Big Changes — Chapter 4

Gibbs noticed a rental car in his driveway and smiled. Tony had made good on his promise to come by for his 4-day furlough. He opened the door and was greeted by a tall handsome man pointing a gun at him. He raised an eyebrow as the obviously military man lowered the gun, “Gunny, the Director is in the kitchen.”

Gibbs nodded and walked through to where Tony was assembling dinner, “Hey, Gibbs meet Staff Sergeant Morris, he’s my security detail. Mike, meet Gibbs. Don’t call him sir.”

“I’m aware, sir. I’ll be calling him Gunny,” Morris looked at Gibbs, “Unless you’d prefer Gibbs?”

“Either’s fine, Sergeant,” replied Gibbs, “you didn’t have to cook, Tony.”

“I wanted to. I’ve been in base quarters without a kitchen for three weeks eating base food,” he shuddered, “I’m ready for something decent.”

“Food’s not bad in the Mountain,” replied Morris. Gibbs gave him a narrowed eyed look and Tony laughed, “Be careful there, Mike, he’s a trained investigator and that was a big clue.”

Morris blushed, “Our mission’s classified, Gunny.” Gibbs just smiled at him, and Tony laughed again, “That smile comes from the McKay side of the family I have since learned.”

Gibbs chuckled as Tony handed him a beer and the steaks, “Simple food tonight, I got the fire ready wanna go put these on as I get the potatoes ready?”

Gibbs nodded and left the room. Morris turned to Tony, “If you want alone time, sir…”

Tony snorted, “We don’t have that kind of relationship but after dinner we’ll probably head down to the basement and you can guard the door.”

Morris nodded and grabbed the plates and silverware. The three men ate and Tony chattered away about the movies he was planning on showing and the film club he had started. He was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who had shown an interest. Gibbs listened and realized he was talking about nothing. Nothing important anyway and absolutely no hints about what he would be doing or where he would be. When they finished, Gibbs and Tony washed the dishes and Gibbs pointed at the basement with a questioning look at Tony.

“Yeah, I’ll come down,” he said, “Let me grab my laptop. I’ll watch a movie as you sand.”

Gibbs looked at Morris, “I’ve cleared the basement, Gunny, I’ll keep guard here in the kitchen.”

Gibbs nodded and headed downstairs. Tony came a few minutes later and booted up his laptop. “You got a preference about what we watch?” He asked Gibbs who shook his head, “Okay, then I’m going with an old favorite: Dr. No. The very first Bond, James Bond movie.”

For the next two hours, Tony spouted off movie trivia as Gibbs worked on his current project a bookcase that was almost finished. By the end of the movie, Tony was yawning and complaining about the early hours he had been keeping and the traveling he had been doing. After Morris cleared the perimeter and the house, Gibbs locked the doors. He had installed locks because Tony had sent him an email stating due to his threat level he wouldn’t be able to stay with Gibbs unless he could bring a bodyguard and said bodyguard was insisting he had to be able to lock Tony in. Gibbs installed the locks and planned to remove them as soon as Tony left. Gibbs was smiling as he fell asleep it was good to see Tony.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning all three men went on an early morning run. When they got back, Gibbs made more coffee as Tony cooked breakfast. Morris set the table and asked Tony, what he planned to do today.

“Shopping,” he answered, “I’ve got a huge list of stuff to buy and SpookyDoc wanted some prices.”

Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “SpookyDoc is Dr. Addams. You know your scarier cousin?”

Gibbs huffed in amusement, “Suits.”

Morris nodded, “That it does, Gunny. We should probably talk about the emails, Director.”

Tony rolled his eyes as Gibbs leaned back, and then glared at Morris as he continued, “He has been getting emails from NCIS employees that are concerning.”

Gibbs glared at Tony who waved Morris’ concerns away, “It’s nothing, Gibbs, just Ziva, McGee and Abby pissed off about the disciplinary actions.”

Gibbs gritted his teeth and motioned for Tony to continue, “They seem to think that I’m responsible for their bad behavior, or at least them being caught at it. I’m not worried about it. The threats from Ziva are garbled, you know how she mixes idioms. McGee is just whining about how unfair it is that I got a promotion and he’s being held back. Oh, and somehow his security clearance is my fault too. And Abby, she seems to think I should come back because I’m not ready for more responsibility.”

Gibbs rubbed his face, “Dinner?”

“Yeah,” Tony nodded, “I’m still planning on cooking a big meal Saturday night and would like to see at least Ducky and Palmer. Not sure how I feel about McGee and Abby, but I’d really rather not see Ziva. She is just hostile in her emails.”

“If you do plan on inviting McGee and Sciuto, Gunny, I’d like advance notice so I can pull in some more guys.”

Gibbs gaped at Morris, “The Sergeant Major agreed that the emails are a credible threat.”

“Come on!,” exclaimed Tony, “A credible threat? Please it’s just sour grapes.”

Morris looked at Tony with a raised eyebrow, “Armed agents and sour grapes have resulted in fatalities, sir.” He turned to Gibbs, “I’d like a heads up, Gunny.”

Gibbs nodded aghast at the idea that Tony needed protection from McGee and Abby. He rubbed his face then looked pointedly at Tony, “Yeah, boss, sucks I know. One of the drawbacks of the new job.”

“Not your boss,” Gibbs said as he rose to get ready for work.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday night found Tony in the kitchen cooking for 12, although only 9 were supposed to show up he’d bought containers for leftovers. He knew Ducky would appreciate some and any Palmer, McGee and Abby left would be for Gibbs. Included in the headcount were the Sergeant and Corporal requested by Morris for additional security and there was talk of having a team on the street. Tony shook his head he knew his genetics made him valuable but this seemed like overkill. Gibbs had retreated to the basement and was applying finish the bookcase he had made. There was a knock on the door and the Sergeant answered it.

“Ah, I’m Dr. Mallard,” Ducky said taken aback by the sight of an armed man with military bearing answering the door.

“Yes, sir, I recognize you. I’m Sergeant Lum part of Director DiNozzo’s security detail. Please come in. He is in the kitchen finishing dinner.”

Ducky blinked and started walking towards the kitchen only to stop when he saw another unknown armed military man setting the table. “Good evening, I’m Dr. Mallard.”

“Yes, sir. I’m Corporal Daniels. The Director is in the kitchen.”

“Yes, Sergeant Lum said, I’ll just go through.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Ducky!,” cried Tony as he stepped into the dining area with a bowl of salad, “It is so good to see you.”

“And you, Anthony,” Ducky said as the two men embraced, “You are looking very well. Your new place of employment agrees with you.”

Tony laughed, “I actually haven’t made it to where I’ll be stationed permanently. That’s my next stop. Come into the kitchen so we can talk.”

“And where is Jethro?” Ducky asked as he entered the kitchen to find a third unknown man.

“In the basement, of course,” Tony motioned, “This is Staff Sergeant Morris. Mike, Ducky.”

“Dr. Mallard.”

“Staff Sergeant are there more of you?”

Tony groaned and Morris replied, “No, sir, just the three of us.”

“Ah, good,” Ducky looked at Tony, “Anthony, my boy, why do you have three guards?”

Morris laughed and Tony glared at him, “Because Morris decided he couldn’t handle a dinner party alone.”

“Hey!” Morris protested and the three men turned to look at a laughing Gibbs as he entered the kitchen. He shook Ducky’s hand and picked up the basket of rolls. As he entered the dining area, there was another knock on the door. Corporal Daniels opened it to reveal Abby, McGee and Palmer.

“Ma’am, Sirs,” as he opened the door. “Who are you?” demanded Abby, “and where is my silver fox?”

The Corporal’s eyebrows raised and he turned to look at Gibbs, “Gunny?”

Gibbs grunted and was soon enveloped in a hug from Abby. “Is he here, Gibbs? And who are these grunts?’

Gibbs glared at her and she huffed. “Abby,” Tony said as he came out with the main course, “My magnificent Goth Angel, you look particularly eerie tonight. Tell me, Gibbs promised me security footage, did you bring it?”

Gibbs smirked and Abby rounded on Tony, “Mister, they were not kind to Tim or Ziva!” The three military men moved swiftly to intercept her attempt to strike Tony. Abby blinked at the three men and stomped her foot, “Who are you to get between us? We’re family!”

“Where I come from family doesn’t hit each other,” the tallest one said. “Lum, remove the Director to the kitchen,” ordered Morris.

“Yes, sir. Director, this way,” Tony glared at the Sergeant and Gibbs said, “Tony, go.”

“Okay, Gibbs,” Tony said as he was escorted from the room. The Staff Sergeant stared at Abby. “I’m Staff Sergeant Morris. This is Corporal Daniels. We, along with Sergeant Lum, are Director DiNozzo’s security detail.”

“What?” Exclaimed McGee, “Why does Tony need a security detail?”

Morris turned his stony glare on McGee, who took an involuntary step back, “I’m not at liberty to say.”

To Gibbs he said, “If she cannot control herself, we will be forced to remove the Director.”

Abby stomped her foot again, “I was invited. I want to see Tony.”

Morris just looked at her with a raised eyebrow, “If you attempt to strike him again, I will arrest you.”

Gibbs reached out and touched Abby’s arm gently, “Abs, I only invited you because you promised to be non-confrontational.”

“But Gibbs,” she whined as she started to cry, “Tony hurt us…”

“No,” Gibbs said firmly, “You hurt yourselves. If the three of you had followed procedure, no one would have been disciplined. Tony did not file the complaint. I did!”

Gibbs took a deep breath, “I did, Abby, because I couldn’t let it go. They left Tony without anyone on his six. Rule 1, Abby. Turning off comms when your partner is in the field is most assuredly screwing them over. What if someone had attacked Tony? They left him without backup because they were annoyed with how he was doing his job.” Gibbs shook his head, “You, Abby, have a responsibility to report failures in procedure. You choose to protect McGee and Ziva at Tony’s expense.” He took another deep breath before continuing, “Tony is not the issue. Tony isn’t to blame. And if you can’t put that aside, you can leave.”

Gibbs released her. “Same goes for you, McGee.”

“Yes, Boss,” McGee swallowed, “I’ll stay.”

Abby began crying in earnest and threw herself in Ducky’s arms. He patted her back and said, “Come, Abigail, why don’t we get some air?” He exchanged a worried glance with Gibbs as he lead her out the door.

Gibbs pointed at the table. “Sit,” he ordered and went into the kitchen. Morris and Daniels looked at McGee and Palmer who waved.

“Hi, I’m Jimmy Palmer.”

“Yes, sir, we’re aware,” Morris said and he turned to Daniels and motioned to the table. Daniels nodded and sat down, “You work in autopsy, Mr. Palmer?”

“That’s my granddad, please call me Jimmy,” he said as he sat, “and yes I do.”

“Do you enjoy it?”

“I find it rewarding. Particularly when our findings help solve crimes.”

“Cool. Agent McGee, I understand you write books?”

“Not anymore,” McGee said morosely as he sat, “Not anymore.”

Palmer shook his head at Daniels and asked “So where are you stationed, Corporal?”

“I’m based out of Colorado, sir.”

“Which base?”

“Peterson Air Force Base, sir.”

“Oh, so the three of you are in the Air Force,” said McGee.

“No, sir, Marine Corps.”

Both Palmer and McGee blinked at him, “But you’re stationed on an Air Force Base?” Palmer asked.

“Yes, sir,” the Corporal stood as the four men returned to the dining area.

“Is McGee practicing his interrogation skills on you, Tommy-boy?” Tony playfully asked as he sat down.

“No, sir, just friendly conversation.”

The front door opened and Ducky ushered Abby in, “Go ahead, dear.”

“I’m sorry Gibbs for making a scene in your home,” Abby said heaving a deep breath, “I’m sorry Tony for attempting to strike you.” She held out a flash drive, “Here is the footage Gibbs requested for you.”

Gibbs nodded and looked to Tony but it was Lum who stepped forward to take the flash drive as Tony said, “I accept your apology. Won’t you and Ducky please sit down?”

They both nodded and took their seats. The food was passed around and everyone took a healthy serving.

“Anthony my dear boy, this is splendid. I haven’t had such fine homemade Italian food in since I was last in Italy over a decade ago.”

“Why do you call him sir?” McGee suddenly asked in an effort to stave off a Ducky story.

The three Marines shared a glance and the Staff Sergeant slowly answered, “Because he out ranks us.”

“But it’s Tony,” McGee emphasized. Morris looked him incredulously and turned to Tony. “Is he serious?”

Tony nodded a little ashamed and Morris faced McGee again. Patiently he explained, “In the military we are taught to respect the chain of command. I’ve been assigned to base security on the base he is Director of Security on. That means he is my commanding officer’s boss. We will take our direction from his office. That means we,” and he motioned to the two other men, “treat him with the same respect we treat our CO.”

“Let’s not forget, that he and the RMO are old friends,” Lum added, “SpookyDoc asked him to call her by her family nickname. You’re what the seventh person to have that privilege, sir?”

“Eighth,” Tony corrected. Gibbs gaped at Tony, “Tony, she asked you to call her Nest?”

Tony nodded and Gibbs sat back in shock. He shook his head in wonder.

“SpookyDoc?” asked Abby.

“Dr. Addams with two ds,” Tony said, “She’s scarier than Gibbs but not as scary as Rodney.”

“That loud obnoxious man is not scarier than Gibbs,” Abby said snottily.

“Yes, he is,” chorused Tony, Morris, Lum, Daniels and Gibbs. “Actually, I’ve since learned that the reason you think he is the scariest, Gibbs, isn’t the scariest thing about him. He’s done way scarier stuff,” continued Tony.

“Did you know that Nest is the Welsh diminutive of Agnes?” asked Ducky. Gibbs nodded and Ducky continued, “Does ‘SpookyDoc’ have a first name that begins with T?”

The five men immediately focused on Ducky. Gibbs nodded again giving the doctor a narrowed eyed glare. “I believe I have met ‘SpookyDoc’ and really, there is someone scarier than her?”

Gibbs nodded again but Tony spoke, “Not as physically violent or fast to react. He plots, you see, and he is the smartest man in,” Tony gave a sly glance to three Marines, “the known universe.”

“Ah, I find that rather disturbing, my dear boy.”

“You ain’t the only one, sir,” replied Corporal Daniels. Tony, Gibbs and the two sergeants laughed and the rest of the meal continued in pleasant, if stilted, conversation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tony gingerly returned Abby’s hug under the watchful eyes of his guards. “I’ll miss you, Abby,” he whispered into her hair.

“You don’t have to leave,” she pouted. He pulled on one of her pigtails and sighed, “Yes, I do.”

“But…” she whined. “But nothing,” Tony said as gently as he could, “This is an important mission, Abby, and I’m needed there.”

“We need you!”

“Thanks Abs,” he smiled at her, “I’m keeping my Gmail email address but I’ll only be able to check it twice a week at the most. So don’t worry if you don’t get an immediate response, okay?”

She nodded and ran out the door crying. Tony wearily rubbed his face and turned to McGee. He stuck out his hand, “Same for you, McGee.”

McGee solemnly shook Tony’s hand, “I’m already missing you, Tony. I regret my part in the decision to turn off comms. I’m sorry I left you without backup and am very grateful you weren’t hurt.”

“I accept your apology. But, Tim,” Tony paused and gave him a hard look, “Remember Rule #15.”

McGee nodded, “And thanks Tony. You taught me a lot. I didn’t even realize how much till you were gone.”

“Jimmy,” Tony said as he shook Palmer’s hand who smiled fondly, “Tony, I hope you enjoy your new job.”

“Thanks and I expect you to email me,” Tony turned to Ducky.

“Ah, my dear boy,” Ducky said as he hugged Tony, “Abigail and I watched the security footage together and, while I am sad you will no longer be at NCIS, I was impressed at the defense two of the men mounted. Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay clearly hold you in high regard and I hope you will be working with them.”

Tony grinned, “Yes, Ducky, John is the RMO and Rodney is the CSO on the base I’m stationed on. It has been nice to work with people who have read my entire file.”

“Yes, it is rather disturbing that Director Vance only focused on your public persona,” Ducky sighed disappointedly, “I had hoped he would avail himself of the resources available to him but he seems rather stuck in the mud.”

Ducky patted Tony’s arm, “Good night, Jethro.”

“Duck.”

“Gentlemen, it was a pleasure meeting you. Please guard Tony well. He is important to his friends,” Ducky said to the three Marines.

“Yes, sir.”

Tony hung his head as the Gibbs locked the door behind Ducky. Gibbs gently clasped his shoulder in a silent question, “That was harder than I thought it would be,” Tony said and then he brightened, “Let’s watch a funny movie. Got a preference, Boss?”

Gibbs stroked Tony’s cheek and said “Not your boss. Blazing Saddles.

Tony blinked as Gibbs started to clear the table. After he left the dining area, Morris slid next to Tony, “I thought you didn’t have that kind of relationship.”

“We don’t!” Tony protested and the three Marines laughed as they helped clean the table.

Blazing Saddles?” He asked Gibbs who nodded. “Blazing Saddles it is. A Mel Brooks classic.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rule 15: Always work as a team.

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