A/N: I've been reading NCIS Gibbscentric fics until I'm practically blue in the face (and enjoying every minute of it) and have come across a few strange consistencies. One of them being a lot of fics based on those last few moments when Gibbs quits at the end of Hiatus pt 2. They all (mostly) make Gibbs out to be this horrible unfeeling bastard (in the bad way, not the good way) and I just don't think that's how it is, I think there was a helluva lot more to that scene than what happened on the surface.
So here it is. My take on what was running through Abby and Tony's minds during that scene. -pj
At first glance those two words do not seem like enough. Especially considering that in the next moment Gibbs handed over his gun and badge and told Tony they were 'his team' now.
Did he feel confused? Of course. Blindsided, sure. Angry, maybe a little. Hurt? Not a chance.
Tony knew something outsiders probably overlooked.
Gibbs was a man of few words. He didn't need many. Tony had known him to communicate entire ideas and sentiments with a single look.
No, with Gibbs, the words often meant nothing. It was what came with the words that counted. The tone, the context, the gestures, the expression.
The Tone. He said it with a half smile, which meant he was almost giving Tony a hard time and if the younger man hadn't been so confused by the comment he might have been amused along with him.
Context. The next words out of Gibbs' mouth were 'it's your team now'. That was the biggest compliment Tony could have ever asked for. In those four words Gibbs told him he trusted him, implicitly, to take care of the people Gibbs cared for most in the world. He was leaving McGee, Ziva, Abby, Ducky, even Jenny, in his care. He was relinquishing control to the younger agent. That meant more than words ever could.
"It's your team now."
Gesture. He laid his hand on Tony's shoulder and squeezed. Gave him both the reassurance and the apology he knew Tony needed and deserved. The reassurance that he could, in fact, lead this team and an apology for the promotion in the one way he knew Tony didn't want it.
"It's your team now."
'Take care of them while I'm gone' remained unspoken. It didn't need to be said. Tony understood what the Gibbs's eyes were telling him and if he'd been able to think properly he probably would have replied with a somber 'on it, Boss' out of pure force of habit.
He looked down at the badge and gun in his hands after Gibbs turned to talk to McGee, feeling for the first time the full load of being Lead Agent on his shoulders. His stomach tightened in panic for a split second and he was overcome with the urge to ask Gibbs what to do, but he bit his tounge. His own pride and common sense would not allow him to do so. Tony knew Gibbs was cagey and a control freak. He wouldn't have handed over the reigns to this team to someone he didn't think could do the job. If there had even been the slightest doubt in Gibbs' mind, Tony knew, he would have stuck it out until he was sure.
But he hadn't.
He'd turned over the reigns.
And beneath the hurt and fear and shock, Tony smiled.
It was probably the nicest thing Gibbs had ever said to him.
Abby watched in stunned silence as Gibbs handed over his gun and badge to Tony. Seeing but not believing what was happening. Knowing, but not understanding.
He said something to Tony but she couldn't hear what it was over the rushing in her ears.
She watched in horrified silence as he crossed the Unit to McGee who looked a little bit like somebody had just kicked his puppy, and Gibbs smiled when he said whatever he said to him.
Finally he looked at her.
"Gibbs…" her voice broke into a million peices with that one word and she realized she really didn't have anything to come after it, not that it mattered anyway. He put his finger to her lips and silenced her tearful protest. She froze as he leaned in to give her one (last) kiss on the cheek. Her heartrate sped up, a thousand questions flyling through her head, not the least of which being: why?
As his lips touched the side of her face she'd almost expected him to say it, and the tears of confusion she was already fighting turned to tears of relief when he didn't.
She wouldn't have been able to handle it if he said 'goodbye'.
'Goodbye' wasn't 'see you around' or 'catch you later' or even 'take care, talk to you soon'. Goodbye meant 'good luck, I'll never see you again'.
'Goodbye' was permanent.
He'd looked at her when he pulled away, that small smile she knew so well had slipped into place on his lips.
Her vision was blurred but she was able to see both apology and tenderness in his blue eyes. She saw his confidence in her, heard him silently telling her that he knew she'd be alright. That she'd be taken care of.
He turned to walk toward Ziva and she was unable to tear her eyes away from.
He said something to Ziva too, but hell if she knew what it was.
When he turned to leave with Ducky she took her first breath since he'd given his things to Tony. But it stopped short, caught in her throat when he turned back to look at them one (last) time.
She'd been terrified, petrified that he would say it then.
But he didn't.
In fact, what he did say almost made her laugh.
It was so Gibbs.
Then he'd done an about face and entered the elevator with Ducky, not looking back once. And the weight of the elevator doors closing between them had almost crushed her already bruised heart.
But it didn't.
Because he hadn't said 'goodbye'.
And without 'goodbye' there was always 'next time'.
And 'next time' gave her hope.