Title: Losing Faith In Happy Endings

Summary: An unexpected death causes Tony's life to spin out of control. Special Agent Jethro Gibbs tries to help him, but you can't save a person who doesn't want to be saved. WARNING: story contains non-sexual discipline of an adult , if that's not your cup of tea, don't read!

Disclaimer: I own nothing. The following story is for fan entertainment only.

Chapter Twelve: Lean On Me, When You're Not Strong

Thanksgiving arrives sooner than Gibbs and Tony anticipated. It's the Tuesday before and they end up at the grocery store doing last minute shopping. Tony has never cooked a Thanksgiving meal before, but Gibbs seems to know what they are doing and soon enough, the cart is full of ingredients, complete with a frozen turkey big enough to feed a small army.

Miraculously, they don't get called in to work on the holiday. Gibbs and Tony spend the morning prepping and chopping and baking and Tony feels genuinely happy. The air outside is just chilly enough and the house is filled with the aromas of turkey and pumpkin pie. Tony can't help but feel at home.

Abby and McGee and Ziva arrive in time to help with the final meal preparations and the whole team is laughing and enjoying each other's company. Ducky arrives with expensive wine and smiles at the scene before him. A whole family together for a wonderful holiday, and he can't wait to regale them with stories from his youth.

Dinner is delicious and there are plenty of leftovers for later. A game of football is about to get underway in Gibbs' back yard, but Ziva insists on helping with the clean up first. She and Tony are in the kitchen and Ziva can't help but notice how at home Tony seems to be.

"You seem very happy, Tony" Ziva says with a smile. She had been worried about him ever since Jeanne's passing, but he hadn't really talked to her about it. She was a little hurt, but she and McGee agreed that they would let Tony come to them when and if he was ready to talk about it. They kinda figured out that it didn't take months to fix the bad pipes in Tony's building, but they didn't bring it up. They knew that he needed the support from Gibbs, even if they didn't know the extent of the relationship.

"I am, Ziva" Tony says, returning the smile as he scrapes a plate over the garbage.

"I am glad. I was worried about you," Ziva says, taking advantage of the moment to show Tony her support, "If you ever need to talk about anything, I am here" She says.

Tony knows that Ziva is just being a good friend, but her words are making him nervous. Gibbs is the only one he feels comfortable talking to about personal things. He's not ready to talk to Ziva about his feelings.

"That's not necessary" Tony replies, and it comes out more harshly than he means to. Ziva may be a tough as nails Mossad agent, but Tony's reply hurt her feelings.

"I'm only trying to help, Tony" She tries to explain but it only stresses Tony more.

"Well stop, I don't need your help" Tony says. He nearly slams the dishes down and they clatter nosily on the counter.

"I am your friend, you do not have to be so defensive-"

"Fuck, Ziva! Leave it alone!" Tony yells. Thankfully, everyone is already outside prepping for the game. Everyone except for Gibbs, that is.

"Tony!" Gibbs yells, interrupting the argument. Tony feels his stomach drop.

"Uh, hey boss. Are we ready to start playing?" Tony asks nervously, hoping that Gibbs didn't hear him yell at Ziva.

"Ziva, why don't you start the game without us. Tony and I need to have a word" He gives her a reassuring smile that helps to ease the sting of Tony's words. She nods in agreement and heads out the back door.

Gibbs pulls Tony down the hall and into the bathroom. He closes the lid on the toilet and sits the younger man down.

"Boss, I didn't meant to yell at Ziva" Tony defends, but Gibbs is already unwrapping a bar of soap that Tony has grown to really hate the site, not to mention the taste, of.

"You know I don't tolerate that kind of language, Tony, especially when it's directed at your family" Gibbs says, and that stings.

Tony swallows hard. He already felt bad about what he had just done, but now he felt worse. Gibbs was right, Ziva was his family. She was only trying to be supportive and she didn't deserve to be yelled at.

"I know" Tony says quietly, already feeling the tears in his eyes. He lets Gibbs deposit the soap into his mouth.

"Ten minutes" Gibbs says before leaving the bathroom. He closes the door behind him, just in case any of the others came back into the house.

Gibbs finishes cleaning up the kitchen before he checks in on Tony. There are more than ten minutes of dishes to wash, so Gibbs starts on packing up the leftovers in an assortment of plastic containers.

Gibbs returns to the bathroom and closes the door behind him quietly, and for a second, Tony doesn't seem to notice that he has entered the small room.

"You can take it out now" Gibbs says. Tony looks at him, his face wet with tears and soapy bubbles around his mouth. He takes the soap out and immediately is over the sink, spitting and rinsing his mouth out.

"I'm sorry" Tony says. He's looking down a the floor, studying the pattern of the faded rug in front of the sink. Gibbs can tell that he feels guilty.

"What was that all about?" Gibbs asks the younger agent.

"I just...I got anxious. Ziva wanted to talk...about things, and I'm not ready to talk to her about, you know, everything"

"Why didn't you just tell her that?" Gibbs asked.

"I know, I should have. I just kinda freaked out" Tony says, wishing that he could have just take it all back.

"She's just concerned about you"

"I know, and I showed my appreciation by yelling at her"

"She'll forgive you. Go talk to her, apologize" Gibbs suggests. He was glad that Tony had quickly realized what he had done wrong.

"Of course" Tony agrees.

"I'll send her in" Gibbs says as he leaves the bathroom.

Tony is waiting in the kitchen when Ziva comes back inside.

"Hey, Ziva, listen-" Tony starts, but Ziva cuts him off.

"I'm sorry if he yelled at you, Tony. I should not have pried" Ziva says, and Tony immediately hates that she thought the whole thing was her fault.

"No, Ziva, I'm sorry. You have nothing to apologize fore. There was no call for the way I yelled at you, especially on Thanksgiving" Ziva is studying Tony's face and she can see that he is nothing but remorseful and honest.

"I meant what I said, Tony. I do want to help you" Ziva says softly.

"I know, I know, and I appreciated it, I really do. I'm just not ready" Tony says, already feeling his throat start to tighten with emotion.

"I understand. I am always here for you, when you are ready" Ziva replies. She smiles at him then, and Tony can't resist pulling her in for a hug.

"Thanks, Ziva" He lest her go, and they look at each other for an awkward moment before Tony speaks again.

"Um, you want to go back to the game?" He asks her.

"Of course. I have been waiting all week to participate in this tradition" Ziva says and she leads the way outside.

"Everything alright?" Ducky asks when the two agents come back outside.

"Everything is great, Duck" Tony says. He throws an arm around Ziva as they walk through the yard.

"Swell," The doctor says with a grin, "I hope you don't mind, Anthony, but Ziva is on my team"

"You ready, Tony?" Ziva says with a wink.

"Oh, bring it, David!" Tony exclaims.

Tony doesn't see, but Gibbs is beaming. The day wasn't over, but it was already going better than he had expected. Tony is still a little off balance, but things are getting easier with him. He knows that Tony is slowly, but surely, getting better.