Title: Caribbean Love: Loss
Series: A Caribbean Love
Relationships: Tony DiNozzo/OMC-Jackson Grimes
Characters: Tony DiNozzo and OC-Jackson Grimes
Warnings: Angst, Non-Canon Compliant, Background Character Death, Character Death is Ziva, Language, Tiva Never Happened!, Pre-Relationship
Rating: Teen and Up
Word Count: 3570
Author’s Note: Ziva is forever dead in this and will not be coming back alive. This is not Tiva. There was never Tiva in my world but specifically in this story. There was never a hint of Tiva or a longing for Tiva. The grief in this has nothing to do with Tiva. Got it? Jackson Grimes was borrowed from Rivermoon1970 with her permission. Thanks!! This story was written for the March challenge on Forever Angst. The theme was “Trapped in a storm”.
Summary: When Tony heard the news that she was dead, he didn’t know how he felt. His feelings about her were complicated to say the least. In his grief and anger he goes to the one place that he knows he can get understanding and comfort. Jackson Grimes.
Caribbean Love: Loss
Jackson Grimes was standing in his office in Annapolis, which was one of the secondary locations for Grimes Tech watching the storm that was just starting to pound the bay. The location was an older building. In fact, it was an old pickle factory with the building he was in having been used for the company’s offices and other things while the building they used for R&D being the companies old production factory. The building wasn’t tall, but Jax’s office faced the bay, which was why he was currently standing at the windows. There was something that he had always found exciting about storms and thunderstorms specifically. Watching the power of mother nature as she battled against the oceans was magnificent.
Beyond his window, there was a small park that the company employees used with benches placed near the beach for people to sit and take in the scenery on their lunches and breaks. As the lightning flashed, it was only coincidence that at that very moment, Jackson’s eyes moved away from the water and through the park locking in on the figure sitting on a bench at the water. At first, he was dumbfounded that he had an employee with so little common sense that they’d take the risk of sitting out in the open in the middle of a thunderstorm. However, when the next flash of lightning came, there was something familiar in the profile that he could see which hinted to him that this wasn’t an employee.
Before he could even think about it, Jackson was moving away from the window toward his desk, so that he could divest himself of all his numerous electronics. Then, before he could think further, he was off like a flash ignoring the elevator, and hitting the stairs on a run skipping several steps as he sped down to the side exit. He had no clue what the fool was thinking sitting out in the middle of a thunderstorm given the delicate nature of the man’s lungs, but he knew that whatever happened was nothing good.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Jackson shouted as he reached the man, but stopped when he could clearly see, despite the rain pounding both their faces, that the man on the bench was wrapped up in some combination of fury and anguish. “Tony?”
It had only been a few weeks since Jackson returned from his mini house hunting vacation, not having accomplished any actual house or land hunting. Instead, though, he was in possession of something he thought possibly more important, which was the possibility of something more intriguing. Tony’s house was frankly perfect, and the other man had graciously offered its use to Jackson no matter what happened between them. It was an offer that Grimes quickly accepted, and when he’d left the island, he could imagine Tony standing on his beach waving goodbye in his mind.
The tech genius had no idea the former NCIS agent had returned to the States. He knew that the cast had been scheduled to come off soon, though, and supposed he shouldn’t be too surprised. He’d thought Tony would have let him know, but it was a possibility that he’d planned on it and something else came up that distracted him from it. From the emotions flashing across his friend’s face, Jackson thought it was a definite possibility, and didn’t take the lack of contact too personally.
“Tony?” Jackson tried again as he moved to sit on the bench next to Tony, taking note of the way the man’s body was quivering, and Jax wasn’t sure if it was from being cold or whatever was going on in his head.
“She’s dead,” Tony finally moaned just loud enough to be heard over the raging thunder and the waves that were crashing into the shore. “The fucking bitch is dead. The fucking supposed indestructible Mossad ninja is fucking dead. The fucking traitorous bitch that could never decide if she was going to kill me or watch my back. She’s fucking dead, Jax. Fuck! Fuck her. Fuck Eli. Fuck Mossad. She’s fucking dead motherfucker!”
Jackson froze for a moment as he considered the words, then with a few curses of his own in a variety of languages muttered under his breath, Grimes pulled the man into his body. Wrapping his arms around Tony’s shoulders, Jax had no clue what to say. Sorry? Congratulations? How do you respond to the death of the person your friend both cared for and hated desperately?
If Jackson was this conflicted, he could only imagine how Tony was feeling, Jesus. “Come inside, Tony. You shouldn’t be out in this storm.”
When Tony just lifted his head and stared at Jax almost blankly, the Grimes Tech owner took the bull by the horns, and pulled the younger man up off the bench, leading him back to the building. He didn’t know what it said that the stubborn former agent came along so willingly and pliantly, but he had a feeling that it wasn’t a good thing.
When they got to the doors, Jackson was relieved to see one of the security men holding the door open for them. Offering a brief thanks, Jax led Tony through the lobby, ignoring the stares of the few employees milling around, and lead Tony toward the elevator. Fortunately, most of Jackson’s employees were pretty kick ass, and because of that, no one tried to get on with them when the elevator came giving the two men privacy on their way up. As he led Tony past Maureen, Jackson’s personal assistant, Jax asked her to get him some towels and some hot tea, before leading Tony into the office shutting the door behind them.
Still holding Tony’s hand, Jackson led the man over to the couch on the other side of the room from where Jax’s desk was and pushed the younger man down until he was sitting down. “Jesus, you’re soaked. You’re gonna end up with pneumonia. Fortunately, I think I have stuff here that will fit you. Let’s wait until Maureen brings the towels and tea before you start disrobing though. I don’t think she needs the peep. Her husband is good-natured, but he’ll probably be pissed if I give his 68-year-old wife a heart attack when she gets a view of your naked ass.”
When the last bit earned him a soft watery chuckle, Jackson took it as a sign that the man wasn’t too far into his head and grief that he wouldn’t be able to be pulled out of it. So, with a sigh, Jackson sat down next to him for a few moments, as he waited for his PA to bring the things he’d asked for. His leather couch was probably not going to appreciate them being on it wet, but he’d deal with that later. The last thing he cared about at the moment was ruining his leather.
Once Maureen had brought the towels and tea along with some things to eat, and some bottles of water just in case, Jackson locked the door behind her explaining she was to hold all contact. As Tony stripped and dried off, slowly but at least he was doing it, Jackson dug out the spare set of jeans and the dress shirt that he kept for just in case. Once he’d given Tony the spare clothes, wincing at the site of the man’s wet phone knowing it was probably beyond help, Jackson set about drying himself off and changing into the spare suit he also kept on hand making a mental note he had to replace his spare outfits.
Once they both were dried and changed, Jackson carried the drinks and snacks over to the couch, where they sat again, and this time Jax waited patiently for Tony to speak. DiNozzo’s former coworkers weren’t something they’d talked about a ton. Jax only knew that this woman that died sounded like the one who had been involved in Tony getting hurt and that they’d had a tumultuous relationship.
“I don’t even know what I’m supposed to feel,” Tony said quietly, and Jax could see the younger man’s eyes were locked on the storm raging beyond the office’s windows. “I mean, I hated her, but at the same time, she was so often my partner in the field that I had to trust her at least a little bit, even if it was against my better judgment. It wasn’t like she was a nightmare all the time. Every once and awhile you’d get this glimpse of the person she could have been had Eli David not been her father, or if he hadn’t turned his children into his personal spies. It seems like there was such a huge waste there, and if anyone knows the damage a parent can do to their children it’s me. I just, on the other hand, I know that just because her father wanted things that weren’t good for her doesn’t mean that she had to give in.
“I mean fuck, I’ve been rebelling against Senior since I was 8. Trust and believe he wanted a whole different life for me than the one I have now and is not in the least bit happy that I didn’t do things his way. Somehow though, even as a kid, I knew that is way wasn’t the good way and I sought my own path. So, it’s hard for me to have sympathy for someone that constantly threw in your face all the time how she was this independent creature when the reality was, she was never more than her father’s puppet. Any independence that she had was with his blessing. The second he crooked his finger she’d come running. I find it both sad and pathetic but given how much trouble and chaos she caused everyone around her I find it incredibly hard to have more than a surface level of sympathy for her. She could have broken off completely, and been her own person, but she chose to do so in word only. Her actions said something completely different than her claims did. And yet, she’s dead and I’m angry and pissed and I fucking hate her and him now more than fucking ever.”
“They’re sure she’s dead?” Jackson asked quietly, not sure if the words should be spoken right that at second, but feeling the need to make sure.
“Yeah,” Tony offered quietly giving a stiff nod as confirmation along with his words. “Confirmation came from someone other than Mossad. She washed up on a foreign shore and somehow was identified by Interpol who had her on a watch list somehow. I didn’t know that the espionage had been reported outside of NCIS, but apparently, it was. I guess SecNav came to his senses at the last minute or something and changed his mind. She’s fucking dead, and while it makes me sad, there’s this huge part of me that almost feels relief. That’s horrible right? I mean, what kind of monster is relieved that someone died? Even if it’s someone you kinda sorta hate, death should never be celebrated right?”
“What bullshit,” Jackson spit back without thinking, and then felt himself wince at Tony’s blink of surprise. With a sigh and a shrug, Jax ran a hand through his hair before continuing. “Your reaction is yours, and your emotions are yours. No one, not even I have the right to tell you how you react is wrong. You had a complicated relationship with Ziva, and it’s understandable that your reaction to her death would be complicated as well.”
Tony didn’t seem to outwardly respond to that bit, so Jackson let him be for the moment and stood to move over to his desk to investigate the situation Tony’s electronics. “I think your phone is toast, dude. It’s a good thing that you know a fabulous guy who creates new ones for a living. You can test one of my new GrimesPhones for me. How did you get to be out on my beach in the middle of a thunderstorm? Surely that isn’t good for your lungs. You did say you have bad lungs, right?”
Tony nodded and slowly turned his attention away from the storm to Jackson. When the man winced, Jax realized he’d caught sight of his phone. As Tony stood and came over to where Jackson was behind his desk, the Grimes Tech owner easily extracted the SIM card from the phone and hoped that it hadn’t been hurt. He’d have his people see if they could transfer anything off of the old device, but ion the meantime, Jackson got into his locked drawer and dug out one of the new versions for the latest gPhone model that they were about to release.
“Yeah, got the plague at work, so I have scarred lungs,” Tony offered with a cough and Jackson looked up worried. “I’ll have to go see Brad tomorrow. He’s probably gonna kick my ass. Damnit, I hate breathing treatments.”
Jackson thought Tony was going to ignore the part about the beach as he watched the younger man wander over to the windows. “I just remember thinking that I wanted to see you and that you were in Annapolis. I don’t really remember the drive from my apartment. I just… I didn’t want to be around anyone that knew her, and Aaron has very strong feelings about her. Besides, I think they’re out of town. I just… I’m sorry I intruded.”
“Well, I’m not,” Jackson shot back drawing the man’s attention again, “so stuff it with that crap. At the very least we’re friends. I expect my friends to come to me when they need me, and I’m honored that I’m the one you wanted to see. I am sorry she died, if for no other reason than it upsets you. The complicated feelings aside, the last thing you deserve right now is to have to deal with this bullshit. Was she working for her father, do you know or…”?
“I don’t know,” Tony said softly as he started picking up and putting down the various things Jackson kept on handy to occupy his hands when he was trying to think. “I doubt I will ever know unless I ask someone, and honestly, I am not sure that I care enough to know. My time at NCIS is done, and the ending wasn’t pretty. There were as many people happy to see me go as were upset that I left. Some that are upset I left are pretty fucking ugly about it so… yeah. I have no intention of seeking out anyone over there for a while. I am sure Gibbs is on a tear though. So, maybe it’s a good thing I quit when I did. I was going to surprise you, ya know?”
Jackson smiled and leaned a hip against his desk. “Oh? That sounds nice, and a little romantic. Not something that I get a lot, but not something I’m opposed to either.”
“I’m Italian,” Tony offered back as if that explained everything, and with a smile, Jackson had to admit that maybe it did. “I love romance when it feels right, and for some reason right now it feels right. A friend of mine has a beach house up in the Hamptons that he said we can use. Aaron didn’t think you had a place there, so I was going to take you up for a long weekend if you have time? I guess it’s not much of a surprise now, but I’m still interested if you are.
“Are you sure?” Jackson inquired, cocking his head to one side. “You won’t have to go to a funeral or something?”
“I am pretty sure that I am the last person Eli David will want there,” Tony quipped humorlessly, and Jackson watched him be drawn back to the storm that seemed to be winding down. “He might actually be my arch nemesis, if we both were superheroes, or if I was one. I guess he’d be more the villain than the superhero, huh? Comics were always more Aaron’s thing than mine. Either way, I have no urge to die at the old fucker’s hands by showing up to the funeral of a woman that I mostly hated and sorta kinda pitied. So, no. No funerals for me. I’d rather spend a long weekend with you and forget about all of this bullshit. If you’re interested that is. I know it isn’t the islands though, but this is really a kick-ass beach house.”
“Childhood friend?” Jackson asked deciding to let all the stuff about Eli go, making a mental note though to check with Aaron and see if Tony would be in any danger. If all else, Jackson could always bring some security with them claiming it was for his own protection.
“More like a frat brother,” Tony said, and Jackson could see his smile in the window pane. “I don’t have many childhood friends. There weren’t many people that Senior approved of that would associate with us when I was a kid for me to make friends with. Not that I mind. As an adult l know it would have been a weird friendship anyway.”
“You had Aaron thought, didn’t you?” Jackson asked and watched Tony shake his head.
“Not as a kid,” Tony explained and turned back around leaning against the window to look at Jackson. “Our mothers didn’t talk when I was a kid. I didn’t really get to know him until after my mom died. Then I got shipped off to boarding school, and after Aaron’s dad died his mom sent him to the one I was at. So, when I was an older child, I guess so. I mean once we got to know each other we were thick as thieves. I just always think of being a kid as the time before I was like 10. It was pretty much me, myself, and I before Aaron joined me at boarding school. After mom died, I didn’t feel much like a child anymore, and I certainly had clued into what a crap life I really had by the time Aaron came. It was obvious by then how little of a fuck my father gave about me. No trying to get me to consider the funeral?”
“No,” Jackson said quickly and confidently, “you know your safety and the situation better than I do. Aaron may nag about it. He’s big on closure and all that, but my guess is even he’ll not say much if you don’t think it’s safe. I’m really glad you came to me, Tony. I mean that. This whatever that we’re testing is important to me, and it means a lot to me that you came to me when you needed someone. I know if Aaron was in town it probably would be different but…”
“I’m not so sure,” Tony contradicted cutting Jackson off. “I honestly didn’t even think of Aaron till I was halfway here and remembered that he was out of town. Things blew up, as they have a habit of doing in my life, and I wanted to see you. It was pretty much as simple as that. I’m trying to get out of the habit of second-guessing myself.”
“Well, I am even more honored then,” Jackson murmured as he moved to stand in front of Tony. He wanted to reach out and pull him into his arms again, but Tony had a clear do not touch sign out that Jax was determined to respect as much as possible. “And I would love to spend a long weekend with you. I actually have as much time as you need. There isn’t anything pressing that needs me in a specific location for a couple weeks. So, maybe we can make it a little longer than a weekend?”
“I’d like that,” Tony accepted quietly, and half turned so he could see the last of the storm. Jackson couldn’t help but follow his eyes and marveled at the beauty of the vision beyond the window. The sun was starting to come back out now that the storm had passed, and because it was late enough in the day that it would have been setting, the sky was a vast array of colors. It was a breathtaking picture, and Jackson took the time to appreciate the sight.
When Tony finally let out a long, deep sigh, Jackson could feel the hands-off sign coming down. So, stepping forward slightly, he joined Tony leaning a shoulder against the glass so he could see the other man and outside both. Reaching over, Jax hooked one of his pinky fingers around Tony’s and felt his heart sing at the smile that it pulled from his friend and hopefully future love.
Tony may have come to him because of a loss, but hopefully maybe, when he went home that night, it would be a possibility that would be following him home leaving the storm of death behind him. Jackson was just hoped that whatever future Tony moved into from this point forward, that they would be traveling that path together so that they could weather future loss together, combined into one unit.
Smiling at the pinks and peaches of the sky, Jackson couldn’t help but think that the idea sounded perfect.