Tony was tired. It was spring break and his father had promised to come to see him, but 'unexpectedly a very important business meeting had come up.' He had said the last Christmas break too. He supposed he should be used to it by now, but it still hurt that his dad couldn't make time for him. All of his friends were elsewhere with their families, leaving a very lonely Tony behind. His dad did send two thousand dollars and told him to go wherever he wanted, and he hadn't planned on going anywhere, but after feeling so alone, he had decided to go to California. He got a cheap hotel and was gonna stay for a couple of days; he might even be able to cheer himself up by going to the beach.
It was almost midnight, and he had decided to take a walk to try and clear his head. The crisp, chilly air felt very refreshing after he had been cooped up for so long in his dorm. He was walking down a street filled with family houses and perfect lawns, when he noticed something in the corner of his eye. His brow furrowed and he turned his head to investigate what had caught his attention. He was unsure of what it would be, but he was admittedly not expecting to see a house's upper story right corner on fire. The fire wasn't large, and there was minimal smoke so he doubted the family inside had even noticed it yet.
"Hey!" he yelled hoping that a window might have been left open somewhere. His hopes were proved futile, however, when after a minute the only response he received was a bird's chirp. He ran up the steps to the red door and pounded on the door and tried the doorbell, but the house's occupant remained stubbornly asleep. He pondered on what his next move should be, the fire was still small enough that it wasn't really life threatening, but anyone inside was a sitting duck. After a few seconds he figured it was best to just call 911, seeing as how the family inside remained very oblivious. He pulled out his phone to dial, but cursed when he saw he had no bars. He glanced up at the house again, hating the position he was in. He was contemplating of running up the street to try and get a signal when the flames grew abruptly larger indicating it had found something to fuel it. It had significantly grown much more dangerous in a very short period and Tony began to cough harshly as he breathed in the thick smoke.
Neighboring house's lights began to flick on as they finally realized what was happening. He figured that someone would have the ability to call 911, he doubted they would live where they could never get a signal, so he decided to take action himself and let someone else call. He covered his nose with his t-shirt and kicked open the door easily. His eyes watered as he waved away the smoke, trying to see where the stairs were. He muttered a curse, knowing he should sprinted up the street to call 911 as soon as had seen the house ablaze. Too late now, he thought with resentment.
After running into a few objects in his zig zag path he managed to find the steps leading to the burning upstairs. He climbed them quickly, and when he reached the top, he searched for doors. He found one and put the back of his hand against the door to see if the fire had managed to get into there. The door was relatively cool considering the circumstances, but opening it revealed that it simply led into an unoccupied bathroom. The next door he found did feel as it was the only barrier between himself and the fire, but his instincts disregarded the fact and he opened it. Immediately he took a step back as the full blast of heat hit him, but he could see that it was a bedroom. There was a line of flames right in front of the doorway, and from behind it he could see the outline of an adult that was desperately trying to get out. Behind the line of flames the space was relatively untouched besides the fact it had the heat of a furnace, which meant he would be okay if he could just get past the small fire. Tony decided his best shot was to run through it and hope for the best, so with one large intake of thick air and a silent prayer, he bolted into the room. As soon as he was by the bed he realized two things, one, he was not dead. Two, his pant leg was burning. He dropped to the ground and rolled, extinguishing it within seconds. However, it had been aflame long enough to burn Tony's skin painfully, but he didn't have time to worry about himself. He shot up to his feet and found himself facing a thirty something year old man who looked surprisingly calm for the situation, pointing down to a women that was his assumed wife on the bed. She looked as if she was only sleeping, but Tony concluded that she must have passed out from the incredibly thick smoke. He nodded and considered his options. They could go through the doorway which he predicted to soon crumble, or they could go through the window. The window seemed like the obvious option but he was unsure of how to get the wife down without hurting her since they were on the second floor. "Window?" he choked out with his voice raspy, the single word causing him to cough. The man seemed to think for a moment and then he mouthed the word 'daughter'.
"I'll get her. Get out," Tony said with difficulty, having to squint to see the man in front of him. The man seemed very reluctant so he told him, "I promise." The man finally nodded and scooped his wife up. How the man was going to get his wife unharmed to the ground was a wonder, but Tony had his own issues to think about. If he was going to go through the doorway he had to do it now, while the structure was still semi-stable. He gave the man one last look that was returned before running back into the hallway. This time when he made it through alive he had no time to check himself for injuries. He was now facing flames on all sides of him, but luckily in the direction he wanted to go the fire was less concentrated. He was able to get past relatively easy and with minimal pain.
He needed to act fast because he could no longer see his hand in front of him, and his clothes stuck to him tightly from his sweat. After passing a door that only led into an office, he found a door covered in stickers that he quickly deduced to be the daughter's room. Fortunately the door was closed, which he knew to effectively slow the spread of fire. The door did not feel hot so he opened it only as far as he had to and quickly slid inside, closing the door behind him. The room was painted purple and furnished with copious pink furniture. In the corner was the bed, but it was empty, the blankets half on the ground. She must've gotten scared, he realized. Where do kids hide when they're scared? He thought back to when he was a kid and he was hiding from his dad because he had done something wrong. He would have gone beneath the desk, under the bed, or in the closet. He coughed harshly and looked under the desk, but he only found a little mermaid doll. He checked under the bed and relief flooded through him as he found a small figure curled up and coughing.
"Hey," Tony forced out. The little girl's head lifted up slowly to look at him, and Tony's heart clenched when he saw the fear in her eyes. Tony gently picked her up from underneath the bed and cradled her, allowing her to clutch onto his shirt and bury her face in his shoulder. He looked for an exit but assessed that the way he came in was not an option after feeling the door. Once again, that left the window. He now wondered how, or if, that man had gotten his wife down, and if he could do it too. He had too. He had promised the man. "Hey," Tony croaked out. "I need you to hold on tight." She nodded and Tony got her in a piggyback hold. He couldn't figure out how to open the window and then he would have to deal with the screen; they didn't have time for that. He grabbed a chair from by the desk and swung it at the window while protecting his face. The glass shattered and Tony hastily brushed away the jagged pieces in the edges with the blanket on the ground. He climbed through and felt bad when he heard the girl whimper, most likely because he had missed a bit of glass and it had caught her in the back. It's better than dying of smoke inhalation, Tony reminded himself. He was now on the angled roof, sliding down because his shoes couldn't get any grip. He knew he should just jump when he reached the rapidly approaching edge, rather than falling and landing on the cement patio. He felt the arms around his neck tighten as his foot reaches the gutter, and he pushes off with one leg to propel himself away from the house in order to land on the softer grass. For a second he's flying with the air whistling in his ear, and then in the next he's landing hard on his hands on knees. Simultaneously the weight on his back is lifted and he collapses to the ground, coughing and unable to draw air into his lungs. Someone rolls him over and props him up, but it does little to help him breath. His lungs burn from the lack of oxygen, but finally, after what felt like hours, he's able to draw in erratic gasps of air. He knows his adrenaline has worn off because his chest hurts, along with his arms and legs. He looks around and sees that the man is the one who is helping him, and the wife in now awake and holding her sobbing daughter firmly. The wail of sirens is loud, which meant Tony had been right, the neighbors were able to get a signal.
"I'm Gibbs. Are you okay?" the man asked Tony. He nods, still using an abnormal amount of attention on breathing. He sits up so that he no longer needs Gibbs to prop him up, and pushes his hair out of his face.
"I'm Tony," he says. " Your daughter?"
Gibbs sort of half smiles at that. "She's fine. Thank you for helping her." Tony just nodded absentmindedly. "Do you need me to call anyone?" Gibbs asked.
"No," Tony replied with a barely detectable hint of bitterness in his voice.
"Won't you parents wonder what happened?"
"No, I go to Rhode Island Military School. My mom's dead and my dad's busy."
"Should I call the school?"
"No, it's spring break." Gibbs studies him, making him uncomfortable. He feels almost vulnerable, like Gibbs is looking right through him. Fortunately for him, the ambulance chooses that minute to pull up. Paramedics swarm the place, all of them needing oxygen masks, except Gibbs obstinately refused his. Only Tony had to go to the hospital to get x-rays for his arm, they weren't sure if he had broken it in the fall or not. Everyone else was fine after about twenty of minutes with the oxygen, but Gibbs decided that he would go with Tony so he wouldn't be alone. Shannon and Kelly were going to the Tyler's empty house, they were on vacation, until they could decided what they're next move would be.
Tony was not happy to be going to the hospital. He hated the disease-ridden places that always made him feel like a pincushion. When he got there he got his leg wrapped, then both his arms x-rayed, and then they had to wrap his right arm, then he had to take pills to fight infection to the burn, and then they checked his lungs, and finally they checked him for a concussion. "I didn't even hit my head!" Tony had protested and been ignored. When he was finally released he was exhausted and curious of how he was going to get to his hotel, and what he was going to do with a broken arm when got back to school. He was leaving the room, having no idea what he was going to do, when he saw Gibbs sitting in one of those god awful chairs, sipping a coffee.
"Hey," he said to catch his attention. Gibbs looked over and seemed to evaluate Tony, looking at the gauze on his leg poking out from beneath his jeans and his casted arm.
"Are you good to go?" Gibbs asked.
"Yeah. Could you give me a ride to my hotel and the airport?"
"Kid, there's no way you can fly back to Rhode Island tonight. You can stay with us for the night."
"Thank you, sir, but I really need to get back."
"It wasn't an invitation, Tony. It was an order, now come on." Gibbs told him gruffly, then stood up and left the room, leaving a rather shocked Tony behind. He quickly caught up, and silently followed Gibbs, who didn't even acknowledge him. They got into the car that Tony had seen in Gibbs' driveway earlier, the older man continuing to refuse making eye contact. They drove to another family house that he had never seen before, and parked in the road. When they got out of the car Tony started walking towards the house, but Gibbs caught him by his good arm. He turned around slowly and warily, not sure of what Gibbs was doing. Gibbs gave him a look that could not be labelled, and then said, "Thank you. For saving us."
Tony nodded and said, "Of course." Gibbs didn't really looked satisfied for some reason, but he let go of him. Tony was beginning to think that Gibbs had a very confusing personality that was hard to keep up with. They walked into the house and he immediately saw the daughter asleep, her mother beside the girl awake. She stood up when she saw him and quickly crossed the distance between them, giving him a huge hug. Tony suppressed a groan as she squeezed his sore midsection, and was grateful when she let go.
"Thank you," she said sincerely, looking near to tears.
"You're welcome, ma'am." he told her with a small smile.
"You can call me Shannon. That's my daughter Kelly that you saved." Tony smiled and nodded, looking at the sleeping girl. She looked so innocent in her sleep, and she was really pretty.
The night went by quickly. He talked quite a lot to Gibbs and Shannon, who both turned out to be very kind, granted Gibbs was a very different form.
"What do you plan on doing when you graduate from school?" Gibbs had asked.
"Go pro in football or basketball," Tony had replied.
"If that doesn't work out, you could always join NCIS." Gibbs had suggested, and Tony knew he was telling the truth.
"Alright," Tony had answered with a nod.
When Gibbs had seen him yawning he had forced him to bed, as if he was a child. For some reason he didn't mind too much though. He had changed into some provided clothes, which had gotten him to where he was now, lying in the guest bedroom. Sleep pulled at him, but he was nervous. He knew there was a possibility he would have nightmares that had been plaguing him on and off in the past year, and he would feel terrible if he accidently woke someone else up. Oh, well. I have to sleep, he thought to himself. He allowed himself to fall into the tugging darkness, hoping desperately to get a good night's sleep.
He woke up gasping and covered in perspiration. He took a few deep breaths and tried to calm himself down, without succeeding much. Sunlight poured in from the window telling him it was morning. At least he had slept through the night. So much for small victories.
He pushed his sweaty hair back, and tried to remember what the dream was about, but he had already forgotten. Like he always did. He hated how he would wake up terrified and he didn't even know why. Nightmares he could deal with. But not knowing what they were about? That was just down right annoying.
He stood up and got dressed into slightly too big sweatpants and a t-shirt that someone had put on the edge of his bed while he was sleeping. He walked out into the hallway and smiled when he saw everyone awake. Maybe spring break wouldn't be terrible after all, he thought while walking over to join them at the table.
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