Kate Todd had been at NCIS for almost a year now. She really liked working for Gibbs. He was smart, good at his job and despite his gruff attitude he cared about people. Gibbs had a lot to teach her about being an investigator. She found that she liked helping people get some closure and putting the bad guys away.
Kate's only problem with the job was one Anthony DiNozzo playboy extraordinaire. A classic example of a rich playboy who wants to "play" at being an agent so he can look good to the women. Kate just didn't understand how or why Gibbs put up with Tony. Oh, Tony could come up with a good idea from time to time, but he spent most of his time fooling around and making stupid movie quotes. She ignored the small voice which reminded her that some of those movie references helped solve more than a couple of cases. Did Gibbs put up with Tony for those rare occasions? She just didn't understand. Gibbs is a no nonsense former marine who doesn't suffer fools yet he puts up with the biggest fool Kate had ever met. The only thing she could think was that Gibbs was waiting for her to finish her training so he could replace Tony.
Kate had been surprised on her first day when Gibbs tossed two folders on her desk saying "read them." not giving her an explanation. She discovered that the folders were Gibbs' and Tony's abbreviated personal records. Kate had been impressed with Gibbs' file; he was a decorated war hero, he'd gone to college when he first joined NCIS, and had an impressive record with NCIS. On the other hand Tony had a degree in Phys. Ed., before going into law enforcement. She didn't pay any attention to his 4.0 GPA at college because Tony's major was "easy" or the fact he was top of his class at the police academy dismissing both achievements as unimportant. He hadn't stayed at his previous jobs more than two years. Tony was well into his second year with NCIS, she figured he'd be out the door before the year was out, yet he was still here. What did Gibbs see in Tony that she didn't? There had been nothing in Tony's file that jumped out at her. Again she ignored the voice that reminded her that she had only skimmed Tony's file believing that she knew all she needed to know about him thereby breaking one of Gibbs' rules. Don't assume, verify.
Kate would learn that she had erred greatly by only looked at the surface of Tony's file. Skimming the file caused her to miss the numerous commendations he'd received over the years. Nor did she notice his outstanding solve rates at his previous jobs or that Gibbs gave Tony credit on numerous occasions for being responsible for solving a case. Part of Kate's problem was intellectual snobbishness. In Kate's mind if you didn't have a degree in something important than the degree was useless and a degree in Phys. Ed. was useless except to teach gym. Kate equated college degree with being smart, forgetting that a lack of or different schooling doesn't mean someone is stupid. Tony had street smarts in spades, something Kate lacked, but she didn't see that as important either. What's more Kate "bought" Tony's frat boy act without looking deeper so she dismissed his contributions to cases as pure luck.
Kate's attitude was reflected in her treatment of Tony and his position on Gibbs' team. Kate had a lot of trouble following Tony's orders because she felt that she was better them him at the job and a lot smarter too. It didn't seem to matter to her that he was actually the senior agent and she was a probationary agent, she was better and didn't need his help to learn the job.
Gibbs knew that Kate had a problem with Tony but he thought she was professional enough not to let it interfere with the job. Gibbs also had confidence in Tony to keep Kate "in line". He would learn that he'd underestimated Kate's lack of respect for Tony with the next case they handled.
Tony and Kate were working on paperwork. Actually Kate was working on paperwork; Tony was looking over a cold case hoping to find a new lead since he'd finished his paperwork. Kate assumed Tony was messing around. She opened her mouth to say so but shut her mouth when Gibbs strode into their area. "Gear up, dead mid-shipment..." His phone rang before he could finish. "Yeah Gibbs." Gibbs paused as he was grabbing his gun while he listened and snapped. "We just got a case." He scrubbed his face. "Fine." He hung up handing Tony the note with the relevant information the team would need. "DiNozzo, you're lead on this case. I have to be in MTAC now." Gibbs turned not seeing the shocked look on Kate's face or Tony get his gear ready, though Tony's action wouldn't have surprised him. "Balboa."
Agent Balboa stood up so he could see Gibbs over the partition. "Whatcha need Gibbs?"
"Can you spare Davis to act as DiNozzo's second? I have to be in MTAC and was just given a case."
Balboa nodded. "Sure. We're finishing up our latest case. Since Silas has been promoted to full field agent, I can take a new case with a man short. DiNozzo gonna be lead for the duration of the case?" Balboa asked cheekily.
Gibbs raised his eyebrow in response.
Balboa chuckled. "Of course he is. Davis, grab your gear you'll be working with DiNozzo and Todd."
Davis grabbed his stuff as he responded. "Sure thing."
Kate was still standing completely shocked. Tony was gonna lead the case? Why didn't Gibbs just give the case to Balboa's team? Or at the very least let Davis lead the case; he was Balboa's Senior Field Agent, who was hard working and competent. Not like Tony who loved to find ways to mess around instead of work. That small voice reminded Kate that Tony was a Senior Field Agent and told it to shut up.
Tony's "Coming Kate?" broke her out of her stupor. Gibbs was already headed up the stairs to MTAC so she'd lost her chance to object so she grabbed her stuff and rushed to catch up to Tony and Tom Davis.
The three agents returned a few hours later knowing they were dealing with murder, just needed to find a motive. The three paused as Tony gave out assignments. "Tom, check for surveillance cameras in the area, I'm sure I saw some. Put a BOLO out on the van seen fleeing the scene. Kate, get information on our sailor. I'm going to check on our dead sailor's girlfriend and the person he was supposed to be meeting."
"No way Tony. I knew you'd do something like this, don't know why Gibbs gave you lead. You can't be trusted with an attractive woman. I'll take the girlfriend, you take the midshipman." Kate stated as she put her gun way.
Tony and Davis stopped mid-stride at Kate's words. Davis looked at Tony before deciding that it wasn't his place to say anything, Tony could take care of Kate's attitude himself.
Tony approached Kate's desk waiting until he had her attention. He looked her in the eye speaking seriously. "That wasn't a suggestion Agent Todd. As lead agent on the case, I gave you an assignment and you will carry it out despite your personal opinion of me or my methods."
Kate scoffed. "Don't flatter yourself that you can give orders, Gibbs is the only one on this team who can do that."
Tony kept his cool. "Agent Gibbs gave me lead on this case. Besides when Gibbs isn't here, I am in charge as his Senior Field Agent, Probationary Agent Todd."
Unknown to either Tony or Kate, they were being watched by several people, including Gibbs.
"Don't be ridiculous, you may be a full field agent but you're not a Senior Field Agent. I've been an agent longer than you so I'll become the Senior Field Agent once my probationary period is over. Gibbs only let you start the case because you've been here longer than me."
"Todd! With me now!" Gibbs interrupted as he strode by his two agents heading for the elevator.
Kate hurried to follow Gibbs recognizing that he was pissed. She noticed that several agents watched the two heading for the elevator.
Tony watched Kate follow Gibbs. He tried to feel sorry for her but he'd been hurt by her words. Besides she'd brought Gibbs' wrath upon herself by defying Tony's orders. He shook his head this was one time he didn't want to know what Gibbs was going to say, though he could imagine having been chewed out by Gibbs on a few occasions. Tony reassigned the girlfriend to Davis since he had to make calls anyway. He would look into their dead sailor. Gibbs would be looking for an update when he finished with Kate and he refused to let his boss down.
Once Kate had entered the elevator Gibbs hit the button to close the doors. Once the doors were closed he hit the emergency stop. He stared at the door for a minute trying to get his anger under control. At first he'd been shocked when he heard Kate basically dismiss Tony's orders deciding that she knew better what needed to be done and who should do it. Shock didn't last long; his temper nearly blew when he heard Kate dismiss Tony and his position at NCIS. Gibbs had known that some of Kate's issues with Tony were because of his frat boy act; though he'd thought it would fade with time. Instead she had developed a superiority complex based on inaccurate information. Gibbs was shocked that someone with Kate's background as a profiler couldn't see that "frat boy" Tony was all an act. It was time to give Kate a reality check.
"Agent Todd, did you receive a promotion while I was in MTAC today?" Gibbs turned to stare intently at Kate making her very uncomfortable.
"Then explain to me why you defied an order given to you by my Senior Field Agent and Second in Command."
"I...but...he." Kate sputtered opening and closing her mouth a couple more times before closing it. She didn't know how to answer Gibbs because she didn't respect Tony and didn't think he had the ability to be a lead. Kate had thought she understood Tony's position on the team after watching him on Air Force One so she had skipped over his title and a lot of the information in his file. She had thought Gibbs brought her on the team to be Gibbs Senior Field Agent once she completed training.
"Did you think that I hired you to replace Tony? Maybe I was looking for a Senior Field Agent when we met? After all Tony does nothing but mess around, chase women? He's just a frat boy with a degree in Phys. Ed." Gibbs nailed Kate's feelings exactly. He'd heard some of the comments that she'd made to Tony when she believed that it was just her and Tony. Now he was sorry that he hadn't put a stop to it sooner. Kate's attitude could have gotten someone killed out in the field.
Kate stared at Gibbs. How could he know, she'd never said anything not even to her sister.
"Tell me Agent Todd, did you conduct criminal investigations while you were with the Secret Service?" It looked to Gibbs that he would have to tear down Kate's feelings of superiority over Tony because she had been an "agent" and Tony had been "just a cop".
"Well, no but..." Kate stumbled.
"Did you handle crime scenes, witnesses, or searching for clues to solve crimes before joining NCIS?"
Kate shook her head. What was Gibbs getting at she wondered.
"What do you think DiNozzo did when he was a detective? Write parking tickets?" Gibbs asked sarcastically.
Kate started at Gibbs nonplussed. She really hadn't considered what Tony did as a cop important; after all he hadn't been an agent before joining NCIS. "I don't know." Kate finally answered since Gibbs raised an eyebrow, she had learned it was a clear indication he wanted an answer.
Gibbs continued hoping to drive his point home. "I brought you on the team for your profiling skills but I'm beginning to think they're overrated. As a detective DiNozzo investigated crimes, much like he does now. He and his partner had a 95% solve rate. DiNozzo was already a great investigator before joining NCIS, it's one of the reasons I recruited him. Yes, I recruited him Agent Todd because I saw his potential. He had a natural talent that wasn't being used properly. It needed the right environment to grow; NCIS was the right environment and his talent has grown destroying his need to job hop." Gibbs paused allowing Kate to absorb the information she'd just heard.
Kate's mind was swimming with the information she'd heard so far. Tony's position was based on his experience, experience she lacked. If he was so good why did Tony act like a clown? Agents were supposed to be serious to show that they took their jobs seriously, not Tony. Originally Kate had thought that Tony was just a rich boy playing at being an investigator based on his inappropriate behavior and clowning around. He certainly didn't act like a real federal agent as far as Kate had been concerned.
Gibbs continued. "Despite what you think DiNozzo's very smart. Just because he doesn't have a fancy degree in say, psychology, doesn't mean he's stupid Agent Todd. DiNozzo received his education in the school of hard knocks instead of a classroom. He possesses street smarts in spades, something you lack. DiNozzo has a way of looking at things that has helped solve several cases. He's also been lead on a few cases before you came aboard. It's why I gave him the lead on our current case instead of giving it to a different team. I knew he could handle it."
Gibbs moved into Kate's personal space so they were practically touching. "DiNozzo proved to me that he would be a great Senior Field Agent long before we met Probationary Agent Todd. Director Morrow had wanted me to pick an agent to be my second and offered several good agents who were deemed ready to become a Senior Field Agent. I chose DiNozzo because I knew that he could do the job and could handle me." Gibbs was well aware of his reputation and Tony had proved that he could handle the bastard known as Gibbs when they met in Baltimore. "Once this case is closed you're going to take a couple of days off to think about whether or not you want to stay with NCIS. Just remember if you decide to stay and show such disrespect to DiNozzo again you'll be looking for another job? We clear?"
Kate nodded as she responded shakily. "Clear Gibbs."
Gibbs stepped back satisfied and hit the emergency button starting the elevator again. He stepped into the bull pen followed by a stunned Kate. "Update DiNozzo!" Gibbs barked.
Tony stood up turning on the plasma screen. He proceeded to give Gibbs the information he had put together so far on midshipman Jackson, his girlfriend and the old friend he was going to meet at the time of his death. Davis had just received what security footage there was in the area so had just begun the process of reviewing it for possible clues.
Kate stared at Tony. He'd found the information that he'd assigned her and the information he had planned on getting.
Gibbs nodded pleased. "What's your next step DiNozzo?"
Tony looked at Gibbs. "I was just going to check in with Ducky and Abby to see if they had anything before meeting with Jackson's CO. The girlfriend has been in Boston on business for the last week and isn't expected back until the end of the week. Davis already requested that the local NCIS office send someone to talk to her, maybe she might know someone who wanted Jackson dead."
"Good job DiNozzo. I need to get back to MTAC. Keep me updated when you can."
"Sure thing Boss." Tony headed for the elevator pausing to look at Kate. "Agent Todd, help Davis review the security tapes." He didn't wait for an answer and hit the stairs instead of the elevator. He wanted to work off some of the tension he felt waiting for Gibbs and Kate to finish in the elevator.
The case was closed. Kate was finishing up some paperwork when a file was tossed on her desk. She looked up to see Gibbs staring at her intently.
"I expect you to read that thoroughly unlike the last time I gave it to you." Gibbs turned away. "DiNozzo with me." Gibbs headed for the elevator, Tony hot on his heels.
Kate looked at the file knowing it would be Tony's. She grimaced, she'd really screwed up. Some profiler she was, Gibbs was right; she'd taken Tony at face value instead of digging deeper. Her college professors would be very disappointed if they knew she hadn't taken the time to study Tony enough to see that there was more to him than he wanted you to see. Kate opened the file determined to make up for her previous behavior.
Kate went home that night and did what Gibbs asked. She spent the next two days doing some serious thinking about what she learned and what she wanted. The first day she spent looking at herself and didn't like what she saw. Kate had disregarded her training as a profiler and took Tony at face value. She was ashamed of her behavior. Her father had always told her that a college education wasn't everything, life can teach important lessons too. Kate realized that she put that saying to the back of her mind when she joined NCIS because she wanted to feel smarter than Tony.
The more she had learned about Tony the greater her shame. Tony had been disowned when he was twelve. He'd put himself through college with scholarships and working part-time. She and her siblings had received help from their parents to go through school even if it wasn't much. Tony's act truly was an act and she had bought it all because of her bad experience in college.
The night before Kate was scheduled to return to work she showed up at Tony's door ready to apologize for her attitude. She hoped that they could start over, she liked working at NCIS.
The door opened revealing a relaxed Tony dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. "Agent Todd. What can I do for you?" Tony liked Kate, but she had hurt him.
Kate shifted nervously. "I'm sorry Tony. I, um, I was wrong about you. I acted poorly and put you down because of my own preconceptions. I, uh, had a bad experience in college with a rich jock who was only out for a good time. I didn't see that until it was too late and he broke my heart. He tainted my view of you so I ignored my training and didn't try to see the real Tony DiNozzo. I-I'm very sorry Tony." Kate took a big breath. "I'd like to start over if you'll give me a chance. I'd like to get to know the real Tony DiNozzo."
Tony studied Kate for a moment. He'd heard the sincerity in her voice and could see it in her eyes. He felt horrible learning about Kate's college experience and it softened his anger. It explained some of her attitude toward his act. It wasn't the first time someone only saw the frat boy but Kate was one of the few who actually apologized for not looking deeper. Besides he felt she did have more reason to resent him than some. He made his decision holding out his hand. "Hi, my name's Anthony DiNozzo, but I prefer Tony."
Kate smiled taking and shaking his hand gratefully. "Hi Tony. I'm Caitlin Todd, call me Kate."
Tony stepped back. "Come in. We can watch a movie and share some pizza or Chinese if you want."
Kate stepped in the door. "I'd like that Tony."