"Leon, do you want to explain why the D.C. MCRT solve rate has dropped?"

Vance looked at the Secretary of the Navy. "I believe, ma'am, that it has only dropped 4%. Considering the current team is new and have only worked together for less than a month, I'm encouraged that the drop was minimal. And in keeping with the average rate of our other MCRT teams across the agency."

"This particular location has consistently been at 98% solve rate for 14 years." Secretary Porter handed a spreadsheet of results to the Director. "There have changes in personnel during that time."

"Yes, ma'am, to a certain extent you're correct. There have been changes over those years, but two consistent individuals during that time period. Supervisory Special Agent Jethro Gibbs and Senior Special Agent Tony DiNozzo. In fact, for most of the first two years, they were a two man team."

Porter checked the time line she had. "Two agents managed such a high closure rate? That seems…unbelievable."

"Permission to speak freely, Madame Secretary?"

Eyes narrowed, Sarah Porter nodded. "Permission granted."

"It's no secret that I believe the future of this agency is technology. Gibbs is a dinosaur who can't even program his own smartphone. DiNozzo, while better tech wise, is old school himself. They both were extreme pains in my ass. However, they both got results. Gibbs is one of the finest interrogators I've ever seen. DiNozzo, while his style is radically different, is equally great. Put them together and you have the dream team of interrogators.

"Under Mike Franks, Gibbs was good. He was better once the old bastard was gone. But Gibbs didn't play well with others. Until he hired Baltimore Detective Anthony DiNozzo."

"Gibbs hired him? He doesn't have that authority!" Porter protested.

"Maybe not officially, but if Gibbs wanted someone on his team, even from outside NCIS, as long as they made it through the hiring process and FLETC, that person would be assigned to him. It happened with Special Agent Kate Todd as well."

"The name sounds familiar, but I can't place her."

"Agent Todd predated Ziva David. She was killed in the line of duty two years after leaving the Secret Service and joining NCIS," Vance explained.

"Oh, now I recall." Porter shook her head. "I believe I came across that when reading the personnel files of the current team. It seems that former Director Tom Morrow allowed Gibbs quite a bit of leeway."

"Yes, ma'am, but that leeway gave the team a good working relationship."

"It appears that you lost all four members of that team. Why?"

"DiNozzo took a job as Sheriff in Pennsylvania. Special Agent Tim McGee, who I had hoped to mentor into an eventual Assistant Director position, resigned to focus full time on his writing and the television series based on his books. Special Agent Ziva David returned to Israel. I believe she is consulting with the CIA's Israeli/Palestinian division, although I've not heard from her lately."

"And Gibbs?"

"He was facing mandatory retirement within a year and opted to use his considerable unused vacation and compensatory time off to leave early. Gibbs has agreed to consult with us when needed."

"So you lost the entire team? At one time?" Porter sighed. "I'm not pleased, Leon."

"You may not have received the email as yet, but we have also lost our Medical Examiner, Dr. Donald Mallard. He's put in for retirement, recommending his long-time assistant, Dr. James Palmer, to take his place. They were always considered part of Gibbs' team as well. In addition to our forensics expert, Dr. Abigail Sciuto."

"I've read some of Dr. Sciuto's papers. Don't tell me she has also retired!"

"No, ma'am. She's not of sufficient age to actually retire, but to be honest, I don't know how much longer she will stay with us. She's received numerous offers from other agencies, both private and federal."

"She's never taken any before, why would she now?"

"Abby was…is very close to both Gibbs and DiNozzo. It is entirely possible that she may decide that there is nothing holding her to NCIS now that they are both gone."

"We need to do what we can to keep Dr. Sciuto in our agency. Leon, I've also heard of others in your D.C. office who have submitted transfer requests, retirement paperwork, and applications to other agencies. Would you like to explain why there seems to be a mass exodus from your office?"

Vance swallowed. He hadn't realized that the Secretary would've heard of these. "I'm not entirely certain, Madame Secretary."

"I wasn't either, so I called a few to ask why they suddenly wanted to leave. Some of those who were transferring were very circumspect about their reasons, not wanting to burn any bridges within NCIS. But the responses from the retiring individuals as well as from those who were moving to other agencies seemed to be fairly consistent. Your people have lost confidence in your leadership, Leon. I heard some very interesting tales of sanctioned criminal activities, a lack of support for the people in the field, a willingness to throw them to the wolves, a lack of accountability for offenses committed by employees. Some of those tales appeared to relate to your premier MCRT team. And to yourself. Leon, I'm putting you on notice that we will be monitoring closely what happens in D.C. as well as delving into past complaints that were seemingly ignored."

"Ma'am?" Vance was startled. What could those former employees know?

"I'll be sending someone from my office to coordinate with you. That individual will not be subject to your orders and will report directly back to myself and, if necessary, the President. The illegal and erratic activities of former Director Jen Shepard were successfully kept from the press. But neither the President nor I wish any more scandals such as is happening in the Secret Service to explode on the news. So until I can be certain of your ability to conduct yourself within the law, you will be under my direct supervision. Is that understood?"

Vance swallowed, his heart pounding. "Y-yes, ma'am."

"I was also very concerned by the unusual closeness between you and the late Director Eli David. A close working relationship between foreign agencies is one thing, but there was much more going on between the two of you. Secrets are the nature of our businesses, but you must always draw a line. And it seems that if you ever had such a line, it was long ago crossed. Shepard had the same problem, one that was close to moving her out of office." At Vance's startled response, Porter chuckled. "Thankfully she was removed on her own terms rather than taking her people down with her. My predecessor also seemed to believe he could do what he wanted to do. I am more, what did you call it? Old school. I am that in regards to the law. I have no issues with bending it. But I have great disgust for those in our positions who break it consistently.

"I hope I don't find anything untoward, Leon. I like you. I know how much you miss your wife. And I'm aware of how difficult it is to raise two children on your own. But if I find anything that can embarrass the agency or myself or the President, I will fire you so fast that your head will spin." Porter smiled as she got to her feet. "I think that is enough for the day, don't you, Director Vance?"

Before he could reply, she was walking out of the conference room. Vance was no fool. He knew that his career was essentially over. Despite hoping to become Secretary of the Navy someday, he knew that Director of NCIS was as far as he would even go. And to avoid being forced to resign due to personal issues, he would need to toe the line that Porter referred to very carefully. Unfortunately he couldn't blame any of his current problems on anyone but himself. Arrogance and ambition and grief had all combined to destroy his commonsense and morals. At that moment, he envied and admired how Tony DiNozzo had refused to give in any longer to the pressures of expediency.

The End

Final author notes: A non-action story is a bit different for me, especially in this fandom. I've enjoyed writing about Tony's new world and may visit Sheriff DiNozzo and the town of Stillwater again. I know you may have considered the ending a bit more abrupt than any of you wanted. I hope to do smaller stories that will address the men and women who wear the badges of the Stillwater Sheriff's Department and how they handle working for an honest man. Until then, thank you for coming along for the ride!