WHAT HAVE I DONE?
There is an accident during a shoot-out and DiNozzo is devastated. Can Abby help him?
A first time story.
Written: January 2013. Word count: 2,780.
Tony sits at his desk in the squad room he is gripping the arms of his chair, he is shaking violently and fighting to stop himself from being sick. He's sweating, his shirt is sticking to his back, it's so close in the squad room, so very humid, just as it had been outside when he'd -
What had he done? What had he done? He is scared; no it was more than that, he's been scared before, this went beyond scared; he is terrified. Terrified is a feeling he has never felt before, one he's never thought he would experience. He has truly never believed that he, Anthony DiNozzo, could be terrified - but he is. "What have I done?" he whispers. "What have I done?"
"Here you are, Tony, have a sip of this." McGee holds out a glass with some amber liquid in it.
But Tony just stares at it. "What is it?"
"Ducky's finest brandy. He called me and told me to give you some. Here. Drink it." McGee's tone is firm; it's clear he's not going to be argued with.
Finally, not even trying to control the fact his hand is shaking Tony tries to take the glass from McGee, but he almost drops it. McGee sighs softly, wraps his hand around Tony's and guides the glass to his mouth and makes Tony drink. "It wasn't your fault, Tony," he says once Tony has drunk all the brandy; he sits on the edge of Tony's desk, still holding the now empty glass in his hand.
Tony glares at him. How can he say that? How can he? Of course it was his fault. "Then whose fault was it?" he growls.
"No one's, Tony," McGee says softly. He sounds so calm and for a moment Tony hates him; wants to hit him and go on hitting him and hitting him and hitting him until - And then he really looks at McGee and sees how pale he is, sees how one of his eyes is twitching, sees how pinched his lips are, sees a faint tremble in the hand that still held the empty glass. And he realizes that McGee is far from calm, he's just hiding it better. But why is he like that? What right does he have to be upset? Worried? He doesn't. He didn't -
"Tim is right," Ziva says softly, getting up and moving very slowly and precisely as she deliberately puts one foot in front of the others as if she's forgotten how to walk. "It is not your fault. Gibbs would not -"
"How the fuck do you know what Gibbs would or would not think?" Tony shouts at Ziva, who starts slightly and bites her lip. He stands up quickly, so quickly his chair shoots backwards and crashes into the screens behind his desk. He doesn't care. He has to get out of the squad room; he has to before he - He pushes past a startled McGee, races across the squad room, ignores the elevators and heads for the stairs and runs down them at full pelt.
He finally stops running when he reaches Abby's lab. It's unusually silent; there is no music playing and Abby is sitting just staring at her computer screen, but her fingers aren't on the keyboard; she's just staring. It's cooler down here in her lab; it doesn't feel as humid, he can even feel the sweat on his back beginning to dry.
"Abby?" he whispers.
She turns around and looks at him. "Oh, hello, Tony," she says as she stands up and opens her arms, "come here, you need a hug."
Tony hesitates for no more than a second or two before he hurries across the room and lets Abby hug him. "I'm ter- so scared, Abby," he whispers as she wraps her arms around him. He can't tell anyone, not even Abby, he's terrified.
Abby sighs and says quietly. "I know, Tony, we all are."
"But it's my fault," he says, suddenly irritated with Abby. Why did she have to say that? What right has she to be frightened? What right has McGee and Ziva to be worried? And what right has Ducky to be at the hospital?
He pulls himself out of her arms. "Yeah," he growls, "but you didn't shoot, Gibbs, did you, Abby? I did."
She stares at him. "It was an accident, Tony, remember? An accident. You didn't mean to shoot him."
"But I did shoot him!" He shouts the words and Abby takes a step backwards. "He's lying in hospital, a bullet from my gun, my gun, Abby, in his chest and they don't think he'll make it. And if he dies whose fault will it be? Whose?"
"No ones, Tony. And he isn't going to die."
Tony stares at her and shakes his head. Coming down here was a mistake. He'll leave; that's it he'll leave and go to the hospital - which is where he should be.
"Where are you going, Tony?" Abby says, catching his arm.
"To the hospital," he says, trying to pull his arm away from her.
She shakes her head. "You know you can't. The doctors have said only one person can be with him - and thatís Ducky. Vance has told you that you have to stay here."
He feels the terror and the rage rise up at him in a wave so intense he thinks it will spew out of him. "Why does it have to be Ducky who's with Gibbs? Why him? He's just a rambling old man, what can he do? Why is he there and not me? And why can't any of you understand it's all my fault? I should be with Gibbs not Ducky. I'm the one who is upset and scared and concerned. I'm the one who has almost certainly killed Gibbs. Me, Abby, me! Why are you all looking so concerned and worried? What right have you to worry? What right has Ducky to be at the hospital? What right - " He stops abruptly and stands rubbing his cheek as he stares in shock at Abby who glares back at him as tears now stream down her cheeks. Her hand is still raised from where she had slapped him and slapped him hard around the face.
"You, Anthony DiNozzo, are the most selfish person I have ever known." Her hands are on her hips, her face is ashen beneath her pale make-up and she looks as terrifying as Tony feels terrified.
"What?" he whispers, unable to believe she said what she said.
"Why does everything be about you? Yes, you shot Gibbs. Yes, he may die. Yes, you're upset, frightened, concerned. Yes, you feel guilty. Yes, you have the right to feel all those things. But so do the rest of us! We all love Gibbs; all of us. If he dies -" She breaks off and sobs before swallowing hard, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand and once more glaring at him. "If he dies we'll all miss him, Tony, all of us. We'll all be upset; we'll all cry; we'll all feel as if part of us has died with him. All of us, Tony. All of us - not just you. So, yeah, we all feel for you, we all understand, but you should understand too that it is not all about you. Now get the hell out of my lab." She turns around and stalks to her stool and sits down.
He stares at her, his mouth is open and his eyes are wide. He still can't believe what she's said. This is Abby, Abby who's always understood him; Abby who always supports him; Abby who can make him laugh; Abby who stood by him as he tried to be the team leader after Gibbs had quit.
"Abby?" he says softly, daring to take a step towards her.
"Why are you still here?"
He swallows but makes himself take another step and then another until he's standing right behind her. He slowly and carefully puts his hand on her shoulder, he fully expects her to shake it off, but although she tenses up, she doesn't shake it off. "I'm sorry," he whispers.
She sighs but still doesn't turn around. "What about?" her voice is harsh.
"For behaving like a . . ."
"Selfish jerk?" Now she does turn around and even gives him a half smile.
"Yeah," he says as he realizes fully she's right in everything she's said. He had made it all about him; he was hurting; he was afraid; he didnít know what he'd do if Gibbs died. Yes, he was all of those things but not for a moment did he think about Ducky losing his best friend; about Abby and Ziva losing a father; about McGee losing the man he idolized; about Palmer losing the man he admired more than any other, save Ducky. They were a family; all seven of them. Dysfunctional? Yes. Game playing? Yes. At times not seeming to like one another? Yes. But they were a family and family supported one another; family was there for one another.
He takes a step back from her and opens his arms and just stares at her. She looks back at him and for a moment he fears she won't stand up and let him hug her. But then she sighs, wipes her eyes with the back of her hand again, slowly stands up and lets him hug her.
"It'll be all right," she says as she puts her arms around him. "It will be all right, Tony." She's silent for a moment then adds softly, "Whatever happens."
He tightens his grip on her and pulls her nearer to him. "I know," he says softly, his lips on her ear. "I know, Abby." Then he swallows and says, "I'm sorry, for being such a selfish jerk."
She moves back a little and smiles at him. "That's all right," she says. "We still love you."
She gives him another smile and shakes her head in a fond way. "Of course," she says.
Then to his surprise he hears himself ask, "Do you love me?"
She frowns a little. "Of course, I do, Tony. I've just told you, we all love you. Now come on, let's go and wait the squad room for Ducky to call us in." And before he can say anything she takes his hand and firmly leads him out of her lab, into the elevator and up to the squad room.
His mind is a whirl as they stand in silence in the elevator, his hand still in hers. He wants to ask her again if she loves him and how exactly she loves him. He also wants to tell her that they could be in squad room for hours waiting for news. But he doesn't say anything, he just stands there next to her, wondering quite why knowing if she loves him is so important.
He's not that surprised when they find Palmer in the squad room. He's sitting on the edge of McGee's desk and Ziva is sitting on the other edge, none of them are making any attempt at working.
"Has Ducky called?" he asks as he sits on the front of his desk and Abby sits next to him. He realizes that it doesn't feel as muggy as it'd felt before he'd gone down to Abby's lab. It definitely feels cooler - he wonders if the air conditioning has been turned up. But then he thinks it was probably just him who was feeling so sticky and hot.
McGee shakes his head. "No."
"No news is good news," Abby says firmly.
THREE HOURS LATER
Apart from visits to the restrooms and a couple of coffee runs, none of them has moved. They've exchanged a few words, but for the most part they've all just sat in silence; waiting; worrying; wondering.
Several times Tony has wanted to say something, anything, to apologize, to - he doesn't really know what. He just wanted to break the silence, but each time he's stopped himself because he didn't want to say the wrong thing; he didn't want to be the selfish jerk again.
However, suddenly to his amazement he finds himself saying, "It wasn't my fault."
Abby pats his arm; Ziva gives him a gentle smile; Palmer smiles too; McGee nods and says softly, "No, Tony, it wasn't. No one blames you; none of us here do, Ducky doesn't, Vance doesn't and," he pauses for a moment and Tony waits, "Gibbs won't," he says finally.
Tony sees a slightly apprehensive look appear on McGee's face; no doubt he's remembering Tony's outburst when Ziva had tried to say the same thing. He swallows hard, pushes down on his sudden desire and need to shout and instead says quietly, "No, he won't."
Abby pats his arm again then stands up drags him to his feet and holds out her arms. "Group hug," she calls and suddenly all five of them are hugging tightly, arms wrapped around one another, heads bent closely together. Seeking and giving comfort in equal measures, holding on; supporting one another - just as family members do.
They just stand where they are, not saying anything, just holding on, just soaking up the love and support they were all giving to one another.
They just stand where they are, not saying anything, just holding on and Tony wonders who will be the first to move. And then McGee's phone rings. As one they all turn and stare at it.
Tony's mouth becomes dry and again the air becomes oppressive and as if it's pressing down on him and he starts to breathe through his mouth, the breaths coming faster and faster as his heart begins to race. Why is it McGee's phone that's ringing? Why McGee? Why not him? He can only think of one reason and once more the terror rises like bile in him. He clamps his mouth shut and stares at McGee willing him to answer the phone, while at the same time willing him to stay where he is.
Finally after what seems like an hour, but really is only a few seconds, McGee lets his arms fall from around Palmer and Ziva and moving slowly, carefully putting one foot in front of the other, just as Ziva had done earlier, he walks to his desk and picks up the phone.
"Timothy McGee?" he says. Tony holds his breath and knows that Abby, Palmer and Ziva are all doing the same - he thinks even McGee is. McGee listens for a few seconds before saying, "Thanks, Ducky. Yeah, I'll tell them. You take care." He puts the phone back down and Tony hears a single sob escape from McGee and yet again the terror rises up in him.
He's seconds away from pulling himself away from Abby and Ziva but McGee turns and even though tears are shining in his eyes and one is making its way slowly down his cheek he's smiling. "Gibbs is going to be okay," he says, his voice shaking. "He's going to be okay. He's going to be okay. He's awake and demanding that Ducky take him home. Oh, and he says he expects your report, Tony, to be on his desk by tomorrow morning."
Tony stares at him. "Ducky isn't going to take him home, is he?"
McGee shakes his head as he pulls his handkerchief out and wipes his eyes. "No, of course he's not. But you'd still better make sure the report is on his desk - because if I know Gibbs, he'll make Ducky fetch it and take it to the hospital."
Tony's smiling. He suddenly realizes that like McGee, like Abby, like Ziva, like Palmer, he's crying but he's smiling. "He's going to be okay?"
McGee nods. "Yeah. Yeah, Tony, the boss is going to be okay."
Suddenly the are all back in a group hug, all holding one another tightly, all half laughing, half crying, all talking, all kissing cheeks and squeezing hands and -
And suddenly Abby is in his arms and he's kissing her, but it's not her cheek he's kissing, it's her lips and she's kissing him back and her arms are wrapped tightly around one another and - "Abby?" he lifts his head and looks at her.
"Yes, Tony," she says softly, smiling like he's never seen her smile before. "Yes, I do love you. Yes." And she puts her lips back on his and kisses him like he's never been kissed before.
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