He's bossy and arrogant and he always gets his way. And he likes to rub it in when he gets the chance. Because he can.
They always say they put up with him because he's damn good at his job. (He is, and sometimes he wishes that was not what defines him.)
He's rude and disrespectful and really couldn't care less what they think of him as long as he gets the job down (and he has to get the job done, because if he's a bastard and he doesn't get the job done, then he's useless and useless scares the hell out of him). They put up with him because he's different. He's something else. He's no-nonsense and don't mess with me and if you hold me down, I'm gonna glare and growl and piss you off till you give me what I want! and it's refreshing.
And that's really the only reason he's still around. Because if people weren't desperate and predictable and weak, they would've fired his sorry ass decades ago.
To Ziva, Gibbs is like one of those afternoon sitcoms American television seems to be so fond of: utterly riveting and utterly predictable.
He watched her kill her own brother and believes that she did it to protect him. Believes her so devastatingly completely. And every further image of her was tainted, seen through that one, fatal misconception. Because he has lost family, and killing family is a sin that has to be explained away until it's just another stain on her flawless façade. After all, no one can be this cold-blooded, right?
He doesn't see the blood coating her hands. He doesn't see her for the danger she is, and she cherishes that feeling.
Maybe she should pity his ignorance.
He has rules and he lives by them. Always. It's easier to accept that there are exceptions than admitting he's wrong.
Gibbs is to Tony what Mike Franks is to Gibbs, and they're so damn similar that it's almost funny. He puts up with all of Tony's crap because somebody has put up with all of his. Gibbs is simple like that. He looks at the mask that's so firmly in place that he can't always see where it ends and Tony begins, and lets it go because if that's the DiNozzo way of coping, then who is he to question that?
Kate's death changed him and they all notice.
Jenny Shepard is dead and he loved her. She had left him, and that had hurt, but he loved her either way. They were never meant to be, but Paris didn't care and meant to be is a phrase that's essentially meaningless, anyway. Gibbs doesn't blame anyone for her death, which is something DiNozzo never understood. Women he loved leaving is not a new concept to him.
Abby practically worships him, and that's potentially dangerous.
Abby is loyal. In fact, Abby is loyalty personified. And there is no one Abby is as loyal to as she is to Gibbs. That's the thing, the problem, the reason nobody will ever be able to fully trust Abby. Because secrets are not safe with her. Because she allows herself to be used by Gibbs. Because Special Agent Gibbs walks into her lab and steps on every boundary, every promise, every rule and she tells him what he wants to know. Always.
And she doesn't know what – who? – she is if Leroy Jethro Gibbs ever went away.
Gibbs and Gibbs Senior try really hard, but they both know there is too much broken between them.
Ducky is nothing if not patient. And he's nothing if not forgiving. (And thank God he is, because everybody knows the strong, silent, but secretly vulnerable type needs a grandfatherly, comical, but ultimately very deep, very wise friend he can turn to.)
Shannon and Kelly are still around. Jethro sees them and Gibbs ignores them. They lurk in the shadows and they taste bitter-sweet on his tongue. Sometimes it's so hard that his ribs turn to stone and steel and suddenly he can't breathe, and sometimes it makes him glad when he wakes up and the first thing on his mind is not Kelly, Shannon and ohmygod, I killed that man!
Mostly, it just makes him tired.
He builds boats because it's the only way he knows how to cope.
McGee admires him and McGee thinks he's a bastard. He only just meets the degree of damage that's required to be on Gibbs' team and so he still has some idea of what 'normal' is supposed to be. Tim is afraid of The Bossman, El Jeffe, The Wise One, he's afraid and angry and confused and undeniably, irreversibly awkward. And he knows that all the words on the tip of his tongue won't ever pass his lips. Because he's a coward. And his parents raised him to be polite and correct and to never, under any circumstances, lose it. McGee knows that the words, the accusations, the insults, are everything everyone wants to say at times, and he knows that it will never happen, because Team Gibbs is the incarnation of everything they'll never say. And they're damn good at it.
After that explosion he lost his memory. Some things are still fuzzy and he wishes other things had stayed that way.
Vance hates his guts. When Vance speaks of learning things the hard way, he fucking knows what he's talking about. And with Gibbs cursing and insulting and stomping around and generally walking all over every set of etiquettes there is and still getting his damn way, his perception of how things work is twisted and turned and that makes him very, very uncomfortable. And there is really nothing to be added to that.
Wrong is such a bad word and he tries to avoid it.
People died and die and they'll probably keep dying, and Gibbs accepts that. He knows that there are things unsaid and that he really, really should have said them and now it's too late, and why the hell does that seem to be the story of his life? The people in his life now who have an idea of who he is and really don't know him at all. He doesn't tell them everything, either, even though he really, really should because someday it'll be too late. After all, that is the story of his life.
Author's Note: Feedback is much appreciated.