Disclaimer: I don't ownn the NCIS characters but the LOLs Lil, Carla and Rae are all mine. Alas I am not benefiting financially from this story, it is purely for entertainment purposes.

Rating: T mainly to be safe for some bad language.

This story isn't beta'ed so please excuse my less than perfect punctuation.

Summary: What happened after the bomb blast when Tony walked away from Gibbs at the scene and was homeless? While watching the Left for Dead episode recently, I was taken by the meanness displayed by the team about Tony being homeless for a month and well... it fired my imagination and inspired this tag. It contains some dark, angst-filled hurt although not so much comfort. It is an examination of how Tony reconciles being treated as a doormat by those people he regards as his family and how the internal dialogues that we develop in childhood influence our adult behaviour. This story is eight chapters long. I hope you enjoy it :)

Left for Dead

Chapter 1

NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo stood outside the Bombe Fernendeckung Fabrik building, staring at the bombed out area morosely, as the snow continued to fall softly, gently in the silent, stillness of the night. It was in stark contrast the chaos that had ensued earlier when Suzzanne McNeill, the woman that had been found buried alive in Rock Creek Park, suddenly regained her memory just a short while ago in the lobby and decided to make her sleazebag boyfriend pay for ending their relationship and almost killing her. Yeah it didn't make much sense to him either; he could understand her wanting to make Stephan Brauer pay, he really could but blowing herself up as well as her married ex-bos,s seemed like taking the whole woman scorned thing, a tad too far.

Especially, when you consider that in extracting revenge on Brauer, his crazy girlfriend could easily have killed Gibbs, Cate and him too, simply because she wanted vengeance for being shafted by her sleaziod boyfriend. Then again, she was hardly the victim that Cate had built her up to be, so full of goodness and virtue either. Turned out, she had killed BFF's Chief of Security in the hotel when he tried to fob her off for Brauer with a redundancy package. Damned crazy chick!

Standing there immobile, he watched the EMTs ministering to a shattered Caitlyn Todd, who was clearly in shock after the events leading up to the explosion. He and Gibbs were much luckier, since Cate had been standing closer to the explosive device when it went off. He could tell that the physical damage was pretty superficial in nature but he doubted that the emotional consequences could be discounted as easily, though. Cate tended to wear her heart on her sleeve, at the best of times but she was so determined that her lame dog um Jane Doe was as innocent as the driven snow. This would hit her hard!

Their new little probie had broken Gibbs' Rule # 10 about getting too emotionally involved in the case. She had convinced herself that Suzzanne O'Neill was simply a victim of a heinous crime, which was correct up to a point since Stephan Brauer had tried to kill her. No,w with the realisation that she as a professional profiler had gotten it wrong, plainly etched across Cate's bruised and bloodied face, Tony's innate sense of empathy prodded at him to try to fix Cate's pain, grief and disillusionment. He hated seeing anyone suffer and honestly, law enforcement could break an agent's heart like no other profession, in his humble opinion.

Risking your life, serving and protecting the vulnerable, only to discover that some of those people didn't warrant your devotion, was a hard lesson for any of them to learn. While he hated seeing anyone suffering, Tony really, really hated seeing his friends in pain. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Gibbs, as they watched the EMTs deal with their newest team member, he felt utterly impotent as he watched the paramedic gently place a sterile dressing over the laceration on Cate's wrist. There had to be something that they could do to make her feel better.

He turned to Gibbs. "We've gotta do something Boss."

Gibbs turned to look at him with equal measures of cynicism and sadness. "Have you ever made a mistake, Tony?"

"According to you or me?" he asked. 'Cause by your definition Gibbs, I make them on a regular basis. He didn't think it prudent to state that sentiment though. Then there are all the mistakes I've made according to dear old Dad, but hey, we're standing here freezing our balls off, so not gonna go there, either.'

Gibbs stared at him implacably. "You."

"Yeah." Tony decided to keep it brief since Gibbs preferred brevity.

Gibbs question was deceptively gentle. "Anyone ever make you feel better?"

Tony felt his stomach clench. "No." Of course for many of the so-called mistakes, the only person who could have made him feel better was the person who had berated him for being weak and stupid. The likelihood that He would ever try to make him feel better was less than a cute little piglet sprouting wings and flying around a moon made of cheese.

Feeling powerless, he turned and walked away, wanting to put some distance between himself and the crime scene. They wouldn't be permitted to process the scene tonight and quite possibly, Director Morrow would assign that task to another team since they were now considered to be survivors of a crime. He'd cadge a lift back to NCIS with one of the other agents or LEOs so he could collect his car and head off home. Right now he really just craved solitude.

As he headed off, Gibbs called out to him, "My doors unlocked."

Smirking, because he couldn't believe how dumb that was for anyone who worked in law enforcement. "I know," he replied softly, smiling at the incongruity of that information, without bothering to turn around.

Then it hit him. Damn it, he'd forgotten about his apartment and the boiler. Of course if it was going to happen, it would have to be in the middle of a DC winter. He really longed to collapse into his bed and forget that today ever happened.

At least the threat to blow up a Navy ship had been a false one, so that was something to be grateful for. The bombs that their bomb maker Suzanne McNeill made were all accounted for and her memories of planting explosives on Navy ships had been false It had really just been mock-ups at BFF that she was remembering in her amnesic state. And as for Stephan Brauer and Suzzanne, neither of them had been innocents; both had blood on their hands but he supposed that they still had friends and family who would mourn their deaths. For Tony though, it was the anguish that he could still picture in Cate's eyes, which filled him with inexorable rage.

Maybe Gibbs was right, there was nothing that he could do to make her feel better but that didn't stop him wondering just how much responsibility he should bear for her pain. If she hadn't been in such a hurry to give her bedroom to anyone but him, even a perfect stranger who may be part of a plot!to blow up a navy ship, for heavens sake, would she have become so emotionally attached to the mad bomber chick? Surely not! He recalled a college professor talking about the effects of propinquity on attraction and he suspected that physical closeness also worked for friendships too.

He very much doubted that she'd have bonded so quickly if she hadn't been joined to the hip with her new roomie, so really, indirectly he was responsible for her feeling so crappy. If Cate hadn't been desperate to have a legitimate reason to turn him down 'when' he asked to stay with her, she wouldn't have bonded so quickly with her roomie. The irony was of course, that he would never have asked her if he could stay, not after being rebuffed by both Ducky and Gibbs, the two men that he regarded as role models. He couldn't help wondering, what it was about him that was so damned abhorrent that Cate would leap at inviting a murderer into her home; simply because she was alarmed at the prospect that he might ask her if he could crash at her place.

Probably the same thing that made Gibbs and Ducky refuse him a place to stay when he asked them too, he concluded sadly. Oh sure, Gibbs had just told him as he left the crime scene, that his door wasn't locked although that was surely because his boss had taken pity on him, after they were nearly killed tonight. Being blown up by a bomb, tended to affect one's judgement, understandably and it was easy to make hasty decisions based on emotions. He knew damned well that Gibbs would regret the offer as soon as Tony set foot in his personal castle; that was even supposing that he didn't already lament his moment of weakness, as soon he opened his mouth. He refused to hold him to an invitation extended under duress, though.

Gibbs had already made his real feelings clear earlier today. There was no way he would inflict himself on Gibbs although he appreciated his offer, since he obviously didn't really want Tony in his home. He expressed himself in unequivocally terms earlier on, twice actually and the former cop supposed after slapping him over the head at BFF earlier on when he'd cracked a joke which left the senior field agent's left ear ringing from the force of the blow, that Gibbs had good reasons for not wanting Tony in his home. Having to put up with him at work was enough of a challenge.

His father was right about him being a waste of space. And if he had ever needed further proof that he was an obnoxious excuse for a human being, it was their new team member feeling compelled to take that damned woman home. While Cate had only received minor injuries to recuperate from, he knew that the real damage was impossible to see but would endure. It was the emotional scars that really left their mark, as he knew full well.

It was time to take a good hard look at this version of Anthony DiNozzo that he had created when he came to D.C. and try to fix his many flaws. That way, maybe in future he wouldn't end up hurting those people he worked with and who had come to mean so much to him. It would probably be a good start, if he worked on not being such a whiny, needy person who expected other people to come to his aid all the time. After all, he was an adult and capable of taking care of himself, he'd been doing it most of his life.

So, why was he suddenly getting so soft? Expecting other people to fix his messes was juvenile and weak but then, as Senior had pointed out on more than a few occasions, when he was growing up, he was a weak, pitiful individual. It was time to grow up and stop hurting people who were way better than he was or ever could be.

What was the big deal if he was without heat or power for a month? He still had a roof over his head, after all, and homeless people didn't even have that. Tony remembered when he worked as a beat cop, finding vagrants and addicts who had frozen to death during blizzards and he felt disgusted that he was too weak to cope without heat or power for a month. God, his father had been right about him all along; he was weak and pathetic, it was time to get a grip. No wonder Gibbs was disgusted by him; he was a Marine, the toughest of the tough and they survived for months in combat without the fripperies. Of course he should be able to cope with a minor inconvenience for a few weeks; at least he could always grab a hot shower at work.

Maybe if he stopped being such a self-centred ass, maybe if he'd been a nicer person, maybe he could have prevented Cate from making such a painful, rookie error. And in keeping with his resolve to be a better person and senior field agent, he'd stop off at the office and make certain his report was perfect then he hit the shower. He really needed a piping hot shower to try and ease all the aches and pains that resulted from being in concussive explosion. Yeah Tony concluded wearily, being blown up really sucked.