With Gibbs away at a conference, Jenny Shepard orders DiNozzo to spy on a member of the team.
When DiNozzo makes a discovery, he has choose where and to whom his loyalties lay.
An established relationship story.
Written: September 2006. Word count: 2,334.
MONDAY 11:00 P.M.
Tony DiNozzo wriggled in his seat as he tried to get as comfortable as possible. Comfortable was a relative term, given that he was three hours into his fifth, and thankfully final, night of surveillance. A surveillance that had, thus far, proved fruitless; fruitless was how Tony expected the evening to remain.
He yawned, ran his hand over his chin and sighed deeply; at least it wasn't winter! He glanced at his watch for the thirtieth time that night; he was sure that time was going more slowly tonight than on the other four occasions.
For something to do, he let his mind return to the meeting between him and Director Shepard, that had led him to be sitting in a car, under the cover of trees and darkness, watching a house. A house that belonged to a member of the team.
THURSDAY 11:00 A.M.
"There is something I wish you to do, DiNozzo."
Gibbs had left half an hour ago, along with Fornell, to attend a Senior Federal Agents' Conference, and wouldn't be back for five days. He'd told Tony before he'd left, that the Director had promised to leave the team alone, and not to interfere. Now, as he stood in front of the woman he could neither like nor respect, Tony wondered whether it was another one of her false promises.
"There is a surveillance operation that needs undertaking. And I believe you are just the agent to carry it out." She smiled at him.
Tony tried to hide his glee. He loved surveillance. "Of course, ma'am. Just tell me who and where and I'll get the team on to it."
"No, Tony." She shook her head. "This is something that I wish you and only you to undertake. It is, shall we say, delicate. But I have every faith in you." She smiled again, and gave him the look he'd hitherto only ever seen her give Gibbs.
He swallowed. "Thank you, Director Shepard. I assure you, ma'am, that your trust in me won't be misplaced."
"Oh, I know it won't." She looked at him, appearing to examine him in detail. "It is for the good of the team, Tony," she said, after a moment or two.
"What I'm about to ask you to do is, as I said, rather delicate. And you will no doubt be surprised. However, you must trust me when I say that it is of vital importance to the team. The team, Tony."
"I am a team player, Director."
"I know you are. The person I wish you to observe tonight, and for the next four nights is," she paused for a moment. Then under Tony's gaze her face and eyes hardened. She leaned forward slightly and said, her tone cold, "Dr. Mallard."
"Ducky?" Tony exclaimed; surprise was an understatement. Shock was what he felt. Then he started to laugh. "Good one, ma'am. You had me fooled for a moment. It was some kind of test, wasn't it?" As her gaze remained like ice, his laughter petered out. "It wasn't, was it?" he whispered.
She shook her head. "No."
Tony swallowed. "But why?"
She looked at him. "At this stage, you do not need to know that, Agent DiNozzo. You just need to follow orders. Can you do that?"
He straightened up. "Yes, ma'am. What exactly am I doing?"
"Each night from 6:00 p.m. until he leaves for work the following morning, you are to watch Dr. Mallard's house. After five nights you will report back to me what you have seen."
She sighed. "I wish to know if anyone visits him, and whether he leaves him house."
"And if he does leave?"
"You are to follow him. I assume that you are capable of tailing someone without the person being aware of it?"
"Yes, Director Shepard, of course I am."
"Good. You can then tell me where he went. It is as simple as that."
"And that's it?"
"But what about -"
"You can tell the team that you are having to take personal leave. That an emergency has arisen with your family."
"Won't they think it odd, me taking leave with Gibbs away?"
"You can tell them that I, as Director, have approved it. Now are there any other questions?"
He shook his head. "No, ma'am."
"Good. I shall expect you in five days time." Tony turned to go. "Oh, and, DiNozzo."
He stopped and turned back. "Ma'am?"
"You say nothing about this to anyone else. Ever. Anyone, do you hear me?"
"Not even Gibbs. In fact, especially not Gibbs."
"Yes, Director Shepard ma'am." Tony nodded once, turned and left. So that was why she'd waited until Gibbs had gone away. If Gibbs knew, he'd . . .
MONDAY 11:15 P.M.
For four evenings Tony had sat in his car for over twelve hours, watching absolutely nothing. Tonight wouldn't be any different.
And then he saw headlights - but even that wasn't completely unusual. Ducky's Reston home might be somewhat remote, but the odd car had gone by to liven up Tony's boring evenings. The first time he'd become quite excited, until he'd watched the car continue past the bottom of Ducky's drive. The second time he'd been less excited, but still hopeful By the tenth time, he'd given up even grabbing the binoculars. This wouldn't be any different.
And then to his amazement, the car slowed before turning into Ducky's drive. Heart racing, Tony sat up and grabbed the binoculars, training them on the front of Ducky's house. He tried to curb his hope; after all it could just be someone selling something.
At 11:15 p.m.?
As he brought the binoculars into focus, turning his attention to the car that had parked and turned off its light, he though he recognized the vehicle. But that was ridiculous; black sedans were common.
"Good God," he murmured, as he watched his boss - watched Leroy Jethro Gibbs - climb out of the car, slam the door and stride towards the house.
His mouth fell open in astonishment, as he watched Gibbs pull out his key chain and let himself into Ducky's house. As he opened the door, light from the hallway shone, leaving Tony in absolutely no doubt, not that there was any anyway, that it was Gibbs.
He continued to watch through the binoculars for several minutes, before slowly putting them back down onto the seat beside him. "Now why on earth would Gibbs have a key to Ducky's house?"
He knew the men were old friends, but even so . . . Old friends or not, having a key to someone else's home was strange to say the least. What was also odd, was that fact that Gibbs, who had clearly just returned from the conference, had chosen to go and see Ducky, rather than go to his own home.
For a moment Tony wondered whether something had happened to Mrs. Mallard, and Ducky had called Gibbs and asked for his help.
Seconds later, he dismissed that thought. Ducky was a doctor, for heaven's sake; if anything had 'happened' to his mother, he'd have been able to deal with it. Or he'd have called for assistance from the paramedics, or whoever. What could Gibbs do?
Then he had another thought, a much more likely one. Ducky had asked Gibbs to pick something up for him, and that something was perishable, thus Gibbs had needed to take it to Ducky before going home himself. Yes, that was it. It was one of Ducky's eccentricities, and Gibbs had, as Tony knew his boss had done on more than one occasion, indulged his old friend. Give him half an hour, or an hour if Ducky was in his story telling mood, to have a quick drink with Ducky and catch up on what had been going on at the office, and Gibbs would leave.
TUESDAY 7:00 A.M.
Rubbing his eyes and yawning, Tony tried for what seemed like the hundredth time to get comfortable. He rolled his shoulders; he was exhausted, he was getting too old for this kind of thing.
Not for one second had he taken his eyes off the house. But Gibbs had not come out again, and the black sedan had remained parked outside. Clearly Gibbs had been too tired to drive home, and so had crashed in Ducky's spare room.
It was getting close to the time that Ducky had left for work on the previous four mornings, so Tony sat up even straighter. Once more he grabbed the binoculars, brought them into focus and waited.
Ten minutes later the front door opened and Gibbs, his arm around Ducky's shoulders, came out. The glasses were powerful, very powerful; Tony was able to see the men's faces as clearly as if he'd been standing in front of them.
Both of them were smiling and seemed relaxed; then Gibbs said something that made Ducky laugh. Under Tony's eyes, Ducky turned towards Gibbs who let his arm move away thus allowing Ducky to turn, and instead put his hand on Ducky's shoulder. As he'd seen his boss do once before, Gibbs bent the brim of Ducky's hat up, and Ducky tipped his head back and gazed up at Gibbs. Gibbs glanced around him quickly, then under Tony's eyes, lowered his head and - kissed Ducky!
Tony felt his mouth fall open again, and fascinated now, he watched as Ducky slipped his arms around Gibbs, moved nearer to him and continued the kiss. It went on for a considerable time; Tony was amazed that at Ducky's age, he had the lungpower not to need to breathe for so long.
They finally broke away, but didn't move from one another's arms, and seconds later, Gibbs again lowered his head and once more met Ducky's lips.
Tony lowered the binoculars; he felt like a voyeur. He shouldn't be there. He shouldn't be witnessing this. It was too personal, too . . . Too perfect. Too right.
They moved apart again, and with reluctance Tony once more raised the binoculars to his eyes. Gibbs said something, Ducky shook his head, but clearly he didn't want to make the negative gesture. Then Gibbs smiled, pulled Ducky's hat off his head, grabbed Ducky's hand and led him back inside the house.
It was another ten minutes before they reappeared; again Gibbs had his arm around Ducky's shoulders. The binoculars, which Tony had once again raised, left it in no doubt exactly what they'd been doing. The glasses were that powerful.
Gibbs still had Ducky's hat in his hand, and Tony watched as his boss brushed his other hand across Ducky's head, pushing back a lock of hair that had fallen across Ducky's forehead. He then bent his head, gave Ducky another kiss, this one was brief and chaste, pushed the hat onto Ducky's head and, taking Ducky's hand, led him down the steps. There, after another moment or two of simply looking at one another, they parted. Gibbs said something, but Tony had never leaned lip reading, Ducky nodded and smiled, and then with Gibbs watching him, turned and limped to where he no doubt kept the Morgan.
TUESDAY 9:30 A.M.
Tony stood in front of Director Shepard's desk, his hands behind his back and met her gaze. He'd had two and a half hours to think about what he had seen; to think about what he was going to do; to think about where his loyalties lay. And he'd made his decision. "Nothing, ma'am."
She stared at him. "What did you say, DiNozzo?"
In his mind he heard Gibbs saying, "Rule number seven. Always be specific when you lie."
"I'm sorry, ma'am. I should have said there is nothing to report. No one visited Ducky. Nor did he leave his house, during the five evenings I was watching it."
"Are you certain? You didn't fall asleep or leave the car, just for a moment, to answer the call of nature?"
"No, Director Shepard. I did not. I'm experienced in surveillance, ma'am, I know what to do. I did not once take my eyes off Ducky's house."
She sank back in her chair; she looked suddenly deflated. "Well, I guess my gut was wrong then."
She didn't seem to be speaking to him, but Tony pushed his luck. "Ma'am?"
"I was certain, certain, DiNozzo, that Dr. Mallard is . . . Let us say that his stories about his past lady friends, are just that, stories. Inventions made up to cover himself. And I thought that if I had proof, then I could tell Jethro and -" She broke off, shook herself and glared up at Tony again. He held her gaze, forcing himself to give nothing away. "That will be all, Agent DiNozzo," she said coldly.
"Yes, Director Shepard." He nodded and turned to go.
"Remember what I told you. You say nothing, nothing do you hear me, DiNozzo, to anyone. If you do . . ." She let her voice trail off and smiled at him. The look was cold, feral; the threat was clear.
"I'll remember, ma'am," he said stiffly. Then he nodded again and left.
Outside her office he forced himself to look nonchalant as he smiled and winked at Cynthia, put his hands in his pockets and sauntered out. Outside, he leaned against the wall for a moment and exhaled. He had made the right decision. He had kept faith with the man who had never once in five years let him down. The man he trusted above all other people.
"For the good of the team, Tony." She had said.
Well Tony DiNozzo knew just who was in his team. He knew exactly where is loyalties lay. Team members supported one another, looked out for each other, and despite appearances Tony DiNozzo was a loyal team member. He would keep Gibbs and Ducky's secret. He'd keep it forever.
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