The difference.

Set after 'Flesh and blood'. Tony doesn't understand the difference between Gibbs' father-methods and his own father's methods.


Gibbs liked his own company.

There was nothing more to it.

He was happy to work on his boat, or even just sit in peace for hours because he had been trained at being at one with himself.

After his family died, he would play music, loudly, through out the house because he needed something to break the silence.

But, slowly, he learnt to be at one with the silence and himself once more.

He did the team bonding when he had to. But for the most time, he let his team have those moments alone because they needed each other more then they really needed him.

He was better at listening then talking anyway, and it suited him.

But when Tony DiNozzo slumped into his basement, he knew that maybe he needed to talk just as much as he needed to listen.

DiNozzo Senior wasn't like the man he had pictured in raising Tony, and though he was easy going in nature, Gibbs had no doubt that father DiNozzo ruled his home with an iron fist.

"He called," Tony told him, as he watched his boss work on yet another boat. Gibbs nodded as he listened. "You made an impact, Boss," Tony mused with a smirk, to which Gibbs smiled and couldn't help but feel a little pride over.

"He wants to spend some time together... said we should bond again," Tony told him causing Gibbs to stop and look at the younger man.

"What did you say?" Gibbs questioned. Tony pursed his lips and looked away. The younger agent found a photo of Shannon and Kelly, staring at it as though it held his answer. "DiNozzo.."

"She looked like one hell of a kid," Tony declared causing Gibbs to stand up straighter and smile at the memory of his daughter, remembering all the hopes and dreams he'd had for her.

"She was," he admitted. Tony smiled with a real smile that always shocked Gibbs.

That smile was something that had been forced from Tony years ago and Gibbs wasn't about to ask why.

"The first birthday I remember, which was my fifth, my mother baked me a cake. She said she wanted to make it with all the love she felt for me," Tony admitted looking away from the Gibbs women as though he was ashamed to admit anything in their presence. "I asked for this cowboy hat and gun. I wanted to be a sheriff and I drove my nanny mad asking for it," Tony mused, looking to ground as though losing himself in his memories. "I asked my father and he told me he was busy; that I shouldn't want things like that," Tony told him, causing Gibbs to clench his jaw. "I was five, and I was already expected to grow up," he laughed, bitterly, before shaking the memory from his head, and turned once more.

"When I asked my father why my mother would drink all the time, he told me that she was weak. A true DiNozzo never showed weakness like that, and he promised me that he would have it all taken care of. I was six years old," Tony declared, causing Gibbs to sigh and slump onto a work horse. "My father's lawyer took me out of school to tell me that my mother had died-" Tony broke off to clench his jaw and blink the tears away and Gibbs ignored it all, because he could. "The only time I saw my father after my mother died was during school holidays and the day I left for college." He looked at Gibbs, who saw the broken young child who needed his father in the worst way.

"Even when you deny it, you make being a father look so easy. Abby adores you," Tony told him, with a little undertone of bitterness that made Gibbs sigh. "McGee laps up your praises like a little puppy dog and Ziva respects you like a father instead of a boss," Tony pointed out, causing Gibbs to frown at him. "And I trust you with my life," Tony declared, frowning hard before looking away from his boss and picking up a random object.

"And I respect you a hell of a lot... so much that when my father turned up, I was scared that you would be disappointed because he was my father, even though I can't change that fact," he admitted, with bitterness that Gibbs guessed wasn't directed at him, but rather at Tony, himself. "How?" Tony questioned turning to Gibbs with a look of confusion and for the first time, Gibbs really wished he was better at talking then listening. "How can one father be any different from another?" Tony demanded, shaking his head, trying to make himself understand his own question.

"Love," Gibbs offered, without missing beat and Tony swallowed hard.

Gibbs hated himself because he saw sadness and defeat wash across the younger man's face. "You love being a father, not because it's a status, but because it's a title you earn," Gibbs explained, glancing to his family smiling at him for as long as that picture sat in his basement. "Some days I really don't think I did enough to earn that title... not after they died. But I remember the time I had, and every day, I remember my little girl looking at me with love... that, I know that I did something right," Gibbs admitted as Tony nodded avoiding looking at Gibbs.

"He conned his way into my mother's money," Tony muttered, in a broken tone that made Gibbs think he would break down any second. "He loved her money more then her... he said he always loved me," Tony admitted, closing his eyes remembering his father's admission. "He said he would always love my mother too," Tony declared before looking to Gibbs, who knew he had two choices.

He could lie, or he could tell the broken man before him the truth.

"He probably does. You can't explain the love of a father until you have a child of your own," Gibbs assured knowing that he didn't believe it.

"I didn't know what I was missing, until I came here," Tony admitted, giving Gibbs a bitter sweet smile that made Gibbs want to hit DiNozzo Sr. "And nothing he can do or say now will change that," he said, before clearing his throat and rubbing the back of his neck. "Sorry, Boss," he offered, causing Gibbs to stare at him with sadness knowing he needed something more then Gibbs could give him in that moment.

"What did you say?" Gibbs repeated his earlier question, causing Tony to look at him with a seriousness Gibbs hadn't seen in a few years.

"What could I say? You don't choose your family?" Tony questioned before shaking his head and retreated back up the stairs leaving Gibbs to stare at the ground.

It would be two days later when Tony found an envelope on his desk with his name scrawled across the top. He would find a picture from Abby's birthday where the group were posing with happy smiles. Though Gibbs would never admit to leaving that picture on his desk he would still smile when Tony propped it up against his computer.

Gibbs wasn't a talker; he was a listener.

But when he did say something, it meant something, and that photo said everything Gibbs needed to say.

It reminded Tony of the day when Gibbs slung his arm around the younger man's neck and looked like a proud father and not a boss.

Anthony DiNozzo Sr conned his status as husband and father.

Gibbs was the man who earned the title of father.


Reposted due to editing by Xenascully