Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 2275
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Episode(s): 1-20 Missing
Summary: Tag to Missing. The events of the episode hit home to Tony.
Disclaimer: NCIS and its characters do not belong to me and I am making no money from this.
Behind the Mask.
Tag to Missing.
Tony washed up carefully, getting the worst of the grime off his face and hands. He really wanted a shower but he also needed to get his report out of the way so that he could stop thinking about it. Stop thinking. Some hope.
You’re going to end up in the gutter. The hated words kept running through his head, mocking him.
Resolutely he forced them to the back of his mind and tried to assume his usual sunny demeanour. It was harder than usual though; he was so tired, drained both physically and emotionally. But so few people knew the real Tony DiNozzo, he didn’t really know how to just be anymore. Wasn’t even sure if he knew him some days.
He suspected that Gibbs saw behind the mask, doubted he’d keep him around if he didn’t. Maybe he needed to let the mask slip more often. He knew he’d finally found a family here and he thought they cared about him. He knew he cared about them. He’d nearly lost it out there earlier all but begging Gibbs to say that he cared; his emotions were too close to the surface. He should really go home but he couldn’t bear the thought of being alone right now.
Funny how you could hold it together when the pressure was on but then you just fell apart afterwards. Well maybe that bit was just him. The ‘real’ Anthony DiNozzo who falls apart, who can only function when he’s pretending to be someone else. He laughed hollowly. One Anthony DiNozzo needed to get back out there and get his report done, before they all went home. Quickly he dried his face and headed back to his desk. He really didn’t want to be alone right now.
Gibbs watched as Tony sat down. The younger man looked drawn and was moving stiffly but Gibbs knew better than to push right now, he would wait him out. Tony would either snap or collapse with exhaustion where he sat. Either was fine just so long as all of that pent up energy and emotion came out safely. Then they could help him back together again. He’d done well today, very well and Gibbs knew that he would find a way to tell him but right now he thought that it might just be too much to handle. He knew that DiNozzo craved attention, was desperate for his approval. Recognised that it came from a deep seated insecurity which he was fairly certain stemmed from his childhood going from the odd comments that Tony let slip from time to time. Gibbs shook his head. Why did people have children if they didn’t want them, weren’t going to love them? He knew that Tony saw him as a mentor, maybe even a surrogate father. He smiled. He could live with that.
DiNozzo had spent the last ten minutes staring at his screen and suddenly he shot up out of his seat without a word heading for the elevator. Gibbs watched without a sound until it had left then caught Kate’s worried eyes as he got up to follow.
“He’s hurting Gibbs, he’s too quiet,” she said.
“I know,” he smiled. “He’ll be ok, there’s bound to be a reaction after an experience like that. You two finish up and go home, it’s late. I’ll stay with Tony.”
Tony dashed into Abby’s lab relieved to find her still there. He needed, he wasn’t sure what he needed but Abby understood him she always seemed to know what to say. Or in this case do, he thought as she took one look at him and launched herself at him. Holding her tightly he felt himself begin to shake but that was ok, Abs understood and she tightened her grip on him and rocked him gently.
He had no idea how long they stood like that but gradually he stopped shaking and eased back so that he could look her in the eye. “Thanks Abs, I needed that.”
She smiled back at him, adding no pressure. “Hugs are my specialty,” she said simply. “Want to talk about it?”
“I want to forget about it.”
“Doesn’t usually happen that way.”
Tony grimaced. “It doesn’t, does it,” he replied taking his time. “I kept thinking that my father was right, that I was going to end up in the gutter.”
“He said that?” She was appalled, even though she knew more about Tony’s early years than most of his friends.
“All the time, amongst other things. Now I keep hearing him say it over and over in my head.”
Abby held him against her again. Even with her Tony wasn’t usually so candid and it hurt to see the despair in his eyes. “You’re not going to end up there, you hear me DiNozzo.” She pushed him away a little so that she could look him in the eye. “How anyone could even think that, let alone say it is beyond me. You are a good man Anthony DiNozzo and you are wanted and loved here, by all of us. And don’t you forget it,” she added, slapping him gently upside the head. Gibb’s habitual gesture that she knew made Tony feel wanted.
He held her again gently, taking a deep breath before stretching slightly with a wince. “I need a shower,” he announced.
“You certainly do Buster,” she agreed, relieved to see a lightening in his mood. “I’ll be here when you’re done,” she added. “Maybe a pizza?”
Tony nodded, smiling tiredly at her as he left. Gibbs waited until he had left the lab before stepping into sight.
“How much did you hear?” Abby asked, having seen him arrive earlier.
“Enough, the more I hear about that bastard,” he began.
“Makes your second ‘B’ sound like a nickname.” Abby finished the sentence for him.
“Yeah,” he sighed. “It’s no wonder Tony feels insecure at times.”
“I don’t think anyone has ever really loved him Gibbs, not really.”
“I know Abs,” he kissed her forehead. “But you certainly helped just now.”
“He’s like my brother,” she smiled. “Looks after me like one too. He’s easy to love.”
Gibbs smiled down at her. “I’ll go and check on him, make sure he doesn’t fall asleep in the shower.”
“I think he’s hurt Gibbs,” Abby was worried. “He tensed up when I held him.”
“We’ll look after him Abs,” he assured her. “Order that pizza for an hours time.”
Tony shivered as he reached the showers, suddenly cold. He felt filthy, the smell of the sewers, of death filled his nostrils and he knew he would be sick if he didn’t get rid of his clothes soon. He stripped off quickly, shovelling everything into the biohazard incinerator. He had a change of clothes in his locker. When he reached his undershirt he paused, feeling pain as he tugged. Catching sight of himself in the mirror he saw bloodstains mixed with the grime. Dried blood. His undershirt had stuck to his skin. Vaguely he wondered where the blood had come from; then remembered the pain as Abby squeezed him. He had welcomed it at the time, it had mode him feel alive. Now it was an inconvenience. Mentally he shrugged and stepped into the shower stall as he was. The water would soak it loose.
He tipped his head back, letting the hot water wash over him but making no attempt to wash himself. Suddenly he didn’t have the energy. His knees buckled and he sank to the floor, barely aware when strong hands gripped him, stopping the flow of water and easing him to his feet.
“Come on DiNozzo,” Gibbs spoke gently as to a child as he wrapped a towel around the younger man. “Let’s have Ducky have a look at you.”
Tony allowed himself to be led into autopsy where Ducky was just preparing to open the body bag containing the body from the sewers. Quickly he zipped it up again and gestured for Palmer to put it in a drawer. Gibbs helped Tony to a table, keeping his back to the gruesome sight.
Ducky smiled kindly as he changed his gloves and collected his medical bag. “Jethro, in that cupboard there are some clean sheets if you’d be so kind,” he instructed, gesturing for Gibbs to lay them on the table to provide a warmer surface for Tony. The young man was shivering and looked lost in his own thoughts. “Sorry Ducky,” he said suddenly, as he became aware of where he was. “Don’t know what happened,” he mumbled.
“I’d say you were dragged,” Gibbs put in. “His shirt is stuck to his back Duck, found him in the showers.”
“Oh dear, Anthony,” Ducky spoke quietly as he removed the towel. “Why you people can’t come to me in the first place I’ll never know.”
“Don’t reckon Tony did either,” Gibbs said, holding onto his agent’s arm as he swayed on the table.
“Probably not,” Mallard agreed looking at his charge. “He was drugged you say?”
“Probably Bram, that’s what she used on Atlas.”
“I’ll take a blood sample when I’ve got him cleaned up.” As he spoke Ducky quickly and efficiently cut up the front of DiNozzo’s undershirt and helped him to slip his arms through. “Right, now you lie down my boy and we’ll soon have you sorted.”
Tony lay down on his stomach and allowed himself to drift as Ducky carefully soaked the bloodstained cloth and eased it carefully from his damaged back. The water was soothing and he let the murmur of voices wash over him, helping to calm the storm inside. Eventually he felt a firmer touch on his shoulder and the voices became more insistent.
“Tony,” Gibbs shook his shoulder gently. “Ducky needs you to sit up for a minute, come on.”
Tony had the distinct feeling that he had already been asked more than once and he moved his arms to push himself up, leaning slightly into the strong arms helping him.
“That’s it,” Ducky smiled. “You have several deep lacerations across your lower back and shoulders and some deep bruising, probably from being bumped down concrete steps. I just need to dress the lacerations; they will need changing again tomorrow. You’ll be stiff and sore for a couple of days but a good night’s sleep should put most of your ills to rest.”
Tony sighed deeply, raising his arms as Ducky bound the wound dressings in place with a bandage. “I feel like a mummy,” he quipped with a weak attempt at his usual bright smile.
“A hungry mummy?” Gibbs asked. “Abby is ordering pizza.”
Tony’s face lit up a little more. He was feeling calmer by the minute, the horrors of the past hours being driven into perspective by the care of his friends. “I’m not really dressed for dinner Boss,” he said.
“Since when has that stopped you?” Gibbs asked, holding up DiNozzo’s spare set of clothes from his locker.
Five minutes later Tony sat with Gibbs and Abby in her lab sharing a large pizza. Halfway through his second slice he felt his eyelids drooping and his head dropped suddenly to his chest. A hand grabbed him on either side and he looked up into the smiling faces of his friends. “Oops,” he smiled himself, embarrassed. “I think I’d better head home.”
“You’re not driving Tony, he’s not driving Gibbs,” Abby was insistent.
“No, he’s not,” Gibbs agreed. “His car is still in the impound yard. Come on DiNozzo,” he continued, “let’s get you home.”
Tony was silent in the car, lost in his thoughts. Gibbs let him be, knowing better than to push. The younger man had been through the wringer both physically and emotionally over the last twenty four hours and needed time to sort himself out. He knew, surely, that his team were there for him. Still, perhaps now was the time. “You did good work today DiNozzo,” Gibbs broke the silence, looking over at Tony as he parked the car.
Tony looked up surprised, a smile coming to his lips. “Thanks Boss,” he said simply.
Gibbs was pleased to see a lightening in his eyes, replacing the lost look from earlier. “Now,” the older man continued. “Let’s get you inside.”
“I’m fine Boss, you don’t have to worry.”
Yes I do, Gibbs thought, though he said nothing aloud. You need to know I do. Instead he locked his car and walked slowly up the steps beside his senior agent. DiNozzo still walked as though in a dream and would have stumbled without Gibb’s support. Quickly Jethro got them inside and helped Tony through to his bedroom. Once inside the young man let himself drop with a great sigh onto the bed and within moments was sound asleep. Gibbs took off his shoes and brought through a rug from the sofa which he lay over the sleeping man, a small smile on his face.
Turning he headed for the kitchen and coffee. He’d stay a while he decided. Just in case.