Title: You Can't Go Home Again - Part 1
Word Count: 1615
Spoilers: Singled Out
Warnings: It's slash, but you won't see that here
Disclaimer: They're not mine, pretty as I find them. Go to the producers if you want to talk money.
Summary: AU but following canon events: Tony has to confront Gibbs about what he's forgotten eventually, but maybe Gibbs is tired of waiting him out. This scene takes place between the last two scenes of Singled Out.
The elevator was silent, unnervingly so. The case was done, the girl saved in the nick of time, and all that was left was the reports. DiNozzo should be rattling on at a mile a minute, about his plans, his girls, something, anything. At least, Gibbs thought he should. It could be another example of his faulty memory. Except he knew that itch between his shoulder blades meant he was being watched, and there was no one else in the elevator to be doing the watching.
Ever since he returned, even to visit, Tony had been ... different. Sure, some days he wasn't even sure he knew the man, but it was hard to tell if that was because of the holes that still shifted randomly through his memories or because there had been enough of a change in the man that it was possible to say Gibbs really didn't know Tony anymore. Either way, the last week had been winding him up for some reason, and it all had to do with this man.
“Enough,” Gibbs snapped, slapping the emergency stop and turning around as the lights switched. Tony looked back at him blankly, that damned mask that he had been using more and more. “What?”
“You tell me,” Tony replied blandly. “You called this conference.”
“You've been staring holes in my back all week. You run hot and cold, like you don't even want me back even as you make cracks about how you can't understand why I left. Hell, you hugged me the first time I came into the office, and now you can't seem to wait to get away from me. What is wrong with you?” Gibbs felt his hand itch to reach out and slap the back of Tony's head, but he resisted. That was supposed to be a wake up, but right now Gibbs didn't need his senior field agent to wake up, he needed the younger man to talk.
“At first, I thought, just maybe, you'd come back for me,” Tony snapped. “At least in part. However, it's been quite obvious that is not the case.”
“For you? Ziva called me. Why would I have come back for you?” Gibbs asked in utter confusion, begging for an explanation with his expression.
Tony ignored it all, just asking, “How much do you really remember?” and leaning back against the wall nonchalantly. “Sometimes you look like you remember everything, but then you call Ziva Kate, or me McGee, or just do something out of character. Like this.”
Gibbs crossed his arms and glared. It didn't feel quite the same with the mustache, but he wasn't quite the same, hadn't been since that bomb blast blew his memory all to hell. “Are you saying I can't do the job?” Gibbs growled. He didn't like the implied criticism, but at the same time it was comforting to know someone was paying enough attention to notice. But why this man, this playboy? He remembered the flirting, the screwing around, the playing games. Sometimes he didn't understand why he'd kept the man on so long. And yet ... when the chips were down, he knew this man had his six, would take care of the team, would get the job done.
“Nope,” Tony replied with a levity that didn't reach his eyes. Those were hard, angry, and at the same time disturbingly lost. “The job you seem to do just fine, if a bit differently. It's everything else I wonder about.”
“What right do you have to question me about anything beyond the job?” Gibbs asked incredulously. Tobias might, Jen might, but there was history between them and him.
Tony's eyes widened, their green depths suddenly seeming filled with sadness. “You don't remember, truly don't remember,” he whispered, sounding heartbroken.
“Don't remember what?” Gibbs asked, about ready to explode from the frustration and confusion building within him.
“Doesn't matter,” Tony said flatly, his face suddenly blank. However, no matter how he tried there was no hiding the sense of pain and loss radiating from him. Tony stepped forward and hit the emergency stop switch, facing the elevator door as though he hadn't a care in the world as the small room resumed its motion.
“The hell it isn't,” Gibbs growled, slapping the switch almost as soon as Tony's hand was out of the way. The elevator jerked to a stop again and Gibbs grabbed Tony by the shoulder, turning the younger man to face him. “What is going on with you?”
“What the fuck does it matter to you?” Tony snarled back, his teeth bared in a way that echoed oddly in Gibbs’ memories. “You left, and I picked up the pieces as best I could. Now you're back, and maybe I'm sick of picking up the pieces.”
“Is this about taking the team back?” Gibbs asked, confused. He felt like there were two levels to the conversation, and he was only picking up on one. “You did a good job. Jen agrees. It's in no way a reflection on your ability.” Normally he wasn't one to explain, but today he felt he needed to. He knew McGee's words earlier had wounded the younger man.
“Oh, I know that,” Tony said sarcastically. “Though the rest of the team made it readily apparent quite regularly that they disagree. Can't argue with the solve rate though, even without your gut.”
“Then what is the problem?” Gibbs asked angrily. He took half a step forward and was impressed when Tony stood toe to toe, refusing to back down. Tony bared his teeth again, and Gibbs got an odd impression of Shannon with that same expression.
“You don't remember,” Tony snarled back. “Or maybe you never actually understood.” The latter was spat out in such a tone of disgust that Gibbs recoiled slightly.
“Remember what?” Gibbs yelled, almost begging for the younger man to explain. “There's a lot I don't remember, all right. There, I admitted it, I don't remember. I didn't remember Ziva until she confronted me. I didn't remember Mike until he talked to me. I didn't remember Serbia until after Jen asked. I don't remember this, so remind me.”
Tony took a deep breath, his eyes catching Gibbs' before skittering away and fixing themselves on the wall. “You remember Kate?” he asked distantly.
“Yes,” Gibbs replied harshly.
“And how she died?”
“Ari killed her. Ziva reminded me of that before I left. Is there a point to this?”
“And you 'killed' Ari,” Tony continued, making little finger quote marks at the word killed. Gibbs wondered when the younger man had realized the truth, but he said nothing. “Do you remember what happened when we got back from Kate's funeral?” Those green eyes bounced back to bore into his. It felt as though Tony was willing him to remember something.
Gibbs took a deep breath and shut his eyes, trying to remember, but also to escape that expectant look. But no matter how hard he tried, he could remember the race to the funeral, comforting Abby, but after that ... “Nothing specific ...” An image of a brown dog lying on a familiar leather couch caused his brows to furrow. “Do you own a dog?” He'd seen that memory before, he was pretty sure, or others like it. He could remember the feel of fur under his fingers, see that same dog sitting under his boat. Wait? Was it a dog?
His focus was broken by Tony's pained laughter. “You thought so once,” he hissed between gasps.
Gibbs opened his eyes and looked at his senior agent, really looked. He took in the spiky brown hair and the haunted green eyes, the long rangy stance covered in overpriced clothes, and he remembered those bared teeth from earlier. It was important, a connection. Shannon had had that exact same look when she was angry, like a snarling wolf.
Shit! Like a wolf!
“You're a shifter,” he gasped. That was Tony lounging under his boat, getting sawdust in his fur. “I never realized there were two ... Shannon used to lounge under the boat the same way.”
For a moment, Tony's eyes lit up with hope, but the light died completely as soon as Gibbs mentioned Shannon. The younger man looked like he had been sucker punched. He gasped twice, his expression so pained that Gibbs was terrified he was going to expire there in the elevator. Somehow, he pulled himself together, his eyes hard and somehow broken. “Then there's no excuse,” he hissed, his hand flashing out to slap the emergency stop switch.
This time, Gibbs didn't try to stop him, didn't flip the switch back. He let the elevator rise, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Tony was a shifter, like Shannon, like a number of other men and women he'd know. Tony was his second, his senior agent, his ... There was more, but it was still out of reach and he was running out of time. He could feel time slipping away, and if he didn't do something, the right thing, he was going to lose Tony, and somehow he knew that would break him.
The doors opened, and Tony took several steps into the bull pen before Gibbs found his voice. “Tony,” he called desperately. The younger man froze but did not turn back. “You're still my second,” he said firmly. Tony seemed to hesitate a moment more before striding on, past his desk and up the stairs to the Director's office.
Gibbs sighed as he let the elevator carry him back down. He could only hope that was enough to borrow some time for him to figure out whatever it was he was still forgetting.