AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
CHARACTERS: Gibbs and DiNozzo
SUMMARY: DiNozzo makes a decision and stuns Gibbs.
WORD COUNT: 1,000
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Tony woke up and knew that today was the day.
Decision made, he showered and dressed, taking even more care than he normally did. He put on his smartest suit, his finest cotton dress shirt and his most expensive tie; he even polished his shoes. After coffee and toast, he brushed his teeth, splashed on some cologne, picked up his ID and gun and headed out of the door.
When the elevator opened on the squad room he paused for a moment and thought: how would he feel if this was the last time he'd stand here as an NCIS employee? He'd wondered it several times over the last seven years (once his 'usual' two years had arrived) and every time the prospect hadn't been a good one. He hadn't wanted it; but now it was the right time. It was as simply as that. It was time to go.
He headed for Gibbs's desk, nodding 'good morning' to Ziva and McGee as he passed them. "Boss?"
Gibbs raised his head and stared up at him. "DiNozzo?"
"Can I have a word with you? In private?"
Gibbs continued to stare at him; Tony knew both Ziva and McGee were watching. For a moment he thought Gibbs was going to tell him 'later' or 'no'. However, after a moment or two of further intense scrutiny, Gibbs stood up. "Conference room," he said, heading towards the elevators. "Five minutes."
"Er, boss," Tony called after him. Gibbs stopped. "Which conference room? NCIS'S or yours?" Gibbs didn't reply, he just pointed upwards, before getting into the elevator.
Five minutes later Tony opened to door to the conference room and slipped inside. He wasn't surprised to see Gibbs sitting at the table with a coffee container in his hand. What did surprise him was Gibbs pushing a second Styrofoam coffee container across the table. "For me, boss?" Tony asked.
"You see anyone else in the room, DiNozzo?"
"Er, no, boss." Hastily Tony sat down and took a wary sip of the coffee. He and Gibbs couldn't be farther apart in their ways of taking coffee. However, he found it, while somewhat stronger than he liked, had been sweetened and creamed in the way he liked it. "Thanks, boss," he said, taking a second sip.
Gibbs just nodded and stared at DiNozzo. "Well?" he said, "What do you want, DiNozzo?"
Just for a second or two, Tony panicked; was this what he really wanted? Could he walk away from NCIS? Did he want to? The next second the panic faded and was replaced by a feeling of peace and contentment. "It's time, boss," he said. "Time for me to move on. I - What did you say?"
"Said 'I know'," Gibbs said quietly, sipping his coffee. Still he stared at Tony.
"Oh," said Tony, feeling slightly let down.
"Known it for some time, DiNozzo. Just wondered when you were going to figure it out."
"Right. Guess I should have guessed."
Gibbs gave me a hint of a smile. "You think, DiNozzo?"
Tony smiled back. "Yeah. The thing is, I'm getting stale and it's not going to get any better. I've been with you for nine years, boss, and it's been the best nine year of my life. But," he shrugged. "You don't need me any more; the team doesn't need me. You've got McGee and he's now a better agent than I'll ever be. He's more versatile. I'm a cop and I'll always be a cop. I look at everything from a cop's perspective. My reactions are those of a cop, and that's not enough any longer for the agency, is it?"
Gibbs shrugged. "Don't sell yourself short, Tony. Yes, you'll always be a cop. But you're a good cop. A damn good agent."
"McGee's better." It wasn't a question. Tony was pleased when Gibbs didn't answer; he didn't want to hear his boss agree with him, but nor did he want him to lie to him. "The agency's changed," he said.
"Yep," Gibbs replied.
Gibbs nodded. "What'll you do?"
DiNozzo shrugged. "I'm a cop. Forces always need cops." He paused; then made another decision; one he hadn't even considered before. However, once he'd made it he knew it was the right thing to do, the only thing he wanted to do. "I thought I'd go to New York," he said, looking at Gibbs. "NYPD, still four letters."
Gibbs smiled. "Reckon that's a good idea, DiNozzo."
"Not for much longer."
Gibbs words didn't trouble Tony in the way they once would have done. "When will it be okay for me to go?"
"How about now?" Gibbs's tone was low.
"Ah, DiNozzo, you're not the kind for drawn out farewells. The team'll cope. Go on; say your goodbyes and go."
"Are you sure?"
"I am if you are."
Tony thought about it. "You're right," he said. "So that means you're no longer my boss, right?"
Gibbs looked at him. "Technically."
"So can I say something?"
"Since when did you start asking permission, DiNozzo?"
"Hah. Nice one, bo- Jethro." Tony hid a smile as Gibbs raised his eyebrows. "Okay, it's like this. Stop waiting. Stop finding excuses. Tell Ducky how you feel about him. Tell him while you can. Tell him before you wake up one day and find he's no longer available for you to tell. It's that simple." He stood up.
Gibbs continued to stare at him, but automatically stood up too. Tony held out his hand and Gibbs took it. "Thanks, boss," he said, the 'Jethro' had been hard to say once; he couldn't manage it again. "Thanks for everything, Gibbs. You taught me a lot and I'll never forget. I'll be in touch. I'll send you an email from NYPD; you can get McGeek to show you how to open it. And don't forget: tell Ducky."
And then without waiting for Gibbs to say anything, Tony turned on his heel, and whistling strode towards the door and his new future.