Title: Idle Conversations: Do
Pairing: none, gen
Rating: G (all ages)
Summary: Because he wasn't really expecting an answer… Post "Hiatus".
minor Hiatus spoilers
Word Count: 1100+ words, Complete
Author's Notes: The following are just tiny drabbles for 'Idle Conversations', doubling as practice as I leapt with both feet into yet another fandom. Everyone's seen and done drabbles at some point. Just dribbles of the brain; otherwise known as "drabbles".
"Well…I'm team leader," Tony started. He stopped. Tony DiNozzo felt ridiculous. He considered his words and corrected himself. "He left me in charge."
For now hung heavily in the air.
Tony sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I always figured I would just get my own team, you know? You know…head honcho, Madam, Director, coming over and slapping me on the back and say 'Good job, DiNozzo, we think you're ready.'"
With a snort, Tony paced in a tight, erratic line back and forth. He stopped, pivoted on his heels and stared in front of him. It didn't feel like an agreement was coming so he paced again, waving the bottle of beer he held in one fist helplessly in the air. His hand felt cool from the condensation that trickled down to his fingers from the bottle.
"I mean, it would have been nice if he said I was ready." Tony set his jaw. He dropped down on the stool and stared hard in front of him. He lifted the long neck bottle he'd been ignoring and took a long pull. He swiped across his lower lip clean of beer with his thumb. He made a face at the sour taste. Beer was never something he indulged in.
"You know," he tilted his head back a little to remember. "Some sort of gesture would have been nice. I'm not saying I need him to hand over his sword or salute or…"
Tony stood again, scrapping the stool legs against the concrete floor. The stool he was on danced on its legs; a compact twirl before it settled down to a docile state and waited.
"You'll do." Tony flinched when he said the words. It rang too much like an echo. It hung too much like a noose; it threatened to choke him for days after until finally, Tony found himself down in the basement, struggling to breathe. "That's what he said. He said 'You'll do.'"
The laugh that escaped hurt his throat. It grated like broken glass.
"I don't know if I will do," Tony confessed. Another swig made him sway on his feet. He set it down because his father never did.
No one contradicted him. Tony smiled ruefully at what was in front of him. He shoved his hands in his pockets.
"So you're just the strong, silent type, huh?" he joked.
A golden wooden skeleton of a boat—Gibbs' third catharsis for whatever that brewed inside the former Marine—stood stoic and ready in front of him. The tarp that covered it was peeled back by its visitor.
"I know how you feel," Tony murmured as he picked out frayed, thinned scraps of sanding paper from the work table and discarded them. He very deliberately set the new ones on the evicted spots. The number four over where the old number four was, the six, and so on. He circled around the skeleton and felt an odd twist of sympathy for it as he spied one rib half done. The powdery surface stopped midway to the coarse, splintered grain of drying wood. It made a jagged border between sandy smooth and coarse. It had the look of abandonment.
Tony scratched a nail on the transition line and watched golden ash rained down to the table. "He'll be back," he assured it. "He wouldn't leave you behind."
It felt easy to talk to the curves and flats of bound wood and polished grain than to anyone back at the Navy yards. It felt familiar. He never really expected an answer (but if he did get one, he was switching beers). The curved and finished wood didn't expect one, either. It sat there and waited for Tony to figure it out on his own; just like Gibbs.
The ex-Marine never said anything clearly. Five years under his tutelage gave Tony a nice abridged lexicon to Gibbs-speak. And the head slaps served as addendums. It used to be enough.
Used to be.
"I mean, come on," Tony pleaded to one particular exposed rib that was darker than all the rest; new and still damp. "I mean, he can be more cryptic than Yoda sometimes! Did he mean…I…" Tony stepped back. He leaned against the workbench shoved up against the wall. It doubled as Gibbs' media furniture; an old television that showed everyone in a hue of blue and green rattled on a hastily nailed up on a piece of plywood behind him.
"He knows I won't screw this up. Right?" Tony said finally. "Otherwise he'd be back from whatever umbrella drink island to kick my ass." He shrugged one shoulder. "Maybe…Maybe 'You'll do' was all he can say." It was a flimsy reason, but once he said it, Tony did feel a little better about it. It was something at least. Some never made an effort to even have a kind thought for him. It was the most concession Gibbs ever gave him. Maybe it would have to be enough.
"What do you think?" Tony dared the wooden frame. It of course said nothing. Just like her owner. Typical.
The phone in his pocket rang. And for one brief moment, Tony stared stunned at the boat until his fingers fumbled his mobile out of his pocket. When he replied with a short "DiNozzo" he thought he heard the boat's approval.
The teeny buzz in his ear hardened his eyes. Tony reached out and absently stroked one of the beams that circled around the ribs.
Instruction. They were waiting for instruction on the other side of the line. Tony's finger stopped, the pad of his index finger pressed into the wood.
"Get the truck out there and start sketching. Have Abby look up the site and feed a map of the grounds to McGee's PDA. I want a ToD from Ducky when I get there." The words slipped out easy enough, like reading off a script, but Tony looked over to the boat, not that he would get any affirmation from it. He brushed a palm across the surface, stroking it absently like a dog as he listened to Ziva gave him the bullet points. He noted some of the planks weren't completely dry; they were still cool and damp under his hand.
Tony studied his empty beer bottle, his lips pressed together. "It'll take me a few minutes," Tony reported. He absently tugged the canvas tarp over the exposed structure. "A friend," Tony answered cryptically to the buzz in his ear. His mouth twitched when he heard the exasperation. Odd to be on the other end of it now. "No, she's not old enough to drive me there." Tony patted the tarp. "I'll call a cab."
Tony shut the phone with a decisive snap before stowing it in his pocket. "Duty calls," Tony shrugged towards the boat. He retrieved the dark amber glass bottle, brushed his knuckles against the ship, and smiled. It felt wrong to pull the tarp over it; like a sheet over an ashen corpse.
"He'll be back," Tony said slowly. "He wouldn't leave you like this."
The boat didn't reply, of course, but Tony could have sworn the wood warmed under his knuckles. Somehow, it made him feel a little better. He straightened, did a quick check around the area before he went back up the stairs. Tony avoided the rickety fifth step that no one fixed and Tony figured he shouldn't either. He paused at the top of the stairs.
"Night," he called out. Oddly enough, it didn't feel weird and when he shut the basement door, he made a note to come back. Just to check the boat.