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The Way I Thought That It Could BE

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"God, what a fuck up," Tony sighed as the door to his office closed and he was alone once more.

He slumped a little in his chair, raising a hand to massage away the headache he could feel building beneath his temples. If Tony never heard the name René Benoit again it would be too soon. About six months ago, one of their weapons trafficking and control teams had begun an active investigation into a man that had been on their radar for quite some time. Okay, so what actually happened was that the CIA had a man infiltrate Benoit's operations and the FBI couldn't be seen slacking off. Inter-agency co-operation had become the biggest thing since colour TV after 9/11 and it just would not do for the CIA to be able to legitimately claim all the credit for bringing down one of the world's most prolific weapons dealers.

La Grenouille was also one of the most evasive criminals the FBI had ever had the misfortune of crossing and hence the reason they had...ahem, postponed active investigation into his operation until they had the backing of another federal agency. Personally,Tony would have preferred NCIS but it was possible he was just a little biased and maybe it was a good thing Benoit had nothing to do with the Navy or marines. It wouldn't be very professional of him to plan a joint-op solely because he wanted to spend more time with Gibbs.

But Tony digressed. He'd just had a meeting with Agent Todd Wilshire, the Supervisory Special Agent in charge of the team that was working alongside the CIA and Trent Kort, the CIA's undercover agent. About six months ago it had come to the FBI's attention that Jenny Shepard had been making inquiries into the whereabouts of René Benoit. They were appropriately discreet inquiries, of course. The woman had been trained by Gibbs after all. Still, word had gotten back to Wilshire who had then informed Tony who had then put a set of eyes on Jenny. He knew her background and she hadbeen pretty loud in her protests about her father's innocence. She'd put an agent undercover to get close to Jeanne Benoit but, apart from that, had made no other move to get close to La Grenouille.

Tony was torn between relief and wariness. On one hand Jenny had done little to put herself and, by extension, Gibbs in danger but assigning an agent to befriend Benoit's daughter meant that it was only a matter of time. Also the kind of resentment and hate Jenny harboured for La Grenouille wasn't something that just went away. Feelings like that festered, growing steadily darker and more venomous until their holder was unable to contain them anymore and they erupted, burning anyone they came in contact with and leaving their holder worn and even more bitter than before. Tony was very worried that Jenny was close to erupting.

Besides, Kort gave him the shivers. There was something very dangerous about that man and Tony had not come to be Associate Deputy Director of the FBI without coming across his share of hardened criminals and general psychopaths. Kort made some of them look like puppies. Tony's gaze turned towards the large windows overlooking a panoramic view of the city as his fingers traced patterns on his desk. He could wait and see how this all played out. His guys weren't in any immediate danger after all. They were merely providing back-up and sometimes information for the CIA. Jenny wasn't really any of his concern. She was the Director of a federal agency and was well within her rights to put feelers out on Benoit. Except she had done a little more than just put out feelers.

Decision made, Tony lifted the phone from it's receiver. He never had been one to let others have all the fun.

~O

Keeping her head lowered as much as possible, Ziva David glanced up towards the desk across from her. Kate was typing up a report and Ziva quickly glanced back down at her own work, just in time to avoid Kate catching her looking. Kate's eyes narrowed as she regarded her colleague, taking in the tumble of dark curls and curve off Ziva's shoulder as she bent over paperwork. Kate's lips pursed and she watched Ziva for another moment before returning to her own work.

The second Kate's attention was off of her, Ziva glanced up once again. She hesitated for a second, glancing at Gibbs' desk. It was still empty. McGee, however, was staring at her with blatant amusement. He raised his eyebrows in question, a smile tugging at his lips and Ziva narrowed her eyes. He should not be brave enough yet to be able to laugh at her. Sure enough, McGee quickly quailed under her glare and returned to his own duties. Unfortunately, Ziva's triumph was short lived.

"Just spit it out, David," Kate sighed, throwing down her pen and levelling an expectant sigh in the other woman's direction.

"Spit what out, Kate?" Ziva raised an eyebrow, her chin tilting slightly up in the defiance that usually filled her when dealing with the teams profiler. "There is nothing in my mouth."

"Don't play dumb," Kate rolled her eyes and stood, walking round to the front of her desk before leaning on it prompting Ziva to do the same. "Just tell us what's on your mind."

"What makes you think there is anything on my mind?" Ziva replied. "Maybe I am just...what is the phrase...murdering time?"

"Killing time," Tim corrected from where he was still seated and Ziva nodded her gratitude.

"Well if you're that bored, Officer David, I can always give you a few cold cases to work on.," Kate offered, a smirk tilting her lips when the expected response was given quicker than usual.

"No, thank you," Ziva shot back. She hated cold cases. "I was actually wondering when Gibbs would get back. Surely his meeting cannot last much longer."

"You'd be surprised." Kate answered. "Director Sheppard will probably keep him a while."

"You mean keep thema while," Ziva corrected. "All the team leaders are in the meeting are they not?"

"Yes but I'm sure there'll be something or the other the Director will need to discuss with Gibbs after the meeting. Alone." Kate's tone and expression were suggestive enough that Ziva immediately caught on and even McGee's head snapped up.

"Oh." Ziva's eyes widened, "Oh, you are sure?"

"Of course I'm sure," Kate rolled her eyes. "Have you seen the way she looks at him?"

"But what about..." It was McGee who spoke and he trailed off abruptly, realised belatedly that he really didn't want to voice his current train of thought.

Kate and Ziva exchanged a long look, identical smirks lighting their eyes as they both came to the same realisation. As one they turned to face Tim and he paled, realising that being under the combined scrutiny of the two scariest women he'd ever met was never going to end well for him.

"What about who, McGee?" Kate asked, raising an eyebrow and folding her arms across her chest.

"N-nobody," McGee stuttered, sinking down a little into his chair.

"You cannot deny it now, McGee," Ziva's grin was a little bit more than a little evil. "We know what you were going to say."

"Y-You do?" McGee asked.

"You were going to ask 'what about Tony DiNozzo?'" Kate spoke as both woman took another step towards the quivering man.

"What we would like to know is why you would mention him," Ziva said.

"I-I didn't..." McGee started to say but was quickly interrupted.

"But you were goingto," Kate said and, placing her palms on McGee's desk, leaned over so that they were almost nose to nose. "So what did you find, McGee?"

"F-find?" McGee absolutely did notsqueak.

"On Assistant Deputy Director DiNozzo!" Ziva said, also leaning over him. "What did you find?"

"I haven't..."

"Then get cracking, McGee!" Kate urged. "We don't have all day!"

McGee glanced helplessly between the two women looming over him before sighing in defeat.

"Gibbs is going to kill us," He said, fingers already tapping away at his keyboard. He was curious about Tony DiNozzo and how he came to be such close friends with Gibbs as well. Maybe he married one of Gibbs ex-wives like Fornell did. McGee suppressed a shudder at the thought and quickly bypassed a series of firewalls that cropped up.
"Okay," he said once he'd gotten into their personnel files. "Here we are."

"Anthony Dominique DiNozzo," Kate read over McGee's shoulder. "Born, 12 June 1971. He worked at three different police stations before joining NCIS which he left after just six months...we know all of this already!"

"Can you find out more about family, McGee?" Ziva asked. "Is he married? Divorced? Single?"

"No, no and no."

"How do you..." Kate started to speak before she realised that it wasn't McGee who had answered.
Very slowly, as if moving through molasses, the three NCIS agents looked up from the computer screen - and came face to face with DiNozzo himself. Kate, Ziva and McGee froze, unable to believe that the man they had been so eager to investigate had caught them hacking into his files. McGee in particular was close to hyperventilating. The Associate Deputy Director had caught him hacking into classified FBI files. Tony kept his expression carefully neutral, folding his arms across his chest as he regarded the shocked trio with guarded eyes. Inside he was killing himself with laughter. No wonder Gibbs enjoyed playing the bastard so much. It was fun.

"Uh, we can explain..." Kate started to say, straightening and trying very hard to come up with something other than 'we think you're screwing our boss'. Okay so only she thought that. Ziva and McGee still thought that Gibbs and DiNozzo were just good friends. You'd think they'd realise by now that the only people Gibbs called 'friend' were Ducky and Fornell, both of whom were considerably older and uglier than DiNozzo. Not that that was saying much. Almost everyone Kate had ever met was uglier than DiNozzo.

"Please do," Tony said managing to sound mildly interested, "Explain to me why three federal agents were so blatantly breaking the law."

"We were just..." Ziva floundered, surprised at her own lack of composure.

"Letting your curiosity get the better of you?" Tony suggested.

"Yes, well no, we..."Kate glanced helplessly at her team but they were equally lost. What the hell were they supposed to say?

Tony kept the façade up for a moment, enjoying their discomfort, before smiling. If possible, that seemed to unsettle them even more.

"Relax," Tony said, walking over to Gibbs' desk and perching on it, long legs stretched out in front of him. "You're not in trouble."

"We're not?" It was McGee who spoke.

"No," Tony grinned and the trio seemed to relax a little. "I understand curiosity and, seeing as how you're all Jethro's little probies," his grin widened as Kate and Ziva bristled slightly at the title, "I'll let you ask me anything you want."

"Anything?" Kate raised both eyebrows. "That's a fairly dangerous offer, sir."

"Call me Tony," DiNozzo grinned, turning his attention to Kate, "And luckily for you, I like living dangerously, Agent Todd."

"Okay," Kate smirked, more than willing to rise to the challenge. "Why'd you leave NCIS after just six months?"

"Really?" Tony huffed out a laugh. "You work with Gibbs and you're actually asking me that question?"

Kate, McGee and Ziva exchanged confused looks that Tony could easily read. They knew he was friends with Gibbs and were wondering how that happened if he found Gibbs to be such a bastard to work for. What they didn't realise was that Tony hadn't been talking about Gibbs' work ethic. He'd been talking about the way he couldn't understand how anyone could lay eyes on Jethro and notwant to jump his bones. It was understandable, however, that the terrible trio (as he'd now dubbed them) had misunderstood his meaning. Understandable and expected because Tony often aimed to be misunderstood.

"Why did you move jobs so often before joining the FBI?" Ziva asked. "Were you not a good police officer?"

"Detective," Tony corrected. "And I suppose it would depend on who you ask. My partners certainly never complained."

"Were they all women?" Kate blurted without thinking and it was all Tony could do to not burst out in laughter.

"Does it matter?" He asked instead, managing to hide the majority of his amusement and spare her a lot of embarrassment. Kate's cheeks tinged a rather adorable pink nonetheless.

"No," She muttered, suddenly finding some paperwork on McGee's desk incredibly interesting.

Ziva didn't have Tony's kindness or tact and her smirk said that Kate was going to have to suffer through a lot of teasing in the near (and probably far) future so it was to her Tony turned his attention to.

"How are you finding America, Officer David?" He asked. "Have you learnt the rules of the road yet?"

"I know all of your laws," Ziva replied, eyes narrowing. That was right, she and Kate had been arguing about her driving when they first met DiNozzo. He must have excellent hearing. She would have to remember that.

"Oh, so you just enjoy breaking them then?" Tony grinned and Ziva could not help but be (reluctantly) amused. From anyone else that statement would have sounded accusatory.

"The rules were meant to be broken," She retorted, flipping her hair over her shoulder and tilting her chin a little, begging Tony to disagree.

"Is that so, Ziva?" Gibbs asked, breezing into the bullpen, coffee in hand. Only he noticed the way Tony's green eyes lit up and he took a sip from his drink to hide his smile. He couldn't think of a nicer surprise.
"You transfer back to NCIS, DiNozzo?" he asked, "Spending a lot of time here lately."

"It's your sparkling personality, Jethro," Tony smiled back. "There's nobody quite so...vivacious at the Bureau."

Gibbs snorted and, had his eyes not lingered for a second longer than was strictly necessary, he would have missed the way Tony was leaning on his desk rather than sitting behind it, feet propped. He would also have missed the slight tightness in the corners of his eyes. So this wasn't a friendly visit. And he'd had such high hopes for the day.

"I'm going to lunch," he announced to his team, grabbing his coat and weapon and striding out of the bullpen, Tony at his side, before they could more than blink.

"You know," Tony's said as they descended in the elevator, "It's really a turn on, the way you can read my mind sometimes."

"Not mind reading," Gibbs replied, glancing at his lover out of the corner of his eyes. "I know you, Tony."

"A fact for which I am incredibly grateful," Tony smiled, leaning over to place a kiss of Gibbs' lips and pulling away just as the elevator doors dinged open.
"We need to go back to my office."

That stopped Gibbs short.
"Why?" He demanded.

"Because I need to debrief you, Jethro," Tony said as he placed a hand at Gibbs' elbow and urged him towards his car. "And I don't feel comfortable doing it in the open."

"You don't trust NCIS?" Gibbs asked.

"Right now, I don't trust anybody" Tony grimaced.

"Tony," Gibbs grabbed his lover's arm, spinning him around so that they were face to face. "Are you in trouble?"

"Me?" Tony's eyes softened and he placed a reassuring hand on Gibbs' shoulder. "No, I'm not in trouble. Just follow me back to the Bureau Jethro. You'll get answers."

Gibbs stared at Tony for a moment, trying to ascertain the truth behind his words before nodding, a terse and abbreviated gesture, and striding to his car. The ride to Pennsylvania Avenue had never been so quick. All along the way, Gibbs tried to assure himself that Tony was fine. He'd seen him. He'd spoken to him. Still, the laughter lines weren't as evident on Tony's face as they normally were and any time Tony needed to debrief him spelt trouble so Gibbs felt his unease was warranted.

"Spit it out already, DiNozzo," he demanded as Tony's office door shut behind them.

"Sit down, Jethro." Tony said instead, reaching for a remote and flicking on the television in his office.
"What do you know about René Benoit?"

"He's an arms dealer that goes by 'La Grenouille' or 'The Frog'," Gibbs frowned, "But other than that, not much."

"Well, there's a lot of interest in him at the moment," Tony perched on the edge of his desk, crossing his legs at the ankles. "The CIA have had an agent deep undercover with him for years now. He's gotten pretty close to Benoit, close enough that he's rumoured to be the guy who'll take over once the shit hits the fan."

"And will the FBI be anywhere near when that happens?" Gibbs asked, his eyes like lasers as they scrutinised Tony.

"There'll be a team close by, yes," Tony nodded.

"But not you?" Gibbs clarified.

"No. Not me."

"Then why am I here, Tony?"

"Because," raising his hand, Tony pointed the remote towards the TV and clicked, "She will be veryclose by."

Gibbs almost didn't want to look but, he merely stared at Tony for a moment longer before turning around. On screen a tall, slender lady was sitting at an outdoor café, brightly coloured drink in hand and talking to another woman with dark eyes and equally dark hair cascading down her back. Gibbs drew in a breath. Ziva.

"That's Jeanne Benoit," Tony explained. "René Benoit's daughter."
He flicked through more images. Jeanne and Ziva at yoga class, shopping, on a double date and through it all the only thing Gibbs could think of was...he should have known.

Of course he'd known Ziva was keeping secrets but it didn't interfere with their work and she was only a liaison officer. It was conceivable that Mossad needed her for missions as well. Gibbs had kept a close eye on Ziva, he knew her mission hadn't been political. He hadn't known it involved weapons dealers and was assigned by Jenny, not by Mossad. In the blink of an eyes, Gibbs was striding towards and the door and it was only because Tony predicted such a reaction that he was able to move fast enough to intercept his lover.

"Whoa," Tony said, slipping in front of Gibbs. "Easy there, cowboy. I know you're mad at Jenny but calm down. There's more."

The look on Gibbs' face clearly stated that if Tony didn't start talking soon, regardless of how much Gibbs loved him, a lot of yelling was going to happen.

"We hacked into Jeanne Benoit's phone records. She's a doctor, working night duty at the moment. She and Ziva have plans to meet for breakfast tomorrow morning and I have it on good authority that La Grenouille will be making a surprise appearance." Tony said.

"What?" Gibbs exploded. "Ziva's cover's been blown?"

"Yes," Tony replied. "I'm afraid so."

"Well then, there is no wayZiva is going to that meeting tomorrow," Gibbs said. "Not without backup."

"I'm thinking she shouldn't go at all," Tony offered.

Gibbs started to nod in agreement before Tony's words sank in. His lover was planning something and Gibbs didn't think he was going to like it.
"DiNozzo," he slowly said, "what are you thinking?"

"That I should stay at my apartment for a couple of days," Tony answered, as if it were the most normal thing in the world for him to suggest. Yep, Gibbs reallydidn't like it.

"Let me guess," Gibbs sighed. "You can't tell me what you plan to do because it's classified."

Tony echoed the sigh, running a hand through his hair. He was silent for a moment, chewing on his lip as he tried to think of a way to reassure Gibbs without giving away the plan because if there was one thing Tony knew, it was that if Gibbs so much as suspected the role Tony would be playing was more than supervisory, he'd have them handcuffed together so fast Tony would suspect he actually wasunder arrest.

"Hey," Gibbs said, his voice soft as he stepped close enough to nudge Tony's chin with his fingers. "We're not new to this, DiNozzo. You've been working outside my supervision for five years."

"Yeah," Tony sighed and, after a moment, a slight leer curved his lips, "And the post-assignment sex just keeps of getting better with time."

Gibbs' reaction was immediate and intense.
"Since when have we ever waited to have sex?" Gibbs said, stepping close enough to Tony that they brushed slightly against each other, his gaze dropping to Tony's mouth.
The lips parted under his scrutiny, a pink tongue coming out to moisten them and Gibbs leaned forward, almost unconsciously.

"You do realise we're at work, right?" Tony spoke against Gibbs' mouth.

"So?" Gibbs replied, turning the brush of their lips into a kiss, mouths fitting easily against each other.

He'd be the first to admit that it was highly out of character for him to proposition Tony at work. Normally Gibbs was the epitome of professional but there was something about this whole Benoit Op. that had his gut curling in distaste. Weapons dealers were bad enough but joint ops with the CIA? A dealer that the Director of NCIS was interested in as well? Enough so that she commandeered the skills of one of Gibbs' agents without his knowledge or consent. Gibbs really, really had a bad feeling about this. Enough so that only one thing was going to calm him enough to tame the impulse to chain Tony to their bed and make room for at least semi-rational thought.

Pushing Tony against the wall, Gibbs pressed their hips together, feeling his lover's burgeoning interest. He pushed at the underside of Tony's tongue with his own, tracing the length before lapping at the inside of his cheek, mapping out Tony's mouth with an intensity that had the younger man moaning, his hands pressing into Gibbs' shoulder blades, urging their bodies closer together. Gibbs readily obliged, pushing a knee between Tony's legs and pressing him against the wall, revelling in the way Tony arched into him, shoulders curling and back stretching to completely cover Gibbs.

On anyone else the action would have been dominating, a way of coercing their partner into a desired position. With Tony it was a simple, instinctual need to be closerand Gibbs responded in like. He made quick work of Tony's suit jacket and shirt, having enough of his wits about him to leave them both hanging open from Tony's shoulder's instead of pushing them to the floor and wrinkling the expensive fabric. That would have been a dead give-away that they weren't in a 'lunch meeting'.

Tony's head fell back, scraping against the wall as Gibbs moved to nip at the long lines of his throat. His hands smoothed over the small of Gibbs' back before shaping and moulding the curve of his ass. He squeezed palmfulls of flesh, hips arching and thrusting as Gibbs bit down, just above his collarbone, sucking on the skin there with enough force to leave a mark. Gibbs' hands were everywhere, fingers raking through the hairs that littered Tony's chest, curling and pulling a little before moving around the trace the long, long lines of Tony's back, calloused fingers rough against the silk smooth skin there. Then he was kneeling, fingers working at Tony's belt and pants, pulling away enough to allow Tony's cock to spring free in all it's swollen, leaking glory.

Tony's eyes were glazed over, darkened with desire as he stared at the ceiling, one hand rising to rest on top of Gibbs' head, fingers burrowing into the short hair there. A low keen escaped him as Gibbs licked a thick line down his cock, tracing the vein that ran underneath. Then Gibbs was mouth was slipping over him and down, down until his nose was buried in Tony's pubic hairs. Tony's eyes rolled back in pleasure, his knees weakening and he spread his legs a little further apart to brace himself. His fingers brushed through Gibbs' hair, an automatic and mindless motion that helped his stop from thrusting into the wet heat surrounding his dick. He didn't think Gibbs would give him any more blowjobs if Tony choked him and Gibbs gave awesomeblowjobs, as evidenced from the way Tony's knee's really did give out this time and he fell to his knees in a post-orgasmic haze. Tony draped himself against Gibbs, slinging his arms across his shoulders, burying his face in the curve of his neck and straddling his thighs. It was only then that Tony realised there was something hard pressing into his ass.

"You know," Tony's tone was almost conversational as he rocked his hips slightly, smirking when Gibbs hissed and his hold on Tony tightened. "I'm still loose from yesterday."

Gibbs had Tony on his hands and knees and completely divested of his pants so fast that all Tony could do was laugh, a breathless sound that quickly faded when he felt the blunt tip of Gibbs' cock breach his entrance. Then Gibbs was filling him, hands gripping Tony's hips as he meets Gibbs' thrusts in a rhythm that was almost as innate to the both of them as breathing. It was too soon for Tony to get hard again, but that didn't stop him from enjoying the way Gibbs filled him up so completely, pushing balls deep into Tony's willing body before withdrawing, only to push back in again, and again, with deep, hard thrusts that had Tony's back arching in a desperate request for more.

It should have been hard and fast, a quick way to satisfy their needs and concerns whilst still being aware that they were at work. Instead, it felt like hours that they knelt in the middle of Tony's office, sweat slicking their bodies and harsh, panting breaths filling their room. Even when they finally collapsed together in a tangle of long limbs and heaving chests, neither man showed any desire to separate and dress.

"It's a good thing being even the Associate Deputy Director of a federal agency comes with perks," Tony said, pulling away slightly from Gibbs who merely grunted and raised an enquiring eyebrow.
"There's a shower through there," Tony said, tilting his head in the direction of a side door Tony had never really paid much attention to before.

"Really, DiNozzo?" Gibbs levelled an unreadable glance at his lover. "You have a shower in your office?"

"You didn't know?" Tony pulled a face as he got up, his ass and lower back protesting against the movement. "I'm pretty sure told you about it when I was promoted up here."

"Well," Gibbs raised a hand for Tony to help him up and that right there spoke volumes about his trust in the younger man, something that was not missed by Tony, "let's put this fancy office of yours to use, DiNozzo."

Tony grinned. Gibbs had a pretty strong libido for an old guy. The forthcoming headslap was completely expected, Gibbs having read Tony's thoughts from his expression.

~O

René Benoit was a cautious man. He would not have survived as long as he had if he were not. In his line of work, caution was something you did not have time to learn. If you rushed headlong into things, you died. Often very slowly and painfully. So Rene plotted and planned and triple checked every detail before he committed himself.

It had taken years of planning for him to reach this point. Years of carefully thinking ahead and manipulating the actions of those around him so he could have the chance he needed to finally be free of this life. And it was almost all for naught. He'd known about Jeanne's friendship with Ziva David almost before it could happen. Ever since Jenny Sheppard had been promoted to Director of NCIS, Rene had known someone would be making contact with his daughter. The only question had been whom?

A review of the agents working at NCIS had revealed few options. Jeanne was a smart girl, it would take somebody truly talented to get close to her and, in the end, only the best would do. That meant the MCRT. It had been simple, from there, to isolate the person Jenny would choose. Leroy Jethro Gibbs, whilst an outstanding agent, was too old to form an appropriately close bond with Jeanne. Timothy McGee was almost afraid of his own shadow, he would never have been able to pull off a long term undercover operation. Caitlyn Todd, whilst also an exceptional agent, was not a very good liar. She had amazing insight into people, could read anyone given time, and was on her way towards becoming a demon in an interrogation room...but she was a lousy actress. And so that left Ziva David, trained by Mossad and friend to the Director. She was the perfect choice.

And so, when it had been reported to him that Jeanne had befriended someone from her yoga class, Rene hadn't need the pictures to know it was Officer David. He'd set a pair of eyes on them and, when he found out that Ziva sometimes met Jeanne for breakfast, Rene had made his move. He'd told Jeanne he wanted to meet her friends, to get to know more about the people close to her and had arranged to meet the girls at the hospital that morning. He'd even managed to persuade Jeanne to keep the meeting a secret. So imagine his surprise when he'd arrived at the hospital only to have Jeanne ruefully inform him that something had come up and Ziva couldn't make it.

If René were a betting man, he would have put money on his being found out. So he'd done a little digging. Jeanne had not told Ziva about their little rendezvous and there was no way Officer David could have found out through other means. All his intel indicated that she was alone in her assignment. Not even the rest of her team had known about it. Which begged the question, who had tipped off Ziva David? Imagine René's surprise when he found out about the visit Anthony DiNozzo, Associate Deputy Director of the FBI had made to NCIS yesterday.

René didn't know how he missed it. He was usually especially particular at ferreting out inter-agency ties. Such bonds were formidable and René always gave them the extra caution they deserved. That he had not found out about Associate Deputy Director DiNozzo's previous affiliation with NCIS until it was almost too late said a lot about DiNozzo's prowess at hiding his tracks. Thankfully, he was not still with the agency. Had DiNozzo been assigned to befriend Jeanne instead of Ziva David, this 'meeting' would have taken even longer to arrange.

Luckily, all was not for nought. DiNozzo was still close to Agent Gibbs, the man whom he'd worked briefly with. That was a friendship that could be manipulated. Intel suggested that Gibbs and Jenny had been briefly...involved. If Gibbs could be gotten a hold of, Jenny could be persuaded to...talk. Unfortunately, Leroy Jethro Gibbs was a difficult man to track down. The address in his file was not one he currently occupied and his next of kin was not in the near vicinity. Other means of contacting Gibbs would have to be employed.

Thankfully, René did not have to wait long. He'd been sitting in the growing darkness for around thirty minutes, enjoying the comfort of a particularly plush sofa, when the sound of a key turning in the lock captured his attention. At first, Rene thought he had not been noticed but the man spoke, immediately vetoing that notion.

"I was pretty certain I didn't have dinner plans tonight," Anthony DiNozzo Jr said, turning to face René as if weapons dealer's broke into his home on a regular basis. "And if I had, I'm certain they'd be with someone...curvier, with long hair and boobs."

"You have a sense of humour, Associate Director DiNozzo," René noted as he rose from the couch, stepping out of the shadows and into the light. "That is a good trait in a man." Tony DiNozzo was tall and athletically built, dressed in Armani and with the bearing of someone supremely comfortable in their own skin. René was glad once again that DiNozzo no longer worked for NCIS. Jeanne would have been smitten.

"I'm so glad you approve," DiNozzo grinned but it was sharp and slightly predatory. "Well, actually, no I'm not. For me to be glad would imply I actually cared about your opinion."

"Such venom," Rene said, feigning hurt. "What have I ever done to you, Deputy Director?"

"You're a threat to this nation's security," Tony folded his arms across his chest and regarded Benoit through eyes like green chips of ice. "You provide terrorists with weapons they use to hurt innocent people. Do I need to go on?"

"That won't be necessary," Rene smiled.

"Are you sure?" Tony asked, "Because I could go on. Weapon's trafficking is just the start of your organisation isn't it? There's forgery, theft, terrorism..."

"Thank you, Mr DiNozzo," René said, frowning now. He had to raise his voice to be heard over the other man's monologue and raising his voice was something René abhorred.

"If you insist," Tony's grin widened at the irritation that was starting to paint Benoit's features. Not so calm and collected now, was he? "But if you aren't here to talk about your operations then why are you here?" Tony's face took on an expression of overly dramatised horror. "Oh please don't tell me you're having some kind of change of heart and want our protection!"

"No," René Benoit said, after a moment's pause. "I do not require your help."

"Then whose help do you need?" Tony asked and René thought his perception would have been startling were he not so high up in the hierarchy of a federal agency. He was silent for a moment. This was not the way he wanted the conversation to go but it would have to do.

"That of NCIS," Benoit eventually said and Tony's laughed.

"Sorry pal," Tony said, turning away to take off his suit jacket. "You're out of luck. Director Sheppard hates me. There's no way I could set up a meeting."

"It is not Jenny Sheppard I wish to speak to," René said and Tony's eyebrows rose as he turned back to face Benoit, rolling up his sleeves as he did so.

"No?" Tony let his bemusement show. "Then who do you want to speak to?"

"Leroy Jethro Gibbs" Benoit said, watching the other man closely for a reaction. He didn't get one.

"That's even less likely to happen," Tony snorted. "In fact, I can safely say that I will never convince Gibbs to talk to you."

"I was afraid you'd say that," René sighed after staring at Tony for a long moment to gauge the truth behind his words. "I really hoped we would not have to resort to such drastic measures, Associate Director DiNozzo."

Tony opened his mouth, no doubt to ask what those drastic measures were, when there was a sharp pain at the back of his head and he crumpled to the floor, unconscious.

~O

Ziva was nervous. It wasn't a feeling she was very familiar with and it left her feeling on edge and snappish. Gibbs had found out about the Benoit Op. That was not good. Yes Gibbs had been on injury leave for a month after his temporary amnesia but that would not suffice as an excuse. It was not as if he had left town, he had still been easy to contact had she wished to do so. Ziva had not wished to do so.

She tossed dark strands of hair out of her eyes as she pulled into her parking spot. Sitting for a moment in thought before exiting the car. It was not that she did not trust Gibbs. He was an excellent field agent and proven himself to be hard but highly capable leader. No, it was not Gibbs Ziva had problems trusting. Besides, why did she haveto tell him everything anyway? Jenny was a friend and Ziva was doing her a favour. Surely that was perfectly acceptable? Confident that she had done the right thing, Ziva held her head high as she marched into the building like she was marching into war. With the mood Gibbs was in, she might as well have been.

Kate and Tim were already at their desks, shooting Ziva enquiring looks when Gibbs motioned her to follow him before she could even drop her bag down. Ignoring them, Ziva followed Gibbs into a conference room, sitting down when he indicated she should do so. Gibbs didn't sit. Instead he leaned against the far wall, crossed his arms over his chest, and stared. And stared. And stared.

Ziva shifted slightly, averting her gaze. She would not break. She had done nothing wrong after all and had nothing to apologise for. Gibbs might be the team leader but, at the end of the day, Jenny was their boss. It was Ziva's job to take orders without question and to execute those orders to the best of her ability. She was just doing her job with Jeanne Benoit. There was no need to apologise. And still Gibbs was silent, watching Ziva with sharp eyes.

"I am sorry!" The words exploded from Ziva and she stood, filled with nervous energy once more.

"Are you?" Gibbs voice was soft, unreadable.

"No!" Ziva replied, "I was doing my job, Gibbs. I cannot be sorry for that."

"Nope," Gibbs agreed.

"Jenny is Director of this agency. I could not refuse an order."

"Nope."

Ziva fell silent, staring at Gibbs through wide eyes, trying to gauge at least a little of what he was thinking. It was like trying to get emotion from a brick wall.

"What do you want from me, Gibbs?" she asked instead.

There was no reply. Gibbs merely continued to stare. If Ziva couldn't work out exactly what she had done wrong then Gibbs would have her transferred to another team. Honesty was not something you should have to teach. The silence continued for a long moment and, just when it looked as if Ziva was about to break it once more, there was a sharp rap on the door and Kate peeked into the room.

"Gibbs," she said, her expression grim. "There's two men from the FBI here. They say it's urgent."

Gibbs was out of the room so fast the women were left with whiplash. He strode towards their cubicles knowing, without a doubt, that Tony was in trouble. Goddamnit! Gibbs knewthis whole Benoit thing stank to high hell.

"Fornell!" Gibbs barked, recognising one of the two FBI men.

"Gibbs," Tobias didn't even attempt to smile or make small talk. Not that he usually did but he even forewent the usual snarking to hold up the CD he had brought. "We have a problem."

A glare from Gibbs was all it took to have McGee scrambling to insert the tape into his CD drive, turning on the connection to the TV so that everyone would be able to see clearly. The temperature in the room seemed to drop as an image of Associate Director DiNozzo appeared on screen. He was tied to a chair, his cheek bruised, lip split and another openly bleeding wound decorated his temple. His eyes were closed and his head lolled back at an uncomfortable angle.

McGee glanced at Gibbs and almost flinched. His boss was staring at the screen with such murderous rage McGee instinctively took a step back. Not even Ari had inspired such anger in Gibbs. Then another face filled the screen, older and immaculately groomed, with sharp features, the man sent inexplicable shivers down Tim's spine but it wasn't enough to keep him from noticing the breath Ziva took as she recognised the new face.

"This is a message for Agent Gibbs of NCIS," the man spoke, his accent unmistakably French. "I wish to speak with you. You may, perhaps, feel the need for haste. My assistant is...trigger happy." There was a dull thump in the background, the unmistakable sound of something hitting flesh, followed by a low, pained groan and then the screen went blank.

"That's it?" Kate demanded, worry flooding through her. She might not know Associate Deputy Director DiNozzo well but she enjoyed her interactions with him. He was fun. "How are we supposed to find him."

"I know where he is." Gibbs said, holstering his gun and slinging his coat over his shoulders. "Ziva! Brief Kate and McGee on everythingand have two holding cells ready for when we get back. And get Benoit's daughter in here asap! Fornell, you're with me."

"Just one moment Jethro," It was Jenny who spoke and Kate and McGee jumped. They hadn't registered her presence. "I don't believe I authorised this assignment."

"You don't have to," Gibbs replied. "This is an FBI Op."

"You're still my agent," Jenny tried to argue.

"Not for much longer if you don't GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY!" Gibbs roared and Jenny took a step back. "You know I don't need your permission," Gibbs snarled, "And you know why I don't need your permission. Now move!"

Jenny reluctantly stepped aside. Gibbs was correct. This wasn't a matter that involved NCIS in anyway shape or form other than that the message was for Gibbs and considering his relationship with DiNozzo, she had no way of stopping him from riding to the rescue. All Jenny could hope for was that Benoit did something that meant she could legitimately pursue him. Scowling, she turned on her heel and retreated to her office. Gibbs would bring Benoit back here. Maybe her chance would come then.

Gibbs, for his part, was struggling to think clearly through the red haze covering his vision. Tony getting hurt was his biggest nightmare, mainly because their separate agencies meant that more often than not, he was one of the last to know when Tony was in trouble. Not this time though. Thank God not this time. When this entire mess was over Gibbs was most definitely going to make good on his promise to chain Tony to the bed. His partner got into far too much trouble, including letting himself be captured. And Gibbs had no doubt that, on some level, Tony had expected to have Benoit waiting at his apartment. He wouldn't have gone back there if he weren't.

"You gonna read me in?" Gibbs asked Fornell as they sped towards Tony's apartment.

"You gonna learn to drive properly?" Fornell replied, gripping the door handle to stay upright.

"Tobias!" Gibbs snapped. He was in no mood to play at normality.

"Fine," Fornell sighed. "DiNozzo knew that Benoit would be waiting for him. The plan was that Benoit would bring his right hand man as back up, a man who just happens to be an undercover CIA operative called Trent Kort. From there they would apprehend Benoit and bring him in."

"But that didn't happen" Gibbs stated rather than asked.

"Nope," Fornell said, concern furrowing his brow."Kort showed up just before that disk did, saying Benoit was MIA."

"Goddamnit!" Gibbs cursed, slamming his palm against the steering. This was looking worse by the second. He pulled into an empty parking spot by Tony's apartment complex. Slamming the car door as he got out.

Tony's apartment was on the fourth floor, the third from the left, and could be easily spotted from the parking lot. Gibbs found himself seeking it out as Fornell stumbled out of the car. There were other agents already there. Their dark suits making them instantly recognisable and Gibbs was glad Fornell had the foresight to make sure they had arrived ahead of time. This way Gibbs didn't have to wait. He made his way towards the apartment, not wasting anymore time with words. They'd storm the place and make sure Tony was safe and then Gibbs was going to have a cosy little chat with the son of a bitch who'd dare hurt his man.

They were halfway across the parking lot when it happened. At first Gibbs was confused. One moment he was walking towards the apartment and the next there was a loud boom and pieces of shrapnel and rubble were raining down on them. Gibbs ducked instinctively but it was unneeded and he straightened and his eyes immediately searched out Tony's apartment. At first he didn't register the fire and then disbelief and denial dropped like a lead weight into his stomach, turning the blood in his veins to ice.

Tony's apartment had been blown up.

~O

"You selfish little bitch!" Kate snarled, her features twisted with rage as she advanced on a startled Ziva.
"How could you lie to us?"

"Gibbs knew I had another assignment," Ziva stood her ground and folded her arms across her chest. She was not afraid of Caitlyn Todd.

"Yes," Kate nodded. "But he thought it was for Mossad! Not that you were working on something like this!"

"I do not see what all the fuss is about!" Ziva exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air to vent some of her irritation. "It is perfectly acceptable to accept a mission from the Director of this agency."

"True, but you should have told us about it," Kate replied.

"I was under orders to keep quiet," Ziva answered, "Jenny did not want anyone to know, not even Gibbs."

"And you didn't pause to wonder why?" Kate asked. "It didn't strike you as strange that Director Sheppard wanted to to keep a simple reconnaissance assignment a secret from your Supervisor? Why, when that same mission turned into something more she didn't authorise adequate backup?"

"What are you trying to say, Kate?" Ziva's eyes narrowed in question.

"That Director Sheppard played you, Ziva!" Kate fumed.

"Don't you see? She banked on your friendship so that you would go on an unauthorised, highly dangerous undercover Op all so she could satisfy some outdated need for revenge!"

"You do not know what you're talking about," Ziva hissed, stepping up into Kate's space and glaring. "And I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I am trained for operations such as that!"

"Not when you're going at it alone!"

The two women glared at each, neither willing to back down and Tim looked on helplessly. It was a feeling he'd gotten quite used to of late.

"We're just worried about you, Ziva," he said and something in both Kate and Ziva's postures softened. "The assignment Director Sheppard sent you on was dangerous. You should have had backup and, well, we're just worried about you."

"Thank you, McGee," Ziva said, after a while and Kate sighed, stepping away from Ziva,

"Just promise us you'll let us know if something like this ever happens again," Kate said. "You're a pain in the ass, David but you're a part of this team. We look out for each other."

There was a moment's silence as Ziva stared at Kate before a surprised chuckle escaped her.
"If it is any consolation, Kate," she said, "I find you equally annoying."

Tim sighed, and relaxed into his seat, glad that a fight had been mostly averted. He raised a hand to scrub at his face and it was only then that he noticed the time.

"Hey guys," he said, "It's been a while since Gibbs left. Do you think they're okay?"

"I'm sure they are fine, McGee," Ziva said. "DiNozzo looked like he was in need of medical attention. Perhaps they have gone to a hospital."

"I hope he's alright," McGee said. "He's kinda cool...for the FBI, I mean."

"Yes," Ziva's smirk was understanding. "He is, as you say, 'kind of cool'."

It was at that moment that Kate's phone rang and Ziva and McGee watched as she answered it, her expression rapidly changing from surprise to disbelief to concern. By the time she'd hung up with a brusque 'we're on our way, boss,' Ziva and McGee had already collected their things and were making their way to the elevators.

"Gibbs wants us at FBI headquarters," Kate explained. "DiNozzo's apartment's been blown up."

~O

Gibbs was in a state of disbelief. He watched, frozen to the spot, as Tony's apartment burned and all he could think of was no. Not just no but hell no, God no, fuck no. This couldn't be happening, he couldn't be losing Tony. No, no, no, no no. It might have been minutes, it might have been hours. Gibbs watched as firefighters put out the blaze and an FBI team worked the scene. When they revealed Tony's badge and gun with grim faces, Gibbs turned away. He couldn't watch this. Not...not this.

Fornell seemed to understand because the next thing Gibbs knew they were arriving at FBI headquarters. The ride up to the bullpen was made in silence. The FBI agents accompanying Gibbs were too shocked and Gibbs, well he was still in denial. No body had been found yet, after all. No body was a good thing. A very, very good thing. News had reached the rest of the Bureau by now and it was to a sombre mood that arrived. Fornell set to work, firing instructions at his men and Gibbs pulled out his phone, getting his team over to lend a hand, leaving strict instructions not to tell Abby or Ducky yet, not until they knew for sure.

They went through the surveillance camera's from Tony's apartment, saw him go yesterday evening but not come back out. Gibbs told himself that that didn't mean anything. They could find footage of Benoit entering Tony's apartment either and that had to have happened. There was obviously a way in that the camera's didn't cover. Gibbs never really thought of himself as someone who dwelled on hope. He was a man who worked with evidence and cold, hard facts and yet he spent half the day hoping and praying that somehow, someway, Tony had not been in his apartment that morning.

When his team arrived, they were immediately put to work assisting the FBI. No bodies had been found yet and there was also no sign of Benoit. Kort had also disappeared. Gibbs latched on to the search like a lifeline and, in a way, it was. Immersing himself in work helped him keep his mind away from the darker thoughts of what if Tony hadbeen in the apartment? So intent was his focus of finding Benoit and Kort that Gibbs missed the flurry of activity at first.

He frowned when the sudden increase the noise level registered, turning to see what all the commotion was about...and froze. Standing there, in the middle of the bullpen, surrounded by giddily eager agents, was Tony. His suit was rumpled and dirty, his face crusted with blood at the hairline. He was bruised and battered but he was alive.Tony glanced up, meeting Gibbs gaze with a reassuring smile, showing the characteristically immaculate timing and almost psychic ability to sense Gibbs and his moods that did more towards convincing him that Tony really was alive and well than simple appearance ever could.

"DiNozzo," Gibbs growled, unable to stop from putting a hand on Tony's shoulders. "You look like hell."

"I feel like it too," Tony quipped, but he was smiling.
"Hey Fornell," Tony said, turning to the man in question. "Benoit and his lackey are at an old warehouse in the Industrial District. I don't know where exactly but there's pictures on there phone and, I dunno, maybe you can go through their messages or something for a more accurate address." He tossed and dirty and torn plastic bag to the older man who caught it two-handed. "Their wallets, shoes, belts, ties and watches are also there. As well as PDAs, cuff links, tie-tacks, glasses and keys."

Gibbs suppressed a smile at the look on Fornell's face. Trust Tony to not only free himself and make it back to Headquarters in one piece, but to also apprehend the criminals and, being unable to transport them to a holding cell himself, make sure they would stay put until the authorities could find them.

"Very nice of you to do our jobs for us, sir," Fornell said, managing to sound both deferent and unimpressed.

"Yes, I thought so," Tony grinned. "Also, get Director Jackson on the phone. If the CIA are going to send an agent undercover they should and least make sure he's competent."

"Tony," Gibbs interrupted. "You need to see a doctor, Director Jackson will be there tomorrow." Gibbs would love to see Tony embarrass the CIA but it could wait. DiNozzo was running on adrenaline. He needed medical attention, a shower and a bed. Gibbs was going to make sure he got it.

"You're right," Tony nodded before speaking to the room at large. "Have one of the medics come up to my office."
He turned back to Gibbs with a mischievous twinkle that immediately set Jethro's alarm bells ringing.
"Carry me up to my office?" Tony asked, slinging an arm around Gibbs' shoulders whilst leaning heavily on him and blinking his eyelashes in an outrageous parody of flirting.

"Get off me, DiNozzo!" Gibbs said, shoving Tony (lightly) and glaring with enough intensity to fool everyone but Tony himself and, in the background, someone sniggered.

"Oh well," the sigh Tony heaved was equally overdone. "It was worth a try."

Gibbs suppressed another smile but the jovial mood was ruined a moment later.

"You are very...perky for someone whose apartment has just been blown up," Ziva noted and Tony spun to face her, all traces of laughter gone from his face. It was a startling tranformation.

"What are you talking about?" he demanded.

"About that sir," Fornell cleared his throat. "A bomb was detonated in you apartment at approximately 10am. We have been unable to identify a maker but forensics are working on it."

Tony was silent for a moment and suddenly everyone's attitude made even more sense. They would have thought he died the explosion. No wonder Jethro looked so...so unlike Jethro.

"I want Kort's ass in a holding cell by nightfall," he ordered and the entire room scrambled to obey. Taking a deep breath, Tony turned back to Gibbs.
"We can talk in my office," he suggested and Gibbs nodded, moving to follow him up. "You can bring your minions as well," Tony said over his shoulder and Kate, McGee and Ziva quickly followed. The two women scowled at the belittling title but McGee merely shrugged. He knew his place.

"Sir," Madeleine, his secretary rose from her seat as Tony walked into his reception area, concern and relief painting her pretty features. "You're okay!"

"Of course I am," Tony grinned at her. "And because I'm so okay, why don't you take the rest of he afternoon off? A little bird told me your fiancee has a surprise planned."

"Thank you, sir!" Madeleine beamed. "It's our anniversary."

"Well have a good time," Tony waved her off and the NCIS agents into his inner sanctum. "See you bright and early tomorrow."

Gibbs was not surprised at the interaction. Tony had always been one for details and, even after the day he'd had, it wasn't surprising he'd remember the minutae about the lives of the people around him.

"Take a seat," Tony said, waving at the room in general as he crossed to the coffee maker in the corner, pouring a mug for each of them. "So, did I miss anything else? Has the President been kidnapped? Angelina Jolie decide to quit acting?"

"Why'd you want Kort in custody?" Gibbs asked in reply and something in Tony's face darkened.

"I find it highly surprising that a guy who's picked for that kind of Op. can't find a way to be where he's supposed to be," Tony answered. "Kort is Benoit's right hand man. It should have been child's play for him to accompany Benoit to my apartment last night instead of that Hulk wannabe. And then that same apartment blows up? Call me paranoid but I call that hinky."

"So," Kate said to break the silence that fell. "How'd you get away?"

"Oh, that's easy!" Tony grinned. "They used rope to bind my hands and feet. Kinda sloppy for an international arms dealer but it could just be that kidnapping is new to him. They took my handcuffs and gun but I had a knife hidden in my belt buckle. It was easy to loosen the bonds enough to get at it. They even tied my hands in front of me!" Gibbs scoffed and Tony's grin widened.
"I know! How amateurish! So from there it was easy to knock them out and get my stuff. And their too of course."

"So, in other words," Ziva said, slowly processing what Tony had said. "You were lucky."

"Yes," Tony nodded. "I was very, very lucky. Benoit has done a lot of things but torture, kidnapping, extortion? Those have never been his line of work. He slipped up big time and I got very, very lucky."

It was at that moment that Gibbs' phone rang. He squinted at it, grimaced at the caller ID, and let it ring out.
"Sheppard," Gibbs explained in response to the raised eyebrows his actions garnered. "Kate, take the rest of the team back to the Yard before she blows a gasket. I'll follow in a minute."

"Sure boss," Kate said as she and the team made to leave. "I'm glad you're okay, Associate Director DiNozzo."

"Thank you, Agent Todd," Tony nodded and waited until the door had closed firmly behind them before turning to Gibbs.

"Well?" Tony demanded, "What are you waiting for? Get over here and kiss me!"

And Gibbs proceeded to do just that.