Title: Five People He
Disclaimer: I'm not Bellesario or CBS, so I don't claim to own them.
Genre: writinginct said it was Angsty... :-)
Potential Spoilers: Up to 05x01 Bury Your Dead
Word Count: 1,374
Betas: Demona; writinginct
Summary: Tony experienced loss early in life and it only got worse as the years progressed.
How can you lose someone that you never really had? What if the ones you never had were your own parents?
I had asked myself those questions every day since I was ten years old and my mother died. I felt sad that she was gone, but not lost without her. She had never really been there for me, that's what the nannies were for.
When I started school and heard other kids talking about how their mom would make them sandwiches or read stories, I was angry and jealous. My mom had never done any of those things. The only moments I could remember really spending time with her involved those god-awful sailor suits and my piano lessons.
And it wasn't just my mom.
My father was nothing more than a man I shared a name with. I would give my daily reports (sometimes only weekly and, as the years passed, monthly) to the man as he sipped his scotch. My father would sit in his high-backed desk chair with the impressive expanse of polished oak to separate us. The only words I would hear were, "Anthony, report," followed at the end with, "Dismissed."
Hell, the man even left me in a hotel room in Hawaii without a second thought.
So the day my father told me I would end up in the gutter if I took the scholarship to Ohio State University instead of the shoe-in to Harvard, I left and didn't look back.
The one thing I learned from my early experiences was to not let anyone get too close. If they aren't close, then it won't hurt when they are gone. It was a mantra that served me through college and into adulthood when I started out on the force in Peoria. Every two years, like clockwork, I moved on before I became attached. Was it hard not looking back? Yes, but it was the only way I felt safe to live.
So, when I'm staring down at the lifeless face of Caitlyn Todd and feel her blood cooling on my face, I want nothing more than to kill the sick fuck that did that to her; did that to me. I hadn't realized she had made it through my protections. They all had; Ducky, McGee, Abby, Gibbs… especially Gibbs.
The time on that rooftop is a blur to me. From Gibbs frantically searching for the shooter, to Ducky placing a hand on my shoulder and handing me a wet cloth to wipe my face with. When we made it back to the office, I felt as if I were a hundred years old. I told myself it was the after effects of the plague and that it had nothing to do with Kate. Nothing.
Standing in the lab and watching Abby try to be her normal self, hearing the uncharacteristic kindness that I always longed for coming from Gibbs' voice, seeing McGee struggle over wanting to say goodbye to Kate, but not wanting to see her body…
I told myself that it wouldn't happen again. That I won't let myself care for someone only to have to watch them leave me behind. But it doesn't work because I'm already in too deep to pull out now.
One year later, I learn just how deep I was. Even from the car we felt the blast and some of the residual heat it created. How anyone could survive being in the same room could only be called a miracle. When I saw them take him away on the stretcher, I wanted nothing more than to go with them. But I had a job to do, and with Gibbs down, it was up to me to do it.
When we received word that he had came out of the coma, but lost the last fifteen years of his life, I wanted to punch something. I wanted to go to that hospital and get in his face and force him to remember me, but I still had a job to do and didn't go. If I were honest with myself, I would know that I didn't go because I didn't want to be forgotten; didn't want to be an unknown face to someone I had come to rely on so much.
When he stepped off that elevator and called me McGee, something inside me died. It was worse than being left by my father in Hawaii, than the sailor suits, than Kate's death… I had been forgotten by the one man I worked so damn hard to please.
That night, with his gun and badge still sitting in my hands, I vowed that I would never let myself fall into that trap again; that no matter what, I would let myself care for anyone ever again. But the hell of it was, I realized in the middle of the night, as the tears I had shed were drying on my face, that I still cared for the bastard even if he forgot me and walked out on me. I couldn't turn it off and that hurt me even more.
When the director approached me several weeks about the possibility of doing some undercover work that was to be considered eyes-only, I jumped at the chance. It was a chance to prove to myself and to the director that I could handle things on my own, that I wasn't just some understudy to Gibbs. It was also the distraction I so desperately needed.
Within weeks, I had done several surveillance jobs under different personas each time. It was a blessing to shed what made Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo and become someone else. When the director said she was ready to move to the next phase, I didn't even question what it was, I just said yes.
Hindsight is 20/20 they say, and with my 20/10 vision, I should have known better, should have seen what was down the road. But I went into it dumb and blind. I let myself fall so easily into Tony DiNardo that I wasn't sure where he ended and the real me began. I wasn't even sure if there really was an Anthony DiNozzo left.
Gibbs returned and dumped my things back at my old desk just like he dumped the team on me. I was angry and hurt and it only sent me spiraling further into Tony DiNardo. I didn't question the director's motives. Didn't ask why Jeanne's father should be considered important to NCIS. I just worked to keep my two worlds separate, but found myself failing miserably.
Tony DiNardo was in love with Jeanne. In my mind, I was Tony DiNardo and therefore, I was in love with Jeanne. At work, I slowly became Tony DiNardo playing the part of Anthony DiNozzo. One night, as I lay wrapped in Jeanne's arms, I caught myself thinking what it would be like to have Jeanne announced as Mrs. Tony DiNardo. She never asked me why I bolted from the bed and into the bathroom. I stared into the mirror repeating over and over in my head that I was Anthony DiNozzo, but my heart didn't want to believe it. My heart wanted to be Tony DiNardo, wanted to lose all of Anthony DiNozzo. Anthony DiNozzo was hurt, lost, Tony DiNardo was stable and in love. It didn't have a choice; it decided to go with what was safe.
By the time my cover was blown along with my car, I was broken. I didn't even know who I was anymore; it was all mixed together in a jumble in my mind. When Jeanne looked at me with hurt eyes and asked who I was, I almost couldn't answer. 'Tony DiNardo,' I wanted to say, but my mouth told her the truth. I truth I didn't even believe anymore.
As I went home that night, I found myself asking the cabbie to take me to an address different from my apartment, different from Jeanne's empty apartment. I stood at the door to the basement listening to the sounds of sanding drifting up the stairs.
I was lost and hoped that the only person Anthony DiNozzo ever trusted with his life could help find him before he was lost forever.