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by: Matt51 (Send Feedback)
Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 002 Word Count: 13333
Warning(s): Disturbing Imagery or Content, Violence
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto, Timothy McGee, Caitlyn (Kate) Todd, Tom Morrow
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Pre-Slash
Summary: Revenge can be a confession of pain.
Chapters: 1 | 2
Disclaimer: Most characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement intended.
James ‘Jimbo’ Anglin was truly one, mean, surly son-of-a-bitch.
Never having the opportunity or exposure to experience how to become a sweet or lovable child nor ever able to enjoy the bright, almost-magical, carefree days other children usually did while growing up, he’d done his best to merely survive in a home full of angry, loud, abusive behavior, both from his thin, waspish, chain-smoking mother and his husky, over-bearing, volatile father. There’d been no quiet, controlled discussions when disagreements arose in the Anglin household but, instead, there’d been days and nights full of hard, harsh, cruel language and sharp, stinging blows that impacted greatly on young Jimbo’s developing psyche and body. He’d quickly learned his family wasn’t like those of the other boys and girls who attended the same local elementary school as he but he’d managed to cover the differences well, as best as any young boy could, with a mantle of sullen silence and a dangerous, simmering, unhealthy shroud of solitude.
Not long after his mother had finally taken all she could from her vicious, hateful husband … deciding she’d never be on the receiving end of another black eye or bloody nose again… she’d packed a few meager belongings into a lone, sad, plastic Wal-Mart bag and left her small, dysfunctional family to fend totally for themselves. For good.
Jimbo had just turned twelve the month before her sudden departure.
It was sometime during those early days of his first year in junior high school, when hormones had fully kicked fully in and a major growth spurt had taken hold of the vital, young body, that Jimbo’s perception of himself and the world surrounding him had shifted even further. Bigger and burlier than most of his classmates of that time, Jimbo had realized he could use his own brutish bulk and churlish manner to frighten and intimidate others, including one or two of his teachers. He’d openly defied instructors, bullied less aggressive classmates, and, generally, made the learning experience truly intolerable for everyone involved. Unable to find any value in conforming to the ways of public education, he’d finally pushed the limits and been suspended, more than once, until the principal ultimately had found no other solution to the continuing discipline problems than Jimbo’s immediate expulsion. Teachers and administrators had hoped some much-needed time at home to reflect on the errors of his ways would result in Jimbo’s rapid and welcomed attitude adjustment.
But instead of worrying if his only son was learning any kind of lesson by staying at home during his expulsion or making sure the adolescent was changing his ways to fit into the parameters needed to succeed within the standard school structure, Jimbo’s hard-drinking daddy hadn’t given a flying fuck about the ‘pansy-assed, over-educated dickwads’ who’d tried to transform his boy into something he’d considered useless and soft. Walter Anglin had liked Jimbo’s spunk and fire just fine, liked that the boy could stand on his own two feet and bully others around, and, if those so-called teachers couldn’t do their jobs, he’d just have to do it for them. Home schooling had worked perfectly fine for Walter, himself, and it would do just fine for his boy. So, Jimbo’s days of terrifying others within the confines of a school building had come to a quick and satisfying end for all parties involved.
Unfortunately, home schooling for Jimbo had constituted of nothing more than applying the basic math and writing skills he’d already learned in elementary school to begin working in his daddy’s makeshift garage, located in the cluttered lot just outside their mobile home. He’d repaired cars and trucks and an occasional lawn mower like he’d been born with a wrench to teeth upon. It’d been a hard, dirty, back-breaking life for the young boy but Jimbo had been perfectly satisfied with the substitute education, almost proud of the grease embedded under his nails and the grime that continually streaked his face and clothing. For the first time in his young life, Jimbo had sensed real satisfaction, felt true worth, knowing he could earn good money with nothing more than his bare hands.
Jimbo’d also learned a variety of tainted, one-sided lessons about being an adult during this time in his life. The makeshift, at-home education had continued during the weekly smoke-filled poker games and the frequent, loud drinking binges his father and his rowdy friends would partake in. Observing those men had made any remaining vestige of childhood evaporate instantly. He’d never been shut out of their noisy, crude conversations but, instead, had been welcomed wholeheartedly into their fold, learning about liquor and sex and racism at an extremely young age and being treated like he’d been just another one of their small group of ‘good old boys‘. Almost everyone who’d come in contact with him during that time, including his father, had easily forgotten how young Jimbo’d truly been because of his adult-like height and bulk. It’d been extremely easy to feed his needy, immature mind, loading it up with trash and inaccuracies and the harsh, cruel musing of older, disillusioned men. He’d greedily soaked up all they’d had to offer, finding a perverse pleasure in their lewd, crude language and drunken roughhousing, and had taken on their sour, corrupted attitudes and beliefs as if they’d been his own.
The only touch of saving grace young Jimbo had felt during that particular time in his life had come from his sweet, gentle, little sister, Margaret. Two years younger and the spitting image of her long-departed mother, Margie had managed to stay in school by sheer determination alone. Never an extremely bright child, she’d had to work a little harder than most to understand the basics and theories being taught by her teachers but her charming, shy smile and good-natured demeanor had endeared her to almost all of her instructors. That she hadn’t dressed as nice or had as much as the others had been blaringly evident to all but the faculty and staff had diligently worked to make sure little Margie had never felt as alienated as her older brother had during his notorious time within the walls of their building. Truth be told, no one had wanted to see mean, old Walter Anglin or his rough, undisciplined son around school ever again.
Margie’d also quickly learned that, as the only remaining female in the small household of mostly males, she’d automatically become responsible for much of the cooking and cleaning around their trailer. Even at the tender age of ten, when her mother’s escape had left them all in a whirling lurch, she’d silently stepped into the role most girls didn’t see until much later in life. There’d been no time for fun or friends and, like her brother before her, she’d said goodbye to childish ways long before she should have had to.
Jimbo’d doted on his little sister, as best as he could, watching out for her as she’d grown, and making sure she’d had at least one new, pretty item every year for her birthday. It had never been much, sometimes nothing more than a ribbon for her hair or a pair of socks, but it’d been enough to re-enforce the bond the siblings shared. It had almost been as if their turbulent, shared, motherless childhood had made their link even stronger and, more times than not, their aging, alcoholic father had been slowly pushed out of the picture and simply ignored by the both of them. They’d taken solace in one other, relied only on each other, and Margie had looked solely toward her older brother when in need.
When Margie’d started high school and had finally begun to blossom physically, the facade of what she might look like as a woman beginning to bloom upon her face and body, a slightly intoxicated Walter had shown his true colors and made an incestuous move, frightening the confused, young girl and sending Jimbo into a fit of rage. The ensuing fight had been long overdue and inevitable. Strong of body and with a younger male’s stamina, Jimbo had slowly but surely beaten his alcoholic daddy senseless and taken on the role as the undeniable man of the Anglin household.
But Jimbo hadn’t been there to protect Margie all the time.
Late on the night of her sixteenth birthday, Margie had been jumped by a couple of wild, stupidly high boys as she’d walked home from the part-time job she’d taken at the local Dairy Queen and had been shoved to the ground before she’d even realized what was happening. They’d knocked her around a bit, taken the small amount of cash she’d shoved into one, deep pocket for safe-keeping, and left her in a huddled, crying mass on the edge of the crumbling, litter-strewn asphalt road. Not seriously injured, she’d eventually picked herself up, limped home, and tumbled into her brother’s arms.
Jimbo had gone ballistic. No one touched his little sister. *No* one.
The only thing worse than Jimbo’s rough, churlish manner had been his volatile temper and those two wild and stupidly high boys, when he’d finally caught up with them later that same night, had learned first-hand just what it meant to be ‘chewed up and spit out raw‘. Jimbo had beaten them both within an inch of their lives, breaking bones and smashing faces, splitting skin and snapping tendons…and screaming obscenities all the while. He’d come dangerously close to killing them both with nothing more than his big, beefy, bare hands but, somehow, he’d shown remarkable restraint and let them live, only because Margie had still been alive and relatively unharmed.
Or, maybe, it had been because of the timely arrival of the local sheriff and two of his deputies, who’d forcibly separated and manhandled Jimbo away from his intended victims. In the end, he’d done a brief stint behind bars for his brutal attack but he hadn’t cared. He’d gotten his revenge on the two boys who’d jumped his sister…one lost an eye and the other would have a limp for life…and had succinctly made his point: don’t mess with Margie.
A few years later, Margie had decided she wanted out of her small-town, dead-end situation and had, just like her momma before her, packed up her meager belongings and moved to a bigger city. Both she and Jimbo had cried when she’d left…her daddy had merely turned his back on his deserting daughter and all but ignored her exit…but she’d written religiously to her brother during her absence, in plain, simple words her only sibling could understand. She’d never forgotten all he’d done for her as they’d grown up and tried desperately to keep the lines of communication open.
But bad luck continued to follow Margie and, this time, Jimbo was nowhere around.
When the accident occurred, it had been in the waning light of the day and in plain sight of several credible witnesses, all who’d concurred that the unfortunate mishap just couldn’t have been avoided. The off-duty police officer who’d struck Margie with his vehicle, as she’d inexplicably darted out between two parked trucks and directly into on-coming traffic, had never even seen the small slip of a young woman until she’d impacted with the grill of his car and had rolled up onto the hard, metal hood. Instantly slamming on his brakes, the shocked officer had watched helplessly as her limp body had reversed its motion, carried along with the reaction of the stopping car, and had traveled several yards forward before rolling to a sickening halt on the side of the road.
Days later, as the terrible news had finally made its way back to Jimbo, he’d immediately loaded up his old, secondhand, pickup truck, determined to be at Margie’s side through all her long, lonely, scary days in the hospital….and to confront the man responsible for her situation. He’d been angry and inconsolable and wanted the officer who’d done this vicious, terrible thing to his little sister to pay dearly, with blood and bone, but he’d bidden his time and listened mutely as the ‘authorities’ had prattled on and on about the ‘unfortunate event‘, letting his fury simmer and boil in restrained silence. He’d never heard a single, solitary soul blame the officer who’d plowed Margie down. No one had even suggested the bastard could have avoided striking her with his vehicle. And no one had doubted the words of all the eye-witnesses who’d recounted the incident as unavoidable.
No one…except Jimbo.
When modern medicine had done all it could for the damaged girl, Margie had been released from the hospital with the recommendation she be placed into a long-term care health facility. Instead, Jimbo’d immediately cursed the bearer of that suggestion, shoved past the startled, mortified woman, and driven his sister home, back to the trailer she’d left years earlier and back to the town she’d so desperately wanted to leave. Walter had taken one look at his drooling, uncommunicative, invalid-of-a-daughter, mumbled something about ‘useless vegetables‘, and never looked her way again.
Jimbo had cared for Margie by himself, lovingly feeding her the baby food-like gruel she was capable of swallowing, diligently washing her pale, wasting flesh when she got smelly, and patiently changing her soiled, stinking, over-sized, disposable diapers when necessary. And all the while, he thought of nothing but getting even with the man who’d done this terrible, inexcusable thing to her.
When Margie finally passed away in her sleep almost three years later, Jimbo’d remained in town only long enough to see her properly buried. Afterwards, as he’d crossed the county line in his reliable pickup and merged onto the road leading toward Maryland, he’d had only one thing on his mind: revenge.
Jethro Gibbs was a man of quiet solitude.
Life had seen fit to throw him a few curve balls over the passage of time, beaning him hard in the head and heart, dropping him to the ground, and leaving him reeling sickly from the blows, but he’d always done his level best to pick himself up and start anew each and every time. There’d been no sense wallowing in the past and longing for what could never be, even when he’d been at his lowest and full of pain. He’d been taught to be strong, by his parents and then, later, by the US military, and he’d managed to successfully survive events and ordeals many others would have buckled under and surrendered to. He’d always regained his footing, standing tall and strong, and kept his mind focused on staying alive and doing what was right in a world full of wrongness.
Unfortunately, events and ordeals can leave angry scars and dark, hurtful wounds, even for the most resilient, well-adjusted, determined person. Memories can revisit at the most inopportune times and dreams can easily turn into nightmares. The fleeting laugh of a child, the sudden flash of autumn-hued hair, or the bright, teasing words of a passing stranger could, at times, bring back thoughts and images too intense, too hurtful, for even Gibbs to ignore. Those were the times that tried his soul the most.
But instead of going off the deep end or shoving a gun into his mouth, Gibbs chose a route more suitable to his personality. When he’d, finally, found he couldn’t readily substitute one, sweet memory for a newer version, he’d simply pulled his emotions slowly inside, securely tucking away that damaged part of himself, and set his sights on the only thing that he could control: his work.
Working for NCIS brought Gibbs intense satisfaction. He could help his country, he could slowly chip away at the pockets of evil in this world, and he could stay late in the office or out in the field until his body and mind were too tired and numb to want anything more than a quick shot of bourbon and a familiar bed. On those nights when the bourbon or the bed hadn’t been enough, he’d started to build boats.
As Gibbs rose in the ranks of agents, he’d ultimately secured a team of his own. He prided himself on knowing the members of his team pretty damn well and used their combined attributes and talents to benefit the changing needs of the agency. His people quickly came to realize Gibbs was the type of man who didn’t give a rat’s ass about making things easier for those under his direct supervision and prided himself on his ability to keep them somewhat off-balance and always on their toes. The more they performed like slightly tipsy ballerinas, the happier he became. He’d always believed his particular style helped sharpened their investigative skills, kept them alert, and, in his mind’s eye, was just way too much damn fun to do start doing anything differently. It’d been the way he’d been taught by Mike Franks when he’d started at NCIS and, as far as Gibbs was concerned, he’d turned out to be a pretty good agent.
Gibbs’ reasoning for knowing his team like he did was fairly uncomplicated and straightforward: he’d hand-picked each and every one of them personally. He’d studied their files, examined their backgrounds, and stealthily watched them before deciding to take them on. And they’d, in turn, quickly learned the basics of ‘life according to Gibbs’…or been swiftly shown the door. He expected each of them to independently step forward to help share the daily work load, to stay focused and be productive, and, more importantly, to always guard each other’s backs when in tight situations. If he couldn’t rely on them, he didn’t want them around, plain and simple.
So, when one of his agents seemed a little ‘off’, he diligently kept a sharper eye covertly turned that way and waited to see what would happen. He knew those on his team were only human and, therefore, prone to the whims of their emotions and the circumstances of their existence but, if they began to slack off or grow sloppy in their work, he’d usually have to step in, toss some cross words their way, and smack a head, just to help them refocus. It was, sometimes, embarrassing for the recipient of those head smacks but Gibbs didn’t give a damn, not when the lesson could possibly save a life sometime later down the road.
In most instances, the agent in question would typically work things out in a fairly reasonable amount of time, having suffered the humiliation of a well-placed, perfectly timed head slap…or two…and get right back into the flow of things. In the rare instance when the moderate taps just weren’t enough of a motivator, Gibbs would then take it to the next kevel and demand a one-on-one modification session, in the privacy of the closest elevator. It had become sort of a NCIS in-house joke by now, with agents from other teams quickly clearing a space and hustling out of the way when it was evident what Gibbs was intending. A tense, silent march to the elevator was a sure sign to anyone watching that the older, experienced agent was going to use his ‘private office’ for a bit of quiet, quality, personal attitude adjustment. Those confidential conferences with the boss were avoided at all costs and no one seemed to like being alone with Gibbs in the NCIS elevator…
…except Tony DiNozzo.
The very first time Gibbs had decided DiNozzo had needed an attitude adjustment and had taken his relatively new agent into the tight confines of the elevator for a bit of fine-tuning, it’d been a wake-up call for both men. Gibbs had forcefully shoved himself up tight and got, literally, in DiNozzo’s startled face, acting all Alpha-male, ready to read him the riot act for some perceived infraction, but the younger man had quickly swallowed down his surprise at the sudden and totally unexpected move and shown a bit of his own spirit.
Presenting a bold, smooth, cheeky grin in return, DiNozzo had inexplicably melted back against the wall, batted his long lashes in an overtly exaggerated look of seduction, and widened his stance against the bulk of the older man’s solid body, bringing them into direct groin-to-groin contact. The long, low, rumbling purr of pleasure he’d offered Gibbs had almost rocked the older man back on his heels. Almost.
It had been at that precise moment when Gibbs had realized he’d found the perfect person with just the right-sized shoes to step into the role as his senior field agent. DiNozzo had the smarts, DiNozzo had the experience, and DiNozzo sure as hell had the spunk. All seductive looks and rumbling purrs aside, DiNozzo had the exact stuff Gibbs was looking for and was the unquestionable Yin to his Yang. And he’d been just at the right stage of his career when he’d been tapped to join NCIS, avidly learning the ropes the way Gibbs wanted them tied, and thriving under the older man’s intentional mix of attention, rejection, and pressure.
It had been an ideal combination…for them both.
The two meshed well together on the job: Gibbs was a pro at stern intimidation and DiNozzo was a prince at gentle persuasion, Gibbs was a no-nonsense, right-to-the point investigator and DiNozzo was a free-thinking, look-for-the-unexpected canvasser, Gibbs established and maintained a strict set of professional rules and DiNozzo was a spontaneous, fun-loving nonconformist. To most, they seemed like oil on water, like dog tormenting cat, like over-exuberant, frat boy trying to pull one over on the seasoned professor. Almost everyone who’d met the brash, young man upon his arrival at the agency had believed DiNozzo was already on his way out before he’d even gotten both feet all the way through the NCIS doorway.
Three years later, DiNozzo was still working at NCIS and had officially become Gibbs’ senior field agent, just as Gibbs had foreseen. If those who’d originally had their doubts about the two men working together were honest, they’d quickly come to realize it was all those undeniable differences in style that made the team so strong, so effective. And if others raised eyebrows at or wondered about the frequency of ’adjustments’ that still took place between Gibbs and DiNozzo in the elevator, none were talking. What a team leader did with his people, especially a team leader like Gibbs, was his own business.
At the moment, Gibbs was seriously contemplating the necessity of serving up a special trip to the elevator for his senior field agent. He’d dutifully doled out cranial taps over the past two days and, now, it was looking more and more like it was time for an elevator tête-à-tête.
“DiNozzo!” He barked across the small expanse dividing their desks and was abruptly taken aback by the knee-jerk reaction his voice invoked from the younger man. It’d been a long time since he’d been able to startle DiNozzo like that and, frankly, he didn’t like the resultant flinch one damn bit.
Wide, green eyes rose and shifted swiftly, almost wildly, Gibbs’ way. The edges of the letter he’d been studiously reading for the past several minutes were inadvertently crushed within his spasming grasp. Gibbs frowned openly.
“Yeah, Boss?” DiNozzo spoke quickly, not completely successful in disguising the fine tremor in his voice.
Gibbs decided to go straight to the heart of the problem. “I’m getting mighty tired watching you read that letter over and over again. You got something you need to share?”
DiNozzo paled slightly and, if possible, the green eyes went even wider. He swallowed thickly and casually tried to cover the sheet of paper with nearby folder, putting on his most innocent expression. “What letter?”
“The one you’ve been repeatedly reading since it’s arrival this morning,” Caitlin Todd snorted softly and used the opportunity to butt into the conversation, caustically pointing out the truth and venting a little of her own frustration toward the wide-eyed man. She leaned forward, elbows on her desk, and nailed her partner with a glare. “So help me, if you been slacking off and don’t have those addresses I asked for…”
“Already sent them to your in-box,” DiNozzo responded quickly, glad to deflect the focus away from the letter…and Gibbs. He forced a smile and cocked an eyebrow at the dark-haired woman. “Maybe *you’re* the one who’s been slacking off. Maybe you’ve still got your mind on that date you had last Saturday night. What was his name again? Derek? No, it was…”
“Shut up, Tony…” Todd huffed out in caution, chocolate eyes sparking.
“…Daniel. Yeah, that’s right, isn’t it? Daniel.” He grinned widely, preening a bit as he leaned back in his chair, taking perverse delight in her obvious annoyance.
Todd shook her head and sighed in aggravation. “I am *not* going to tell you.”
“Why?” He smirked, pleased he’d managed to exasperate her further. “Didn’t you have a good time with him? I thought you always showed your dates a good time.”
“Don’t make me come over there and hurt you,” she cut him off, an angry warning pretty evident in her voice.
“Hurt me?” DiNozzo pushed mischievously, feigning a pitiful, wounded expression. “I’m deeply wounded…”
“You’ve each got exactly two seconds before I come over there and deeply wound both of you,” Gibbs growled, effectively putting a halt to the inane conversation.
“Understood, Boss.” “Yes, Gibbs.” Both agents responded simultaneously to the threat and put their little ‘discussion’ swiftly to rest.
Even though he got back to work, just as Gibbs had demanded, and had his eyes fixed solely on the folder before him, DiNozzo could feel the older man’s stare still lingering in his general direction. He forced himself not to look back, not to give in to the pull of that lethal laser gaze, and went through the familiar motions of organizing the file under his hands into some semblance of order. As much as he usually liked the idea of being at the center of Gibbs’ attention, this particular time was not one of them. DiNozzo sighed and cursed silently to himself.
His fingers absently touched the edge of the partially hidden letter.
There were just some aspects of his past he’d hoped to keep to himself, for awhile longer at least, and this letter…the one that had become the bane of his day…was a major facet of his history with the Baltimore PD. It was a part of his past he’d never be able to completely forget, no matter how hard he tried.
DiNozzo stilled and sighed again, frustrated with his own lack of resolve. Sooner or later, doing nothing more than what he was doing right now, he knew Gibbs would have him spilling his guts and leaking out the truth. It was just inevitable. Gibbs could get to the crux of any problem he set his mind to, poking and prodding, wearing resistance thin, scraping away any defiance until he had the information he required. He was a master of interrogation, his brilliance sometimes overlooked by his stoic, man-of-few-words façade, and DiNozzo, in all his wished-for self-assurance, knew he was just no match. All it took was that deadly blue gaze aimed his way and he would cave. What a wuss…
‘Might as well get this over with on my own terms,’ he frowned irritably and pushed up from his seat. It didn’t take long to make the trek across to Gibbs’ desk but he used the time to quietly clear his throat before speaking. “Boss, I think I need to tell you something.”
Gibbs glanced up and calmly studied his agent. “Case related?”
Gibbs scrutinized a bit more. It was plain to see DiNozzo had arrived at some decision and the older man bet it had something to do with that letter he’d been folding and unfolding all damn day. He grunted and rose from his own desk. “Elevator.”
“Can we just…” DiNozzo hesitated briefly before continuing, “step out for a few minutes?”
The request stopped Gibbs cold in his tracks and he eyed DiNozzo again. Asking to take the discussion out of the building was, in Gibbs’ mind, a way of totally divorcing the subject from work and was not something they ever did while on the Naval Yard. Obviously this was something personal then.
He growled softly in disappointment, his reasoning, once again, simple. One, he liked using the elevator. It just saved a bit of time and legwork and, frankly, gave him a perverse sense of pleasure when other agents saw him taking a member of his team inside. And two, he never liked the idea of ‘sharing’ personal items with anyone, especially his team members. He kept the two separate and kept things uncomplicated. Work was work and there just wasn’t time for all that other touchy-feely crap. It got in the way, it blurred the boundaries…
…and, sometimes, it stirred up those old, long-buried, almost-forgotten feelings. Gibbs sighed loudly.
He was just on the cusp of changing his mind about having this conversation when he saw the edginess return to DiNozzo’s demeanor and instantly shot that idea straight down. Instinctively, he knew DiNozzo wouldn’t ask something like this of him unless it was important and, for all the shit he’d tossed the younger man’s way over the few year they’d worked together, what harm would it do to just listen for a few minutes?
Fair enough. They could go out by the banks of the Anacostia River, park their asses on one of the private benches located by the deep, flowing mass, and get this taken care of before they were called away on another case. Simple and uncomplicated.
Gibbs finally grunted his assent and reached to grab his weapon and his jacket, pulling on the lightweight covering as he headed toward the elevator, not waiting to see if DiNozzo was following his lead. There was no need. That was another good thing about their relationship: the more they worked together, the more they seemed to be able to read each other’s thoughts. DiNozzo would always be right where he should, covering Gibbs’ six.
They silently made it out of the building and to one of the empty benches occupying an aesthetically pleasing grouping of three in a matter of minutes. The long seats had been placed for the use of anyone working in the Naval Yard and had been, from time to time, a favorite place for Gibbs to do a little out-of-the-box thinking. It was quiet here, kind of secluded, and gave the illusion of privacy. There was a lone maintenance worker getting ready to do a bit of repairing to a loose section of nearby handrail but, with one direct, severe scowl from Gibbs, the two agents were all but guaranteed their privacy. The big, overall-covered man hurriedly grabbed his toolbox, whispered something unflattering under his breath, and then hightailed it away from the area…and Gibbs…as quickly as he could.
“Nice, Boss,” DiNozzo snorted in amusement as they sat, watching the worker’s hasty retreat. “Nothing like scaring away the natives.”
Gibbs didn’t bother to respond. Why bother? The older man flexed his shoulders and leaned back, letting his gaze fall on the slowly moving currents of the Anacostia.
“Okay, we’re out here. Spit it out.”
The fleeting smile instantly vanished from DiNozzo’s face. Mirroring Gibbs’ position, he eased back on the hard surface and sighed. There was no sense delaying now.
“About a year before I left Baltimore,” he began quietly, “I had an…accident.” He stumbled slightly over the word and shook his head at his own nervousness. This was Gibbs; either the man would understand or not. Couldn’t be any more simple than that. He bucked up and pushed on. “I was heading home after being at the precinct all day. It was early evening, around seven-thirty or so, and I hit a pedestrian.” He swallowed thickly and closed his eyes, the memory of the event flashing starkly behind the darkness of his lids. “It was a freakish incident and I …I didn’t even see the girl until it was too late.”
Gibbs turned his face toward the younger man but resolutely remained silent.
“She just impacted with the car,” DiNozzo was pushing on, needing to get the tale told. “I stopped immediately but I could see it was too late.” He ran a nervous hand through his hair, making the ends stick up wildly. “She rolled off the hood with the momentum, like some broken doll, and ended up hitting her head again on the edge of the sidewalk…”
Gibbs shifted, one knee slightly brushing against the younger man’s closest leg, his silent support bolstering DiNozzo enough so he could continue.
“When I got out of the vehicle, I could see it was real bad, that she’d been hurt in all kinds of ways.” He let out a ragged breath. “I thought I’d killed her at first but she just started twitching and jerking and…”
“DiNozzo,” Gibbs interrupted, carefully placing a hand on DiNozzo’s closest arm and grabbing a fistful of shirt sleeve. He waited as the tormented, green eyes finally swung his way.
“Yeah, Boss?” He asked by rote, responding automatically to the soft command in Gibbs’ voice.
“I already know all about this,” he spoke calmly, watching as the information slowly sunk in. He shook the fabric in his grip once more, jostling DiNozzo’s arm gently. “You hear me? I already know.”
The surprise was evident in DiNozzo’s eyes. “You…you know?” He blinked and took a steadying breath. “How long?”
“I knew before I hired you, DiNozzo,” Gibbs said simply and released his hold, moving back into his original position but keeping his eyes on his agent. “You think that was something your former Captain could keep out of your record?” The question was purely rhetorical; there was no way something that severe would ever have been omitted. “The city of Baltimore doesn’t take too kindly to one of their own plowing down a pedestrian, even if it was accidental. That information was one of the first things presented to me when I started a preliminary background check on you.”
“Oh,” was all DiNozzo seemed to be able to say for a moment. He sat back, head tilted downward, and sighed. “I guess I should have known that.”
“Ya think?” Gibbs asked with a bit of his customary sarcasm. He shook his head and frowned. “That happened years ago. Why bring it all up now?”
DiNozzo shifted on the hard surface of the bench and flexed a shoulder, fighting down the urge to jump up and start pacing. Instead, he began to pick distractedly at a loose thread at the cuff of his left sleeve, just to have something else besides Gibbs to focus on.
“I got a call a couple of days ago from someone who still works in the Baltimore office,” he began softly, worrying the innocent string free and tossing it absently to the ground. “She’d gotten wind that someone from my past had come looking for me but, of course, I was long gone from there. She didn’t know, at that time, who it was but promised to do some digging for me.” He offered the older man a lame smile. “Celeste and I dated a few times…nothing serious…but I always considered her a friend. She was nothing like some of those other Bozos who worked with me.”
Gibbs sighed and bit his tongue, trying to keep a handle on his frustration. He hated when DiNozzo went off on some seemingly unrelated tangent. If people would just come right out and say what was on their minds, they’d make his job so much easier. But he’d agreed to this conversation, so instead of his usual snap and bark, he released a slow, even breath and waited.
“Anyway,” DiNozzo was quickly continuing, almost viscerally aware of the older man’s looming impatience, “she faxed the information over this morning…”
“That the letter you’ve been trying to hide from us all day?” Gibbs asked quietly, already knowing the answer but wanting DiNozzo to see that his unconvincing attempt at deception had been a bust.
“Ah…yeah,” the younger man confessed hesitantly. He settled a bit more on the seat, one shoulder absently touching Gibbs’, and looked back down at his feet.
Gibbs didn’t move away from the physical contact. Occasionally, he found he liked being near DiNozzo, would sometimes make a point of sneaking up on the agent just to get close, but knew this slight bodily connection was more for emotional bolstering than anything else. He remained still and merely waited.
“The brother of the woman I hit…Margaret Anglin…wants to see me.”
Gibbs waited some more. When moments ticked away and nothing else was said, he finally gave a little nudge with his elbow. “Why now?”
DiNozzo sighed and slumped. “Seems Margaret died last week.” His voice was bleak and filled with remorse. “I guess…well, I guess he just wants to tell me personally.”
Gibbs briefly closed his eyes and cursed silently to himself. This was not good news at all. No stranger to men bearing grudges or seeking revenge, Gibbs knew first hand how it felt to be facing the uncertainty of a survivor’s attitude or hostility. But this situation could, possibly, be different than those he’d personally encountered over the years. Maybe Margaret Anglin’s brother was just wanting to close the book on his sister’s life by offering DiNozzo his forgiveness. Maybe this brother would be here to help DiNozzo finally put the past to rest. Yeah, and maybe monkeys would fly out of his ass, too.
Gibbs snarked silently at all of those ideas. More likely, this brother was on his way to balance things out in a manner more recognizable. An eye for an eye was a lousy way for many people to live but, unfortunately, some saw no other alternative. This potential encounter could result in more than a lost eye.
“What do you know about this brother?” He asked quietly.
DiNozzo gave a weak, cynical laugh. “Absolutely nothing, Boss. I was never allowed to get near him during the whole time he was in Baltimore, not during the investigation nor during the settlement procedures that followed. You know the drill.” Both men knew it was common practice for attorneys representing law enforcement agencies to immediately push to keep potential lawsuits out of court, even when the officer or agent involved was undeniably innocent, strictly to save time and money. “From what I heard, he stuck by Margaret’s side all during her stay in the hospital and then took her home when she was released. He didn’t even question the amount the city paid because of the incident. He just…took Margaret home.”
Gibbs grunted. “Sounds like a good brother.”
“Yeah,” DiNozzo agreed without hesitation.
They quietly watched the Anacostia flow by, their individual thoughts tossed and lost among the twisting, swirling currents. The minutes ticked by until, finally, Gibbs’ voice broke the silence.
“Unless we know for certain this guy is coming to see you just to have some closure, I’d feel a hell of a lot better if you had easy access to some back-up. We should consider posting someone outside your apartment tonight.”
DiNozzo shook his head. “If he’s just coming to bury the hatchet, why bother?”
“Well, DiNozzo,” Gibbs shifted so he could look directly at his subordinate, his eyes blazing and his tone reeking with sarcasm, “what if he decides to bury that hatchet in your thick head?”
DiNozzo silently watched as Gibbs abruptly rose and started back toward the front entrance of the NCIS building, his green eyes tracking the older man’s path until he finally lost sight. He turned his gaze back toward the Anacostia, his thoughts tumbling inside his aching skull, and slumped against the bench’s backrest. He stretched his long legs out and hunkered down.
The whole situation sucked and the younger man knew he’d done Gibbs no favors by dumping this in his lap now. He’d learned pretty quickly how it worked for Gibbs and the last thing he ever wanted to do was complicate their on-the-job relationship by airing out the dirty laundry of his past career disasters. Unfortunately, the Baltimore fiasco was just one of many. Tilting his head back, DiNozzo closed his eyes and sighed, enjoying a few, blissful moments of serenity.
“Maybe I should just camp out here tonight and pretend today never happened,” he mumbled tiredly.
The first blow caught him on the side of his head and sent him flailing to his hands and knees in front of the bench. The world swam in a haze of sickening pain, red hot shards streaking in flashes behind his tightly squeezed lids and stabbing brutally into his stunned brain. He tried to maintain some balance, throwing a floundering hand out to one side but the ground was lurching and reeling too much. DiNozzo only had one moment to idly wonder if he’d been shot…
…and then second blow took the pain…and consciousness…away.
Chapters: 1 | 2
MTAC - NCIS Fic