Title: A Leap in the Darkness
WARNING: Child abuse, angst, sort of open-ended, M rated flashback.
Rating: T, the flashback is M rated so beware
Summary: Sequel to Darkness Everywhere. Read it first to understand this one. Gibbs tries to take care of Tony after the incident in the lab.
Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS or its characters. Unbeta'd
AN: The flashback in italics is M rated / FRAO, so if it's not ur thing just skip it!
A Leap in the Darkness
"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."Helen Keller
Gibbs tightened his grasp on his agent as he swayed dangerously while getting out of his challenger.
"Come on DiNozzo, just a few more steps" Gibbs grunted as Tony gradually put more of his weight on the older man.
"'kay, boss…I'm sorry. You know I could go home and…an'…." Tony mumbled weakly as his head lolled forward against his chest then rolled and finally rested on Gibbs's shoulder.
"Zip it, Tony. You've just had a seizure. Just help me get you to the guest room" Gibbs swiftly cut Tony's guilty voice. Gibbs couldn't fathom how Tony started blaming himself on this one.
"'kay" Tony slurred as he tried to left his suddenly iron leg off of the floor. His breathing stuttered slightly as he tried to take in a deep breath. A cough suddenly cut through his wheezing and he tried to clear his bruised lungs. It felt as if he has been running a marathon when it has only been a minor attack. He knew that since his bout with the plague everything changed about his attacks. It was more difficult to control his breathing and his lungs felt burning most of the time. He felt like he has been of a heavy smoker for the last two decades of his miserable life.
Tony tried harder to go up Gibbs's stairs to reach the door. He was so tired and sick. His brain was scattered all over the place with vague and silvery memories which he didn't want to remember, thank you very much. He just wanted to sleep. Therefore, he tightened his weak hold on Gibbs's shoulder and pushed his wobbling feet forward.
Gibbs all but dragged his agent to his house. He opened the door and went inside with Tony faithfully wobbling by his side.
"Couch, boss. Please", Tony panted as his chest started to tighten uncomfortably.
"Okay, DiNozzo. But only until you get your breath back. Then I'm hauling your ass immediately to the bed in the guestroom" Gibbs's soft whisper was a complete contrast with the biting words. He lowered his gasping agent as he starting patting his jacket pockets searching for.
"My …backbag" Tony said between stuttering breaths. He didn't understand how his lungs worked most of the times nowadays. His lungs would annoy him the most after a seizure but he only had a handful after getting assigned to NCIS. Gibbs knew when the darkness became unbearable and immediately interfered. Tony was breathing in small hitches now that he started to recall the incident earlier in the lab. The silvery shadows were closing in on him. His hands automatically went to his throat as he tried to get in more air to his damaged weak lungs. He wondered briefly where Gibbs has gone as dark spots started blurring his vision.
Gibbs immediately ran back to his car as he heard Tony's pained whisper. He held the car's back door wide open and snatched the bag. He looked for the damn inhaler everywhere in the bag. Giving up, Gibbs turned it upside down and threw its contents on the car's floor. He sighed internally when he found it and picked it up.
His hand spontaneously tightened on the plastic inhaler as he jogged back to his house. He strode quickly to the couch as he could hear the pained gasps emitting from Tony's lungs.
His heart sped as he spotted Tony's blue tinged lips and the way he was doubled in coughs. Painful memories raced through his brain of blue lights and non-stop coughing. Spontaneously, Gibbs pushed the inhaler into Tony's lips and pushed it hard. Tony gradually took hold of the inhaler himself and pushed frequent spurts of air into his lungs as his gasps became quieter.
Finally, the gasping stopped and was replaced with small frequent hitches. Tony dropped the inhaler and wrapped his hand around his middle as if he was in pain. He dropped his sweating head on the couch's arm and closed his eyes.
After 5 minutes has passed with nothing heard but Tony's hitching breaths and hiccups, Gibbs asked quietly from where he sat on the coffee table across Tony. "You okay, DiNozzo?"
Tony just mumbled something incoherent and kept his eyes closed. Gibbs knew that Tony's body was taking charge and forcing his agent to rest after the exertion he's gone through.
Gibbs waited until Tony's breathing was almost normal. Then he went to the guestroom and brought some pillows and a blanket. He left Tony's foot to the couch and took off both of his shoes. After that, he tried with so little help from DiNozzo to prop his upper part so that he could breathe easily as Duck said.
Gibbs then lowered the lights in the room, but he left the fire without putting it off. He knew how now more than any time, Tony would need to wake up and find the lights on.
Gibbs set his clock so that he could check on Tony in a couple of hours and monitor his breathing and spasms. He couldn't sleep as he lay down thinking of a way to punish his agents for their unforgivable prank.
Tony kept mumbling as he collapsed on the coach. He was very tired and he didn't know if he's actually asleep or awake. He only knew that he was extremely exhausted and his mind was not allowing him the rest he desperately needed. He felt Gibbs's thoughtful actions in helping him to the couch and propping his chest.
He was struggling to help Gibbs when he removed his shoes but he was so god damn tired. Then he tensed and his breath hitched a bit when he felt the lights fading. But he relaxed when he opened his eyes and saw that not all of the lights were off. The lamb on the counter was lit and the fire was still crackling.
Tony watched through hooded eyes the fire playing and burning. His breathing was stuttering at best and hitches intercepted it every now and then. These stutters wouldn't allow him to fall back asleep. His mind also was all over the place. Memories kept assaulting him and invading all of his already weakened and vulnerable senses. He closed his eyes willing the blessed darkness to claim him this time.
A young Tony ran quickly to his room. He closed the door quickly with a soft click so that he wouldn't catch the attention of the lurking grayish silver shadow in the hallway. He didn't switch on the lights as he would have preferred. The shadow would know that he's in his room and come after him.
Tony quickly shuffled clumsily with his small legs to hide under his massive bed. He knew that the shadow would take longer to find him in the darkness under his small bed than with the lights turned on. But Tony was an unusually small kid for a five years old. Father's friends always mistook him for a three years old baby with his chubby fingers and big round green emerald orbs. They always made fun of him and it was always bad when father was made fun of.
Tony quickly and carefully hid under the canopy bed. His room was still lit by the candles spread all over high surfaces, away from his reach. Tony wished he could huff and put them off, but he was too short to reach any of them. Besides, the shadow would be angry if the candles weren't lit. The shadow always loved those candles lit as they overcast more scary shadows in the room. The shadow would laugh at his silliness when Tony admitted that he was scared of the other lurking shadows in the dark corners of his dimly lit room.
The shadow would sway and grab his hand and forcefully put him to bed. It would undress him from his sailor suit making the buttons of the sailor fly everywhere. Young Tony would be terrified at how his mamma would be angry in the morning when she sees the damage done to his sailor's suit. The shadow would then turn him over and start smacking his butt ruthlessly for being an ungrateful baby. For being scared of the darkness. For disobeying the shadow's orders. For ruining its life. For even existing in its world. Then the shadow would do things that made Tony uncomfortable. He would start sobbing as the shadow pinches his skin and then the shadow would spank him again as it touched him, for being a weepy boy.
Suddenly, young Tony was startled from the painful memory by a high pitched sound.
"Anthooonyyy…wherrre are you babyyy boy?" The shadow song sang the question as it came closer to his room.
Tony's small frame shook under the bed as he saw the shadows mingling on the ancient walls of his room. His room had really scary drawings. But, mother and father always said that they were so-phis-ti-cat-ed, whatever that meant. Tony heard the shadow approach and he shuffled further under the bed till his back was flushed against the wall. He wasn't going to cry. Father said that DiNozzos don't cry. Moreover, the shadow always hated it when he cried, so he bit hard on his lips and breathed through his nose as he tried to stop the tears from spilling from his eyes.
It's been along time, almost two weeks, since he last saw the shadow. His mom and dad had been away on a trip. They left him with his nanny, Sofia. Today, they got back. Mother and father were fighting during their dinner. They would coldly stare at one another and then stare him down and ask him to pass some message to one another. They used bad words that Tony was forbidden to use. So at dinner today, Tony knew for sure that the shadow would be coming for him tonight.
Tony had gone to the kitchen after dinner to sit with his nanny. He hated sitting alone in his scary room. His room always had lit candles in them and the smell always irritated Tony's nostrils. He chatted happily with the staff as they listened to him talk. He was amazed at why they were always interested in his stories. He always loved when Sofia or one of the cooks would pet him on the head or the shoulder. They would ruffle his hair as they laughed at his jokes too. They were nothing like the shadow's touches. Tony hated those touches like nothing else.
Tony had then been told by one of the servants, the but-ler at father called him, that his mother had orders for him to go to bed early.
Tony's young heart immediately started stuttering as his face paled. His nanny put a comforting hand on his shoulder and urged him to hurry.
"Go, Antonio. Go before they get angry"
Nanny Sofia always knew what happened, but she never stopped the shadow and Tony always wondered why. She seemed like a very kind lady. She took care of him in the morning when the shadow left to its room. She ruffled his hair and kissed both his cheeks before releasing him.
"Buona notte, bambino" Sofia whispered softly in Tony's ear as she hugged him closer to her chest.
"Ni't, sofi" Tony mumbled as he dragged his feet out of the kitchen. Tony started climbing the stairs slowly so that he wouldn't trip and sprain his ankle like he did last week.
When he passed father's office he heard the shadow's raised voice arguing. He realized that it wouldn't take long before the shadow came looking for him. He quickly started sprinting for his room at the end of the hallway. He reached for his door knob as he still needed to tiptoe to reach it and opened the door quickly.
"Antoniooooooo, where's my Antonioooo?" The shadow seemed very angry as it neared his room.
Tony kept watching the burning candles as they cast scary shadows from under his bed. He wished his mother was here–to comfort him. But he only had the shadow for now. Tony shook even more as shadows swam and formed a black cloud over the door.
Tony's heart almost stopped as the combined shadow on his door moved. The tears started spilling from his eyes as the foamy gray and dark shadows widened to cover the whole door. Suddenly, slim polished fingers were holding his door as it moved open suddenly.
"Tonyboyyyyy…where's my boyyy?" The shadow slurred as she swayed on the spot. The shadow had made the dark cloud of shadows disappear, but he was still scared from what the silver shadow by his door would do.
"Come out come out, where ever you are!" the shadow smirked as she slid into the room swiftly. She closed the door behind her and extracted a chain from around her neck. The chain had the only key to his door. The shadow locked the door securely with the glimmering key before tying the chain back around her neck.
Tony tried to stop the tears from spilling down his face. The shadow would punish him more if she knew that he was still scared from the darkness, from the shadows just like hers.
"Come on, TonyToy where are you?" the shadow was moving around his room as she spoke. She was lighting more candles that were permanently situated on the surfaces by his dresser and wardrobe. His room looked like the dungeons on the movies were the bad guys were always prisoned, or where princesses were locked waiting for their prince to come save them. Tony always pretended that he was a prince waiting for his princess to come save him. He didn't care if it was in reverse. He just believed that someone would save him from the night shadows one day.
"Antonioooo…it's time to play our game, il mio amore!" The shadows whispering and melodious voice reached Tony's ears. It gave him a little hope that maybe it wasn't the shadow at all. It might be his most beloved person in the world. He crossed his fingers and wished that it was true. He slowly crawled from under his bed and made his way to where the shadow was standing by one of the lit candles, seemingly oblivious to the world around her.
"Mamma?" Tony asked softly as he kept crossing his fingers behind his back. He stilled himself as the shadow slowly turned to face him.
The shadow tsked softly as she turned almost gracefully, spare for the little sway in her steps.
"What did mamma tell you to call her when we were playing?" the silver shadow demanded as her red rimmed green eyes glared down at him.
Tony immediately shrank back as he felt his hope crashing down. It was the shadow today and it was all his fault that he hoped otherwise. Now the shadow would punish him more. Tears involuntarily started slipping down his chubby face as he answered.
"Ma'am or signora" Tony answered his voice shaking as he saw the silver shadow approaching him swiftly and stumbling slightly. The shadow always stumbled and slurred just like his dad did when he was sleeping. Tony saw him twice after he sneaked to use the bathroom at night. Dad never came at night to check on him. Mamma sometimes did, but mostly it was just him and the silver shadow.
The silver shadow held Tony's hand tightly and forcefully led him towards the bed.
"Si, si, you do learn fast" the silver shadow hissed as she dragged the resisting and twisting boy to the canopy bed.
"No, please signora. Please, please, please stop." Tony tried to twist his chubby hands out of the shadow's vicious grip. He knew what she would do. She always was angry at him. She was angrier if he called her "mamma'' or ''mommy". She was going to punish him. He didn't want to be punished. He wanted to be left alone like dad always did to him.
"Stop it." The silver shadow yelled as she slapped the boy's face and continued dragging him to the bed.
The boy whimpered weakly as the shadow carried him and sat him down in the middle of the bed. His tears were running down his face but he bit his lips to keep silent as the shadow demanded.
The silver shadow crawled on the canopy bed and sat down in front of the weeping boy. She started straightening his wrinkled sailor suit completely oblivious to the wit patch where the boy's tears were falling.
Finally the silver shadow was satisfied with the suit. She looked up and found the boy still crying, his breath hitching every ten seconds. She slapped him on the face again.
"Shush boy. You're ruining my suit" she ordered as she reached for one of the candles on the nightstand.
"NO, mommy please, no" the boy blurted out and regretted it immediately.
The shadow was furious; she returned the candle on the nightstand and glared at the boy.
"Signora, I'm sorry. I'm sorry" Tony backpedaled as he tried to save himself from what must be coming.
The silver shadow's hands grasped the small boy by his arms and started shaking him repeatedly as she kept ranting.
"What DID I tell you? NEVER call me that while we're playing. Never" the shadow kept reprimanding while shaking the boy's body in her strong arms.
Tony kept crying and mumbling apologies as the silver shadow shook him viciously.
"I'm sorrrryyyy. I'm… I'm sorry ma'am".
The shadow abruptly stopped shaking the small boy. She sat him back down on the bed and started petting his head soothingly.
"Good boy. Now stop crying so we can play our little game." The shadow crooned as she spread several kisses across the boy's cheeks and forehead.
Tony's breathing hitched as the shadow kept kissing him icky kisses on the mouth. He wanted to push her away, but knew that she would slap him again. Tears kept falling down from his emerald green eyes and trickling down his baby round face. Tony just trembled in the arms of the shadow as he tried to stop the sobs fro escaping his throat.
Suddenly, the kisses stopped. The silver shadow pulled back and stared down at the boy's puffy eyes and shaking form. She sat still for a very long time with Tony shaking like a leaf in her arms. She just kept staring down at him from her own puffy and reddened eyes.
"Stop it Anthony. You know that I don't like seeing you cry" the shadow said gently as she slowly carried the crying boy and put him in her lap. She hugged him close to her chest and started rubbing his back soothingly, while singing a lullaby that Tony loved.
Tony attentively leaned into the soft touch. He loved it when the shadow was nice to him. Maybe the shadow would go away now. Maybe his mommy would return and comfort him. His mommy always sang the song that the shadow was singing to him now. It always made him sleepy. His head felt heavy from all the crying and screaming he did. He wished that the shadow would retreat and make his mommy come back.
Tony finally laid his head on his mommy chest as his breathing evened out.
"No more playing mamma, please…"Tony hiccupped as he felt like someone has stuffed his head with cotton. He just wanted to sleep.
"Okay, Anthony. No more playing." Mommy whispered into his ears as she kept rubbing his back soothingly.
"Go to sleep il mio bambino" mommy whispered as she started undressing Tony from his choking tight suit. Tony tensed in her arms.
"no…please, please, please" Tony whimpered faintly.
"Shush, bambino. I'll just put your pjs on. Go to sleep" mommy kept whispering soothingly as she efficiently dressed the half sleeping Tony in his pjs.
She tucked him in and started to put off all the lit candles scattered through the enormous room one by one.
As soon as Tony realized that the room was starting to get darker as mommy huffed the candles, he whimpered softly becoming wide awake.
The shadows were starting to appear again. They were going to come after him as soon as mommy left the room.
"Mommy?" Tony frighteningly called as the room was flooded in darkness. He feared that mommy had left him alone. His heart was beating wildly in his chest as he stared into the darkness trying to find mommy.
"MAMMA" Tony's high pitched voiced screamed as soon as he felt something touching his skin. Vampires! They were going to suck his life out. He regretted asking his mamma to tell him the story of the funny drawings on the walls.
"Shush, bambino. It's mamma" a voice said shakily in the darkness.
"Mamma" Tony's own voice shook with relief as his heart gradually slowed its maddening beating.
"Yeah baby. Just go to sleep" the shaky voice whispered comfortingly as a hand kept squeezing Tony's hand.
"It's dark, mommy" Tony pleaded. He knew that he would be punished, but he was terrified.
To Tony's surprise mommy didn't spank him. She just petted his hand again and then stroked his hair softly. He carefully leaned into her hand enjoying her soft and warm hand.
"Don't worry. Mamma's here. I won't leave you in the darkness alone" the still shaky voice answered.
"…But mamma, the signora does" Tony innocently argued as he kept clutching his mommy's hand for dear life.
Tony tensed again when the hand holding his tightened, but was surprised by the sob he heard coming from mommy in the darkness.
"I'm sorry bambino. I'll try to stop her." The voice whispered between hitches of breath.
"Okay mamma" Tony nodded in the darkness. He didn't know why his mommy was crying. It was all the signora's fault, not hers!
"Can I sit beside you tonight Tony. My knees are hurting me a little." The voice by his bedside was shaking again.
"Of course mamma" Tony said cheerfully. He would have mommy all night long! He would cuddle and hug her like all the kids in movies do.
But when mommy tried to slide her hand out of his, he grabbed it with his both chubby hands.
"No mamma. Don't leave please, please, please." Tony begged as he held the hand as tightly as he could.
Another hand was now stroking his hair comfortingly.
"Shush, bambino. I just needed to stand up. Scoot over bambino" Mommy whispered with her mysterious shaky voice.
Tony immediately scrambled on the bed while still tugging her hand with his own. The minute his mommy was sitting on the bed beside him, he launched himself at her. He buried his head in her chest trying to hide from the darkness surrounding him. He tucked his body closer against his mommy.
Mommy kept petting his back and head soothingly as he felt sleepy. Mommy started singing the Italian lullaby he loved so much.
"Love you mamma…" Tony trailed of as another kind of darkness pulled him. All the while he was wondering why his hair felt all wet and if his mommy was really shaking so much or just a bad dream.
"DiNozzo…hey Tony. Time to wake up" Gibbs concerned voice reached Tony's foggy mind.
He shook his head to ward off the painful memory that invaded his dreams. It was one of the memories that he favored. He always missed the rare hugs his mom gave him as a child.
"Wha…what time is it?" Tony tried to clear his itchy throat as a cough fought its way up his lungs.
"Time for your medicines" Gibbs said gruffly as he sat back on the coffee table looking intently at his agent.
The cough finally won the battle and Tony launched into a fit of painful coughing. Tony was doubled over by the end of it.
"Sorry boss" Tony apologized weakly when he spotted the extenuated hands holding the glass of water and pills in front of him.
"What the hell are you apologizing for DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked in exasperation from his agents constant insecurities.
Tony flinched minutely at the harsh tone, but he swallowed his pills and just stared at the mesmerizing fire.
"Hell DiNozzo, are you feeling any better?"
Tony knew that this was as close to an apology as he was going to get. He smiled at his boss. Apology accepted.
"I'm fi…" Tony trailed off as he spotted the pointed glare directed his way. He smiled sheepishly before answering honestly.
"I'm better. My lungs actually stopped tightening and I feel that the spasms stopped. I just feel tired." Tony answered his face reddening a little as he remembered how Gibbs had held him against his chest like a child when he couldn't breathe.
"Good to hear, DiNozzo. So you're gonna need your rest." Gibbs said while smirking. He knew why Tony was so flushed. He must be starting to remember what happened in the lab.
Gibbs was terrified when he saw Tony flapping like a dying little fish. He couldn't breathe himself, but he had to act quickly. He had saved Tony from hitting his head, but Tony still was going to have to go through the aftermath of such a strong seizure.
Tony may look better now, but he still looked like hell. His eyes lost their sparkle and there were dark circles under them. A tremor was going across his body every now and then. He'd need a lot of rest to regain his strength quickly. Tony'd also try to escape talking about what happened and which memory triggered that response. But Gibbs vowed that he'd be there for him.
Gibbs knew about Tony's insecurities whenever someone helped him. That was the main reason for the embarrassed look on DiNozzo's face right now.
Gibbs knew about Tony's less than perfect childhood. He knew that it was the main reason behind Tony's insecurities most of the time. Tony had become more accustomed to talking to him about his childhood throughout the years. He talked a lot about his father's neglect. He talked about his adventures while home alone.
Gibbs practically knew all the movie references for any plot about a kid left, forgotten, or kicked out. Tony would always talk about his life as if he was a hero living his life to the full.
However, Gibbs always heard the bitterness in his voice more than the excitement. The disappointment of waking up on a holiday to still find your dad away on business.
The only thing that Tony talked about as little as possible was his mother. Gibbs knew after some very hard and emotional confessions from DiNozzo that she was having some mental problems. It seemed that his mother has impacted Tony in a big way than only he knew about.
Gibbs was sure that this phobia had to do with his mother, but for the live of him he could never make DiNozzo speak about it.
Tony made to grab for the remote control. Gibbs's piercing look was starting to unnerve him. He wasn't gonna talk, he wasn't gonna talk.
Gibbs was wakened from his reverie by Tony's movement. "No way DiNozzo" Gibbs declared as he grabbed the remote from his agent's weak grip.
"But, boss…." Tony started to whine as he spotted the determined look and set jaws. He didn't want to speak about it. He watched as Gibbs walked to the kitchen to bring something, probably coffee.
"We're gonna talk DiNozzo whether you liked it or not" Gibbs stated firmly as he came back with a glass and a mug in his hand. He handed his agent a warm cup of milk, while He started sipping his own black coffee.
"I really don't want to talk about it, Gibbs…" Tony whispered softly as he stared at the glass of milk grasped tightly between his hands.
Gibbs eyed him for a minute. He noticed the slight tremble in his agent's hands and decided to drop it for the time being.
"Fine, but we need to discuss a proper punishment for the trio who pulled that stupid prank. Any suggestions?" Gibbs asked with a smirk.
Tony's face lightened immediately and then a twinkle appeared in his eyes while a mischievous look graced his face. Gibbs had to laugh at the boyish expression that appeared on Tony's face. Crisis averted for now, but Tony will talk to him sooner or later.
Translation of Italian phrases:
Buona notte = good night
Bambino = baby
il mio amore = my love
signora = Ma'am/ madam
10/9/10 ….. 20/11/10