Title: The Final Straw
Rating: T-M for language.
Summary: A terrible incident becomes 'The straw that broke the camel's back' and leads Xander to take off the kid gloves and ensure that everyone remembers that there are consequences to people's actions.
Disclaimer: I do not lay claim to any of the characters or shows depicted within this story, nor do I intend to make any kind of financial gain from writing it. This is for purely entertainment value. Please do not sue.
A/N: This was something I meant to say in my previous post; I have been away from things for a long time, and I know that a lot of people have reviewed my stories in my absence. I do read and appreciate them all, but I haven't been in the right state of mind to reply to them. I feel that I might be getting there now, but unfortunately I won't be going back to reply to them all. My apologies to those who feel slighted by this.The Final Straw
Xander was pissed. Actually, no; Xander had left pissed standing high and dry a long time ago. Now, he'd had to stop himself from reaching over to the phone and dialling the number for the guys with the lovely decoder rings at least half a dozen times, and the only reason he'd stopped himself was that he didn't need the added hassle from the others he knew would come if he did.
All those years ago, when the Order of Taraka had come to kill Buffy, they'd contacted Xander with a job offer. It seemed that they'd seen potential in him due to the way he'd found a solution to their bug problem, without resorting to esoteric means. Of course, he'd turned them down, given that they had just tried to kill his friend, but they'd left him with contact information and an open offer to apprentice with them if he wanted to 'leave the Bush Leagues' as they'd put it.
He knew if Buffy or the others knew that he'd not only been contacted by the Order of Taraka all those years ago, but that he'd actually kept in contact with them for reasons that were his own, there would be hell to pay with the others. The problem he had, however, was he could feel himself reaching the stage where he knew he just wouldn't care.
He'd been nice and polite, explaining things as diplomatically as possible. He'd given warnings. He'd reminded them of the agreements that were in place, and the consequences if they weren't able to get their people to do as they'd been ordered. Hell, he'd even asked nicely once.
He'd done everything by the book, he'd done everything he'd been told was necessary, and yet they'd still kept on digging, kept on trying to get in the way.
It was time to show people just who they were messing with, and he was going to do it his way from now on, and woe betide anyone, anything that got in his way.
Director Leon Vance was more than a little annoyed when someone came barging into his office without any sort of introduction, and knew it was just going to be one of those days. As there was only one person who ever made an entrance like that, he didn't even bother to look up from his desk.
"Gibbs, how many-"
"I'm not the Gunny, Director Vance," Xander said in an all too calm tone of voice, causing the Director to look up from his paperwork in surprise.
"Director Harris, what is the meaning of this?" Vance asked angrily, although he was mindful to moderate his tone.
He, like every other Director of every government agency, had been read in on what Harris dealt with, and why he had reached the position of Director at the age of 30, and wasn't about to antagonise him without good reason.
"I'm here to give you fair warning that you're about to be out one team, effective immediately," Xander stated as he sat down opposite Vance, his tone crisp and without inflection.
That there was no emotion visible on Harris's face, and that he was being formal, was more than enough to make Vance worried. The profile they had on him was very clear; when Harris acted like that, heads would roll, literally in many cases. When Harris's statement sunk in, Vance gaze sharpened and his whole demeanour became much more adversarial.
"Your title doesn't give you the right to threaten federal agents, Director," he replied, doing his best not to growl.
"That wasn't a threat, Director, it was a statement of fact," Xander said as he pulled out a batch of manila files from his briefcase and slapped them on the table. "Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs was arrested this morning and charged with the murder of Pedro Hernandez, and is now on a flight to Mexico."
"Special Agent Ziva David has had her citizenship revoked and is being deported to Israel as we speak," Xander continued, ignoring Vance's protestations. "It seems that nobody realised before that she was the daughter of Eli David, the Director of Mossad, and the sister of Ari Aswari, the international terrorist who had been party to a plot to kill the President of the United States and the cold-blooded murder of Special Agent Kate Todd. Her name is being put on the watchlist of every government in the world; she will spend the rest of her life living in the Motherland.
"Special Agent Timothy McGee is under investigation for a multitude of cyber crimes," Xander continued, the same carefully controlled tone almost seeming to fill the office, "including the illegal entry into several government and federal databases, misuse of government resources and several other charges that I can't be bothered to go into now. If he's lucky, McGee might be allowed to own a manual typewriter, and that will only happen after he is eventually released from federal prison.
"Senior Special Agent Anthony Dinozzo is being charged with several counts of perverting the course of justice, falsifying evidence, along with a few other offences. After this, if he doesn't join McGee and Gibbs in prison, he'll find that he won't even be able to get a position as a crossing guard.
"Then there is Abigail Sciuto, who is also under investigation for a large number of cyber crimes and will be lucky if she's allowed inside a Home Depot again, let alone a forensics laboratory.
"Finally, there is Doctor Donald 'Ducky' Mallard, who is also under investigation for perverting the course of justice. Due to his advancing years, I doubt that he will receive prison time, but he will never be able to practice medicine again."
Leon looked at Xander in stunned silence for several minutes, having trouble coming to grips with what he was just told. As he realised the full ramifications of what he'd been told, he grew steadily angrier and angrier and was about to launch out of his chair an lambast the calm and composed man before him when Xander tilted his head slightly to the side and his eyebrow raised slightly. That was all that was required for him to slump back down into his seat.
"Why?" he said eventually, the only thing he could think to say.
At last a flicker of emotion appeared on Xander's face, although it had gone so quickly that he doubted he would have noticed if he hadn't been so focussed on him as he was. "Since we reformed the way we worked, we've done everything we could to maintain lines of communication with agencies here and across the globe. We explained who and what we were, what we needed to be able to do, and then negotiated to ensure that we could do it without having to keep so much under the radar as we used to. To do that, we decided to do something we hadn't bothered with before; play by the rules.
"What we expected in return was to be left alone to do what we had to. Now, we weren't naive enough to believe that would be it; we knew there would be times when we came across people who weren't too happy to have us 'horning in on the action', Gibbs being a prime example. As I said, we'd expected that; hell, we're the same in that regard, but we had an understanding that, if we deemed that something was under our purview, that would be the end of it and everyone would be ordered to comply.
"However, sometimes those that were ordered off the case didn't like to take no for an answer, which was when I would come along and remind people of that understanding. I knew that it would take time for things to filter down, that it would take time for the other agencies to realise that we had changed how we operated and that we really the best option to deal with what we do, so I'd kept my piece and jumped through all of the bureaucratic loops that had been put in place, all in the hope that things would change. Even when there were times when I'd have rather have just strung the offending parties up by their balls, I followed procedure, reminding myself that it was for the best.
"I can't, I won't do that anymore."
Xander slowly stood up and leaned over the desk, his body suddenly generating an almost palpable aura of menace. "We had an entire division wiped out last week. Not just a couple of Slayers, not just a field team, but an entire fucking division. Do you want to know why?"
Vance had a good idea that he'd be told either way, so he just remained silent and nodded his head once in acquiescence.
"Two of our Watchers were held up by the local sheriff's department for four hours because Gibbs hadn't rescinded the BOLO he'd put out on their car. They had been given a warning about what was going to go down, and they were going hell bent for leather to sound the warning, but barely half a mile later they were detained by the local sheriff. They knew that ignoring the sheriff would only make things worse, so they, like me, followed the rules and co-operated, but they repeatedly tried to explain that they had an extremely urgent matter that needed to be dealt with, and asked for the use of a phone to call it in. No matter what they said to the sheriff, no matter how much they stressed just how critical it was for them to leave, or at the very least make contact with their superiors, they wouldn't let them go. They wouldn't even let them make a phone call, because Gibbs had said to keep them isolated until he got there!"
The last few words practically rocketed out of Xander's mouth as his control finally slipped. "Once they realised just who it was that had kept them back, they'd snatched McGee's cell before he could do anything and called in. Trouble was, by then it far too late. We lost 67 people that day, Director. 67 people are dead now because your team didn't like other people playing in 'their' sandbox. Well guess what? I'm now going to do everything in my power to ensure they never have the opportunity to do that again, and make no mistake; if if anyone tried to pull a stunt like this again, I'm not going to be this nice about it. Next time, I'm just going to fucking kill them."
Vance felt sickened by what he'd heard, not to mention incredibly guilty. He'd known that Gibbs had been pissed when he'd ordered him off the McVitie case and that the IGD would take over, and he knew what that normally meant, but instead of making sure Gibbs knew that it was a battle he couldn't win, he'd done nothing, because he hadn't been happy about it either. While he'd been informed that the Lieutenant had been the victim of a Wendigo, and that no agency outside of the IGD could handle it, he'd felt his pride take a hit. He believed that NCIS was the crème de la crème, and Gibbs's record gave him plenty to support that belief, and found it difficult to think there was anything his agency couldn't handle.
He'd known from the look in Gibbs' eyes that he would continue to investigate, and would also look more closely into IGN. He'd known that if they would no doubt find some way to slow them down in order to complete the investigation themselves, and he'd done nothing to prevent it because he'd wanted the same thing. He'd done what was necessary to ensure his fingerprints wouldn't be on it, and then had left them to do what they did best.
He'd known long before he'd become Director that Gibbs cut corners and worked fast and loose with the rules at times, his team following right along, but he'd gotten results, better results than any other NCIS team in the country, so he'd turned a blind eye as best he could. He'd even gone so far as to ensure that certain things weren't looked at too closely, without leaving any ties to him, of course.
If Harris had come to him about what had happened, there might have been something he could have done for Gibbs and the others, even if it was only to ensure that their jobs would be the only thing they lost, and that, he realized with a start, was exactly the reason why Harris hadn't. By going around him and getting the ball rolling, anything he tried to do now would only make sure that he went down with the rest of them.
What pissed him off the most was that Harris must have realised that his loyalty to his agents didn't go so far as to include putting his own head above the parapet. This was the reason he'd come to him in person; he'd wanted to look him in the eye as he explained how his best team had been taken from him, that for all intents and purposes his forensics department was no more, and that he was also now without his Chief Medical Examiner. He also knew that Harris would not have done this quietly, and it would soon be known exactly why he was suddenly down 6 people. The ramifications would be felt by NCIS for a long time, and his position as Director was in no way safe, as this had all happened on his watch.
"I'm going to make a visit to the rest of the alphabet soup in the next day or so to give them all the same warning, and the reasons behind it. You're good at hiding your tracks, Leon, so I couldn't take you down with the rest, but by the end of the week, every government agency on the planet will know what happened; I wouldn't be making any long-term plans if I were you."
With that, Xander turned on his heel and walked out of Vance's office, leaving a pale-faced Director in his wake.