Title: Something to Say
Author: Jilly James
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, Jethro Gibbs
Pairing: pre Tony/Gibbs
Word Count: 1,000
Summary: Tony is injured obtaining voice prints and is left to die. He decides there are some things left unsaid.
Warnings: No beta, Dead Air, First Person, Off-screen violence, Poor Petty Officers
– – – –
I never thought I’d die like this. After more than fifteen years as a cop-turned-federal agent, considering how things have frequently gone, I figured that it was unlikely that I’d see old age. I had always been prepared to die in the line of duty. And this situation fits as line of duty, but it wasn’t really what I expected.
The biggest problem was the cliché of it all. I hated clichés.
And yet, there I was… a body dump in Rock Creek Park. In a cave no less. It was really fucking annoying. How many crime scenes had I processed in that fucking place? In fact, I was pretty sure this very cave had once contained decomposing remains. Probably of a petty officer. Poor petty officers… they seemed to always get the short end of the stick when it came to violent crimes. I wondered if it was some weird psycho-attractant. Was that contagious? Because I sure seemed to have more than my fair share of nut jobs to deal with.
Forcing myself to stop thinking about dead petty officers, I wondered if I should make another attempt to get out of the cave? The last time I had tried, I nearly passed out. There was a bullet in my leg and one in my gut. There was fuck-all I could do about the leg, but I had to keep pressure on the other wound. I had managed to get my wadded-up jacket under my back and had kept pressure on the exit wound by virtue of lying on it. I was holding my shirt pressed to my stomach, but I wasn’t going to be able to keep it up for long because I was really fucking tired.
Who knew getting voice prints would be so fucking dangerous? Especially with two backups? Another spike of worry-slash-frustration intruded on my thoughts. What happened to McGee and Ziva? From the time I was shot until those two guys got me in a car was at least ten minutes. Where was my backup? Were they hurt? I didn’t want them to be hurt, but the alternative wasn’t something I could wrap my brain around.
So I was pretty sure I was gonna die—in a cave—but the thing I hated most was that my mind was filled with all the things I regretted. I never wanted to come to the end of my life and have regrets. And it wasn’t even things I’d done or not done, which I might have expected. It was the things I hadn’t said. So many things I had kept to myself. So many words that needed to be shared. Words can hurt more than physical blows—I’d known that since I was a child—and so I had always been careful with my words. Too careful, it seemed. And, in that moment, I regretted it. So damn much.
I wished they hadn’t taken my phone. Not even for cell reception, which was highly unlikely, but so I could have used it to record a message. To say some of those things that felt like they were choking me in the last moments of my life. I’d never felt like I was entitled to anything, but in that moment, I felt everyone was entitled to a voice.
I glanced, once again, at the way out, at the faint shaft of sunlight. It seemed so damned far away. Even though it might not solve anything, I felt like I had to try again. Even if I could leave no other message, I could let people know that I never gave up. I was sort of fine with that being my final word. Tony DiNozzo never gave up.
– – – –
A sharp pain in my face intruded on my consciousness and I tried to twitch away from it and go back to sleep. But the voice calling me was more insistent than my desire to rest.
“Come on, DiNozzo! Do not give up!”
“Never… gave up,” I managed to mumble, suddenly aware of a nearly crushing pressure on my abdomen.
“I know,” Gibbs said in a much softer tone. “You’re the only person I know who could out-stubborn me.”
“Lies,” I whispered.
“Open your eyes, Tony.”
“Don’t wanna,” I mumbled. “Lead eyelids.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not askin’,” Gibbs snapped.
Somehow I got my eyes open to find Gibbs and Balboa kneeling next to me. Balboa was the reason for the crushing pressure on my stomach. Gibbs was presumably responsible for slapping me awake. I managed to glance around enough to see that I’d made it halfway to the cave entrance before apparently passing out.
A very gentle pat on my cheek got my wandering attention and I found Gibbs right in my face.
“You paying attention?” At my brief nod, he added, “I want to be sure we’re very clear. You never have permission to die.”
“I… gotcha, Boss.”
“Good.” Gibbs gave a sharp nod, then picked up his radio, demanding an update on the paramedics. I felt my attention wander, but managed to focus again when there was another touch to my cheek. “Just a couple more minutes, Tony.”
“McGee and Ziva?” I asked, dreading any answer that could be given.
The way Gibbs’ expression hardened, and the anger in his eyes was all the answer I needed. “They don’t matter anymore.”
My heart felt like it was being squeezed. There were questions that needed to be asked. But there were more important things first. “I… have some things to say. To you.”
Gibbs’ gaze seemed to become more focused and he looked like he was trying to read my mind. “I’m not taking any deathbed confessions, DiNozzo. You get better, then you can have your say.”
“You’ll listen? To all of it?” I pressed.
Gibbs’ hand was still on my face, and a strong, calloused thumb travelled over my cheekbone. I searched his eyes for assurance, needing something to hold on to.
“I’ll listen to every word, Tony.”
– – – –
The Big Short is a short-story challenge on Rough Trade based on thematic or character prompts. The maximum word count for themes is 1k, for characters it’s 2k. They are not beta’d. I re-read them looking for errors but that is all.
Each short story is complete as is. They will not be expanded on, there will be no sequels, they are probably not connected to anything else, and they are not intended to prompt other writers. If you find inspiration in them, that’s lovely, but please write your own thing. My works are not up for adoption.