Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Shards To A Whole: New Path

McGee-centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

Chapter 332: New Path

Tony almost wishes that the phone would ring. That'd get them out of here. And out of here is a very good excuse for not doing what comes next.

But it's got to get done. It's time. No more stalling.

Tony stares at the collection of resumes in front of him. He's been through them all, (and a bunch more besides) and tossed them all.

No one in that pile is worthy of replacing Gibbs. No one even came close.

Because that's what he was trying to do. Replace Gibbs. Get his team back. Get his people back. But that can't happen. His people are moving on and leaving him, and it's not healthy to try and force other people into those roles.

It's time for a new team, with a new plan, and…

He clicks on it. He doesn't know why this one stuck in his mind. Maybe because it was so unexpected. This one looks nothing, at all, like any of the others in his files. Maybe because it's… a very different path. If you have someone like this on the team, you've got to move in a new path. And a new path might be exactly what they need.

Exactly what he needs.

He's read the resume. So it's not like he's got to look over it again.

Team Gibbs was built, if built is the right word, (Ordained by God? Who knows? Feels that way sometimes.) but however it came together, it worked because it complimented Gibbs' style.

But he's not Gibbs. He's got his own style. His own strengths. And he doesn't need to be Gibbs. He can't be Gibbs. And if he's going to run this team, he can't be hunting for a new Gibbs. And he can't be stocking it with the people Gibbs needs to make Gibbs' team work.

He needs to decide who he is, and where he wants to take this, and find himself people to work with him. Time to build the team around him. Time to get the people he needs.


"DiNozzo?" Vance looks at him, cool and surprised. December 28th is well in the middle of that dead time between Christmas and New Year's when everything pretty much shuts down, and technically, Vance isn't in the office today. And if you didn't know that from the email that went out last week, the fact that he's in jeans and sweatshirt would have been a tip off. So, he's very much not expecting anyone to drop in on him.

"Can I steal a few minutes?"

Vance looks back at his computer, and then turns the screen off and gestures for Tony to sit down.

"What's on your mind, DiNozzo?"

"My team."

"All right?" Vance has his get to the point look on his face. He's only supposed to be in for ten minutes, tops. Just quickly checking on the status of a case for Sec Nav, and then he's out of here.

"I have one slot opening up in a matter of days, and likely another in the next year."

Vance raises an eyebrow at that. "Should I be offering you and Agent DiNozzo congratulations?"

Tony takes a breath, realizing what he just admitted to there. "Not yet. With any luck, soon, but not yet."

"Ah. So…"

"So… I'll have a lot of room to play with the nature of my team. What I wanted to know is where do you want the premier NCIS MCRT focused? Obviously, murders, big thefts, our usual daily grind… But what else? I know McGee's telling you about wanting to get his team to the point where they can be pro-active. Hunting trends, more playing offense and less defense. Doing a better job of anticipating where issues are going to arise."

Vance is intrigued. "Do you think you can do that?"

"I think we get two or three big terrorism cases a year, and I think we can do a better job of anticipating them, and following up one case to the next to the next. I don't think we can do it on murders and thefts. Question is, are those big cases going to happen often enough to make filling one of my slots with someone who specializes in that sort of thing worth it?"

Vance thinks about that for a moment. "Are you asking to be put on point for terror cases?"

Tony realizes he is. It wasn't a set idea in his mind when he came up here, but it is now. "Yes. If I build a team with that in mind, will you send enough of those cases my way to make it worthwhile?"

Leon looks thoughtful. He has five MCRTs working out of DC. It would be easier to have one of them on full-time liaison with the FBI, Homeland, DOD, Navy, Marines, CIA, and the rest of the alphabet soup for all of their terror related cases.

And if he has a Team Leader who can do that job, who can play the politics and keep everyone's feathers smoothed down, it's DiNozzo.

At the same time, he's not sure if DiNozzo's the first guy he'd pick for actually working the higher levels of terror cases. For grabbing individual guys, going after single attacks, for having a crime scene, attaching it to a set of people who did said crime, and bringing them in, he has no doubts about DiNozzo. He is an excellent cop.

What he's not sure of is if DiNozzo's got the big picture skills for this kind of work. If he finds one knot, can he unravel it, follow the threads, and then take them to the next knots? That seems to be what he's talking about doing…

Of course, Gibbs, who in addition to having no political skill, seems to solve these things on sheer gut and determination, has done just fine on all of the longer-game cases that have been tossed his way. And though DiNozzo doesn't have Gibbs's gut, he does seem to have a very solid sense of where to dig further, and he's better at sharing the sandbox. Plus, if he were to hire someone who actually does know how to think ahead on things like this…

DiNozzo's right-here-right-now skills mixed with someone who knows how to see trends could be a very valuable asset.

It's an intriguing idea. "If I were to rearrange things so one MCRT, your MCRT team were to handle the terror cases, who would you add to your team?"

"I want some sort of analyst. Someone who specializes on what's going on and what's going to happen next. Even better if she's a good reader of people. Someone who can see the big picture and the individual players."

"Do you have someone in mind for that?"

"Maybe. I got an interesting resume along those lines. Would have to meet her in person… But, yeah, maybe. She's not a field agent, at all, from what I can see, but I got McGee beaten into shape, I can get her up to the job if she wants it."

"Okay, who else?"

"The fourth member would be replacing Ziva, so I need a language expert, muscle, and guns. Draga's got muscle and guns. But I need someone who can speak Arabic, Farsi, Pashtun, and probably a few others if I can swing it. He's got to handle himself well enough that I can send him undercover."

"Tall order."

"I know." And he does, he really does. Half of flipping out over Ziva leaving is personal. Half of it is that she's even harder to replace than Gibbs. "Ex-Mossad-trained officers don't exactly grow on trees."

"True, but you might not have to go quite that far afield to find someone who's got the skills you want, but isn't happy in his current location."

"Headhunt the CIA?"

Vance nods, that's one direction. He adds another for Tony to consider. "I understand we have wounded Seals who have the sort of training you're looking for. Can't be dropped out of a helicopter behind enemy lines anymore, but might be able to do what you need."

Tony nods, takes out his phone, and makes a note to go looking through the SEALs and Marine Special Forces. "Thanks, Director."

Vance nods, and Tony heads out.

He gets down from chatting with Vance and sees McGee, Ziva, and Gibbs working away. (Draga decided that the last week McGee was around would be a good time to use some vacation days. He'll be back Wednesday.) For a few seconds, it feels like normal. Ziva and McGee are talking. Gibbs keeps shooting them more work, less chit chat glances. They're sort of humoring him, quieting down for a few minutes, cutting a swath through the paperwork, then talking again.

"Good chat?" McGee asks him as he sits down.

"Yeah." He looks at the resume, still up on his computer, and picks up his phone.

"Hello?" Her voice is young, very young, and awfully perky. He checks the resume again, and realizes that she got done with her doctorate in '11. He's looking at another twelve-year-old wunderkind.

"Is this Eleanor Bishop?"

"Yes, is it. Can I help you?"

"Yes. I'm Special Agent Tony DiNozzo from NCIS. You sent in a resume a few months ago. I was wondering if you'd like to come in for an interview?"

"Of course." He can hear the smile in her voice.

"Wonderful, when can you come in?"

"Pick a time, and I'll be there."

He schedules the interview for tomorrow and wraps up the conversation. The other three are looking at him, so he prints out her resume and explains what he's thinking.

They're nodding at him, looking impressed.

About a half an hour later, Gibbs goes to get his coffee and takes Tony with him.

"It's a good move."

"I hope so."

"It is. You're gonna do well with it." Gibbs doesn't say you needed to do this, break away from me. He doesn't say I'm proud of you. He does remember, a long time ago, saying to Tony, 'What do you expect? An 'Atta boy!' and Tony more or less saying yes. So he raised his hand, as if to slap the back of his head, and Tony winced, and then he rubbed his hair and said, 'Atta boy!' And Tony glowed at it.

He remembers another time, leaving Tony with the team and saying, 'You'll do.'

Tony had looked half-proud and half-hurt by that. He knew it was praise, praise he had wanted, but he had needed more than that.

This time, he puts his coffee down, and then takes Tony's coffee out of his hand, puts it down, and hugs him. Then he pulls back, pets the back of Tony's hair, and says, "Atta boy!"

Tony, who had been standing there, pretty startled by all of this, broke into a smile at that.

"It's going to be good," Gibbs says, picking up their cups.

"Let's see if I still think that when I've got the FBI on one side and the CIA on the other and NSA refuses to tell me what's going on."

Gibbs grins at that.


A/N: Come on, you knew I had to work her in sooner or later. :)

Hopefully she's a bit less fish out of water in the Shardsverse.

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