Title: Gibbsmalion: Or, My Fair Tony
Rating: PG ?
Summary: Tony goes away to a finishing school for six months and comes back ... different. Can Gibbs and his team get their Tony back?
Disclaimer: I don't own them ...
A/N: This is the fic bunny that ate my brain ... I promise I'll be getting back to the prompt chart soon, but I just couldn't let this go ...
Warnings: brainwashing, allusions to dub-con, diet!Tony ...
Olivia De Luca was Tony’s father’s right hand man, so to speak. Her appearing anywhere was never a good sign.
“Anthony,” Olivia said with a tight smile.
“Is something wrong?” Tony asked, ignoring the looks he was getting from Kate and McGee.
“I have an appointment with your Director,” Olivia said, brushing past Tony’s desk and up the stairs.
“Fuck,” Tony said. “Shit, damn, fuck.”
“Tony, who was that?” Kate asked, curious.
“That was Olivia De Luca,” Tony said. “She’s my father, basically. Her word carries the same weight as my father’s.”
“What’s she doing here?” McGee probed.
“Hell if I know, but it sure as shit isn’t just to say hello,” Tony muttered.
Gibbs was already in Morrow’s office when Olivia was shown in.
“Ah, Agent Gibbs you’re already here, wonderful,” Olivia said.
“Who are you?” Gibbs glared at the impeccably dressed woman tapping her foot on the carpet impatiently.
“Olivia De Luca, and I’m here to discuss something with Director Morrow that affects your team. I’m here to take Anthony with me.”
“Anthony … DiNozzo?” Gibbs stood and faced Olivia. “What the hell for?”
“His father has a lucrative offer for him,” Olivia said. “He’s going to pay for Tony to go through an intense educational program that will help him get further in his job.”
Gibbs was hesitant to believe anything coming out of this woman’s mouth. “An intense program that will last how long?”
“Six months,” Olivia said.
“Six months is a long time,” Director Morrow said slowly. “He doesn’t have that much vacation time saved up.”
“You will be well compensated,” Olivia said. “And when he returns, he will be more equipped to be a lead agent.”
Gibbs and Director Morrow shared a look.
* * *
Tony glanced up he saw Gibbs, the Director and Olivia all walking down the stairs together. “Shit,” he muttered.
“DiNozzo,” Gibbs said. “Grab your gear.”
“Got a case?” Ton asked hopefully.
“You’re going to be taking some leave time,” Director Morrow said. “Miss De Luca has presented a lucrative offer for you to further your education.”
“So … what, I’m taking night classes or something?” Tony stood and looked at Morrow, Gibbs and Olivia.
“No, you’ll be coming with me,” Olivia said. “We have a car waiting to take you to the school.”
“Wait, like now?” Tony looked around, noting the shocked looks on Kate and McGee’s faces.
“Yes, Anthony,” Olivia said. “Now.”
“Wait, she can’t just -” Kate stood and moved to stand next to Gibbs.
“Apparently she can,” Gibbs said, shooting a glare at Morrow.
“It’s a good opportunity to move up in NCIS,” Morrow said. “And I assure you Agent DiNozzo, your job will be here when you come back.”
“Come along, Anthony,” Olivia said. “The car is waiting.”
Tony looked around the office; Gibbs glaring at Morrow and Olivia, Kate and McGee watching in quiet shock. “I guess … I’ll see you guys later,” he muttered. He slung his backpack across his back and followed Olivia out of the bullpen.
* * *
Tony wasn’t surprised to see two cars waiting outside NCIS. “So, what’s really going on?” he asked Olivia.
“Never one to beat around the bush,” Olivia replied with a smile. “Your father has need of you … he’s attending a very important weeklong meeting in five and a half months and needs you there to charm the boss’ daughter.”
“Of course.” Tony sighed and flung his bag into one of the waiting cars. “And this education opportunity?”
“That is all your father’s doing,” Olivia admitted. “I just have an address of where to send the car. I was simply told to come here and arrange for your leave.”
Tony rolled his eyes and leaned against the car. “Do I get to see this address you’re supposed to give the driver?”
“Couldn’t do much harm, you already agreed to go.” Olivia passed over a small card with an address printed on it.
“North Carolina? I’m being sent to North Carolina?” Tony groaned and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Fine. Whatever.” He handed the card back to Olivia and slid into the car. “Tell my father this is the last favor I do for him.”
“I will relay the message.” Olivia closed the car door, passed the card to the driver and headed to her own car.
* * *
It was pitch black when the car finally came to a stop, jolting Tony awake. The back door was opened and Tony blinked against the interior light.
“Good evening, Mr. DiNozzo.”
Tony blinked a few times and looked at the man currently poking his head into the backseat of the car. “Who’re you?” he muttered.
“I am Mr. Ludlum, headmaster of St. Martin’s School for Boys.” The older man offered a hand to Tony, who snagged it and let the man help him out.
“School for Boys? Mr. Ludlum, I am thirty -”
“I am well aware of your age, Mr. DiNozzo,” Mr. Ludlum interrupted. “While the majority of our students are under the age of eighteen, we do have a few … special cases.”
Tony snorted. “Special cases, right.” He stretched and ran a hand through his hair. “What is this place anyway?”
“Didn’t your father tell you? No, of course not.” Mr. Ludlum nudged his glasses up his nose and sighed. “This is a finishing school, Mr. DiNozzo.”
“A fin - you’re joking, right? Tell me you’re joking.” Tony straightened and tried to look around, squinting in the darkness.
“I assure you, Mr. DiNozzo, I am not kidding,” Mr. Ludlum replied. “Now, if you will follow me, I’ll show you to your quarters.”
“But, I have no clothes, no toiletries,” Tony protested. “The driver didn’t even stop at my apartment before driving me to the ass end of nowhere.”
“Language, Mr. DiNozzo,” Mr. Ludlum clucked, leading the way through the darkness to a small house, a single light shining the in one of the windows. “This will be your home for the next five and a half months. You have your own bedroom and en suite bathroom. You also have two housemates; please be cordial to them.”
“Sure, sure.” Tony followed Mr. Ludlum into the house and up the stairs to his small room. He flipped the light on and looked around. “Looks homey.” Tony’s room was more like a cell, and contained a bed, a dresser, and a nightstand with a single lamp on it.
“You have a full wardrobe in the dresser,” Mr. Ludlum said with a nod towards the aforementioned dresser. “Get a good night’s sleep, Mr. DiNozzo, you have a full day tomorrow.”
* * *
The next morning found Tony staring at the clothes in his dresser with disgust. “Where did they shop, Sears?” The entire dresser was filled with chinos, polo shirts and sweaters. “What is this, the polo club?” He slipped into a pair of khaki chinos, a green polo, a white sweater and looked at himself in the mirror above his dresser. “I look like a complete dork … McGoo dresses better than this.”
“Mr. DiNozzo, we’re waiting!”
Tony turned at the sound of Mr. Ludlum’s voice. That man creeped him out. “Coming!” he called. He slipped his feet into the loafers (the loafers?) waiting for him, and padded down the stairs.
“Tsk tsk, Mr. DiNozzo,” Mr. Ludlum said. “Punctuality is very important and now we are … three minutes off schedule.”
“Three minutes,” Tony repeated. “You’re serious?”
“Quite,” Mr. Ludlum replied. “Misters Carlisle and Lattimer are here waiting. You’ve already missed breakfast, so you will have to make due with this until lunchtime.” Mr. Ludlum handed Tony a granola bar.
“I’ve worked twenty hour days on less,” Tony replied.
“Fantastic.” Mr. Ludlum held the door open to a waiting van. “Gentlemen, hurry up, hurry up, we have a schedule to keep. Miss Lydia is waiting for us.”
Tony rolled his eyes and climbed into the van behind Carlisle and Lattimer.
* * *
Tony didn’t listen to what Carlisle and Lattimer were talking about, didn’t really pay attention to where they were going until the van came to a stop. He slid out of the van, almost running into Carlisle and Lattimer.
“Oh hell no.” He took one look at their location and turned back to get into the van. “Not in a million years. Nope. Take me back.”
“Mr. DiNozzo.” Mr. Ludlum’s voice cut through Carlisle and Lattimer’s chatter. “That is quite enough of that. Miss Lydia is waiting and is being very nice by taking time out of her day to help you three out.”
Tony glared at Mr. Ludlum, his arms crossed over his chest. The building in front of him was bright pink, with little frilly white curtains in the windows. Tony could see old fashioned bullet hair dryers through the curtains, and a pink fluorescent sign hanging outside was blinking … mocking him. “Curl Up and Dye? Are you serious? Philipe would have a fit if he ever caught me in a place like this!”
“I would hate to have to contact your father and tell him you’re not cooperating,” Mr. Ludlum said. “After expounding all that time and energy to make sure you would have all this time off … “
“You play dirty.” Tony grumbled, but followed Mr. Ludlum and the two other ‘special cases’ into … Curl Up and Dye.
“Welcome to Curl Up and Dye, I’m Lydia.” A petite older woman with a dark brown bouffant hairdo stood next to a diminutive, bright pink styling chair. “Mr. Ludlum contacted me yesterday and asked me to help you on your road to becoming better men.”
“And we thank you, Miss Lydia,” Mr. Ludlum said. “And I think her first client this morning will be Mr. DiNozzo.”
Of course, pick the most resistant to go first, Tony thought to himself as he gently eased himself into the small pink salon chair. He looked at his hair in the reflection and sighed. He and Philipe had spent many an appointment perfecting his signature slicked back style and perfect, perfect sideburns. “Maybe just a little trim,” he said.
Mr. Ludlum smiled and pulled a little MP3 player with headphones. “Here, Mr. DiNozzo,” he said, passing the device to Tony. “Some music to help you relax.”
Tony shrugged and popped the earbuds in, turning the music on. It wasn’t what he normally liked; the music filling his ears was more pop, less jazz … but there was something about it …
“And voila!” Lydia removed the cape and tapped Tony on the shoulder. “You’re done, sweetheart.”
Tony fumbled for the MP3 player, turning it off and looking up at his reflection. “Son of a -” he caught sight of Mr. Ludlum’s disapproving glare in the mirror and bit back the rest of the curse. He stood up and approached the mirror, inspecting his hair.
“Isn’t it great? It’s a bit of a ‘short back and sides’ mixed with a businessman’s cut,” Lydia said excitedly. “I don’t get to do it much, but your hair is just so thick and perfect for it!”
Tony nodded dumbly. The first thing he noticed was the distinct lack of sideburns … they were just gone! The second thing he noticed was how … short his hair was. Up to the top of his ears, Tony could see his scalp through his hair. There was a severe part and his hair seemed to be plastered to his head with gel or something.
“It looks wonderful,” Mr. Ludlum said. “Mr. DiNozzo, go sit in the waiting area.”
Tony spared another look at his hair, mourning the loss quietly before going back to the waiting area, popping the earbuds into his ears and listening to the music some more.
The rest of the day passed in a bit of a blur. There was some shopping and some … etiquette lessons of some kind and Tony was exceedingly happy when he flopped into bed that night. He had a feeling he was going to hate the next five and a half months.
* * *
“So, do we think Tony’s going to make a big entrance?” McGee asked as the elevator doors opened. The six months without Tony had been … quiet. McGee was actually looking forward to Tony’s return.
“It’s Tony,” Kate replied. “Of course he’ll make a big … entrance.” She and McGee came around the corner and saw someone who looked a lot like Tony sitting at his desk. Kate watched the man’s fingers fly across the keyboard quickly, not Tony’s usual hunt and peck style. And … what was Tony wearing? It didn’t look like any of the suits Tony normally wore; it was a dark grey three piece suit paired with a lavender tie and a lavender pocket square.
Tony looked up and gave Kate and McGee a warm smile. “Good morning,” he said. “Agent Todd, that blouse is quite beautiful on you, and Agent McGee, that is a fantastic tie.”
“Thank you?” McGee mumbled as he sat down and turned on his computer.
“Um, thank you,” Kate said, sitting down at her desk. She watched Tony carefully, taking in the conservative hair and the obviously non-designer suit. “How did your schooling go?”
“Wonderfully,” Tony replied with that same smile. “It was a very gratifying experience. I learned quite a bit.”
“Where’d you go?” McGee asked curiously.
“I spent five and a half months in North Carolina at St. Martin’s School for Boys,” Tony said. “Under the tutelage of some fine professors and headmaster Alastair Ludlum.”
Kate nodded, feigning interest and jotting down what Tony was saying. “Five and a half months? What have you been doing the last two weeks?” Something was definitely wrong, and Kate wanted to get to the bottom of it.
“I spent the first week after my schooling in the company of my father in Monaco,” Tony said. “Helping him close a business deal.”
“A week in Monaco, how exciting,” McGee said. “I’ve never been out of the country.”
Tony gave McGee a smile. “It’s quite a beautiful county, Agent McGee,” he said. “I’m sure you would enjoy it.”
“So, where were you last week?” Kate probed.
“I spent the last week here in Washington, doing some much needed cleaning and organizing in my apartment,” Tony said. “I can’t believe how much stuff was just cluttering the place up.”
“Sounds very productive,” Kate said softly.
Just then Tony abruptly stood, almost at attention. “Special Agent Gibbs,” he said.
Kate and McGee looked over by the windows to find Gibbs standing there, watching the scene carefully. “Morning,” Gibbs said.
“Good morning,” Tony said. “We have not yet been called out on a case, but I took the liberty of making sure the truck was gassed and that the inventory was restocked. In the interim, I also brought up some cold case files for us to reinvestigate.”
Gibbs just grunted and headed to his desk, shooting Kate a Look. Kate tapped the notepad on her desk, indicating that she had already been taking notes. Gibbs gave her a short nod.
“Then, cold cases for now,” Gibbs said.
Tony nodded and sat back down, pulling a file over and reading through it intently.
A few hours later, Ducky and Abby came up to welcome Tony back.
“Tony, Tony, Tony!” Abby said, launching herself at Tony, who was still reading his cold case file as he sipped a mug of tea.
“A-Ms. Sciu-Abby,” Tony’s chair flew back as Abby flung herself at him. “This is … highly improper.”
Abby stepped back and really looked at Tony. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing is wrong Ms. Sciu-Abby,” Tony replied, giving her a warm smile. “I am very happy to see you.”
Abby frowned, glancing over at McGee and Kate, who shrugged. She stepped back and crossed her arms over her chest. “There is something wrong and I’ll figure it out.”
“I assure you, I am just fine,” Tony said, sipping his tea.
“No coffee, Anthony?” Ducky inquired.
“No, Ducky,” Tony replied with a smile. “Mr. Ludlum introduced me to a delicious Lapsang Souchoung tea, and I just can’t seem to get enough of it.”
“Interesting,” Ducky said, watching Tony carefully. “Very interesting.”
“I fail to see what is so interesting,” Tony said, going back to his cold case file.
The rest of the team shared a meaningful look - there was definitely something going on.
* * *
Tony left promptly at 5:00 p.m. after wishing Kate, McGee and Gibbs a good evening. Once they were sure Tony was gone, everyone gathered in Abby’s lab to discuss the situation.
“Something’s hinky,” Abby said once everyone had gathered together.
“Understatement,” Kate agreed. “I did some checking on the school Tony went to; it’s not a college at all - it’s a finishing school for boys 13 to 18.”
“Finishing school?” McGee said, his brow furrowed. “I thought Tony was going somewhere to further his education.”
“Apparently there is more to all of this,” Gibbs said. “McGee, what did you learn about this Alastair Ludlum?”
“On the surface, he looks on the up and up,” McGee said. “He’s even won some awards for his school. But he’s also received some hinky deposits to a private Swiss bank account.”
“When you guys said Tony mentioned being in Monaco, I started looking through the society pages for the week that Tony said he was in Monaco,” Abby said, bringing up a couple of pictures on the plasma.
“Tony’s all over the society page, but not with his father,” Abby said. “In fact, I don’t know if his father was even there. In all the pictures, Tony is with Francois Lambert, one of the most well known businessmen in Monaco.” Everyone turned to look at the screen and the tension in the room was palatable. Tony, or at least the new version of Tony, was hanging all over Francois Lambert, giving the much older man an adoring smile.
“Oh my,” Ducky said. “This is … “
“Something happened to Tony at that school,” Gibbs said. “I’m going to talk with Morrow … “
“Gibbs, I think I know someone else who can help us,” Kate said. When Gibbs shot her an expectant look, she continued. “My sister. Her name is Rachel Cranston and she’s a psychologist. She’s actually had great success helping amnesia victims recover their memories … she might be able to break whatever happened to Tony.”
“Call her,” Gibbs said. “We’ll bide our time for a week or so, get Morrow to let me and Tony take some time.”
“Not all of us?” Abby asked.
“If Tony went through what I think he went through,” Gibbs started. “He’s not going to want to come out of this with everyone around.”
“But -” Abby started.
“He’ll want to see you guys when he’s better,” Gibbs said. “But whatever it is that happened to him … he’s not going to want an audience when he comes out of it.”
The whole team nodded, still reeling from what was happening to Tony.
* * *
The week progressed and finally it was Friday. Gibbs had arranged for himself and Tony to have a week off … he had a cabin in Pennsylvania, one that no one knew about. It was the perfect place for Gibbs to help his senior agent.
Just before the end of the day, Gibbs glanced over at Tony, who was busy working on a cold case file. “Agent DiNozzo,” he said. The first time he’d called Tony ‘DiNozzo’, he’d ended up getting a fifteen minute lecture on respect and professionalism.
“Yes, Special Agent Gibbs?” Tony replied.
“Grab your bag,” Gibbs said.
“Where are we going?“ Tony asked as he shut down his computer and grabbed his overnight bag.
“We have a possible case in Pennsylvania and we have to go get some intel,” Gibbs replied. He hated lying to his senior agent, but …
“How long do we think we’ll be gone?” Tony asked.
“Not sure,” Gibbs said. “Why don’t we stop by your place so you can pack more, grab your toothbrush.” He already had enough clothes for a week in the trunk of his car, and wanted to make sure Tony was prepared.
“That’s a fantastic idea,” Tony said. “I would hate to go unprepared. And what about Agent Todd and Agent McGee?”
“They’ll be doing research here.” Gibbs made sure all his work affairs were in order, knowing he wouldn’t be back for at least a week, more if Tony needed more time to recover.
“That makes perfect sense,” Tony agreed, his bag over his shoulder. “Perhaps you should follow me to my apartment, that way we can leave in one car.”
Gibbs nodded and headed to the elevator. “See you at yours.” The elevator doors closed and Gibbs took a moment to collect himself. Something told him it was going to be a stressful week.
* * *
The first thing Gibbs noticed when he entered Tony’s apartment was how clean it was. He’d seen Tony’s apartment before - it always looked lived in but now, it was pristine. The second thing he noticed were all the boxes near the door. He caught Tony’s gaze and nodded to the boxes in question.
“Oh, those are a bunch of movies and clothes that I don’t need,” Tony said. “I spent the week before starting back at work just cleaning. This place was a sty!”
“Oh … “ That was all Gibbs could say. The Tony he knew would never give away movies or clothes.
“Just let me pack a few things and I’ll be out in a jiffy,” Tony called as he headed to his bedroom.
“A jiffy, right.” Gibbs sighed and stood near the front door. Whatever had happened to Tony went very deep … he just hoped Kate’s sister could help him.
“All right, here I am.” Tony appeared in the living room a few minutes later, a bag over his shoulder. “I have packed enough clothes for a week.”
“That was fast,” Gibbs commented.
“During my last week of leave I took the liberty of organizing my closet and labeling my drawers so I can find everything easily,” Tony replied.
“That’s … productive.” That was the only word Gibbs could think of. “Come on, we have a long drive.”
“Righty-o,” Tony said. He let Gibbs lead the way, locking the door behind him. “Do you think perhaps I could drive?”
“Nope, you don’t know where we’re going,” Gibbs replied as he popped the hood for Tony’s bag.
Tony sighed and carefully placed his bag in the trunk next to Gibbs’. “That is a valid point,” he agreed. “But please … drive carefully.”
“I always drive carefully,” Gibbs said as he slid behind the wheel.
Tony gave him a dubious look as he slipped into the passenger seat. “If you say so,” he murmured, settling back into the seat. As Gibbs began to drive, Tony allowed himself to drift off to sleep.
Hours later, Gibbs pulled to a stop in front of a quaint log cabin hidden deep in the woods just outside Stillwater, Pennsylvania. No one knew about this cabin, except Gibbs’ father, and now Rachel Cranston. It had been in Gibbs’ family for ages, and his father had signed it over to him after … Shannon and Kelly. He’d spent quite a bit of time fixing it up and making it more livable.
“DiNozzo,” Gibbs said, gently nudging Tony awake.
Tony yawned and stretched a bit. “Where are we?” he asked, peering out the window. The sun had set and it was getting dark fast.
“Just outside Stillwater, Pennsylvania,” Gibbs replied as he climbed out of the car and popped the trunk.
“This does not look like a police station or a hotel,” Tony commented as he climbed out and followed Gibbs to the back of the car.
Gibbs bit back his retort as he popped the trunk and grabbed his bag. “It’s mine,” he said simply.
“Yours?” Tony grabbed his bag and turned to look at the cabin. “Why didn’t any of us know about this secondary residence?”
“I don’t get out here a lot,” Gibbs commented as he headed up to the cabin. He squinted at his keys, making sure he had the right one as he let himself in. “Come on in, pick a room.”
Tony followed hesitantly inside, taking in the surroundings. “It’s … quaint,” he said. There was a living room with a large stone fireplace, a small but serviceable kitchen, and as Tony wandered down the hall, he saw two bedrooms and a small bathroom.
“Pick a room,” Gibbs said. “Too late to do anything except eat dinner and get some sleep. We’ll get started tomorrow.”
Tony nodded and picked what appeared to be the guest room, setting his bag near the dresser and quickly unpacking his clothes. He made sure everything was put in the dresser and hung up correctly in the closet.
Gibbs had put his stuff away and made a couple of sandwiches for himself and Tony. “DiNozzo! I have a sandwich here for you, I’m heading to bed,” he called, taking his sandwich to his bedroom. ‘Please, please let this work,’ he thought to himself.
* * *
Gibbs was already awake when he heard the quiet knock on the front door. He opened it to find Rachel Cranston waiting there with a small bag.
“Dr. Cranston,” Gibbs said softly.
“Please, call me Rachel,” she replied, patting Gibbs on the arm as she stepped into the cabin. “I have to admit I was really intrigued when Kate called me about your … situation.”
“Rachel,” Gibbs started. “Before this goes any further … Tony’s not a case to be studied. I don’t want to see some article on him and you going on talk shows.”
Rachel smiled and gave Gibbs’ arm a gentle squeeze. “Kate was right, you do love him,” she said, enjoying to look of shock in the older man’s eyes. “Don’t worry, my lips are sealed. I’ll help however I can and that’s it. No studies, no articles, no TV show appearances.”
Gibbs took a deep breath and nodded. “Thank you,” he said. “Let me just go get Tony.”
“I’m here,” Tony said from the hallway. He was already dressed in a pair of pressed khakis, a pale green polo and a white sweater. His hair was plastered to his head in that initial style he’d received from Lydia … he looked so unlike himself it made Gibbs’ gut clench.
“Hi Tony,” Rachel said. “I’m Dr. Cranston, but you can call me Rachel.”
“Rachel,” Tony said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. Special Agent Gibbs … what’s going on?”
“Go take a seat,” Gibbs said, watching as Tony wandered into the living room and sat down on the couch. “I told you that we were doing some research on a case. That’s the truth. But the case … the case is you.”
“Me?” Tony fell back against the couch and looked at Gibbs. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”
“But there is,” Gibbs replied. “You don’t see it, but … me and the rest of the team do. You are … a completely different person than you were six months ago.”
“So I changed,” Tony said. “People change.”
“But not like this,” Gibbs said. “Kate and McGee have been looking into the school you went to and Mr. Ludlum -”
“Headmaster Ludlum is a great man,” Tony said.
Rachel watched Tony carefully, watching the young man’s body language and paying special attention to his voice. “Tony,” Rachel said gently. “I’d like to try something, okay?”
“What kind of something?” Tony asked hesitantly.
Rachel sat on the coffee table across from Tony. “Just some guided imagery,” she said with a smile. “I want you to close your eyes.” When Tony closed her eyes she smiled. “Now, I want you to picture someplace warm, peaceful … can you see it?”
“Yes.” Tony was relaxed against the couch, his hands resting on his knees.
“Describe it to me,” Rachel coaxed.
“It’s … a room,” Tony began. “A … a basement?”
Gibbs eyes widened and he sat down on a nearby chair. A basement?
Rachel shot Gibbs a knowing smile. “A basement, okay,” she continued. “What’s in the basement?”
“A work table … lots of jars and … a boat,” Tony said. His voice had taken on a dreamy quality and there was a look of peace on his face.
Gibbs was on the edge of his seat, watching Rachel work and watching Tony talk.
“What else?” Rachel said quietly. “It’s okay, Tony.”
Tony’s brow furrowed and he tensed up a bit. “There’s … there’s a door … I’m … I’m not supposed to go there,” he whispered.
“Why not, Tony? What’s behind the door?” Rachel reached out and took Tony’s hands. “I’m right here … you’re not alone. I’m here, Gibbs’ is here.”
“Gibbs?” Tony whispered, his face relaxing a bit. “The door is bad … Ludlum told me … he told me to lock things behind the door … “
“Ludlum’s not here anymore,” Rachel said softly. “I’m telling you, it’s okay to open the door.”
Tony whimpered softly and shook his head. “Not supposed to,” he whimpered.
Gibbs sighed and looked over at Rachel. “Can I try?” he whispered. When Rachel nodded, he took Tony’s hands in his. “Tony,” he said louder. “Open the door. It’s okay.”
Tony squeezed Gibbs’ hands tight and his whole body seemed to convulse. “No!” he cried, his eyes flying open. “No … no, no, no, no, no, no … “ Tony started to scramble away from Rachel and Gibbs. “No, get away … no!”
Gibbs, who still had a grip on Tony’s hands, tugged him close and just held him. “Shhh,” he whispered. “It’s okay. Whatever happened, it’s okay. I’m not going anywhere. The team’s not going anywhere.”
Tony struggled against Gibbs for a few minutes, beating at Gibbs’ chest. “Stop, stop!” he cried.
“Shhh,” Gibbs whispered again, rubbing Tony’s back. “It’s okay … it’s all okay.”
Rachel watched as Tony continued to struggle with whatever he was battling, until finally, finally, Tony accepted Gibbs embrace, slumping against the older man. Moments later, Tony started crying … quietly at first, but it quickly turned into loud, body shaking sobs.
Gibbs couldn’t fight his own tears as he comforted his senior agent. It broke his heart to know that Tony’s father had used him … with no regard to Tony’s feelings.
“You shouldn’t … touch me,” Tony whispered hoarsely when the tears were gone. “I’ve … done things.”
“I don’t care,” Gibbs said. “Whatever happened while you were gone wasn’t you … but you will let me get the bastards.”
Rachel watched the two men with a soft smile. There was still a lot of work to do, but … Tony was on the right track.
* * *
Rachel stayed the whole week in the cabin with Tony and Gibbs. At first, she slept on the couch while Tony and Gibbs each had one of the rooms. Then, the nightmares started, so Tony started sleeping in Gibbs’ room and Rachel moved to the empty guest room.
She spent hours with Tony everyday, talking him through everything that had happened to him while he’d been gone. None of it had been pretty. The ‘finishing school’ had been a front. Oh sure, it did operate as a finishing school for all the younger students, but any adult male that was there … Tony had been sent there specifically to change. Apparently DiNozzo Senior had sent Tony there to be changed into the kind of man Francois Lambert preferred. After his five and a half months at St. Martin’s, he was sent to spend a week with Francois Lambert, being his … boy toy. Tony still had a hard time talking about that week.
He spent a couple more days with Ludlum, blocking out the memories of his week with Lambert before getting sent home.
Rachel worried that Tony might never be completely well, but … when she saw the way Tony was with Gibbs, she had hope.
Whenever Tony wasn’t with Rachel, he was with Gibbs. They took long hikes, fished, even worked in the kitchen together. Tony was blossoming under Gibbs gentle attention. He made movie references, joked and laughed. Gibbs could almost believe that Tony was back … except every once and a while, Tony’s eyes would glaze over and Gibbs knew he was remembering.
Their last day found Gibbs and Tony sitting on a log near a stream by the cabin. Gibbs was pleased in the progress he had seen in Tony … knew he was getting his Tony back.
“Jethro,” Tony said softly, looking down at his pants.
“Tony,” Gibbs replied with a smile.
“This whole week, starting with Saturday when Rachel … “ Tony trailed off and blushed. “I’ve been realizing some things.”
Gibbs smiled and rested his hand on Tony’s. “Have you?” he asked, knowing Tony would tell him when he was ready.
Tony blushed some more and nodded. “When Rachel broke the … the brainwashing,” he started. “I realized my safe place was your basement. Which made me realize that you make me safe. There’s … all these feelings and I can’t quite figure it out yet, and I don’t know if you feel the same and -”
Gibbs decided to shut Tony up the only other way he knew besides a headslap. He pulled Tony forward and kissed him.
Tony made a muffled squeak, but after a moment relaxed into the kiss, wrapping his arms around the older man.
After a few moments, Gibbs pulled back. “You were babbling,” he said.
“Um … yeah,” Tony said. “Jethro … does this mean … ?”
“Yes, Tony,” Gibbs replied with a smile.
“But what about what happened to me while I was … “ Tony trailed off, hands going to his hair, which he couldn’t stop griping about. It made Gibbs smile when Tony started muttering about stupid Lydia and her stupid haircut.
“We will deal with it,” Gibbs replied. “I’m not in a rush, Tony. We’ll take whatever happens in stride. I’m not going to leave you.”
“What about the team? Work?” Tony fiddled with the hem of his shirt. “What’s everyone going to say?”
“They’re all behind you,” Gibbs murmured. “We’re all going to be there to support you and help you however we can.”
Tony sighed and looked out across the stream, through the trees. His life was getting better … he didn’t know if his life would ever be the same again, but with Jethro at his side, he had a feeling he was going to be okay.