Okay, new story time. This is most likely gonna turn into a longer story, but it can work as a stand alone oneshot. I wrote this ages ago(as in February) and then life got really, madly busy and kinda forgot about it until I went through my inbox a couple of weeks ago and found it. Anyway, the tense was a bit screwy, but my wonderful beta VanishingP2000 helped me sort it out(I think I had about 3 different tenses in it at first) and so hopefully all is well now. Anyway, I have a general outline for what gonna happen later in this story, but right now I'm still working on chapter 2. So here we go, please review and I'll try to get the rest done asap.

This is basically Gibbs thought regarding Tony throughout season 4, each section is a different episode and I think I made it clear which eps they were, but if you have any questions email me and I'll let you know.

Again big, big thank you to my beta VanighingP2000. Any remaining mistakes are mine.

"My son, Tony, plays that all the time." As I spoke I knew everyone except Tony would think that I was just creating a connection with Abraham's trust. And while that was part of it, part of me hoped that Tony would see it for what it was: My own way of apologizing. I knew that Tony knew me well enough to see that. At least, that was the way it had been, before Mexico. Mexico is why I needed to apologize in the first place, for leaving in the first place and for the way that I had come back. I knew I should have apologized a long time ago, but somehow I could never quite manage to swallow my stupid pride.

Who'd have ever thought the thing that would ultimately spur me to make this pseudo apology was Tony actually talking a kid out of joining the Marine Corps? But the way that Tony had dealt with that kid reminded me of why I had hired-after practically stalking him for a week trying to get him to listen-the screw up Baltimore Homicide Detective. He made people open up, telling him their deepest, darkest secrets. Because in their minds he was an idiotic playboy who didn't have the brains to be a danger to them. They always looked so shocked when Tony nailed them. His easy going facade of incompetence-he almost radiated it at times-fooled most people. But it had never fooled me. Tony was easy to talk to, people let their guard down around him, made them want to talk to him, basically the opposite effect I had on people. We made the perfect yin and yang team.

Most people still couldn't understand why I had hired Tony, let alone why I'd kept him around and made him Senior Field Agent. Kate had never understood, never seen past his mask. She had always been shocked when Tony broke a case, even though it happened on a practically weekly basis. McGee hadn't understood why I put so much confidence in Tony at the beginning, either, but he picked up quickly. He stopped being surprised after about a year, although he still was taken aback when Tony outsmarted him on a computer, which didn't happen very often anyway.

Abby had wondered about him at first, but she had seen past the mask more than most and her and Tony's minds worked on the same frequency. A strange, disturbing frequency that I didn't understand and didn't really want to find out about. But they worked well together. If talking about kinky fetishes helped them solve cases, I wasn't about to interfere. Ducky was never fooled by masks, he didn't even buy my cold, uncaring Marine exterior, so he knew right off the bat that the DiNozzo kid that I had dragged back from Baltimore was something special. I thought that Ziva saw through some of Tony's mask, too, but you could never be sure with Ziva. She made digs at Tony, but they were more of an "I could kick your ass, so watch it" nature than Kate's condescending "I'm smarter than you'll ever be" comments.

But Tony had changed. That frat boy persona was still there but it was much more reserved, less visible. He was now more serious, more often. And I missed the old Tony. Many people said that the change in Tony was a good thing, but I knew better.

How the hell did I not know? My senior Field Agent has been working on an undercover op-and, apparently, not just one, but many-for months and I had no idea. People always say that I know everything. Well, apparently not. Because this one went way above my head and I never even looked up once. And I still wouldn't have a clue if Tony hadn't been so shocked to see that picture. But it does tend to be surprising when a picture that you yourself took months ago and one which you've been trying to get an ID on ever since pops up with a name attached on an apparently completely unrelated case.

Am I seriously that clueless about what my own team is doing right in front of my face? Maybe everyone was right; maybe I should have just stayed in Mexico. I used to be able to read Tony, not exactly well, but better than most. Now I have no idea what's going on in his head most of the time. Maybe he's gotten better at hiding behind his mask or maybe I just don't know him anymore. Ducky was right, I really did let him down.

He thinks that I'm mad at him because he didn't tell me about the op. I'm not. Sure, I'm pissed that Jenny didn't tell me, but as much as I hate to admit it, I get why she did it. It doesn't mean I have to like it. But Tony I'm not mad at. Jenny ordered him not to tell me. And honestly, before I think he might have said the hell with orders and told me anyway, but now…. Now, I don't know if he trusts me anymore. And I can't blame him for losing his faith in me. I don't think I would trust me anymore, either. I wouldn't blame him if he didn't tell me out of simple spite, I sure as hell would deserve it, but I know he didn't. Because that's just not Tony. No, I'm not mad at Tony.

The person I'm pissed at is me. Because I didn't notice. Because I didn't give him a reason to tell me. Because I failed him. I alienated him, the closest thing I've ever had to a son and I made him lose his trust in me. Now I just have to figure out how to fix this mess, before it's too late.

As I watch him sink back and take his blood soaked hands off the bullet wound in the body of the now dead detective I realize that it could have been him. It was so close to being Tony lying dead in that alley. So close to me losing him forever. And he still thinks that I hate him. Which I don't and I never have. But I think that at this point he hates me. He should, I've given him every reason to. As he looks up at me I know he can see the way I'm looking at him and he looks confused. Like he doesn't expect that I would care if it was him lying dead on the cold pavement.

But there's something else there. It's the same look that he had when I opened the car door after the White catastrophe. Guilt and pain. Like it's his fault, like maybe it should have been him. He'd bonded with that detective, I knew that, and knew that Tony cared about people. Which was a miracle, every murder still got to him after all this time and he showed it. It was one of the reasons he'd never liked Philadelphia and Baltimore, cities like that murders were old news, they happened all the time and they were no big deal. And the detectives became indifferent to death.

There was a time when he would have shown up on my doorstep tonight and sat in my basement watching me work on the boat all night long. But that was before and I doubted that it would be happening tonight. And that thought makes my heart sink. He gets up and moves towards me and for a moment I hope that he'll open up to me, but he just briefs me on what happened. Short and to the point. Succinct, like I trained him to be. I ask him if he's okay and he just brushes me off, saying that he's fine, just tired. I nod and tell him to go home, get some rest; we can deal with the paperwork. This elicits a small, grateful smile from him. It's one of his few genuine ones, he's relieved, like he thought I was actually going to force him to do all the paperwork before I let him go home tonight. And that's probably my fault, letting him think I don't care anymore.

I need to make this right, before he decides to take Fornell up on his standing offer to leave NCIS and join the FBI. And that is the last thing I would ever want to happen. And not just because I hate seeing Fornell and the FBI in general. But because I don't know what I would do without DiNozzo around. I really need to figure out how the hell I'm gonna get out of this mess and I need to do it fast.

I got another call from the hospital, definitely not the first since this radiation debacle started. But this one was different. It wasn't about Sanders condition, or even about Ziva threatening the staff with various forms of physical violence (there had been 3 such calls already, which, while not entirely unexpected, were beginning to grate on my nerves. But the terror in the hospital staff's voices did provide some level of amusement.). No, this time it was about Tony. About how they thought that he might be contaminated. They were currently running tests to check and they had wanted to inform me of the situation. I think I stopped breathing when the doctor said those words. I was right back in that eerie blue isolation bubble watching him fight for every breath.

I know there's no point in me going down there because they weren't going to let me in. And now I really needed to find that bastard. Because anyone who messes with my team will pay. Especially anyone who messes with Tony. I found the need to really make people pay often. Actually, now that I think back, the last time Tony got into a mess was…months ago. When Franks had hit him over the head, if that could be counted. The last time before that had been well before Mexico. He was due when I left. I wonder if anything ever happened. I should ask Ducky.

The doctor called back again, false alarm. I let out the breath that I had been holding for what seemed like the 2 and a half solid hours since the last call. Tony was fine, he was okay. But still…what if he hadn't been? What if tomorrow he got shot? What would I do if he died thinking I hated him and most likely, hating me back? I don't have an answer, which scares me. I always have an answer. Abby always says that there's not a question that I can't answer. What would she say now? She'd probably smack me and tell me to make it up to Tony. Even imaginary Abby is smarter than I am. How many more close calls am I going to need to just swallow my damn pride and tell him that I'm sorry for being an ass and royally living up to the second b in my name? Hopefully before its one close call too many and I'm attending his funeral. Maybe when this case is over, I'll grab a six pack and an extra large pizza-pepperoni, sausage, extra cheese-and head over to DiNozzo's.

It could have been us. Hell, it should have been us. It could be us every day of the week. And I still haven't told him that I'm sorry. Because I am an idiot. It almost was Tony, not Paula today. He was only a split second behind her, the only reason it wasn't him was because she was closer to the door. The door that led to the apartment that Ziva had supposedly cleared only moments before. Obviously she hadn't done a very good job. I'd have to deal with that later. Another reason why Tony was my senior field Agent, when I told him to do something he made damn sure it was done as well as was humanly possible. That's why I'd sent Tony to look for the secret door, even though Ziva had questioned him. She had wanted to go, saying that she was the spy and better trained in the fine art of secret door finding. Okay, those hadn't been her exact words, but it ended up meaning the same thing. I doubt Ziva would have ever thought to get a cigar and look to see where the smoke went. Only DiNozzo. DiNozzo and his stupid movies, which came in handy surprisingly often.

I saw the look in his eyes right after the room-along with Paula-exploded. He just...collapsed against the wall, looking completely and utterly defeated. The last time I saw that look in his eyes was…actually, now that I think of it, I've never seen such a grief stricken look in his eyes. Not after White, not when the detective had died. Not even as he had looked down at Kate's still body on that rooftop. Tony had loved Paula.

Today when I said that I was putting my money on DiNozzo cracking the case, they had looked at me and I could tell that they thought I'd lost my faith in Tony's abilities. It would take a hell of a lot more for me to lose my faith in his abilities. I don't think I would lose my faith in him even if he got me killed. But apparently everyone thought that I had, including Tony.

Which is why I'm standing outside his apartment at almost midnight, freezing my ass off hoping that he'll answer the door. But I don't think I really expected him to be home tonight. I know that he's either in a bar right now or with his girlfriend. It surprised Ziva that I knew Tony wasn't sick, that he had a girlfriend. That Tony DiNozzo was in a serious relationship. But I know him well enough to figure out what was going on. He doesn't flirt with everything in a skirt anymore, which is…an interesting change, to say the least. So I guess the apology will have to wait. Again.

Okay, hope y'all enjoyed it! Please review, I love to get peoples opinions on my work! I'll try to get the rest of the story done and posted asap!