Switching places

It was a day of Jenny's funeral. Gibbs, Tony, Ziva and McGee were given new assignments and their team was broken. Ziva and McGee had left the bullpen already, only Tony was sitting there staring at his stuff. Gibbs was overlooking him from the stairs. He took a deep breath and walked down to Tony.

'' You are missing your flight, '' Gibbs said.

'' No. I'm just in time. I got time, it's just... I have to leave the good times behind in here and find myself a new family... or something like that. I just need a minute before I get my punishment, '' Tony said.

'' Tony go. There is nothing you could have done. You did your job and that was your mission. It is not your fault, nobody is blaming you, '' Gibbs said.

'' No. Someone is blaming me. All the time, '' Tony said.

'' And who is that ? '' Gibbs asked.

'' Me. This time it is guilt, '' Tony said.

'' It sucks. I know. The guilt sucks, it feels like you should have done more, but didn't make it. It feels like everybody is blaming you, but they are not showing. It's like everybody knew that it was your fault, but afraid to show it or anything. How you tell a person that he is the blame for a death, although it wasn't his gun. I know Tony, I have been there, and I can tell you, that no-one is blaming you. You are off the hook, '' Gibbs said.

'' I know. It sucks, but it is there. Ziva wanted to tail her, but I was against. Maybe if we had gotten there before, then she would be alive still. Face it: I am not a good agent anymore, first screw-up my undercover mission and then fail to protect Jenny. I am sorry for your loss too boss. I am terribly truly sorry and if I could I would change it, '' Tony said.

'' I... um, I am sorry too. But I am also sorry for your loss, Tony. That was my fault, and I guess I blamed myself and I am still blaming me. I guess for me the guilt is always there, '' Gibbs said.

'' Yeah... It was not your fault. Kate knew what she was doing and she knew the risks. I was there that time, there was no way you could have avoided it, '' Tony said.

'' If I had shot him in head, then Ari would have been long dead, '' Gibbs said.

'' We are not talking about Kate here. This time it is Jenny. ''

'' Yeah, now is my turn to feel like part of me was taken with her. Like my heart is killing me and somebody should rip it off, so I can let go that pain. ''

'' Your turn... I guess mine was long time ago. But I can assure it never goes away, '' Tony said.

'' I know. I still have those moments about Shannon and Kelley. Jenny is gone be another heart ache and because of Kate I feel guilty, '' Gibbs said.

'' Yeah. One heart ache and one thing to feel guilty about, '' Tony said.

'' Tony... What thing is with love ? Why we fall for wrong girls ? The ones who will get killed and leave us with almost nothing. The only thing we have are memories. Just pieces of past and that's it. We know they ain't coming back and we are not moving on either, '' Gibbs said.

'' I know. You have a point. We can't get them back, we don't see them anymore, we live in past just to get a glimpse of them, a piece of memory, '' Tony agreed.

'' Yeah. A piece of memory... ''

'' Yeah, boss. This is it. ''

'' You know, I should have a rule that says: never fall in love, '' Gibbs said.

'' Yeah. I think you should. But you have rule about dating co-workers and we both broke it... in some way, '' Tony said.

'' Well, I guess you have earned a head slap, but I am saving you, so consider yourself lucky. ''

'' I will, '' Tony said.

Tony opened his drawers, and took out pictures he had been keeping there. There were McGee, Ziva, Palmer, Ducky, Abby, Gibbs, Kate and Jenny on them. Gibbs was still standing there and he looked them, while Tony looked at his drawers. Next thing Tony took were Gibbs's awards.

'' I guess you can take them now, since I will be gone, '' Tony said and handled these to him.

'' You can keep them. I don't want them, '' Gibbs said and refused to take them.

'' These are yours. Keep them in your drawer, not a big difference if they are here or couple of meters away. You deserve them, take those, '' Tony said and put them to his hand.

Gibbs went to his desk and threw his awards to drawer like Tony suggested. Tony was finishing with his cleaning... All his stuff was in box and he was ready to leave.

'' Gibbs. We are switching places, '' Tony said.

'' Yes. You have guilt and I have love this time. I guess we can't get close to anyone else, or we feel it again, '' Gibbs said.

'' Good suggestion: I try to follow it. ''

'' You better be. You have my number and you know where I live. If you get back to D.C. one day, then call me or visit. I will be missing you and you will always be my # 1 field agent. My best man, the man I would call if I would be in prison and had one call left. ''

'' Thank you boss. I would be calling you too, so we are even. And I will let you know when I am back. ''

'' Bye ! See you someday Tony ! ''

'' See you, boss. ''

Tony turned to leave and he was waiting for elevator, when Gibbs ran after him.

'' We are switching places Tony, '' Gibbs said.

'' Yeah boss. We are. Guilt vs heart ache, '' Tony agreed.

'' Don't do anything stupid Tony, '' Gibbs said.

'' You too boss. You can survive it, I did and you did once before, '' Tony said.

'' I am not your boss anymore, '' Gibbs said.

'' I know, but I still call you like that, it is habit, boss. Or would you prefer Gibbs ? '' Tony asked.

'' No. Not Gibbs, call me Jethro. I trust you and know you well enough. We are friends after all and I sometimes think of you as my son, '' Gibbs confessed.

'' Thank you boss... um, Jethro I think of you as a father too somedays. And you are of course my role model. I would really like to be an agent like you one day, '' Tony admitted.

'' You are a damn good agent Tony. You will be better than me one day, '' Gibbs said.

'' No-one is better than you, '' Tony said.

'' You will be, one day. And I will keep an eye on you, to stop you from doing anything stupid, like you did a couple of years ago with Kate and all these few times you have screwed up, '' Gibbs said.

'' Thank you Jethro. I will be good boy then. '' Tony said.

Gibbs smiled at him and hugged him, which surprised Tony a lot. The man, who never says a compliment to anyone, first calls him – Tony – a son and then hugs him plus calling by first name... Wow, really a lot is happening in this day...

'' Semper fi Tony, '' Gibbs said and let Tony go.

'' Semper fi boss... Jehtro. Semper fi Jethro , '' Tony said.

'' And please send Abby letters, so she won't be that sad. It is just hard, '' Gibbs said.

'' I know. I will write, keep in touch. And let Ducky know that I miss his stories already, '' Tony said.

'' I will. Take care, '' Gibbs said.

'' You too, '' Tony said and stepped into elevator.

Gibbs looked Tony get into elevator and doors closing. He looked into his former senior field agent's eyes until doors were really closed. It was his son, his non-blood-related son, the one, who he taught all he knows and the one, who will take his place as a team leader one day again, but this time for longer time. After his retirement will be no other choice but Tony, the best fiend agent he has ever had.

Tony looked at Gibbs until the doors were closed and then he took a deep breath. It will be long time, when he's gonna be in D.C. and see Gibbs again... A long time. Tony had a tear in his eye on that thought. He spent his good times in NCIS, after all. He found friends, who became family and the love of his life, but she is unfortunately dead, and he also found a father figure in Gibbs. Guess, Gibbs was more his father than his real one ever could be, most of his knowledge comes from Gibbs anyway. But now he's gonna be the role model and teacher and everything. Time to grow up, time to move on... Time to put past behind. The elevator doors opened, Tony walked out and he left the building...

'' It is switching places, '' Tony thought and looked at photos one last time. He smiled and drove away... He had new mission to do and get his punishment there.