Title: Bitter End 01
Author: Daedalus / Tak / Whatever, as long as the clock keeps ticking
Pairing: Gibbs/DiNozzo – Allusions to Tony/Jeanne and Gibbs/Mann
Rating: PG for now (will be NC-17 later on)
Genre: Angst (a lot of it) – Action – Character study – First Time
Summary: What could have been a tragedy forces Gibbs and DiNozzo to realize they can't deny what they long for any longer. But a ghost rises from the past and beats them to the game.
Spoilers: Every season from season 1. Starts at 5x07 though.
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue. I used lines of 'Requiem' in this chapter. Be warned.
Thanks to Joey for betaing this fic.
'Don't do this to me, boss…'
Never in his life had Anthony DiNozzo been so terrified. The journey up from the sunken car with the girl had taken forever. He had thought his boss would be following him. When he did not hear Gibbs surface, Tony wasted no time and dived after him.
When he saw the empty eyes unfocused in the water, his heart skipped a beat. He had to get him out. He had to.
Yet, the wheel would not budge. He tried hard to resist the panic that was overwhelming him. Get him out. Get him safe.
Get him safe.
But his boss had stopped breathing. His heart had stopped beating. Tony had started the heart massage, wishing his own heart would not beat so fast and Gibbs' much faster. A beat. A little beat. That was all he needed.
'Come on, boss, don't do this to me…'
He was angry too. He had shot the bastards – but it was not enough. He would kick their arses to hell and back if he only could. But now, just now, he had to concentrate.
Gibbs was still not breathing.
'Don't make me kiss you, boss…'
Not now. Not like this…
He fought down another panic attack as he blew into Gibbs' mouth again. He felt on the verge of crying.
'Come on, boss! Come on!!'
How could he do this to him? It was Gibbs who had ordered him to survive Y. Pestis. And he had. Obediently. And now the Marine would die because a little too much water had entered his lungs?
The hell. He could not. He could not give up. Marines never gave up. They did not surrender. It was rule #1, after all, wasn't it?
Tony checked his breathing once more, not even realizing how much affection he displayed as he casually stroked Gibbs's hair.
'Oh boss, come on…' he muttered.
Then he remembered the young woman. Gibbs would not want her to die.
He was scared. He was alone.
If he could just focus on his boss, then perhaps…
But there was no one to help him – them. He hesitated. He had the gall to hesitate. Even as he knelt next to her, he looked back to watch his boss.
He could not bear to lose him. Not this once. Never. He knew he was being ridiculous. He knew he was probably confused because he had broken up with Jeanne not so long ago.
But he knew his feelings for Gibbs would never disappear. God knew how hard he had tried. What he had first thought was hero worship or some sort of an affection transference from his father who did not care to the man he cared about and seeked to please, feelings that he could suppress relatively easily or at least pass for something usual given his state of mind–
As far as he knew, they both were womanizers, for God's sake. Gibbs was, anyway. Tony… Well, he had made out with a guy once or twice before – and it had been exciting – but he was not romantically involved with them. And never pushed any further. He had never thought it was worth the risk to be exposed. The police did not take too kindly to homosexuals, especially when they looked like the perfect jock, the epitome of virility. But Gibbs… There was something about Gibbs that made him crave for his touch, made him crave for a taste of his lips… Had always been…
He wondered if his boss had ever noticed the glances he stole sometimes, his eyes following Gibbs and Sheppard as they stepped together into the elevator, before turning back hastily to the book he was reading or the sketch he was drawing. He knew that if the investigator had caught too many of those particular gazes, even if they lasted only a few seconds, he would have figured everything out. Everything. No more running for him. No more possible escape. He would have to resign – pure and simple.
Yet he could not help himself. He just envied Jen, because Gibbs would never walk at his side, his hand lightly touching his arm. How he wished not to be in need of a crutch for finding an excuse to lean against the Marine…
He should not feel that way. He should not be in love with his boss. He should not love him 'that way' at all. It was as dangerous as it was painful. And yet, as he looked back, and saw his employer's eyes staring up into the sky, he thought his heart would tear up again.
He was good at denial. And he had denied himself even the tiniest things as far as Gibbs was concerned. Not to smile too brightly at him. Not to touch him too often or too long. Not to let his finger linger as it brushed against Gibbs as he handed a report to him. Not to hug him for too long when both of them needed it. He knew anything he tried was bound to fail anyway. And his guts just told him that the object of his desire had a thing for Mann. So he contented himself with what he had – namely seeing him at work, and sometimes on the weekends when he got the chance.
Besides, Gibbs' rules would forbid any kind of relationship between them. Tony smiled bitterly at that: who was he kidding? What did it change? It was too late for him, anyway.
He breathed more air into the girl's mouth before returning to Gibbs, desperate to feel a pulse. He could hear sirens in the distance – but they would not be here in time. They should have been here already.
'Don't die on me, boss… Just don't… You can't die on me… I won't let you…'
He knew it sounded petulant – but he didn't care.
'COME ON, now!'
When Director Sheppard told him about his little assignment with Jeanne, he had been disgusted at doing it behind his mentor's back. He had been disgusted by many things, actually. That a woman could suggest such a scheme. That a woman ordered him to play with another's woman's feelings in order to achieve her own little vendetta. That she would – basically – whore him out for that purpose. Tony had never been an angel. Fucking any woman who crossed his path was as good a hobby as any other. And even he admitted that his relationships…
Could he even call them relationships?
Still, as much as he liked undercover missions – despite always ending up hitting on common murderers – he did not think it right to be ordered to do such a thing to the girl. Even if they did get to the father that way.
Nearly getting him killed in the process. But it didn't matter.
For, as he had realized he was beginning to fall for her, he had had the eerie feeling that he was cheating.
And though his relationship with the Frog's daughter had been but an illusion, he had clung to it, to his feelings, because he had known there could never be anything between him and his boss… and that he had to let go. Jeanne was a wonderful woman, after all. And she had loved him. And he… he had been very fond of her. He had loved her in his own way. Deeply… Just…
'I beg you… If you leave me again I…'
Whenever Gibbs was shot, he felt the bullet tear through his own flesh. When Gibbs was hurt in an explosion, he thought his heart stopped beating. When Gibbs woke up with no memory whatsoever, he was completely at a loss. He would have given anything – anything – to make him right again. What should he have done? Why couldn't Gibbs remember him? He should, shouldn't
he? After all they had shared together? Did he mean so little to Gibbs? Why was it Ziva who helped him remember?
Ay, there was the rub…
And even though he had known Gibbs would be back some day, why had he let him just walk away?? Granted, he had been way too stunned to react in any way at all, at the time. Still… It had hurt so much to see him walk away, just like that. As if they never meant anything to Gibbs. As if he was nothing to Gibbs.
He knew why Gibbs had done it. He understood. But he would have liked to receive a little more than what he had got when Gibbs fled.
Than what he had got…
What had he got? Nothing. A position as the team's leader that he had had to surrender at his boss's return. Of course he had been angry. Angry because he had been left alone to deal with all the team, just like that. Angry because he had not heard from Gibbs all that time. Angry because killers on the loose did not take sabbatical, and someone had to do the job. So he could not run after Gibbs and ask him to – just… stay…
Most of all he was angry at himself because he had not even tried to make him stay.
He could have made a call, but he had been torn between his responsibilities as a team leader, his job as a field agent, his work undercover... When he came back home, he was too tired to contact his boss. What would he have told him anyway? Nothing to gloat about. That he was unhappy? That he was on edge 24/7?
That he wanted him back in Washington because he could not bear to spend more time without him?
That it was tearing him apart?
Every time he came home, he checked his empty mailbox and unblinking answering-machine – nothing.
And that had been the most difficult thing of all.
He knew he had not fucked up too much, as a team leader. He was different from Gibbs… Yet even in his absence, he had wanted to live up to his expectations. He really could have tried to write… but he spent too much time at the office for that. And with Jenny whoring him out… and…
Gibbs did not even have a clue…
He never would stomach it…
And then Gibbs had waltzed back into their lives, taking everything he had tried so hard to secure away from him, as if things had never changed. Moving his stuff to his old desk. No word to explain that he was back. No apology for his undeserved demotion – as undeserved, perhaps, as had been his promotion. And that was it?
Who was he trying to fool? The team had moved on. McGee had made tremendous progress. He had been overwhelmed to have Gibbs back, in a way. With very different emotions. A rush of love and elation that the man he had once admired so much was back. And disappointment so great that he could not even acknowledge the work that they had accomplished in his absence. As
if he had come back from a prolonged vacation. But that had not been what had happened. In theory, Gibbs was just – gone. And at some point, he had feared he would end up just like his father – drown himself in liquor whenever he got the chance – because it had been so hard to see him leave…
And if Gibbs had made amends with Ducky, didn't he deserve some sort of an apology too? He had let him think he had his back always, and yet he had left him bereft of his presence, one day, just like that. Left him naked and unarmed to fight against devious terrorists, and five people to protect with his life.
'Please, please don't die…'
His voice was barely above a whisper. He checked on Gibbs's breathing once more, desperate to feel on his cheek the thinnest stroke of air coming from that mouth. Desperate to see him smirk again. To feel his hands whacking him on the head…
'Wait for me, boss… Just…'
He stifled a sob and went back to the girl.
And now he thought he had been stupid. He should have risked it all. So many times already one of them had been about to die… Gibbs was not idiotic enough to send him away if he had told him… he needed him on his team. He was experienced. And next to Gibbs, he was the one who could trust his guts the most – even though it led him into impossible situations – and the most experienced on the field. His hunches on suspects had often outsmarted both the murderers and their profiles. And even though he could have died countless times because he had too much trust in human nature, he excelled at undercover work. The team could not function as well without any one of them. Tony and Gibbs were both essential to the team, as much as McGee and Kate, then Ziva were, along with Abby, Ducky and Palmer.
Tony could have just told him and assured him he would never act on his feelings, and it would have been just fine. Just a transfer of burdens. From his shoulders onto Gibbs's. But a shared burden.
And now he would never know.
How many times the voice of wisdom, which sounded suspiciously like Ducky's, had told him: 'Do it. Do it, Anthony. Tell him.' 'Tell him what?' 'Tell him what you want him to know…'
He vehemently shook his head, before blowing more air into the girl's mouth.
Where were they already? They had to help them. They had to. He could not afford to lose Gibbs. Not after everything that happened. Not now…
He was switching back to his beloved boss. Tony knew he was crying but he did not even bother to hide that fact. He was too preoccupied with the task of reviving Gibbs, all too aware it was taking too long; a new surge of panic overwhelmed him. He started shouting again.
'COME ON, COME ON BOSS! COME ON, NOW! DON'T DO THIS TO ME!'
He blew more air into Gibb's mouth, not liking at all how hysterical his voice had sounded just now. Not a moment to lose. The ex-Marine had not coughed yet and if he didn't…
And then, just then, a miracle. He pulled up just in time to see Gibbs cough, and, resting his hands on him, frantically, stroking his hair, shivering, helping him turn just so that all the water he had swallowed ended up on the wooden boards. With a sob, he breathed a sigh of relief. He rubbed softly the back of his boss, his cheek, trembling a little and smiling like a fool, the corners of his mouth twitching nervously. 'You're back… You're back, boss. Thank God you're back…', he kept repeating.
Gibbs glanced at him, before looking for Maddie, and DiNozzo got up.
'Right. Be right back, boss…'
He tried to ignore the stammering of his heart, his emotions in a twirl because of the pang of jealousy he felt at seeing Gibbs reach out for the girl like he did.
And he needed to hear his voice. So very badly.
When the girl came back to her senses, he checked on her once more, heaving, consciously ignoring the silent conversation she was holding with her boss, before he sat back, trying so hard not to interfere, trying to calm down his raging heartbeat, trying not to grab Gibbs's shirt and hit him in the head and order him to stop doing whatever he was doing to him and nearly die all the time. Stop almost dying, stop scaring him like that, and stop making him feel like kissing him, nice and deep, till they both died of asphyxia… Stop making him love him when he could not.
He sighed and looked up into the sky, trying to regain his own breath. He knew his lungs did not like to be pushed that way. The stress did not help. God if he only could…
Gibbs was still looking at the girl, holding her hand, but his whisper made the younger agent scramble to his hands and knees to get to him as quickly as he could.
'Yeah, boss? You alright?'
The older agent, broke the silent exchange he was having with Maddie and offered him the most beautiful smile Tony had ever witnessed on the Marine's lips. He faltered and looked away, knowing full well he would break if he met Gibbs's gaze just now. He could deal with his affectionate sarcasm. But not with this.
He tried not to shiver when Jethro reached up with his free hand to pet the back of his head, and then when his hand descended on his cheek to stroke it gently – almost reverently. Better than a 'good job'. He could not see the way he was looking at him, but Tony felt his gaze on him, surprisingly warm despite the icy colour of his eyes.
'Tony… Look at me…' he rasped.
Tony closed his eyes for a moment, shaking under his boss's caress. He was lost. He took a deep breath and looked into Gibbs's eyes, faltering at the intensity of the emotions he perceived in that gaze.
The young man winced. Gibbs had said thank you. But he wanted so much more… So much he could never have…
Tyres screeched not so far away, sirens howling, and cars came to a halt. McGee and Ziva ran to his side in an instant, Ducky and Palmer on their heels. Gibbs' hand had left his cheek, his neck, and Tony felt the cold once more.
'Oh my God, are they alright?' shouted Ziva, checking on the girl's pulse.
'Well, if I had let them die, Gibbs would have kicked my arse…'
He sounded terrible, but he could not care less. He forced a smile.
'Wouldn't you, boss?'
Gibbs smiled at him – smiled at him! – a true, a powerful smile, full of meanings, full of feelings, as if Gibbs was conveying in that simple smile all the tenderness and longing and respect and gratefulness he felt for the younger agent. But Tony knew he just saw what he wanted to see. Gibbs tried to talk, but the paramedics were here and hushed him before he could utter a word.
Gibbs's eyes locked with his as he was hoisted onto a stretcher and held his gaze until he was taken away.
Tony could feel McGee's speculative gaze on him. When he knew for sure Tony did not want to talk just now, he patted his arms, stood up, and took Ziva by the arm, taking her away, even though she protested – after all, Tony was still kneeling on those boards, refusing the paramedics' help, and showing no intention whatsoever to get up and follow them.
Ducky was lagging behind, looking at Tony with concern.
'Are you feeling alright?'
Tony looked up abruptly, eyes red and swollen; fortunately, he was not crying anymore.
'I… We've nearly lost him, Ducky…' he said, his voice nearly too low to hear.
'Yes. It was close. It might have seemed like hours to you, but it was only minutes. You did very well, Anthony. Jethro will be proud of you, once again. Even if he never shows it.'
'Not well enough… I did not do well enough… If I'd been faster… If I'd… He'd never…'
'He won't die on you like that, my boy. Not if he can help it.'
Tony looked at him cryptically. His ears were buzzing. He was feeling dizzy.
The ambulances had pulled away already, and he was alone with Ducky. And yet…
He was cold. So cold. He had always been colder since the plague hit him… But down there… Down in the water… Seeing Gibbs like that…
It was as if hell had frozen over as well…
'He won't leave you alone now he's asked you to live… Remember?'
But he already had, hadn't he? Left him alone. He had left him alone when he had fled to Mexico that day. He had come back, for sure. But it had never been the same. And now… Now perhaps he never would…
'Come on, son…' Ducky said gently. 'Let me help you up…'
Tony didn't think leaving the position he was in was such a good idea.
'Wait… Ducky… I think I…'
The world was spinning. If he had lost Jethro… he would have lost everything…
Darkness was almost welcome as it engulfed him.