A New Direction
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Title: New Direction
Author: djmicheals
Beta: none, the errors are all *MINE*.
Featured Characters: Anthony DiNozzo
Challenge #/Challenge Text: At NCIS 1000 Words Challenge #31 - Single Word Prompt: New
Disclaimer: The song is by Rascal Flatts. I don't own anything worth anything. I still don't own NCIS although I am sure I asked not only Santa, but the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Mother Nature, Old Man Winter, the Fairie Godmothers (all three of them), and Father Time for it to have all on my own. I’ve had no luck yet though because I think I forgot someone. Reviews are appreciated but flames will be used to light my bonfires.
There comes a time in everyone’s life, when all you can see are the years passing by. And I have made up my mind, that those days are gone

It happens to everyone. You sit there and look back on your life and wonder where the time has gone, wonder why your life turned out the way it did, what happened to make your dreams go up in smoke. Some people look at one moment in time, use it to pinpoint where things went wrong in their life. I had several: my mom’s death, my injury in college, my partner Jak in Peoria getting executed in front of the courthouse when he was going to testify against a rapist, my partner Heather in Philadelphia who overdosed because she could not crawl her way out of the needle and really had no desire to, Chris Pacci dying to keep a cross-dressing sailor’s secret, Kate falling to Ari’s bullet, Paula to a terrorist’s bomb, Jenny to a Russian gangster.

But it takes strength to go forward and not live in the past. What’s done is done, it sounds trite really, but that is the truth. You can’t undo an action once you have made it or unsay words once they are spoken. You have a choice. You can either wallow in self pity and what might have been or step up and move on.

I've dealt with my ghosts and I've faced all my demons, finally content with a past I regret. I've found you find strength in your moments of weakness, For once I'm at peace with myself. I've been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long.

My mother, my father, Chris, Kate, Jenny, Paula, Jeanne, Remy Grant, ghosts and demons all of them. There is so much I regret having done and more importantly, not done.

I regret hurting Jeanne and taking away Remy’s freedom but I can’t change that. I corrected the situations the best way I knew how.

I lied to Jeanne when she asked me if any of it were real. When she asked me to choose between NCIS and her, I chose the job. The feelings I had for her were real; I did love her but she fell in love with Anthony DiNardo, professor; not Anthony DiNozzo, cop. While he was a part of me, I wasn’t him and no matter how much she wanted it to be true it wasn’t.

I let Remy go and let him have the money too. I can admit it and not feel badly about it. He was falsely imprisoned for three years of his life, $1 million on the beach was the least that I could do for him. While I know that what happened wasn’t completely my fault, we followed the evidence at hand, I was in charge and the end is it was my responsibility.

I deeply regret telling my mother that I hated her, I was such a shit, what kid isn’t, but it was the last thing I said to her and I will never get that back. That last thing she said to me was, ‘What if I die while you’re gone Anthony and it’s the last thing you say to me? How will you feel then? Huh?” My answer then was slamming the screen door and stomping outside to pout. Now it’s far, far different.

Chris was a great guy and my best friend when he died. He was fun to hang out with and we were in perfect sync on the intra-mural teams we played on. He frickin’ loved baseball and was great at it. He could play short like no body’s business. We had a lot in common, more than most people thought. Tore his knee out in a college game when the scouts were looking at him, the doctor’s told him he could never play professionally again. Then he decided to become a cop. I miss him. I regret that I never thanked him for showing me the ropes when Gibbs didn’t have the time or patience.

I regret not telling Kate and Paula that I loved them both. Kate was the sister that I never knew I always wanted and I don’t think I ever let her know just how much she meant to me. Paula was the girl that you really liked, slept with, and managed to stay on good terms with. To be honest that was more her doing than mine. After all, she said many times I was a great guy, an excellent lover, good for a quick tumble or a fun time, but just not take-home-to-meet-the-parents material, But both were great friends and I could count on them to tell it to me straight right up to a few short hours before they each died. I lost two great partners in less than three years and call me a chauvinist, although I know they died doing their jobs protecting their country, I would gladly have exchanged my life for either of theirs so they could have gone on to get married and have kids. They would have made excellent mothers.

Jenny is both a demon and a ghost. I’m sorry that she died but I didn’t like her much at the end. Her micromanagement skills were a pain in the ass. When she hired that sniveling twit Chip, she was to directly to blame for getting me framed for murder and almost getting Abby killed. She wasn’t responsible for his actions but just because the guy nailing you through the mattress says his cousin is a great guy and got a bum deal does not mean we should hire them off the street. Who the hell hires someone without a full background check?? And for an armed Federal agency? Can we say nepotism? I wanted to believe she changed, I really wanted to believe. But her personal war almost got me killed, got me framed for murder, again, and caused two people unnecessary heartache. But Gibbs loved her and for that I am sorry she died.

My relationship with my father is, to be kind, strained. He was a good provider for our family but everything went south after my mom died. He drank too much, worked himself into the ground to hide from his grief, and had absolutely no idea at all what to do with an angry, pre-pubescent son who was nothing like himself, and by the time he finally sent me went away to boarding school we were both glad for the relief. Without her to breach the chasm that was my father and me, we were just two people who happened to be related to each other that really couldn’t stand one another for long periods of time. He married and divorced many, many times trying to recapture what he had built up as that perfect moment in his life before it all went to hell. The only thing was is that it wasn’t perfect, all wine and roses. Oh the wine was there, and the gin, scotch, vodka, tequila, rum, whiskey and any other proofed liquid that came along. There was screaming and yelling and fighting and anonymous and not so anonymous affairs with maids, secretaries, housekeepers, pool boys, tennis pros, friends, and enemies. But they fit, somehow, and we were a family. In reality, Gibbs and my father are so much alike it is actually scary. As I look back it is no wonder I was drawn to him.

There is no such thing as a do over. It took me my entire adult life up to now to realize and come to terms with the fact that I can’t change the past and that I can only go on. Live my life to honor the ones I loved and lost, not repeat the same mistakes that I made, and to learn from them. For so long I let others blame me and held myself at fault for things that I couldn’t control. Children only live in the today, rarely think past tomorrow, and never think that something truly bad with happen to them. Parents are human and make mistakes. We never tell the people in our hearts that we love them enough. We never take the time to tell people how much they truly mean to us, that we are thankful for their presence in our lives. I have learned to forgive myself and it was the hardest thing to do. Blaming myself, holding myself accountable for something that cannot be changed was eating me up inside. I realized that I was only hurting myself and no one would look out for me but me. It takes a strong person to rise up out of devastation and personal loss, to go forward, great character to apologize when you wrong someone and mean it.

I lived in this place and I know all the faces, each one is different, but they’re always the same. They mean me no harm but it's time that I face it, they’ll never allow me to change

I took this place and made it my home. Took the people and made them my family. I fit them into roles in this family that they readily slipped into. But I never expected them not to change. They will not allow me to change. If they do then they have to change also. If I am not the dumb jock but a guy with three degrees then I may be smarter than they. If I am not the skirt chaser but someone looking for a partner, then they are not and will not be that person. I expected Tim to grow up from the hesitant, stammering young man into a confident, capable man who is at home with himself. I wished for Abby to tire of her partying all night long, work all day lifestyle and look for more than just a party around the next corner. I hoped that Ziva would settle in from someone who was always looking for the worst life has to give, a loner, into someone who can be happy with having friends to rely on her and that she would rely on. I wanted Gibbs to stop holding people away from him, driving them away before they could leave, and let people into his life. And they all have. But the person that they had pegged me to be doesn’t fit anymore. I am unhappy with him.

But I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong.

I took this place and made it my home. Took the people and made them my family. And yet I don’t belong here anymore. It is the way of the world. You grow up and strike out on your own. You cannot change, grow if you are in the same place doing the same things over and over again, the results will always be the same. As I look around, I have seen more and more that I just don’t fit here anymore. Like a pair of jeans you outgrow, it was just a little too tight one day, not bad, just uncomfortable. You get used to that uncomfortable feeling and keep on going, it’s only a little tight you can get used to it. The next day they are a little tighter still, pretty soon you notice that they are so tight that you have deep, red creases in your waist where the band is and what the hell, it hurts. I was trying to jam my 34 inch waist into a 30 inch hole and no matter how you look at it those pants just aren’t going to fasten. One day I woke up and discovered that it hurt. That was where I was trying to fit into a space that I just couldn’t any longer. I was wedged into the ‘Tony’ slot so tightly that I didn’t have room to move. The poem says two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, but in fact I had gotten so far off of the road I couldn’t even see berm.

I've loved like I should, but lived like I shouldn’t; I had to lose everything to find out

My world collapsed and with it came one night long night of soul searching. I drank, whored, and generally lived like there was no tomorrow because let’s face it, there was a real possibility every time I woke up it was the last day I would. I kept people at arms length from me so that I wouldn’t have to deal with being vulnerable. I had to lose all of my barriers to discover this fact. I was so busy running looking back over my shoulder to make sure that I was keeping them distant that I wasn’t watching where I was going. While I was busy trying to protect myself I completely overlooked the fact that I loved, fell in love, and had been loved along the way. The one person that I could see myself spending the rest of my life with didn’t know the real me, and when she found out she left with vicious words and broken hearts on both sides.

I'm moving on at last I can see, life has been patiently waiting for me.

It just took me until that day to see clearly. I am not the sum of my facade. There is more to me than the face that I present to the world and it is time that I step out from behind the face of a clown. I am ready to face new challenges and hopefully, this time, I am choosing the direction that I want to go instead of taking the easy way.

And I know there’s no guarantees, but I'm not alone.

There are no guarantees in life but I’m not the only one faced with the same dilemma, the same choices, everyone has to make them. Even not choosing to do something is making a choice. I know that I do have my family to rely on. My dad isn’t the most reliable, con artists never are. He will always look out for himself and that will never change; and as strange as that may sound I can count on him for that, to be that predictable. I know that eventually I can count on them, once they get past today. Abby for a hug to make everything seem all right; geek speak from Tim on the latest techno crap that he is into with a slightly condescending smile or face open and eager like a ten year old just discovering girls; quiet companionship from Jimmy, he wants nothing more; a story from Ducky; the IambetterthanyouandIknowit look from Ziva; a solid, honest presence and redirection in the form of a head slap from Gibbs when I stray too far.

I've sold what I could and packed what I couldn’t, stopped to fill up on my way out of town

Eight years of hubris. How can one man collect so much crap in a small apartment? Before I could pack what I wanted and be gone in a matter of hours. This time it took me weeks, a box at a time. I sublet my apartment to Jimmy, at a ridiculous price, with the agreement that whatever I wanted to leave he would keep. It is past time he moved out from under his mother and sister and he will be slightly surprised to find himself in a fully stocked home complete with an entertainment system to fulfill every man’s wet dreams.

Amazingly the things I wanted to keep all fit into the back of my jeep; clothing, some books, my gun safe, and some DVDs and CDs. The things I couldn’t sell hit me like a blow to the solar plexus, not big things but mementos.

A ticket stub from a Redskins game that I went to with Jimmy, our first and we had a great time. It was there that he stopped me cold, made me completely speechless, when told me he thought I hated him all this time. I didn’t know what to say except for the truth. I did like, do like, Jimmy. He reminded me of me before my young world abruptly changed, before I tried on the masks and discovered they fit rather perfectly. After that day I took him to the game whenever our schedules meshed.

Abby got me a paperweight that held two photographs. One side was with a moment from my last winning game my senior year in college on my 2nd anniversary with NCIS. A photographer had taken the picture of me after making the game winning touchdown, holding the ball in the air victoriously, on the shoulders of my best friend Lon. The other side was etched a picture of the two of us. We were at a club somewhere in the Circle and someone in the group snapped it. We were both smiling and looking at each other, heads thrown back in laughter. I had the same expression on my face in each of the pictures of unbridled happiness.

The memories from Ducky took up the most space. He gave me wonderful two sets of leather bound books, the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring his stories of Sherlock Holmes and the complete works of Ian Fleming. Being more interested in movies, I have to admit that I was surprised that I liked them but I have returned to them over and over.

Tim was having trouble with getting back into the saddle after shooting the cop in the alley so we spent every spare minute at the range practicing. On the day he had to re-qualify I was out in the field. I came back to the office long after everyone had left to find something folded up on my chair. I unfurled it and found Tim’s target. Each shot was on center, true to aim with the date and notes from his tester on his qualification percentage, 97%. At the bottom he wrote me a note, ‘Thanks Tony.’ I kept it along with the one from a few months ago when he bested me. That one said, ‘Finally!!!’ I’m proud of him.

My Katie was my own personal moral compass helping me navigate the wastelands. That day was definitely one of the defining days of my life. I have never been the same and I miss her. Not a day goes by without thinking about the hole in my heart. I loved her like no other. We weren’t together, it was purer than that. I set aside the place of honor next to me in the passenger seat and buckled in an infusing tea pot and boxes of blossoming teas she gave me after I had the plague and after the car blew up. My last gift from her. I unwrapped it that beautiful fall day while she was there but hadn’t yet opened it, the Master called and we obeyed. After she died I could never stand the thought of using them. I know it’s silly but I went out and bought the exact same items and drank the teas because she said they would help me. She was right and I told her ghost. I can picture her cock her head to the side, get that little satisfied smirk she had when she knew she had something on me, and say ‘I told you so’.

I have two physical mementos from Gibbs. The first is a pocket knife he got for my 3rd anniversary. It’s engraved with our initials, ‘To TD from JG. I win.’ It reminded me of a conversation we had before I started NCIS about my rabbiting after 2 years. I had said that I could never trust my partner before and felt like I would lose if I stayed longer. Gibbs bet it would change. He won. I stayed longer than I thought I ever would and got a hell of a partner. The second was a note Gibbs left for me after I crawled out of that sewer. I had left the office without seeing him, the words of my father reverberating in my head. I had dumped everything on my counter except for my phone and some money, changed quickly and ran. I ran and ran trying to come to terms with what I thought I knew. By the time I got home it was 6 hours later and I found the note on top of my wallet, ‘I’m proud of you.’

I packed things for everyone and left them on their desks. A box of DVDs for Tim that we watched together and I know he liked. He can watch them with his new Probie and hopefully teach some of the same lessons I did him. Some jazz and Rat Pack CDs for Abby to broaden her music horizon and my favorite Buckeye sweatshirt that she latched on to. I made sure to spray it with my cologne and wore it the day before I packed it. A sword for Ziva that I picked up in Paraguay all those years ago with Kate. I had it sharpened and placed it in the box along with my letter opener that she loved. My Mighty Mouse stapler, a bottle of fine scotch, and a book on the great orators in history for Ducky. We had a discussion one night about the lack of proper etiquette, grammar, and common courtesy in the speech of today. I had had him stumped when I said that he should be listed as one of the greatest. I cherish that memory. Jimmy’s gift from me is a bookshelf, fully stocked filled with the things he will need to continue on his journey to become a medical examiner. I also left him half of my season tickets on the Redskins 50 yard line; one for Gibbs and the other for Jimmy. I think they will be good for each other once Jimmy gets past his nerves. Gibbs was different though. I left his gift on his workbench. A box of honey dust and a bottle of Jack. I can just picture the look on his face. No, his real gift is something else. This time he received a pocket knife, ‘JG, I really think I won. AD.’

Maybe forgiveness will find me some where down this road.

They will not forgive me this day. The leaving, spreading my wings. The need to find absolution in my heart and start over somewhere else where I can be myself, not the roles I have been slotted into with no relief: elder brother, goofball, frat boy, eternal jock, clown, someone that needs to be slapped down. Maybe not tomorrow but hopefully they will understand that this is what I need to do for me, Anthony D. DiNozzo, Jr.

I'm moving on

I'm Moving On lyrics

I've dealt with my ghosts and I've faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I've found you find strength in your moments of weakness
For once I'm at peace with myself
I've been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long
I'm movin' on

I've lived in this place and I know all the faces
Each one is different but they're always the same
They mean me no harm but it's time that I face it
They'll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong
I'm movin' on

I'm movin' on
At last I can see life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there's no guarantees, but I'm not alone
There comes a time in everyone's life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind that those days are gone

I sold what I could and packed what I couldn't
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I've loved like I should but lived like I shouldn't
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road
I'm movin' on
I'm movin' on
I'm movin' on