WHAT A WAY TO SAY THANKYOU, CHAPTER 6.
A/N: Okay so quick authors note so I can address a few necessary points. First of all apologies for the lack of updates since last January. In early February of 2012 my mother was unexpectedly killed in a road accident that claimed the lives of four other people, the last year has been very tough on my whole family, especially me and my siblings as my estranged father attempted to take my step-father to court over custody. I hope you can understand that the familial nature of this story made it difficult for me to return to writing sooner.
Secondly I'd like to address some issues pointed out by my kind reviewers!
1) The use of double speech marks ('') instead of single ('), I'm on it!
2) 'More depth and description' hopefully this chapter is a little better, I understand maybe this whole story is moving quite fast!
3) More focus on 'Tony/Gibbs' than 'Tony/Jimmy' as specified in the description. Patience, this is all coming!
4) Tony appearing 'weak and girly' and as one reviewer so eloquently pointed out 'like a f*cking pansy, whut r u lyk a twat or sumfin?'
(I admit that this story may not be absolutely everybody's cup of tea but if you're planning on criticizing me so forcefully, please use correct grammar or your review, I can assure you, will be deleted!)
Thanks for being so patient, now on with the story!
Gibbs pulled up outside his house, cutting the engine and climbing slowly out of his car.
He watched Tony carefully but the only move he had made since they had stopped driving was to undo his seatbelt.
Gibbs opened Tony's door and crouched down slightly so he was more at his SFA's level.
"Come on, DiNozzo, It's getting cold out here! Come on inside and we can have a drink and sort this whole mess out"
Tony looked round at his boss. He had a vague idea that Gibbs was trying to coax him into the house but right now there was so much going on in his head...
Swinging his legs out of the car, Tony smiled sadly at Gibbs,
"I think it's gonna take more than just the one drink to sort this mess out, Gibbs".
Gibbs didn't miss the fact that Tony had gestured to himself when talking about the mess, as if he thought that he was the problem not the people that had shaped his childhood and who he was today.
They walked up the drive in silence, Gibbs opening the door and letting Tony inside.
Tony made his way into the living room and sat down on the end of a couch, eyes boring into the floor.
Gibbs had dropped his bag in the hall and gone straight to the kitchen where he pulled to beers from his almost-empty fridge and went to sit opposite Tony in a worn black recliner.
Tony murmured as Gibbs tossed a beer to him.
Pulling up the sleeve of his jacket, Tony hooked the metal cap of his beer bottle on the rim of his charm-bracelet chain and twisted it sharply, the cap falling neatly into his open palm.
"I have bottle-openers yah know, no need to put yourself out! Where did'ya learn something like that?"
Gibbs questioned, momentarily distracted from the task at hand by the neat trick he'd just witnessed.
"You want the truth or what I tell everyone else?"
Tony calmly replied, thinking that if he was gonna spill his guts tonight that one more little secret wasn't going to hurt.
Gibbs looked up at him,
"We used to do it all the time in the Army with our dog tags, whenever we had the occasional beer or even if someone had soda bottles or something..."
Gibbs was in shock.
Scratch that, he was in such shock he was still looking for words to emphasise how much more that shock the shock he was feeling was.
"I know," Tony was now all but whispering, "I should have probably brought up my army career earlier. In all fairness it is on record somewhere... It was only for a short time, four stints in Iraq, three in Afghanistan and a few months in the Philippines for Freedom Eagle. I was invalided home after being shot in the knee during a hostage situation"
"I thought that happened playing soccer at college?" Gibbs cut in.
"It didn't" came Tony's short reply as he looked Gibbs straight in the eye, bowing his head again before continuing.
"I suppose I should probably start at the beginning..."
"It's always a good place to start" smiled Gibbs.
Tony let out a long breath before getting to his feet and pacing behind the settee, beer in hand.
Gibbs sat where he was, took a long sip of lager and waited for Tony to begin his explanation. He knew that a wrong move now could cause his boy to shut him out completely and if that happened he may never get the full truth.
"I was born in New York City on 8th July 1978. It was and 'unfortunate accident', my father said, but my mother's family was all against abortion so they went through with it. My mother was considerably younger than my father, not yet ready for parenthood, and she went into a sort of denial. She had no idea how to look after me so it was all left to the help so she could party at important business conventions into the wee hours of the morning without having to worry about being home to put her little boy to bed."
Tony sighed as a wave of memories washed over him. He wiped a hand down his face, hoping to iron out some of the lines of fatigue.
"My father was much the same; the only difference being the scarce attention I received was negative, rather than the smothering 'mothering' my mother did whenever she was bored or had nothing else to do. My mother remained completely oblivious of my father's form of 'punishment' until I was six years old. She came home early from a drinks party; my father hadn't been expecting her for at least a few hours and had decided a good beating would pass the time sufficiently... She walked in and my father had me by the ankle, screaming profanities and beating me senseless with the leg of my own desk chair."
Gibbs didn't know what to say. He'd known Tony's childhood had been rocky and there were times he'd picked up on certain behavioural habits that seemed out of place, things like flinching when he'd done something wrong and Gibbs had gone to headslap him. Not regular 'oh-no-here-comes-another-headslap' type flinches, more 'cr*p-he's-about-to-beat-me-to-a-pulp' type flinches. But before now, Gibbs couldn't have even imagined the extent of the suffering that was inflicted on his Tony at such a young age.
"She had said nothing, not at first. She'd known she wouldn't stand a chance up against a man like my father, so she'd said nothing, closed the door and retreated to her room. But nothing was the same after that night, not ever, up until the day she died."
Tony had become quiet, thoughtful, and was in Gibbs' opinion quite obviously reflective over his words. There was a pause and Gibbs wondered if Tony had ever told anyone the full story before, aloud... and a real person? Tony continued, snapping out of his thoughts, and carried on with his tale, his voice finding a more matter-of-fact tone now.
"The day my mother found out about what my father had been doing to me since the day I was born, was the first day she drank to drown her sorrows. Well of course she'd consumed alcohol in reasonably vast quantities before but always for social occasions, never for... 'Personal reasons' as she called them. She never interfered in my father's activities, although when she got her head around the whole idea she began helping me indirectly: in her own little way. She'd have ice packs prepared and laid by the foot of my bed at night, to make sleeping that little bit more comfortable. Occasionally she'd slip paracetamol into my school bag so the day seemed that little bit shorter and a whole lot less painful."
Gibbs ran a hand through his hair, struggling to remind himself that they were talking about a seven year old boy dealing with all the cr*p given to him by his abusive father.
"And then she died, when I was eight years old."
Well. That was not what Gibbs had expected to come next.
Of course he was aware that Tony's mother had died some time ago, but he had no idea it had been so early on in his childhood.
"She was running from my father, both of them were plastered after an evening out with some of my father's business associates, and she'd done something wrong. To be honest I don't even remember what it was she had supposedly done, but my father freaked out and chased her – screaming that she was 'asking for a beating' and 'when I get my hands on you'... As soon as I knew what was going on I had hidden in a laundry cupboard. I know, it was a cowards move and I should have gone to help my mother but-"
Gibbs interrupted sharply.
"Don't say that. You're wrong, Tony. You were eight years old. Hiding from confrontation like that was most certainly NOT the coward's way out. You were scared and you did what any other little boy would have done. Don't ever let yourself think otherwise."
Tony took a deep, shuddering breath and smiled his thanks at Gibbs.
He took yet another swig of his beer, glad that the alcohol was there to help him continue. If he was totally in his right mind, Tony knew he would never be spilling his guts to his boss like this.
But the circumstances had certainly changed, and he definitely wasn't in his right mind after what happened with Kate and Tim earlier that very day.
Glancing at the clock, Tony realized it was already 7:30 and they had left the office over an hour and a half ago. He knew it was going to be a long night.
"I opened the cupboard door, just a crack, and my mother saw me. 'Keep safe, my wonderful little boy, keep safe!' she whispered to me"
Tony's voice was now barely above a whisper.
"But then my father came storming around the corner and she turned to flee, and flew. Right down the stairs. I remember watching it in slow motion: she never tumbled, didn't trip, she took a step and there was no floor left, so she flew. She was in the air for 14 steps before she landed at the bottom. At first I didn't realize she was dead, her peach coloured party dress was splayed out around her and her golden curls still falling down her back. It looked like she was sleeping, like she'd just passed out at the bottom of the stairs, but there was a small bloody cut above her left eyebrow and I knew. I knew deep down that she had gone to be with the angels."
A single tear meandered down Tony's face, but he scraped it away with the palm of his hand before any more fell.
Gibbs took a deep breath, proud of his boy and the fact that after all these years he had finally built up the courage to tell someone about his childhood.
"It was then I charged from my hiding place, taking the stairs in threes until I was kneeling by the side of my mother. I scraped her hair back from her face to get a better look but I could see she wasn't breathing. The stupid naive little boy side of my brain convinced me that there was still a chance for her to roll over, sit up, and hold me tightly against her chest while she whispered words of comfort and told me it was all a bad dream. I pulled her onto her back and shook her shoulders gently, my own tears rolling down her porcelain skin and diving off her glacier-like cheekbones. She had always been a stunning woman, even in death."
By then Tony had come to accept that there was no going back. He had come this far and from here he would have to go on and tell Gibbs everything about his past, all the way up to the day he joined NCIS.
"My father stood at the top of the stairs the whole time this was going on. He didn't move once. 'Step away from her, Junior. I'll have someone arrange the body to be moved someplace else'. That was all he said to me, and that was the last time I saw my mother. The funeral was a quiet affair, my father forbade me from attending, but Marco the house chef had Thomas the chauffer drive me to the cemetery after everyone had left so I could pay my respects and lay flowers by her grave."
Gibbs couldn't stand it any longer. He stood up, placed his bottle on the coffee table, and moved over to stand in front of Tony.
Tony looked up from the spot on the floor that he had been focusing on for the last couple of minutes, surprised that he hadn't noticed Gibbs' change of position, but didn't have time to fully process what was going on before Gibbs enveloped him in a warm, loving embrace.
Tony stood, stunned by his boss's rare show of affection, before lifting his arms and reciprocating the grasp.
All he really wanted to right then and there, was to break down in Gibbs' arms and have him hold him until there was nothing left inside, then go and sleep in his big comfy bed for days.
But he knew if he stopped he would never be able to continue at a later date.
So after a few moments, Tony took a deep breath and took a step back, away from the warmth and security of Gibbs' arms.
"Thanks Boss... Gibbs. That helped a lot more than you probably think"
The two of them made their way back around to the settee and sat, taking long swallows of beer.
"Nothing really happened for about three years after my mother's death, well, apart from the occasional... 'Episode' of bulimia. Sure, he didn't quit with the beatings: but he began to ignore me as much as possible and even though the... occurrences were more intense, they were fewer and farther between. Aged 12, my father acquired forms for Rhode Island Military Academy. He had people mock up fake birth certificates saying I was 14 so they would take me. RIMA's age limit is 14 but they rarely take anyone under 15 or so, so I was the youngest there by far. I think the drill sergeants had a vague idea I was not quite 14, because they made my first few years that little bit easier than most new recruits'. The other boys there grew kind of fond of me and did what they could to lighten my load."
Gibbs noticed Tony smiling slightly at the memories, obviously some of the only pleasant ones in his childhood.
"The minute I turned 18 (actually 16, but I was still going by the faked birth certificates) my father disowned me and I signed up with the army. Despite being physically smaller than some of my comrades, I ascended through the ranks pretty darn quickly! It seemed like the ideal career – I was doing good in the world, working with friends I loved and who didn't know about my past and couldn't judge me on anything but the true me"
Tony sighed and lowered his voice from the upbeat tone it had acquired whilst talking about his 'happy years' in the army.
"Of course things didn't stay like that for long; happiness never seems to in my life. Three years in, I got tied up in a hostage situation in The Philippines. Saved a young girl and her little brother but my best friend was shot for trying to fight back and they filmed themselves shooting me several times as a ransom video. Of course as protocol they didn't pay up, but they managed to fish me out of there after 22 days, before I was killed. A few hours too late for Bobby, though."
Gibbs wasn't 100% sure of what exactly had been the cause of Tony's friend Bobby's ultimate murder but he was pretty damn sure Tony still held himself wrongly responsible.
"I spent six months in ICU, general hospitals and physiotherapy homes: re-learning to walk, therapy for 'PSTD' after 'watching the brutal murder of a comrade' and hard-core physio sessions. I underwent four operations in total: To remove the bullet from my kneecap, to fix my crushed nose, to get rid of the glass shards in my back and finally the reparation of my shattered knee. Throughout they tried to keep me optimistic but my army career was finished and I was a 21 year old man with a busted knee and no qualifications. So I started working at a garage. It took me 17 months of adult college classes but I finally had a Bachelor in forensic science and a Masters in Criminology*."
Gibbs was very impressed. He knew Tony was smart but he had guessed that had come from years of expensive private education funded by his father, not RIMA training and 17 months in adult college.
'He must be one of those intrinsically clever people...' Gibbs thought to himself.
"So I applied at Philly PD. Started off as a regular rookie. I had street smarts and the Captain saw that in me so I progressed through the ranks pretty quickly. I gained confidence as I was put on more and more cases and offers for undercover work became just too good to resist! I loved undercover work, still do, because it gave me a chance to be someone else for a change. Someone, anyone, without having to be me... But of course things only lasted two years, before my father found me. He hadn't looked hard, I doubt it was even him who typed 'Anthony DiNozzo' into Google, but he had written me a letter. I guess it probably had a load of insults and hate in it but I didn't bother to read it. I burnt it, handed in my resignation and left four days later. Wussy, I know."
Gibbs sat very still, soaking in the new information given to him by his SFA. Boy, if he ever got his hands on Senior he would not be held accountable for his actions that was for sure!
"Same sort of thing happened in Peoria. Settled in quickly, ascended the ranks nicely... But this time the captain and some of the beat cops were all crooked. My partner and his family were threatened and left for New York. I tried to stay and right their wrongs, see justice through with the lot of them, but after an 'unfortunate incident' outside a bar I left pretty quickly. That's how I ended up in Baltimore, and I guess about 18 months later that's when I met you. The only thing different is that I'm 30 now, not 32. It'll be 5 years next month."
Tony collapsed into the chair across from Gibbs, searching his face for any kind of reaction. He had expected anger. Anger at being lied to, about the weaknesses Tony had showed along the way.
What he hadn't expected was what Gibbs did next.
Gibbs had never felt so close to crying since the day he had heard about the death of his girls.
His poor, poor boy. He looked up at Tony, his SFA, his closest family, his son. How could anyone throw away a child as gorgeous, funny and charming as Tony?
He couldn't bear it anymore: so he got to his feet, knees popping softly, and wrapped his arms around Tony. Tony bent into his grasp and Gibbs placed a light kiss on his forehead before resting his chin atop Tony's head.
"I know Tony; you didn't think I would have forgotten an anniversary as important as that!"
*Forgive my ignorance on the subject of American degrees (Bachelors and masters etc.) I am, as you have probably all guessed by now, very much British and unfortunately have little knowledge of how qualifications and degrees work in the different states of America! I probably should have done a little research but my Internet has been down for a while and I wanted to get this chapter up ASAP!
A/N: Sorry this took so long, I hope it was worth the wait! Hopefully there weren't too many disappointments with how I managed the way things went... There should be a following up chapter if not an epilogue as well! Please leave your thoughts if you wish, constructive criticism is always appreciated!