We're finally here! The last chapter of my first ever fanfiction! It was a great ride, and I can't thank everyone who read, reviewed, favorited, or alerted this story...you all really made my day and made this story easier to write. I also have to give a special thanks to my amazing and wonderful beta reader, TechnoMistress, who made this story about a million times better with her suggestions, grammatical corrections, and comments. Honestly this story would be nowhere near where it is now without her, so thank you! I really hope you all enjoy the end, and please review! Finally, I don't know when or if I will write any more stories (probably not soon because college is killing me...honors english is all I do, seriously!) but I hope to one day post another story...probably something having to do with Tony =) Anywas, enjoy! PS: I don't own NCIS.
The next time Tony woke up, he immediately knew he was in the hospital. He'd been here many times before for both childhood injuries and the numerous injuries he had acquired in law enforcement. He was attached to various wires, and even after all of his hospital stays he still didn't know what they were for; most of the time he just pulled them out and harassed the nurses until someone brought him the form to sign out AMA.
He could feel bandages swathed around his arms, and a particularly large one wrapped around his head. His face felt swollen, but he could still see, and he took a moment to look around the room.
There were various cards and balloons, and an Ohio State bear sat next to his head, a gift from his frat brothers. There was even a vase of jet black roses resting in the corner of his room, undoubtedly from the bouncy forensic scientist, Abby.
His eyes then shifted to the figure slouched uncomfortably in a chair next to his bed. Cookie looked like he hadn't showered or slept or eaten in a week. There were circles under his eyes and his hair looked so ridiculous that it forced a painful chuckle out of Tony. His clothes were wrinkled, and Tony was glad the chair wasn't closer because he was sure there would be a stench.
"Cookie," he said quietly. The man jolted upwards as if Tony had screamed his name.
"Tony! You're awake! How long have you been up?"
"Um…maybe a few minutes. Geez Cookie, you look like hell."
"You looked in a mirror lately, Tony?" he teased.
"No, but I do know that my hair has never looked that ridiculous," he retorted, gesturing to the mop on Cook's head.
"I see you haven't looked in the mirror Tony - I must say, I love the haircut. Really accents the swollen jaw line you've got goin' there."
"What haircut?" Tony said, panicking as he tried to raise his hand to his head. A jolt of pain stopped him quickly. "Cookie! What did they do?"
"Oh relax. It'll grow back. They just had to shave off a few parts to stitch you up."
Tony looked absolutely horrified, and Cook laughed at his partner's expression. "You know, Tony; I think you've got your priorities mixed up - you get shot in the head and all you can think about is your hair."
"Hey, it's very nice hair! I was thinking about having it insured…"
Cook chuckled. "Only you, Tony. Only you."
"So…what happened?" Tony finally asked, realizing they were beating around the bush a little.
"You somehow managed to end up in the hospital, even after we developed a plan that revolved around keeping you out of it. You're something else, Tony, you know that?"
"I've got so many special talents…"
"Oh, you're special all right. I mean would it kill you to get through one mission without injuring yourself? We keep you completely out of the action and the trouble still manages to find you!" Cook said, allowing his worry to take over for a second.
"Ok, okay, I get it. You can spare me the lecture. And how is this my fault anyway?"
"It's not…it's mine. I'm the one who sent you to a safehouse in the middle of nowhere with a dirty cop in your protection detail. I should've known…I didn't even see it coming," Cook said, guilt evident in his tone.
"Cookie, it's not your fault…" Tony started. It figured that the one time he was off the hook for one of his partner's long rants, Cookie would decide to shoulder the blame himself.
"No Tony, let me finish. When I got the call from Agent Gibbs, I was sitting at my desk, totally relaxed, figuring you were out there frustrated and going crazy from being cooped up, but at least safe. Instead, I was informed that you were on your way to the hospital with a bullet wound to the head, and that I had sent you into the middle of nowhere with a dirty cop."
Cook remembered the phone call vividly; it wasn't likely something he would ever forget.
"Detective Cook," he answered, hoping that this was the call he had been waiting for.
"Detective" Gibbs' voice came over the line, sounding almost hesitant.
"Agent Gibbs, I assume you have some news for me?" Cook asked.
"It's about DiNozzo," he grunted out, trying to find the words to tell the Detective his partner was critically injured.
"Is something wrong?" Cook had asked, panic creeping into his voice.
"He's been shot…again," Gibbs stated bluntly, pretty much the only way he knew how.
Cook had been stunned silent. Shot? How the hell had that happened? "Is, is he okay?" The pause on the other end was heart-shattering. "Agent Gibbs, is he okay?" Cook asked again, the tone of his voice demanding an answer.
"He was alive when I last saw him," Gibbs said, trying to calm the detective. "It's bad; the bullet grazed his temple. He's being taken to Monroe University Hospital."
Aaron hadn't responded. He dropped his phone and grabbed his keys, heading straight for the hospital.
Tony interrupted his thoughts with another try at easing his guilt. "Cookie, you couldn't have known."
"But I should've!" He snapped back, his guilt not erased in the slightest.
"So, um," Tony said, trying to move on. "Did we get them? Is Vincente in jail? Case closed?" Tony asked hopefully.
Cook shot a small smile at his partner. "We got 'em. Well you guys did. Vincente's already locked away and no one is gonna let him make any deals. Same with Anderson, well, once he gets out of the hospital. You really got him, kid."
"Glad I could assist. And Jose?" Tony asked, now remembering that he hadn't seen the young drug kingpin in the safehouse.
"Gibbs killed him, probably while you were still napping," Cook teased again.
"Hey!" Tony cried indignantly. "I was just resting my eyes, waiting for the moment to strike!"
"Uh-huh," Cook smiled.
"So now what? We still have to find the link between Alex Morrow and his brother – make sure everything is wrapped up tight on that end. If you'll just go get my clothes and the paperwork, we can bounce."
"Ah, not so fast, Tony! You're stuck here for a while. Even your head isn't hard enough to take a bullet and come out completely unscathed."
"But Cookie, the case. I have an obligation!" Tony pressed, wanting to get out of the hospital as soon as possible.
"Oh don't you worry, DiNozzo. I think Gibbs already took care of that…the man's been on a rampage the last couple of days. You think I look bad-"
"Wait, Gibbs closed the rest of the case without me?" Tony asked incredulously, a little angry that he hadn't been let in again.
"Well yeah, Tony. You've been asleep for two days; crime doesn't stop while you're dreaming."
"Two days? Are you serious?" Tony gaped at his partner.
"Oh yeah, DiNozzo. Over 30 stitches in each arm. A good 20 more to close up your face. You lost a ton of blood, had to receive two transfusions. Your BP was in the basement and you weren't responding to anything…"
"Wait, wait, wait," Tony interrupted, horror evident in his expression. "How many stitches? Twenty? Oh my God, I must look like Frankenstein! Will it scar? Please tell me it won't! Do you see this face, Cookie? I can't afford that!" Tony exclaimed, only half joking.
Cook gave him an evil smile. "I don't know, Tony. I hear the ladies dig scars, but all over your face? Not as attractive." Cook then changed his tone back to serious. He wasn't going to allow Tony to get him off topic. "And then there's the small matter of the bullet wound in your temple. The doctors couldn't really assess the damage until you woke up, so what do you decide to do? You sleep for two straight days! You had us worried there for a while. And whenever Agent Gibbs wasn't driving everyone crazy trying to solve the case, he wouldn't leave this room. I think he thought he could intimidate you into waking up. But you were just as stubborn as ever, DiNozzo."
Tony didn't know how to reply to this new piece of information. He wasn't surprised that Gibbs had gone crazy trying to solve the case. Gibbs was an ex-marine with a strong sense of justice; he'd never just stand by and let the case stay partially solved. But the visits to his hospital room, now that surprised him. Gibbs didn't seem like the caring type, like the kind of guy that would sit at your bedside and pray you got better. Nope, that would be too warm and fuzzy for Gibbs, but then why had he come?
An uncomfortable silence filled the room for a few seconds, before Cook finally broke it with an equally awkward subject. "So, I don't suppose this case convinced you to stay?" he questioned, not allowing any hope to fill his mind.
Tony smiled wryly at his partner, "Yeah, Cookie, after getting shot twice in one week, I've changed my mind - this is the right place for me," he said sarcastically, but not unkindly.
"Yeah, didn't think so," Cook replied. In truth, he had never really expected his partner to change his mind. As much as Tony enjoyed police work, Baltimore wasn't the right place for him. Many of his coworkers didn't understand his goofy attitude and some even wondered why Chief Tillman put up with him. And the crimes in Baltimore were too cruel, too senseless. Tony was an investigator, and it didn't take a genius to see how some of the senseless cases had gotten to Tony. As much as Cook didn't want to lose him, he knew a change of scenery would do the kid good.
"Tillman already knows," Tony said. "I told him before this op began. I just have to hand in my two weeks' notice. So technically, I'm not Detective DiNozzo anymore, just plain Tony." He smiled before he looked down, fiddling with the sheets. He would miss his partner; Cook had been amazing to him, but he couldn't stay in Baltimore any longer. He'd gotten a few job offers from other departments – heck, maybe he'd even take Fornell up on his offer.
"I'll miss you, kid. And if you lose touch, I'll use every resource in this department to hunt you down, you got that?" Cook said, smiling at his young partner.
"Yes Sir!" Tony said strongly, giving his friend a small smile which quickly turned into a yawn.
"Get some sleep, Tony," Cook said, standing to leave.
"Thanks Cookie," Tony said, his eyes flickering now that he realized how tired he was.
"You're welcome, kid," Detective Cook said, leaving the room.
Gibbs strode into the hospital, heading directly to the elevator. By now, he could find DiNozzo's room blindfolded. As the elevator took him to the detective's room, he thought back on the last two days.
After DiNozzo had been taken away, he'd secured the scene and waited for their backup. Once he had been sure everything was under control, he'd driven as fast as he could to the hospital. At the time, Tony was still with the doctors being examined. He'd tried to bully the nursing staff into letting him through, but they were used to people like him. So he'd done the one thing he could do, he went back to the Navy Yard.
He had worked nonstop; bullying any and all agents in the building into helping him finish the case. He had paused only to field a call from Detective Cook, telling him that Tony was alive but hadn't woken up yet.
Midway into the next morning they'd caught a break. Metro PD had picked up a man matching Alex Morrow's description. Two hours later, Gibbs had a full confession out of the man. Tony's original theory had been spot on. The young man had been working in Padilla's organization for a while, but had found himself in over his head. Fearing for his life, he'd asked his brother for help, begging him to lend him the money to pay off his debts. His ever-loyal brother had sold his car to save him, but the money had come too late. Padilla had gotten sick of Alex and wanted to eliminate him.
Alex told Gibbs how Padilla's second in command, Antonio DeSalvo, had let him go instead of killing him, and how he had decided to disappear. He had been surprised that DeSalvo had saved him and allowed him to leave, but too relieved to think anything of it. He didn't know what had happened afterwards, but he confirmed that his brother was supposed to meet him at that warehouse with the money on the day of the murder. He assumed that Jose had then found his brother snooping around the warehouse and killed him, taking off with the money.
Everything fit into place perfectly, and yet Tony was still left fighting for his life. When Gibbs had first seen him, still and deathly pale, lying on the stark white sheets of the hospital bed, he had been surprised at the effect it had on him. He'd seen so many gruesome murders, seen comrades killed in action, but this, this was just wrong.
After the case had been closed, Gibbs had stationed himself by Tony's bedside, leaving only when Ducky showed up and dragged him out, threatening to sedate him. In the short while he had known the young detective, he had come to trust him. In less than a week, Tony had saved his life twice - once when they had been complete strangers and then a second time, when Tony already had a bullet wound to the head. Gibbs felt that even though he hadn't known the man for very long, a connection had been formed. He respected him. His methods were effective, if a little strange, but he got the job done and didn't care much for sucking up to the higher ups. He was a man Gibbs would be proud to have on his team.
During his stay at the hospital, this topic had come up in one of his conversations with Detective Cook. One of the few things that had stayed with Gibbs was Tony's comment about his "last case" with Cook. When Gibbs had asked the senior partner what Tony had meant, he had expected him to dodge the question – after all, it could be a sensitive topic. However, to his surprise, the homicide detective had been open with him, telling him that DiNozzo had decided, even before this op, that this would be his last case.
That little tidbit of knowledge had played with Gibbs' mind for the last day or so. He was in dire need of a good agent for his team; Campbell had made that abundantly clear. He respected DiNozzo and already knew that he was a good investigator. The young man was brave and displayed poise under pressure. He was a smooth talker, making him unmatched at getting information out of witnesses. He had already shown that he was brilliant at undercover work, having infiltrated Padilla's seemingly impenetrable organization. He was loyal and willing to fight through anything – he had certainly demonstrated that in the safehouse. And beyond all that was the one quality that both excited and scared Gibbs, as much as he hated to admit it – the kid reminded him of himself, before everything had happened.
And with those thoughts fresh in his mind, Gibbs entered Tony's hospital room.
"Special Agent Gibbs, what a pleasure!" Tony said with mock cheerfulness as he saw the lead agent enter. "You come to spring me?" he asked hopefully.
"Not happening, DiNozzo. You've still got a hole in your head," he replied.
"Actually, I have seven," Tony grinned. "But I believe I get your point."
"That's good. Wouldn't want to headslap you just yet."
"I'm pretty sure you can't headslap someone with a concussion, Gibbs. Might even be in the 10 Commandments – I believe it's squeezed in between don't screw around with your neighbor and don't kill, but I could be wrong." Gibbs didn't reply, so Tony continued. "So…I hear you closed my case. Thanks for waiting for me."
"Yeah, well some of us can't afford to sleep for two days straight, DiNozzo."
"Honestly, I wasn't sleeping! Why does everyone keep yelling at me for that anyways?" Tony cried in mock exasperation.
"Snores say otherwise, DiNozzo. Oh, and I'm supposed to tell you, Fornell sends his best wishes."
"Oh, I'm sure he does," Tony smirked. "So, I hear you found Alex Morrow?" he asked.
Gibbs nodded, taking a sip of his coffee. "Metro PD picked him up two days ago. His statement confirmed your theory."
"I knew I was right!" Tony burst out, smiling even wider at Gibbs.
"Yeah, turns out your Chief was pretty impressed with that, and with your actions in the safehouse. Looks like a commendation will be heading your way." Gibbs said, expecting an equally excited reaction out of Tony. He was surprised when the young detective took it in stride, not seeming overly emotional about it.
"Yeah, well, I was just doing my job. Did you like the whole 'knife in the belt' touch? I figured you would, having taught me that whole knife rule and all."
My rules are there for a reason," was Gibbs' only reply. The lead agent wanted to continue, wanted to thank the detective for saving his life, but he couldn't find the words. Conversations were not exactly his forte. Plus, he had never been one to give or accept thanks for doing the job one was paid to do; no, he wouldn't be thanking DiNozzo, at least not by saying the phrase out loud.
Lying on the bed, Tony was equally unsure, trying to figure out where the conversation was going. He nodded in response at Gibbs, eyes searching his face calculatingly. Obviously Gibbs had more to say; he just wished he'd come out with it already.
Fortunately, before the silence could get any more deafening, a nurse entered the room to deliver Tony's afternoon meds. "Here you are, Detective DiNozzo," she said, placing the pills on his bedside table.
"Actually, Christie," Tony said, smiling at the young nurse, "you can drop the Detective title now, Tony is just fine."
"Or Special Agent DiNozzo…" Gibbs put in cryptically, staring intently at Tony.
Tony looked at Gibbs quizzically, trying to figure out the man's intent. He waited until Christie had left the room before replying, "That a job offer, Special Agent Gibbs?"
Gibbs gave him a look that Tony couldn't quite decipher before answering. "I talked to your partner. He told me that you were currently unemployed," he stated simply.
"Well, uh yeah, sort of," Tony replied, a little taken aback. Of all the things he'd expected, it certainly hadn't been this. "I mean, I still have my 2 weeks' notice until I'm officially gone…"
"And your sick leave," Gibbs reminded him before Tony could even try to con him into returning him to the field before he was ready.
"0700, one month from today, I expect your ass at your desk, you got that?" Gibbs said sharply, looking intently at his soon-to-be newest agent.
"Got it, uh…boss," Tony stammered, really unsure of what to make of the situation. But…Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo? He really liked how that sounded.
"Oh, and Tony? If you're so much as a minute late, I'll transfer you to Campbell's new team – I hear he's gotten very skilled at cleaning toilets." Gibbs finished, smiling to himself as he left the room. He'd finally found his senior field agent.
Thank you all so much for reading this story to the end and I hope you all enjoyed it!