Today I have the follow up for Once A Hero. Most of it takes place in the elevator just before Gibbs and Tony emerge to discuss sending Lee on the undercover op.
Title: To Be A Hero
Word Count: 724
Spoilers: Once A Hero
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: The year is progressing, as is Tony's undercover op. Gibbs is worried his senior agent isn't holding up well under the stress.
“Director running you ragged?” Gibbs asked as the doors to the elevator closed.
“What?” Tony asked, looking flustered.
“You look like shit, DiNozzo,” Gibbs snapped, slapping the elevator emergency stop switch and bracing himself as the small room jerked to a halt. “I've seen you run on cat naps for three days and not look this run down.”
“I'm fine, boss,” Tony insisted, but his heart wasn't in it. He scrubbed his hand along a gaunt cheek and over an eye that looked near blackened with lack of sleep.
“You weren't here last night,” Gibbs said pointedly. He knew. He'd checked with security this morning, even before he'd gotten a look at his tired senior agent. Tony had looked bad enough yesterday, but today he was falling apart. “And you vanished for several hours yesterday afternoon.”
Tony sighed and leaned back against the wall of the elevator. “Had some stuff to do for the Director,” he admitted softly. “It ran late.”
“I don't like her stuff interfering with our investigation,” Gibbs snapped, hating himself for how harsh he sounded. “You've been off your stride for days.” And wasn't that the truth. Tony hadn't gotten a single lead on this case other than confirming the location of Nelson when Wright fell.
“You're right,” Tony admitted, frustration plain in his voice. “I don't like keeping this from everyone and it's throwing me. We're starting a new, long term aspect of the op, and it's ... difficult.”
“Should you be working here if you're doing a long term undercover op?” Gibbs asked hesitantly. The last thing he wanted was to lose his favorite agent, his second. But if Tony needed more time and space to work on this other op ... he needed Tony to have his full attention on keeping himself alive, not be split because his boss was greedy bastard.
“Just give me a little time to adjust,” Tony pleaded, his green eyes searching desperately for something Gibbs couldn't place.
“You tell me if you need out or time off,” Gibbs insisted. Tony nodded frantically in response. “All right. But I need you all here right now. I need you focused if we're going to send Lee in undercover.” He reached over and slapped the emergency stop switch, sending the elevator upward towards the bull pen.
“Wait,” Tony said frantically. “Is that a good idea?”
“You worked with her for four months,” Gibbs pointed out. Tony knew her better, and so he was willing to listen to the younger man's opinion, but there weren't a lot of options right now. “Are you saying she's not capable?”
“In the four months I had her, she seemed to have potential,” Tony admitted. “But it's just that she's never been undercover, boss.” With those words they strode into the bullpen.
The whole case had left a bad taste in his mouth. A hero dead. A child dead. A sex slave ring stopped. That part was more palatable. But Gibbs could have lived without the means by which they discovered the ring. Or the fact that a senator's aid was implicated in purchasing said ring's services. It made him sick.
One good thing was that Michelle had definitely shown her stuff. She'd held it together well during the op despite a lack of undercover experience. Gibbs wasn't sure if that was a reflection on Tony's work with her or her training at FLETC, but she did well.
However, Michelle's success didn't change how worried Gibbs was about Tony. His senior agent was fading, getting more and more frazzled, and, thanks to his orders, Gibbs had to watch it happen without knowing why. He should have known better than to order Tony to finish that op without asking for more details. He should have known better.
Gibbs let out his frustrations by pounding beams into vertical supports for the Kelly's cabin. He missed the days of sanding and planing her ribs, the steady rhythm requiring little to no conscious thought as he reviewed the day or just lost himself in the motions. It was going to be a bit before he could work on this next section with so little thought, and a lot of worrying was going to happen in the mean time. Especially since Tony wasn't lying next to him where he could watch over the shifter.