Gibbs had made sure Kate was okay before heading back to the office to get at least the outline of his report done while the adrenaline of the night wore off. It was late on a Thursday and he told her take the day tomorrow and email in her report sometime before Monday.
He'd told DiNozzo to go ahead and crash at his place after all. He knew there was a chance they'd make the same mistake they'd made the last time he'd let Tony 'crash' at his place. He knew, intellectually, that picking up where that weekend had left off was a bad plan. Rule twelve, after all. But after very nearly losing him, almost losing Kate, he really didn't care. He'd thought about going straight home and seeing if Tony was in the same state of mind he was, but he really didn't want to wake up in the morning and discover he'd used someone he really, genuinely liked. There were so few people in the world who fit that description and even fewer who he was sure actually liked him back. He knew that starting up where they'd once left off, was risking what they currently had and he knew that he needed some time to decide if it was worth it.
One of the deciding factors had been the paramedic dismissing Tony only because Gibbs had told him that if Tony was on concussion watch, Gibbs could do that as well as a nurse and Tony never could sleep in hospitals. Funny how after about two and half years of working with the man, he'd already figured that out. No one ever said NCIS was safe work, but Tony seemed to catch more than his share of the physical consequences. It wasn't lost on Gibbs that Tony was perfectly willing to throw himself in front of something headed straight at Gibbs himself, but there was also a disproportionate number of 'random' events that happened to Tony.
Today was case in point. Tony had turned his body so that he caught the worst of the blast as their living Jane Doe took her final revenge. The blast knocked them all into next week. Kate was actually hurt the worst – minor burns and major bruises, not to mention the guilt trip from hell - but Tony had knocked his head into the flagstone floor hard enough to make him foggy for a good ten minutes once the blast had cleared. Gibbs had had to grab him by the shirt and belt and practically haul him out of the burning building, looking behind him to make sure Kate was staggering out behind them.
Gibbs wasn't all that surprised to find a voice mail from Kate when he'd gotten back to his desk. She was going to Indiana for her three-day weekend. She wanted to see her parents and her brother and get her head back on straight. He made a mental note to fill out the leave form for her when he came back in. Gibbs rubbed his eyes for the umpteenth time before giving in to the need for his glasses as the words blurred on his screen as he poked at his report. He pulled them from his jacket pocket and began to wipe the lenses on the hem of his shirt before noticing that one earpiece had been wrenched up to an unusable angle and judging by the visible stress on the metal, bending them back would surely cause the arm to break right off.
He tossed the useless specs on the desk and saved his work before turning off the desk lamp. Screw it. He'd head home and worry about what happened when he got there, when he got there. For all he knew, Tony was sound asleep and not wanting to be bothered and it would be a moot point.
He found it a little amusing that Tony had locked the door behind him when he'd come in. Gibbs left the door open as a matter of principal and usually it didn't bother Tony one way or another – they were both armed after all – but Gibbs couldn't help but think that it said a little about Tony's state of mind. That he wanted to know nothing could get to him while he rested.
Gibbs dug out his key and let himself in. His eyes immediately landed on Tony, stretched out on the couch, a bag of frozen peas over his eyes.
Gibbs shut the door quietly behind him and shrugged off his overcoat without turning on the light. He tossed the keys on the side table and his coat over the back of the chair; his eyes never left Tony.
Tony fumbled around to hit the light on his watch before raising the peas to peek at it. "Good timing," he mumbled, letting the peas fall back over his face.
"Why's that?" Gibbs asked as he moved to perch on the side of the couch next to Tony's feet.
"Because in twelve minutes I was going to start calling around to find you," Tony told him, shifting just enough that Gibbs would have a place to sit.
"I didn't invite you over here to keep tabs on me, DiNozzo." Gibbs tried to sound gruff, but he was pretty sure he just sounded tired.
"I know, boss. But we've both had a bitch of a day. I just wanted to be sure you were okay."
Knowing Tony couldn't see him, Gibbs raised an eyebrow. Neither of them were given to admitting to worry. Tony was either very tired or he'd been hit in the head harder than Gibbs had thought. Or both. Probably both, Gibbs realized. It wasn't that long ago that he'd kept his team up all hours to go grave robbing and then hitching a cargo flight to Colombia where things had gone less than well. He shifted his arm a little, his shoulder still a little sore, a little more so now after being blasted across the room. "I'm okay, Tony," Gibbs said softly.
Tony slid the peas out of the way to peer up at Gibbs, as if he needed to see for himself that that was true. He seemed to be satisfied with what he saw and he put the peas back again and shifted, trying to get comfortable without kneeing Gibbs in the kidneys.
Gibbs let out a loud sigh. Tony was completely dressed, except the shoes, which were tucked under the coffee table. There were no pillows or blankets near by, but Tony didn't seem to have any intention of moving. He sighed again and decided that if he could trust his gut with someone who'd as soon shoot him as look at him, he could trust his gut here. "Come on, DiNozzo, bed time." He tilted his own watch to let the light from the street lamp outside catch it. It was nearly two. Long past 'bed time' after the day they'd had.
"I'm fine," Tony muttered into the couch.
"You're on concussion watch," Gibbs reminded him. "And I don't feel up to dragging my ass down the hall every two hours to ask you what your name is and if you can remember your birthday."
Tony mumbled his birthday into the cushion.
"Great. Now you don't have to tell me for the next two hours. Now get up and come on," Gibbs chided, standing up and holding a hand out for Tony.
The bag of peas landed on the coffee table with a thunk. Tony blinked owlishly in the dim light, clearly trying to decide what was happening.
"Come on," Gibbs said again. "We both need to get some real sleep."
Tony finally took the proffered hand and let Gibbs pull him to his feet. He ended up in Gibbs personal space and before he could step back, he felt himself sway as his sluggish brain tried to take in the sudden change in position. One eyebrow popped up as he felt Gibbs steady him with the hand that held his and the other around him, hand flat on Tony's back.
Before Tony could find a marginally tactful way to ask what exactly Gibbs was expecting, Gibbs took mercy on him and said softly, "For now, we're going to sleep. In my room. In my bed. But just to sleep, Tony. If you want to talk about last summer… we can do it tomorrow. Okay?"
Tony nodded, before realizing that wasn't the world's best idea and his head throbbed to his heartbeat.
Gibbs chuckled softly. "You aren't up for more than that, anyway."
Tony gave him a half-grin, in absolutely no position to argue the point.
Gibbs kept a hand between Tony's shoulder blades as they made their way down the hall to the bedroom. When they got there he turned on the bedside lamp instead of the overhead in deference to Tony's obvious headache. He hiked a thumb to the en suite bathroom. "Get cleaned up. There's aspirin in the cabinet."
Having learned not to nod, Tony mumbled, "Thanks," and shut the door behind him.
Gibbs pulled the blankets back and tossed an extra pillow on the side of the bed he didn't sleep on before he dug out a pair of pajama pants and an old Marine t-shirt from the back of his dresser. When Tony came back out, he was in his boxers and t-shirt, his face was still damp and his hair was sticking out in a hundred different directions. Gibbs approached him and gave him a little smile. He reached up and smoothed back a few of the wilder tufts. "You look like hell, Tony," he said with affection. "You take some aspirin?"
Tony held up three fingers and staggered towards the bed. Gibbs let him settle and tucked the blankets around him. He kept himself from reaching out to try and tame Tony's hair again by reminding himself that Tony had a headache and probably didn't want to be touched on the head overmuch.
Gibbs ducked into the bathroom and cleaned himself up and put on the pajamas and a clean t-shirt. He left the light on and pulled the door closed all but an inch, letting just enough light spill out that he wouldn't need to turn on the bedside lamp when it was time to wake Tony and check on him.
Gibbs slid between the sheets and before he could even get comfortable, he felt Tony wiggling back against him. Gibbs rolled his eyes up to the ceiling. This was what he'd worried about. In retrospect he hadn't been worried that Tony would jump him or that he'd jump Tony. They'd been there, done that, and still managed to work together without missing a beat. But they both had this need for contact, this need for affection and companionship that neither of them would admit to in the daylight.
Gibbs knew they needed to talk. There'd been that one time. Well, one weekend. They hadn't talked before and when they got back to work on Monday that had been the end of it. Neither of them brought it up and neither of them seemed to feel that anything had changed. Before they could worry about the next weekend, Gibbs had heard Tony regaling Kate with stories of a girl named Marika that he'd met while dropping off a file with the JAG office. And Gibbs had figured that that was that. Somehow he'd gotten caught up in Tony having a little unexpected 'free time', but that was all and now Tony was back to his usual pursuits.
But now, here they were again. And this time they couldn't just say they were blowing off a little steam or scratching a long unattended itch. Now Tony was half-asleep and still moving into Gibbs' space, either unconcerned that Gibbs may not want him there or so deep into his need for contact that he wasn't even taking into account whom he was seeking it from.
Gibbs rolled onto his side, wrapping an arm around Tony's waist. "Go to sleep, Tony," he whispered as Tony stiffened a little, clearly not expecting the touch to be welcome or reciprocated.
The words seemed to soothe him enough, and Gibbs could feel the muscles of Tony's stomach relax under his fingers. He couldn't honestly say he didn't want this. He was married four times – and he supposed at some point he should really tell Tony the whole truth – and only once had he been head-over-heels in love. He could put a fair part of the blame for the other three on his need for this. Contact. Connection. Not being alone after a really crappy day.
So what did this mean with regards to Tony, he wondered. He was about to start working it out when he felt Tony shift a little.
"Boss?" Tony asked quietly.
"You okay?" Tony asked, turning his head to try and see Gibbs in the slip of light from the bathroom.
"I can hear the wheels turning," Tony told him, settling back into the pillow, shifting until he was comfortably spooned back against Gibbs again.
Gibbs relaxed and decided to put it away for a while. Tony, apparently, was going to be there for the next month. They'd sort out whether or not Gibbs needed to move the boxes on the guest bed down to the basement or if Tony'd be staying right where he was for a while when the time came. "Go to sleep, DiNozzo," Gibbs said in as much a no nonsense tone as he could mutter.
"Going to sleep," Tony acknowledged, sounding like he was pretty much there before he'd finished the sentence.
Not too surprisingly, once he was sure Tony was sleeping comfortably, Gibbs followed him down.