Author: Headbanger Rockstar PM
Gift story to a friend for her birthday! Tony runs into some problems on his birthday, but he has a little help from his friends. Father-son-ish, most definitely friendship. Post SWAK, Pre Twilight. AU and Kinda OOC. One shot.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Hurt/Comfort/Friendship - Leroy Jethro Gibbs & Tony D. - Words: 3,157 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 54 - Published: 06-18-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7095718
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: Happy birthday to my sweet friend Mandi! I hope your birthday turns out happier than Tony's! But it's what you asked for, so I'll tell him to blame you…
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, only the idea.
Warning: AU! Angsty. Post SWAK. For creative purposes, let's pretend like Tony's birthday takes place right after SWAK and before the events in Twilight, and let's pretend Gibbs never kept his family a secret…
By Headbanger Rockstar
Tony DiNozzo stood in his apartment, hands cradling a cup of hot tea-the tea Ducky was swearing would help with his congestion-but so far wasn't, and staring out the window in his kitchen. He was exactly nine days out of the hospital, and at times was still wondering how the hell he'd managed to convince anyone to let him leave.
He'd spent the week with Gibbs, letting the older man fuss over him and nursemaid him until they were both going nuts. Two days ago he'd politely informed Gibbs that he would be returning to the office on Monday and asked if he could go home to "get his head in the game" before he returned to work.
Gibbs hadn't been happy, but he didn't have a good reason to deny his Senior Field Agent his request-especially since the young man had so diligently followed Dr. Pitt's orders to the letter all week long. It was only fair, after all.
Today was Saturday…day after tomorrow he'd be going back to work. Tony wondered idly if things would be different-if people would look at him differently, if he'd get in trouble for his actions leading up to the SWAK incident, if he would actually be able to do his job…Tony wasn't going there. Of course he'd be able to do his job.
Turning away from the window, he glanced at the calendar on his fridge as he poured the remainder of his tea into the sink. He blinked in surprise when he realized what day it was, shocked that with everything going on he'd forgotten and a bit hurt that it seemed everyone else had as well.
Today was Tony's birthday.
He strolled into the living room and sank listlessly onto the couch. He'd almost died the week before his birthday. Being alive was definitely cause for a celebration. Tony pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, wondering who he should call.
Kate? Nope, she had some religious retreat thingy that she was going to this weekend down in the valley.
McGee? Probably wouldn't be interested…he'd be too busy dressing up as the Elf Lord to go out with Tony for his birthday.
That posed an interesting question. Should he go out? Did he really feel up to it? He decided to stay home and have someone come join him. That might be better.
He could call Abby. There was no doubt in his mind that the bouncy Goth would drop everything to come over…but she'd want to fuss over him and mother-hen him, and honestly he didn't want that.
Ducky was out of the question because he had to take care of his mother.
His finger hovered for only a moment over the button before he hit 2 for Gibbs' number on speed dial. He regretted it immediately and almost hung up, already feeling stupid for wasting the older man's time.
"DiNozzo? You okay?"
Tony immediately felt guilty. Of course Gibbs would be worried about him. The man had hovered around him like a guard dog for days.
"Yeah I'm good, Boss," Tony said uneasily, wishing like hell he'd not made this call. "Whatcha doing?"
"Working on the boat," Gibbs replied.
"Awesome…well uh…Boss, I uh…just thought I'd call and um, say hi," Tony said lamely, rolling his eyes at himself.
"You're sure you're alright?"
"Positive Gibbs. I'm good." Tony made a point to refrain from using his standard, "I'm fine" response because he knew Gibbs would be over here in a hot minute if he said that.
"Call if you need anything," Gibbs ordered softly.
"I will. Sorry I made you worry, Boss," Tony said.
"Rule number six," Gibbs replied and the phone snapped shut in Tony's ear.
After the phone call debacle with his boss-and he was feeling dumber by the minute for that-Tony decided to take a nap before deciding what to do this evening. Maybe when he woke up things would be better-maybe his answering machine would be filled with birthday messages from every person, every friend he'd ever had.
If not…well it made for a nice dream.
The sun was low in the sky when Tony woke up. He laid in bed, taking a moment to enjoy the peaceful serenity in his apartment, and the lovely view of the city he had from where he lived. A moment later the peace was broken by the harsh coughs that gripped him, but eventually he sat up and grasped the inhaler, taking the required three hits off of it before setting it back on the nightstand and taking a cautious breath.
He picked up his phone and began clicking through the numbers. Feeling oddly nostalgic, Tony dialed the number his father had given him if Tony ever needed to reach him. He listened to the phone ring in his ear and wasn't surprised when a woman's voice answered.
"May I speak with Anthony DiNozzo please," Tony said clearly, but quietly.
"Of course, hold a moment please," the woman's voice was lovely, and Tony wondered which stepmother this was.
"This is Anthony DiNozzo," his father's voice had not changed at all in the years it had been since Tony had last spoken with him.
"Hi Dad," Tony greeted.
"Anthony? Junior why are you calling? Is everything alright?"
Sure Dad it's great, I'm alone on my birthday and I almost died of a disease from the Middle Ages last week. "Yeah Dad I'm fine…I just…" the realization that his own father didn't even remember what day it was struck him, "I just called to see how you were. It's been a while."
"I'm doing quite well," Tony's father said, and launched into a tail of money making that Tony was pretty sure that as a federal agent he maybe didn't need to hear, but chose not to comment. It wasn't long before his father was drawing the conversation to a close. "Well you take care of yourself now Anthony. Live up to your name and be a good boy. Make us proud," his father said.
"Do you know what today is," Tony blurted out before he could resist the urge.
There was a pause. "Junior I don't have time to play games. I am a very busy man," his father said, not unkindly.
Glad to see some things never change, Tony thought to himself. "Oh, alright then," he said dejectedly. "It's not important. Nevermind."
"Goodbye Junior," his father said.
"Bye Dad," Tony whispered and hung up. Suddenly he didn't feel much like partying.
Tony decided that he'd go nuts sitting in his apartment after the conversation with his father. So he'd gotten dressed and headed out. There was a bar a couple of blocks from his house that he could easily walk to. Three hours later he raised his empty shot glass and motioned at the bartender. He hadn't spoken to anyone, hadn't flirted with anyone, and had only talked with the bartender to order his drinks. He sat morosely at the bar, drinking and not talking. Some birthday this was.
The bartender, whose name was Pete, watched him carefully. It wasn't difficult to surmise that the man was upset and that he was hoping to wash away his sorrows with some liquid happiness. The troubling thing was he didn't seem to be a happy drunk. Pete decided that this would be the quiet man's last drink and he carefully poured the shot and handed it over to Tony.
Tony wasn't worried about being cautious or taking in his surroundings tonight. He was too upset and depressed for that. His friends had forgotten his birthday, and his own father didn't even remember it either. For a moment Tony wondered if his friends were planning some secret surprise party for him, and pulled his phone out hoping to see a missed call. He didn't notice the two guys sitting in the corner booth who were drinking nothing but water, and watching Tony's every move.
It was that moment when his phone rang. Tony's heart leapt for a moment and he quickly answered it. Gibbs was calling him.
"DiNozzo? You okay?"
"Sure Boss, 'm fine. 'M drinkin'."
"Tony, Dr. Pitt said you need to stay away from alcohol for a bit. You're still at risk for dehydrating. Where are you?" Gibbs' voice held a gentleness to it that Tony found a bit unnerving.
Anger coursed through the intoxicated young man. "The fuck makes you think I'm gonna tell you where I am? What, y'wanna come pick me up? Take me home? Or better yet-cel'brate my birthday with me? Oh no wait I f'rgot-no one b'th'red to rem'mber it."
There was a pause. "Tony, I-"
"Save I'Gibbs. I didn't 'spect y'all t'rem'mber it. Hell my own father couldn't rem'mber it. But f'r now 'm gonna have a drink and 'm gonna enjoy it. G'nite Gibbs."
"I was asking you where you were, because I'd like to come join you," Gibbs said softly.
"Suuuure Gibbs," Tony slurred coldly. "Don't patr'nize me. Don' needa babysitter."
"Tony I'm not babysitting you and I'm not patronizing you. I'm at your apartment and you aren't here. I want to join you."
Tony sighed. "I'll come meet you," he said softly. "Just lemme pay th'tab an' I'll walk back…be there'in ten."
"Don'…Don' say it." Tony clicked his phone shut and let out a long breath.
He motioned for the bartender who looked at him and frowned. What had he done? He'd been very quiet sitting here, hadn't bothered anyone…what was going on?
"Needa cash out," he slurred softly. "Please," he added.
The bartender's frown lifted. "You're not driving are ya buddy?"
"Nah I live jus' up tha s-sreet," Tony slurred softly. "Gonna wal' back. M'boss is gonna meet me there." Tony wasn't sure why he kept talking, but the bartender didn't comment just nodded. A moment later he passed Tony his ticket and Tony passed him his credit card. Once the transaction was finished Tony left the bar. He was so upset, so depressed, and so drunk that he never saw the two men quietly follow him out of the bar.
Gibbs paced back and forth in Tony's living room while he waited for the younger man. He'd planned to take Tony out for dinner for his birthday, but when Tony had called earlier he'd been distracted and Tony had been agitated and for whatever reason, Gibbs hadn't made the invitation. Feeling bad about that several hours later, Gibbs headed over to Tony's only to find him gone.
He felt only marginally better after speaking with Tony; glad the younger man was safe, but still concerned because he was so obviously intoxicated, and it sounded like he'd been drinking alone. Tony assured Gibbs on the phone that he'd be back to the apartment in ten minutes. Gibbs had parked beside Tony's beloved corvette, so he knew the younger man hadn't driven. Tony was probably down at Pete's Tavern, and would be home in just a few minutes, just as he'd said.
Ten minutes came and Gibbs' eyes were firmly on the door of Tony's apartment, his frown growing deeper by the second when the man didn't appear.
Twelve minutes had Gibbs pacing between the peephole in Tony's door and the window overlooking the sidewalk. His gut was churning.
Fifteen minutes after Gibbs got off the phone with Tony, he picked up his keys and locked Tony's door behind him as he left. He decided to drive down the street in case Tony wasn't able to make the walk back.
It was quite possibly the slowest Gibbs had ever driven; he eased his car down the block, eyes fixed on the gutter, the sidewalk, and the alleys looking for his missing so-agent.
His gut churned more as he neared Pete's Tavern. Gibbs decided if he didn't see Tony before he got there, he'd pull over and go inside. Gibbs eased his car into a free space near the sidewalk in front of Pete's. He locked his doors and glanced around.
Tony's name fell from his lips and he was running before he even realized it.
Tony slowly blinked his eyes open and looked around, trying to figure out where he was.
"You with me now DiNozzo?"
Tony blinked again and stared up at the looming figure standing over him. Gibbs.
"Wh…where am I?" He quickly chastised himself when he realized that he was, in fact, in his own bedroom, in his apartment. "How'd I get here?"
"Do you remember me finding you?"
Tony thought for a minute and slowly nodded. "I got jumped…" he murmured.
"You were leaving Pete's Tavern. You got mugged from the looks of it," Gibbs told him. "Did you see them?"
Tony thought hard, trying to produce an image. "Think so," he said. "Not a good look though…"
"It's alright," Gibbs soothed. "Anything you can tell us will be helpful. You know that."
Tony nodded. "Boss?"
"We aren't at work Tony," his boss corrected him gently.
"Gibbs? Why'd you come over tonight?"
"Had something I wanted to give ya," Gibbs told him.
"For your birthday," Gibbs told him and gently smacked him on top of the head.
Tony grinned when he heard Ducky's voice from the hallway. "Jethro the boy has taken a sharp hit to the back of the head. Do you think, just for tonight, you could possibly refrain from swatting him over the head?"
"Ducky's here too?"
Gibbs nodded. "He came to look you over. You woke up pretty quick when I found you, but you passed out again once we got back here," the older man explained. "I thought it might be good for Ducky to take a look at you and see whether you needed to go to the ER or not."
Gibbs' gut clenched with the memory of his very special agent lying prone on the ground; his wallet, watch, and cell phone missing. He'd never admit to being scared, but Gibbs wasn't in any hurry to relive the experience.
"Thank you Ducky," Tony called. "Dr. Pitt would have my ass if I showed back up there for anything this soon after getting out-and if he found out I'd been drinking…"
"He'd likely readmit you based on principle more than anything else," Gibbs snarked.
"Seriously though Gibbs. What were you bringing me?"
"I found this movie at my house…thought it must be one of yours," Gibbs told him as he pulled out a thick movie box, but the twinkle in the older man's eye was not lost on the young agent.
A quick glance showed that the movie box was wrapped in plastic—it was brand new. It was also not just one movie, but a collection of movies. Tony carefully inspected the box...
"Oh Gibbs," Tony whispered. "For me?" He looked up at his boss with something akin to awe on his face.
Gibbs nodded. "Well they aren't for me," he said gently.
Tony's face burst into a huge smile. "This is great Bo—Gibbs. Really. It's amazing. Thank you so much!"
Ducky came into the room. "My dear boy you must get some rest. Jethro if you are going to stay you mustn't distract him or keep him awake. I don't need to remind you that he is still recovering."
"I couldn't forget," Gibbs said softly, bowing his head. After a moment he raised it again and looked at Tony. "It's good you know how to follow orders," he said gruffly, and Tony could see the emotion on his face. "I don't want to lose another family," he added softly.
Tony, at a loss for words, nodded his head. For one brief second Tony's mind flashed with an image of his father—too busy to even talk to him, too far removed to even remember his own son's birthday. An instant later his mind flashed to Gibbs—quietly appearing on his birthday to take care of his sloppy drunk, beaten up, pitiful self. He came adorned with movies and gentle words and head slaps. He came. That was the important part.
"I don't know what to say to all of this, Gibbs," Tony said softly.
"All of what?"
"The movie, you and Ducky coming over, all of it."
"I brought you the movies for your birthday. Ducky's only here because you got mugged leaving the tavern."
"Still Bo—Gibbs. It's awesome. Amazing. The best birthday I ever had," Tony said firmly, clipping his words short by a yawn.
Gibbs nodded and ran his fingers over Tony's hair. "Get some rest Tony. We can party all day tomorrow."
Tony's eyes clicked open and he stared at his boss with excitement. "You're going to stay?"
Gibbs nodded. "I'll stay Tony."
The young man smiled and it broke Gibbs' heart. Had no one ever spent any time with this young man on his birthday before he came to NCIS? He watched as Tony's eyes slid shut, his hands still clutching the new movie collection his friend had gotten him for his birthday. Gibbs smirked, knowing that he'd have to sit through the entire. movie. marathon tomorrow. Smiling softly, Gibbs decided he was okay with that.
He ran his fingers over Tony's hair one last time, and leaning down so his lips were close to his agent's ear, whispered very softly.
"Happy birthday Tony."