Five Ways he probably Didn't get Hired.
DISCLAIMER: Well… I think I'm getting a little sad. This is the last one…!
5. He probably wasn't Just For Now.
"You asked for me, sir?"
"Here, read this."
"It's a personnel file from the Police Department. What do you think?"
"Few reprimands. More closed cases. Young for a detective. Why, he involved in a case?"
"Have you replaced Stan Burley yet?"
"… I can find my own people, sir."
"I'm well aware. But, in the meantime, you'll take the kid."
It wasn't getting handed off to another supervisor that pissed him off. To be perfectly honest, he didn't mind it. He'd spent the last two years going from unit to unit, partner to partner, rarely doing the same thing for more than two cases in a row. The longest had been his two months of Transit Detail, but he'd been told to shove off after he single-handedly dismantled one of the largest cab companies in town. They'd been crooked as hell, but apparently they made Baltimore's politics run a whole heap smoother. How politics could happen in cabs was beyond anything but the dirtiest of Tony's thoughts, but… But even so, you shouldn't have openly crooked politics in any part of Washington D.C., as far as Tony was concerned, so…
He paused to consider that whole situation for a moment.
Yeah, that was probably the defining moment of 'you really did it this time, DiNozzo' for Baltimore. He should've picked up and left right then and there.
No, what pissed him off was that he wasn't being handed off to a new unit this time, but a new department. And he had the nasty feeling it was a 'screw you' demotion, even if he would be getting paid more.
He scowled down at the visitor's card he'd been given, and then up at the elevator doors. He was being made a temporary fed. A government lapdog. A play-by-the-rules, news hog of a pretty boy agency waste of space.
Worse, it was for an agency that no one outside the game had even heard of. Internal Affairs of the freaking Navy.
Apparently, from the whole jack-all that his once and future captain had told him, the NCIS major case squad (what was a major case for the navy, anyway? A sailor not knowing how to swim?) had its golden boy suddenly up and transfer without giving his two weeks notice. But, what with the whole War on Terror thing, NCIS was too low on experienced staff to temporarily fill his place while they conducted interviews for his replacement.
So, for reasons Tony really couldn't give a damn about asking when he wouldn't get a straight answer, the director of NCIS had called Baltimore PD's captain and asked if they could spare a man. Since Tony was regularly shuttled around for no reason, of course he could be spared for as long as NCIS wanted him to ride a freaking desk.
Because that, with his two-fingered typing skills, was clearly what Tony was good at.
The doors opened with a ping, and Tony pulled a smile on his face before stepping out. The squad room looked much like every other one Tony had ever worked in, but better equipped. He added that to another reason why he hated feds with a burning passion.
"Um, hey," he said to the first agent he saw. The guy looked vaguely Italian, balding and only a little older than Tony himself, and he raised his eyes from the file in attention. Tony smiled a little wider. "I'm Anthony DiNozzo, Baltimore PD. I've been transferred TAD for an Agent Gibbs?"
"Ahh… Special Agent Gibbs. You'll be filling in for Stan. Sorry to hear that," the guy said with a grin that showed he totally wasn't. He gestured toward a bullpen that lay in the shadow of a blocky staircase. "The guy with the shaggy marine cut that's reaming out Special Agent Parsons."
Tony followed the pointing file to a middle-aged man, standing in the middle of the pen and speaking very quietly to a younger guy that looked like he'd rather be anywhere else. "Thanks."
He walked over in time to hear the young guy mutter, "Yes, Boss," but only had time to shield himself with his transfer papers before Gibbs turned his glare on him.
"Anthony DiNozzo, Baltimore PD. I've been transferred –"
"You're late," he snapped, then grabbed a thick folder from what was clearly his own desk (three computer screens on one desk. That hurt. Detectives were lucky to get one per squad room) and thrust it at his chest. "Siddown and start reading."
"Okay," he said, taking the folder and automatically turning right, toward the desk farthest from Bad Haircut.
"Not that one," Gibbs barked, and Tony slowly turned around, looking over at the younger agent and then back at Gibbs. The man scowled. "You take that one." He pointed to the one directly beside his own, which looked like it hadn't been occupied in a long while.
"Okay," he said again, and tossed his bag over behind the desk.
"You got DiNozzo?"
"You know him?"
"Enough to know that I'll never choose between wanting to shoot the son of a bitch or hire him."
"That so, Fornell? Well, then maybe I oughta keep him around a while."
"Yeah. Knowing DiNozzo, the two've you'll probably end up killing each other. Solve both my problems."
He'd been there two days before he figured out the off-limits desk had belonged to 'Stan': the golden boy that had up and left. Stan had lasted longer than any of Gibbs' former underlings, got on great with someone called Abby, and was the only one in the whole building who could listen to something called 'Ducky's Monologues' without twitching. No one was entirely sure why Stan had suddenly left, but apparently the agency was heartbroken.
Tony decided he hated Stan for putting him in such a crappy position, but kept it to himself, because that would probably have been grounds for a lynching.
"Diego!" Gibbs snapped, and Tony looked up from the background he was doing on some Navy Fight Club thing. He looked around, and then decided he was probably supposed to be Diego.
"It's DiNozzo," he corrected, but kept his smile up at Gibbs' glare. "What can I do for you, Special Agent Gibbs?"
"The sister's downstairs. Take her up to the conference room. Make her comfortable, and don't even think about discussing the case."
He kept smiling, because otherwise he might have broken the pen he was holding. He was a highly trained investigator. He was a crime scene sketch expert. He had taken down everything from drug rings to serial killing mobsters. And now he was a glorified intern for the damn feds.
Gibbs slammed his hand down on the desk so hard that Tony had instinctively jumped to his feet before he even registered what the noise had been.
"On it!" he cried, and kept his urge to punch something to himself.
It didn't take him long to find the sister – she was shifting from one foot to the other, nervous as hell just from standing next to the overweight security guards. He nodded to the guards (Ned and Barry, the two best things about NCIS, so far) and held out his hand in greeting.
"Hi, I'm Tony; I work for Special Agent Gibbs."
"M- Mandy Waters," she said, and hesitated another second before taking his hand to shake. He gently pulled it a little closer, so the shake turned into a more gentlemanly (ah, hell, who was he kidding. It was sleek, slimy charm and it worked) greeting as he bowed his head. She blushed, her shoulders rising with her grin. "I – I haven't seen my brother in years, so I don't know how much help I'll be…"
"Oh, Miss Waters, you don't have to worry about that. This is just background, you know? Wasting everyone's time so that when we do do something useful, we have proof that it's useful, and that we did it through completely legal channels," he said, and she laughed.
"Ah, bureaucracy in action."
"You know our pain?"
"I work for the public health system," she explained, and he winced.
"Yikes. You have my pity. Well, come on up and I'll use all my federal agent skills to get you a drink while we waste our time." He rolled his eyes, encompassing both Ned and Mandy in the one action and making them smirk for different reasons. By the time he got her into the conference room and had scrounged up the coffee he'd offered her, she was insisting he call her Mandy and happily rambling.
"Of course, when I said I haven't seen Danny in years, I meant I haven't spent any considerable time with him," she said, taking the coffee and turning her chair toward him as he sat down beside her. "He drops by every time he's in town – usually asking for money of course. I swear, that's all he thinks I'm good for: my pay-packet."
"That's just family," he said, keeping his face sympathetic. "I've got two younger siblings – a brother and a sister. And every time they visit, the first night is fine, they tell me all about how well they're doing and money is furthest thing from their mind, but the next morning, like clockwork, they'll butter me up with a homemade breakfast—"
"—and then it's all promises of interest and 'I'll give it back to you in a week'!" she finished for him, and they both laughed, shaking their heads in shared exasperation. She sat back in her chair, swirling the coffee around her cup. "What I don't understand is why I keep giving it to him. Do you do that?"
"Every time. I tell myself I won't, but –"
"Me too. It's so stupid. You know he owes me almost six thousand dollars?"
"Wow. That's a lot of cash," he said, staring at her, but she just shrugged, spreading her hands hopelessly.
"He's my little brother. And, you know… every since he was sixteen, he's had a gambling problem. I try to make him stop, and get him to go to some… I dunno, rehab or something. I thought the navy would take it out of him, but if anything, it only makes it worse." She met Tony's gaze, looking for the empathy he knew she could find. "And, you know, every time he asks me for money, I know what it's for. I know he's just gambling it away, and I tell myself I shouldn't throw my money away like that, but… If I don't give it to him, he'll get it from someone else. He'll go to a loan shark. I just can't let him do that, you know?"
He nodded, taking a sip of his own coffee. "You think he's already gone to one?"
"I don't know… but every time I see him lately, he's covered in bruises. Split lips, torn knuckles… he's getting into fights with someone, and I don't think the navy tolerates that sort of thing amongst crew members, so…"
"They don't," He was pushing what he knew and could do, here, but he knew enough to bluff and didn't have any reason to obey Gibbs' orders to stay quiet. "That's what we're investigating now, in fact. Some kids are part of this organised fight ring; they put bets on who the winners will be, and…" He trailed off, letting his eyes widen as he looked back at Mandy. "Your brother wouldn't be involved in that sort of thing, though, right?"
She gasped, her hand slapping against her mouth. "I – no, he… oh, my god… do you think?"
He shook his head, feigning disbelief, but movement at the door made him look up. Gibbs was standing in a sort of straight-backed slouch, his head leaning forward as he gave Tony a look that was three parts I-should-kick-your-ass, two parts are-you-done and one part good-work. Tony blinked, and then jumped as if he'd only just noticed Gibbs. "Oh, Mandy, I'm sorry, I completely forgot what we were here for," he said quickly, and scrambled to his feet. "Special Agent Gibbs, this is Mandy Waters. Ma- I mean, Miss Waters, this is Special Agent Gibbs. He just wanted to get some… I'm gonna go," he added to Gibbs, only half-acting now that Gibbs' look had switched back to a glare. He hunched over to touch Mandy's shoulder. "It'll be okay," he murmured, and then hurried for the door.
As he passed, Gibbs raised an eyebrow, and Tony ducked the look. It didn't matter what Gibbs thought of him – he knew he'd just gotten something important.
"That Tony's a nice guy."
"You think so, Chris."
"Yeah. And damn good with witnesses."
"You don't say."
"Gibbs, you have no idea. I was trying to get some info out of this old guy about his nephew – the kid's stealing credit cards off his superiors. Anyway. Like getting blood from a stone. I leave the guy in the break room so we can both cool off, just as Tony's getting some food. When I come back, Tony's just leaving, and the old guy's staring at this picture of his nephew beside a very hot car. I took the photo, I followed the car back to the cash, I got the kid. All because Tony 'just happened' to mention cars in passing. Takes a good cop to get that kind evidence in five minutes."
"You gonna write his resume now, too?"
"You mean me?" Tony asked, and then flinched when Gibbs' glare was more intense than usual.
"Go see what Abby's got," was the barked order, and so Tony had gone.
From what Pacci (the agent that sat in front of the elevator), Parsons (the poor bastard that had to face Gibbs' wrath every day), and everyone in the break room had said about her, Tony was expecting Abby to be nice, bubbly and hyperactive.
He was not expecting an angry Goth that looked at him like he had come in to her pristine lab trailing mud from head to toe. She had a surprising lack of eyeliner for a Goth, but she still managed to glare at him with dark eyes and make him feel about two feet tall.
"Special Agent Gibbs sent me?" he offered weakly, and the glare got worse. It wasn't even the type of glare that would screw up her face and let him silently laugh at her. It was a heated lack of emotion, as if there was nothing he could possibly do to make her opinion of him become better than the dirt she squished under those gigantic platform heels.
"So you're him," she said coldly.
She gave him a long once-over, came up unimpressed, and took a deep breath before turning to her computer. "I don't have anything for you. Go away so I can focus."
Tony hesitated, weighing his options. Gibbs scared the crap out of him, but this chick was right here, and even if she was tiny, those boots and spikes meant she could probably take him down in two moves, given that he wouldn't be allowed to fight back.
So Tony left… through the door to the rest of lab.
"Hey! I just said there's nothing here for you!" she cried, but he ignored her and bent over what he recognised as Gibbs' evidence bags. If there was nothing he could do to boost her opinion, he damn well wasn't going to bother trying.
"This the dead guy's effects?"
"Yeah," she said irritably, grabbing them away from him. "And they're clean. Nothing on them. Same as the tox' screen. The guy died from the beating, not from any drugs in his system. I will call Gibbs when I have something."
"What about the computer Special Agent Parsons brought in?" he asked, brushing past her to go back into the main room and investigate the computer sitting on her table. "Finger prints?"
"The dead guy's, as you would expect. And I'm still running the hard drive, so you can –"
"What was on it?" he asked. "First base check out, I mean. Games, figures, porn, what?"
She stared at him for a long moment, and he raised his eyebrows, refusing to budge until she gave him something. Immature as it was, he wasn't going back up to Bad Haircut with 'Abby's wouldn't tell me anything'. They stood there for almost a minute, Tony refusing to be cowed by a girl in pigtails and Scuito staring at him like she expected him to back down from only her expression. But he'd faced worse, and she eventually scowled, rolled her eyes and turned back to her computer.
"He was still way better looking," she said, apropos of nothing. "Sergeant Green was like, totally overcompensating for something, because I have never seen one man go to so many manly websites in my whole life. I mean, look at this stuff: body building, guns, wrestling, porn, martial arts…"
"The man clearly had issues," he quipped, and she looked at him like she wasn't sure whether to smile or punch him. He had to struggle to keep his smile up.
That was apparently not a normal reaction.
"Okay, seriously? Sending the kid down here to get him out of your hair? Not cool, Gibbs. Not cool at all."
"Didn't like him?"
"Define 'like' for me."
"He's… good with evidence. And kinda funny. But he was totally a jock in high school, you can so tell, and Stan's better looking, besides."
Unfortunately, it seemed that 'normal' was not part of the NCIS vocabulary. A week in, when Gibbs told him to go visit autopsy for no particular reason, Tony had jumped at the chance like it was Disneyland. It wasn't until he was in the elevator that he realised, and decided that they must put something in the water. Wanting to visit dead people was definitely not normal.
His theory was only backed up when he walked into autopsy to find the ME happily chatting away to the body he was cutting into.
"No, what I find puzzling is the suddenness of the thing – we were all expecting it eventually, but it was almost as if he just woke up that morning and decided enough was enough. Normally, one would expect –"
"Doctor Mallard?" Tony asked, and the doctor paused with a lung in his hand to look over his shoulder.
"Hi, Special Agent Gibbs sent me down here to…" He stopped, suddenly remembering he didn't really have a reason to be down here. "I don't actually know what. I figure I must be pissing him off somehow."
"Most would say that isn't hard, I'm afraid," Mallard said, but he was smiling at the time. "Would I be correct in assuming you to be Anthony DiNozzo, our temporarily assigned detective? I've heard quite a bit about you, my lad."
He blinked. "You have?"
"Mostly flattering, I assure you," he said, and followed it up with another smile before he turned back to weighing the lung.
Tony couldn't help but cringe. "Mostly?"
Mallard read off the lung weight, then eased it down into a pan and turned to look at Tony properly. His once-over was less judgemental than most of the others he'd received so far, and Mallard chuckled when it was done. "You must excuse Abigail; she's had a very hard week and you seem to have been unfortunately placed to be the target of her anger. I do apologise on her behalf."
"Ah, well, I'm guessing there's some sort of reason. Somewhere," he added, wandering over to peer at the body. It was an older man with thinning brown hair. Tony had the strangest flash of his father and so looked up to meet Ducky's gaze instead. "But hey, I'll be gone in a week and she can forget about me… and whatever's really getting to her. All the better, right?"
Mallard gazed at him silently for a moment, an odd smile on his face before he looked down at the body again. "I heard from Agent Gibbs that you belong to the Baltimore crime department, but he didn't say which unit. Care to avail an old man?"
"Nah, but I'll let you in on the secret if you tell me what's going on with this guy," he said, and Mallard chuckled as he lifted out the second lung.
"Your common variety cardiac arrest, I'm afraid. However, he met his demise in the midst of a particularly important meeting with a particularly important admiral, and one can never be too careful," he explained, and Tony nodded, knowing he would want an autopsy in that situation too.
"I'm between units, actually," he said, then grinned at Mallard's curious look. "I came as a general detective, two years ago. But the War on Crime takes its toll, and the city wants specialised detectives. I'm an all-rounder, so I go to whichever unit needs me the most."
"And NCIS needed you more than the Baltimore Police?"
"Everyone needs a little bit of DiNozzo," he said, fluttering his lashes and making Mallard roll his eyes indulgently. Tony then grimaced at some fluid oozing out of Mallard's new incision and turned to lean against the table instead of over it. "But I might go back to cold cases when this is done. Or change units again. Or maybe even check out the options in other cities."
Mallard looked up in interest. "Do you have a city in mind?"
"No… But maybe somewhere where the bad guys actually have a good reason to shoot each other," he said, adding a touch of mock wistfulness that made Mallard smile again.
"Is there ever a good reason?" he asked wryly, and Tony shrugged.
"Better than 'you stole my three-week old crack'."
Mallard opened his mouth in a quick intake of breath, though it seemed more like a silent method of agreement than any reaction. He nodded minutely, clenched his teeth and went back to the body. "From its reputation, Baltimore does seem to have that trend. However, there are just so many reasons men may give to shoot one another. I remember once, when I was stationed in Hollywood –"
It was ten minutes later that Tony realised the story didn't have any foreseeable end, but he didn't have anything pressing to do upstairs, Mallard ("please call me Ducky, dear boy.") was elbow-deep in the man's intestines, and it was kind of interesting hearing about his exploits in the star-ridden streets of LA. And besides, if Gibbs hadn't wanted him down here, he damn well shouldn't have sent him.
"He has my vote, Jethro."
"Mind telling me what you're talking about, Duck?"
"Detective DiNozzo. Yes, he's the most interesting young man that I've met in a long time. Do you know that he comes from a line of bankers? Makes his decision to become a detective particularly interesting, in my opinion, don't you agree?"
"DiCaprio!" Gibbs barked, and Tony didn't bother looking up from his report.
"Leonardo, former teen idol and star of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet," he lazily reeled off, only to jump when something slammed near his feet. He stared up at Gibbs, who looked like kicking the desk had only been a slightly better solution than pouring his ever-present coffee over Tony's head.
"Didn't you hear me? I said gear up! We got a case."
Tony continued to stare at him, even as his hand inched toward the top drawer. "You want me in the field?"
"You are filling in for my senior field agent," he snapped, and Tony was almost ashamed at how quickly he got out his holster and pulled it on. He was not made for desk duty, and god help him, this almost felt like a promotion.
By the end of the case, three days later, Tony was surviving on hazelnut coffee and twenty-minute catnaps, but feeling great nonetheless. It was his first hands-on homicide in almost a year, and damn but if he didn't feel useful.
Then a file slapped against the back of his head. "What the hell is this supposed to be?"
He blinked as it dropped onto his desk, not sure whether to object to the tone or the slap. In the end, he decided both would be fruitless. "My report?"
"That's not a report."
"It's chicken scratch," said Gibbs, and he leaned down to tap the file with two fingers. "Make it legible."
He blinked again, but eventually couldn't help himself. "Do we really have the six hours it'll take for me to figure out how to turn on the computer and type it?"
"Here's a hint: your computer's already on," he drawled, but the scowl was tempered by a slight upturn of his lip, and Tony grinned, recognising a smirk when he saw one.
He decided to consider it a triumph.
"A word, Gibbs?"
"You've got two minutes."
"Why'd you get DiNozzo to sketch the scene? I'm the former Crime Scene Investigator – he's just a fill-in."
"You really want to try that specialist bullshit with me, Parsons?"
"Just how long're we keeping that NYPD-dropout, anyway? Doesn't his own department want him?"
At the end of his third field case, DiNozzo found himself sitting alone at one in the morning, eating pizza and procrastinating about finishing his report.
It had almost been a month. He was starting to miss the coffee mug he'd left in the cold case room, awaiting his return. He had a hotel that he regularly booked into because the hour-long commute to-and-from work cut into the little sleep he got. He'd already dated three extremely hot special agents and had the phone numbers of several more.
Gibbs strode back into the bullpen without acknowledging his presence, but Tony watched in thoughtful silence as the man sat down and began scribbling all over whatever he had gone to get.
The paycheque was nice. He did like getting that extra cash in his bank account, but most of the extra money went to the hotel or petrol he had to use to work here. Temporary work was totally not worth the hassle.
After a few moments of contemplation, Tony picked up the pizza box and extended it in silent offering. Gibbs looked up, surprised, then nodded and reached over to pick out the largest remaining slice. He smirked at Tony's mock outrage. "I'm sure you'll live, DiNozzo."
"It's the principle of the thing," he muttered, pouting for show as he yanked the box away again and put it as far away as possible. Gibbs busied his mouth with the slice to avoid smiling, but the words finally registered and Tony blinked. "Hey… you got my name right."
Gibbs raised his eyebrows. "I can go back to Diego if you'd prefer."
"Well, it's got a certain Spanish flair," he joked, and Gibbs' eyes were smiling even if the rest of him wasn't. Tony wiggled his fingers over the box as he picked out his next slice, not even thinking as he asked, "How are the interviews going?"
"The case is over," Gibbs pointed out, before tilting his head back and managing to fit a full third of the slice in his mouth. Tony had to admire the technique for a second before speaking again.
"No, I mean the real interviews. For… whatsisname's replacement," he said, gesturing at the Untouchable Desk. Gibbs glanced at it while he chewed, and Tony swallowed his mouthful before continuing. "Not that I don't love the commute and everything, but Abby smiled today and it really freaked me out."
Gibbs looked at him sideways, and Tony shrugged helplessly.
"I've gotten used to her threatening to kill me without leaving any forensic evidence," he confessed. "I figure I should get outta here before she decides my insides wouldn't make good wall paint for her lab."
Gibbs continued staring at him for a few moments, chewing silently. It wasn't the lizard look, with the extended neck and weird eyes, which Tony had figured out meant he was letting you dig yourself into a hole while he imagined how you'd look on his barbeque, but rather the slightly irritated look he got when he couldn't figure something out. Tony grimaced when he realised he'd started to figure out Gibbs' expressions.
"Oh, come on," he said, when no answer was forthcoming. "Tell me you've at least picked out the candidates. When do I go back to Baltimore?"
"Gimme some more of that pizza," he said, and Tony rolled his eyes before handing over the box. Gibbs didn't look at him as he selected his next slice and handed the box back. "Don't you have a report to write?"
He shrugged and went back to staring at his half-finished report.
Tony flinched, gripping the strap of his new backpack to keep it from flying behind his desk. He didn't otherwise move, but turned his head to see Gibbs trotting down the stairs from the higher levels, file in hand.
"Special Agent Gibbs?"
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Uhh… getting to work?" he suggested, but didn't properly turn around until Gibbs had started stalking toward the bullpen. "Why, you got a case?"
"That's not your desk," he said, and Tony blinked, turning in place to look at it. It sure as hell looked like… oh. Oh, okay. He could get 'subtlety'.
"You know, it wouldn't have killed you to tell me the TAD was over last night," he said, pulling the backpack up and opening it to get his files. "Seriously, I really would have liked to have slept –"
"Shut up," Gibbs told him, and then shoved his handful of papers at him. "Siddown and sign those."
Tony stared at him blankly. "But you just told me –"
"Sit," snapped Gibbs, pointing at the Untouchable Desk, "and sign."
Tony continued staring at him, but all he got was a returning stare, and Gibbs was much scarier than he could hope to be. Without turning away, Tony did several quick side-steps to sink down into the Untouchable Chair. Only then did Gibbs move on to his own desk, and Tony was able to look at the papers he'd been given.
He'd assumed they would be the contracts to end this Temporary Assignment, but after reading the first sentence, his head jerked up to stare at Gibbs again.
"These are –"
"Get a new apartment. I don't have time to waste on you commuting across the city to get to a crime scene."
"I don't –"
"Or would you rather go back to chasing drug dealing cabbies?" asked Gibbs, and Tony blinked, picking up a pen almost unconsciously.
"Well, no, but –"
"Then shut up and sign the damn contract."
"My captain will –" He stopped when Gibbs shifted in his seat, leaning over his desk and fixing him with The Stare. The one that promised pain and, more concerning, abject humiliation if his orders were not followed in the next two seconds. Tony swallowed.
"On it, Boss."
Ta-dah! That makes five! It's been fun, people, and I'd love to play in your sandbox again sometime, but for now, I think I'm done. I'd love to hear from you, whether it's to tell me you loved it, hated it, or really didn't care either way, and maybe I'll see you again. Later days, everybody!