Disclaimer: I'm not Bellesario or CBS, so I don't claim to own them.
Characters: Gibbs; Vance; Tony
Word Count: 1,384
Episode Tags: 05x07 Requiem; 06x06 Murder 2.0
Betas: avamclean; azraelz_angel
Note: This a loosely tied to my previous story, Four He Gained and One He Lost, but you don't necessarily have to read it to follow this story.
Crossposted: ncisfanfic; ncis_fic; ncis_haven
Summary: Gibbs' medal collection is significantly smaller than Tony's but special all the same.
Gibbs spared a brief smile as he stepped into the full conference room and didn't see DiNozzo in sight. Over the last seven years, the younger man had learned the meaning behind his job and Gibbs respected him more than ever for it. Gibbs had received the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal each year that Tony had worked for him, making for a total of six awards. And had he not been blown to hell and back, the speech Director Shepard was about to make would have been for him as well. Instead, Gibbs decided it was time to make an appearance at the awards ceremony and took what he assumed was DiNozzo's usual place leaning against the back wall with his arms crossed.
Gibbs glanced to his right when he heard McGee hiss to Abby, "What's Gibbs doing here? He never comes."
Gibbs fully expected Abby to bounce over to him and start questioning his presence, but instead, she started looking around the room with concerned eyes. It took her a few moments to confirm what she was looking for before she crossed the short distance to Gibbs and in deference to the Director still making speeches, began signing.
Where's Tony? He's never not here. He's always here. It's a thing. Ever since that second award he's accepted them for you. Why are you here and he's not? Is he hurt? Oh God! He's not sick is--
Gibbs cut the flow of words off by grabbing her hands within his own and then he reached up and placed a finger to her lips. When she gave a brief nod, he released her hands and pointed toward the podium where the Director was about to announce the final award.
"And now for the final award of the evening, the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, awarded for demonstrating unusual initiative in the pattern of excellence. This year, the award is being presented to an agent who went above and beyond the call of duty at great personal risk to himself in order to save the life of not only a civilian, but also the life of his supervisor Special Agent Gibbs."
As the Director paused, Gibbs noted the wide smile that formed on Abby's face, all concern over DiNozzo erased from her eyes. He also noticed the somewhat shocked expressions on McGee and Ziva's faces as they realized who was about to receive the award. He turned his attention back toward the Director as she announced the recipient.
"It is an honor to present this medal to Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo."
The room erupted with applause and Gibbs pushed away from the wall and made his way to podium where the Director was looking at him with amusement and a bit of respect in her eyes. Gibbs heard the gasps of people around him, but didn’t acknowledge them. He even heard a few bold agents commenting on how it 'wasn't like DiNozzo to skip the limelight.' Gibbs just shook his head. Just like DiNozzo understood him, he understood DiNozzo. They didn’t do the work for the recognition; they did it because it was the right thing to do.
Gibbs was waiting for the elevator doors to close when Vance pushed through at the last moment. Gibbs held his ground as Vance stood toward the front of the elevator car. Neither man spoke as the car began its decent and Gibbs didn't flinch when Vance reached out at halted the motion with a flick of a switch.
As the emergency lighting kicked on, Gibbs watched as Vance held out a case that Gibbs knew held his most recent award. Gibbs gave a brief thought about why DiNozzo didn't have it in his hands when he realized the reason.
"When I present an award such as this, Agent Gibbs, I appreciate it if the recipient shows up to accept it. Especially when he was told specifically to be there."
"Never saw 'must accept all awards in person' as part of the job requirements, Leon."
"It would have been better than sending your boy to try to pick them up. I'm not one for giving out awards when they aren't due."
Gibbs wanted to fume. He wanted to point out to Vance every time it had been Tony's initiative that solved the case. He wanted to point out the cold case research Tony did in the middle of the night that he passed off to other teams when he found a lead. He wanted to tell Vance that it wasn't just one agent that solved the case and put the bad guys behind bars. But he settled for asking Vance a question instead.
"Do you know what year I received the first one of these?" Gibbs asked as he took the small case containing the medal from Vance's hand.
"According to your file it was 2001 and with this one you have a total of seven."
Gibbs fingered the case before turning his blue eyes back on Vance. "And what year did DiNozzo join my team?"
"2001," was the clipped answer from Vance.
"Care to make a direct correlation there?" Gibbs posed to Vance and smiled when he noticed the flicker of annoyance in Vance's eyes. "A single agent doesn't solve the cases. It takes a team."
Gibbs reached out and started the elevator back into motion. They rode the rest of the way in silence and when the doors opened to the bullpen, Vance stepped aside to let Gibbs exit.
Once the doors were closed, Gibbs made his way toward the desks and stopped when he saw Tony sitting at his desk furiously tapping on his keyboard. The younger man didn't appear to be typing anything, just hitting random keys in an appearance of work. There were lines present in Tony's face that weren't there just one year before. Too much had happened over a short period of time and it had taken its toll on everyone.
Knowing he had to approach his senior field agent at some point, Gibbs bit the bullet and stepped forward, coming to a halt beside Tony's desk.
"That keyboard do something to offend you, DiNozzo?" he asked in his usual brusque tone and Tony's head snapped up to meet his stare.
"Nah Boss, me and it are just having a discussion about the proper order of things. You know, I press a key and it gets its keys pushed. That kind of thing."
Gibbs had long since become an expert at reading between the lines when it came to Anthony DiNozzo. Vance's actions had hurt him deeply and Gibbs had some work ahead of him to fix the issues the Director stirred in Tony.
"Think you're missing something, DiNozzo," Gibbs said as he laid the medal case down on the corner of Tony's desk.
Tony just stared at it for several moments before looking up at Gibbs. "Don't think I'm supposed to have that one, Boss. I have it on good authority that I'm not 'capable' enough to have that in my possession."
Gibbs tightened his hand into a fist and wished he could punch Vance just once for putting that bit of insecurity into Tony's voice. "Well I sure as hell don't want it. I only have one medal I keep and it's the only one that matters."
Gibbs held Tony's eyes as the realization of what medal Gibbs was referring to filtered through Tony's thoughts. Gibbs knew he had made a breakthrough when he saw a tentative smile form on Tony's lips.
"I think this one is tainted, Boss," Tony said as he picked up the offensive case in his hand and sniffed at it. Making a face, Tony added, "Definitely stinks."
Gibbs gave his own version of a smile as he plucked the 'offensive' case from Tony's hand. "Do you think it's safe to burn these things?" he asked as he tested the weight in his hand.
"Probably breaks some kind of a law we should enforce on ourselves, but I'm game if you are," Tony said with a full smile that Gibbs counted as a victory.
"My place, 1900 hours," Gibbs said as he turned to walk away. At the elevator, he called back over his shoulder, "And DiNozzo!"
"Yeah Boss," came the expected response.
"Bring some marshmallows."
Best Gen Episode Tag
LJ NCIS Awards 2009 ncis_awards