A/N: My first NCIS fanfic! Warnings-Angry!Tony, two tiny swear words, and a lot of dark themes. It's a little darker than I usually write, and it could be seen as AU, but I think he's got a lot to be angry about. I don't own NCIS, Coronas, or Seconal, or any other products mentioned here, and I don't mean to offend anyone affected by any of the stuff written. Enjoy and review, please!
What's black and white and red all over?
He remembers with a sort of haunting nostalgia when the answer was A Bleeding Penguin, how old he was (eight) when he discovered homonyms and it changed to Newspaper.
Life may be better, now, but it sure as hell was simpler back then.
Now it's his team who is black and white – and in McGee's case, read all over – but he's quite sure he doesn't like it. He's a cop at heart, and good cops (he likes to think he was a good cop) always know that nothing's set in stone, nothing's black and white.
He lives in a world of shadowy ambiguity, gray and rocky and uncertain. Not like Gibbs, who wants definite answers, who labels you villain or hero, who doesn't allow for second impressions or changed minds. Maybe that's how they did things in the Corps, but Tony knows his boss wouldn't last a day in Baltimore, where villains were the heroes and people's minds changed like the weather.
And not like Ziva, Ziva with her super ninja powers and lack of moral obligations. When Ziva kills someone (there were no survivors), they are irrevocably dead or else they answer to her. (Not like Philly, where a drug dealer he shot was back on the streets dealing two weeks later; or himself, who cheated death so many times it's a wonder he hasn't been disqualified; or his childhood, where his mother had to commit suicide four times before she could get it right.)
For all his posturing otherwise, Tony's pretty damn proud of McGemcity's success. When little boy McGee had joined the team, he had been a penguin covered in grass stains. A zebra eating pesto. An Irish newspaper, if you will. He was clearly cut from the same black and white outlook-on-life cloth as Gibbs and Kate, only dyed green.
Which was nice, because dye can come out, grass stains can be cleaned, pesto digested, newspapers smuggled out. Nothing's permanent, after all.
Kate never heard half the things he said, never saw half the things he did. Enough said.
He knows it's twisted, and hypocritical, and probably just the wrong thing to say, but he really wishes Gibbs had stayed in Mexico. The Mexican flag is green and white and red all over, but he figures Gibbs could've managed.
(He doubts it was very strenuous, anyway, drinking Coronas and tequila and the warm water of the Gulf.) Because he liked being team leader, and he may have been stretched thinner than a tortilla but there was no more bowing down to a man who couldn't – wouldn't – take no for an answer.
To be fair, he'd always looked up to Gibbs, always been hopeful for some sign of pride or a token of praise from the man. He's moved on.
The whole Grenouille mess proved to him that life is not about bleeding penguins, zebras, or newspapers, or even very competent partners who just can't what's right in front of them. It's about undeserved forgiveness, and loving those who can't stand you ("I wish I'd never met you"), and picking up the pieces of other people's messes when you have too many of your own.
Life is buying a house with a woman you can't have, teaching a subject that's only a hobby at a place you've only been to jog. Life's a half empty jar of Seconal, a hollow and broken "you'll do," a bottle of Pinot Noir with an arms dealer who in another world might have been your father-in-law.
It's a trip in a too cold murky green river, a few weeks spent under harsh blue lights, a spurt of your partner's red blood on your face. The late Director's purple shoes. (Your own team. Rota, Spain.) It sure isn't black and white.
He hasn't always seen the world in the glorious Technicolor it's painted in. The first time his father told him he regretted the day his son was born, he thought it was the seven whiskey sours speaking. Fathers Always Love Their Sons. He knows better now. DiNozzos don't need company.
Vance might as well have divided the office into two teams and appointed McGee and Tony as the captains. Tim's gone back to smug, supposedly superior no in betweens, while he's stuck in the shades of gray. The 'will I have a job tomorrow'-ness that he thought he left back at the busboy's station in O'Neil's Gentlemen's Club. He was certain, yesterday, (yester-month? year?) that it couldn't have kept up with him all these years, but now he's not so sure.
Expiration dates and resignation letters are always black ink on white paper.
Meanwhile, he lives on, the liar, the actor, the one who sees through walls. He may not, may never be Gibbs, but he is Tony and he does have a part to play. When the lines blur, so much the better. He's never exactly been that great of a DiNozzo, either.
DiNozzos don't show emotion. DiNozzos don't have weaknesses. DiNozzos don't need company.
The Sig that's always been strapped to his side is now complimented by three shiny new knives, thanks to his sudden doubts in his team. It's not that he doesn't trust them; of course, he just trusts them a little less. (DiNozzos don't trust anyone.) He doesn't want to end up in a pool of his own blood because McGee didn't know killers could be nice people.
He thinks he probably will, anyway.
What's black and white and red all over? Bleeding penguins, bleeding zebras, and inevitably, his bleeding team.