Title: Slipping

Category: family, angst, hurt, Drama, suspense, open-ended

WARNING: This story is not for young readers. I cannot stress this enough, but this story has mention of self-harm, considering and contemplating of suicide, mention of rape no graphic description, and a hint of past child abuse. Please, DO NOT read this if u r under age for this story. Again, NOT for young readers. And, please tread carefully. It's not an easy read. U have been warned. Unbeta'd.

Rating: M for mature content.

Summary: Tony is having a rough time dealing with Gibbs and can't keep his mask in place any longer. He cannot face the pressure with his usual deflecting techniques any more.

Spoilers: None

Pairing: None.

Characters: Tony, Gibbs, and the team.

Slipping [disappointed]

Tony stared blankly at the shinning edge of the knife in front of him. He was amazed how the small light of the candle could make a small object shine so brightly. How that tip of the knife could have no worries at all in the world, only doing its job. Shinning. How could a dooming object shine so brightly after knowing that it could end a life with no care in the world? Tony kept twirling the blade of the knife in his hands as he kept staring at it for all the curiosity in the world.

The inner desire he had for a while nagging at him to finally act upon it. He had been having the same nagging feelings for several weeks now.

Tony wracked his mind to find the right moment when his buried desire started to appear and play on his nerves each and every minute of the day.

He looked back at the past few weeks. He realized that it must've started when Gibbs kept breathing down his neck to find a clue to solve the case. A mother and her daughter were killed brutally after being raped, both the mother and the ten years old child.

Gibbs kept swatting the back of his head every time he walked through the bull pen. Tony knew how this case affected Gibbs and reminded him of a long buried past. Tony vowed to endure whatever Gibbs threw his way, but he never expected the slicing words Gibbs bellowed in front of the whole team when he couldn't find a paper trail on their perp when Gibbs was back from his coffee stop.

''I'm disappointed in you Tony''

Tony was sure that his heart had stopped at that point. He froze mid his work and looked up at Gibbs's ice blue eyes searching for any clue of a lie or a joke. He found none. None. Gibbs was completely sincere. Honest. He was disappointed in him. Disappointed. In him. Tony wasn't sure what shocked him the most; the revelation or being called by his first name while being reprimanded.

His breath was caught in his throat as he remembered the very scarring memory and the beginning of his going down to hell. Where he felt right now. Hell.

He remembered how Gibbs's sad face stared down at him for a few more minutes before heading for his own desk. Tony has then taken a deep breath trying to get a hold of his emotions. He worked himself to the limit of having no sleep at all for over than 48 hours. He remembered how Ziva and McGee kept eyeing him while working. He remembered how Gibbs had plainly ignored him.

His co-workers came and went as he kept working, not even stopping to have any kind of food or water. Gibbs also went and came, never sparing Tony a second glance.

Even Abby came up as she tried coaxing him to eat some of her food. He refused as he kept working and staring at his screen as long as he can without blinking. His eyes had long since turned into angry red and purple circles appeared under his eyes. If his co workers didn't know he has been working none stop for the past 2 days, they would have said that he might have been in a fight.

Tony finally found the evidence they needed to apprehend their suspect and put him in prison for life. Tony declared that with a raspy voice from the lack of usage. He even managed to excel McGee at his own field of searching.

Then the next scar that would never heal in Tony's heart came.

''Took you long enough, DiNozzo'' Gibbs stated as he grabbed his gear not even sparing Tony a grateful glance.

''You stay hear, McGee, David. Let's go''

Tony's heart tightened in his chest at that command. Disappointed. ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''. He had been always on Gibbs's six. He was being rejected. Tony breathed heavily when the elevator doors finally closed on its cargo.

Tony has rushed to the men's room and entered the first cubicle he saw. He gagged and retched as his heart tightened more as he tried to grasp the meaning of the hysteria he was about to have. He took deep breaths, stood up, and washed his pale face with tired and shaky hands. He set his jaw and gritted his teeth in determination to do the right thing.

He had written his report meticulously and dropped it on Gibbs's desk. He took his pack bag and left.

Tony reached his apartment and collapsed on the floor the moment he closed the door. If it wasn't for Abby's worrying nature he would have been dead by now. Maybe that would have been better. Dead. Just that simple. Disappointed.

Tony's next memory was Abby's hysterical crying and Ducky tapping his cheeks as he tried to wake him up.

Abby has called the entire team. Including Gibbs. ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''.

They were all surrounding him around his bed. When did he get there?

They all looked concerned. Gibbs's face was as expressionless as usual. That was when Tony had had enough. He no longer needed him.

Ducky said that he was malnourished and collapsed from fatigue and exhaustion and needed to have some healthy food and water.

''I AM FINE'' he snapped at them.

He endured Abby's fussing for a while and wore the ''I'm-just-peachy-and-cheerful'' face as she cooked him some food. He managed to down it all and keep there. Always smiling at her.

Finally they left. Alone. Gibbs hasn't said a single word during the gathering they made around Tony. Disappointed. ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''. Gibbs's face was blank as he left. Maybe a little sad. Disappointed. Tony couldn't hold it anymore as he ran for the bathroom. He emptied the contents of his stomach. ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''.

Tony spent that night in his bed staring at the ceiling in the darkness. Thinking for the first time of the various ways someone one could get rid of this kind of pain. He felt the pain in his veins coursing through every bone of his body.

He tried taking deep breaths to calm his ragging soul inside. He could feel his heart starting to tighten more inside his chest. His heart seemed like a battered child trying to curl himself in a ball and block the world. Tony slept that night curling into a ball on his bed.

The next week Tony pretended like nothing had happened. He kept joking with his co-workers and kept his mask in place. Slowly as the days went he could feel that his face no longer was willing to fake that happy smile anymore. He tried to keep it, but its appearance was reduced to minimum every day passing. It was only used in necessary cases and directed at Gibbs when Tony told him what he found about a case.

Gibbs seemed to ignore Tony more as the days slipped by and Tony's act seemed unfazed, but inside his heart seemed to twist and tighten more. His throat would seem not allowing any air when most needed. His heart was no longer beating rhythmically. It would sometimes hammer in his chest willing Tony to burst into small pieces and others it would wrap itself trying to shield itself from the world.

Tony started looking for something that would ease the pain. He tried putting his pain into eating, but ended up throwing up heavily in his bathroom. The thought of even eating now would make him gag. He no longer ate, only to show his friends that he was just fine. He lost a lot of weight and his face was turning more hollow by the day.

He had thought about taking it out on alcohol, but remembering his father hitting him to a pulp after being royally drunk made him make a trip to the bathroom again. ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''.

Then Tony started spending more hours at the NCIS gym hitting bags with his bare hands. It felt good for a while. Feeling the pain in his hands seemed to scare the pain in his heart for a while. It felt good to have those scraped knuckles unless you have to justify them.

However after a week of this routine, the pain seemed to resurface in waves when Gibbs added another scar to his already bleeding heart.

Tony noticed that Gibbs had been eyeing him for the past half an hour openly. It has been two weeks since Tony last joked around the office. Only doing his work and then fleeting from there. He could tell that they have noticed the difference. He tried to keep the mask in place, but his heart was just hammering at him trying to get out of his chest. Gibbs then commanded him of what led him to where he sat now staring at the fascinating blade. Shinning. In the dark.

''DiNozzo, go get us a round of coffee.''

''On it boss''

''Good, wouldn't know what we would do with you if we didn't have another use for you around the office'' Gibbs muttered to himself, but Tony's acute hearing picked it up.

His heart constricted and tightened as the lump in his throat rose. His heart was crying like a small child that got hit by a car and found no one to pick him up. No mommy or daddy to kiss his wounds better. Rejected. Disappointed. ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''.

Tony had done what Gibbs wanted and after work he went home.

He sat on his couch. He took off his sig and put on the table. He then took out his knife from his belt.

It was then that the lights went out. He stared in the dark at the lightly shinning knife. He got up and found some candles in the kitchens. He lightened them and sat back on the couch, candles on the coffee table.

He started staring at his sig and then shook his head. No, a bullet won't take away the pain right now. It would be too messy. It must need tending to and justification. That would come later. Disappointed, ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''.

His emerald green eyes now flicked back to the knife shinning on the coffee table. He took it up in his hands and stared at it. Such a small object. Such an innocent appearance. Shinning. Looking happily back at him.

He just sat that night staring and staring at the gleeful blade smiling back at him in the darkness. He knew now how he could take the pain away. He stared and stared all night until he fell asleep with only one thought in mind. Disappointed.

The next day Tony couldn't take it any more. Ziva and McGee have been trying to coax him to say anything. To laugh at them. With them. To do anything, but work. They kept throwing paper balls at him as he ignored them.

''DiNozzo, stop slacking around'' Gibbs had ordered.

Tony's face reddened at that order. Ziva and McGee snickered at the misunderstanding. Tony didn't reply at all as they all expected. He just kept writing his reports. His heart tightened even more demanding him to leave that painful place at once.

Tony had written an e-mail for a 3 days leave request and sent it to the director. Not to Gibbs. He didn't state the reason listing it as personal. The director sent back his approval of the leave.

Now, Tony sat holding that knife again in his hand as he watched it shine. He had turned off all the lights and lit the candles again. He placed his sig in his line of vision while he watched the mesmerizing fire from the candle sway around just like a beautiful belly dancer from one of Bond's movies.

He couldn't resist it anymore and stretched his left hand and swept it through the joyful fire dancing gently in the darkness of the night. It took a second to register the pain that reached his finger tips. Tony drew his hand back from the small flame. He stared at his angry pink finger tips. His mind seemed to concentrate only on his hand. For a whole minute he didn't even feel that he had a heart and then it came back. Disappointed. ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''. The tightens of his heart seemed to lessen a little. He smiled a feral smile as he looked back at the happy fire and then looked down at his right hand where the knife was still shinning in the darkness. Shinning.

Tony twirled the knife in his hand a little more before he started to lower it to meet the flesh of his left wrist. He stopped for a moment. His mind was blank for a moment, but then it returned and his heart tightened again. Disappointed, ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''.

Tony looked at the shinning blade as it started to cut his smooth olive skin on his wrest. Disappointed, ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''. Tony cut even deeper when the pain seemed to increase. He could hear Gibbs's disappointed voice in his head. His sad disappointed look. His sincerest expression. Dissapointed.

He saw the small trickles of blood starting to trickle along the shinning blade and down his wrist and dripping onto the floor. He held the knife back and the pain in his wrest was all that existed. He stared for a long time as the blood kept slipping from his hand. He could feel the pain slipping away with the blood that started to pool on the floor. It was mesmerizing as the blood kept dripping down lazily from the open wound as a herd of ants escaping with a piece of sugar they had found and try to escape with. Tony stared and stared and felt nothing. Only the pain in his hand. His mind and heart no longer existed. Only his hand. Disappointed. ''I'm disappointed in you Tony''. Tony watched as the lazy trail of blood seemed to finally stop and clot from the superficial wound.

He raised the knife in his right hand as he looked curiously at the blood covering its innocent surface. He finally was able to drown his pain to the back of his mind. He kept staring at the blade that now shone an angry red color.

Tony sat back on the couch and felt how exhausted he felt inside. He didn't feel his heart wanting to curl up on itself like every night. He felt his heart relax and stretch as if it was a child napping peacefully in its crib. He put back the angry knife on the coffee table and stared into space for a little while.

Finally, He moved his exhausted body slowly until he was lying down on the couch. He closed his eyes and fell into a less fitful sleep for the first time in a month.