A/N: This is a follow up to the 8.12 episode tag. I almost didn't want to write this one and the Coda because I thought it was wrapped up pretty nicely as it is. But I thought it would be nice to explore a bit of this story from Tony's perspective. This is supposed to take place just before Tony and Ziva went to get Paul Simmons. Oh and this one's for finlaure, because she asked ;)
He could see it in his eyes. He's seen it before.
It's like looking into a mirror. Equal parts pain, loss, anger, defiance, shame and longing, all wrapped up with an unhealthy dose of self-doubt.
He knew it as soon as they spoke to him at the school. The file McGee pulled on him merely confirmed his suspicion.
At the end of the day, they were really all just victims of circumstance.
Tony stared at the plasma screen at the picture that McGee pulled up on the Simmons kid. Paul was his name. Then he heard himself giving everyone the stats on the kid.
The picture on the plasma had been taken a while ago. He knew that because the smile on the kid's face was one of content and happiness. The kid he met had sad eyes. The same kind of sad eyes he saw every time he looked into a mirror.
Looking into the boy's face, he felt like he got punched in the gut. He knew that he shouldn't be so affected by what he was seeing. He had buried those emotions a long time ago along with many, many more; he'd adapted to hide behind the teasing and the flirting and the cheap smiles. He'd learned to not let the cases get to him – well, at least he tried to anyways.
But some cases, it just hits too close to home. He could feel the boy's sense of lost, the pain and anger he felt, his hostility towards the world (and himself), because he'd been there.
Tony sat at his desk, staring at his computer. He couldn't think. The boy's sad smile lingered in his mind. Ducky came and went, looking for Magnus. Ziva had retreated to her desk, typing away. McGee was studying some statistics, deep in thought. There was just too much distraction, pulling at him, demanding his attention.
Finally, he stood up and made his way towards the direction of the men's room, before inconspicuously changing his route and quietly slipping out the stairwell door.
Tony was sitting at the bottom of the stairwell outside of autopsy, engrossed in deep thoughts when Gibbs found him. He had his arms wrapped around his legs, looking like a lost ten year-old. The bottom of the stairwell was one of the few spaces in the entire building that security camera didn't quite cover. It's the next best thing from pulling the emergency switch in the elevator.
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs barked, "What are you doing here? I want you to go talk to that Simmons kid with Ziva."
When Tony didn't seem to register his bark, Gibbs got worried. He stepped over and sat down beside Tony and reached out to pat his shoulder. Tony startled at the touch.
"Hey, ya alright?" Gibbs asked softly.
"Yeah, Boss, I'm alright. Just need a bit of time and space to think," Tony smiled, but his eyes betrayed his sadness, "I'll just be a minute."
"Bull," Gibbs called his bluff, wrapping his arm around Tony, knowing that they won't be seen on camera. "C'mere."
Of course he knew what was wrong with Tony. How could he not? He had known Tony long enough – and well enough – to know how much that Simmons kid's life resembled Tony's… and his own. Right now, Gibbs would love nothing more than to drive them both straight home and give Tony all the TLC he needed.
Except – they're in the middle of a case, still one perp short, and not a lot of evidence pointing anywhere. So he had to resort to giving Tony a quick recharge.
"I missed ya," Gibbs cupped the back of Tony's neck, pulling him in for a quick peck on his temple. He dropped another kiss on his lips when the younger man turned to look at him, "you finish this, and you come right back home, 'k?"
"Go get 'em, Tiger," strong arms tightened around the younger man, Gibbs dropped another kiss into Tony's hair.
"On it, Boss," Tony turned and gave the former Marine a small smile. He buried his head into Gibbs' neck, breathing in the comforting scent. He sighed as he reluctantly let go, brushing dust off the seat of his pants as he stood.
Gibbs watched as Tony step off to climb the stairs back up to the bullpen. He couldn't help be feel the pang in the pit of his stomach. Let's just hope that the day doesn't get any worse, he thought to himself.