I Wanna Scream
A/N: Tony's feelings after Gibbs came back…..postHiatus. Inspired by cedera.
A/N: Everyone's kind reviews (and a little bit of begging) have convinced me to continue the story. It looks like its going to be a lot longer than I originally intended…..anyway, here's the third chapter!
Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS or any of its characters
Tony lay on his couch, gazing dully at the ceiling above him. The remains of last night's pizza and old magazines lay scattered on the floor, while his favorite James Bond movie played on the television. He had done it. He had gone through with his threat and quit the team. He supposed he should feel proud that he had finally made his own decision and left NCIS, but he didn't. Honestly, he didn't know what to think.
He was sick and tired of all the biting remarks, he knew that much. All the mocking glances, the laughing to each other about him behind his back, the whispered complaints amongst each other about his attitude – he didn't miss those. Nor did he miss the biting insults, the sarcastic jibes, the being ignored, the belittlement, or constantly being underestimated. He didn't miss that a bit.
But as he thought back to Abby's sobs as he walked out the door, he felt a twinge of remorse. As he remembered Ducky's shock, McGee's fear, and Ziva's look of abandonment, he almost wanted to go back to NCIS and demand his old job again. Surely Gibbs would let him back on the team – his thoughts stopped cold. Gibbs. Tony remembered how Gibbs had ignored him, betrayed him, abandoned him. He remembered Gibbs last words as he offered a feeble, not-even-apology, "You're a good agent, Tony." He snorted. Gibbs had finally done what Tony had always dreamed of – he had acknowledged him. But it was much too little, much too late. Did Gibbs honestly think one measly little compliment would bring him back? That an acknowledgment of Tony's existence would bridge the huge gap caused by Gibbs' behavior, all those little hurts and gaping holes Gibbs words had caused over the years? It was liked trying to slap on a band-aid after his heart had been torn out.
And so Tony had made up his mind and left the team, giving them a piece of his mind as he did so. It was a decision born of anger, but anything had to be better than being abused by his coworkers. No – he had made the right choice.
And yet Tony couldn't shake that little nagging whisper at the back of his head that urged him to get his butt in gear and go back to work. No, he told it, I quit. I'm much better off now and so are they. No more 'stupid Tony' bugging them all day. The voice in his head went silent, but Tony had to wonder – was he really happy?
-- Scene Change --
It had been two days since Tony 'retired'. The bullpen was eerily quiet. Ziva just stared at nothing, moving as if on autopilot. Her work remained as impeccable as ever, but she had ceased to react – to anything. Gone were her outbursts of temper at her obstinate computer or her smiles when McGee made a fool of himself. She just gazed uncomprehendingly at the empty desk across from her.
McGee was in just about as bad a shape. He had lost his nervousness, but also his verve. He did all of his work neatly and efficiently, but his temper was on a shorter leash than ever before. He was liable to snap at the smallest of things.
Ducky had, by now, been told the whole story. He had been disappointed by Tony's decision to leave but he also understood it. Sensing the mood everyone else was in, he kept his thoughts to himself, not even bothering to chat with his dead bodies, instead focusing on getting the autopsy done as quickly as possible.
Palmer was extremely nervous about the unnatural silence. He was jumpier than ever, and ceased to offer any of his usual cheerful comments. Lee, of course, had been kicked off the team and was now working the legal department, so no one knew how she reacted to the situation. The Director was too busy to allow herself to absorb Tony's departure, so no one knew how she reacted either.
Gibbs sat his desk, as unaffected as ever. He was still a grouchy bastard who put his team through their paces. Yet the team noticed he didn't push them quite so hard, and when no one was looking, his eyes would flick over to Tony's desk and a sort of - not sadness exactly, and not apology (because he was Gibbs, and didn't apologize), but more a kind of regretful grimace, gone in an instant.
Abby sat alone in her lab, huddled in a corner. She squished Bert to her chest, but the farting hippo did not bring her any comfort. She had been crying. Tony, she thought, can't you see how much we miss you? How much we need you? Ziva needs you, McGee needs you, Gibbs needs you…and I need you. I can't believe we made such an awful mistake in letting you slip away… The more she thought about it, the more upset she became. Abby stood up, determined. I'm going to make this right…
-- Scene Change --
Tony looked up idly as he heard the doorbell ring. Yawning, he made his way to the door. "I'm coming, I'm coming…" Never did he expect the sight that greeted him when he yanked the door open – a miserable Goth looking up at him with sorrowful eyes, her tears causing her mascara to stream down her face.
"Abby?" Tony was surprised. Abby rushed to answer his unspoken question. "Look Tony, I hope you know I never thought of you as inferior and I'm sorry that I made you feel bad and Gibbs was mean to you but you shouldn't have had to leave the team and everyone really misses you and it's not the same with you gone and I just want to say, I'm sorry, please, please don't shut me out." Abby finished all of this in one straight breath and looked up at Tony with pleading eyes.
Tony blinked, then sighed. He drew the door farther open, allowing Abby to enter before closing it again. He and Abby faced each other and announced simultaneously, "We need to talk."
Tony sighed again and ran his hand through his hair. "You go first."
Abby launched in without preamble. "Why did you leave?" Tony sat down, holding his head in his hands. He knew that question would come sooner or later. He glanced at her sideways, debating how much to tell her. His eyes met Abby's imploring gaze. This was Abby. He remembered the dirty jokes they'd shared, the many hugs she'd given, the long, anxious nights they'd endured together. This was Abby, and no matter how angry he was, she deserved to know. He drew a deep breath. " Did you want to know why I left in general, or did you want specific reasons?"
Abby was every inch as serious as he was. She looked near to tears and her voice caught as she asked, "Why did you leave me? Why didn't you come to me for help?"
Tony was brutally straight with her. " Abby, you wouldn't have listened. Not really. And even if you did, you wouldn't understand. Gibbs is your superhero – he can't do anything wrong. Me? I'm just a kid playing pretend. You would have just waved me off with a hug and assumed I was pouting because I didn't get to play leader anymore." He said all of this perfectly evenly.
Abby was upset. " I wouldn't have done that to you, Tony! I wouldn't!"
"You already did." He told her quietly. " You gave me hugs and lab results, but you never gave me your support or respect. You never believed I'd be a real leader, not like Gibbs was. Every time I walked into your lab, what did I see? Gibbs's face, staring. I know you love him Abs, but it still hurt. Every time you put that picture on the screen, I was reminded yet again of how inadequate I am compared to Gibbs."
Abby's eyes filled with tears. She threw her arms around Tony and buried her face in his shirt. "I'm sorry Tony! I'm so, so, so, so sorry. I had no idea you felt that way."
"And that's what hurt the most, Abby.' Tony said quietly. Abby looked up at him, confused. 'Not one of you knew how, I felt. You all automatically assumed that it was simply hurt pride, that because I laughed all the time and blew you off, that I must be alright. Not one of you bothered to ask how I felt, not when Gibbs left and not when he came back. And maybe it wouldn't have hurt so much, if I hadn't expected you to know me as well as I know me. But apparently you don't. You took me at face value. And it hurt."
Abby hung her head. "I'm sorry Tony." she said in a tiny voice. Tony sighed. 'So am I, Abs, so am I." He was surprised when Abby enveloped him in a hug. "I'll make it up to you Tony," she promised. Her face brightened. "I know! I'll get Gibbs to let you back on the team, everyone really misses you and he always was a sucker for my puppy dog eyes and – " Tony cut her off.
"No Abby." He told her harshly. " I made my decision, and I'm not going back." Abby's face fell, and she searched Tony's eyes desperately, as if pleading with him to tell her it was a joke. "But – " "No, Abby." Tony told her. Inwardly he was touched, but he was determined never to go back to that place again.
Abby was absolutely crushed. She stood up. " I guess I better go, then." Before she left she hesitated, her green eyes once again threatening to overflow. She asked in a quivering voice, " Tony, do you hate me?"
Tony's features softened. He pulled her into one last hug. " I told you before Abs – I could never, ever hate you. Ever." He pulled back and smiled sadly at her. "Alright?" Abby nodded, sniffling. As she walked out the door, she paused one last time. Not looking at Tony, she said. "Everyone really misses you, you know."
Tony's face hardened. He kept his voice harsh. " Yeah, well tell everyone I don't miss them. I'm fine on my own." Tony lied.
Abby nodded and exited quickly out the door, trying to hold the tears back.
Tony sighed as he leaned against the door. He rubbed his face as he stared after Abby. But I do miss them…. he thought ….more than they will ever know. Tony shook his head and went inside, shuttting the door behind him.
A/N: Gah! This chapter was really difficult…I think I rewrote it probably a hundred times. I still don't think it flows right……well, whatever! Tony's starting to have a little doubt! Will he go back to NCIS? Review!