"Should I have ended my career ten years ago?" DiNozzo asked.
"What?" Gibbs had to stop his extended arm from head slapping DiNozzo. "Where is this coming from? I don't even want to hear comments like that."
When DiNozzo did not answer and he looked down away from Gibbs once again, Gibbs tried to answer his own question himself. "This is the concussion talking. It is causing your depression and your confusion." DiNozzo did not respond to his comments.
"Tony!" Gibbs said sharply. He still did not get a reaction out of DiNozzo, who still looked down away from Gibbs.
"Anthony!" Gibbs said sharply. This did cause a surprised DiNozzo to flinch and look back up at Gibbs again.
"I guess there is nothing else to say. This is just the depression and confusion from the concussion talking." DiNozzo repeated Gibbs' explanations. The glare coming from Gibbs caused DiNozzo's shamed look to return.
"You asked me before if I took the SecNav's assignment to prove something." DiNozzo refocused the discussion again. "I took the assignment to try and prove that it was the right decision to not end my career as a cop, after leaving Baltimore." Gibbs glared at Tony.
"I asked you during Danny Price's murder investigation, if you were okay. You said you were fine, and I believed you. If I had known you were having these types of thoughts during that investigation, I would have pulled you from the case." Gibbs explained. Gibbs placed his right hand on DiNozzo left cheek. When he had DiNozzo's full attention, he gave DiNozzo's cheek a pat.
"No investigator should be distracted." Gibbs stated. "You were so withdrawn when you were working on that assignment. I wanted you to talk to me that day on the firing range because I knew you were distracted. We succeed when we work as a team. That is Rule 15. We can't all be distracted at the same time, when working a case."
"I know Boss." DiNozzo said looking down again.
"That assignment did not prove anything, and get these ideas out of your head, DiNozzo." Gibbs ordered.
"Do you know me to sugar-coat anything?" Gibbs shot the question at DiNozzo. DiNozzo shook his head in disagreement.
"If there is anything wrong with your gut, I will tell you." Gibbs said.
"How did your gut know that she was the SecNav's niece?" DiNozzo stated the question not expecting an answer.
"Your head is all over the place." Gibbs said angrily but looked at him in concern. After hearing Gibbs' comment DiNozzo looked at him ready for another lecture. Gibbs shook his head in frustration.
"When I was sitting in for Vance, while he was in the hospital, I saw the paperwork about the Rota, Spain team moving back to D.C. It caught my attention, since it was the team that you were offered first." Gibbs emphasized almost saying accusingly to the self-doubting DiNozzo. "Barrett was suspiciously under qualified to be leading a team, so I did some digging."
The way DiNozzo hid himself from him still concerned Gibbs, especially after Gibbs' admission. DiNozzo lack of self-confidence and somber mood did not sit well with Gibbs.
Gibbs could see that the fight was out of DiNozzo now, and that he might actually try to go to sleep. Gibbs tried to support this by turning off most of the lights in the room. There were still lights coming from the hallway and the bathroom. Within ten minutes of dark quiet, DiNozzo did finally fall asleep.
After being in the dark for some time sitting next to a now sleeping DiNozzo, Gibbs could see a figure standing in the doorway watching him. He got up slowly and headed for the hallway, closing the door most of the way as he left.
"Hello Jethro, how is our boy?" Ducky asked beaming. The moan and head shaking from Gibbs earned a laugh from Ducky. Gibbs buried his face in his hands and groaned. "Would you let me stay with him a while, so you could take a break?"
"Oh I would Duck." Gibbs said. "But, I can't leave. I want a field agent here, in case Stratton returns."
"So, what is the problem, Jethro?" Ducky asked.
"Either that blow to the head stripped him of all his self-confidence, or . . ." Gibbs said trailing off.
"Why would he be doubting himself?" Ducky asked.
"That doesn't sound like our DiNozzo at all. When. . .?"
". . .probably some survivor's guilt as well." Gibbs added.
"That part I could I sympathize with." Ducky stated.
"This might have started with the Baltimore case, with Danny Price's murder investigation." Gibbs stated.
"Ah, I just read about Major Raimey recently." Ducky said. "He has a very strong case against him. Raimey made some accusations. . .in the newspaper article that I read."
"Duck?" Gibbs asked curiously, indicating that he had not been aware of this.
"I'll get you that article. Why is it I was told so little about this case. . .actually both cases?" Ducky asked. Gibbs reluctantly nodded. "2001 and 2011"
"It is one of my rules, Duck." Gibbs said. "You never screw over your partner. Price was a dirty cop."
"And Tony?" Ducky said looking at Gibbs.
"Whether he was in denial or saw exactly what he wanted to see, DiNozzo wasn't part of it. I was eavesdropping when he confronted Price." Gibbs replied, looking back into DiNozzo's hospital room making sure that he was still sleeping and not listening in. Ducky nodded in understanding.
"They knew each other when they were kids living in the Hamptons." Gibbs added.
"I had a feeling, when Anthony mentioned that he came from money and he knew all the details about his family." Ducky stated. "The way he never talked about Price over the years makes me wonder.
"His lack of confidence started back in May, when Price was murdered and he had to relive through Price's past deceptions." Ducky explained. "He might have had survivor's guilt back then."
"It does not help that Raimey's case is going to trial right now. Do you think that Tony will be called in to testify?" Gibbs' raised his eyebrows, giving Ducky an unsure look to the question.
"Maybe DiNozzo's head isn't as scattered as I thought." Gibbs mumbled. "I wonder if he has been following the trial.
"It is possible that Agent DiNozzo agreed to the SecNav's assignment because he saw it as a suicide mission." Ducky added. "I doubt we will ever get a direct answer. Do you want me to talk to him?"
"He just had his head shrunk by Dr. Cranston." Gibbs informed him. Ducky laughed at the comment.
"I will wait until he is back at work then. Basically, I will ask him some questions, as a friend. What is the worst that could happen? Do you think he would refuse to visit me in autopsy?" Ducky stated. Gibbs gave him a sideways glance with a grin.
"You better keep. . ." Ducky started to say.
". . .an eye on him? You know I will. Thanks Duck." Gibbs said with a nod as he reentered the hospital room where DiNozzo was still sleeping.
There will be another storyline continuing the Major Raimey trail/accusations.
Thank you for reading and for your feedback.