Title: Changes and Other Inconveniences
Pairing: Gibbs/DiNozzo preslash
Disclaimer: I do not own, or am affiliated with NCIS and associated characters. This is not for profit.
Word Count: 3, 532
Spoilers: Hiatus Parts I and II
Summary: Gibbs is back and that's only the start of Tony's problems. /i
Author's Note: This story can be viewed as completed and is the first in what will be a series of one-shots exploring this AU.
"It's not a simple matter of handing you your badge and gun back, Jethro," Jenny leant back in her chair and steepled her fingers. "There are rules to follow. Protocol."
"I thought I was on vacation," Gibbs smirked. "I may not be the Director but even I know there's not a whole lot of protocol there."
"No. But there is when an agent attempts to take over a team that already has a leader." Jenny's gaze sharpened, looking for any sort of reaction provoked by her words but Gibbs was, as usual, unreadable.
"I don't want DiNozzo's team," Gibbs replied. This was something he'd thought long and hard about. "I want a new one."
"A new one?" Jenny only partially managed to hide her surprise. "And you think we have the space or resources to just give you a new team."
"I think I either get a new team or you can finally file those retirement papers." Gibbs said. There was no way in hell he was demoting DiNozzo. Gibbs' memory was still a bit fuzzy but he knew that his feelings for Tony were complicated at best. At the moment, Shannon and Kelly's deaths were still a gaping wound, and something he tried his damndest to avoid thinking about. He didn't want or need additional complications.
"You're serious," Jenny blinked.
"You think I'm joking?" Gibbs raised his eyebrows, his tone of voice making it clear what he thought about that train of thought.
"Of course not," Jenny's grin was wide and genuinely amused. "'You never joke."
Gibbs stayed silent, his expression unchanging and Jenny sighed. She was quiet for a moment thinking over her options. Tony did deserve his own team, enough so that she was going to offer him Rota. That had been before she realized Gibbs was willing to relinquish control of the MCRT. This was…good.
"As it happens," Jenny pulled open one of her desk drawers as she spoke. "HR has really been doing their jobs well. There've been an influx of new applications and SecNav just approved the formation of a new team this morning. I'd been thinking of offering it to Agent DiNozzo but it's a position that requires someone with more…experience."
Gibbs stayed silent, tilting his head in question.
"These are the new applications," Jenny stood, carrying a not inconsiderable pile of folders and crossed around her desk to dump them into Gibbs' lap. "You can have your pick."
Gibbs eyed the pile of paperwork and fought the urge to groan, standing and leaving Jenny's office without a word. Jenny's laughter followed him out.
Tony DiNozzo fought the urge to sigh slipped out of NCIS headquarters and into the morning sunshine. He'd just had a meeting with the Director and, truth be told, was a little shell shocked. There were many scenarios he'd envisioned with Gibbs' return but keeping control of the team was not one of them. That it was Gibbs' idea was even more baffling. Gibbs didn't like change and often fought against it like he was chasing down the suspect in a hot case. That he would voluntarily take on an entirely new team, that he would voluntarily subject himself to grass green, lick-ass probies was telling.
Gibbs was avoiding him. Either that or he was still suffering the effects of that coma. Okay so the creepy moustache was a dead giveaway that Gibbs was not firing on all cylinders but Tony hadn't thought it was that bad. How was he supposed to watch over Gibbs if the man was demanding a whole new team? On a normal day, Gibbs was prone towards withholding information and walking solo into dangerous situations. Add in brain scrambling via explosion induced temporary amnesia and Tony's natural urge to watch over Gibbs was multiplied tenfold.
Smiling at the barista as he ordered a hazelnut latte with an extra shot of espresso, Tony wasn't ignorant of the once over she gave him or the second glances he garnered from the ladies seated at the table to his right. He was wearing Ermenegildo. Of course they were looking. If anyone he knew were around, Tony would have looked right back but now, on his own, there was no need to carry on the pretense. Stirring in sugar and extra cream, Tony replaced the lid and turned to leave…and found himself staring straight into electric blue eyes.
"Boss!" Tony's eyes widened in surprise.
"Not your Boss anymore, DiNozzo," Gibbs said, reaching past him for a napkin.
"Yeah, I heard that." Tony averted his gaze and slid past Gibbs when it seemed as if the older man was ill-inclined to move.
"You didn't have to give up the team, boss" he said. "I would've moved."
"You ever known me to do anything I don't want to do, DiNozzo?" Gibbs raised both eyebrows.
"No," Tony shook his head and automatically fell into step behind Gibbs as they left the coffee shop.
"Well, there you go then," Gibbs replied, taking a sip of his coffee.
"I gotta say, boss," Tony spoke. "I really think you should take a few day to think this through…you know, make sure you're not making a mistake or rushing into things…" Tony trailed off at the look Gibbs sent his way. "I mean, I'm not implying you make mistakes or rush into things…I just, I just think you should be sure…"
"You ever know me to not be sure about what I want, DiNozzo?" Gibbs voice suggested Tony was walking on thin ice and Tony didn't have to think twice about his answer.
"No boss," he replied. "You always know what you want." It's just never me. Tony held in another sigh at the thought. He was pretty used to being unwanted and, since his reaction to Gibbs had been instinctive and visceral from the moment he'd set eyes on the older man, he was also pretty used to Gibbs not wanting him the same way. Women were a useful distraction from unrequited lust which soon turned into that other unrequited 'L' and, most of the time, they worked. This time, however, the pleasure of seeing Gibbs again after so many months, of knowing he'd be able to see him every day, meant that his reactions were a little too potent to be easily suppressed.
Gibbs glanced back at Tony, picking up an odd tone to the younger man's voice, only to find him lost in thought. Those eyes had featured in the numerous and indecipherable nightmares that haunted Gibbs ever since the explosion too often for his liking. Usually they were clouded with pain, or alight with amusement, or narrowed in determination. Now, however, they were blank, unreadable, and that scared Gibbs more than he'd admit. His gut was telling him that an unreadable DiNozzo spelt trouble. Before Gibbs could speak, however, they were reaching Navy Yard and Tony's phone was ringing and then they were striding into the bullpen and Tony was barking orders at the rest of his team.
"Why isn't Gibbs coming with us?" Ziva asked, watching as the older man disappeared behind a group of cubicles.
"Because Gibbs isn't a part of this team Ziva," Tony replied. "That happens sometimes when you quit."
"But he is back yes?" Ziva stood her ground and fixed Tony with one of her characteristically intense stares.
"He's back Ziva, just not on this team." Tony said, letting his voice and expression soften as he broke the news. Ziva blinked and McGee actually took a step back in surprise. "Unfortunately you two are stuck with me." The smile he gave them was slightly self-depreciating and had absolutely no effect.
"No!" Ziva shook her head, her eyes gleaming with that stubborn tint Tony knew so well. "We are a team. Gibbs belongs with us! There is no reason to kick him to the curb just because you like being in charge, Tony!"
Tony sucked in a breath and waited a beat then two. McGee was staring at Ziva in horror and Tony was glad to know that he, at least, wasn't placing blame.
"Ziva," when Tony spoke his voice was controlled and professional and, had Ziva been in the right frame of mind, she would have heeded the warning it presented. "I understand that you're upset by this news so why don't you take the rest of the day off. Speak to Gibbs and the Director to figure out what your options are before doing something you might regret."
"You are kicking me off the case?" Ziva's spine straightened, outrage evident in her tone.
"Yes," Tony slung his backpack over his shoulder. "You're not in the right frame of mind for work. Go home Ziva. Come speak to me again when you've calmed down."
"You do not have the authority…" Ziva began but Tony cut her off.
"Whether you like it or not, Officer David, I am the team lead for the MCRT. Who works a crime scene is my decision and right now, you are not fit for investigative work. If you want, you can work cold cases. The choice is yours." And with that, Tony brushed past her and headed towards the elevator. Tim and Ziva exchanged bewildered glances before McGee shrugged. Orders were orders and they had been taking them, albeit reluctantly, from Tony for four months. He could continue doing so until this mess was sorted out.
"What's going on, Tony?" McGee asked as they drove to the scene.
"Gibbs asked for a new team," Tony replied, glancing at Tim from the corner of his eyes. "Apparently, he feels a burning need for change."
"'Change?" McGee echoed. "Gibbs?"
"Hey don't look at me probie," Tony shrugged. "It's not like I've ever been able to tell what Gibbs was thinking."
"Yes you have," Tim argued. Now was not the time for masks or deflection. "You know him better than any of us, sometimes even better than Ducky and Abby. What is going on, Tony?"
"I don't know!" Tony let a little of his frustration show. "All I know is that you and Ziva have a decision to make McGee. If you want a transfer, now's the time to ask for it."
"You think I want to leave the team?" McGee asked, affronted.
"I think," Tony said. "That this is not a temporary lapse of judgment. Gibbs seemed pretty certain about what he wants, Tim, and it is not to lead the MCRT. Think very seriously about what it is you want. I honestly don't blame you if you'd rather work for Gibbs. Hell, I'd rather work for Gibbs but, Tim, if you transfer off of this team, you won't be able to come back."
Silence reigned for a moment as Tim let Tony's words sink in. Over the past four months Tony had been a pretty amazing team lead and Tim and Ziva had given him nothing but grief. Okay, it had all been in good fun and Tony had seemed to understand that they were just frustrated with the entire situation. It was amazing sometimes, just how much Tony understood. Tim had often though about the time when he'd be senior field agent. He wasn't there yet. When Gibbs had left for Mexico, Tony had handed Tim the title of SFA in name only. McGee didn't do any of the paperwork or official duties and had taken that as a sign that Tony was also hoping Gibbs would return.
Nobody thought he would do so and still leave them behind.
He'd been expecting this.
Gibbs crossed his arms and regarded the pacing woman in front of him. Her dark hair fell down her back and over one shoulder, slim hands gesturing as she spoke, spine straight and dignified, eyes flashing with confusion and hint of vulnerability.
"Ziva," Gibbs spoke. "Tony is in charge of the team now."
"He is not you!" Ziva protested and Gibbs merely inclined his head in agreement. "You are the best, Gibbs and I will only work for the best."
"You've been working with Tony for almost two years now Ziva," Gibbs pointed out. "Why the sudden aversion to him now?"
"I don't…he's immature and childish and always whining!" Ziva threw her hands up in frustration and Gibbs tuned out the rest of her words as she continued to rant about the superficial.
He heard what she wasn't saying as well. Ziva was an experienced spy and assassin but she was young, so damn young, and all her time at Mossad had not taught her to adequately look beneath the surface. She trusted Tony and the rest of the team, but only to an extent. Even after all this time, Ziva still hadn't learned to fully depend on someone who she felt was not her equal. She was getting better at reading people but Tony was a master of disguises and Gibbs doubted she'd ever be able to properly read him. She saw the prankster and frat boy. She didn't see the core of steel that lurked beneath.
No doubt, Tony would have already realized this and so gave her the opportunity for a quick and clean break instead of prolonging the process.
"Okay," Gibbs said and Ziva halted mid-tirade, turning to look at him with wide eyes. "Okay."
The smile that curved her lips made her look even younger and Gibbs swallowed the guilt that welled in his throat. Tony might have known this was coming, and Gibbs' memories might not be all there but there was one thing he did know, Tony thought of Ziva as family. This was going to break his heart.
Tony sighed as twisted his neck, stretching out all the kinks. He scrubbed at his face with one hand before taking a deep breath. Damn but this was turning out to be a long day. Ziva had disappeared by the time they'd returned to headquarters but her transfer request was sitting on his desk. The music was blaring in Abby's lab as he entered and Tony suppressed a wince. Drained as he already was, Abby's usual perkiness was going to be difficult to deal with. As it turned out, Tony didn't really spend much time with Abby.
"Get out!" Abby pushed Tony and he took a step back out of pure surprise.
"Abs? What's going on?"
"Don't you 'Abs' me! You got Gibbs kicked off the team!" Abby hissed, pushing him again, this time ineffectually.
"Don't try to deny it mister!" Abby interrupted. "Ziva told me how you threw a hissy fit because you weren't in charge any more. Well guess what, Tony? This isn't about you!"
Tony quickly reigned in the anger that threatened to escape him. Why was everyone blaming him for Gibbs' decisions? First, he was the outlet for the frustrations when Gibbs decided to quit and now the same was happening again because Gibbs decided he wanted a new team. Well he'd be damned if he was going to put up with it any longer. Gibbs was back. He could clean up his own damned messes.
"I'll send McGee down to discuss evidence," Tony said before turning on his heel and striding from the room.
Abby huffed and crossed her arms over her chest, glaring after him for a moment but her expression immediately changed when the doors to her lab slid open once more.
"Gibbs!" Abby beamed, "And you brought me Caff-Pow! Aw!"
Gibbs walked past her to the sink and promptly drained the drink before tossing the empty cup into the trash, turning to survey Abby with extra hardness to his typical scowl. It was only then that Abby realized Gibbs was angry. Really angry.
"What's going on, bossman?" Abby asked, confusion knitting her painted features.
"What's going on, Abby," Gibbs scowled. "Is that you were out of line."
"I don't understand," Abby replied, worry starting to thread through her confusion.
"Nobody makes me do anything I don't want to do, Abby," Gibbs growled and Abby shrank back slightly. Gibbs never growled at her. "Nobody!" And with that he stormed back out of her lab, leaving Abby with a lot to think about.
When Ziva had said she thought Gibbs was given a new team because Tony did not want to be demoted, Abby had had no problem believing her. Ziva was part of the family after all. She'd already been angry. Gibbs was supposed to return and everything was supposed to go back to normal. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Tony was the goofball, the jokester and prankster and comic relief that kept them gelled together as a team. Gibbs was the fearless and almost superhuman leader. That's how it was supposed to be.
Abby picked up Bert and hugged him to her chest, sniffling as the action produced a loud fart. She didn't like change very much. It made her cranky and that made her yell at people and that meant she now owed Tony and at least a dozen black roses. At least.
Tony sighed as he pulled into his parking spot, thank God the day was over. They'd had to send Agent Lee undercover, and she'd been nervous at first but had, ultimately done a really good job. Tony had a good feeling about Michelle. She was prone to nerves and a stickler for the rules but she had potential and Tony loved working with someone with potential. He switched off his car, staying seated for a second before he summoned up the energy to move.
With thoughts of a hot shower and maybe a Die Hard marathon circling his mind, Tony was debating on whether to order pizza or Chinese. There normally wouldn't be a choice but even though Gibbs was back he wasn't really back and Tony found that echoing some of the older man's habits helped to ease the intensity with which he missed Gibbs. Given his frame of mind, it was no surprise when Tony found himself blinking in surprise when he found someone waiting on his doorstep.
"McGee?" Tony greeted. "What are you doing here?"
"Hey Tony," McGee gave the other man a once over, noting the lines of strain around the other mans eyes. "I didn't realize you were working late. I would've talked to you at work instead."
Tony held in a groan and lamented Bruce Willis and his new, lemon scented shower gel.
"C'mon in probie," he said. "Make yourself comfortable. I'm just gonna change into sweats."
"Sure," Tim nodded.
"Oh and give the Chinese place a call will, you?" Tony added. "The number's on the fridge."
Tim didn't bother with a reply since Tony had already disappeared into his bedroom but he did order more a little more than was strictly necessary. It hadn't escaped his notice that Tony was not only tired, he was also thinner. McGee had had a very interesting talk with Abby earlier and both had realized that they hadn't been very good friends to the older man lately. Tony might be highly annoying most of the time but he always, always stepped up when it counted.
Tim couldn't even begin to guess at the issues that motivated Tony, the layers were too numerous and too complicated for him to even attempt to unravel. Instead he'd resolved to simply return the favour. To attempt to be as good a friend to Tony as Tony had been to him. Gibbs was acting strangely and Ziva had shown that she held little trust or faith in them as agents. Tony was bound to be affected, to feel it was his responsibility to make sure Gibbs wasn't putting himself in unnecessary danger, that Ziva wasn't reverting to super-assassin extraordinaire, that Abby didn't get too down on herself because of all the changes that were happening. As surely as Tim knew his own name, he knew Tony would feel responsible for them all, regardless of how often they used his as their proverbial punching bag.
"You order the food yet?" Tony asked as he padded into the lounge, barefoot and in OSU sweats.
"Yeah," Tim nodded. "I got you chow mein, spring rolls and crispy shredded duck with a side of fried rice."
"Chow mein and duck?" Tony raised an eyebrow as he switched on the channel and switched to ESPN. "You trying to break it to me gently? I told you I would understand if you wanted a transfer, McGee."
"I don't want a transfer," Tim rolled his eyes and swiped the remote from Tony, flipping to Discovery Science.
"So you just want to eat takeaway and make me sit through boring McGeek show?" Tony's expression was disbelieving.
"Yep," Tim smirked as he slipped off his shoes to prop his legs on the coffee table. "That's about it."
Tony stared at him for a moment before he grinned, large and boyish and so completely Tony that Tim couldn't help but grin back.
"So, I get to be your Senior Field agent for real now?" Tim asked.
"Oh yeah, definitely probie," Tony smirked. "In fact I know just the thing to start with."
"Oh yeah?" Tim raised an inquiring eyebrow, "What's that?"
Tony's grin turned devilish.