Project Wellspring

Fornell looked down his nose at the man who was lounging in his interrogation room. "Cut the crap, DiNozzo."

"I keep telling you, I ain't DiNozzo." The man rolled familiar blue-green eyes. His accent was more southern than yankee and his clothes were rougher than DiNozzo would choose. The smirk, however, was pure DiNozzo. Tobias Fornell was sure of three things in this world 1) Jethro Gibbs was the nastiest bastard he'd ever met 2) He should never have married his first wife and 3) Tony DiNozzo was the best liar he'd ever met. All three things were related. The man sitting slouched in his chair, wrists cuffed in front of him, hair brushing his eyes and a blatantly appreciative leer on his face was Tony DiNozzo.

"Gibbs know you've pissed off the FBI?"

"Who's Gibbs?" The man's leer lessened. His eyes narrowed. "You really do think I'm someone else don't you? Some local pig you pissed on?" He cocked his head to the side. "Or is it some personal thing? I notice I don't have a lawyer yet. I'm pretty sure I told your minion that I wasn't talking without one."

Fornell frowned. "Agent Sacks mentioned that. This isn't an interrogation."

"So how about some coffee? Black's fine. And a sandwich or something? Been a long night." A sly smile graced the familiar face. "You could join me. I like older men."

The FBI agent snorted. "I'll send in some food." He left DiNozzo to his pretending. His gut was cramping. Something was wrong. "Sacks, you still have the file from when DiNozzo was accused of murder?"

"Of course. I keep hoping to catch him out on it." Sacks smirked. "Does that mean I get to interrogate him?"

"No, I need the hardcopy of his fingerprints from it. Someone's messing with our database. I'm assuming it's NCIS, but Scuito doesn't work there anymore."

The younger agent paused. "You think someone left him in the cold and he went native?"

"I think there's something going on here that we don't know about."

"That's definitely DiNozzo in there."

Fornell paused. "Are you sure?"

"Hell, yes. Fingerprint match or not."

"Which is why I want the hardcopy."

"Give me ten."


Special Agent Timothy McGee of NCIS had never considered heading his own team until he'd ended up doing it. Gibbs had left him in charge of the diminished team. Ziva had been reassigned by her father shortly after that. Still, McGee had learned from the best. His team was still the best. He'd broken in a new agent and set up the team to his liking. Balboa gave him a smile as he settled down at Tony's old desk. Lee was already at McGee's old desk in the middle of a database search for a missing car she was sure was connected to a cold case. Parker had taken over Ziva's desk. The man came stumbling in half-an-hour late with a crutch and a broken ankle from the last case. He was on restricted duty until it healed. McGee turned back to his own spare-time searches for the missing. He'd located Gibbs fairly quickly. Tony and Abby though, they were still missing. It was as if they'd stepped into some magical portal and just disappeared.

He looked up at the muted sound of disgust from Balboa. Oh, crap, the FBI was entering the bullpen. "Agent Fornell," McGee said evenly without getting up. "Agent Slacks."

The black man scowled at him. "Sacks."

"Sorry," McGee lied easily. He just had to channel Tony and this little reunion would go just fine.

"I've got DiNozzo sitting in my interrogation room claiming to be Dominic DelMonaco. Want to tell me what's going on?"

McGee sat up straight. "You arrested Tony?"

Fornell pinched his nose. "You tell me." He tossed a photo onto McGee's desk.

"That's Tony." His missing teammate was alive. "He looks relatively unharmed. What's happening?"

"That's what I want to know. Where's Scuito?"

That was the one button that McGee wasn't ready to have pressed. He felt his heart clench. "I don't know. She went missing six months after Tony did."

"Gibbs never mentioned he was missing."

"What do you mean?" McGee held up a hand. "Wait. Conference Room One?" The FBI agent nodded. "Balboa, find the missing persons reports for Tony and Abby."

"Right, Boss."

McGee and the two FBI agents went to the elevator. McGee stopped it between floors.

"You picked up a lot of habits from Gibbs."

"At least I never married one of his wives," he shot back.

"When did DiNozzo go missing?"

"Two and a half years ago. We came in one morning to Gibbs yelling at the LEO's about Tony being missing. His apartment was trashed by the time we got there. We never found a trace of him. Gibbs retired to Mexico. Abby just didn't show up one morning." McGee felt like a junior agent again. He wanted Fornell to take all the problems and tell him he'd take care of it. FBI or not, the man reminded him strongly of Gibbs.

"And you can't find a trace of her either? Did you check Gibbs' house in Mexico?"

"First thing. She hasn't shown up there, or with her mom in New Orleans or even at Tony's father's place. Tony's cousin is keeping an eye on it for me."

"The mobster or the school teacher?"

"Mobster," McGee confirmed absently. "You're thinking she's with Tony. But if you have Tony at the Hoover building, where's Abby?"

"Maybe he'll talk to you. He lawyered up this morning."

"I'll get Ducky."

"Why? I haven't beaten him yet," Sacks muttered. McGee glared at the man. Sacks smirked back. It was just like having Tony there except for the missing movie reference.


"Oh, look a baby FBI agent. How sweet. You bring me that coffee?" Tony asked Fornell with a slow smile. "Or were you giving me a present? The hospitality in this place is getting better every time you open the door."

"Tony." McGee tried to keep the hope out of his voice.

The man looked between the NCIS agent and the FBI agent with a frown. "I'm starting to think I got an evil twin somewhere." He smirked. "Or maybe I'm the evil twin."

An older gentleman in a tweed suit with a bow-tie entered. "Hello, I'm Dr. Mallard." The man offered his hand. Tony shook it politely in spite of the cuffs.

"So, Dr. Mallard, you want to tell me what's going on here?"

"You bear an uncanny resemblance to a young man who's been missing for several years. If you have no objection, I'd like to run a DNA scan to see if you are or are related to him."

"Where is my lawyer?"

"Col. Coleman assured me she'd be here shortly. She is a very punctual woman."

"Colonel?" Tony blinked at the doctor. "Former military turned lawyer?"

"She is a JAG and she considers the young man you resemble to be a formidable opponent."

"So the old feeb there thinks I'm a lawyer?"

The doctor chuckled. "No indeed not. May I check your breathing?"

The young man stared at him. "Marcus cracked and told you I've got asthma or what?"

"These rooms aren't the cleanest, you know," Mallard stated. "I would rather not take any chances with a fragile respiratory condition. I remember once, I had a young man, just a few years younger than Timothy there, who had the misfortune of catching every flu and cold that ran through the town."

"Doctor," Fornell cut him off.

"Yes, yes, of course." The doctor warmed his stethoscope briefly, then at Tony's nodded permission he pressed it to the young man's chest. He checked several areas and then did the same on his back. "One deep breath, please." Tony complied. "Your lungs sound clear, but there is a slight wheeze developing. Can you feel it?"

"Yeah, but it ain't bad."

"If it worsens at all, tell Agent Fornell or Agent Sacks immediately. I'll leave an inhaler in their care for you."

The dark-haired man's mouth moved for a moment. "Yes, Doc," he said finally. He looked up at Fornell with a bewildered frown. "No to the DNA by the way."

Mallard carefully checked the young man's pulse and the tightness of the cuffs on his wrists. He looked up from his investigations. "If you change your mind, do let me know. I give you my word that it will be used for nothing other than the scan to determine your relationship to our missing friend."

"That ain't gonna change. Weren't you gonna get me some coffee?" Tony asked, looking evenly at Fornell. "Or maybe you were gonna cut me loose. Since you haven't charged me."

Fornell snorted. "Consider it protective custody. Unless you really want to be in lock-up with Martinez. He didn't look too happy with you when we pulled you out of there."

"I don't sleep with sharks."

McGee snorted.

That earned him a brilliant smile. "I see you've met Martinez."

"Nope. Just a familiar sentiment. You have someone steady?"

"Nope. You?"

"She went missing about a two years ago."

The handcuffed man sat up and leaned forward. "Ah, man, that's rough. Think she just left or what?"

"No sign of kidnapping, but no sign that she went willingly either."

"Like a magician snapped his fingers?"


"Damn. Sorry to hear that, kid."

McGee's lips twitched at that. "Thanks." He turned to the doctor. "Is he okay, Ducky?"

"Seems to be in fine condition. I have a feeling he has a few bruises that he hasn't seen fit to share with anyone, but nothing dangerous."

"Ducky? Really? What did you do to earn that one?"

"My name is Donald Mallard," the Englishman replied, with a smile.

Tony laughed. "You poor bastard."

There was a knock at the door. A properly straight-backed Col. Faith Coleman stood on the other side with her shined black briefcase. "Gentleman, I would like to speak with my client in private."

"Of course. I'll just gather that inhaler from the car. If you'd come with me, Agent Sacks?"

They left the room. McGee offered a handshake to the colonel. Fornell gave her a short nod. "Take care of him."


"We need Gibbs," McGee stated. He looked out the window at the street outside of the Hoover Building. "What was he arrested for anyway?"

"He was working as part of a weapons smuggling ring. DelMonaco was in charge of records. He had an external drive with a copy of all the information hidden in his apartment. We were working off of information that was being passed to us from an anonymous inside source."

"Martinez was the boss?"

"No, middle management. DelMonaco was under the protection of the boss. Martinez seems to have a grudge about that. Can you get Gibbs up here?"

"I don't know. It depends on his memory. I don't know if he'd even recognize Tony's name." McGee sighed and rubbed the back of his head. "But if we don't try, we'll never know. I'll leave a message for him."

Fornell nodded. He came to stand just behind McGee and look over his shoulder. "I tried to recruit DiNozzo three or four times. The last time I got a call from the director of the FBI to leave him alone. I still don’t know what Gibbs had on the man."

"Probably threatened to turn Tony loose on his daughter."

A startled chuff of laughter stirred McGee's short hair. "We've got three agents, one doctor, and one lawyer convinced that DiNozzo's sitting in interrogation. We'll have to keep him in solitary if we charge him. I can't sit on him for more than ten more hours."

"Protective custody? He is a material witness."

Fornell moved to fiddle with a picture on his file cabinet. "Contact Gibbs. Get him back here. He's the only DiNozzo's ever listened to."


"Gibbs? It's McGee."

"What is it?" Gibbs rubbed the side of his head. He didn't like talking to people from DC. They kept wanting the impossible from him and he was just beginning to remember how to do that.

"Tony's in trouble and you're still his emergency contact."

The grey-haired man frowned. The bartender looked at him and held up a beer. He shook it off. "Tony?" The face that swam into view was younger than McGee. He had dark hair that had been shorn off and circles around his eyes. He looked like he'd been battered for days. He was sitting stock still, his green eyes unfocused. "What does he need?"

"You." McGee sighed. "He's got amnesia, Boss. And you're the only person he ever listened to before he went missing. We're hoping that seeing you will wake him up."


"We. And he might know where Abby is."

That struck Gibbs a hard blow in the chest. He remembered Abby clearly. She'd looked heart-broken when he left the team behind. He ran a hand through his hair, feeling his age settle on his shoulders. "Fine. I'll get a flight out tomorrow."

"Thanks, Boss."


"Right, Boss." McGee hung up and Gibbs shook his head with a half-smile.

"Beer?" He put his money on the counter. He'd need to shave off his beard and mustache if he were going back to DC. And he'd have to wear something other than the loose pants and shirts he favored in Mexico.

Unbidden another flash of the man he associated with the name "Tony" swam up. The young man was holding a bag of ice to his jaw, sitting on Gibbs' couch in his front room. His knees were drawn up to his chest. His wife, his first after Kelly, brushed a kiss into the young man's hair and handed him a mug of something hot. Tony looked up at her with a lop-sided smile. The smile faded as he looked at Gibbs. His eyes dropped to the top of his knees. "Do you want my report?"

Somehow he was sure the memory was real, not a mix up. That would mean that he'd known Tony a lot longer than anyone at NCIS believed. Maybe when he saw the man he'd remember more.


Gibbs nodded a greeting to Fornell. The young man lounging in the interrogation chair looked up. "More presents? You're gonna spoil me, TF." He winked. He turned his attention to the new man. "Aren't you the handsome one. Where they been hidin' you?"

Their eyes met and there was an almost electric connection between them. "DiNozzo, wake up." Gibbs felt his voice hit the sharpness of command. The young man snapped to attention, eyes focused completely on Gibbs. He started to shiver.

"Boss?" he said softly.

"Hey there, Tony," he said equally soft. "Been awhile."

"You're the one that sent me under." He shivered. He looked down at his wrists. "Getting kinky, Fornell?" Tony's voice was stronger, but he still looked a lost and young. He was reaching towards Gibbs. Gibbs caught his hand.

"Report first. Handcuffs later."

"Bastard." There was humor in the voice now. "I'll need water and a recorder." He frowned. "And I should probably talk to Col. Coleman. She'll need clearance though."

Gibbs nodded. He leaned against the room's table. "Fornell will get water. The cameras are rolling." Tony's hand was trembling.

"Almost three years as someone else. That's longer than Philly or Peoria. At least I got to be me in Baltimore."

Gibbs took off his suitcoat and wrapped it around Tony's shoulders. He didn't remember why the process of waking up out of a deep role made Tony cold, just that it always did. "I didn't mean it to be this long." He grimaced. "I was caught in an explosion. I lost 20 years."

"Jesus, Boss. Just after Shannon and Kelly?" He nodded. Tony leaned his forehead against their joined hands. "How much do you remember?"

"Not everything. Just flashes right now. It's getting better every day. I remember you sitting on my couch and talking to my second wife."

"And your third wife and your fourth wife. I think it's why number four tried to kill you instead of just divorcing you. She never believed it was non-sexual."

"Was she right?"

"Not yet, but I live in hope." Tony lifted his head. "So where have you been that Fornell didn't bring you in before McGeek?"


"There's hope for you yet, boss." He laid his head back down on Gibbs' hand.

"Where's Abby?"

Tony sat up quickly. If he'd been a dog his ears would have been pricked forward. "Abby's missing?"

"Two years now."

The young man closed his eyes. "Ask Tomorrow."

Gibbs inclined his head. That should mean something to him. Tony dropped his head onto their hands again. Gibbs stroked a hand through the soft black hair, noticing there were a few strands of grey near the nape of Tony's neck. His heart clenched. His Tony was getting old. He'd been so young in the memories. He let his hand rest on that vulnerable nape and thought of all the ways he could kill him. "Oh, Tony, what are we?"

"Weapons, Jethro." Tony's voice was soft, flat, the accent smoothed out until his speech had nothing to identify it as human. "We always were. We always will be." The younger man sat up before Fornell came in with the recorder. "Make sure there's no one in interrogation."

"What level clearance?"

"At this point? I can't guess. I'd say higher than the president."

"Ah, Hell. Never something easy."

"Where's the fun in that?" The twinkle in Tony's eyes was a warning. "Who's the Director these days? Jenny still?"

"Leon Vance. Jenny went on medical leave about two months ago."

"Huh. And did anyone ask here where Abby was?"

"Something I need to know about you and Jenny?"

"Hate her man-stealing little soul," Tony drawled. He winked at the mirror. "So, boss, Mexico? What's hiding down there?" The door opened to reveal a sour Fornell with Col. Coleman and a digital recorder.

"Sgt. Gibbs, I have orders here that state that you are being recalled to active service." She handed over the papers. "And," she paused for a moment. "And you are to resume Project Wellspring immediately."

Tony held his wrists out to Fornell. The FBI agent's eyes narrowed. He undid the handcuffs. Gibbs read through the paperwork. As he did, his memories clicked into place. He restrained his curse, but he was fairly certain everyone noticed the way his spine jerked up. He handed his orders to Tony who scanned them. "California? Really? Haven't been out there in a decade."

Fornell's brows rose. "Planning on going somewhere, *Agent* DiNozzo?"

"Not one of your agents. Either I'll be transferred out to San Diego or Coronado." He shrugged. "They can switch me out with Stan Burley." Tony gave Gibbs an almost venomous glare at that.

Gibbs smirked. "Not my fault I run to type. Let's finish your debrief." He grimaced. "Damn it. We need to be in a secure area."

"Yeah. I'm guessing there's got to be a conference room around here. Or the Pentagon that's open for a few hours?"

"The Director's conference room is secured."

"That's where we need to do this then." Tony rubbed at his wrists. He picked at the loose thread on the hem of his tee-shirt. "I take it I'm not under arrest?" Tony raised his brows.

"You were undercover, DiNozzo." Gibbs smirked. "The FBI arrests you for that I'll call that pretty red-head reporter."

Tony laughed at that. Fornell rolled his eyes. "I'll make a call."

"Col. Coleman, did you get orders regarding Project Wellspring?"

Her face was carefully blank. "I did." She glanced at the mirror. Gibbs nodded. Tony handed back the jacket and orders. He kept a hand on Gibbs' leg as they waited. He didn't say anything, but Gibbs could feel the tremble in his fingers. Tony was scared. There was no going back to normal in a few minutes after three years of undercover work.

The director's conference room was elegantly appointed in cherry.

Fornell left the three of them after a few more minutes of wrangling for answers. Gibbs locked the door behind him, while Tony unplugged the telephones and computer. "Coleman, your orders?"

"I am authorized to do whatever is necessary to keep Project Wellspring secure. Code 73689012385A6C."

Gibbs looked to DiNozzo. The young man nodded once, confirming the code to the list he kept in his head. "Everything you see or here in this room is now covered under Wellspring. You have orders for DiNozzo."

Coleman snapped open her briefcase. She handed over another set of orders. Tony raised his brows. "Oh, goodie. Surprise, surprise, NCIS San Diego is getting a new agent. You're working on base though." Tony frowned. "This is going to be like Philly. Didn't they learn anything? Col. Coleman, did they give you anything else to pass on?"

She sighed. "It can wait until after the debrief."

"Crap. Guess we should get started. Got that recorder? Col. Coleman can secure it for us right?"

"Yes, I'll transport it back," she answered.

Tony sat down and dragged the recorder near. He looked up at Gibbs. "DiNozzo, report Wellspring Lock code 3."

"Lock code 3." His eyes went unfocussed. He began to speak.


Coleman looked pale when she passed McGee in the hall. He thought about calling out to her, but bit his tongue. He didn't know her well enough. Gibbs and Tony followed her at a sedate pace. Tony's spine was loose, but he stayed close to Gibbs as they walked. He looked tired now, like the debrief had been emotionally draining. It wasn't a good look on him. "Gibbs, Tony." They're attention flickered briefly to him. Gibbs jerked his head to the side and McGee fell in next to them. "I can't stay. We're on call this weekend. I just…" he stopped.

"Spit it out, McGee." Gibbs' voice was sharp and familiar.

"If you need a hand getting your stuff out of storage, just give me a call. The number's the same. And I thought you might want this." He pushed the battered paperback copy of The Bourne Identity into Tony's hands. It bristled with post-it notes and had been heavily highlighted. Tony hugged it to his chest. His eyes were cast down.

"Thanks." His voice was soft and rough, like he'd spent the entire four hours talking. "I was going to make a movie. But a quiet one, not from Bourne's perspective. But no one'd take it now. Not while Matt Damon's burned into their brains."

"Never know." Gibbs rubbed the back of Tony's neck briefly. "We're both heading to California. I've been recalled. Tony's taking the position in San Diego."

"Not the LA office?" McGee blinked.

"No. On base in San Diego. I'll be the local." The senior agent gave McGee a strained smile that didn't reach his eyes. "Something quiet and simple for awhile. Besides, last thing you need is either of us in the DC office. Besides, Vance hates both of us. Even as Assistant Director. Can't see that changing if we suddenly showed up." Tony shrugged. "Go on. You've got a weekend shift to suffer through."

Tim nodded jerkily. His stomach dropped. Tony and Gibbs were back and now they were gone. Damn it, they were supposed to come back and take over the team and put everything back to rights."


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