"Calvary's here boss…" He was followed behind closely by Ziva and Jay, each of them with their guns drawn intently.
Steeples was able to reach for Gibbs and his weapon simultaneously, and placed the pistol tight to Gibbs temple. "We meet again Agent DiNozzo…bet you're wishing you spent more time at the gun range practicing eh?"
Tony took a step forward, his gun aimed with purpose. "It's been a few years Steeples, I'm all grown up now, and believe me, I've been practicing."
"Let him give you a demonstration yes?" Ziva added as she motioned for Pat to stay behind her.
Steeples smiled at the response. "Got a woman speaking for you now DiNozzo? Such a pity…hey…looks like you brought along a new guy. Something happen to that computer geek?"
Tony's facial expression changed and he took another step closer.
"That's close enough." Steeples re-aimed his muzzle towards Tony and Gibbs eyed his movements.
"You're obviously pissed at me for something…so just get it over with." Gibbs felt the muzzle return to his temple, and made eye contact with Tony. He watched as Tony shook his head and tried to express that he go along with it.
"No, I'm not losing you again."
It didn't take long for Gibbs to realize what had happened as the ringing in his ear became deafening. He fell to his knees and turned his head to see Steeples lying motionless, a slug in between his eyes. He looked up to see Tony standing over him.
"Hell of a shot." He shook his head in an attempt to stop the ringing and tried to stand. Tony quickly wrapped his arm around Gibbs back and carried his weight till they reached the cars.
"Emergency services are on their way boss…"
Gibbs nodded, still not able to hear him clearly. He motioned for Pat to come over and looked him up and down. "You okay kid?"
Pat managed a smile. "You really are a lot like him you know that?"
Gibbs only made out a few of the words, but it was enough. "Thanks…I'm glad I could live up to my reputation…" he was practically yelling at this point, but he didn't seem to notice or care. He watched as Ziva escorted Pat to the back of her car.
"You're a lot like who boss?" Tony questioned, still letting Gibbs rest on him for balance.
Gibbs looked at him for a moment and tried to process what he had said. "What?" he moved his hands towards his ears.
"Pat…he said you're a lot like him…who is this 'him'?"
Gibbs reacted as if a light bulb went off in his head. "Oh, Jack Bauer."
Tony immediately scoffed and opened his mouth to say something, but stopped himself short as the EMS arrived and began to assess Gibbs. He took a few steps back to give them some room but was pulled back by a familiar arm.
"Just tell me one thing…"
Tony shrugged. "What's that?"
"What's my name?"
Tony shot him a confused look. "You're kidding right boss?"
"Yeah, I get that I'm your boss…just tell me my name. What is it?"
DiNozzo was confused and concerned but couldn't resist. "Well that's obvious."
"Uh huh…." Gibbs prodded. "So…"
"You're Jack Bauer…"
The ride back to department was very enlightening to Tony, as Pat explained how he'd found Gibbs and his subsequent memory loss. He also shared how Gibbs had begun to remember little things and how well he'd treated him. Pat seemed almost sad that the ordeal was coming to an end, and hoped he'd somehow be able to repay them for what they had done.
"Your mom will be waiting for you when we get there."
Pat nodded. "That's cool. Hope she's not too pissed I totaled the car."
Tony smiled. "Technically Gibbs totaled it…so just pawn it off on him."
"Good call. I'll do that."
"It's what I would do…not to mention playing the 'at least I'm okay' card. It always works with mothers."
"Thanks Tony…and thanks again for saving our butts. Gibbs kept saying he knew someone wouldn't let him down. Guess that someone was you."
Tony turned a shade of red at the comment and smiled. "He's the one who has never let us down kid. We were just returning the favor."
"Hey you don't look all that happy that this thing is over?" Pat offered, gazing over at Tony's expression. "Kinda like me."
Tony shrugged. "Yeah, I guess I'm happy we got our boss back okay…we just don't have a party waiting for us when we get home if you know what I mean?"
Pat picked up on it. "That computer geek that was missing…he's not okay is he?"
Tony only shook his head.
"I'm sorry…I know Gibbs had a feeling something bad had happened to someone. I'm real sorry…were you two close?"
"You could say that…I know I'm gonna miss him like crazy. It happened so fast, and we couldn't save him… it wasn't fair, but you know what they say…"
"Life isn't fair…yeah I know." Pat replied solemnly and took to staring out the window.
"You'll be alright kid, I know what it's like growing up without a Father, you just gotta wake up one day and choose to be better than he was."
"Your father died when you were young?"
Tony blinked a few times as he remembered. "Something like that kid, something like that."
Gibbs was being assessed at a nearby hospital against his will. He insisted on being released and was surprised when he didn't catch much resistance.
"You're just gonna let me walk…limp…out of here?"
The Doctor threw his hands up and motioned to the shiner on his left eye. "Last time I tried to keep one of you here, I had more staff in rooms getting treated than actual patients…trust me…if you want to go…you can go…"
Gibbs swung his legs around and it caused the Doctor to flinch. "Don't worry Doc, I'm not gonna hurt ya."
"Thank goodness…I don't think I can take much more excitement." He jotted down a few notes. "Now please promise me, you'll get follow up care when you return to DC."
"Yes, that is where your Agent said you are from. You work for…" He peered down at his chart. "NCIS…is that like CSI?"
Gibbs memory flashed back for a moment. "Yeah, only if you're dyslexic."
He limped his way out of the hospital room to be met by Ziva who was being watched very carefully by the security guards and staff members.
"I take it you've been here recently?" Gibbs asked her with a questioning look.
Ziva just shrugged. "I have no idea why they are looking at me…maybe it's because I'm so attractive yes?"
Gibbs mirrored her shrug. "Yeah, either that, or the guy I'm supposed to be would be pissed and you're trying to pull one over on me."
Ziva couldn't help but smile. "Guess we'll just have to wait and see on that." She slid her arm around his back and assisted him out to the car. "We are stopping at the department to pick up Tony and Abby before we had back to NCIS, I'm sure being back will bring back some memories."
Gibbs nodded. "Hopefully good ones…will I get a big welcome back party?"
Ziva was solemn in her response. "I'm afraid not. Do you remember Timothy McGee? He was one of your agents."
"Was?" Gibbs took in a breath and noticed his heart ached for a moment. "He was killed…recently…gunned down?" He watched her nod. "I was there…I couldn't stop it."
"Tony and you both were. McGee was frantic at the suspected loss of our forensic scientist Abby…He cared for her very much…I was supposed to be watching him but he slipped out and headed to the compound you were about to infiltrate. It was there he was killed."
"Trying to avenge Abby's death…but she's not dead is she?"
"No, it was a trick to lure the three of us to him. We were kidnapped, and you caused a diversion to get us out…that was how you ended up on the road, and were picked up by Pat…who also turned out to be Steeples son…quite the twist if you ask me."
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah, who's ever writing this play has quite the imagination." He peered out the window for a few moments. "Someone else was killed before McGee…Tony's Father?"
"Yes…you are remembering?"
"I am…and though I'm flattered….I don't think Jack Bauer would've let McGee die."
Ziva shook her head. "He is made up Gibbs…you are real. You couldn't have saved McGee anymore than I could've gotten out of that hospital without busting a few heads."
It was then Gibbs couldn't help but smile. "No I suppose not…..hey…..pull over."
Ziva did so reluctantly. "What is it?"
"If memory serves me right…then move over…I'm driving."
When Gibbs pulled up, he was met quickly by Abby who raced over and hugged the proverbial stuffing out of him. "Oh Gibbs, I'm so glad you're back."
He wrapped his arms around her slowly. "Good to be back Abs. How's my girl?"
"Better now, but not all that excited about going back home."
"Yeah I know……but we'll make it." They released the embrace. "I'm gonna talk to DiNozzo…" He kissed her forehead. "Thanks for being here."
Gibbs limped his way over to meet Tony who standing next to Jay and Pat. Pat put out his hand for Gibbs to take. "I'm glad you're alright Jack…"
Gibbs smiled. "Name's Jethro…and thanks kid. You gonna be okay now?"
"Yeah, my mom's actually waiting for me; I just wanted to make sure I said goodbye and thank you."
They shared a silent moment before embracing gently. "I think if anyone should be saying thank you, it's me…I owe you my life kid."
"Then live a great one…I have no doubt you will. You're one tough son of a …"
Gibbs put his hand up behind the kids head and he quickly stopped his phrase. "Right sorry…" He shot him a sly smile. "Have a safe trip home Jethro…look me up sometime..."
"Ditto kid…" Gibbs watched him leave and turned to Tony. He eyed Jay and thought his memory was still failing.
"This is Jay boss…" Tony motioned towards him and patted Gibbs on the shoulder. "And I'm Tony…?"
"Yeah, I'm a little fuzzy but I would never forget you."
There was an odd moment of silence as Tony half expected Gibbs to follow up with a snide comment, only nothing came.
"You were helping them find me?" He made eye contact with Jay and he nodded.
"Yes sir…..I uh………..I was." He swallowed hard, partly intimidated by Gibbs presence, not to mention his stare.
"Don't call me sir…" He looked over at Tony who was smiling.
"He's sharp boss….."
"Well that's makes one of you…" Gibbs managed a small smile. "Thanks for the help…Don't go far…from the looks of things, we may be in need of your services again soon."
Jay looked over at Tony with a smile. "I'd be honored sir—uh—Agent Gibbs."
They stood there for a few moments in silence before it was broken with a hand slapping the back of a head.
Tony reached for his head and sighed. "What I do?"
"Nothing…just got the itch…."
The ride back to NCIS was relatively quiet. Tony took the liberty of driving as Gibbs nodded off in the back seat on Abby's shoulder. He couldn't help but smile at the image. He tried to stay at least five miles over the speed limit as they would be cutting it close for McGee's funeral.
"Looking forward to being home?" He looked to his left at Ziva whose eyes seemed to be permanently glued to the window.
"I am not." She said simply. "I do not do goodbyes well…"
Tony took in a labored breath. "Yeah, I was never real good at that myself." He changed lanes smoothly. "Did ya see what I just did there?"
"Observe." He reached over to put on his signal, and then checked his blind spot before moving into the next lane. "Basic driver's ed Ziva…"
She sighed. "It never ceases to amaze me that you can go from something so serious to something so irrelevant."
Tony shrugged. "It's a gift."
"Yeah…well I think you're just using it to avoid what you're really afraid of…like how you're going to say goodbye to your Father…"
Tony resisted the urge to pull the car over and snapped his head to the side. "I said goodbye to him a long time ago Ziva…it wont be as hard as you think."
"I highly doubt that."
"Oh…and what makes you say that?"
"Because, no matter how much a person hurts you, breaks your trust or lies to you. If you loved them…even if only a short time…saying goodbye is hard. It's an unwritten rule."
Tony was taken aback at her emotional response. "You may just have a heart hidden in that chest after all David."
She reached out for his hand and took it. "Perhaps am I just now realizing how easily a person you care for can be taken from you…I am here if you ever want to talk…"
Tony slid his hand from under hers slowly and pretended he needed it on the wheel. "I don't know what to say."
"Now that's a first…" Gibbs spouted from the back seat as he kept his eyes closed and readjusted himself on Abby's shoulder.
Subsequently, the rest of the ride was silent.
They arrived at the site in civilian clothes, unable to stop and change into proper attire. In not doing so, their arrival might as well of been announced by a loud speaker as the four made their way towards the burial site. Abby held Gibbs hand as they walked, with Tony and Ziva following side by side. When they approached they noticed Ducky was taking his place at the podium. He made eye contact with them, and let out a sigh of relief before beginning the reluctant task ahead…
"When I was asked, or should I say, given the privilege of giving Timothy's eulogy, I was somewhat reluctant. A part of me wanted to believe that he was still with us, that the events of the past few days were nothing but a dreadfuul nightmare. But unfortunately, they were not. This wonderful young man lost his life, fighting against the evil we all took an oath to fight against. Each of us in our own way…I know that Timothy would be glad to see you all here today, remembering him and honoring his life. I am also quite sure, he would want each of us to know how much he cared and how sad he is that can no longer be here to serve and protect. When he made the choice to head on his final endeavor, he had one person in mind, and that person is here today."
He gazed over at Abby whose face was now buried in Gibbs chest and continued. "All that mattered to Timothy in those final moments was how much he loved her and how much she mattered to him. Little did he know that she still has the chance to go on and live a full life. Just as all of us do. Timothy would give us the charge of moving on from this tragedy and making the most of the time we have left. And that we would use that time to love one another, treat one another with respect and fight the good fight of faith. So I too, leave you with that charge, and remind you that time heals all…and this too shall pass. We will miss you my boy…more than you will ever know."
He stepped down and slowly made his way over to his friends and listened as the clergy finished the ceremony. The five took their time to lay their roses just as they had with Kate, and gave their respects to his family before piling back into their respective cars.
"Anthony…" Ducky hollered before Tony was able to close his driver's side door.
"I can meet you back at NCIS later if you'd like?"
Tony knew was he was referring to and managed a smile. "No thanks Ducky. I think I'll need to be alone…but thank you."
Ducky nodded in understanding. "Well, I will be at home tonight, should you need me."
Tony nodded in thanks and slipped himself back into the car. He eventually found himself shedding a few tears as he listened to Abby's cries emanating from the back seat as Gibbs held her close. Ziva's eyes were glued back to the window but he could still hear her quiet whimpers. He dropped them each off at their respective homes, Gibbs insisting that Abby would stay with him for the night. When he pulled up at Ziva's she reached for his hand just as she had before.
"I know Ziva…and thanks for helping me keep my head straight today. I couldn't have done it without you there."
She smiled. "I know."
He mirrored her smile. "Oh the humble Mossad agent."
"You did a fine job…you saved my life remember? I owe you one."
Tony nodded. "Believe me, I'll collect."
He watched her enter through her apartment gate before reluctantly heading to his destination. The NCIS Autopsy room. When he arrived it was late, and people were scarce. He flipped on the lights and found his Father's slab. He pulled it own slowly and quickly removed the sheet like it was a band aide. After all, the sooner he did it, the sooner it would be over.
He started to shake as he fought back the tears fought their way down his face. "Guess a goodbye is an order. At least that's what everyone keeps telling me. To be honest, I feel like I owe you an apology. Better late than never right? I'm sorry you were killed because of me…I'm sorry I didn't call or write nearly as often as I should have…I'm sorry I didn't make the effort to be make things right between us. Today, a friend of mine gave a eulogy at one of our Agents funerals…and he said that all we can do to honor that person in death is to live each day we have to the fullest. And I promise you Dad; that I'm gonna do just that. Tell Mom I said I'm okay…and I love you both. No matter what, I always did."
He covered his Father back up and slid the door shut. He wiped away his tears with his sleeve and was startled to find someone else was in the autopsy room with him.
"That was sweet DiNozzo."
"Boss? What are you doing here? Abby?"
"I took her to Ducky's…she's asleep for now. I told her I needed to be somewhere."
Tony shrugged. "You didn't need to come boss…I'm okay."
Gibbs eyed him curiously. "In the last two days, you lost your Father, McGee and almost lost me…I don't care what kind of stone face you give me, that you probably learned from me, you're not okay."
Tony's eyes fell to the ground. "No, I guess not."
Gibbs limped towards him, till there were only inches between them. "You did good today…I'm proud of you." He swallowed hard. "Son."
Tony looked up at him, his eyes now filled with tears. "In my heart…there's this pain…is it ever gonna go away?"
Gibbs wrapped his hand around Tony's neck. "It will…in time, it will."
Gibbs managed a smile as he pulled him in tight. "I promise Tony, I promise."
In the silence of that autopsy room, two words were spoken that would help Anthony DiNozzo heal from the losses he'd suffered…
AN: Well everyone, it's been another long run, and I found myself choked up once more as I wrote that final scene. Please let me know your over all thoughts. As always, till next time – Trivette Lover Heather