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Part 1

 

“Ya know what?” DiNozzo said as he got to his feet, grabbing his coat, “I just remembered, I got a hot date tonight. So I’ll have to take a rain check on that Dinner Ziva.”

Gibbs watched the younger man closely as he awkwardly threw his coat over his shoulder, then grabbed his phone. Gibbs couldn’t help but notice the typical DiNozzo smile that didn’t reach his eyes as he strode towards the elevator.

“But how are you getting home?!” Abby called concerned.

“I’ll manage!” Tony called over his shoulder, “See ya in a few day’s, I’m taking that sick leave boss!” he said as he jumped into the lift.

“Aww.” Abby sighed, “I was hoping I could come with you guys! This will be the 2nd time he turned down your food Ziva.”

Ziva looked a little guilty, “I didn’t invite him last night.” She muttered under her breath.

Gibbs raised an eyebrow, he had suspected as much when he had turned up last night, but hadn’t thought to question it. Now he wished he had.

“What?” Abby said shocked as she took a step back from the smaller woman. “You invited everyone BUT Tony?”

“Yeah.” Ziva admitted, “I thought we could all do with a brake from his bullying.” She tried to smile even though Abby was now looking at her in disgust.

“But… But…” Abby was now looking at them all in shock. When her eyes came to Gibbs, he shrugged.

“I didn’t know either.” He admitted to her, he guessed he would be buying more Caf-Pow in his near future, anything to make her smile.

She turned back to Ziva. “That was mean Ziva, That was very mean! He’d never do something like that, He hates being excluded. He’s very lonely!”

Then Ziva did something very stupid. She scoffed and Abby’s eyes got hard.

Gibbs rolled his eyes, this was not going to end pretty.

“With all his conquests he keeps bragging about?” Ziva carried on with a dismissive wave of her hand. “If he’s lonely then he should work on his social skills and less about his bedding skills.”

MaGee gave a snort of a laugh from the other side of his monitor.

Abby’s eyes were now slits that glistened with moisture, so she was either very angry or very upset, which is Abby’s book almost amounted to the same thing.

“I was starting to like you…” Abby seethed out.

So angry it was.

“Ok.” He finally stood up, grabbing his own coat. “That’s enough guys.” He ignored McGee, he had taken enough of Tony’s posturing and chest pounding. But Ziva needed to be warned.

He stepped between Ziva and Abby, putting a calming hand on the goth’s shoulder to quell her as he looked straight into Ziva’s dark eyes.

“DiNozzo is one of our best agents.” He said in a low tone. “He might be a bastard most of the time… But he’s not a mean one… I need my team to be able to work together.” He kept looking into her eyes till she looked away, hopping his message got across.

“Come on Abby.” He said turning away, “I’ll walk you down to the parking lot.”

She muttered something, but followed him anyway.

 

++++

 

McGee watched the Boss and Abby leave.

He had seen the look on DiNozzo’s face when he discovered he had been left out of their little get together the other night. It had been a great night without DiNozzo trying to steal the lime light and make fun off him, but it now felt hollow.

He remembered the conversation he had had with Abby when he had confessed his loathing of DiNozzo and she had laughed at him, telling him that DiNozzo was only doing what he did to make him actually stand up for himself, Grow a pair. As Abby put it.

It didn’t help with the day to day teasing but tonight he finally realized that DiNozzo was actually never really cruel to him, even praised him when he did right.

With a deep sigh he got his own things together and stood besides Ziva. “The Boss is right ya know.” He confessed.

Ziva glared at him, then she sighed and nodded. “I didn’t think he would take it so hard.”

He shrugged, “Neither did I… I guess we’ll have some sucking up to do… if he’s not gonna make our lives even more unbearable now. But I guess we deserve it.”

With that, he left Ziva to her own thoughts as he went home.

 

++++

 

Gibbs finally pulled up outside DiNozzo’s apartment block, Tony’s apartment was black, meaning he was asleep or he actually had a date.

He made his way up to Tony’s apartment and let himself in after knocking to no reply.

The apartment was a mess, as always, but there was something odd as he stuck his head into the bedroom. Draws were left open, and the wardrobe.

It looked like DiNozzo had been burgled, but on closer inspection half of the clothes were missing. DiNozzo might be messy, but he kept his expensive clothes off the floor.

Gibbs signed again.

This was going to take some sorting out and lots of talking to sort.

But first, he had to find him.

 

++++

 

Tony sat in the airport looking up at the departures.

He was going to go home; his dad would at least tolerate him staying a few days, while his arm healed. It hurt like a bitch, as flesh wounds always did. Every time he moved it pulled and itched making him irritable.

It didn’t hurt as much as his chest though.

He wished it didn’t, he wished he was strong enough not to let it affect him, he wished his cool couldn’t care attitude was more than a mask he wore, he wished is went deeper, he also wished he could sometimes take that mask off and just be… himself? He didn’t know who that was anymore. The mask had been on so long he’d forgotten. The only thing he knew was bravado, it got him everything he wanted, well… it got him everything but respect, which was what he really wanted above all else.

The only person who ever gave a damn had been Gibbs, even if he didn’t show it well, but the old guy hadn’t kicked his ass off the team, just cuffed him about the head or given him a smile.

But that was gone now.

If it was one thing Anthony DiNozzo knew, it was when to get out. And getting out was what he was doing.

When he had got back to his apartment, he had sent an email with his resignation, his sick leave and owed vacation would see him through his leave time, so he would never have to go back to the office. He could get Abby, the only person he knew still liked him, to pack up his personal affects and send them to him where ever he ended up.

Gibbs would be annoyed but would give him a good reference, he was sure.

He sighed deeply.

He would miss Gibbs, miss him a lot.

His feeling towards the old Marine had been mixed, at first he thought he was a bastard, then even he realized he thought of Gibbs as a better father figure than the one he had. Desperate for the older guy to like him and to gain Gibbs approval.

That’s why it always pissed him off when McGee or Kate always jumped in, using his idea’s as their own.

Then there was Kate… He still missed her, she was the sister he never wanted. They would fight like cats with each other, then come together to tease McGee like it was the most natural thing in the world to be on the same side. He had loved her, not in the physical sense, but as soulmate of sorts.

He looked down at his hands, remembering washing her blood from his face. Things had happened so fast he hadn’t had time to mourn her, he still hadn’t, maybe that was why he was so fucked up now.

He suddenly found himself short of breath.

Something that still caught him off guard, a lingering affect of the plague, Ducky had told him he would be fine, but to take it easy. Dr Pitt had been more honest with him, his lungs had been damaged and would never fully recover, and to go straight to his doctor if there was ever any problems with his breathing, he also found that he would have to have a flu jab every year because he was on the high risk register with Asthmatics and old fogies.

He wiped at his eyes, the aircon in the airport was making them water… He was worse than Abby, he never cried. He smiled at that thought; maybe he should paint his nails black and wear chains too?

He jumped as an announcement came over the loud speakers for a flight to Leeds, England was now boarding.

Maybe he should try and emigrate to the UK, or Canada or maybe South Africa… Tibet even looked tempting right now. Anything to get as far away as he could, when he cut ties, he liked them to stay cut. Defense strategy it might be, but he had years of experience doing it, so why stop now?

He rubbed his chest with his left hand, knowing it wouldn’t ease the hollowness he felt there, or the nauseating feeling. If he was a girl he could just sob it all out like in so many films he had watched.

He could go with sobbing on some strong hero’s shoulder right now, it looked so easy when the girls did it. They didn’t seem ashamed as they let someone else take control for their moment of weakness. But he was a man, he was meant to be the hero.

He rubbed his eyes again, damn aircon!

“So where are we going?”

Tony almost fell out of his seat in shock. “The hell?” He looked into warm blue eyes as Gibbs smiled at him. He never even heard the old Marine sit down, never mind approach.

“And I was thinking of going to my dads.”

Gibbs winced then looked up at the boards. “You already missed one flight.”

 Tony tried to reach for his bag, but realized Gibbs had moved it to his other side to sit down. The marine still had one hand resting lightly on it, so Tony was going no where.

He sat up in his seat, resurrecting all his old barrios and defenses. There was nothing Gibbs could say to make him change his mind.

“How did you find me?” he asked. After using his local ATM he had used cash for taxi’s the motel he stayed in a few nights and anything else he needed since leaving the office that night.

“Abby.” Gibbs said, sitting more relaxed in the airports stiff chair. Like that was explanation enough.

“She’s not enough.” He replied under his breath, He would miss her and her cooky charm. But he did feel sorry for her, she had probable been up all night looking for any trace of him, no doubt Gibbs had supplied her with her caffeine fix the entire time.

Gibbs pointed up to a camera that was facing them, “Lets hope she didn’t see that.” He then waved at the camera.

Tony glanced up at it and sighed again before lowering his face so she couldn’t read his lips. He thought he had been so careful to.

“Look.” He said firmly. “You get McGee as your 2nd, he’s better than me and more obedient.” He smiled bitterly at that. “Ziva will shape up fine, everyone seems to like her, and you can replace me easy enough… I can take the hint, eventually, that I’m no longer wanted.” The hollowness in his chest throbbed painfully, creeping up his throat and squirming down into his belly, it was getting hard to breath.

“You really believe that?” Gibbs asked softly.

Tony couldn’t look at him, he felt sick. He managed to nod as he bent more over his knees, trying to find some equilibrium.

A cool hand rested on the back of his neck.

“Sometime DiNozzo, you are your own worst enemy.” A soft chuckle and the hand massaged his neck a little. “McGee might be well educated, but he’s no field agent, also he doesn’t think like you do or ever will. Also your training of him is going rather well, even if your methods aren’t as refined, but he was sticking up for himself.” Another chuckle.

“Glad your finding this all so amusing.” Tony growled out, Should the floor be swaying?

“And Ziva… Well… she’s got different talents, more of a practical background, your teasing her does get a bit much I have to admit, but it also grounds her.”

“Great for them, I’m sure they were thrilled when you told them about my resignation.” He had to sit up, dislodging Gibbs’ hand from the back of his neck. He just wanted Gibbs to leave him alone.

Gibbs made a huffing noise, “Not really, Ziva wont stop apologizing, McGee’s reverted back to being a ‘Yes Man’ and both Abby and Ducky are quite upset.”

“At me… yeah, well, they will get over it.”

Suddenly Tony’s head snapped forwards as the familiar sting hit the back of his head.

“Wha..!” he cried out, the sudden movement he made to look at his CO made the whole airport seem to lurch sickeningly. For the past two days he had been running on adrenalin and the physical pain in his arm, anything to dull the emotional turmoil inside.

Gibbs moved into his line of sight, his blue eyes wide with concerned and he held Tony by the shoulders. “You ok?” the older man asked softly. A stabilizing hand left his shoulder to press against his forehead.

It felt cool and he closed his eyes. Darker desires tried to make themselves know, at first they were welcomed, god only knew how much he wanted this man’s hands on him. Every time little guilty thoughts made his guts twist, but then came the pain, because it was another useless dream, one he was best to put aside with everything else at the NCIS.

He pulled away, getting shakily to his feet. “I need to go!” he protested, making a grab for his bag, only to have Gibbs push him back down into the hard chair.

“You haven’t been taking your meds!”

Tony didn’t need that accusatory tone, he just needed to wash his face, get on a plane and disappear. Start again like he always did.

“You’re not going anywhere.” Gibbs now had a restraining hand on his chest while the other fumbled with his mobile.

“Got a plane to catch…” he grumbled out. “Let go!”

“How can you get on a plane with no ticket?” Gibbs snapped, placing his phone to his ear. “Ya, Ducky, he’s where Abby said he would be, you wana come over?” a pause, then a look. “No he’s not ok.”

“I’m fine!” he protested, but even he realized he wasn’t, it was like being drunk but without that warm feeling. In fact he was shivering… that couldn’t be right.

“Like hell you are.” Gibbs snapped again as he hung up.

“Your not my boss anymore!” he tried to push Gibbs hand away, there was nothing more energizing than anger. “I resigned! Now let me go!”

“No.” Gibbs said simply.

“No?” he snorted indignantly.

“No.” Gibbs affirmed. “Your resignation got lost in the post.”

Tony just blinked at him, he was sure he sent an email.

Gibbs just smiled, then Tony felt the restraining hand leave his chest then hold his good hand.

Tony lost all his resolve as he looked down at their clasped hands.

Something so insignificant just took all his will. He wasn’t strong enough to fight Gibbs, even if he was feeling one hundred percent, which he wasn’t.

“The lease is up on my apartment.” He muttered, still looking at their hands. “It’s gonna be re-let next week.”

“I know.” Was Gibbs reply.

Of course Gibbs knew, he knew everything.

He sighed, resigned now to the fact that he couldn’t get away… at least not right now. “I guess Abby will put me up till I find somewhere.”

“Nope.” Gibbs replied.

So he had screwed it up with her to then, the emptiness was back again. He just wanted to curl up and wait for the world to go away.

“She offered when she found out, but you’re staying at mine, I got enough room.” Gibbs said conversationally. “So long as you promise not to leave a mess like you did the last time.”

“Oh…” Tony said as he lost all energy again. He actually liked staying in Gibbs house, he’d never stayed in anywhere that felt more like a home before.

 

++++

 

“Oh…” Tony replied softly.

Gibbs could tell the kid had accepted that he had lost his battle to run away.

He scanned the crowd for any sign of Ducky. When he had watched DiNozzo go completely pail, he though he was going to throw up. The slight tremor from the hand he held and the heat of his brow meant that the younger man was not well. Probably an infection, seen as they had found his medication still in his apartment, untouched.

He looked at DiNozzo now and saw the tears streaking down the young man’s cheeks as he stared off at nothing, his green eyes slightly glazed.

“Come here.” He said putting an arm around the back of Tony, then pulling him against his side. DiNozzo moved to burry his face into Gibbs shoulder as he began to sob.

Without thinking he pulled the young man closer, putting one hand into the short dark blond hair. He kissed the top of Tony’s head before laying his check against it. “It’s gonna be ok.” He promised, feeling Tony shiver a little more as the sobbing became a little bit more audible, then he was wheezing. Shocked he tried to pull away, but the younger man’s hold was quite strong and wouldn’t be moved.

“Ah! There you are!”

Ducky came into sight then hurried over. ‘Is he ok?’ the mortician mouthed, pointing at DiNozzo.

Gibbs shook his head, then turned his attention back to Tony. “Ducky’s here… let him look at you.”

Tony shook his head as he clung on a little tighter.

“DiNozzo!” he snapped, and sure enough it had the desired affect as Tony pulled away a little, he looked a little shocked, if not a little lost as he panted for breath, his eyes still leaking tears.

Feeling sympathy for the young agent he cupped his cheek in one hand. “Ducky’s here, he needs to make sure you are alright.” He said slowly, making sure Tony understood, he looked like he was in shock.

Ducky wasted no time in sticking an electric thermometer into DiNozzo’s ear. “Thirty eight point five.” The Doctor announced unhappily, the produced some paracetamol and a bottle of water, shoving them at Gibbs. “Get these down him, and I assume he’s staying at yours now?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

Gibbs just nodded as he popped two pills into DiNozzo’s mouth, then made him sip the water. He seemed completely out of it.

Then Ducky had what looked like an Asthmatics blue inhaler in his hand. “Of all the things to leave behind.” He grumbled at Tony, “You remember how to do this, deep breath out.” Tony took a few pants before exhaling. Ducky put the mouthpiece in place then pushed down on top of it as Tony took a deep breath in. the younger man coughed but his breathing seemed easier. Ducky shoved the thing into DiNozzo’s hand, “Keep hold of that, and for god sake USE it!”

“Ducky?” Gibbs said questioningly, glancing at the inhaler. If DiNozzo was dependent now on something like that, then his field days were over.

Ducky waved at him impatiently, “He only needs it for emergences, if he get’s a cold, or like now, when he’s running a high temperature.” Then he peered at Gibbs. “Did you think he would get better so quick after the plague? We almost lost him, remember.”

“I remember.” Gibbs quelled. DiNozzo was like a cat, he very rarely showed his pain, well, unless he could annoy people with it and it wasn’t that serious. But he never showed his true feelings.

“Come on, get him up.” Ducky said. “And I’ll drive, you can make sure he’s comfortable in the back, last thing he needs is an accident on top of everything else.”

“I’m a very careful driver!” Gibbs protested with a smile. He always loved scaring the pants off people when he drove, DiNozzo was the only one who never seemed to care.

“And I’m the queen of Shiba.” Ducky snorted as he led the way to the car. “His wound is probably infected hence the fever, so I’ll look at it once we are back at yours, I must also remember to ask Abby if she can look after Mother.” He paused, then looked at Gibbs enough to make him squirm. “I assume I get the spare room?”

Gibbs nodded and he helped support DiNozzo who was leaning on him more heavily.

“About bloody time too.” The Mortician smiled knowingly before he turned and carried on walking.

Gibbs liked to think that no one could second guess him, but Ducky always had a way of seeing straight through him. So the old doctor was obviously aware of his affection towards the young agent.

 

++++

 

DiNozzo woke up slowly to a quiet whooshing sound. There was also something on his face, with the arm he was sleeping on he reached up coming into contact with something hard and plastic, with a sinking sensation he opened his eyes.

Then blinked.

He was looking at some closed curtains that didn’t let in much light, they didn’t look familiar, nor did the wooden antique desk under the window with a tasteful lamp on top of it. With a quick look about all he could see was the clear tube leading from the bed to an air canister that stood at the other side of a bedside table, that had another lamp and two reading books with their spines facing the other way.

So he wasn’t in a hospital then.

He moved a little and realized he wasn’t alone in the bed he found himself in. Someone was behind him, and they also had one arm over his waist. He moved his head a little to see the hand and froze as the person behind him moved, holding him a little tighter. And the cushion under his head moved.

So he was also sleeping on someone else’s bent arm, strategically placed so the mask over his face didn’t rub into the pillow.

He reached up again to remove the mask then felt a knuckle wacked him on the side of the head, just behind his ear.

He couldn’t help the grunt of alarm as the same hand rubbed the spot apologetically.

“Leave it where it is DiNozzo.” Came Gibbs sleepy voice by his ear.

With a start, Tony flipped onto his back, finding Gibbs smiling down at him.

Then he wished he hadn’t moved as his head felt like it was going to explode or his brain implode, which ever came first.

He felt Gibbs move, making the mattress sway.

“Don’t!” he pleaded closing his eyes, knowing it sounded pathetic as he clutched his head; the wound on his arm protesting at being moved wasn’t helping. But if Gibbs made the bed move again he was going to be sick.

Gibbs stopped moving, then a cool dry hand was placed on his brow. “Seems your fevers finally broken. How do you feel?”

He couldn’t help but chuckle. “Like I’ve been pistol whipped, punched in the lungs, run over by a steam roller and not forgetting the shock of finding myself spooning with my boss… Hows that?”

Gibbs chuckled. “Feeling better then?”

“Yeah.” He answered back sarcastically, then tried to reach for the mask again but got his hands slapped away. “Actually…” he said letting his hands rest on his chest. “No… I don’t feel better…”

“Want me to get Ducky?” Gibbs asked, once again there was a cool hand on his brow that he couldn’t help but lean into. “Maybe your fever isn’t totally gone. But it’s not time to take your meds yet.”

“Great, don’t want overdose adding to the list.”

“Nope, I think Ducky would actually kill me, then let Ab’s do the autopsy.” Gibbs sighed. “You need to go to the head or anything?”

Tony just shook his head a little, finding that he couldn’t open his eyes, the bed was sinfully warm and comfortable. “Stay here.” He muttered through the mask.

“Sure.” Gibbs whispered.

Tony felt an arm slip under his head, then he was pulled against a warm hard chest as Gibbs also put an arm around his waist, being careful of his injury. “Go back to sleep, few more hours before I have to wake you for your meds.”

Tony smiled, he could get used to this.

“Good, if I have my way, you will.” Gibbs said by his ear, sounding too amused.

Great now he could read thoughts.

“Only when you mutter them out loud.”

Gibbs was laughing at him. “Go to sleep.”

And wrapped up in the other mans warmth, he did.

 

++++

 

Part 2

 

 He felt rather then heard Ducky enter his bedroom.

“How’s he doing Jethro?” the mortician asked softly. They had both been up most of the night watching over the younger man.

“His fever’s let up a lot.” Gibbs answered, the training in him wanted to jump out of the bed, all that don’t ask don’t tell nonsense. But Ducky was a well educated man, and they always seemed to have different views than the military. Still didn’t stop him feeling awkward, but not like he would show it.

“Has he woken up?”

“Yeah, just once, think I surprised him.”

Ducky chuckled, “Well I bet he’s more used to being the spooner than the spoonee.”

“He’ll get used to it.” He grinned up at his friend.

“I’m sure he will.” Ducky winked at him then patted him on the shoulder, “I’ll go make us some coffee, you coming down?”

“Sure, just give me a sec.”

When Ducky left he eased his arm out from under Tony’s head then carefully climbed out of the bed, trying not to rock it to much, remembering the young mans reaction the first time he tried to get up.

Tony just muttered something in his sleep as his brows creased together.

Without thinking Gibbs reached out and soothed the creases away. “I’m just gonna be downstairs.” He told the sleeping man.

Tony looked surprisingly innocent and vulnerable when he slept, it was quite charming. He ran the pad of his thumb over one closed eye wishing he could do more, but he wasn’t about to ravage the man when he was so out of it. He couldn’t help but give a half smile, he was going to do that when Tony was fully compos mentis.

He knew he hadn’t read the signs wrong these last four and a half years. He had watched as Tony had stumbled over himself to get his approval, then slowly watched as the younger man’s interest in women wavered then stopped, it still didn’t stop the young agent bragging or flirting outrageously with the opposite sex. He just didn’t sleep with them all anymore.

He had no illusion that this would be easy, he had DiNozzo’s trust, but he envisaged that it would take time for the younger man to actually get it into his thick head, he wasn’t going to get kicked out anytime soon. After all, Gibbs was fully aware that his track record wasn’t that good, two insane ex-wives and one he didn’t think about wasn’t that good for the start of a relationship. He was also breaking one of his own rules, No romantic involvement with a work colleague.

He grinned as he stroked his hand through DiNozzo’s short hair. But screw it, rules were there to be broken.

 

++++

 

Tony woke up feeling like his head was full of cotton wool, slowly he sat up, realizing he was painfully alone, for a moment he wondered if waking up next to Gibbs was just some strange dream. But as he looked around, he knew it wasn’t.

He removed the oxigen mask from his face and after taking a few experimental breath he laid it down by his side.

Everything ached.

Then he remembered the fever and nothing making sense for a while, he’d gone to the airport?... he had thought about going to stay with his dad?... what had he been thinking?... then he remembered why and the hurt in his chest was back. He was quite ready to throw himself back into depression when he saw something on the sheets at his side. A quickly scribbled note in Gibbs handwriting.

[ Get your ass downstairs if your well enough to move,

No shower,

No slipping out the back door

Ducky wants to check you over,

If you’re not well enough, throw that horrible lamp on the floor.

Jethro.]

Tony blinked at the note… why no shower? Then he tried to get up, he felt weak and a lot shaky on his feet.

For a second he thought about throwing the lamp on the floor, but it would be a shame, it was a nice lamp.

Slowly and with help from furniture and walls he made it into the hall, then headed for the bathroom. Relieving himself he looked in the mirror above the sink, he looked a mess, dark bags under his eyes and he looked pale, his hair was also all over the place.

He splashed water on his face, he didn’t look any better but it helped to clear his head a little.

Making his way back into the hall he found Gibbs lent against the opposite wall.

“I thought I said come straight down?”

“Needed the head.” He replied as he turned for the stairs.

“Come here.” Gibbs grabbed his good arm and put it over his shoulder, then put his own arm around his waist. “don’t think you are quite ready for stairs yet.”

 Tony didn’t argue. This was all being rather too surreal. Gibbs was actually being nice to him?

Then they got down the stairs and into the kitchen, Abby bounced up from her chair by the table. “Sit here!” she said as she held the chair for him to sit, with Gibbs help he did, thankful to be off his feet. Ducky was also grinning at him from across the table.

“How are you feeling my boy?”

“Like I need a shower?” he said with a sigh.

“Sorry lad.” Ducky said, “But you could fall and hurt yourself more… So, back to my original question, How are you feeling?”

“Ill.” He supplied as Abby gave him a cup of something that thankfully wasn’t coffee.

“its green tea!” she grinned at him. “It’s good for you, and you need to get liquids into you that’s not got caffeine in it, you look like hell by the way.”

“I know.” He grinned up at her taking a sip, it had been sweetened with honey and wasn’t that bad. “thanks.”

“No problem!” she beamed, then went to site at another chair, grabbing her own cup and what looked like grilled cheese sandwiches, they smelled good.

“Here, take these too.” Ducky held out what looked like a hand full of pills. “Jethro, glass of water for the boy.”

“Coming right up.”

And sure enough Gibbs handed him a glass of water and with a wince he swallowed them all.

“Want something to eat?” Gibbs asked.

“umm…” He really wanted Abby’s sandwich, but as she took a bite, grease dripped onto the plate and he didn’t think he was up to it.

“Scrambled eggs on toast!” Ducky said, waving his hands at Gibbs. “Best thing for an empty patient’s stomach, I once had to do an autopsy on someone who had just eaten…”

“Don’t think he needs that story now Doc.” Gibbs said in his most shut up voice.

Tony couldn’t be happier, he really didn’t need the mental image right now.

“So are you guys off back to the office when breakfast’s over?” he asked, anything to stop them looking at him.

“Its lunch, and no.” Gibbs said as he stood over the cooker.

“We took the day off.” Abby said, almost bouncing about in her chair. “McGee and Zeva are currently packing up your stuff to get moved over here.”

“What!” he tried to get to his feet before his knees gave and he fell back down onto the chair with an umph of discomfort. Last thing he needed was Probi and Zeva going through his personal stuff.

Ya he was just gonna leave it all behind, but the building manager would sort that crap out.

“Easy.” Ducky warned him.

“It’s ok Tony!” Abby patted his hand. “Me and Ducky already brought over your clothes, TV and some other stuff.” She grinned reassuringly. “All incriminating blackmail material is in boxes in the Boss’s garage. So nothing to worry about!”

“Oh…” he said, wondering what they could have missed, or for that matter, what they had actually found.

“Here.” Gibbs said and Tony found a plate of golden scrambled eggs on buttered toast in front of him and his mouth watered. He couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten it, couldn’t even remember if he liked it, but it smelled good, looked good and as he shoved the first bit in his mouth, it tasted as good as it had promised.

He made contented noises as he took another mouth full, then a hand was rubbing his head. He couldn’t help but look up at Gibbs, then grinned.

“Glad you like it,” the older man said as he took his own chair at the kitchen table.

Abby started talking with Ducky about something, but he wasn’t listening.

The past few days were slowly coming back to him, a jumbled mess of stupid thoughts and actions. He still remembered the rejection he felt, if he thought hard enough it still hurt. But sat here with people he knew were his friends? It all seemed so far away.

He glanced at Gibbs again as he was asking Abby a question. He was smiling that soft smile he only used when he was actually happy and as always it made Tony feel comforted and at ease, that what ever had happened, it would be ok.

Suddenly blue eyes were looking at him, the smile widened.

Tony looked back down at his eggs, god damn it he knew he was blushing, what was he a teen with a crush. He couldn’t help the grin that came to his own mouth, maybe a teen with a crush that was actually reciprocating, now he could live with that.

“Are you all right my boy?” Ducky asked from across the table. “Your looking a little flushed.”

Tony felt a pat on his arm.

“He’ll be just fine Ducky.” Gibbs said, still smiling at him, his eyes soft and amused.

Tony couldn’t agree more.

 

++++

 

Gibbs sat on his sofa with Tony snuggled up against his side snoring softly in his sleep. He never took Tony to be a smuggler, but he wasn’t complaining as he held the taller man against his chest.

Abby was also asleep curled up in a chair cuddling a cushion. And Ducky had taken up the last remaining comfy chair.

When Tony had started to flag at the kitchen table they had relocated to the sitting room where Abby had installed Tony’s surround sound plasma widescreen TV, and they had watched some of Tony’s DVD’s.

Gibbs never really liked TV, but the look of surprise and joy on Tony’s face when he had seen it, was worth it taking up a corner of the room.

They were now watching the end of some James Bond movie when Ducky moved, stood up and stretched. “I should be getting home before mother starts to worry.” He whispered, not wanting to wake Tony.

Gibbs looked at the clock, it was barely eight o’clock, but they had been up most of the night, and the nights when they were looking for Tony.

Ducky came over to them, then leaned down to feel Tony’s brow, the boy just mumbled something in his sleep, tightening his arms a little.

“Give him his meds in another hour, then get him to sleep some more, I’ll be over tomorrow to change his dressings.” Ducky whispered, as he then rumpled Tony’s hair affectionately. Then looked at Gibbs with a stern look in his usually friendly eyes, “And try not to make this one of your ex’s Jethro.”

He smiled at his friend. “I’ll try not too.” He promised.

What ever Ducky was looking for, he got it as he stood straight, “Good.” Then he went to wake Abby, shushing her as she awoke. As Ducky went to get his coat she creped over to them, leaning down she kissed the top of Tony’s head, then offered her cheek for Gibbs, he obliged and kissed her.

“Thanks.” He whispered receiving a bright smile as she waved goodbye.

“See you tomorrow!” she whispered back before dashing out of the room, do doubt to get a lift home from Ducky.

He finally heard them talking softly, then the front door closing, and he felt himself relax a little more.

“Wana talk?” he asked, Tony had stopped his soft snoring when Abby had left.

Tony shook his head as he move a little, making himself more comfortable.

Gibbs accepted it, but waited Dinozzo out, and as always, it never took long.

“Is…” Tony finally said softly. “Is this permanent?”

Gibbs could hear the vulnerability in Tony’s voice, it wasn’t something he heard often, and it always made him more protective of the agent, maybe that was why he was so hard on him sometimes, to try and toughen him up. That, and also he didn’t like encouraging the dependence. But that all said and done, maybe it didn’t matter too much, not under his own roof, but ground rules would have to be established at work.

Gibbs pulled the comforter over Tony a little more then hugged him. “Yeah. If you want it to be?”

Tony nodded.

Another long pause as the credits rolled on the TV.

“So… I’m not staying in the guest room anymore?”

“Nope.”

“And it’s not just because I’m not a guest? And so it wouldn’t technically be a guest room anymore?”

Gibbs sighed and lightly patted Dinozzo’s head.

“Ouch.” Tony said weakly, moving a little, but still not looking up at him. “Guess that’s another no.”

“Yup.”

“So just to clarify, I’m not going to be staying in that guest room at all?”

Gibbs sighed as he moved, pushing Tony into a sitting position. The hurt lost look in those eyes made Gibbs’ chest tight.

“I expect my agents to be intelligent.” He said as he then leaned in and kissed the younger man on the lips. It was just a chaste kiss, but he let it linger, making sure DiNozzo got the message.

When he pulled away, still holding the younger man by the shoulders, Tony’s eyes were wide, then he smiled wolfishly.

“Do I get excused for being sick?.” Tony asked glancing down, then back up, looking through his lashes. It was enough to make Gibbs uncomfortable in the trouser department. “But I get the message loud and clear now Boss.” He grinned.

“Good.” Gibbs smiled before he pulled Tony back down to rest against his chest, making sure the younger man was covered in the comforter, then handing him the remot for the TV.

Tony snuggled in a little closer.

Gibbs waited until he was settled before speaking again. “You can watch an hour of something before I take you to bed.” He felt the younger man laugh.

“That a promise?”

“Sure is,” he affirmed. “Soon as you’re on your feet again I’ll have you back on your back.”

Dinozzo spluttered and tried to sit up, but Gibbs kept him where he was. A moment of doubt entered his guts, maybe Tony wasn’t up for being the submissive in bed? Then he realized Tony was laughing.

“And I thought I was gonna get lucky tonight!” the younger man chuckled, then he gave a few harsh coughs before going limp. “Yeah,” he whispered. “Maybe it’ll be best we wait, I’d like to enjoy it.”

Gibbs smiled as he began stroking Tony’s short hair soothingly.

“Keep doing that…” Tony practically purred.

“Headache?”

“Kinda… Just…” he paused. “Feels nice.”

“Yeah…” Gibbs kissed the top of his head again as he settled down more comfortably as he kept stroking. “Just relax, I have your six now.”

DiNozzo muttered something before going to sleep again.

Gibbs smiled as he retrieved the remote from Tony’s slack hand and turning the TV off.

Things from this point on were not going to be easy, but maybe this time, it was going to be worth it.

 

The Fin