Disclaimer: See Chapter 1 (haven't used this one in a while).
Authors Note: This chapter comes courtesy of finlaure. She dropped a review of 2010's edition of 'Never Forget'. In it she said that she'd like to see Gibbs or Tony put the red tape over Osama's picture on the NCIS "Most Wanted" wall. This chapter is what has resulted from that request. I wasn't going to do this chapter originally. I felt it would sort of be gilding the lily, but I put it in last year and people liked it, so it's going to stay. This year, the eleventh falls on the day. I want you all to think about that if you happen to run across a police officer or firefighter or a member of the Armed Forces. Right after 9/11, everybody was going out of their way to thank these everyday heroes. Now not so much. So today let's get back to that shall we? I knew you'd agree. NEVER FORGET!
"War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing."- President George W. Bush, September 14, 2001, at the National Cathedral, Washington DC
"I fear that all I have done is awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve."- attributed but never verified to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Imperial Japanese Navy, December 7, 1941
"The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear ultimately."- Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mayor, City of New York, September 11, 2001
"The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic, and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect of human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom."- Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mayor, City of New York
Tony DiNozzo's Apartment, Sunday, September 11, 2011, 0700hrs
The vibrating hum of the cell phone snapped NCIS Special Agent Anthony 'Tony' DiNozzo awake. In the semi-darkness of the bedroom, the light of the cell phone's screen guided his hand. GIBBS was flashing on the screen. The whole agency was on call, all vacations and leaves cancelled.
God, I hope this isn't the big one.
Tony hit the 'Accept' button.
"No problem DiNozzo. Meet me in the bullpen no later than zero nine thirty."
"But what about the memorial at the Penta..."
Typical Gibbs, but hey, he did call me Tony.
Now awake, Tony got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. Once he was up, he was up. No going back to sleep. After showering and shaving, DiNozzo was at his stove making himself a bacon and cheddar omelet. It was quiet in the apartment. No TV or radio. It was like that every September 11th.
Don't need to hear about it or see it. I lived it, thank you very much…
I-395 near the Pentagon, Tuesday, September 11, 2001 09:36:30hrs
Special Agents Gibbs and DiNozzo were enroute back to the Navy Yard. Originally they were supposed to go to Quantico MCB to interview a Master Gunnery Sergeant about some pallets of office supplies that made their way from a storage facility at Quantico to a fence's storage locker found by Metro PD. But, at 0850 a news flash came on the radio about a plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York City. The two agents looked at each other thinking pretty much the same thing.
That must have been one dumbass pilot.
Fifteen minutes later another report of a plane hitting the other tower. The two agents again looked at one another and had pretty much the same thought.
Gibbs got off at the next exit, spun around and had them heading back to the Yard. Tony's cell phone rang.
"Special Agent DiNozzo…Right, we're already on the way."
DiNozzo flipped his phone closed and Gibbs raised an eyebrow. Tony gestured towards Washington.
"Duty officer at ATAC (Antierrorist Alert Center, renamed MTAC in 2002). 'Report back to HQ forthwith'. Who the hell says 'forthwith'?"
Gibbs grunted and kept his foot to the floor, weaving in and out of traffic. In the close to eighteen months they'd been working together, Tony was still not used to his boss's driving.
They were drawing even with the Pentagon when a silver blur flashed by their front moving right to left towards the west side of the building. DiNozzo saw the briefest glimpse of the tail of an aircraft before there was a massive explosion.
Several things then happened in a very short span of time. Brake lights came on ahead causing Gibbs to swerve to the right, an opening to an exit appeared causing Gibbs to accelerate towards it, and Tony got a very intimate look at the grillwork of a Mack truck as they flashed by charging down the exit. They were on the access road to the Pentagon in no time.
"Flip down your visor and put the light on the dash, DiNozzo."
There was a placard with the letters "NCIS" attached to the visor and a red gumball light on the floor. Both were in place when Gibbs rolled up to the security checkpoint near the site of the explosion. A stunned looking DoD civilian guard came out of his booth.
"We're locked down. I can't allow you in."
Gibbs rolled his eyes and flipped open his credentials.
"NCIS agents Gibbs and DiNozzo. Open the gate."
"We're locked down."
Tony waited for the explosion, but it never came. Gibbs sighed.
"Look officer, that's a crime scene, and we're investigators, open the gate, then you can lock down."
The man hesitated several seconds before reaching back into his booth and punching a button. The gate retracted. Gibbs drove in and stopped about seventy five yards from the hole in the side of the building. Tony was fixed in his seat. Gibbs jumped out and turned to go to the trunk. He saw Tony was still sitting.
"Let's go. We've got work to do."
"With ya Gibbs."
Having nothing better, both agents donned their raid caps and jackets. They approached the side of the building. Smoke was billowing from the top floors and there was the smell of concrete dust and burning jet fuel. There was also a smell that Gibbs recognized from Beirut in 1983. Burned flesh. People were starting to emerge from the hole in the building. Other personnel, MP's and civilian guards were showing up. After helping several victims, Gibbs grabbed Tony's arm.
"C'mon, the MP's have got this. Let's get in there."
As they entered the building they heard the first sirens of approaching fire trucks. The two men penetrated about fifty feet into the area when the heat started to increase.
"Gibbs, maybe we should bac..."
Up ahead in the murk, Gibbs heard a voice calling out. He moved forward with Tony reluctantly in trail. As they moved closer Gibbs heard a female voice calling.
"MASTER CHIEF! MASTER CHIEF WATTS!"
A female Navy officer with part of her khaki uniform missing stumbled into the clear. Gibbs saw lieutenant bars on her collar. She was looking around blankly. Not wanting to startle her, Gibbs put his hand gently on her shoulder.
"Lieutenant? Come on El-tee, we need to get you out of here."
She looked at Gibbs, really seeing him for the first time.
"NCIS? What are you guys doing here?"
"Lieutenant, a plane hit the building, we need to go."
"NO, I need to find the Master Chief. We were getting ready to go to a meeting. We…there was…"
Gibbs looked around.
"Lieutenant, what deck is your office on?"
"Third deck, fourth ring. Why?"
Gibbs said gently, "You're on the first deck. Come on. Go with Agent DiNozzo. I'll go look for your Chief."
Gibbs grasped her gently by the elbow, passing her to Tony.
"Go on Lieutenant."
The woman lowered her head and allowed Tony to start leading her out of the building. DiNozzo looked at his boss.
"I'll be along Tony. Get her outside."
Tony's mouth opened and then closed.
He just called me Tony. He never does that.
Supporting the officer, DiNozzo started making his way outside. Gibbs pushed forward, starting to crouch. Smoke was banking down and the heat was increasing rapidly.
Maybe it's time to back up Leroy.
Gibbs stopped and carefully took a knee. He heard a voice to his rear.
"HEY! Hey NCIS! Get your ass back! Get over here!"
Jethro looked over his shoulder and saw a firefighter in full turnout gear and a white helmet gesturing him back. Gibbs moved back and the fireman moved forward.
"Captain Foster, Arlington County Fire. You Gibbs?"
"Yeah, how'd you know?"
"My guys have your partner outside. He brought out a victim and wanted to come back in. My chauffeur hadda threaten him with a Halligan tool to make him stay put."
"You need to go Gibbs. We've got it from here."
Gibbs opened his mouth to protest and then realized the captain was right. He shrugged.
"Okay Cap. Good luck."
The firefighter nodded and waved his men forward. Gibbs passed them on the way out. They were dragging a hose line and carrying Halligan tools, K-12 saws and the Jaws of Life. When he finally reached the outside, he saw Tony and a burly firefighter standing together. Tony looked relieved as did the fireman.
"Thank God! He's all yours. I gotta catch up to my Captain."
With that the fireman hefted his Halligan tool and trotted towards the hole in the side of the Pentagon. The two agents walked back to their car which was now surrounded by rescue vehicles. They leaned wearily against the front fender. Tony looked at his watch. Ten thirty. Barely an hour. It felt like a year.
"Whatta ya think Boss?"
Gibbs turned his face a stony mask.
"I think that when the shithammer falls, whoever did this is gonna be a goddamn nail."
MCRT bullpen, Sunday, September 11, 2011 0930hrs
After finishing his breakfast and cleaning up, Tony dressed in his best suit. Gibbs hadn't specified what dress, but Tony decided he wanted to look sharp. He made it to the yard with time to spare. As he went thru the security checkpoint, he spoke to the guard on duty.
"Henry, is Gibbs upstairs?"
"Yup, been here since about seven forty five."
DiNozzo rode the elevator to the bullpen floor and stepped out. Gibbs was standing near the "Most Wanted" wall dressed in his 'court suit'. In his hand he was idly flipping a roll of red tape.
"Right on time DiNozzo."
That's when Tony noticed the small stepladder. It was right under the picture of Osama bin Laden. Gibbs fished his Gerber folding knife from his pants pocket, flicked it open and cut two pieces of red tape from the roll. He gave the two pieces of tape to Tony. DiNozzo gestured to the picture.
"Is this why Vance didn't X him out the day after the SEAL's got him?"
Gibbs nodded in the affirmative.
"Yup. I was waiting in his office and we had a discussion about an appropriate time to cover his picture."
"What did you say to him?"
Gibbs looked blandly at Tony.
"I made him an offer he couldn't refuse."
DiNozzo's mouth dropped open.
Did Gibbs just make a movie reference?
Gathering his wits, Tony asked, "How come Ziva and McGee aren't here?"
"They're with Leon at the Pentagon filling in for us."
Gibbs smiled, knowing that Tony finally got it. This was just for Gibbs and him. There was a beeping noise from a small electronic timer on the step ladder. Gibbs grabbed it and shut it off. He looked at his watch.
"Sixty seconds. Get up there DiNozzo."
Tony mounted the ladder and looked into the face of Osama bin Laden.
I hope you and Saleem are having a cup of coffee in hell right about now.
Special Agent Tony DiNozzo took the two pieces of red tape and X'd over the face of Osama bin Laden. Tony climbed down and folded up the ladder looking at Gibbs.
"Whatta ya think Boss?"
Gibbs scanned the faces of the other wanted terrorists on the wall and grinned wolfishly.
"You can run, but then you'll only die tired."
Canon Note: I've seen various timelines for when Tony came to NCIS. They run the gamut from 2000 to 2002. I've settled on 2000, 'cause a source I trust uses it in one of the best stories I've read here on FFN. I'm of course speaking of "Scenes from a Relationship", formerly "Sub Rosa" written by jibbsloversunited (the artist formerly known as elflordsmistress). You should check it out.
A/N: I had this whole really cool ending authors note with info on American Airlines Flight 77. Then I ran across this fact. Among the 59 passengers and crew (excluding hijackers), there were five children. Three eleven year olds, an eight year old and a three year old. The other stuff didn't seem so important anymore. My oldest son turned eleven in December of '01. 'Religion of peace' my ass.
When I published this chapter last year a reader from Canada took me to task for the above sentiment of my feelings about Islam. All I will say is she has a right to her opinion and I have a right to mine. And every terrorist like OBL and KSM has the right to bleed and die.