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Dead Weight

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Tony had started shivering almost violently on the plane ride back from Colombia; his body was feeling the injury that he had let go unknown. Ziva's views of his abilities were made perfectly clear in her protests to his going. Dead weight? Dead weight doesn't do a rescue mission without appropriate backup. Dead weight wouldn't have served as Senior Field Agent for the past 11 years under Gibbs.

Dead weight.... Those words burned him deeper than they should have but if he was being honest with himself, he was becoming very sick and tired of the insults, comments, and unfair judging of him by his teammates. When he joked, they became annoyed; when he was serious they used it as a means by which to needle at him. If he ignored them, they pushed harder. If he snapped at them, they worked harder knowing they were succeeding at what they started. If he joined in; they kept going longer and harder leaving him feeling almost naked at the day's end.

As the plane came to a stop; Tony took a deep breath and steeled himself to move. The pain was going to be hard to hide, but who was he kidding; he had been hiding pain his whole life.

The ride back to the Navy Yard was quiet, Tony tries to figure out exactly where his place was on the team. Gibbs had defied all of Ziva's bitching and sent him to Colombia anyway; Tony knew that Gibbs trusted him and counted on him. His heart ached as he thought about the dynamics of the team; despite Gibbs' support there was no place for him.

Tony walked into the bullpen, quietly typed up his report. Printing off his copy, he read over it and signed it. Grabbing his gear, he stood up and walked the report over to Gibbs. Taking a moment to look his boss in the eye, Tony conveyed eleven years of emotion in a single moment. With tear filled eyes that burned from betrayal and hurt, Tony nodded to Gibbs before walking to the elevator and leaving the NCIS building.

As soon as the elevator dinged, Gibbs stood and watched as Tony left; his gut churning. Walking to the window, Gibbs watched as Tony got in his car. He didn't miss the way Tony's body flinched as he opened the car door or when he sat down in the car.

Turning to his team, Gibbs gave a low growl. "I want your reports on my desk, NOW."

McGee's report was complete; he had just been waiting for Ziva. With Ziva's done, Gibbs excused his team and headed down to Abby's lab.

"Abby," Gibbs called anxiously.

"Gibbs!" Abby hugged him tight. "What can I do for you my prince?"

"Track DiNozzo's cell phone," Gibbs pointed to the big screen.

"Tony," Abby clicked on some keys. "Tony isn't making any sense; he's driving."

"He's driving to Stillwater," Gibbs kissed Abby and ran out of the lab calling his father as he did.

"Dad," Gibbs yelled into the phone. "Listen, I believe that DiNozzo's on his way to see you. He just came off an intense case, but there are some issues with the team."

"What did Ziva do now?" Jackson sighed. "Really Leroy, she needs to lay off the boy; he's a good kid."

"I know dad," Gibbs agreed. "I think he's hurt. I don't know how bad so I have Abby tracking him while he's in route. I'm on my way; I'll be there soon."

"Be careful, Leroy." Jackson said softly. "Your boy needs you."

Tony stopped twice during the 4 � hour drive to rest; he was exhausted and hurting. By the time he arrived in Stillwater, he was feeling every one of his years old and all the hurt inflicted upon him in his life had come flooding back.

Parking in front of the store, Tony rested his head on the back of the seat and closed his eyes. He was bone numbing tired, he was trying to figure out where he was going to get the energy to even make it into the store let alone up the stairs to Jackson's guest room.

"Tony," Gibbs' voice pulled the younger man from his rest. "Let me help you inside."

"Boss?" Tony blinked up confused. "Thought I was in Stillwater."

"You are," Gibbs reassured as he eased Tony from the car. "How bad are you hurt?"

"Deep cut in my side, lots of bruises and that's about it." Tony muttered softly.

"That's too much," Gibbs replied as they started walking towards the store's front.

"Right through to the living room," Jackson instructed. "Bed is turned down."

"Bed?" Tony looked confused.

"Don't worry about it right now," Gibbs replied as he helped Tony through the store and into the house. Easing him down on the bed, Gibbs pulled off Tony's shoes and helped him strip down to his boxers. "Damn it, DiNozzo. Why didn't you say anything?"

"Didn't want to be dead weight, Boss." Tony sunk into the pillow and fell asleep.

"What's he talking about, Leroy?" Jackson questioned from the doorway.

"Ziva was referring to him as dead weight right before this last mission," Gibbs explained. "Can we get some medical supplies? I'll reimburse you for anything we use."

"Nonsense," Jackson handed a first aid kit to his son. "Doc will be here in about twenty minutes; you use whatever you need from the store for that boy."

"Thanks," Gibbs said softly as he changed the bandages on Tony's side. "He's a good agent, dad."

"I know that, son." Jack defended. "Wouldn't be working on your team if he wasn't."

"He's not had the best life," Gibbs sighed. "Seems like someone is always trying to hurt him; he doesn't deserve that."

"Let's get him back on his feet," Jackson said softly. "We'll worry about the rest after he's well. Sometimes all a man needs is some TLC to regain his strength; he's here now and we'll give him what he needs."

Nodding, Gibbs kept at his task of cleaning Tony's wounds. He couldn't say another word at the moment; all he could do was think about everything he knew Tony had been through since joining NCIS and the things he'd learned about the boy. He would move heaven and earth to protect his boy; he believed that strongly in him.

"I'll get some linens to make up the couch and recliner," Jack moved towards the linen closet at the back of the house. "He's ours to care for and we're going to do the best damn job we know how; nothing will hurt him while he is here."

"Thanks Dad," Gibbs whispered. "Going to be chasing off some nightmares I have a feeling."

"Then we'll do it together; we're family; all three of us." Jack moved nodded as he left to do what needed done.

"We are family," Gibbs whispered. "You fight this, Tony. I'm not going to lose you in any sense because of something I should have put a stop to."