Tony let a long relieved breath as he strode out of the NCIS building for, hopefully, the last time. His meeting with the team had gone better than he’d expected. Abby’s tears had been the hardest thing to handle, well that and resisting the urge to have it out with Gibbs, but all in all it had gone well and it was over and done with.
It was hard to believe that he would never again have to be Very Special Agent Tony Dinozzo. Eight and a half years was a long time to spend undercover, over four times the length of any of his previous undercover assignments, and the thought that it was finally over was mind blowing.
He would never again have to wake up, put on an expensive suit, and drive in to NCIS. Never again would he have to take orders from Gibbs, or put up with being slapped over the head by him. It was over and he couldn’t be more excited.
Tony was looking forward to telling JJ. He had considered ringing her the night before, she would definitely want to know that it was over, but hadn’t wanted to wake her. She was in New Mexico investigating an unsub who was killing blond women soon after they had given birth and JJ, being eight months pregnant and blond, was taking the case particularly hard. The last thing she needed was to be woken up in the middle of the night.
It hadn’t been until he’d woken up that morning that he’d remembered that New Mexico was two hours behind Washington DC – he could have rung her after all. But no matter, the more he thought about it, the more he wanted to surprise her with the news.
Tony pulled out his phone and dialled JJ’s number as began walking towards Admiral Pike’s office. It would be at least a fifteen minute walk, which gave him plenty of time to see how she was going.
“Hi.” JJ sounded sleepy.
“Good morning.” Tony greeted her cheerily. “I didn’t wake you up did I? I figured you’d be getting up about now.”
“I should be.” JJ agreed tiredly. “My alarm went off a few minutes ago, I’m still trying to convince myself to listen to it.”
Tony laughed. “You finished the case then?”
“Yeah.” JJ yawned. “By the time we finished processing everything last night it was too late to bother flying. We’re heading back this morning.”
Tony grinned. “I’m glad. I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too.” JJ groaned, like she always did when she was trying to get out of bed these days. “How are things going for you?”
“Good.” Tony answered. “We arrested Davenport last night.”
“What?” JJ exclaimed. “Wow, Tony! That’s amazing!”
“I know.” Tony’s smile was so wide it was making his cheeks hurt. “They’re trying to keep it out of the press for as long as possible, but I doubt they’ll manage for much longer.”
“So now what?” JJ asked excitedly. “Are you done?”
Tony considered his answer. Did he tell her now? Or surprise her in a few hours? “I’m on my way to meet with Admiral Pike.” He told her eventually. “I’ll let you know what he says when you get back.”
“I am so excited right now.” JJ told him. “If I wasn’t so pregnant I’d probably start dancing with excitement or something. This is just so, so…”
“I know.” Tony agreed.
“What did Davenport have to say?” JJ asked curiously and Tony could hear the sound of the shower in the background.
“He was protecting our nation apparently.” Tony answered. “Which, don’t get me wrong, in some ways he was, but that doesn’t make it right.”
“So pretty much what you expected then.” JJ commented.
“Yeah.” Tony sighed. “It’s going to create a scandal. I’m just hoping they keep my name out of it.”
“Do you think they will?” JJ asked.
“I don’t know.” Tony admitted. “What do you think? You’re the media liaison.”
“It depends on how they spin it.” JJ answered. “If they want to show how far the Navy will go to clean up their messes, then you’re a perfect example.
“I’m also a perfect example of why you shouldn’t trust anyone because a military operative could be working right next you and you wouldn’t know it.” Tony pointed out dryly.
JJ laughed. “True. I’m going to have to say goodbye now. I’m due to meet the team for breakfast in twenty minutes and I still haven’t had a shower.”
“You’re meeting at seven?” Tony asked. “I thought Hotch normally let you all lie in when you stayed an extra night.”
“It’s a four and a half hour flight home.” JJ explained. “And Hotch is still having issues with Strauss. Our plane leaves at eight thirty, so we’ll be back at the office by three thirty. That way no one will be able to accuse Hotch of mismanaging resources.”
Tony snorted. “Yeah, because looking after your team after a long case is definitely cause for accusing someone of that.”
JJ laughed. “I know. I’ll see you tonight. Let me know how your meeting with Pike goes.”
“I will.” Tony promised. “I love you!”
“Love you too.”
Tony slipped his phone back in his pocket and enjoyed the feeling of walking through the Navy Yard in uniform. Whenever he had walked through while undercover he’d had to push down his jealously of all the sailors who actually got to wear their uniform.
When he reached the building that held Pike’s office a seaman, who barely looked old enough to be in the navy, saluted Tony briskly and held the door open for him.
Tony thought his heart would burst in pleasure at the familiar sign of respect. How he had missed being part of this culture.
He returned the salute and smiled. “Thank you, seaman.”
Tony continued into the building, before stopping when he realised that he had no idea where exactly Admiral Pike’s office was. He looked around for a building map and eventually found one near the elevator.
It took Tony a few minutes to find Pike’s office, which happened to be on the third floor, but he still managed to arrive a few minutes early. There wasn’t a waiting area though, so Tony stood patiently in the hallway outside Pike’s office.
At nine o’clock exactly, Tony knocked on the door and then entered when Pike shouted for him to.
Tony stopped between the two seats that were in front of Pike’s desk, before standing to attention and saluting the Admiral. “Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Dinozzo reporting as ordered, sir.”
Pike returned his salute crisply. “At ease, colonel. Have a seat.”
“Thank you, sir.” Tony sat on the seat to his left and waited patiently.
“My felicitations for your success, colonel.” Pike said after a few seconds. “Secretary Moore is very happy with the favourable outcome of your assignment, as is the President.”
Tony’s eyes widened slightly in surprise. He had known that the President had been briefed on his assignment to take down Davenport, but it was incredible to know that the President was pleased.
“How are you feeling, now that it’s over?” Pike asked.
“Good thank you, sir.” Tony replied. “Relieved.”
Pike chuckled. “I’ll bet. What does your wife think of all this?”
“I haven’t told her yet, sir.” Tony admitted. “She is in New Mexico and I am waiting until she gets back to tell her in person.”
“Bad idea, colonel.” Pike grinned wryly. “Women like to be told these things as soon as we learn them. I was stationed on the USS Forrestal the year after my wife, Felicity, and I were married. The first time I was given leave I decided to surprise her. It did not go down well.”
Tony grimaced. Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea.
“Anyway,” Colonel Pike leaned forward. “There are a few things that Secretary Moore has asked me to discuss with you. Firstly, you will be receiving a promotion to full bird colonel.”
Tony’s eyes widened in surprise, he hadn’t even been two years since his last promotion.
“You were due to receive your silver leaf six years ago.” Pike told him. “I have no idea what Colonel Lucten was thinking, holding off on it for an extra four years, but your career shouldn’t suffer from another man’s idiocy.”
“Thank you, sir.” Tony said after a few seconds. In a way he felt as though he had jumped straight from Major to Colonel.
“You deserve it, colonel.” Pike told him earnestly. “You are an asset to the armed forces and, while I may not normally be in your chain of command, I know I speak for the corps when I say that we want to keep you.”
Tony couldn’t help but feel guilty. “Permission to speak freely, sir?”
Pike leant back in his chair. “Granted, colonel.”
“My staying with corps will depend on my next assignment, sir.” Tony admitted. “I joined the corps when I was eighteen and have never regretted it, but my priority is JJ and our child now. I love the corps, but I will resign before going undercover like this again.”
Pike nodded understandingly. “Rest assured, colonel, your preferences will be taken into account. For now though, you have been granted three months of leave starting from Tuesday. Finish up your reports by then and then spend some time with your wife.”
“Thank you, sir.” Tony told him sincerely.
Pike nodded. “Colonel Lucten has been informed of the outcome of your assignment. You will be meeting with him on Monday, at nine hundred hours. The President has requested a meeting with you, which has been scheduled for eleven hundred hours on Monday.
Tony stared at him. “The President, sir?”
Pike looked amused. “Yes, colonel. Secretary Moore and I will both be accompanying you.”
Tony shook his head in wonder. The President wanted to meet him?
Pike picked a piece of paper up off his desk and held it away from his face to read it. “Oh, yes, the media will be all over Davenport’s arrest, and we would rather your name wasn’t mentioned. If, however, your name does get leaked, don’t talk to the press. Leave it to our media relations people.”
“Yes, sir.” Tony nodded.
“Good work on this, colonel.” Pike told his seriously. “You will be receiving several commendations for your dedication to your assignment. Now go tell your wife the good news. Dismissed.”
Tony stood to attention and saluted the admiral. “Thank you, sir.” Then he turned and marched to the door, thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to act like a marine.
He made his way back to the elevator and then down to the ground floor and out into the sunlight. It was only nine twenty which meant that JJ would be having breakfast with her team. Should he ring her and tell her the good news? Or should he surprise her when he got back? Tony pulled his phone out of his pocket, but then put it back. Six hours of not knowing wouldn’t hurt her, besides, JJ loved surprises.
JJ knew she was practically vibrating with excitement as she walked into the dining room to meet the team for breakfast. She was the last one to arrive and filled her plate up at the buffet before sitting down between Emily and Morgan.
The team returned her greeting in different degrees of alertness, Spencer looked as though he was about to fall asleep in his cereal.
“You’re in a good mood.” Emily commented as she sipped at her coffee.
“I was just talking to Tony.” JJ admitted before eating her first spoonful of cereal.
“Ah,” Emily grinned. “I can see why you’re in a good mood then.”
“He thinks his assignment might be almost over.” JJ told her quietly
“Really?” Emily asked excitedly. “Does this mean that we might actually get to meet him?”
“Meet who?” Derek asked.
“The Great and Awesome Tony.” Emily told him. “JJ says his assignment is almost over.”
“Might be almost over.” JJ corrected cautiously.
“Really?” Spencer perked up a little.
“And just in time too.” Derek commented. “I don’t think Twinkle Toes is going to wait much longer.”
JJ rolled her eyes. “I’m only eight months pregnant.”
“Should you still be flying?” Spencer asked. “Studies have shown than pregnant women shouldn’t fly when they’re thirty six weeks into pregnancy because they risk early labour. Some airlines even refuse to allow women who are over twenty eight weeks to fly with them.”
“I’m at thirty five weeks.” JJ told him. “And I promised Hotch that this would be my last case until after my maternity leave is over.”
Emily put an arm around her and hugged her lightly. “We’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you guys too.” JJ promised.
“Is he excited?” Emily asked her.
“About his assignment maybe being over soon?” JJ asked.
“Actually I meant about the baby being due soon.” Emily laughed. “But either works.”
“Yes to both.” JJ paused so she could eat some more cereal. “He’s been undercover for eight and a half years which is a really long time.”
“Hold up.” Derek interrupted her. “He works undercover?”
JJ winced, sometimes it was hard to remember what she had told her team. “Yes.”
“Eight and a half years?” Emily asked in horror. “That’s awful.”
“Yeah,” JJ agreed. “So, yes, he is very excited that it might be over soon.”
“Is that even legal?” Derek asked. “To send someone undercover for that long?”
“Joe Pistone worked undercover inside the Bonanno family in New York for six years from 1976 to 1981.” Spencer commented. “But studies have shown that long term undercover work often result in the person experiencing paranoia, isolation, nervous tension, depression, fear and anger.”
Derek let out a low whistle. “Ouch.”
“There have been some interesting papers published recently discussing the factors needed for successful undercover work.” Spencer continued.
JJ’s stomach clenched nervously, those were Tony’s papers. “Anyway, Emily, yes, Tony is also very excited about Twinkle Toes. He’s been in the marines since he was eighteen and I don’t think he really considered settling down, but then he was assigned undercover in his mid-thirties. He says he’s just glad that no one will mistake him for Twinkle Toe’s grandfather.”
“So he’s older than you?” Emily asked.
JJ raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Haven’t I told you this?”
“No,” Emily shook her head. “I’d definitely remember if you had.”
“He’s ten years older than me.” JJ admitted.
“So he’s older than Hotch?” Derek asked in surprise.
JJ looked towards their team leader in surprise. “Yeah, I’d never considered that.”
Hotch looked slightly offended. “I’m not that old. I’m only six years older than you, Derek.”
“And at least Hotch still has hair.” Emily smirked.
Derek put a hand on his head as though to protect it. “I could have hair, if I wanted to.”
“Sure you could.” Emily humoured him.
JJ couldn’t help but laugh.