Captain Oblivious
04. 4
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Chapter Four

Why the hell had he said he was playing to win, Gibbs wondered as he stalked back inside ahead of Tony. Even though his instincts screamed for him to be cool and calm, Gibbs couldn’t resist shooting a glance over his shoulder and smiled when he saw that Tony was leaning against the railing, watching the restaurant, a small smile playing over his mouth. He’d clearly been watching Gibbs as he walked back into the building.

Gibbs pointed at Tony and he nodded, pulling himself away from the railing and sauntering closer, eyes running up and down Gibbs’ body. When he was in touching distance, Gibbs leaned close, going almost nose to nose with DiNozzo. “You coming inside, Tony?”

Tony gave Gibbs a knowing smirk and he barely squelched the urge to headslap Tony. “Inside,” he repeated, pointing to the doors of the restaurant.

“On it, Boss,” Tony quipped with a smirk.

“Not Boss. Not gonna say it again, Tony. Gibbs or Jethro for tonight. Tobias or Fornell for him. But if you call him Toby, he’ll knock your block off, DiNozzo.”

“Got it. You guys really get together just to bitch about the ex? Ever heard of the whole living well is the best revenge thing? I know working the boat isn’t exactly the same as a gorgeous redhead, but there was Stephanie and she was real hot, beside the whole witness thing and"“

“DiNozzo!” Gibbs couldn’t help his hand coming up dangerously close to Tony’s head.

“Sorry, Boss…Gibbs. Fu"Yeah.” Tony danced out of range and walked inside ahead of Gibbs. All Gibbs could do was shake his head in amusement as he followed. He couldn’t work out why Tony’s antics had him charmed, but they did.

Tobias was a mixture of amused and annoyed. Gibbs gave him a significant look and shrugged, hoping Fornell would understand.

“Most embarrassing Diane story? Not embarrassing for you guys, but for her.” Tony asked as Gibbs sat down, settling with his body angled slightly away from Tony. He didn’t trust the younger man to keep his hands to himself.

Tobias arched a brow. “Most embarrassing? For her? Wasn’t that when she locked herself out, Jethro? Mr. Madden was treated to her hot pink thong and push up bra.”

“Pink isn’t a good color on redheads,” Tony shot back.

“Mr. Madden is Jethro’s next door neighbor. Mid-eighties now. He’s always been a breast man. Think he tried to play connect the freckles, and with her blushing and his bad eyesight, it was hard for him to find them,” Tobias recalled with a chuckle.

Gibbs sat back, sipping his drink as Tobias and DiNozzo began chatting like old friends. It was as if there had never been any tension between the two men, as if Tobias and the FBI hadn’t accused Gibbs’ agent of murder"more than once. Gibbs had expected tense silences, not this camaraderie.

Gibbs was content to watch and observe, to try to figure this out as Tobias and Tony bantered back and forth like old friends. The Diane stories gave way to dating disasters and nightmares, to Emily stories. These dinners were usually negative by design, both men getting out the anger and frustration at their jobs by attacking the one person they still held in contempt. Would always hold in contempt.

This was different from their normal anniversary dinner. Genuine chuckles and laughter surrounded the men as Tobias and Tony tried to one up each other, playfully discussing bad dating experiences and girlfriends from hell.

“Worst date, though,” Tony said between bites of grilled shrimp. “It wasn’t what you’d expect.” There was something both vulnerable and honest in Tony’s voice that turned Gibbs’ complete focus on him.

“Better than the herpes website or closet full of crap?”

“Yeah.” Tony was utterly serious now. “Much worse. Just after I finished college, I was kind of at a loss.” He looked at both men now, his eyes lingering on Gibbs. Tony let out a small nod and squared his shoulders. “Sports dreams were gone, I didn’t really want to teach or coach. I was lost and a little bit stupid.”

“What happened?” Gibbs asked quietly.

“I met someone…bartended for a little, that’s on my resume, Boss.”


“Right. So we met at the bar and hit of off. She was a rich girl going to grad school. Anyway, one thing led to another and we dated a little. It didn’t work out, we broke up, everything was okay. I decided to try to become a police officer, ended up in Peoria, then Philly. I was working odd shifts and studying for my Masters, when…”

Gibbs swallowed his bite of food, not even tasting it. He suspected he knew where this was going. He’d read the file and background on Tony, but only now was he starting to tie everything in.

“Go ahead, Tony.”

“It was like eleven thirty at night, I had just left the diner I used to study at when my roommate was busy.” Tony framed that last word with quotes and Gibbs couldn’t help the small smile that crossed his face. He couldn’t imagine DiNozzo with a young roommate and all the problems that caused.

“Anyway, out of nowhere comes this car…they estimated it was coming at me at around forty miles an hour. It was coming directly at me. I tried to get out of the way, but I wasn’t fast enough. Maybe I was tired, maybe my reflexes were shot. Who knows? My ex-girlfriend, Cheryl, was driving it. She’d been stalking me. I thought our breakup was a mutual thing but she didn’t agree.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I think I win the crazy exes contest with the multiple year stalker. You guys just got cleaned out.”

Gibbs nodded, setting his jaw. He’d known there was something to that accident, but he’d never pried. He sucked in a deep breath, trying to center himself, trying to relax for DiNozzo’s sake. There was something in Tony’s eyes that made Gibbs want to protect him, even though he knew Tony was a competent and damned talented agent and could take care of himself.

“Extenuating circumstances…” Gibbs muttered. It was what Tony cited as the reason for leaving Philadelphia.

“Yeah. I had three months of rehab and I got a lot done on my degree then. Turned out Cheryl was the Philadelphia mayor’s niece, so it was buried deep and I was out of a job.”

“Good thing Baltimore was hiring, eh, Tony,” Tobias said, drumming his hands on his table and giving Tony his own concerned look. “Yeah, DiNozzo, I have nothing that can compare. Diane cleaned me out, but Jethro warned me. It was my own damned stupidity that I didn’t listen.”

“Why didn’t you?” Gibbs asked. He’d never gotten an honest answer to that question and he really wanted to know.

“Jethro,” Tobias said, gesturing with his glass. “Look at me. A guy like you could get Diane. A guy like me? I should have known better than to think she’d fall for a schmuck like me.”

“What’s wrong with you?” Tony asked, his voice sharpening. “You’re smart, have a great job, good sense of humor…not bad looking…”

Tobias started laughing, shaking his head. “Jethro, is DiNozzo listing all my positive qualities? You sure we’re not a little too buzzed for this conversation?”

“Positive,” Gibbs said firmly, meeting his friend’s eyes. “Tobias, Diane loved you. She told me that when she was leaving me, and it wasn’t spiteful, she meant it. She’d fallen in love with you. Was why she waited to move in with you until the divorce was final.”

“Didn’t stop her from cleaning the bank accounts out,” Tobias pointed out.

“Didn’t stop her from swinging at me with a golf club or cleaning me out either,” Gibbs agreed. “But lawyers are all sharks.”

“Good thing I’m an agent,” Tony added in a rush and Gibbs felt the tension at the table increase tenfold as the implication of Tony’s words set in.

“What does that mean?” Tobias asked, his mouth falling open in shock. Gibbs looked from the expectant face of DiNozzo to the confused one of Tobias and took a deep breath. If he was going to do this, he couldn’t screw it up.

“Means good thing he’s an agent and not a lawyer,” Gibbs said, knowing his friend could connect the dots and be relied upon to keep this secret to his death.

“Are you serious?” Tobias stared into Gibbs’ eyes, sighing. “You are serious. Jethro…be careful. You’re both playing with fire here.”

“Not getting burned, Tobias.”