Author: Keira Marcos
Big Short Prompt: Survival
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, Jethro Gibbs
Genre: Gen, AU, Chained Tag
Word Count: 546 (complete)
Warnings: No beta
Summary: The cost of pity can be high.
* * * *
“I really liked him.” Tony took a deep breath, then another as his heart rate lowered and body relaxed by degrees. Gibbs was good for that—the former Marine was the calm in Tony’s storm and had been since they met.
“Yeah. Yeah, I can see that.” Gibbs holstered his weapon and squatted down beside the car in between the open door and DiNozzo. “All this blood his?”
“Yeah, Boss,” Tony murmured. He ejected the clip from his weapon and took a deep breath. “I didn’t see it.”
“Our intelligence on him was shit,” Gibbs said. “You expected one thing, and he was another.”
“A serial killer,” Gibbs corrected. “Or maybe they’d say spree? Four bodies regardless.”
“Four,” Tony repeated, and his stomach threatened to rebel. “He was pitiable.”
“The most broken of us often are.”
Tony glanced Gibbs way and found the older man staring at him. He looked up and found Kate hovering near the front of the car, uncertain, he thought of her place on the team after being an NCIS agent for over a year. “Remember when it was just you and me?”
“Yeah.” Gibbs paused and took a deep breath. “Want me to send everyone away for a bit?”
“No. I just…I’ve gotten used to the team. Being out here by myself reminded me how I used to work before NCIS.” Tony frowned. “I don’t miss it, but I think Kate’s blunting my edges. She’s too…”
“Soft,” Gibbs muttered. “Thoughtful, caring. She was worried about you.”
“How dare she,” Tony said wryly and looked toward his partner. She was still standing in front of the car though now her back was to him like she’d put herself on sentry duty. It was oddly charming. “Jeffrey was awkward, earnest—he reminded me of McGee only not as smart.”
“You liked him so much you turned your back on him.”
“And it almost got me killed,” Tony said. “Shitty day, Boss.”
“McGee told the Deputy Secretary of the United States to stick it,” Gibbs offered.
Tony snorted and turned to Gibbs. “You’re making that up.”
“He also apparently told her off for wasting his time,” Gibbs admitted. “She complained to Morrow. He told her to stop harassing his people.”
“I feel oddly…proud,” Tony admitted. “Our little chick is ready to leave the nest.”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Gibbs said wryly. “He’d probably just trip off the side and break every bone in his body.”
Tony figured that was probably true. He nodded and let his gaze drop to his hands. Blood dotted his skin, splatter from Jeffrey. They’d been so close when Tony had fired the gun. How many seconds had he had to live?
“He said that no one had ever treated him the way I did,” Tony said then took a deep breath. “How fucking sad is that?”
“He was going to kill you.”
“Yeah,” Tony agreed.
“You ready to get out of the car?”
Tony nodded. He passed the gun and clip to Gibbs and the older man stood. After another few seconds, DiNozzo slipped out of the car and walked away. He didn’t look back, he couldn’t because there was nothing left in that car but the body of a man he’d misjudged and pitied.
The Big Short is a short-form writing challenge hosted on Rough Trade’s forum, The Workshop. The prompts come in two forms — a word challenge (the theme) and a single character challenge. I post my responses to the prompts on the forum first and eventually they’ll make it to my website. Each is a stand alone piece with no potential for expansion.
These short works are NOT prompts! These are my responses to the forum prompts. No, you cannot use them as prompts. No you cannot continue my short work with a longer work or write a sequel. For fuck’s sake.