AN: (UPDATE: This is part one of a series.) I really disliked the way Gibbs treated Tony when he returned from Mexico. That is the reason behind this fic. I have never written a story from a first-person POV before. It was really interesting writing from this POV, especially a female taking on a male's voice. Enjoy!
I knew he could come back. It was always a possibility. I…but 4 months! I had, in all honesty, expected him to be back after one month. But one month became two and two months became three, then four. I thought this is my team, my team. We were finally started to get into a groove of working well together. Tim and Ziva were finally beginning to accept me as their leader, to accept Gibbs was NOT coming back and to give me the respect I deserved.
All the hard work I had put in. All the pain, snide remarks, all the times they all said that 'this is not the way Gibbs would do it.' That was all behind us. We were finally becoming a team. Then it happened. He came back.
He came back, and it was like everybody let out a collective sigh of relief. It was like all that I had worked for, all I had achieved was just thrown away. I was back to second banana, back to being treated like I didn't matter. I mean I wasn't even important enough in the chain of command to be told Gibbs was returning. I got to find out that morning. I walked into the bullpen and there he was, sitting there at his old desk. He had cleaned my stuff out and just dumped it, unceremoniously onto my old desk. And, of course, Tim was more than happy to move back to his old desk, Gibbs was back.
Gibbs was the worst though. He acted as though he had never left. He couldn't understand my upset. He couldn't understand how I felt, or he chose not to, I don't know which. I just faded into the back ground, like I was supposed to, to reassume my role of good little solider. I was to follow orders given and to do so with enthusiasm. First of all, I was and am not a Marine, and secondly, I was severely lacking in the enthusiasm.
The pseudo-respect, I have come to realize that that was what it was. I was getting from Tim and Ziva was gone. I was back to being the stupid, computer-illiterate, SFA clown, in Tim's eyes. I was back to being the goofy, slacker, immature frat-boy SFA in Ziva's eyes. I hadn't realized the pseudo-respect for what it was. It took a little time. I thought Tim and Ziva were working, doing their jobs because of something I was doing, because, I was such a good leader. But it was a rouse. They did their job, true. It had the side effect of making me look good. But they really did their jobs well because they wanted Gibbs to be proud when he came back. So that Gibbs could see that they could 'put up with me' as leader until he returned.
I felt betrayed, by all of them. Between Abby having pictures of Gibbs up everywhere, she even had a Gibbs screen saver, Ducky reminding me that I didn't do things the way Gibbs did, and Tim and Ziva 'pretending' to respect me. I did one hell of a pseudo-good job as Team Leader.
Then, of course, there was Jenny. I felt special to be offered the job in Rota, Spain. I was very surprised. I turned it down though, for reasons I thought, at the time, were good ones. I knew Gibbs was not up to par. I knew his memory was not 100%. I thought he needed me to help him with that. In retrospect, ANY of the rest of them could have helped him. They wanted him back so much they would have done anything to get him back, if only for fear of having me as Team Leader again. I wonder, sometimes, if my mistake had been staying and not taking the job. I never told anyone about the job and I asked Jenny to respect my wishes, and as far as I know she never told anyone. I think she was the only one who recognized my potential and my skills and abilities. That only makes it sadder and more pathetic though, because she is the one who actually has known me the shortest amount of time.
It used to make me wonder what I was doing wrong, and then I realized, it was them. I haven't changed. I've been the same person all the way through this. I have always goofed off and joked around. It was just that they were not interested in finding out about the person beneath all that. Or, when I did show a little of myself I got teased. I got almost…attacked. I then let the mask slide back into place. What was I supposed to do, let them continue to kick me when I was down? I learned, from those rare occurrences, to not let people see the real me. I learned all people wanted to do when you leave yourself open like that is hurt you.
I went to see Gibbs after he had been back for about a month. He and I had not talked about how he had returned to NCIS and I wanted to talk to him about it. The conversation did not go well.
I made my way to the basement. Things had not changed since he left. I had expected them to be a little different. He was different. But nothing had changed. The house, the basement, looked exactly the same.
I sat down on the bottom steps for several moments, choosing my words carefully. "Why didn't you tell me?" I paused. "You could have called." I started.
Gibbs stopped sanding the rib he was working on. "Tell you what?"
I stared at him for a moment. "Tell me you were coming back."
"My team, DiNozzo." I could tell he was getting angry, but he kept his voice even. "I was coming back to MY team."
"Yes." I agreed. "It was your team, you put me in charge." I said, keeping my voice low and controlled.
"I decided I wanted to come back." Gibbs said simply, as if that explained it all.
"Yes." I nodded. "I understand that. I…I would have appreciated a phone call."
Gibbs put his hand tool down and turned his full attention on me. "YOU would have appreciated a phone call?" Gibbs than began to pace. "My team and YOU would have appreciated a phone call!" Gibbs shook his head. "Unreal!"
"I…" I started.
Gibbs then walked up to the stairs. "MY team!" He began to rant. "I give you, handed you my team and I need to ask permission to take it back!"
"That is not…That's not what I meant." I explained. I was a little surprised and disturbed by the amount of anger and hostility.
"That… is my team!" Gibbs fumed. "I created it from nothing. I handpicked the members." Gibbs said, pointing at himself. "I made a damn good team." Gibbs said, emphasizing the word 'I' each time.
"I…We worked hard. It was hard, keeping the team together." I explained. "They all missed you. They had a hard time accepting me."
Gibbs shook his head. "You were their leader. They accept you as leader because you are leader. There is no taking time to accept you, you're leader. It's automatic."
"For you, maybe…" I said. "For me…."
"That's bullshit, DiNozzo." Gibbs asserted. "Maybe I should have…."
Gibbs didn't have to finish the sentence. I completed the thought for him in my mind. It surprised me a little how deeply it hurt. How much those words wounded me. How much Gibbs opinion of me really meant. Thinking now, I was not able to do the job. That he would have passed me over and put McGee in charge. That he would have done anything besides what he did. It…it was devastating for me to think he thought he had made a mistake. It didn't surprise me though when the tears came to my eyes. I stood up on the bottom stair and stared at him for a moment.
"Yeah, maybe you should have." I said before I turned and started up the stairs. I continued up, shaking his hand off my arm and turning a deaf ear to his words. I left the house, got in my car, and drove off.