Tony sat at his desk with a tired look on his face., Gibbs had went home a few hours ago, giving Tony the time he needed to sneak back in and check a few files on a different case.

"You're here late.", A female voice said startling him. Tony turned quickly, plastering a slight smile on his face.

"You're one to talk Jen. I mean, Director."

Title: Mask

Author: Cobra

Rating: T/M

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

"You can still call me Jen Tony.", Director Jenny Shepard said as she took a seat across from his desk., "What are you working on."

"La Grenouille"

"You really need to get some rest Tony."

"I will. I've just got a few more wrinkles to iron out. I think I'm getting close."

"To close?"

"Probably.", Tony answered truthfully. That's probably why he and Jen got along so well, Tony might dance around the truth, but he never lied.

"You can pull out Tony."

"No I can't.", Tony answered with smile., "You honestly think I could just walk away?"

"No, But I had to ask."

"You know why I like you Director?"

"Call me Jen. And no, why do you like me?", She asked with a slight smirk.

"You see through all the bullshit. You see even deeper than Gibbs.", Tony said with a smirk., "Plus you add a little eye candy to this boring office."

"No flirting with the boss DiNozzo.", Jen said with a large smile on her face.

"Take away all my fun."

"Yeah, so how long are you going to be here?"

"I'm almost done.", Tony answered the smirk still on his face.

"Well, hurry up, coffee's on you."

"Sure thing."


"So you met him today?"

"Yep.", Tony answered as he drank his coffee in Jen's office.

"How did that go?"

"He threatened to kill me.", Tony answered with a slight smile., "Don't worry, I get that reaction from all my girlfriends parents."

"He's dangerous."

"I know. But, I think he knows I am to."

"What did you do?"

"Threatened to kill him right back.", Tony answered with a shrug.

"You didn't.?"

"I'm supposed to be a history teacher, a teacher that just killed a guy. So I had to act the part of a scared kid. What's the first thing a kid does when he feels threatened."

"He lashes out.", Jen answered with a slight nod of respect.

"Exactly.", Tony answered as he took another sip., "I'll apologize next time I see him. Then we'll start over. But, I can't stay under much longer. We already know he ran my name, but if he runs a facial recognition software this is all over."

"I thought as much.", Jen answered with a small smile., "I figured we'd take him tomorrow. That is, if you feel okay with it."

"Okay, isn't the word I'd use, but I'll finish this."

"And Jeanne?"

"I won't lie to you Jen. She dug in a little deep, but she knows what her dad does. And, I have regrets, about what I've done. I'm only human. But she's not an innocent in this."

"Then let's get everything ready. Time to let Jethro in our little secret."


The bust had went smoother than expected, with Tony in the warehouse it was easy to disarm La Grenouille and take him alive. And to Tony's suprise it wasn't the bust that frayed his nerves, it was the looks that Gibbs was throwing his way. And to be honest they were starting to piss him off.

"DiNozzo, with me."

"Sure Gibbs.", Tony answered, the boss dropping from his vocabulary for a moment as the two walked toward the elevator.

"Poor Tony.", McGee said with a grimace. Ziva nodded with the young officer in aggreement. They both looked up shocked as they heard Director Shepard.

"Poor Gibbs."


The two men stood in the elevator, silence as thick as fog between them.

"You should have filled me in.", Gibbs growled out without looking at his senior officer.


"Why?", Gibbs practacally yelled as he turned on the young man, "I'm your boss that's why. You do not go undercover alone."

"You weren't my boss when this op started. It was mine, therefore you didn't need to know.", Tony said with a hard tone. Standing his ground though his every emotion told him to fold.

"That isn't an excuse."

"No, it's the reason. The case was mine, the world didn't stop turning when you left Gibbs. Everything was going just fine, cases were being closed, the group was tighter than it had ever been. You came back, I'm glad, really I am. But you can't expect things to be the same as they were."

"I never said.." Gibbs started only to have Tony interrupt him.

"Why do you think I didn't take the team Jen offered me?", Tony said with a hard smile., "I had an op Boss. And, I had you to look after. You can think whatever you want about my methods, about how big a screw up I am. But at the end of the day I take care of everyone. Including you."

"I don't need you taking care of me."

"That's were your wrong Boss. That's were you've always been wrong about me. You need me, and even if you don't, I need you."

"This isn't about the team Tony, this is about you keeping an operation from me."

"And I'd do it again if I had to. Just like you would me."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You were messed up when you first came back. You kept calling Ziva, Kate, you looked at me sometimes and I knew you didn't know who I was for a split second. You tried to hide it, but you couldn't, so I watched your six. I came behind you and made sure things were getting done. To your credit you didn't slip up much, but when you did it ended with me."

Gibbs stood silently, wondering when DiNozzo had grown the backbone to stand up to. And he had to admit to himself that the kid had always had the guts, he just never had a good enough reason before.

"You've always been harder on me than anyone else Gibbs. But it's okay, because I know why, I understand you. More than you could ever understand me. You may see me Gibbs, but you don't know half of the real me."

"I've always been harder on you because you have potential. You always have. The first time I saw you leading the murder investigation in Baltimore I knew you had what it took to be a great agent."

"I know. I figured it out while you were gone.", Tony said with a sigh as he and Gibbs seemed to reach a mutual agreement., "When you left Gibbs, I had to step up, I had to lead this team. And to everyone's immense suprise I did good. The cases were closing just as fast as before, the team was getting along. And I wasn't you. I tried to be at first, I mean really tried, because the fact of the matter is I look up to. When I see you I see who I've always wanted to be. But I figured out after the first week, that I'm not you, I'll never be you. We are alot alike Boss. But you have your way and I have mine. For the first time in my life I was proud of what I was doing. Then you came back, and I tried to go on like you weren't here. To be the leader, but it wasn't a week before the old mask came on. And I hated myself for that. That's why I didn't tell you about the Op Gibbs. Because during that Op, I could be me. The me that I'm proud of."

"You didn't have to stop being you Tony.", Gibbs said with a soft voice.

"When I tried to take the initiative you cut me down with a glare. You still thought I wasn't ready, even though months earlier you left the team to me."

Gibbs only took a moment to stare at his senior field agent before he leaned over and pressed the emergency stop button in. The ride back upstairs was silent, but not nearly as uncomfortable as before. As the duo stepped out of the elevator they felt every eye on them, but neither man showed any discomfort. DiNozzo sat at his desk and quickly began typing on his computer. Gibbs sat at his and opened a file folder.


"Yeah Boss?", Tony asked as he stood and walked over to the older mans desk.

"A Petty Officer's body was just fished out of the ocean. Go check it out.", Gibbs said as he handed Tony the folder.

"Um, what are you going to do Boss?"

"Get another cup of coffee.", Gibbs answered easily as he stood and walked toward the lounge room. Tony smiled slight as he slapped the folder against his left hand.

"Ziva, Probie. With me."