chesapeake and ohio canal national historical park

The two sharp knocks at the door were nothing more than a token gesture as the silver-haired agent entered before the Director had even opened his mouth to permit him to do so.

“You wanted to see me Leon?" 

"Good to see you too Gibbs,” Vance replied, accustomed to his most senior agent’s dislike of formalities.

Gibbs could not hide his impatience, “we’re in the middle of a case Director. I figured it must be something pretty important for you to call me in from a crime scene”, his acerbic tone indicating that the attempt to relax the atmosphere was neither necessary or appreciated.

The Director rose from his chair and met Gibbs’ gaze, “Dinozzo”.

“What about him?” Gibbs asked carefully, inhaling sharply and cocking his head slightly, almost challenging his boss to continue.

“He’s been notably absent lately. He has used all his sick days, called in personal leave and from what I’ve heard, been difficult to contact even while at work…”

“…I’ll take care of it. My team, my problem,’ Gibbs cut in, his desire to be elsewhere evident.

"No, MY problem if one of my best agents is coming under scrutiny from those currently looking for a double agent suspected to be working within our own agency”, Vance retorted heatedly, making his way to the front of his desk to face Gibbs.

“And Dinozzo is a suspect? Come on Leon, you did not call me in here for this”, Gibbs chided, almost smiling at the absurdity of such a claim.

“No, actually he’s not. Thanks to some of my own digging around”.

Vance lifted his arm and waved a folder absently in the air.

“You’ve been spying on a member of my team Leon? You didn’t think to just come and speak to me about it?’ Gibbs’ annoyance was exacerbated by the increasing intensity of his stare and rising voice.

Vance shifted his weight back, relaxing his stance slightly as he asked matter-of-factly "have you heard anything from Ziva recently?”

Confusion washed over Gibbs’ face as he tried to follow where this conversation was going.

“Recently, no. Not since she phoned and told me she would not be coming back to the team’, he confirmed, his tone softening. "Why? What’s she got to do with all this”

Vance flopped open the folder on his desk to reveal the nightvision surveillance photo.

“It was taken three nights ago, at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, the two of them spent most of the day there. It appears they have been spending most of their time together for the past ten days, probably longer, but that’s how long I had my guys watching Dinozzo. I just got the footage this morning. It’s anyone’s guess how long she’s been back”, Vance finished, a tinge of hurt creeping into his voice as the events of the past that tied the ex-agent and him together were never far from the surface.

Gibbs stood silent as he continued to look at the photo. While he had suspected that the two of them were indeed more than just partners, seeing Tony and Ziva like that was strange. Looking at that photo also highlighted a plain and simple fact: if it was between her and the job, Tony would choose her.

“So, I thought you’d want to know,” Vance interjected, shattering Gibbs’ quiet observation.

“Mhmm”, came the subdued response.

“Are you going to say something to Dinozzo?” Vance enquired, but Gibbs had already turned and started making his way to the door.

“Nothin’ to say Leon”, Gibbs replied, before adding, “He will. When he’s ready”.  

As the gentle ‘click’ of the door bid him farewell Vance took one last glance at the photo before he flipped the folder shut and moved to place it in his desk drawer.