"Here you go sir, my report." A timid voice said from in front of his desk. He didn't even bother to look up at the man in front of him because he knew what he would find: a poor excuse of an agent trying to fill shoes he couldn't even dream of having a chance to try on.
"Do not call me sir I actually work for a living. Leave it." He answered scathingly. He heard the telltale sign of a sigh and then paper being thrown on the desk without care, he let the disrespect go, knowing he wasn't exactly being fair to his newest team member. Grabbing the report he narrowed his eyes, looking for any possible mistake the agent could have made. Wanting to show him just how much it took to stay on his team, to be his Senior Field Agent; it didn't take long to find multiple errors in the report, looking up he barked, "Twyne your report is garbage, type me up a new one, and this time use the damn spell-check!"
"Yes, si--boss!" Twyne said nodding his head, biting his lip to hide his annoyance.
"I am not your boss!" He growled aggravated. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Twyne opened his mouth, irritation flaming hot in his eyes, before he shut it, grinded his teeth and furiously started pecking at his keyboard. Returning to his own report, he growled in frustration, remembering how Twyne had left his six while confronting a hostile suspect. The man was a probie for god's sake; he wasn't nearly ready enough to be in a position of Senior Field Agent of anyone's team, let alone his! Yet there the man sat, at five feet eleven inches, blonde hair, green eyes and a cocky attitude to boot. The only good thing that could possibly be said about the young man was that he was in shape, other than that he pissed Gibbs off pretty quickly just by existing. If it had been up to him, Twyne wouldn't be working as a field agent at all, but it wasn't; it hadn't even been his call to hire the man. Usually, all new members of his team had to have his approval before being welcomed to the team, but not this time, the director once again overstepped his bounds and without a word to Gibbs placed this probie as his Senior Field Agent. The only other choice was to put McGee in that position and he knew the young junior agent wasn't ready for that kind of responsibility, and while he didn't welcome newbie's in high-up positions, they at least knew and could handle the responsibility of being Senior Field Agent. And with everything else going on in his head and around him, he really needed someone with experience and self-sufficiency.
Unfortunately, he had been given Twyne, who, in his opinion, was worse than McGee. It was definitely the last time he was trusting Vance. He almost shook his head as he finished dotting his 'I's and crossing his 't's . He had already went through Ziva and McGee's reports, finding nothing wrong with them he had paid them both a nod of acceptance before sending them home. Now all he had to do was look over Twyne's and he would be off for the night, straight to his basement and rum, his new alcoholic beverage. He sighed, rubbing his eyes he tried to swallow back his annoyance, it wouldn't do to push the newbie too far; instead he chose to focus on how he had ended up with the disaster named Twyne to begin with.
"Where is DiNozzo?!" He nearly shouted in exasperation, he knew the man had stayed at work later than usual last night, he had left before DiNozzo had but that didn't give him an excuse to be as late as he was, the whole team was here except him. It had nearly been an hour, his second in command had been later than this before but that was when he was running an undercover op for the Director. To his knowledge DiNozzo had been steering clear of any covert mission that could even possibly come his way after the Benoit disaster. "McGee I want a GPS location, Ziva call him."
"That won't be necessary Agent Gibbs." Director Vance said standing in front of the bullpen with a young man in a suit. "Agent DiNozzo resigned last night. This is Frederick Twyne, your new Senior Field Agent."
"Office Now." Was the only thing he could get past the lump in his throat, the feeling of dread tingling up his spine increased with each step he took up the stairs. His mind was numb with shock, and burned with betrayal, confusion shorted all the wires in his mind, he felt incredibly empty and exposed. Heading into the office, he shoved his vulnerability behind the steel walls of his quickly recovering mind. Which was currently busy trying to figure out what the hell was going on, and why DiNozzo would do such a foolish thing. He closed the door behind him and waited until Vance had taken his seat before nailing him with a glare that often had his team stuttering and running for cover, yet no words came to mind, he wanted to ask why. No not just ask it, scream it for the whole world to hear, maybe DiNozzo would hear it then. Instead he settled for, "Is this one of your tricks Leon? You sending him on some Covert Op and need us to think he's gone? Did you perhaps transfer him or fire him?" His voice was mocking, and crossed the line of disrespect but he didn't care.
"DiNozzo quit. On his own free will." Vance said pulling out a file from the FBI.
"Oh really? You had nothing to do with it then huh?" He asked darkly, his voice suspicious.
"No. He came to me last night, he already had his resignation written, he handed it in, I accepted. End of story." Vance said shrugging.
"Did he say why Leon?" He said his voice dripping with agitation.
"No. And I didn't ask. DiNozzo is an adult, I'm sure he can make his own decisions without being questioned as to why he made them. You have a good agent down there waiting for you. Use him well." Vance said his voice brooking no argument. He all but stormed out of the office, knowing there was nothing he could do until he tracked down DiNozzo and talked some sense into him but until then he'd have to make due with the man that was currently sitting at Tony's empty desk.
That had been seven weeks ago. And now he was drinking rum, Tony's favorite form of alcohol. For nights after DiNozzo's resignation he sat in his basement just staring at the boat, unable to even fathom working on it, instead he mindlessly stared at it's ribs while drinking rum and trying to find the answer to all his questions in the grain of the wood. He had used all his resources trying to find DiNozzo but the man had disappeared, using all the tricks Gibbs had taught him to go under and stay under. The frustration tore at him almost as much as the confusion and betrayal did, he didn't understand why Tony would throw his life away like this. Nothing had happened recently that he could think of that would send DiNozzo over the edge, sure ever since the La Grenouille Mission went south and Jenny had died things were a little rough between him and his trusted second, but they were just beginning to smooth things out. There was no reason for him to disappear like he had. Reason or not, Tony was gone.
He thought Tony would come back after a while, but after a month it was apparent that DiNozzo was gone, and he let Twyne move his belongings into Tony's vacant desk. It had bothered him on many different levels to give up on his first Senior Field Agent, but Tony obviously did not want to be found and after a month of violating his wishes he shoved his own feelings aside and gave Tony what he wanted: Freedom. But that didn't stop him from missing him, especially with how terrible Twyne was at the job; at first he thought he might be comparing Twyne and Tony but after a few weeks he realized Twyne was just crap. He couldn't do interrogations, he couldn't link the seemingly random pieces of the case together, he couldn't follow orders and he didn't care about anyone but himself. He didn't want a man like that covering his six and after tonight he would no longer be bringing Twyne with him on outings, but instead would entrust his six to McGee. But it was more than that; he missed Tony on a more personal level, he missed the tell-tale signs of DiNozzo's feet dragging across his floor late at night after a hard case, hoping to find some sort of normalcy, it kept not only Tony grounded but also him; knowing he had people counting on him for guidance and comfort kept him on his toes and constantly busy. He didn't have that distraction anymore, and it was getting increasingly harder for him to departmentalize his brain and keep everything locked up in his head. He also missed Tony's jokes, it had once irked him a great deal to hear his agent calling out movie references and wise ass remarks, or even inappropriate remarks at a crime scene, some very tasteless like the time they had found a woman pushed down a flight of stairs with her lower half raised in the air, DiNozzo had made an obscene comment about the sexual position the girl landed in. It earned him a cuff on the head, but it also lightened the mood and gave everyone a target for their indignation and outrage.
Overtime he grew fond of the endless chatter, he soon realized it brightened the mood, and kept everyone out of the dumps. But it was also a mask for his agent, one he fell behind naturally, which disturbed Gibbs the most, he wondered who was watching out for his Senior Field Agent. He missed how Tony would stand up to him if need be, he'd come out and say what he thought regardless of how Gibbs would react. Not many people could do that with him, not even his three ex-wives were capable of that, yet his glares and his rough manner never seemed to make a difference when it came to DiNozzo, it was almost like he was immune. It was overexposure for sure, Tony had been with him nine years, the longest anyone had ever stayed with him, and also that Tony had ever stayed with someone. It made him proud in many different ways that Tony had chosen him over anyone else and that he could claim Tony as his agent; it drove Fornell crazy that the young agent wouldn't even consider any of his annual job offerings. He admired Tony for his loyalty, even though he desired it from all his agents he knew not to expect it; he only expected his second to be loyal to him but Tony out did even his expectations of loyalty. He smiled gently remembering the last redhead that had crossed his path, he had been dating her for a couple months and was slowly growing feelings for her, all was well until he came home to find his boat, the one meant for her, in pieces. She had fallen for another, younger, man and was too afraid to tell him, so she put it to him in a different way. DiNozzo had somehow found out and went to pay her a visit, telling her exactly what he thought of her.
He, of course, heard about it the next night when she came to visit and told him that he could call off his attack dog, after she had left all he could think was that Tony was his loyal St Bernard not his attack dog. Not many could hold their own against a redhead and he appreciated Tony all the more. He wasn't exactly a friend to him, he couldn't be because he was his subordinate, but he had looked upon Tony with a fondness he didn't reserve for just anyone. He knew he shouldn't play favorites, and he thought he did a good job at not showing that he preferred DiNozzo, but he, in fact, rather have DiNozzo at his six, helping solve cases than anyone else, it was his input that he listened to the most. He confided in DiNozzo more than the others, without even speaking, they had been together for so long they just knew what the other meant. Though he liked to keep things unpredictable at times, to shape them all into better agents. He loved to push DiNozzo, for the same reasons, but he never thought he pushed him too hard, there were times he rode his ass but it was to keep him on his toes never to push him away. He at first feared that was what he had done and now it was all too apparent that that was what had happened, and because of that he had been much easier on McGee and Ziva the past few weeks. He sighed again, rubbing the heaviness from his eyes, he would do anything to have his Agent back, no, he would do anything just to speak to DiNozzo again, to see him.
"Gibbs." Twyne said, he looked up sharply, unaware that Twyne had been standing in front of his desk for a full minute, it took him another moment to realize he was holding out an envelope with writing on it. "This was left on my desk this morning. It said to give it to you."
He nodded and dismissed Twyne after reviewing his report for the fifth time. He waited until the elevator doors closed on his new agent before looking down at the writing, it was Tony's. He ripped the envelope to pieces, careful of the letter inside, unraveling it, he let his eyes just rove over the familiar writing, happy to know that DiNozzo was healthy and well before finally reading it.
You are probably pissed that I went over your head and not to you, but I knew you would try to force me to stay, I knew you'd understand and I think that would hurt the most, especially if you had accepted my resignation in the end. I couldn't face that, not after everything we've been through. I know you are probably wondering why I left you high and dry when I never have before, there are many reasons, which probably isn't very reassuring for you, but trust me you aren't in danger of losing any of the others. You left for Mexico boss, you just ditched me--and this isn't some twisted revenge, "how do you like it?" thing--but that was just cruel, and all you had to say to me was 'you'll do'. You couldn't even remember me and you were handing over the team? You didn't care about anything, not us or the responsibility, you knew who you were, at least from what you were told, so I thought you would at least live up to it and do things the marine way, the Gibbs way. But you took the cowards way out, you weren't the same man when you woke up. I guess losing fifteen years of your life though can do that to you, but I can't help how I feel boss, and I lost a lot of respect for you that day. It hurt so bad when you just walked away, you just quit.
Things got hard and you ran. You were my Mentor, I looked up to you and what kind of example were you setting? A selfish, cowardly, one, well boss it took me a while to get over the sting of betrayal and abandonment, and even longer to accept the fact that you aren't the man I knew any longer, that that man was dead and gone and I just had to move on. I tried thinking about what the old Gibbs would do but that seemed to shatter seeing who you were at that moment. Like I said my respect for you vanished, it made me sick what you did. But when I did finally come to terms with everything I promised I would never do that to my team, that I would step up and be everything you turned out not to be, I said the only way I would leave my team is if I could no longer perform it without endangering someone else or if I was killed. I wasn't going to live in your legacy, I was going to make my own. I spent many weeks trying to be you, but it wasn't working, so I did things my way. I kept your rules, they were good, I kept some of the things you did but I made necessary adjustments, people began to resent me for it but I'm not you Gibbs and I wanted everybody to know that and if they have a problem with it they could join you in fucking Mexico for all I care. Then you just barge back in and take it all away from me, after I picked up the pieces and put everything and everyone back together you think you have the right to destroy it, to shove it in my face and take it all back? Well fuck you.
But even more than that, you left me to the wolves, with no preparation, no training, right when you left guess who swooped in and snatched me up for her personal vendetta and used me as a pawn in her little scheme? That's right Director Shepard. You left me unprotected, I don't blame you for the La Grenouille mess or anything, but I resent you for it. I appreciate you clearing my name when La Grenouille was killed, and I thank you for believing it wasn't me. I never did need an alibi with you Gibbs, it's one thing I will never forget. The whole mission was a catastrophe, I really loved her boss, I was hurting so bad you had to have noticed. You always noticed when something was up with me. I know you knew how bad I was hurting over Jeanne, I know I deserved it too for falling for her in the first place, but you didn't even make an attempt to ease my suffering. If anything you prolonged it. The hardest thing though was losing your trust, and knowing I had. You have no idea how sorry I was to have had to lie to you, it was hard looking you in the eye and both of us knowing we were just playing around the subject of my loyalties switching. But you took it in stride because you had left and things couldn't stay the same. We weren't the same after that, we pretended we were okay but both of us know that that was a load of bullshit; we played it up for the team. After hours, however, neither of us called the other, and I stopped coming to your house. I waited for you to come, I drove past your house sometimes but I just couldn't go in, knowing that you still weren't the man you were before the explosion. I was pissed after a while about this whole trust thing, because you have lied to the team more than I have ever lied to you and for you to hold that single big lie against me is complete bullshit and you know it. But like I said you aren't the man you were before the explosion.
Then Jenny died, we both know I screwed the pooch, neither of us had to say it out loud, but it was pretty obvious if I had been doing my job, regardless of orders, Jenny would be alive today. I know you and her had a thing way back when, I know how you cared about her and I take the blame for letting her die; you have every right to be pissed at me, I will never be able to forgive myself. The Director and I got close in your absence, I really did like her boss and I'm sorry she's dead. I almost ate my gun a couple times after she died, it was hard losing Kate but even harder with Jenny, and you weren't there for me. This tie however I don't blame you, I deserved it, and you had your own pain to sort through. Then Vance comes prancing through the place with his tighty whities all in a bunch, and splits us up, I was almost relieved for a bit but it was harder then I expected, being apart from all of you, especially you boss. You were my rock, my foundation, you grounded me. I was glad to be back, but boss I know you didn't fight that hard to get me back, I know Abby was the one really fighting for me and Ziva too. I kept telling you how I missed you and you either ignored me or cut me off. You couldn't even look at me, let alone reciprocate the feelings and that's when it really hit home to me: we were never going to be ok again.
We weren't the same people we were before. You're still recovering from that damn explosion that took everything away from us, and I'm not fitting back into Senior Field Agent as well as I should be. Jenny offered me my own team the very same day you came back, I turned it down because I thought you needed me. How stupid was that? The great Leroy Jethro Gibbs needing anyone? It took me months to come to the conclusion, case after case, day after day making it more obvious, the strain in our relationship was about to boil over, and I couldn't take doing things on my own anymore, not having someone. It was beginning to affect our work, not trusting one another, and that is ultimately why I left. I tried to make it right, I tried to fix it but I just couldn't and I know you were trying to as well; it just wasn't happening Gibbs, this is the best course for both of us, or at least for me, if things get too tough for you without me there you could always just flee to Mexico, I hear Franks has an extra room.
Don't bother looking for me, I know you already have but do not continue, you will not find me, and I don't want you to. I think this is the last for us Gibbs. But it's ok. I'm doing better now, recovering from everything, I know you will to, just give my replacement a fighting chance. I'm doing alright, I'm still in law enforcement, I tried going back to detective work but it just wasn't the same, I contemplated Fornell but we work together too often, it would be awkward for the both of us, I'm not a big fan of the DEA either. So I bit the bullet and am now working for the CIA. Yeah I know weird right? What's worse is that they assigned Kort to train me. That's been going well. I swear the man has no heart and finds great pleasure in making me suffer. He's been trying to break me of your rules and your way of thinking and it isn't going so well for him. It's kinda funny, his face gets all red when he's mad he looks like a tomato ready to bust into tomato sauce.
Boss, you've taught me everything I know, I even learned how to build a boat under your command, and I owe you almost everything, my life in fact. While I find this difficult to say it is less so on paper, especially when I know I have no plans to ever see you again. I considered you a Father to me Gibbs, you were everything I've always wanted in a dad. My Father wasn't the best as I'm sure you have gathered, and you are the closest thing I've got to one. So I'm leaving you as next of kin and my emergency contact, because even though we have this irreparable rift between us, you are still my Father, and I still care about you. I want you to know that I will never forget anything, I'll always remember. The comfort you offered, the protection, the distraction, the guidance, the head slaps and discipline. I really do owe you a lot, I just wish things could be different because I really miss you boss. I hope you keep well, you watch out for yourself and the rest of the team. I'll be fine. Don't worry about me. I wish I could say this all to your face but I just can't, not without breaking down, it all hurts too much. I don't mean to make you feel bad but you know, one father betrayed me, and then another one. I'm through with getting hurt. Maybe someday way in the future when you are on your deathbed I'll visit but until then I'll be in the shadows watching.
The letter fell from his shaking hands, onto the cold floor. He sat at his desk, numb with shock, hurting once again, guilt made his stomach queasy as the anger heated his face. He didn't understand anything, he didn't understand how he could have let things get so bad between him and his agent, he didn't know when this all happened, he cursed himself for not seeing it sooner. And now it was too late. He realized he could call Kort, could pull a few strings and have his boy back but that's not what Tony wanted and he would respect his wishes for once and not his own. But it hurt like hell seeing his betrayal of his agent written on paper right in front of his face. He put his elbows on his knees and his face in his shaking hands and took deep breaths, exhaling suppressed tears as his shoulders began to silently shake in the dark, vacant room, regret and guilt wracked his body and tore him to pieces. He would lay down his life for Tony DiNozzo, now more than ever, but he didn't know if Tony would ever let him get that close again. And it was all his fault.
He sat at his desk for hours before finally pulling himself together enough to drive home. He went directly to the basement, a habit he had developed over the years, and stared at the half-finished boat. He had put more work into this one than he had any of the others, put more love into it, more care into it and much more pride in it than anyone else's, except maybe his daughter's. He traced his finger along Tony's name, he had used his full first name, instead of just Tony, it seemed more intimate than anything else he had ever called him. It was his boat, his boy and he had let him down, the guilt consumed him, burning his very soul, he pushed his sorrow and anger down; this wasn't about that , this was something much more personal, something that went deeper than anything could express. He raised an ax and started demolishing the boat, hacking it to pieces. This was customary to do to the boats named after his ex-wives but he had never ever broken a boat to pieces before it was finished, but it seemed to fit for what happened to them. He dragged every last sliver of the boat out into the backyard and poured rum over it. Lighting a match he set it on fire and watched his Tony go up in flames. The flames seemed to engulf him as well as the boat as searing red-hot pain enveloped him and made it hard to breathe, he pulled every intense feeling he had, the anger, guilt, regret, pain, betrayal, hatred, resentment, bitterness, everything and he watched it burn and let himself burn with it. He felt a heaviness in his chest, an emptiness in his gut and a numbness in his mind when the flames dissolved into ashes, his legs turning to jell-o and his head feeling light, he heaved and gasped for breath, as sweat poured off of him, and tears dried on his face. There was nothing left in him, nothing at all. All his fight was gone and all he had left was an ache and pain, the usual grief he felt when he lost someone; he held onto those feelings as semblance to normalcy again and using the side of his house as support walked inside and up to bed.
Flipping open his cell he knew he had to dial two numbers.
"Gibbs what can the CIA do for you?" Kort's voice floated from the cell phone.
"Tell Tony that I am proud of him and that I'll always have his six." Gibbs said in his usual gruff manner.
"He's doing well. You lost a good man Gibbs." Kort said silkily.
"I know. Treat him right, train him well. You got my best." Gibbs replied.
"Indeed. I will pass the message along." Kort said before hanging up.
Sighing he dialed the last number.
"Twyne, I like the effort and resilience. But if you ever leave my six again I swear to god this will be the last job you'll have in any form of law enforcement ever, do you understand me?!" He said half-angry half-scolding.
"Yes Gibbs. Crystal." Twyne answered perking up a bit.
"That's Boss to you!" He corrected gruffly.
"Yes Boss!" Twyne sounded relieved. Hanging up he got up once more and placed a picture of him and Tony together into Kelly's time capsule before hitting the sack.