Set four months after ‘The Big Day’ (two years after they met).
Tony’s head was spinning as he got into his car. Why would Vance suddenly decide to split up Gibbs’ team now? It just didn’t make sense, not unless the man had a hidden agenda.
Tony sighed turned his key in the ignition. He was supposed to be collating evidence to prove that Vance was corrupt, but there hadn’t been any red flags up until now – he wasn’t convinced that the man was corrupt after all. But this was definitely a red flag. Vance had to have a reason for splitting up the team and Tony needed to find out whether or not it was legitimate or not. Which would be hard to do if he was assigned to the USS Reagan.
But surely Colonel Lucten and Admiral Pike, his handlers, weren’t going let him be reassigned to a post that would handicap is ability to do his job? They had promised him that he only had ten months left undercover, what use would he be assigned to a Navy carrier in the middle of the ocean?
Tony pulled out of the Navy Yard and turned his car towards home, plotting his route to ensure that he could stop at a payphone – he needed to talk to Lucten and Pike.
“Lucten.” The Navy Colonel answered with a snap.
“It’s Dinozzo, sir.” Tony identified himself.
Lucten made a guilty sound. “I presume you just met with Vance?”
“Yes, sir.” Tony frowned. If Lucten had known it was coming why hadn’t he bothered giving Tony a heads up?
“Sorry, Dinozzo,” Lucten’s tone was regretful. “The reassignment stands.”
“I only have ten months left until you pull me out, sir.” Tony reminded his handler. “Surely there are better uses of my time. My hands will be tied on the Reagan.”
“Secretary Davenport has authorised an extension to your time undercover to make up for the time you’ll spend as Agent Afloat.” Lucten told him.
Tony stared at the phone in shock for a few seconds before putting it back to his ear. “Excuse me, sir?”
“You heard me, Colonel.” Lucten snapped. “I’m not happier about this than you are.”
Tony had no idea what to say. He’d been undercover for eight years! The only things keeping him sane were JJ and the knowledge that he was almost done and now they were extending it?
“Any idea why Vance is splitting up the team, sir?” Tony asked eventually.
“None.” Lucten told him. “It doesn’t look good though.”
“No, sir.” Tony agreed.
After his phone call with Lucten, Tony rang Pike. Things had been so much simpler when he’d only had one mission and one handler.
“Lieutenant Colonel Dinozzo speaking, sir.”
“Dinozzo?” Pike sounded surprised. “How can I help you, colonel?”
“I just received my new orders, sir.” Tony replied. “I wanted to confirm them with you.”
Pike was silent for a few seconds. “What new orders?”
“I’m being reassigned as Agent Afloat on the USS Reagan, sir.” Tony answered. “I fly out tomorrow.”
“What?” Pike barked. “Hold on a minute, Colonel.”
“Yes, sir.” Tony leant against the wall of the phone booth with a sigh. Would Pike interfere with the order? God, he hoped so. He couldn’t even comprehend having to go home and tell JJ that not only was he going to be stationed on ship for an unknown amount of time, but that his time undercover had been extended.
“You there, Dinozzo?” Pike’s voice came through the phone a few minutes later.
“There’s nothing I can do, Dinozzo.” Pike told him. “Not immediately anyway, it would draw attention that we don’t want. I’m sorry, son.”
Tony sighed heavily. “Yes, sir.”
“It seems like such a damn waste of resources.” Pike grumbled. “Has Lucten told you why he and Davenport are allowing this?”
Tony grimaced. “They’re extending my time at NCIS, sir, to make up for the time I spent as agent afloat.”
“Bullshit.” Pike snapped. “The Secretary of Defence wants you out of there in ten months and the President agrees. If they want to waste your time playing detective on a carrier, that’s their problem.”
Tony exhaled in relief. “Thank you, sir.”
JJ car was already in the drive when Tony parked his car on the street and he took a moment to try and gather his thoughts. JJ was going to be upset when she heard the news and Tony didn’t want his own emotions to make it worse.
He made his way up the drive and into the house, before bending over to untie his shoes.
“Tony?” JJ called from the direction of their lounge and kitchen.
“Yeah.” Tony grimaced when he heard his voice, so much for being an expert at undercover work – he sounded awful.
There was a clanging noise and a few seconds later JJ was standing in the hall. “What’s wrong?”
Tony slipped off his shoes before moving forward and embracing her.
“Tony?” JJ hugged him tightly. “What happened?”
Tony held onto her for a few more seconds before stepping back. “We should sit down in the lounge.”
JJ frowned worriedly as she grabbed his hand and pulled him into the lounge.
Once they were seated beside each other on the couch, Tony ran a hand through his hair nervously.
“Tony?” JJ asked again.
“I got new orders today.” Tony started. “Orders from NCIS, rather than Lucten or Pike.”
JJ squeezed his hand when he didn’t continue. “And?”
“I’ve been assigned aboard the USS Reagan.” Tony admitted. “As their agent afloat.”
JJ’s expression was shocked. “What? For how long?”
“I don’t know.” Tony let go of her hand and wrapped his arm around her. “I rang Lucten and Pike on the way home and they both say that I have to go through with it. Lucten tried to tell me that my time undercover would be extended because of it, but Pike said that’s rubbish.”
JJ closed her eyes for a few seconds. “That’s good. So they can’t send you away for more than ten months then.”
“No.” Tony agreed. “I’m hoping it’s only for a month or two, I still haven’t found what I need to pin something of Davenport.”
“You said you were getting close.” JJ commented, snuggling against his side.
“I am.” Tony affirmed. “I know that he’s using Operation Frankenstein to order unsanctioned hits – he’s been using the marines to kill anyone he deems a threat to national security – I just can’t prove it to a jury. I need more time.”
“Will you be able to do anything when you’re away?” JJ asked.
“No,” Tony sighed. “All transmissions will be monitored. I won’t even be able to contact you.”
“Not at all?” JJ’s lips thinned as they always did when she was upset.
“I’ll send you postcards when we’re at port.” Tony promised solemnly.
JJ’s eyes filled with tears. “And you don’t know for how long?”
“No.” Tony leant over and embraced her fully.
JJ cried into his jacket for a while, before leaning back and wiping her eyes with her sleeves. “When do you leave?”
“Tomorrow.” Tony answered, feeling awful when fresh tears rolled down JJ’s cheeks. “I have to be at the Navy Yard at eight hundred hours."
JJ wiped away her tears again and tried to smile. “So what do you want to do tonight?”
Tony leant forward and hugged her again. “You’re amazing.”
“I’m a navy wife.” JJ told him, her head leaning against his shoulder. “I knew this would happen sooner or later. I just presumed it would be later.”
“Me too.” Tony agreed. “Did you have plans for dinner?”
“I was making lasagne when you came home.” JJ told him. “Do you want something special?”
Tony let her go and stood up. “Lasagne sounds perfect. Anything I can do to help?”
It was few hours later, when they were snuggled up on the couch talking, that Tony’s ‘NCIS’ phone rang loudly.
Tony considered ignoring, but eventually dug it out of his pocket and looked to see who was calling.
“It’s Abby.” He told JJ, before answering the call. “Hey, Abby.”
“Tony!” Abby exclaimed. “Where are you? Gibbs said that Vance is sending you away, like, away away. Though not as far away as Ziva, but then Ziva doesn’t have to leave for a week. You’re leaving in the morning!”
Tony sighed tiredly. “Yeah.”
“And you didn’t come down and say goodbye!” Abby whined. “Tim said that you said goodbye to them, why didn’t you come and say goodbye to me?”
“Sorry, Abby.” Tony winced, that mistake in his cover went to show how much Vance’s announcement had thrown him. “I just had a lot on my mind.”
“I can’t believe Vance is sending you to a boat!” Abby ranted. “Doesn’t he know you at all? You are definitely not a boat person. Now Gibbs, Gibbs I could see on a boat.”
“I don’t think he cares.” Tony commented.
Abby made an uncomplimentary noise. “Anyway, I came over to see you! You know, to say goodbye. But you’re not here!”
Tony grimaced and shared a look with JJ, he was glad they had taken the time to plan for this scenario.
“I’m on a date.” He told her. “I’m about to be dropped off on a boat in the middle of the ocean. This might be my last chance to spend some time with a beautiful woman in months!”
“Seriously, Tony?” Abby sounded as though she was frowning.
“Tony?” JJ asked in a high voice. “You won’t be on the phone long will you?”
“I’ve got to go, Abs.” Tony said, his tone regretful.
“But I haven’t given you a goodbye hug!” Abby protested.
“I’ll meet you outside NCIS at seven thirty.” Tony promised. “You can give me a goodbye hug then.”
“Okay.” Abby’s voice brightened. “See you then.”
“Bye.” Tony hung up the phone and grinned at JJ. “Good job with the voice there, Marilyn.”
“Marilyn?” JJ asked incredulously. “That’s the name you came up with this month? Isn’t that name a bit too sensible for you? Or have you run out of names like Candy?”
“Don’t knock Candy.” Tony joked. “She was your cover for a whole six days. You ought to be thankful.”
JJ rolled her eyes. “It was nice of Abby to ring.”
“Yeah.” Tony leant back against the couch and sighed. “I think she’s the only one who I really regret having lied to. She’s going to be so hurt.”
“Eight years is a long time to pretend to be someone’s friend.” JJ agreed.
“I’ve only been at NCIS for seven years.” Tony corrected. “But it will be eight years by the time I’m done.”
“Is there anything in your report that will get her in trouble?”
“I doubt it.” Tony shook his head. “But that doesn’t mean she won’t feel betrayed.”
JJ leant her head on his shoulder. “Sounds hard. Will you miss her?”
“No.” Tony answered. “She drives me mad, but I don’t like the idea of hurting her.”
“You’re a good man, Tony.” JJ told him before kissing him.
Tony tugged her closer. “You remember what I said to Abby? About how this might be my last opportunity to spend some quality time with a beautiful woman in months?”
JJ laughed lightly. “Somehow I don’t think quality time is exactly what you’re angling for right now. Bedroom?”
JJ ended up driving Tony into the Navy Yard the next morning – desperate to spend as much time with him as possible before he left. Although she made sure to drop him off a block away so that nobody would see him with her.
There wasn’t much time for goodbyes, not with the traffic surrounding them, but Tony took the moment to lean in and kiss her gently.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.” JJ told him, her cheeks already wet. “Be safe.”
“I will.” Tony promised, reaching down to grab his bag. “I will see you when I get back.”
“Damn right you will.” JJ told him with a weak smile.
Tony kissed her again and then, when a car behind them beeped loudly, got out of the car and watched from the sidewalk as JJ drove away.
He watched silently until her car turned the corner, and then began walking towards the Navy Yard with a heavy heart.
He’d always thought that married marines were overdramatic when leaving for a mission, but now he understood. It wasn’t hard to be shipped away when you weren’t leaving anyone behind, but the thought of spending the next few months without JJ was gut-wrenching.
Abby was already waiting for him outside the Navy Yard, along with Ducky, Palmer and the rest of the team.
Tony groaned quietly, he hated it when the team did thing like this – it always made him feel guilty about all the lies he had to tell. He clenched his jaw and forced himself to focus, he needed to be in character.
“Tony!” Abby squealed when she spotted him and ran towards him in her ridiculously tall platform shoes.
“Hey, Abby.” Tony caught her in a hug and spun her around.
“You’re not wearing a suit.” Abby commented as she let him go and grabbed hold of his arm, walking with him towards where the others were standing.
“I doubt there’s any dry cleaning on the USS Reagan.” Tony told her with a grin. “So I left all my poor suits at home.”
“So you’re keeping your apartment?” Abby asked.
“Definitely.” Tony said as they reached the group. “This isn’t forever, I’m coming back.”
“Of course you are!” Abby exclaimed loudly. “Right, Gibbs? You’re going to get them all back!”
“I’ll do my best, Abs.” Gibbs promised.
They all stood around awkwardly for a few seconds before Tony decided it was time to get things going.
“Be good without me, kids.” He grinned. “You in particular, probie. I can’t believe that Vance thinks putting you in charge of a basement full of geeks is a good idea!”
McGee made a face at him.
“Well, I better go.” Tony said brightly after another awkward silence. “See you around.”
Abby hugged him tightly. “I don’t want you to go.”
“Sorry, Abs.” Tony hugged her back before prying her arms off him. “Duty calls.”
JJ’s tears had stopped by the time she parked her car in the FBI carpark. She looked at her reflection in her rear vision mirror and winced at the sight of the tear tracks on her cheeks and her puffy eyes.
She stopped into bathroom on her way up to her office to give her a chance to wash her face. It took a few paper towels, wet with cold water, but eventually the puffiness around her eyes decreased. She doubted it would be enough to fool her team, but at least the evidence of her tears was no longer obvious.
None of the team had arrived yet, so she was able to make it to her office unaccosted before sitting down at her chair and rubbing her face with her hands trying to hold back another flood of tears. It was strange to be feeling so emotional at work – especially since she’d never been the kind of woman who cried at the drop of a hat. Well, she hadn’t been before she met Tony at least – she seemed to cry a lot more these days.
Blinking away the tears, JJ started up her computer and then began her morning routine of checking her emails. It was never a pleasant task, there were always multiple emails from desperate law enforcement wanting help with awful crimes and it was her job to decide which of them were priorities.
Once she’d finished going through her emails she stood up and made her way to their kitchenette for a cup of coffee. She wasn’t surprised to find Derek, Spencer and Emily already there, she was pretty sure that the three of them spent just as much time there as they did behind their desks.
“Morning, JJ.” Spencer greeted her with smile, before sipping his coffee.
“Morning.” JJ tried to smile.
Emily and Derek’s eyes both narrowed in concern. “What’s wrong?”
“Do we have a case?” Derek asked.
JJ shook her head and mentally groaned when her eyes started to well up again.
Emily handed her mug to Derek and came forward to hug her.
“JJ?” Spencer asked, his tone both confused and concerned.
“Tony’s been shipped out.” She admitted, returning Emily’s hug. “He got the news last night and left this morning.”
“That’s quick.” Derek commented.
Emily released her and stepped back, her expression sympathetic. “How long will he be gone?”
JJ pressed the heels of her hands against her eyes to try and force back the tears. “I don’t know! I know he’ll definitely be back in ten months, but he could be back in one month. They haven’t told him.”
Spencer looked surprised. “Is that normal?”
“I don’t know.” JJ admitted, wiping her cheeks with her hands. “This is the first time he’s been shipped away since we met.”
Emily made a sympathetic noise and wrapped an arm around JJ’s waist.
“Here.” Derek handed her a cup of coffee with a smile. “Milk and one sugar, just how you like it.”
JJ smiled wetly. “Thanks.”
It took Tony less than a week to decide that he absolutely hated being agent afloat
He worked alone, exercised alone, ate alone and spent his downtime alone. The only people who voluntarily spoke to him were either reporting a crime or had committed a crime and were overcompensating for their guilt. He was the only law enforcement officer on a ship of over three thousand sailors and it was blatantly obvious that they didn’t trust him. It was lonely and disappointing, particularly when he considered the amount of time he had spent dreaming of being surrounded by US armed forces again.
Their disrespect of him rankled too. Sure he was used to being disrespected as an NCIS Agent, but it was a lot harder to deal with now that he was stuck with the disrespectful enlisted personnel twenty four seven. Some days he would sit in his office and dream of a day when he could come back to the ship in uniform, his silver oak leaf pins clearly visible for them to see. Oh, how he wanted to make them stand at attention for hours.
Not only that, but he was bored out of his mind – he felt like a nanny, or worse a private detective. He spent his time mediating spats between sailors, sniffing around for drugs, breaking up gambling rings, investigating instances of petty theft. Any spare time he had, he going over the information he had collected on SecNav and Vance in his mind and trying find a new angle that he could approach it at when he got back. By the time he’d been on the USS Reagan a week he had come up with multiple new plans for his investigations and he was itching to get back and implement them.
The worst part was missing JJ though. He missed her smile, her laugh, her cooking, her hugs, her conversation and, well, sex.
For the first time in his life he found himself considering other career choices. He loved being a marine, and had worked hard to get to get to his position, but if it meant having to spend months away from JJ every year – well he was sure there were other jobs that he would enjoy just as much.