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Calling His Bluff

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The din of the bullpen filtered in and out. Papers being shuffled, phones ringing, agents conversing about cases or their ‘social life’. None of that mattered to Tony. He just sat quietly at his desk, writing up the report of the case they just solved. His throat was sore from spending half of the day talking.


But that was the least of his worries.


Turmoil took up residence in his mind. His lips were pressed in such a thin line, they almost disappeared. He wasn’t even sure what would come out of his mouth; a scream, more bile. Anger, hurt and disappointment were the only emotions bubbling inside him, roiling like a storm at sea.


Memories of the past surfaced; memories he’d rather forget if he could. If only he could shove them back in that box he created in his mind. Back into the black pit, where it would never surface again. But that’s not likely, not now anyway.  He couldn't possibly understand what terrible thing he had done to those two, to make them say what they did. He thought that after so many years working together, McGee and Ziva were his friends, people he could trust, who’d have his back.  


'We turned the sound off.'


'We were tired of hearing your voice.'




Gibbs kept glancing at Tony from across the bullpen and he was not pleased with what he’s seeing. DiNozzo was rigid, and twitching, as if he had a mechanical failure. Every movement just breathed with anger and resentment.  His gut was churning, something was very wrong. This was not the Senior Field Agent he knew; this wasn’t his St. Bernard. Gibbs took a step forward, but his foot faltered instantly. He couldn’t ask him what was wrong directly. That never worked with Tony. He’d just shrug his shoulders and say he’s fine, maybe throw in a movie quote to make it more convincing.


He hated that word, ‘fine’, with passion. Every single one of his marriages were ‘fine’ and that didn’t turn out so well afterwards.


Gibbs could also see that the other two, Tim and Ziva, were oblivious of Tony's state judging by the barbs that were thrown his way.


He needed to do something. This didn’t feel right.


 ''Finish the reports and go home.'' The silver-haired Marine barked his orders, causing Ziva and McGee to stop their snickering.


Tony was too quiet; no perverted jokes about Ziva, no teasing McGee for being a nerd, whatever that meant. Perhaps he should’ve known Tony would finish first. Always proficient, even with that smart mouth of his. It certainly was a surprise, however, that the young man left without a word or a glance toward his teammates.


And they didn’t even notice.




Tony sat on the floor in his dark living room, recovering from his usual nightmare, but with no avail. After he woke up screaming, he promptly emptied his stomach contents, barely managing to the bathroom in time. A glance at the sturdy Bourbon bottle sitting on his coffee table made him wish he could disappear inside it. That would be nice, just pleasantly drowning in the smooth amber liquid that left his body humming.


Tony let a small smile slip; weak, half-hearted. It was a ‘school night’. That meant if he showed up with a murderous -pun intended- hangover, Gibbs would rip his head off. Or he’d just slap the hangover out of his head. In either case, Tony would have an even bigger headache.


But the echoes still haunted him.


'We turned the sound off.'


'We were tired of hearing your voice.'


Those two sentences, and their laughter, bounced off the walls of his mind constantly.

They don’t even know, Tony laughed bitterly to himself, why he’s so angry about it. Their ignorance hurt him even more than he imagined. Partners should always have your back. They should always have your back!


Wetness slid down his cheeks. He didn't even registered tears that were streaming down his face, or that he was trembling, or the sweat trickling down his forehead. He failed to notice the pain of his nails digging holes into his bare legs.


The memories flooded back in a nauseating wave. He squeezed his eyes shut so tightly, he could see white spots from inside his eyelids. Then he promptly passed out.




The next morning, Gibbs saw DiNozzo drag himself to the office. He knew Tony wasn’t exactly a morning person, but the sight of his feet just scraping the carpet in an almost zombie-like shamble made him even more worried. Neither of the trio greeted each other. Ziva and McGee seemed to share glances, laughing at some private joke. Tony just sat at his desk, lifeless. Gibbs looked at the almost empty cup of coffee, wishing it would magically refill itself. He thought about getting a new cup himself but was reluctant to leave the three Agents alone.


Tony couldn’t let go of his anger. He figured maybe a bender would physically drain it from him, and he certainly thought he had succeeded. He spent most of his night and morning getting really intimate with the toilet. He wanted things to go back to normal, to look at Ziva and flirt shamelessly with her. He wanted to go over to McGee and make fun of his nerdiness, just like before.


But what they had done stuck in his heart like a dagger. Wait, no that’s too dramatic. It was like a bad glass of whiskey that forever ruined the taste of the most manliest liquor for him. Tony nodded to himself. Yes, that felt right. They ruined whiskey for him.


All jokes aside, what Tony truly felt was betrayal. It was the act itself that stung the most. Turning off the channel was a deadly decision. A mistake that could have cost them all dearly; and already has.




Gibbs watched sternly from his corner, a scowl on his face, empty cup in his hand. The three Agents were too busy to notice his scrutinizing glare. DiNozzo was obviously furious; a rare sight indeed. Gibbs has only ever seen the young Italian man truly furious once or twice in the many years of their partnership. But Tim and Ziva have never seen it, and they were unaware of the warning signs.


The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. Gibbs turned and sighed. Tobias Fornell. Fantastic.


The weathered Marine fixed his steely glare onto the FBI Agent striding towards him, a weary tone overtook his voice. ''What do you want, Tobias?''


Fornell gave a dramatic gasp and clutched his chest in feigned surprise. ''You wound me, Jethro.''


Gibbs rolled his eyes and Fornell merely smirked. “Can’t a colleague visit another colleague and bring him a fresh cup of black tar?” The Senior Agent asked innocently while handing Gibbs the coffee. With the Marine appeased, Fornell continued; ''We have a joined case. A Michael Warrick that we suspected of selling drugs on the street just upgraded his rap sheet to murder of one Petty Officer Susan Towlen, his current girlfriend.''


Gibbs rose a grey bushy brow at Fornell over his coffee cup. ''And why haven't we got the call?'' He asked with a drawl as he took another swig of the strong liquid. Fornell winced as he watched Gibbs gulp that coffee down like water. It was oddly disturbing.


Clearing his throat and straightening his tie, Tobias answered curtly. ''You would've, but I said I would deliver the news myself.''


Gibbs rolled his eyes again, then whistled at Tim and Ziva. ''McGee, get me info on Michael Warrick and Susan Towlen.''


''Yes Boss.'' McGee replied, already clacking away at his keyboard.


Tony overheard Gibbs and Fornell talking about the case, and felt like retching. He thought he would be able to continue like nothing happened, but as soon as Gibbs started giving orders, he knew he couldn't. He didn't trust either McGee or Ziva anymore. Just like that, their voices triggered in his mind;


'We turned the sound off.'


'We were tired of hearing your voice.'


“David, DiNozzo, Follow up at the crime scene--”


''No.'' Tony cut him off without even looking up from his papers. The tone was so cold, like stone. Gibbs blinked, Fornell took a step back. Ziva and McGee just stared.


That single word was like casting a spell over the group. Everything immediately froze. McGee flitted between Tony and Gibbs with wide eyes, his hands hovering over the keyboard. Ziva was rooted by her desk; hand still on the drawer while taking out her gun and badge.


Tony finally looked up, hard resolve flashed in his eyes. He met Gibbs’ eyes with a cold glare.


''Excuse me?'' Gibbs gave a low, threatening growl, and one could almost see the gray hair bristling. Tony’s eyes didn’t waver. He straightened a stack of manila folders on his desk, the task so normal and menial, one would think nothing serious had even happened.


But it was indeed quite serious.


''You heard me, Gibbs.” Tony hissed, “I said no. I will either work alone, with Fornell or you. If you try to force me to partner with one of them-'' He nudged his head in McGee and Ziva’s directions ''- You'll have my resignation letter in your hand before you can say 'coffee'.''


Now the conversation had started to carry and other Agents stopped in their tracks to watch this display. No one has ever gone toe to toe with Gibbs before; it was the event of the century. Total silence fell upon the bullpen as everyone stared and held their breath.


For the first time in his life, Gibbs was speechless. He attempted to close his mouth and his nostrils flared furiously. Gibbs couldn’t get a read on Tony and his gut was at the point of doing somersaults. Was he bluffing, or was he serious? He searched the younger man’s face, observing every breath he took, the way his jaw clenched from the seething rage. But nothing gave him an answer.


Oh boy was he mad, but there’s no way Tony would leave. He was certain of it. After all, Anthony DiNozzo was Gibbs’ St. Bernard.


So Jethro gambled, and called Tony’s bluff.


Narrowing his famous steely glare, Gibbs pursed his lips and held out his hand. ''Fine.” He said stiffly. “Hand it over.''


The edges of the bullpen let out a few audible gasps and the crowd began to murmur.




Abby came bounding around a corner, cheerful and bouncy as usual, when she bumped into Fornell, who had retreated to the sidelines during the DiNozzo-Gibbs showdown.


“Hey!” Abby squeaked as she rubbed her nose from the smack. “What giv--”


“Not now, Abby.” Fornell shushed her quickly, barely managing an audible whisper himself. The dark-haired Goth just cocked her head sideways and furrowed her brows in obvious puzzlement when she finally noticed that the whole room was quiet. Gibbs and Tony were glaring at each other and the air was unbearably heavy with tension.


Gibbs had seen a flash of something in Tony's green eyes, but it was gone in a blink. DiNozzo seemed to consider something and then shrugged his shoulders. A drawer slid open, the sound so painfully loud it echoed. Tony took a few steps forward, meeting Gibbs chest to chest, and then shoved an envelope at the Marine without breaking eye contact.


Gibbs caught the envelope and ripped it open. A few people winced at the sound, so anxious to see what would happen next.


DiNozzo gave Gibbs a sneer, and the older man thought it made his face monstrous.


''I would say it has been a pleasure working with you, but then I would be lying.''


Gibbs didn’t get a chance to reply. A booming voice reverberated around the room, making people jump out of their seats.


''What the hell is going on here?!'' Leon Vance shouted as he leaned over the balcony rails. No one answered him, not that they really could. Vance made his way down the stairs and over to Gibbs and Tony, and took his turn to glare at them both.


“Will one of you explain why the Hell everyone is barely breathing in here?” Vance growled, looking from one man to the other.


''I quit.'' Tony answered curtly still not looking away from Gibbs as he spoke. “I cannot work with people I don’t trust.”


''You know, my offer is still standing.'' Fornell spoke from the back, but that earned him a quick over-the-shoulder glare from Gibbs and a painful rib jab from Abby.


Tony gave a small smile at that, and that’s when Gibbs realized he had made the wrong call. Without hesitation, he lifted the envelope in front of Tony and Vance and ripped it to pieces. ''I'm not accepting this.''


''Don’t worry, I have another copy for you.” Tony said snidely, turning to his desk. “It doesn’t matter if you accept it, Gibbs. I no longer trust this team with my life, and I won’t work with people I don’t trust.''


''Where is this coming from? You trusted them until now.'' Gibbs almost sounded exhausted. There was a bigger issue at hand, he could feel it. But Tony wasn’t giving him any answers, not alone. His eyes darted to Ziva and McGee, and they suddenly unfroze. Ziva had replaced her gun and badge back in the drawer and sat on the edge of McGee’s desk, who was nervously fidgeting with his hands. They both looked like kids about to be called into the principal's office.




Just then Dr. Mallard tapped Abby on the shoulder, causing the girl to jump. She turned around and put a finger on her red lips to shush the doctor, even though seeing him look all confused was really cute. She then whispered into his ear that she’d fill him in on what he had missed. But after what happened next, Ducky felt like it wasn’t really necessary.


Gibbs took a deep breath and bellowed at them in his best gunny voice. ''So help me, if one of you don't start talking in the next second, I'm gonna head-slap you so hard your grandchildren will feel it!''


''As far as I'm concerned, I don't work for you anymore, so you can take that threat and shove it!'' Tony growled at the Marine, but before Gibbs could say anything, once more Vance stepped in and jabbed a finger at the young man’s chest.


“No, your resignation isn’t in effect until I say it is, DiNozzo. So you’re staying until this is resolved and we can move on by doing our jobs!” He then turned to the other two Agents and merely snarled out one word: “Speak.”


The two Agents looked flabbergasted, and neither knew from where to begin. Gibbs' brain had already connected the missing pieces and he didn't like the picture it was showing.


He pinched the bridge of his nose as he spoke. ''Yesterday, DiNozzo was collecting voice samples and the two of you were his backup. Tell me it's not what I think it is.''


McGee couldn’t meet his glare, and Ziva couldn’t form coherent words. Guilt was written all over their faces. A moment later McGee started stammering and Ziva tried to justify their actions.


''It was a quiet neighborhood, Gibbs. Nothing happened.'' McGee said finally and simultaneously wishing he could get swallowed up by a hole.


''It was a joke. Tony was talking so much we...we got tired.'' Ziva added, looking downcast as she did so. “So we turned off the radio.”


The weight of their words were like that of an anvil; an anvil that just smashed into everybody’s face. The shock was almost felt through the whole room. Even Leon seemed affected, his brows shooting upwards and his mouth twitched.


Not backing an Agent while in the field was unheard of. If Leon Vance, as Director, was angry, Gibbs was downright livid. Still quick for his age, Fornell had jumped forward to physically stop Gibbs from lunging at the two Agents.


But no one thought to stop Abby, who merely marched up to Ziva and McGee, and slapped both of them so hard, the sound echoed through the whole bullpen. The glare she gave them, so full of disappointment and betrayal, was enough drive home her new opinion of them. Without a word, she turned her back to them and launched herself at Tony, who caught her in his arms, a surprised and more gentle expression on his face.


She clung so tightly to him, that the embrace forced him backwards into his chair. Abby just curled up in his lap, burying her face into his shoulder. He could tell she was trying to contain her crying, but a few sniffles still escaped her. Tony let out a heavy sigh and patted the Goth’s back.


“You wanna know why I’m finished with you?”


No one spoke. DiNozzo’s cold glare kept them silent. Abby’s grip on him tightened.


''Let me tell you a story.'' He began. ''While I was still in Philly, we got a call. A man was murdered; stabbed twenty seven times in his own home.”


Everyone in the bullpen held their breath. This is very different from their usual office drama; who slept with whom, where or why. This was so serious, so incriminating that they couldn’t look away. They hung on DiNozzo’s every word as he told his story.




“My partner at the time and I took the case. It was a classy neighborhood, 4-star building. He took the first two floors, I took the third and fourth floor. Routine sweep, nose to the ground police work. I was on my last interview with this kid and it was getting dark. I left his apartment, my back turned.” Here Tony paused, his breath seemed to shudder at the memory. Now fixating his enraged green eyes at Ziva and McGee, the young man forced himself to continue. “The kid stabbed me. I called for help on the radio, but no answer came. I blacked out afterwards. Woke up in a hospital two weeks later, doctors told me I was a miracle, a Hail Mary.”


Ziva and Timothy couldn’t tear their eyes away from him. Ziva’s face glistened with trails of silent tears, McGee covered his mouth in shock. Abby peeled herself from Tony to get him something to drink at his request. He took the opportunity to walk over to the two Agents, his now former partners, and stared them down in true Gibbs fashion.


“Sixteen knife wounds, and memory loss from a concussion after being pushed out a fucking window!” Tony shouted, fury dripping with every word. “And he was in a shop, drinking coffee with his radio off!”


Then he whirled around and looked at McGee, disappointment now marring his handsome features. Tim looked frightened, not sure what to expect. His eyes were brimming with tears, his features showing the sorrow and regret he truly felt towards DiNozzo for his mistake. But Tony just shook his head. “How could you? I thought we were friends. I thought we had something special. You were like my kid brother, McGee. I would’ve died for you.”


Tony glanced at Ziva. Her pretty face, hardened by Mossad and the difficult life she had. Her dark eyes were downcast. She understood, she knew what all this meant. He could see it.


When their eyes met, Tony’s green eyes softened, sadness creeping in. Her red lips parted and she uttered his name. “Tony, I--”


But he held up his hand, immediately silencing her. “I can’t even look at you anymore.” He whispered to Ziva, and strode back to his chair, where Abby and a glass of water waited for him. After a gulp to calm his nerves and his aching throat, he resumed the story with a shrug,


“They had to cut out one of my kidneys and a scarred spleen, along with a bunch of other medical gobbledygook they threw at me. A whole year of physical therapy and plastic surgery was waiting for me. All because the person I trusted with my life, the man I called partner couldn’t have been bothered to keep his radio on after he finished his interviews.”


Dr. Mallard cleared his throat and dozens of eyes shifted to him. Ducky felt suddenly very small and awkward. “What about the boy? What happened?”


Tony smiled, the bitterness twisting the once sweet expression. “He was the murderer. He was being sexually abused by the victim, then decided no more. You’d never know what happens behind closed doors. The old man was rich, respected, even kind. None of the neighbors knew they were living with a pedophile.”


The shock was felt around the office floor. Nobody moved, or dared to breathe. If they did they feared it would break the spell, they'd be sent back to their mundane tasks.


No, they wanted to know. This was so intriguing, so horrid that they stood rooted to their spots like statues, eyes fixed on Agent DiNozzo and his woes.


Abby whimpered as she watched Tony walk around, gathering his things into a small cardboard box. She and Gibbs now understood the reason that part of Tony's file was censored. The old Marine had asked Abby for an extensive background check for rookie Agent DiNozzo at the time.


Abby wasn't Tony's biggest fan back then, although that may have been due to his shameless flirting attempts with her. But when he saved Gibbs’ life, she warmed up and declared him her brother in their strange little NCIS family. He still flirts with her, but it’s different now. At least he isn’t trying to actually sleep with her anymore. That would be weird.


“This wasn't in your files, DiNozzo.” Vance said in an even tone, his mouth twitching into a frown. But, then again, he only skimmed through the file. He noticed the Gold Shield after only two years in the force, before he left Peoria. Something about closing the smuggling ring. True, he also noticed a lot of his file was censored, but didn’t bother to dug deeper. He already had his opinion of Anthony DiNozzo.

Tony scoffed. “Yeah. He was the son of some rich big shot, so he had it all hushed up.”


Fornell cleared his throat to speak, but Tony beat him to it. ''There is no need for you to look at him.'' He said, as if reading his mind. ''Last I heard, he died a few years ago in a car chase. Alone. Since no one wanted to work with him.''


''And how did you come by that information?'' Dr. Mallard asked. He kept his distance from the group because he didn't trust himself enough not to slap Timothy or Miss David himself.


Well, perhaps a slap would be too much for his delicate and gentlemanly nature, but Ducky wasn’t above giving them the coldest, most disappointing glare he could muster.  However, his prim and proper British upbringing prevented him from acting out his emotions. So this was the best compromise he could think of.


“My friends from the departments I’ve worked in. We catch up every now and then.” Tony said with a shrug. Then felt arms rope around his waist and squeeze. “Abby,” He whispered softly. She gripped his shirt tightly, her nails tearing tiny holes into the expensive fabric. “Let go.”


“No! I won’t let go okay?! I can’t. You just can’t make me let go and expect me to be okay! How would you feel if I told you to let go!?”


“Abby. I literally cannot breathe with you squeezing me like a boa constrictor.”


“Oh. Right. You still need to breathe. Duh.” She said, sheepish. Tony gently detached her arms from him. He pet her head, making sure not to mess up her pigtails, his gesture of true affection for her.


“We’ll keep in touch, I promise. I won’t be leaving city since I’ll be working with Fornell.’’


“I said I don’t accept your resignation, DiNozzo!’’ Gibbs growled, but Tony merely ignored him. He adjusted his grip on the box and began walking to the elevator, Abby following right behind him, still pleading for him to stay.




Gibbs watched his best Agent push the button for that damned elevator and his own anger bloomed into a fury from Tony’s cold shoulder. Hand raised, he marched over to him intending to give his signature usual head-slap. Tony, to everyone’s surprise, waved the Marine’s hand away.


“I don’t care anymore, Gibbs. After all the years we’ve been working together, you of all people should know that I don’t bluff. I don’t work with someone I don’t trust or respect, and you have lost both.’’


The aged Marine was taken aback by Tony’s words. He understood losing respect and trust with those two idiots. But the fact that his trust and respect was also discredited made this whole thing that much more severe. Gibbs’ eyes slightly widened, the only indication of Tony’s statement hitting home. He made the wrong call. Now there was no way to convince Tony to stay. The young Italian man turned away from his former superior and gave a nod to Fornell. “Ready when you are, Tobias.”


Fornell would’ve been surprised by the lax use of his name by DiNozzo. But given everything he had just witnessed, questioning this man was not in the cards. It was a clear indication he wasn’t going to settle for the ‘field grunt’ position. Calling Fornell by his first name gave the older man the clue what Tony wanted from him. He wanted an equal partnership, something that Fornell was eager to give. He had his eye on DiNozzo for years, now that his wish was finally becoming reality, there was no way he would jeopardize it.


“Agent DiNozzo!” Vance’s shout cut through the silence and habit made Tony’s back cringe. “Think very hard what you are going to do. Once you leave, there's no coming back.”


The intimidating note of his voice hung in the air, a bomb ready to drop any moment. However, if Leon thought DiNozzo would cave under his power, he was mistaken. The elevator finally dinged and both Tony and Fornell stepped in. The former NCIS Agent turned to face the office once more, all those faces full of confusion and awe at the spectacle that graced their normally dark and bland work day. He fixed the large black man with a stone cold glare in his green eyes.


“Thanks for the warning, Director Vance. Even if Fornell doesn’t work out, I’ve got more than just one option." He briefly turned hih eyes toward Gibbs. "Due to my, obviously, misplaced loyalty, I've turned down many offers, including one of a directorship. After all,” His face suddenly split into a typical DiNozzo grin; smug and mischievous. “I’m a very popular man, you know. Always have a date on the backburner if your first one falls through. That’s my motto.” He finished with a wink at Abby, who gave him a teary smile. “I am a professional, and I will finish this last case for NCIS. You’ll have all the paperwork by the end of the week.” Tony added with a stoic nod at Vance.


Gibbs stood rooted to his spot, but switched his glare from DiNozzo to Fornell, who responded with a meager, apologetic shrug. ‘No hard feelings’ he was silently telling him with that shrug.  


The elevator doors closed with a soft whoosh! of air.


Several whimpers came from Abby now, who was no longer fighting her tears and only slightly having a panic attack at how runny her mascara and eyeliner would be after this whole mess was over. None of that mattered, even if she did look like a zombie raccoon --Oh, that actually sounds cool and adorable. Wait, that’s not the point, Tony’s leaving! Curse her CAFPOOW-ed brain!


The lanky Goth lunged herself at Gibbs and shook his shoulders as best she could. With Gibbs, that’s just like trying to shake a boulder so not much movement. But her point of desperation had gotten across. “Gibbs. Do something. He's leaving!” Sobs choked her words. She was a madwoman, talking so fast, Jethro was barely able to catch any coherent words.


The old Marine stood silent. He wasn’t sure what to do. Finally, all of Abby’s shaking and whimpering snapped him out of it. He patted her head the way he always would when she needed comfort, and led her to Tony’s desk. Now that she was out of the way, Gibbs went to Vance and looked at him expectantly.


Vance’s frown turned into a thin line. He was not amused with this nonsense. He looked around at the staring faces and puffed up his chest. “What are you all doing!? Get back to work!” He barked and everyone flew around in a scurry. With the natural order of the office restored, he nodded at Gibbs and pointed to his office. As the two men passed by McGee and Ziva, who were so gob smacked by Tony’s words, they haven’t budged a muscle from their spot at McGee’s desk. Vance glared at them both and motioned them to follow.




Leon Vance sat behind his desk and pursed his lips again. A deep sigh flared his prominent nostrils out and McGee began to sweat nervously. Ziva stared ahead, with no life in her eyes. Gibbs just walked over to the window, where he could see Tony putting the box into his car and preparing to leave the parking lot.


“Can’t you bring him back, Leon?” Gibbs’ soft voice broke the silence, but not the tension. Ziva’s eyes flickered for a moment, but resumed their dead stare.


“No. He couldn’t have made it more official. Or dramatic.” Leon growled back, still glaring at the two Agents before him. Tim stared down at his hands, used to this type of scrutiny. “What were you two thinking?!”


“It was a mistake, sir.” Tim managed to say firmly, while still looking at his hands. Ziva stayed silent.


Vance said nothing for a few minutes, assessing the situation at hand. Even though he didn’t like the ‘old school’ investigators like Gibbs and DiNozzo, the idea that the future lies with Agents like McGee and David, was not as comforting as it once was. Not even he could forgive what Tim McGee and Ziva David did. Not as a human, and especially as a Director. Their actions cast a black spot on the Agency, and that was unacceptable.


“As of this moment, the two of you are fired. Collect your personal things and leave the Navy Yard. You have disgraced the badge and the Agency with your actions.’’


McGee took the news hard, as expected. He truly loved his job. But he nodded and did as he was told. Ziva glanced at Leon, then at Gibbs. Then, with only a slight waver of her stony facade she cleared her throat. “For what it was worth, I've enjoyed working for this Agency and I offer my humblest apologies for what has happened.”


Gibbs watched Ziva shut the door behind her. Now it was just him and the Director.


“Really, Leon? A suspension would have sufficed.”


“They put their fellow Agent in danger, Jethro. I can't just forgive that because they're your favorites.” Leon snapped at the gray haired Marine.


“They’re good Agents.”


“So is DiNozzo, as much as it pains me to say it, and look what happened!”


Gibbs slammed his hand on the desk. “Hey, I’m mad too. I'm pissed as all Hell, Leon. I just lost one of my best Agents due to some rookie mistake and he'll probably never come back!” He bellowed back.  “But they don't deserve to lose their jobs because of it!”


“Well, it's not your say. It's mine, and I say they're terminated. And I don’t see it as a rookie mistake. Not after working for you for so many years. I have to think what’s best for the Agency. And I assure you, after hearing what they did, no one would want to work with them.” The finality of his tone made it difficult to argue, even for Gibbs.


He inclined his head towards the frowning man “Okay, Leon.” He said with a sigh. “You're the boss.”


Vance snorted as Gibbs left the office. He had a feeling that word of what just happened would spread like wildfire, and he had no idea what would that mean for his Agency. He only knew one thing, and he was a man enough to admit when he was wrong.


He had underestimated Tony DiNozzo.