Silence reigned as the barrage of gunfire died away. The lack of noise was deafening, ringing in the air ominously.
"Gibbs!" Ziva yelled, her panicked voice breaking the silence and causing dread to coil deep within the very core of his being. Something was seriously wrong if Ziva of all people was panicking.
He found himself kneeling beside her before he'd made a conscious decision to move and he regretted the movement as soon as he had stopped. He stared down in horror at the pale lifeless face of the only person he had truly loved since Shannon had died. It was worse than when he'd lost Shannon and Kelly though; when they had been killed he'd been far away, in a different country even. Now though he'd been only a few meters away and he hadn't even noticed until Ziva had said something, he'd just stood there listening to the damn silence waiting for somebody else to speak.
Was he such a bastard he didn't notice when one of his team was down, not to mention the love of his life. Maybe this was a sign that he wasn't meant to be truly happy…maybe he was cursed to be alone forever, but he couldn't dwell on that now. He was the leader and his team needed him, he had a job to do and he needed to be strong even if all he wanted to do was eat his own gun or maybe walk off the edge of the building they were standing on.
"Okay, Ziva call Ducky tell him we'll need both trucks. McGee we need to gather all the evidence so start bagging and tagging, Ziva will help you when she's done with Ducky. I have to inform the director so I'll meet you back at headquarters." Gibbs said gruffly pushing himself to his feet and tearing his eyes away from Tony's empty green eyes. This was going to be a hard one for them all, but they would make it through because they as painful as it was, they were all somewhat prepared to lose one of their coworkers when working in their field.
The Drive back to NCIS didn't take nearly enough time for Gibbs to organize his thoughts on how to tell Jenny. They had only just gotten to the point where she and Tony were friends again and not at each other's throats constantly. It had been a long and hard road after the ordeal with Jeanne and Tony's breakup and it had taken months before Tony could stand to look at Jenny let alone speak with her and now he was gone and she was going to feel even guiltier than she already did after forcing the undercover assignment on him.
Eventually he heaved a great sigh and switched off his car making his way inside. Cynthia took one look at his face as he walked passed her and didn't even bother complaining when he barged in, lacking the usual fanfare about him when he visited the Director. The door clicked shut behind him and a soft whisper of voices could be heard but no words could be picked up through the door however the sound of the Director collapsing into her chair and her favorite coffee mug shattering were heard quite clearly followed by muffled sobs in her grief over the news. Gibbs stepped out a moment later, not saying a word as he closed the door and headed to his desk where McGee and Ziva were waiting for him.
"The evidence is being processed before going into lock up." McGee said hollowly the death of his partner hitting him hard. He and Tony may have argued endlessly but McGee had considered him a close friend. Tony had helped him become the agent he was, without the guidance and what he was sure was a good word with Director Marrow years back he'd probably still be stuck working at Norfolk.
"No family is listed in Tony's file; do we have a way to contact his parents?" Ziva asked solemnly the tension in the building as she spoke was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Her eyes were red and she looked ready to cry but her voice did not waver as she spoke, determined to stay strong while in the public eye. Only when she was alone in her apartment would she allow herself to grieve, to regret not inviting him over when she had everyone else, for not telling him how dearly she enjoyed his constantly upbeat attitude, or for all the times she made remarks about his weight just to get a rise out of him.
"His mom's dead and his dad wouldn't give a damn if we did have his number…shit," Gibbs muttered as a teenager waked into the squad room. He was tall, probably six foot with bright green eyes and sandy brown hair. He smiled and waved at Gibbs rushing towards the man, not seeming to notice the unpleasant atmosphere surrounding them all.
"Gibbs! Have you seen my dad? We were supposed to meet for lunch about an hour ago. I tried calling him but his phone's off so I thought I'd come and see if he forgot." The boy said his bright smile fading as he noticed the look on Gibbs' face.
"Zack, why don't you sit down?" Gibbs said quietly standing and pushing the teen into his desk chair.
"Oh no, this is bad. He always said this could happen, after the plague I thought he could survive anything though! I mean come on he survived the god damn plague!" Zack cried his voice cracking several times while his eyes began to mist over a few tears making their way down his face.
"Shh, I know Zack. It's not fair, trust me I know." Gibbs soothed running his fingers through Zack's hair as he tried to calm the teen down.
"This is all my fault! Las night I said I hated him and never wanted to see him again, that's why we were going to have lunch today, so we could work things out! But I haven't talked to him since last night, god I'm so selfish he died thinking I hated him more than anything in the world and I don't but I can't tell him that because he's gone and he's never coming back." Zack sobbed breaking the hearts of everyone in hearing distance.
"Zackary James DiNozzo, don't you dare blame yourself!" Gibbs snarled yanking the boy up so he could look him in the eyes. "Your father knew you loved him no matter what you may have said! Yes you were a brat growing up, but you were a kid you were supposed to be a brat. And he loved you for it; you were HIS brat, nobody else's. Now he wouldn't want you blaming yourself any more than he'd want me to waste my time trying to find your grandfather so stop it right now."
"Yes sir," Zack sniffled collapsing against the man's chest as his grief overtook him once again. Never before had he felt so alone, not even when he'd first met Gibbs and learned his Daddy may not get better. Somehow he'd known eve as a child that his daddy wasn't ready to go yet, he still had so much good left to do in the world.
He most certainly hadn't felt like this when his mom disappeared. Dad had sat him down that day when he was four, not quite able to grasp the concept of death, and explained that mommy had loved him very much but a bad man and done a very mean thing to her and she couldn't come back but she was in a happy place. Now daddy was in that happy place and Zack wanted nothing more than to join his parents and stay with them forever. Forget Angela, his girlfriend of two months, she was nothing compared to his dad; the man that had tucked him in and fixed his boo-boos, read him bedtime stories and made every moment together special.
Angela didn't even care what his favorite color was, she only cared that he was good at sports and popular. But she had needed a date and was the sister of one of his friends, so he had asked her to homecoming as a favor and she refused to try and find somebody else to hang off of since. Now though he could careless that she existed because existence when Special Agent Anthony James DiNozzo Jr. was gone was pointless, nothing mattered anymore.
"What am I going to do without him Uncle Jay," Zack whimpered pathetically using the nickname he'd given the man when they first met and not used in probably the last seven years.
"We are going to survive this Zack. You and I are going to make it through this and you'll grow into a happy adult, start a family of your own and live, because that's all your dad wanted for you, was to live."
"Can I say goodbye to him? I just-I need to see him one last time," Zack gasped as a fresh wave of tears began to flow down his cheeks.
"Sure thing buddy, we'll go together." Gibbs agreed taking the teens hand and leading him down to autopsy.