Chapter Four - Communication
A/N: Thank you for all the reviews, comments and story and author alerts, and those of you who put this story on your favorites list. I'm overwhelmed by the response. It's great to know you guys like the story. I'd also like to thank liljanie for her help with this chapter. Here it is, finally, the last chapter. Enjoy!
Nobody could have been more surprised than I was when I saw Gibbs sitting on a bench across the street when I was dropped off after work in front of my hotel. He was trying to be inconspicuous, but when you've known someone as long as I've known Gibbs, well, he stood out like a sore thumb.
I acted like I didn't see him though and just entered the hotel. If Gibbs needed to see me about a case, he would have come to the office or called me on the phone, ditto if someone back in DC had been hurt. For him to show up at my hotel, in Rota, Spain, meant it was personal. If I'd thought leaving DC would get him to finally talk to me, I would have accepted the promotion the first time Jenny offered it. That would have saved me a lot of grief, and I wouldn't have added another concussion to my ever growing collection.
I went up to the desk in the lobby and asked for a bottle of bourbon and a couple of glasses to take with me up to my room. As generous as Jenny was being providing me with a hotel room until I could find an apartment, I figured the cost of the bourbon would be coming out of my pocket, but if Gibbs was finally ready to talk, it would definitely come in handy.
I made it up to my room, sat on the sofa, opened the bottle of bourbon and poured some into the two glasses and then waited. I didn't have to wait long. Within five minutes there was a knock on my door. Even though I was expecting it, I still jumped. I guess I was more nervous than I thought. As I got up to answer the door, I thought as much as I missed him and still loved him, Gibbs still had a lot of explaining to do. If he couldn't come up with valid reasons for the way he treated me, he could just hop back on the plane and take his ass back to DC.
When I answered the door, there he stood, looking just as nervous as I felt. The thought that he was as nervous as I was helped me gain some confidence. I said, "Fancy meeting you here. Were you just in the neighborhood and thought you'd drop by?"
Gibbs had a hard time looking into my eyes, but he finally did. He asked, "May I come in."
It seemed Gibbs was going to be on his best behavior. The Gibbs I knew would have just barged in as soon as the door was opened. Part of me wanted to slam the door in his face, but another part of me wanted those explanations, so I stepped aside and let him in.
He walked into the room and immediately noticed the bottle of bourbon and the two glasses sitting on the coffee table. He asked, surprised, "Were you expecting someone?"
I replied, "I saw you across the street. Didn't figure you were here to see anyone besides me."
Gibbs looked a little chagrined and said, "Guess I'm losing my touch." He turned to face me and asked, "May I sit down?"
I replied, "Sure, have a seat." He sat down on the sofa and I sat next to him, but not too close. That would definitely be a bad idea. We hadn't been this close to each other while it was just the two of us since he left for Mexico months ago.
Gibbs was uncharacteristically fidgety. He finally picked up a glass of bourbon and took a sip. That seemed to settle him a little. He looked at me and asked, "Why did you leave?"
Usually I was reticent to explain my motives to anyone, but I'd been bottling things up for a long time, and I decided to let Gibbs have it all.
"Well, it could be because McGee thinks I'm a buffoon with a badge who can't lead a team, even though I'd just lead one for over four months. Or it could be because Ziva didn't have faith in me when I was team leader and called you instead when she needed help. Maybe it's because Abby was so obsessed with you coming back that she forgot about the people who were still there. It could have been because Ducky was so angry when you left that he stopped listening to anyone else."
Gibbs looked at me like he knew none of those were my real reasons for leaving and said, "But it wasn't any of those things, was it?"
"Well, it could have been because you broke a promise to me when you left, but I understood why you left the first time. You barely remembered me, let alone the fact that we had practically moved in together. The second time you left without saying goodbye was harder to take, but really, you weren't the first person in my life to promise me forever and then take off. It would have sucked, but I could have lived with that. What I can't live with is working with a team who doesn't have my back."
Gibbs actually looked affronted at that and said, "Tony, no matter what else is going on, we would always have your back."
"Forgive me if I find that hard to believe after what happened with Mike Franks."
"You left because Mike Franks hit you?" Gibbs asked, surprised.
"Actually, it wasn't because Franks knocked me out. It was because of what happened after he hit me."
"But nothing happened after that."
"I don't understand what you mean." Gibbs seemed genuinely confused.
"I waited after Franks hit me for someone to do something; for Franks to apologize - fat chance of that ever happening, or for you to say something to him, to say something to me, to actually do something about it. You acted like it never happened and Franks just went back to Mexico. When you came to check on me, you were more worried about how cozy I'd gotten with the director while you were gone than the fact that I'd just been knocked unconscious. That was just icing on the cake."
Gibbs said, "I know it probably doesn't help much, but I do have an explanation for what I said about Jenny that day."
"I'd love to hear it."
"I was jealous," He said, sounding embarrassed. "You called her Jenny and I was afraid that the two of you had…" He trailed off, his meaning clear.
"Not that it would be any concern of yours if the two of us had done anything while you were gone, we didn't. As difficult as it may be for you to believe, she actually came to respect me as a competent agent while you were gone, and people she respects are invited to call her by her first name."
"Tony," Gibbs said, "I've always known you were a competent agent. I wouldn't have hired you otherwise."
"Excuse me if I find that hard to believe after you demoted me when you decided you didn't want to retire after all," I said sarcastically. "I'm sure there was no other team in the entire agency that wouldn't have you."
"Tony, I feel about the team like the way you do, or did. The team was family to me and I just wanted my family back. Now, you are the only family that really matters. I know I went about taking the team back the wrong way."
"Damn right, you did."
"I know it's probably too little, too late, but you did do a good job while I was gone and I should have told you that, and thanked you for holding them together. As for the way they've all been treating you, I should have stepped up and said and did something about it, and I apologize."
I wasn't sure what to say to that, so I didn't say anything. Gibbs had never apologized to me for anything, even when it was just the two of us. Gibbs took advantage of my silence after such a long rant and continued.
"As for the promise I made you," he hesitated and then asked, "You know about my first wife and daughter?"
"Yes, the director told us about them while you were in the hospital."
"When I lost them, my life was destroyed. I came very close to killing myself after they died. Only the thought of what Shannon would think if I did that stopped me, and I forced myself to live without them.
He took another sip of bourbon and then continued, "When I left for Mexico, I honestly didn't remember you and I had been in a relationship, but I did remember while I was there. All the feelings I had after I lost Shannon and Kelly were fresh in my mind again, and I didn't ever want to feel that way again.
"I thought if I lost you, too, I'd never survive it. I remembered all the times I came close to losing you and I was afraid."
I was shocked; I had never heard Gibbs admit to being afraid of anything before.
He continued, "But I've done a lot of thinking since I came in to work the other day and found out you'd gone. I thought about a lot of things I should have thought about in the first place. He looked me in the eyes and said, "As much as it hurt to lose Shannon and Kelly, I wouldn't trade even one minute I had with them for anything. I should have remembered that before I let you go."
Jethro had never opened up like that to me before and I knew he meant what he was saying. I said, "So what happens now?"
"I know I don't deserve it, but I do love you and I'd like it if you gave me another chance."
"As much as I love you, too, I'm not going back to DC," I said. "I can't work with Ziva and McGee when they don't respect me. I've gotten more respect from my new team in the last two days than I've gotten from them in the last six months."
Strangely, Gibbs looked like he really did understand, but I wasn't finished yet. "And you still haven't explained to me what the deal is with Franks."
"I was kinda hoping you'd forgotten about that," Gibbs said sheepishly.
"Not a chance."
Gibbs sighed, took another sip of bourbon, then seemed to make up his mind about something and said, "As pissed as I was with Mike about what he'd done to you, when he admitted it to me, he'd done something else that overshadowed that."
Gibbs was acting like he didn't want to tell me what Franks had done, but thinking about the case and what had gone down, I could make a good guess about what it was. I decided to let Gibbs off the hook telling me what Franks had done; what he probably felt was a betrayal of his former boss, and tell him what I thought. "He killed Kobach, didn't he? And judging from the pattern of the gunshots I heard after you went in, I'd say he killed him after he surrendered."
I don't think I'd ever seen Gibbs look more surprised, and I could tell I was right about my theory.
He said, "I hate to admit it, but you're right. But I will promise you one thing; if I ever run into Mike Franks again, he's gonna be nursing a broken jaw for attacking you."
It didn't sit well with me letting Franks get away with murder. If I thought I could charge Mike without getting Gibbs into trouble, too, I would do it in a heartbeat. The only thing that made the idea of him getting away with murder palatable was the fact that the man he killed was a dirtbag.
So I just said, "I'll hold you to that." I paused, unsure of what to say next, but managed, "So what do we do now? Long distance relationships suck, but I'm not leaving Rota, and I can't see you leaving DC."
"That's where you're wrong, Tony. I would leave DC. I talked to the director earlier today, and if you'll have me, she's offered me a position on your team as senior field agent."
I was shocked. Never in my life did I think that Gibbs would ever leave DC, and the home he had shared with Shannon and Kelly, for me. I said, "You'd do that for me?"
Gibbs answered sincerely, looking me right in the eyes, "I love you, Tony, I'd do anything for you."
I still had a hard time believing Gibbs would give up the people he considered family for me and asked, "What about the team, and Abby and Ducky?"
Gibbs replied, "They're all adults, Tony. I can't make decisions about the rest of my life based on what they might think or want. I have to do what's best for me. And what's best for me is being with you. Besides, it's not like we can't ever go back to visit once in a while."
He seemed to sincerely mean what he said, so I replied, "Okay, you can be on my team on one condition."
I leaned towards him and said, "The first vacation we take is to Mexico."
"You got it."
"Oh, and Gibbs?"
"How do you feel about head slaps as a form of discipline?"
"Don't push it, Tony!"