Author’s notes: Two-day oneshot. This is a sort of continuation of “Hope and Despair”, my tag for 5x01. Not necessary to read that one (although there’s a reference to my added scene in that fic in this one). One of my reviewers suggested a fic for “Internal Affairs” as well, and this is the result. Completely Tony-centric, with mostly the TV-script as base.




“Well, we’ve been here before, haven’t we, Toby?”

The interrogation room is dark, even more so than usual. Abby must have been nervous, and McGee must have been near tears in here, if they had it as dark then. I know the interrogation room well, though – I’ve been here so many times with suspects that I’ve long since lost count, and I’ve been here once before, as a suspect myself. This questioning doesn’t scare me.

“You were saying some pretty bad stuff about me,” I say, the flow of smart words easy to keep going. “Ah, I hope you’ve learned a few things since then. I know I have.”

I have loved and lost since then. My heart hurts at the mere thought of it, and I know Fornell is here to rip at my still-bleeding wounds.

“Yep,” Fornell says. “You’ve done some growing, DiNotzo.”

He’ll never learn my name. Unfortunately, I can’t return the favor – Fornell can’t really be pronounced any other way. Perhaps I ought to call him ‘Fornie’ – but no, I’m sure I can find other ways to annoy him through this little investigation.

“The Director thought enough of you to personally select you for an extended undercover assignment,” Fornell says, sitting at the side of the table instead of right in front of me. I think it’s so that I will see him as friendly in the dark room, unfriendly room. It doesn’t work, but I’m calm anyway.

“Yeah,” I reply. “She played matchmaker.”

I wish I could go back to the day when she first asked me if I wanted to participate in the operation. I should have said no. Had I known then what I know now, I would have. Back then, I had the assurance that my cover would be as deep as needed to get by La Grenouille – but of course, it turned out he knew all along. And really, it was badly executed, seeing how I was allowed to stay on the job with Gibbs.

“How did you get so close to La Grenouille’s daughter?” Fornell asks.

I see my opening to joke around, and I grin at him. “I see where you’re going wit this. You’d like to know a few pick-up tricks, huh? I wish I could tell you, but, kind of a family secret and I took an oath. Sorry. Chip?”

I hold out my bag of chips, the one they so generously bestowed on me when I pointed out that I hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast, and it’s now late afternoon. Fornell doesn’t move except to shake his head, not that I expected him to. There must be a reason for me to be here, for the entire team to be under investigation, and he’s determined to see it through.

“So you reported back to the Director about the girl?”

The girl, I think. The girl. She was no girl – she was a woman. A lovely, warm, beautiful woman.

But of course, I don’t say that. Instead, I play dumb. “Jeanne? Yeah, well, her father was an international arms dealer. A threat to the country. The world, really. So yeah, I did what I was told.”

Except that last time, the day when La Grenouille apparently died, the day when Jeanne and I were held hostages by a drug dealer, the day when my car was blown up – the day when Jeanne finally found out about my deceit. On that one occasion, I refused to tell the Director everything that had been said. And boy, did that piss her off. Gibbs was proud though, and his opinion is a million times more worth than Jenny’s.

Fornell is relentless. “Did the Director order you to sleep with her?”

“Are you attracted to her?” Jenny’s words echo through my mind. “So what’s the problem?”

I was in too deep already at that point. I was in love, and I’d been dreaming about picket fences around pretty houses, and two point three kids. Never mind that she didn’t really know me, that she was an operation, that there was no future for us no matter how things played out. I loved her, even then, even though I couldn’t say the words until much later.

Jenny didn’t order me to sleep with Jeanne – it kind of came with the package.

Jeanne’s pearling laughter echoes through my mind; I remember the smoothness of her skin beneath my fingers. She wasn’t the person with the best body I’ve ever taken to bed, nor was she the most talented – but what we did, what we had, was more than I had ever imagined. With her, I made love for the first time in my life.

“I wouldn’t call it an order.”

“So you didn’t have any problem developing that kind of relationship with her?” Fornell asks.

“No, not at all.” I say it without a smile, without a hint of amusement. There is nothing humorous about it.

“But you developed feelings for her,” Fornell says matter-of-factly. “That wasn't very professional. How did that happen?”

I want to scream at him, reach over and wring his neck and tell him that he has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with this.

I don’t; instead, I say, “Gradually.”

The night that I made her dinner outside the hospital stands out in my mind. It was a stolen idea, of course, because movies are my forte, but it had her smiling all night long. Even better, or worse, depending on how you see it, I was smiling all night long.

Memories crash over me – her soft, warm lips against my own, my fingers threading gently through her hair, our bodies rocking together, fitting together perfectly.

I wonder if I’ll ever have that again. I can already feel the bitterness, seeping through my mind – if Jeanne and I crashed and burned, despite how I loved her, then what chance do I have?

I don’t want to talk about our relationship anymore. Perhaps it’s easier to talk about the end, to talk about that day, when it all crashed.

“And then, all of a sudden…” I trail off, because I don’t know what to say.

“Director tell you to break the girl’s heart?” Fornell asks. “What did that feel like?”

What it felt like? There was no single feeling about it. I’d known it all along – I was undercover and it was all fake, so of course Jeanne was going to end up with a broken heart. I just hadn’t counted on myself being one of the casualties as well.

I snort at Fornell, because I’m getting too serious. A clown cover is better than no cover at all. “This is more like a therapy session than an interrogation. Why are you so interested in my feelings?”

His answer throws me, gives me a bad feeling. “Because you had them.”

He smiles, and I suppress a shudder. Why am I here? Who is their suspect? I would have thought Jenny, because she had a grudge against La Grenouille that went above and beyond what her work at NCIS warranted, but the questioning so far doesn’t point in that direction. I’m just not sure where it points to instead.

“Jeanne must be going through hell,” Fornell says after a few moments of silence, standing up and walking around the room.

“I didn’t mean to hurt her,” I say, truthfully, before I can censor myself and figure out a way to joke it off.

“What other option was there?” Fornell asks. “She was in love with you too, right?”

He says it as though it’s so simple. A black-and-white world.

I shrug and look away. “I don’t know.”

Fornell gives me a pointed look. “Come on, Tony. You’re a better liar than that.”

I’m a much better liar than I ever thought I was. I even fooled myself, believing in pretty words and sweetly packaged girls, wrapped and ready – but it wasn’t for me. It was for Tony DiNardo. Never mind that we inhabit the same body; we’re not the same person. He’s a lucky bastard, and I—I am a broken hearted bastard.

Saying “I love you” to Jeanne was the first time in many, many years that I’ve said the words. My parents were never big on the exclamations of love, and I’ve never had a girlfriend before that’s lasted long enough to expect those words. When Jeanne expected them, I couldn’t deliver – but when Paula died—I had to tell her. Because they were the truth.

It makes my head spin, the web of lies that I’ve woven

I smile at Fornell, my best insane smile. “Well, you’re right, Agent Fornell. I’m lying. Everything I did with her was a lie. Just recalling those lies, I believe I’m lying now. It’s a—it’s a cacophony of lies!” I turn to the mirror glass, and say loudly, “Are you getting all of this? ‘Cause it’s good stuff!”

And then I stop, the air going out of me. If I’d been alone, standing in the shower where the water would immediately have washed away all the traces, I might have cried. In front of Fornell, I will never do such a thing.

“Yeah,” I say instead. “She was in love with me. We were in love. What else do you want to know?”

He simply looks at me, meeting my gaze evenly. “How was it supposed to end, Tony? I mean, there was never gonna be a happily ever after.”

He doesn’t wait for a response, and that’s just as well, because I don’t have one. I know the dreams I allowed myself, but even I wasn’t as stupid as to believe that it would work out.

I just never thought it’d go this badly.

“Earlier that morning,” Fornell continues, “the day her father died, Jeanne was almost killed twice.”

It’s not like he has to remind me. Those memories replay in my mind often enough as it is – the crazy drug dealer and the drug addict girl in the morgue—and the bomb under my car—how could I ever forget? I remember the fear she radiated, both in the morgue and when she shook in my arms as we drove away from the explosion—

“You’d barely managed to save her from a drug dealer when someone tried to blow her up,” Fornell says, relentlessly going on. He’s not playing nice anymore; he’s finally getting to whatever point it is we’re here to make.

“Yeah, I know, someone should figure that out,” I say.

“Likely one of his enemies,” Fornell presses on.

“Likely,” I say. “He had a lot of enemies. Anyone of them could have caught up with him on that yatch.”

Fornell leans forward slightly, and there’s intensity in his voice when he speaks. “Through the girl? Jeanne was the key to her father – no one knew that better than you. So let’s talk about that night.”

I just want it to be over, so I say nothing – perhaps this will go faster if I let him speak, and only talk myself when asked a direct question.

“David says she left you alone in Jeanne's apartment,” Fornell says. “She tried to call you on your phone the next morning but you didn't answer. Your partner did not know where you were.”

I know Ziva tried calling. I turned off the phone, breaking every rule in the book, but I couldn’t talk to her. I couldn’t talk to any of them.

“I went for a drive,” I whisper.

“Your car was blown up that morning.”

“Company car,” I say automatically, truthfully, quietly.


I didn’t have a destination in mind, had no course, had no idea of where I was going. I say as much.

“I was upset,” I say, and I barely recognize my own quiet voice.

“Of course you were,” Fornell says, and there’s something in his voice that tells me he holds no understanding. “The one you love is in danger. She's running for her life and you can't protect her. She'd never be safe. Not with her father around. She knew it, you knew it – there was only one way to save her.”

I know it a heartbeat before Fornell says it, and his words, yelled at me, echo through the room.

“You killed La Grenouille!”

I say out loud my first thought “I did what?”

Fornell doesn’t wait, doesn’t explain how they got to this conclusion. Instead, he tells me I’m the main suspect in the murder investigation of La Grenouille, and while they will not take me into custody right now, I won’t be allowed to leave the premises.

“But—why would I—why would you think I—”

I can’t get the words out; they’re jumbled together like the thoughts in my head.

“We have a witness,” Fornell says, “who saw you kill him.”

He doesn’t say more; doesn’t reveal the witness, doesn’t say anything else. For a moment, I wonder, did I kill him after all – I don’t remember every second of that night. Perhaps I did kill him—

But the idea is ludicrous. I have killed before, and I remember the face of every single person whose life I’ve taken. And there was no reason for me to kill Jeanne’s father. It would do more harm than good. It hurts Jeanne, and God, there is nothing I want less than that.

I am returned to the basement, where an FBI-agent stands watch. It’s empty now; the others have all been cleared and have long since left. I see the tarot card – the Hanged Man – and I wonder if the cards really do show the future after all. I feel like a hanged man.

Inside the box that held the cards, I find a short explanation for each card – and I read that the most common interpretation of the card is that it’s about an outcast of society that appears to be a fool, but is in actuality completely integrated. “He makes himself vulnerable, sacrifices his position, and gains illumination,” it says. This has me bubbling with choked, tearful laughter. Sacrifices his position – is that what I’ve done? I don’t know, but I certainly don’t feel like I’ve gained any illumination, any answers to questions I haven’t been able to answer before – if I had, I would be able to answer why I had to go through all of this. Why me? Why did I have to fall for her?

I slump down in the chair. In my mind, conversations that I’ve had with her – about movies, buying houses, her work, and so many other things – run rampant, together with the memories of gentle touches, soft kisses, passionate loving—

I have no idea how much time has passed when the elevator dings and the doors open to reveal Gibbs. I scramble to my feet.

I smile, because Gibbs too expects the goofy me, and it’s all that I can hide behind now, to avoid falling apart at the seams.

“I hear you might be charged with another murder,” Gibbs says.

I make a face. “Yeah, well, they seem to think that, uh—”

“That you murdered the Frog?” Gibbs says.

“They told you?” I ask, surprised. I had thought Fornell would keep this away, even from Gibbs, or perhaps especially from Gibbs.

“No,” Gibbs says. “Talked to the witness.”

“What?” I say, as the first thought that comes to mind. I wonder who this person is, this crazy person who thinks they saw me—

“Yeah,” Gibbs says. “I think you know her. Jeanne Benoit?”

My heart stops, I’m certain of it. Jeanne? My Jeanne? She claims she saw me murder her father? But why—

And then it hits me – hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Oh God, I hurt her.

I sink back into the chair, leaning my head in my hands. My body feels too heavy for me to hold up and though it shames me, I have to admit that there are tears burning in my eyes.

There’s a hand on my shoulder.

I don’t look up immediately – I don’t want him to see me on the verge of tears. I swallow hard, pressing my hands against my eyes to hinder any tears from leaking out.

I see compassion in Gibbs’ eyes when I finally do look up. It’s not a surprise; he might be a bastard, but I know he cares. He showed as much that day, when I came back to NCIS and they’d all thought I was dead. He even hugged me.

“Director Shepard is speaking to her now,” Gibbs says.

“Jenny? Why?”

“She’s convinced of your innocence.”

There’s no reason for her to be – I have no alibi, and if looked upon from the point of view that Fornell presented, I have motive.

But it clicks, and suddenly I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt – because there’s only one reason why Jenny would be sure of my innocence. It really shouldn’t surprise me – not after the antics she showed as she tried to get to the Frog – but it does. And fresh hatred wells up in me – yet again, she’s the reason for my life being messed up. Was the failure of my relationship with Jeanne not enough?

Perhaps I have been illuminated.

I see it in Gibbs’ face – he knows too.

“I’m sure she knows what she’s doing,” Gibbs says.

“Are you?” I challenge. I’m not sure of anything where it comes to Jenny Shepard anymore.

His gaze is calm but intense. “Yes.”

In that single word, he tells me that although he too knows that she was there when the Frog was murdered, he will not bring her down. If she is cleared by the FBI, then Gibbs will be happy.

“Trent Kort was there too,” Gibbs says. “He has taken control of La Grenouille’s organization.”

The pieces of the puzzle are making a horrid pattern. But for me, it’s easier to deal with Trent Kort, than to hate a person I will have to see every day at work.

Gibbs takes a few steps back. “You’ll be free to go any minute. If you go by the squad room, there’s always the possibility that you might run into Kort—”

He says it dismissively, but I know better.

When the FBI agent guarding me gets a call a few minutes later and says I’m free to go, I step into the elevator and ride up to the squad room. It doesn’t take long before I spot Kort, trying to sneak out of there. My anger increases tenfold upon seeing him – the smug smile he wears has me shuddering, my fingers folding into a fist without a conscious thought.

I punch him before he even sees me.

“Hey Trent,” I hiss at him. “It wasn’t just an operative. He was somebody’s father.”

He shoves me back, not nearly hard enough for me to even stumble, but I back away, breathing hard. He’s about to say something, but glances to my side; Ziva stands next to me, looking as pissed off as I feel.

He leaves, glaring hotly at me all the while, and I fight the urge to shoot him.

And then she is there.

Jeanne passes by, looking beautiful despite the tear tracks on her cheeks, despite the red puffiness of her eyes. My breath catches for a second, before anger takes over. She tried to get me in jail for murder.

I turn, I want to leave, but Ziva stands before me, looking up at me intently.

“Be a man, Tony,” she says.

I wonder what that means – what is it I should do as a man, that I haven’t already done? I’ve wooed her, I’ve taken her to dinner, I’ve met the parents, I’ve broken her heart. What more am I supposed to do?

“She accused me of murder,” I say, in more of a growl.

But of course, I know what she’s saying, what Ziva wants me to do. I know I have to.

“Who is the bad guy?” Ziva asks. “Be a man. Go tell her what she needs to hear.”

We stare at each other, though her stare is more of a glare, and there is no way that I will get out of this.

The agent escorting her has just pushed the button to the elevator when I say, “Hey – can you give us a second, please? Thank you.”

“No problem,” shrugs the agent, and leaves.

We stare at each other, and I fight the urge to kiss her. I am so angry at her, so very, very angry at her for what she just did, but a part of me feels that I deserved it. Ziva’s right; Jeanne is not the bad guy. I am. Me, and Madam Director.

“Hey,” I say. “I’m sorry you got caught in the middle of all this.”

I am about to continue, when she takes a step forward and asks, “Was any of it real? Tony?”

We stare at each other. She has the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen, and I remember the way the skin around her eyes crinkles just slightly when she smiles.

The elevator dings, doors opening beside us. I’m running out of time, and though I don’t want to, I have to break her heart one final time, to extinguish all hope. Despite not believing in God, I say a prayer – I pray that one day, I’ll be able to tell her the truth, that yes, it was all real, and I’m so sorry, but that I have to lie now, so that she can move on and leave me behind.


I see her break; for the second time, I’ve smashed her heart into a million little pieces. I see the squaring of her shoulders as she fights tears, and I know what she feels, because I feel the exact same way. It’s all I can do, to not sweep her up in my arms and tell her that I love her – because despite today, I still do.

She enters the elevator and turns to me.

“I wish I’d never met you,” she whispers.

The doors close, leaving me behind alone with all the pieces of my heart strewn about. Her words echo through my head, and I think that if anything, the only person I wish I’d never met, is Jenny Shepard.

Ziva’s hand is light on my arm. I look at her, and she nods slightly to me; she is telling me I did the right thing. I’m fairly sure I did – only right things ever hurt this much.

Ziva returns to her desk. I stand rooted by the elevator for another few minutes, until Gibbs comes up from interrogation.

“Hey DiNozzo,” he says, “I’m sure we can find some work for you to do.”

It unfreezes me, like a warm fire after a walk out in cold winter. Gibbs is there to look after me, together with Ziva, and McGee. In the midst of my chaotic heart, they are there for me, as I will always be there for them.

My family.

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Information about the "hanged man" card: Aeclectic Tarot and Wikipedia.

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