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"You are my employee, and as long as you want to remain so, you will follow orders," Leon growled quietly. He was sick of DiNozzo's attitude, and on this operation he was damned well going to fix it.

To his surprise, DiNozzo sprang to his feet and loudly replied, "Oh my god, what is it with you people?! Is there some sort of device in that big office that gradually sucks out your brain the longer you're in it?"

"Agent DiNozzo!" Leon snapped.

"You know that legally, you can't order an agent to go undercover, right? You know that legally, you also can't fire me for refusing?" DiNozzo had both fists on his desk and was leaning forward into Leon's space. From the utter silence around them, everyone was clearly listening as he dug his own grave.

Leon growled, "You are an agent under my command—"

"The funny thing is, that isn't even the point. The point is that a lot of agencies don't use their undercover operatives for your bread and butter investigating. They do this to extend the viability of using those agents undercover without them running into someone who knows that they're an agent."

"I will not be—" Leon sputtered, beginning to regret that he had done this in the bullpen. He had thought that it would force DiNozzo's hand, making him capitulate rather than take a reprimand in public. But now it was clear that DiNozzo thought he was the one doing the reprimanding.

"Of course, most agencies bother to treat their undercover operatives like intelligent beings with a self-preservation instinct, rather than trained monkeys, and let them make judgement calls and explain their reasoning, when it affects the operation," DiNozzo continued blithely.

"In those kinds of agencies, the director might be interested in knowing that the former CO of this squad is 'former' because he took a desk job when he became a single parent. They'd be interested in knowing that the MCRT are the ones who investigated his wife's murder, including interviewing the entire squad, as they had attended a potluck at the CO's that weekend. They'd be interested in knowing that myself and McGee did all of those interviews, with Gibbs breathing down our necks, so all three of us would be recognized by sight as NCIS agents by every single member of that squad."

Leon resisted the urge to rub his suddenly aching temples. He had seen a note about a case involving the squad's former CO, but had dismissed it as irrelevant to the time frame.

DiNozzo's voice was dripping with sarcasm as he carried on. "Said Director might also be willing to listen to the expert opinion that, since those interviews happened here at the Yard, every agent who worked in this building at the time could potentially have been identified by one of those sailors on something as simple as a trip to the head, and that in this instance it would be better to find someone who was working at Norfolk or a different RA at the time, if they really wanted to send someone undercover who wasn't already compromised."

"Of course, the director also might bother to ask the agents who had interviewed that entire squad to go back over their notes and impressions to see if they could narrow down who the smuggler probably is, and whether, in their opinion, he might be broken in interrogation, before an expensive and unnecessary undercover operation was okayed."

DiNozzo then yanked open his desk drawer and grabbed his gun and badge. Without being dismissed, he skirted around Leon and headed for the elevators, calling back over his shoulder, "And if the director did ask, he'd find out that his smuggler is Petty Officer Brown. Started in supply and logistics, and when his dad got sick and couldn't work any more, he transferred to the more dangerous aviation unit where he'd make better money, to help support his parents and six younger siblings. Retained his supply connections, which is a must for smuggling, and still desperate for any extra income he can get. McGee!" he snapped out the last.

From behind Leon, McGee tossed a pair of keys at DiNozzo and joined him just as the elevators opened. "Coming Bo— Tony," he said.

"Where are they going?" Leon blustered, aware that it was far too late to stop them.

"You know," Gibbs said calmly, his voice just loud enough to carry to everyone who was doubtlessly still watching avidly. "You and I had a conversation, when Jenny's unsanctioned op came to light, about the difference between using and abusing undercover agents, and the value of listening to their expert opinions. You might want to refresh your memory."

Then he too pushed past Leon and headed to the elevators himself. "I'm going for coffee. Ziva, prep interrogation so they'll be ready when Tony and McGee get back here with Petty Officer Brown!"