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 Post subject: Courage (Gibbs, Tony)
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:41 am 
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Director's Secretary

Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:47 pm
Posts: 2382
Location: Southern Tier
Name: Jennie (please NOT Jen)
Gender: Female
link: Blog
link: First Novel
This was written for the Last Fiction Writer Standing contest on LJ. It had to be an episode tag between 500 and 1500 words. I was in the middle of my Jesse Stern marathon at the time, and was struck by a line in Corporal Punishment. This is the result. I didn't get voted off, but nobody picked mine as the favorite, either. I'm curious to see what you guys think.


Courage

Gibbs left Bethesda, and his thoughts turned to the words he'd spoken to Werth earlier in the day. Werth had done the right thing, owned up to his bad decision. It hadn't been difficult for Gibbs to decide to honor that and give up his own Silver Star. He'd gotten it from Tony's desk — trust Tony to have kept the damn thing, even though he knew Gibbs didn't care about the medals. That was Tony, always on his six. All the more reason his earlier words to Werth haunted him.

"Courage doesn't have anything to do with medals. It's simple. You run to the gunfire, instead of away," he'd said.

As he pulled his beat-up truck out of the hospital parking lot, Gibbs realized that he could be convicted on his own words. He'd failed his team during the past two years, Tony in particular. First leaving for Mexico without a word, then coming back the way he had, booting them back to their old desks without a word. That was his smallest offense, though, which wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement. He'd known something was wrong with Tony, known the secret girlfriend wasn't all she appeared, but he'd ignored it, waiting for Tony to come to him. Way to run from the gunfire, Marine. His internal scolding reminded himself of moments he could have stepped up and hadn't.

Even after the whole fiasco had blown up — literally — Gibbs hadn't done enough. He hadn't run from the situation, but he sure hadn't run toward it. Jenny had used his team too many times on this damned Frog hunt, and he'd let her. She'd manipulated him, Tony, the Frog, Jeanne — and what little he'd done had been too late. When his obsession with Ari threatened the team, Tony had stood up to him, the serious face and smartass Moby Dick reference getting through to him the way nothing else had. Gibbs should have done the same thing with Jenny. He hadn't. It needed to end.

He skipped the turn south to Alexandria and headed to Georgetown. Jenny had left the office about the same time he had, so she would be home. But he found himself parking in an empty space on Tony's street and realized Jenny wasn't the one he needed to talk to.

He could see lights in Tony's windows. Before he could talk himself out of it, Gibbs headed upstairs. He knocked, and didn't realize he'd been holding his breath until Tony opened the door, wearing sweatpants and a long-sleeved T-shirt. The area around his broken nose had purpled, and Gibbs knew it had to be worse under the bandage.

"Boss?" Tony frowned. "We got a case?"

Gibbs shook his head. "Can I come in?"

Tony stepped back, and Gibbs entered the apartment. He hadn't been to Tony's since before his trip to Mexico, and the bachelor kept it neater than before.

Tony motioned Gibbs toward the armchair, then settled on the couch. He swigged from a bottle of water on the coffee table, hitting mute on the basketball game playing on his big TV. "I'm not drinking with painkillers, if that's what you were worried about."

Gibbs shook his head. "Not why I'm here."

"Yeah, why are you here?" Tony sounded curious, but not suspicious. After everything, he really should be suspicious. His trust in Gibbs after everything just drove home how badly he'd let Tony down.

"Came to apologize."

Tony's eyes widened. "OK, I didn't think Corporal Crazy did any damage besides knocking the wind out of you when he threw you into that table, but you must have hit your head someplace because you don't break your own rules, especially not Rule 6."

"Broken plenty of rules over the years. Need to break 6 in this case. Rule 45's more important."

Only then did Tony's gaze turn suspicious. "Boss, you never break out the rules in the 40s."

"When I need to." He wanted to deflect, but reminded himself of the look in Werth's eyes that morning and knew he couldn't. "I let you down. I was fuzzy on some things when I came back from Mexico, but I knew something was wrong with you. Should have said something. To you, to the director. To somebody."

Tony shook his head. "That was all on me, Boss. I was keeping it a secret, and I shouldn't have. She might be the director, but you're the boss."

"Tony, I left a mess when I ran away. Stuck you with it because I couldn't handle everything." He sat up straight, unable to relax.

"I get it, Boss. Shannon, Kelly, those were some tough memories." Tony leaned forward. "I didn't get it then, but I do now."

"Because of Jeanne?"

Tony winced, and Gibbs opened his mouth to apologize.

"Don't say it, Gibbs. You know I don't like it when you're nice, and this whole apologizing thing is freaking me out enough." Tony got up and paced around the room. "Look, you've always said I was one of the best undercover agents you'd worked with. I was playing that whole operation undercover, even to you and the rest of the team. Maybe especially to you and the team."

"You were good," Gibbs said. "I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what. I was still trying to deal with getting my head on straight, but that's no excuse." He stood and walked over to stand in front of Tony. "Ziva even came to me a few times with concerns, and I brushed her off. She was more on your six than I was, and there's no excuse for that." He waited until Tony looked at him. "I let you down, Anthony."

Tony just stared, and Gibbs forced himself not to look away. But Tony didn't say anything, just moved away to stand in front of the window, looking out to the street below.

"I loved comic book movies as a kid," Tony said. "Watching Christopher Reeve fly through the air? I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. And then I got older and realized he wasn't really flying; he wasn't really Superman. It was just some special effects, ones that look pretty amateurish now that they have CGI everything." He turned to face Gibbs. "I came up with my own special effects as team leader."

"The phone trick." Gibbs remembered that one from his temporary reinstatement.

Tony nodded. "I had some others. But I'm still Luke to your Obi-Wan." He paused. "Except Luke never lost faith in Obi-Wan."

"And you finally realized I'm no Obi-Wan," Gibbs said, glad that this was one movie reference of Tony's he actually understood. "I screw up, Tony."

"Well, yeah, Boss. I can think of at least three red-heads and a blonde who would agree to that." He grinned, then sobered again. "Look, it's probably a good thing I realized you're not Superman or Obi-Wan. I'm getting a little too old for fairytales. One of these times you're not going to be able to sweep in and save the day, and I don't want to be figuring that out because I've been relying on you to do the impossible instead of bailing my own ass out of trouble."

Gibbs sighed. "You've always been able to save yourself, Tony. I figure you've had a lot of practice over the years. But you should be able to trust that I've got your six, and I let you down. It won't happen again." He frowned. "And it definitely won't happen where the director's concerned. She's not right, hasn't been since this whole Frog mess."

Tony nodded. "No, she's not. She's not saying anything, but there's something else, another shoe waiting to drop. I don't really think the Frog just disappeared that easily. She's waiting for him to come out of hiding."

Gibbs nodded in agreement. "Whatever happens, however it plays out, I'm not going to let her do anything else to you."

Tony looked at him for a moment, then nodded. "I trust you, Boss."

With Tony, it was that simple. It shouldn't be, and Gibbs knew that. But it was for Tony. Gibbs vowed that whenever Rene Benoit resurfaced, he'd have Tony's six no matter what the director might try to pull, even if it meant making a deal with Trent Kort himself.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:27 pm 
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Autopsy Gremlin
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Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 8:37 pm
Posts: 302
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Name: Des
Aliases: kweandee
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I like it lotz... :yes:

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:29 pm 
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Director's Secretary

Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:47 pm
Posts: 2382
Location: Southern Tier
Name: Jennie (please NOT Jen)
Gender: Female
link: Blog
link: First Novel
Thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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