Self-Respect

Title: Self-Respect
Author: Ladyholder
Challenge: Big Moxie 2022: Canon Divergence
Fandom(s): NCIS, brief mention of Criminal Minds
Relationship(s): None
Warnings: canon-typical
Word Count: 6,157
Author’s Note: So, this is a subtle divergence. The major change is Tony, his attitude and what he’s willing to accept. From there, the ripples should move out in broadening waves.

 

 

“So, what are the skills that you’re bringing with you?” Tony asked as he settled behind his desk. “What did you do while a part of the Secret Service?”

“I was with the Secret Service for two years and served on the President’s mobile detail for the last six months I was there,” Todd said. She took a deep breath and kept talking. “I took the classes on profiling to allow me to do my job better.”

“Were those the crowd assessment profiling classes or the ones where you’re getting into the heads of people like serial killers?” Tony asked as he started writing down the information, she was giving him.

“Crowd control,” Todd admitted, voice slightly sour. “Why?”

“Because I need to know so I can schedule any continuing education that you will need to keep those skills and up to date. Or in this case, expand on those skills, so you can get into the head of someone like a serial killer,” Tony explained. “I’m Gibbs’ senior agent and it’s my job to both keep track of that and make sure our agents are actually doing it. Among other things.”

“You’re the senior agent?” Todd asked. She sounded incredulous.

“Is there a problem Probationary Agent Todd?” Tony asked. He wasn’t going to play the clown for her and if she didn’t like the methods he used to get the job done, that was on her. She’d adapt or fail.

Todd flashed him a dirty look. “Yes! I’ve got more time in than you do. I should be the senior agent!”

“Not at NCIS,” Tony reminded her with a smile. “I came in with six years of law enforcement experience under my belt. I also came in with the educational requirements for the position met. You don’t have that. Nor have you completed the FLETC units for investigative agents. You guarded the president; you didn’t investigate crimes.”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” Todd looked bewildered as she listened to him.

“NCIS investigates crimes involving the Department of the Navy. This means the US Navy, the US Marine Corps and the Coast Guard,” Tony explained. “Anything from theft to murder to stalking to everything in between. If it’s a crime perpetrated by or on those associated with the Department of the Navy, it’s ours to investigate,” Tony reminded her. That argument was what Gibbs had used to take over the case where they’d met her after all.

“Right.”

Tony let her sit at her desk for several minutes before he started grilling her again about her skills. It took more than an hour for him to get the answers he needed, but he didn’t care. He was caught up with all his paperwork, he had no open cases to review and his colds were arctic.

“Okay, so do you think the information that you’ve given me is a good summary of your skills?” Tony asked. He was filling out everything he needed to start Todd’s training file with NCIS and he could already see some areas she needed to beef up on. When she didn’t respond, he glanced up at her. “Agent Todd? Please answer the question.”

“I don’t understand why you’re asking me all these questions,” Todd said. She was staring at him with a frown. “What does this have to do with my job?”

“Seriously?” Tony asked. “You’re going to be a part of a three-man team here at NCIS. We’re all going to have to rely on each other and that means we need to know what your skills are so you can be of the most use during investigations.”

“Todd, stop fussing and give him what he wants. You’ve got an appointment with training,” Gibbs cut in as he walked down the stairs from MCRT.

“Yes, Gibbs,” Todd acquiesced with ill grace.

Tony grunted softly as their new probie finally settled down. He was not looking forward to training her in what their job actually entailed. Since he no longer needed to pump her for information, he quickly moved to sign Todd up for all the things that she would need to be able to work.

It took almost twenty minutes for Todd’s computer to stop announcing the arrival of her training emails.

“What is this? Why do I have to do all of this?” Todd demanded. She turned her glare from her computer monitor to trying to pin him to his chair with it.

“While you were indeed a real-life Secret Service Agent who helped protect the President, you were not, and are not, cleared to handle evidence for NCIS. You need to get qualified to do that. You need to show that you can collect evidence, that you can sketch and measure a crime scene so you’ve got courses on that, among other things. Since you have the basics of profiling, I’ve also signed you up for the courses that will let you add to your skills there.”

“I’m already a profiler DiNozzo, I don’t need more classes in it!” Todd protested.

“You said yourself that you were trained to find the person in the crowd who wanted to harm your principle. That is very different than that’s needed to profile a perp or a victim. We could use the latter, not the former,” Tony reminded her.

“She’s not a profiler?” Gibbs asked, voice sharp. He glared at Todd and waved a hand. “Well?”

“I am. A profiler,” Todd ground out between clenched teeth. “I can do the job.”

“According to the folks over at BAU, there’s a separate set of skills you need to profile people instead of crowds,” Tony informed her with a small smile. He turned his attention back to Gibbs and explained. “I asked Hotch what he looks for in his profilers and he gave me the degree/training programs that he keeps an eye on. He also supplied the list of courses that she can take in her spare time to actually earn the title ‘profiler’. I forwarded you the email.”

“Good,” Gibbs said. “Better get started on those, Todd. We can’t take you out into the field until you’re qualified.”

“Fine,” Todd huffed and started reading something on her computer.

Tony sat back and smiled as he forwarded his list of recommendations for training to Gibbs to fully sign off on. From the constipated look the older man was giving him, he wasn’t thrilled at how much work Todd was going to have to do before they could make use of her in the field.

Not that Tony cared. He’d advocated for her to go to FLETC for a set of refresher courses that would get her up to date and been shot down. He’d stood his ground though on her needing the training and Gibbs had backed down after Tony had hammered home how taking a half-trained agent into the field would short change the victims.

And hadn’t that been fun, making Gibbs see sense? Tony winced internally at the memory of their argument. There were a lot of things he was willing to do for NCIS, including going undercover, but he wasn’t willing to be the butt of jokes, or the designated temper diffuser.

If they were going to expand the team again, he was going to make sure that Gibbs actually treated him like his Senior Agent. No head slaps, no foisting the shit jobs off, no undercutting his authority with their new probie. He gave it only a few weeks before Gibbs lost his shit.

“DiNozzo, with me,” Gibbs called as he started walking for the elevator.

The motions to lock up his computer were second nature and Tony caught up with Gibbs as he slipped through the doors to the elevator. “What’s up, Boss?”

“What’s got your knickers in a twist about her being a profiler?” Gibbs asked as he stabbed the emergency stop button.

Tony rolled his eyes slightly as the little contraption shuddered to a halt. “I’ve gotten a round dozen emails from security, asking that you not do that,” he said. Gibbs had been included on all the emails, so there was no way he didn’t know what they were asking.

“If I had an actual office, I’d use it. Since I don’t have someplace that isn’t utterly monitored beyond the head, I’m going to use this,” Gibbs said with a shrug. “Answer the question.”

“I did check with Hotchner about what it takes to be a qualified profiler,” Tony explained. He spread his hands wide before he started waving them as he talked. “If Todd is going to claim to be a profiler, we need to make sure that she’s got the chops to do it, and we need to make sure that we’ve got the records for it. JAG would be less than happy with us if we try to pass someone off as having a skill and them not actually having the certifications to back it up.”

“Hmm.” Gibbs didn’t say anything for several seconds before he nodded. “And if she’s not what we say she is, that could lead to people getting off on technicalities?”

“Yes, Boss,” Tony confirmed. “And that goes across the board. If anyone on our team, or any other team claims a skill and trying to pass off an expertise, we have to have the documentation to back it up. We can’t skate on this.”

“Fine,” Gibbs said finally. “Are you taking the lead on training her?”

“Do you think you can do it without losing your temper and head smacking her into next week when she thinks you’re being a chauvinistic male for some weird action?” Tony asked. He’d already run into that attitude from Todd on the case they’d met her on, he wasn’t looking forward to dealing with it all day long.

“Shit. You think she’s going to try that? Blackadder didn’t.” Gibbs said.

“Viv was an FBI transfer who already knew how to investigate and work in a law enforcement environment. She just hated working with either of us,” Tony reminded him. “Todd is coming in with a chip on her shoulder and doesn’t know how to investigate and needs to be taught. She’s already shown that she thinks I’m a chauvinistic pig, so training her is going to be interesting.”

Gibbs hit the emergency stop to get them moving again and then nodded. “Right. This is going to be a clusterfuck.”

“Just have my back when she tries shit like you agreed and I’ll have yours,” Tony said as he hit the button to return them to their floor. “I made sure the first module that she’s got to study is on the chain of command. She can’t open the others until she completes that one.”

 

 

“Gear up, we’ve got a case,” Gibbs said sharply as he hung up his phone. “DiNozzo, get the truck. Brief Todd on the way.”

Tony quickly saved his last file and locked his computer up before strapping on his gun. Picking up his backpack with his kit was just as swiftly accomplished and he was headed for the stair doors before Todd stood up. “Get moving Todd. You’re with me!”

“What?”

Tony leaned back into the main part of the bullpen and smirked at how Todd was floundering. Gibbs was standing beside her frowning. “Grab your backpack with your kit, and your gun and let’s go. You’re going to be shadowing me while I work today.”

From the startled look she was giving him, she hadn’t expected to be included. To be fair, they’d left her behind every other time they’d been called out. “Coming!”

“We’re going down to the parking garage,” Tony explained as he led her downstairs. “We’re going to be taking a specially tricked out truck that holds all the gear we need to collect evidence in the field. It’s also off-road capable with some other bells and whistles.”

“Sounds good. Are you driving?” Todd asked as she hurried behind him.

“Ha, no,” Tony admitted. “Gibbs is way too controlling to allow anyone else to drive if he can help it. The truck has a jump seat. Since you’re shorter than I am, you get that. I don’t fit. At any rate, I’m making sure the truck is gassed up, that all our supplies are topped up and that it’s clean. This will be something that will mostly fall on your shoulders once you’re qualified.”

Todd huffed once and then pulled in a deep breath as they exited the stairwell. “Is this hazing?”

“No,” Tony denied. “You’re the junior agent on the team. There are jobs that you will be doing because I have ones that only I can do as Gibbs’ second. There’s nothing nefarious about it, just the division of chores. If we ever get a new agent assigned who is junior to you, they will pick up some of the chores and you’ll get some of the ones that I’m keeping.”

“Oh.”

The motions to make sure that the truck was ready to head out were automatic. He’d done them too many times over the years for the whole thing not to be ingrained, but he did make sure to explain each and every thing he did to Todd. From the way she was frowning, there was something going on in her head.

Marking the last item off the checklist, Tony signed and dated the page and handed it off to the tech in charge of the garage. “Right. Let’s get in the truck.”

“Do I have to sit in the jump seat?” Todd asked as she stared at the small seat nestled behind the front seats.

“Yes,” Tony confirmed. “I don’t fit. I’m eight inches taller than you. We’re trying to get to our scene without crippling our agents.”

“Fine,” Todd said as she climbed into the cab and settled into place.

“Make sure to buckle up,” Tony muttered as he slid into his seat. He tucked his backpack between his feet and then buckled up, giving the strap a small tug to make sure it was secure.

“All ready, DiNozzo?” Gibbs asked as he opened the driver side door.

“Yup. We’re good to go,” Tony confirmed. He got a good grip on the ‘oh, shit’ handle and settled in for the ride. “Do you know what we’re walking into?”

“A murder,” Gibbs informed him. “And apparently, it’s messy.”

“Good thing we have the bunny suits then,” Tony said. He hated the damn things, but it kept him from transferring biohazards all over his clothes.

 

Tony carefully framed the scene before him and started taking pictures. As soon as he had it covered from all angles, he stowed the camera away and pulled out his sketchpad.

The motions of drawing were second nature and he quickly filled in the major items in the scene. Any measurements needed were added in the appropriate places on the sketch so he could refer to it later. All the while, he was narrating his actions to Todd.

“How can you be so calm?” She demanded.

When he glanced over at her, Tony could see that she looked a bit green around the edges. Turning back to the scene before him, he worked to get some of the finer details down. “Experience. This is far from the first dead body I’ve worked.”

“It smells more than I expected,” Todd murmured. She craned her neck to examine more of the scene. “How do we find out how he died?”

“Well, we ask Ducky for final confirmation, but we’ll examine the area, observing the victim, and when the victim is removed, observe and sample what’s left behind,” Tony explained. He went over each step that had yet to be done so she could get some idea of what they were doing.

“Todd, when we get back to the office, you’ll be watching the autopsy,” Gibbs announced. He entered the scene covered in a white bunny suit, a bucket in hand and his scene kit. “Come over here and watch as I gather evidence. DiNozzo, are you finished?”

“Yup,” Tony confirmed. He closed up his sketchpad and labeled it before tucking it away. “I’ll be talking to any witnesses, Gibbs.”

“Should I go with him?” Todd asked. Tony could hear a thread of hope in her voice and he kept his face straight with an effort.

“Nope, you’re with me,” Gibbs said. He was carefully inspecting the room, adding a second eye to make sure no evidence was missed. “Since you got certified in gathering evidence, you’ll be watching me do it this time and then with our next case, you’ll be going live. Watch and learn, probie.”

Tony bit his lip and walked out, sobering as he walked through the ruins of a sailor’s life. Poor bastard had put up a hell of a fight before he’d been killed and there was plenty of evidence to collect. Hopefully some of it would point towards his killer.

The change out of the bunny suit was quick and Tony bagged it up in case any stray bit of something had attached itself to it. Back in regular clothes, he started canvassing the neighbors.

It took several hours to hit all the neighbors and he had a lot of notes to collate and file. Their dead sailor had been pretty popular with the single women in the building, and had seemed smart enough not to leave any of them mad at him. He would need to check on exes to see if a suspect might pop up that way.

He’d had a stroke of luck in catching the building gossip right before her morning tea and had gotten a full rundown of the last six months shenanigans for the place. Thank goodness for nosy old ladies who were observant.

As he walked back to the crime scene, he cocked his head to the side. The door was open with the tape declaring the crime moved to the side. Poking his head in the door, he glanced around. “Gibbs?”

“DiNozzo!” Gibbs called from the room their sailor had died in. “Ducky’s here. Get dressed so you can help me get the last of the evidence.”

“Gotcha,” Tony agreed. He tucked the notebook with his notes in with the rest of the evidence and grabbed another bunny suit. “Ducky, do you need help moving the body?”

“No, my lad, I’ve got Gerald here to assist,” Ducky called. “I would put this poor lad’s time of death to be 11pm last night, Jethro. I’ll get a better idea once we get him back and I can do some more detailed tests.”

“Gibbs, I’ll be standing out here until Ducky and Gerald bring out our victim,” Tony said as he started checking the various boxes and bags of evidence.

“Why?”

“Because the tape wasn’t across the door and there was no one out here to keep things safe,” Tony explained. All the buckets had inventories and he was able to confirm that the first had everything it should.

“Son of a bitch,” Gibbs cursed. “Todd, didn’t you put the tape back into place and close the door?”

“No,” Todd said after several seconds.

Tony could hear Ducky tutting softly and he smiled briefly before he sobered. While shit happened in the field, everyone needed to be cognizant of their surroundings. With Gibbs concentrating on collecting evidence, Todd needed to step up and watch his back. Since she hadn’t, she had earned her dressing down.

Under the sound of Gibbs explaining exactly why Todd had screwed up, Tony could hear Ducky and Gerald moving the body onto the gurney. The second bucket proved to be correct and he moved onto the third. Abby wasn’t going to too thrilled to get handed a massive amount of work, he decided as he checked off the last item. And that was before the samples from the autopsy came in.

 

 

“Okay, you were right,” Gibbs announced quietly.

“How much did that burn you to say?” Tony asked as he looked up from his work.

The look Gibbs shot him was speaking and Tony laughed softly. From the way the annoyance on the older man’s face melted into amusement, he was fine with the teasing and something in Tony relaxed at that. “Enough.”

“I bet,” Tony said. He glanced at the IM screen he had up with Gerald. The last message had stayed the same for the last two hours and Tony expected it to be that way for a while longer. Their victim had been stabbed multiple times and it was pretty easy to see that he’d bled to death. Ducky’s autopsy would confirm which cut had been the ultimate cause of death, and how many times the poor man had been stabbed. Among other things.

No autopsy was a quick process. Nor was it tidy. Todd was getting thrown into the deep end and she’d been less than thrilled when she’d been sent down to observe the process. Gerald had taken the time to let him know her reaction to the start of the process. Tony was expecting Todd to be peeved when she came back up to the bullpen.

“Think she’s going to shape up?” Gibbs asked after several minutes.

“She’s learning,” Tony allowed. Todd had asked decent questions on the way back to NCIS. She’d even made a point to have written them down while he and Gibbs had worked the scene. He at least, had appreciated her tact.

“She made a mistake today,” Gibbs said, growling slightly. “And it could have been bad.”

“After the dressing down you gave her, I doubt she’ll do it again,” Tony said. Todd had looked mortified when she’d slipped out of the room ahead of Ducky and Gerald. She’d made certain to pin the tape back into place before she had run to catch up with the other two men. “But you know she’ll find a new thing to mess up on. We all do.”

“You haven’t,” Gibbs reminded him.

“You didn’t meet me when I was a new cop,” Tony said. He leaned back in his chair and smiled in remembrance. “I was a cocky little shit, but I did my best to learn how to be a good, cocky little shit.”

Gibbs snorted once in amusement. “You still are. But you’ve got the experience to back it up, so it works for you.”

Tony nodded once. “I do try.”

“Anyway,” Gibbs cleared his throat. “She does need the training and putting her into the field without it would have caused problems. I’m not sure if FLETC would have been better or not.”

“Might have been faster,” Tony said after remembering how pissy Todd got about some of her training courses. “Then again, they might not have given her a realistic view of what a crime scene is like.”

“They smell, and there’s a lot of really weird stuff that gets picked up,” Todd announced. “Also, the autopsy was gross and disturbing, but Dr. Mallard says he’ll have a report for you in a few hours.”

“If you really think our last scene smelled, we need to get one with a dumpster,” Gibbs muttered as he made a note on his desk calendar.

“Please no, boss,” Tony begged. He was a super-smeller and dumpster cases were exceedingly gross to him. “My drycleaner hates when I drop off clothes from them.”

“Wash and wear, DiNozzo,” Gibbs teased. “It saves you a lot of money.”

“Doesn’t get the smell out, boss. The drycleaner does,” Tony protested.

“Really?” Todd asked. She was looking back and forth between them like she was trying to divine the truth. “What do you do with a dumpster?”

“There’s a section of criminals who will dump evidence in a dumpster,” Tony explained. “Along with bodies being found in dumpsters. And that means, what?”

Todd flashed him an irritated look as she wrinkled her nose as if she was smelling something foul. “It means that to find the evidence, we’ll have to get into the dumpster and sift through all the muck.”

“Yup,” Tony agreed. “And you have to be very careful when you do that because you never know what is in those things. And if you are really unlucky, your clothes will pick up the scent of the dumpster. This is why we tend to keep multiple changes of clothes here at work.”

“Gross,” Todd hissed. She settled into place at her desk and looked back and forth between them. “Now what?”

“Now, find the blank report form I sent you and start filling it in. You’ll want to do this every time you can while we have an active case. We’ll often be working several cases at a time, so having a running report for each case will let you keep them organized,” Tony informed her. He wanted her to get into the habit of doing her reports as events happened because doing it any other way was the path towards madness.

“My training courses said that I might have more than one case at a time. I didn’t realize that MCRT dealt with that,” Todd mused. She turned her computer on and tapped her fingers against her desk. “The autopsy was exceedingly gross. I did not need to know that much about how humans were put together. And how fascinated Dr. Mallard is with how people die.”

“It’s one of the things that makes him such a good Medical Examiner,” Gibbs said. He leaned back in his chair and stared at her.

“What?” Todd asked. She patted her face and started trying to inspect her clothes. “Do I have something on me?”

“No,” Gibbs said. “Do you think that you can do this?”

Todd stopped patting herself down and stared at Gibbs for several seconds. “This? Investigating?”

“And getting dirty with things that are better left unmentioned, getting down on your knees in questionable substances, seeing people on the worst day of their lives?” Gibbs asked. He waved a hand towards the elevator. “Arresting people, no matter what you think of them, when the law demands it?”

Todd took the time to think about it and Tony kept a casual eye on her face. “This isn’t comfortable,” Todd admitted. She frowned and leaned back in her chair, dropping her hands into her lap. “I don’t know what I thought this job would be like when I agreed to it. I’m learning though. And it’s fascinating.”

“Well, that’s promising,” Gibbs said finally. “DiNozzo has a meeting with JAG in the morning. You’ll be shadowing him.”

“Okay,” Todd agreed. “Why?”

“Well, one, it’s so you get introduced to them,” Gibbs let her know, voice dry. “Two, you’ll need to know how to testify.”

“How to testify?” Todd asked. “Is there something special we need to know to do it?”

Gibbs shrugged once. “The JAG officers will go over what they want from you when you get called in to testify. Tony will get a list of our court dates and will update your calendar accordingly. You’ll be expected to make it over to JAG on time.”

“And if we catch a case?” Todd asked carefully.

“Unless you’re chasing a criminal down, you’ll be let go to testify. As much as I would love to say you can’t go, a major part of this job is testifying against the criminals we catch so they go to jail. If you aren’t there, they can get off and that’s not going to happen on my watch,” Gibbs said with a growl in his voice.

Tony was silent because it had taken time for him to get that point across to the older man. Just catching the bad guys wasn’t enough. Their cases had to stand up in court and there was no way on God’s green Earth that he was going to have a less than air-tight case if he could help it. Gibbs had finally bowed to the inevitable when Morrow had weighed in.

“Okay,” Todd said. She shrugged once and started working.

Turning back to his own work, Tony started to transcribe his notes, making certain that everything was able to be referred to. Once he had that done, he was going to be researching their victim and his life. Hopefully they’d come up with a suspect quickly.

 

 

“Is it always this satisfying?” Todd asked as she watched their murderer be booked into custody.

Tony crossed his arms and stared at the man and frowned at him. Their sailor had been dating a woman who had been stalked by another sailor. When her stalker had come back into port and found her dating someone else, he’d snapped.

Their sailor had put up a good fight and thanks to his efforts, had given them enough evidence to find his murderer. The girlfriend had managed to stay ahead of the man hunting her and Tony could only hope she got counseling because she was going to need it.

“It’s great when we can get the guilty and we know they are guilty,” Tony said after several seconds. “But you have to remember, we’re here to uphold the law. And that means that sometimes, we’re arresting the spouse of a batterer who snapped at killed their abuser. It’s not fair and it’s not comfortable, but it’s the law.”

“How can you arrest a wife for killing her abuser?” Todd asked aghast.

“It’s not always men who abuse, Probie,” Tony reminded her. “You need to keep an open mind and let the facts show you what’s going on. Not looking at it through the lens of your prejudices. Women abuse too. It’s just not as common or as known. And if you see it, you have to deal with it.”

“Right,” Todd huffed. “Open mind, no prejudices and let the evidence point you towards what happened.”

“Pretty much,” Tony agreed. “Remember to treat the victims with kindness, courtesy and respect. You have to remember that these people are having one of the worst days of their lives. If you’ve got an issue with someone due to their religion, their job, their orientation, whatever, you need to set aside because none of that has any place in an investigation.”

“That’s going to be the hardest part, I think,” Todd said as the MP completed processing. “I’m Catholic. There’re things I’ve been raised to see as a sin and I’ve always seen as such. I don’t even know what prejudices I have that will bite me.”

Tony snorted once. “I’m Italian by ancestry and I was also raised Catholic. You can’t let what the Church programed you with when you were a child direct you. You are the decision maker. Not the Church.”

“Right. Things to remember,” Todd said. “I’m not likely to ever say this again, but thank you for making sure that I actually was trained. If I’d gotten my way and started immediately, I likely would have messed things up.”

“You’re welcome,” Tony said after several seconds. He hoped that her attitude lasted, but he had no idea how deeply ingrained the chip on her shoulder was set. “No one knows everything on this job. We’re all learning, every single day. But you have to remember the job is to help the victims and at the end of the day, that’s what’s important.”

Their murderer was marched out of the room and down to his cell and Tony turned away from him. He had other cases to work on and as satisfying as it had been to see this perp go away, he needed to make sure the others on his radar did as well. He’d think about him again when he went to trial.

“You’re not the chauvinistic male I thought you were,” Todd announced as she entered the elevator with him. “Why?”

“You labeled me a chauvinist when I used a magazine I found on a coffee table on the plane to make a point,” Tony reminded her. “And while I can put up an act of being a playboy, of being a misogynist, or whatever other term might come up, I’m too much of a realist to actually be one. I’ve worked with too many women over the years to think that they are weaker than me. That’s just some next level bullshit.”

“Huh,” Todd said softly. “So, all the stuff you’ve been teaching me?”

“Totally on the level and I’d be teaching the exact same skills no matter who was the probie,” Tony said. “Now, the techniques would change, person to person, because no one is a cookie cutter, but yeah, you’d come out the end with skills.”

“And all the times you’ve snooped in my personal stuff?”

“If you keep stuff in the open where anyone can read it, you’ve opened yourself to potentially being in deep shit,” Tony reminded her. “We deal with criminals. At any one time, we’ve had our suspects in the bullpen or in interview with us. Having personal information out where they can see it, could lead to people dying. I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning on dying because I was dumb enough to leave my electric bill out where someone can read my home address.”

From the flush crawling up Todd’s neck, he’d struck a nerve. “I’ve tried to get this through to you on a gentler level, but you cannot, cannot, underestimate the people we investigate. Some of them have no issues with hurting a woman, or even killing one. You can’t rely on your badge to keep you safe. If you are dealing with a criminal, you need to do everything you can to take them down and you get out alive. The rest can be sorted later.”

“Right,” Todd said after several seconds. As soon as the doors opened on the elevator, she slipped out and headed for her desk. Tony followed and smiled as she inspected her work area and started putting away anything overtly personal. Lesson learned, he decided.

Settling into his own desk, Tony pulled up his report for their dead sailor and started filling out the last details he needed to complete. He felt better about Todd now. She seemed less like a loose canon and more like someone he could rely on in the field. Time would tell.

He was also pleased that Gibbs hadn’t backslid into his bullying behavior. It had taken more time than he’d liked to get across to the older man that he was causing more issues than he was solving with how he had approached dealing with Todd. She was the low man on the MCRT totem pole and Gibbs needed to remember that he couldn’t favor her because she was female.

Tony could tell that his hand itched to smack everyone once in a while, but he’d refrained from that too. Not to say that the older man still didn’t like to sneak up on them and try to scare the holy bejezus out of them. Thankfully, Tony could smell him coming. “One murderer booked and in a cell. No new cases and Abby delivered a report to you on one of your colds right before we went down to booking.”

“Good,” Gibbs grunted. “See about setting up a session at the shooting range. I want to get a refresher on my quals.”

“Oh,” Tony cooed.

“Did you coo?” Todd asked.

“Likely,” Tony admitted. “I like shooting against Gibbs. It let’s me know if I’ve improved.”

“And being good with a gun is a useful thing for a law enforcement officer,” Gibbs reminded her.

“Makes sense,” Todd said after several seconds thought. She turned a bright smile onto Tony and he raised an eyebrow at her. “What happens if I outshoot you?”

Tony tried to think of something that he could use as a bet. “Hm… If you outshoot me, I’ll sit in the jump seat on our next call out.”

“Deal!” Todd exclaimed with a broad grin. She settled down at her computer and started working on something and Tony smiled at her enthusiasm.

It took him only moments to make the appointment at the shooting range and he sent out the reminder to his team of the time and place. He got the confirmation back quickly and he smiled smugly at the thought of the competition to come. He was going to enjoy winning.

When a chat window popped up, he snorted once in amusement. Gibbs was weighing in as well. You had better win. She needs to know what you can really do. No underperforming.

Tony nodded once. Training never stopped. Understood.

Things were better than he had expected when Todd had been hired. He was glad that he’d given into his impulse to stand up for himself. He wasn’t going to be a pushover in the face of Todd and her attitude and Gibbs’ issues. He valued his self-respect too much to give it up for anyone.

 

 

 

46 Comments:

  1. I can imagine Kate’s face after the day at the range. LOL. Great job. You know if she’d gotten this kind of training in canon, she might have killed Ari when he kidnapped her instead of coming away from it thinking he had “kind eyes”.

  2. This was lovely. Kate with this attitude change and training may have survived instead of letting a serial killing terrorist wacko off because she fell for his puppy dog eyes.

  3. Really great story on what should have happened when Kate joined the team rather than what did. I think it would have made a very big difference in the whole team. Kate my not have been killed, McGee may have actually learned everything he needed to and Ziva quite possibly would not have been allowed to join the team period considering her attitude and not wanting to listen to other. Loved this.

  4. This Tony.

    Thank you.

  5. This is terrific!
    Thank you for sharing.

  6. Great story! I really enjoy reading your Tony centric stories. I certainly believe that if this would have actually happened on the show we wouldn’t have had to deal with Ziva.

  7. If only it had been that way. Maybe Kate would have survived. *sigh*
    This was an exciting read. Tony being the competent agent we know he is, Gibbs actually behaving professionally, and Kate actually learning something from Tony without constantly calling him names made a really big difference.
    I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing.

  8. This was amazing, I totally get what you meant by ripples… and I’d love to see the range reaction! lol
    Thank you!

  9. The show’s writers seemed to default to annoying stereotypes rather than giving us more interesting and rounded characters. I would have loved to watch a show with your characters. Much love.

  10. Loved this – a trained Kate would have made such a big difference, as you said the ripples just get bigger and bigger.

  11. Simply awesome. This is definitely more realistic then what the show did as far as how it was when Kate joined the team. Thank you for sharing your gift with us

  12. A competent Tony is always the best Tony.

  13. I liked Kate. I would have loved her if she had been like your version from the beginning. Great job and I hope to see some of those ripples soon.

  14. Such a small change with such big ripples. Love how you handled this. It an incredibly satisfying read. ❤ ❤ ❤

  15. I love stories where everyone acts like a grown up, especially when it’s Tony.

  16. That was great, Ladyholder. I loved seeing Tony being his competent self and making Gibbs see reason and helping Kate to actually start becoming the teammate she needed to be. I can see it rippling out into her not dying like she did in canon and dealing with Ari very differently.

  17. This was great! I love seeing Tony actually acting as the senior agent and showcasing his skills. Between the training and the reality check, this Kate has a much better chance at survival and all of them have a much better shot at being a real team.

  18. Seven verch Dafydd

    It’s a shame the show writers didn’t write Kate this way. She would have been a much more interesting character.

    I enjoyed “professional Tony” too, but then that is how you always write him. One of the reason I enjoy your writing so much. Thank you

  19. The profiler thing really bothered me to hell and back on the show, I loved how you fixed that and the self respecting Tony is really nice to see.

  20. This is such a better team. Cohesive and competent.
    Thank you for this new beginning.

  21. Competent adults are the best kind. Thank you!

  22. Great divergence point for Tony. It’s great to see him going in the right direction from the jump and what a huge difference it made for Kate.

  23. Barbra Gillespie

    You checked all of my buttons… Competent Tony… Kate not becoming a total pain in the ass… And Gibbs behaving like the senior agent he was supposed to be… I love it thanks… It would have changed pretty close to every episode she was on And probably every episode after she left as well because it would have changed the effect she had on Tim’s attitude as well.

  24. Fantastic and what should have happened in canon to make Kate a more effective team member. I’m glad that you had Tony show who he really was and not just the masks that he always hid behind. It did more in the long run than trying to coax her into not being judgemental and easily led pain in the neck. Thanks for sharing!

  25. A lovely little divergence point!

  26. Wonderful plot twist and a great way to see new paths opening for all of the characters. This fic doesn’t show up on the list for the Big Moxie 2022 though, so I am glad I subscribe to you or I would have missed this entirely.

  27. This was fantastic. A small change maybe, but it could potentially change so many different things.

    I like this relationship between this team better too, professional and heading to friendly without being so caustic and heading towards toxic.

    It’s really lovely.

    Thank you for sharing,
    ~ Sibyl

  28. Well done, Tony. Getting Gibbs to agree to training Todd properly would have meant a number of cases turning out quite differently.

  29. This was lovely. Tony acting like a senior agent and Kate getting the set down and training that she needed. LOL on the shooting range. I love this Tony. This is how it should have been, competent professional adults. KUDOS!

  30. Great Story

  31. Lizabeth S Tucker

    This is the Tony DiNozzo I believe we should’ve gotten. I don’t care how good MW was at comedy, a good showrunner and/or script writer should’ve been able to combine the two.

  32. Very good story. I like reading a competent tony story

  33. Greywolf the Wanderer

    very kewl!! thoroughly enjoyed this reordering of a canon that never really was very convincing. excelente!!

  34. Love this.
    As you say, Tony’s small change of attitude leads to a better trained Kate who respects her team and their skills and who is encouraged to work on her own skills. This may make her profiler claim more accurate and change the outcome of cases.

  35. Oh, wow. That was awesome!

  36. This was amazing having Tony stand up for himself & being himself. I am so happy got the chance to read it. Thank you, again.

  37. Well I have no idea why it took me so long to find everything for this challenge and get it read what can I say. But I can say is I always love your work for thoughtfulness and it’s cohesiveness. This is what Kate should have been. It’s a beautiful morning.

    Xoxoxo

  38. god this was an absolute dream! so great to see people behaving with rationality and sense! loved it!

  39. I read this before, but don’t seem to have commented — well, better late than never. I have nothing to say that others haven’t said already, but I love seeing competent Tony standing up for the respect he deserves, and Kate getting the training and eye-opening she needs. Cheers to all the ripples that would flow out from this beginning!

  40. This is even better the third and fourth time through. It really is a great divergence point.

  41. Kate really needed that same up call. Great story

  42. Great story. I love competence and consequences.

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