Disclaimer: I'm not Bellesario or CBS, so I don't claim to own them.
Challenge: ncis_flashfic Amnesty 2007; Five Things Challenge
Potential Spoilers: 03x11 Model Behavior; 05x10 Corporal Punishment
Word Count: 1,363
Crossposted: ncis_haven; ncisfanfic
Summary: Tony has a collection that started when he joined NCIS and continues to fluxuate in numbers to this day.
Tony was leaning casually against the back wall of the open room listening to Director Morrow’s speech. He was only there because he had received the inner-office memo that requested everyone’s presence. He snorted at that thought, because his Boss has somehow gotten out of not showing. Tony sometimes found it hard to understand how Gibbs could be the best agent around when he never played by the rules.
Tony’s ears perked up when he heard Director Morrow lead in to a spiel about the person receiving the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. He let himself slip into a small daydream of what it would be like to be recognized as a top agent. He had received a few commendations to his file over the years at the various departments, but his reprimands far outweighed those. Made him wonder why Gibbs had even hired him in the first place. Tony was sure he would be leaving NCIS before his normal two years were up and that there would be no awards or recognition in his future.
He snapped back to reality when the Director said Gibbs’ name. Tony joined in the applause even though the other man was not present. He smiled at the slight off put look on the director’s face. ‘Only Gibbs could get away with that,’ he thought to himself.
As the crowd dispersed, Tony prepared to head back to his desk and the cold case that was sitting on top of it. He stopped short with the Director spoke to him.
“Special Agent DiNozzo?”
“Yes sir,” Tony replied cautiously. He couldn’t think of anything he had done in the three months since joining NCIS that would warrant the Director’s attention, but he was still worried none-the-less.
“Could you see that Agent Gibbs gets this?” he asked as he thrust the cased medal to Tony.
“Uh, sure sir,” Tony managed to get out before the Director disappeared.
He walked back to his desk and stared at the case in his hands. He carefully opened it to examine the medal inside. ‘Someday,’ he started to think, only to cut himself off.
“Who am I kidding?” he said softly.
“You better not be kidding anyone on my time DiNozzo,” was barked from behind him.
The voice of his Boss startled him so much that he dropped the medal on his desk and almost fell out of his chair. He took in the quirk of Gibbs’ mouth as the man walked toward his desk. Fortifying himself, Tony stood up and grabbed the medal to take to him.
“The Director asked me to give this to you Boss,” he said as he held the medal out to Gibbs. “Must be great getting a medal.”
Tony winced as he realized how much longing had come through in his voice. Gibbs didn’t answer right away, he just stood up and grabbed his gun and badge and walked towards the elevator. As Gibbs reached the doors he turned around and looked at Tony who was still standing with his arm held out.
“We’re going to the range, DiNozzo. Stop standing and start moving.”
Tony snapped into action and left the medal sitting on his desk as he grabbed his gear. “On your six Boss,” he said as he hurried to catch up.
Later that night as he sat retyping his latest report, he looked back over at the medal sitting on his desk and sighed. It wasn’t his, but maybe he could pretend for just bit, just until Gibbs asked for it back.
Four years later, Tony was back in the room listening to the same speeches from a different Director. She had covered all the bases and it was finally time for the presentation of the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. He flipped through some cards he had written for use when Gibbs’ name was called. He had progressed over the course of four years to actually picking up the award from the Director instead of waiting until after the ceremony. Now he was ready to make a short speech, one he had practiced the night before.
When Cynthia said his name for accepting on Gibbs’ behalf and he heard the light applause, it gave him a feeling he rarely felt. It was like people were actually appreciating him. It didn’t even last a minute though. The Director cut him off and everyone walked out of the room. He hung his head in defeat and even a hug from Abby didn’t bring that feeling back.
After the case involving Taylor Shane’s death was solved and the others had left the bullpen, Tony held out Gibbs’ Meritorious Civilian Service Medal as he walked passed.
“I don’t suppose you want this,” he asked his Boss as he flipped the case open. Gibbs just rolled his eyes. “I’ll get rid of it,” Tony answered for him.
Gibbs hovered for a moment, keeping Tony from doing what had become his usual ‘Gibbs medal’ routine. “Go home, DiNozzo. It’s late.”
Tony smiled slightly and responded, “Yeah, I’m just finishing up a couple of things.”
“Your flowers are dead,” was all he got from Gibbs as the man turned and left. Tony turned back with smile at the flowers Abby had given him before taking out the key for the box he kept safely tucked in his bottom desk drawer.
He opened the case one more time and let his fingers run over the medal. Then he dropped it into the lock box with the other three medals and closed the drawer with his foot. He looked back at the vase of black flowers and smiled. ‘Maybe the medals don’t matter that much after all,’ he thought to himself before he sneezed.
Almost a year later, he sat at his old, no, just his, desk emptying the boxes Gibbs had filled for him when the older man reclaimed his desk. Tony was trying not to be upset about the turn of events, but he had gone from being in charge back to being the understudy for Gibbs. As much as he didn’t want to resent his Boss, he did.
He slammed things into place in and around his desk when the site of the lock box that had Gibbs’ medals stopped him short. He found that it was no longer locked; leading him to believe the other man had found them. Embarrassment filled him as he thought about Gibbs finding the box that was almost a shrine to him amongst Tony’s things.
He opened it up to find all four medals he had collected present. But nestled amongst them were two more that Tony hadn’t seen before. He lifted them out for a closer look and almost dropped them when he realized what they were.
Gibbs had left his Purple Heart and Silver Star with the medals he had received in Tony’s time at NCIS. Tony let his fingers run over each and then gave a smile for the first time in days as he put them in the box with the others and placed it in his bottom drawer. ‘Maybe,’ he thought, ‘things will work out okay and I won’t wish I had gone to Spain.’
Another year had passed and Tony’s collection was still in tact, or so he thought. It was the middle of the night and he was thinking about the medals within his desk. The case they had just dealt with had them on his mind. The marine had been denied his medal because of his drug use. Tony could tell that the marine wasn’t out for the medal, but the removal of both his dream and the recognition for the job he had done would take its toll on the man.
Thinking about this, he opened the drawer and removed the box. Since Gibbs didn’t want or need the medals, maybe he could put at least one of them to use. When he opened the box to select one of the Meritorious Civilian Service medals, his hand froze.
The Silver Star was missing and Tony knew exactly where it had to be. “Always one step ahead, Boss,” Tony said to the empty office. “Guess that’s why you get the medals.”
Read the Companion Piece One He Gained and One He Didn't Want.