Title: Saying No
Author: Jilly James
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, OC
Word Count: 1,000
Summary: After being interrogated by Mossad and being told to take one for the team, Tony decides he’s had enough.
Warnings: No beta
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Tony stepped into the dimly-lit bar, immediately heading for the booth in the back corner—the booth where he and Marcus Skilton always sat when they met for drinks. The bar was fairly upscale and catered primarily to business clientele. It was part of why they went there… federal agents were not the norm—and neither were politicians.
He slid into the booth, being careful of his casted arm, adjusting his sling to take the pressure off his neck once he was comfortably seated.
Frowning, Marcus gave him a thorough once-over. “What the hell happened to you?”
Tony had known Marcus since college. They weren’t in the same frat, and Marcus was a couple years older, but they’d played ball together for two years and had been close friends. Partly drawn together because they’d both wound up in law enforcement. Four years ago, when Tony was already at NCIS, Marcus had moved to the FBI’s Baltimore office, and they’d been meeting for drinks as often as their schedules permitted.
Instead of answering directly, Tony passed a file across the table. “Read that. Then I’ll answer any questions you have.”
Marcus watched him closely for several seconds before nodding and beginning to read.
While his friend went through the information Tony had compiled literally one-handedly during his late-night trip to NCIS, Tony tipped his head back and closed his eyes. He was tired, but it wasn’t the physical exhaustion that was dragging him down. It was everything else.
He’d been told he had to take one for the team, submit to an interrogation by Mossad, when the only thing he’d done wrong was stupidly trying to give Ziva the opportunity to explain herself.
The entire time in Israel, he’d been working through the issues in the back of his mind, not sure what he was going to do. There was a brief moment when it seemed like Ziva was going to stay behind, and that would have solved part of his problem—though it in no way addressed how he felt about Gibbs, Vance and SecNav throwing him under the proverbial bus.
But then Ziva seemingly had a change of mind and boarded the plane. While Tony’s future had been filled with uncertainty, Ziva’s shouldn’t have been—that was crystal clear to him. Even if they covered the whole thing up legally, she had been guilty of espionage. She’d been spying on all of them for years and everyone up to SecNav knew it. That was incontrovertible. Literally no room for interpretation. So when he’d heard that Ziva would be back on the team come Monday, Tony had pulled Gibbs aside to basically ask, ‘what the fuck?’
Gibbs hadn’t been impressed with Tony questioning his decision. Some crap variant of ‘my team, my rules’ had been issued, and, in that moment, Tony decided to say enough.
When Marcus gave an astonished, “Damn,” Tony straightened up and prepared to answer questions.
Marcus closed the folder and drummed his fingers on it for a second. “I assume you gave this to me because you want me to do something with it?”
“That sort of crime at a federal agency is the Bureau’s jurisdiction.”
“NCIS isn’t doing anything?” he clarified.
Tony snorted. “She’s back on the team come Monday.”
“Are you fucking serious?” Marcus asked incredulously.
“You know this will end your career, right? Your chain of command may not be able to do anything to you legally, but they can make your life impossible. And any other agency will say the right things, but behind closed doors, it’s gonna count against you.”
“I know,” Tony replied with a short nod. “It doesn’t matter. I’m done. I have other options—I’ve always had other options. I stayed because I wanted to. And that ship has sailed. I’m not going to forgive my bosses offering me up to a foreign government as some fucking political maneuver,” he nearly spat. He also wasn’t going to let it go that Ziva had attacked him in Israel. He didn’t care that she was grieving. The ache of every bruise and the sharp twinges in his newly broken rib served to remind him that taking the desk opposite her ever again was intolerable.
He could have taken this whole mess to Fornell, but there was too much uncertainty on that path. Fornell’s relationship with Gibbs made it impossible to predict the likely outcome. Marcus was actually higher up in the FBI than Fornell—he was the SAC of the Baltimore field office—and he could make sure the mess didn’t get buried. At least, not without a lot more collusion to cover up a crime.
Marcus was nodding slowly, obviously thinking through issues. “I can kick off the investigation, but ultimately, it will probably get shuffled back to the DC office.”
“Man, whatever. I just want it too well known to get buried without some very powerful people getting a lot of egg on their face.”
“Is this you getting even, Tony? Or doing the right thing?” Marcus asked without any hint of judgment.
“Definitely both. I’m not going to let this slide—she egregiously broke the law. But I’m not shy about admitting that I’d be fucking delighted if my chain of command had to ‘take one for the team’.”
“You’re talking about the director of a federal agency and the Secretary of the Navy, Tony,” Marcus cautioned.
He just snorted, obviously indifferent.
“All right, what do you know that I don’t? I get that you’re pissed, but you’re too unconcerned about the repercussions.”
After considering for a second, Tony replied, “Just between us, SecDef is my godfather. He adores me. I’d never go to him directly with something like this, but if they try to fuck with me, they’re going to get a nasty surprise.”
Marcus blinked in surprise, but then gave a nearly feral grin. “This suddenly got so much easier.”
“Make ‘em hurt, Marcus.”
Tony DiNozzo was finally saying no. And it felt good.
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The Big Short is a short-story challenge on Rough Trade based on thematic or character prompts. The maximum word count for themes is 1k, for characters it’s 2k. They are not beta’d. I re-read them looking for errors but that is all.
Each short story is complete as is. They will not be expanded on, there will be no sequels, they are probably not connected to anything else, and they are not intended to prompt other writers. If you find inspiration in them, that’s lovely, but please write your own thing. My works are not up for adoption.