A/N - Huge thanks once more to three fabulous people, CSIGeekFan, Obsessed Pam and Will.
Chapter 10 – Monday, 05:52 EST
The sight of his senior field agent asleep at his desk usually had Gibbs doing one of three things: slamming a hand down on DiNozzo's desk, barely an inch from the man's head; giving the front of Tony's desk a hard kick with his foot, jolting the man awake; or, as he was sorely tempted to do at this moment, giving the invitingly exposed snooze button a swift hard swipe. Gibbs, however, elected to do none of those things right away, opting instead to let the man sleep a few extra minutes. Settling himself down at his desk and booting up his computer, Gibbs glanced at Tony. He looked older and haggard and, to be perfectly honest, a few extra minutes sleep wouldn't hurt; he obviously hadn't had much over the weekend and he'd be awake soon enough. Gibbs busied himself with sorting through the stack of unread e-mails that had just appeared in his Inbox.
His ribs jarred with each and every heavy stride, sending a jolt of pain cursing throughout his frame. He tried taking shallow breaths as he ran but it was damn near impossible so he just got on with it, sucked it up and ran. It was bearable... just. The first day back after the holidays and, trust Murphy's law, they'd landed double PT at the end of the day. After a lengthy warm up, Coach had split them into three groups and they had alternated between general PT, bean bag sprint races and running. Group 2, his group, were currently running laps around the track and the fact that he was uncharacteristically slow hadn't gone unnoticed by Coach, or some of the other boys, one boy in particular.
Scaini hung back, waiting for Tony to catch up with him. "What's up, Nozzo? Too many eight course meals at Daddy's last week. You'll never make the team running half-assed. Face it, you're losing it... but then that's just you, isn't it... one... big... fat... loser. Maybe you've already lost it." Scaini slowed to a standstill, a smirk appearing on his young face as he openly goaded Tony, "What did happen to your mother?"
That drew a reaction and the pain left Tony as the adrenaline surged forth. Tony spun around and the two teenagers squared up to each other. "Why don't you just go f..."
"Hey! Cut it out!" Coach yelled from a distance, just in time to stop the boys trading punches. He was in their faces, however, in under three seconds. "This is a new record Scaini. DiNozzo, I'm disappointed. What is wrong with you two?" he yelled. "Well?"
When neither boy answered, Coach let his anger show more openly as he barked out their punishments to them.
"Scaini, five trees, NOW!"
"Yes Sir," the boy sighed, casting Tony a sly grin before he began to run off in the direction of the trees at the far end of the pitch.
"DiNozzo, three laps. GO!"
"How come he gets trees and I..."
"Wanna make it five laps, DiNozzo?!"
"No Sir," Tony replied and started a slow run in the opposite direction to Scaini.
"DiNozzo!" Coach snapped. "Get a move on, I'm timing you." After making sure the two boys were suitably distanced from each other, Coach checked his watch and turned his attention to the remaining kids who'd watched the altercation and who were now standing around on the field. "The rest of you, get this stuff cleared away and hit the showers."
Streamlining his vision on the deckchair stripes of burnt orange and white, Tony ran, concentrating hard on putting one foot in front of the other. Left foot... then right foot... then left foot again... a safe routine. It would be difficult to try and run any other way really. Of course, there was right foot, left foot and then right foot again but he had yet to try right foot, left foot, left foot, right foot.
'Stupid idiot, Anthony. Why d'ya let him get to you? Scaini's a jerk,' he thought as he ran.
TURF. That was the intention behind Coach's 'Laps' punishment. First lap was supposed to clear his head so he could think, second lap was designed to make him understand and reassess his actions or a situation and, on the third lap he was supposed to focus on what needed to be done to put things right. It worked, for him anyway. Running did help to clear his head, and when his head was clear he could think, understand, reassess and focus. He was on lap one.
When he'd first been on the receiving end of Coach's wrath, he'd hated laps... couldn't see the point, but after a few sessions he'd understood their value and even started running himself whenever he felt he needed to clear his head. It was cathartic. In fact, he didn't consider running laps a 'real' punishment - although he'd never tell Coach that. He enjoyed running; he was good at it. Unfortunately, Tony wasn't really enjoying it this time; not with his ribs screaming at him every time his feet hit the track. Trying to block out the pain, he concentrated on clearing his head. Scaini was easy to get rid of but Coach wasn't. When Coach had said he was disappointed with him, it had hit home. He was always disappointing his dad. Tony didn't want to disappoint him but he couldn't seem to do anything to stop doing just that. Tony really didn't want to disappoint Coach either.
Tony upped his pace.
'Crap!' Tony cursed under his laboured breaths. Scaini was up ahead. He'd already rounded one tree at the edge of the field and was making the journey to the other sets of trees at the far end of the field. Unfortunately that meant that he and Scaini would probably end up meeting each other as he ran around the curve and Scaini crossed the track. 'Perfect,' Tony thought as his reckoning began to materialise. As Scaini approached, he saw the sneer emerge and knew it wouldn't be long before the snide taunt followed.
"Later, Nozzo. Prick!"
Ignoring the bait but using the anger Scaini's comment had instilled in him, he pushed on, the sudden adrenalin surge lessening the pain. Picking up the pace considerably, Tony put his all into running as hard and as fast as he physically could; at least he would try not to disappoint Coach. He pushed all the way to the end and beyond. Arriving back after the third lap, Tony doubled over, placing his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath.
"DiNozzo!" Coach yelled over to him, "Front and centre."
Wincing at the harsh tone of voice, Tony raised himself up and double timed it over to stand before Coach. Scaini had already finished five trees torture and had had a strip torn off him by Coach. Linking his hands behind his back, his breathing slightly more regulated, Tony chose his random point in the distance and fixed it with a stare while he waited for the inevitable dressing-down from his instructor.
"Better, almost back up to your PB," Coach stated. "Now, mind telling me what's wrong?"
The bruising had still not fully developed but the pain was definitely full on now. Even so, there was no way he was telling anyone what was wrong. No one was ever going to know. Tony swallowed hard.
He stood alone.
"Well then, if you're fine, you can go do another lap, and you'll go on doing laps until I get a satisfactory explanation for what's wrong with you today. I'll be waiting by the bench when you're ready to tell me. GO!" he yelled. "And DiNozzo!" he added as Tony ran off towards the track, "It's I'm fine, SIR!"
The muffled pained sounds from Tony's desk had Gibbs looking up and over at his senior field agent with concern and then empathy. Nightmare. He'd experienced too many of those himself and seen enough in others to recognise the composite package of rapid eye movement, twitching, pained facial expression, beads of sweat and vocal murmurings.
Time to put DiNozzo out of his misery. Grabbing his coat, Gibbs locked his computer and started to head out for coffee; but not before pausing briefly at his Senior Field Agent's desk and giving it a hard kick. Gibbs didn't hang around as Tony woke with a start.
The elevator pinged; Tony kept his head down but one eye surreptitiously trained on the floor near the elevator. He knew that the kick to his desk could only have come from one person and for one reason only... and he wanted at least to appear on the ball now, even if he was a little sleep deprived. When Gibbs had woken him, thankfully from reliving the entirety of another nightmare, he'd grabbed a change of clothes, headed for the wash room and been back at his desk within 10 minutes. Now he was stuck waiting, albeit with the previous evening's dirt washed away and clean DiNozzo mask in place, for the inevitable awkward conversation; not about sleeping at his desk but about that exchange he'd had in the elevator the previous evening. Fortunately, for the moment, neither set of shoes belonging to the two agents that had emerged from the elevator and who were now making their way into the squad room were his Boss's. Tony looked up as McGee smiled.
"Good weekend Tony?" McGee asked.
"Let me see... well, there was a Saturday and then there was a Sunday," he replied sarcastically. "Just your typical DiNozzo weekend. What do you think?"
"Don't get too close, Ziva," McGee joked, "He's cranky; obviously didn't get his morning run."
"Actually, McGee, I had a good weekend," he lied, getting up from behind his desk and joining Ziva and McGee in the middle of the squad room. "You... Ziva?"
"Good. In fact...Tony..."
"I..." Ziva hesitated, "I followed your advice."
"Really?" Tony asked with a hint of surprise. "Well I am the 'Senior' field agent," he stated before turning towards her and adding, "Re-ally?"
"Yes, Tony. Really. You have been trying to get me to watch more movies so I decided it was time for me to rent one."
"You... wow, Ziva I... what did you go for? Wait, let me guess. Die Hard? No. The Alien box set?"
Tony spied the beginning of a smirk on Ziva's face.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's? Colder right? Okay... "
"You will never guess, Tony."
"Tell me it wasn't Sleepless in Seattle... please."
"It was not Sleepless in Seattle, Tony."
"Okay, I give up. Hit me."
As Ziva stepped closer to Tony, McGee hastily intervened, "He means tell him the name of the movie, Ziva."
"That too," Tony winked.
McGee stifled a laugh. Tony's eyes opened wide with excitement and renewed energy. "I love Madagascar."
"Go figure," McGee chimed in.
"The penguins..." Tony wasn't listening, "Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and..."
"Private," McGee added.
"You have noticed the similarities too?"
"What similarities, Ziva?" Tony mocked.
"Yeah right," McGee mused. "S'pose you're Kowalski to Gibbs's Skipper, Tony."
"I thought so."
"I always fancied myself as a bit of a Rico, all those gadgets and stuff."
Tony laughed, patting McGee on his shoulder. "Aw, Tim thinks he's Rico, Ziva... Rico..."
Ziva glared at McGee. "I am Rico."
"Yeah, Rico regurgitates keys, picks locks, is a whizz with a knife and cooks for his team mates," Tony said shooting Ziva a smile. "Most of his team mates anyway." He wasn't going to let her forget that one quite so quickly.
Ziva shot him a glare and then smiled back at him.
"So, what then... I have to be the Private... I'm Private?" McGee exclaimed.
"Well if the flipper fits Private Probie."
"Kowalski! A word," Gibbs snapped as he strode into the squad room, depositing a coffee on his desk and then motioning for Tony to follow him.
Tony grimaced and began to follow Gibbs when he heard McGee cough. He paused briefly and shot a glance back at Tim and Ziva. They were both grinning.
"Don't even think about saying it, McGee."
"Just smile and wave Tony, smile and wave" McGee offered, with a small wave of his hand.
Tony sucked in the side of his cheek and continued to follow Gibbs into the corridor. Gibbs had stopped short of the elevator and had turned to face him now. The expression he wore demanded attention. Tony knew what this was about and it had nothing to do with an ill-timed conversation about penguins. He should never have said what he did in that damn elevator. He didn't want Gibbs's pity.
Tony stood in front of Gibbs, silently waiting for him to speak.
Gibbs looked at the man standing before him now. DiNozzo... his senior field agent... his Kowalski. He'd thought he'd known exactly what he was going to say to him but he really wasn't sure whether what he intended to do was the right thing or not.
"Tony, I don't..."
"Boss, I know what you're going to say", Tony interrupted. "Don't stop doing what you do because of..."
He slapped Tony firmly on the back of his head. DiNozzo had chosen for the both of them.
"Trying to say, DiNozzo... don't wanna repeat this... weekend. Don't need to. Need you ready to transfer Porter to DVU when he gets here, and..."
"We're not doing the interview?" Tony asked.
Gibbs licked his lips and furnished his Senior Field Agent with a determined stare. Tony really should know better than to ask. It was the Domestic Violence unit's case ever since Vanessa agreed to make a statement and although Porter had more than likely played a part in Lucas Reynolds's decision to take his own life, they would never know for sure and 'more than likely' just wouldn't cut with the JAG lawyers.
Gibbs raised an eyebrow. "And..." he continued, dismissing his agent's question and adopting a low and more deadly tone of voice, "if the rest of those cold case files aren't reviewed and on my desk by 09:00..."
The response was swift and sincere and DiNozzo had already, in his haste, started to turn back towards his desk. Gibbs upped the deathly tone in his voice a notch. "Wait..." he stated, pausing until Tony turned back to face him, meeting his own eyes; certain that he'd got his senior field agent's complete attention. "That promotion assessment form... accidentally misfiled... that was several months ago. Not what I think now and, it's not what this one says," he smiled, producing an envelope from his inside jacket pocket. He waved it in front of Tony before batting him lightly on the forehead with it. "Still think you lack discipline though."
The briefest of smiles flickered across Tony's face and then his head dropped and he stared at the floor. Gibbs waited as Tony swallowed and then lifted his head back up, the green eyes meeting his own once more. The smile that Tony wore matched the gratitude the eyes were conveying now. Staring back at his senior field agent, Gibbs waited for the recognition of what he'd just said, including his earlier subtle threat, to hit home. A few seconds passed before the smile on Tony's face quickly disappeared to be replaced by a look of concern and worry.
Tony hesitated. "About the other day. It won't ha..."
"I know DiNozzo," Gibbs interrupted and waited as Tony nodded.
"Thanks, Boss..." Tony flashed a smile, "for the Pizza."
Licking his lips, Gibbs purposely clipped his answer, "What Pizza?"
As DiNozzo started back pedalling furiously, he allowed himself a smirk and his expression to soften as Tony caught on. It hadn't taken long, judging by the way Tony was shaking his head and biting his bottom lip.
"Nice one, Boss."
The two men stood opposite each other; Tony studying him whilst he appraised Tony. As the silence began to border on awkward Gibbs knew who would break first.
"Boss, can I?" Tony tipped his head in the direction of his desk.
"Uh huh", he nodded.
Gibbs watched Tony turn on his heels and walk quickly back to his desk, running the fingers of one hand through his hair as he went.
A brief smirk appeared at the corner of Gibbs's mouth and he chuckled to himself. He'd have those cold case files, and probably a few others too, by 09:00. DiNozzo would make sure of it.
A/N - SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
Thanks again to everyone for reading. Overall - not a comfortable read, I know. I played the control, manipulative and passive aspects to Gibbs and Tony's relationship dynamic quite hard (that was deliberate on my part). So whilst this story has a happy(ish) ending for the duo, I wanted to highlight/question whether that dynamic (if pushed) could be healthy or possibly border on being considered abusive.
SA3 - To the LE EXPO 2009 and beyond: Part 8 - The wrath of Ribbs.
The Boss and SA3 had found the customary quantum mirror in the cloakroom and with a brief nod to their parallel counterparts - Gibbs, Cheney, DiNozzo and Monteleone - had placed their hands on the mirror and were now safely back in their own reality. Those 42 minutes had seemed like an eternity.
Back from the conference, the Boss had purposely ensured SA3 was fully engrossed in a new case but he was growing increasingly suspicious of the man's lack of chatter and wondered how long it would be before SA3 spilled his guts to the rest of the team over the little matter of his last name - Ribbs.
"What ya got, Als?" the Boss asked as he strode into the lab and planted himself firmly at the side of his favourite forensic expert.
"It's not fair, Bossman. He knows."
The Boss licked his lips. "Case, Ally," he steered firmly.
"You know we're going out later for a bite to eat. He'll tell me. I'll get it out of him. You know I'll do it," she huffed. "So I don't know why you don't just tell me now?"
The Boss turned to face the inexorable Goth and fixed her with a stare.
"No match on the prints taken from the iron piping, but I was able to extract DNA from the cells, blood and hair I found on it. The DNA profile matches that of your dead Petty Officer... Boss... Sir."
The Boss smirked and leant forward pecking Ally on the cheek. "Good work, Als." He was halfway out of the lab when he hesitated and turned back to face the forensic scientist. "Ally... are you going for Chinese later?"
"Wow, that's impressive Bossman. Yeah we are. Well... me, Zita, McColl and SA3 are; he knew you'd never go for it. He's taking us to this new place," Ally replied excitedly over the sound of the elevator pinging. "Said they did some mean spare ribs... and he's paying."
"Oh, he'll be paying all right," the Boss replied, as he turned and strode out of the lab heading for the elevator, neatly smacking SA3 around the back of his head as the suitably surprised senior field agent entered Ally's lair.
His second in command faltered. "What was that for?"
"Playing with your food," Ribbs snapped tersely.