Disclaimer: NCIS and it's characters are the sole property of people other than myself and I derive no profit from this story.
A/N: It's all done! Actually a little sad to be finished since I'm not sure what I'll write next, but I want you all to know how much I appreciate your support while I wrote this and I can only hope that you all enjoyed it as much as I had fun writing it. Anyway, in the immortal words of Porky Pig- That's all Folks!. :D
Tony laughed over Abby's latest creation, but after her past attempt at baking a welcome back surprise for him, this was a definite improvement and at least this time she actually made a cake instead of some kind of strange pudding-like, cookie mixture. Even if it was a little lopsided...okay, very lopsided, it was a testimony to the love Abby had for him.
"Well...You like it?"
"Absolutely, especially the black frosting....and the bat shape is a special touch...very....unique."
"Ahh, thanks, Tony. Now blow out the candles."
"What is it with you and fire? You do know that candles are just for birthday cakes, right?" He asked cheekily.
"Well, today's your first day back as a full-fledged field agent so it's even more special than your birthday....maybe you need more candles...." She dug around in her bag.
"No!" four voices sounded off at once from all sides of Tony's desk.
"Abby, two boxes of candles should be enough." Ziva assured her.
"Indeed my Dear, there is no room left on the cake for any more." Ducky pointed out.
"Besides, I'm pretty sure this is a fire hazard...should we really be burning anything inside of a federal building?" McGee questioned just before Abby hit him on the shoulder.
"Oh McGee, who's going to arrest you? You?" She complained just as Tony felt a familiar impact to the back of his head and whipped around, seeing Gibbs sweep in from behind and stride to his desk.
"Ow! What was that for?" He whined.
"For not doing anything about that bonfire on your desk." Speaking as he walked, Gibbs sat down behind his desk. "Just blow out the damn candles already DiNozzo, before the smoke detectors go off."
"Hey if the sprinklers go off, it's all Abby's fault." Tony pointed to the goth. "She's the one that's the pryromaniac."
"If I get wet, who do you think I'm actually going to blame?" Gibbs came back.
"Yeah, c'mon, Boss...." Tony laughed then sobered after seeing Gibbs' serious, deadpan glare and took a deep breath then hastily blew out the candles as hard as he could, smiling brightly after they all were extinguished in one breath.
"Yay!" Abby bounced and clapped then gave Tony a tight hug.
Gibbs watched as his team huddled around Tony's desk and he let it slide that they weren't getting much work accomplished that morning. It was just nice to see an actual smile cross over his senior field agent's face and not some cheap facsimile of it, like the one he had been witnessing since his father's murder.
Knowing that getting back to normal was the best medicine for Tony, he also knew that the younger man was still hiding much of the pain and anger he felt, but everyday he saw a little bit more of the old Tony return.
However, after the news he just received from the director, Gibbs worried that it would send him spiraling back down to square one and he was going to have to break the news to him soon before he found out from someone else.
No one at Tony's desk actually noticed when the phone on Gibbs' desk rang and he picked it up.
"Gibbs" He announced to the caller.
"Agent Gibbs, this is Michelle from the evidence locker, An item from the FBI has just arrived for you. Do you want me to bring it up to you?"
"No....I'll come and get it." He replied curtly before hanging up. Gibbs looked over at the gathering by Tony's desk and made eye contact with his senior agent.
"You want any cake, Boss? It's actually pretty good for something Abby made." Tony ducked as Abby swung at him and he laughed when she missed.
"Maybe later." He replied.
Gibbs waited until the little party had died down before he knew that he had to inform Tony of what was going on. Once Abby and Ducky left for their respective posts and Ziva and McGee were back at their spots, he stood and approached Tony's desk. The younger man looked up as he came near and Gibbs motioned with his head towards the elevator.
He didn't need to tell Tony to follow him, one look was enough to convey to him that he had something important he needed to discuss within the quiet confines of the elevator cab. Without saying a word, Tony followed him in and Gibbs punched in the button for the basement, waiting only a few seconds before flicking on the emergency stop switch.
"Did I do something wrong, Boss?" Leave it to Tony to think that he had screwed up in some way to warrant the private talk.
"No...You need to know that I spoke with the director..." Gibbs decided to tell him simply, no need to beat around the bush, he thought, it was better to just get it out in the open. "Foster committed suicide this morning just after he was released from the prison hospital and put in with the general population- Hung himself with his bedsheets."
Gibbs watched Tony's jaw muscles contact as his face paled, clearly angered by the revelation.
"That son of a bitch!..." He spat out the words, his eyes blazing. "He would take the easy way out. He probably figured he was too good for prison." Gibbs had been just as upset to hear the news himself and understood where the anger was coming from.
"There was a note..." Gibbs added "He confessed to the entire plan to kidnap your father and kill the both of you. He mentioned being regretful...."
"Oh sure...." Tony actually laughed then threw up his hands, cutting off his Boss. "Now he's sorry, now that he knows he won't have to face any punishment for what he did." Tony snorted in disgust as he turned away with his hand on his hips, not wanting to show Gibbs the warring emotions going on inside. However, he could practically feel the malice and rage building inside his senior agent, but he let him fume. There wasn't much else he could do to make digesting the news any easier for him.
Tony turned back suddenly, nearly shouting "I should have just let him bleed to death...apparently that's what he wanted all along anyway, at least that way I wouldn't have lost a perfectly good t-shirt !" breathless in his from his rant, Tony panted while Gibbs just stood calmly by.
"Ya done?" Gibbs asked after Tony's breathing evened out.
Tony blew out and nodded.
"Yeah. Sorry, Boss."
"Don't apologize....we both know you wouldn't have let Foster die.."
"I'm not so sure....When we were fighting and I finally got the upper hand....I was going to kill him...I wanted nothing more than to keep beating the shit out of him until...the only thing that stopped me was my Dad...." Tony trailed off.
"But you helped him afterward..."
"I'm still not sure why I did." Tony admitted.
"Because you were the better man, Tony." Locking eyes, Gibbs knew he didn't need to say anymore and flicked the emergency stop off, sending the cab in motion towards the basement once again.
"So, what are we doing down here exactly?" Tony asked as the doors opened to the basement and Gibbs lead the way out.
"Need to pick up something." Gibbs knew that Tony had no idea what he was talking about. One piece of evidence found in Foster's car after Tony had been taken to the hospital had been held by the FBI when they took over the investigation into the kidnapping and murder of Tony's father. Being a kidnapping and murder case that crossed several state lines had trumped NCIS's involvement, but now that Foster was dead, there wasn't any need for the FBI to hang onto it any longer.
Tony followed Gibbs to the evidence locker and Michelle, one of the attendants went right to a plain, brown paper bag as soon as she saw Gibbs.
"Here you go, Agent Gibbs. Just sign this...." She handed a pen and clipboard to the older agent.
"Actually, Agent DiNozzo needs to sign. It's his property." Gibbs handed the pen off to Tony who gave him a surprised and questioning look, but took it and signed anyway.
"What is it?" Tony hadn't learned about this particular piece of evidence, mostly because the FBI were being pricks as usual and had been keeping the fact that they had it in there possession to themselves. Gibbs himself had only learned of it that morning when he talked to Fornell, demanding to know how a prisoner in a federal prison and still being investigated by the FBI had managed to kill himself. While Fornell only grudgingly respected DiNozzo's expertise as an agent, he knew how much Tony meant to Gibbs and had told him about it, offering to send it to them as soon as he had permission to release it.
Gibbs had been a little surprised that Fornell had followed through with his promise so soon, but his old friend always did have a way with getting what he wanted when he wanted it and a small smile played on Gibbs' face when he thought about how the scene may have played out at FBI headquarters. Only Fornell could out-scare his subordinates more than Gibbs could himself and he had no doubt there had been some casualties taken by Fornell's intense glare and sharp tongue along the way.
"Open it up." Gibbs insisted.
With only a moment's hesitation, Tony opened the bag and looked inside.
"How the hell...?" For once DiNozzo was at a loss for words as he pulled the leather-bound scrapbook out of the bag, tracing his fingers along the 'Anthony' embossed across the top of it.
"It was found in Foster's car. He must have taken it when he kidnapped your father." Tony was barely listening as he opened the book. Inside were pictures taken of Tony as a baby, then as a toddler and even a few of him dressed a sailor when he was in grades school, which Tony skipped over rather hastily. One thing was certain however, the photos stopped before Tony entered adolescence.
"This was my mother's..." Tony explained. "I remember her working on this....Why would he take this?"
"Hard to say....Now that he's gone, I guess we'll never know."
He continued to flip through a few blank pages, then gasped when he came upon pictures of himself in adulthood and Gibbs knew as well as Tony did that his mother couldn't have possibly have put those in there.
His father must have.
Musing as he watched Tony flip through the new additions the elder DiNozzo had added to the book, Gibbs thought about how miserably Foster had failed. He had meant to take Tony's career as a field agent, yet here he was stronger than ever. And he tried take all that Tony had away from him by killing his father, however the two would have never reconciled and Tony might never have known that his father actually did care for him if it hadn't been for his act of violence against them. Ultimately, Foster had underestimated Tony's strength, competence and determination like so many other people had and that was what truly led to his defeat.
"Take your time, Tony." He instructed softly. "Come back up when you're ready." Giving Tony a quick pat to the shoulder, Gibbs turned and strode for the exit, then slowed and smiled reflexively when he heard the snap of a book being closed followed by footsteps rushing up behind him.
"On your six, Boss."