AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship. Episode Related. What If?
SUMMARY: Set during Kill Ari. When Gibbs asks Tom Morrow 'not me' during their conversation in MTAC concerning the new Director of NCIS, what would have happened if Director Morrow had said 'yes'?
SPOILERS: Kill Ari
WORD COUNT: 1,927
WARNINGS: Major (non Gibbs or Ducky) character death implied.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for Challenge 34 'What If?'
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Gibbs sat down next to Director Morrow in MTAC and they began to talk about Ari and the fact, because it was a fact not a gut feeling, not a guess, but a fact, that he had been the one to shoot Kate.
Gibbs was aware that Director Morrow's attention was partly on him and partly on the screens as they talked about snipers and the Corps and his two tours of duty. Then a van on the main screen exploded and everyone began to congratulate one another.
Gibbs waited. He knew Tom Morrow well, they'd worked together for a number of years, he was a good director, the best. He was the right kind of director too. He left Gibbs to get on with his job and he got on with his own - which was running the Agency and running interference between NCIS agents and the other agencies when turf wars were involved. He hadn't just been called up here to talk about Ari; there was something else going on.
"Where was I?" Tom Morrow asked.
Gibbs knew his director knew exactly where he'd got to. "Avoiding using Ari’s name and the word 'sniper' in the same sentence. Sir." He didn't try to hide the anger he was feeling; the anger he felt every time he thought about the bastard who'd killed one of his team.
"Your anger is understandable, Jethro. You lost a good agent. You want payback."
"Don’t you, sir?"
Director Morrow spoke quietly, but firmly. "That’s a passion I can’t afford."
"You honestly think it wasn’t Ari?" Gibbs asked.
The Director looked at him and said quietly, but firmly. "No, but there are those who do."
Gibbs laughed, but there was no humor in the sound, or in him. "Those who ran him? Those who thought they had the Holy Grail of moles? Those people covering their asses right now."
In true Director-style, Tom Morrow tried to advise caution. "Make sure you cover yours when you bring him in."
Gibbs shrugged. "Won’t be a problem, sir. I won’t be bringing him in." And he wouldn't be. He was going to do what he should have done eighteen months ago: kill the bastard.
Tom Morrow looked sideways at him and began to stand up. "Anyway, you’re not my problem anymore, Jethro."
Gibbs looked up at him and blinked. "You firing me, sir?"
"I’ve been offered a deputy director’s position at Homeland Security."
The quietly delivered news surprised, even shocked, Gibbs. He could hardly believe it. "You’d leave NCIS, sir?"
Tom Morrow smiled a little. "Well, the agency could use some younger blood."
Gibbs looked at him. "Well, who’d be replacing you, sir?" He saw a faint smile on the director’s lips. "Not me." He made it a statement; not a question. He glared at his director.
For a moment Director Morrow didn’t answer. Then he nodded once and held Gibbs's gaze. "Yes," he said. "Yes, Jethro. You."
Gibbs came to his feet in a swift movement. "But -" Abruptly he stopped himself from launching into what he knew would have been a vitriolic attack. Instead he settled for, "But why?"
Director Morrow, or maybe he was now, ex-Director Morrow at least as far as NCIS went, met the angry glare. "Because you are the best man for the job, Jethro," he said calmly.
"Sir, if I might -"
"No, you may not. The decision has been made, Jethro. You either accept the position or your employment with NCIS will be terminated." Tom Morrow still spoke quietly, but his voice was flat and tinged with steel. Gibbs knew the tone and the look he was now getting; he knew it well: you didn't argue with it.
But even so. "Sir. I -" Again he stopped abruptly. "Can we talk about this, sir?"
"There's nothing to talk about, Jethro. Not as far as the appointment goes. However, if you'd like to come with me to my, I should say to your, office, there are things we can go over." And with those words, Tom Morrow turned and walked up the stairs towards the exit.
After a second or two, Gibbs followed.
He strode into what was going to shortly be 'his' office, assuming he took the damn job, and shut the doors behind him. "Sir -"
"Jethro, sit down. Here," Tom Morrow handed him a drink.
"Thank you, sir." Gibbs swallowed some of the liquid. "Why me really, sir?" he asked, after a moment or two. "Were you ordered to appoint me and tie my hands over Ari"?
Tom Morrow shook his head. "No. No, it wasn't that, Jethro. You'll do a good job; I know you will. No one knows the agency, the job like you do."
"With respect, sir. I know the job of a field agent, not a director. I don't play politics. You know that."
"But you can." Tom Morrow's voice was again low.
Gibbs blinked. Could he? Did he want to? What was the option? Retirement? And he didn't want that. Not yet. Not unless - And then something hit him. He looked at his director.
But before he could speak, Tom Morrow did. "And it isn't all bad, Jethro; for you or for the agency. Yes, you'll be, in terms of directors, junior, but you have more experience of the real work of an agency like ours than any of them. They won't be able to push you around as easily as another replacement. And there are other, shall we say, 'benefits'. Things that were more difficult as a field agent to permit, but as director, the one making the rules . . ." He trailed off and just looked at Gibbs.
"What about Ari? The bastard killed Kate. I want him."
"Don't worry about Ari, Jethro. He'll be dealt with."
"But how, sir? You said it yourself some people still believe he didn't kill Kate."
"That is true. However, I am not one of those people. My move, my promotion, has come at a fortuitous time, shall we say, Jethro."
Gibbs felt his eyes widen. "Sir?" He barely managed to get the word out.
"But enough of that. Yes, you'll do very well in the position, Jethro. It's time for a shake up among the directors; we've grown somewhat stale, I fear. It's time we saw things from the prospective of those who do the real work. And as I said, there are other positives to the appointment - for you, personally," he added. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll leave you to get acquainted with your office. There are a few things I need to do before moving to Homeland Security. It's been a pleasure to work with you, Jethro. I have always liked and respected you." He held out his hand.
Gibbs took it and met and returned the firm handshake. "Thank you, sir. You too," he said quietly. "But we'll see one another again, surely?"
Tom Morrow didn't answer the question. Instead he just smiled and nodded, before turning towards the door. "Oh, and, Jethro, do not worry about Ari Haswari, he is now no longer any of your concern." And with that he exited Gibbs's office.
Gibbs was left standing in front of the desk - his desk. He drained the rest of the scotch Tom Morrow had poured for him and looked around the room, seeing it, in many ways, for the first time.
If he accepted, then this was his. All his. He still wasn't convinced it was what he wanted; that it was the right thing for him or for the agency. Nonetheless there had been something in the way his old boss had looked at him, in his tone, in the words he'd used, that made him think 'why not'?
And then as he found himself behind the desk rather than in front of it, some particular words Tom Morrow had said came echoing back to him. 'And there are other, shall we say, 'benefits'. Things that were more difficult as a field agent to permit, but as Director, the one making the rules . . .'
Surely he hadn't implying, hadn't saying, what Gibbs now thought he'd been saying. And yet . . . And yet, the words were correct. He was the one making the rules, well some of them. And what couldn't have been before could now be.
He grabbed the phone and punched in a number. "Hey, Duck," he said, when the phone was answered after two rings. "Need to see you in the director's office." He hung up before Ducky could start to ask any questions.
He knew Ducky would be a few minutes, if he was still in his Autopsy greens, as he almost certainly was, he'd take the time to change into his suit. So he sat down in 'his' chair, grabbed the phone again, punched in another number. "I need to register a change of address," he said, when he'd been put through to the relevant Human Resource Clerk. "Effective immediately."
TWO WEEKS LATER
"Damn it. Why? Why, Duck? Why him?"
"Oh, my dear. I'm sorry but I don't have an answer." Ducky put his arms around Jethro and pulled him into a loose embrace.
Jethro put his own arms around Ducky and tugged him nearer to him. As they held one another he took comfort in the family scent; in the familiar feel of Ducky in his arms; in the familiar feel of Ducky's arms around him; in the familiar feel of Ducky's heartbeat against his chest. "It's such a waste. He was a good man and a damn good director. He'd have done well at Homeland Security. He'd have shaken them up. I guess he must have known."
He felt Ducky's nod. "I am sure he did, Jethro."
"You think that's why . . ." Jethro trailed off. Even here, in the privacy of his and Ducky's Reston home he didn't want to voice the words. He didn’t want to say what Ducky knew: that Tom Morrow had killed Ari Haswari in cold blood.
"Oh, yes, dearest. I am sure that is why." Ducky rested his head against Jethro's shoulder.
In turn Jethro let his cheek come to rest on the heavy, smooth silkiness of Ducky's hair. "Can I do this, Duck?" he asked. "I mean can I really do this?"
"Of course you can, Jethro. You are a man of many talents. You are extremely able and you can do anything to which you put your mind. I have no doubt you will be an excellent director, just as you were an excellent field agent and an excellent marine. Tom Morrow knew exactly what he was doing when he appointed you to succeed him."
"Not sure about that, but . . . Maybe. You know, Duck, I can't do it without you."
Ducky moved back a little and gazed up at Jethro. "I have no intention of allowing you do to so," he said with a smile in his voice. And then his eyes twinkled with mirth, "But do tell me one thing, Jethro, do I now have to call you 'Director Gibbs' or 'Sir'?"
Jethro laughed aloud; it wasn't disrespectful to Tom Morrow to be showing amusement. It was what his old boss would have wanted. "Just you try it, Doctor Mallard," he said. "Just you try it." And with those words, a very gentle 'threat', he pulled Ducky even nearer and ended, for now, the conversation, by putting his mouth on Ducky's and kissing him.