Big Changes — Chapter 3

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Gibbs took the Caf-Pow into Abby’s lab for their early morning meeting. He had Tony text her to meet him at 0830. He hoped the Caf-Pow and Tony’s letter would placate her after he told her Tony was gone. He and Tony had had good time talking before Tony left and the grief Gibbs felt wasn’t all about losing his SFA. He was also about realizing that he had lost a friend sometime when he was in Mexico and now he might not get the chance to re-build that friendship. Gibbs shook his head. He need to let the maudlin thoughts go before talking to Abby.

Abby’s music was blaring when he entered the lab and he set the Caf-Pow in front of the Goth. She was dressed in her typical black platform boots, a short black pleated skirt and a button down white shirt with a skull print bow tie. He smiled at her and signed ~Turn off the music and come talk to me~

She made a face and did as he asked and followed him into her office sipping on her Caf-Pow. Gibbs sat down on the small couch and patted the seat next to him. She immediately cuddled next to him.

“This is nice, bossman, but also worrisome. What’s going on?”

“Tony quit.”

“What? No!?” Abby jumped to her feet and began pacing and signing frantically, “He can’t do that. We’re family. Why didn’t he tell me himself?”

Gibbs patted the couch again and waited until Abby had settled next to him again. “He got a really good job offer but he starts work this morning in Colorado.”

“Colorado!” Abby exclaimed jumping up again. Gibbs waited as she paced and ranted and, when she was done, patted the couch a third time.

“He’s working on a classified project. He couldn’t tell me where he’ll end up. Only that he is in Colorado for three weeks and then has a 4-day furlough. Said he’d stay at mine.”

Abby wiped her eyes and said, “Why didn’t he tell me himself, Gibbs?”

“He tried,” explained Gibbs, “You sent him a text, remember?”

Abby nodded mournfully as Gibbs reached inside his jacket and gave her the letter, “Tony left this for you. I gotta go.”

Abby took the letter and said, “Did he really find a new job just over the weekend? He hadn’t been planning this? He had been distant for a few days.”

“Yeah, Abs he did,” Gibbs paused, “I know why he was distant and we’ll discuss that later.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Gibbs returned to his desk to find McGee nervously waiting and Ziva teasing him about having to meet with the director.

“Boss,” McGee said, “Did you get a chance to talk to the director?”

Gibbs nodded curtly.

“Do I still have to meet with him?”

Gibbs nodded again.

Ziva snorted, “Maybe, McGee, he wants to promote you to team SFA.”

“That’s Tony’s job,” McGee quickly said.

Ziva wrinkled her nose and made a dismissive sound, “He is not a good one. He is too immature, a man-child.”

Gibbs glared at her and she faced him with a mulish expression, “He is late. This is ….” Ziva trailed off as the elevators opened and a man was heard loudly talking.

“Really, Jack, you couldn’t get us out of this. This is supposed to be our vacation instead we had to get up early to be here,” the man waved his arm around encompassing the whole of the room.

The silver-haired USAF 3 star general he was talking to sighed, “President’s orders.”

“Bah, he’s not my president,” was the reply as the man looked around, “What is with all the orange? It’s like being inside a pumpkin.”

A third man in a RCAF uniform snorted at this and exchanged a look with the USAF general. Gibbs walked up to the loud man and glared at him. After several seconds, the man raised an eyebrow. “Why are you glaring at me? You know it hasn’t worked since I was eleven,” he casually took a sip of his coffee.

“Eleven?” the general said, “You two know each other?”

“Cousins,” Rodney answered with a evil smile.

The general chuckled, “You know that explains so much about you, Gibbs the second b for bastard.”

Gibbs glared at him and he only laughed harder, “This context makes you less scary, Gunny, and don’t give me that baby McKay glare. I’ve worked with him,” he said pointing at the other man who smirked at them all.

“Baby McKay glare?” The SecNav asked as he came down the stairs with Director Vance.

“Gibbs and McKay are cousins,” the general said with a smile. The SecNav stopped and blinked, “Well, that actually explains some things. You do realize, Gibbs, he’s scarier than you?”

The Canadian Colonel and McKay laughed as Gibbs said, “Scariest.”

“Yes, yes,” McKay started, “I’m the scariest cousin and you’re finally here. Can we leave now?”

“No, Dr. McKay, I’d like you and Colonel Sheppard to meet the man we’ve promoted to Supervisory Special Agent for the new Resident Unit on your base. Where is Agent DiNozzo, Agent Gibbs?” The SecNav asked. All eyes turned to Gibbs who glared briefly at the smug look on McKay’s face. “As of Friday evening, DiNozzo resigned.”

The SecNav looked shocked but Vance looked like the cat that had eaten the canary. The SecNav rounded on the general, “O’Neill! We had an agreement. You would allow NCIS on the base. You approved and accepted DiNozzo as the NCIS agent. You agreed not to approach him with a private job offer. You agreed to allow the Navy to assign him!”

“Yep, you betcha, sure did,” the general paused and all three men said in unison, “Unless….”

Color fell out of the SecNav’s face and he turned to Vance. With a low voice, he said, “You told me you processed the application.”

Vance straightened and put a fresh toothpick in his mouth, “I did.”

Sheppard, McKay and O’Neill snorted and O’Neil reached into his jacket for some papers which he handed to the SecNav, “This is what we received about 1000 Friday.”

With an unsteady hand, the SecNav began reading the first page. “The change from Resident Unit to Agent Afloat doesn’t void our agreement.”

“Page 2,” the three men said in unison.

He turned to Vance and with an ashen face began to speak, “Every President and Secretary of the Navy since this program ramped up in 1997 has tried to get an NCIS agent read in. They finally agree to one and you deny his assignment. Explain.”

“The numbers don’t support a Resident Unit,” Vance began. The SecNav made a cutting motion with his hand. “I don’t care about that right now. They would have accepted DiNozzo as Agent Afloat but they will not accept another agent in his place.”

“Agent McGee,” Vance started.

“McGee?” McKay interrupted, “Who’s that? I thought they wanted to send an Agent McGregor?”

“McGregor is the name of the hero in Agent McGee’s best-selling novels,” explained O’Neill, “Haven’t you read Deep Six by Thom E. Gemcity?”

“No,” McKay said, “I’m only reading historical romances for the het soft porn these days. You know that.”

Ziva laughing asked, “Do you not worry someone will call you jolly?”

Everyone stared at her and McGee finally said, “Gay, Ziva, gay.”

McKay considered her as he finished his coffee, “No, I don’t because the petty, small, narrowed-minded people who would judge me for what I read are already completely and utterly convinced I’m gay because I married a man.”

O’Neill and the Colonel laughed and Gibbs coughed in an effort not to.

McKay turned the Colonel, “Didn’t Nest say that McGregor was disqualified?”

He shook his head, “She said McGregor disqualifies him.”

McKay huffed, “What am I missing, Jack?”

All eyes turned to O’Neill who sighed and looked at the SecNav, “The very first thing an agent has to do is pass the security check. They have to be able to meet a certain security clearance to be read in. McGee doesn’t.”

“Agent McGee is ..” Vance began but the SecNav cut him off, “Doesn’t matter what you think of him, Vance. If O’Neill says he can’t, then McGee can’t pass the background check.”

“I don’t understand,” stuttered McGee.

“You McGee?,” O’Neill and has his nod continued, “The similarities between your co-workers and the characters in your novel are concerning.”

“I did not base my characters on my teammates,” McGee said hotly.

“The subtitle is ‘The continuing adventures of LJ Tibbs,” O’Neill said with one eyebrow raised.

“Tibbs?” McKay turned to McGee, “Even I’ve heard of a random name generator.”

“And let’s not forget Pimmy Jalmer,” continued O’Neill and at McKay’s mouthed Pimmy Jalmer? He explained “The juxtaposition of the initials of a member of the autopsy team. The guy’s real name is Jimmy Palmer and I really hope that the necrophiliac tendencies are a figment of that one’s imagination.” He pointed at McGee with his thumb.

Horrified McKay stared at McGee. O’Neill shot Vance a look before speaking to McGee again, “Although there is no indication that you used actual NCIS cases in your book, the highly classified nature of our program makes you too great a risk. The truth is the only reason you still have your current clearance level is because Vance went to bat for you.”

“Agent McGee has a Master’s in computer science from MIT,” Vance ground out, “How does DiNozzo’s phys ed bachelor’s compare?”

“Really?” McKay asked snidely, “I have over 150 people with Master’s in Computer Science and 27 of them from MIT and all of them have doctorates. Why would I want another one? Especially one who hasn’t written or researched in his field since he joined NCIS?”

When Vance started to speak, McKay waved him away, “Look, Prance,”

“Vance,” and the toothpick snapped, “my name is Vance.”

“Whatever,” McKay dismissed his objection, “Tony had a double major at Ohio State. He got a BA in Criminology at the same time as the BS in Phys Ed. He followed that up with a Master’s in Criminology while in Philadelphia. He graduated from law school while in Baltimore. Either of these filled the education requirement for a Senior Field Agent so why you only reference his BS, I’m not sure. Not to mention his so new the ink isn’t even dry on it Ph. D. in Justice, Law and Criminology. So don’t try to tell me an Agent with one lonely Master’s of which there are literally over two dozen already on base is superior.”

McGee’s mouth dropped open. Ziva huffed but kept her mouth shut when Gibbs glared at her. The SecNav sighed heavily and Vance, well, Vance decided to keep digging that hole.

“McGee is the superior investigator,” he started but stopped at Gibbs’ humorless laugh.

The RCAF Colonel spoke up this time, “How do you figure that? When Tony left Peoria, the closure rate dropped by 8%. When he left Philadelphia, it dropped 10%. Baltimore, 12%. The first 3 months of his working with Gibbs at NCIS, their closure rate was a full 25% higher than Gibbs alone or working with anyone else previously. When Todd joined the team there was no significant change. When McGee joined the team, there was no significant change. When David joined the team, there was no significant change. Tony managed to maintain that closure rate without Gibbs, but when he was Agent Afloat, the MCRT closure rate dropped by 7%. Yes, McGee was the best agent you had in charge of cyber crimes but his closure rate was only 2% higher than the next highest. Tony has been everything from a beat cop in uniform to an undercover agent to team lead.. I really don’t see how McGee limited experience compares.”

Vance broke another toothpick. The SecNav said, “Thank you General O’Neill, Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay for coming but I think you’re done here.”

“We can leave?” McKay eagerly asked.

“Nope,” said the Colonel putting two cards out of his jacket. McKay snapped his fingers and snatched the cards. He turned to Vance. “We got you thank you presents. I always like coffee and chocolates as gifts”

“Tributes,” the three military men said. McKay shot them all a glare as he handed a card to Gibbs “It’s a year’s subscription for 2 pounds of coffee twice a month and,” he walked to give Vance the other card, “For your wife, a year’s subscription of fine chocolates, a selection to be delivered monthly.”

Rodney waved the card but Vance ignored it, “You gave Gibbs coffee as a thank you from me?”

“No, of course not. As a thank you gift for you. A supply of good coffee will make him less of bastard, always has,” Rodney waved the card again and the SecNav reached out to take it. “I’ll make sure Jackie gets it.”

“Thank you,” McKay smirked at Vance and walked to the elevator, “Bye, Jack.”

The colonel grinned and offered a salute which the general waved away, “Don’t you kids do anything I won’t do. Fishing is a wholesome activity,” he called after them and laughed at the glare he received from McKay.

He turned to the SecNav, “I’m sorry, Mr. Secretary. I’ve submitted our refusal of the proposed changes and any agent assigned will have to be approved by the new Director of the Security.”

“Promise me,” the SecNav looked Jack in the eye, “They didn’t move on DiNozzo until after he was denied the assignment.”

Gibbs cleared his throat, “DiNozzo was on a case until 1300 on Friday.”

The SecNav nodded at Gibbs and asked O’Neill, “Do you want to explain this goat rodeo to the President?”

“No, thank you,” O’Neill shook his head, “I’ll leave that up to you.” He turned to Gibbs, “It’s been good seeing you, Gibbs.” Gibbs nodded.

“Director Vance,” O’Neill waited until Vance met his eyes, “Thanks, we really didn’t want NCIS involved in the project.”

“Jack,” the SecNav hissed and O’Neill beamed at him before turning and walking away.

The SecNav turned to Vance, “I’ll meet with you after I speak with the President.”

As the elevator doors closed on the SecNav, Gibbs grabbed some paperwork off his desk, “We need to talk, Leon.”

“I’m not interested in your opinion about DiNozzo, Gibbs,” he spitted. Gibbs raised an eyebrow, “Not my place,” and motioned up the stairs. Time, Gibbs thought, to kick Vance while he was down.

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