Summer Regrets by DD Agent
I do not own NCIS or any of its characters, or its settings - all belongs to the lovely folks at CBS.
This is my first NFA Challenge Entry, and its for the Dog Day's of Summer Challenge. Thank you so much to calliatra for twisting my arm to take part in a challenge and look this over for me! :D Hope you enjoy!
It had been a present from Anthony DiNozzo Senior, but Tony was reluctant to take the gift of the small beachside cabin. However, he was trying to build some bridges with his father, and refusing such a lovely cabin would not go well to that end. So he had taken the keys, and the first weekend of summer he had packed up a small bag and headed down to the cabin for some much needed time alone. He watched movies, he drank beer, but in the end he found himself too alone for his own comfort.
"EJ!" Tony greeted the Monday morning back from his first weekend away. The blonde greeted him in the small coffee shop, and they hugged. It was a little awkward, but they managed to sit down and share a coffee.
Barrett brushed some hair behind her ear, smiling at him as he rambled on about the movies he had seen that weekend. She seemed distracted, and he supposed he was too. The mission that the new SecNav had sent him on was driving him crazy, and he wanted out. No wonder he had so desperately jumped on the time away at the cabin. He was too damn tired of spending the summer in DC, sat in his apartment looking over files and wrinkling his nose at the bottle of bourbon that Jenny had bought him the Christmas before Los Angeles.
So he invited EJ to the cabin to spend the weekend together.
As soon as Gibbs sent them home for the evening, Tony headed back to grab his bag again and pick up EJ. The keys fit the lock and they spent the evening sitting on the sofa, watching more movies and drinking the beer that was still in the fridge from the previous weekend. That night they awkwardly had sex in the Spartan master bedroom upstairs. They spent the Saturday on the beach; he cooked shrimp on the barbecue. But EJ left early on the Sunday, leaving him alone once more.
"Morning, Probie!" Tony yelled the Monday morning after his second weekend away. Tim smiled and enquired after his weekend as he cracked some code or tried to change where Cade was being stationed to. From Washington to somewhere in Africa probably.
Tony sat behind his desk along from Tim, all the while talking about what an amazing weekend he had had with EJ. He stopped talking when Gibbs entered, looking his usual grumpy self. He had never been a summer man; he was more an autumn colouring. Tony loved the summer, had always loved hanging out with his Frat buddies in the sun, grinning at women in their skimpy bikinis and playing beer pong. But that didn't seem to hold any appeal for him this summer.
So he invited McGee to the cabin to spend the weekend together.
Friday hit, and a nervous Tim drove them to the beach house. They watched a couple of movies, some science fiction flicks that McGee had brought from home. The Saturday, instead of spending it on the beach, they ended up inside playing video games and drinking beer. They had a great time, Tim finally beating Tony at something. The next day they were invited to play volleyball by two cheerleaders who were staying down the beach. That night, while Tim played upstairs, Tony sat on the deck drinking a beer alone.
"Hey Abs," Tony whispered the Monday morning after his third weekend away. Abby grinned and hugged him tight, almost breaking his ribs. He smiled and pulled one of her pigtails, happy to see her.
They exchanged stories about their weekends - Abby's bowling team had beaten their opponents and she had managed to get some new computer equipment. Tony had told Abby all the stupid things Tim had done that weekend [like swallowing too much ice] and she promised to tease him about it later. It had been a good weekend, nice to spend some time with McGee. But at the end of it all, he had still ended up alone, necking a beer.
So he invited Abby to the cabin to spend the weekend together.
They were late leaving, a new case meaning they weren't finished until late Friday night. So Tony picked Abby up on the Saturday morning, and smiled at her version of beach attire. When they got there, Tony held her parasol as they walked along the beach and had a good long talk about Mike, and Jenny, and Kate and other people they hadn't seen in a long, long time. They both got dressed in pyjamas early and Tony made popcorn as they watched all the old scary classics on television. As Abby fell asleep, clutching Bert, Tony went for a walk down the beach and stood in the surf.
"You okay, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked the Monday morning after his fourth weekend away. Tony looked up from his paperwork, plastering on a smile that didn't quite match his eyes. It was rare that Gibbs asked after his team, but Tony guessed that the look on his face warranted the question.
He didn't feel like talking to Gibbs about things. He knew that his boss had pretty much gone through everything except a common cold, but this was something he didn't want to talk to him about. He felt like he was losing himself. He felt like he was growing up into something he didn't want to become. He was Tony DiNozzo. He had played at being Leroy Jethro Gibbs before, and although it had ensured he held the command of his team, it hadn't made him any happier. It had only made him lonelier.
So he invited Gibbs to the cabin to spend the weekend together.
And bizarrely, Gibbs accepted.
They finished their new case by Thursday evening, so Friday was all paperwork. Gibbs drove them to the cabin, a classic rock station on the radio. They ate burgers that Gibbs cooked on the barbecue, before drinking a couple of beers each. Tony suggested a movie, and in accordance with how the weekend was turning out, Gibbs agreed. Tony watched his boss smile at a couple of the lines, and admire the curves of both the hero's car and love interest. After the film ended, they both headed up to bed. Tony came down in the middle of the night and found Gibbs outside on the beach, drinking a glass of bourbon. He handed a second one to him as he sat down on the sand.
"You enjoying summer, DiNozzo?"
Tony shrugged. "I don't know. Usually I do, but…I guess I'm outgrowing the fun of summer. You know, wet t-shirt contests, volleyball on the beach, long nights spent on the deck with a hot blonde on your arm."
Gibbs snorted, taking another sip of his bourbon as they looked out onto the ocean and watched as it hit the sand. "I hate the heat, always have. So I'm not a big fan of summer. When I was a marine, I was always deployed during the summers. I missed that time with my family."
Tony was about to check how much Gibbs had been drinking, he rarely shared things about his past. And by rarely, this would be the first time voluntarily. But he didn't need to once he saw an empty bottle of bourbon next to him half buried in the sand.
And the revelations kept on coming. "I had four amazing summers in the nineties. Me and Jen…we went around Rome, Monaco, all along the Western Mediterranean. There's nothing like spending summer with the woman you love, Tony. Just getting lost in it all." He drained his glass. "You should bring Ziva up here."
Tony slammed his glass into the sand and watched the bourbon trickle into the little grains. "Me and Ziva is never going to happen." He stood up, looking out onto the dark expanse of ocean. The clouds were crawling over the dark sky; a storm was forming out at sea. Looked like this would be a dark summer weekend. "You once lectured me about Rule Twelve. Now I don't care, Gibbs, if you're having regrets about your old partner. I like EJ, she was good for me."
"You liked her, Tony, but you didn't love her. The reason I got angry was because you wrecked our team over a relationship that has no future."
"You and Jenny had a future?"
Gibbs drove home that night. Tony spent the remainder of the weekend drinking the rest of the beer, having the television on in the background and trying not to think about anything but the bitter taste.
"Morning Tony," Ziva greeted the Monday morning after his fifth weekend away. He put his backpack down on his desk and strode over to hers, noticing that Gibbs was absent from his. This did not bode well at all.
They talked a little about their weekends, Tony not mentioning about how his disastrous time with Gibbs had gone. Ziva didn't mention anything about CI Ray, something which he was grateful for. He didn't like that guy; something was just off with him. Maybe it was because he was successful, suave, and he was with Ziva. Maybe it was because the chance with Ziva had already gone past, and there was no chance of capturing what they had had.
So he invited Ziva to the cabin to spend the weekend together.
Looking up to the catwalk, he found his boss smiling at him. Tony was terrified.
The week dragged on agonizingly slow; with every day being ticked off in his head. It seemed impossible that after all they had been through; they were finally spending some alone time together. But eventually they were in the cabin by themselves, and Ziva offered to cook dinner. She made a delicious meal, and after listening to some of his favourite jazz songs they headed to bed. She slept in the guest room, and he watched her sleep when he got up in the middle of the night with a weight on his soul.
He sat on one of the chairs on the deck, struggling through another beer. He heard a noise on the stairs, and watched as Ziva came down. She grabbed a beer from the cooler and sat opposite him. They sat together on the deck for a while, watching the waves crawl onto the wet sand.
"You seem to be different this summer, Tony. Less…animated."
He shrugged, wondering if everyone had noticed the change in his behaviour. "I guess I'm just thinking about too many things."
"Are you sure that's a good idea? You don't want to pull a muscle, Tony."
He snorted, and Ziva chuckled from her side of the deck. They drank for a little while longer, Tony tossing Ziva another beer when they were done. "How are things with Ray?" Tony asked after he finished his third beer in what felt like that many minutes.
Ziva raised an eyebrow. "You jealous, Tony? I swear, sometimes you talk more about him than I do."
"He's a handsome young guy," Tony grinned and watched as Ziva smiled, dodging his gaze with a blush. "I'm just taking an interest."
"You just have a big nose, Tony."
He rolled his eyes. "I'm being nosey, Ziva, I don't have a big nose."
She chuckled again, draining her second beer. "That's debatable, Tony. Pass me another beer."
He did, before deciding to stretch his legs. His hands touched the roof of the deck, holding onto the wooden beam. He looked over the sea; saw the ghosts of all his holiday companions this summer. He had had some good times, and for some blissful moments he had been really happy. But they had passed him by.
"I think we've missed our moment."
"What moment is this?" Ziva asked, moving under his arm and placing her head on his shoulder.
He put an arm around her and accepted her offer of a beer. She looked up at him, not quite sure what he was talking about. He took a sip of his drink, deciding that this would be his last one lest he do something he regretted. But he had invited her, and that was a step all in itself.
"The moment for us. You know, to be all coupley."
"Ah." Ziva licked her lips and looked up at him, surprisingly calm considering the subject matter. Maybe the alcohol was affecting her head too. "When would this moment have been?"
He let himself think about it for the first time since that moment had taken place. "The summer Gibbs was in Mexico. If he hadn't have come back, if I hadn't have fallen for Jeanne…that would have been our time." Tony sighed. "But it's gone, and now - you lucky thing - you won't ever have the pleasure of being with Anthony DiNozzo."
Tony was trying to cover his awkwardness with humour, but on this beach it didn't work. As he looked out onto the ocean, he felt Ziva's lips on his, so gentle he was unsure whether it was her or the wind. Her lips caressed his own, slowly pushing his upper lip over her bottom one. But it was over before it had ever begun, and her lips were replaced with Ziva's hand stroking his face. She looked so sad, and he didn't know why.
"There are always second moments, Tony. Eventually."
He spent the rest of the night on the deck, thinking about perfect moments and getting his head back in the game. When Ziva woke up that morning, she found Tony asleep on the sand. When Tony woke up that afternoon, he found that she had buried him in the sand, right up to his neck. They spent the rest of the weekend teasing and torturing each other, it eventually culminating in Tony dragging Ziva out on her mattress and pushing her into the water. He believed he would have those bruises for a while.
"Morning Agent DiNozzo," Director Vance greeted the Monday morning after his sixth and final weekend away. The Director then walked up to his office, and Tony just stood there in the bullpen, smiling after a very enjoyable weekend with Ziva.
The possibility of a second moment made him smile, and he would wait until things were right again. The universe wasn't so cruel as to deny them a second chance - and the weekend had gone a long way to setting that up.
Before Gibbs was likely to come in with his cup of coffee and permanently etched scowl, Tony put something down on his desk. It was the bottle of bourbon Jenny had given him, and the note that had accompanied it. Tony felt he no longer needed the bottle, and he knew someone who would appreciate it more than him.
People needed to believe in second chances, second moments. People needed to put their regrets forward and move on.
As Ziva pinched his neck as she came in for work, Tony was glad they were moving backward.