Title: Do ask, do tell
Summary: After a string of bad cases, Tony's walls finally crash and he's got to deal with a bunch of ghosts from his past. Gibbs is there to help him through it. No slash!
Warnings: Language, deals with domestic and child abuse and overall there's a lot of guilt and bashing involved.
Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS.
Author's note: This takes place shortly after 8-15, main focus though is on issues resulting from 8-12 and 8-13, and also 8-14 a bit. Seeing those episodes all in one afternoon, I realized how hard they must have been for Tony to take. One of them would have been devastating enough, but taking them all three one after another? And as I've wanted to do a story that deals with his childhood (yeah, I know, yet another one!), I finally found my perfect opening. So enjoy the ride. As always, please keep in mind that English is not my mother tongue, so be kind. And in that sense, a big thank you to scousemuz1k for doing fantastic beta work and guaranteeing that the read for you is smooth and undisturbed by mistakes on my part.
Do ask, do tell
Chapter 1 - Build up
Looking over his bullpen, Gibbs frowned at the absence of his Senior Field Agent. He had just finished his debriefing with Vance and SecNav on the whole Belgravia-mess, then had another long and tiring conversation about DiNozzo and McGee's FUBAR protection detail on Gorgova's daughter. Despite Adriana orchestrating her own abduction, setting his agents up, Vance wanted the incident to at least go into their files. And while Gibbs was the first to agree that mistakes had been made by his agents, he didn't think they deserved anything so drastic.
Though to be honest, if it had been just McGee, maybe Gibbs wouldn't have fought as hard to keep it from happening. His Junior Agent had messed up. It was good for him to have at least owned up to it, albeit only after Tony had already tried to take full responsibility for what had happened. Still, he had screwed up, and not just a bit – and ultimately, with the way his Junior Agent had behaved himself lately, Gibbs thought a reprimand would actually do him good, get him back down to Earth and on his feet, reminding him that he wasn't perfect. As it was, the whole mess seemed to have done that job just fine. Especially seeing how fast he had gone from being Vance's prime pet agent to hearing his highly esteemed director demand his resignation.
But it hadn't been just McGee and no way in hell would he let Vance add yet another remark to DiNozzo's file. Because, though he doubted his SFA shared his opinion on the subject, DiNozzo hadn't much to feel guilty about.
Truth was, as he had told McGee back at the scene, the only one responsible for this mess was him. First, he should have never taken on this case. The team was exhausted, to the point where even DiNozzo had subtly urged Gibbs to give them some downtime. But he hadn't listened, as usual. Second, he should have dampened McGee's fast developing ego and over-confident self-assurance a long time ago. Third, he shouldn't have switched up the protection detail teams and kept DiNozzo teamed up with him, not with McGee. His SFA wasn't on top of his game, hadn't been since that damn don't ask don't tell case. That was why he had teamed up with Tony in the first place, to keep an eye on him and be there to take the fall back, if what occupied his mind lately were to distract him too much. Hell, he should have just talked with Tony right away, not waiting to see if his SFA would pull himself together on his own. And last, when he noticed McGee's blossoming interest in Adriana and Ziva's encouragement of such an inappropriate liaison, he should have talked with both of them instead of teaming Tony up with McGee so he could keep the Junior Agent in check. So yeah, in the end, he was the one at fault here and if the Director insisted on marring anyone's record, it should be his.
In the end, Vance agreed to leave their files alone; he had insisted though that they should both be benched for a week. Again Gibbs had growled and bitched before giving in, only for show though this time. Truth was, he was relieved by that decision. Their last few cases had been hell for all of them, especially Tony, and he had already intended to finally demand a much needed leave for his team. This way though was better, they wouldn't have to sacrifice personal days, they could catch up a bit on the mountain of paperwork that had accumulated over the past weeks and most of all, he could keep an eye on all of them, particularly DiNozzo. If they still needed leave after the slow week, Gibbs would demand it.
Walking into their bullpen, Gibbs stopped between all of their desks. "McGee, you and DiNozzo are benched for a week." He watched his Junior Agent frown and stare, downcast, at his keyboard, nodding tightly. "Which means we're all on desk duty and cold cases for the next week. You better keep delivering my coffee, McGee, or I may have to schedule in a few special lessons in the gym."
McGee gulped. "Got it, Boss."
He narrowed his eyes at Tony's vacant desk. "Where's DiNozzo?"
The Junior Agent looked over at Tony's desk. "I don't know, Boss. He was here only a moment ago."
Gibbs turned his glare back to him. "He's suffering from a concussion and you let him out of your sight? Ya think that's an adequate job of having your partner's back?"
McGee paled. "Tony's got a concussion? He said it was just a scratch."
"McGee, how long you've been with the team now?" Gibbs asked exasperated, wishing he'd made a coffee run before coming back to the bullpen to deal with the idiots that were his agents.
"Uh, seven years, Boss," McGee answered hesitantly, watching him warily.
"And in those seven years, when did DiNozzo ever tell you the true extent of his injuries? He bumped his head, was bleeding and had been unconscious for several minutes according to your report so how can you believe for even a second that all he suffered was a scratch?" Gibbs growled. Letting McGee stew over his words he turned to his Probationary Agent. "You have something better to say, David?"
"Tony left his desk eighteen minutes ago, taking his gym bag with him, leaving his other stuff. I think it is safe to assume he is in the gym, vending," Ziva replied, unfazed by his growling. Tim piped up, correcting her, which she ignored as well. "He was a bit pale, but his eyes were focused, there was no sign of dizziness and he hasn't rubbed his temples as often as in the hours after the accident. I believe he is fine enough to be left alone."
Gibbs wasn't surprised by her very thorough observation of her partner's actions and condition. It was one thing he could almost always count on her for. Sometimes, she even overdid it. Problem was, while she usually kept a vigilant eye on her partner's health, she often failed to have the same awareness of his emotional state. Actually, until a while back, McGee had been better at that, though he too often let himself be blinded by DiNozzo's masks and well oiled distraction techniques. Lately though he seemed to have forgotten that despite all of Tony's efforts to seem like nothing hurt him, he did have feelings that could be not only hurt, but crushed.
The last few cases had held many blows for Tony, but neither McGee nor Ziva seemed to have noticed it. And no matter how good DiNozzo was at hiding his emotions and pain, Gibbs expected better than that from his junior agents. They knew Tony's past, maybe not the details, but surely enough to know that it was far from being perfect. Yet, after first having to deal with a case that involved a neglected and at least verbally abused child, then one dealing with domestic violence, and then having not only a shrink but Kate's sister poking at their psyche, they'd now been on a case that involved a daughter going against her powerful and rich father's wishes. Neither of them, however, seemed to have even made the connections, let alone seen how hard every last one of them had to have been for their Senior Field Agent, not to speak of what the combination of them all had done to him and his famous walls.
Suddenly, just looking at his ignorant agents became too much for him, his temper roaring at him to be unleashed. He reined it in, barely. "Pack up, go home," he ordered in a clipped voice that allowed no protests. His agents, knowing that tone well enough, immediately bent down to grab their bags. Gibbs though had already turned away and was strolling towards the elevator.
Rule fourteen: never assume. He'd first check if Ziva's estimation of Tony's whereabouts were correct. If DiNozzo was indeed venting, he'd leave him to it for a while longer. Punching the hell out of a bag helped. It didn't solve anything, but it got rid of the roughest edges. Besides, he was in no mood to have a brawl with his SFA.
While DiNozzo exhausted himself, he'd go see Ducky, hear if he had any advice or insight on how the younger man was really doing and how best to help him through this string of nightmares.
Because there was also the rule that was no rule because it was as natural and obvious as having to keep breathing in order to live: always have your partner's back. Then again, the way his team had acted lately, maybe he had to add it as Rule Zero to the official list.
Author's Note: Like promised, here my new story. Hope you enjoyed this first chapter. It's more of a teaser, I know, but the next chapter will come soon enough. For once I only posted this one after I actually completed it. So this is the first of six chapters. Impressive, if one knows that this was supposed to be a one-shot ... Next Tony will join us in an explosive confrontation with Gibbs, so stay tuned and let me think what you thought of this little build up.