Chapter Eleven: The Moment I Said It

The clock in the hallway ticked past into the early morning, the sky outside a murky blue-brown. Gibbs sat in the same chair he'd pulled up hours before; just to the head of the bed, one hand resting by the pillow. The door was opened quietly, but still drew the ever vigil agent's attention. Registering no thread, Gibbs turned his head back to the sleeping figure wrapped in white sheets and pale blue woollen blankets.

"Watch him Peter; call me when he wakes up." The dark haired agent nodded silently, pulling the only other chair in the room up.

Leaning forward, running a hand through the soft hair. Dalrym wasn't trying to listen in, but even if he had been, he wouldn't have been able to hear the muffled whisper Gibbs left the sleeping boy with. But, again, he wasn't one to interrupt a touching, intimate moment. With a final brush over the now much warmer forehead, Gibbs left the silent room, Dalrym taking his seat and swinging his legs up onto the chair Gibbs had just vacated.

"Something strange there, kid, something strange." He muttered, more to the room at large rather than to the actual bed.

On average it takes four hours and sixteen minutes to drive to New York City from Washington D.C. It also takes two days and twenty one hours of continuous walking to cover the same distance. But, Gibbs wasn't walking; he wasn't – in a non-technical, metaphorical way – driving either. He was tearing.

The car skidded, leaving black streaks on the tarmac as Gibbs changed lanes. Four hours on average, but that wasn't taking into account this particular journey. That would take the average down considerably. A horn honked irritably as Gibbs swerved in front of a small hatchback, ignoring the continued noised as he pressed his foot down harder towards the carpet.

The toll bridges hardly slowed the black official sedan down at all and the brakes kicked in, parked directly outside the entrance where the revolving door slowly spun it's way around. One of the wheels bounced up onto the curb, letting the car park straight, out the way of the road but close enough to be incredibly obvious. The time was just turned to eight a.m. the weak winter light washing through the streets.

The place hadn't changed, and the situation wasn't becoming dissimilar. Gibbs strode through the revolving doors, ignored the receptionist and punched the elevator call button, Roy standing calmly behind him. The receptionist just outside Mr. DiNozzo's room gave them a surprised look, opening his mouth to protest before reading the look written over Gibbs' face. You didn't have to be able to read people well at all you realise that this read 'do not mess'. His job wasn't worth as much as his life.

"Agent Gibbs!" DiNozzo exclaimed as his antique wooden door slammed open, revealing at least one thoroughly pissed NCIS Special Agent and one who was getting there. Mostly because he'd had to do this trip from D.C. to New York twice in the past week and he didn't like travelling much.

Marching up to the ornate desk, Gibbs heaved DiNozzo up by the lapels of his, no doubt, overly expensive suit and thumped him painfully into the wall behind. Roy closed the door quietly behind him.

"They left him in a room with no protection from the weather because you wouldn't pay up." Gibbs voice was barely audibly by DiNozzo, but the tone was more than enough. "You were willing to sell your son's life for advertising space. They broke his finger, caused him pain. But, they were just carrying on what you've done, aren't they?" DiNozzo stayed in shocked silence.

"Aren't they!" Gibbs shouted, tightening his grip on the businessman's lapels, attempting very hard not to choke the bastard. DiNozzo flinched, but refused to open his ugly mouth. Loosening his grip on DiNozzo's black lapel jacket, Gibbs punched his hand into a fist. The knuckles of his hand connected neatly with DiNozzo's jaw-line, snapping his head back into the wall. The man, with his perfectly greased back and side-parted hair let out a pitiful yelp, falling to one knee at the agent's disgusted feet.

"Assalt!" DiNozzo yelped, well more mumbled as he was holding his throbbing jaw. He turned pleading eyes towards Roy, who had conveniently moved to stand by the window. "Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. DiNozzo, I wasn't looking. I'll be sure to watch in case you imagine such an act again." The blonde agent replied, turning his shoulder towards the business reject, staring out across the view of New York.

Gibbs stared down at the pathetic lump, hauling himself off the floor to stand upright against the cold wall again. "Aren't they?" His voice was quieter now, cerulean eyes blazing with an unseen flare. Making eye contact with the incensed agent for a second was enough to bring forth a whimpered, "Yes." From the cowering man.

Roy took his cue, pulling out his handcuffs from his back pocket, drawing on his memory to Mirandize the son of a bitch. "You apparently have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You apparently have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney – which I think is unlikely as you're wearing Armani- , one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?" Roy recited from memory; it wasn't hard to remember the Miranda rights, even if you didn't always agree with them. DiNozzo nodded dumbly as his hands were forced roughly behind his back.

"You should be happy that Gibbs won't be interrogating you on this one, he'd most likely kill you." Roy remarked cheerfully, walking DiNozzo out towards the front entrance where he'd hand him over to the local Police. Child Neglect or Abuse wasn't a federal crime, leaving it to the local LEOs to deal with. Of course, that didn't mean that Gibbs wouldn't be glaring over the officers like a hawk throughout the investigation. When he wasn't standing by Tony's side that was.

With the adrenaline levels still raging through his body, Gibbs reaction to answering his phone was twice as quick as usual, sending Dalrym – on the other end of the phone in D.C. – off kilter.

"Yeah, Gibbs."

"Oh, boss…Urhm, uh. He's awake, boss." Dalrym faltered for a moment before regaining his composure.

"Tell him I'll be back in three hours." Gibbs shut off the phone, quickening his pace, black coat – which he hadn't bothered to remove during the brief encounter with that – billowing behind him. Roy was waving a cheerful goodbye as the armoured police van pulled off the curb with their new cargo, but when he saw Gibbs striding through the revolving doors he scooted round towards the passenger seat. Dawdling at this point would be being left behind in New York, which wasn't a good idea. He'd promised he'd be back for dinner that night and, even if he wouldn't admit it, he was more scared of his wife's wrath than his boss's. Fair point.

Unless spoken to, Roy hadn't spoken on the trip back towards D.C. Gibbs had received two phone calls, which he'd taken at his usual warp speed, muttering a few replies before concentrating on weaving in and out of the cars on the road in front of him. The hospital parking lot had been filling up with visitors since Gibbs had left almost nine hours earlier. Nine hours a lot could change.

Roy was a tall man, but even he couldn't keep up with the frankly incredibly speed at which Gibbs was moving through the hospital corridors. Lagging behind meant that he only caught the end of a very brief conversation Gibbs had with a thin man in a black suit and the exchange of an A4 envelope. Still, it wasn't his business to pry into his boss's life, unless Gibbs was a case, but somehow he doubted that Gibbs would leave enough evidence to become a suspect.

The room was much more animate than the last time Gibbs had checked in. The blinds were open, letting in the pale light. There were three occupants of the room: Dalrym leaning casually against the back wall, Ducky sitting on one of the plastic chairs, and of course the young patient, sitting up against a mountain of soft pillows, his eyes slightly tired, but still intent. Walking through the open doorway, Gibbs caught the end of the conversation, one of the cheerful stories Ducky always had stored away in his extensive brain.

"Gibbs!" Tony's jubilant cry brought Ducky out of his story, causing Dalrym to turn his head. Pushing off the wall, and heading towards the door as Roy beaconed him out, they were good partners as it went.

"Hey, Tony." Gibbs' smile was wide and genuine as he stopped beside Tony's bed, ruffling the boy's hair. He'd seemed to like it before, and it wasn't like Gibbs objected to doing it, it felt right. Ducky smiled at the reunion before making his quiet exit into the corridor. "Doctor told me I'm getting out this afternoon." Tony replied, itching the bandage securely fastened around his bruised wrist, winding up to the plaster encasing two of his fingers together. Gibbs eyes flashed at the bandaged hand, but he kept his expression light. This was not the time.

"I wanted to ask ya something." Gibbs snagged the chair leg with a foot, drawing it towards him as he sat down. Tony's eyes held full curiosity, more or less shining with it. Trust. That was trust, Gibbs. That was trust. Now came the hard part. From the phone calls a boy like Tony would've deduced that his father was a part of this, a big part of this. But, would Gibbs explain it. He really didn't want to, and if his gut was anything to go by, he didn't feel he needed to. Not with the proposal he wanted to make.

"When you get out, do you want me to call one of your relatives?" The young boy's face fell dramatically. His eyes dropped to the white cast around his fingers, bringing his other hand over to pull absentmindedly at the bandage.

"Or, would you prefer to stay with me…" Gibbs didn't manage to finish the last word before Tony had sat up, ignoring the quickly increasing beeping of the monitor registering his heartbeat. His green eyes were wide, bright, excited…unbelieving?

"What?" Was all he could think of to say.

"Would you like to come back home, with me. Permanently?" Gibbs arms were suddenly filled with an excited fourteen year old. He shifted his foot back to take the weight, not that there was much of it, the surprise more than anything. I'll take that as a yes. Gibbs smiled to himself, wrapped him arms around Tony's back as the boy buried his head in Gibbs neck. Gibbs turned his head slightly, pressing a kiss to the boy's hair. His boy's hair. Good thing he said yes, I've already signed the papers.

From the doorway, Ducky stepped back, a smile colouring his features as he turned to move away. It was going to be a long few weeks. A hard few weeks. The court case wasn't going to be pretty, Deangelo DiNozzo would make sure of that, but from what he'd just seen, the after effects would be perfectly worth it.

Months later, as the spring sun rose from the horizon on a brand new day, a single ray of light filtered through the curtains that hadn't been closed properly. Snaking across the carpet the light hit a glass framed document hanging proudly on the wall. Three signatures adorned the bottom; the rest was elegant printed notes. Notes which announced that Leroy Jethro Gibbs had been awarded permanent adoptive custody of Anthony Deangelo DiNozzo, now known as Anthony Jackson Gibbs on any further legal or political papers here on. The light faded as a cloud passed across the sun, but the document stayed out, standing proudly on the wall above the fireplace.

At the same moment, miles away in a small, run down motel a gun was laid carefully on the bed side table. The bedsprings creaked as a body sat down heavily with a sigh. He'd booked in under a false name, paid in cash, untraceable. Swinging his feet up onto the bed, he interlocked his fingers over his chest, staring up at the ceiling; imagining. Just imagining. Imagining a new way, a new inventive, fool proof way to seal the revenge he should've had months ago. With DiNozzo behind bars he'd have to bring in some help. Some aid. It would take planning, it would take months. He could do it, and he would.

Hmn…spooky. Anyway, sequel? Yeah, I think so, and I'll start it this week. I'm sorry I didn't get the reply up when I said I would, but there it is. Sequel will probably take the same amount of time. Just think of it as a next chapter. Now, a few thank-yous, like an award ceremony. First, my amazing beta, I know, I have one now, Zora. Seriously, thank-you so much. Annika, motivation for everything, thank-you! And I hope you enjoyed it. I'm talking like it's over…just you wait, the italicised man shall reveal all! And that's all I really have to say on the matter. It's been fun reviews, and you're all amazing! Thank-you!

Soul Music.