Summary: After a day from hell, in which his car was blown up, his cover was blown, and his heart was broken, Tony attempts to forget that Jeanne Benoit ever existed. Unfortunately for Gibbs, when his senior field agent seeks solace in the bottom of a bottle, things get ugly pretty quickly. The outcome? Let's just say it's not going to be pretty. Slightly OOC because Gibbs? Being nice? *gasp* No way!
"I'm going to kill him," was the first thought that crossed the mind of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs as his cell phone began to chirp from its place across the room. Dropping the worn sand paper to the empty work bench, he crossed the expanse of the basement in three short strides and plucked the phone from the discarded pile of nuts and bolts that littered the table.
"Yeah, Gibbs," he barked in his usual tone, not bothering to check the caller I.D. The way he figured it, there were only two numbers that dared flash across his screen this late at night: Work or DiNozzo and he would be willing to bet an entire month's worth of paychecks that it wasn't dispatch on the other end of the line.
"Rough day at the office, Jethro?"
"Ah hell," he sighed in a very un-Gibbs like manner at the clearly feminine, clearly annoyed voice on the line. "How long's he been there Shirl?" He may have been incorrect about who he'd be speaking to, but there was no need to sign over those paychecks just yet.
"Long enough," Shirl responded in the clipped tone usually reserved for anyone other than Gibbs. It was a clear testament to just how irritated she was with whatever situation his senior field agent had gotten himself into. "I hate to call you out so late, Jethro, but I really had no choice. I can't just let him walk out of here, not in the state he's in."
"Ah hell," Gibbs repeated, already taking the steps two at a time. "I'll be there in ten, Shirl."
"See that you are. I'll do my best to keep him here, but if he tries to leave, you know I can't stop."
"I'll be there," he promised as he slipped out of the house. Snapping the cell phone closed, Gibbs shoved it into his pocket with a shake of his head as he made his way down the front steps. "I'm going to kill him."
Gibbs had promised Shirl he'd be there in ten, but thanks to the practically deserted streets and his ridiculous driving habits, he'd made it in seven. He was irritated with DiNozzo, no doubt about it. But even his irritation hadn't been enough to deter him from traipsing out in the middle of the night to pick him up. DiNozzo, like it or not, was one of his people and no matter what happened, he simply didn't leave his people behind.
Besides, he decided as he parked haphazardly in front of the bar, ignoring the pointed looks of the intoxicated patrons lingering outside the establishment, as irritated as he was with DiNozzo, he couldn't find it in himself to actually be angry at the younger man. Not after the day he'd had. That would have been hypocritical and Leroy Jethro "Second 'B' for 'Bastard'" Gibbs was a lot of things, but a hypocrite was not one of them.
He slammed the door while simultaneously daring (with just a single look, mind you) any of the drunkards to even breathe on his car before he made his way into the bar.
It didn't take him long, despite his horrible vision without his glasses, to spot the Italian at the far end of the bar. His shoulders were hunched forward, as if he was simply trying to disappear. His expensive suit, which most likely cost more than Gibbs made in the course of a month and a name that Gibbs could only guess at how to pronounce, was wrinkled in such a way that would have him kicking himself in the morning. Wrinkles in such an expensive suit, DiNozzo had once told him, were hell to get out.
He watched from his place by the entrance as DiNozzo grabbed clumsily for the half empty glass in front of him, seemingly examining it before he tilted his head back and downed the liquid in one gulp. He felt as though a knife was twisting in his gut when he caught a glimpse of the younger man's face. There was only one word to describe what he saw there: Defeat.
Despite the amount of alcohol currently coursing through his system, Tony didn't have to look up to know Gibbs was there. It was a sixth sense, one he'd developed over time. But he couldn't bring himself to care that his boss was standing right freakin' there, watching as he picked up the half empty glass and drained it in a single gulp.
He slammed the glass back down on the bar with a little more force than necessary and straightened his shoulders just a fraction as he felt Gibbs drawing nearer.
"Heya Boss," he greeted casually; well, as casually as possible considering his words were slurred and his vision was hazy.
"DiNozzo," Gibbs responded, though it wasn't laced with his usual "I've caught you screwing up and now you're in for it" tone. Maybe things weren't as bad as Tony originally thought…
…Or maybe they were actually worse and Gibbs was just taking pity on him. Well shit. That was probably the more likely of the two scenarios. Things were pretty bad. His car had been blown up, for Christ's sake. Not to mention the fact that he'd blown an undercover operation that had most likely been pretty key in the Director regaining her sanity. Not that Jenny was ever sane. The thought made DiNozzo snort in amusement, which earned him a cocked eyebrow from Gibbs.
He didn't even try to explain.
"You finished here?"
"S'at a ques'ion or a' order?" The only response he received was the patented Gibbs scowl. "Righ'. On yer boss, six!" Wait a minute, that wasn't right. "Uh… wai' a minute'…"
"Let's go," Gibbs ordered, his tone leaving absolutely no room for argument.
With a put-upon sigh, Tony slid from his bar stool, stumbling slightly as his feet hit the floor. He cringed slightly as Gibbs' hand gripped his elbow in an effort to keep him upright, but rather than attempt to voice his discomfort at the idea of his boss having to be so hands on, he just kept his mouth shut.
It was with fumbling hands that he reached into his back pocket to extract his wallet before pulling a hand full of bills out. He dumped them unceremoniously onto the bar before he allowed himself to be led out.
"'S a nice nigh'," he commented in what he hoped to be considered a normal voice, though if the Gibbs scowl was anything to go by, he had not succeeded. "Sorry boss," he slurred.
"What have I told you about apologies?"
"It's a week of sinus."
Gibbs was barely able to suppress a smile at that one. "Yeah, somethin' like that."
"An' you don' think fallin' in love with the mark is a sign o' weakness?"
Ah, and here it was. Gibbs knew they'd get here at some point. He took a minute to decide how he wanted to answer that one as he pulled the passenger side door open. "Definitely wasn't your smartest move, DiNozzo," he agreed, as he helped the younger man situate himself in the seat. He took note of the fact that Tony didn't even try to brush his hands away when he reached over and pulled the seat belt down over his chest. "But I wouldn't exactly call that a sign of weakness."
He said no more on the matter as he shut the door carefully before rounding the front of the vehicle to climb into the driver's side. After getting himself straight, he put the car into reverse and backed out of the space, ignoring the angry honk of the truck he cut off to do so. He hadn't even got the car into 'drive' when Tony spoke again.
"I loved her, Gibbs." Though his words were slurred thanks to the copious amount of alcohol, Gibbs could hear the sincerity in his voice.
"Yeah," Gibbs responded with a thoughtful nod, "yeah, I think you did."
"Wasn't enough in the end," Tony mumbled, probably more to himself than to Gibbs. "'S never enough." Gibbs wondered if he was still talking about Jeanne. "You'da liked her though. She's good people, Gibbs," he said with a sigh before nodding to himself. "Shouldn'ta lied to her. Or you, probably."
"You were following orders," Gibbs reminded him. He had not been happy when he found out about the undercover assignment (which was understandable, of course, considering he'd found out about it just moments before he thought his senior field agent had been blown to hell quite literally), but his anger had never been directed at Tony.
No, he was saving that for Shepherd. Just the thought of her made his blood boil. Jenny Shepherd, one time partner (both romantically and professionally), current boss (strictly professionally), and most recently, a huge pain in his ass (professionally and personally, as it became pretty damn personal the minute he found out what she'd ordered DiNozzo to do).
"So you're not mad?"
"Oh I'm mad," Gibbs responded with a nod. "Yeah, I'm mad. But not at you, DiNozzo. At least not this time. But if it happens again, you're off my team. I gotta know that you trust me to have your six, no matter what the situation is."
"We're good then, righ'?"
"Yeah Tony. We're good."
The ride home had been made, thankfully, without incident, but Gibbs had barely put the car in park when DiNozzo leaned forward in the seat, straining against his seatbelt to rest his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands.
"Boss… Boss, 'm not feelin' so hot," he moaned. His hands fumbled clumsily for the door handle, while Gibbs unlatched the seatbelt and he barely managed to get the door open before he leaned over, retching violently.
Gibbs shoved his own door open and climbed out, rounding the car with a frown. He watched as Tony gagged uncontrollably, emptying the contents of his stomach in the driveway. It wasn't exactly the most choice location, but it was better than the interior of the car, or worse, the carpet in the spare bedroom.
"That's it," Gibbs coached, standing far enough away, "get it all out. You'll feel better once you do." He waited patiently DiNozzo leaned back in the seat, spent. "You good now?"
"Yeah," he responded weakly, using the back of his hand to wipe the wetness from his mouth. "Yeah, 'm good."
"Let's get you inside then. You think you can stand?"
"'M fine, boss," he mumbled, swatting Gibbs' hands away when he attempted to help. He climbed out of the car slowly, taking extra care to avoid the newly created puddle at his feet. He stumbled slightly, though managed to keep his balance. "'M fine," he repeated when he caught Gibbs watching him with a cocked eyebrow.
"Alright," Gibbs conceded. "But DiNozzo?"
"Ruin my carpet and I will shoot you. Is that clear?"
The Next Morning…
Tony squinted against the harsh light filtering in through the open curtains, his head already throbbing. With a quiet groan, he rolled onto his side, which he immediately realized was a mistake. His stomach protested the movement and it was with a whimper of defeat that he settled back against the pillows.
"Remember what I said about the carpet?" Gibbs asked from the doorway. "That still applies today. I wouldn't try to do that again until you're sure you've got control of your gag reflexes."
"I'm fine," Tony assured him, his voice heavy with sleep.
"Yeah, that's what you keep telling me," Gibbs mused as he stepped into the room, a cup of coffee in hand. He squinted up at his boss, muttering a quiet "thanks" when he held the coffee out. "Drink up, DiNozzo. When you're sure you can move without having a repeat of last night, you know where to find me."
"You didn't think you were getting out here today with a lecture, didja?" Gibbs asked, just the slightest trace of amusement present in his voice. Before Tony could think of a proper response, his boss had retreated from the room, leaving him to his coffee.
"Just wonderful," he thought, taking a sip of coffee. "Blech."
He hadn't been sanding long when the tell-tale sound of footprints on the stairs reached his ears. "That took less time than I thought it would," he commented dryly.
"Yeah well, didn't imagine you'd be too happy if I made you wait long."
"Nope." He heard Tony sigh deeply behind him and lower himself to the stairs, but he continued to sand away, the gentle swoosh of the sand paper against wood calming him. "You want to tell me what last night was all about?"
"You really think it was a good idea to go out and get so trashed that the bartender had to call your boss to come pick you?"
"Okay. You want to tell me why you didn't come to me first?"
"I didn't want to talk about it, I just wanted to forget."
"Did it work?"
"For awhile, yeah."
"And this morning?" Silence. "Yeah that's what I figured. So since your plan didn't exactly work out, you wanna try it my way?"
"I loved her, Gibbs." He'd spoken the same words in the car the previous night, but today, without the alcohol running through his system, he could hear the raw pain in the younger man's voice.
"I know you did, Tony."
"I loved her," he repeated. "I never meant to hurt her. That… that was the last thing I ever wanted. I tried… I tried to explain to her that while I lied about my name and my job everything else was real. But she wouldn't listen. Why wouldn't she listen, Gibbs?"
He lowered the sand paper to the empty work bench and turned. "Tony—"
"I screwed up, boss," he said, the hint of a smile on his face, though Gibbs knew it wasn't one born out of amusement. "What if she was 'The One'? The only chance I'd get for the whole married with two-point-five kids, white picket fence perfect movie ending?"
"Life doesn't always work out that way, Tony."
"But it could have… maybe. Maybe if I'd just… if I hadn't lied to her, you know?"
"You were doing your job."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" He asked, a bitter laugh spilling over his lips. "The fact that I was doing my job completely negates the fact that I broke the heart of an innocent woman? A woman, might I add, that I could have actually seen myself spending the rest of my life with? Really Gibbs? Are ya sure about that?" His tone had become angry, but as quickly as it came, it was gone and he was left looking defeated again. "She gave me a choice, you know. Jeanne, I mean."
"Yeah," he responded with a nod. "She asked me to choose between… between this," he said, gesturing wildly with her hands, "or her."
"And have you made your choice?"
"I can't just walk away from all of this. This… this is my life. This is everything I've worked for."
"Then it sounds to me like you've answered your own question."
He sighed and slumped forward, his shoulders hunched as though he was trying to disappear again. "Yeah," he said with a nod, "I guess I have. But that doesn't mean it sucks any less."
"When you find 'The One', you'll know."
"How will I be sure when I do?"
"Because she won't ask you to choose." Smiling sincerely, in a very un-Gibbs like fashion, he patted his senior field agent's shoulder as he climbed the stairs. The last few months had taken a toll on Anthony DiNozzo, leaving the once charismatic, seemingly care-free agent in a state of despair. But despite the fact that the woman he'd grown to love had walked away, leaving him a broken shell of the man he had been, Gibbs was sure that Tony had made the right choice. Simply because they would never ask him to choose.
A/N: Yay for my first NCIS fan-fiction! Though this story was originally supposed to be just a fluffy little fun thing about Tony getting drunk (because who doesn't like Drunk!Tony?), somehow this became something a little different. Regardless of the original intentions or the final outcome, hopefully it will be enjoyed! =) Comments/Constructive criticisms always appreciated!