A/N: This is a tag for the season 1 episode Missing, so here be spoilers. Consider yourself warned if you haven't already seen this very old episode, but I'm sure everyone has. I know that a ton of these tags are out there already. However, this episode is one of my very favorites and when I saw it again a few nights ago this popped into my head. It's Tony/Gibbs father/son-type stuff, no slash. This story is complete, I guess that makes it a one-shot? Still not clear on some of the terminology. Oh, and please don't worry: for those of you reading The Heist, I'll finish it very soon but this one was begging to be written first.
I still do not own NCIS or any of the characters, sadly wishing does not make it so. -abby
Tony shivered violently, then looked up from his computer to see if anyone had noticed. Fortunately no one had. It was getting late - Kate and McGee had already finished their reports and gone home, and Gibbs had disappeared. Probably went for coffee, Tony mused vaguely, not realizing that his boss was purposefully giving him space.
It suddenly felt very cold in the darkening bullpen, and Tony found that his teeth were beginning to chatter uncontrollably. That's it, he thought wearily. I can't concentrate on this report, I need a hot shower first. Tony abruptly got up from his desk, almost knocking his chair over in the process. He grabbed a set of spare clothes out of the filing cabinet and stiffly he half-stumbled, half-ran all the way to the NCIS gym.
The senior field agent arrived in the empty locker room just in time. Without warning he was overwhelmed by a wave of nausea and made it to a toilet stall without a second to spare, dropping his armful of clean clothes along the way. Tony gagged and retched, emptying his stomach of his most recent meal and then some. Once he felt like he could again stand, he staggered into the nearest shower stall fully dressed, shoes and all.
Tony turned the water as hot as it would go, still trembling and shuddering in the nearly scalding stream. He began to slowly peel off his filthy, stinking clothes, starting with his boots. It was a great effort to get off the soaked clothing, and by the time Tony finished he was exhausted. His legs buckled and he slid down the shower wall until he was sitting on the floor. The senior field agent drew his shaking knees into his scraped, bruised torso and continued to shiver in the hot stream of water.
Tony lost track of time. He rocked back and forth as the water turned cold, hearing the hated words play on a continuous loop. Tony could still see the sneer on his father's face and hear the contempt in his voice as he said to his young son, You'll end up in the gutter someday, you little loser. Mark my words. You will never amount to anything.
Desperate to make the horrible memory disappear, Tony struggled upright and turned off the water. He absently realized that he didn't have a towel, so he dragged clean clothes onto his still-dripping body. Shoes? He wondered confusedly, looking around until he saw the ruined boots in a puddle on the ground. Oh, yeah, he remembered wearily. Whatever.
The barefoot agent made his way out into the workout area. It was so late that Tony was the only person there, which was fine by him. He stumbled toward the nearest punching bag and began blindly striking out. Again and again, Tony hit and punched and kicked but could not get rid of his father's voice. You little loser. You'll end up in the gutter.
Tony was so lost in his memories, so consumed by his long-buried pain, that he didn't immediately realize he was no longer alone.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs stood in the shadows, watching silently as his senior field agent tried his best to obliterate the heavy workout bag. Gibbs allowed Tony to keep at it for a little while. If there was someone who could understand blinding, all-consuming pain, it was the silver-haired lead agent. He knew that Tony needed the release but as soon as he noticed the younger man falter, Gibbs wasted no time in crossing the room and making his presence known.
He caught his agent under the arms just as the adrenaline left Tony's shaking body. "Easy, DiNozzo," Gibbs said softly as he eased Tony the rest of the way to the floor. To his credit, the younger man did not seem terribly surprised that his superior had suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
"Boss, I…" Tony started before realizing he didn't have the energy to say anything further.
"Don't worry, Tony," Gibbs replied gently. "Let's check you over first. Then we'll talk." The lead agent had noticed how stiffly DiNozzo had been moving ever since they found him in the sewer. Now on top of that, his knuckles were beginning to swell from abusing the punching bag without gloves. The younger man opened his mouth to protest but Gibbs cut him off. "Ducky's already on his way down."
Just then, the gym doors opened to reveal the elderly ME and his medical bag. Dr. Mallard crossed the padded floor and knelt beside his patient, who was sitting upright but beginning to sway. "Lay down for me, young man," the doctor requested kindly. Tony was all too willing to give into his fatigue and gratefully accepted assistance from the ME as he relaxed onto the gym floor.
Dr. Mallard knew better than to comment on the young man's wet clothing, choosing instead to silently push the sodden fabric aside as he examined Tony. The doctor fussed over some deep scrapes on the agent's back and elbows, and tsked at the bruises that were darkening on his knuckles. Tony quietly acquiesced to the exam. His only outward reaction was a soft grunt as the ME shone a penlight into his eyes to check his pupils.
A few moments later, Dr. Mallard turned to Gibbs. "He's fine, Jethro. Definitely still has some of that drug in his system, and he will undoubtedly be sore and stiff for a few days, but no permanent damage has been done." Gibbs knew Ducky well enough to hear the part the tactful ME left unsaid – no permanent physical damage. Tony's mental state, however, may be a different story.
The two older men shared a knowing look as Mallard stood to leave. The doctor patted Tony on the knee and said, "Take care, my boy. In a few days you'll be right as rain."
"Thanks, Duck," Gibbs said as the ME walked away. The lead agent returned his full attention to DiNozzo, who looked about to fall asleep right there on the uncomfortable floor. "Come on, Tony. You're coming to my place tonight. Let's go."
Tony allowed himself to be helped upright and assisted out to the parking garage. The concrete was rough under his bare feet but the exhausted agent hardly noticed as he stumbled alongside Gibbs. The lead agent lowered Tony into the passenger seat of his car before climbing in himself. Gibbs was about to start the engine when he noticed that DiNozzo's eyes had filled with tears, something that the older man had never before seen.
"Hey," Gibbs said softly as he tapped Tony under the chin. "I may not be the greatest talker but I can listen."
Tony blinked and looked down at his hands. His voice trembled slightly as he said, "He, um…my father." The senior field agent stopped and gathered himself. Tony's voice was stronger as he started again. "I remembered something my father said to me years ago, right before he shipped me off to boarding school."
Gibbs sat silently, watching the younger man and giving him time to finish the obviously painful story. "He told me that I would never amount to anything, that I was a loser who would end up in the gutter. And today he was almost right."
Gibbs closed his ice blue eyes to hide the fury that raged within them. When he opened them again, he found that DiNozzo was looking at him wearily. "He most certainly was not almost right. You were in that sewer today because you were doing your job, and doing it well. You found Atlas and saved his life. You weren't face down in some gutter because of a bad choice or a life failure. It was an unfortunate single circumstance that you turned into a win." The lead agent paused to make sure that Tony was really listening. "And I'm proud of you. I meant what I said earlier. You, Anthony DiNozzo, are irreplaceable. Both to this team and most of all, to me personally. I'm very grateful we found you in time."
Tony was quiet for a moment as he considered Gibbs' words. He finally nodded and allowed the tears to fall as he said, "Thanks, boss. I love you too."
Gibbs smiled and ruffled Tony's hair fondly before starting the engine and driving into the night.