"He's such an ass! Stupid, nosy sonuva-"
"-bitch! I mean what kind of father decides that he has the right to-"
"KATE!" Tony DiNozzo shouted at her from across the bullpen. Kate's jaw snapped shut at his outburst. She could dimly make out the sharp edges of her partner's face in the grim shadows wrapped around the both of them.
"What!" Kate snapped back. How could he just interrupt her like that when she was so obviously upset over this? Well, this was Tony she was thinking about. It was way too early for this argument. For anything really. 0300 was not on her job description for arrival times. Tim was probably as Tony would say, 'McSnoring' away and Gibbs had left hours ago. Even Abby who until now Kate believed might actually be a creature of the night had gone home to her coffin at around 0100.
Tony was only there because his stupid excuse of a heater had malfunctioned...again.
Either Tony had decided to fuck it and smash the useless piece of equipment to a pile of nothing or …. his luck sucked. Somehow the many failed attempts on his life and the survived kidnappings said differently.
Instead of replying in an equally venomous way, Kate's partner said in an almost gentle tone, "Please don't talk about your father that way in front of me."
Her team mate was still sitting with his face partially submerged in shadows. They darkened under his cheekbones and his chin.
Bubbling anger welled up inside Kate.
"So you fought with him a little..." Tony began in the same soft tone. A tone that seriously irked Kate Todd.
What the hell did he think she was? A two year old who needed someone to sugar coat everything? She bit back her harsh thoughts. Tony didn't mean it like that, it just wasn't his style, and in a way his tone of voice surprised her. She'd never heard him use anything akin to that tone of voice before.
"The man looked through my personal GOVERNMENT files, DiNozzo! Don't you as well as anyone know how much trouble he could land in for that! Don't you!" Kate demanded angrily. There was no one around to hear her yell so why the hell not?
This was war. Agent Todd was hell bent and determined to win this battle. She would not be told off by her skirt chasing apartment-less co-worker.
"That's why you're really angry, Kate." Tony said matter-of-factually. "He was only worried about you and considering your job of choice...a father should care enough to check up on you."
The way he spoke that last bit like it was poisonous to him sent could shivers down her spine. Kate couldn't remember ever having heard Tony so...bitter. Bitter was not a word that should ever be used to describe Special Agent Anthony Dominic DiNozzo. NEVER.
If only she could see his facial expression...
The full weight of her argument with her father crashed down on top of her like an anvil and from across the room she visibly deflated.
"I've always had problems with my old man, but THIS! I don't think I've ever screamed at him that way. I'm so angry with him...I'm so angry...I...I don't know if I even want to fix this." Kate said in defeat.
She meant it too. After everything her father had ever pinned on her and the obvious distaste he felt toward everything she seemed to like...
After a long, silent moment where Kate could only hear her own computer's low, low humming Tony shifted. The shadows on his torso flowed as and moved as he stood up. In the dim lighting she could see from the very top of her team mate's expensive leather belt to the beginnings of his shirt collar.
Tony turned around away from Kate and began removing his tie.
Irritation started to burn in her chest as she watched her partner discard the silk tie and finish with the buttons on his white dress shirt.
Just as Kate was about to say something that was sure to gain her partner's immediate attention, Tony began speaking.
"When I was seven...My father decided to get drunk... again. Usually when my old man was drunk I'd try to steer clear of my father...He could get...violent, but most times he'd find me. Unfortunately, that time I was in the next room when it happened."
Confused, Kate waited in silence for what came next. She was shocked at how much Tony had revealed and shocked, also, to realize that Tony had never actually told them much about his childhood.
Surely this was another of those boy and father fight, boy and father apologize, boy and father get help and we all live happily ever after stories, right? Something to get her motivated to fix things with her old man? Kate could never have been ready for what Tony was about to do.
In one fluid movement her partner shrugged the shirt off his left shoulder and whipped the article of clothing off his back, holding it at arms length to the side before dropping it to the floor and letting his arms stretch out, bent at the elbows to each side of him.
Kate gasped and her hands flew to her mouth. Tears stung her eyes and threatened to spill over her cheeks.
"Daddy dearest threw me through a glass door."
Tony's voice was soft, but with a hard edge. Kate almost allowed a sob to escape her lips as she stared at the back of the cheekiest, cheeriest...her partner. There was so much acceptance and cold detachment in his voice.
It scared her.
The scars were huge, lacing over the Italian's back in frenzied patternless ropes. His arms clenched and the muscles in his back rippled, the painful reminders of the past flowing like a black wave with them and back, racing up his arms. They stood out a stark white against his tan skin and the thick, rope-like cords cast dark shadows over any other available area she could see, making the scene even more gruesome.
She couldn't look away.
A tear dribbled down her cheek. Would she have ever known?
"Fix this with your father Kate." Tony said, almost pleadingly.
The hard undertone left no room for argument, not that Kate would have argued. He leaned over, still facing the opposite direction, to grab the Navy jacket he kept on top of his filing cabinets. Kate had to look away as he covered his body with the garment. She turned back and for the first time that night, as he leaned over his cluttered desk, Kate could see her partner's eyes.
A look of burning intensity reached Kate's gleaming, wet eyes and suddenly she knew how hard it was for Tony to tell her this.
Kate blinked away the tears and wiped her eyes, nodding pathetically. Shakily, under her team mate's watchful eye, Kate got up and gathered her things. Walking around her desk and turning towards the elevator.
Tony had broken his walls down to reach out her. To help her he'd lowered all defenses. Defenses that Kate Todd now realized he had more than his fair share of.
As she walked to the elevator she wondered what other secrets and what other scars her partner carried around with him as a daily reminder of his suffering.
She decided she didn't want to know.
Determined now, Kate pressed the elevator button. Kate wanted badly to invite Tony to her apartment and offer him the warm, spare bed she had in her guest room. Somehow she had a funny feeling Tony wouldn't accept. Pulling her cell phone from her pocket she let the glow surround her.
Kate stared at the blue shimmer for a moment before looking up and turning to face the direction she'd come from.
Tony was still standing with his palm on the table and his other hand running through his hair, bent over his desk. His dark blue jacket draped over his back. The souvenirs of a memory he'd never forget carefully hidden.
She would make up with her father. And she would do it for Tony.
Kate vowed to get to him better as she stared at the enigma that was her partner...and her closest friend.
"Tony?" Kate called softly.
Immediately, his head came up, waiting.
She stared him dead in the face with a serious, grateful expression on her features."Thank you."
The elevator doors opened and Kate stepped in, pressing speed dial as the metal doors closed. The elevator swallowed her and she was gone.
Two weeks, 3 days, and 13 hours later Special Agent Kate Todd was shot on a rooftop in front of her partner and best friend.
6 days and 1 hour later Mr. Todd walked up to his daughter's partner at her funeral and sobbed uncontrollably as he thanked the man who had allowed him the chance to make things right with his baby girl before she passed.
Tony's partner Kate Todd had died and she'd taken Tony's secret with her. She would never know how much she'd helped him that night.
(: What? The summary said ANGST! Hope you liked it! Reviews... I eat them for breakfast...Along with the readers who don't.