Chapter 1: When an opportunity presents
Tony had travelled to the Seahawk depressed and angry. He was also kind of furious with the people back at NCIS. Yet again, he had trusted people he thought of as family and then when things got difficult - he’d been sent away. This time he didn’t even get to stay on dry land - he was being sent out to sea.
So Vance wanted him to be Agent Afloat? Fine. Tony was going to make it work but he would lay the groundwork to extricate himself properly from NCIS. As much as he wanted to quit when Vance came in and acted like a dick, he couldn’t, he was an adult with adult responsibilities.
Tony walked along the dock where the Seahawk was moored. She was an impressive ship and a monument to strength. Much to his surprise, as he stepped on the deck Tony was greeted by the Captain of the ship. He’d pulled up the NCIS file on Captain Richard Owens before he left and liked what he read.
“Agent DiNozzo. A pleasure to meet you.”
Tony shook the man’s hand, pleasantly surprised that the man greets him himself. It was easily a duty that could have been passed off to an XO or officer on duty. “Thank you, Captain Owens. I appreciate you must have a busy schedule so thank you for greeting me.”
Owens smirked. “You’ve read my file so you know I run a tight ship.”
Tony nodded. “Which means you meet everyone to get a feel for them.”
Owen’s smirk if possible got wider. “Exactly. So now you know why I will be inviting you to the evening meal in my room, seven o’clock. I can guarantee it’ll be good.”
Tony chuckled despite how miserable he felt. “I will be there, I have a feeling I don’t have a choice.”
“Now you’re getting it. Welcome to the Seahawk, you’ll like it here.” Owens said with confidence.
Tony had very much doubted that on the journey here. It was a consequence of being left alone with his own thoughts. He realised that despite all the crappy events that had got him here, he had a chance to reinvent himself and be who he wanted to be - not who he was expected to be. “I think so too.”
Owens had delivered on his promise of a mouthwatering dish made by the chef. “So tell me why you are here - the real reason.”
Tony sighed, “The new director broke up our team and I am being punished for the previous director’s death.”
Owens was well aware of all this, SecNav had given him all the gory details. He wanted DiNozzo to use the assignment as a way to test his suitability for the role of Agent Afloat but on a very special assignment. Owens decided to ask boldly. “Okay, so did you shoot her?”
“Of course not. My partner and I were tasked with bodyguard duty and she sent us away so she could go and meet a cold war enemy and die in a Mexican stand-off.” Tony answered, offended at the suggestion he would shoot his boss.
“So you followed your director’s orders and your new boss is punishing you.”
Tony shrugged. “It is the only explanation I can arrive at. Ziva was sent back to Israel, McGee, the Junior Agent, was sent to cool his heels as the head of cyber crimes and myself ... well I went from SFA of the MCRT to Agent Afloat.”
Richard could see the analysis. “And it has nothing to do with a power play against Gibbs?”
Tony gave it proper thought as it was a good question. The first and most logical conclusion was new director flexing his muscles and exercising his power in a way to show who’s the boss. There was another potential scenario that fit the situation and he groaned. This was a stupid plan if it was what he suspected - a mole.
Richard quirked an eyebrow. “Go on.”
Tony sighed. “With all due respect, I have to ask. Your security clearance?”
The Captain was pleased by the question, he liked people that never assumed anything. “High enough that SECNAV shared with me your full file.”
Tony nodded because that in itself answered that question but raised more interesting questions. “Why would Davenport share my file?”
Owens could be stubborn - it was how he’d risen to the rank of Naval Captain. “What’s your suspicion about Director Vance first?”
“There is a mole.” Tony said and the more he thought about it, the more it made sense but why split the MCRT? Huh. That was an unsavoury thought. The need to flush out a mole without them being aware was important but there was something more to consider. “He believes Gibbs is a threat to his leadership within the agency, or the mole is someone Gibbs can flush out. Most likely it is a mix of option one and two.”
Owen nodded his head. “Good, so here is what is going to happen. You’re here and for whatever reason Vance can’t see the wood from the trees that doesn’t mean SECNAV can’t. He has told me to inform you to consider yourself on secondment directly to the Navy.”
Tony listened more and any thoughts of diving into a bottle was rapidly disappearing. “What do you need? Or do I have orders already?”
Owen grinned at the keenness to sink his teeth into a new challenge. It was almost too bad that he would not be staying with the Seahawk. “There’s a chopper waiting to take you to where you will be briefed on an assignment they want you on.”
Tony shrugged glad that he hadn’t unpacked his bag. “Okay, where will this be?”
“You’re going back to Washington and you’ll be given further details there.”
Tony had no idea what was going on but he liked the fact he wasn’t thinking about murder and misery for once. It was refreshing.
Tony was reporting to the Pentagon for his first meeting with Davenport and a General O’Neill. On the upside, it was far away from the Naval Yard so he was unlikely to run into any of his former teammates.
He knew how to play the military game, he was in his best suit which was ironed to perfection. “Hello, General O’Neill, Mr. Secretary.”
Davenport grinned. “Sit down, Tony. Now listen, you have to know that Vance’s opinion is all his own making and it is not how the higher ups think.”
Tony nodded. “I do, Sir. I think that is why you had me head to the Seahawk. I must say that if Richard gets tired of being Captain of the Seahawk he should train as a shrink. He was of more use than my last seven combined.”
O’Neill chuckled. “That’s because he has been there and done that. He is not an academic stuck on a chair pretending they know what you are going through.”
“You may be onto something there, General.” Tony could guess that the same could be said of O’Neill. The man didn’t strike him as a career desk jockey.
O’Neill threw his hands in the air. “Call me, Jack. I only have two stars so I am not a complete asshole.”
“How many stars will that take?” Tony asked, wondering because he’d spoken to a few jackass generals during his time at NCIS.
Jack grinned. “I am told five but I think the President just wants me to aspire to new goals. So let’s get down to business.”
“Glad to,” Tony admitted. “I’m eager to understand the ruse of sending me to the Seahawk. For the record, am I to assume that for the duration of this assignment I am
on the Seahawk?”
Jack smirked. “See, I knew you were smart and yes. Don’t worry, Owens will send you any relevant details of cases you break back on the ship.”
It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d pretended to be somewhere he wasn’t and learnt enough not to be suspected. “So where will I be based for this project as I doubt it will be Washington... Too many chances I could run into familiar people.”
O’Neill smirked. “You are going to mix with the Air-Force, specifically the Academy.”
Tony sighed. “Am I teaching or working a case?”
Jack smirked. “Both. Here are your credentials...”
Tony had the pass thrown to him and noticed his name and oh boy, did the General have a sense of humour, or Davenport did. The name read - Major Anthony DiNotezo.
“So what is the case?” Tony asked, sidestepping the name issue. He could see the ID was top notch and he knew it would bear up to scrutiny so he was guessing as would the legend established. This was important to the Air-Force and higher-ups, he would deliver and he wouldn’t screw up - he would show Vance in the best way possible.
O’Neill looked grim. “I have an important project that has an infestation problem. You can have redacted files but what I need you to do is identify anything rotten you see in the files.”
Tony wanted to sigh but he would manage somehow. “Is the reason I am being brought in because you are not sure who is a rat?”
Tony wondered why at the moment so many of his problems revolved around rats and moles. Still, he should be grateful that he wasn’t stuck in the middle of the ocean although, he had a feeling he might have enjoyed it with Owens as the Captain.
“Exactly, the NID is part of the problem.”
Tony made a mental note of all the ways he could investigate this. He read the project synopsis and already mental alarm bells were going off in Tony’s head. He wouldn’t ask about the project because if there was one thing Tony understood, it was the necessity of keeping secrets. “Oh, for the record the cover story is probably why so many people are trying to find out what is going on. It sucks and I am saying this as an undercover expert.”
Jack smirked. “I happen to love deep-space telemetry.”
“Special ops have many opportunities for you to indulge in your passions, Sir.” Tony asked, curious to see how he reacted.
The cover story was the worst one in the world but Tony could already slot a few things into place. There was a lot of money in the project, O’Neill screamed black-ops warrior and if he was running the program it was serious.
“I love it, I imagine all the pain in the ass politicians floating around the sun.”
Tony snickered. “If you say so, General O’Neill. Well, it was a pleasure speaking with you both. I assume I will be heading towards Colorado Springs now ... with some light reading.”
O’Neill stood. “You guessed right, good job you didn’t unpack. Oh, and for the sake of this operation, you will report to me and only me. You will have one other officer who I will introduce you to when we discuss your progress in forty-eight hours.”
Tony frowned for a second. “The recruits or your rats.”
O’Neill smirked. “Both, I know your reputation, DiNozzo, and I see behind masks all too easily.”
Tony nodded hearing the unspoken comment - O’Neill used them too. It goes back to the old adage - you can’t fool a trickster.
Tony landed at the Academy and was met by the Commandant who seemed glad for Tony’s arrival. “Oh, thank god, I thought O’Neill was blowing smoke.”
“No Sir, I may not be career Air-Force but I know my way around undercover operations.”
Andrews chuckled. “The first being you are now an Air Force training officer.”
Tony smiled softly. “Tomorrow, I will report for the first class and you won’t know I am not ... providing I have the uniform.”
Andrews liked the easy confidence but it lacked arrogance - an impressive balance. “O’Neill ordered you have secure quarters and additional materials were delivered from the mountain as well.”
Tony said nothing because whilst he would gladly discuss the training course with the commandant - the extra operation was to be discussed with O’Neill only and one other person O’Neill would be introducing him to. “Thank you, Sir. Is there anything else I should know.”
“Dinner for staff is at eight this evening, think of it as recon and first round.”
Tony grinned hearing the challenge in his voice. “I’ll be there.”
Tony quickly arrived at the quarters and unpacked a few belongings and checked the safe he had. It passed muster so he finally took the files out of the secure satchel he’d been given. It was a major amount of security considering the majority of the reports were blacked out.
The operation had three elements; a battalion of pilots out of Peterson and the mountain based soldiers, plus the support staff that seemed like a lot of eggheads. Space Telemetry . It was funny but that wasn’t his concern. He separated the people into groups and entry times to the program. He’d asked O’Neill as much as he could about the traitorous group and when they became known to him. The group wasn’t so much the problem, according to O’Neill, rather the new leader who’d slithered to the top with all the grace of a snake. O’Neill’s words. Tony could admit that Cliff Simon seemed more cult leader than shadow group leader - after all, who calls himself Ba’al willingly.
The reading was intriguing and by the end of it, Tony had a few more reasons to hate the politicians in Washington than he’d had before he started.
The next reading he had was on the course he was teaching. Of course, the special ops/black ops officers would need undercover training. Tony had to laugh at the note on top of that file. It was in O’Neill’s handwriting stating that he had full permission when all was said and done to reveal his true origins. It would be a good lesson for them to learn never trust anything they're told or assume that they know everything.
Tony looked at the course material and it was a good system but they were missing some vital elements. Oh well, guess he better go and speak to the Commandant - the last thing he needed was to be noticed for breaking the rules. He needed people to know he could do his job without looking too closely at his background. He’d checked his background himself and Tony had to shake his head at what O’Neill and his team had done. They had kept his history but rather than joining NCIS after Baltimore - he’d joined the Air Force.
Tony walked along the corridor with the right military gait to go unnoticed. His time at RIMA coming in handy once again. He knocked on the Commandants door.
Tony walked through the door, adding a crisp salute to highlight the differences in his character.
Andrews nodded impressed, he’d met the Agent a few hours ago and the changes were marked. “What can I do for you, Major DiNotezo?”
Tony sighed. “How important is it that I stick to the course material?”
Now Andrews was paying attention, O’Neill had told him that the agent coming in was an expert in dicey undercover operations and always coming out of them alive. If there were suggestions he was making then Andrews would be wise to pay attention. “What do you suggest?”
Tony sat down in the chair he was offered. “Well, the agencies look for style, it is the ability to adapt and blend. The files of those taking it are illuminating, they have skills: proficiency in flight; in air jumping; in marksmanship and languages but you only have two naturals in that group.”
“You can tell that from the backgrounds?”
Tony nodded. “I am consulted by the Feebs and Homeland Security for picking their UC’s. I know what to look for. The others will train but shouldn’t be used in extreme situations.”
Andrews didn’t doubt it because within a few short hours he’d changed his clothes, his haircut and even how he walked to fit the environment. “So what do you suggest?”
Tony shrugged. “Simple challenges. Could any of them walk into a house and snatch a black book, or swipe electronic files? You aren’t going to know their mettle unless you test it.”
Andrews chuckled. “O’Neill said before you leave ... He wants you to rewrite the course so that it is useful.”
Tony stood up letting out a breath of relief - he’d been willing to fight his corner because he didn’t want anyone dying. “Thanks for listening.”
“Who are the naturals?”
“Black and Cadman.”
Andrews picked up his phone, choosing the direct line to O’Neill. “Are you sure we can’t bring him in as a special commision?”
O’Neill may be in Washington but Andrews could tell that he was smirking. “I am floating the idea and we will see how far we get. Oh, and I have Lt Col Cameron Mitchell coming to you this evening to make contact with DiNozzo for me.”
The choice of partners would be more consequential than they ever knew.
Chapter 2: New Friends and More
Chapter 2: New Friends and more?
Tony had gone back to his quarters to replan his first lesson the next day and to group the suspects O’Neill thought may be involved. There were lots of different elements to the program; you have the career armed services, along with the scientists and all the support staff. The notes suggested that thorough background checks had been conducted for all employees.
Well, there was his first problem - a background check was good for entering the job but not necessarily for ongoing employment. If someone had racked up unimaginable debt or had a loved one hurt in an accident, or any other such event that could be used as leverage then it would be missed.
Tony re-sorted the suspects by date of their background and would redo the checks and dig deeper into their lives. He would start with those attached to the program for the longest. It was his gut working - if this program was important as he could piece together, then it would make sense to embed the sleeper undercover agents in long before you needed them.
An alarm went off to remind him about dinner because he had a tendency to forget. Also, he was reminded of the Commandant’s words, if he was to be successful then he needed to blend. Tonight would be a perfect chance to observe and catch any mannerisms he may not have caught yet.
The mess hall was conveniently not too far away and when he opened the door he noticed it was quiet. It made sense, after all, it was the officer’s mess and being the Academy there weren’t many officers. For Tony, this was both a blessing and a curse, fewer officers meant fewer people to convince but being that there were fewer officers - more potential scrutiny. Oh well, he would do what he needed.
As he entered the mess, the Commandant called to him. “Major - over here.”
Tony wasn’t stupid enough to ignore the man and walked over seeing all the chest candy - he knew what he was about to be told. Tony would be having words with O’Neill about subtle contacts. “Hello, Commandant. And?”
“Major DiNotezo, I would like to introduce you to Lt Colonel Mitchell.”
Tony offered a crisp salute as protocol demanded. “Pleasure, Sir.”
He had to remind himself not to flirt with the cute guy. He was smack bang in the middle of the military-industrial and while DADT was in the past, it didn’t mean the attitudes had changed. Tony would know all about it working in law enforcement.
“I’ve heard good things about you, DiNotezo.”
Tony could only really say. “Thank you.”
Andrews looked at his cellphone with a frown. “Well, I will leave you to get acquainted as I have unfinished business to attend to.”
Mitchell smiled, all easy charm. “Sure thing, Commandant. I’m sure they didn’t mean to do it.”
Tony snickered. “Oh they did, they just didn’t mean to get caught. You remember how it is.”
Cameron found himself smiling at the memory. “Oh, I do. I also remember not being caught.”
Tony snickered. “Let’s eat and we can share stories.”
They shared dinner easily and anyone who watched them would think they were old buddies rather than meeting for the first time. Tony didn’t get it. He never spoke this much on a first meeting and after their dinner, Cameron shook his hand and slipped him a pen drive with more information.
He faked a sigh. “And now I need to organise an exterminator for my apartment.”
Wow. Gorgeous and quick on his feet. Tony was rapidly falling for the guy. Still, he put any infatuation to the side to do his job first. He would take the opening. “Yeah, well you know what they say about old
you should check the woodwork ... It is always the oldest parts of the building where they liked to sleep.”
Mitchell had caught his implications. “Thanks, I’ll sort it. Hopefully I can thank you in person.”
Tony really hoped so too. He wasn’t the type to get shivers just from someone talking to him but it seemed that Lt Colonel Cameron Mitchell was his exception.
Cameron couldn’t get a laughing pair of green eyes at of his mind as he drove back to the mountain. He remembered he was a colonel and strapped his big boy pants on and reported to his boss’ boss as Cameron was ninety-nine percent certain that O’Neill didn’t trust Landry yet.
“So what you got for me?” O’Neill asked without preamble.
Cameron stood up straighter as the video feed kicked in for the conference call. “Well, sir. I made contact, your man is settling in at the academy and suggested you check your oldest suspects backgrounds out ... again.”
O’Neill smirked. “And how did he communicate this to you?”
Mitchell wasn’t too sure who was being tested here but he answered the question. “We spoke about a theoretical rat infestation.”
O’Neill grinned. “And you said you couldn’t play spook.”
Mitchell rolled his eyes, he wasn’t like O’Neill, he was a pilot first and everything else second. “Not like your guy. You wouldn’t believe he isn’t one of us.”
O’Neill snorted. “And his boss was stupid enough to let him go ... I am not above taking advantage of such stupidity. He could do with a friendly face and you like football, right?”
Mitchell didn’t deign that with a response. To ask him did he like football was like did he enjoy flying. “Sure thing, Sir.”
There were times when following orders were a genuine pleasure. It was not like Tony was uneasy on the eyes. “And he still knows nothing about the program?”
O’Neill shrugged. “He has the employees and the project title but no.”
Mitchell was intrigued. “And he is an investigator?”
O’Neill nodded. “Yep, but one with a security clearance that means it wouldn’t be too difficult to read him into the stargate.”
Cameron’s eyes did widen at that. “How does a Federal Agent get a clearance that high?”
“By being the go-to undercover agent for all the agencies in Washington,” O’Neill responded.
O’Neill signed off cackling at the way Mitchell was lost in thought. He was kind enough not to say what the look on Mitchell’s face looked like. He didn’t need to tease the man, he had a meeting with the joint chiefs soon - he would save it until after when he had the time to really enjoy the experience.
Andrews could admit to being amused by his new staff member. He was currently watching the recruits for the undercover class all get hoodwinked. Tony was sitting amongst them, chatting about their instructor and what might he be like. He spread disinformation and created a rather unique character.
The commandant noticed Cadman and Black staying back. “Cadman, Black, why have you stayed quiet?”
Cadman, the blonde weapons specialist smirked, “The marines teach us not to get too friendly with the officers' sir, especially our instructors.”
The group froze but Tony stood up with a matching smirk. “Good instincts, thank you, Commandant.”
Andrews rolled his eyes. “Yes, well it seems I have a phone call to make.” and bets to settle he didn’t say.
Tony finally went to stand by the lectern. “Right. Now the class is in session. So what did the majority of you do wrong there? And what can we learn from it?”
Sanders chuckled. “We assumed the situation was safe and that you were just another one of us here for the class.”
Tony nodded. “You did. Cadman why did you not assume the same thing?”
Cadman sighed. “You carry yourself like an officer. I noticed you arrive yesterday and go to the Commandant. Plus, when Commandant Andrews was in the room, too often he stared at you and then looked vexed.”
Tony smirked. “He lost a bet, he thought none of you would fall for the ruse. Don’t take it personally as I’ve been doing undercover work since some of you were in preschool. Now we are going to discuss the do’s and don’ts of undercover work. The first, don’t be lazy. You are inhabiting a character that you have to eat, live and breathe. If there is any lax work in that or your background legend creation ... then you may as well not have bothered in the first place."
Mitchell was being sent back to the Academy to let their man know he was bang on with his suspicions. He’d been directed to the shooting range. “You don’t learn to shoot like that anywhere but the Marines.”
Tony whirled around. “Hey, Mitchell. Was there a question in there?”
Mitchell shrugged. “Nope, I’m here from O’Neill to tell you he likes your frightening efficiency. He would say it in person but he is too busy ripping people in the know a new asshole. He wants them to know it took an investigator with redacted files less than forty-eight hours to figure out what they couldn’t.”
Tony shrugged because it had been easy if you knew what to look for. “Okay and pizza?”
Mitchell grinned. “It is wildcard weekend and I thought we could catch the game.”
Tony grinned. “My quarters have a decent TV and all my classes are finished.”
“Lead the way.” Mitchell said trying to keep his thoughts chaste. It was a little harder when he got to stare at DiNozzo’s ass the whole way back to his quarters. Still, there was a silver lining to all this - DiNozzo was done with finding the Trust problem so they could date if they wanted.
He really hoped they did.
The quarters were spartan but it didn’t matter. “You can have the uncomfortable bed or we can share sitting on the bed?”
Mitchell tested the waters. “Are you always this forward, DiNozzo?”
Tony admit the nickname came from the southern charm he could hear. “Baby, if you think that is forward people have been flirting with you all wrong. Oh, and it is Tony if we’re going to be flirty”
“Cameron then, and if I do want us to be flirty?”
Tony grinned eating the pizza. “It is my solemn duty to fix that. If you are agreeable?”
Cameron wasn’t even watching the game anymore. “I’m more than agreeable.”
Chapter 3: Date Night
Chapter 3: Date Night
The two men had chosen to share the bed. If coincidently it helped collapse them together in the middle so their sides were touching - well, that was coincidental. Cameron started a new conversation. “So, in the spirit of getting to know each other I need to know the most important thing. What’s your football team?”
Tony rolled his eyes. “You know I played for OSU? I’m a Brown so unless you’re a Bengal fan we’ll be fine.”
Cameron snickered. “No, Kansas City Chiefs, all the way.”
Tony smirked. “Nice special teams but your defence is slowly improving.”
Cameron smirked. “Let’s have a friendly wager next year about whose team makes the playoffs.”
Tony liked the fact they were making bets for a year away. “You’re on. What’s the stake?”
Cameron thought about what he wanted the wager to be but as well as they were getting on, his mama would smack him for the bet he wanted. “We’ll determine closer to the new season.”
Tony smirked right back. “You just want to see what happens at the draft.”
“You got me.”
Tony was laughing. “Damn, I haven’t done that in a while.”
“What laughed?” Cameron asked.
“Yep. Let’s just say work has been tough for a while.”
Cameron shook his head. “No, your team should be there to support you.”
Tony snorted. “Yeah, maybe in the Air-Force, not at NCIS.”
Cameron smiled at him. “Then that is their loss and my gain.”
Tony looked at him intensely. “How do you figure?”
“All the more time to seduce you.”
Tony sucked in a breath. “We haven’t even kissed and you’re talking about seducing me. How do you know you will want to?”
Cameron’s initial response would have been something along the lines of have you looked in a mirror . It was the wrong approach as he could guess that was what people only ever saw first. He took a more active approach to settling what was almost a skittish look in Tony’s eyes. He leaned in, closing the gap and seeing no objection kissed Tony.
Tony’s eyes closed and he may not have started the kiss but he was going to make sure Cameron never forgot it. He broke it reluctantly when breathing became an issue, damn oxygen. He felt his eyes open. “Damn, you’re dangerous.”
Cameron’s eyes sparkled with mischief, Tony just knew that he used the good ole boy charm to get away with a lot. “So is that a yes to seduction?”
“You keep kissing me like that, it won’t take much.”
Cameron snickered. “Now who is trying to flatter who?”
Tony sighed still collapsed against Cameron. “This whole you working at the mountain and me at the Academy will make things difficult.”
Cameron shrugged. “We’re adults and we’ll make it work. If you can put up with long secret missions, I can put up with you in Washington. I certainly want to.”
Tony kissed him again because this was crazy but he wanted it so much. This was so not how he thought his exile from Washington would be and for the first time - he didn’t want to be back at NCIS headquarters. “Me too, which is nuts. And I have no idea how long I will be here.”
O’Neill was talking with the SECNAV. “So you have this one meeting to convince me not to ask if DiNozzo can be given a special commission into the services.”
Davenport had expected many things but that was not it. “What? You want to make him Air-Force?”
O’Neill shook his head. “Nah, but he could easily pass as a Marine. Gibbs has all but trained him as one anyway. I would take anyone Gibbs put through his brand of boot camp.”
Davenport was picturing throttling Vance - slowly. Of course, O’Neill wouldn’t want to part with DiNozzo. “Did he solve your problem?”
Jack nodded. “In less than forty-eight hours with redacted files. I want him and I’m pretty sure the President will let me have him.”
Phillip resisted the urge to bash his head on his desk. “Give him six weeks with NCIS to tie up cases and do one last mission for me and then I won’t protest.”
O’Neill’s eyes narrowed. “Share with the class, Phil, what is it you need him to do?”
Philip sighed. “I want him to quietly investigate Vance. Something is not sitting right with me.”
O’Neill thought about it. His idea was to have an investigator attached to the program. He could technically have him as an Agent Afloat ... it was only an idea for now. He would see what Andrews and the others at the academy thought and then make a decision.
He couldn’t wait to see DiNozzo’s face when he heard what his next job after teaching his baby officers would be. Investigate his soon-to-be-ex-boss. From what he’d heard from Owens on the Seahawk, he might even enjoy it.
It was time to talk to DiNozzo and ask him what he wanted to do. Oh, and to let him know his time as Agent Afloat would be at least six weeks barring any disasters. After all, he had a quietly UC agent teaching his men and women - he wasn’t about to throw that opportunity away for anyone.
O’Neill would admit to being highly amused at the way everyone snapped to attention with him passing by. He supposed he should set an example otherwise George would be disappointed in him. He passed through the corridors that he could remember being a part of. He was after one classroom in particular - a Major DiNotezo’s .
DiNozzo, as he knew him to be, was lecturing on how the good undercover agents know that the devil is in the small details. For example, he expanded upon how a guy got busted because while they were wearing a Saville Row suit the idiot was wearing target socks.
O’Neill stood at the back watching as DiNozzo weaved a situation to his spellbound students. He could tell though that lessons were being absorbed. Good. He was all ready to nab the best one for the stargate program as they would be well suited.
“Hello, General O’Neill.”
All the officers shot up to salute. “Settle down and listen to Teach. You never know when it might save your life.”
Tony grinned. “Oh, they have their homework to do.”
His students were smart enough to take that as their cue to disappear.
O’Neill was amused despite himself. “Was it something I said?”
Tony snickered. “I am sure it wasn’t. So what brings you from Washington today, General?”
O’Neill motioned for them to sit down. “You actually, we have several things to discuss.”
Tony was all ears. “So what can I do for you? Do you have more rat problems?”
Jack snickered. “Nah the exterminator was effective. It’s I have a job offer but there are some caveats; For one, you will need to accept a special commision with the Marines.”
Tony nearly choked as that wasn’t what he was expecting. “First, I was on secondment to the Navy, then I was Air-Force and now you want me to be a Marine.”
O’Neill stared at him and asked a question. “Semper-Fi, what does it mean to you.?”
Tony let out a breath but answered honestly. “The standard response is to say always faithful. I prefer always loyal and you watch your team’s six.”
O’Neill nodded because that was the answer he was looking for. “Exactly, now the program is extreme but vital to our security. I think you would be a perfect fit but if you were to enter as an investigator, your skills would be under-utilized.
“So that’s why I will end up as a Major in the marines?”
O’Neill smirked. “Who said it will be Major? And that will be determined once I chat with the President. Now, as he is not a man who’s time I like to waste ... does this sound like a plan?”
Tony thought about Washington and what he thought it represented. Now he knew better; Gibbs, Ziva, and Tim didn’t care. Even if they did, it would take second place to jockeying for any scrap of power Vance would give them. The Marines though, that would be somewhere Tony knew he could flourish. He’d absorbed all of Gibbs’ teaching even if the man seemed to be forgetting it himself. It was time to move on again.
“Yeah. I want it but how will this work?”
O’Neill smirked. “Well, this is a good news and bad news situation. Good news is you will be at the Academy for at least six weeks as I need these officers as trained up as they can be.” He needed the soldiers to be able to blend in Goa’uld strongholds. “The bad news is to get Davenport to let you go gracefully he needs you to complete one last mission for him ... Think about it like getting into character.”
Tony felt like he’d gone down a rabbit hole but he’d roll with it as what other choice did he have. “Okay, so what is the mission?”
“He needs you to compile a dossier on Leon Vance as he feels there is something iffy in his words.”
Tony grinned, not the small, sly one but rather the burning like the sun one. “Oh, my pleasure.”
Jack chuckled. “He thought you might agree, and before you officially fall under my command I need to say this. Shepard was a bitch who abused her position and then chose to go out in a blaze of glory rather than face up to her problems. If you are going to mope, it better not be over her.”
Tony blinked. “You know before I arrived on the Seahawk I would never have believed you. It seems time here and around people with an outside perspective is helping me believe that.”
“Good because I hate having to be introspective.”
“Your secret is safe with me, General.” Tony assured him with a grin. He was relieved to know that he’d chosen to move on. In fact, he felt like there was a weight lifted off his shoulders. It wouldn’t have been as easy to do with all the people making demands of him and trying to twist his emotions.
“I can’t wait to introduce you to the big secret. In the meantime, look after my soldiers and make sure your other mission don’t take too long.”
Tony would make sure it didn’t. “Will I have time to defend my dissertation?”
O’Neill nodded. “Sure, and I can’t wait for you to break a few of the scientists with their assumptions.”
They were at O’Malley’s and Cameron was grinning as he explained that for the sake of this evening they both worked at the Academy. Tony could see the anxiousness in his eyes. “Well, I do technically, at least for the next six weeks and why do you have to be?”
Cameron pouted. “When O’Neill was a team leader there was an incident and a bar-brawl. As a result, those stationed at the mountain were banned from the steakhouse. And I am a man, I need my red meat.”
Tony resisted the easy innuendo-laden remark he could make. “Sure thing, darlin ’.”
Cameron grinned. “Fair warning, you keep calling me that, then I reserve the right to call you baby .”
Cameron was treated to a front row of Tony charming the waitress but shutting her flirting down. He was so nice about it that she smiled and promised them to bring their steaks as quick as possible.
“That was nicely done.”
Tony smirked. “Nah, she was picturing you and me, and decided that mental picture was hotter than her disappointment.”
Cameron smiled and it was all slow and easy. “Is that so?”
Tony nodded as he sipped his beer. He was off duty and his next class wasn’t until Monday. “So could you deign to date a Jarhead?”
“Huh?” Cameron hadn’t expected that question but he knew the answer as easy as where the sun would rise. “Sure, if it was you, yeah.”
“Oh good, as it seems that will be a reality sooner rather than later. It was O’Neill’s suggestion.” Tony confessed.
Cameron smirked. “You in uniform is a kink I could get used to.”
Tony chuckled as he figured if they were forced to attend any type of formal dinner or ceremony, they were screwed and would have to be careful not to destroy their uniforms. “Well, the sad part is after my six-week rotation I have to head back to Washington for one last job for Davenport.”
Cameron leered. “Well, closer to the time, I will have to give you a goodbye that you will never forget.”
Tony didn’t want to think about that because from the first week since he’d arrived, he’d felt like he could breathe once more - not only figuratively but literally as well. O’Neill had mentioned a treatment that would repair the plague damage to his lungs. Tony didn’t dare hope that it was true as he’d accustomed his life to dealing with it.
The trouble for Tony was that time did indeed feel like it was flying and that meant the six weeks flew by. His students would survive in the big world of undercover operations but he stood by his original assessment that for the truly dicey operations it should be Cadman and Black.
O’Neill was on the screen. “A file is being sent to you with all your exploits on the Seahawk.”
O’Neill sighed. “There is a situation that has necessitated that the MCRT to be called to the ship. It would be awkward if Agent Gibbs were to arrive and you were not there.”
Tony understood his orders and it was time to get to the bottom of the nugget he’d discovered about Vance which he would not be able to do here. If he was right it would be huge but it was not the type of claim you made against an agency head without solid proof. “How long will I be there, Sir?”
O’Neill smirked. “Your old team is unaware of it but Lt Colonel DiNozzo is now a member of the United States Marine Corps.”
Tony could admit he was a little shocked by the rank, he’d hoped it would but an O5 rank? “How?”
O’Neill smirked. “You know those tests and hypothetical questions that were thrown at you in the last two weeks.”
Tony shrugged. “I was exhausted and just elated that I managed to defend my dissertation successfully. So didn’t think too much about it just answered honestly.”
O’Neill chuckled. “Well, that combined with you completing that little problem for me meant that the President decided that you will come in at the level.”
Tony asked, bemused but not ready to argue with the President. “And when I finally say goodbye to NCIS I will get the decoder ring?”
“That’s right, DiNozzo keep your zen, finish the mission and then you are free of the wannabe-snakes I will share all.”
As Tony was flown back to the SeaHawk he had to keep O’Neill’s words in his mind. He’d sent a message to Cameron to let him know that when he got back from his mission he wouldn’t be there and he’d have to skype.
Never mind words, he was having to read a legend he needed to slip back into the role of Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo.
Chapter 4: Zen Life is the Best Life
Chapter 4: Zen life is the best
Richard watched as DiNozzo stepped back onto his deck. He looked a hundred times better than he had when he first saw the man. He looked fit, lean and there was an air of general happiness to him that definitely was not present before this. The Air-Force Academy and whatever mission General O’Neill had him on was obviously good for him.
DiNozzo saluted smartly and there was a crispness to it. “Morning, Captain.”
Richard returned the salute. “Morning, DiNozzo. So did you get a chance to catch up on the Seahawk files and your adventures with us?”
DiNozzo nodded. “I did, and I had a very intriguing time away. How long until the MCRT arrives?”
Richard had a smirk and showed Tony to his boardroom so they could talk privately. “Due to unforeseen circumstances, their flight was delayed just long enough to see you back on the ship.”
“How fortuitous.“ Tony had to grin because Gibbs would not get to run roughshod over Richard - he knew that much. “So, fair warning, Gibbs likes to play games, and I am going to seem a lot more depressed than I really am in an hour or so.”
Owens nodded but it was clear that he didn’t get it. “What’s your angle?”
Tony smiled and was glad to explain the parts that he could, he’d checked with O’Neill before he’d left the Academy. “So I took an offer of a special commission in the marines so my time in Washington will be brief. I’m undercover now as Special Agent DiNozzo for one last mission before I completely switch.”
Richard smirked because O’Neill was one smooth operator. “What rank?”
“Lieutenant Colonel which was crazy ... But that is how I tested out apparently.”
Richard chuckled. “So at the moment, you’re undercover as Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo? That will be interesting.”
Tony shook his head. “Not really, part of me wants to stop hiding and part of me knows that the persona I crafted would serve me well.”
Richard offered him a coffee. “So why not mix it up between the two, surely that would keep people off their guard best?”
DiNozzo grinned liking that idea. “Yeah, I think you’re right. You got any ideas since you’re on a roll how I can slip out to the 8th and 1st Barracks for classes?”
Richard had a proud smile. “You want to take classes.”
Tony nodded. “If I am leading, I want to learn as much as I can. A few military tactic classes are the least I can do.”
Richard knew with that type of insight he would be successful in what he wanted to do. “So any part of your persona you can use to explain why you might be over there?”
“I faked being a skirt chaser.”
Richard smirked. “There you are then.”
Tony let out a chuckle because only his life. “Sorry, you have a ship to run and here is me asking you to help with my problems”
Richard smiled softly. “I do that for friends no matter what, and you’ve joined the ranks that will do everything they can to support and help you.”
“Semper Fidelis.” Tony whispered.
Richard nodded. “Now you’re getting it. So are you going to meet your old team in military BDU’s?”
Tony snorted. “It would be a shock for them.”
He would have to come with a reason for the shorter hair, he guessed he wanted a change having been exiled once again. He’d sell it but not if he was still in BDU’s and with a wry grin. “Where are my quarters again? I forgot?”
Richard laughed. “Jenkins will show you the way.”
Tony had changed into jeans and a shirt, they were loose on him. Gibbs would assume it was because he wasn’t caring for himself. He looked around and hummed, he wanted to sell that idea. So, he tracked down the enlisted’s area. “This is going to sound crazy, I need your empty bottles of booze.”
“Now Agent, I don’t know what you want us to admit to...”
Tony rolled his eyes and part of him wanted to correct them about his title ... it was but he couldn’t openly claim it yet. “Believe it or not, I need it for a case. I won’t write you up for it, consider it a way to get rid of the evidence.”
Smith, Tony thinks his name is, scuttles to the side and takes it from a fairly obvious place. He was doing them a public service really. “Thanks, gotta go, bye.”
So Tony took the bottles back to the office, he was selling the bitter, angry, exiled Agent. He knew Gibbs would take one look and put together a picture he would assume. He took a deep breath and let his old persona slip back on like an old skin. It was amazing to realise how much he hated it now.
Tony knew that he’d made the right choice to move on just for his feelings now. He needed to get that dossier on Vance from his CIA contact. It would piece together the clues he had and give him the evidence to give to Davenport and get the hell away from NCIS cleanly because once he was done, he was not looking back. Ever.
He expected to see Gibbs, it might have hurt to see Ziva and Tim if he’d spent all his time on the boat like they thought. Gibbs’ greeting had consisted of. “You’re SFA, direct them.”
Tony looked back at Ziva and Tim. “Why do you not have one?”
Tim rolled his eyes. “We did but they left for the East Asia office. Apparently, they didn’t want to be any closer to Gibbs.”
Tony had heard that before. “So you are all back on the MCRT?”
Ziva nodded, “Yes, I returned a week ago, my father and Director Vance came to an agreement.”
Tim shrugged. “Two weeks for me, Gibbs’ ranting paid off.”
Tony shrugged and he could see the glints in their eyes relishing his perceived isolation. Wow, vindictive had nothing on this pair. He couldn’t let them think they had won - the irony. “Oh well, you are missing out. Agent afloat is the best gig. There is sea, fresh air, blue skies, the weather has been just gorgeous and the crew really know how to have fun in their down time. It’s been relaxing.”
“You don’t look relaxed, Tony. You look tired.” Ziva noted.
Tony mentally rolled his eyes. “Well, like I said - fun in the down time - plus I was sent as far away as possible for following orders and treated like a problem child. I have had my own issues to work through - now back to the case.”
Tim and Ziva shared a mutinous look but had to grin. It was not his fault that they couldn’t see what was in front of them. He was looking forward to the near future day - when he could tell them they were oh so wrong.
His run in on the ship with Gibbs told him that his old mentor still blamed him for Jenny’s death in part. Tony sighed. “You know what, Gibbs? I did as I was ordered, like a good agent. Rules - they are important, we have to follow the laws or the cases don’t end in successful prosecutions.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Gibbs growled, not liking the challenge.
Tony turned his back to walk away because he was not in the mood to rehash old wounds. “Do you? All I see is you continuing to punish me for something that is not my fault.”
Gibbs shook his head. “Vance is the one refusing your return to Washington.”
Tony chuckled but it lacked warmth, in fact, it was downright cynical. “Oh, and if I am not being punished why is Ziva, a Mossad Agent
who was right there with me the whole time in California
, returned to the MCRT and I am stuck here.”
Gibbs sighed and he wouldn’t apologise. Tony knew that. “You were burnt out, Tony. Look around, how many more bottles were there?”
Tony didn’t smirk because that would ruin all his hard work. He didn’t want any of the MCRT to look too close at his time onboard the Seahawk. “Not as many as there should be considering my family ignored me but don’t worry, it did its job and I will be okay.”
“So why haven’t you pieced together this problem then, like you would normally.”
Ah, Tony now understood, the flare for investigations is not something the others had. Sure they could run down clues but they couldn't piece together the random parts to solve the perplexing cases - that was his trick.
“Oh, but I have,” Tony purred. “Your body in Cartagena. It’s my supposed jumper. He never made it back to the ship so ... our murderer is on board. The killer came back to the boat, clocked in as our victim, then went back around and clocked in as themselves. They waited long enough for the ship to pull away from their liberty stop and then he ‘jumped’. It’s almost clever”
Gibbs shook his head. “I will get Vance to see reason.”
Tony shrugged. “Whatever you want because I’m thinking it’s time for me to move on again.” Tony played it as tired and weary. That seemed to light a fire in Gibbs. “No, you leave when I say you do.”
Tony had to bite back a chuckle because ... No, he would be leaving when O’Neill ordered him to but until then he’d let the others think they were superior. It would make it all the easier to pull the rug back from under Vance.
The office headquarters of NCIS felt too bright to his eyes. He much preferred the muted colours of the academy. The team was around him and Tony wanted to laugh at the way they pretended to care. He still hadn’t managed to shake Abby from his arms.
She was demanding stories from his time on the Seahawk. So he made up a story about a sweet southern girl, with the best eyes and the sweetest ass. He hoped Cameron would forgive him because the only thing he changed was Cam’s gender in this story. The best lies were made from kernel’s of the truth - only Tony didn’t want Cameron to be a girl.
Abby grinned. “Only you could be stuck at sea and find yourself a sweet southern girl.”
Tony had a roguish grin. “Luck has nothing to do with it, Abs, you know that.”
She smacked him on the shoulder. “So are you back?”
Tony shrugged. “That is not up to me.”
Gibbs was walking down the stairway. He seemed unhappy by a choice and Tony had to bite back a smirk. “Well, you don’t have to get on a plane anytime soon.”
Tony smiled in relief. “Well, that is a relief. I am done with the sea for a while.”
Abby screamed with joy next to his ear - It was a good job that his ear wasn’t as sensitive as his lungs. “We should go out and celebrate - the family is back together.”
Yeah but not my choice, Tony thought darkly. Tony would play his role but he wasn’t going to associate with such toxicity on his downtime. He needed to slip free so that he could get rolling on his assignment for Davenport.
“You should all go, I need to see what state my apartment is in.” He hadn’t leased or sold it as he was told that the assignment would 16 weeks. He hadn’t let the others know that he owned his apartment outright. It had been a gift from his rich English uncle.
“Be here early tomorrow, Tony, we need to make sure your shooting hasn’t gone soft.”
“Sure thing, Gibbs.”
Tim noted that Tony hadn’t called Gibbs Boss like he would normally. He wasn’t stupid, he had caught the underlying tension between the two. It was crazy as that couldn’t be right, could it?
Tony landed back at his apartment to see a message from Cameron. Message received. Phone me. If not on duty will always pick up.
Tony figured it was eleven in the evening so he would be able to pick up if at all possible. Tony knew that Cameron was too much of a professional to keep his cell phone on if it wasn’t a good time.
Tony chuckled at that greeting. “Hey darlin', it’s me. So I got sent back to Washington. Can you talk?”
Cameron sighed. “Don’t pout, as you know we will make it work. I’m in my quarters alone so how long will it take do you think?”
The men were too smart to say anything major over a phone, they would never trust that people weren’t listening in. “Who knows? But I was thinking if you can get leave in say a month... We should have a great time. My treat.”
“Is that so?”
Tony smirked. “Oh yeah, a month where I can’t touch you. I will be ready to rock your world.”
“Looking forward to it. You doing okay with the crappy family.”
Tony did laugh as that was such an odd thing for Cameron to say. His boyfriend had idyllic parents and he was horrified when Tony shared what his impression of family both blood and makeshift had been. “Well, Gibbs is pissed that I am back but ... he says I can’t leave until he tells me. So that would give any sane person whiplash.”
“Damn. What about the others?”
Tony shrugged not that Cameron could see it. “Well, Tim and Ziva seem to be looking for a weak spot to make me break down or isolate me further. It’s like you said it would be, she doesn't know any other playbook other than the Mossad written one. Oh, but my zen return comments seem to be upsetting them ... so there is irony for you.”
Cameron chuckled. “Just remember that you are mine, Lt Colonel DiNozzo and they can’t touch you.”
“I know that Cam, I do.” Tony breathed in deeply. “It would have hurt if I wasn’t ready to move on and had been made to see just how destructive they are. The best one was Abby, she sat on my lap and demanded to know about all my girls ... I mean I was supposedly on a ship in the middle of nowhere.”
Cameron laughed at the exasperation he could hear in his lover’s voice. “So what did you tell her?”
“Oh, I told her about a sweet southern girl I met, with the best brown eyes and the sweetest ass at sea.”
Cameron shouted. “Hey, I am not a girl.”
“No, you are not, darlin’, and I wouldn’t want you as much as I do if you were. You know the best lies have a kernel of truth. Plus, I have laid a foundation for why I will be all secretive. I will have a mystery girl.”
Cameron’s voice dropped an octave and it went straight to Tony’s groin. “Oh baby, you have no idea what I am going to do to you when we meet up. I will show you just what I can do, I will take you apart piece by piece and it won’t be until you beg that I will slide into your ass and make you forget your own name.”
Tony groaned with sexual frustration because damn, that painted quite the picture. “Are you aiming for phone sex because that is where this is going?”
“Are you hard, baby?” Cameron asked with a sweet voice.
Tony had fallen onto his couch. “Yeah, you have quite a way with words.”
Cameron chuckled but it was a low down filthy type that had Tony imagining all kinds of fun. It sucked that there were so many miles between them. “Nah, that’s you, you know that I am a man of action.”
Tony couldn’t stand it any longer, his hands slipped into his pants and he stroked his straining erection. “I wish this was your hand.”
Cameron replied. “It will soon be. Paint the picture for me, Tony. How do you want it?”
Tony responded and painted his own picture, telling Cameron exactly how he wanted to be taken apart. It didn’t take too long for Cam’s name to spill from his lips as he spilled over his hand. “You are so good at that.”
“You will turn a boy’s head with talk like that.”
Tony snorted. “Oh, I will return the favour. Just you wait.”
Cameron responded. “Looking forward to it.”
Tony didn’t want to sign off but he needed to get changed so he at least felt respectable as he met his CIA contact to collect the dossier on Vance. “I will see you soon, Cameron. I gotta go to work on extricating myself from NCIS.”
“Remember, they can’t have you. You’re mine.” Cameron hoped to reassure him. If there was a worry in his voice it was because he didn’t want the people at NCIS sticking their claws into Tony and sucking his soul out bit by bit.
“And they won’t.”
Tony was skulking around a seedy bar that he had no doubt the people of NCIS would assume he’d visit by choice. He was here to meet his contact and get moving on his investigation.
Trent Kort slid into the booth. “Nice place.”
Tony smirked. “No one thinks to look here, they all know it’s a biker bar.”
“And yet you appear to be left alone.”
Tony smirked. “The owner was someone I knew in Baltimore, they had a mafia problem that I fixed so I get free reign of the place.”
“Huh, you know everyone, don’t you.” Kort observed.
Tony didn’t answer that verbally but his smile spoke volumes. “Yes, well, on the upside you will no longer owe me a favour.
Kort chuckled and slipped onto the desk a file. “Your new boss is interesting, makes for a good novel that reading.”
Tony’s smile was blinding as he flipped open the file. “You know what, Kort? As long as you don’t want me to do something illegal, I will help you out.”
“I thought you would like the last part. I wish I could be there when you reveal that to Gibbs.”
Chapter 5: Who is Leon Vance, really?
Chapter 5: Who is Leon Vance, really?
Tony was wrapping his mind around what he’d just read. There was only a suspicion as there was no concrete proof - yet. Still, the facts spoke for themselves; it seems Leon wasn’t actually a Leon and was more of a Tyler.
This was good but bad at the same time. He hated that he was going to be the one to tell Davenport the selection process for the big chair really was inadequate.
“What? Can't you use that? That is gold, DiNozzo, and you know it.”
Tony chuckled, signalling to the waitress to bring two beers. “Oh, I can use it ... it’s just that I have to find a way to tell Davenport that his hiring practices need a lot of work.”
“You’ll find a way.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
Kort smirked as he sipped his beer. “Oh, the chaos you are about to unleash. Yes. Please tell me you have an exit strategy?”
Tony snorted but wasn’t stupid enough to tell Kort what it was. He liked the guy but that didn’t mean he trusted him.
“Oh, one that will quite possibly make Gibbs freak.”
Kort frowned, wondering just what it could be as he finished his beer and stood up. “Well, let an old friend know. I have to go be a spy now.”
Tony rolled his eyes but let him go and continued to work through the dossier in the file. He needed to find out everything he could about both Leon Vance’s life and Tyler Keith Owens. He would need as much proof as he could manage before he made these accusations public.
Tony got up feeling better about Washington and the length of time he would need to stay.
The next day, he was in his chair before anyone else arrived. He had work searches to do and erase as well as get up to date on the paperwork that the previous SFA had slacked on. Jesus, they had let McGee and Ziva write their reports and not checked them. Never mind about going to East Asia to escape Gibbs, it was a good job so that Tony couldn’t get to him.
“You’re here early.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “Good morning, McGeek, and you, my dear probie, have been slacking. You have three reports that need filing.”
“I’ve been busy.”
Tony snorted. “Did that excuse work with Simpson? Your reports have slipped and I will not have JAG lose a case because you can’t be bothered to type up your notes correctly.”
McGee rolled his eyes. “Did you lose your personality on the Seahawk?”
Tony shook his head and told himself that he wasn’t willing to go back to fratboy. The afloat assignment gave him the perfect cover to explain his change in behavior. “No, McStuckinthemud, it’s possibly your worst nightmare.” He continued with an evil grin. “I matured.”
The way McGee widened his eyes in horror at the idea made his day. Tony couldn’t lie to himself about not enjoying the hell out of it. The day continued in much the same way, people would engage him in conversation and he would brush them off with a polite but professional response. This was quite possibly his best and easiest prank in the world.
Ziva looked up from her computer. “This won’t fool anyone, Tony. A cheetah does not change its spots.”
“Leopard, Ziva, and you can’t be cross about me sending you back a report when a third of it is in Hebrew! The software is not good enough to translate to legal standards.” As he finished his sentence Tony looked up from his last excel spreadsheet. He could jump and cheer that the hot cases had laid off long enough for him to get the paperwork back under control. He hadn’t lost sight of the fact that Gibbs and McGee were watching and saying nothing.
“This is not how things are done at Mossad.” She replied with a huff. She was starting to miss the snivelling Simpson, she could manipulate him.
Tony’s smile was glacial. “Well, right now, you are here at NCIS so you have to follow our rules.”
The bit left unsaid was if she didn’t like it then she should go back to Daddy dearest. Tony knew that she had no intention of going back under the control freak’s thumb. Still, in his exit report, he was going to make clear his concerns about allowing a Mossad Liaison Officer to still be part of an MCRT.
Gibbs weighed in with just. “English, Ziva.”
Wow, that almost counted as support.
Abby came bounding into the bullpen close to quitting time. “Tony, Tony, Tony. You need to come with me to the Emerald club. The twins miss you.”
Tony shuddered as the twins were into things he wasn’t. “Sorry Abs, I still have some cleaning to do to get rid of the dust in my apartment.”
What he really wanted to do was go home, grab a beer from his fridge and get on with both some marine classwork and also, to see what he could dig up on TK Owens. His evening schedule was already pretty full.
This set a pattern of behaviour over the first week. They had two cases and Tony performed to his usual standards. He stayed zen, it helped to know that his exit would be sooner rather than later. Plus, as an extra sweet cherry on top bonus, Vance was looking more and more paranoid.
As a result, he became a source of gossip - for being boring. How ironic was that? Ziva, Tim, and Abby were gossiping about Tony. There was something going on with Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo and he wasn’t telling anyone. They’d met to discuss their theories and what they could do to make him less pod-Tony.
Abby bit her lip. “Do you think he is seeing someone?”
“He is not seeing someone.” Tim said because the idea of Tony being in a relationship with anyone was just too much to handle. The next thing someone would be telling him that Tony was studying.
Abby pouted because in her mind, her theory made sense. Plus, as silly as her Tony was, he would make a pretty good catch. “Why not? I mean he is certainly hot enough.”
Ziva rolled her eyes and didn’t even try to hide her disdain. She was not exactly sad that since they’d come back from the Seahawk, he’d not tried to socialise with the group. “Yes Abby, he is, but looks aren't everything. He dates indiscriminately.”
Abby smirked. “Oh yeah, if the idea is so crazy, tell me this... when was the last time you heard him mention a date?”
There was a silent awkward pause as Tim and Ziva considered what Abby said and the answer made them make silent o’s with shock. Why? The answer was - not in a damn long time, in fact, it was before he’d gone and done his time afloat.
“He is seeing someone!” Tim and Ziva said at the same time in shock. It didn’t reflect well on their investigative ability that they hadn’t noticed.
Ziva frowned, not liking the fact that Tony had managed to keep another secret from her. It did not reflect well on her and her father would not be amused or forgiving. “Why wouldn’t he say something?” Ziva knew why it wasn’t hard when she thought about it; Tony was jealous because she was dating Michael. Yes, that would be it, he was using some woman to distract himself.
Abby shrugged, looking sad. “I don’t know but I am going to find out.”
Only Abby wouldn't figure it out and no matter how much she bugged Tony, he never broke and revealed the truth. He just kept silent, flashing her his most charming grin that spoke way more than words ever could.
Tony was enjoying his lunch break down in Autopsy, not where one might think to partake in food but it worked for Tony and Jimmy. Tony would say that autopsy had become his refuge since returning from the Seahawk. Jimmy was a true friend and never judged him, merely treated him like an equal. Tony would say if anyone actually bothered to ask him that Jimmy was not only his favourite autopsy gremlin but also a close friend. Jimmy was the only one to know that, yes, there was someone special in his life and that they were actually a guy. “So when is Cam’s leave?”
Tony shrugged. “He has meetings at the Pentagon monthly, if not sooner. He can be called up to Washington almost without notice.”
Jimmy had met Cameron online the other evening when he was over at Tony’s and a Skype session started. He wanted to shout with joy when he saw Tony’s smile as the little window opened on the screen. He’d let himself out after a quick greeting to the other man and sent a message to say he’d made it home. “Well, that comes in handy.”
Tony shrugged, side-stepping the potential unanswered question. “He is a Colonel in the Air-Force and I am smart enough not to ask. It helps that we both understand things like security clearance.”
Jimmy smirked. “Well, I suppose there is that.”
Tony bit his lip as he read a message from his phone. “He just messaged me to say he is getting a weekend off and he is coming up to Washington.”
Jimmy could translate that well enough, Tony wanted to see Cameron but not have NCIS interfere. “So stay at a swanky hotel and enjoy your weekend. It’s not like you have to hide if you don’t want to.”
Tony let out a shaky breath because he did know this. Still, it was significantly harder to let himself believe it. “I know and it helps knowing that we’re both armed and can handle ourselves.”
Jimmy giggled as a wicked thought crossed his mind. “Sorry - I was just imagining the shock of a homophobe picking a fight with you.”
Tony snorted because he could see why that would be ironic. “I think Cam and I would rock-paper-scissor it.”
Jimmy smiled softly because he was so glad that his friend had someone, just like he had Breena. “You know what you have to do.”
“What - ask Vance for the time off even though my team is not on call?” Tony said, knowing that was exactly what he had to do. Still, this might be just what he needed to stop Vance staring at him. If he didn’t know better Tony would say his technical boss was getting paranoid. It was like Vance wanted to blame him but didn’t believe Tony could be the root of his problems. It was the problem with double lives; they often catch up with you.
Jimmy nodded, “Yes if you want the time off without the team knowing why.”
“Am I wrong in not telling them?” Tony asked as it felt like a thing he would have said before the Seahawk.
“Nope, because good friends would have asked you what is going on in your life. Has that happened?”
Tony shook his head because there were times he was wondering why Gibbs had wanted him back in Washington. “No, and I hear ya autopsy gremlin. Vance will grant the time off as it will give him a one-up on Gibbs.”
This would have the added bonus of throwing Vance off his scent by revealing he was in a relationship - it would be a big distraction.
Tony knocked the door. “Director, do you have a minute?”
Vance’s head shot up at the question, the politeness of the request and who it was made him suspicious. In fact, DiNozzo’s whole attitude made him suspicious - the agent who came back from sea did not match what he knew from reports. He would have looked more closely but he was still trying to figure out who had searched for TK Owens. “What can I do for you Agent DiNozzo?”
His Agent looked nervous. “Well sir, I would like two days leave if possible this weekend and I know I haven’t been back long in the office so it may be refused.”
“You are not on-call.” Vance reminded him wondering why, if that was the case, the SFA would want to waste his holiday time.
Tony nodded acknowledging this point. “That is true, sir, but we are the MCRT and I know if there is a hot case it doesn’t matter whether we are on rotation or not.”
“Why do you want it?” Vance demanded to know.
Tony had a small smile. “My partner has leave from the Air-Force, and as it could be six months before I see him again, I am really hoping I can guarantee my time off.”
Vance broke the toothpick and stabbed his gum. He didn’t hiss as he didn’t want DiNozzo to think it was in reaction to his news. He removed the pick more carefully and said simply. “I wasn’t aware you were in a relationship, DiNozzo.”
Tony shrugged playing it off as not a big deal. “I work long and hard to let people see what I want them to, sir. It is easier to work if you’re underestimated. Why do you think people assume I am playing a prank right now, acting serious?”
Tony could see the dawning realisation in Vance’s eyes and Tony couldn’t grin as it would break the act.
Vance studied him for a moment then responded. “I don’t need a clown, I want to keep seeing a seasoned professional, DiNozzo, so don’t lose the act in the office.”
DiNozzo smirked. “And if the team can’t handle the switch? As you can see it has been a problem for them.”
Vance stared at him stonily. “Well, you let me worry about the team. Your career has stalled and that won’t be allowed to continue.”
Tony was nearly crying with laughter inside. His career stalled? Hardly. Vance had no idea yet but soon he would. He nearly had all the pieces and proof he would need to get Vance removed from the big chair.
Tony smiled and this time it was genuine, it helped he was thinking about leaving NCIS. “Yes, Sir.”
This day was turning out to be full of surprises. He walked down to the bullpen with a spring in his step. McGee scowled at him. “Why were you with Vance?”
Tony smiled, knowing his answer would really bother the other man. “Sorry McNosey, you don’t have the security clearance.”
“We all have the same high-security clearance so that is not an excuse.” Ziva sniffed, she couldn’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to trust Tony with state secrets. She still didn’t believe this act, he would crack soon enough. The struggle of having to act like an adult all day would be too much and then she would be there to say I told you so.
“That’s right.” Tim nodded.
Tony actually snorted because he didn’t realise the junior agent was so clueless. “Actually, McNonsense, no we don’t. Ziva’s is limited on the grounds that she is not an American Agent.” Tony took a deep breath and reigned in what he truly wanted to say on the matter. He was saving it all for the exit report, and damn, it was getting even longer.
“But you and I have the same clearance don’t we?” McGee asked, no longer so snotty about it as he was curious.
Tony shook his head. “Nope, you see all the times I get loaned out to play with others in the alphabet soup means my clearance for various agencies has to be quite high. I have no idea if Gibbs or I have the highest and I know better than to ask.”
Tim flushed and looked back at his computer screen and Ziva had also gone very quiet. Gibbs stared at him again, like he was trying to figure out something. Yet still, the man hadn’t spoken to him except for to bark orders at him. That was okay, Tony at least knew where he stood with the man.
Friday, finally . Tony had made it through until the end of the week. He’d never seen going to work at NCIS as an endurance race but right now it was feeling like that. Tony didn’t care, he had one last sentence to finish and then he could get the hell out of dodge and breathe. Tony packed up once he completed his work. “Bye McLate and Ziva. I shall see you on Monday.”
“There’s paperwork still to complete, Tony. You can’t just leave.” Tim said with glee.
Tony smirked back. “Yes, there is and boys and girls you better not leave until it is in Gibbs’ inbox. Alas, mine already is ... have a good weekend ... whenever it starts.”
It was only when he left that Tim cursed. “We meant to quiz him about his significant other.”
Gibbs looked up from his computer. “Who?”
Cameron kind of wished he could use the beaming technology but it would look suspicious to Tony who hadn’t been read into the program yet. His transport touched down and he went through security - it didn’t take too long thanks to the military getting first call.
As he walked through the last door, he was greeted by a perfect sight - Tony in black jeans and a white shirt. Cameron had mentioned it was one of his favourite looks in passing during their last call and now here his boyfriend was wearing exactly that.
“Hey soldier, going my way?” Tony greeted with a sly grin.
“Pilot, how many times! I know you work with the Navy but you can’t forget that easily.” Cameron said, exasperated enough that his accent thickened. Okay, so maybe that was a deliberate ploy on his part to see Tony shiver.
Tony smirked. “You’re mine, that is all I need to know ... Let’s get out of here, I got us a hotel room.”
Cam was surprised by that. “Why the change of location?”
“Nosey teammates who have no right to ask questions but I have a lot to catch you up on. You won’t believe what I have found out.”
Cameron smiled as Tony’s enthusiasm was just infectious. “Oh yeah?”
Tony nodded, sensing Cameron was up to something. “What?”
Cameron pulled Tony flush against him, until there was no space left and kissed him soundly. His hands settling in the black jean pockets he’d been admiring not too long before. “I hadn’t said hello, baby.”
Tony broke away breathless. “You are something else. Let’s go.”
Chapter 6: A takedown that will be so sweet
They’d managed to make it back to the hotel room and as soon as the door closed behind them Tony was slammed against the wall, being kissed senseless once again. He hoped they never lost this between them. “Damn, I have missed you.”
Cameron chuckled and Tony could feel the vibration of it on his throat. “Me too, darlin’.”
If anyone ever dared call Tony darlin’ or any other variation of a nickname he would shoot them but not Cameron. “So how long do we have?”
Cameron had a wicked smirk as he pushed Tony’s jeans down. “Don’t I have a promise to keep?”
“I seem to recall that you promised to take me apart piece by piece.” Tony said with a grin. “Do your best soldier.”
Cameron smirked. “Mission accepted.”
Tony’s head hit the wall as Cameron started to lick and nip at whatever skin was available to him. Tony tried to help him get rid of his clothes but they ended up in a tangled mess. The joy and the sexual tension throbbing between them was so alive it was almost tangible.
Cameron pushed Tony toward the bed. There were plans and fun to be had but they were not twenty any longer - plus, he wanted the space to explore Tony. He had a promise to deliver on after all.
Cameron’s brown eyes almost disappeared to full black as he stared at Tony on the bed. He licked his lips and Tony knew what he wanted. “Strip, Cam. I want to feel all of you.”
Cameron pulled his top off over his head, more than happy to follow that order. He shucked his trousers not wanting anything between them and crawled onto the bed, kissing a path along each scar and muscle that he wanted to pay reverence to. “You are so responsive.”
Tony groaned. “Hurry up.”
Cameron changed to feather light kisses trailing from his belly button up to each pec. “No, baby, this is at my pace, not yours.”
Tony moaned and clutched the bed sheet as Cameron’s tongue teased and explored every muscle one by one across his stomach. His moan turned into a groan as Cameron’s breath made his erection stiffen. He was already hard and when he looked down to see Cameron teasing him, he bucked up.
It was a signal that Cam listened to, as he pinned Tony’s hips and stopped teasing. Then started to tease him in new and more frustrating ways. Tony knew what he wanted. “More.”
He heard the snick of the cap but the moist heat wrapped around his dick distracted him. Then he nearly jumped out of his skin as Cam blew his mind and started to stretch him with his fingers. Tony was bucking back onto his fingers and then thrusting into the wet heat of Cam’s mouth. It was too much, too good. He wasn’t going to last and he didn’t want to climax until Cam was in him. “Too much, want you in me.”
Cam pulled off his dick with an obscene pop and had an even more obscene grin with a drop of Tony’s precum staining his lower lip before being sensually licked off. Tony would have made a comment but words were too difficult right now. “What was that babe?” Cam whispered.
Tony narrowed his eyes, already almost beyond rational thought. He pulled Cameron into a filthy kiss and thrust against Cameron’s rock hard erection. “In me.” He gasped.
Cameron gentled the kiss and slowly took back control. He slicked himself up, placing the condom on quickly not wanting to lose the moment but wanting them safe.
His questing fingers checking one last time he was loose enough to take him. Tony threw back his head to groan and Cameron took advantage to suck a hickey in a just coverable place. Cameron then slowly pushed in, wanting to savour the feeling. “Fuck.”
Tony was breathing raggedly as he was stretched full. “Harder. I am not a girl!”
Cameron smirked as he snapped his hips, knowing exactly that but he was a gentleman. He was raised to make sure both parties had a good time. Plus he just adored making his lover desperate. “Like that?”
Tony whined. “Nah, put your back into it.” Pulling him back in for a kiss.
Cameron could feel his own climax approaching as he continued to thrust. “Shit, come on, come for me.” It had been way too long since they’d last done this.
Tony groaned as Cameron tagged his prostate three times quickly and that was it. He was coming all over Cameron’s hand and falling into a sated heap back on the bed. He could feel Cameron clean him up but he was so sleepy in that moment and way too content with life.
Tony answered his phone even if it was five in the morning on his day off. He had to gently untangle himself from Cam who made adorable grumbling noises as he molded into the warm space Tony had just left. He wouldn’t have moved but he’d been waiting on the last piece of proof in his investigation. He’d asked for a search through the marine database of the earliest admission records for TK Owens and Leon Vance and then asked for a comparison to the last known record.
He’d put the request through the marine corps and signed it off as Lt Col, as he didn’t want to raise any immediate flags with Vance.
“Hello?” Tony greeted the caller.
“Lieutenant Colonel DiNozzo, this is Corporal Maggie Jenkins, archives specialist for the Marine Corps National Database Registry.”
“I’m DiNozzo. Do you have my information for me, Corporal?”
She took a deep breath. “Yes, Sir. The tests show the results seemed to have reversed between the first and the last samples.”
Tony wanted to start cheering and punching the air. He had the final piece of evidence once it was faxed to him. “Can you fax me the information? To this number 555-123-224” .
“Thank you, Corporal.”
It was time to make the call to Davenport, he was done skulking around NCIS. He’d found it ironic that he’d been an agent undercover as a soldier, and right now he was a soldier undercover as an agent - but he could sort that with one phone call.
Cameron was stirring on the bed but Tony didn’t doubt he would soon catch up. “Mr. Secretary. It’s DiNozzo. ”
“Hello, Colonel DiNozzo, what do you have for me?”
Tony didn’t know where to start as this was a giant clusterfuck in the making, not that he cared too much. “Well, you can remove Vance as he switched identities way back when he was a Marine.”
Cameron was awake now and intrigued. Tony continued on. “Oh, I know, not damning but the information on an Operation Frankenstein which is as messed up as it sounds. Puts the metaphorical nail in his job coffin. Oh, and why Ziva David, a foreign Agent is being allowed to have full access to our national secrets.”
Davenport certainly started swearing like a sailor in charge of the Navy. “We need to meet, DiNozzo.”
Tony pouted as he had plans with Cameron, sexy plans but this was important too. “Yes, Sir. Whenever is convenient. Agent me is technically using leave time to see his boyfriend.”
Cameron kissed his cheek. “Go and we can have lunch on the steps.”
Tony grinned. “10 O’Clock, I can make that, Sir.”
The phone call ended. “So it looks like our lazy day in bed is about to be interrupted.”
Cameron shrugged. “We do what we have to.”
Tony smirked, pulling him in for a kiss. “You really are the perfect boyfriend.”
Cameron had a sly smile. “Go and change. Oh, and your real ID is in my jacket pocket.”
Tony picked up Cameron’s jacket to see it. His new badge and picture. “O’Neill told me to give it to you. He seemed to think you would be needing it sooner rather than later.”
Tony snickered as he headed into the bathroom for a quick shower. “I really can’t wait to find out what Deep Space Telemetry is code for... my Doctorate is in biochemistry. So how that will help with space I have no idea.”
Cameron grinned widely at Tony’s shocked face. He knew this was big, Tony didn’t find it easy to share. “First time you said it aloud, huh.”
Tony nodded and let out a breath as he felt lighter. He no longer had to hide his strengths or talents. He didn’t know why he felt it necessary at NCIS but he instinctively had played the clown. He’d told himself all the better to be underestimated. “Yes, I needed something that was just me. I wanted it to be separate from the law, and it linked to areas I was fascinated with.”
Cameron sat on the bed watching as Tony dried off and got dressed, then got up and helped him with his tie. “You’re ready, Dr. DiNozzo.” Then with a teasing grin. “I like it - my boyfriend, the egghead jarhead.”
Tony pulled back. “Hey now, don’t be ragging on me chair force .”
Cameron pulled back clutching his heart but with a big grin on his face. “You wound me.”
Tony smacked his shoulder and he was back centered. “Thanks.”
Cameron kissed him once again. “Go, this will be the last time you get to go to the Pentagon in civies.”
Tony smirked. “Well, this should be my last few days undercover ... I hope.”
Tony was in to see Davenport fairly smoothly. He was aware that his time undercover was going to be over quickly. He would have made waves being commissioned at the rank he was - his name would only be kept secret for so long and then he would be under scrutiny.
“He will see you now.”
Tony stepped through the door. “Sir.”
Davenport looked up from his files. “Make your report, Colonel.”
Tony relaxed his stance slightly. “Which part first?”
Davenport thought about it. “Let’s start with Ziva David, you intimated her access is not restricted.”
DiNozzo shook his head. “That is correct. with Director Shepard she was given free reign. When I objected I was told to drop it or I would be written up.”
Davenport reined in his fury. “And Vance didn’t change things after she was recalled.”
Tony shrugged. “I was given the impression that the relationship with Mossad was worth it. I don’t see how a foreign agent having access to our secrets is ever worth it.”
“It’s not, I was assured her access was limited.”
Tony wisely kept silent because there was nothing here that could be said that would improve the situation.
“So - Director Vance? You mentioned two different issues and I suggest you sit as this may take a while.”
Tony nodded and did as this may in fact take a while. “So Director Leon Vance is actually Tyler Keith Owens, they both enter the marine academy and have the right identities.”
“So what changed?”
Tony picked up his note folder. “So I did a bit of subcontracting through a PI, I was a lawyer representing a bitter wife wanting dirt on her cheating husband.”
Davenport actually laughed at that explanation. “You are something else, DiNozzo. So what did they dig up?”
“Thank you, Sir.” Tony wasn’t sure it was a compliment but he was choosing it. “The original Vance had a degenerative eye disorder. It was picked up by the doctors and he can’t box, which was a problem. He was a prized boxer back in Vietnam.”
Davenport was following. “Go on.”
Tony continued. “So they go out on maneuvers, and Tyler Keith Owens is tragically invalided out of the army when he loses sight in one eye.”
“Only blood work had changed?”
Tony nodded. “That is correct, Sir.” He could acknowledge a job well done if that had been the case. “On the whole, the switch was pretty professional but when I asked the Marine Archives to pull the records regarding a case, I found the part they missed.”
Davenport was soaking all this in. “You said there was more. I mean I have enough to be yanking him from the chair, which
will be doing this afternoon. He has a meeting with the FBI Director right now.”
Tony was pleased to get a ringside seat to this and simply nodded. “Okay, and finally, there is Operation Frankenstein. The current Leon Vance authored a paper when part of the academy about how to create the ultimate assassin. It would require pushing the right candidates to their limits. Then you point them at the enemy and let them go. Only, it is not a good idea to set a sniper to their mental edges.”
Tony shook his head. “No, and that is the least of their problems ... the cocktail mix of drugs they use induce acid like trips which when mixed with PTSD will have rather fatal consequences.”
“What were they thinking?” Davenport asked aghast. He hoped if this had been presented to him he would have had the good sense to reject it.
“You would have to ask your predecessor, Secretary Jarvis. He was the one to sign off on it.” Tony responded.
Phillip rubbed his face, gods, he wanted a drink. This was a shitstorm that he was going to have to clean up. He would make sure Jarvis paid for this and Leon would be lucky if he avoided jail time over this mess.
“Be ready to travel at two o’clock from here.” Davenport ordered, he pressed a button on his desk and Davenport’s assistant appeared.
“Ah Travers, the Lt Colonel here needs a dress uniform, please. Make sure he doesn’t leave without one.”
“Two O’Clock, DiNozzo”
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” Tony responded, and he wouldn’t, the people at NCIS were about to find out who Anthony DiNozzo really was.
Chapter 7: Who is Anthony DiNozzo, really?
A massive thanks to Edronhia who helped me as I fretted with this chapter
And ... Rigger42 for the research on Tony's medals, it was greatly appreciated.
Chapter 7: Who is Anthony DiNozzo, really?
Tony walked down the steps of the Pentagon and greeted Cameron with a smile. “Hey, Sexy.”
Cameron turned around, happy to see that Tony could make their lunch. “Meeting go well?”
Tony grinned because it was difficult to put in words just how well it had gone. “Very ... and I am free until 2 o’clock.”
“What’s in the bag?” Cameron asked as they walked over to the side and sat on the edge of the stairs, he then handed him over a club sandwich and a bottle of water.
“My Dress Uniform.” Tony answered, still comprehending that this was real now. He had never doubted his decision to transfer and in his very being he knew it was the right choice - The Dress Uniform made it real in a way that wearing the BDU’s at the academy hadn’t. Or perhaps, there it had been a role and not him.
Cameron froze for a second as his mind went to Tony in his uniform. The fantasy was hot, he might be in trouble once he saw him in it. He was supposed to be a respected Air-Force Lieutenant Colonel himself. He played it cool. “Davenport order you to wear it?”
Tony smirked because he hadn’t known that Davenport had a sense of humour - he knew better now. “Yep, he wants me in it when we go and visit NCIS this afternoon.”
“You can’t leave without me seeing you in it.” Cameron said, a teasing grin on his face. He could see Tony was vibrating with some emotions and could guess that Tony couldn’t define them. He just hoped to distract him for now and let him relax for a small time. It seemed to work as Tony drank his water, lying back against the stone casually. It should not look as enticing as it did.
Tony was relaxing around Cam and he all but purred out. “Mmm, you can look but no touching.”
Cameron snickered, knowing his lover was teasing him right back. “That would be way more interesting if we were back in our hotel room.”
Tony threw his head back and laughed as that was so true. “If only I could. Soon. ”
Cameron could see the time getting away from them and he knew he would have to return for Davenport. “You better go and get changed. You need to be ready for the big reveal.”
Cameron hoped that Tony got what he needed from this afternoon. He sensed his boyfriend needed to make a clean break with NCIS. Tony appearing in his dress uniform would do it and no doubt break a few of his colleagues.
It was fortuitous that Cameron was in Washington so he could support Tony. O’Neill had decided to ask him to come to an extra meeting regarding Atlantis which was still stuck in the bay at San Francisco. “I’ll head back to the hotel once my meeting has finished with General O’Neill. He has sprung a surprise meeting on, me.”
Tony rolled his eyes and kissed his boyfriend goodbye and went to find an area to change into his dress uniform. This was it, he was saying goodbye to Very Special Agent DiNozzo and it was the longest cover he’d done ever. This was quite exciting as he was finally getting to play a really underexplored character - himself.
Tony walked through the halls and he’d been saluted by two corporals already. He’d returned the salutes and weaved his way back toward Davenport’s office as ordered. He knocked politely and waited for the acknowledgment that it was fine to enter. He walked in and fell into a natural parade rest, all his pre-military training at RIMA coming back to him as easily as breathing. “Sir.”
“Looks good on you, Lieutenant Colonel. I think you may have found your place.” Davenport remarked with a serious edge and on odd gleam in his eye that Tony couldn’t identify.
Tony pointed at the medals on his chest. “Are these your doing, Sir?”
Davenport nodded and shut down any argument from the man that he didn’t deserve them. “I had your file reviewed because you know as well as I do, that officers read a career by the medals on their chest ... you would look a bit odd with just a training medal and being a Lieutenant Colonel. All those medals have been awarded based on the commendations and skills denoted in your file and I hope it won’t be the last medal I pin on your chest.”
Although, Davenport suspected he would be fighting O’Neill for the honour of actually getting to do any awarding.
“I will make the Corps proud,” Tony promised.
Davenport assured him. “I have no doubt of that, DiNozzo.”
Tony could accept that logic and he breathed easier that they weren’t just to help sell his rank. He saw a Meritorious Service Medal, a Joint Service Medal, an Air Force Achievement Medal, a Small Arms Expert Medal and there were a few others that he would double check when he was on his own. “I know where I belong, Sir, and thank you for your help.”
“Thank O’Neill. He’s the one who bullied me into letting you go.” Davenport replied. “If I had my way I would have made you Deputy Director and trained you up to take the big chair.”
Tony shrugged as that was not to be with the decision he’d made. “Not in this lifetime but who knows? So what should I expect, Sir? I want to make sure I am following your script.”
Davenport smiled meanly. “In the middle of the bullpen is my preference. The man has been an embarrassment to me, the agency and this great nation. He is going to answer for all those things.” Davenport also had one last surprise for Tony but he and O’Neill were in agreement that it needed to be completed when they were at NCIS headquarters. It was the type of event that should be done at an awards evening but this would make an acceptable substitute. He would find someone who would get the video footage for O’Neil.
“Sounds good to me.” Was all Tony could say because Leon Vance, or whatever you wanted to call him, had to be called to account for several decisions.
Two cars had left Davenport’s office, as they would need the transport room. There was no way Davenport was going to give Vance any type of comfortable familiarity as he asked him the truly difficult questions. Davenport’s primary bodyguard and his executive assistant still rode with them. “Andrews, Peters, you will follow us and be prepared for stupidities.”
Tony had to snicker because that was so true. Still, he wouldn’t let them be unprepared. “Watch David, she is unpredictable when challenged. She can’t lose the Mossad training or mindset.”
They acknowledged the information with a respectful “Yes Sir.”
As they exited the car, they all donned their professional masks. Tony held the door for the Secretary and whispered. “Let the games begin.”
Davenport smirked at him and then turned to the guard to settle any confusion he seemed to have.
The security guard frowned, not knowing that SECNAV was meant to be here. Or, why Agent DiNozzo was there dressed as a Marine? He was no expert but this didn’t look to be a trip for a good time.
Tony smirked and clapped the guy’s shoulder. It was one of the great reasons you should always befriend everyone as it could be useful in the future. “All will become clear, Andy, but don’t phone ahead - Secretary Davenport wants to give a surprise to Director Vance.” He said it like they had a marvelous secret they were sharing.
Andy was pretty certain that Director Vance wasn’t going to enjoy the surprise but he was smart enough to know that Secretary Davenport outranked Director Vance so he just nodded.
Once they’d entered the lift and were alone again, Philip turned to Tony. “A surprise, Colonel?”
Tony looked as innocent as could be. “I didn’t say it was a good surprise.”
Davenport found he could do little to argue with that logic and in reality, he didn’t want to. “Well, let’s get this rodeo underway.”
Tony agreed and as a result, he pressed the button to get the lift moving. The curtain was about to be raised on what should be an excellent show and Tony, much to his delight, had a ringside seat. It was too bad that respectable Lieutenant Colonel’s didn’t eat popcorn at these events.
Davenport’s entrance certainly caused a few heads to turn, or was it Tony in full Dress Uniform? Tony dearly wanted to snicker at the way McGee was actually in the bullpen and looked more than a little flustered - no doubt trying to catch up on the paperwork that he kept conveniently forgetting. Tony had been telling him constantly to sort his paperwork out - he hated to say told you so, but he had.
A few seconds later, when everyone’s attention was caught, the whole room was silent. Tony said nothing, he knew if he was Agent DiNozzo he would have a smart quip - that wasn’t him anymore. He would let the others show themselves up and oh look, it didn’t long.
was first to do it and it probably took him less than a minute by his guess. “What are you doing dressed up like a Marine, Tony? You know that’s not allowed.”
Tony looked at him coolly. “I am not dressed up as anything, Agent McGee.”
Davenport was not impressed with the agent blocking his way - and he was more than willing to let him know that. “Did you need something, Agent McGee? The Lt Col and I, have business with the Director and you don’t have the clearance so I suggest you go and look at a file or something.”
Tony chipped in. “I know before this weekend, there were still 15 pieces of basic paperwork still outstanding, Sir.”
Davenport smirked at that piece of information. “Well, that sounds like a wonderful place to start. Now if you excuse us, Agent McGee.”
Tim almost ran back to his desk and phone, Tony said quietly. “Care to make a wager that he is phoning Gibbs, and then David.”
“That’s a sucker’s bet.” Davenport responded. Then gave a polite cursory knock on Vance’s door before barging in. “Leon, you have some explaining to do!”
Meanwhile back in the bullpen, McGee was having a meltdown. How could Tony, their goofball, be a Marine? “Boss, you gotta come to headquarters. Shit is going down.”
“Like what?” Gibbs demanded because it better be good. This was his day off!
McGee managed to say it. “Well, Davenport is here, he is in with Vance unannounced and our Tony is flanking him in a lieutenant colonel’s uniform, and I don’t think it’s an undercover operation.”
McGee could have sworn that Gibbs was suggesting several biologically impossible things with their ancestors. “I’ll be there in five. Ziva?”
“I’m phoning her next, boss.” McGee promised.
“Do that.” Gibbs’ legendary phone manners lived up to type and he shut the call off - his piece said. After phoning Ziva, McGee didn’t know what to do so he went to find Abby, she always had good ideas.
It turns out that Abby found him first. “What is going on? Why are people telling me Tony looks hot as a marine? They got the wrong person, they meant bossman, right? Right, McGee? Why are you not talking? This is serious, Timmy!”
McGee looked helpless as he didn’t know what to say. He was still trying to wrap his head around the implications because there was only one answer you could arrive at. Very Special Anthony DiNozzo was the mask of Lt Col DiNozzo and they’d all been duped. He didn’t like that idea at all, this must be some sort of a trick. He was going to cling to that thought for as long as possible.
Still, he had to give Abby an answer before she wound up for another round of questions. “No, Ab’s, it was Tony in the outfit and he was with SECNAV.”
“Well, why?” She bit her lip, as none of this sounded good. She hated this, things were supposed to be going back to normal. Better even, if Tony was actually settling down with a nice girl. So why was someone trying to mess it up? She was going to hack this information from the ether and put it right.
Gibbs loomed over them. “Report.”
Tim gave it as he was the eyewitness. “Well, SECNAV is here, he was flanked by Tony, Boss. Only Tony was in a marine uniform and no one in Davenport’s party including SECNAV seemed to find it strange.”
Gibbs stowed his initial rage at hearing DiNozzo was in a marine outfit, to solving the bigger problem. “And why is Davenport here?”
Tim took a deep breath. “That is the thing, no-one knows, the security guard informed me that reason was left unknown. Oh, and Tony signed in with an Armed Services ID, Gibbs.”
Whatever the hell DiNozzo did whilst away on assignment ... he’d bet his house he wasn’t on the Seahawk. There was only way he was going to get answers - he moved towards the stairs.
“Where are you going, boss?”
“To get answers.”
It didn't mean that Gibbs would get answers he liked.
Chapter 8: Can you Handle the Truth?
“Leon, you have some explaining to do!”
Leon froze for a second at that voice and the opening statement - those were words you never wanted to hear from your boss, no matter what position you held. “Hello, Mr. Secretary.”
As he looked up, Vance paled at seeing DiNozzo in a marine uniform. This was not a good situation for him - that much was obvious. Leon found himself asking. “What is happening here?”
Davenport smiled but Vance would never mistake it as friendly. “Well, at least you are smarter than some of your agents. They were under impression that I would tolerate the Colonel here merely dressing up as a marine. The idea is an insult to the Corps and my intelligence. I am not sure which bothers me the most, to be honest. What do you think, Colonel DiNozzo?”
“I would say it should be both equally, Sir.” DiNozzo responded dutifully.
Davenport nodded his head as if to say he agreed. “I think you might be right, DiNozzo.”
“What do you wish for me to explain?” Vance asked, staying calm knowing that losing his composure would never aid him.
“Well, I want to know why you thought Frankenstein was a good idea, Teek. ” Davenport answered, pulling the metaphorical rug from under Vance before he’d sat down on the chair.
Tony had to admire the interrogation tactic; be calm, let them know there was no escape, and then sit down to see where the chips may fall.
“Teek was a stupid rookie mistake that blew up beyond all proportions. It was a name I made mine . He couldn’t fight and there was a big match, and the organiser was an army captain who was in debt to the to the wrong people. He freaked out, saying his friend was going to die but he couldn't do it.”
“Say his name, Director.” Tony broke into the conversation as that was the point angering him now. You make a mistake, you own it - it was part and parcel of a being an adult.
Vance looked up at DiNozzo and saw the bearings and the manners you would expect. He wore the uniform well, and Vance hated the fact that he did. He’d never felt right in it and it was this stupid mistake that was going to bring him down. “Why? You already know his name was Vance.”
Philip shrugged. “You were sloppy. It was the blood work that you let down, the entry profile and the exit profiles were not switched around.”
Vance rolled his eyes as it was a little white lie, or at least that was how it started. Only it got bigger and bigger until there was no way to rectify it. “It’s just a name.”
Davenport snorted. “No, it is the lying to the Federal Government I have a problem with, if you lie about your name ... what else have you lied about. Oh, wait, I know, Operation Frankenstein. You seriously thought that was a bright idea?” He asked it as a question but the derision in his voice left Vance under no illusions as to what he thought.”
Tony piped up, not bothering to hide his emotions. “You took good marines, men, and women, and pushed them until they snapped.”
“They did it for their country.” Vance responded, like a deluded fool. Tony didn’t know what was more worrying - the fact the programme existed or, that its curator was so clueless.
Tony snarled right back. “No, they did it because men in power chose to abuse their trust and twist their patriotism!”
AND, that was when Gibbs burst through the door demanding answers like he had the right.
“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!” Gibbs shouted in the middle of the doorway.
Tony looked to Davenport because unlike some in the room, he did understand the chain of command. At the nod from the Secretary, Tony was out of his chair and responding to the unwelcome intrusion. “Sorry, Gunny. This is beyond your pay grade. Any other questions can wait until after the Secretary has had his chat with the Director.”
Vance said nothing, and he wouldn't. It was bad enough that he was going to be dragged over hot coals - he wouldn’t let Gibbs be there to listen to his downfall.
Gibbs wasn’t done though, sneering at DiNozzo. “What the hell are you doing dressing up a marine. It’s beyond a joke!”
DiNozzo rolled his eyes. “Like I said, Agent Gibbs, if you want to discuss these issues, now is not the time. We’re here on important business - we are not here to assuage your curiosity.”
Davenport wanted to snicker at the look on Gibbs’ face. He knew he would treasure it forever - if nothing else. “What the Colonel said, Agent Gibbs. Get out of here. We’ll discuss your behaviour afterward. Now leave.”
Tony held the door open. It was clear that Gibbs was reluctant to leave but even he wasn’t so stupid as to argue with his boss’ boss. “This isn’t over.” He said as he left, looking at Tony.
Tony smirked back but added with an edge of steel. “You’re goddamn right it isn’t,” as he was closing the door to enforce the point, “but is for now.”
Vance may have had a temporary reprieve but the disruption was over and he still didn’t have an ally in the room. He wasn’t going to call a J.A.G as it would be risky. After all, Operation Frankenstein used marines so it could backfire on him. “The project was conceived as a way to fight our darkest enemies, our morals worked against us. We needed assassins who were loyal - it was a tricky proposition.”
Tony snorted. “Were you warned that the cocktail of drugs used would turn their minds into soup? You wouldn’t have controllable killers. You made the worst kind of killers, broken ones.”
Vance rolled his eyes and added sarcastically. “Oh, your sudden transfer to the marines made you a biochemist.”
Tony shook his head. “No, the P.hD in Biochemistry makes me qualified to comment on that.”
Vance’s eyes widened in surprise, so his change in attitude was only surface deep. Never mind, he was beginning to see the truth. Too bad it was too little too late. “Why wasn’t the agency aware?”
Tony smiled but it was thin. “Honestly, Director... It’s like you never read my entire file. If you did, it all was in there. How did you sneak Frankenstein into being? There was no way that would have got past a senate committee.”
Davenport leaned forward as he too was curious about this. He could see the shitstorm and had already taken steps to dismantle the programme. They would be paying for the medical costs alone for quite awhile - It was the right thing to do. “Was it Jarvis over-extending his reach?”
There wasn’t much else to say. “You know, Leon, I think you want to spend more time with the kids, and this job is taking too much of your time.”
Leon let out a sigh of relief at one point. “Is that all?”
Davenport chuckled darkly. “No that is not all. I want a written document with every date, name, and target in a file before we leave. Oh, and if it fails to match my list then you are going to jail for whatever I can make stick.”
Tony restrained himself with a small smile. As much as it pained him, true justice would have caused too many ripples. If all the details became known then it could throw into doubt any convictions Vance had been part of.
Davenport turned to Tony. “Colonel DiNozzo, why don’t you say goodbye to your co-workers. O’Neill will whisk you away soon enough.”
That sounded like a great idea.
Gibbs had been barred from the room. His anger ratcheting up every second that he thought about it. DiNozzo was in there and he was wearing a marine uniform. It was an affront to Gibbs, at least that was what it felt like.
Abby demanded to know answers before he’d even reached his desk. “What’s going on, Gibbs? Why is Tony acting like a pod person?”
Gibbs just growled, he sure as hell wasn’t going to admit he didn’t know. “Back to work people.” Abby didn’t move away, hovering to the side, but at least she was quiet for now.
Ziva, of course, did not know when to shut up. “Why is he wearing a Colonel’s uniform?” The contempt upon her face let everyone know her feelings about his worthiness, on top of her extra snide. “I thought the marines were about being the best of the best. I assumed clowns need not apply.”
Gibbs growled at Ziva. “Don’t talk about what you don’t understand. Run down DiNozzo’s Marine record. NOW!”
“You mean this is real?” Ziva asked sharply, not quite able to believe it.
Gibbs sneered. “Would I ask you if it wasn’t?”
McGee was already into the database and tried to access the file. The file flashed up Top Secret - Eyes only. - Ordered by General Jonathan O’Neill.
“It’s sealed.” McGee said paler than before as the only time they’d encountered that was when the soldier was special/black ops. “On orders of General O’Neill.”
“What?” Gibbs was reeling. He knew the man and the soldier was a career man, this wouldn't be a prank. If Tony was in the marines then he would certainly have the firepower and the backing to make it happen. Gibbs had often wondered how the man he knew from so long ago, with his problem with authority, had made it to a Joint-Chief.
Tim showed him his screen, where the file was flashed up. All they had access to was a basic list of medals awarded, his education, and date of birth. Tim asked in a quiet voice. “Did you know about his Doctorate?”
Gibbs shook his head, he was starting to get the idea there was a lot he didn’t know about his SFA. How did this happen? “When did the record start?”
Tim shrugged. “Difficult to say but I did hear rumours a while back about a special commission of a ranking officer. There were wild rumours as it was straight to Lieutenant Colonel, Boss.”
The same rank Tony had walked in with, how could Tony embody the Corps values? There were so many questions, Gibbs didn’t know where to start. And for once, his tactic of being a growly bastard didn’t help.
There was an amused voice to the side. “So have you figured it out yet?”
And there Tony stood before them looking more of a stranger than any of them could ever remember. Gibbs sighed. “The afloat assignment ... you were pulled elsewhere.”
Tony smiled and it was full and bright. Gibbs was trying to recall the last time he’d seen Tony smile - and it had been before Jenny.
Tony did confirm his theory. “That’s right. So I figure now is the perfect time to confess. I transferred a while ago so I should hand these in.”
Tony handed over the NCIS service weapon and his badge. “I’d say it’s been a pleasure but that would be a lie - at least these last few years.”
Abby had a hand over her mouth and there were tears in her eyes. “You don’t mean that, Tony.”
Gibbs growled. “And what is that supposed to mean?”
Tony got right up into Gibbs’ face - he would not let this man intimidate him. “You know what Gibbs? I will spell it out. This team hasn’t watched my six in a long time so I went elsewhere for my own safety. If you can’t handle that then you need to look in the mirror.”
The whole bullpen was silent and Tony didn’t give a shit. This had been a long time coming and it was not his fault that Gibbs wanted to air his anger in public.
Tim didn’t care about all that as much as the idea of Tony with a doctorate. “When did you have the time to get a doctorate?”
Tony had a wicked grin. “You know all those supposed women?”
Tim nodded not understanding where this was going. “Yes.”
“They usually were my professors, and no McGee I didn’t sleep with them to get a passing grade. You had a picture of me, I just fed into it.”
Tim was shaking his head. It wouldn't take a lot, Tony felt, for him to be stamping his foot. He could laugh at how pathetic it looked but honestly - it would have been too easy.
Gibbs shook his head. “You don’t know what it means to be a marine, DiNozzo.”
Tony stood up tall and proud because that was one claim he was more than happy to blast away. “Gibbs, you taught Kate and me the values; honour, courage and commitment. You said that it was how every marine should think, act and fight. You told us that it shouldn’t be just how marines think but also agents.” He took a deep breath because he did believe that - he hadn’t forgotten the lessons Gibbs had taught him. He was grateful for that at least.
“Too bad you forgot your own thinking. The list of ways is too long and unlike yourself, if I have a problem I will conduct the meeting face to face but in private. I have no reason to tear someone down in public to feel stronger.”
Tony saw the slight flush and knew that he’d struck home. Ziva was about to say something and Tony just put his finger up. “Be quiet, Ziva. You have no right to say a damn thing. Be warned, your nose better be clean because all your interactions with NCIS are under review.”
“Why? It’s Ziva, we trust her.” Tim tried to defend his teammate.
Tony snorted. “No, McNaive , you trusted her. I always interacted with Ziva like she was an Israeli Mossad Agent who shouldn't have access to top secret files. It’s why she hates me and has done her level best to undermine me at every occasion. It’s alright, I didn’t take it personally.”
Tony looked at his co-workers and knew that he didn’t need to say anymore. The fine tooth comb that was about to pour over the agency would settle any of his remaining concerns. He had no doubt that all of the ills of the agency would no doubt be blamed on him somehow. He couldn’t find it in him to care. He’d stayed at the agency and matured during his time - his co-workers had just got older.
In what was a perfect piece of timing, Davenport was done. He guessed he was with the way Vance left the bullpen with his head down saying nothing. “Agent Gibbs, you’re in charge until Granger can get in from LA.”
“Where is Vance?”
Gibbs saw the way Davenport’s and Tony’s expressions darkened at the man’s name. He would find out soon enough. “Anything else apart from stealing my SFA?”
Davenport decided that Gibbs’ sarcastic retort was just too perfect in terms of timing for his last event at NCIS this day. “Now you mention it, there is. Lieutenant Colonel DiNozzo, stand forward.”
Tony walked forward as instructed, not understanding what there was left to do. They’d gotten all they needed from Vance and he’d said goodbye. Davenport had a grin on his face. “I know you think your business is done here. Still, I beg one more indulgence of you. For your work with the Air-Force and helping them break their national security leak problem ... You have been awarded the
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for meritorious service.”
Tony accepted the medal, with a salute. The rest of the bullpen exploded in applause. It might have hurt the fact his own team and Abby were just standing there not doing a damn thing. It didn’t because Tony had the best reward possible. He was free and once he walked out of the bullpen unless there were exceptional circumstances, he would not have to step into the accursed place again and that suited him down to the ground.
Tony left with Davenport with his head held high. He was guessing as the other car pulled away. “Vance?”
Davenport nodded. “Oh, there is going to be a major debrief to decide on what consequences he will face. I still don’t feel that I know every piece of Frankenstein ... but I will.”
Tony nodded. “I have no doubt, sir.”
Davenport sighed. “Tomorrow, you report to General O’Neill. You’re dismissed, Colonel, as soon as we get back to the Pentagon.”
Tony walked into the hotel room, now even more glad that they were staying there as he had no doubt that his old team would probably go around to his apartment demanding answers. And as amusing as watching Cameron run them off would be, he just wanted to spend an evening free of craziness.
Tony removed his jacket and folded his slacks neatly. He wasn’t going to crease his dress uniform. It wasn’t as if Cameron would object to finding him in his boxers. If Tony was really lucky - Cam would take advantage of the situation. In reality, Tony flopped back on the bed, just taking a moment to relax.
The shower turned off and Tony watched as Cameron walked back into the room with just a towel around his waist. Tony was suddenly deathly interested in the flow of water molecules over muscles. Oh, and his tiredness seemed to miraculously disappear.
Cameron was smirking at him. “You’re too tired to do anything, no matter what your body is telling you.”
Tony sighed. “You may be right but you can’t blame me.”
Cameron chuckled. “Let’s watch the game.”
Cameron didn’t think it would take that long for Tony to fall asleep but he would never deny himself a chance to cuddle with Tony. He flipped the TV on to a sports channel showing a rerun of a football match that they’d both missed due to work commitments. “You don't know who won the pro-bowl?”
Tony shrugged and settled into watch the show, even if there was a more than welcome distraction from Cameron’s welcome wandering hands. Then their screen cut off ... they looked to each other as they both knew the code in the tv screen corner. It was a government one for emergency broadcast.
The screen flashed breaking news. The image was straight out of a sci-fi show at least that was what Tony thought. It set a stirring in his heart that he couldn't explain, there was a pang there that almost hurt.
His hand was touching the screen, not that he remembered touching it or even getting up so he could touch it. “Home.”
Cameron wondered what the fuck was going on? Why was Atlantis on NBC? Oh, and more importantly ... Why had Tony just called Atlantis home ... In ancient?
Tony looked at him freaked out. “What’s happening?”
Cameron hugged him close. “I have no idea - but we’ll find out together.”
Chapter 9: Homeward bound?
Chapter 9: Homeward Bound?
Tony couldn’t put into words what he was feeling looking at the alien city on the screen in front of him. There was a sense of attachment that scared the hell out of him - why would he care about something that he never before had seen in his life. The TV was having a field day as you might expect. The most common headline was Aliens Amongst Us?
Cameron’s phone went off as one might predict. There were a billion questions that he could ask but he focussed on the main one. “Why am I seeing Atlantis on NBC’s news?”
Tony snorted at the casual question to something that felt major. He kept his gaze on the tv screen. There was a sense of belonging there that he couldn’t remember in quite a while, ever in fact. What was freaking Tony out was that he couldn’t seem to shake the feeling.
Cameron looked at Tony and didn’t bother to hide his concern. The more he heard, there was one only conclusion anyone who was in the know could reach. He repeated what he heard on the phone for the benefit of Tony, the best way to attack a problem was information. “She said son found and the cloak fell. Fancy that.” Cameron had to make a decision quickly and when it came down to it, he needed to know who to trust. This was too big for him on his own to solve so he reached out to a man he knew would have their back. “General O’Neill, can you beam to our location?”
Cameron rolled his eyes at the blatant sarcasm. “I am aware that you are currently having to set the spin cycle of the century off. You should use Sheppard and Sam, they’re the most photogenic. No, Sir, I don’t want to say anymore other than I think I may have the answer to your riddle.” That was all he was willing to say over the phone but he knew that it would be enough to capture the interest of O’Neill.
O’Neill groaned. “Fine, give me ten. The President is about to go on air.”
Cameron had been telling Tony everything he needed to know while they waited for O’Neill. Given the crazy way he was about to be pulled in, they assumed they were about to be called into work rather quickly.
“Go on, you have a theory.” O’Neill said before even the beam had fully materialised.
“It’s Tony.” Cameron said, knowing even as he uttered the words that it was true. “We don’t know how but as soon as he saw Atlantis, even without being told anything, he called it ‘home’ in ancient .”
O’Neill snorted because when could their lives ever be simple? Take for instance right now, with the mess and the rush they were going to have to put on declassification. Why had it happened? Well, it was simple, one of the scientists wanted to prove they were capable of being part of McKay’s inner circle. In doing so, they triggered some new Ancient subroutine and as a result, Atlantis went searching for her missing son.
It had taken Sheppard and McKay cutting short their honeymoon to get the cloak back up. In an ideal world, O’Neill would have ordered the city to move to the arctic area as it was international waters and remote enough for the less curious to be deterred. However, right now the initial reports were that despite all of McKay’s and Sheppard’s attempts at sweet talking the city she wasn’t willing to listen.
O’Neill knew that Mitchell was right in his explanation even without testing it. It made a twisted kind of sense. “Well, it’s funny you should say that. When we ran all the samples in the Armed Services Repository for the ATA gene a few years ago, DiNozzo’s bloodwork showed an exceptionally strong expression, stronger than both mine and Sheppard’s.” O’Neill pointed out, which let Cameron know just how likely it was that he was indeed right.
Tony shrugged as O’Neill looked at him as if he might have the answers. “I have no idea why a city is claiming me as her son. I’m pretty sure my mother would object but then again, she died when I was a child.”
Jack thought about that and he was getting the feeling Mama DiNozzo may just be an Ancient, which then threw up many more questions. He had to broach the topic somehow. “Not to sound insensitive but - an alien city on tv and all that. So how did she die? And do you remember her well?”
Tony thought about it. “No. Senior just said she died in a car crash.”
Jack highly doubted that. “There are things we need to discuss and decide how much is released. For now, the only people who know who Atlantis’ son is will be the three of us in this room. You’re packed?”
“Yes, General.” They both said at the same time.
“Then let’s move out. Daedalus - beam all three of us to the mountain.”
Tony got a sense that things were going to move quickly. He knew there would be no gentle introduction to the programme but that was okay, he was a roll with the flow kind of guy. He would just make sure that he consumed every report he could. The mountain was bustling as one might expect when their secret operation suddenly broadcast to the entire world.
“General O’Neill, Colonels. Glad you’re here.”
Cameron smirked. “Where else would we be. Corporal, stow our gear in my quarters here on base.”
O’Neill called the meeting to order. “Right - as you might imagine there are several things that we need to discuss. I want an update, people.”
Samantha spoke up. “The cloak on Atlantis is now back up but the scientists are in uproar. It seems several of the systems seem to be frozen, waiting for someone’s input.”
Jack quirked an eyebrow because that was perhaps the vaguest thing he’d ever heard and that was saying something. “Someone’s input?”
She nodded and shrugged as she said it. There was not a lot she or Rodney could do when the system wouldn’t respond to Colonel Sheppard. “It’s even refusing to work for Sheppard, so we don’t know what to do.”
“Understood.” O’Neill looked at DiNozzo and they both knew who could re-initialise the system. Although now was not the time to mention that. He needed a rapid update on other parts of the Stargate programme. “How are the off-world teams?”
Hank, who was the now the General stationed at the Mountain, answered. “Only SG2 remain off-world. They acknowledged the message to return to the gate but they were six hours away from the gate itself. We had quite a few people about to depart on leave, however I have, for now, ordered all staff to stay within the mountain in their base quarters.”
Well, it would be a tight fit but thank god they’d built the programme in a cold war bunker, the leaders were really paranoid and planned for a lot of guests should there be a nuclear war. O’Neill wasn’t going to change the orders for at least 48 hours. He’d put their airships in orbit around the dark side of the moon and confined the Peterson air squadrons to the base. It was just simple prudence until he knew how this was going to play out in the press - good or bad.
Which brought him to the one question he didn’t want to ask and left this to the open table. “How is Declassification tracking in the press?”
This time it was Tony who spoke first. “I reached out to a friend at Greenbook, they’re the ones providing NBC with their numbers. Seventy-three percent are ecstatic that ET is real. The rest don’t like the idea the news was hidden from them.”
O’Neill snorted. “So, nothing new there. Can your contact do a quiet poll for us, DiNozzo, on a few questions to help guide how we present Declassification in the press?”
“Yes, General,” Tony responded.
O’Neill smirked. “As some of you might not be aware, the Lieutenant Colonel is joining us today having done some quiet work in taking on the Trust issue without knowing what it was. Oh, and he found out about all this on the TV a few hours ago.”
Everyone looked at him in shock at how calm he was. It seemed silly, so what if aliens were real. He would deal with them the same way he dealt with humans. If they were friendly then he would be polite and friendly in return. If they were threats then he would take them out, or arrest them if it was at all possible. “Never liked starting an assignment slowly.”
That earned a few wry chuckles. O’Neill smirked. “Good, then you will be getting your backside to Atlantis and switching her back on.”
Now everyone was shocked and Tony got the feeling he was under a microscope. He could understand the scrutiny to a certain extent but he had to wonder how the General was going to explain this without expressing their suspicion.
“Sir?” Carter said, and you could tell how long they’d worked together when that was all she needed to say.
O’Neill smirked. “DiNozzo here has a very strong expression of the ATA gene. If there is anyone who can persuade Atlantis to reinitialise, it will be the Colonel. How soon can we make it happen?”
Sam checked her messages. “Whenever you want to make it happen?”
O’Neill thought about it for a second. “Once this meeting is done. Mitchell, you’ll fly DiNozzo out and collect the report from Woolsey in person. Let’s not offer any opportunities for leaks to happen.”
The meeting broke up quickly after that and Tony was on his way to Atlantis to play giant light switch or something. At least that was the impression he had from their meeting. “So we’re going to Atlantis?”
Cameron nodded. “That’s right but we’re flying there so let’s get moving.”
Tony didn’t know why he was apprehensive. It was difficult put into words what he was feeling. He knew that his life would irrevocably change once again and he wasn’t sure if he was ready. Oh - who was he kidding? It didn’t matter, he would do it and so much more to keep people safe - even face his twisted childhood.
Tony walked into the puddle jumper and looked all around it. He peeked high and low as he watched Cameron sit in the pilot’s chair. As he did, he felt the mental equivalent of a puppy tug in his brain. He should be freaked at the idea he was communicating with an alien ship but he couldn’t. “Damn, it’s cute and chatty. Is it supposed to be?”
Cameron shook his head. “No, not that anyone else has reported.” He tapped a few controls and realised his mistake. The ATA therapy had given him the ability to fly a ship but with Tony standing inside the puddle jumper, there was no way the ship would respond to him first. Ancient technology was kind of elitist like that when it came to how it worked. “Can you think at the ship about giving me pilot control.”
“Done,” Tony said with simple trust.
Cameron let out a breath of relief as this could have gone so much worse. He would be happy to give Tony piloting lessons. In fact, he couldn’t think of anything sexier but ... he was aware that now was not the time especially with the International media scrutiny so tightly focussed on them.
“Stargate command, this is Shaft, we are taking off now, engaging cloak.”
“Confirmed puddlejumper 1. Safe journey.”
And less than ten minutes later, Tony could see San Francisco bay whiz past on the view screen. And he was waiting to see the city up close and in person, not just a figure on the TV screen. Cameron felt the autopilot of the city kick in ready to guide the ship into its docking bay. This was it - show time.
“You ready?” Cameron asked his boyfriend.
Tony nodded, not ready to trust his voice. Time to go down the rabbit hole. “Yep, Let’s go.”
As the door released they were met by two figures. Tony saluted Sheppard as was right with the man’s recent promotion for saving the Earth. Sheppard returned it and was openly curious about Tony’s presence. Thankfully, an advantage of having arrived in the middle of a crisis was that whilst everyone was curious about Tony, no one had the time to ask invasive questions.
Cameron stepped forward. “So we’re here about a stubborn city problem?”
“Yet another fair eyed boy that Atlantis favours?” The scientist mentioned sarcastically. Ah, this must be the infamously grouchy scientist whose honeymoon had been cut short.
He saw Cameron roll his eyes and Tony could guess this was Dr. McKay. He sounded fun to talk to and Tony would do his best to strike up a friendship with the man. “That’s what they tell me.”
“You’re a marine?” The scientist asked.
“Lieutenant Colonel DiNozzo or I suspect you may prefer to call me Dr. DiNozzo.” He knew that to some scientists, hearing the doctorate helped smooth over any assumptions.
McKay sighed with exasperation as it seemed like there was a specific profile for the Stargate recruitment . “So you are another way too smart soldier who hides his smarts. Damn it, now there are two of you, Sheppard!”
Tony looked at Cameron and didn’t know whether or not he should be laughing. Cameron was no help as he looked to be in the same mood. Sheppard did finally speak now. “Atlantis is being stubborn and I would really like to get her to International Waters before the gloss shines off the fact that ET is real.“.
Tony looked up at the ceiling lost in the conversation. The amount of information running through his head right now was mind boggling. If the puddle-jumper was like an excited puppy, the city was like an excited five-year-old. “She is something else.”
McKay and Cameron stared at him in confusion and Tony frowned and yet Sheppard grinned at him. “She’s quite a girl.”
McKay rolled his eyes at the favoured son bonding moment. If this was a Hollywood movie then there would be some extra lighting and soaring music. “Yes, yes, you can bond over the city later. Right now, we need to get her moved to a safe place. So we need fair eye boy to get her online and you to move her.”
Sheppard smirked at his husband knowing just what he was thinking. “Yes, dear.”
Cameron and Tony followed the two Atlantean members through the winding corridors. Cameron couldn’t help but notice that Tony seemed to know they were going. It wasn’t a difficult assumption considering Tony was keeping up with the conversation with Sheppard and himself and not even looking at where they were going.
The Control Chair room was the guiding place of the city. It was in the heart of the city and let a person interact with the city’s functions in the purest form. The room, whilst functional, was as beautiful as any other in the city.
McKay moved over to the working consoles. “So, Colonel DiNozzo, if you can sit in the chair and think about re-initialising functions we will have an answer.”
Tony sat on the chair and felt the cushion almost mold to his body which was strange. “I need you to jolt me if it looks like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.”
Cameron nodded, as there was no way he would leave Tony stuck surfing the waves of the city’s computers. It helped Tony relax enough to focus on the task at hand. Tony felt the chair recline and let himself relax into the motion. And wow, what a rush. Tony had a sneaky suspicion that this is what entering the Matrix felt like to Neo. The city leaped to complete his wishes.
He felt Cameron squeeze his leg and he was glad of it. The man knew that touch would ground him. He switched on every system that was currently stuck. He almost went further into the systems but the touch to his leg which was weird as it almost didn’t feel like his body.
In fact, the tug to the real world got even stronger. There was something other than his own will tugging him to return to the chair room.
“Hey there. You have fun?” Cameron’s bright face was the first thing he saw.
Tony whispered. “I think I just fell into the Matrix.”
“Uh huh, well, Neo , you should know it worked.” Cameron wanted to assure him.
Tony already knew that but he was glad for the verbal confirmation. The reveals weren’t over for the day though as the room filled with an eerie white glow, almost looking like a demented alien jellyfish. Only Ton knew who it would be. The light show ended and an ethereally beautiful woman stood before them in an all too familiar white uniform of a True Ancient . The others sucked their breath in, waiting for her to speak.
“It’s time you join us, Tony, and come home.”
Tony’s mind was reeling as the others in the room stood frozen. This was so much more complicated than they even knew. Cameron squeezed his hand and Tony had felt the way he stiffened at the idea of Tony leaving. He backed away from the woman. “You died, mom, when I was eight and that is all you have to say to me?”
“You know where you belong, son, with your family.”
Chapter 10: Where do I belong?
Massive thanks to Edronhia who has out up with three totally different drafts before I was happy with it!
Also a big shout out to all the reviews and kudos, I am glad you are all still enjoying the Black Book Universe :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Chapter 10: Where do I belong?
Tony was staring at his mother, the Ancient. Yeah, no matter how many times he thought it - it was still weird. When he thought about it, Tony couldn’t remember a time when after his mother had died, he’d truly felt like he belonged anywhere. He may have found the odd place here or there where he was glad to wait ... but nowhere to belong.
Tony found his voice. “Why are you here now, mother?”
She looked shocked at his harsh tone but Tony didn’t give a damn. He was too busy wondering why the mother who had supposedly died when he was eight years old, was now standing before him in a white dress looking decidedly
“We have a baby Ancient!” McKay shouted.
Sheppard shushed. “Now is not the time, Rodney.”
He didn’t need to be a military strategist to know that this had the potential to go bad real quick. He could feel the city’s unease, whilst she adored DiNozzo - she hated Mama DiNozzo.
Tony snorted at McKay’s comment but he still hadn’t taken his eyes off his mother. Gibbs had always lectured him about never take your eyes off a wildcard surprise. He should have felt joy at the return of his mother, and yet all he could feel was a deep well of rage. She had left him here to rot with his father. She may be some cool uber alien but that paled in comparison to being abandoned in Tony’s eyes.
Tony had done a lot of reading in the limited time that he’d been made aware of the Stargate programme. It had centered around the Ancient race especially when Cameron and O’Neill shared his potentially freaky genetics. Information would always be power in any situation and he didn’t have enough to have the upper hand. He was glad that Cameron was standing close to him as he nearly reeled due to an onslaught of information that went straight into his brain.
He’d just had an ancient download, only he knew that this wouldn’t leak out of his mind the way it had with O’Neill. Tony knew how the Ancients policed themselves and that was what he needed to go on the attack. So what should he open with? I see the rumors of your death are exaggerated? How’s tricks?
He dismissed all of them and instead settled for a sarcastic. “Hey, mom. Long time no see. How’s life? You’d know if you’d been in mine.”
That got a snort from his boyfriend at least. Good, he’d felt Cameron tense the minute his mom had called him son . There was no way Tony would be bullied into leaving without a fight. He’d also be having words with his boyfriend once they were alone about doubt and just how serious he was about their relationship.
Tony saw the vexed look across his mother’s face, it seemed they may share looks and mannerisms but not personalities - That much was clear .
She opened and closed her mouth a few times. Tony wished it was because she was not used to communicating verbally, but it wasn’t. She had tried to communicate mentally but he wouldn’t let the others be dismissed from the conversation. She tried to explain it away with a weak. “I would have stayed but it was against the rules.”
“So, I am ….. what? …. against the law? Am I about to get the visit? Have you risked my life by coming here?” Tony pressed, not liking her weak answer. He knew that he was safe as Atlantis had assured him that he was. The rules were clear - the oathbreaker was punished but never a child. They were innocent of any crime committed by a parent, which was a relief.
Cameron spoke up. “Now wait a minute? What do you mean?”
Tony waved a hand at him to say don’t stress. “It will be cool, I’m sure ... Right, Mom?”
“I wouldn’t risk your life, Antonius.” She replied with disbelief at being asked such a question.
Tony knew that it was more than justified as a question. “But what would you risk?”
The awkward silence spoke volumes all in itself. Tony stared, flatly refusing to budge on this matter. He deserved an answer to why he’d been abandoned. Also, as to why all of a sudden he was all shiny and good enough to speak to again.
She sighed. “Son, you have to realise that I couldn’t interfere in this culture. It is against the rules, and I risked banishment.”
Tony had two issues, one he knew she was lying. He’d stayed alive for this long knowing when he was being lied to - she had definitely interfered in Earth’s culture. The question in Tony’s mind was how recently? He hoped Atlantis would help him relay a message to Sheppard in his mind that he should follow his lead as he had a tentative plan.
“You had a child! There doesn’t get a much bigger interference!” Tony roared at her feigning more anger to keep her off guard.
“I know, and that is why I was punished, and I was banned from visiting.” She answered but in Tony’s eyes - she didn’t look very contrite. After all, where was the sadness or the tears? She may not be human but she was still conveying emotions only they were on the wrong end of the spectrum.
Tony wasn’t sure what she was looking for here - validation, maybe. “Still not sure why I should be buying whatever it is that you’re selling.”
There was also the suspicious part of him that just couldn’t shake the idea that she was responsible for the problems on Atlantis. If her race were so big on non-interference then being here on Atlantis was a pretty big interference, still even if the whole planet knew about Atlantis now.
She had a pleased grin on her face. “You are already so strong as you won’t let me communicate with you mentally. You are one of us, Antonius. Your birthright, your heritage is activating. You must come with me.” She pleaded.
Tony rolled his eyes and stubbornly rocked on his heels. “You know what? ... I think I’m going to pass. I know who I am. I am Lieutenant Colonel Anthony DiNozzo, and I know where I belong and it is not in the sky sitting back and watching the universe pass me by. I made a commitment to the Corps, one I won’t break.”
He squeezed Cameron’s shoulder in a place she couldn’t see thanks to the angle. He was pretty committed to Cameron too but he didn’t want his mother to know that if she took his rejection badly.
She looked so angry at him and Tony couldn’t find it in him to care. It was just too bad. She doesn’t get to be an absent mom and then barge her way back into his life and make demands on him. “You shall listen to reason. Your world will be too distracted by the revelation of non-indigenous life and the ensuing conflict that is bound to occur. In fact, it is already starting riots in the European region.”
Tony did not like her smug look. She seemed to be pleased by the fact that the Atlantis reveal had caused regions to destabilise. Why would she be pleased unless that was her intention?
“Jesus Christ, woman. You don’t get it. I won’t be a willing party to whatever you’re selling. You have way too much explaining to do. Now, if you’ll excuse me, we have things to do. Starting with fixing your interference because I just know that you had something to do with the shield failing.”
She folded her arms and smirked at him. “The city had been searching for you ever since it returned to Terra, and stopped me from trying to find you in return. Well, I might not have got in but I gave as good as I got.”
Tony heard the others suck in a breath but they should have more faith. Plus, he was an excellent poker player, his bluff was so on point that he never lost. “Mother, I say this with my hand on my heart ... you’re a real piece of work … and I thought Dad being a con man was the worst of it.”
Sheppard snickered. “And I hated being the son of Patrick Sheppard.”
Tony grinned at him. “At least he knew how to keep his money. Dad couldn’t keep hold of it for long.”
“You cannot speak to me like that ... I am your mother.”
Tony snorted in disgust at her. “I repeat... You may have given birth to me but you are not my mother, they tend to have a hand in raising you!”
“They won’t let you stay.” She said so cocksure and Tony knew she was lying. Was it sad that he trusted a city more than his own biological mother?
Tony shrugged. “Well then, they can come down here and tell me but I suspect that you really don’t want that to happen.”
She stood tall and proud as if it would help her cover her concern. “And why would I care?”
Tony’s smirk turned wicked because he may now be a Lieutenant Colonel in Marines but that didn’t mean he hadn’t lost his ability to interrogate a witness. The conversation had all but turned in his favour. “Well, Colonel Sheppard ... would I be right in thinking that there is a pretty big no interference policy?”
“Their punishments range from de-ascension, memory loss or my personal favourite being chained to the planet and only using your powers in defense of the planet if you alter the course of their history. You may know Chaya-Sar?”
Mama DiNozzo tried to maintain her haughty looked but it was swiftly turning to harried. “You don’t know what you mean. It was an accident.”
Tony tutted. “An accident that could very well set off world wars on my planet and what all so you could get a mother’s day card?”
She shook her head. “There are factions brewing amongst us, I am worried for my child as you are born of two worlds.”
“I have been doing just fine without you!” Tony assured her, hating every minute of this. The fact his family drama was playing out in front of witnesses. He would have told Cameron all about it but in his own time, when he was ready. Tony had to laugh at the images Atlantis, who in his mind he was starting to call Ally, was sending him. Although she was adamant that any punishment did not involve his mother staying on the city.
Tony asked Ally if there was a way to contact the ascended or to know if they were already listening. He got a picture of an ear, so he was guessing that meant they were already listening. Time to kick the interrogation up a gear, and he was still going to use the others. He could tell that what his mother hated most of all was the way she was not the sole source of his attention. He couldn’t help his grin at the last image Ally sent him - it was not flattering at all toward his mother.
Tony smiled at her knowing it would bother her more. “Well, it’s quite simple, the city likes us more. And let’s face it if you try and use your powers to force the issue I am sure that would count as a violation of the agreement that binds your people. Then again, revealing the city to the general populace already broke the rules.”
All could see by the look on her face that Tony was right. “This isn’t over.” And she tried to disappear once more in a light show.
Tony looked up at the ceiling. “You’re goddamn right it isn’t over. You still have some explaining to do!”
Only his mother never disappeared and Tony wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing. A cornered animal was always likely to strike out and he knew he got his wild card antics from somewhere.
“What did you do?”
Tony shrugged. “Wasn’t me. Was it you, Colonel Sheppard?”
“Colonel Mitchell?” Tony asked.
Cameron had a smirk on his face. “Nope.”
Tony sighed. “Okay, did you do something, Dr. McKay?”
“No, I wanted the crazy lady off the city.” Was McKay’s logical and possibly infuriating answer. Cameron was going to ask him about his self-preservation instincts when this was all said and done.
Mama DiNozzo started to shake her head looking at the ceiling. “No, you can’t have. I did it for the right reasons ... You have to see this. He has too much power to stay, surely you agree.”
Three new figures joined them and soon Sheppard was going to send for refreshments. He was guessing this was a council of some description. He would play along as he knew DiNozzo was hoping to get some help toward fixing the mess of their revelation.
“Lorelai, what have you done?” The one elder gentleman asked.
“Papa, Antonius needs to come home with us.”
Tony nearly stumbled into Cameron because this was getting more and more convoluted and way too much family for his liking. So Grandfather wasn’t a spoiled English Lord like his Dad had always told him. Who knew?
“Yeah about that, I am home. I have made that clear plus I need to clear up your mess. I won’t leave my people.” Tony stated wanting to make his intentions clear.
“Nepos, your Mater has a valid point, I can sense our power running through your veins.”
Tony knew what he was talking about as it had been slowly activating since he’d stepped foot in the city. “Avus, I can’t. I would rather bind my power than leave.”
He spoke the words knowing that every word was the truth. He was sincere in his sentiment. “My world is in chaos because Mater had a temper tantrum and couldn’t speak to me like a normal person!”
“You’re my son!”
Tony bit back. “You can’t keep saying that like it absolves you of any responsibility.”
His grandfather seemed to agree. “Look at the cost of your interference.” A wisp seemed to float in front of his mother’s eyes. He was trying to deal with the fact that his mom’s side of the family could see futures. He was okay with aliens, he was, and besides he had no stones to throw considering his genetics. He would, however, draw the line at a Blue Police Box appearing.
She gasped. “It is one city, Pater.”
“Terra would be lost forever if we don’t act. You are grounded to the home galaxy. Leave now, and I will talk you with you later!”
His mother skipped out on them quickly looking as mopey as a punished teenager. It was a ridiculous analogy considering her age and power but not an untrue comparison.
The two companions who had accompanied his grandfather disappeared moments later.
Tony asked. “Where have your friends gone?”
His grandfather smirked at him. Tony was glad to see that as he aged he had nothing to worry about. “They are fixing Terra’s problem. There will be consequences for their actions on your world.”
Tony asked the only question he could. “Like what?”
His grandfather. “The council are removing the memories of Atlantis from people’s minds within one of your Terran hours. I suggest your physicus removes any other images that are recorded.”
McKay was jumping onto a computer terminal summoning his computer skills to send one of the most sophisticated viruses he could create. The Ancients, for once, had given them a lifeline and he was not stupid enough to kick a gift horse in the mouth. He turned around. “What about us?”
The elderly agent smirked. “Oh, you three will all remember, or how will you stop the mistake repeating?”
And then he disappeared just like all their other ancient guests before them. Tony sagged as the adrenaline he’d been running on left him. “What a first day!”
Sheppard snickered. “You know what, DiNozzo, you are going to be something else. Welcome to the programme. You are going to be fun I can tell, even if you’ve shacked up with Shaft.”
Cameron groaned because he knew that Tony would hold his call sign against him, or tease him about it.
Tony, seeing how close McKay and Sheppard were standing, did the same with Cameron. “I know a good thing when I see it.”
Sheppard had a horrible thought, he trusted the ancients to do a memory wipe even if that was a scary thought. In truth, seeing just what they could achieve if they put their minds to it - he was rather glad they had their noninterference policy. “Who wants to tell O’Neill?”
The silence was deafening.
It turns out that his Grandfather was actually pretty cool and occasionally popped into his dreams to have a chat, or offer a friendly warning. For example, when there was a mission to a planet - he would give an adamant warning Tony should not go. Tony relayed the warning and after the first mission was particularly harrowing there was an unwritten rule - don’t go and block the address.
His trainees from the Academy were upset to find out he was not Air-Force but rather a Marine, except for Cadman. She liked his love of knives and they taught the other about their favourite discipline - her's being bombs. It came in handy as she ended up as the second on his gate team. Yeah, he was working in the mountain but spent a cycle of a week on Atlantis every four weeks - to keep the city happy.
O’Neill was a cool guy though, as he sent Cameron with him - under the excuse of training the air squadron.
It was like Tony had said - he knew where he belonged now and things were not just good, they were great.
I may be convinced to write timestamps for this universe but not until I have rattled through expanding the volume 1 Black Book stories.
Thanks for reading!