Chapter Fifty-Seven

Gibbs found Tony still sat in the chair, staring into space. He looked up when he saw Gibbs approach. "How did it go?" he asked, sounding concerned.

"She said you don't have to be transferred, that she made a mistake and you are to report for duty on Monday as usual," Gibbs told him, a smile on his face.

"I've been thinking about what she said."

"Ignore it, Tony, it was just jealousy speaking."

"Because of our relationship?"

"She claimed to not know about it, but I'm not sure if I believe her."

"Well, she's right about one thing."

"Yeah? And what's that?"

"I'm not safe to have around as an active field agent."

"What gave you that crazy idea?"

"Look at what just happened. I get stressed out by the Director and I have a seizure, how am I going to cope with undercover work or a covert op? If we're about to make a sting and I get so stressed I seize, I'm going to be putting everyone's lives in danger. If anything, she proved that today."

"Tony, listen to me. You're a good agent, you've worked here long enough to know what kind of stress we deal with on a day to day basis and you cope with it. You've learnt to cope with it."

"How do we know I won't react like I did today?"

"I know you won't."

"But how?"

"DiNozzo, just trust me on this, you've been my senior field agent for near enough seven years and you've never let me down and I don't expect you to start now."

"I'm sorry, Gibbs, but that isn't enough. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I put you or the rest of the team in danger because of a condition I gave myself," Tony said, looking at his hands. "I know you think it won't happen, but we can't be sure that I'll cope with the stress of the job in the same way as I did before, we can't be sure that my body won't go into a seizure and give away our position at a really vital point in a sting. If you can't give me promises with firm proof, I'll have to transfer to Norfolk and do a job where nobody can get hurt by my own mistake."

Gibbs looked at Tony, with his head bowed and tried to think of something he could say to the man to change his mind, to make him see that Gibbs and everyone else believed that he would be fine as an active field agent. He could understand that the seizure had knocked his confidence, especially when it had happened after a meeting with the Director, but that kind of stress was more brought about by the fact that Tony had gone into the meeting believing the Director was going to do her best to get him back into his old job and was on his side – when in fact, she had been trying to use everything in her power to get him as far away from NCIS HQ (or more likely, Gibbs) as possible. The stress of her betrayal was what caused the seizure, Gibbs was sure of it. How could he make Tony see that though?

"Tony, do you really think I'd have kept a place for you on my team if I didn't believe you could give me 110. My team is for the best people at NCIS, I don't except failure and believe me I would have told you by now if I didn't think you were up to the job – no matter what kind of personal relationship we had. I wouldn't let you put Ziva or McGee's lives in danger and I wouldn't want you on my team if I believed you would. I most certainly wouldn't have gone head to head with the Director for you if I believed any different," Gibbs explained.

There was something in the tone of his voice that made Tony look up and into Gibbs' eye. He could see only sincerity there, he wasn't lying to him, he honestly believed that Tony was up to the job and if Gibbs believed in him, maybe he should as well.

"Okay, I'll be back Monday and whatshisface better not have messed with my things!" Tony said, a cheeky smile on his face. He stood up and walked towards the elevator, Gibbs trailing a few steps behind.

"Come on then, we only have a few days left before we'll both be too tired to do anything in bed but sleep and I have a few things planned," Gibbs told him, pushing the button to call the elevator. Once it arrived they stepped inside, telling no one that they were leaving, which would mean that no one got to say goodbye to Tony but he'd be back on Monday – 7am sharp, ready to start working again, and in a way, living his life again.

It had been over four months since the rape that had landed Tony in hospital with a Vicodin overdose and in that time he had learnt many things. He listed them in his head as he watched Gibbs drive them back to his, no, their place. He'd learnt that no matter what you could always count on your friends to come through for you, that justice may take time, but it always prevails and that Jethro Gibbs was full of surprises. Some of them good, some of them not so good, but he had the rest of his life to explore them all and if anything, he was grateful to him for not turning around that day and heading to work without him, for using his key and checking on him, for calling Ducky and for ultimately saving his life even though at the time he had really not wanted to live it.

He still had a long way to go before he would be classed as 'recovered', but heading back to work was the first step on a path of many and once he took that one, what could hold him back from taking the rest of them?