*This is actually a sequel to Survivor's Guilt: Missing Scenes for S9; however, it can be read as a standalone story also. It is set after 9X18 The Tell but before 9X19 The Good Son. Heavy spoilers for mid-season 9 episodes, including 9X15 Secrets and 9X17 Need to Know. Other spoilers include 9x1 Nature of the Beast, 9X6 Thirst, 9X13 Desperate Man, and 8X22 Baltimore.
When the Cat is Away. . .
"Hey DiNozzo, check your email on your own time!" Gibbs yelled out in an unusually cranky and irritable tone, as he entered the squad room. DiNozzo did not stop what he was doing, although Gibbs had repeatedly warned him on previous occasions to stop being so distracted while the team was in the middle of an investigation. DiNozzo was often looking up information about Major Raimey's case when he had the opportunity.
"Someone talk to me." Gibbs continued to yell out at his team.
Ziva scrambled to run over to the Plasma by Gibbs, ready to report. "Our ex-Marine, Lance Read was a very well liked. Everyone I talked to at the bar that he owns in Baltimore had very nice things to say about him. He was just helping out his friend, David Betts, from being physically assaulted in the alley, when he fired the weapon into the air to break up the fight."
McGee jumped up next to Ziva and Gibbs. "The men that were attacking him are all students of the University of Maryland. They were all on their spring break celebrating at Read's bar, when Betts challenged one of them to a game of pool. Betts was losing. Instead of paying or forfeiting the money, he walked off with the guy's wallet. Betts was cornered in the alley by the men and was attacked." They stopped for a moment, and they noticed that DiNozzo still did not seem to be listening, which made Gibbs increasingly irritated.
"Read tried to stop the attack. He claims to have fired his gun into the air, and Read was the only one with a gun in the alley. Now the man that was killed from a gunshot wound to the head is named Steve Wallace. Steve Wallace tried to join the Marines two years ago because of his history of being in and out of drug rehab never became a Marine. Because of his problems with drugs, he has also been thrown out of the University of Maryland now too."
"There is a problem with this case though. Ducky said the bullet he pulled out of Wallace did not match the gun registered to Read." Gibbs added.
"We need a possible second suspect then, but what we really need is the real murder weapon. Where is Read's gun? He said that he dropped it in the alley. And where is the bullet that he supposedly fired into the air?" Gibbs asked, turning to face DiNozzo who was not participating in their discussion.
"Hey!" Gibbs yelled, walking over and pulling the power cord out of DiNozzo's computer monitor. "Stop checking your email. Where is that bullet, DiNozzo!" Gibbs continued to yell at DiNozzo in a very degrading tone.
"I. . ." DiNozzo stood up and stared back intensely at Gibbs ready to shoot right back at him.
"I want the gun that Read discarded in the alley and I want that bullet he claims he shot straight up into the air." Gibbs ordered, looking at DiNozzo and pointing in the direction of the elevator. "Go and don't come back until you find them." DiNozzo grabbed his backpack and headed for the elevator, without saying a word or looking at Gibbs.
"Boss." McGee said, as he looked back and forth from Gibbs to Tony. "Boss!"
"Gibbs." Ziva said almost as quickly. When neither of them got a response from Gibbs because he continued to stare at DiNozzo as he got into the elevator, they yelled out his name again in unison.
"Gibbs." Ziva and McGee said together standing.
"What!" Gibbs shot back looking at them both.
"While you were in MTAC with Vance, Tony came back here with the gun and a bullet. He gave them both to Abby." McGee explained.
"What!" Gibbs shouted shaking his head. "Why did DiNozzo just. . .? Where the h*ll is he going then?" He was about to start ridiculing DiNozzo again but stopped his question mid-sentence.
"He is just following your orders, Gibbs. You threw him up." Ziva said somewhat snobbishly as she returned to her desk. "He most likely just wanted to get away from you."
"That is threw him out, Ziva." McGee corrected. "And, Ziva's right, Boss. That was pretty. . . harsh." McGee added wincing as he yelled at Gibbs. Without explanations, McGee walked over to DiNozzo's desk to reconnect his monitor.
"Let's see if he was checking his emails or tracking the Raimey trial. And we have. . .ah . . .oh, actually he was researching Steve Wallace's drug history and already looking for a second suspect. Tony sent some emails to the treatment centers and was looking at his criminal records drugs. He did look up some information on Raimey's case though at . . .oh my 3:30 am. He was here at 3:30 am?" McGee said with a sigh, realizing that he and Ziva were right to take DiNozzo's side on this. McGee sat down at DiNozzo's desk and continued to look through the information that DiNozzo had already accessed. Gibbs continued to stand there a moment to process the information before grimacing and sharply turning toward the elevator.
"Gibbs?" Ziva watched him bolt for the elevator.
"I'll be right back. . .with DiNozzo." Gibbs said already inside the elevator.
Crime Scene – Alley/back of Read's Bar
When he arrived at the crime scene, he found DiNozzo using a flashlight to look closely at the brick on the wall. He was shining the flashlight up and down the wall. Gibbs stood behind him, noticing how he quickly he tensed up when DiNozzo realized that someone was standing behind him.
"It's me, Tony." Gibbs said softly.
"Oh, ah. . .hey Boss." DiNozzo said still searching and not turning around.
"You already found that bullet. You already found the gun." Gibbs said. "What are you doing, Tony?"
"Following orders." DiNozzo answered as straight as possible, eliminating all traces of sarcasm in the statement.
"Hey." Gibbs said again, when DiNozzo still continued to look at the wall and not look back at Gibbs.
"Tony, stop that and look at me." Gibbs said, trying not to shout at DiNozzo. DiNozzo obediently turned around to look at Gibbs, but would have preferred looking for a bullet that did not exist.
"Hey." Gibbs repeated, looking strongly at Tony. "I am sorry."
Gibbs watched as DiNozzo's eyes bulged and his breathing stopped from the statement. Gibbs tilted his head, silently signaling to DiNozzo that he wanted him to just accept his apology.
"Sorry!" DiNozzo said in shock of the word. "You said you are sorry. You are sending me some serious mixed messages here. You are breaking a rule—a Gibbs' rule, and you don't ever break rules. What happened to your Rule #6, never say that you are sorry?" DiNozzo rambled on about how Gibbs' was showing weakness to him. Gibbs got closer to DiNozzo looking him over, noticing the bags under his eyes with the clearly defined dark rings. DiNozzo was very serious as he said this.
"Rule 51, then." Gibbs stated as he continued to take in DiNozzo's now distressed demeanor.
"51. . .there is a 51. . . what is 51. . .I don't know of a 51." DiNozzo rambled quickly cursing at himself for not remember it, expecting a lecture or head slap.
"It is new. I never taught you Rule 51." Gibbs said gently. "Sometimes—you're wrong."
"Me?" DiNozzo asked questionably. "Only sometimes, Boss? You mean you give me head slaps when I right too?"
"Me." Gibbs said looking at DiNozzo. Gibbs strongly hated his infamous gut right now.
"You? Wrong?" DiNozzo repeated, not accepting the answer. Gibbs had to silently laugh at DiNozzo's behavior. "only sometimes, right?"
"Uh, right." Gibbs said with a hint of guilt. "We know you were looking up information on Steve Wallace's drug problem and starting a search on a second suspect."
"Hey, why didn't you just tell me you already found the gun and bullet?" Gibbs asked, looking him over suspiciously. "How long did you really plan on staying here looking?"
"I don't know. This seemed like an easier option. I really didn't think that far ahead." DiNozzo answered, grimacing at his answer.
"You are distracted, Tony." Gibbs stated, as he still looked him over.
"Yeah, but I don't mean to be. It won't happen anymore. . ." DiNozzo said in a self-degrading tone.
"Hey, Tony." Gibbs said gently with a hint of worry, as he examined DiNozzo. "Are you done here?"
"Let me just grab my gear." DiNozzo said, snapping back to situation in front of him.