English isn't my first language so I apologize beforehand for my mistakes.
I don't own anything but my imagination.
There's a surprise at the end
Tony sighed at his misfortune. Why him? Why was he the one who have to bring the report to Gibbs? If he hadn't been so tired he would have come up with something to avoid this delivery, but before he even realized it, he had the sheaf of papers in his hand and was heading toward his car. Now that he was at Gibbs' door, he considered dropping the report into the mail slot, ringing the bell and fleeing from there like a perfect coward.
It had been a bad day and despite the fact that he knew he deserved every dressing down that he received, it didn't mean he would be happy to go to the source of the criticism, to get more. He tried to console himself, thinking of the cold beer, the long hot shower and one of his movies, awaiting him at home.
"DiNozzo?" Gibbs eyed him from head to foot from the safety of his porch and Tony was momentarily speechless, forgetting why he was there.
"Hmmm… The report" He finally said handing the folder in a mechanical gesture.
Gibbs took it and leaned against the doorjamb as he began to read the document. Tony stood there, waiting to be dismissed, but his boss appeared to be fully absorbed by whatever was on those papers. He decided to make a quiet exit and disappear from sight. When he turned toward the stairs, he felt a slight tap on his shoulder that made him look back.
The question caught him off guard, so just out of habit to following orders he nodded and stepped inside, knowing that it was a mistake, that the man had asked him just for courtesy not expecting him to say yes. He thought of any lame excuse that would allow him to get out of this situation, but curiosity won over him. He was going to see Gibbs' home! The man who seemed to be more airtight than a Cold War bunker and who apparently didn't sleep on a wooden table in an empty room; as his overexcited mind had imagined; in fact, the house was quite cozy and neatly decorated. Forgetting the rules of courtesy Tony went to the living room, finding a place to read and listen to music and an old TV. Man, this room hadn't changed since the 80's. The noises from the kitchen reminded Tony where he was and giving himself a mental head slap, he hastened to where his boss was making coffee.
"There're mugs in the cupboard" Gibbs said without even one look.
Tony came over to the cabinet, finding an endless array of mismatched cups with legends of all kinds. That seemed to be the typical gift Gibbs received from his co-workers and knowing how much coffee the man drank, it must be a pretty safe bet. Tony asked himself what he would give Gibbs if he found himself in that situation, and nothing came up; perhaps a one-year subscription at a coffee shop.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Me? Nothing" Tony quickly said placing a couple of cups on the counter.
Gibbs grunted with amusement.
"You're always thinking about something and you've been quiet for the last ten minutes."
"I can be quiet," Tony complained with a grin.
"Only if your life depends on it."
"I was thinking about Santorelli's wife and daughter," he lied confidently referring to the last case they've been working on.
"What about them?"
"I was wondering why they ran away. Despite the little scam Santorelli was in, it wasn't enough to make them flee."
"Unless he was involved in something more."
"Something that somehow incriminates his wife."
Gibbs offered him one of the mugs and Tony, who was still in his world of speculations, took a long sip before contorting his face and running to the sink.
"Sugar is there" Gibbs smirked and pointed to one of the corners of the countertop, "There's some cream in the fridge, I think."
"How can you drink this?" Tony cried opening the faucet and drinking directly from the jet. "God, I think it's gonna make a hole in my stomach. That's not coffee at all!"
The silence filled the kitchen and Tony raised his eyes only to be faced off with one of the famous glares of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, the kind that says 'try again'.
"It's obvious I've no taste for coffee," Tony said trying to regain some of his composure.
The answer brought a slight smile to Gibbs lips and the young agent relaxed visibly.
"See you in the basement," Gibbs said, "I want to take a look at the report."
And who was Tony to say that his workings hours had ended two hours ago, that he was desperate to go home and take a shower, because Santorelli would be just as dead today as tomorrow, but he couldn't say the same thing for him if he didn't catch some shut-eye soon. He sighed and let his chin rest on his chest, knowing for sure that he wouldn't be leaving in the next twenty minutes. The coffee's trap, he thought looking accusingly at his mug.
"On it!" The agent answered. He took the sugar and hurried to meet his boss down the stairs.
He didn't know what he was going to find down there, but even though he has a great imagination, this, was something totally unexpected. Resting on the dusty floor was the skeleton of what someday would be a beautiful boat, though at present, it was more like the rasp of a fish left to dry under the sun.
"Wow! What's this?"
"What do you think it is, DiNozzo?"
"A boat? Really?" The eyes of the young officer lit up and he run a hand over the wooden surface. "It's amazing. When will it be finished?"
Gibbs shrugged without taking into account that Tony couldn't see him, but the young agent seemed to be absorbed by the exquisite handwork and didn't notice the lack of response. Tony stopped at the far end of the basement, assessing the size of the boat.
"Would it sail?"
"What are boats for, DiNozzo?"
"Well…" Tony glanced at the piece of wood. It was hard to see how it would be in the future. He looked around at the walls and the ceiling and frowned. "How are you going to get it out of here?"
"One thing at a time. First, you have to finish it."
Tony laughed good-heartily and kept stroking the wood, while Gibbs waited patiently for the young man to put his thoughts into words.
"You must have spent a lot of time on this thing…"
The silence of the room swallowed the words and Tony realized that time wasn't the only thing that his boss had poured over the polished surface, also frustration, anger and fear. That was Gibbs' soul, a place to set loose all the feelings he didn't express in the outside world. The wood must have absorbed all these, leaving in exchange peace and serenity. Tony assumed that it didn't matter if the boat would see the sun someday, that was a plus, but not the real goal.
He noticed a small notch under his fingers, almost imperceptible; that must have been a furious day; and a particularly polished place; that had been a contemplative day.
"It's beautiful," the young man said in a low whisper that filled the space between the two men, and Gibbs nodded, giving the proper value to the assessment.
"You've got a hobby?" Gibbs asked matter-of-factly, as if he was inquiring about the weather.
'Women!' Tony almost shouted, but he stopped in time, although not fast enough to prevent Gibbs from reading the unspoken words in the crooked smile.
"Something just for you, DiNozzo," Gibbs said with a condescending sigh.
Tony gave the question considerable thought, but all he could think of were his beloved movies, which gave him the opportunity to live a thousand lives and no one be his. It was a pale ghost compared to the fact of building a boat with your own hands and Tony almost felt embarrassed by the poverty of his soul.
"No," he said looking with a certain longing at the surface on which his hand rested. "I guess I've got none"
"What do you do when you have a bad day?" Gibbs asked leaning against the rail.
Again the smile was there but Gibbs beat to it.
"I mean a real bad day, DiNozzo"
Gibbs was too far for giving him a head-slap, but the tone of the words was enough to make Tony straighten up and seriously evaluate the response.
A day when even the kindest touch can't banish the darkness the soul feels and the warmest kiss can't melt the frost the veins carry. When you feel like a black hole that swallows all the happiness and the light of those around you. One of those days, when you're poison, imperfect and evil. Tony closed his eyes against these feelings and saw himself walking the narrow corridor that led to his living room, switching on the lamp that was further away and whose light was dim and couldn't totally dismiss the shadows that crowded the room and him. He would get a disk and insert it into the CD player. He would sit down or maybe he would remain standing, listening as the music filled the empty space. His mind would travel with each note and he would stop being himself, to get away to a world where lines on paper and the proper order of a few points could create wonders.
"I listen to music," Tony said opening his eyes but not looking up. He didn't want to know Gibbs' opinion. This time, he didn't care, even if he saw mocking in the face of the man he respected.
"Jazz?" Gibbs asked.
Tony lifted his head in surprise.
"How the hell…?"
Gibbs answered with his usual shrug and a wry smile, and Tony realized he had just confirmed what until then had only been a suspicion so far.
Tony sighed, and then pointed to the forgotten folder in Gibbs hands. "Shall we continue?"
Gibbs agreed and went to the tool bench while Tony got two stools.
Four hours, two coffees and a quick dinner later, Tony was back in his car on the way to his apartment and with the firm conviction that his boss couldn't be human. Gibbs had let him go when his head threatened to hit the table. His eyes stung, he had a great headache for the lack of sleep and all he wanted was to get to his bed and forget about the world for … He looked at his watch, hopefully five hours. But when he got home his eyes locked with the CD player and feeling like an invisible hand was guiding him, he turned it on.
He let his own boat wander along the ridges of the notes. The wind swelled the sails, taking him far, far away. Maybe he would find a former marine sailing the same waters, but if it didn't happen, he wouldn't care. This was his sea, the escape of his soul.
Ok, here is the surprise.
I've made a draw of this fanfic, you've got the link in my profile if you want to check it out ^_^