Chapter 9

Gibbs stepped off the elevator on the 3rd floor and almost lost it when he saw Ziva and Tim at their desks, acting as if nothing was wrong. And he was sure in their minds, they had gotten away with it. Though how they expected Tony NOT to remember that they had told him they had turned off the radio was beyond him. At any rate, none of that mattered now. Gibbs had called Vance and talked to him after he left the hospital. He had then personally gone to Abby's lab picked up the audiotape and the mic and Abby's reports on the two items. He had also asked Jimmy to write out a statement and he went to Autopsy and picked that up. He knew if he needed Tony's input, he could just call the hospital. With everything in hand, Gibbs went up to talk to the director.

Director Vance had no problem reaching a decision after he had reviewed the evidence and had talked to Tony. As much as he had liked both agents, that had to put that aside, for the sake of the agency and for the sake of policy. His decision was immediate, they were fired, gone.

Gibbs, however, asked to suspend the termination, briefly. He wanted suspension, without pay, first, for one and only one reason. He wanted Tony to have the opportunity to confront Tim and Ziva. He wanted to give Tony time to heal and to return to work, before doing so. And Gibbs knew, if they were immediately terminated, Tony would never get that opportunity. Agents McGee and David would be told of their termination ONLY after Tony had had an opportunity to speak with them.

Vance then called Tim and Ziva up to his office. He told them that they were suspended, pending an investigation. They would be called into the office at the later date, they thought, with the results of the investigation. In reality, they would be called in, in a week. That was when the doctors had projected Tony to be able to return to work, desk duty. And that was when Tim and Ziva would find out their pre-determined fate.


Tony healed pretty much on schedule. He was out of the ICU the evening after his surgery. He was sent home, to Gibbs', a few days later with pain medication, a list of do's and don'ts, a sling for his arm, and a number of physical therapy exercises he needed to do once the wound, itself, healed completely.

Tony sat on the basement steps the night before he was to return to work, his arm still in the sling. He sighed. "What did I do, Gibbs?" Tony asked as he watched Gibbs slowly and carefully sand a rib.

Gibbs shook his head. He wanted to offer Tony bourbon, something to dull the emotional pain. But he knew it would not mix well with Tony's medication for his physical pain. "Nothing, Tony." Gibbs replied, sadly hearing the pain in Tony's voice.

"Had to be something..." Tony stated.

Gibbs stopped sanding for just a second. "Sure it is. Tim is a power-hungry, egotistical, jackass. And Ziva is a selfish bitch."

Tony just looked at him.

Gibbs took a swig of bourbon. "You know the old saying. It if looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck..."

"We were...Well, I thought we were friends." Tony said, shaking his head. "I trusted them." Tony said balling up his fist and striking the stair he was sitting on, hard.

Gibbs came over and knelt down in front of Tony. Gibbs was still angry, plenty angry. But seeing the pain in Tony's eyes and the guilt he obviously felt, pushed it all aside, at least for the moment. He put his hand on Tony's knee to make Tony look him in the eye.

"You are not stupid for trusting people, Tony. I trusted them, too. Hell, I hired Tim. I allowed Ziva to be on my team because I trusted Jenny." Gibbs stated. "We can only work with what we know. What we've seen, that's it Tony. That's all we have. Up until now, until they both made the decision to turn that radio off, they were worthy of our trust." Gibb sat down on the wrung below Tony.

Tony shook his head. "I should have known, seen the signs."

"And what would you have been looking for, Tony?" Gibbs asked purposefully. He wanted Tony to realize just how hard that would have been.

Tony shook his head, sadly.

"That's just it, there were no signs. There was no build-up to this. And you had no reason for suspicion."

"Still..." Tony said.

"There is no still." Gibbs said, standing up and prompting Tony to do the same. "We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow. Get some rest.

"On it, Boss." Tony said, sadly, as he made his way up the stairs.


Tony entered NCIS and rode the elevator promptly to Abby's lab. He was engulfed in black as soon as he walked in the door. Abby jumped into his arms, but remembering his arm and shoulder she was a hair gentler than she normally would have been.

"I can't believe it, Tony." Abby said, shaking her head. She was very angry. "I just...those two. I don't get it. They were friends." Abby said, shaking her head.

Tony just shook his head. He was still not ready to face them, the two people he had trusted with his life on various occasions. He still could not figure out what went wrong.

"Don't do this, Tony. This was not you. This IS not you." Abby said, hugging Tony tightly again. "Ziva, Tim they just...I don't know." Abby stopped back and started to pace again. "I...they had better not come down here. And Tim, when he brought that evidence down. He actually comforted me, over you." Abby balled her hands into fists. "I can get rid of the bodies, Tony." She stated. "You know I can. If we were down in Louisiana I would string them up over a gator pit, alive. The gators would finish them off. No bones, no nothing. I could coat them with honey and tie them to an ant hill. Then I would...get rid...of whatever is left." Abby looked at Tony. "You just say the word."

Tony could not really tell if she was serious or not, and it scared him a little. "I appreciate you offering to commit a double murder for me, but..."

"I'd do it, Tony..." Abby stated. "...and I wouldn't get caught."

"Abby...!" Tony started. "It doesn't affect your..."

"We are best friends, Tony. I've known you a lot longer, and I know you a lot better than either of them. And I love you. I wouldn't murder anybody for them."

Again, Tony was not sure if she was kidding or not on the murder thing.

Abby surmised. "The punishment should be long...lasting...painful." Abby stopped pacing and looked at Tony. "What does Gibbs and Vance have planned?"

Tony shook his head. "No idea." He kissed her cheek. "I love you, too. I'll see you later."

Abby nodded as Tony left.


Tony had dressed in his favorite suit. He and Gibbs walked in promptly at 9 a.m. to see soon-to-be former agents McGee and David waiting for them. They were seated with Director Vance around the conference table.

"Tony, you are better, yes?" Ziva asked.

Tony ignored her question, and her concern, as he took his seat and straightened his tie.

Gibbs sat down beside him. He was the first to speak. "You are here, only because I requested it."

Both Ziva and Tim looked at Gibbs confused. They still believed they were in the clear. That, apparently, they were too smart for NCIS. The mere thought angered Gibbs.

Vance then opened a folder and removed copies of Abby's reports on the hidden mic and the audio tape. He removed Jimmy's signed statement. He removed the transcript of the conversation he had had with Tony, and his secretary had transcribed, over the phone. He pushed all these items across the table and gave both Tim and Ziva a few moments to read them.

Vance then spoke. "Based on this evidence, you would have been fired a week ago. I was persuaded by Agent Gibbs to NOT just fire you then because he wanted to give Agent DiNozzo a chance to confront you." Vance deferred to Tony. "Agent DiNozzo..."

"What you did was obviously an huge violation of procedure..." Tony started, his anger rising. "..but that is not what this is about." Tony stated. "This was not about following the rules. This was personal. This was about me, getting rid of me." Tony paused. "It didn't take long to come up with why, for either of you." Tony looked at Ziva. "It was really, really simple for you. You are still angry Michael is dead."

Ziva opened her mouth to speak.

Tony ignored her and turned his attention to Tim. "And you, you have always doubted me and my abilities. That's what it comes down to here, McGee. If I leave, if I die, if I'm promoted, the manner was not important. You wanted to move up in the organization and I was your big roadblock." Tony paused. "What about when you wanted to be team leader in a year or two? Would Gibbs have to watch his back, too?"

Tony glared at them both, as if daring them to speak.

Tony then smiled but there was no humor in it. In fact, it barely concealed his anger. "But you got caught. Do you really, really think we, NCIS, are that stupid? You, Miss Former-Assassin, so good at stealth and covert operations..." Tony laughed out loud this time. "...caught in-the-act by a near-sighted Autopsy Gremlin." Tony again turned his attention to McGee. "And you, Mr. M.I.T. Smarter-than-thou, you really, really thought you could outsmart one of the best forensic scientists out there?" Tony shook his head. "It just goes to show how truly, incredibly, mind-numbingly stupid you both really are."

Tony then looked at Director Vance. "Thank you, Director. I have had my say. They are not worth a second longer of my time."

The Director nodded. "Agent Gibbs, do you have something you would like to say?" He said, turning his attention to Gibbs.

Gibbs looked at Tim. "I hand-picked you, Tim. I saw potential. At least I thought I did. I knew you were ambitious." Gibbs said, uncharacteristically pouring his heart out. "I saw it was a good thing. Not your undoing." He then turned his attention to Ziva. "I let you stay on my team because I trusted Jenny. Maybe a bad decision on my part, in the end. The Frog was..." Gibbs said, shaking his head. "But I let you stay because I got to know you, or at least I thought I did." Gibbs said. "The two people sitting in front of me right now are absolutely unrecognizable. I deeply regret the choices I made hiring you. I don't like being played for a fool. If Tony had died, they would have never found your bodies. I can promise you that." Gibbs gripped the table his knuckles white. "And the only thing that is keeping me from coming over this table and strangling the life out of both of you is the fact that we are in the director's office."

Gibbs paused, taking a moment to calm himself.

Vance seemed completely unphased by Gibbs open threat. "Agent McGee, Agent David, you are no long employed by NCIS. You will not by eligible for employment with any federal agency in the United States. I will see to that, personally. That is, of course, after you are released from prison for, for one, tampering with evidence." Vance paused. "I plan on throwing the book at you both. I am going to involve every agency possible, from the local PD to the CIA. I find what you did completely unforgiveable on a personal level, and criminal on a professional level. And with any luck, for you Former Agent David, you will get to keep your citizenship. You know, better than I, the conditions for women in middle eastern prisons."

Vance, Gibbs, and Tony stood up, prompting Tim and Ziva to do the same. "You are dismissed."