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Moving Forward

by: ksl (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 030 Word Count: 111544
Rating: ADULT
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Alternate Universe
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Episode(s): 4-03 Singled Out
Summary: An AU where Tony accepts the position in Rota, Spain when Shepard offered it in season four.

Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30

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Tony's overnight stay in the hospital ended up becoming three.

He wasn't sure who on his team had provided a detailed copy of his medical records, but one of them had definitely made a point of making sure his attending physician was aware Tony had once had the plague. He hadn't even injured his lungs for crying out loud. That shouldn't have even been an issue. Although, he couldn't help feeling just a little pleased that his team was concerned about his health to look out for him, even if he wished they'd gone about it a different way.

And staying a few days was hardly a big deal. It wasn't like he honestly felt up to moving much. He already knew how much getting caught in an explosion hurt, this little memory refresher wasn't something he wanted or needed. But having some good drugs certainly made it easier to take.

Making sure the stitches on his leg held was worth staying in bed rather than risking tearing out too many of them. He didn't want to risk an infection either. A scar was no big deal, but he didn't want to do irreparable damage to himself.

And navigating the stairs to his up to his second floor apartment would have been impossible in the wheel chair the doctor originally thought he should be using. Tony had managed to con the man into letting him use crutches, provided he spent another night at the hospital. It wasn't exactly a fair trade off in Tony's eyes, but he'd take it. At least he didn't have to worry about some heavier than hell cast because the gash on his leg and its thirty plus stitches ruled that out as an option.

What he hadn't expected was for his team to make alternative arrangements for him. When the boiler went out in his apartment building in DC several years ago, no one on his old team would even consider putting him up for a night or two much less for several weeks. Gibbs had reluctantly offered him the use of his couch but the grudging hospitality had Tony making sure he was gone as soon as possible. Even when they started sleeping together, Tony never spent the night, leery of wearing out his welcome.
But his team in Spain hadn't even waited for him to ask for help. Not that he would have, and they likely knew that. Tony never expected them to volunteer to help him.

It wasn't until he was due to be released Tony found out they'd already made plans. He wasn't entirely sure how it was decided, but he was made aware that he'd be staying with Mouse until his leg healed well enough to make navigating the stairs a simple task. Apparently Miri had thought that since Mouse had only one fully functional arm, and Tony only had one solid leg, that staying with each other would be good for both of them. Tony had protested, not wanting to be a burden or cramp Mouse's style. He wasn't going to force himself on anyone.

Miri had just pointed a finger at him and told him to stop being an ass. He needed help, so he was getting it. She ordered him to stay put while she got a wheelchair. Tony might have conned the doctor into letting him use crutches, but he'd still have to use the wheelchair to leave.

Mouse had rolled his eyes, shaking his head at Tony. "Sir, I didn't even have a room to myself until after I mustered out of the Navy. You using the second bedroom in my place won't be a problem. Trust me."

He pointed to the brace he was wearing to support his broken collarbone. "Until my busted wing heals, I'm not going to have much style."

He grinned brightly. "Miri already stocked my fridge with food. I'm not stupid enough to turn down a home cooked meal. There is no way in hell I can eat that much by myself, so if it helps consider it doing me a favor and making sure all the food doesn't go bad."

Mouse leaned in to whisper to Tony, eyeing the hospital room doorway nervously. "The woman is a force of nature, my friend. It is best for both of us if we just go along."

"You afraid of her, Mouse?"

"Like you aren't?" Mouse gave him a pointed look. "It was a token protest you put up, Sir."

There was nothing token about his protest. It was forceful. Manly even. Tony glared at Mouse.

"It was not."

"It was too."

"Was not."

"Was--"

"If you two are done arguing, we can leave." Miri stood in the doorway looking decidedly amused.

Tony scowled and did his best to look pissed off. But the truth was he was relieved they were willing to help him out and felt reassured by the completely normal interactions between them. He'd felt a bit off kilter since he'd taken Miri up on her suggestion to wade through the spam folder.

Even he couldn't play Tetras forever, and by the start of his second day in the hospital, with limited updates on the case, he'd been alert enough to be seriously bored. So he'd started going through the thousands of messages in the spam folder. He figured it would be better than counting the tiles again or staring out the window.

There were at least a dozen messages from Abby. All of them had been sent within the first two weeks of Tony arriving in Spain. Five of them had been sent on the Monday after he'd left.

Tony was somewhat bemused, wondering why Palmer's emails hadn't been lost the same way until he remembered that they'd still been trying to communicate by phone then. They'd given up on using the phone because there had been a delaying issuing a cell phone to Tony. When they did finally get him one it had limited coverage and dropped calls on a regular basis. With the time difference, using the phones at the office just wasn't a good option, and by the time Tony had gotten a cell phone that worked, he and Jimmy had found e-mail simply worked better.

Tony had hesitated to read Abby's emails, wary of what he'd find in them. She'd given up contacting him after just two weeks. He couldn't decide if that was a good sign or bad.

He'd taken a deep breath, trying to fortify himself for what he might find, and opened the oldest message, the one she'd sent first. It proved to be along, rambling and angry rant. She was obviously upset that he'd taken the job in Spain. In her view he was breaking up the team when things were finally going to be back to normal. He was being selfish by leaving, letting down Gibbs and the team by not being there to watch their backs.

Reading that pissed Tony off. So he'd upset her perfect little world and happy little fantasy that everything could just go back to the way things were. What if he hadn't wanted things to go back to normal? And just what the hell qualified as normal? For four months, Tony leading the team was normal. But that obviously wasn't good enough once Gibbs returned.

Lee being dismissed without a word was okay? McGee thinking Tony lacked the intelligence and ability to lead his own team and essentially didn't respect him was supposed to be something he should just forget? Ziva acting all smug about his loss of status and letting him know she thought he should never have been in charge in the first place didn't matter? Gibbs making it clear he had no interest in Tony as anything other than his senior field agent, and even that was questionable. He should have just stayed and gotten over it so the rest of them could be safe and happy? What did it matter that none of them were watching out for him as long as he looked out for them?

Fuck you, Tony had thought viciously. Wanting something for me might be selfish, but I'm not the only one thinking just about themselves sister. He had nearly deleted the rest of her messages without reading them.

Her second message was less biting. She apparently realized that accusing him of breaking up the team and being selfish were maybe not the best way to make her case. She told him she knew he deserved the promotion. He'd earned it, but she didn't understand why he had taken the job when he'd loved being in DC, loved the team. And he did love them, didn't he? Of course he did. They were family. He would have other promotions. There would be other chances. But when they had just gotten Gibbs back was not a good time to break up the team. Surely Tony got that.

She wanted to know why he hadn't told her himself he was leaving. Why hadn't he mentioned the job offer? Why hadn't he said good-bye?

"Because I might not have been able to follow through with it if I had," Tony had murmured to himself.

He had loved living in DC. He'd cared deeply for his teammates. He'd even admit, to himself at least, he might have been in love with Gibbs. But it was better to walk away when it was painfully obvious all his feelings were one-sided. And it was easier to do it without having to face any of them. Hell, it was what Gibbs had done--twice--and to Tony's knowledge Abby had never called him on it. But then, as they'd all reminded him on more than one occasion he wasn't Gibbs. Clearly any transgressions Tony made would not be so easily forgiven.

Her third message was back to biting again. She seemed to think his lack of response meant he was being childish and ignoring her. That he was sulking like a child who had his favorite toy taken away. She obviously knew about McGee and Ziva's reactions to Gibbs return. It wasn't like anyone had been discreet about how glad they were to have Gibbs back, how happy they were to see Tony put in his place. She told him he should grow up and realize they were only teasing. It didn't mean anything. They were family.

Twice she'd mentioned family; as if that term should sway him. But what the hell did he know about family? His mother died when he was eight. He was in boarding school by the time he was ten. And his father had disinherited him when he was twelve. He didn't know how families were supposed to work, but he was fairly certain whatever Abby thought was okay wasn't okay for him. Not any more.

He was once again very tempted to simply delete the remaining messages. But he continued reading them, curious to see what she had to say and why she'd stopped trying to reach him after two weeks. Each successive message had less and less anger, fewer inflammatory remarks and accusations, and took on a more desperate, pleading, sorrowful tone.

Why hadn't he said something? Why hadn't he called her? Why wouldn't he write back? What had she done that made him so angry? Whatever it was, she was sorry, she'd make it up to him. Wouldn't he give her a chance to fix it? She missed him. Things weren't the same without him around.

Her last message she'd written that she would leave it up to him to get in touch whenever he was ready. She was sorry he didn't want to be friends with her any longer. She didn't know what she'd done wrong but hoped he'd forgive her some day. She hoped he was doing okay in Spain and that his new team was looking out for him.

Tony had spent several hours reviewing her messages and trying to decide what to do. Before Gibbs had run off to Mexico, Abby had been a friend. And while her reaction to Gibbs' leaving and subsequent return had hurt Tony, he knew it hadn't been deliberate. Abby might be overly exuberant, high-strung at times, occasionally childish, self-centered and thoughtless, but she wasn't mean or vindictive. Nothing in her actions or comments when he was in DC had been anywhere near as pointed and hurtful as what he'd gotten from McGee or Ziva. And it wasn't anything like the cold silence he'd gotten from Gibbs.

He finally opted to respond to her last missive. He kept it short, telling there her there had been some issue with his email and he hadn't gotten her messages until recently. Letting her know he hadn't ignored her, he'd simply been unaware of her efforts to get in touch. He told her he wasn't angry with her.

And he wasn't, at least not any more. He'd been more hurt than angry, and over the course of the past few months most of that had faded. He'd come to terms with the fact that he was always second best in her eyes, and while he didn't begrudge her choosing Gibbs as the favorite, he was disappointed she couldn't have spared a little something for him when Gibbs had run off to Mexico and after he came back.

He told her he hoped she wasn't angry with him for taking so long to respond, but he understood if she was. He reiterated it was a technological problem. Given that he was only slightly better than Gibbs when it came to most technical things, Tony thought she'd give him the benefit of the doubt.

He told her he hadn't called because it had taken awhile to get a working cell phone. And since he hadn't heard from her in the interim he'd assumed she hadn't wanted to stay in touch. It wasn't exactly a bad assumption; they didn't normally call one another even when he lived in DC.

They hadn't done anything outside of work together in months before he'd left for Spain. Even before that, from the time he first joined NCIS, he and Abby rarely got together during their off hours. It wasn't like they'd ever dated the way she had with McGee. Or shared similar taste in music and went to concerts together. He wasn't into helping build houses for charity, and she wasn't passionate about old movies. Outside of work they had remarkably little in common, something Tony had become more aware of since his arrival in Spain.

Mouse had taught Tony to surf, and he'd in turn introduced the other man to the beauty of old films. Mouse had become almost as much a fan as Tony. Tony had learned to rock climb with Miri, and he'd found out she loved old muscle cars as much as he did. They talked about cars and compared notes, and shared dreams about what they'd like to own. Caleb had a similar taste in music. When he found out Tony could play the piano, he asked Tony to sit in with his jazz group whenever he was in the mood to tickle the ivories.

His new team might not have the full skill set his old team had, but he was already closer to them in six months than he was with most of his old team in four years. The only thing really lacking was having a satisfying sex life. Tony wasn't sure it was a fair trade, but he wasn't really complaining either. Sex with Gibbs might have been incredible, mind blowing amazing, but once Tony realized he meant nothing to the older man, he found himself questioning those encounters. Were they really that good? Was it truly as satisfying as he thought? Was he reading too much into it and deluding himself?

Letting Miri push his wheelchair down the hall, and out of the hospital, Tony decided to stop thinking about shit that shouldn't matter to him now. He had a new life in Spain. He was going to live it.

If Abby wrote back, he'd reply. There was no reason they couldn't forge something new, but he'd let her decide on whether or not they would. If she didn't write back it wasn't a big deal. He'd already gone six months thinking she'd forgotten about him. Or if she spewed forth some vitriol, he could put her back on the spam list. It wasn't like she'd deigned to use the office phone list to find out his cell phone number or contact him at the office in Rota. He could avoid her easily enough.

"You okay, Sir?"

"Yeah, Miri, I'm fine."

"You're quiet."

"Just thinking about the case."

He didn't need to see Mouse and Miri exchange a look over his head to know they'd done it. Some days it sucked to work with people who knew him so well. But at least they knew enough not to press the issue either.

When they got to the car, Tony maneuvered himself into the front seat easily enough. It wasn't like he'd never had to work around a bum leg before. It was a skill he could have done without ever having to learn, but was grateful for it just the same. He was also glad moving was easier now than it had been two days ago. He might not have appreciated the enforced inactivity, but it had definitely helped ease the aches and pains of getting caught in a bomb blast.

Mouse slid into the back seat. He never called shotgun. Tony figured it had something to do with being the youngest in his family and knowing he'd never get the coveted position. Mouse managed to get Tony's crutches in the back seat with him without any trouble.

When Miri buckled into the driver's seat, Tony told her, "We are going to the office."

There had never been any doubt about that, but Tony was making sure his team understood he might have bowed to their concerns regarding his health, but he was still in charge.

"Yes, Sir." Miri nodded. "Maria Martinez should be arriving at two."

The Chief of Police hadn't minded holding her for another day. Miri told Tony he'd evidently taking her suggestions to heart. He had shown her pictures of the victims, and told her all about them. He'd also taken Miri's directive to not let Martinez speak to defend herself and her actions rather literally. He'd evidently gagged her. That was definitely not something they could have gotten away with.

Tony was looking forward to questioning her. He'd already worked it out with Miri and Mouse how they'd run the interrogation. Tony couldn't walk in and take ownership of the room the way Gibbs was wont to do. Limping in on crutches wouldn't present the image of strength and control Tony wanted to project. So he'd already be seated in the room when Miri would escort Martinez in.

Miri would stay in the room with him. He wasn't worried about Martinez being a problem, but he wouldn't be able to put her down easily if she got rowdy. And Miri could easily play 'good cop, bad cop' with him if need be.

Martinez wouldn't be staying in their custody, no matter what she told them. She was going to be charged as a Spanish national by the Spanish authorities. For that reason, Tony agreed to having her police escort watch the interrogation. They could verify that, one, he didn't do anything to endanger their case, and two, he was willing to share whatever information they found.

Tracing how this new explosive made its way from a testing facility in Virginia to Europe was important to more than just NCIS. Tony wanted the local police to know he appreciated their concerns and desire to protect their people. Fighting terrorism wasn't a solo effort. And it obviously wasn't limited to any one religious, ethnic or political affiliation.

Finding out who'd stolen the explosives and stopping whoever sold them were NCIS's primary concern. But making sure there weren't more bombs ready made, waiting to be placed was also high on the list.

The two suspects Tony had killed were part of the founding members, but that didn't mean the group was now without leadership. They hadn't gotten everyone. And getting Martinez to tell them what else she and her merry band of crackpots had planned was something Tony wanted to know.

"You ready for this, Sir?"

Tony smiled, recognizing the inquiry for what it was--a simple statement of concern, not a question of his ability. "I am."

Miri returned his smile. "Nice to have you back, Sir."

"Nice to be back."

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