A/N: Written for Round 1 of NCIS-LFWS 4. Prompt was "Missing Scene: Write a tag or a missing scene, for an episode. Word count may not exceed 1500."
By Lizabeth S. Tucker
"Special Agent DiNozzo."
Tony had hoped he wouldn't run into Director Leon Vance while back at NCIS Headquarters, but knew that wasn't the way his luck was going nowadays. "Director."
"I understand you brought Corpsman Henley back personally. I don't recall giving orders for you to do so." The look on Vance's face was coldly disapproving.
Tony took a deep breath, barely keeping himself from spewing out his anger and resentment. "My collar, Director."
"I see. You could've allowed Special Agent Gibbs and Officer David to transport the prisoner."
"Yes, sir, I could have."
Vance waited, for what Tony couldn't guess. There was no way that Tony would let Vance know that Gibbs has been the one to authorize the trip. Things were bad enough between the two men. "Come with me to my office, DiNozzo."
Tony followed the tall black man, his jaw tightening. This didn't bode well.
Once in the office, Vance walked behind his desk, taking his seat while waving Tony to one on the other side. The younger man tried not to compare the boxing paraphernalia to those of adventurous women that the former director had used to decorate the office.
"Agent Gibbs has been quite adamant that he wants you transferred back."
A tiny glow flickered to life inside Tony at that statement. After all that had happened with former Director Jen Shepard's murder, Tony had wondered if Gibbs might not have preferred that he never return.
"The position of Agent Afloat is a good move for an agent's career," Vance continued. "Some consider it a promotion."
"Yes, sir, I suppose they would."
"But not you?"
"It isn't something I desired to do, Director. And if I was interested in a promotion, I would've accepted the Rota offer when Gibbs returned."
"Why didn't you?"
Tony shrugged. "Gibbs had just returned from his leave. I didn't believe it was a good time to leave my team."
"So Special Agent Gibbs came abruptly back, apparently bounced you out of Team Leader status, and you just accepted it?"
"Let's just say that we worked it out between us and leave it at that." With a deliberately casual movement, Tony leaned back in the chair. "You don't like me, Director. I get that. I don't know why, but I'm well aware that it's true. So why don't we cut through the bullshit and get to it. I want back on Gibbs' team. What do I have to do to get there?"
Startled by DiNozzo's willingness to confront him, Vance didn't speak for a moment. Once he recovered his equilibrium, he nodded. "You're right, I don't particularly like you. Your attitude and lack of respect for authority, your lackadaisical work ethic, your minimal educational background, not to mention your job history, all lead me to believe that you don't take this job seriously."
When Tony started to reply, Vance cut him off with a raised hand. "In addition, you don't have the technical skills that I believe are necessary for the NCIS special agent of the future."
Tony took a breath before replying. He had asked for honesty, so now he needed to deal with it. "With all due respect, Director, I work very hard at my job. It may not look like it, because that is just the way I am. But I've never had a complaint from Gibbs in almost seven years of working with him. And as I'm certain you're well aware, Gibbs would've bounced my ass to the curb if I hadn't performed to his exacting standards. I've always had one motto, work smarter, not harder. I'm well aware that many people think Gibbs was crazy for hiring me. They wonder how I've lasted so long. It's because I'm damn good at my job. And as to your other concern, my technical skills, all I can say is that computer skills are all well and good, but good old-fashioned police work will always have a place in our investigations. Computers can't interview witnesses and victims, they can't work a crime scene. Computers are just another tool to be used."
"My personal mandate as director of this agency is to bring it into the future. That future includes men and women who are well educated in the sciences."
"And a physical education degree just doesn't do it in your agency vision."
"Then I guess that says it all, huh? Looks like I need to arrange a ride back to the Seahawk." Tony got to his feet, his green eyes remote. "Thank you for making my position clear."
"Not so fast, DiNozzo," Vance growled. "For whatever reason, Gibbs wants you back. And it appears that you are more than able to work well with him."
Stunned, Tony wasn't certain his ears could be trusted. "I don't understand."
"I may not believe that you are the type of special agent that this agency needs to move into the future, but I cannot argue with your abilities. Your file contains exceptional reviews as well as commendations not only from Director Jen Shepard, but from Director Tom Morrow. I've pulled some of your case files and must admit that you appear to have skills that Major Crimes can utilize."
"Are you saying I can come home?" Tony was almost afraid to hear the answer.
"This may be the biggest mistake I've made in my career to date, but yes. I'll have you transferred back effective immediately."
A grin overtook Tony's features as he heard his life restored once again. "Thank you, Director!"
"Get out of here before I change my mind." Vance watched in surprise as the other man's face seemed to drop years in mere seconds as he left the office.
The Director signed the paperwork authorizing Special Agent DiNozzo's transfer back to D.C. and made a note to find a replacement for him on the Seahawk. Once he was done, Vance realized that he had never actually seen DiNozzo interact with the rest of his team, Vance got to his feet and headed to the walkway that overlooked Gibbs' part of the floor.