Gibbs quickly entered the autopsy room. His intense body language made Ducky completely stop what he was doing.
"What is the matter Jethro?" Ducky asked both in confusion and concern.
"First I lose Jenny. Now I am losing my entire team!"
"What?" Ducky responded in horror.
"Vance is sending Ziva back to Israel and Tony has been reassigned to the USS Ronald Reagan. McGee will at least be across the street, but he has been reassigned, also."
"Good heavens. . .what is all this about?" Ducky asked wide-eyed and still in shock.
Gibbs frantically looked around for something to throw, but he managed to contain himself after a moment.
"This is all my fault. I should not have ordered Tony and Ziva to monitor Vance's investigation. This is a punishment for that".
"Now don't you start, too, Jethro! It took us days to convince Anthony to stop blaming himself for something beyond his control. Unless Vance told you his reasoning for this change, you do not know the purpose for these reassignments. We can just hope that they are temporary reassignments." Ducky tried to explain as calmly as possible to Gibbs, hoping that there was truth to what he was saying to Gibbs.
"Well,. . .we are planning to meet down in my basement at around 6pm and spend sometime together before Ziva and Tony leave. Would you be able to come?"
"Of course Jethro, I will be there." Gibbs nodded and turned to leave.
"Jethro?" Gibbs turned to face Ducky again.
"There is something that I have for you." Ducky started to say in a quiet and somber tone. "Jenny asked me to give you this envelope. . .well. . .upon her death. Obviously, with her debilitating disorder, she knew that the end could come at any time, so she prepared a letter for you."
Gibbs closed the gap between them, staring intently at the envelope that Ducky was holding. He swallowed hard, as his eyes slightly started to tear. Gibbs took the envelope from Ducky, not knowing exactly what to say.
"She knew she was dying Jethro. She knew for a while. She was a strong, determined, and courageous woman that made astonishing accomplishments while her own body began to fail her. She had told me that there were three things she needed to do before she died. She wanted to be the first female director, wanted to investigate her father's death, and wanted to do right, by you, Jethro. Then, she said, she could die at peace." Ducky explained.
Seeing how much this was hurting him, Ducky finally offered to leave Jethro in the autopsy room alone to read the letter. Gibbs decided he needed to be alone, but he left Ducky and the autopsy room. He made it as far as the parking lot, where he sat in his car looking so somberly at the envelope that he held in his hands. Finally, he took a deep breath, looked up for a moment, and then back at the envelope before opening it.
If you are reading this, I must be at peace. To answer the question you asked me before, yes--I have been sick. Right after you quit. . .or, I know, "retired", I was diagnosed with a debilitating illness. I just found it too difficult to tell you, specifically you, about this, although I am not completely sure as to why. Ducky found out recently and was monitoring my health regularly, and I had no trouble talking to him about this. I also didn't have trouble talking to Tony about it. Yes, I am talking about Tony "DiNozzo". It wasn't planned, but when I was first diagnosed and had to be rushed to the hospital, I had been working with Tony. This is when I really got to know Tony, and he agreed to help me investigate my father's death. I really misjudged him at first. There is just so much more to him than the childish humor and constant flirting. Apparently, his mother died of a debilitating illness, and he identified the symptoms I was having. Unfortunately, there is no cure, and this will be a slow, painful death.
Now, here comes my confessions, Jethro. I need to apologize to you Jethro for being such a tough boss and for keeping you in the dark about my pursuit of Le Grenouille. Tony knew and understood how little time I had to find Le Grenouille and put to rest the mystery behind the story of my father's sudden suicide and supposed bribe from Le Grenouille.
I also lied to you about the proof. I do/did have proof all along, a witness, who saw my father murdered for failing to take a bribe. For close to eight months, Tony and I monitored Le Grenouille, as we tried to build a case. However, we were unsuccessful. Once Tony's cover had been blown, all hope was lost at building a case against him. That is when, after you left that night, I had to take matters into my own hands. Yes, I did agree to meet Le Grenouille at his yacht. I approached him in the dark. With my gun, the gun Fornell and Vance couldn't find, shot and killed my father's murderer. My plan was to then shoot myself. As I stood there staring at the water where Le Grenouille's body had fell over, I could hear someone approaching me. It was Tony. He had originally arrived at my town home, just as you had left. He had followed me to the yacht, and from a distance, he saw me kill Le Grenouille. Moments later, Trent Kort arrived at the yacht. After telling him what had happened, he told Tony and me to leave. He said that the CIA would sanction this. The only part that we lied to Kort about was the gun not falling into the water. Tony has my gun, along with all the mission reports and details, that he has in a safety deposit box. Go easy on Tony, it really hurt him to lie to you.
When Fornell began his investigation, interrogating agents, tearing my house upside down, I thought for sure that I would spend the rest of my time on Earth, in prison. I thought for sure that Kort had turned me in, and I was ready to face the consequences of my actions. To my surprise, someone that I didn't expect, came to my rescue, which created "reasonable doubt" that I could be the shooter, regarding this murder case.
I have yet, another confession to make. The "witness" to my father's murder was Jeanne Benoit. She was helping Tony and me build a case from the beginning to bring her father to justice. She wanted to see him pay for his horrendous crimes over the years; however, she had not wanted him murdered. She had even left the country, after Tony had told her about his death. Jeanne almost revealed everything to you, when you came to question her about her father. However, she thought it best not to tell you that she and Tony had prepared a distraction to protect me, to my own surprise, from being accused of murder. I do feel sorry for what I put Tony through, as well. Did Tony ever mention to you that he was offered his own team in Rota, Spain? This was right after you returned permanently. If he had taken it, he would have avoided the whole Le Grenouille nightmare.
I am so grateful to Jeanne, not only for her support in helping me to resolve my father's death, but for allowing me the time I have left to spend with you. I hope that we have mended fences and that I have made up for the pain I have caused you. I cannot even put into words how much I will miss you.
Gibbs drove home. Knowing that at any moment, his team would meet together for the very last time, Gibbs walked slowly down to his basement. The basement door opened, and Tony started to head down the stairs to him. Gibbs was taken aback that Tony was on time and actually first to arrive.
"Hey Boss" quietly said Tony, who gave a very small grin, but then went back to looking at the floor.
"Tony," Gibbs said with a nod. Then, he looked at Tony in confusion.
"Where is everyone? I figured you would come with Ziva and McGee." Gibbs asked.
Tony looked up and made eye contact with Gibbs, as he went to sit down.
"Oh, uh, . . .I am sure that they are still coming, Boss, but I haven't talked to anyone since the funeral."
"Ziva actually let you out of her sight?" Gibbs asked giving Tony a crooked smile.
"Well, she had to pack, too." Tony said with a slight grin.
Tony coughed to save himself from the strong stare that Gibbs was giving him. He shifted in the chair. As he turned and looked down again, he saw the FBI file on Le Grenouille sitting on Gibbs' table, with the first picture of the autopsy photos showing. For the first time, Tony saw the photo of Le Grenouille's head with the bullet wound. Gibbs was watching as Tony discovered the file and was trying to make eye contact with Tony. However, Tony slumped down and put his head in his hands, looking like he was going to vomit.
"Tony?" Gibbs asked as he leaned toward him. "Are you all right?" Gibbs then turned at the sound of the basement door opening. There came the rest of his team. Ducky lead the way as he was telling yet another detailed story about his past. McGee, Ziva, and Abby followed as they were smiling and listening to Ducky.
"Hey Gibbs" Abby said as she gave him a big hug. Then she looked to Tony, who was now standing behind Gibbs. Even though it was difficult, Tony forced a smile to greet the team, as it would be a long time before he would see them again. Gibbs continue to watch him but also decided it was best to put the Le Grenouille file away, since this night was more about being with his team.
That evening no one mentioned anything about Jenny Shepard; even though, it was definitely on their minds. They just ate, joked, teased, and talked that evening, in the normal team manner. Then as midnight approached, the team said their heart-filled goodbyes.
A month had passed, since his team had been split up. Gibbs managed to have phone conversations with Ziva, on a pretty regular basis. She seemed to be doing fine back with Mossad, but she still had not told anyone that she was the one who killed Ari. Gibbs still handed McGee assignments, at times. Jardin just was no match for McGee, when it came to computer skills. Tony was the only one that he never had contact with. Though, if he checked his email, there probably were a few of those from Tony.
Gibbs now had Agents Lee and Jardin on his team, along with a rather short-tempered muscle-bound "beach bum" agent. At least that is what Gibbs thought of him. His new team was currently investigating the death of a Navy officer, who was on leave, but usually stationed aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.
Jardin looked at Gibbs "I can get information about his record by contacting the USS Ronald Reagan in MTAC."
"Nice anticipation Jardin, but you continue what you are doing, I will be in MTAC". Gibbs rushed up to MTAC, as this was the first opportunity to use MTAC to check on how Tony was doing, as well as continue the investigation. Once MTAC was able to establish a good connection, Gibbs talked to four different officers before speaking to the commander of the USS Ronald Reagan. Gibbs was getting irritated that no one knew where Tony was; even though, they did provide great detail into the background of the Navy officer.
The commander looked nervously through the camera, at Gibbs.
"Sir, Agent Gibbs, I know there was talk of Agent DiNozzo joining us here as an agent afloat, but, sir, he has never been aboard the USS Ronald Reagan."
"What! Where is he then?" Gibbs yelled as he threw his headset down and headed for the director's office.
As he approached Vance's office, he saw Vance standing outside his door by Cynthia's desk going over some files. Gibbs planned to get right into Vance's face.
"Where did you send DiNozzo!? He isn't an agent afloat is he?" Gibbs yelled at Vance.
"I am amazed it took you this long to find that out Agent Gibbs," Vance answered calmly, which only angered Gibbs more.
"Come in my office, Agent Gibbs," Vance ordered. Gibbs followed him inside. "DiNozzo has been in France, continuing his investigation into arms dealers," Vance explained. "He is continuing where he left off before you came out of retirement and became so suspicious of what he and Director Shepard were doing. You know Jethro, I would have to say that some of the best work that DiNozzo ever did for this agency was while working on this Le Grenouille operation."
"I could argue that statement," Gibbs said casually as he stared his infuriated eyes into Vance. "Does he have any type of backup protection, at all?"
"I will not divulge anymore details about this ongoing, covert operation," Vance continued. "However, if you promise to not push DiNozzo for mission details, I will give you his contact number." As Vance made this offer, Gibbs relaxed his stare and agreed.
As Gibbs entered the bullpen, Agent Lee jumped into Gibbs's path.
"Agent Gibbs, our suspect confessed to killing the Navy officer!" Lee explained with a bit of excitement in her tone.
"Who got the confession? Please tell me it wasn't. . ." Gibbs wondered if it was forced by his new hot tempered, muscle-bound agent.
"It was to me, Agent Gibbs," Lee said with a giant smile. "and Abby confirmed that it did happen the way the suspect confessed to."
"That is nice work Agent Lee," Gibbs smiled, and then sat at his desk as Lee walked away.
Gibbs dialed up McGee's number, gripping onto the phone number that Vance had given him. McGee dropped everything he was doing when he heard Gibbs' voice.
"Boss. . ." McGee started.
"McGee, could you trace a phone number for me? The location is most likely in France, can you still get a fix?" Gibbs asked.
"Sure, I will have to change. . ." McGee stopped talking when he heard the sigh from Gibbs.
"The number is coming from somewhere just outside of Paris. . . .and. . .huh?"
"What is it McGee?" Gibbs asked slightly irritated.
"The phone is registered to Tony DiNardo?" McGee said as more of a question.
"That doesn't make any sense, Boss!"
"No, it doesn't make sense, but none of this really makes sense right now" Gibbs injected.
"What? What is going on Boss?" McGee asked. "Why is Tony. . .?"
Gibbs cut him off and simply said. "I am trying to find that out McGee. I will be in touch." Gibbs said as he hung up. Gibbs stopped for a second, and thought about what Vance had said about calling Tony. Instead of questioning Tony himself, he dialed Ziva's number. Gibbs explained the situation to Ziva and even shared the contents of Jenny's letter to her regarding Le Grenouille's murder.
"Ziva, I understand that you have only been back with Mossad for a month, and I realize that you do not work for me anymore. But, is there any chance you can fly to France and find out what is going on from Tony and find out if he is okay?" Gibbs asked in an unusually concerned tone.
"I am on it Gibbs, " Ziva said, "I will work it out."
"Thank you Ziva. But, be careful." Gibbs said. Ziva hung up the phone more concerned about Gibbs at the moment than Tony. That conversation was very different than the one's that the two had had back when Tony was acting "out of character", when Tony was working undercover before. And, she actually got a "thank you" from Gibbs.
Gibbs sat at his desk feeling so helpless, thinking about the current situation with his real team. He pulled the letter out again that Jenny had written him. Staring at it, he began to reread the letter, looking for any type of clue or idea of what might be going on. Then Gibbs felt his body weighting down, as he then began to wonder if he could ever get his team back. Gibbs looked down at the letter, noticing a specific line that Jenny wrote.
"I am so grateful to Jeanne, not only for her support in helping me to resolve
my father's death. . ."
Gibbs began to stare at the line and gave it another confused and curious squint. Maybe it is time that I pay Miss Benoit another visit, he thought to himself. Gibbs found that her address hadn't changed from when she had given her statement to the FBI a few months back. Gibbs had reached her apartment, and he began knocking at the door. After a few minutes, Jeanne opened it wearing a robe and appearing to have just woken up.
"Agent Gibbs!?" Jeanne said in a manner that seemed to jolt her out of her almost sleep walk.
"Miss Benoit, if it is all right, I would like to ask you some more questions," Gibbs said in an apologetic manner.
"Of course, please come in Agent Gibbs," Jeanne opened the door to let Gibbs in. "Please have a seat. Could you just give me a minute to change?" She asked and then left out of sight.
Gibbs sat on the couch and looked around the room. For some reason, he had felt like he had been in the room before. However, he knew he had never been in this building before. Jeanne reappeared wearing a t-shirt with jeans and had pulled back her hair.
"Something wrong Agent Gibbs" Jeanne asked in concern as she sat down.
He gave out a slight laugh. "For some reason. . .I feel like I have been in this room before, but I know I have never been in this building before."
"It is most likely the furniture. Does it look familiar to you?" Jeanne smiled and seemed to be enjoying herself.
"The furniture?" Gibbs looked around noticing a very large plasma television and surround sound system over in the back of the living room. After seeing that, he started to nod and notice the other pieces of furniture.
"This reminds me of the furniture at Tony's place" Gibbs said with a laugh, but then wished he could take it back.
Jeanne smiled and nodded at him and raised her eyebrows. "It is the furniture from Tony's place."
Gibbs turned to face her with intense curiosity. "Did he give you his furniture as a peace offering?" Gibbs asked in a joking manner.
"No, take another guess." Jeanne said baiting.
"You are watching it while he is away?" Gibbs said smiling and put up his hands in total confusion waiting for the reason. "I thought you hated him for lying to you." Gibbs said bluntly.
"Okay, could you tell me what happened? Gibbs had surrendered and asked in a slightly irritated tone. "I know you were covering for Director Shepard."
"I first met Tony with Jenny Shepard last year in Europe while they were attending a peace conference. That is when I told her that I had seen her father murdered for not accepting a bribe from my father. I was just a teenager at the time, and my father did not know that I had followed him into the study at the moment that he shot Jasper Shepard. I was supposed to be in the limo. I had seen my father do terrible things over the years, but that was the first time I saw for myself how evil a man he was. I wanted to see him go to prison. I helped Tony get associated with one of the arms dealers and gave him the little evidence that I had collected on my own. During the investigation, Tony and I got pretty close and started dating." Jeanne started to explain.
"Jenny Shepard was becoming obsessed with getting my father for what he had done. I did suspect that she would try to kill him. Tony and I could see that she was no longer thinking professionally about this. Tony felt very trapped, and he really wanted your help, but Trent Kort had become very suspicious of Tony and he knew that NCIS was trying to bring down my father.
"Yeah, he should have told me, " Gibbs blurted out.
Jeanne stopped, noticing Gibbs' frustration, but then continued.
"I found out that Kort had revealed Tony's identity to my father. This is when he flew into see me the weekend that he died. My father had one of his associates strap a bomb to Tony's car, while we were inside the hospital. My father must have changed his plan to kill Tony because he wouldn't let Tony drive his car, knowing that that bomb was strapped and set to go off.
After that bomb went off, Tony and I put on a show for my father. I acted as if I had no clue as to my father's work, and I didn't want to let my father know that I had helped Tony establish his alias." Jeanne was now fighting back tears as she explained the story to Gibbs.
Early Monday morning, Tony came to tell me that Jenny had shot my father, I just. . . felt so responsible for what had happened. I never wanted things to end this way."
Just as Gibbs was about the thank Jeanne for her help, now that she had composed herself, Ziva was calling on his cell.
"Gibbs, I found Tony. All he would tell me is that NCIS is investigating Trent Kort, for some reason. You know me Gibbs, I really pushed him too."
"Yeah, good work Ziva. Listen, I will call you right back." Gibbs said as he hung up.
"Miss Benoit, I want to thank you very much for your time. You certainly filled in some missing pieces." Gibbs said trying to comfort her. She smiled through her dry tears. Gibbs got up off of the couch and started heading for the door once again noticing the pieces of furniture on the way out. Gibbs started to exit the door, when he turned to face her one last time.
"Okay, so what is the deal with the furniture?" Jeanne's playful smile began to return, as she pushed him to guess. "You were living together then, before he was reassigned?"
"Yes, we were living together, but we actually took things to the next level a few months ago." Jeanne said slowly. "And, this is something that Tony intended to keep a secret from you." She laughed slightly from Gibbs' reaction as he left.
Gibbs sat in his car a moment before starting the engine. He replayed everything he learned today back in his head. He was still desperate to find out why Vance felt it was necessary to break up his team and spread them all over the world. First his plan was to call Ziva. He started his car and headed to Fornell's home for more answers. But based upon what he had learned so far, Gibbs at least knew that it was not a punishment from Vance. There was just so much going on here.