Gibbs sat in the car for fifteen minutes before he screwed up the courage to lock up the car and enter the building. He'd never done this before, visiting DiNozzo when he needed comfort. Sure he'd been here to check up on his senior agent quite a few times, but never when he was the one who needed a shoulder. He probably could have gone to Ducky but that wouldn't have been right. He wanted to be here. Whatever came of it.
He started to knock on the door but then just used his key and let himself in. What would he say to gain entry anyway? The apartment was dark and only then did he realize that it had passed midnight. As he sat at the bar, beating himself up over his gut and what he'd allowed to happen, hours had passed.
Jethro Gibbs hated being off balance. Jethro Gibbs hated being vulnerable. But most of all Jethro Gibbs hated knowing his failures had caused an agent to die. And Jethro Gibbs knew himself well enough to know that being alone tonight would cause him to be very self destructive.
He knew the apartment well, could measure the steps down the hallway and into the bedroom. The TV flickered but the gentle snores and snuffles told him its occupant was asleep. He settled slowly onto the edge of the bed, and restrained the arm that came up with gun in hand.
"Easy, DiNozzo. Just me. Gibbs."
"Boss?" Tony sounded confused, sleepy.
Gibbs winced. He hadn't meant to think of Tony like that. "Yeah. Just..." He sighed. He hated this vulnerability. "Figured something out today and don't really want to be alone. Abbs is probably out clubbing and Duck lives too far away."
"What is it?" Tony sat up, bare shoulders painted silvery in the moonlight. He did like to sleep nude, Gibbs remembered. How could he forget Tony versus the iguana in Gitmo.
Gibbs sighed heavily. "What have ya got to drink? This requires some lubrication."
"You gonna be okay to drive home, Boss?" Tony's look of concern warmed his heart.
"Not planning on going home." Tony's eyes widened and Gibbs wondered if he imagined the glimmer of hope in them. "You have a couch." He was disappointed when that glimmer faded.
"C'mon, Tony, Lemme tell you a story about the time you were on the Reagan and then the Seahawk and how I screwed up." Gibbs walked into the living room, allowing Tony some privacy. The other man came out of the bedroom dressed in boxers, his hair sticking up in all directions, and grabbed a bottle, placing it on the coffee table.
Telling the story wasn't easy but Gibbs finally got it out around mouthfuls of some surprisingly good scotch. He confessed everything, his certainty that it was Lee involved, his unreasonable hope that Langer was somehow still alive. His guilt for blaming Langer. His fury that Lee had played them all. Vance not telling him when the team had been broken up in the first place. The fact that he'd read his gut so damn wrong.
All the while Tony sat there, clad only in boxers, nodding, even squeezing his forearm. Gibbs wasn't used to being the one comforted, but he accepted this.