Seven months on:
Tony's bed vibrated, he opened his eyes to see the early morning sun streaming through his blinds. He rubbed a hand over his face and through his hair, it was morning already. He rolled himself off the bed and dragged himself into the conjoining bathroom still half asleep.
He showered and dressed, spending an age picking through his wardrobe; matching tie to shirt and shirt to shoes and his shoes to his tie again and the tie to his socks. He took even longer standing in front of his bathroom mirror playing with his hair, carefully making sure each individual hair had its fair share of hair moisturizing product and jell, before he molded it into its assigned place on his head.
Tony's apartment door clicked shut behind him; he strolled to the elevator and hammered the button a few times before leaning back on the wall behind to wait for it. His neighbor, Margaret emerged from her door and shuffled her way down the hall towards him. He greeted her with a smile, the elevator slid open in front of him. He held out his arm and allowed the older woman to shuffle her way past him and into the lift.
"What level, Madam?" Tony said, smiling his 100 Watt smile as he pressed the ground floor, already knowing she was heading that way.
"Thank you, dear. I still can't understand how you make it to work this early every day. They work you too hard Anthony." She said, wagging a finger.
Tony read her lips and chuckled, "Now Maggie, never mind me, would you mind telling me what a lady like yourself might be doing out this early?"
"Doctors appointment, my dear." She said as the lift came to a stop, he held out an arm again and let her pass him into the chilly lobby. She began moving off in another direction.
"Good luck, Maggie, see you later."
"Thank you, Anthony, make sure you take care."
The traffic was light on his drive into work and he made it in early, managing to pick up a coffee on his way in. He locked his car door and made his way into the NCIS building sipping on the steaming cup.
He exited the elevator with a spring in his step, it was the end of the week, a Friday and he had the whole weekend off. Tonight the team had planned drinks and he was looking forward to it. He used to be one for going out at every opportunity and had no issues picking up women where ever he went, of course that had changed after his accident. It wasn't something that hit him too hard, his previous lifestyle hadn't been exactly ideal, now he had time for more genuine relationships with people that were not afraid or intimidated by him, true friends that he could rely on.
He sat himself down at his desk and sighed, he was the first one to arrive for the second time in a week, it was his new record. He opened his emails and picked up the phone, dialing the number for his answering machine and read his voice messages as they ran out on the computer screen in front of him.
He stood up and wandered casually over to McGee's desk, glancing around the half empty office cautiously, scanning for anybody that might rat him out. He ran a finger along the desk and made his decision; he moved behind the desk and speedily started working his magic before anyone else arrived to catch him out.
Ziva and McGee met in the elevator and rode up together, entering the office and stopping before Tony, both wearing the same suspicious look. He had his head bent over his desk and was apparently working. Ziva and McGee exchanged a glance, Tim stamped a foot heavily on the ground, gaining Tony's attention as he felt the vibrations, he looked up with a smile.
"Have you heard the news? Hell just froze over." Ziva signed and said at the same time.
"And why would that be, Miss David?" Tony replied cheekily.
"Here early, twice in the same week; and actually working? I don't think so. You're up to something..." Tim signed, frowning and staring about him suspiciously.
"Can't a diligent, incredibly Special Agent get into work before expected and work unnecessarily hard on some thrilling paper work?"
Ziva and McGee shook their heads in unison and retreated to their desks, Tim eying his cautiously. He poked around the desk and prodded different objects, testing his chair and touching everything carefully at first. He continued this routine for five minutes, until he was perfectly sure that there was nothing there.
It was another five minutes before Tim cried out in exasperation. Tony's attention was still on his computer and he jumped slightly when he saw McGee out of the corner of his eye, standing right behind him looking furious.
"Ergh! McGee, personal bubble right here!"
"You sent the same email to everyone in my contacts list?"
"Tony! That included Director Vance!" McGee signed, letting out a yell of frustration as he ran his hand through his hair, Ziva had risen and was watching the signed conversation.
"And...?" Tony asked.
"He just sent an email, supposedly from me, admitting my undying love to every individual that received it!" McGee spluttered to Ziva, incredulous.
Tony smiled sweetly at McGee and then Ziva, he turned and double clicked with his computer mouse and looked at the screen, displaying an email from Tim.
"Oh, Tim! That's so nice of you! I think I'll print it off and frame it..." Tony teased, he was about to go on when he received a clip to the back of the head, Gibbs strolled past and into the bullpen, holding up a hand when Tim started to explain the situation in a high pitched voice.
"I know, McGee." Gibbs said and signed, rounding his desk.
"Should I believe that you would really send me an email, informing me that 'I'm the ray of sun that delicately breaks your night to day on a crisp autumn morn?'"
"No, Boss. I didn't send that ema – It wasn't me it was – "
"Tony, yeah I know." Gibbs said, clipping his gun to his waist. "You better start working on some apology letters while we're gone, DiNozzo. We've got a case."
"I've been working on my calligraphy, Boss. I'll bring out the good parchment."
"I'm serious, DiNozzo. Get to work now, here are the details. We'll be back later." Gibbs said as the two other agents grabbed their backpacks. "You two get downstairs, Brigs is gassing the truck."
Gibbs looked back at his Senior Agent as he exited the floor, Tony had his head bent and had already started working. He couldn't help the pride that swelled up inside him, Tony had proved himself and astounded everyone from the moment he had arrived back at NCIS. When he had first started back it had been difficult, Tony had worked furiously and although it had been a slow process, the progress began to show in the way he followed a conversation with growing ease, and could communicate and trade ideas with the team. He had watched Tony's internal battle with himself, blocking out the slightest hint of self pity and filling the spots with acceptance and determination. He was proud of Tony's achievement since returning to the job. He had had numerous people coming up and voicing their positive opinions on Tony's progress since returning or if they had not known him before-hand, their surprise in learning that he was in fact deaf.
Gibbs walked just ahead of Ziva and McGee on the way to the car, his other two agents had impressed him almost as much as Tony had with their loyalty and persistence in making life easier for their partner. Ziva had realized her mistake in not having learnt sign language sooner and had begun taking classes immediately, McGee, Abby, Tony and himself all giving her a hand in picking it up. McGee had proved incredibly useful in the time Ziva was still learning, acting as a translator between the two.
Tony had really pushed Zach into the deep-end and it had seemed like the warning the team had offered before-hand had not been pressed enough, for Zach still got quite a shock. Tony had him well on the way to growing a backbone. Zach had stood up to Tony for the first time about a month ago, he earned congratulation from everybody in the team and even Tony had given a smile at his defiance.
Tony worked with the little information he had. His computer research skills had grown in the time he had spent as a desk jockey, moving on from the basic Google searches he used to perform to more sophisticated methods. Gibbs and the team returned with a witness and two suspects in tow and instantly escorted them down to the interrogation rooms too cool off before being pulverized by Gibbs.
Gibbs appeared at Tony's desk with Ziva at his side, Tim was organizing the suspects.
"What do you got?" Gibbs asked, Tony rose and flicked on screen, displaying their victim's banking records and recent phone activity.
"I got this;" Tony said, spinning the remote in his hands.
Tony explained all the information he had gathered and ran through the projected images on the screen quickly, giving them the short version and only stopping once when Ziva tapped him on the shoulder to ask him a question.
"Good work, DiNozzo." Gibbs signed just as McGee re-entered the bullpen.
"They're all ready in interrogation, Boss."
Gibbs, Ziva and Tony followed Tim down to interrogation. Ziva, Tim and Tony arranged themselves in the best viewing positions behind the reflective two-way mirror, already making bets on the outcome of the interrogation before Gibbs had even seated himself in front of the suspect.
"He's going to go the 'Causal approach'. I can feel it." Tony said, peering into the glass. He turned back to look at Ziva and Tim.
"Ten bucks he'll do 'The Whisper'" Tim said, holding out a hand to collect the pool.
"It's going to be the 'Sudden Yell'." Ziva said with a nod, putting a note in Tim's hand.
"Ziva, get into the light. I have no idea what you two are saying, you say 'The Whisper', Timmy?" Tony asked, pulling Ziva's arm to get her under the florescent lights, he had trouble lip reading in places like that when the light distorted the words or distracted him.
"I'm going The Whisper, Ziva's going the Sudden Yelling. You're Casual Approach?"
They all turned to focus on the interrogation, each clutching their ten dollars and watching eagerly. It turned out they each got to keep their money as Gibbs went the 'Utter Psychopath Approach' and surprised them all. They gained no confession out of the suspect who held his ground against Gibbs's wrath and convinced the team of his innocence, nobody could survive that and still be lying.
The next suspect wasn't much help but was better than the previous one. He denied anything to do with the victim but let slip a couple of names of friends of the diseased, that he claimed to have a 'hinky' feeling about. The team set themselves at their work spaces and began plinking away at their keyboards, searching for any information on their leads. The work afternoon dripped away slowly, each team member thinking of the night's plans and watched the clock, waiting to get off.
Tim sat cradling his head in the palm of one hand while he used the other to lazily control the mouse on his computer, lost for ideas on the current case. Ziva mirrored his boredom on the other side of the room.
"How far back did we go on the financial check if the victim? Suspect 'Fat Ass' made a major Ferrari purchase six years back, we could see if we can match it?"
"Ask Tony" Ziva replied in a monotonous voice .
Tim looked across at Tony who was staring at his screen and clicking furiously, Tim could just make out flashing colors and cartoonish figures on the screen, it looked like a child's gaming website. Tim stamped his foot on the ground but gained no response from Tony, he couldn't be bothered to get up from his desk and physically gain his coworkers attention, he took a more creative approach.
Tim balled up a bundle of scrap paper that was lying stray on his desk and took aim, mimicking the action that Tony had performed countless times on him. The shot went fly and bounced to the floor behind Tony, gaining no response from the man. Tim cursed his lack of sports experience and tried again, it hit the corner of Tony's chair and rolled to a stop on the floor. Ziva smirked at his failed technique and glanced back to her work. Tim looked back to his computer, deciding to take an approach he was more skilled in.
Tony's large stack of balancing dwarfs had only one hundred more meters to shuffle before he beat McGee's highscore. Perspiration was forming on his brow as he carefully aimed each click of his mouse so the large stack stayed vertical. He let out a yelp of surprise when his screen suddenly went blank, large red words flashed across his screen in capital letters.
'THIS IS GOD.' Tony instantly turned to look at McGee, a large scowl formed across his face. Tim was sitting normally, casually looking at his computer screen and typing as though nothing was wrong.
'SEND THE FINANCIAL CHECK OF THE VICTIM TO THE INCREDIBLY INTELLIGENT MAN SEATED TO YOUR RIGHT, THEN KISS HIS FEET FOR HACKING YOUR COMPUTER.'
Tony looked angry, he raised his arm and pointed at McGee accusingly, the sleeve of his fitted suit lifted as he stretched out and exposed his arm a little. McGee swallowed at the sight but Tony didn't notice. McGee had caught full sight of the scars Tony hid so well a couple of times over the past year. He could not get used to them, even when he caught a small glimpse at times like this, the deep scars McGee had seen situated under Tony's elbow flashed in his memory.
"Rude!" Tony stated bringing McGee back to the current situation. "And in response to you knocking own all my dwarves, I say-" Tony leant forward and flicked of his computer screen.
McGee placed his face on his keypad.
The witness appeared in the bullpen escorted by another agent who left her with Ziva. The witness waited patiently for McGee who was working with Abby, but had been assigned to take her home. Gibbs's whereabouts were unknown to the team, they just assumed him missing, and Tony was in the men's room. Ziva was the only occupant of the bullpen apart from the witness.
"Here Miss Greg, have a seat. I'm sure Special Agent McGee won't be too much longer." Ziva said, helping the woman into McGee's chair. The woman looked tired and distressed after having such a shocking experience in the morning and then spending the rest of the day being bombarded with questions at the NCIS headquarters.
"Thank you, Special Agent David" Miss Greg replied, sighing as she sat down.
"Please call me Ziva." Ziva said with a smile, "Can I get you anything? Tea or coffee?"
"I wouldn't mind a glass of water, if that isn't too much trouble? Thanks Ziva."
Ziva nodded and smiled politely but before she could reply she was interrupted by Tony who wandered back into the bullpen without looking where he was going, his attention solely focused on a chocolate bar he was attempting to unwrap.
"The day they stop selling these babies in the vending machines," Tony said, wiggling the bar, "is the day that I retire for good, or maybe the day that they stop stocking those crinkle cut potato things on the third floor, I hate to think how much of McGee's money I've spent on them since I started here ..."
Tony glanced up quickly and saw that Ziva was not alone in the bullpen, and then looked back down at the wrapping.
"- - But never mind any of that; as it appears McGee has turned into a woman."
Miss Greg had been watching the other agent as Ziva had and looked up at Ziva surprised.
"Tony!" Ziva said, slightly embarrassed as the woman looked uncomfortable. Ziva bent and tried to catch Tony's eye from her position but had to wait until he looked up again, which he did a couple of seconds later. He had only taken a quick glance at the woman before turning his attention back to the chocolate bar, he looked up at her again and realized his mistake, instantly trying to smooth it over with the undeniably attractive woman before him.
"On further close observation and investigation it appears as though I was mistaken, there's no possible way that you are McGee... I'm almost disappointed, I couldn't help getting my hopes up for a second there, imagine working with someone as fetching as Miss - ?" Tony said, outstretching a hand to shake.
"Danielle Greg - Danni, please." She said accepting the hand, Tony nodded, not catching the name. Ziva could tell he hadn't understood.
"Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo... Special Agent Tony DiNozzo... Tony DiNozzo... Just Tony is fine."
"Please to meet you, Tony."
"... Yeah... Good..." Tony nodded, unsure of what Danielle had said.
"So, Miss - ?" Tony said, looking at Ziva for her name.
"Danielle Greg, she said to call her Danni." Ziva signed.
Tony and Ziva both watched as realization clicked in Danielle's eyes. She had watched Ziva signing and then looked back at Tony, finding the reason for his pause. Her eyes traced the scarred smudge on his face. She suddenly looked nervous and embarrassed. Tony sensed it and quickly tried to smooth it over, he was familiar with the expression that came upon the witness's face, it was one he saw often. People would get stuck for what to do when they found out he was deaf. He couldn't quite get into the habit of introducing himself along with his disability. Somewhere he felt that it gave people the wrong first impression, he didn't want to be defined by it and chose to hide it for as long as possible so he could show his capability before they found out his secret. Even if it meant these uncomfortable moments.
"So Miss Danielle, what brings such a fine woman like yourself here on a day like today?" Tony said while retreating back to his desk.
"Miss Greg is the witness brought in from the Webbing case" Ziva said aloud as well as signed to Tony.
"Ohhh," Tony nodded, sitting himself down, "You must of had a great day!." Danni smiled and shook her head, Tony continued, "Been questioned? Then you must have met our friendly, favorite Bossman?" Danielle looked at Ziva and then back at Tony.
"You know. The salt and pepper fox, bad haircut, not the happiest Jan you've ever met?" Tony said with a smile.
"He means Special Agent Gibbs," Ziva said rolling her eyes, Danielle looked enlightened. "Tony, why don't you go and get Miss Greg a glass of water." Ziva suggested stiffly.
He nodded and rose from his desk, wagging his little finger in a farewell wave as he headed to get the water. Ziva turned to the witness and offered an embarrassed smile.
"I'm sorry about Special Agent DiNozzo, he's a little..."
Danielle shook her head and smiled, waving off Ziva's apology. She'd found the man strangely charming as his confidence overrode everything else, even if he was a little juvenile. "No, it's fine."
"He's deaf," Danielle stated bluntly, it wasn't a question, just a surprised statement.
"Uh yes, Tony is deaf." Ziva nodded.
"And he is still allowed to work as an NCIS agent?"
"Yes, they pulled a few uh..." Ziva mimed pulling down on a rope and clicked her fingers trying to remember the idiom, "Strings! They pulled a few strings to keep him here after he had his -, Well, obviously he cannot work in the field, but yes. He is still an agent."
"I didn't even notice until..." Danielle said softly, mainly to herself.
Ziva nodded and smiled politely again, retreating to her own desk to call McGee again to check he was still coming to collect Miss Greg, just as she lifted the receiver McGee dashed into the bullpen, looking bothered, his face flustered as though he had made his way up from Abby's lab in a hurry.
"Uh- Miss Greg, I'm- I'm sorry I couldn't get here any sooner I was, well - Are you ready to go?" Tim stammered, standing awkwardly before the pretty woman that occupied his desk.
"That's fine, yes I'm ready." She said, standing and wrapping her coat over her arm.
"Well if you'll just follow me..." Tim said. The witness followed Tim out of the bullpen, leaning on Tony's desk for the slightest of seconds as she nodded goodbye to Ziva who sat at her own. Tim and the witness made their way to the elevator and were gone when Tony re-entered the bullpen seconds later, carrying the water bottle he had just purchased.
"Ah- I spent three dollars on this water!" He sighed, chucking the bottle on to his desk when he saw that they had left, he took at seat at his desk. Ziva looked up when Tony let out a low chuckle a few seconds later, she raised her eyebrows quizzically.
"Looks as though Miss Greg's business card accidently slipped it's way onto one Very Special Agent's keypad..."Tony said, waving the small piece of card he'd found resting on his desk. Ziva rolled her eyes again as Tony lent back and held it out in front of him admiring it.
McGee, Ziva, Tony, Abby, Tony and Jimmy all met up for the arranged drinks at the end of their long working day.
Tony sat wedged between Jimmy and Abby, cradling a beer in one hand and had the other tucked behind Abby's neck, she held his hand on her shoulder with both of hers in a friendly manor.
The club was one of Abby's favorites, she'd been raving about it for months and had been constantly insisting that they all go together; the five of them finally pre-arranged a night they all agreed on. They had each gone home and changed before travelling individually to meet inside the club. The three Special Agents had finished a little later than the scientist and autopsy gremlin and the two had waited while the trio had hurriedly filled in paperwork and packed up for the night.
The music was loud and pulsed through the floor, the five colleagues sat on a squashy couch and chairs around a small coffee table in the corner. The music was so thundering loud that it rattled their eardrums, they were slightly thankful that they all knew sign language. The swirling of the colored lights made lip reading somewhat impossible for Tony.
They toasted to Abby, the hero that had found the last minute evidence that lead to the close of their case and the beginning of their relaxing weekend. They leant forward and clincked their glasses together before leaning back comfortably.
Ziva watched Tony as he signed fluently to Palmer who was sitting across from him, sloshing his beer as he waved his hands exuberantly. She couldn't help the small smile that inched it's way across her lips as she watched her partner and reflected on the past year. There had been moments where even she had doubted the decision of keeping Tony on the team as being the right one. There had been moments where his mask had slipped, his frustration shown and the strain had threatened to break through his facade. He had pulled through and Ziva liked to think that at certain points the team had helped piece the guise back together, whilst still pretending it didn't exist. Nothing was thought of those moments though; they were over shone by his success. There was no exact point that was going to tell them, no line he had to cross and no dial that would indicate he was there; he still had a long stretch to run. He was getting there.
Tony smiled into his drink as he took a sip. The lights swirled about him and he could feel the beat of the music pulsating through the floor, the vibrations hit him in the chest like a big drum that beat a constant cadence. He looked over the faces of his colleagues, his friends. Their smiles were illuminated in bizarre colors from the lights.
They were like a close-knit family, their friendship had grown immensely in the past year with certain events aiding in bringing them closer together. He could not express the trust, love and loyalty he felt to each individual in their little circle, and he was not expected to- his thankfulness was felt.
He happily let Abby tug his sleeve, pulling him up to dance with her, he could not pull the grin from his lips. His disability was an actuality and he had dealt with the permanence of it, his acceptance hadn't happened over night, or two nights or more. It had taken time; time spent with his supportive friends. Nobody had bothered to ignore the elephant in the room, they'd all accepted the elephant had come to stay forever and ever, they had simply set about making it more comfortable, grooming it a little and mopping up all the shit it had left in its path.
The group danced, laughing together at the sight of Jimmy; limbs flailing in wild dance moves of his own creation as he managed to ward off every other girl on the dance floor in a matter of seconds. Abby jiggled to the beat with Tony as he carefully tried to avoid having his toes crushed by her stamping platform shoes.
Tony knew the latter of his night would be spent on the second last step of Gibbs's basement as he watched the older man working on his beloved boat. He looked forward to that almost as much as he had looked forward to the nights outing.
Everything was alright.
The End :)
Dear Friendly FanFiction shut-ins,
This was my first FanFiction and I want to say I had the sickest time writing it, all your support kept me motivated. Thanks to everyone that read and reviewed this story, please know your reviews made me obscenely excited and ridiculously happy to the point of doing victory dances, every time I got a new one. Cheers if you gave me advice, tips, pointers, helped me out with crap I'd screwed up, I reaaalllyyy appreciate it and it made a lot of stuff sooo much easier.
You can count on me to write some more Fan Fiction, it's so addicting!
Well, thanks for bearing with me and finishing it. Putting up with all my crappy medical research. I had no idea what I was on about.
There's a few people that have reviewed more than once, actually quite a few of you. I tried to make like, this little list of shout-outs but it turned into a big list of muddled up, repeated names and I got way too confused. You know who you are, and I know who you are, and if you want to know who they are look in the reviews. I special virtual hug to you people.