"Is there some secret to getting on his good side?" (Gunnery Sgt. DeLucca)
"Oh, there's no secret." (Tony)
"He doesn't have one." (Kate)
Fragments: On Your Six
A/N: The characters sadly do not belong to me. No infringement is intended and there's definitely no money being made. Beginning dialogue taken directly from the episode.
"The Bone Yard" Episode Summary: When NCIS is called in to investigate the death of an undercover FBI agent on a live-firing range at Quantico, evidence leads to the discovery that the range was used as the body dumping ground for mafia crime boss Jimmy Napolitano. Fornell shows up long enough to inform Gibbs that there's a suspected mole at FBI who's leaking information to the mobster; and, oh yeah, did he mention it was allegedly him? DNA testing implicates Napolitano's son in the killing of the agent, and he is picked up by NCIS, causing the senior Napolitano to contact Gibbs for a trade – his son for the name of the actual mole.
"Come alone." The voice of Jimmy Napolitano as it came through the phone line sounded like someone who was used to having his orders obeyed.
Gibbs gave an artificial laugh. "I'm not that stupid," he countered.
"Alright. We each bring a man," Napolitano consented.
"And Gibbs – you hurt my boy, I'll kill your brothers, your uncles, your father - and after their funerals, I'll kill you."
Gibbs blinked several times. He hadn't expected such a blatant threat against a federal agent on a call that the mobster must have suspected would be recorded. Still, it amused him. "No brothers, no uncles; my father passed on years ago . . ." The lie passed easily from his lips since it would keep his father safe, estranged or not. "I do have three ex-wives whose names and addresses I will gladly fax on to you," he offered, taking the phone away from his ear as he heard the line cut off. "Ooo. He hung up."
He stifled a small smile as he watched his team move immediately to gear up, knowing they fully expected to be out there with him, covering his six. It wouldn't do to let them know he was proud of their quick response, especially given what he had to do next. "Whoa. Where do you three think you're going?"
"With you," they answered as one.
Gibbs held up a single finger. "I can bring one backup."
"Well, clearly you should take me, Boss," DiNozzo began, with McGee and Todd hot on his heels with their own arguments.
Gibbs allowed it to go on for a few moments before his head started to hurt. His whistle cut through the agents' squabbling as cleanly and effectively as a knife. He pointed his raised finger at the FBI agent standing across the bullpen in front of the plasma. "Agent Charles is going."
"Me?" the agent queried.
"Are you kidding, boss? He's kidding, right?" DiNozzo's skepticism was plainly evident as he looked from Gibbs over to the probie.
McGee's mouth still hung slightly open. "I don't think he is, Tony."
"Gibbs, you need someone to go . . ." Kate chimed in before he cut her off.
"Someone," Gibbs interrupted, "who can verify the guy that Jimmy Naps turns over is FBI or Justice." He stood to his full height and looked at all three of his agents with a questioning eyebrow. "Can any of you do that?"
As expected, there was no answer from his team to the rhetorical question.
"He's right," the balding man in the ill-fitting suit confirmed. "I know the players. I go."
Gibbs walked around his desk and headed towards the elevator, beckoning a hand towards the man who followed in his wake.
Kate slammed her gun drawer shut, clearly unhappy.
"Kate, Magee – go home." Gibbs called back as he waited for the elevator doors to open. He looked pointedly at his senior field agent. "You too, DiNozzo." He stepped inside and disappeared from view.
McGee watched as the door shut before he shifted his gaze over to Tony, looking for direction. "So what do we do now?"
Tony's face was set in stone, his eyes remaining on the elevator doors long after they had hidden its occupants from his view. "You heard the man, Probie," he said with little emotion. "We go home." He hurriedly shoved his gun into his shoulder holster, and grabbing his backpack, he headed towards the stairs, leaving the two junior team members staring after him in disbelief.
DiNozzo watched as the SUV carrying the crime boss backed onto the road and drove off towards the park entrance, signaling the end of the meeting with Gibbs. Seeing the senior Napolitano walk away and virtually abandon his son to prison had threatened to bring back some rather uncomfortable memories of his own father, but he resolutely pushed them away. He watched as Gibbs turned back to their suspect in custody, making a show of dropping the dead man's switch to the explosives Gibbs had wrapped around his neck, causing the up and coming mobster to scream like a girl. Tony grinned – you had to admire the boss's style. Admittedly, when Gibbs had blown up that pine tree as a demonstration a few minutes earlier, it had scared the crap out of him, and he'd been thankful that he hadn't chosen that particular location for his hiding place. His ears were still ringing.
Gibbs led the younger Napolitano to the sedan and placed him in the back, firmly shutting the door before flipping open his cell phone. Tony debated revealing himself so he could lend a hand with the clean up – they'd need to get someone out to secure the scene, as well as pick up the body of Agent Charles – but he quickly discarded the idea in favor of living. If Gibbs knew he was out here without authorization, there'd be more than hell to pay. And Tony had gotten rather attached to the idea of breathing.
It was only a few minutes later that he heard the sound of approaching sirens, the single blue light on the non-descript cars coming up the park road indicating the arrival of the FBI. Tony returned his weapon to rest securely under his arm and stood from his crouch, taking one last glance through the trees. Confident that the danger to his boss was over, he hightailed it back to the car he'd left half a mile down the road. With any luck, he'd be back at the office and settled in before Gibbs returned, leaving the older agent none the wiser about his late night excursion.
Tony knew the minute Gibbs stepped off the elevator that Lady Luck was not on his side this evening. He was standing by his desk when the silver-haired agent burst through the doors and stormed across the bullpen, coming to stand within an inch of DiNozzo's face. He was close enough that Tony could feel the older agent's breath, and it was hot enough to tell him that he was in serious trouble.
"What the hell did you think you were doing, DiNozzo?" he ground out.
Tony knew from experience that sometimes the best option in the face of Gibb's fury was for him to play dumb. Though it wouldn't put off the inevitable explosion, sometimes it gave his boss a chance to step back from his anger. He opted for that now.
"Boss?" he queried, as innocently as possible.
Unfortunately, this wasn't one of those times it was going to work. Gibbs took a step closer to him, and Tony watched as the other man's anger actually went up a few notches.
"You going deaf?" Gibbs rage was palatable, his blue eyes never leaving the younger man's face. "I asked you a question. Did I or did I not give you a direct order?"
Tony sighed. "You did."
"And it was?"
DiNozzo unconsciously shifted his weight from foot to foot, the nervous energy he fought to contain seeping through. "You told me to go home."
"You're damn right I did," Gibbs growled back. "And what? You get your nose bent out of shape because I took Charles as my backup instead?"
Tony's gaze narrowed and he stood to his full height, feeling his own anger overtake him. There'd been many times he'd let Gibbs bully him until the cows came home. But not when he was unjustly accused of petty emotions. Not when he was right. And he knew he had been right in this instance. "No." His voice was low, but the tone carried across the empty bullpen.
Gibbs raised an eyebrow. "No?"
Tony shook his head. "Not his job. You brought him along to ID the mole, not to watch out for you. Even the Almighty Gibbs should know better than to be meeting up with a member of the mob without any backup at all." He stood his ground.
"What if you'd been seen?" Gibbs fired back.
"I wasn't seen," Tony replied tautly, unwilling to back down in the face of Gibbs ire.
Gibbs exhaled, slowly shaking his head. "No. You weren't," he said evenly. He kept his gaze locked on the green eyes in front of him, refusing to relinquish control while he waited to see if his senior field agent would catch the gist of what he wasn't saying.
Tony's eyes narrowed, and he felt the anger draining out of him, replaced with uncertainty as he tried to interpret Gibbs' meaning. The answer came to him quite clearly, and he cocked his head. "Wait. You didn't see me either." Though it was a question, it came out as a statement.
The corner of Gibbs' mouth twitched. "Nope."
If possible, Tony's face showed even more confusion. "Then, how did you know I was there?"
Gibbs gaze softened, and he allowed half a smile. "Because, DiNozzo," he answered, retreating half a step out of the younger man's personal space, "it's what I would have done." He waited while his words sunk in. "Rule seventeen. Always have your partner's back." He tapped DiNozzo lightly on the cheek. "You did good, Tony."
The unexpected praise did wonders for the young man's self-esteem, and the transformation on his face was something to behold. It was as if he'd suddenly become a sponge dropped in a tub of water, soaking up everything surrounding him. He gave a high-voltage grin. "Yeah?" he asked almost shyly.
Gibbs wasn't one to repeat himself. He merely shook his head, walking over to his desk and grabbing the file lying there. He looked back up at his agent. "Did you know Charles was the mole?"
Tony stared back at him, still processing the unexpected change in the boss's attitude. He relaxed his shoulders a bit and crossed to stand in front of Gibb's desk.
"Not one hundred percent, no," he admitted.
"But you suspected."
Tony would never in a million years hope to have as much faith in his own gut as he did in Gibbs' legendary one, but spending so much time with the master had taught him well. And his gut had been pretty sure on this one. Charles had been the obvious choice. He nodded.
Gibbs' gaze traveled over him appraisingly, pleased with what he saw. The quiet satisfaction shown briefly on his face before he tucked it away. "Good." He sat down, reaching for his glasses and slipping them on as he opened up the folder.
Tony couldn't help but smile at the single word of affirmation. Twice in one night. Had to be a record. He bobbed his head for a moment, his hands stuffed in his pockets. Seeing that Gibbs had focused his attention on the paperwork, Tony knew the moment had passed, and he returned to his desk.
"And DiNozzo?" Gibbs said after a minute, staring at his team member over the rim of his glasses.
"You ever disobey another order of mine, and I'll make you a necktie out of Primacord."
Tony returned the gaze steadily. He was well-versed enough in Gibbs-speak to know there would be times when a little more discretionary obedience would be called for, and he was confident that he'd know the difference when it was necessary.
A/N: Okay - so Rule #17 hasn't actually been disclosed to us, but this seemed to fit. Remember - feedback is the difference between writing and posting...