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With a Little Help From My Friends (Sequel to 'Help, I Need Somebody')

by: BuffyAngel68 (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #2
Chapters: 065 Word Count: 103164
Rating: ADULT
Warning(s): Disturbing Imagery or Content, Violence
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto, Timothy McGee, Ensemble, Caitlyn (Kate) Todd, Tobias Fornell, Gerald, Kelly Gibbs, Jeanne Benoit
Category(ies): Action/Adventure, Angst/Drama, Established Relationship, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, New Character, Romance
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo, Abby/McGee, Ducky/Gerald
Episode(s): 3-12 Boxed In
Summary: As Gibbs and Tony grow closer, an outside force is working to destroy the younger man. Meanwhile the rest of the team find their joy in varied and interesting places...

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 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65

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24

With A Little Help 24/?

--------------------------
1:00: LOCAL RESTAURANT

As Tony opened the car door and shifted around to get in, a sedan a few yards away caught his eye and he hesitated.

"Ducky?"

"Hmmm? Yes, Tony?"

"That car... you recognize it?"

"No... not especially."

"I think it pulled in here when we did. I swear I've seen it around before, too..."

"I'm sure it's someone else from church. This place is family friendly and reasonably priced, making it very popular."

"Yeah... yeah, sure. That makes sense. I must've seen it in the lot over there."

Ducky grinned.

"Perhaps, but I can see you don't believe it."

"I do... I'm just not totally convinced, that's all." Tony replied, making his companion laugh as he slid into the driver's seat.

"More evidence that I was right to abandon a career in investigation. My mind was never suspicious enough."

"Okay, okay... I work with Gibbs, for God's sake. You expect me to still be perfectly trusting after all this time?"

"Not at all, dear boy. You forget I've known him quite a long time. I remember what it is to have to fight off the corrupting influence of his cynicism and his temper."

"Temper? At work or when he thinks he might not get justice for a victim... maybe. At home, I never see any trace of that."

"No... no, you wouldn't." Ducky commented as he pulled out onto the street.

"What's that supposed to mean? Are you saying he fakes how he's feeling? Does he think I'm still that breakable?" Tony asked, his tone betraying how much the implication disturbed him.

"No, no. Pardon my distraction, or I would've finished the thought before you got the wrong idea. I simply meant that Jethro truly loves you. Because of that he's putting much more effort into taming his worst qualities. He is protecting you, granted, but it has nothing to do with whether or not you're still fragile. He's protecting you from the parts of him that he fears might drive you away. At this point... I firmly believe he needs you as much as you need him."

Tony produced a half-smile, flushed lightly and turned away to look out the passenger's window. His happier mood lasted only until he happened to check the side mirror.

"Damn it..."

Ducky tensed, his hands tightening around the wheel.

"I'll need more information than that, Tony."

"That car is behind us. Three or four back."

"Well, that doesn't necessarily mean anything sinister..."

"I haven't told you about last night."

"Do I want to know?"

"Abby thought someone was watching her when she got home. When she actually saw a guy out the window later, she got scared enough to call. Just talking made her feel better... said her imagination must've been messing with her. I accepted it."

"But now you don't think so?"

"I didn't think so on the phone. Wasn't about to scare her any worse."

"Wait, Tony. Look..."

"It's turning off." Tony acknowledged, breathing easily again. "It was nothing... they were just leaving at the same time we did. Damn... what's wrong with me?" he asked, running a hand over his face.

"Your parentage... but that's only my opinion of course." Ducky stated firmly. To his relief, Tony laughed. It was shaky, but it still eased Ducky's mind.

"Yeah... you aren't the only one. Abby threatened to turn his face into a pizza and Gibbs swore right to his face he was gonna arrest him if he didn't walk out of NCIS on his own. With your skill set... I'd really rather not hear your thoughts on the subject."

"Considering that we've both just eaten... quite reasonable."

Tony returned his gaze to the window, frowning and spending several minutes silently working out how, and whether, he should ask the question repeating itself over and over in his brain. Finally, he spoke up, quiet and tentative.

"Do you think there is? Something wrong with me, I mean? Is he... will the crap he's done always be a part of me? I can't stand thinking I'll be like this 'till he's dead... that maybe that's the only thing that'll set me free."

"Tony... did you go with him that morning? Did you meekly bow your head and follow where he led?"

"No. But Gibbs was ten feet away..."

"... and he didn't utter a word until you said you wanted him to. He trusted that you could do exactly what you did. The stand you took that day... my God, Tony, how can you doubt how strong you've become?"

"Sure, I stood up to him... then I fell apart like kleenex in a monsoon. I never hold out very long. Being in the same room with him... that's all it takes. He makes me feel so..."

"... insignificant, incompetent... small." Ducky finished, almost inaudibly. Tony twisted around to look at him.

"Ducky..."

"Many fathers seem to have that ability, Tony. Ours were... especially talented, I'll admit, but the pain of a youth spent under an unbearably strong hand... well, it can be overcome, I promise you that. I managed it and more than one person I love has had cause to be grateful."

"Your mother."

"It was always *her* home. It came down through her family. He wanted to sell it... shut her away in some... facility or other. I refused to allow it. He took me to court... I won. From that day until the moment he died, we never spoke again. As you said, I thought it might... that his being gone would set me free. I waited and waited to feel light or incredibly happy... what I wanted was much more impressive than what I got. It took me many more years before I understood that I had the key to my own chains."

"I've tried... so many times."

"Yes, as did I. The secret is not to stop."

"What was that key? How did you do it, Ducky?"

"Mine won't be yours, Tony. You'll have to keep searching until you discover it for yourself. Your family is there to help, don't forget."

"I know. I said a prayer for all of you this morning... I think. I don't know if it was right, if I said enough or too much... I mean, I have less than no clue how to do this stuff..."

"Making the effort is what counts. He's been sorting out his children's prayers for a long time. You could pray in code or in Klingon... he'd understand."

"Klingon. You're a Trekker? Seriously?"

"From the beginning."

"Oh wow... that is so cool! Man, have we got all new territory to explore over tea and cookies!"

--------------------

1:45

Having carefully calculated how long it should take his targets to travel the rest of the distance to where he waited, the mercenary watched from the cover of bushes, allowing himself a light smile when he saw the car approaching. As he observed, he stole a look at the house a few yards away, thinking about the man who lived there. The occupant was, in most ways, a man he could've liked, perhaps even been close to, under other circumstances. They both had military backgrounds, both maintained codes of honor, loyalty and conduct that they rarely, if ever, strayed from. His mild respect for his fellow ex-Marine hung in the balance, however. His next few minutes of observation had the potential to shatter any regard he held for Jethro Gibbs.

As the car slowed, preparing to turn into the drive, he slowly moved deeper into shadow, becoming silent and still; nothing that would draw notice, nothing to tickle the well-honed senses of the young man just stepping from the vehicle. He watched the driver lean out slightly to say goodbye, also providing a comforting pat on his passenger's hand. The target added an affectionate squeeze before pulling away and moving up toward the house, freeing the driver to back onto the street again and pull away.

He held his position, ever patient, until the target opened the door and stepped inside. Only then did he shift, barely enough to raise a small pair of powerful binoculars to his eyes and focus in on the front window. The sight of the two men embracing, even offering gentle kisses to each other's cheeks, twisted his stomach and sent bile flooding up into the back of his throat. Despite his disgust and anger, however, he did not break protocol, his own or any the Marines had burned into his memory. He moved away carefully and gradually, forcing himself to wait until he regained his own car before he allowed himself the luxury of the time it took to spit over and over into a handkerchief and rinse his mouth thoroughly with bottled water. Grimacing, he breathed deeply, calming himself as much as he could before he pulled out a newly purchased cell phone.

"Michael DiNozzo."

"I found him. He's living with his supervisor, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. No idea how long he's been here."

"Living."

"It means exactly what you think it means."

"You have proof?"

"No. With Gibbs' past, there's not much chance I'll get any, either."

"I need proof before I authorize action."

"He's hyper-vigilant and the target learned at his knee. Near impossible."

"Near isn't... oh, well. You know your business. At least I know how to get to him, now. Things can move forward. I'll let you know tomorrow how to proceed..."

"No, you won't. For treading on my Sunday, you sacrifice Monday *and* an extra ten thousand."

The other could almost see his client's face turning bright red as he struggled to suppress the furious response that wanted to burst across the phone line. Eventually, though, what he got was a strangled version of acceptance, obviously shoved through clenched teeth.

"Fine... on both counts."

"One hopes."

"You have all his phone numbers, I assume."

"I do."
----------------------

8:30 P.M:

Yawning and stretching, Tony laid aside the beginner's woodworking book he'd been perusing and rose to his feet. He wanted to keep on for another chapter or two, but he knew he'd be no good for work the following day if he indulged that urge. Just as he was moving to the cellar door to alert Jethro that he was headed for bed, the phone chirped and he turned back to answer, sure it was Abby needing more reassurance.

"Again, Abs? I'm gonna start thinking you really *are* paranoid."

"Don't hang up on me, Michael."

"What the... how the hell did you know to call me here?"

"Language, Michael. Vulgarity isn't tolerable for people at our level of society."

"Pretty words are nothing but a nice cover for the crap underneath. I don't have anything I need to hide that bad. Just answer the question. How did you know?"

"I've always had my private resources. It wasn't difficult. I won't just accept that we're to have no more contact."

"God... I *thought* I was speaking clear English the other day. Do I have to get a restraining order? Is that what it'll take?"

"Hmm. I call to express my regrets for how things happened and that's the response I get. I should have known better."

"Regret? You've never regretted anything you did. You plan, you strategize, you calculate, all so you never have to think about regrets."

"I work hard to minimize errors. Are diligence and competence negative traits now?"

"For God's sake, just once, can you maybe tell me what it is you want without the damn games? I am sick to death of the games..."

"You may not believe it, and I suppose that's your prerogative... but I never wanted that meeting to devolve into a confrontation between myself and your colleagues."

"I never wanted it period."

"And as usual, your wishes are the only ones that matter."

"I'm hanging up..."

"All I want is a few moments of conversation. Are we so completely estranged that you won't even grant me such a small request?"

"Yes... we are. We always have been."

"Anthony."

"Don't call me that either. Don't do this anymore. Live your life, forget you ever had a child... and I'll do my damndest to convince myself I'm an orphan."

"Who have you spoken to, Michael? Just tell me that and you'll never have to hear from me again."

"Spoken to... I don't understand."

"Let's just say I was a bit... confused by our last phone call. It made me wonder just who you might've been talking to. I think perhaps you've broken your promise again."

"What? How can you... no. God, no..."

"Someone's been teaching you about forgiveness, Michael. I have to assume you told them I've done something that requires it. I want a name, that's all. Just give me that and you'll be free. My solemn promise. You know how dependable I am when it comes to keeping my word."

The receiver slipping from his suddenly numb fingers, Tony backed away, halting only when his calves struck the couch and his knees failed him. Falling more than sitting, he shoved back until his whole body was on the sofa and curled into a shivering fetal ball, staring out into the room, but seeing nothing of what was actually in front of him.

--------------------------------

TBC......

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