Title: 'Basement Therapy'
Characters/Pairings: Tony, Gibbs
Word Count: 575
Rating: G

Disclaimer: All characters are the property of DPB, CBS & Co. No copyright infringement is intended.

Summary: Tony's got the wedding day blues.

Written for theeverdream for the ncis_verse "Birthday Gift" challenge

Unbeta'd - Comments & concrit welcome.

Gibbs hears the door open, and the shuffle of dejected footsteps tells him it's time to put down the sanding block and break out the bourbon. Before Tony is even halfway down the basement stairs, Gibbs has tipped out two mason jars full of nails, and is pouring the amber liquid.

Tony leans against the railing, shoulders slumped, and lets out a deep sigh. Gibbs turns, and without a word, proffers the drink. He pulls a stool out from under the workbench.

"Sit." He takes a sip of his own beverage.

Reluctantly, DiNozzo comes forward, takes the bourbon and flops onto the stool. He's been driving around town, in a daze, for hours. He has no idea why he ended up here; but he can't abide the thought of going home to an empty apartment. Gibbs studies him carefully for a long moment, then sets down his drink, picking up the sanding block and resuming his work in silence.

Tony watches quietly for some time, taking in the dim light, the pungent smell of sawdust and oil, listening intently to the "swishing" sound of the sanding block and the static emanating from the transistor radio in the corner. He's never been subjected to torture, but this is pretty much how he imagines it must feel. Slow...unrelenting...maddening.

"Aren't you gonna ask me what happened?"

"Nope." Swish. Swish. Swish.

"Bitch." Gulp.

Swish. Swish. Swish.

"Of course, she just had to wait until the day before, didn't she? When it's too late to cancel anything. My aunt & uncle flew all the way from Siena. My Dad's royally pissed, says he missed an important board meeting 'for nothing'. Never mind the fact I won't get my deposit back on the honeymoon, and I'll be paying for that damed ring for the next three years. And yet somehow all of this is MY fault. Shit."

Swish. Swish. Swish.

With a second big gulp, he downs the rest of his drink. "I just don't understand it." Dammit, Anthony, will you shut up already? He swallows hard. "I really loved her, boss." Well, crap, there goes what was left of my dignity.

Swish. Swish. Swish.


Gibbs finally stills, leaning against the skeletal hull of the boat and closing his eyes, lips pursed in frustration. "Talkin' about it's not gonna make you feel any better, DiNozzo."

"Well, what WILL make me feel better?" Tony snaps.

Gibbs throws him a withering glance, turns and sets down the sanding block. He picks up his drink and downs it, slamming the mason jar back down onto the workbench with a thud. His side arm and badge lie nearby; he picks them up and dons them, then breezes past Tony, taking the stairs two at a time. "Come on."

Tony follows mutely. They haven't worked together long – a mere eight months – but already he knows it's pointless to argue or ask questions. When Gibbs gets that look in his eyes, it's best to just go with it, and see where he leads you.

After about 20 minutes of beating the crap out of a punching bag at the NCIS gym, Tony still feels like his heart has been ripped out of his chest, but he's simply too exhausted to care anymore, at least for the time being. He doesn't tell the boss that he's been imagining Wendy's smug face on that punching bag with every swing, but Gibbs knows. He's been there.

Three times.