AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Anthony DiNozzo/Jeanne Benoit
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: A sequel to Who Are You? Finally Tony has to face the ultimate question.
WORD COUNT: 1,030
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for proseac1: C - Commitment. This story is AR and in this universe Wendy never existed.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Finally she asks the question he knew from the moment she let him in she would ask. Could he be Tony DiNardo for her? Could he now give up NCIS for her? "And now?" Two words; two little words.
He stares at her, gazing deeply into her eyes, noticing how tired she looks, how dark the circles that surround her eyes are, seeing how pale she looks, how lack-luster her hair is.
He looks at her, seeing beyond the physical, really seeing her; he knows what she's feeling, he knows how much she's been hurting, he knows how hard it's been. He knows because that's how he's felt, for the past seventeen months he's been a shell of the man he'd once been and as he watches her, he knows that's how she has been.
He has one chance; he knows that; whatever he says now will be it. He has to get it right. Part of him wants to get up, run out of her apartment and keep running. It's too soon to answer the question; he hasn't planned what to say. But he knows full well what he'll say; he knew from the moment he'd asked Tim to track her down what he'd say.
He licks his lips, leans forward and takes her hand, holding it between both of his; she doesn't pull away. He swallows, clears his throat, gives himself another second or two, looks at her directly and speaks. "No, Jeanne, I can't be Tony DiNardo, not even for you. But," he says, tightening his grip on her hand as she now tries to pull it away. "I can be Tony DiNozzo for you."
She looks at him; he sees a flash of anger and confusion pass across her face. "What's that meant to mean?" she demands.
"Tony DiNozzo is the man who fell in love with you. Tony DiNozzo is man you fell in love with."
She continues to stare at him; she has stopped trying to pull her hand away, but she is frowning. "And NCIS? Can you give that up for me?"
And that was the real question. The crux of the matter. That should be the hard question. But it’s the easy one. He shrugs. "Can. Have."
"What? Tony, what do you mean?" Again her expression is a mixture of confusion and anger.
He sighs and leans back in his chair, forgetting he's still holding her hand. He realizes at the last second and sits back up, steadying her with one hand, while keeping a tight grip on the other. "Before I left I gave McGee a letter." She frowns a little. "Timothy McGee part-time geek, full-time field agent, or is it the other way around? No matter. He's the one who found you for me -"
"But how? I thought I'd erased all traces of Dr. Benoit."
"Hah, but this is McGeek we're talking about. Look when he comes over for the wedding you can ask him. As I was saying -"
"The wedding? Tony, are you asking me to marry you?" Her tone is heavy with disbelief.
"Er, yes? Only that part wasn't meant to come out yet." He winces, but notices she's now smiling, she has tears in her eyes, but she's smiling.
"You are Tony DiNardo," she says, wiping her eyes. "I mean Tony DiNardo is Tony DiNozzo." And for the first time in seventeen months he sees her smile, the smile that had always entranced him, always shown him how much she loved him. The smile that not only reaches her eyes, but lights them up.
He thinks what she said was a compliment, or at least that's how she'd meant it. "Anyway, I left a letter with McGee and told him to give it to the boss, that's Gibbs."
He frowns. "Is France behind or ahead of America?"
"Tony!" but again she laughs.
"Um, as soon as my flight had taken off."
"You've quit NCIS?"
He nods. "Yes." His tone is serious now. "Yeah, Jeanne, I have."
"But what if you hadn't found me? What if your friend had been wrong? What if -"
"You'd shut the door in my face?" She nods. He shrugs. "Then I'd have gone back to being a cop or gone and worked with my dad or maybe I'd have become a Professor of Film Studies or found some rich widow to keep me." He smiles for a moment; then he becomes serious again. "Whether I could make things right with you or not Jeanne, my life with NCIS is over."
"And now? Now that you've found me and I didn't shut the door in your face? What now, Tony?"
"Well, that's partly up to you." He lets go off her hand, puts his hand into the pocket of his trousers and pulls out a small box. He opens it and looks down at the simple diamond. "Jeanne Benoit," he says, looking from the box up into her eyes. "Will you marry me?" His tone is serious; he has never been as serious as he is now.
"Why do I get the feeling you never thought you'd say those words to anyone?" Her tone is still light, but she's watching him carefully. She knows him so well, better than anyone has ever known him, better maybe even that he knows himself.
"Because I never thought I would," he says. "I never thought I'd be ready to commit to one person."
"But now you think you are?"
He shakes his head. "No, Jeanne. Now I know I am. I love you. I've loved you almost since the day I met you. I want to marry you. I love you," he repeats the words he'd once been so afraid to say to her. Again he is serious. "Will you marry me?"
She looks at him; he can't read her. He doesn’t know what she'll say. He doesn't know if she can let go of the hurt he'd caused her. Finally, she smiles and holds out her hand. "Yes, Tony DiNozzo," she says. "I will marry you - you and Tony DiNardo."
He stands up, pulls her into his arms and kisses her.