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You're to Blame

You are to blame for anything that is good in my heart. You are to blame for this change that has taken me by storm. - Mercy Me

Spoilers: Mind Games, Silver War, and Switch

Chapter Forty-nine – June, July 2005

Monday June 6, 2005

Jeremy stared at the empty desk next to his. It was the first chance he got to look at it, really look at it. It wasn't the first time the desk had been empty. After Vivian Blackadder screwed the pooch in Rota back in '03 the desk had been empty for months before Kate joined the team.

But that wasn't the same thing. As far as he knew, Viv was alive and well with the FBI.

One thing though, he was grateful that he had that week off away from the office. It was nice to be around Kristy, who was still jumpy after her encounter with Ari. Also it was wonderful to talk to Brooke, the one person who wasn't shadowed by all the darkness he knew was in the world.

It will also be the first time in a week since anyone had seen or heard from Tony. He called Jethro once and told him that he was going to Miami with Rachel. Tony didn't even tell anyone what flight he was taking home.

The first thing Jeremy noticed about Tony was his tan. He had obviously spent a lot of time in the sun. The second thing he noticed were Tony's eyes. While there was still some pain in them, he seemed to almost be at peace.

"How was Florida?"

"The same as the last time we were there."

"Tony, the last time you were in Florida you were nearly bludgeoned by a lamp thanks to Petty Officer Swain. The time before that you were kidnapped by a lonely Marine housewife. And the time before that you were nearly decapitated by a sailor because he thought you were flirting with his wife, also a housewife. Only difference that time was that she had kids."

"You were nearly decapitated?" questioned McGee as he walked in.

Tony shrugged. "Yeah. A few times actually." Tony made it seem like it was no big deal.

"Didn't Jethro forbid you from going to Florida unless you had supervision?"

"C'mon Jeremy, if I stopped going to certain states just because the ol' man said I couldn't the only places I'd be allowed would be Wyoming and Hawaii. And I'm not too sure about Hawaii."

"Why not Hawaii?" asked McGee.

"Because after a certain distance the Gibbs Glare becomes less effective."

"Is that so, Tony?"

"Of course since I've known you for so long I have a certain immunity to it." Jethro only stared him down. "I have work to do. So I'll just get to it."

McGee snorted at Tony's 'immunity'. But then Jethro turned it on him causing McGee to scurry to his desk and duck behind his computer. Jethro then turned to Jeremy who only smiled and continued to read through his e-mail.


Friday June 10, 2005

It was the day that every teenager dreamed of, high school graduation. Kristina Parkinson stared at her principal as he made his speech introducing her as valedictorian. She took a steadying breath as she made her way to the podium.

"Traditionally valedictorian speeches begin with the speaker greeting those in attendance, especially family. I'm not going to do that because my group of people would be vastly different than what tradition called for. It is also broken due to the recent death of Caitlin Todd, someone I considered to be part of my family even if we weren't close. But still, I welcome you to our graduation ceremony.

"From Kate I learned that it is possible to be a woman in a career that is dominated by men. That you have to push if you want to follow your dreams... whatever they may be. She may not have been the one to teach me to speak my mind, Uncle Tony did that all on his own and sometimes I think he regrets it, but she did teach me when to listen even when I may not agree with what I was hearing. She died a hero but what I learned from her will stay with me forever.

"For the majority of my schooling I was taught by my dad, godfather, and tutors. Until I was twelve-years-old I never dreamed that I would be valedictorian. Even after I entered high school I only focused on doing the best I that could and accepted rewards when I earned them... and I did earn them.

"My school years haven't been normal. My first day in high school was September 11, 2001. It will always be tarnished as the day my dad and godfather nearly died while being trapped in the Pentagon. But it is also the day that I learned how to be strong when everything is falling apart around me.

"Soon after that I began to make friends, permanent friends that I knew that I won't have to leave after knowing them for a few weeks. I had stability. And mostly I had a place where I belonged.

"We went to school dances and football games. I'm sure you all remember Halloween 2001, where we learned that even the smallest actions can make you a hero. We did endless hours of homework. We learned about science and art.

"We should be proud of ourselves. We may not have done the impossible but we did honor our families by doing our best. That is all we can do. Our best. That's all our families expect from us. So that's what we should expect from ourselves. Thank you and semper sersum."


Monday June 12, 2005

Jenny Shepard had read many interesting personnel files since she took over as director of NCIS, but none were as interesting as the one she had on Anthony L.J. DiNozzo. It was full of the usual commendations dating back from when he first joined Gibbs' team. There was even a side note from DiNozzo's days as a Baltimore detective. However, there was very little on him from before then.

It wasn't a surprise to find that there wasn't any living relatives listed, but it was a surprise to find that Jethro was his next of kin as well as his medical proxy. Other than a semester at Ohio State University no education was mentioned other than the fact he had a Master's degree. The fact that the name of the school DiNozzo graduated from was blacked out confused Jenny. The file did put a lot of emphasis on his short-lived college sports career as well as the broken leg he received during that endeavor.

However when he left Ohio it was as though he didn't even exist until he became a detective in Baltimore. She did find his his scores from FLETC even if the dates he attended were blacked out but she found nothing about him going to police academy.

When Jenny found that DiNozzo's security clearance was nearly as high as hers and was higher than many of her Senior Agents she decided that it was time to call Tom Morrow. That proved to be nothing more than a wasted of time. And while he wouldn't stop singing DiNozzo's praises, he would answer a single one of her questions she had about him. All Tom would say was trust Jethro. Needless to say that wasn't what she wanted to hear.

She had no choice but to actually speak with DiNozzo.

"Agent DiNozzo, thank you for meeting me."

"Of course, Madam Director. What is it that you wanted to see me about?" She chose to ignore the 'Madam Director'.

"I read your personnel file. A few things I found in it were rather disturbing."

"Such as," Tony prompted.

"Such as the fact that Jethro is your next of kin..." She paused for a moment knowing that there was no way to say her next words delicately. "And since it's well known around here that he killed your father..."

"Anthony DiNozzo Senior nearly killed me. Boss wouldn't have killed the man unless it was 100% necessary. I also know that he wants what's best for me and I trust that he'll make good decisions regarding my health if I can't."

"Surely you have friends that would be willing to be your next of kin."

"I do, including Jeremy Parkinson. But at the moment Boss is also his next of kin as well. It's just easier to do it this way."

Jenny decided to let it be for now. If Jethro wanted to be his agents next of kin he could. She didn't have the authority to decide otherwise.

"I also found that you file is very incomplete. Where did go for your police training?"

"I didn't."

"But your file says that you were a detective in Baltimore."

"I was undercover. The Boss and Abby Sciuto know this. None of the others do... well Jeremy was my partner behind the scenes, so he knows as well."

"Undercover? With what agency?"

"NCIS."

Jenny couldn't have looked more confused. DiNozzo's file said that he first began at NCIS in 2001. "How long..."

"That information is classified."

"I'm the director. I think I should know how long my employees have been employed."

"You may be the director but you'll still need SecNav and the president's signatures to unseal my whole file. Now if that is all I have work to do."


Friday June 17, 2005

As much as Jethro liked, well maybe not liked but tolerated, Paula he wasn't sorry to see her go. She was a good agent and had potential to be a team leader one day. Paula knew how to keep Tony in line and McGee was comfortable around her.

But Paula was also a distraction to Tony. She was too much like Kate; they both even had the same sense of humor. Jethro also suspected that Tony may have feelings for Paula that went beyond platonic. Paula too seemed interested in Tony. And that wasn't helping anyone. So the further away she was the better, at least for now. The possibilities in the future were anyone's guess.

Plus there was the fact it didn't look right to see someone attempting to sit behind Kate's desk too soon since her death. She wasn't Kate and they made it clear that she didn't belong. The position was just TAD. The 'T' did stand for temporary after all. That didn't mean they weren't friendly... or at least Tony and McGee were friendly. Jethro, while not mean, couldn't have been described as friendly. That just wasn't part of his personality, no matter what Abby may say.

If she had stayed Paula would be a reminder that the team almost lost her to Kyle Boone's copycat, Adam O'Neil. Jethro didn't need that so soon after Kate.

Jethro had a feeling that Paula was also happy to get away while she could. The stress of working for him was just too much for her... especially if that meant having to crawl up filthy fireplaces that had more than a few dead animals.


Saturday June 18, 2005

Now when the Gibbs-Parkinson-Hayes family went on a trip it always required at least three vehicles. With so many Hayes children that wasn't really a surprise. The youngest road with Samantha and with the triplets not even a month old yet Sam didn't want to part from them. Sam also had Riley (two almost three) as she was the only one still in a car seat. Little Tony (12), Addison (11), Peyton (10) and (much to the dislike of the older three) Darby (7) was with Alex. That left big Tony, Jethro, Jeremy, Kristy, and Brooke in Jeremy's Jeep.

"OK," said Brooke from the backseat, "I understand that Sam wants a family portrait, but why do we have to go all the way to Annapolis to get it done?"

"It's safer this way. No one knows that I'm a Gibbs. So we need a photographer that most likely won't turn up in an investigation."

"But isn't Annapolis where the Naval Academy is at? And under what circumstance would a photographer be part of one of your investigations?"

"It was either Annapolis or Baltimore. And since Tony and I once worked in Baltimore, we chose Annapolis," explained Jeremy.

"As for the photographer... well it hasn't happened yet but we do get some pretty weird cases," said Jethro.


Monday June 20, 2005

It was the fact that he grew up around alcoholics that caused Tony to monitor how much he drank. However there were some circumstances that had Tony running to the bottle. And as long as his dad was the only one to see him when he was at his lowest, he was okay with it. Plus, Jethro would cut him off before he drank too much. He did have work in the morning.

He hadn't been to a Civil War Reenactment in years. There was no reason for him to go. The last case, though, had their victim dressed up as a Union solider who had ties to the CWR. And as hard as Jethro tried he couldn't keep the bad memories at bay. Being reminded that he was once called 'little pooh boy' wasn't that traumatic but it still hurt DiNozzo Senior would put him through that.

The reappearance of Ziva David also didn't help things. Tony didn't get the impression that he remembered him. They had only met the once. It was far more likely that Eli would remember him if he ever put together that Tony Gibbs and and Tony DiNozzo are the same person.

Tony knew that he had to learn how to work with Ziva. It wasn't likely the director would send her home or to a different agency just because he was uncomfortable around the girl. Tony doubted Jenny would send Ziva home if he feared for his life around her... however if she kept driving like she did the whole country could claim that they feared for their lives when she was on the road.

Though Tony did find is almost ironic how many people from his past are now part of his present. Pretty soon he'll be looking over his shoulder for Kathryn. Even though he had the resources to find her, he never once tried to. For all he knew, it was possible.

When his mind became sufficiently fuzzy, Tony said good night and unsteadily when upstairs to bed.


Thursday June 30, 2005

"So, Uncle Tony told me about me about how that new director tried to make you wear a suit to work. I believe he called it 'career girl Barbie'," said Kristy as she spun in he favorite chair in Abby's lab.

"I'm going to kill him."

"Why? Is the suit really that bad?" The face Abby made was the only answer Kristy needed. "The next weekend you are free we are going shopping. You need clothes that you're comfortable in but still court appropriate and I need school supplies for when I start school in September."

"You never did tell me where you're going."

"There weren't that many for me to chose from. Waverly and GW were my top two since I'm not comfortable with living so far from home. I actually thought that I can live at home. Going to college in Baltimore was also an option but Dad and Uncle Tony didn't like the idea of such a long commute if I decided to live in the city." Grandpa Jethro was the one who actually threatened to take away her car if she chose a college further than a half hour drive from home. Kristina wasn't sure of the legality of that but she wasn't taking any chances. She liked having her own car. "I liked GW more. It has a great Criminology program and I can take as many foreign language courses as I want."

"Don't you already know a dozen languages already?"

"It's only seven if you don't count English. I can pick up languages easily enough that I don't see the point in not learning more. And don't think that you can change the subject so easily. Are you going to let me take you shopping for court clothes?"

"Alright, I'll go with you." It was nearly impossible to say no to the girl.

"Great! I'll call Brooke and tell her that you agreed to come with us. And I can pick out a birthday present for Uncle Tony and Riley. I can't believe she's turning three. I'd ask Auntie Sam to come with but she hates shopping after having a baby."

"You are aware that I'm only getting a few outfits, right?"

"Sure, sure. But that doesn't mean that we can't make a girls' day out of it. Besides, I'm getting more than a few outfits. College isn't that kind for a sixteen-year-old."


Saturday July 2, 2005

When Abby, Kristy and Brooke arrived at the mall none of them were surprised by the mass of people crowding each and every store. It seemed as though half of DC's female population decided that two days before the Fourth of July was the perfect day to go shopping for a cute new outfit or bikini.

Kristy wasn't too hopeful that she would find many clothes for herself. Nothing seemed appropriate for a new college student. She also wanted more than t-shirts and jeans, not that she would never wear t-shirts and jeans to class.

Brooke was having a hard time as well. Although her trouble was trying to convince Abby that she wasn't trying to take away her individualism. She kept telling Abby that she needed more than two outfits for court and could wear whatever she wanted any other day. The only thing Brooke forbade her from buying was pastels since Abby was naturally pale even without her usual layer of powder. Abby didn't have a problem with that. No, what she protested the loudest about were the brightly colored blouses.

"Alright, what's wrong with that one?" asked Brooke.

"I look like a flower."

Both Kristy and Brooke tilted their heads to the right trying to imagine what an Abby-flower would look like. For some reason neither one of them thought it would be a buttercup yellow, a dark purple or maybe indigo but not yellow.

"You don't look like a flower," rebuffed Kristy.

"The right blazer or sweater will tone down the yellow," added Brooke.

"Navy blue jacket and white slacks?"

"That would work."

The whole time Kristy and Brooke were planning the outfit Abby was cringing in horror. The combination they were discussing was the exact opposite of what she considered to be comfortable.

"I don't know how you got away with wearing such ill-fitting suits for so long," chatted Brooke.

"Huh?"

Brooke glanced at Abby and noticed that she was an odd shade of green.

"Abs, are you okay?"

"I thought we were just getting a few suits."

"Aw, Honey, you really are out of your element here. Why don't you pick out a few neutral colored suit jackets, skirts, and slacks while Kristy and I pick out some appropriate blouses and scarves."

"No, yellow," Abby tried to bargain.

"A minimal amount of yellow," Brooke countered. "No completely yellow blouses."

Abby paused for a moment, considering Brooke's offer. Eventually she nodded her consent.


Friday July 8, 2005

McGee wasn't that surprised when he didn't get an invitation that night to go out to celebrate Tony's birthday. In fact, ever since Ziva became part of the team he hadn't hung out with Tony or Jeremy once. Sure it hadn't even been a month yet, but it was still odd. McGee couldn't believe that he actually missed going to various hole in the wall restaurants with the older men.

When Tony arrived McGee expected the birthday boy to immediately start ripping through his cards and letters. Instead, the brightly colored envelopes were put away in the bottom draw of Tony's desk... except for one ordinary plain white envelope with a foreign stamp. He knew Tony had traveled a lot in the past and had friends overseas, so foreign mail wasn't that unusual. But Tony putting his birthday cards away was, so McGee made sure to keep his ears open for anything odd.

Soon enough Tony let out an angry squawk. McGee turned his attention from his work to enjoy the show.

"Miss David I would appreciate it if you would refrain from stealing my mail."

Ziva scoffed. "You expect me to believe that you know someone in Russia." Without even looking at the envelope she put it in her own desk drawer and locked it. With someone like Tony around she knew that any foreign correspondence should not be read at work.

"I don't care what you believe. However, since you currently have a letter in your desk that has a Russian stamp as well as my name on it, then it is clearly a fact that I know someone in Russia."

It was at that point Director Shepard and Jethro made their presence known. Shepard, although much smaller than her agent, stood toe-to-toe with Tony.

"Madam Director, good morning." Tony smiled at her.

"May I ask what's going on?"

"Nothing that requires your attention."

"That isn't what I asked, Agent DiNozzo." She looked around for the weakest link. "Agent McGee! What is going on"

McGee looked to his boss for permission to speak and relaxed when he received a slight nod. "Today is Ton- I mean Agent DiNozzo's birthday. He was about to read one of his letters when Z- Officer David snatched it out of DiNozzo's hands. Without even looking at it, Officer Da-"

"Alright, McGee," interrupted Shepard, "that's enough. Ziva, may I see the letter in question?"

For a moment Ziva thought about giving her a different letter but realized she didn't have anything with a matching stamp. Believing it was hers, Ziva still didn't look at the name on it.

Shepard, however, did look at the name. "Ziva, go up to my office. It seems we need to have a discussion about acceptable behaviors I expect you to follow."

Ziva's smirk disappeared. "I do not understand."

"I'll explain everything upstairs. Now go." Ziva finally did as she was told. "Agent DiNozzo I assure you this will not happen again." With that said, Shepard followed Ziva upstairs... after returning the letter.

Only moments later Jeremy arrived. "So, did I miss anything?"

"Yeah," said Jethro, "the director told Ziva that she has bad manners."


Saturday July 9, 2005

It wasn't until Riley's birthday party was almost over that Jethro 'told' Tony that he was expected to be at the house later that night. So Tony knew that he was pushing his luck when he heard the grandfather clock chime twice as he made his way down to the basement. He subconsciously stayed well outside head-slap range.

For quite some time the two of them worked on the boat in near silence. Jethro hoped that Tony would stay calm as he sanded a knot out of one of the ribs.

"Ziva isn't the enemy."

"Well, she certainly isn't an ally, at least not mine."

"I trust her."

"And because of that I'll trust her to have my six while in the field. I won't trust her with anything personal. She's too dangerous. I can't trust that she won't tell Mossad all of our secrets. Because of Ziva, Ari already used their knowledge of Mom and Kelly against you. If Mossad discovers who I really am they might decide that our whole family is a threat."

"I won't let that happen. Not even the director can get access to your whole file."

"And that's why I don't see Shepard as anything more than an annoyance. She may ask questions but she sure don't know how to get answers." Tony paused. "Which makes me wonder how she got the job."

"Jenny is one of the best agents I have ever worked with."

"Dad, please don't call her Jenny. It's only a reminder that you slept with her." Jethro ignored his son's shudder. Tony then went back on topic. "Ziva would do anything to get answers, maybe even kill someone."

"Maybe I should keep my distance from you and Jeremy while at work."

"I don't think that will work. Ziva already knows that we are close... she just doesn't need to know how close. I think all that we can do is keep an eye on her and hope for the best."


Tuesday July 12, 2005

Even after only working two cases with Gibbs' team she was beginning to understand that there was no such thing as a normal case, first with the treasure hunt and now with man pretending to be Jerry Smith because the real Jerry Smith slept with the Commanding Officer's wife. It really came as a surprise that the real Jerry Smith's wife was the killer... and only because Jerry Smith was a chronic cheater.

She still wanted to know what was in the case.

In the end it seemed that the only true victim was Max the capuchin. With John Kirby (aka the fake Jerry Smith) going to jail, Max was going to be displaced from his home once again.

A/N The dates between Mind Games and Honor Code are a little difficult to pinpoint between the dates that they aired and when they happened in the NCIS Universe. I give Mind Games, Silver War, and Switch a June/July date because it's still a relatively short time since Kate's death in late May. It isn't until Under Covers that we have an actual reliable date given that the Marines' birthday is in November. But even after that the dates get a little muddled with Iced being dated as March even though it aired in April. I will do my best to establish a realistic time-line. Any advice on the time-line is welcome.