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Author's Chapter Notes:
A different take on how "Singled Out" could have ended.

What if Tony had had enough of this NCIS team? What if he was ready for his own? What would his parting messages be? And who does he tell them too?

Language is heavy in this.
Exit: Front and Center

Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS; it is the property of its respective creators.

Author’s Note: I took this idea from –Singled Out.” Some lines are from that episode. They are not mine.

Thanks to madame.alexandra for beta-reading this story for me. I appreciate it.

Tony DiNozzo stood outside Director Shepard’s door. He had made his decision, and nothing would change his mind. He knocked on the door and heard Jenny say, –Come in, Agent DiNozzo.” He blinked before a smile spread across his face. Let’s play the idiot for a few more minutes, he thought smugly to himself.

He walked in and asked her, –How did you know it was me?” He carefully kept his ‘devil may care’ mask on.

–Your deadline passed hours ago,” she replied with a sly grin. She looked at him knowingly, and he hated it. Hated the fact that he had let everyone think they knew who he was. They knew nothing about him. He thought it was long past time to show someone that he wasn’t who they thought he was.

–When do I need to be packed?” He asked, planting his hands on her desk. He saw the shock filter across her face, before she carefully hid it. He laughed at it.

–You didn’t expect that, did you, Jenny? You thought for sure I was going to stay here as their whipping boy, as the butt of the joke?” His face had a twisted smile on it, one of bitterness and pain. He truly believed what he was saying.

–Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m no one’s bitch. They think I did such a horrible job as Team Leader while Gibbs went and hid like a coward, and then he’s back, no questions, no apologies, no thanks, just a box on my old desk.” He had moved his hands away from her desk, and now they where moving wildly, just like his emotions.

–They think I slack off, let’s see how McGee likes being Gibbs’ doormat, how he handles getting no thanks after he works his butt off doing things Mr. Marine can’t be bothered with!”

Tony had a look on his face that was a mixture of anger and amusement, for he knew that McGee wouldn’t expect that at all.

–Miss Mossad Supreme, Ziva David, doesn’t realize just how much I do for her. How many people would spend half their time explaining the English language and culture to her? She’s only been living here two years! And her little jokes. One day she’ll tell one to the wrong person, and they won’t be as nice about it as me!”

The look that now occupied Tony’s face was one of longing and disappointment. Ziva would never see him as anything other than the overgrown frat boy, no matter how much he wished otherwise.

Jenny started to say something, but she was cut off by what she had really been waiting for, Tony’s rage. It was like a tidal wave finally crashing to the surface, and it was all caused by, aimed at, and about, one Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

–Gibbs, Leroy, Jethro, Fucking Gibbs! What angel made him God, or what archangel made him the Devil? He never learns. He just keeps on going thinking that he’s invincible, that that damn gut of his will never fail! He’ll learn the hard way that you can’t mess with people; you can’t manipulate them as your puppets, and not expect consequences! One day he’ll make a mistake and a bullet will end up lodged in his skull, and I’ll do a jig! Because the great Leroy Jethro Gibbs will have finally failed, and it will be so sweet!”

Tony DiNozzo finally stopped spewing what he had held inside for far too long, what was now toxic, and dimly realized he had been shouting. He was half surprised Jenny hadn’t called the men in white coats. Instead, she was just watching him intently, tears running silently down her face.

It shook him to his core to see the woman he admired and cared for crying for him. He was startled when she stood up, still watching his face, and raised a hand to wipe away tears he hadn’t known were falling. She nodded to herself, having found that she was looking for, and hugged him.

Tony let himself relax into her caring embrace. As she pulled away from him, she leaned up and whispered something into his ear.

–Good luck, Tony,” her voice was soft. She then straightened-up and put her Director’s voice back in place. –Have your bags packed by Friday, Senior Special Agent DiNozzo.” She turned back to her desk, and he turned to leave.

As his hand was inches away from his new life, leaving behind both the good, old times, and the unpleasant present, he heard her voice reach out once more.

–Tony!” He turned halfway towards her. She smiled at him, a real proud, sad, and loving smile. –I’m proud of you, and I’m sorry.” She smiled, her feelings of bitter sweetness obvious in it. He smiled one last time at her, taking a good look at his mentor, friend, and maybe something more in a different life.

As he walked out the door, closing this chapter of his life, he knew there was someone he would miss. As he saw a glimpse of her before the door echoed shut, and witnessed her smile, he knew the feeling was mutual.

Valerie Portolano

November 17th, 2009
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