Tony receives a summons and fears his world is about to fall apart. Set in Season 6 post Knockout. One tiny spoiler for South by Southwest and non-specific references to Bounce. NCIS characters belong to Bellisario, CBS and Paramount.
The dichotomous portrayal of DiNozzo (by the writers) in Season 6 had me and a number of other viewers (not all agree with this point of view I hasten to add) wondering whether there was a specific reason that the writers might be doing this? Perhaps in a similar way that the coolness between Gibbs and DiNozzo early to mid season made that campfire scene in Bounce so much more powerful. Maybe the current characterisation of DiNozzo will do the same for the season finale? In any case, this is just an alternate (non canon) one-shot explanation for the changes in DiNozzo's behaviour over the early to mid part of Season 6.
Thanks to William for looking over this for me.
Ailing: 1. in poor condition - performing below an expected standard.
Numb, his eyes slowly began to focus but the black text on white beneath his gaze still appeared scrambled. The paper held between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand indicated he was being summoned. Questions would be asked; answers would be given. He would be tested and painful truths would be revisited along the way.
Thursday. Fourteen hundred hours.
Three days. They were making him wait for three days. It was quick... not quick enough.
Breathing harder, faster; the dull thud of his heart echoed, uncharacteristically loud in his chest. Palms sweaty, Tony found he couldn't swallow... he had nothing to swallow. His mouth was as arid as his current sex life and his stomach protested against the vice like grip of fear that held him square, fast, unmoving in the hallway of his apartment.
As his vision clouded, greying first at the edges and then turning a stark monochrome that rivalled the best of his old movies, he knew it would only be a matter of time. Reaching out with his free hand to steady himself, he stumbled backwards landing hard against the wall to the side of the front door. The action jolted him, giving Tony the small advantage he needed as he faced the turning point in his war against losing control.
Blinking, saliva returning in full force, Tony swallowed hard to temper the urge to rid himself of his morning cereal. Pocketing the directive he had been gripping, the agent scooped up his back pack and car keys – he wouldn't give those up just yet – unlocked the door to his apartment and headed for the Navy yard.
Half an hour later, Tony had parked his car and made his way to the entrance to NCIS headquarters. Maybe this is payback, he thought as he waited for the elevator to arrive and take him up to the squad room.
He'd been worried for a while. Oh my God, does Gibbs know? The thought terrified him. Surely the man couldn't know. They was no way. The letter had only arrived the day before and he hadn't even registered it until this morning.
He didn't want to go. He wasn't going to go.
But he should go, and he needed to go.
Momentarily distracted by the elevator arriving, he waited for the doors to open. Matt, one of the MTAC techs brushed past ignoring him, obviously heading home after a night shift. Sticking a hand out to prevent the elevator doors from sliding shut, Tony watched and waited until Matt had cleared the lobby. The tech looked tired, eager to get to his bed. What do I look like? he wondered as he entered the elevator. Do I look any different? Pressing the second button to take him up to the squad room, Tony sagged against the back wall of the elevator as the doors closed.
Things hadn't been right for a while. Little things, nothing major, but 'things' nonetheless. It was funny how some things stayed with you all your life but others were forgotten in an instant. Things he should know, thought he knew, remembered he'd known but then ultimately forgotten... failed to remember when needed the most.
People were also less tolerant now. Gibbs, McGee, even Ziva to a degree... although Vance, oddly enough, seemed to be more tolerant of him now. That was unnerving. Maybe it was the calm before the storm? Maybe this was what Vance had been waiting for all along? It would be a perfect excuse.
A whole host of clichéd pleasantries filled his head. If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. But Vance couldn't possibly know. Unless Gibbs had told him, and how could Gibbs tell him if Gibbs didn't know? He didn't know, did he?
Oh God! Tony paled as the thought entered his head. That's why Gibbs said what he said the other week. Gibbs knew he'd not get the opportunity to say it later and the boss knew it was what he had craved for so long.
But Gibbs couldn't know.
Anthony, you're being paranoid.
Paranoia. Well that went well with altered behaviour. Another to add to the list,he thought. No doubting it now.
Maybe it was familial, inherited form his maternal grandmother. First his mother, second his uncle. Who would be third? Would it be Crispian or him next? Hadn't his father always said that he was weak? He would be next. 'We reap what we sow, boy,' another of his father's wondrous pieces of advice.
Why the hell his father had named him 'Anthony' he had no idea. The name meant the complete opposite of everything his father had told him as he was growing up. It went against everything he felt right now. Maybe his father was about to have the last laugh.
Maybe his father was right.
Bowing his head Tony realised he was going to lose everything. His job, his friends, colleagues, everything he lived for. Worst of all, he would lose Gibbs - his one constant over the past few years.
Gibbs didn't suffer fools... even those fools that had stood the test of time; fools who had worked for him for almost eight years.
Things were going to change, and not for the better.
As the elevator slowed, stopping at the first floor, the doors opened and Tony raised his head to find Director Vance looking at him intently. He pulled himself away from the back wall and straightened up, tensing. Vance entered the lift, pressed the third button and then stood next to him.
The doors closed and Tony felt the atmosphere within the confines of the small moveable cell tense and thicken three-fold. A few seconds in and the senior field agent found himself trying to defuse the oppressive environment that threatened to take him down. "Cold out today, Director."
Vance turned to face him. "You can cut the small talk, DiNozzo."
"Yes sir." Well he tried. If anything the tension between the two increased further.
"So, I read your report on the investigation you led the other week." Vance eyed him for a few seconds and then stated firmly. "Tough case."
"A man lost three years of his life." The statement hit its intended mark with the absolute precision of a well timed upper cut and Tony recoiled and stilled as the dark eyes of his Director locked onto his. "Your team. Your lead."
Tony let his eyes drift and fall away briefly from under the Director's grip before taking a breath and returning them to their mark. "I take full responsibility."
The elevator slowed to a stop.
"More of that. Less of the other, Agent DiNozzo."
He furnished Vance with barely a whisper of a nod. "Sir."
The elevator doors slid back offering a clear path of freedom and yet he still hesitated.
The relief he felt as he left the elevator was short-lived as he realised what he'd have to ask Gibbs just a few minutes later. Schooling his facial expression to one of relative normality, Tony entered the squad room. "Morning, Boss," he offered as he chucked his back pack in the corner by his desk and removed his Sig.
Tony was still standing behind his desk, Sig and holster cupped in his left hand, when he heard the elevator doors sliding open up on the mezzanine above. Looking up, he observed as Director Vance calmly walked around the railings and headed for his office. Midway, Vance shot a glance into the squad room and eyed him specifically.
It was an action that hadn't gone unnoticed by Gibbs, the only other member of the team currently in.
Busying himself with unlocking drawers, packing his Sig away and logging on to his workstation, Tony let the routine actions occupy him fully; grateful that simple actions could take away the opportunity for his boss's ice cold blues to ensnare him, silently ordering his compliance with the inevitable interrogation.
Gibbs had, no doubt, picked up on his reluctance to talk because he left him alone for the next half hour. In fact Gibbs was probably grateful for his continued silence... he certainly looked as though he wouldn't welcome any interruptions. As they worked silently, diagonally opposite each other, the squad room slowly began to fill with other agents. Tony really didn't want an audience and McGee and Ziva hadn't arrived yet. Rising from his chair, Tony walked over to Gibbs who, it seemed, was engrossed at his desk looking through the team's reports that they'd completed the previous evening.
"Boss," he grimaced. "I need to put in a leave request for Thursday afternoon." Spying the arched eyebrow from his team leader, he tempered his request. "Well, maybe not the whole afternoon. I'll probably only need an hour or so."
"Dentist," he lied.
His boss gave him a look that clearly indicated he didn't believe a word of what he'd just told him. Tony sighed. "Okay not dentist. But it does start with a d."
"Hmm..." the eyebrow raised again, "like dismissed, discharged... fired."
"Gibbs, fired doesn't start with a d..."
"Di-Nozzo, you're fi..."
Tony winced. "Ah, with you now, Boss."
Gibbs sighed as he leaned back in his chair and folded his arms.
"Doctors," Tony reluctantly offered. "It's nothing. Just a check up."
"A check up?"
"Anything I need to know?"
Tony laughed nervously. "No, Boss. It's just a routine check up." He knew Gibbs wasn't buying it, but he hoped his boss wouldn't make him elaborate further on the details so he offered the customary get out clauses. "If it turns up anything... which it won't... I'll let you know. If it doesn't turn up anything... which it will... I'll also let you know. Well I say that, but you seem to know everything before I do anyway. Perhaps you could tell me."
Tony was lost, deep in explanation that he didn't quite register the consent from Gibbs or the movement as his team leader stood, grabbed his wallet and edged around the desk heading out for coffee. He did, however, register the palm connecting with the back of his head and grimaced.
As he walked slowly back to his desk, Tony glanced up at his boss who had turned back towards him midway to the elevator.
"I'm fine, Boss."
Removing the letter from his inside jacket pocket, he sat down. The truth was, he felt absolutely fine he just wasn't sure how long that was going to last.
He'd find out at his appointment with the oncologist. Thursday. Fourteen hundred hours.
Ailing: 2. ill – affected or weakened by an illness.
A/N – I stress, non canon and AU. Also, if you look up the meanings of the names Leroy, Jethro, Anthony and Leon it's uncanny.
Thought I'd continue the SA3s - hope you don't mind. I know they're not to everyone's taste but, as the saying goes, you can't please all of the people all of the time.
"So... can I borrow it?"
"What's it worth?"
"I will buy you lunch."
"Hmm, tempting Zita, but I think I'll pass. I had a large breakfast."
"But you are not using it, and mine is..." Zita paused, running a finger along its silver edge, "blunt."
"Blunt..." SA3 exclaimed. "What did you do?"
"Nothing. Come on SA3. I do not ask very often."
"Why should I? Incentivise me, Zita."
'WHACK!' The Boss's hand connected sharply with the back of SA3's head.
"Ow!" SA3 rubbed the stinging sensation away. "What was that for?"
"Rule number nine," the Boss replied handing his own knife to Zita. "Have it on you tomorrow SA3466996, or else."
SA3 sighed at the Boss's unnerving knowledge of all his slip-ups. "Thank you, Boss."
Zita chuckled. "Incentivised enough, SA3?"