Title: Critical Point
Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: NCIS/Hawaii Five-0
Challenge: Fluff Bingo (Sunset)
Relationship: Tony DiNozzo/Steve McGarrett
Warnings: No beta
Word Count: 2200
Author’s Note: Mothership! The character of Mike Weppler is mentioned in this story. He’s an OC that first appeared in Jilly James’ De Novo and belongs to her. She cast Bruce Willis in the role.
Summary: Tony makes a decision about his future at NCIS.
* * * *
Tony curled his toes into the sand and focused on the too-blue water stretched out in front of him. He shifted his phone around his hands. He’d turned it off the second day of his vacation and dropped it in his carry-on, which he’d left in McGarrett’s bedroom. When he’d come to Hawaii, he hadn’t expected to actually end up staying with the Navy SEAL he’d had a hot and heavy affair with while he was on the Seahawk, but he’d let Steve maneuver him right into his house and into his bed the first day he was in Hawaii.
He took a deep breath as Steve sat down in the sand beside him and offered him a bottle of beer. Tony accepted the bottle and, after a moment, took a sip.
“You don’t have to make yourself available to NCIS until tomorrow,” Steve said.
But the decision was made, and he just had to follow through with it. He especially wanted to get the ball rolling before word got back to Gibbs that he’d accepted an offer from Owen Granger to transfer to the NCIS office at Pearl. Granger had been transferred to Pearl to reorganize and was due to return to Los Angeles sooner rather than later, but he needed someone to run the MCRT in Hawaii. He’d come to McGarrett’s house to speak to Tony personally about it.
He’d checked his email earlier in the day, on the laptop that Granger had sent his way. The transfer was already in process, and Vance hadn’t made even a token protest regarding his deputy’s maneuverings. Tony wasn’t surprised. Things had been tense since Tony had refused to go undercover during the Military at Home case. He’d just had a very bad feeling about the voice print job, and it had taken him weeks to admit to himself that he didn’t trust his team—Gibbs included. After that case had finally been put to bed, he’d been loaned to the cold case squad in Norfolk. Vance had thought it was a punishment, but Tony had actually been relieved to take a desk in Mike Weppler’s unit as TDY for the SFA position.
He’d gone on vacation within a week of returning from Norfolk much to Gibbs’ fury.
“It’s been building for a while,” Tony said. “Before the Seahawk, but Gibbs doesn’t know or even understand that.”
“Maybe he doesn’t want to understand,” Steve pointed out. “You said he’s a rigid thinker and that he hates change.”
“Very rigid,” Tony agreed. “More and more, it’s become difficult to overlook his hypocrisy, and maybe part of me just wants to get as far from the eventual fall-out as I possibly can. I got weirdly co-dependent on that bastard, and my career suffered for it. I should’ve moved on years ago. Mike Weppler told me I was wasted as Gibbs’ second.”
“Think he had a hand in Owen Granger’s interest in you?” Steve asked.
“They go way back,” Tony acknowledged. “I don’t know the history since both are pretty tight-lipped about personal connections and the like. I should probably send him an email saying thank you or something.”
“Send the man a nice bottle of bourbon instead,” Steve advised. “He’ll like that a hell of a lot more than an email.”
Tony laughed and took another sip of beer. “Yeah, he probably would.”
“You don’t owe Gibbs any explanations, Tony,” Steve said. “You never have to speak to that asshole again when you’re off the clock. Maybe you’ll have a case or two that crosses your desk that is connected to DC in the future, but that’s it. That’s all you have to give him because it’s been years since he gave you any sort of consideration at all.”
Tony figured he’d told McGarrett way too much about his circumstances in DC, but the man was easy to talk to and easier to relax his guard around. He felt safe in Steve’s space and genuinely wanted in the man’s life. It had been a long time since he’d been in such a position with an intimate partner. After Wendy, trust hadn’t come easily or at all in some cases. He pushed the butt of his bottle into the sand a bit to make a hole for it and left it there.
“I should just get it over with because tomorrow I have to go into my new office at Pearl and be in charge. I don’t want to take a potentially infuriating and demoralizing phone call there.” He checked his watch. It was nearly 10 pm in DC, but there was every chance that Gibbs was still in the office.
“Accepting that Gibbs is going to verbally berate you for making a good career choice is…” Steve huffed. “Come on, Tony. How is that mentally healthy?”
Tony sent him a look. “You keep grenades in your partner’s glove box.”
“That’s not even remotely the same thing!” Steve protested.
“Danny’s pretty sure it makes you mentally unstable, which means you are in no position to judge me, Super SEAL.” Tony grinned and turned on his phone.
As soon as it finished booting up, it started vibrating like mad as text message after text message hit. There over 100 from Abby alone, which was annoying as hell because he was on vacation. He deleted them without reading and did the same with McGee. There was one from Ducky hoping he was having a lovely time in Hawaii and another from Jimmy Palmer of the same vein. He made a mental note to respond to both in the morning since he figured both men were at home by now.
It started to ring, and Gibbs’ surly face filled his screen. He made a face as he considered not answering at all, but putting it off really wasn’t to his own benefit. He answered it and tucked the phone against his ear.
“Having my phone tracked and monitored without a warrant is both illegal and a violation of my privacy,” Tony said and picked up his beer as Gibbs exhaled sharply in his ear. “I know you think you can get away with anything, but you won’t live forever and should stop teaching McGee and Abby bad, illegal habits that will come back to bite them when you’re gone.”
“Vance told me that you’re transferring to Pearl.”
“Yes.” He should’ve realized that Vance would start mitigating the impact of his departure as quickly as possible.
“So, you’re just going to run away from your problems here?”
“Well, I’m not drunk in a bar with Mike Franks, so I think I’m doing okay,” Tony said snidely and ignored Gibbs’ hitched breath. “I took a promotion, Gibbs. A long overdue one. I should’ve taken Rota when Sheppard offered it. Something had to give, and Owen Granger offered me a great alternative to leaving NCIS altogether.”
“I thought you’d stopped jumping from one job to another like a kid,” Gibbs said gruffly.
“Is that how you look at a much-deserved promotion?” Tony asked, suddenly amused by the older man’s overt bitchiness. “Was I supposed to stay right where I was until you were ready to retire and pass the team to me from on high like some sort of gift?”
The silence was telling and honestly galling as hell. He’d busted his ass before coming to NCIS to advance his career and to learn everything he could about whatever job he’d been doing at the time. Gibbs had changed that, and nothing about it seemed good anymore. At first, he’d considered the move to a federal law enforcement a step in the right direction, but somewhere along the line, Gibbs had infected him with his apathy.
“Look, I’m going to be blunt—you may comfortable being the legacy that Mike Franks left behind, but I have no interest whatsoever in being the same for you. I’m tired of being a punching bag in your personal fiefdom. I deserve better. Hell, even McGee deserves better, but he’s still waffling between hero-worshipping you and being afraid of you. He wrote fucking fanfiction about you for the love of god.” Tony huffed. “Here’s hoping he kills my character off in his next book.”
“This is about Ziva.”
“Ziva is just a symptom. The problem is you, Gibbs, and I’m tired of trying to solve cases and manage your unreasonable behavior at the same time. So you’re going to have to figure out how to do your job without me there to run interference because I don’t see myself ever returning to DC for any reason whatsoever.”
“The team needs you.”
“The team needs an emotionally mature leader who doesn’t vent his frustrations on them,” Tony said evenly. “But that’s not my problem anymore. I’m sure Vance won’t have a problem finding someone to fill my job. I’m just a street-cop turned agent after all.”
“You’re the best investigator NCIS has,” Gibbs said shortly. “Vance doesn’t understand that because he’s spent more time a desk than he ever did in the field and it shows. I don’t like this, Tony. I can’t watch your back from here.”
“I don’t mean to be cruel, Gibbs, but it’s been a while since I’ve trusted you with my back,” Tony said wearily and took a long drink from his bottle. “Maybe since you returned from Mexico.”
“Then this can’t be fixed,” Gibbs said quietly. “I thought…”
“You thought what?”
Gibbs cleared his throat. “Nothing. If you don’t trust me anymore, then you’ve done the best thing for yourself. I’ll tell Abby to stop tracking your phone.”
“Thanks.” Tony set aside his empty bottle because he felt suddenly adrift and uncertain. “Gibbs?”
“Did you want me to go over to your apartment and supervise the packing? You’ll want your mom’s piano shipped, right?”
Tony considered that. He was worried about the piano and the trip to Honolulu. “If you would? I’ll book a company for the move and email you with the details. I’m going to sell the apartment with most of the furniture included. I’d like the shelving unit you made for my movies shipped out here, though.”
“I’ll run point on the packing then,” Gibbs said. “Copy me on the list of things you’re leaving so I can verify with the movers. Do you want to ship your car? I can have it stored if you’d prefer to leave it here.”
“I want to sell it—not very attached,” Tony admitted. “The title is the top drawer of my filing cabinet in my home office if you’re willing to take care of that as well.” He frowned because he didn’t know why the conversation had turned so drastically. “Gibbs… you’re not making a lot of sense to me right now.”
The laugh he got was sad, and it felt like a sucker punch.
“Just coming face to face with the consequences of the worst decision I ever made,” Gibbs said quietly. “Which isn’t your problem, Tony. I think you’ve done enough cleaning up after me to last a lifetime.”
Tony couldn’t disagree with the cleanup part. “Thanks, I guess.” He huffed and looked toward Steve, who was staring resolutely out at the ocean.
“Don’t forget to email me and… I’ll text if I have questions.”
“You and texting,” Tony said with a small laugh. “The world is truly coming to an end.”
“It’ll be easier not to hear your voice for a bit,” Gibbs said roughly. “Take care.”
Tony blinked when the phone call abruptly ended. He took a deep breath as he sat it down on the sand beside his empty bottle. “He said he doesn’t want to hear my voice for a while.”
“He’s in love with you,” Steve said shortly. “Whatever that means for him—which can’t be anything good considering how many times he’s been married and divorced. He needs to stop trying to replace his dead wife. Maybe he realized that with you and turned into an asshole to keep you at an arm’s length.”
It certainly worked, Tony thought. Was Gibbs in love with him? There had been a time before Gibbs was injured and fucked off to Mexico to drown his grief in a bottle when he’d thought something might develop between them. Tony felt like that potential had died in that bombing because when Gibbs had returned, he’d been hostile in a way he’d never been before.
“Want another beer?” Steve asked. “We could grill—eat out the lanai and watch the most gorgeous sunset on Earth.”
“Sounds like a great idea.”
“Then we can go to bed and finish off your last day of vacation with a bang.”
Tony snorted. “It’s a good thing you’re pretty, McGarrett, because you’ve got zero game.”