Title: All Fall Down
Word Count: 662
Note: Spoilers ahead for 5x18 Judgment Day, the season-ender. Have I mentioned how much I love dramatic tension when it's well done?
"What've you found out, boss?" The sat cell connection was full of static, but Gibbs could make out enough of Tony's voice.
"Not much. Tracing a few leads on the sly." Gibbs leaned back against a freshly-sanded board. "He's pretty well covered any tracks, if there are any. His backing goes high--whatever his purpose, it's sanctioned." Gibbs really wanted to know how Natasha, after nine years of futile search, finally found the three agents involved in her lover's death. A little leak in the right ear might have made the difference. If so, he wanted the SOB who did it, especially if it were Vance.
"Yeah, well, I don't trust him. And not just because he obvious gets off on being alpha dog. Jerk," Tony added, soto voce. "And I know you don't trust him either, boss, whatever you say or don't say."
"I've known Leon Vance a long time, Tony," Gibbs said mildly. "If there's something there, it's buried pretty deep."
"You could've been buried pretty deep, too, boss, along with Jenny and Decker. It's mighty damn handy we've been split up now. Makes it hard to work together to find out just what the hell really happened."
"Not has hard as you might think...McGee's pretty handy on the computers. We have lunch occasionally, keep in touch."
"Yeah, well...." Tony sighed. "It bugs me, boss, that I'm not there watching your six. I don't trust your new crew to do it." Tony suddenly laughed. "Then again, they better not be watching your six quite the same way I did."
Gibbs thought of his motley new team and smirked. "Don't think there's any chance of that with these three. Tony...watch your back out there."
"Yeah, I will. I'll call you in a couple weeks. Meanwhile, check your email. I'll be in touch. And get out of the basement and sleep in your bed." Silence reigned for a moment. "This sucks. I miss you."
"...yeah." Gibbs closed his eyes. "Be safe, Tony." He listened to DiNozzo's soft breathing for a moment before closing the phone.
Ducky's words only a week before Jenny's trip out west came back to haunt Jethro: "You never really appreciate someone until they're not here."
Franks was holed up in Mexico with the borders on alert for him; Jenny was dead. Ziva was sent back to Israel. And Tony...Tony was cruising around in the Pacific on the Ronald Reagan, four thousand miles away.
He'd fucked this one up but good--trusted that Jenny had gotten her target nine years ago. She tried to make amends, died protecting him, but something bigger was in play. Something more, something else, and he had no idea what the hell it was.
All he knew was that his life had been turned upside down and his team...his family had been taken from him. He'd vowed once before never again...and yet it all had unfolded like a bad dream. He didn't know his new new team, couldn't trust them--they were Vance's picks, after all. And the nights seemed longer than ever with no one there to share the stupid little things with.
"You never really appreciate someone until they're not here."
He hadn't, had been too damn closed off to really appreciate what he had.
Yeah, this is news? Your three exes have been saying that for years, idiot.
But now...maybe it was the explosion a year ago, the amnesia and living his past as the present that had softened him up and let him see things a little differently.
He wasn't getting any younger. And Tony made him laugh. Made him want to smack him, too, but it didn't matter. He wanted that back. Wanted him back, for every day. And he wasn't about to roll over like a whipped dog for Vance and quit. He was going to uncover what was going on, and he was going to get his man. And whoever was pulling strings had better watch out, because this Marine did not quit.