said before, not mine.
A/N Another one-shot, guys. My Tiva fic is coming; I'm about half way through the first chapter. It's holidays now so I'll have more time to work on it. Understanding came to me after watching Neighbours – soap at its best :) No main character dies in this one (luckily for our favourite NCIS team). Sorry if my characterisation of Sacks and Fornell are off. I am not accustomed to these two characters though I've seen Fornell more than Sacks. It's shorter than my others, but enjoy.
Rating: T for some minor adult themes
Parings: Very, very subtle Tate
Summary: Tony and Agent Sacks have a heart to heart.
'If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool.' Carl Gustav Jung
"You've gotta be kidding me," Tony moaned as the elevators doors opened and two men stepped out. "What the hell did we do to deserve this?"
Gibbs' NCIS team had been investigating the death of a Marine Lance Corporal, Jasmine Nichols. The thirty year old mother of two had been found stabbed to death by her youngest child. The case had taken its toll on the team, with many nights being spent at the office. It had been three days since their last creditable lead and the director was breathing down their necks.
"More like, what did Lance Corporal Nichols do to warrant the interest of the FBI," McGee amended, looking at the two FBI agents, "and Fornell does not look happy."
The two FBI agents walked over to where Gibbs' three agents were sitting.
"Gibbs?" Fornell asked, coming to a halt in front of Tony. "Where is he?"
"Good morning to you too, Fornell," Tony replied, a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "What brings you to our humble abode? And Special Agent Slacks . . . err . . . Sacks, nice to see you too. I swear I didn't murder anyone this time. Honest."
"Don't play games, DiNozzo," Fornell snapped, shooting him a glare. "Just tell me where Gibbs is."
"Abby's lab," Ziva supplied, looking up from the file she was reading.
"Not any more, Ziva." All five agents turned their heads at the sound Gibbs' voice. "Tobias. Special Agent Sacks."
"We have a problem, Jethro," Fornell began. "It seems your Lance Corporal isn't as squeaky clean as you first thought."
"In what way, Tobias?" Gibbs questioned, picking up a file and flicking through it.
"It seems Lance Corporal Nichols was laundering money through her husband's business," Fornell answered, "to a drug syndicate which Agent Sacks has been investigating. We believe –" Fornell was cut off when Agent Sacks' phone rang.
"Excuse me," Sacks said, pulling out his cell phone and answering it. "Sacks . . . hmm . . . you sure about that . . . okay . . . no . . . just hang tight . . . I'll be there in fifteen." Sacks closed his phone and turned to face Fornell.
"That was Matthews," he addressed Fornell. "Apparently he and Jess have received a tip off on the whereabouts of Marquez. They want me there ASAP."
"Lance Corporal Nichols is still our case," Gibbs stated, not wanting the FBI to take away his case. He turned to Tony. "DiNozzo, go with him."
"What!" DiNozzo exclaimed. "C'mon boss, wouldn't it be better if I stayed here to, you know, find a new lead. Send Ziva or McGee."
"I wasn't asking you, DiNozzo," Gibbs responded. "You are to accompany Agent Sacks and you will do as he says."
"But, boss," Tony whined, unwilling to spend any more time than he had to with Sacks. "I can't . . . he and I . . . we don't –" Gibbs' glare cut him off.
"Right, boss," Tony sighed, defeated. "Going with Slacks . . . Sacks."
Luckily for Tony, Sacks looked just as unhappy about the assignment as he did.
Once the doors to the elevator closed, Sacks turned and looked at Tony.
"Listen to me," he said in a low voice, "this is my op. I've been after this gang for a long time and a cocky NCI-whatsit agent is not going to stuff it up."
Tony snorted. "What is your problem?"
"You," he replied, "most definitely you."
Tony rolled his eyes. "Do you think I asked to be sent on this call out with you? I'd much rather be watching The Sound of Music with Ziva and listening to her sing along to the songs. Now that's torture." Tony swore he saw a flicker of a smile pass over Sacks' face, but it was gone before he had a chance to really register it.
"Do not mess up my investigation," Sacks growled. "Do as you are told and don't try anything stupid."
"What do you think I am?" Tony retorted. "A Probie? I do know how to handle myself."
"I'm sure you do," Sacks said sarcastically, "but your behaviour seems to betray you."
"That's it," Tony replied angrily and flicked the emergency stop switch. The carriage went dark. "What is your damn problem . . . and don't say me, I already know that."
Sacks looked at him. "You wouldn't understand."
Something in Sacks' voice made Tony stop and listen. A hit of emotion echoed throughout the elevator carriage.
"I understand a lot of things," Tony said, not as forcefully as before. "Try me."
Sacks sighed and looked at Tony, almost sadly. "I've known Bruno Marquez for a long time. He's been a thorn in my side for as long as I've been with the FBI."
Tony waited patiently for Sacks to go on. "I've been with the FBI six years, before that I was a cop in Seattle."
"I guess we have more in common than we think," Tony suggested. Sacks looked at him curiously. "I was a cop before Gibbs hired, okay, more like ordered me on to his team."
"One of my first cases for the FBI involved a prostitution ring, which Marquez was backing," Sacks continued, ignoring Tony's comment. "That was the first time I met him and he got under skin, big time. We didn't have enough evidence to link him with the prostitution ring, so he got away scot-free."
"Tough luck," Tony said, almost sympathetically.
"I bumped into him a few more times after that. We could never tie him in with anything. He always covered his tracks well, very well."
"Don't you just hate it when suspects do that?" Tony added light-heartedly. "Makes our jobs a whole lot harder." This time Tony actually saw a smile on Sacks' face. "So, you aren't always Mr. Doom and Gloom."
Sacks shot Tony an 'I can't believe you said that, what are you, five?' look, but chuckled slightly.
"Then a couple of years ago, before I knew Fornell," Sacks went on, "I received a tip off from an anonymous source stating that Marquez was stationed in an old warehouse. My partner, Luella Moss, suggested we get together a team and raid the place, but I couldn't wait. I took off and since Lu was a loyal and dedicated partner, she came with me."
Tony could hear the fondness in Sacks' voice when he spoke about Special Agent Luella Moss.
"When we got to the warehouse, it was totally dark and empty. The call must have been a hoax. I wanted to take a look around, but Lu wanted to wait for back-up. I decided to take her advice; I had been working with Lu for two years. She was always the logical one. Me, I'd rush off guns blazing at any opportunity, but Lu would reign me in."
"Sounds like a good agent," Tony mused.
"She was," Sacks answered sombrely.
"Was?" Tony questioned, now very curious about this man's past.
"We were heading back to the car," Sacks ignored Tony once again, "when I saw a light on in one of the smaller warehouses. I told Lu to wait at the car while I went and had a look for myself. I didn't think it was anything big, I assumed it was a squatter. I was right."
Sacks stopped and looked Tony in the eyes. He could see the pain in the other man's eyes, not unlike the pain Tony remembered seeing in his own eyes after Kate died.
"I was just about to evict the squatter, when I heard two gun shots." Tony unfortunately had a good idea where this memory was going.
"I ran back to the car and found Lu slumped over in the passenger's seat." Sacks took a deep breath and continued. "She has been shot, twice, in the chest. I tried everything I could, I really did. She died before the ambulance got there."
"I'm sorry," Tony said quietly and really meant it. "I do know what it's like." Tony's mind flashed back to Kate and Ari and the rooftop.
"She was conscious, you know," Sacks added sadly, "before she died. You know what her last words were? Sorry. She said she was sorry for getting shot. It wasn't her fault. It was mine."
"It wasn't," Tony interjected automatically. "It wasn't your fault."
"She said she loved me." By now Sacks was close to tears. "She had for a long time. I had been blind to it though, I just thought that she was a flirt. She was always flirting with the guys at HQ. But you know what? I told her that I loved her too. She said that she thought she'd have to die before I acknowledged any kind of feelings for anyone. I wasn't that kind of guy."
"Neither was I," Tony admitted, hearing Kate's voice in his head. 'Wow, I thought I'd die before I ever heard . . .'
"Then she died, just like that. We never had a chance to make a go of it." Sacks turned away from Tony and wiped a tear from his cheek. "I knew it was Marquez. This was exactly what he would do. Instead of shooting me, he shot someone I really cared about. We could never get him for it. That's why I can't have you messing up this op. I need this op to work. I need Marquez gone."
Sacks turned and faced Tony. "I have no idea why I'll telling you this, DiNozzo. I didn't mean to, it just came out. But it's just . . . I miss Lu so much. I try to imagine what our lives might have been like if I hadn't rushed off to that warehouse. I would have married her, you know. I really did love her."
"I know," Tony said, placing a hand on Sacks' shoulder, "and I understand."
'All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.' Galileo Galilei