Author: Jilly James
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, Jethro Gibbs
Word Count: 1,000
Summary: It’s time for Tony to leave. Gibbs would rather he stayed.
Warnings: No beta
– – – –
Tony loved rainstorms in the summer—they always reminded him of good times with his mother before she died. If it started to rain on a hot day, she’d find him and they’d go out and play. It seemed like life was always about staying warm and dry, but in those moments, he always felt free by doing the opposite.
When he’d left the Navy Yard, at an unusual 1400 hours, instead of heading home or even to a bar, he’d gone to a park. It was almost autumn but still a sweltering 95-degrees. He’d sat on bench and watched the world pass by.
Then fat drops of water had started to fall, and the smell of rain hitting hot concrete had filled the air. People had quickly sought cover. Tony had automatically headed to his car, but then he’d stopped. He had nothing left to stay dry for, and those few happy memories of his childhood had pulled at him. He’d sat back on the bench, letting the water slowly soak through his clothes.
The rain had picked up until it was a complete downpour, leaving him completely drenched and oddly at peace. The rain felt like some kind of benediction; symbolically preparing him to start over—washing away the last two years and all of its regrets.
He was happy to sit in the pouring rain, letting the world happen without him for a while.
When someone took the seat next to him, he didn’t even have to look.
“I’m not accepting your resignation,” Gibbs finally said.
Tony stayed focused on the pond, watching the micro ripples of rain hitting the surface of the water. “Not sure why you think you get a say,” he said without inflection.
“You’ve been mine for six years.”
Brow furrowing, Tony considered that. “If that was ever true, it hasn’t been since Kate died.”
He was expecting Gibbs to get angry, but instead he was silent for a long time. “What changed?”
Tony finally turned his head, oddly appreciating the way the water dripped from Gibbs’ hair. “You did. You forgot that I was your partner and not actually your dog. You let her take Kate’s place—the woman who profiled us for Ari to murder.”
Gibbs’ expression was tight. “There are things you don’t know.”
“That she killed Ari?”
Gibbs’ just blinked, but Tony could read the astonishment.
“You forgot I’m not an idiot.”
“Sometimes you act like an idiot.”
Tony inclined his head in acknowledgment, and looked back out over the water. He wasn’t going to defend it. Gibbs used to know that it was a distraction. He used to know Tony. “You spent the last year—one of the worst of my life—punishing me for being here when you weren’t. For doing my job.”
“That wasn’t it,” Gibbs snapped. “You lied to me all year!”
“I was under orders,” Tony shot back without any heat. “I’m not going to fight with you about it. You’ve left me in the dark—repeatedly—because it’s your job to keep some things confidential, but you just can’t deal with it being done to you.”
“It was never that.” The silence was long but Tony wasn’t going to let his newly-found peace be affected by Gibbs. Eventually, the other man said, so softly Tony could barely hear over the rain, “I saw you burning out. I could see the stress of whatever was going on dragging you down. I thought… you might be sick.”
Tony snorted. “So instead of talking to me, you treated me like shit.”
“You didn’t trust me! You should have told me what was wrong.”
Huffing a laugh, Tony said, “Boy, you really think you own me. Are you even capable of seeing how you acted this year?” When there was no response, Tony looked at Gibbs again.
Gibbs dragged a hand over his face. “I didn’t handle it well when I came back. My memory was a mess. I screwed up, and you… caught the worst of it.”
Tony made a disgusted noise. “What else is new? I was always willing to take your worst.”
“Me being willing to take your shit didn’t give you the right to expect it.”
“Why?” Gibbs asked after another long pause.
“Why’d I put up with it? Why’d I leave? Why now? Why what?”
“Why now, Tony?”
“It’s just… over. Jeanne is gone, the op was bogus, I’ve put up with a lifetime of bullshit since you got hurt, and as I sat there writing my report about another damn car being blown up, I decided I couldn’t face more. No more being used, no more being punished for doing my job. Just… no more.”
“Did you love her?” Gibbs asked, surprising Tony.
“In a way. She was my mark, but she was the only good thing in my life for way too long.”
When there was yet another too-long silence, Tony got to his feet and took one last look at the other man, who was watching him intently. “Goodbye, Gibbs.”
He was halfway to his car when his arm was grabbed and he was pulled around, suddenly very close to Gibbs.
“Don’t leave, Tony,” Gibbs whispered.
The sudden change in body language and tone was unmistakable, and it stunned him. How had he missed that Gibbs was hiding this? He’d loved Gibbs since his first year at NCIS, and he’d never had a clue it was reciprocated.
“Gibbs…” He felt heartbreak looming, and he didn’t know how to respond.
Gibbs pressed their foreheads together, cupping the back of Tony’s neck. He felt frozen in that moment, alone with Gibbs in the rain.
“I took it for granted that you’d be there and I’d have time. Stay,” he urged.
Knowing this was how it had to be, Tony softly replied, “I can’t stay at NCIS. But I’ll stay… with you.”
Gibbs’ tension bled away and he tightened the hand on Tony’s neck, pulling him closer.
Yeah, he’d stay.
– – – –
The Big Short is a short-story challenge on Rough Trade based on thematic or character prompts. The maximum word count for themes is 1k, for characters it’s 2k. They are NOT beta’d. I re-read them looking for errors, but that is all.
Each short story is complete AS IS. They will not be expanded on, there will be no sequels, they are not connected to anything else. Also, they are most assuredly NOT prompts themselves.
Oh yeah… these are not strays. I don’t run an adoption program.