Tony went missing on a Monday.
Walking into work that morning, early, as usual, Gibbs had expected Tony to be sitting at his desk already. Tony had started coming in earlier lately since he had stopped the lazy, goofy, frat boy act when Bishop had joined. Gibbs was proud of the man he thought of as a son; proud of the man he had become since he had started working for him thirteen years ago. The young man had been in danger of burn out when he first met him in Baltimore, and Gibbs made the best decision of his career by offering the young Detective a job. Tony had been watching his six loyally and effectively for thirteen years, coming up in a week, and Gibbs had plans to take the young man out for a few days, on a father/son fishing and camping trip, something that they did every year around the date; a reminder of their bond.
When Gibbs didn’t see Tony sitting at his desk that morning, his gut, which had already been bothering him that morning but had put it down to last nights Mu Shu, starting churning like crazy.
The first thing he did was check if Tony had gone to the bathroom, but had no luck there. Tony couldn’t be visiting Abby since she wasn’t in yet, and neither was Ducky or Palmer.
Taking out his phone, he called Darrel down at the front gate and asked if Tony had come in yet, and got a negative reply.
“Dammit, DiNozzo,” Gibbs cursed, punching in his senior agents' number and waiting for him to pick up like he always did. When the call went to voicemail, his stomach dropped to the floor, and every time he repeated the call, he got voicemail again, and he began to panic.
Calling in Bishop and Tim, he waited impatiently for them to show up, all the while his mind went through thoughts of reasons why Tony wouldn’t be in yet or answering his phone. Some part of his mind told him he might be overreacting just a bit, but the churning in his gut overruled that. He knew that Tony even took his phone into the bathroom with him, so it was never out of reach, so it wasn’t just a case of him having a shower or taking a leak. But god, he wished it was. He could deal with that, he could handle that; chew Tony out for it.
But he knew. He knew . Something was wrong.
“Boss, what’s going on, do we have a case?”
Gibbs turned around to see both Bishop and Tim walking into the Bullpen. Tim looked like he just rolled out of bed, and Bishop looked the same. Neither of them were used to waking up at the time Gibbs and Tony did to get into work, and it showed.
“Is everything alright, Gibbs? You look...pale.”
Bishop, ever the analyst.
“Tony’s not answering his phone.” was all Gibbs said, and both agents raised their eyebrows in shock. Both of them knew that Tony never ignored his phone, or didn’t pick up.
“Starting a trace to check his location.”
“Looking through his calendar to check if he has any appointments.”
His team scrambled to there desks and began trying to locate Tony.
Gibbs couldn’t do anything but pace and panic. Wearing a hole in the bullpen carpet, Gibbs cursed his lack of tech knowledge that made him practically useless in searching for his missing agent. If he had just had even a little bit more experience with tech, hell, even to use that damn Goggle thing, he could have done something , anything to help. Gibbs didn’t like to sit around and feel useless; he liked the action, he liked kicking in doors and interrogation for information. But right now he didn’t have a door to kick in or a scumbag to scare into complicity.
“Tony doesn’t have anything on his calendar, Gibbs.”
“Tony’s phone isn’t showing up, Boss. It’s either off or…”
Gibbs growled, kicking out at his desk, making his two agents jump.
“Or someone broke it,” Gibbs cursed. “Damnit! We have nothing!”
And nothing they continued to have, for a week, then two, then three.
Eventually, Vance had, reluctantly, told them that they had to stop officially searching for the missing SFA.
“I’m sorry, Gibbs, But cases are piling up, and as much as I hate to say it… we probably won’t find DiNozzo alive.”
Ducky had some sage advice when Gibbs asked him what he should do if when he found Tony, he didn’t find him alive.
“You bring your boy home, Jethro,” Ducky had said, a hand on his shoulder, “You bring our Anthony home, you bury him, you mourn him, and you find the scum that took him from us and you deal with them. That is all you can do.”
They found Tony on a Monday.
An anonymous tip from a homeless vet had led them to an old, run-down house in Anacostia, and it’s storm shelter.
The shelter was not able to be opened from the inside, and Gibbs had hesitated when he went to open it, knowing what he would find, but terrified to be confronted with it, not ready, never ready.
The sight that had greeted him when he went down the stairs would haunt his nightmares for the rest of his life.
Later, upon catching Vernon Gallagher, a man who Tony had put away in Philly, they learned that the man had trapped Tony in the Storm cellar, and given the man two choices; Slowly dying from starvation and lack of water, or use the rope that Gallagher provided to hang himself with.
Ducky had said that Tony had held out quite a while the unspoken ‘probably waiting to be found’ hanging in the air like the world biggest elephant. But eventually, desperation won out, and he hung himself.
Gallagher had laughed at the fact since Tony was the one to kill himself, they could only charge him with the kidnapping of a federal agent.
Nobody commented when Gallagher mysteriously died in his cell overnight, Ducky naming it a heart attack from lack of personal care.
Gibbs ignored his old friends knowing looks.
He just asked for a refill of his heart meds.