Happy New Year! So here we go… first in a series of missing scenes, most by reader request, from my 'Figuring It Out universe,' or FIO-verse. Trying to fill in some of the gaps, explore some of the relationships in a bit more detail, while I work on a longer and more intricate sequel to Figuring It Out. These won't necessarily be in chronological order, and I'll provide a bit of explanation for each one, along with a reference to the chapter(s) it refers to. Odds are this won't make as much sense as it could if you haven't read FIO. Rating for these missing scenes is expected to stay at T.

The usual disclaimers apply… the story is mine, the recognizable characters from NCIS aren't. Unbetaed, so all mistakes are mine as well.

This first one is from a request first made by jjd022980… from chapter 32 of FIO, where Tony decides he needs some time away after Gibbs' rescue. Other readers were also curious about what was going through Tony's mind while he wrote the letter, as well as Ducky's reaction when Tony gave it to him to deliver to Gibbs in the hospital, and McGee's and Ziva's reactions to Tony leaving.

The Letter

'Dear Jethro,'

Ugh. Too formal.

Tony crossed that off, then started again.

'Hi Boss,'

No. He's a lot more than that now.

'Hey Jeth,'

Yeah – that's right.

'I'm really sorry about this'

No way. Start off breaking a rule? Bad move. He's gonna be unhappy enough as it is.

Tony sat up abruptly at that thought, then tossed the pen down on the desk, stood up, and walked to the window.

What am I doing? Jeth's always – well, almost always – been there for me. I wouldn't even be alive if it weren't for him. So now I'm just gonna walk away, while he's stuck in the hospital? What the hell kind of Saint Bernard am I?

Tony moved away from the window, tapping his fingers on his thigh. He was feeling guilty just having thoughts of taking off, even if only for a few days. He imagined Jethro looking disappointed… then his head tilted as he considered that. Would Jethro really be disappointed in him? He was the one who'd broken his promise to keep Tony in the loop, to let him be on his six. As he thought over the tension, worry, and helplessness of the past few days, the anger started to come back.

I've gotten to know him so much better… he's less of a bastard and more emotional and understanding than I would have expected. He'll get it – I think. If not, well… he should have waited.

He thought about their overnight conversation in the hospital. Jethro had been so open, letting Tony in to his very private emotional world. Tony threw himself onto the couch, his leg bouncing rapidly as he thought things over.

Jethro's trying. So do I really need to leave?

Tony thought back over the number of times he'd woken up in a cold sweat, gasping for breath after finding Jethro dead yet again in a dream, or watching him die horribly at Johnson's hands. One of the nightmares he'd had in the hospital while he slept next to Jethro's bed had been particularly gruesome… Tony had made it into the warehouse in time to see Jethro, his hands tied to the steering wheel, struggling to get away from Johnson, who grabbed Jethro by the hair, yanked his head back, and cut his throat slowly; Jethro's dying scream had become garbled in blood and then cut off abruptly.

Jethro got impatient, and we're both paying for it.

Tony got up from the couch and headed back to the desk. He sat down, picked up the pen, and resumed writing.

'Hey Jeth,

I need to get away… I can't sleep, these nightmares are driving me crazy, and frankly I'm still pissed'

Tony sat back, tossed the pen down again, then grabbed the paper and crumpled it up. 'Pissed' wasn't really the right word. They'd talked that out at the hospital, and while Tony didn't like what Jethro had done, he did understand it.

So what do I really need to tell him?

Tony leaned back in his chair and thought back over the past several weeks. This new relationship made him feel like he was in the twilight zone… but a freakishly good version of the twilight zone. He cast his thoughts further back, to when Jethro had been blown up and left for Mexico.

Not Jethro then, Gibbs.

Tony and Gibbs hadn't been romantically involved back then… but Gibbs had been a central focus of his life, and it had hurt terribly when Gibbs had left without anything more than 'You'll do' and 'Semper fi.'

So what would I want to know from Jethro if our positions were reversed right now? That I'll be back, this isn't permanent… and I'd want to know why. I'd want to know that I'm still important to him.

Tony straightened up, then grabbed the pen and started over.

'Hey Jeth,

Stop assuming the worst. This isn't a 'Dear John' letter… although I guess it would be a 'Dear Jethro' letter. I just want to let you know that I'm heading out of town for a few days…'

Tony folded the letter and stuck it in an envelope, writing 'Gibbs' across the front. He tossed it down on the desk, then went into his bedroom and packed a bag, throwing in enough clothes for four days, although he wasn't sure he'd be there that long.

Wherever 'there' is – maybe a beach. Not too far away in case Jethro needs me.

He added a book he'd been meaning to read, then grabbed the bag and the envelope, leaving them near the door. He went to the computer, and researched flights for that evening, finding something heading to a small airstrip near the North Carolina coast. A little more hunting found the website for a nice hotel with a full gym, right off the beach and near a touristy shopping district. A few phone calls later and the reservations were all set.

Now to get the letter to Jethro.

Giving it to him personally was out of the question. There would have been no point to writing the letter if he was going to just go tell Jethro what he was doing, and he knew if he went to the hospital there was no way he'd leave. He couldn't ask Abby to deliver it; she'd never understand and she'd guilt trip him into staying. Ziva would also demand a lot of explanation, and he didn't want to involve McGee given how difficult it had been for McGee to accept his new relationship with Jethro.

He took his cell phone off his belt and hit the speed button for Ducky.

"Anthony, my boy, how are you?"

"Hey, Ducky. Are you at the hospital?"

"No, I'm here at NCIS. Two bodies to process… looks like a double homicide. Tom Brucker's team got the case, and I must say they're doing a very thorough job. I'm actually reminded of when you took over for Jethro when he retired to Mexico; Agent Brucker has similar determination and drive –"

"Are you going to be there for a bit, Ducky? I'd like to swing by; I've got to ask you for a favor."

"I shall be here for a few hours yet, my boy. I'll be heading back to the hospital to see Jethro afterwards; you are of course welcome to join me."

"I'll be there soon, Ducky… thanks."

Tony hung up and walked to the door, picking up his bag and the envelope.

Better do this now before I talk myself out of it.

The drive to NCIS didn't take long, and he went directly to Autopsy, hoping to avoid seeing any of his other friends. He walked in to see Ducky and Jimmy Palmer standing over one of the bodies on a table. Jimmy looked up and gave him a big grin.

"Hi Tony! Great news about Agent Gibbs, huh?"

Tony gave him a small smile in return. "Yeah, Jimmy." He turned to Ducky, and just jumped right in. "I'm going away for a few days, Ducky. Could you give this to Gibbs for me?" He held out the envelope.

The smile dropped off Jimmy's face and he glanced at Ducky with a worried look. Ducky's expression turned somewhat grim. "Anthony, I do hope you aren't doing anything foolishly impulsive."

Tony shook his head rapidly, dropping his arm, the envelope still in his hand. "This isn't anything permanent… and I'm not breaking it off with Gibbs, I promise. I just –" He paused and looked down at the floor, gathering his thoughts. He looked back up, glancing between both men. "I need some time away, Ducky."

Ducky peered at him through his glasses.

Tony sighed. "Every time I fall asleep, I have nightmares about Gibbs. It started when he disappeared and hasn't stopped, not even after I killed Johnson. I just need some time away, get my head on straight again."

Ducky continued to stare at him. "And you don't want to tell Jethro yourself because…?"

Tony met his gaze. "Because if I go see him, I won't be able to leave. And I really think I need to go… somewhere."

Ducky sighed and looked off to one side. "I would so hate to see you pursue an action that you can't undo later."

Tony shook his head. "I promise you everything's okay between me and Jethro. There's nothing to worry about, Ducky. You said he'll only be in the hospital for a few days, right? You call me when you know for sure when he's going home, and I'll be there."

Ducky nodded. "Alright, my boy."

Tony smiled. "Thanks, Ducky." He held out the envelope again, and this time Ducky took it. "Oh, here, I grabbed these the other day." He took Gibbs' reading glasses out of his jacket pocket and gave them to Ducky. He turned to go, but Ducky reached out and stopped him.

"You will call him later, Anthony? Don't leave him hanging."

Tony nodded. "I will." He patted Ducky's arm, shot Jimmy a smile, and once again turned to leave, but Ducky didn't let go.

"Anthony – perhaps you should talk to someone about all these dreams you are having. The subconscious can be so very unrelenting."

Tony sighed and gently disengaged his arm, squeezing Ducky's shoulder. "Thanks. I know why I'm having the nightmares; I don't need to talk to a therapist about them to get them to make sense. I just need them to stop… everything really is okay with me and Jethro; we talked at the hospital. We both need to get past all this, and that's why I'm going away – to see if I can get my head on straight so that they'll stop and we can just move forward from here."

Ducky nodded approvingly. "Well, then, I wish you a fruitful trip and I hope you come back refreshed and relaxed."

Tony gave him a genuine smile. "Thanks, Ducky." He waved to Jimmy and turned to go, grimacing as Ziva and McGee walked in.

They both looked surprised to see him. "Are you going to the hospital, Tony?" Ziva asked.

Tony shook his head. "No… no, I'm actually heading south for a few days."

McGee's brow furrowed. "Director Vance is sending you on a case? I thought he gave you some time off."

Tony cleared his throat and nodded. "He did. I'm getting out of town for a few days, that's all."

Ziva's eyes widened. She exchanged glances with McGee, who turned his head slightly and gave Tony a puzzled look. "You're leaving when Gibbs is in the hospital?" McGee's question sounded more like a statement, and to Tony it seemed like an accusation.

Tony nodded slightly and stared at a spot on the wall near where McGee was standing. "Need to get my head on straight, Tim."

Ziva shook her head. "You cannot just – just leave Gibbs after what he has been through!"

Tony looked at her for a moment, and she looked back, clearly indignant on Gibbs' behalf. He glanced at McGee, who still looked confused. Shaking his head, he gave them both a slight smile. "I'll see you guys in a few days." He started for the door, but Ziva moved in front of him, blocking his path.

"Ziva…" Ducky's voice came from behind Tony, but no one seemed to pay attention. Tony and Ziva stared at each other, and McGee hovered anxiously.

Ziva looked furious. "Gibbs needs you, Tony. I cannot believe you would be so selfish as to walk away from him now."

Tony glared back at her. "Gibbs and I talked, Zi-vah – a lot. We're fine. I'm not breaking it off with him. I just need some space to get past what happened. I'm not going to be able to do that here."

Ziva moved forward, into Tony's personal space. "And how do you know that?"

Tony growled low in his throat, and Ziva actually stepped back a pace. "Because the nightmares won't quit. That's all I'm saying, and I'd appreciate it if you would get out of my way."

"Tony…" McGee's voice was hesitant at first, but gained strength quickly. "Tony, I saw how happy Gibbs was when you came back to the hospital after you went to see Vance. Ziva's right… he does need you."

Tony turned toward McGee, confused. "You'd left by then."

McGee shook his head. "No, well, yes, I had, but Vance sent me back to ask Abby about some evidence that seemed to have gone missing. Her cell was off… I got back right after you did and followed you down the hall. So I, um, I saw how Gibbs looked at you when you got to the room… and I went back to the waiting room and talked to Ducky until Abby came out."

Tony looked at McGee for a moment, then shook his head a bit. "I know," he said softly. "I know how he feels, and he knows how I feel, and I promise you that we're okay. I know I'm not being a very loyal Saint Bernard at the moment –" Ziva cut in with a muttered "or a lover" – "but I need to do this or I'm worried that it's all going to get in the way. Gibbs will understand… and I've already told Ducky I'll call him later."

Tony set his gaze on the door, and moved past Ziva to the walk through and hit the button for the elevator. A few moments later he was gone.

Ziva turned to Ducky. "I think he is making a mistake. We should go after him."

McGee shook his head. "No, Ziva, I don't think so. Remember when he woke up screaming in the bullpen that first night? If he's having dreams like that all the time, maybe he really does need to get away."

Ducky chimed in. "I do believe that Tony knows what he is doing."

"But Gibbs –"

"I think –"

"I suppose –"

They were interrupted by Jimmy voice. "Hey!"

Surprised, they all turned to him. Jimmy looked nervous, but determined. "Uh, yeah. What I want to say is – well, Tony's a good guy, you know? And Ziva, um, don't kill me or anything, but he's not being selfish. As far as I know, he's barely slept since Agent Gibbs was kidnapped, and he was telling Dr. Mallard about these nightmares, and I think he knows that Agent Gibbs is safe in the hospital, so now instead of being focused on him, for once Tony's doing what he needs to do for himself."

Ducky smiled and nodded in approval. "Well said, Mr. Palmer. We may all be a little too emotionally involved in this particular situation." He looked over at Ziva, who appeared to be thinking things over.

McGee nodded in agreement. "I think you're right, Jimmy. We've all been pretty focused on finding Gibbs, and it couldn't have been easy for Tony to be in charge of team while he was so worried about him."

"Indeed," Ducky said. "If Director Vance had known of their relationship, he would have pulled Tony off the case."

Jimmy frowned. "But if he had, chances are Agent Gibbs would have died. Tony said he barely got there in time."

Ziva nodded thoughtfully. "All the more reason to make sure the Director does not find out." She looked at them all, smiling at Jimmy. "And you are right, Jimmy… Tony is a good guy, although sometimes it is hard to remember that." She pulled out her cell and fired off a quick text.

Ducky sighed as he looked around the room. "I am afraid that Mr. Palmer and I must get back to our guests."

McGee nodded. "And we have work to do… just need to pick up that autopsy report on Johnson."

Jimmy hurried over to Ducky's desk and gave it to him, and then everyone headed back to work.

Tony's cell beeped just as he was about to start up his car for the drive to the airport. He flipped it open and saw a notification of a text from Ziva. After surveying the parking lot to make sure she wasn't charging toward him, he called up the text, then smiled at the single word.