AN- Many apologies for those of you waiting for the ending of Safe Harbor but between RL landing from a great hieght and Tony being stubborn I'm a bit stuck on the ending .. but it will come to me .. in the meantime I finally worked out why Jackson Gibbs gave DiNozzo that darned sweater. This is pretty much finished and will be up over the next few days.
Gibbs took a long swallow of his coffee as he reflected. The case was closed Nick Kingston had been arrested. Justice had been served. Hell, he had even managed to find enough common ground with his father to accept his invitation to dinner and a bed for the night for him and his team. But his usual sense of satisfaction at a job well done was missing. Looking around at his team it wasn't hard to pinpoint the cause of his unease. Ziva was curled up in a chair reading a classic American novel with total concentration, McGee was doing something or other on his laptop and Abby was wielding the pricing gun like a maniac as she flirted with Jack.
DiNozzo was no-where to be seen.
Gibbs scrubbed at his face. He had been afraid of this. It was one of the reasons he had tried to leave his senior field Agent back in DC to follow up on the Taylor family. Enough time had passed that he'd known coming back to Stillwater would lead to some kind of reconciliation with his father. In his heart he had already forgiven the man some time ago. It was only his stubborn pride that had kept him from picking up the phone and telling him so. Frankly he was downright ashamed of that. He'd had every intention of dropping by once the case was closed. It was past time that they made their peace.
But he'd known how hard that would be for DiNozzo to watch.
He'd been dammed lucky growing up. Jackson Gibbs was a good man. He had worked for years in the dust and danger of the mine to give his son the chance to reach for the skies. And when he feared that one more close call might cost his family their only breadwinner he had opened the store and worked ever hour God sent to ensure his loved ones never went without. Right up until his mother died Gibbs' white wicket picket fence childhood had been everything that DiNozzo's privileged Long Island upbringing wasn't.
With a sigh he came to his decision. Topping up his coffee cup he added four large spoonfuls of sugar, making it just the way DiNozzo liked it, before going in search of his senior field Agent.
He found him exactly where he had known he would be, sitting on the floor of the old out building, with his back against the wall, his eyes dark and unreadable as he stared at the lovingly restored challenger. Without a word Gibbs stepped out of the late afternoon sunshine into the dappled shadows to settle on the dirt floor beside him, resolutely ignoring the popping of his busted knee, as he made sure that their shoulders and thighs were accidently touching. Silently, he passed across the mug, watching as Tony wrapped his hands around its comforting warmth, before taking a cautious sniff and an even more wary swallow, his eyes widening in surprise as he recognised Gibbs' version of an opening.
"How did you know, Boss?" Tony asked quietly.
Gibbs didn't pretend to mis-understand him. They had known each other too long for that. And they both recognised in Chuck Winslow the type of ruthless bastard who would do whatever it took to get ahead in business. The man hadn't been lying when he said he had done a lot of bad things in his life. Little wonder that DiNozzo's saw shades of his own father in him. Except, Gibbs knew how important family was to Winslow, there was no way he would have harmed a hair on the head of his own son. He only wished he could say the same about David DiNozzo.
"Most fathers don't set out to hurt their kids," He allowed with a little shrug, trying to take the sting out of his words. "That doesn't mean they can't screw up some."
"That what happened with you and Jack?" Tony wanted to know.
Any other time Gibbs might have told him it was none of his business. But here and now he could see the loss in DiNozzo's eyes and hear the pain in his voice. If eight years of putting up with his crap hadn't earned the younger man the right to know, then growing up with a father who had never managed to give the kid one iota of the affection and approval he craved, sure as hell did. Back in the day Gibbs' rift with his own father had been key to getting DiNozzo to understand that trust ran both ways. He wasn't about to let their reconciliation be the thing that tore that trust apart.
"He brought a date to their funeral." Gibbs knew he didn't have to explain who 'they' were.
"Oh," Tony said his voice soft with understanding. Then he pressed his lips together considering. "Still, must have been hard on him, loosing his daughter-in-law and his granddaughter like that. Maybe, he couldn't face it alone."
"You always have to think the best of people?" Gibbs asked, a little testily.
"Not even close," Tony shook his head. "But I think your Dad is essentially a good guy."
"Yeah," Gibbs couldn't help but agree. "I know."
"And you've got to admit," Tony's gaze took in the car, as he thought about the hours of painstaking work it must have taken, out here without electricity, to restore the challenger to its former glory. "As apologies go, that's pretty impressive."
"Tony." The gentle tone said everything words could not.
"I know, Boss," Tony smiled over brightly. "And don't get me wrong. I'm much better off without that man in my life but how many kids don't dream that one day their father with give them a really cool car?"
"DiNozzo." Gibbs warned.
The kid should know better than to think that kind of BS would work with him. Still, he took no satisfaction in the way that Tony instantly sobered, looking away as if the memories were too painful to share. They sat there in silence for several minutes, before the temptation got too much for Gibbs and he plucked the rapidly cooling coffee out of DiNozzo's hand and took a swallow, grimacing at the too sweet taste.
"How can you drink that?" He demanded.
"It's an acquired taste," DiNozzo snatched it back, cradling the mug protectively. "One I acquired to stop you stealing my coffee!"
Gibbs eye brows shot up at that admission before his face crinkled into a rueful smile. All these years and he had never suspected that. Reaching up he saw Tony brace himself for a head slap, but instead Gibbs simply ruffled his hair fondly. Any parent who felt anything but pride when their kid out smarted them was a dammed fool in his book.
"Really?" Tony visibly brightened at the unexpected praise. Then he pouted. "You know one of these days I'm going to get you to say these things in front of witnesses."
"Your head would explode." Gibbs vetoed that.
"That's OK, Boss," Tony gave him a loopy grin. "I know how you really feel about me."
Gibbs gave him an old-fashioned look. Tony had always known that Gibbs' loved him he had just had a hell of time believing that he deserved it. But things had gradually changed over the years and Gibbs determination to go toe-to-toe with Vance, to bring him home to DC, even after Jenny had been killed on his watch, had gone a hell of a long way to banish those insecurities for good. Gibbs refused to consider that any softening of attitude on his part, after he had seen the kid blown up during the whole Frog thing and blown apart by the whole Langer thing, not to mention being made Agent Afloat like he was the unwanted step-son being shipped off to military school, had had anything to do with it.
This was his hometown. The case was closed. DiNozzo was particularly bursting with curiosity about his childhood. Would it do any harm to show the kid around some?