Silent Misery R&R - Chapter 19
McGee barely made it around the corner from Gibbs's house before he had to stop and throw open the door to vomit. He leaned against his seatbelt and took several deep breaths before wretching again. And again, and again, long past when his stomach was empty.
When it finally stopped, McGee used tissues and the remains of a bottle of water to rinse and wipe his mouth, then leaned his head back against his seat with his eyes closed and tried to catch his breath. His brain was spinning so fast he couldn't focus on anything but the impossibility of what he'd been told. There was no way Gibbs had been raped. It just wasn't possible. Gibbs was too tough, too strong. Too... Marine. If it was going to happen to any of them, it would be McGee. He'd always known he was the weakest of them. But not Gibbs. No way. It didn't make sense. Yet it was apparently true.
And what about Tony? He was there. Why didn't he stop it? And maybe more important, why hadn't Tony told him? He'd been at Tony's house 12 hours a day for the last four days, and Tony hadn't said a thing about... this. Why not? They were a partners, and they didn't share everything, but this? This was Gibbs. McGee deserved to know when things happen to Gibbs. Why wouldn't Tony tell him? Maybe he thought he couldn't handle it. Not that he was handling it. But still. It wasn't right.
McGee opened his eyes and threw his car back into drive. Tony had some explaining to do. Now. He gunned the engine and peeled out.
Tony stood staring out his bedroom window at empty street. It had been four days. Four days since he'd left the house. Four days since he'd worked. Four days since he'd let down his boss – his friend – in the worst way imaginable.
His injuries were beginning to heal. The swelling in his face and around his fractured eye socket had mostly resolved thanks to regular use of anti-inflammatory medication. There'd been no damage to his vision, thank God. His busted ribs were still a constant pain, dulled by max does of Vicodin to the point he could stand and walk without feeling like he was 80. He was occasionally dizzy and had a headache that wouldn't ever quite leave. Those would pass, he knew. He'd had concussions before; he'd have them again. In time, he'd be fine. Physically, anyway.
He'd tried to kill the time sleeping. At first, the sleeping pills had helped a lot. After McGee confiscated the bottle, Tony hadn't been able to sleep at all during the day, and only intermittently at night. Pain meds had relieved his physical pain for the most part, but the emotional torment wouldn't let him rest.
He'd spent countless hours on the phone to Brian, the rape crisis counselor from Washington Hospital. Turns out he was really easy to talk to. They'd gone around and around about guilt, and grief, and the difference between being a victim and being a survivor. They'd talked at length about post-traumatic stress, and survivor's guilt. Tony had brought up the many, many times he'd failed in the past. They talked about Kate. And Paula. And Jenny. And Jeanne. They'd eventually gotten into fears and hang ups that had existed long before four days ago, factoring them into the current situation.
It had helped. Some. He knew what had happened to Gibbs wasn't entirely his fault. But he still felt...
Truth was, he felt too much. Too much shame, too much anger, too much helplessness.
Tony let his eyes lose focus. He should have done something to stop what happened. It didn't matter how bad he was hurt, he should have done something. It was his job. To watch Gibbs' back, to stay out of trouble, and when he failed at that, to do what he could to save himself and avoid making it worse for his team. It was what Gibbs depended on him to do. And he'd failed.
He closed his eyes tightly for a moment, trying to will away the images that crowded in to obscure his vision: The thug, the well-dressed man, Gibbs on his knees...
He didn't know how he was ever going to face Gibbs again. What would he say? 'Gee, Boss, sorry I let them get the drop on me. Sorry I didn't fight back harder. Sorry I just sat there and let you get raped.'
That wouldn't work. Gibbs didn't like apologies. So how about this: 'Terrible thing, getting raped. Really a shame it happened to you, Boss. Sure glad it wasn't me.'
Tony made a small sound of disgust and shook his head. Right. That'd work.
He needed to leave town, get away from NCIS for a while. Maybe just quit altogether. Might be the best thing. Trouble was, that thought hurt worse than any physical pain. He'd been at NCIS longer than anywhere in his life. It was home. The closest thing he had to family. He couldn't just run like a coward. He had to face them. But damned if he knew how he was supposed to do that.
There was a sudden pounding on Tony's apartment door that made him twitch. He heard Ziva cross the apartment and call out. There was a muffled reply and the door opened. Heavy footsteps approached and Tony turned to see McGee standing in his bedroom doorway, out of breath.
"Why the hell didn't you tell me?" he demanded. He was clearly wound up about something.
"What?" Tony asked, bewildered.
"What about him?" Tony asked. His anxiety kicked up a few notches. What did McGee know?
"I just came from his house," McGee said. He glanced over his shoulder at Ziva, who was standing in the living room, but didn't lower his tone. "He told me. What happened. Why didn't you?"
Tony sighed. "It was none of your business," he said quietly, trying to calm his partner's wrath. It didn't work.
"None of my business?" McGee nearly shouted, incredulous. "How can you say that?"
"It wasn't my place to tell you," Tony said. "If he wanted you to know, he'd have told you himself," Tony said.
McGee stared at him, his mouth gaping. He spun to face Ziva.
"Did you know?"
She considered him a moment, then nodded. "Yes," Ziva said. "But not because he told me," she added quickly.
"You knew?" Tony asked. He moved toward the living room, McGee only barely making room for him to pass.
"Yes," Ziva said. "McGee and I were concerned about his condition after we saw you. I went to his house on Wednesday morning."
"And you didn't tell me either," McGee said.
"He asked me not to," Ziva said with a small shrug. "He didn't tell me," she repeated.
"How did you know?" Tony asked. He sat on the couch, picking up a square pillow and hugging it to his chest. The pressure eased the pain of breathing, some.
"I knew when I saw him," Ziva said. She waved a hand dismissively. "But he did not want anyone else to know, yet. It was not personal, McGee."
McGee looked at her a long moment before turning back to DiNozzo.
"How did it happen? Why didn't you stop it?" McGee asked.
DiNozzo tilted his head and narrowed his eyes, staring up at his partner while taking the deepest breaths he could.
"They beat me and tied me up," he said quietly. "There was nothing I could do."
"Did you try? If it had been you, he'd have died trying to stop it," McGee said.
Another series of breaths while Tony tried to fight back his rising temper. "You weren't there," he said. "You have no idea what happened." He tossed the pillow aside and stood suddenly, staggering slightly at the pain that brought his ribs before stabilizing.
"And you were there," McGee said harshly. "Why didn't you stop it?"
DiNozzo took a step forward and got in McGee's face. When he spoke, his voice was hard.
"You know what? Screw you, McGee. I don't have to explain anything to you."
"Yeah, you do," McGee said. "You should have done something."
Before McGee could react, Tony reached up and shoved McGee backwards, making the younger man stumble. "Get out of my house," he shouted.
"Tony!" Ziva said, startled.
"You too," DiNozzo said, turning to her. "I've had enough babysitting. I don't need you here."
"But Gibbs said..." Ziva began.
"I don't care what Gibbs said. Get out. Both of you," DiNozzo demanded.
"Tony..." McGee said. He suddenly understood he'd crossed a line somewhere, though he wasn't sure where. He'd only been trying to find out what went down at the warehouse, how Tony had managed to let Gibbs get...
"Get out now or I'm calling Metro and reporting you as trespassers," DiNozzo said.
"Tony..." McGee repeated.
"McGee, we had better leave," Ziva said. McGee glanced at her, surprised.
"Come on," Ziva said, pulling lightly at his arm. McGee looked again to DiNozzo, who was standing with his fists clenched, his breath coming faster.
"Okay," McGee said. "But Gibbs is not going to be happy about this."
DiNozzo held his tongue. It was going to be a very long time before Gibbs was happy about anything. He stepped back and let himself collapse onto the couch, his anger gone as quickly as it had flared.
"Just go," he said, resigned.
With a last look of uncertainty at his partner, McGee followed Ziva out of the apartment.
Gibbs was on his third slice of toast with grape jam when he heard his cell ring upstairs. He glanced over his shoulder, then across at Fornell who was reading the morning paper.
"I'm not running for it," Fornell said. Gibbs smiled at him.
"I'll get it," Gibbs said. He pushed out his chair and went upstairs with his toast still in one hand. He was in no hurry. Whoever it was, they'd leave a message. Or not.
Fornell had cooked eggs to go with the toast, but Gibbs had barely touched them. The trouble he'd had with his soup the first night had returned: The first few forkfuls had choked him. After only a couple tries, Gibbs had abandoned the eggs and went for more toast instead. Fornell worried, but he was glad Gibbs was at least eating something voluntarily.
He finished the sports section and was just starting the business pages when Gibbs called his name from upstairs.
"Yeah?" Fornell called back.
"Where'd you put the clip to my gun?"
Fornell frowned. This was gonna require some investigation. He stared up the stairs.
"Tobias?" Gibbs called again.
"Coming," Fornell replied. He made the turn into their bedroom to find Gibbs sitting on the bed putting on his shoes. A small pile of items was sitting on the bed beside him: Their phones, Gibbs' wallet, his pocket knife, and both their sidearms.
"What's up?" Fornell asked.
"I have to go to DiNozzo's place," Gibbs said. He stood carefully and after a pause to stabilize, started loading his pockets. "Where's the clip?"
"My room. Something wrong over there?" Fornell said.
"Maybe," Gibbs said. "McGee went there from here. There was a confrontation. DiNozzo kicked them out."
"A confrontation," Fornell repeated. Gibbs held out Fornell's holstered gun and phone. Fornell took both.
"McGee was being stupid, so DiNozzo reacted in kind. McGee and David are standing in the hallway waiting for instructions."
"Of course they are," Fornell sighed. "You can't do this on the phone?"
"No. You gonna drive me or should I call a cab?"
"I'm coming," Fornell said. He went to his own room, mumbling under his breath. It took only a minute for him to return with his jacket, his shoes, and the loaded clip. He handed it over and Gibbs quickly slid it into place before slipping the holster onto his belt. Fornell continued to express his displeasure with this outing almost – but not quite – silently. Gibbs chose to ignore him.
To be continued.