Gibbs paused at the elevator. His gut was telling him something big was coming and Vance’s remark to McGee was at the root of it. He nodded to himself and hauled ass to the director’s office.
With a curt nod to the secretary, he opened the door and strode in. The two men glared at each other over the monstrosity of a desk. Gibbs waited him out; Vance would talk, eventually.
“I assume this is about my meeting with McGee,” the director drawled as he replaced the toothpick his mouth. Gibbs nodded.
“You should be thanking me,” Gibbs’ glared intensified, “They wanted DiNozzo.”
Gibbs’ gut burned and he tightened his hands into fists. He wasn’t sure what was making him angrier: the fact that someone wanted DiNozzo or the fact Vance denied DiNozzo something.
“This is a good opportunity for McGee. Don’t mess it up for him,” Vance pointed at Gibbs, “He needs to get away from you. He’ll never reach his potential in your shadow. You just need to look at DiNozzo to know that.”
Gibbs swallowed the bile that burned his throat, “Where?”
“I don’t know. It’s classified. NCIS hasn’t been read into the project yet and we need to send in an agent that will reflect well on us. That ain’t DiNozzo.”
“You. Are. Blind.” Gibbs gritted out, “DiNozzo is the best I’ve ever worked with.” He turned to stomp out of the office.
“This is confidential Gibbs, I’ll write you up if you share this with anyone,” Vance shouted at Gibbs’ retreating back.
Tony took a deep breath. He needed to compose himself before he went inside and spoke to Gibbs. He gave chuckle at the thought of Hurricane Rodney. Rodney had told him they would help with the transition but damn. His resignation with NCIS has been filed and approved with a generous severance package within minutes of him signing his employment contract with the SGC. Less than an hour after choosing his apartment on Atlantis, there was a team of Marines helping him pack up his apartment here. They had moved all his stuff into a moving truck and then, before it had pulled away from the curb, it all had been beamed into his new place on Atlantis. Apparently, cost wise it was cheaper to beam his piano than ship it via conventional means. Tony shook his head. Beamed!
He life was now a Sci-Fi movie. John and Rodney had taken him to their hotel room where a lawyer from JAG had met them with the largest Non-Disclosure Agreement he had ever seen. Once he had signed, the three of them had beamed to an observation room on the George Hammond. Tony had gone from a room with a view of Washington DC to a room with a view of Earth. It had been a dramatic reveal. He spent the next several hours with Dr. Daniel Jackson getting briefed on the program. John had been right though. Once Tony knew where he would be working, he wanted in. Signing the employment contract had been much easier than he expected.
After that, things moved quickly. “At Rodney speed,” John had joked. He had nothing left to do at NCIS or in DC, except talk to Gibbs.
Which why he was sitting in a his car outside of Gibbs’ place practicing calming breaths. Time to suck it up, he thought and opened the car door.
He walked down to the basement and when Gibbs looked up at him, he said “I’ve got meat and beer. I got some stuff to talk to you about.”
Gibbs nodded and put down the sanding block. As they waited for the fire to get hot, Gibbs looked a Tony expectantly.
“I resigned from NCIS at 1735 Friday,” Tony dropped and like the bomb it was, it exploded. Gibbs leapt to his feet and cried out, “What?!?”
Tony took a sip of his beer and straightened up, “I was offered a job and, after listening to the pitch, I couldn’t turn it down. It is good move for me.”
Gibbs sat down heavily and took a big swig of his beer. He looked at Tony noting the apprehension and nodded, “Where?”
“I can’t tell you. It’s classified,” Tony grinned then “You wouldn’t believe me anyway.”
Gibbs’ brow furrowed, “Vance said he was assigning McGee to a classified project.”
Tony snorted then asked, “I have a question for you.”
Gibbs looked puzzled and motioned him to continue. “Is your cousin, M. Rodney McKay, really scarier than you?”
“Yep,” Gibbs grinned, “He’s the scariest of my 6 cousins. You met him?”
“Yeah, he is the Chief Science Officer of the base I’ll be working on. I met Dr. T. A. Addams too. She volunteered to assist me in a part time capacity.”
Gibbs laughed, “She scarier than me too, but different kind of scary. She’s a pantser and Rodney’s a plotter.”
At Tony’s confused look, he explained, “Writers who fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to plots are pantsers. Writers who plot their stories in advance are plotters. You piss Nest off and she’ll cut off your head and take a picture right there and then. But Rodney, he’ll bluster and insult you then he’ll hack your life and strip you of everything, and then when you have just begun to accept your new lot in life, he’ll blow you into unidentifiable bits.”
Tony laughed, “That’s a lot of words from you.”
“Vital information if you are going to work with them,” Gibbs pointed out.
“I read a little of Dr Addams file so I understand beheading is her favorite method of execution, and how odd is it that an Interpol agent is known for executions. But why is Rodney the scariest? ‘Cause I don’t see it.”
“Fourth grade school project.”
“Okay?” Tony drew out the ‘a’ sound.
“His design caught the attention of the US government and his father patented Rodney’s improvements and sold them for three-quarters of a million dollars when Rodney was eleven.”
“Impressive. What did he build?”
“A non-functioning model of an intercontinental ballistic missile.”
Tony gaped at Gibbs who grinned even larger. “If he had had access to nuclear material it would have been fully functional.”
“Eleven,” Tony closed his mouth and swallowed, “Rodney built a nuclear bomb at eleven.”
“Yep,” Gibbs looked smug, “Scariest cousin.”
They both laughed and Gibbs moved to put the meat on the fire. “What does Rodney have to do with Vance re-assigning McGee?”
“I was hoping you’d let that go,” at Gibbs’ look, Tony snorted, “Yeah, okay. I can’t tell you about what they asked NCIS for as I don’t have the particulars. But,” he shook his finger at Gibbs, “I do know that they were unable to cancel the meeting at NCIS HQ for 0900 Monday. If it happens in the bullpen, I expect you to tell me all about it. Every sordid detail.”
“The SecNav is demanding John and Rodney’s presence as well as the General in charge of the whole program visit NCIS to meet me.”
“For McGee’s assignment?”
“Yeah, it was supposed to be my assignment but Vance adjusted the assignment to suit him. With the SecNav out of touch for the weekend, the President told them he didn’t care what happened but the three people from the project would meet the SecNav at NCIS on Monday. Rodney’s,” Tony paused, “annoyed.”
Gibbs laughed, a full belly laugh that brought a smile to Tony’s face. “I’ll ask Abby to copy the security footage if it happens in the bullpen.”
Tony smiled dropped away, “When I called her, I left a message and she texted me saying she was out of town for the weekend and that she’d see me at work on Monday.”
Gibbs looked at Tony’s worried frown, “When?”
“I start a three week intensive course on Monday in Colorado. After that I’ll have a 4-day furlough, that will be the earliest I’ll be able to come back.”
“What about your stuff?”
Tony chuckled, “Hurricane Rodney took care of all that. The project has a team to assist in re-assignments so they took care of everything at NCIS and at my old place. I’ve already been assigned base housing and my stuff’s going there.”
“You come here for your furlough.”
Tony blushed, “You sure?”
“Yeah,” Gibbs nodded, “You need a place tonight?”
“No, I’ve got to be at the airport for my transport by 2200.”
Gibbs sighed and served the steaks.
After a few bites, Tony took a deep breath. “There’s something else we need to talk about.”
Gibbs hung his head briefly and then met Tony’s eyes.
“It was much easier to sign the employment contract then I thought it would be and you need to know why,” Tony began pausing as Gibbs leaned back and gave Tony his full attention. “On the Military at Home case, when I was doing voice prints…”
“Tone,” Gibbs gently said when it appeared that he wasn’t going to continue. Tony closed his eyes at the tenderness in Gibbs’ voice, “tell me.”
“Ziva and McGee turned off the comms while I was taking voice prints.”
Gibbs’ knife and fork clattered to the table as he stared in horror at Tony. Tony nodded, “For hours. They stopped listening because they were annoyed with my chatter several hours before I finished.”
Gibbs got a hard look in his eyes and Tony hastened to explain, “I put it in my case notes but in the details. When I realized that Abby had transcribed them admitting they turned off comms but hadn’t filed a report as required, I was so hurt. Even now I can’t think rationally about it.”
Tony pushed his plate away, “I had just come to the realization that I no longer trusted them with my six and was panicking at the thought of having to leave when there was a knock on my door.”
Tony met Gibbs’ eyes, “It was John and Rodney with this fantastic opportunity.” He took a deep breath, “You know what they enticed me with?”
At Gibbs questioning look, Tony continued, “A film club, the idea of my movie obsession being a positive in hiring me, that’s what got me to listen to the pitch,” he gave a little laugh, “They were pleased that I had a Master’s in Film Studies from the clusterfuck with La Grenouille. Part of my official duties will be helping with the selection of movies playing on base and running a film club. No one, absolutely no one, mocked me when I made a movie reference. As a matter of fact, a 3 star and I had a long conversation about the historical aspects in some of his favorite movies. We’re at this meeting with more brass and chest candy than I have ever seen in my life and the most decorated one is talking to me about movies.”
Gibbs snorted and Tony shook his head, “It was fantastic to be valued for something I love.”
Gibbs pushed Tony’s plate back to him, “Eat.”
Tony picked up his knife and fork and gestured with them, “It was fantastic to be valued period. They listened to me, Gibbs, when I asked questions and made suggestions based on my experience, they listened. I wasn’t called a ‘man-child’ or blown off. They had reviewed my records and based their expectation of me on that, not on whatever Vance is using to base his.”
Gibbs grunted. Tony pointed his knife at him, “Don’t give me that. You haven’t been all that pleasant since you returned from your ‘retirement’.”
Gibbs looked sheepish and nodded, “I spent this weekend thinking about you and how the team has been since I returned.”
Tony looked at Gibbs, “What? Why?”
“Something Vance said.”
“Come to any conclusions?”
“Yeah, that I needed to support my SFA more.”
Tony choked, “Wow, that’s good. I’m sure McGee will enjoy your support.”
Gibbs gave Tony a stink eye, “Ya think he’s ready?”
“Well, he was my SFA while you were gone,” Tony offered.
“I read the reports, DiNozzo, you were doing most of the SFA job in addition to team lead.”
Tony reluctantly nodded, “I believed I had to keep the team together so we’d be there when you got back. Looking back, I did a lot of things because I believed I was just a placeholder for you. If I had to do things over, one of the things I would change was the way I handled Ziva and McGee’s disrespect.” He took a deep breath, “He isn’t ready. I left my notes on the SFA job on your desk. You can pass them onto whoever takes my place or trash them. Your call.”
“Tony,” Gibbs said gently, “Rules 1 and 15. You realize I’m going to file disciplinary actions, right?”
Tony closed his eyes against the wave of pain, “You don’t have to that for me.”
“It isn’t for you. Although if you had brought this to me, like you should have, I would have done the same at the time it happened. Leaving a teammate without backup? There is no way I’m letting that slide,” Gibbs watched Tony struggle for a few minutes, “Is there anything else I need to know?”
Tony shook his head, “Not really. Turning off the comms is the biggie, there are some instances of insubordination. I’ve written up a report to attach to a disciplinary action. The copy is in my car, you want it?”
“Yes,” Gibbs signed, “and any other documentation you have I need to be aware of.”
“I’m sorry, Gibbs.”
“Rule 6,” Gibbs cut him off, “You aren’t responsible. Just give me the paperwork and I’ll handle it. You enjoy your new job. I know you will be good at it. They’re lucky to have you,”
Rule 1: Never screw (over) your partner.
Rule 5: You don’t waste good
Rule 6: Never say you’re sorry. It’s a sign of weakness.