Second in Command

By Arress

Summary: Tag to "Dead Air". Tony doesn't trust his teammates to have his six any longer, and he doesn't expect Gibbs to understand. One shot, no ships.

A/N: I have to post this or I'll keep tweaking it. I'm driving myself crazy. This story is unrelated to my other story, "An Embarrassing Injury". This story contains some Ziva and McGee bashing, so if you like them, don't read it.

This story is not betaed. All mistakes are mine.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

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Two weeks ago, Tony DiNozzo lost his trust in his teammates. Coincidentally, it had also been two weeks ago when Ziva and McGee had told Tony they turned off the radio when they should have been listening in on him while he got voice prints on all residents in Royal Woods; the neighborhood the domestic terrorist they had been looking for had been traced to. Luckily, they had been working on cold cases since they had wrapped up that case, but the day before they had caught a hot case. Tony prayed Gibbs wouldn't send him out in the field with Ziva or McGee for anything. The senior field agent didn't think he could trust either of them to watch his six any longer.

Unfortunately, luck was not on his side. Gibbs came striding into the bullpen and sat down at his desk. He said, "Abby found the evidence we need to arrest Johnson. DiNozzo, take McGee and go pick him up."

Tony groaned inwardly. Peter Johnson was a marine sniper turned killer for hire and he was a very dangerous man. He didn't want to go out in the field alone with McGee, because he didn't want to end up dead.

As McGee grabbed his gear and headed for the elevator, Tony walked over to Gibbs' desk. He said softly, "Boss, I'd rather stay here at the office. McGee and Ziva can go pick him up."

Gibbs looked up at his senior field agent like he'd grown an extra head. "DiNozzo, I gave you an order and I expect you to follow it."

Usually words like those coming from his boss would have had Tony instantly obeying, but this time Tony stood at attention in front of Gibbs' desk and said seriously, "With all due respect, Sir, no."

Gibbs studied his second-in-command. Tony only called him 'sir' when he was being serious. He hadn't been acting like himself for the last couple of weeks, but Gibbs hadn't been able to figure out what was going on with him. Gibbs hadn't actually come out and asked Tony what was wrong, though. He was beginning to wish he had.

Gibbs turned to Ziva, who was sitting at her desk pretending not to listen to their conversation, and said, "Ziva, go with McGee and pick up Johnson. I want him back here within the hour."

Ziva grabbed her gear and said, "Of course, Gibbs." She joined McGee at the elevator and they left to complete their assigned task.

"DiNozzo, you're with me," Gibbs ordered, as he led them to an empty conference room. Tony obediently followed, as Gibbs knew he would. He had the feeling this conversation was going to take much too long to use the elevator.

Once they were in the conference room, Gibbs pointed to one of the chairs at the large table and ordered, "Sit."

Tony obediently sat where Gibbs indicated.

"What the hell was that all about, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked.

"I don't know what you mean, Boss," Tony replied. "I just feel like staying at the office today."

"Don't you dare lie to me!" Gibbs shouted. "The day you voluntarily stay at the office is the day I voluntarily add cream and sugar to my coffee. Answer the question."

Tony had never been able to hold out against Gibbs when he was in interrogation mode. He looked at his hands on the table and mumbled something indistinctly.

"What was that?" Gibbs asked.

"I don't trust Ziva or McGee to have my six in the field," Tony repeated more loudly as he looked up at Gibbs.

"I don't get it, DiNozzo," Gibbs said as he paced in front of the table. "We've all been working together for years. We've been in all kinds of dangerous situations and this has never come up before. Why now? Did something happen I don't know about?

"It's not that important," Tony replied evasively, refusing to meet Gibbs' eyes.

"If it's shaken your trust in your teammates, it's important, so tell me what happened," Gibbs insisted.

"Something happened two weeks ago when we were working the domestic terrorist case," Tony said quietly.

"I remember that case," Gibbs said. "Go on."

"When I got back in the car after getting voice prints from all the residents in Royal Woods, Ziva and McGee hadn't been listening in on me."

"Tony, you have to be wrong," Gibbs stated. "It's against procedure. They wouldn't break the rules like that."

"You wanted to know why I don't trust them and I told you," Tony said heatedly, finally looking Gibbs in the eyes. "Do you think I'm making it up?"

"I didn't say that, Tony," Gibbs said. "I just think you're mistaken."

"They told me they turned the sound off because they were tired of hearing my voice," Tony explained. "They may suck as backup, but they're not liars. The radio was off when I got in the car."

"I can't believe they would do something like that."

"You don't know what goes on when you're not around, Gibbs," Tony stated. "They treat me like shit. They insult me. If they're not questioning any orders I give them, they're outright ignoring them."

"You don't treat them very well all the time either," Gibbs said.

"I tease them, Boss, I don't insult them, and I definitely don't treat them like shit. I don't ever question their intelligence or their ability to do their jobs, like they always question mine. They both think I'm dumber than dirt."

"Tony, I don't-"

"No, Gibbs, you listen to me for a change," Tony said interrupted his boss angrily. This conversation had been a long time in coming and if he was going to quit over it, then he was going out swinging. Because that's what he'd have to do if Gibbs didn't believe him; quit. "Ziva and McGee have no respect for me or for my place on the team as your second-in-command. They think I'm your senior field agent because I've been on the team the longest, not because I earned it. They think any break I make on a case is the result of dumb luck, not intelligence and hard work, despite the fact that I've been coming up with breaks on cases for longer than either of them have even been on the team. They have no respect for the chain of command on the team. They don't realize that I outrank them and they should follow my orders when you're not around."

"They're not that bad, Tony," Gibbs reasoned.

"Like I said before, you don't know what goes on when you're not around, and you're not around a lot. You're in meetings with the director or in MTAC, or you have to go talk to Ducky or Abby, or you send me out in the field with one or both of them while you stay here. Not to mention the many times a day you leave the office to go get a cup of coffee."

"DiNozzo, I think you're blowing things out of proportion," Gibbs stated.

"I've worked with you for ten years, Gibbs," Tony said. "I may omit, sidestep or gloss over the truth, but I've never lied to you when it was important, not for long anyway. You've always been able to see right through me."

Gibbs studied his senior field agent for a few minutes. Tony was his second-in-command and had been for over eight years. He had seen Gibbs at his worst and had stuck with him despite his many faults. Over the years, Tony had taken the brunt of his bad temper and his headslaps and had always come back for more. He knew he could trust Tony implicitly to be on his six, on the field and off, even if he sometimes didn't want him there. His gut was telling him that Tony was telling the truth, and Tony had never been able to lie to him about anything important for long. Finally he said, "I believe you, Tony. I shouldn't have doubted you."

"So, what happens now?" Tony asked.

"I'll deal with it," Gibbs stated. "You have my word."