(I don't own NCIS or the characters etc from it, only the story is mine.)
Alright... This will be my first ever attempt writing a fanfic. Though I've written a whole lot during my 20+ something years of living on this earth, my own stories, role playing et cetera, I've never tried my hands on a fanfic.
Not only that, but english is not my strongest area. There is couple of other languages I can speak and write fluently, but english is not one of those. So please be kind to me and ignore any smaller spelling/wording mistakes (unless they're something big, which I would be glad to be told about). Even more as I tend to read and write things wrong even in my own language(s) and I've got no one to spell check etc what I'm writing here... I hope to learn/become better as I keep writing.
"No." He heard himself saying.
"Say that again DiNozzo?" The older man's tone was demanding, furious even. After all how dare Tony, his mere underling, go against his direct orders.
Didn't matter if said direct orders were against Tony's cop instincts and who knows against how many rules, even Gibbs's own. Instincts that he had been far too long forced to suppress. So long, that following Ziva's and Gibbs's lead for so many years now had almost made him forget who he was. He, Anthony D. DiNozzo had made a promise to never forget the reasons why he became a cop in the first place. Too many good cops had gone down the dark road after forgetting what the reason was for there to be cops in the first place.
Far too long had he been following his 'team' around like a lost puppy. The loyal st. Bernard had become the punching bag. After too many kicks and bites here and there, he only felt used. Used and dark for all the dirty work he had to do. All those times he was supposed to turn his back and close his eyes when people who were supposed to make sure to catch the criminals, kept forgetting that same rules were still the same rules for them. If it were only all the bosses, he could deal with it somehow, but some of them were people whom he thought were his family, people he thought he could trust with his everything. Only Ducky and Jimmy... Only those two were still close to him. Only they still seemed to care about his well being. They were the only ones in this place whom he could truly count on watching his six, but they didn't work with him where they could actually watch it when it mattered the most. When his life was on the line. No... too much had already happened for him to ignore this any longer.
Scanning the team and the suddenly silent bullpen in front of his eyes, he knew there was only one thing for him to do and with utter exhaustion he rubbed his aching forehead. He was pretty sure by the time this little 'talk', where he was cornered by his own team members, was over and done with, he'd have the mother of all the migraines.
"I'm tired Gibbs." He said quietly, but loud enough for anyone close enough to hear it. There was sudden mix of emotions on the face of the older man. Confusion and anger being the most intense. Anger mostly. Before Gibbs had a chance to say anything, Tony repeated his previous words, louder and more clearly this time, while watching in the blue eyes without blinking.
"I'm tired Gibbs. Year after year it only gets worse. There was a time, long time ago, when I thought we were doing something right. Something great even. I thought we had something special going on here. I loved our team... If only Kate hadn't died, maybe things would still be same? Is that the reason for our current situation? The reason why I have to be scared to even come to work every day. Are you blaming me for her death? Or was it Jenny? Do you wish it had been me who died? Boss... Gibbs, you've changed... I used to look up to you. You... actually were the father I never had... But in the end you're not really that much better from the senior... Only your abuse has different form. Right now I'm not sure which one is worse."
Gibbs opened his mouth again, but Tony lifted up his hand. "Let me finish talking."
He knew he said it with too much sharpness in his tone, but he couldn't help it. For once he wanted to just lay out everything out in the open. Not hiding anything. And he knew that if he would let anyone stop him from talking, he'd just walk away and never speak again. If anything, at the very least he wanted to have one less weight to carry on his shoulders once he was gone.
"Tim... Believe it or not, but I was so happy to have my very own probie to train and even more when you remained in this team and then finally taking your place in here. You're all grown up now. I must have done something wrong though since you've lost your true potential to become something great... You shouldn't focus too much on your computers. After all, take them all away and then what are you going to do? What can you offer? How useful can you be then? And computers won't give you leadership skills you so seem to be wanting to have. It has to be in you. Seems to me you've instead become Ziva's loyal little puppy. Though I blame myself for not teaching you better, I lay part of the blame of you turning this way on her."
"Ziva, Ziva... I pray the day comes when your true colors have been revealed to everyone, before it's too late and these people I still care about end up getting hurt or worse, dead. For me it has been clear as day from day one: You're running your own show and you're dragging everyone down with you. This is not the Ziva David show, but it's the whole team. I guess that's something they never taught to you back in Mossad and for one reason or another, neither have you been able to lear in here."
To his credit, McGee actually looked slightly embarrassed, before his mouth became almost straight line as he was forcing himself to not say anything, yet. Ziva on the other hand looked furious and she even made a move towards Tony.
Surprisingly it was Gibbs of all the people who stopped her from doing anything rash. He whispered something in her ear which calmed her down, but anyone who looked in her eyes could see that all she needed was one perfect moment and all restraints would be off. There was no telling what the former Mossad officer would do.
Tony rubbed his forehead again, trying to gather his thoughts before he lost his possibly only chance to be able to talk with raw honesty to everyone willing to listen.
"Abby... my dearest sweet Abby... I'm sure by now she must be using the security cameras to spy on us. She was always like a sister to me... Someone I always held so dear to me... I always thought she felt the same about me... That I was like a brother to her... However after Gibbs's 'retirement' incident... I realized it was all only in my own head... Besides just like she, among the other two, kept telling me, I'm not you Gibbs. It used to hurt me deeply, those words. After all I looked up to you. I wanted to be like you. You were my hero. Boss... You were my... You..." His voice had quieted down to the point where it was hard to hear what he was saying. He had to swallow down the sudden lump in his throat to be able to continue talking. It wasn't something he ever did, breaking down in front of these people and neither was he going to start breaking down now. There was time for that later on, when he was alone. Him and the full bottle of something he had saved just for moments like these.
"You were my world boss... Gibbs... I was like a little boy wanting to be just like his father. Only even I would have to grow up sooner or later and realize I had been blinded by the good memories and good times... To this day I regret for not accepting all those promotions and job offers. If I had, maybe we'd still have something left to salvage, but now..."
"What promotions and job offers?" Gibbs spoke suddenly, unable to keep himself quiet any longer.
"Gibbs. Be quiet. I'm not finished talking yet. You'll have your moment to shine."
Tony couldn't help but let out a deep suffering sigh. Once again he rubbed his forehead. Dealing with this situation, these people, had gotten him a full head ache which showed no signs of getting better. Quite the opposite actually. He wanted to get away from this place before he had no chance to think clearly anymore. Too late, he realized as he found it suddenly hard to gather his thoughts.
"You know what... I could keep on talking, saying big words, good or bad. In the end it wouldn't matter. It would change nothing. Not you and definitely not me. I'm not getting any younger and neither are you. I'm over forty years old. I have wasted more than ten years of my life behaving like a good little boy, taking in everything and obeying all the commands like a nice little toy soldier. At work I've got nothing. Once the work is done, I'm left with the emptiness. Empty apartment, empty life, empty heart, empty soul... I'm tired. You have no idea how many nights I've spent, just staring at my gun. That's not me. When I die, I want to die doing my job or growing old, see my grandchildren and then die while sleeping in my own bed. Now I've almost died by my own hand, too many times to even count anymore. It's not me. You've done this to me. You..." His voice broke down suddenly and he had to take a hold of his desk and close his eyes for a moment.
Once he felt the dizziness pass, he opened his eyes, in time to see Gibbs reaching out his hand. To steady him? To give him the mother of all the head slaps? Was that concern in his eyes? Before he even realized what he was doing, he slapped away the older man's hand.
"Don't." He hissed between his teeth. Anger or head ache, whatever the reason may be, he didn't care. He didn't see the flash of hurt and shock and then confusion mixed with anger in the old man's eyes.
"I'm done. If you have anything important to say to me, Ducky or Jimmy can give me a message from you and I'll think really hard if your reason is good enough for me to talk to any of you. Those two are written down as my next of kin so no medical reason on my end will cause me to ever contact you either."
Finished talking, he left his gun and badge and turned around and walked towards the stairs, to make sure nothing stopped him from getting away from there. Suddenly he felt tightness in his chest and it was hard to breathe. There was tightness even in his voice when he opened his mouth again before director Vance had a chance to say anything.
There was surprise and shock wide open on the man's face. He had been in the middle of a meeting, important one, when his secretary had come in, panicking. At first he thought there was some life threatening situation going on, but although to his great relief that was not the case, this was almost too much of a shock for him to deal with a neutral face. There was going to be many people wanting to have his head on a plate if he'd let agent DiNozzo leave. As much as he hated admitting it even to himself.
"Don't." Tony said, that sharpness in his tone again.
"You'll have my letter of resignation by tomorrow. You and agent Gibbs both. Goodbye director."
With that Tony was out of the door before any other word was spoken. Once he was sure there was no one watching, he took off running.
In the bullpen the silence was deafening. Gibbs stood frozen in place. Flashes of memories were running through his mind. Memories and feelings involving Tony which he had never gotten back ever since the explosion or perhaps he had simply chosen to ignore them. He didn't know how pale he looked or how he looked suddenly terrified. How could he have forgotten? Was there still memories lost? What had he lost? He heard someone yelling, not realizing it was him, as he took off running after the younger man, ignoring the pain shooting through his bad knee.
If anyone else was thinking about following him, that idea was gone the moment they saw the look in the older man's eyes. His eyes were screaming 'don't you dare!' at them.
"What just... What in the world just happened?" McGee swallowed and the moment the words were out it was as if someone broke a dam and everyone were talking at the same time. If the silence before was deafening then the noise was bound to leave everyone's ears ringing for hours afterwards.
"What do you mean what happened? Tony just lost his head."
"Mind, Ziva. Lost his mind." McGee said with weariness in his voice.
"Do I look like I care? Gibbs is going to bring him back and then everything will go back to normal."
"I don't know... I mean, I've never seen Tony like that. He didn't even quote one movie. Not one single line."
"And he will be back to his old annoying self."
McGee didn't add anything. He didn't know what to say. Part of him was angry, but the other part was feeling guilty and terrified by the storm called Gibbs, which was bound to get really bad without that one person around who usually took it all. Realization hit him suddenly.
"You know... actually he rarely was annoying... and even when he was... I didn't really mind it that much... Not really..."
"You are all crazy I say. Do what you want, I need some food." With that Ziva left. Muttering something in a language McGee couldn't understand even if his life depended on it. Feeling nauseous with no apparent reason, he stood up from where he had been sitting and left to find Abby. Hoping at the very least she was in a better mood.
As he was soon entering the silent lab, he knew there was no such luck. Silence if anything was a sign that something was wrong. As long as he could remember, the lab was only silent when Abby wasn't there or something was wrong. He found her sitting in the corner, hugging her stuffed animal, making few farting sounds every once in a while, though they sounded oddly off tune. That is, if you could say that about farting sounds... There were silent tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Why did things go so wrong?" Her silent voice was loud against the silence in the room and it startled McGee.
"I... uh... I don't know... May I..." He waved his hand towards the empty space next to Abby, who just nods without looking up.
"I want to be mad at someone. Scream at someone... but I'm not sure who to be angry at. I never realized... I never knew what had been going on in our family, Tim... I want it back... Our family... I want Tony back... and Kate, but I know that just can't happen... Tim... I just realized that I can't remember when was the last time that I saw him smiling even one of his fake smiles. I can't remember the last time he came to see me for no reason. The last time he shared his life and secrets with me... The last time he quoted a movie..."
They were both silent for a while. Abby hugging Bert the farting hippo. McGee on the other hand simply stared at nothing. Unsure if he even had the right words he could say.
"So Tony was right. You did spy on us through the cameras."
Abby let out a sound that was half sob and half laughter. "He did always know me well... Still does... He always notices things that others don't... Things that matter and even things that no one else would even bother to find out... It seems none of us bothered to do the same for him... Tim... I was too afraid to go to you guys and at least say how sorry I am... I really wanted to hug him, but I don't even know if he would have let me..." With those words she went silent again.
When McGee finally looked at her, he saw she hadn't stopped crying. It made him feel even worse and he swallowed hard. "You know... If anyone is to blame for any of this, then it's me..."
"Stop it. Please. Let's just share the blame. All four of us. Is that clear McGee? I know I want to be mad at someone, but you don't want to face my full fury."
"Y-yes..." McGee swallowed again.
"Good. Now tell me what happened after Tony left. I stopped watching at that point."
"Ah... he... uh... Well, all I know is that Gibbs went after him."
Abby's face suddenly brightened as she smiled. "Bossman will bring our Tonyboy back. I just know it!"
"I don't know Abby... You didn't see Tony's face as close as I did... I wouldn't set my hopes too high... Besides..." McGee hesitated and then decided not to add anything. It was better if she didn't know too much about what had been going on between Tony and the team. The way they had been treating him. The way Ziva had been ever since the Rivkin case. The way he had been. The way they kept putting him in danger. It was wonder Tony hadn't said anything for so many years.
"Oh worry not Tim. Bossman always sets things right. Always. Now, help me up. I've got work to do!" With that she was back to her usual self. Reaching out her hand until McGee got up and pulled her on her feet. By the time he left the lab, the noise she called music, was back on.
"I don't think we can fix this Abby..." McGee muttered as he walked in the elevator. He did however still hold a small piece of hope that their boss could somehow fix everything. Even if it meant him and Ziva being removed from the team. It was maybe least they deserved.
The man in question, Gibbs, was currently looking around for Tony. Although his car was still in the parking slot, the younger man was nowhere to be found.
"Tony! DiNozzo!" He approached Tony's car while scanning the area with his eyes. The younger man was sitting next to his car so he almost missed him.
"Tony!" Gibbs couldn't help feeling deep relief as he hurried towards the car. Relief on his face turned into frown as soon as he took a better look at the man sitting in front of him. Tony was almost hugging his own head and he was flinching each time Gibbs talked loud. Noticing this, Gibbs crouched in front of him and gently yet forcefully removed the arms around Tony's head.
Lifting up his eyes from his knees, Tony tried really hard to focus on what someone was saying. Gibbs? No, someone else. Maybe. He didn't know anymore. The world around him was spinning and his headache had turned into full skull splitting agony.
"Tony... What's wrong? Please tell me what's wrong?" Gibbs could only watch the younger man in front of him. Watch the obvious pain and confusion in the green eyes.
"Whashapp'nin'..? 'oss..?" It felt near impossible getting the words out of his mouth and just as he felt the world starting to fade into darkness, Tony felt panic rising and he grabbed someone's hand.
"I've got you Tony... Ducky is on his way... I've got you son... Let me take care of you..." The older man's voice sounded strange. It was as if the man himself was miles away from him and he could just barely make out the words.
Rough hands were brushing through his hair. Too gently for the owner of those hands. Suddenly Tony found himself laying on his back, using Gibbs's lap as his pillow. It felt nice. So soft...
Too soft, he realized as he sat up straight, gasping for his breath and eyes wide. It was loud yet steady beeping noise which brought everything back in focus in front of his eyes. Strong arms were pushing him back in bed and someone kept saying something to him. White room and that smell he hated so much... He must have been brought in hospital at some point. His head felt as if he was under water. He turned his head towards the person in the room. Expecting to see Gibbs in there, he froze.
"Danny? Did I die?"
His former partner laughed and called out for someone. Someone in a white coat entered the room.
"Danny?" Tony asked again. Confusion clear on his face.
"You've been in coma for couple of weeks and that's what you ask? Really Tony."
"Alright Detective. I'm going to ask you a few questions." The man in a white coat was talking now.
Tony gave the two men blank stare. Coma? Weeks? Detective?
"What's your name?" The question brought him back to reality. Only he wasn't sure what reality it was.
"Anthony D. DiNozzo."
"Who is our current president?"
The silence between his answer and the next question was few seconds too long.
"How old are you?"
Again, that silence.
"What do you do for a living?"
"Stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service..."
"Oh... I see... Listen, Detective... What is the last thing you remember?"
Tony looked up and saw concern and confusion in the eyes of the two men. He shrugged slightly.
"Not sure... It's kind of fuzzy. I remember I had the mother of all the head aches and then Gibbs was there and-"
Tony didn't see the strange look the other two exchanged.
"Alright Detective. Why don't you try and relax for a bit. I'll go see if I can find your doctor."
Danny squeezed Tony's shoulder for a few seconds with a small smile before following the male nurse.
Tony closed his eyes as he sat up again. Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong.
He made sure to shut down the machine before getting rid of who knows what they had attached on him. He nearly fell on the floor as he stood up. Using anything he could as a support, he made it to the tiny bathroom.
Splashing cold water on his face and then drinking some, he froze to the spot. Staring at the stranger staring back at him. No, not a stranger. He just hadn't seen that person in a very long time. For almost twenty years to be precise. He was looking in the mirror. Looking at his much younger self. His twenty something self. Twenty seven? Someone must have been shaving his face as there was hardly a day's worth of stubble.
Suddenly there were flashes of images in his head. Several gun shots and then pain. He felt suddenly faint and had he not have been leaning against the sink, he would've fallen on the floor.
The young man in the mirror held horror, confusion and deep despair in his eyes.
"What's going on..?" Tony heard himself whisper. Only now he realized his voice sounded as if he hadn't used it in a while. He let himself slump down on the floor, just staring at the tiles in front of him.
End of Part 1.