Ziva: For some reason you felt it was your job to protect me?
Tony: I did what I had to do.
Gibbs gut was churning to no end, and just as he reached for his cell phone to ease it, it rang. He vaguely recognized the number. "Yeah Gibbs."
"Sorry to bother you Agent Gibbs…but we got one of your boys here…we've cut him off but he keeps slapping himself in the back of the head…and doing bad impersonations…I wouldn't call if I didn't think it was important…"
Gibbs was already on the elevator. "Keep 'em there John…on my way." He hit the button harder than necessary before letting out a deep sigh of frustration. "DiNozzo, I swear you're gonna be the death of me…"
He arrived at the bar to find it almost cleared out, and was pointed in the right direction the moment he stepped inside. He nodded his thanks before making his way towards his Senior Agent. "DiNozzo…"
"Oh hey boss," he tried to stand up from his chair but elected against it. "Just in time…I was just about to say goodbye…"
Gibbs made out his speech just fine, despite the occasional slur. His hair was disheveled along with his clothing, and if Gibbs didn't know any better, he would've sworn Tony had been in a fight. "I'm sure Johns okay if you leave without saying goodbye…"
Tony shook his head before using Gibbs as a crutch to stand up. "Not to him boss…to them…"
Gibbs stomach fell as he followed Tony's gaze to the wall behind them. On it rested pictures of the fallen… He stood in his Agents way; but after a moment of reflection he helped him do what he came to do.
"Hey Paula…" Tony managed a small smile before placing a soft kiss on the frame. "Sorry I uh…couldn't get to you fast enough…damn wall closed so fast…" He chuckled to himself. "You probably don't want to hear excuses though huh? Well…me either." He swayed a bit, only to feel Gibbs strong hand steadying him. "Sorry Paula." He concluded simply before moving to the next photo…suddenly at a loss for words.
"Come on DiNozzo…" Gibbs tried to usher him towards the door when he felt Tony get free from his grip and stand on his own.
"No boss!" He shouted loud enough to gain the attention of the remaining patrons. "Just let me do this…" He placed his forehead against her picture as he spoke. "I really screwed up this time Kate…but I guess some things never change eh? You've probably been up there watching me and wishing you could be down here to help….well you'll be happy to hear, I'm a lost cause…I tried not to fall in love with Jeanne…I tried to follow the Directors orders…I tried to help my partner…but I failed, failed, failed…"
"DiNozzo…" Gibbs encouraged him a second time; knowing full well he could ramble on all night if he let him. But watched as Tony gently shoved him away and continued speaking.
"I wish I could've saved you too…" He swallowed back the lump forming in his throat. "No point in wishing…I know…there's no point in a lot of things…but uh…the boss is fixing for a head slap like I've never experienced, so I gotta go…but thanks for listening…"
Gibbs took his arm and let his gaze pass over the photos himself before moving towards the door. After waving his thanks to the bar keep a second time he placed Tony in the passenger side of his car.
"How'd you know I was here boss….was your spidey sense tingling?"
Gibbs started up the car. "Had a little help."
Tony closed his eyes, on the verge of passing out. "Sorry I bothered ya…you can be pissed at me if you want…I'm starting a club…"
"There a fee?"
"Nope…just gotta hate my guts. It's a pretty prestigious club…been growing annually…"
Gibbs almost smiled. "Feel better?"
"Because I'm drunk…or because I spoke to pictures of dead people?"
He shook his head, his eyes remaining closed. "Do you know where I can find a time machine?"
"Then nothing will make this feel better…" he opened one eye and realized they hadn't left the bar parking lot. "We aren't moving boss."
Tony glanced at him. "You're not gonna make me run along the car as punishment are ya?"
"Crossed my mind," he took in his Agents state as he watched him blink in and out of consciousness. "What happened with Ziva…not your fault."
"Niether is global warming…but I do drive a car so indirectly Im to blame…"
Gibbs resisted a head slap before placing the car into drive instead. Something told him now wasn't the time for a pep talk…unfortunately Tony disagreed.
"I know you're gonna tell me there's nothing I can do about the past….and what's done is done…no need to relive it and all that…but don't bother…I've already said it to myself a thousand times…in every impersonation I could muster…even yours…but really boss there's nothing you or any movie star can tell me that I don't already know…I've just gotta get back on the horse…tomorrows a new day…it's not like I killed her or anything…she's just half way around the world…I'll stop missing her eventually…I mean, its probably for the best anyway right? It was only a matter of time before another butchered idiom put me over the edge…now she doesn't have to worry about learning them anymore either…she's back home where she belongs…" He stopped for a second before repeating himself. "Back where she belongs."
Gibbs listened patiently as Tony continued to ramble…that was until he finally passed out. Gibbs was careful not to wake him as he threw him over his shoulder and ushered him into his home and onto his couch. He tossed a blanket across his shoulders before hovering over him in silence…
Until the silence was broken…
"Back where…she belongs…" Tony continued to repeat himself until Gibbs tucked the blankets in closer and sat on the coffee table in front of him.
It wasn't long before he delivered an ever gentle head slap, hoping his Agent would understand exactly what he'd wanted him to.
Gibbs remained there for a while longer before grabbing himself a blanket and placing himself in his love seat; his feet propped up on the coffee table. He seemed to sleep with one eye open that night… one particular phrase occupying his thoughts; and reminding him just how untrue it really was…
Back where she belongs…