Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS or the characters portrayed on television. The story is mine.
Summary: Gibbs and Tony have a long talk as a result of events that transpired during Bury Your Dead. This story does not follow canon and contains some OOC. Will have some bashing of Tim and Ziva, there is redemption.
A/N: Betaed by the wonderful ncismom
Some of the revelations that are reached happen during the episode are internal so I don't see the need to "recreate" the entire episode to get my point across. There are spoilers for multiple episodes.
Making Things Right
Gibbs stared in horrified disbelief at the plasma screen in MTAC. He'd just watched DiNozzo and his car get blown to pieces. His mind was a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts that nearly drove him to his knees. His friend just died right before his eyes. He wanted to hit something, someone. He glared murderously at Jenny who stepped back. This was all her fault, her and her vendetta against The Frog.
The Lead Agent took a deep breath, tamping down on his emotions except for anger. He would deal with his grief once he'd finished his job and caught the bomber. One thought ran through his mind as he and the rest of his team began to process the scene of DiNozzo's burned out car. He would find who was responsible for killing his second and then retire for good. One of the reasons he'd returned to NCIS was because of his younger friend. Once his memories began to return, he remembered Tony and his paternal feelings for the younger man. Now he'd lost his son so soon after grieving for his beloved wife and daughter a second time. There's only so much heartache a man can take.
Gibbs had been working at his desk while more recent memories swirled in his head despite his attempts to treat this as just another case so that he could solve it. His recollections made him wince. Even though DiNozzo was one of the main reasons he had returned, the Marine hadn't treated his younger friend very well at all. Gibbs had returned without telling his team, dumping the now former Team Leader's things back on his old desk. To make matters worse, he hadn't told Tony that he appreciated all the hard work his second had done while the older man got himself back together.
The Senior Agent mentally replayed McGee and Ziva's hurtful words and the things he witnessed that pointed to their poor attitude towards DiNozzo and he'd done nothing. Gibbs closed his eyes when he thought about Mike Franks knocking the young man out and he did nothing to Franks. He even allowed his old boss to walk after killing a man in cold blood.
Just where has his head been since he had returned from Mexico? Before his little sabbatical, the Marine wouldn't allow anyone to hurt one of his people, especially Tony. Gibbs snorted. Who was he kidding? His head had been up his ass.
He rubbed his forehead when he thought about his unwarranted anger at Tony for keeping his undercover operation a secret. Looking back, he couldn't blame the younger agent for not confiding in him. The silver haired man had been keeping the younger man at arm's length; he just couldn't deal with the thought of losing his son like he'd lost his girls. Stupid, stupid, stupid! He'd been losing Tony anyway simply by pushing him away and now, he wouldn't get a chance to make things right.
Gibbs briefly wished he had been sitting down when Ducky told him that the body in autopsy wasn't DiNozzo's. His relief was so great that he'd locked his knees to keep them from buckling. His next thought was, if the body wasn't Tony's where the hell was he?
Later in Jenny's office Gibbs wanted to slap her for the way she treated Tony and the young man's pain. Shepard was the reason that DiNozzo had been undercover without proper back up. She was the reason he was almost killed. The damn woman was so focused on her vendetta, she'd allowed an undercover agent to get in too deep and get emotionally hurt. On the other hand, he was proud of Tony and how he'd stood up to Shepard.
Gibbs stood to follow Tony out of Jenny's office, stopping at the door. He turned to face a fuming Director. "Once the reports are done, my team is taking the rest of the week off."
The Director spluttered angrily. "You can't do that Agent Gibbs! I'm still director here."
The irate man stormed back, leaning into Jenny's space to intimidate his old partner. "Watch me, Madame Director. You endangered my agent in an undercover operation without proper back up because you're obsessed! You've crossed the line, Director. You're obsession nearly got DiNozzo killed. Try and use my people in your little games again and your career will be over! Don't think that I can't or won't make it happen."
"Don't make me laugh. You don't know how to play politics!"
A feral smile danced on the Marine's lips. "Have you ever known me to say things I don't mean or can't carry out? Just because I don't play the political game, doesn't mean I don't know how."
Gibbs stared at his former lover for another minute before heading for the door. He paused and continued without looking at her. "Take us off rotation for the weekend too." The agent closed the door firmly behind him, resisting the temptation to slam it shut.
Gibbs caught up with Tony after his "discussion" with Jenny and invited him over that night. They needed to talk-Gibbs wasn't going to waste a second chance to get his son back. He also wanted to help Tony with the pain he was trying so hard to hide. Having DiNozzo close by might help keep any nightmares about burned bodies and blown up cars at bay.
Tony stepped out of his rental car staring at his destination. He almost didn't come; his heart was heavy over losing Jeanne. Remembering the look in Gibbs' eyes earlier changed his mind. Those eyes reflected the devastation that the older man felt thinking he was dead. He'd felt the same way when he thought the Marine had been blown up while helping Ziva. The young agent knew the Lead Agent cared, even if the man hadn't been treating him very well lately. He hoped that the two of them would talk tonight. He had missed his friend and mentor the last few months.
Looking at Gibbs' house, the young man was assaulted by memories of talks in the basement, eating cowboy steaks or just watching his friend work on his boat while sorting through his thoughts. He realized that he hadn't been here since the Marine returned from Mexico. Tony walked around to the passenger side of his car to grab the six pack of beer he had picked up on the way. He decided that coming here had been a good idea; he really didn't want to be alone.
Tony opened the front door smiling when he smelled one of his favorite foods next to pizza, cowboy steaks. "Hi, Boss," he greeted the older man as he entered the living room after removing his shoes.
"DiNozzo. Steaks are almost done, we need plates," Gibbs said gruffly.
Tony headed to the kitchen area to grab plates, utensils and placing all but two of the beers in the fridge, he returned with the needed items. The steaks and potatoes were eaten in silence. Neither man wanted to have a heavy conversation while eating.
Once the meal was eaten and the dishes washed, the two men returned to the living room and sat on the sofa placing their new bottles of beer on the coffee table.
Gibbs cleared his throat to gain Tony's attention. "Seeing your car explode…thinking you…" The younger man placed a hand on his arm in silent support. After a moment he continued. "I did some thinking. I realized that we haven't been as close as we were before the explosion and Mexico. When I woke up, I'd lost nineteen years of my life. It felt like I was back in the military hospital after finding out Shannon and Kelly had been killed." He paused, too distressed to continue.
If the older man hadn't been so distressed he would've jumped when his companion put an arm around his shoulders. It was not something that he'd ever seen DiNozzo do for anyone before, let alone him.
Jethro Gibbs had never accepted comfort from anyone for the loss of his girls, but it felt right to accept it from Tony, who was family. It felt good; it was what he needed even if he couldn't bring himself to ask for it.
"Over the next days, I remembered bits and pieces of my life after losing my girls. I remembered Mike Franks and you mostly. But I knew my memories and mind weren't 100%. When I had to stand and watch that ship blow up despite my best efforts, I lost another piece of myself and had my beliefs go up in smoke. I couldn't handle being an agent or staying in D.C."
Gibbs pulled back a little, but not enough to dislodge Tony's arm so he could look the younger man in the face. "I'm going to break one of my own rules. I'm sorry, Tony. I left without telling you why I needed to go. I'm sorry if you felt abandoned, I didn't remember enough to realize the impact my leaving like that would have on you."
The Marine held up his hand, "I do need to do this Tony. You earned more than a 'you'll do'. You deserved more from me. Once we worked together a few months I realized that I had found more than a good agent, I found a good friend. Before that explosion you had become family, my grown up son. The explosion did take those memories but I had enough of them to know you'd do an excellent job of leading the team. You excelled as team leader despite what either Tim or Ziva thought.
"The way I came back didn't help you any. I'm sorry, I know now that I made you feel like all your hard work meant nothing. I'm a bastard, but what I did then was beyond my normal bastard ways. I unintentionally enforced McGee's and Ziva's idea that you were a bad lead agent. Nothing could be further from the truth. I heard some of the things that Ziva and McGee have said since I returned. I shouldda said something to the two of them for how they acted at the time, but I was still struggling to remember things. I'm going to say something to them on Monday. You deserve their respect, you've always had mine."
"Thanks Boss." Tony spoke quietly, apparently stunned. "I—ah always saw you as a mentor, a man to emulate from the beginning. I don't know what a real father's supposed to be like but I think you'd make a great Dad. K-Kelly was a lucky little girl. I'm sorry I never got to meet her." The younger man looked down after giving Gibbs an unsure glance.
The silver haired man swallowed past the lump in his throat. "Kelly would've loved to have you as a big brother."
Tony looked up, eyes wide, clearly surprised. "Really Boss?" he asked as a bright smile formed.
The silver haired man smiled sadly, "Yeah, really."
The two men sat quietly for a few moments trying to get their equilibrium back. Neither man was prone to emotional conversations but they had needed it.
Gibbs waited for his young friend to look at him before continuing. "Tony, I want you to remember that you can always come to me if you need to talk. I let you down when I found out about the Frog. I was angry you didn't tell me. I didn't have the right after the way I've acted since returning. You were under orders and the two of us had been off kilter since I returned. Together, we're going to make things better."
The Senior Field Agent smiled looking grateful, "I'd like that Boss. I've missed the man I followed from Baltimore."
"I'll deny if anyone else asks, but I missed nights like this."
The young agent's smile turned shy. "Me too. Maybe we could do this every week when our case load allows?"
The Senior Agent nodded. "I think we could do that. Come on DiNozzo, I have a boat to work on, we can talk more if you want."
The two men stood up. "I'll grab the beer and meet you down there, Boss."
Gibbs laid a hand on Tony's arm to get his attention. "My friends call me Jethro."
Staring wide eyed, the younger man answered, "I'll try, Bo—Jethro."
The two men spent their days off hanging out together and reconnecting. They talked about Gibbs' leave as Tony insisted they call it instead of his failed attempt at retiring. Jethro spoke sparingly about Shannon and Kelly; it was still too painful for him to talk about them at length. In turn, Anthony opened up some about his childhood giving his older friend a better understanding of the attention seeking behavior.
The Marine vowed to himself that he would be less sparing with praise for his Second and the excellent work the younger man did. They talked about the difficulties the Senior Field Agent was having with McGee and Ziva. The Team Lead had not been pleased when he learned that the two junior agents earned a couple of reprimands while he was away; those two could either straighten up or they'd be off his team. Jen could squawk all she wanted but it would happen.
Gibbs started teaching Tony how to work with wood. It helped the two men to get closer and they could talk or work quietly depending on their mood. By the time the two returned to work they were back on an even keel.