Another long hiatus, but the muse is a fickle friend.

I do not own NCIS. Sad for me.

Here's Tony and the aftermath! Next up, Gibbs!

Tony slowly pulled himself out of a black, dreamless sleep, head throbbing, opened his eyes and stared at the beige walls around him.

Wait… My walls are burgundy… This isn't my house.

He looked around despite the obvious hangover and tried to get a handle on where the hell he was.

Now, I was at my apartment watching wrestling, and then… Oh, shit. I'm at Gibbs' house and I punched him. A lot.

Everything went a little fuzzy after that- vaguely stumbling, from drunkenness and exhaustion, up the basement stairs and, later, apologizing to someone, probably Gibbs.

This is why you don't drink, DiNozzo. You get upset and stupid and you do things that probably make you get fired, like, oh yeah, PUNCH YOUR BOSS. No matter how much he pisses you off…. Now get up off your ass and get to work while you still have your job.

He was still completely dressed from last night, keys in his pocket, so he quickly made his way to the front door, but was stopped by a note tacked to it.

Tony- Coffee. Shower. Change. Then come in. –Gibbs

That was unexpected.

He wanted to just leave, wanted to defy the man he had taken out all of his anger on. But, an order was an order.

Sometimes you get orders. You may not like them, but you follow them. That's why they're called orders.

No. Not again, not now. And he pushed away the memory as quickly as it came, turning around and making his way to Gibbs' kitchen for the coffee. Everything from Gibbs' morning brew was still laid out on the counter, as well as an industrial sized bottle of aspirin. It almost made Tony smile, but the guilt, residual rage, and excruciating headache prevented him. He popped a couple and started brewing the coffee.

Time for a shower.

The hot water began to alleviate his headache and his muscles, aching from tension and probably last night's impromptu boxing match. The timer went off on the coffee as he contemplated how Gibbs will react when he sees the only change of clothes he had in his car are sweats from a pickup game a few weeks ago…

Well, it can't get any worse. Dress code is the least of my worries.

He laughed quietly to himself as he took a change of clothes left on the back of the bathroom door.

That man really does think of everything.

Franks probably left them last time he was here, because they're too big to be Gibbs'. Alright, enough stalling Anthony. Time to face the music. What's the worst that could happen? Don't answer that.

In his car, away from the distractions of getting ready, it was all he could do to not think of the reason this all started, the wedge that drove them all so far apart. In some of his more morose moments, he wished it was the other way around; that Rivkin had killed him instead of the reverse. Would it have been different? Would everyone else still be together? Would Ziva have renounced Mossad instead? Would she be safe?

But that's not how it worked out.

This kept circling around in Tony's head as he made his way into the navy yard, up the elevator, and cautiously, solemnly into the squad room where Gibbs immediately met his gaze.

McGee looked from Gibbs to Tony and back again with a caught-in-the-crossfire expression on his face.

"DiNozzo, elevator."

Gibbs remained stone faced as he passed his protégé and waited for him to step into the makeshift office as well. DiNozzo dreaded every step he took, knowing the world of hurt, physical, professional, and emotional, that could be waiting on the other side. He stepped in and watched the doors close, feeling his boss' eyes piercing behind him, but unable to look him in the eye.

"Tony." Gibbs' voice was gruff, but not angry as he had thought. He finally turned around and where Tony thought he'd see fury, instead he saw something else, a look that could only be caused by the shared experiences and fatherly compassion. Gibbs put his hand on Tony's shoulder.

"Are you okay?"

He wasn't quite sure how to answer, so he reflexively brushed it off jokingly, as he had trained himself to do.

"Sure, considering it wasn't the first night I woke up not knowing where I was, if you know what I mean."

The words were wooden as soon as they left his lips. He was sick of forcing humor, sick of laughing at his own flat jokes. He was sure that Gibbs was too. Sure enough, the infamous Gibbs stare pulling the truth out of him.

"No, Boss, I'm not okay."

"I know. Why the hell else would you show up in my basement for a fistfight?"

Gibbs' senior field agent started scrambling for an explanation and an apology, but the boss faced him straight on now.

"I get it, Tony. Believe me, I get it."

And then, suddenly, Tony stopped and realized that Gibbs might be having as hard a time as he has. That he has felt like this before, worse, losing Shannon and Kelly, then Kate, and again, the Director, just over a year ago. That this isn't the first woman he's lost either. The first partner. The first... The intensity in his mentor's eyes was fierce, almost frightening, but the words were what he had to hear.

"But you can't keep doing this. You can't let yourself do this. I know that you wish it could have been different, that it was you. But you're still here, she's gone. Are you just going to sit in your apartment and drink yourself to death or are you going to do something? What are you going do?"

They rode back together silently, but the words echoed in Tony's head all the way back to his desk.

What am I going to do…? What would she want me to do…? Gibbs is right.

And Tony knew then that he wanted vengeance. Vengeance for his partner. Vengeance for his best friend… Vengeance for the woman he should have been able to love…

Salim will pay. He has to.

So when Gibbs said the three words that have been his lifeline to reality-

"Grab you gear!"

Tony finally had the strength to tell him what he'd wanted to say from the beginning.


The sheer look of surprise on his boss' face made him for just a moment rethink his statement, but no. This was right. So when Gibbs asked him to repeat himself, he was able to ask tentatively, but with resolve.

"Salim has got to be stopped, before one more person dies?"

The look of pride and finality was not so hidden behind the older man's features that DiNozzo couldn't see it.

"Make your case."

That night Tony poured the whiskey bottle down the drain and went out with McGee to start planning.

I'll get him Ziva. I swear, no matter what it takes, I'll get him.