A/N - This is a direct continuation of "The Night at the Night Club" it will probably make no sense unless you read that story first. I decided that I would split the actions of the evening and the ramifications. This is the story of the characters coming to terms with what happened, what do to next and how they see themselves, each other.
WARNING: CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of a MINOR by a parent could be in later chapters. DON'T LIKE, DON'T READ. IF YOU DO READ IT DON'T COMPLAIN, YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!
Ziva was already home when Tony pulled in the driveway. The ride from Steven's was a short and silent trip. CJ slid out of the seat and headed into the house, she headed straight for her room where she gathered up a pair of pajamas. Taking a shower was her first priority, getting into comfortable clothing was her second.
Tony found Ziva sitting at the kitchen table, a cup of steaming hot tea in her hand. He could smell the brewing coffee behind her. Neither spoke. They sat looking at each other, their respective caffeinated beverage in their hands. Occasionally one of them would look towards the stairs, both listening to the water running. When the "thunk" of the shower being turned off was heard, Tony put down his coffee and headed for the stairs. Ziva followed him with her gaze, giving a smile of encouragement as he went.
CJ stood in the shower, after having scrubbed her skin raw to get rid of the impression of dirt. She let the water run over her head and face, the warmth and sensation of cleansing seeping into her soul. Her mind stayed blank, focusing on the droplets of water running down the wall instead of the nightmare that pushed at her consciousness. It wasn't until the water started to run a little colder that CJ even thought about getting out of the shower. But not wanting to get cold she smacked the shower off and got out. Drying and dressing before wrapping a towel around her long dark locks and walking across the hall to her room.
Her father sat in the chair, leaning back with his feet up on the desk, like so many times she'd seen him before at his office. Instead of acknowledging his presence she crossed the room, found her brush and sat on the edge of the bed attacking her hair with vigor. Tony for his part just sat and watched. He was there for morale support and nothing else. He watched his daughter fight with knots and curls as he had on so many other occasions; a normal action for a not so normal day.
Chancing an obscured look or two in his direction through her hair CJ was trying to decide if she should say anything or just wait. For the first time in her life waiting was easier and so that is exactly what she did. When brushing her hair was no longer a requirement but something to do to keep her hands and mind occupied Tony finally spoke.
"Time to sleep Peanut" he said with all the love and tenderness he could.
Climbing under the blankets and rolling over onto her side CJ watched as he traversed the room and flick off the light. Tony took a step towards the door until the look of sheer panic flashed across his daughter's face. He stopped, turned back into the room before asking "Do you want me to stay?"
Her voice was failing her but her expression and quick nod of her head had Tony crossing the room in an instant. Tapping her on the shoulder he said "shift over so I can sit with you".
Doing as instructed CJ slid back so that he could sit, back against the headboard legs straight out in front of him. He watched her for several minutes before he realized why she looked a little strange, she hadn't blinked, not once since he'd sat down. "Peanut, you have to close your eyes to go to sleep."
He continued to watch as she fought to keep her eyes open wide, they started to water from the effort of straining. "CJ, really honey you need to sleep."
"Then what's wrong?"
"WHAT's WRONG" her shrill voice could probably have been heard by Mrs. Sykes.
Patting her shoulder gently he rephrased "Why aren't you closing your eyes?"
"I don't want to see him" she whispered.
They sat silently for a while before Tony answered "That's easy enough to solve. Just tell yourself that you aren't going to see him."
"DDAAADD… that's not going to work"
"Yes it is… ask Gibbs he says it works.. close your eyes and say… I'm not going to see him"
CJ looked at her father as if he'd lost his mind but the expectant expression on his face suggested he was actually serious. So she followed his instructions, closed her eyes and said "I'm not going to see him". Looking up at her father she felt comforted by that silly ritual and his "see, it works" smirk. Closing her eyes, she was asleep within minutes, Tony carefully stroking her head.
Tony stayed with CJ, falling asleep while he watched over her.
Sunday was somewhat of a blurr for CJ as she had slept through the morning and Ziva woke her around lunch thinking that keeping a more regular schedule would be the most beneficial. While awake CJ kept herself as busy as possible, emailing friends, watching a movie, playing on the computer were all good distractions. She didn't want to slow down, she didn't want her brain to have a chance to think, because when it thought, it only thought about him. Replaying the night in technicolour detail second by excruciating second.
Tony, as promised, had helped Owen retrieve the van from downtown. While there he dropped in on the police detective Slater. Although CJ seemed to have a grasp on what had happened from her own point of view, Tony wanted to know what events had led up to that fateful moment.
Talking with the detective had been rather enlightening. Paul Holister, 21, had entered through the back employee entrance having knocked out a waitress hanging out having a smoke break. He as far as the police had figured, was there to follow through on a threat to kill his ex girl friend. He had been heard several days earlier yelling at her from the front stoop of her apartment building, that if she didn't take him back he was going to shoot her. Alex had initially ended the relationship because of his violent outbursts.
"Your daughter is one gusty…. and lucky kid" the detective told Tony. Raising his eyebrows and grimacing Tony nodded. Ya, he thought she is, but really did she have to get herself into such situations?
"You know her actions are probably responsible for saving many lives, at least Alex's. I can't imagine what the scene would have been like if he'd actually opened fire in the club last night." Slater finished.
Shuddering involuntarily Tony nodded. Understanding both the implication of his daughter's actions or what could have been.
"Are you going to need to talk with her again?" Tony wanted to arrange anything ahead of time so that he could make sure CJ was prepared.
"Not likely. We're not laying any charges..Well the night club has a few things to explain, but none of the patrons. The news and the officers are calling CJ a hero, you know?" Slater said in such an off handed manner that Tony almost didn't catch the statement.
"The press has CJ's name? How did that happen? She's a minor you can't give out her name?" Tony's anger was palpable.
"No. No man. Chill. They don't have all the details, or her name. Come. Look." He walked away expecting Tony to follow without further invitation. They stopped in a small meeting room off the main hall of the precinct, and there on CNN was a the news report.
"A seventeen year old underage patron….. " Tony stood and listened to the 2 minute sound bite that described what had happened the night before. And for the first time Tony heard that Mr. Paul Holister had died of his injuries at Washington General. Exhaling loudly he had to put on his agent face as his emotions tried to get the better of him. He was now responsible to go home and tell his somewhat fragile 17 year old that her actions the night before had been heroic yet had taken the life of another human being.
Getting in the car and driving Tony was on autopilot when he pulled into Gibbs' driveway. He hadn't consciously driven here but somehow the car had known he needed to talk things through.
Knocking was useless as Gibbs never answered anyway. He walked and headed straight to the basement door, but as he walked through the house he heard noise in the back yard. Quickly changing direction he headed towards the noise. Music played from an old radio as Gibbs stood over a pile of wood he was chopping. He didn't need to ask why his protégé was there. He only ever came alone when he needed advice and in the past few years that advice was only ever about CJ. At work Tony was now who people turned to.
Standing watching the younger man, he noticed how old he was looking. Worry etched in his face and deep in his eyes. Something more than normal CJ antics seemed to be trouble his former agent. He continued to chop watching Tony settle himself on the step of the back porch as he would normally have done to the bottom stair in the basement. He waited, knowing that questioning and prodding rarely sped the conversation along.
"Have you heard any news?" Tony said jerking his head towards the radio.
"Uh uh" his chopping slowing down.
"What was on it?" hoping that maybe if Gibbs had heard all the details already he wouldn't have to say it out loud and make it more real than it already was.
"A few car accidents, a robbery and a night club shooting" Gibbs rhymed off.
"Any details on the night club shooting?" Tony asked more officially this time.
"Why? Someone leaked information about a case of yours to the press?" Gibbs guessed.
"No. Nothing like that. What did it say?"
Closing his eyes and leaning on the ax he'd just buried in the log he thought for a few seconds. Then rambled off the details of the incident as they were reported on the radio "Gunman shot down by 17 year old patron, trying to save the ex…" watching Tony very closely.
He stopped before he finished. The look on Tony's face and the nod when he raised his eyebrows and shot a questioning look of his own told him that the jump of connecting CJ to the 17 year old part was correct.
"What the HELL was she doing in a NIGHT CLUB TONY? Not to mention WHERE THE HELL DID SHE GET THE GUN!" his initial reaction was one that was understandable and Tony actually chuckled as he had come to talk, not be the one in control.
"You got any beers in your fridge it is a long story really."
The two men walked side by side to the fridge and retrieved a couple of cold ones before parking themselves on the porch stairs. Tony began at the beginning, or at least of the beginning that he knew about and carried the story through until this morning when he left his family at home to visit the detective. He relayed the detectives story and findings as well and made sure that Gibbs understood that at this point CJ was unaware that the gunman hadn't survived.
Gibbs sat still and quiet listening, taking in every detail. When Tony had finally come to the end they just sat quietly, staring at each other. For one of the first times in his life Gibbs wasn't sure how to start.
"Tony… what do you need?" Gibbs finally asked knowing that he could say so many things, comment on so much, yet Tony may want or need something specific.
"What you've always done?" his look of desperation something Gibbs hadn't seen in many years.
"I'm listening" Gibbs leaned forward his elbows on his knees and waited. It was time for Tony to start talking things through. He'd say something if he needed to.
"I don't know what to say to her. I'm proud and furious all at the same time. Her actions were heroic and amazing for a kid her age. You should have seen how she handled the interrogation last night Boss.
Yet you should have seen how small and young she looked tucked in bed at home." He took a swig of beer before speaking again.
"But SHIT… she purposefully put herself in danger… she left a safe place and grabbed a GUN off an ARMED man… MY GOD GIBBS … WHO DOES SOMETHING LIKE THAT?"
Without a trace of a smile or hint of a joke Gibbs answered "you would, Ziva would, Tim would, I would" while leveling a stare that stopped Tony from immediately responding.
It wasn't until he heard it that Tony understood that Gibbs was right. CJ lived every day, breathed every breath with people who would have done exactly what she had done.
"How do I tell her he died?" the whisper was barely audible not only because of its volume but also because it was spoken towards the ground as Tony's head was hung low.
"It's better it comes from you rather than the radio or tv or someone off the street. The job sucks Tony but you just have to do it. You've done it before. You'll make it… and so will she. Tony think about what you just told me. Who does something like that? Someone who knows what they were doing? She may not have thought through all the consequences, as CJ is apt to do, but she is well aware of what a gun is capable of. "
It was a long while before either of them spoke again. Tony seemed lost in thought and Gibbs wasn't about to have him start wallowing. "Tony what else is bothering you?"
"The angry part, how to deal with EVERYTHING else?"
"What everything else?" Gibbs was unsure of exactly to what Tony was referring to.
"Let's see, driving without a license, getting fraudulent id's, using them to enter a night club, lying about where she was and what she was doing… I'm sure that the laundry list of misdemeanors is longer but you get the point"
"Ya, she seems to have crossed a few lines. That is true CJ style." He remarked with a smirk and a drink from the bottle he held.
"I'm torn between letting them slide and tearing her a new one." He paused long enough to let Gibbs answer if he wanted to, but when he remained silent Tony continued.
"She's been through so much and ultimately her poor decisions lead her to a situation that had her do something that helped the world as a whole…. But I don't know if I can ignore the fact that she shouldn't have been there in the first place. She shouldn't have …"
"Did you ever think that you should be telling her all of this instead of me?" A tilt of the head and eye brows asking as much as the words.
Tony's perplexed expression had Gibbs explain further. "Tony, she's 17 years old, she got or manufactured fake id's, drove a car into the city, entered a night club where she engaged an armed man and shot him, I think that a chat about what are appropriate consequences would be something she could manage with some modicum of maturity. Don't you?"
It was this last kick to the shins that Tony needed, why he'd come to Gibbs' in the first place. His mentor had always been able to say that 'one' thing that 'just' made sense.
Standing, Tony started to head for the exit, before he reached the gate he turned to ask "How you get so good at this fathering thing, you never had a teenager?"
"I had you didn't I?" giving Tony one of his rare wide smiles.