I don't own NCIS (damn it) and I'm just playing with the characters, I swear I will return them in mostly the same condition, just gently used (and abused). Big thanks to my amazing beta, VanishingP2000.
The flip of a Coin
Special Agent Afloat. Anthony DiNozzo, Special Agent Afloat on the USS Ronald Reagan. No way in hell. He was a cop. A detective. He investigated homicides, rapes, kidnappings. Not petty disagreements between various members of the Canoe Club. It wasn't what he had signed up for. Gibbs had brought him to NCIS to be an investigator, not a playground monitor for an aircraft carrier.
Well, there was always that standing offer from the FBI. Though he wasn't sure that it was still standing after Fornell's latest attempt to convict him for murder. Not that it mattered; he wouldn't have a problem finding another job. Gibbs had made sure that his record at NCIS was nothing short of exemplary and Jenny's letter of recommendation in his file didn't hurt, either. Vance could try to taint his record, but he wouldn't have much success. Vance didn't have any legitimate complaints about him- after all, Jenny had died in a house fire in Georgetown. Putting a reprimand in his file saying that his piss poor excuse for protection detail had led to her death would raise more than a few eyebrows.
He liked NCIS. He really did. But what he liked about it was working with Gibbs, Abby, Ducky, McGee and Ziva. He liked being in DC, working the big cases.
He liked being on Gibbs' team and being what amounted to a glorified detective. It was what he enjoyed. He knew that maybe he was being snooty, snobbish, but it was the truth. He didn't want to do the Navy beat cop routine. It wasn't him. Plus he hated ships. Not as much as McGee, true, but he still didn't like them. He liked to keep his feet planted firmly on terra firma as much as possible.
He knew that he screwed up by letting Jenny talk him into taking the day off and dropping the protection detail. He should have listened to Ziva when she said that her gut was telling her that there was going to be trouble. Never argue with a spy's gut- unless, of course, it was in direct confliction with Gibbs' gut. But he had been afraid, not that he was going to admit that to anyone else. Hell, he could barely admit it to himself. He had already been dragged into one of Jenny's personal issues before and look how well that had turned out. It wasn't something that he wanted to repeat anytime soon. Or, you know, anytime ever. The kid who gets his hand burnt by touching the stove will do anything to avoid touching that stove ever again, no matter if it is on or off. He was that kid and the stove was Jenny's personal life. He didn't want anything to do with it if he could help it. And his reluctance had gotten her killed.
She had gotten herself killed. Not that she wasn't going to die soon anyway. Ducky said that she was sick. A brain tumor or something. Ducky's medical jargon had gone over his head, as it always did. But his description of the disease had not. He had described the symptoms, described the slow and gradual slope that would be Jen's death. She had chosen to end it quickly, to go out with a big bang. On her own terms.
He couldn't blame her. He knew that, faced with the impending doom of a slow, painful, miserable death, he too would choose to go out quickly.
He just wished that she had chosen to have her spectacular end when he wasn't supposed to be protecting her. Selfish, he knew, but still, he didn't want it on his conscience. He would always feel responsible for her death, even if he knew that it was inevitable and, had he and Ziva been there, there was a good chance that one or both of them would be either dead or critically injured. He wished that Jen had warned them that they wouldn't be seeing her ever again.
The look in Gibbs' eyes when he had arrived at the diner had made Tony want to cry. Gibbs' looked so… lost. It wasn't a look he was used to seeing on his boss' face. Gibbs was supposed to be the strong one. Ziva, too. And both of them had looked so damn lost without Jenny. And he knew that it was his fault. Ziva had wanted to go with her, hadn't wanted to leave her. He had been the one to coerce her into leaving. He had taken her from them. Or at least, that was what he had thought at the time, before he discovered that she was sick. Dying anyway.
He still felt guilty. If he had listened to Ziva, if they had gone with Jen, Jen would have had time to say her goodbyes. Given the others some degree of closure.
Who the hell was he kidding? Jen wasn't really the type for goodbyes. Nor were Gibbs and Ziva. Jenny would have found a way to get herself killed no matter what he did and she still would have gone without any goodbyes. Some people just weren't good at goodbye. Like, say, their entire team. Which Jenny was a part of, really. She wasn't an agent like Gibbs, Tony, Ziva and McGee, and she wasn't forensics like Abby, Ducky and Palmer, but she was still part of the team. Part of our dysfunctional little family.
A family that was now scattered across the globe. Israel, the West Pacific and DC. Actually, it was really only himself and Ziva who were being scattered. McGee, while no longer on the team, would still be in DC, just a different division of NCIS and Gibbs would still be there and Abby, Ducky and Palmer would still be there, would still get to work with Gibbs every day. Even Jenny was still in DC, though she was now dead and buried. It was only Ziva and Tony who were being sent away. This was, he supposed, fitting since they were the ones who were supposed to be protecting the director when she died. He guessed this was their punishment. He got stuck on a ship with a bunch of blue shirts and Ziva was sent back to a country which she no longer considered home.
He wonders what Vance noted as the official reason for the team being split, if anyone ever asks. Officially, Jenny died when her house burnt down. No one knew how she really died except for him, Gibbs, Ziva, McGee, Abby, Ducky, Palmer, the SecNav and some of his people and, of course, Vance. Satan himself.
He doesn't know what to do. He isn't sure that he should quit- Gibbs would never stand for this, he would do everything within his power to get the team back together. But how much power did Gibbs actually have at this point? And was he, Tony, willing to sit around on a ship for god knows how long and wait for Gibbs to try to fix this? He wasn't sure that he was.
Maybe it was time to move on. He had exceeded his two year limited warranty by five years. Maybe it was time to bail, to find someplace new to hang his metaphorical hat. The problem was that after so long working at NCIS with Gibbs, he found that he had limited tolerance for all of the local PDs. He had become accustomed to a high level of competence and he was unwilling to go back to police departments with lax standards. Gibbs had high standards, so Tony had, by association, developed a certain degree of expectation for competence. One that was found few places outside of Gibbsworld. His best bet would be one of the other alphabet soup agencies- they were, at least, better than local yokels.
There was only one place that he really wanted to be and that was at NCIS, as Gibbs' Senior Field Agent. He didn't want to be Special Agent Afloat on the USS Ronald Reagan; he didn't want to be a Special Agent with the FBI, DEA, ATF or any of them and he sure as hell didn't want to go back to being Detective DiNozzo. He wanted to be here. But that, it seemed, was no longer an option for him.
He wished he had more time. But he had a mere- he glanced at the clock- seven hours and twenty-seven minutes to decide what the rest of his life was going to look like. Either he was going to get on that plane to San Diego and board that ship, or he was going to put NCIS to his back forever.
Except that he always came out dead even as to whether he would leave NCIS or stay. There was never more draw to or from one option than the other. They were in a dead heat. He wanted a third option, he wanted to go back in time and change everything. He wanted things to stay the way that they had been. The way that they should be. But he couldn't and things would never be like they had been. And at this moment, he didn't know where he was going and had no way to decide.
A coin toss seemed as good a way to decide as any.
Heads he went to the USS Ronald Reagan, tails he shoved his gun and badge down Vance's throat and started over again.