Title: I Can't Do This

Summary: After a long day at work as team leader, Tony drunkenly calls Gibbs.

A/N: AU. This started out as a small oneshot, but it grew into a larger oneshot. *shrugs* Alright, so this takes place at the beginning of Tony's reign as Team Leader. I know he definitely fell into the swing of things as time progressed, but come on, filling in Gibbs' shoes couldn't have been that easy. Right?

Also, as a side note. This is a little one-shot that will hopefully get me back into writing for NCIS again. If anyone's reading Long Distance Call, I swear, I'm working on the next chapter. I'm just having a little difficulty getting it to go the way I want it to go.

"Tony, come on. Just come in. We can go into work together. You don't want to be alone tonight," Abby begged as the taxi driver impatiently stared at them, waiting for Abby to get out and enter her apartment. Tony looked at her with heavy lids and shook his head, regretting the action immediately. He knew that Abby didn't want him to stay at home and mope all alone with nothing but liquor and TV to distract him, but he wasn't in the mood to be with anyone any longer. He had enjoyed, slightly, his time out, drinking with Abby after the long day, hell, the long two months since Gibbs had retired and left him in charge. He had gotten himself so wasted he was having trouble seeing and he could feel himself sliding down the backseat of the taxi.

"No, I'll be alright. Go." Tony reassured as Abby let herself out of the taxi. Normally when she went out with Tony they both made a point to not get completely drunk so that they did not suffer from a hangover the next day at work, but that night they needed it. Well Tony needed it more than Abby. He had to deal with the team, which none of them had thought would be a problem, until Ziva and McGee continued to treat him as they usually did. Tony received little respect and earned the constant reminder that he was not Gibbs. He never tried to be Gibbs, at least not consciously. There was just a certain standard that they had all gotten used to, and Tony couldn't possibly compare, especially at such an early time in his new promotion.

And that night, the realization that he would never be good enough, never be able to run his own team, caused him to drive to the bar that he and Abby frequented. He knew that Abby would be after him soon and when she walked into the bar he didn't even have the desire to pretend to be surprised.

Abby nodded as she moved towards her apartment. Tony turned back to the taxi driver and told him his address. It was strange to think that he was just giving out his address to a stranger, but Tony just couldn't even care. He wasn't in the mood to deal with any of his random thoughts.

Watching the scenery of Washington D.C. float past the car seemed to make him sick, causing him to place his head against the window and close his eyes. Soon he had fallen asleep without even realizing it.

"Sir," the taxi driver yelled, reaching a hand back to wake his sleeping client. He didn't enjoy driving the taxi when he'd get the drunk ones—too drunk to even stay awake for the entire ride—but at least they weren't on the streets themselves.

Tony slowly moved his head back in forth as he scanned his surroundings. He wasn't accustomed to falling asleep in random places and the unfamiliarity of his current location bothered him. His eyes meet the taxi drivers and everything clicked immediately. He reached into his pocket and produced his wallet and stared at the driver. "$53.75" he replied. Searching his wallet, Tony located the amount of money with even some extra. Without a second thought, he tossed the 55 bucks at the driver and got out of the taxi, moving towards his apartment complex, never once worrying about the safety of his own Mustang.

His fingers were laced so tightly around the bottle he wasn't even sure if the bottle hadn't become part of him. His face leaned limply next to it, his cheek smushed to the side of it. He stared straight ahead at the post-it that resided on his refrigerator. His eyes followed the curvy letters that Abby had written for him, although he mostly concentrated on one word. G-I-B-B-S. Gibbs. The number underneath meant nothing to him as he could only see the word above it, but soon his eyes noticed them.

Picking up the phone that was so close to him, he stared at it. His mind was getting fuzzy and he was just so tired, so tired of everything. He wanted Gibbs back, he needed Gibbs back. If not just for himself, for his team.

His fingers clicked in the numbers without a second thought and he placed the phone to his ear. He listened to the rings and never once thought of the long distance charges that he wasn't even sure if applied to Mexico.

"Hello?" A woman's voice greeted him and he was confused. Well more confused than he already was. His eyes searched the floor for an answer before he asked tentatively.

"Is Special Agent Gibbs there?" But with his large amount of alcohol consumption, it came out slurred. He frowned at his own voice and speech, but the woman on the other end seemed to accept it.

"Yes, hold on." Tony wasn't exactly sure what he was supposed to be holding onto. He had nothing to hold onto anymore. Everything left him or abandoned him. He had no idea what she could possibly expect him to hold onto. Hope? That left the day Gibbs did.

There was a slight grumble from the other end, but Tony didn't hear it. All he could hear was his own slow breathing as the room seemed to dance in front of him. He wasn't really sure what he was doing anymore. He tried to stand up, but ended up falling onto the floor, landing on his butt. His bottle of beer fell to the ground by his feet, smashing into pieces and leaking the intoxicatingly relaxing beverage onto the floor.


"Boss?" Tony asked, confused as to why his former boss was on the phone with him. Had he called him?

"DiNozzo? Do you know what time it is?" Tony glanced at the clock, but the numbers were a blur of green and the clock the hung on his wall was blank.

"No." Tony paused unsure of what he was planning to say until he just blurted out drunkenly. "Where are you?"

"Mexico, you know that," Gibbs answered, a hint of confusion and concern in his voice. He had no reason to worry about the man that had called him, right? "How did you get my number?"

"Abby," Tony answered quickly. The room wasn't agreeing with him and his eyes roamed the room for something that wasn't moving. "Why'd you go?"

"Tony, I don't have--"

"Why did you go? I can't do this." Tears sprang to Tony's eyes as he finally admitted the truth to himself outloud. He couldn't run his own team. He wasn't ready, wasn't prepared, wasn't good enough to man his own team, let alone Gibbs' former team.

"DiNozzo, what are you talking about?" Gibbs' voice grew a little bit more in ferocity. He was trying to hide his worry and concern. He could hear Tony's sobs through the phone and although he was miles away, he felt like he was right next to the man. There had been a few times he'd seen Tony cry, but that was after too many bottles of alcohol and relived past disasters.

"I can't do this Boss. I can't be you. I can't run the team. I'm useless."

"Tony. I didn't want you to be me. I wanted you to be you and man the team. I wouldn't have left you in charge if I didn't think you could."

"You were wrong Boss. This may be the first time, but you were wrong. I can't do this. I can't--oh God. I ca--I'm so sorry Boss. I won't...I've gotta go. Bye."

"Tony! Don't hang up the pho--!" Gibbs bellowed into the phone, before pulling it away from his face and looking at it. He could hear the dial tone from where it was and he cursed under his breath. He had never heard Tony so upset, so defeated, so lost. He couldn't bear to hear his agent have such lack of confidence in himself. Hadn't he learned that Gibbs only picked the best? That Gibbs would only leave his team to someone who could actually handle it? That Gibbs trusted Tony with his team?

"What are you doing?" Mike Franks grumbled, switching on the light before sitting himself down on the stool in the kitchen. He stared at the younger man and pulled the bottle of bourbon that sat on the table towards himself, pouring some out for both of them.

"DiNozzo just called."

"So that's who woke us all up. What for? Being team leader too much for him already?" Franks asked with a smile, taking a drink from the cup. He meant it to be a joke, a small stab at the younger man's second in command.

"Yeah. It is," Gibbs stated, staring at Franks' cup of bourbon. He knew that being team leader took a lot out of a person, but it couldn't possibly have hurt DiNozzo that much. Tony was a completely capable agent, totally prepared for the job as team leader. What had happened?

Franks closed his eyes in exhaustion and put the cup of bourbon on the counter. He looked up at his friend and got to his feet. "Ya want me to drive ya to the airport Probie?"

"You trying to get rid of me?"

"No, I just know that you're needed elsewhere," Franks replied nonchalantly.

Tony pulled out another chunk of his pay for the taxi he had to take to the bar for his Mustang the next morning. He still wasn't in the best state of mind to drive, but there was no way he was leaving his baby in the parking lot any longer than he already did. Plus it would make for an easy get away if need be.

After calling Gibbs, Tony had passed out on the floor. Waking up with a splitting headache and the worst feeling in the pit of his stomach, he grabbed some Tylenol and made his way to work—changing and showering first, of course. He called a taxi and eventually decided against putting in a resignation. He was going to train McGee, try to prepare him for team leader. Although he had no idea how he was going to train the younger man, he needed out. He needed a change of scenery; he had stayed at NCIS for far too long. There was no way that he could stay any longer, especially with the current situation as team leader. He'd talk to Jenny, tell her he couldn't do the undercover mission anymore, warn her that he was thinking of moving somewhere new. Maybe he'd go to California. He liked the beach, the girls, Hollywood. It'd be a perfect change.

Getting out of the parking lot proved to be easier than expected and he had no idea how he had gotten to work since he had seemed to switch to autopilot. Stepping into the elevator, Tony fell backward against the wall, rubbing his eyes tiredly and pained. He had another hard day to look forward to. He had always looked forward to the weekends when he was a kid, but always found that they never lasted long enough. Well the same had applied to this job, well at least it did now. He had no desire to step into the building, but he had to put on a smile and go throughout the work day. He didn't enjoy it, but it was his job and he couldn't turn his back on that. He could at least do Gibbs that favor.

Gibbs. Oh God. Tony had been utterly devastated when he realized he had drunkenly called his former boss. He didn't remember what he said, but he remembered tasting the bitter drops of tears before he passed out. Shaking his head—still a bad idea—Tony was just happy that the other man was in Mexico and in no way near him. The embarrassment alone would send him into a coma.

He stepped out of the elevator and moved towards the bullpen. There was no one around, well at least no one from his team. The night shift was there, but barely. Must have gotten a call before he came in. Tony had made it a habit to come in early so he could get himself prepared for the day ahead.

Not even thinking Tony kept his head down and groaned slightly as he realized his hand was empty. No coffee, not until he had the opportunity to go across the street and get some himself. God, he hated the stuff, but he now knew why Gibbs drank so much of it. At first Tony started to drink it because Gibbs had, but soon it was the only thing that was getting him through the work day.

He moved to his desk—Gibbs' old desk—and jumped back slightly, but slowly as a light was clicked on. The office was never that bright when he came in in the morning. He stopped dead in his tracks as he noticed the familiar color of the hair, but not that length or scattered appearance of it, nor of the facial hair that had appeared. The man was wearing a T-shirt and seemed as if he was on a vacation or holiday in a tropical island...or country.


"No, not boss," Gibbs replied, standing up. DiNozzo sobered quickly, rubbing the throbbing out of his head as best as he could.

"Oh shit. Boss...erm...I mean Gibbs. Whatever I said last night, I'm sorry. I was drunk and wasn't thinking."

"Ya think?" Gibbs asked, cocking an eyebrow at the younger man. He looked at the appearance of his former agent. The man was wearing a suit and not much had changed except in the younger's face. It seemed older, much older. Bags were under his eyes and tired lines roamed around his eyes. The spark of childish glee was gone from his eyes and there was no overly happy smile upon his face, just a gruff expression of confusion and worry.

"You didn't come all this way for me. So why are you here?"

"Actually, I am here for you."

"What? Bo—Gibbs, whatever I said, I didn't mean. I was—"

"Drunk and wasn't thinking? I know, you said that already. But I could tell that you were having problems."

Tony cocked an eyebrow and stared at the older man. What had he said to Gibbs? "Nothing's wrong Gibbs." Except the fact that I want to quit this job, move away, and never have to think about the disappointment I was to this place.

Gibbs' eyebrows rose, though he wasn't surprised at Tony's denial. Actually he really had no idea what he expected nor did he know what he was going to do. "So you know that you can man your own team? That you're good enough to be team leader, right?"

Tony looked at his former boss and hesitated. Of course he had to drunkenly confess that he didn't think he was man enough for the job. Why couldn't he have confessed something stupid?



"You do know that, right?"

"Yea, uh-huh." Tony turned away and moved towards the bag he kept next to his desk for nights like these, looking for his extra bottle of Tylenol. God he was going to need it for the pineapple-sized headache he was starting to develop. He kept them clamped in his palm as he turned around, finding Gibbs invading his personal space. This wasn't uncommon, but since the explosion, Tony was unsure of what to expect out of his boss…ex-boss.



"You really don't think you can do this?" Gibbs stared at the man in front of him with a confused look. He wasn't sure if this was the younger man's doing or his own. Gibbs had prepared DiNozzo and Tony was totally capable of taking on his own team.

"Tony?" came the director's voice, cutting into their conversation before her eyes landed on Gibbs. "Gibbs, it's nice to see you."

"Likewise Director," he spoke, sitting back down in Tony's chair. Tony looked at Gibbs and almost waited for a nod of approval that he could leave before he realized that Gibbs wasn't his boss. Jenny was now his boss, well she always was, but now she was the next in command over him. He moved towards the director's office, taking the steps around and entered the room, not once turning to look at the man that sat behind his desk.

Gibbs looked at the clock on the wall. He wanted to get back to Mexico, but it would have to wait, Tony needed him.

Ziva had arrived at the same time McGee did, both of them wearing a smile upon their faces. There was not a time where they did not wish that Gibbs was back, but the fact that Tony was leader was amusing. The man that they had teased—and were teased by—was acting superior, but all they could see where the millions of times they had seen Gibbs head smack him for being, well, Tony.

The elevator dinged, and they could already see Lee's head as she sat at her desk, looking at the area in front of her. Ignoring her actions they continued towards the bullpen, talking about something that had been said the day before. Both of them stopped dead in their tracks as they noticed the man sitting in Tony's desk. "Boss? You're back? You're taking over the team again?" McGee asked gleefully, a genuine smile on his face, being the twin of the one on Ziva's face. They were ecstatic. No more Tony trying to act like Gibbs, no more Tony trying to pretend he was the boss, no more Tony being in charge. Gibbs was back and he'd make everything—

"I'm not staying," he deadpanned, getting up from his seat. He looked at the two agents in front him, McGee going to Tony's…McGee's desk and Ziva to her own. "How has Tony been?" he asked glancing up at the director's office, since his former agent had been up there for almost an hour.

"What do you mean?" McGee asked.

"I mean, how has he been? Personally?"

"You mean, how is he adjusting?" Ziva asked, and awaited the nod of confirmation from Gibbs. "He seems fine. He has taken the flattery of imitation a little too far, but he has been fine."

McGee nodded in agreement. "Really? Then why were you two so relieved when you thought I was back?"

"What?" McGee asked quickly, feeling like he was being accused of something atrocious.

"We were merely excited to see you. We have missed you. It is…not the same."

"Why not?" Gibbs asked, turning between the two of them.

"Tony is...well…" Ziva began.

"He isn't you," McGee finished for her. Looking at Gibbs and glancing around to see if DiNozzo was anywhere in sight. Not seeing the other man, he turned back to Gibbs and nodded as if that would validate his statement.

"He isn't. And you shouldn't expect him to be. He's a damn good agent. He deserves your respect," Gibbs spoke before moving towards the stairwell as Tony emerged from the director's voice, rubbing his eyes with his finger tips harshly. He was starting to feel the hangover again and the lack of coffee was killing him.

Moving towards the stairs, Tony almost walked past Gibbs completely if it wasn't for the strong hand clasping his arm. He opened his eyes to look into Gibbs' deep blue ones, although his eyes still continued to stare at the patch of hair growing on the older man's lip. "Come on. I'll buy you a cup of coffee."

"No, no need Boss…I mean Gibbs. You probably have a plane to catch."

"Yea I do, but not for a few more hours. You really think coffee is going to take me that long?" DiNozzo smiled nervously and shook his head, immediately closing his eyes afterwards. He walked down the stairwell, only sensing Gibbs' presence more than actually feeling or hearing him.

As they made their way to the elevator, McGee and Ziva had seen the extent of being in charge, the toll it was taking on Tony. They both frowned and glanced at each other, feeling the guilty about making Tony's job harder by questioning and ignoring his commands. Their eyes followed him to the elevator until he and Gibbs both disappeared.

"Tony, you do know you're worthy of this job right?" Gibbs stared at DiNozzo as they descended in the shaft. Tony was definitely distracted at the moment and still pretty hung-over. Gibbs continued to stare at him until he realized that the other man was no longer paying attention to the world around him. "Tony?"

"What?" Tony asked, rubbing his temples. God, hangovers are a killer. No more heavy drinking until the weekend. He glanced at Gibbs, before closing his tired eyes.

"I left you in charge because I knew you could handle it."

"Yea well, you can be wrong," Tony deadpanned, turning away from his former boss. He didn't need Gibbs to tell him that he had disappointed him. Gibbs thought he could handle it, and he was wrong. Tony was the one thing Gibbs was wrong about. And DiNozzo didn't need to be told that.

Gibbs chuckled slightly. "I've been told that before. But I'm not wrong about this. Not about you. I know you can do this DiNozzo."

Tony looked up at Gibbs and sobered immediately. Was that true, genuine feelings? Did Gibbs really think he was capable of the job?

He shook his head. No. Gibbs is just saying that. Gibbs is never wrong, and he doesn't want me to ruin his record. Guess he shoulda known when he first hired me.

He made sure to avoid Gibbs' eyes as he made his way out of the elevator, taking quick steps to get ahead of his former boss. He definitely needed his morning coffee now, and the quicker he could get it, the quicker he could get rid of Gibbs. Normally he would be happy to have the ex-gunny with him, but whatever he wanted to say was definitely not something DiNozzo felt like listening to. DiNozzo didn't need to feel any worse than he already did.

Gibbs quickened his pace to catch up with the younger man, grabbing hold of his bicep. Tony stopped mid-stride, but didn't turn around to look at the other man. "Tony," Gibbs spoke harshly, trying to get the man's attention. Most of the time, DiNozzo would only answer to a harsh command. The younger man's eyes reluctantly found their way to Gibbs' face. "Don't doubt yourself. You're a great agent."

Tony stared at Gibbs a moment before pulling away. Gibbs let his arm go and watched the younger man walk away from him. Had Tony felt the same way when he left? Confused of who the man had become, worried about what would happen?

Gibbs jogged after DiNozzo, and they both made their way into the coffee shop. The cashier recognized both of them immediately and welcomed Gibbs back. Jethro wasn't entirely sure he liked the idea that the coffee shop employee thought of Tony as a regular.

Guiding the younger man to a table, they both sat down together, only Tony took a long gulp of his coffee. Gibbs' hands were cupped around his own, but he never took a sip. "Tony, I left you in charge for a reason."

Tony huffed in frustration before leaning forward. "Yeah, well, whatever that reason was, I'm not cut out for it."

"I left you in charge because I knew you could do it. I trained you myself. I know you."

"Oh, I don't think so," Tony muttered before taking another gulp of his coffee, almost finishing it with those two swallows. Gibbs stared at the younger man and found himself at a loss for words. How do you convince someone so against themselves that they can do it?

"DiNozzo, what happened?"

"You happened. You left. I stayed." Tony downed the rest of his coffee before Gibbs pushed his own towards DiNozzo. Tony stared at the cup accusingly, unsure of the gesture, but grateful. He damn well needed the extra boost.

"You don't need me."

"It's not just me," Tony answered, almost laughing. Gibbs continued to stare at the man, taking in the wary look of him. He had aged. Gibbs' eyes squinted slightly, waiting for Tony to continue. "Abby, McGee, Ziva, Ducky. Everyone needs you. At least Ducky doesn't say it in front of me. Abby's 'training' me to be you. McGee and Ziva remind me that I'm not you every minute that they can. It's not just me that needs you Boss. Everyone does. And it's not going to be okay until you come back."

Gibbs stared at Tony, trying desperately—and successfully—to hide the surprise on his face. He didn't think the team thought so much of him, and he never would have thought that the team would try to make Tony into someone he's not. There was no way that Gibbs would have wanted Tony to become him.

"DiNozzo…" He began, but was cut off quickly.

"No no. I know. You're going back to Mexico. I get it," Tony stood up and swallowed the rest of the coffee. He threw it out and moved towards the door. "Bye Gibbs."

"Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs!" Abby yelled as she launched herself at the older man. "Ziva told me you were here and I've been checking everywhere for you! Where did you go!? I'm so glad you're back! Oh look at your mustache!" She lifted her hand to touch it, but immediately placed it at her side, along with the other one.

"Abby, calm down. I'm not staying."

"Gibbs! You have to! It's not the team without you!" Abby pouted as she planted herself in her chair, folding her arms across her chest and sticking out her bottom lip. She bowed her head while her eyes peered up at him.

"That's what we need to talk about."

"What?" Abby asked, breaking herself free of her pouting and leaning forward. She stared at the grey haired man and awaited his continuation. She didn't care why he was here as much as how she was going to make sure he stayed.

"DiNozzo's thinkin' about quitting."

Abby's eyes widened before she stood up. "No! He wouldn't! He loves it here and we love him!" She looked down at her hands, bewildered.

"He doesn't think so," his eyes landed on the small sticky note that read "Trainee" and he frowned, raising an eyebrow in the process. "I hear you guys haven't been the best teammates lately."

Abby's eyes followed his and she saw the note. Her cheeks turned red slightly and turned her attention back to her former boss. "Gibbs, he's been acting like you ever since you left."

Gibbs cocked an eyebrow at her. He glanced at the screens that had his picture covering them. "Did you even give him a chance to be himself?"

Abby looked away from Gibbs, and they both knew that they had to fix this.

Tony stared at his computer screen as he reread his letter of resignation. He'd written so many before, but he found this one the hardest one to write. He'd been at NCIS for more than four years, and it had become a second home to him. It was upsetting to know that he had to leave it. He didn't even plan on writing one this early, but just hearing Gibbs' original hope for him made him feel like a bigger failure. How could he possibly train McGee to be team leader if he couldn't even handle it after being trained for more than four years?

His eyes glanced up as he realized that the only team member in the bullpen at the moment was Agent Lee. Shaking his head, trying desperately to fight off the hangover that still attacked the back of his eyeballs, he got to his feet. "Agent Lee, where is McGee and Ziva?"

Her head popped up and she stared at him, worried. Her mouth started to move, but no words came out. He stared at her and cocked an eyebrow, still waiting for an answer. She stopped and composed herself. "I don't know."

Tony had to fight ever so hard to keep himself from rolling his eyes. There was no way that any of them were this green when they were a probie. He nodded and moved towards the phone, ready to dial the two missing agents' cells, but stop. Instead he moved towards his computer and printed out his letter. Might as well just get it done and over with before the team comes back and pisses him off.

Gibbs stepped out of the elevator, moving leisurely towards the bullpen; until he noticed that Tony's desk was empty. His eyes scanned the area, and noticed the tall man walking up the stairwell—most likely towards the Director's office. Shit.

"DiNozzo!" he yelled, striding quickly towards the stairwell, moving faster than he usually would. DiNozzo stopped, turned, and looked at Gibbs, looking extremely tired. Almost immediately he turned around and continued up the stairs.

Gibbs gritted his teeth together as he tried to go faster without looking like he was running after Tony. His eyes glared at the still moving back of his former agent, and he just wished that he'd stop. He wished that Tony would stop doubting himself and start taking advantage of what Gibbs gave him. But damnit, if Tony didn't see it on his own, Gibbs would show him.

"DiNozzo!" Gibbs yelled again, grabbing hold of the man's shoulder. Tony turned around as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders. It seemed almost as if it were a hassle to stop. "Would you slow down?"

"What do you want Gibbs?" Tony asked, his tired eyes boring into Gibbs' blue ones. "I'm busy."

"I can see that," Gibbs said, taking a quick glance at the total appearance of the younger man. Settling on the man's eyes, Gibbs continued, "You're coming with me first."


"No, buts!" he barked as he grabbed a firmer hold on the man's bicep and pulled him towards the elevator. Tony grumbled incoherently about how busy he was, but didn't fight Gibbs in the least. The younger man wanted to know what Gibbs had up his sleeve, and Jethro couldn't suppress the smile that came to his face.

Gibbs led the way into Abby's lab and DiNozzo sighed. He didn't want to deal with anything the older man and Abby had planned. Maybe Gibbs was just taking him downstairs to show him that he was still better than him.

Turning into the lab, Tony was relieved to see that no one was in there except for himself and Gibbs. He glanced over towards one of Abby's tables and noticed about six cups of coffee sitting there. He blinked in surprise and all, but drooled as he stared at them. Oh God, coffee!

"DiNozzo," Gibbs spoke, drawing his attention to him. "That's from the team…all of us." Gibbs was leaning against the wall, not touching any of Abby's machines. DiNozzo stared at the ex-gunny in confusion, furrowing his eyebrows deeply. "It's a…" a smile graced his face as he said it, "Starting-over Gift, as Abby called it. You know that they all feel bad about the way they've treated you. Right?"

Tony's eyes stopped on the cup that was obviously from Abby; it had black magic marker on it along with his name and 'I'm Sorry' really large along the side of it. He heard everything that Gibbs had said, but he still couldn't bring himself to think of himself as anything but a failure.

Gibbs shook his head as if he could read DiNozzo's thoughts. "Tony," he sighed and hoped that this would finally make it into the thick skull that was Tony DiNozzo. "You. Are. The. Team Leader. This is your job, whether you like it or not. And I left you in charge because I knew that you'd keep the team at its highest and take it beyond that. I knew you could do better than I could, and I need you to know that too. The whole team wants to make it up to you. Abby said something about drinks." Gibbs smiled as he heard the low moan from Tony. "But, Tony. What I'm saying is, that you are better than I am. I knew you were when I put you on my team. You may have been a little rough around the edges, but now you're Team Leader. And you need to realize that you can not be anything, but the best you can be. The only one holding you back is you."

Gibbs got to his feet, and grabbed hold of Tony's shoulder, staring him straight in the eye. "Got that?"

Tony stared back for a moment, noticing how sincere Gibbs really was. He nodded before a small smile found its way onto his face. Gibbs returned it before clasping Tony on the shoulder again. "Now drink your coffee and get back to work."

Tony grabbed the closed cup of coffee—apparently from Palmer—and drank most of it. He stared at the older man, "You probably have a plane to catch. And a boat to build."

"Yea well, that can wait."

The End.

A/N: Alright, I wasn't sure how to end it, so I hope it wasn't too bad. So thanks for reading, and feel free to let me know what you think!