We Were All Heroes

Summary: Tony remembers what it was like back in the day. An NCIS remix of the Gord Bramford song "Heroes".

Senior Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo sat at his desk, tapping his feet and listening to the empty echoes resonate throughout the bullpen. McGee had, with Vance's "help" convinced Gibbs to join him at an agency Tech seminar, and Ziva had gone off to make good on "Girls' Night" with Abby, while Ducky and Palmer had been out for the week at an ME's conference in Venice.

Freaking sunny Venice, Tony thought, watching the rain splatter in steady, liquid taps on the window. DC and the Beltway in general had been having a crappy three weeks, either being soggy as cold cereal or foggy enough to make even Gibbs use his accumulated sick time trying to get to work, a move that had made Tony question the fabric of reality.

Actually, it had been kind of funny. He'd come in to the bullpen and waited the usual fifteen minutes, and panicked when Gibbs didn't show up. Who could blame him? It was Gibbs, after all, who'd only ever been late for the team's routine Tetanus boosters back in....um, would've been '03? Tony guessed, twirling a pencil between his fingers. Yeah, Gibbs had been twenty minutes late for the shots, and Tony had gone through twenty ice packs for every little needle joke out of his mouth that day. Totally worth it. He tossed the pencil up in the air, watching it spiral before catching it neatly in his palm.

Back to the most recent time Gibbs had been late though, the consequences hadn't been nearly so...undo-able. Turned out Tony's favorite goth chick didn't take to well to the thought of her silver haired fox out there in the fog, driving crazily trying to get to a Starbucks. Who knew manhunts were so messy?

Tony shuffled the stack of folders on his desk, thickest on top, thinnest on the bottom. Biggest case number on top, smallest on the bottom. Blue Label sticker on the top, red label sticker on the bottom. "Tony DiNozzo" printed on the "Investigating Officer" line on top, "Tony DiNozzo" handwritten on the bottom. Usually, it was McGee who obsessively organized to keep himself from going out of his mind, something Tony always teased him about.

Actually, there was a lot of things he usually teased McGoo about. The whole Jonas Brothers incident had just been like a jacket of ammunition, bang, bang, bang, bang! Really did bring it on himself,though. McGee's usual Halloween costumes were knockoff Jason masks from the dollar store, something that was a shame to any decent movie fan. One year, he'd even come in with a toy chainsaw and ran it when Kate had come off the elevator in the morning. There was still a bullet hole in the spacer between their cubicles, but Kate had been laughing as Gibbs rushed down the catwalk with his gun at the ready. Ha, totally worth it. These past couple of years, however, McJiggles had...what was the word? Escalated. Last year it had been the naughty cop, on Abby's dime and request. Yeah, right. This year, well, Nick Jonas had seen his first and last murder (unless he was involved in one of those sprawling Hollywood girlfriend revenge things, which Tony would just have to watch play out on ET). Ziva had seen the costume and gone off about how stupid these "teenypopper" musicians were, likening them to attention grabbers like the two dead marines on Ducky's table that had thought it a good idea to try to stage a murder inside one of their father-in-laws homes, something about inheritance and property value. After all, some nuts had to be willing to pay out their life paychecks for a "murder house". The operative word in all this had been try, of course.

Tony shook his head lightly, watching the bullpen blur in his eyes. When had simple murder gotten so twisted? There was no simple murder, but....Sheesh, it seemed like yesterday when their cases had been open-and-shut, B&E gone wrong, the girlfriend and mistress, all about the Benjamins. Five years ago, when Tony sat here tossing paper balls at McGee, licking the glazing off those donuts Kate always used to bring in by the box, he never would have imagined Vance up in the big chair, hell, he wouldn't have even considered Jenny. Didn't even know her! Then, he'd never thought of Ari, of his gun and the broken glass below Abby's window, of Jenny's raging vendetta with La Grenouille and the path of destruction she'd left.

Ziva. He'd never thought of Ziva. Of new frontiers he only imagined in Westerns. Tony would have never considered he would put himself willingly into a warzone, spit in death's face for her. .He wasn't quite sure it that had been totally worth it yet. He thought it would instantly have been but....Then again, back in those days, there hadn't been much to worry about. He actually had left the door unlocked a couple nights of the year.

Tony opened one of his desk drawers, plunging his hands through the mess of paper, trying to find something more amusing to occupy him than his own dark thoughts. C'mon, c'mon.... The drawer was empty, save for crappy doodles and his old ID (Vance had issued new cards just last week, glossy and clinical, the perfect size for the impersonal NCIS jackets they came with), his signature looping at the bottom. Tony took it out and tossed it on the desk, beside his computer, which was flashing an "update" warning. Sighing, he switched off the monitor and studies the card. Man, you need a haircut... he thought, turning back to his own reflection in the empty monitor. Tony ran his fingers over his name, wondering exactly why it looked that way. What kind of name was Anthony anyway? Couldn't be entirely Italian....he was pretty sure at least a couple of the guys off the Mayflower had been Anthony's, so...British? It was one of those things he'd never considered before, just the type of stuff you thought of when you were bored. His eyes drifted up to the picture. The dour photographer had told him not to smile, frown, stick out his tongue, or otherwise complicate the process. Not that it had mattered to Tony, his little grin forever captured on the now-dulled card. Of course, it had been nothing compared to Ziva, who had insisted on keeping her necklace on as the photog angrily circled and recircled "no jewelry" on the form, and burst out laughing when McGee kept whispering the name of her neighbor's much-beloved garden gnome, Thatchery. Needless to say, Gibbs' hand had turned red from the slaps he'd doled out.

This Anthony DiNozzo looked like a kid. A green Probie that Tony would have easily and joyfully put through the ringer. Hm......would've put Icy-Hot in his boxers, Tony thought, studying himself in the way way ducky did his psychological profiles. His eyes were too bright, missing some of the maturity you would have expected of someone who had years of cop work under his belt. Made him look way too young for...Whoa! Pretty big number beside "birthdate" . And this was back in '05? It had been a long time since Tony had gotten carded, but seeing it in black and white was just...weird.

He played with the card for a little while more before returning it to the drawer and bending down to pack away his things. In the leather messenger bag Gibbs had gotten him for Christmas. Sure, it was from the Sears sale rack, but "Man on a Budget" was totally hot for these "dire economic times".

As he put his arms through his jacket, Tony looked out the window. The rain had cleared, but it was still a dark night, the streetlights burning in the inky sky. They said the older you got, the wiser you got. Maybe it's just more accepting, Tony said to himself as he shut down his computer. Accepting....of changes and difference and the fact that you didn't survive having a bullet through your skull. Accepting of the fact there were people who wanted to drive that bullet up there. Accepting of the people that touched you, of the people who hurt them. He though of the two marines again, wondering what exactly had been going through their minds as they plotted their absolutely...convoluted plot out. Had they though they were invincible? That this was all some joke they'd run away from, like egging school windows on Halloween night? Had they accepted that was the only way to go that made sense?

Ooh, Deep... Tony's fingers flicked off every light on the switchboard in one smooth motion as the elevator dinged, its doors open to take him away. He stepped inside and pressed the "G" for ground floor. As the doors slid closed on the dim bullpen, his home more so than the overpriced rustic loft in Metro, Tony stopped to wonder. When did you lose that feeling of being invincible?

What would take away what made you a hero?

*****And we were all heroes
legends in our own minds
chasing down dreams on Friday nights
cruisin' down the back roads
singin' to the radio
we were all heroes
you might say*****

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