Warnings: I don't have the best grammar and all mistakes are mine.
Summary: Tony DiNozzo had a brother once. The SFA kinda hopes that, if his brother lived passed the age of seven, he would have been like a certain Probie.
Memories have always haunted Tony DiNozzo. They came to him as nightmares and didn't leave until the next night. They bothered him, broke him down into nothing. They made him remember what should have been forgotten.
As a man who served as a cop and currently worked as a special agent, he had a nightmare just about every other week. On their bad cases, it was every time he closed his green eyes. He could see every man he shot, every crumpled form of women he couldn't save, and every single child arrived too late to save.
There were times when his memories didn't bother him, when nightmares didn't haunt him, but he was a DiNozzo; there was always something wrong in his life. It was his vision that got to him next. Don't get the wrong idea, either, because he wasn't going blind and he wasn't crazy, he just saw things that weren't. Like, on his off days – the days he's been at work for over twenty hours, or on pain meds for whatever reason, or has a fever and goes to work anyways – and Timothy McGee, with his calm green eyes and thin brown hair, looks up at him from his desk, he saw what he shouldn't. He saw a small child, with sickly green eyes and thinning brown hair. Tony always stood there in shock. The boy was asking him why, why, why, Tony? Why me, in a tiny, almost hollow voice.
It was those days he wished he was blind, or mute, or deaf, or even dead, because that would mean he wouldn't be there, next to the man who looked like someone who had left Tony long ago.
Then, there were those dreaded days', the times, sometimes days and other times weeks, depending on how the younger man felt, when Probie felt like dressing in his nice black suit, a white button up, and a long, silk black tie – apparently multiple suits were bought at a sale – and Tony saw what he didn't want to see. He saw a dead child with closed eyes, pale skin and blue tinted lips, wearing a barely used monkey suit that was too lose on his body. He lied in a cherry wood casket. He could feel the light rain beginning to fall and watched as it landed on the dead child's face, creating the appearance of tears.
With Tim dressed like that, he closed his eyes to block away the image, only to get assaulted with the sound of someone crying – it wasn't him, because DiNozzo's don't cry – and there was a thump, thump, thump of rain hitting an umbrella older than he was. He could feel the fingers of both his hands clutching the curve of the wooden handle that was in the shape of a duck. He couldn't get the small, broken voice asking why out of his head, repeating like his broken Beatles record. The smell of freshly dug dirt was fastly becoming overwhelming and almost nauseating.
His body was shaking and his bones were shivering. He felt nothing but a numbing pain in his heart that told him something was missing, and that something was his brother. His little brother was dead and gone, and he wasn't going home like the doctor promised. He felt guilty that he couldn't save his brother, that his bone whatever it was called didn't match, and it was his fault as much as the doctor's fault that Jamie was dead, just like his mom said when she slapped him. The fact he couldn't protect his younger brother – that was his only job, how could he have messed up so badly? – caused him to feel so much dread that it was hard to do anything, even breath.
And then, before he could reminisce on the long, awkwardly quiet car ride in the butler's personal mustang and after he remembered the punch in the gut he received from his father, Gibbs slapped him back to reality – doing so with the back of Tony's head and the palm of his hand. The slap stung, but it was nothing like his father's sucker punches. Not that he'd say it out loud.
"I said: what'do ya got, DiNozzo?"
"Nothing, si-" Shit. Thinking of his father usually reversed his mindset back to how it had once been as a child, but he was able to fix himself by adding a boss at the end of his sentence, mentally kicking himself for the mistake in wording, knowing all too well he couldn't apologize. "There's nothing in the cold cases," he said, using his hands to refer to the folders that, just moments ago, had sat untouched underneath his elbows that had rested his desk.
"Then stop daydreaming and get to work," the boss said in an over commanding and masculine tone.
"Yes, boss." And once again, he was back to his own accords. Today was one of the dreaded days. The man in the desk a couple of feet to his right was in a suit. All he could do to avoid the memories and images that would follow from looking at the younger man was to look away. Closing his eyes would only cause pain and suspicion. As he looked back to his manila folders of unsolved cases, Gibbs' cell phone rang. It was loud, and Tim jumped in his seat, probably in a trance of a computer game of the sorts.
"Gear up," Gibbs barked.
The only thing worse about being in the same vicinity as a man who reminded you of your dead brother was being in the same car as him.
The case was almost closed the following day. A so-called Marine killed his little girl and wife; full footage and details were on the home's cameras the family installed after repeated break ins. The father snapped after finding out about an affair the wife was having, and then disappeared.
Gibbs was on a rampage. He was more angry than the usual I'm-the-boss-and-you-will-listen-to-me attitude and was almost to the point of being cruel. The older man had "Gibbs slapped" Tim on multiple occasions over the day alone. He almost gave Tony a concussion. It took Vance, the director of NCIS, to get the older man to calm down; but not apologize. Gibbs didn't apologize.
The thing about the situation that scared Tony was that the older man's demeanor reminded him of his own father's.
Finally, finally, finally, they had a lead. Tim and Tony were in an abandoned warehouse - cliché, right? Mr. Smith, not from the movie, the Marine, was somewhere inside the large, rusted metal building. Tim took the left side and Tony took the right. Gibbs was going to take another twenty minutes to get there - a normally forty minute ride in rush hour traffic.
There were spiders everywhere, Tony noted, but thankfully no rats. He had already tripped over a crate, which were also everywhere; most stacked up to the roof, going down to form rows of isles. He walked fast, gun pointed up, as he looked in all directions; up, spiders, down, spiders and creates, side, just crates, and other side, which had only more creates.
There was a crash, which scared him more than he was willing to say out loud, because the warehouse was silent moments before, and suddenly, he was on the ground, a heavy wooden box on his chest. It was noticeably harder to breath and his chest hurt and his upper left arm was searing with pain. He was shot, he knew, before he even had time to contemplate his situation.
He could hear Tim yelling somewhere in the distance - and when he blinked, he saw his younger brother, nothing but skin and bones with thin brown hair and dull green eyes, screaming just leave me alone and I'm going to die.
There was a man standing over him, a military grade pistol in his left hand and a cell phone in his right. "I will shot you," he said in an uncaring voice that made Tony unable to control his mouth. So, when he answered with, "You already shot me once," it was not his fault. The reply only angered the madman with a gun, however.
The man was apparently a trained professional (well, a duh, he answered himself, the man was a Marine). He had greasy, short blond hair and ocean blue eyes. Mr. Smith took the pistol and aimed it at Tony's head before shooting at the trapped man. The bullet landed next to his head, leaving a crater-like hole in the cement ground.
"I won't miss next time."
Tony didn't answer, for his own safety, of course. The Marine that stood in front of him killed an entire family in cold blood. The man had so much hate and anger spilling off of him, Tony could practically see it.
"If you took the box off of me," Tony said with a wheeze, the weight of the crate now getting to him, "I could help you."
"I'm not stupid," Mr. Smith said. He wiped his gun with his dirty blue shirt, angling it to the side so it was still aimed at the special agent who wore blue jeans and a t-shirt. "In fact, with this gun," he tossed the gun in the air with one hand and caught it when it landed in his hand, "I'm the smartest one here. So if you want that crate off of you, I have to shoot you first. Dead."
Tony wheezed again; it was getting harder to breath. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tim. The younger man wore a black suit and a white shirt with a black silk tie. He saw Jamie for a second, before closing his eyes, more Jamie, and then looked back to Tim. The hair and the eyes of the two were nearly the same, from the time before Jamie got sick; the brown colored hair and the length, the shade of green, just everything.
Sometimes, when Tony went to bed at night but before he fell asleep, he dreamt of his brother as an adult, with thin brown hair and beautifully bright green eyes, and every single time, he looked like Tim. The noses and chin shape were different, but that was it.
The brother in his dreams wore a blue sports jacket, a black shirt and jeans. He was small, still, just like how Tim was now, after he had slowly lost weight over his years at NCIS.
But none of that was the case. His brother was dead and Tim was alive. Tony kinda wished that, if Jamie had lived past the age of seven, he would have grown up like Tim; strong, healthy, and fun (if he was telling the truth, the true word for "fun" was "nerdy." He would have loved it if Jamie would have been nerdy. He remembered the child reading between doctor visits, and he remembered calling him a geek, just like he does now with Tim and his videogames. If his brother was still a geek or even nerdy, his brother would still be alive).
The marine pressed down on the large crate that just had to be filled with something to make it as heavy as it was. He may or may not have cried out in pain.
"Are you going to pray now or after I kill you," Mr. Smith sneered out. Tony wanted to say that he wouldn't be able to pray if he was dead, but he really wanted his last words to be: This reminds me of a movie.
But that moment never came. Tim popped, yes, he literally popped out from behind a large crate with his gun pulled out and a bang, bang, bang, later, the man known as Mr. Smith was no more. Tony laid there, the heavy object still on his chest.
"Tony? Gibbs should be here in five and the bus is about seven minutes away - just hold on."
"M'not dying, Probie," he slurred, his vision getting darker and his brain filling with a deep fog. "Jusss tired."
"I know, just...just stay awake, okay?"
Tony wasn't able to answer. His vision began to slow and his eyes got droopy, as if he was falling asleep, but almost like he was. And suddenly Tim was kneeling over him, tapping his cheek with his hand, but he didn't know how, because Tim was just standing over him, wasn't he?
"Common, Tony, stay awake. How about you tell me a story while I get this crate off ya?"
The senior field agent nodded, not giving a verbal answer.
"Start talking," Tim ordered, standing up over his friend and moving his knees apart, grabbing the bottom and top of the crate with two different hands and dragging - oops - the wooden object off of Tony. It took all of twelve seconds and the older man let out a painful gasp when the crate was finally off of his chest and back on the floor where it belonged.
"I did it. Common, Tony, time for your part of the deal."
When Tim spoke, he sounded like Jamie had a month before he died; Read me a story, Tony. Please?He sighed at the memory and once again nodded as he closed his eyes and took painfully deep breaths - there had to be at least three different fractured ribs. "Okay - yeah - a, uh…a story, right?"
Tim nodded, getting into a sitting position next to the older man who had not moved once besides for breathing.
Tony didn't mean to, but he said the first thing on his mind. "I had a brother once. Sometimes...I sorta wish he would of been like you," he wheezed once, because he definitely wasn't going to cry, "if he had grown up." That was as far as he got before he started to cough. Then Gibbs was there. He had appeared quickly and quietly, right away leaning over Tony to check for his pulse, even though the man's eyes were open and he was coughing.
He saw the dead body of Mr. Smith before looking back to his agents, as if to ask for a silent explanation. Before he got the explanation, however, the deafening wail of an ambulance disrupted his nonexistent question. Tony was taken away from the team of two before they could even speak, only getting the hospital name before an EMT and paramedic were gone.
Tim's body was shaking, his eyes confused, and he looked more than shocked, but Gibbs knew it wasn't because he had killed someone; it was because of something else - or maybe even someone else. He didn't say anything before the local police showed up and he beckoned Tim forward to his car, and they left without a word. The scene could be handled by the police.
When Tony awoke in the hospital, only Tim was there, along with the beeping of his heart monitor and half a dozen beautiful nurses. He had been out for the better part of a day and could truly say he felt worse than before. His body was numb and he could already feel his mouth wanting to go running like a motor.
It was strange to wake without Gibbs at his side, but, he thought with a half snort that jarred his ribs, the man was getting older. With all the trips he took to the hospital in a year, he supposed his boss deserved a break.
"Finally awake," Tim muttered next to him with amusement and concern laced through his voice.
"M'mmm, mmm 'wake."
"And sounding wonderful, I see."
Hours passed like that in the hospital, with the small, quiet moments between Tim and himself. It was hard to speak when it hurt to even breathe, and so, he couldn't even talk like he wanted to. A doctor came and went, and nurses were in and out of his room like a swarm of flies every hour.
"You," Tim said awkwardly, sounding as if he practiced saying that one word for at least an hour. "You mentioned a brother...earlier. It's not in your file."
"My family was rich and did what they want."
"So they deleted your brother from the world," he asked with skepticism and confusion.
"Right off the face of the earth," Tony answered with a sharp, forced nod.
"What was he like?" His voice was tight and he could feel a cold sweat forming.
"He was...funny, when he was healthy. The best brother I could have asked for."
"He just was, Tim."
"How'd," Tim moved his hands in circles awkwardly, unsure how to continue the conversation. "How'd he - you know."
"Cancer. Got sick when he was six, died just after his seventh birthday."
Neither man said anything after that, just sitting next to each other in an awkward silence. The heart monitor beeped and the IV line dripped. Before, of course, Tony said: "Wait-you checked my file? What the heck, Tim? Hey, don't smile like that, I'm angry at you and you're not special enough to read my file. You're still smiling! You probably hacked into my file! You - don't give me that look, Tim," and crossed his arms as he spoke. The room was still quiet, but both men smiled as they sat.
Tim laughed at his friend, kicked off his shoes, to which Tony made a dying fish noise, and put his feet on the end of the bed. He took the remote from the bed stand and clicked on the television. Both watched the first acceptable movie they could find; a Clint Eastwood cowboy film.