Windstar: So...I never do this. Like, ever. But so many people were upset with the ending of the last chapter, and I have to admit...it probably wasn't the best ending in the world, that I felt motivated to write this down. I hope this makes up for the open endedness of the last chapter, and that you can forgive the next chapter despite being "officially complete" in chapter five. Thank you so much for your reviews and know that this one was entirely dedicated and motivated by your rather...enthusiastic comments.
Wishing you all the best, Windstar.
Disclaimer: Same as first chapter.
Many Years Later:
It didn't hit him at first. Not when he'd finished running him down, put a gun in his face, and been prepared to fire. (Although, shit that had been awkward). It hadn't even hit him while he'd fidgeted endlessly at his desk. His partner had been at his side, and he really hadn't needed to run the man's ID, but for a moment he'd been certain there'd been some kind of mistake.
The fact that the man's driver's license claimed him to be a Johnny Castillo, while he was saying something different made them check anyway. Staring at the name that had flashed on his screen, he'd been brought back to a time he'd almost forgotten. But that was then, and this was now, and his partner was at his back, and that man was sitting across from him.
So he did what he always did when something concerned him and he wasn't sure how to approach. He deflected. He made jokes, and he pretended that it hadn't hit him yet.
That logic worked magnificently for the next week or two. Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs stayed away from Baltimore, and he made it a point to only talk to the man when he absolutely had to. Then came the betrayal of his partner, Danny Price, and almost exactly the moment after the fact, he'd turned and there he was. Gibbs. Once again, he'd been aiming his gun at the man, only now he didn't know what to do with it.
Truthfully, he was tired. He was well past tired, and he was ready to just call it quits on this whole cop thing. Maybe his father had been right – this was a dumb idea. How many departments did he need to go through in order to realize it wasn't going to work out? Apparently, three.
He couldn't betray Danny and tell the Baltimore PD that he was crooked. At the same time, he couldn't keep working for the man. So what else was left.
And that's when it hit him, literally hit him, when Gibbs smacked him upside the head at the NCIS headquarters only days later. Don't waste good. It was a rule, or something.
And then the man had walked off with a flippant comment that wouldn't have meant anything. "Boy, I have vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals." He'd recognized it of course, but it had been halfway through one of his fiancée,Wendy's, dinners that he remembered just wear he really remembered it from.
He'd been seventeen years old, and he'd gone to an old movie theatre on the side of town that was playing old films. With him had been a depressed and downtrodden marine. His arm was in a cast, and he'd been through the ringer only a few days before then. They'd gone out together to catch a film, and they'd gone to see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in and watched the film. It was the first one they really saw together.
That startling revelation had him running to the bathroom and puking his guts out. Wendy was at his side in an instant – worrying about everything she could. Was he okay? Was it the food? Did he need anything?
He promptly assured her that, yes – he was fine. No, it wasn't the food. Yes, a glass of water would be nice. She'd gone off to do just that, and he was left on the floor of his bathroom reeling in shock.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs. It'd been a decade exactly. He'd just hit his twenty-seventh birthday, and he had gone a head and moved on with his life. For a single solitary moment, he considered calling NCIS and retracting his application that the man had very sneakily suggested that he filled out.
But then sanity caught up with him, curiosity and wonder filled him…and now he wanted to know what exactly the man was playing at. Surely he recognized him. Surely he had said that quote on purpose. Surely this was all some elaborate scheme of his. Whatever it was, Tony wasn't exactly sure, but he felt like he was being played…and he didn't know how to respond.
In a way, he'd been caught flatfooted. That whole experience had been something of a different universe, and now that he was here…he didn't know what to expect. So he did what any normal person would do. He woke up the next day, and he went to work.
He sat across from the man that he had known when he had been a child, and he did whatever he asked of him. He didn't say anything about the quote, the movie, that time before…and Gibbs didn't either. It was as if they were in a dance – only no one was leading, and they were both following. Tony didn't know if he liked it, but for a few weeks…it was quiet.
That was when they started talking on stakeouts and Tony realized that Gibbs really had gotten his act together. He wasn't as much of a bastard as he had been back then, and it was nice. He was still a bastard, anyone would agree to that…but he was softer than he had been before.
"So why're you getting divorced?" Tony asked while they were staring at a building that had to be the most boring structure in the Greater DC Area. They'd been waiting for a supposed criminal for the past five hours, but he was a no show and Tony was nothing if not easily bored.
"Didn't get along with my wife." Gibbs responded evenly. "Why're you getting married?"
"Cause I do." Tony winked, and Gibbs rolled his eyes, and it was comfortable and easy. Everything about this job had been easy so far. There hadn't been any awkward movements or stepping on each other's toes, and as long as they avoided that major issue that seemed to be festering between them…nothing went wrong. "Speaking of which…Wendy would like to meet you some time…"
"Your fiancée?" Gibbs clarified, glancing towards him evenly.
"You guys find a place, yet?" Tony shook his head.
"Nah, still commuting from Baltimore. She's trying to settle things with her jobs and clients, and we're looking to buy a house. Actually, after work tomorrow we're checking out a place in Brookland."
"Nice neighborhood." Gibbs commented evenly.
"Yeah…not as pricy as Georgetown though." Tony agreed evenly.
"Brookland's not far from my place, come on by for dinner sometime." And just like that, the comfortable movements of their not-dance ended. Tony froze like he'd been doused with cold water. He turned his head to look towards Gibbs, eyes wide and face pale. He licked his lips somewhat. Gibbs didn't say anything, but stared straight back. The tension rose in the vehicle so tight that it was almost strangling. When the criminal they'd been waiting for walked in front of the car – Tony almost felt like weeping for relief.
Both agents burst from the car and chased the bastard down. Neither mentioned the moment in the car again, and when it was time to head back they did so without so much as a softly spoken goodbye.
The pair of them managed to avoid any conversation that led to that discussion for nearly a month, at which point Wendy had put her foot down and insist to meet the man that was taking up all of her fiancée's time. "So…Friday okay?" Tony had mumbled awkwardly, and Gibbs had merely shrugged.
"You need directions?"
"No. I got it." Case closed. Neither mentioned it again.
Dinner wasn't as bad as Tony had imagined it might be. Wendy was easy going enough to talk animatedly with Gibbs, and the man was patient enough to listen. They got along rather well, and Tony found himself relaxing into the whole experience. He ignored how the house remained essentially untouched, he made certain that he was never going to go near the basement, and he steadfastly kept his feet firmly in either the living room or the kitchen.
The night ended cordially, and Tony thanked the man for letting them come over. Gibbs just nodded his head, and the whole experience was put into that weird middle ground where Tony just wasn't sure what to do or say half the time.
Which was why he was left completely flatfooted only a month and a half after that when he'd had his first work related injury. A routine fact-checking mission that Gibbs had sent him on had turned into a hostage situation with Tony on his knees and his wrists tied behind his back. He grimaced badly at his raw wrists and he waited patiently for help. It came nearly an hour later when Gibbs had arrived and reminded him just how he became affiliated with NCIS. The marine in him was shining out strong, and the dead man beside him was clearly an indicator of Gibbs perfectly sound sniping skills.
Tony was too jazzed up on the whole experience to know what to say. "Wow…when you're good, you're good. That was a hell of a shot. How'd you do that? Hey, how'd you know he wasn't going to shoot me in the head – that barrel was awfully close to my head. I should call Wendy, did you call her? What would you have done if I'd have died-" Gibbs' hand slammed up on the back of his skull, and Tony blinked at him. Everything calmed and settled and his mind focused and he was left staring.
"You okay?" Gibbs asked sincerely.
"Yeah, boss…I'm good." The man nodded.
"Next time, cut the ropes, and handle it yourself. Don't depend on someone else." Tony frowned at that.
"Ah…didn't have a knife boss."
"Always have a knife, DiNozzo." The man told him, and he had a funny look on his face as he said that.
"Wait, is that another rule? Like, on your list?" It had been his nightmare trying to keep up with them all. Gibbs rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, DiNozzo. Like on the list. Like, number nine." The sarcasm was dripping from each word, and Tony couldn't help but grin at the annoyed tone. Sometimes it made it worthwhile just to mess with the man – anything to keep him from thinking about how close he came to making Wendy going to church for a completely different reason than marriage.
"Guess I'll have to get one, huh? What kind should I get?" Gibbs looked at him for a long while, before reaching into his pocket and pulling something out. He passed it to Tony without so much as a second glance.
"Don't lose it, all right?" The man asked, before turning and walking away. Tony barely had time to catch sight of the oh-so-familiar handle that read Semper Fi before nausea overcame him, and he promptly threw up on the sidewalk.
The conversation couldn't wait any more after that, and after a quick call to Wendy – letting her know that he was going to be late – he drove over to Gibbs' house and he took a deep breath.
It really did look exactly the same as it had in the past. Only difference now was that it was clean on the inside. He guessed that that happened during ten years apart. Knocking on the door, he heard the man tell him it was open, and he walked inside. Gibbs glanced up at him, and Tony licked his lips and shifted nervously.
"We should talk…" He said softly, and Gibbs nodded.
"Yeah." The ex-soldier agreed evenly.
"You old enough, now, for a bourbon?" That brought a smile to Tony's face and he nodded his head even as Gibbs went to get him a glass.
"Might drink too much." He said simply.
"I know a hangover recipe."
"Works good too."
"That it does." Silence overcame them, Gibbs handed him his glass and he sipped at it occasionally. Mainly, his gaze fell to the left and stayed there. It was like they were waiting for that leader again, and they just didn't know the steps to this pattern. Gibbs sighed eventually, and placed his own glass on the ground. "How've you been?" He asked, and Tony released the breath that he was holding.
"When'd you know it was me?" He asked in retaliation.
"When you put that gun in my face." Gibbs said simply.
"That fast?" Tony blinked in awe.
"You?" The younger agent shrugged sheepishly.
"On the phone with NCIS." He said quietly. "You looked familiar, but the name on your ID…and…well…" He sighed and took another sip. He hadn't been able to hide the smile that had come to his face when he'd heard that the man in front of him was a cop. When he looked up, Gibbs had been smiling too…and for a moment he'd just known that the other man had known. For a moment it didn't matter, the shock hadn't settled, and he'd just smiled at the man and that had been that. He'd joked about the name, enjoyed the easy smiles…and only realized in the months that followed – Gibbs had been oddly indulgent with him where he certainly hadn't been with anyone else.
On all the cases that they'd been on where Gibbs had to interact with law enforcement, he acted like a grizzly bear with some hikers. It was almost Tony's job now to act as a liaison between snarly Gibbs and the soon to be flustered cops. It was so different from that day in Baltimore, that Tony had wondered if it was special treatment…guess it was.
"Shit, Gibbs…" He sighed and rubbed at his eyes. "What are we supposed to do?" He asked softly.
"What we've been doing. Our jobs." Gibbs told him simply.
"Did you hire me because of before?"
"No. I hired you because of what I said. I don't waste good."
"How'd you know I was good?"
"I looked into you."
"Far enough to know you were seventeen when you stayed here. That you ended up going to Rhode Island Military Academy and graduated with honors – landing yourself a full ride to Ohio State." Tony laughed slightly.
"When'd you know?"
"Two months after you left." A dark look crossed Tony's face at that, and he finished his drink.
"I didn't exactly leave."
"It was my dad."
"Figured that out too after a bit."
"How?" Tony couldn't help but blinking up at him owlishly. The man sighed.
"You were in those periodicals for a while. You and your dad, after that he talked about you to the reports for a while – how you were joining the military school to support the country."
"Marketing." Tony muttered, and Gibbs didn't say anything, waiting for the young agent to say something. He did after a moment. "Apparently he was trying to get this deal with some guy who was real big on family and patriotism. I guess it worked out for the best. I graduated from high school officially, went to college…didn't have to fight with the GED stuff. Aced senior year though…first time for everything."
"Had a pretty good football career." Gibbs prompted, and Tony nodded, smile broadening on his face.
"Funny thing, always liked playing. Did great…up until my senior year. That hurt like hell…" his hand reached down unconsciously for his knee.
"Almost visited you after that." Tony blinked, confusion crossing his features.
"Made it to quite a few of your games." He said simply. "Saw your leg get blown out…didn't think you had anyone to check in on you. Your dad didn't show…"
"Nah, he wouldn't have. You came to my games?"
"Well I visited your house." Tony stated firmly. Gibbs smiled wryly. "When I got free from my dad and his marketing bull shit, I swung up to the house…you got married." Tony bit his lip. "I didn't want to intrude."
"You wouldn't have." They fell silent again for a while, and Tony ran a hand through his hair. Rubbing his eyes slightly, he looked up at Gibbs and took a deep breath.
"Hey…you know…since Danny turned out to be such a low life…well…think you wouldn't mind being my best man?" A dark blush crossed the young agent's face and he ran his hand through his hair even more awkwardly then he had before. He was embarrassed, and he didn't know what to do or say to put everything back in place.
Gibbs reached out and touched his shoulder. "I'd be honored, kid." Tony smiled brightly, and the man couldn't help the grin that formed on his face either. Standing up, he motioned towards the door. "I have a wedding present for you, by the way."
"Wedding's not for a few months, boss." Tony rejected easily, but Gibbs rolled his eyes.
"Since when does that matter?" The younger agent just shrugged and followed the ex-marine as he brought him towards the door.
"We going out?" Gibbs nodded.
"Not far." He said easily.
In truth, it wasn't far. It was comfortable though. It was like they found that groove that had come so naturally at first. Gibbs was at the head, and he was two-steps behind. The night air was filled with comfort and he felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He couldn't explain it, but whatever it was…this feeling was wonderful. He felt like he could fly and he felt free.
Gibbs drove him to the pier, and Tony had a slight idea of what this was all about when they got out of the car. Gibbs walked him down the docks, and he scanned the water for any sign of what he could imagine the present to be. His eyes saw it before they reached it, and he let out a breath of amazed surprise.
Gibbs motioned towards the completed boat that he barely recognized from the monstrosity that he used to live under when he stayed at that house all those years ago. Sitting upright, and completely finished with everything a man could ask for, Tony just stared at it. It wasn't the boat's entirety that stole his breath away, though. The name made his eyes start to prickle slightly.
The Danny Boy read out in beautiful gold letters. He felt his heart pound heavily in his chest and he reached a shaking hand to touch the lettering. He felt something deep in side of him start to twist and turn. Looking back at Gibbs, he knew his expression must have been tragic. The man was completely stoic, however. He just shook his head and motioned to get on the boat.
Following the man's lead, he did get on. It rocked under his feet, and Tony walked the length of the boat. It was beautiful, every part of it. Gibbs motioned for him to go below deck, and he went to the small cabin, and once again his eyes fell on something he hadn't seen in nearly a decade. Everything else vanished, and all he could look at was a faded blue backpack that was laying out on the boat's only bed.
"You kept it?"
"What else was I going to do with it?"
"Throw it out?" He asked dumbly, but Gibbs lightly thwacked the back of his head for that.
"Congratulations on your wedding. Boat's yours." Danny felt his heart thump in his throat, and he swiped at his eyes when they started to traitorously leak somewhat.
"You can't be giving me the whole boat."
"She's got your name on it."
"Yeah, kind of a chick song, don't you think?" He got another slap for that, but he didn't really care. He sat back on the bed of the boat and held his backpack to his chest.
"Yeah…yeah I am…" He took a deep breath and leaned against the boat. "How'd you get it out of your basement?"
"Told you you'd have to stick around to find that out."
"Not my fault that I left." Tony muttered, and Gibbs nodded.
"What happened that night?"
"Got surprised, coaxed outside, and grabbed." Tony replied evenly. "It wasn't your fault."
"Should have been there…"
"They were waiting for the moment when you left. If you'd gone to the grocery store without me the same thing would have happened. It's fine."
"Your room's still the same." Tony blinked.
"Your room…in the office? It's still the same?"
"Come on, after ten years and how many wives, you still have that Magnum PI poster hanging in that room?" Gibbs gave him a glare for that, but Tony just grinned back at him. "Gonna have to see it sometime."
Nodding his head, Gibbs just sighed. "You sticking around?" Tony licked his lips awkwardly at the question, but then nodded.
"If you want me to stay."
"No…but I have since then."
"You gonna stick around this time?" Tony asked, voice slow and yet demanding. Gibbs met his eyes.
"That's the plan."
"You promise?" He asked again.
"As long as I can manage it. I promise." That was all he needed.
"Then I'm in, Boss…I'll stick around as long as you tell me to."
And he did.