A/N: So, this is another 'How Tony met Jethro' story. If there is any interest, it will probably be updated once a week, maybe twice if I'm lucky. Hope you like it. Oh, and this will most definitely be Slash, so be warned.
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me. Nada.
Leave a Light on for Me
Baltimore, May 2001.
Breathing hard, Gibbs rounded a corner, slowing down just a notch to let the detective who was chasing him catch up. With some satisfaction, he noticed that the guy appeared to be fast enough to actually hunt him down. This way it would be so much easier for him not to lose his newly found street credibility. The man behind him shouted something about tube socks that Gibbs didn't quite catch and only a minute or so later, he was tackled to the ground not too gently. He managed to get a punch in before the policeman had his gun in Gibbs' face.
"I said, 'Freeze, dirtbag'," the man panted sharply and Gibbs finally looked up into his face.
He felt his heart miss a beat, though, as he saw himself faced with a set of green eyes that he hadn't seen in almost ten years.
Alexandria, September 1991.
Jethro awoke with a start, his heart racing in his chest, the t-shirt clinging to him uncomfortably. He took a deep breath and reached for the light on his nightstand, switching it on. He instantly felt a sense of security rush back to him at the scarce brightness that filled the room. He rubbed a hand over his face, blinking a couple of times to chase away the edges of a dream. He didn't care trying to remember what it was about, the tears that were stinging his eyes were enough to know that he didn't want to know.
Looking around the room, he felt the well-known pang of loneliness rise inside of him as he realized that he was alone. He still wasn't used to waking up like that, even after all those months and even though he had spent most of his marriage away in some warzone or another, it was entirely different lying in bed alone now with nothing but silence greeting him. He knew he needed to get out of there, but some force kept him from selling the house and moving away. He didn't have an explanation for it and it certainly wasn't the right thing to do because the loneliness inside of it was killing him every time he walked through the front door. And still, he couldn't let go. Recent events had proved that much to him.
Rubbing a hand over his face again, Jethro finally got up and glancing at his alarm clock, which read 2300, he was relieved that it wasn't too late to go out. He quickly dressed into a pair of well-worn jeans and a light sweatshirt before he grabbed the gun under his pillow and reached for an old baseball hat. He didn't care that he was barely dressed to the nines, but he wasn't out to get laid anyway. Hell, he wasn't even keen on talking to anyone. All he wanted to do was get out of the house, away from his nightmares and away from everything.
He got into his beloved truck and then took a left. He had no idea where he should go, nor did he really care. The automatic motions of shifting and steering helped him calm down a bit. It wasn't enough by a long shot, but it had to do for the time being. While driving, he didn't need to think, didn't need to face his inner turmoil.
He had already driven for a couple of miles before he suddenly realized where he was headed and took an immediate U-turn. No, he wouldn't drive to the shore tonight. He had wasted the majority of the previous week there, only to realize that he was too weak to even pull the trigger. He simply hadn't managed to kill himself. He had sat in the sand for hours, trying to convince himself that it was a simple way out of all the pain and loneliness. Needless to say that all he had managed was to talk himself out of it. Still, he didn't know what it had been exactly that had him want to live. It certainly wasn't the job at NCIS that Mike Franks had offered him and where he was supposed to start in not more than nine hours. He had no desire to make an appearance there the next day. That was for sure. And yet, he had no idea what else it could have been. He didn't really have any friends left, as he had chased the few he did have away over the last couple of months. His little vacation to Mexico hadn't pleased them, not that he had told them why he was down there anyway.
He had been running away, as his dear mother-in-law had accused him of. And while he had disagreed with her vehemently at the time, Jethro realized that he was actually doing it now. But he wasn't running away from a perfectly good job and he wasn't running away from the emptiness of his house, either. He was on the run from himself. He couldn't even stand to look at himself in the mirror these days because he simply couldn't be the man that kept on looking back at him stoically, his eyebrows forming a tight line, the blue in his eyes having lost its former spark. He was a shadow of himself, but he still had no desire to change that fact. He simply didn't know how.
He finally pulled over into an empty parking spot in front of a shady looking bar. It was dark save for a blinking light over the entrance, which read 'Shorty's'. Mentally shrugging, Jethro got out of his truck and walked into the bar, quickly scanning the crowd. There weren't many guests there, it was a Sunday after all, so Jethro took one of the couple of free seats at the counter, motioning the bartender to bring him a bourbon. He didn't look up when the drink was placed in front of him, nor did he mutter his thanks. He wasn't there for small talk. All he wanted to do was sip from his bourbon, wallow in self-loathing and be left alone.
He hadn't exactly planned on getting drunk, but he hadn't planned on staying sober, either, so he wasn't really surprised when he felt the world start to spin around him ever so slightly two hours later. He had lost track of the number of drinks he had had about an hour previously and as he looked up from the empty glass in front of him in search for the barkeep, he realized that he was the only customer left. When had that happened? Subtly shaking his head, he beckoned over the man behind the counter who had been busy cleaning the glasses with a dirty looking rag. He was rather young, Jethro realized only now, his dark blond hair apparently unmanageable, his body lean and gangly. The other man shot him a glance of appraisal before he slowly walked over to him, his eyes resting on the empty glass in front of Jethro.
"I think you've had enough for tonight," the kid said, reaching for the glass.
Fixing him with glare of death, Jethro held on to it tightly. He wasn't willing to go home just yet. He wasn't gone far enough for him to forget.
"And who the hell are you to tell me that?" he shot back, his eyes never leaving the kid's.
"Well," he answered with ease and a grin that Jethro would have loved to smack from his face. "I'm your lovely bartender for tonight. And as you're the last one here on a Sunday at 1.30, I'd say I have the right to tell you that you've had enough."
Jethro continued to stare at him, but the kid didn't relent, just kept on looking right back at him. For a moment, he wondered if Kelly would have grown up to be just as confident as the kid in front of him and he felt the well-known pain get caught in his chest again as he realized that he would never know, would never see his beautiful daughter grow up to be a young woman. He ran a shaky hand through his hair and averted his eyes from the younger man. He suddenly couldn't stay here any longer, couldn't look at the boy's carefree face and shit-eating grin. He tossed a couple of dollar bills onto the counter, grabbed his keys and was just about to get up when a warm hand grabbed for his hand. Quickly pulling it away as if he had been electrocuted, he stared at the other man, wondering what in the world was wrong now. Hadn't he just told him to leave? So why was he looking at him like that now? The bartender only shook his head, though, and then got a hold of Jethro's keys, prying them away from his hand.
"You're not driving. You're drunk and I'm calling you a cab."
"Fine," Jethro pressed out through gritted teeth. "Can I have my keys back then? I'm going to wait outside."
"Not happening, buddy," the kid replied, chuckling. "I'm not that stupid. I know guys like you. You'll just get into your car and then crash it somewhere. I've seen it too many times. No way, I'm giving you back your keys. It's not worth it."
Jethro stared at him, trying to decide whether he should hit him or just turn around and leave. Deep down he knew the younger man was right and that he was in no state to drive. But that didn't mean he was ready to admit it. Not to a twenty-year-old who was probably full of shit anyway. And maybe it was exactly what Jethro wanted after all. Maybe he wanted to crash his fucking truck into a fucking tree. What was it to the kid anyway?
"Don't even think about it," the boy said after a moment of prolonged silence. "I don't know what your damage is and I don't care. But I'm not giving you the keys like that. In fact, I'm keeping them. You can pick them up tomorrow right here."
"Who the hell do you think you are?" Jethro was shouting now, up on his feet, leaning over the counter threateningly, but the kid didn't even flinch.
"Please," the younger man spat out. "You're not going to hurt me. I'm a Phys. Ed. major, I can take a damn alcoholic like you in my sleep, believe me."
Jethro scrutinized him for a second or two before he slumped back into his seat, holding up his hands. He had wanted to protest, had wanted to tell him off that he wasn't an alcoholic, that he was a Marine and that he could easily fight him, but then he had realized that it was no use. Fighting with this kid wouldn't help him, would probably just lead to more trouble and he had enough of that already. So, he just shrugged and then waved his hand, telling the kid to go on calling the damn cab company.
Jethro simply didn't care. He wanted to leave, wanted to go home to his wife and kid, cuddle up with Shannon in their bed and forget about the world for a couple of hours. But he couldn't do that. Wouldn't be able to do that ever again.
So, he just kept on sitting there, staring at the empty glass in front of him, waiting for someone to take him home to his empty house and life.
A/N: Yes? No? Let me know if you want it continued! ;)