Disclaimer:- I do not own any of the NCIS characters nor do I intend any infringement of copyright by writing about them. I'm merely borrowing them in the hope that those who do own them won't mind. I promise to put them back when I've finished playing with them.

Author's note:- Many, many apologies for those reading my other story. I should have the next chapter of that up in a couple of days but I have just seen this episode and this popped into my head and wouldn't go away until I wrote it down. I hope that you enjoy it and as ever please let me know.

Tag scene for Chained

Spoilers for:- (Can you guess?) Yes, that's right, Chained.

Picks up as the episode ends.

You Can Get Out of The Car Now Tony.

Gibbs watched as Tony's gaze drifted back to the gun in his bloodstained hands. There was something not quite right with the younger man's reactions. Gibbs had seen it before and was afraid that he knew what it meant. He swallowed, his eyes narrowing as he observed silently for a moment, he took the time to quell his own fractured nerves, using his training and years of practice to suppress his own emotional reaction. There would be time to deal with that later, for now there was a crime scene to secure, suspects to arrest, valuable antiquities to recover, and one of his team to take care of.

He pulled an evidence bag from his pocket, crouching down so that his eyes were level with Tony's. "I'll need the gun," he said holding the bag open.

Tony was finding thoughts difficult to process.

One minute he had been talking to the guy, offering him a deal, trying hard to believe in the image of the clumsy, but likeable, nervous dope that Jeffrey White had portrayed himself to be, but, even as he had spoken, his instincts were telling him that there was something wrong, that Lane was already dead, that far from being a bumbling thief, White was a killer. Still he had refused to believe it, because he knew that he didn't want to. He wanted to believe that White wasn't bad, that he'd just been led astray. Yeah, and he wanted to believe in the tooth fairy, and Santa Claus, and the ultimate goodness of the human soul too, but life shattered all of those illusions. He was old enough, experienced enough, to know better, and yet, even as White confessed, he still didn't want to believe.

He had really liked the guy; had wanted to help him; had wanted to save him. Right up to that last minute when he had drawn the blade around his throat, he'd wanted to save him.

He liked the guy.

He still liked the guy when he pulled the trigger, not once, not twice, but three times, blood spattered across his hand, his face, spraying the windows of the car, as he ended the life of someone he liked. That was when his thoughts had fractured, like the image in a mirror falling to the floor, shattering into a thousand tiny fragments on impact. He watched helplessly as they drifted apart, fragmented pictures, sounds, feelings, sensations. Memories of the last two days played out, barely recognisable on the broken pieces.

Awareness returned with Gibbs opening the door. The gun once again coming into focus, as he processed what it, what he had done. He had turned pained eyes to meet Gibbs'. "I really liked him," he stated.

He barely heard Gibbs' reply, couldn't process it although he knew Gibbs' lips were moving. His eyes returned to the gun and he stared at it again, fascinated by the tiny droplets of blood, Jeffrey's blood.

Gibbs tried again. "The gun Tony, I need the gun." He waited for a response.

"I really liked him," Tony repeated, every tone, every inflection identical to the first time he had stated it.

Gibbs pulled on some gloves before reaching across to place his hand on the weapon. As he took it he could feel the slight tremors running through Tony's muscles. "I need to take the gun," he stated with an uncharacteristic softness. Tony offered no resistance as it was pulled from his hand. Gibbs dropped it into the evidence bag and sealed it, looking back up to gauge Tony's reaction. He was disappointed to see that Tony still stared at his hands.

"You hurt Dinozzo?" He asked gruffly, figuring Tony might respond better to that than the more gentle approach. This time when he got no response his tone became even harsher. "Dinozzo!"

Tony jumped slightly. "Yeah boss?" he replied automatically, turning to look at Gibbs as lucidity returned.

"I asked if you were hurt?"

"No," he moistened his lips, seriously trying to process how he felt. "No, I don't think so."

Gibbs nodded, pushing himself back to a standing position. "You can get out of the car now, Tony." He said. pulling out his cell.

"Gibbs?" Kate's tone was almost frantic. She knew by Gibbs' reaction that the suspect was down, had known that the moment that she saw Gibbs lower his gun. She had also known that Tony was still alive, and probably uninjured, at least not seriously. Again Gibbs' reaction had given that much away, but she was still stuck guarding a suspect, her professionalism not allowing her to take her eyes off her charge for more than a second at a time. Thus she was unable to get any visual confirmation that her partner was all right, and, after more than a day of worrying about him, at some points fearing that he may not even be still alive, she really needed that confirmation, sooner rather than later. "How's Tony?"

Gibbs took a few steps towards her, his gaze shifting as his cell connected. "Suspects dead, Tony took him out," he stated. It was his round about way of answering her question, the information she needed implicit but not stated, efficient as ever, he was killing two birds with one stone as the comment served to simultaneously quell Abby's curiosity. "Abby, I need Ducky here and a team to recover the antiquities and take the buyers into custody." He paused for a moment, thoughtful, "Better get the paramedics out here too."

Both Kate and Abby reacted to that.

Kate took her eyes off the suspect to stare at Gibbs, "Is Tony hurt?"

Abby echoed the comment in his other ear.

"He's fine," Gibbs stated, "I just want to get him checked out."

Kate nodded, unconvinced, but not sure what else to ask at this point. She returned her attention to the man she was holding her gun on.

"Consider them on their way." Abby's fingers moved over her keyboard as she spoke.

It was another five minutes before Kate was relieved from her job as guard, and the suspects were taken into custody. She walked over to the car, her stomach clenching uneasily as she realised that Tony still sat inside. Her stomach lurched again as she caught sight of the blood on the side window, grateful that it had been Gibbs who had made this approach when they didn't know what had happened to Tony.

Tony's head was forward and he seemed to be staring intently down at his hands.

"Tony?"

He looked up, met her gaze. "I really liked him, ya know?" he stated softly.

"Tony," she crouched so that her head was level with his.

He looked back at his hands again. "He said I was the only guy who ever treated him well."

"Tony, you can get out of the car now," she stated softly.

He ignored her comment, well, not quite ignored, his brain couldn't, wouldn't process it. It danced as unrecognised noise on the edge of his consciousness.

"His father used to beat him."

"Tony?" When this got no response, she turned to look for the paramedics, but there was still no sign of them. She let out a frustrated sigh, turning her attention back to her partner, her brow creasing in concern. "Come on Tony you need to get out of this car."

This time the words penetrated.

No, if he got out of the car then he would have to see the body, and if he saw the body then it would be real, and he didn't want it to be real. He wanted to rewind the events of the last twenty-four hours; he wanted to live them again with different choices and different outcomes. So that this wouldn't be real, and he wouldn't have just come close to having his throat slit form ear to ear, and he wouldn't have to kill anyone, or, maybe, if he was given the time again, he could just convince himself that Jeffrey White was rotten to the core, that he deserved to die, that. . .

"Tony?"

She put her hand to the side of his face just below his ear so that it rested on his neck, intent on turning his head to face her. It felt wet, sticky. She pulled her hand back, gazing for a moment at the fresh bright red fluid that now coated her fingers. She stood, "Gibbs!" She shouted across to him. "We need those paramedics now."

TO BE CONTINUED. . .