Disclaimer - Not mine. I would be much nicer to Tony. Eventually.
There was nothing to show that it was going to be anything other than a normal day. Every one had arrived on time and started catching up with their paperwork. If DiNozzo seemed a little quieter than usual, stiff and formal in his brand new suit, Gibbs put it down to the fact that the case they had finally closed yesterday had been particularly long and bloody. The ex-gunny was almost grateful for his subdued mood. He never wanted any of his people to 'get used to' the death and destruction they dealt with on a daily basis.
It was only when DiNozzo left on a coffee run that Gibbs noticed that his shoes were also new. Soft black leather, expensive looking and with some kind of squiggle on the sole that Gibbs couldn't read at this distance, but assumed was a designer label. He frowned; now that he was thinking about it he couldn't remember ever seeing that tie before either, or that particular striped shirt. Hell, at this point he was almost willing to bet that even his socks and boxers were new.
Something was seriously wrong.
"Gibbs, where's Tony?" Abby exclaimed as she rushed out of the elevator.
"You just missed him," Gibbs looked up, concern creasing around his eyes. "What's wrong?"
"Turn on Channel Nine." Abby insisted.
They all crowded around the monitor as a perky blonde in a too pink suit did her piece to camera. "And in breaking news it appears that the millionaire industrialist Anthony DiNozzo Snr died after a short illness at his Long Island home last night. Unusually in the modern business world Mr DiNozzo always resisted calls to convert his long time family company to a public corporation. Rumours have it that he will be succeeded as Managing Director by his long time right hand man and nephew Peter DiNozzo."
"Who's going to tell Tony?" Kate worried.
"I can't believe they didn't call him." Abby fumed.
"I think maybe they did," McGee surprised them all. "I mean, I thought he was, well not exactly Tony, this morning but I just put it down to the fact he knew one of Watson's victims. Well, sort of."
"He did?" Gibbs' head came up sharply.
"Um," McGee blushed. "I don't think he wanted you to know, Boss. He said it was a long time ago and it wasn't like they dated or anything. His words, not mine."
"How exactly did he know him McGee?" Gibbs insisted.
"He said he had worked as a bus boy at the local country club the summer before he went to college for board money. Stuart Taylor worked there the same summer."
"But I thought Tony's parents were loaded?" Kate was confused. "Why would they make him do something like that?"
"Because his Dad is mean," Abby scowled. "Tony even got a sports scholarship for his tuition, they wouldn't give him a full one because his parents were rich as midas, but nothing was good enough for daddy dearest except going to Harvard or some other some stuffy Ivy League College to study some boring business thing. So he refused to pay for his board, or anything."
"Tony could have gone to Harvard?" Kate's jaw dropped.
"Life's just full of surprises, isn't it, Katie?" Tony's voice cut in softly as he put all but one of the coffees on the nearest desk and came up behind Abby, encircling her in a hug, kissing her head in gratitude for her spirited defence, even as he passed the coffee in his other hand to Gibbs and admonished her gently.
"You shouldn't speak ill of the dead, Abs. Its bad karma."
"You knew?" Gibbs asked, not even cracking the lid of his coffee, as he focused on his senior field agent.
"They called me last night."
"Why didn't you tell us?" Kate asked in concern. "Not even Gibbs would have made you come into work today."
"Because there was nothing to tell," Tony went back towards his desk, in a move that looked casual, but Gibbs sensed was a deliberate ploy to put some space between him and his colleagues. "My cousin Petey is taking over the company. There's nothing for me in the will. And it was made very plain that I'm not welcome at the funeral. So, I guess the old man got the last word after all."
In a move that quite possibly only she could get away with, Abby simply ignored all his 'go away' body language and marched over and sat herself in his lap and wrapped her arms around him.
"Tony, I'm so sorry." Her voice came out muffled against his neck.
"Thanks, Abs," His own voice was soft and slightly ragged. "Hey, its no big deal. I can always look at the pictures in "Hello" Magazine."
"Alright people," Gibbs ordered gruffly. "Get back to work."
Exchanging an understanding look, Kate and McGee scattered to their respective desks and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible. Feeling Gibbs looking down at her, Aby gave Tony one last kiss on the cheek and mouthed 'look after him' to Gibbs as she returned to her lab.
"Boss," Tony scrubbed at his face. "Don't. Please."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Gibbs assured him. "Take these files to Ducky, will you?"
Tony gave him a look that was half gratitude and half pure exasperation. Gibbs simply shrugged and continued to hold out the files until Tony took them and headed off in the direction of the elevator. Gibbs watched until he was safely inside before returning to his desk. By now Abby would have told Ducky exactly what was going on and the grandfatherly MD would provide the steadying influence the younger man needed right now.
Reaching out his hand hovered over the phone, intent on ringing the number he had for the DiNozzo household and giving whomever answered a piece of his mind, only to drop his hand in defeat. Tony certainly wouldn't thank him for it and it wasn't like it could actually change anything. He would take DiNozzo back to his place tonight, he could see that he ate something and hope that the bourbon and the boatbuilding would be enough to ward off the nightmares.
It worked for him.
Most of the time.
And if it didn't work then he would hold the younger man whilst he sobbed. It wasn't like it would be the first time.
"Agent Gibbs? This just arrived for you, special delivery."
Gibbs looked at the small packet addressed in an unfamiliar hand with a frown. Checking the return address his eyes widened fractionally and he tore off the brown paper, wondering why they would be bothering to send anything to him. Inside he found a small velvet box and a crisp sheet of thick cream paper, folded once, with his name written in dark flowing ink. Curious now he sat up a little straighter as he unfolded the page and began to read.
Dear Special Agent Gibbs
I have followed my son's career closely and I hope you will believe me when I say I have always been proud of his achievements – even though I can take no credit for them. I have always been too stubborn to tell him that myself and now I fear it is too late. My sources tell me that in many ways you have been a better father to him than I ever was. So, I am writing to you, in the hope that you will at least ask him to read this. The final gift I can give to him is to release him from the obligations of the family business – a burden I know he has never wished to assume - he has also made it clear that he will never touch a penny of the DiNozzo fortune and - for the sake of those families whose livelihoods depend upon us, - I cannot risk that he would give all the money to charity as he once threatened to do as an angry twelve year old! But I have arranged for him to receive all the monies from his late mother's estate. It is what she would have wished and I hope that for her sake he will not be stubborn about this. I always told myself that I was providing him with the best of everything, but I see now that all he really wanted was my time and my attention. I can never get back al those years I wasted on whiskey and other women – years when I buried myself in the business because I could not bear to look at my beloved Caroline's eyes staring out of our only son's face. I do not deserve his forgiveness for destroying his childhood and nor do I ask for it – but I hope now that he is older he can understand how grief can destroy a man. In my own way, I have always loved him.
Curious now, Gibbs reached over and opened the velvet box, to reveal a small, ornate, silver frame, with a picture of a man who was unmistakably Tony's father with his arm around a stunningly beautiful woman, each of them had a hand on the shoulder of the little boy in front of them, whose cheeky grin clearly marked him out as a much younger version of his senior field agent. His jaw tightening a little Gibbs remembered numerous similar pictures with himself, Shannon and Kelly and felt a sudden kinship with a man who had lost his way in grief, alcohol and good intentions.
Maybe the man was no so bad after all.
With a sigh, Gibbs wrapped up the picture and folded it, with the letter, back into the packaging. Rising to his feet he strode towards the elevator, pressing the button and letting the car descend slowly into the basement. As he walked into autopsy he saw to his satisfaction that Tony's eyes were a little red and his posture a lot les forced than upstairs.
"Ah, here's Jethro, now, impeccable timing as always," Ducky emerged from his office with two ceramic mugs and a silver hip flask. "Here, Anthony, my boy. Drink this. It will put hairs on your chest."
Tony gave him a baleful look, but took a cautious sip, before almost choking. "Ducky!"
"Drink it all up." Ducky encouraged.
"Better do as he says," Gibbs smiled, reaching for one of the mugs himself. "Doctors orders."
"To Anthony DiNozzo, Snr," Ducky said solemnly, when they all had a drink in their hands, raising his hipflask in Tony's direction. "Whatever else he may have accomplished in his life, he fathered a very talented and accomplished young man for which I know we all at NCIS are extremely grateful."
"Hear, hear, Duck." Gibbs agreed, raising his own mug towards Tony.
Tony looked from one of them to the other and then down at his own mug.
"I just wish .."
Gibbs' tone was pure command, so there was nothing for Tony to do, expect take a large swallow of the golden liquid, which in other circumstances might have seemed smooth and mellow with peat and feel it burn down the back of his throat and cause tears to stand out in his eyes. And if one or two of those tears slid down his face then he wasn't going to admit to them.
"Here," This time Gibbs voice was more gentle than Tony had ever heard it. "Read this."
The mug was plucked from his fingers as a small packet was pressed into his hands, Gibbs wrapping his hands around it, and holding on tight, so that his touch was a comfort and reassurance, his warm calloused hands pressing heat into Tony's chilled ones. Then Gibbs gave a gentle squeeze and let go, so that Tony was left with the ghost of his touch and his light breath on his ear, as he leaned in close.
"We'll be outside when you're ready."
He barely heard as Gibbs collected up Ducky and the two of them spoke in low voices as their steps echoed across the floor until they were cut off by the swoosh of the glass doors. His fingers trembling only slightly he reached into the packet and pulled out the single sheet of paper and the small velvet box.