24 hours later...
Tony rode in the elevator with Ziva down to autopsy, leaning up against the wall on his side. An unspoken glance of comfort came his way from Ziva as the doors opened. He pushed up from the wall and exited the elevator; Ziva following close behind him.
As the doors hissed open, Gibbs and McGee turned around from where they stood beside the body on the cold table. Although this was supposed to be a verification of the identity of the body, they were all certain of the answer. It was clear from the looks on his colleagues' faces.
Ducky and Jimmy stood behind the table with apologetic looks directed at Tony as he approached. He looked down to the open body-bag, at his father's face. It was as he'd expected; pale and lifeless... but he'd been cleaned up, and for that, Tony was grateful.
A few moments passed before he realized they'd been expecting an answer from him, and he glanced up at Ducky, then to Gibbs. "Can I have a minute?" he asked in a low voice. And from the corners of his eyes, he saw them all systematically disperse, feeling Gibbs' hand pat his shoulder; McGee's did the same to his other.
When he heard the doors finally hiss closed for the last time, he took a breath. "You shoulda talked to me," he told the body that was his father. His eyes darted over the pale skin and closed eyes. "Should've given me a chance to reply. But you're right; you're a coward," he clenched his jaw. "You were a selfish, cowardly son of a bitch... but I loved you," his voice cracked as a lump grew in his throat and tears stung his eyes. "And I forgive you, Dad," he drew in a shaky breath as he touched his hand to the top of his father's head.
After a moment, he removed his hand and reached for the zipper of the body-bag, and slowly closed it. Taking another deep breath, he backed away slightly, then turned to walk toward the door. "Bye, Dad," he said quietly...
Two days later...
"Tony's in Rhode Island?" McGee asked his boss from where he sat at his desk.
"Droppin' off his father's ashes," Gibbs told him.
"He didn't want anyone to go with him?"
"Said he needed to do it on his own," he replied. Tim nodded and looked back down at his computer screen.
"He took a plane," Ziva elaborated. "He will be fine, McGee." He glanced up at her and saw the faint smile on her face despite the corrective tone, and he nodded in appreciation.
A ding from the elevator caught Tim's attention and he watched as Tony walked out toward the bullpen. He was looking at the floor at first; dressed in black slacks and a black turtleneck, topped with a black dress-coat. It had been a while since Tim could recall seeing him wear a turtleneck... and it seemed odd that he was even thinking about that fact.
"That was fast," Gibbs said, and Tim saw that Gibbs noticed Tony walk into the bullpen. Tony looked up at him.
"Wasn't there to see the sites, Boss," he replied with a smirk. "Workin' on a case?" he asked as he made his way to his desk chair.
"Nope," he replied. "Gettin' ready to head out," he closed a folder and put it in a drawer.
"It's only 1900... kinda early for you," Tony said.
"Only if there was a case," he retorted. "Need a ride?"
"Yeah," he replied, glancing at Tim for a moment.
"How'd you get here?" McGee asked.
"Cab. My car's still in the shop, and they're hesitant to give me another loaner. Can't say I blame them," he smirked.
"Shouldn't be drivin' yet anyway," Gibbs said as he threw on his coat. "You can go home, too," he told the other agents.
"How did everything go, Tony?" Ziva asked as she stood from her desk.
Tony cocked his head, "Wasn't much to it. Just dropped his ashes off to be buried next to my mom's plot."
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'm good, Zi," he gave her a smile. "Could go for a drink, though," he turned toward Gibbs. "Feel like stoppin' for a beer or somethin', Boss?"
Gibbs cocked his head, "Got beer at home," he said. "Among other things."
"Can I bring friends?" Tony smirked. Tim and Ziva came up on either side of Tony, giving unnecessary puppy-dog eyes to their boss.
Gibbs shook his head with an amused grin, then turned toward the elevator, "Come on," he called. They all happily piled into the elevator with Gibbs as he pressed the garage level button.
"Before we all get plastered," Tony said with a mischievous grin, "I just wanted to let you all know I love ya...ya know, before I say it when I'm drunk."
"So, you're gonna say it when you're drunk, too?" McGee smirked.
"At least twenty-five times, Probie," he grinned. "Sure you don't wanna change your mind, Boss?" he asked.
"Not really," he raised his brows.
"I have my handcuffs if he should get out of line," Ziva smirked.
"Oh, really?" the corner of Tony's lips turned up with a suggestive tone in his voice. But it was quickly wiped off with a swift tap to the back of his head. "Sorry, Boss," he straightened. "I'll behave."
Ziva laughed through her nose, causing Tony to make a face at her. Gibbs smirked...
Yeah so the end came quicker than I'd imagined. But I felt like this was a good place to leave off.
I hope you enjoyed this story! Thanks so much for sticking it through:)