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Two Beds & a Coffee Machine

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Two Beds & a Coffee Machine
By Bane Huntress

 

Gibbs took the envelope that his friend passed him. “Thanks Fred, I’ll buy you a drink the next time I see you.”

“Make it with sugar and cream next time.” Fred said holding up the Styrofoam cup of black coffee Gibbs had brought him. “I don’t know how you can drink this swill.”

“Practice.” Gibbs answered back with a smile, “And it lasts longer and keeps you on your toes.”

Fred just grunter at that as he looked down the road through the windshield of his squad car. “Strap up. This one’s got some speed behind it.”

At that instant headlights blinded them both for a moment as a black sports car went speeding by on the dark road.

Gibbs didn’t have time to throw himself out of the car before Fred was speeding after the car with lights and sirens deafening them.

“He’s got some speed on him in that thing!” Fred said with a note of excitement. “Ah damn he’s slowing down!” Finished with disappointment.

Gibbs was glad of that fact; he didn’t want to spend the rest of the night sitting around in the cold night air as Fred booked the perp. He squinted out the window as the car came to a stop and Fred pulled in behind, “Therese kids in the back!” he exclaimed with sick realization.

“Takes all sorts.” Fred said matter of fact as he opened his door. “Feel like playing backup?”

Gibbs just got out the car as an answer.

He let Fred do his job as he peered into the back seat at the other side of the car, Inside he could see three children crammed on the back seat. The youngest was still in a child’s car seat, the other two were older. What he could see of the front seat, it was filled with bags and some toys.

Suddenly one of the children turned to stair up at him, her green eyes bore into him and he could tell, even in the darkness, she looked scared as she clung to the other child.

Gibbs gave her a reassuring smile as he started to listen to Fred and the driver, his eyes skimming over the rest of the interior of the car, and its contents started to set his alarm bells ringing.

“You were doing well over the limit here.” Fred was admonishing, “And with children in the back?”

“I’m sorry Officer… Look I’m just trying to get to the nearest hotel or motel… like you said, it’s very late.” Gibbs could hear that it was a youngish man Fred was talking to.

“Would you mind stepping out of the car please sir?”

“No!” came the girl from inside the car, and Gibbs could hear one of the others start sobbing quietly, before the smallest child started up too.

The driver’s door opened. “It’s ok Eli; he just wants to talk to me. I won’t go far.”

“Oh, hey! Hands where I can see um!” Fred said and Gibbs tensed as he saw the man take a step back and his arm go to his gun.

“Easy.” Gibbs heard the drive utter, “It’s just my crutch, or you’ll be picking me up off the floor.” The young man sounded rueful, but why the hell would he need a stick? “See?”

“Ah, sorry lad, can’t be too careful.” Fred said as Gibbs saw him look over the car and give him a nod to say it was okay.

“Yeah, I know, I should have said something… sorry… uff…”

Gibbs watched as a mop of light brown hair seemed to be struggling out of the car, the man seemed to be having some trouble before he found himself staring into a pair of deep green eyes that were assessing him intently, then they locked on his own, and for a moment he found his breath caught in his throat as an instant of lust shot through him and he resisted taking a step closer. What the…

Then the man looked away and the moment was over as Gibbs felt like his world was being tipped sideways a little. As he blinked the man had moved a little so he could talk to Frank, but keep his peripheral vision on Gibbs himself. The man was trying to be subtle in his wariness.

Not like Gibbs could blame him, the man didn’t know who they were, he had kids to protect and from the way he had got out the car, he was also injured. So his guard would be up in his vulnerability, but the man wasn’t showing his weakness as he flashed a smile that was almost blinding with the light from the squad car.

“So can I ask why you’re out so late on a school night and looking for accommodation?” Fred ask as he looked over the mans drivers licence.

The man shifted a little nervously, and that’s when Gibbs could see the black eye and split lip the man was sporting. And they looked fresh, the eye was still colouring.

“They are my sister kids, I was just taking them on a little road trip… We lost track of time, and its way past their bedtime.” He smiled. But Gibbs could see the strain in it now, though he was sure it had Fred fooled, he could also tell the man was lying.

“But your three hours away from your home.” Fred said as he held up the licence.

The man smiled again. “Yeah, We left late this afternoon… and well… I just can’t help spoiling them.”

“And their mother isn’t saying anything about taking such young children out so late?” Fred sounded like he wasn’t believing everything this guy said either. But Gibbs was watching closely enough to see the shadow of pain cross the younger mans face.

“My sister died two year ago toda… yesterday.” The man uttered as his happy mask slipped a little. “Look, I used to be a cop, I know how these things work, can you just give me a ticket so I can be on my way?”

Fred looked sceptical, “Used to be?” he asked casting Gibbs a look.

Gibbs just shrugged in return.

“A difference of opinion that got me shot up.” The man sounded a little bitter. “Then my sister…” Gibbs watched as the man seemed to mentally shake himself and a smile once again appeared on his face. “Too much crap all at once.” He shrugged. “I’m currently on disability till I can look for something else.”

Gibbs almost snorted, so this guys psych eval took his gun away, that and he got shot up so much he couldn’t get out of a car without support. Gibbs didn’t move from his position to actually see the man using his crutch, he could see from the set of his shoulders that he had something wrong with his left leg.

Fred was nodding as he handed the guy his driving licence back. “You do know there isn’t any motels or hotels down this road till you hit the next town which is about another hours away?”

The man pulled a face in dismay. “Really?... damn, is there anywhere else closer?”

“I can only think of the Red Motel about an hour back the way you came, but it’s not the place you want to take kids.” Fred answered. “If you know what I mean?”

Gibbs knew the place as a disreputable dive, “I have somewhere you can stay the night.” He spoke for the first time, and for a second he couldn’t believe he was actually contemplating what he was saying. “If you want to follow us back to my car, you can follow me; it’s about forty minutes away.”

The guy gave him a sceptical look; his green eyes seemed to be assessing him all over again.

“This Is Special Agent Gibbs from NCIS.” Fred told the guy. “If you can trust anyone, you can trust him.”

The man didn’t take his eyes off Gibbs before he came to some silent decision. “Okay.” He said turning back to Fred. “About…”

Fred patted the younger man on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about the ticket, now, come on, the nights almost over.” Then Fred was going back to his car.

Gibbs gave the young man a nod before going back to the squad car.

--

It didn’t take them long to get back to Gibbs’s car.

“You taking that boy and his kids back to your place, right?” Fred asked with a chuckle. “You always have a soft spot for kids that will get you in trouble one day.”

Gibbs snorted. “I think that day just came…” and his guts were making it clear he was sure about that fact. “Thanks for the info, I’ll see you later.” He said as he got out the police car, then he remembered something and leaned back in. “What’s this guys name?”

“I thought you would never ask.” Fred chuckled. “It’s Anthony DiNozzo, you go easy on him, looks like he’s had a time of it, did you see those bruises? Don’t let him tell you he walked into a door!”

Gibbs nodded. “Don’t worry,” he assured his friend. “I’ll get to the bottom of it.”

“You do… Good luck.” Fred offered as Gibbs closed the door and got in his own car, seeing the young man in his sports car begin to follow him.

He knew where Fred’s worries were grounded. The injuries didn’t much look like he had been in a fight, as been the punch bag and it made Gibbs’s gut churn unhappily.

 

+ + + + ~o0O0o~ + + + +

 

Tony suppressed another yawn as he tried to keep up with the old fed in his boring federal issue Sedan. He just hoped they would get to wherever they were going soon, he was exhausted, in pain, the kids were all on edge in the back with little Miki setting up a storm because he was tired and probably needed changing out of his night dippers.

“Eli, can you check Miki please, honey?” he asked over his shoulder.

“He just peed himself.” She answered softly.

Tony looked in his rear-view mirror, Eli was still wide eyes and pale, all he wanted to do was give her a hug, reassure her that everything was going to be alright, but all he could do was reach between the seats to pat her knee.

She gave him a tight smile in the mirror. He smiled back, his heart braking at her bravery. Especially as once again, she had seen something her young eyes shouldn’t.

“We should be there soon.” He assured her as he put his eyes on the car in front. Realising that they were now travailing through a more residential area. He quickly reached into his top pocket and pulled out his cell phone and passed it back to Eli. “Take this, anything happens and…”

“Run and call 911 and ask for the police, leave the phone on and hide it so they can find us.” Eli finished automatically.

Tony couldn’t help but smile sadly. “And?”

“And, or, find an adult, preferably a woman with children, or a really really old guy and ask for help.”

“And scream really loudly so dogs can hear us two miles away!” Danny said proudly. “and err…”

“Scream fire.” Eli sighed as she finished for him. “We there yet?”

Tony gave her a smile in the mirror, “Hopefully.” He answered. He was getting the strange idea that they were going to this feds house and he couldn’t help but wonder how his wife would feel about that. But right now, he just needed anywhere other than the back of his stupid car to put them down for the night.

It was another two minutes before the car was pulling into a driveway. So, slowly, Tony followed, squeezing his car in next to the old Fed’s.

He looked up at the house, it wasn’t big but it stood alone surrounded by bushes and trees that looked like they hadn’t been tended in decades. But it looked pleasant enough. He noted too that there were no lights on; not even the hall light.

He saw Agent Gibbs get out of his car and start to come around, so Tony opening his own door, pulled his crutch out then with his right hand he hooked it under his left knee to pull it up and then move it out slowly to rest on the floor before turning and getting his other leg out. Not for the first time he cursed not selling his flashy car and getting something he could get in and out of without causing him pain. But he gritted his teeth and he pushed and pulled himself out of the low seat, till he breathed out and opened his eyes to find the old fed looking at him. It made Tony’s hackles rise before he realized the guy was looking at him curiously but with no pity.

“You need any help getting your stuff in?” the fed asked. Tony remembered his name was Gibbs but Tony’s head still tried to tell him this just wasn’t right, but his instincts disagreed. There was something in the old guys eyes that just made him trust.

“Sure… err. Let me get the kids out… there should be a diaper bag in the back.” He said opening the back door to get Miki out first. “Come on Kids… let’s get in where it’s a bit warmer. Eli, help Danny please.”

“Sure.” She whispered softly as she opened the other door and got out, dragging her younger brother with her.

Tony got Miki out of his car seat as quick as he could before his hip gave out and he ended up on the floor. The little tyke was still crying, Tony couldn’t really blame him, he was cold, tired and most defiantly wet, if the squelching he felt against his right hip was anything to go by.

Tony stepped back, quite used to holding a toddler and managing with his crutch as Gibbs reached into the car past him and retrieved the large bag from the back footwall.

“Ok, come on in,” Gibbs said turning to the house, not giving Tony another look. Which actually made Tony smile as he locked the car, anyone else would have also offered to take Miki too. Thinking the cripple couldn’t managed and his smile turned bitter for a moment. But he followed Gibbs up the steps as quickly as he could, feeling the other two kids at the back of his legs. They walked up to the porch and Gibbs just opened the unlocked door and went straight in.

Tony struggled up the few steps, then looked around as he entered the house, noting the mismatched furnisher and sparse lay out. So Gibbs was a bachelor, would explain no lights on to welcome him home, Tony thought, the only thing that looked like it said anything about the man he was about to spend the night with, was the bookshelf’s that were over flowing.

“Lets get the kids in bed, then that little one changed.” Gibbs said matter of fact as he dropped the diaper bag by the sofa, then led the way upstairs.

Tony sighed as he looked up all the stairs to the second floor. The three outside had been manageable, but he knew his leg would give out before he reached the top. Miki wasn’t a lightweight anymore.

“I’ll take him.” Eli said at his side as she reached up to pull Miki down, with a bit of manoeuvring and pulling because Miki didn’t want to let go. When she finally had the crying toddler, she went upstairs with Danny following as her as he began yawning again.

With a beep breath, Tony took hold of the banister and began to pull himself up after the kids. There was no way he wasn’t going to see where his kids would be sleeping… thoughts of a room with cadges in and chains made him try and move a little faster.

When he got to the top, the kids were nowhere in sight, but Gibbs was stood waiting for him in the hall outside a door with light pouring from inside. Tony gave him a nod as he entered the room. It looked more lived-in than just a spare room, with reading glasses on the side table atop of a few books.

 “The bathroom is across the hall, towels in the closet in there, use whatever you need.” Gibbs said picking up the glass’s and books. “I’ll be downstairs making some coffee when you’ve finished.”

“Okay.” Tony said thankfully as he went and sat on the sinfully comfortable bed, which would prove a bitch to get off of. “Ok guys.” He said knowing Gibbs had indeed gone down stairs. “Lets get you undressed to your undis and shirts. Anyone need the bathroom before bed?” he asked, already helping Danny with his clothes.

Both kids shook their heads. “I’m tired.” Danny whined as he rubbed his eyes.

“Me too.” Eli whispered as she tried taking her jeans off. Tony pulled her to him then helped her take them off as he then folded them.

“I know sweetheart.” He said as he pulling the clean sheets down so he could help them get in. “You guys leave enough room for me and Miki ok, I shouldn’t be too long with agent Gibbs.” He pulled the sheets up and tucked them into the big bed. Danny was already asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Eli just looked up at him, her big eyes still haunted. He leaned down and kissed her forehead as he ran a hand through her hair. “It’s gonna be ok, we are safe here.” He promised, and shocked himself because he actually meant it. “Now go to sleep for me?”

She nodded her head as she turned to her brother and hugged him close.

Tony picked up Miki, who was still mewling quietly, and heaved himself up to his feet again, then having to take a moment to let the tired ache in his side ease. At least getting down stairs with a child-limpet was easier than getting up.

As he turned into what was the living room, there was a towel already laid out on the coffee table by the sofa and the diaper bag was open waiting for him. He looked round to see Gibbs in the kitchen past the dinning room table in the kind of open plan living space.

With a shrug he went over to the coffee table and eased himself down onto the sofa, gritting his teeth as he did so, before he started sorting out his youngest nephew. Miki was drenched and his diaper rash was red and angry looking, no wonder he was mewling harder than normal. So with a deftness born of repetition he had Miki changed, salved and back in dry clothes within eight minutes. He just couldn’t wait till the little tyke learned to use the potty; at least he already  had experience there.

“Here.” Gibbs said making him jump, he looked up to find the fed holding out a mug of coffee. “Thought you might be a milk and sugar drinker.”

Tony took the coffee with a nod of thanks, a little shocked the guy had actually got it right. “I prefer tea.” He grinned as he took a tentative sip and groaned appreciatively. “That’s good.”

The other man just grinned taking a sip of his own before he turned his startling blue eyes on Miki who still lay on the table almost asleep. “You mind?” he asked.

Tony grimaced. “He doesn’t really like stringers.” In fact he usually screamed the place down.

But Gibbs just shot him a smile then put his coffee down and picked Miki up.

The little guy stared at Gibbs with a frown before he buried himself against the old fed’s chest and closed his eyes.

Tony was flabbergasted.

“I seem to have a way with kids.” Gibbs said in explanation as he moved and slowly sat on the sofa cradling Miki to him.

Tony just carried on cleaning up after himself before he pulled two bottles of prepared formula out of the bag, Miki was old enough not to need it, but he liked it, so Tony never saw the harm… It was also an excuse he could use to get out of… situations. “Can I use your fridge?” he asked.

Gibbs nodded his head towards the kitchen. “Sure, and the bin’s in the cupboard by the door.”

Tony got to his feet with a bit of a struggle, glad his leg hadn’t just given out on him instead and put him on the floor like it was threatening to do, he stumbled a bit as he went into the kitchen.

He still couldn’t believe the sparseness of the place, the kitchen was no exception, the bare essentials and nothing more. It was like Gibbs had just moved in, but it had an aged lived-in look, maybe like he had been burgled and they had taken literally everything.

He put the bottles in the almost empty fridge then threw the diaper away in the trash.

Gibbs and this house intrigued him, and if he wasn’t so bone weary and in pain, it would give him a buzz to figure it out.

Instead he went back into the other room, retrieved his coffee and eased himself down to sit on the arm of the only chair in the room, he didn’t think he had it in him to get up again if he sat down.

“Thanks for letting us crash.” Tony said, he didn’t really feel like he needed to talk, which was strange, but he couldn’t help himself. “Is this a safe house or something?” he almost cringed; the guy had said it was his. But Gibbs just chuckled.

“Three divorces and all of them took everything they could get except the house.” Gibbs answered, giving Tony a lopsided grin.

“That would explain why you’re good with kids then.” Tony smiled, assuming this guys must have more rugrat’s than hot meals. But a dark shadow crossed the older man’s face and Tony knew he had crossed some hidden line.

“No.” Gibbs answered softly. “I was always to busy for that.”

Tony took another sip of his coffee then tried to fight down a yawn.

“Ok, it’s late, lets get this little one to bed and I guess you’ve also had a long day.” Gibbs said getting up carefully, and Tony didn’t miss the way the other man looked pointedly at the bruising on his face, but he ignore it.

Tony suppressed another yawn as he stood. “To long.” He uttered as he followed his host up stairs again, trying not to gasp as he did so, and into the bedroom, relieved that Gibbs took his time, seeming to know Tony didn’t want him just stomping off with his nephew.

Eli stirred a little as Gibbs placed Miki down in the middle of the bed.

Tony made to go to the other side of the bed when Gibbs caught hold of his arm. Tony stilled as his heart missed a beat in a moment of panic. But as he looked into piercing blue eyes, he felt another shiver ran down his spine that had nothing to do with fear.

“I don’t normally lock the doors, but I’ll find the keys and leave them in the kitchen on top of the fridge, don’t want the kids running off.” Gibbs whispered.

Tony felt the heat of the other mans breath against his face and felt a stirring of something he hadn’t felt in a long time. He always had a thing for older guys, and even in his stressed and tired mind, Gibbs was one good looking man. But he was too exhausted to process his emotions now, not after… everything.

“Thanks.” He whispered back, his eyes drifting from blue eyes to lips. The lips thinned into a knowing smile before Gibbs was pulling away.

“Good night, Tony.” Gibbs said as he moved from the room, closing the door behind him.

Tony cursed under his breath as he got undressed and climbed into the overcrowded, but sinfully comfortable, bed, and he was asleep before he could think about Gibbs a moment more.

 

+ + + + ~o0O0o~ + + + +

 

The next day Tony had been awoken by Danny slapping his cheek demanding food. And in a blearied half awoke state he had gotten them all dressed, then ushered them all downstairs, Miki on his good hip as always.

He had found some bread and a half full jar of strawberry jam, so made them all toast and jam for breakfast.

He also found a note left under the keys to the front and back door, it read,

‘Called away for a few days, stay as long as you need want, LJ’

Tony had frowned at the moniker before he realised he didn’t actually know Gibbs’s given name’s.

It hadn’t taken him long to find out though.

The man had just given him a free pass to impose on his hospitality for at least another day, so Tony was going to take it… He just needed a moment to breathe as he tried to figure out what he was actually going to do.

So as the kids played in the back yard with a few toys he had packed. He couldn’t help but laugh, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The man he had known for such a short time just didn’t seem to fit those names.

He also frowned at the blanket and pillow on the sofa. A house this big would have two or three good bedrooms, so why was this guy sleeping on the sofa?

After a quick trip to the closest store he could find, then lunch, he sat the kids down to watch the ancient TV in the living room as Tony finally started exploring the house proper. His natural curiosity and his need to make sure that he and the kids would truly be safe were proving too much of a temptation as he began stomping all over his hosts privacy.

He started upstairs, the first room at the top of the stairs was a mystery, it was obviously the master bedroom, with a huge double bed in the centre, and a quick look showed that one of the doors in the room led to a small on-suite shower room. The other doors he guessed must be a closet, but there were numerous boxes and other old things packed in front of them. For a moment he thought about going through the boxes, but the dust on top of everything was very old and disturbing it would be too obvious. He did however peek into a few draws. Inside some he found women’s clothing and underwear, but he could find nothing about the woman who used to live here, or why this room seemed like a forgotten shrine to her. But then three ex-wives? He didn’t even know which one most of this stuff belonged too.

He could guess nothing good had happened to her, whoever she was. She had either gotten up and left with just the cloths on her back, or she was dead. Giving the room another look he guessed it was the latter.

Finally he went back into the hall and to the only other door in the hall apart from the guest room and bathroom.

When he looked inside his heart sank.

It was obvious this had been a little girl’s room, and by the look of some of the stuffed animals and posters of old children’s movies on the wall, she had been dead and gone a long time.

He stood there as he took in the grief that the girl must have left behind, felling the grief for his own sister threatened to choke him.

Quickly he stepped back into the hall and closed the door softly, he would tell the kids not to play in these rooms of the dead.

After all, they wouldn’t be here long enough to mess in the poor man’s grief.

But it explained the state of the guest room and the bedding on the sofa downstairs… They had actually kicked Gibbs out of his own bed.

He wanted to feel guilty, but just couldn’t bring himself to be.

For some reason, even with two tombs in the house and a man he knew nothing about.

For the first time in over three years… he actually felt a bit safe.

 

+ + + + ~o0O0o~ + + + +

 

Gibbs couldn’t believe he only had enough time to grab a shower and a change of clothes before he had to fly back out to LA before the day was even over.

Two day’s cracking a case and he was being shipped out again, but he guessed he didn’t mind too much, at least it stopped him being bored.

He pulled into his driveway and was surprised to see another car in it, then it all came flooding back.

He had told the guy and his kids he could stay for a few days, but he didn’t think Tony would actually take him up on the offer.

He quickly got out of his car and made his way to the front door and growled when he found it locked. Quickly he pulled out his keys and opened it, stomping inside.

He wasn’t sure what to expect, but what he got, took him back a little.

The room was dark, but he could see Tony laid on the sofa with the youngest kids in his arms, both were fast asleep. The TV still playing some movie or other, with the volume turned down low.

For a moment he just stood and stared at the scene. Not entirely sure how he felt about the whole thing, but he did know his anger had ebbed away.

“Oh… Welcome home.” Tony’s voice whispered from the sofa.

Gibbs didn’t miss a beat as he hung his coat up, ignoring the way his chest pulled a little. “Hi.” He replied.

“You want some coffee?” he heard Tony getting up behind him. “Or something too eat?”

He turned to see Tony laying the child down on the sofa, still fast asleep, then get stiffly to his feet, just like the first night, he looked like he was in pain. But Gibbs didn’t ask, he wasn’t sure he wouldn’t like the answered. Especial as the bruises on Tony’s face where still a vivid purple.

“Coffee.” He replied before running upstairs.

He had to pause again when he opened the door to his bedroom as he saw the other two kids asleep in his bed. He suppressed a growl of annoyance as he creped in and quietly started pulling his old duffle bag off the wardrobe. Trying not to wake the kids he started threw clothes into the bag. It took him a moment to realise there were eyes on him.

He turned to see the young girl staring at him.

“Shhh.” He told her softly. “I’m just getting some things. Go back to sleep honey.” He gave her a smile.

She snuggled down a little more, but she kept watching him, so he carried on getting his stuff ready.

“Goodnight Mr Gibbs.” The little girl said as he made his way to the door.

He once again ignored the emotions he didn’t want to face as he gave her another smile. “Goodnight, now go back to sleep.” He told her before leaving the room and closing the door quietly behind him.

He quickly scrubbed himself down in the shower then got ready again to head out to the airport.

What he did not expect when he ran down the stairs was Tony at the bottom holding out a steaming cup of coffee.

“I take it from the bag you’re heading out again?” Tony asked as Gibbs took the cup. He was actually surprised it was black, and it smelled good, nothing like he had in his cupboard. Infact, he wasn’t sure he had anything in his cupboards.

“Yeah.” He offered as he took a sip and nodded in appreciation, it was good coffee. “For a few days.”

“Are you going right now?” Tony asked, sounding a little disappointed while looked slightly surprised.

“Yup.” He took another sip of coffee as Tony turned away, with a frown; Gibbs followed the younger man as he went into the kitchen, limping badly as he kept one hand on the wall, his crutch nowhere in sight.

“I made you a cheese sandwich… do you want me to fry it?” Tony asked over his shoulder. “That’s if you have time? I can wrap it up for you to take if not?”

Gibbs could already smell something frying and his stomach growled loudly, and hell, it was his house; he should be able to eat in it. Though he knew he hadn’t got bread, never mind cheese. “Fried is good.” He answered as he saw a sandwich already in a pan, spilling melted cheese onto a frying pan he had never used. He took another sip of coffee as Tony placed a second sandwich in the pan.

“So… Err.” Tony started awkwardly as he busied himself with the food. “Your job seems demanding?”

“Yeah.” Gibbs answered as his stomach growled quietly.

“Are you always called away?” Tony pressed as he flipped the first sandwich.

Gibbs looked up to watch the younger man intently. And he remembered Tony had been a cop, which might explain this slight interrogation. “No.” he answered, then smiled as a frown appeared on the younger mans brow. “It’s just an out of state case, so I’ll be away for a few days.”

“Oh.” Tony answered softly.

“You might want to put a lock on the basement door.” He answered just as softly, surprising himself as Tony looked up at him, his clear green eyes wide. “There should be a padlock in one of the drawers down there. It’s not a place for the kids to go unsupervised.” He carried on.

Tony was nodding slowly, before his lips pulled into a crooked smile. “A boat?” he asked.

Gibbs returned the grin as he found himself leaning back against the counter, relaxing. “Something to do.” He answered. Which was his usual reply. He had a gut feeling this man had turned his house over looking for answers. Which bothered him a little, but not as much as it really should.

He would ask Abby to look this guy up while she had some spare time, just to return the favour.

Tony chuckled, “How are you planning to get it out?”

Gibbs just shrugged. “When I finish one, I’ll figure it out.”

Tony shook his head still amused as he turned back to the food, and took the first sandwich out of the pan and put it on a plate. “Here, if you have to hurry off.” He said handing it over.

Gibbs took it, and went and sat down at the dinning table with his coffee. He was halfway through the cheese melt when Tony came and joined him, his sandwich already cut into four peaces.

The silence was companionable as they ate. But Gibbs couldn’t help notice, as Tony nibbled on his third bit of sandwich, that he was fidgeting a little and not looking at him.

It annoyed him a little. “What?” he finally asked as he began to finish off his coffee before it got cold.

Tony glanced up at him for a moment, then away. “Err… well.” He began, before looked up again, locking eyes. “How long can we stay?” he asked directly.

Gibbs slowly took another sip of his coffee as he thought about it. It surprised him how much he actually didn’t mind this stranger and his kids in his home. He still hadn’t had time to check him out, or why he was on the run with his niece and nephews. He couldn’t deny how good looking Tony was, but there was something about the younger man that he trusted… and wanted.

He knew Ducky would say he was letting his protective side get the better of him, that his innate need to take care of the down and out, especially when it came to kids, was clouding his better judgment. That he should just tell this stranger to be gone before he got home. But the man made good coffee and cooked.

His gut churned when he thought about what might happen to the strange family if he turned his back on them now.

So he was just about to answer when Tony must have taken his silence as a negative.

“It’s okay.” Tony was saying as he looked away again, a tight smile on his lips. “I’m sure I can find somewhere for us before you get back.” He chuckled a little with no humour in it. “Sorry we overstayed our welcome.” He said as he made to get up.

Gibbs reached out and took the other mans wrist.

Tony looked down at him in surprise, then collapsed back into his chair with a wince of pain.

“You can stay as long as you like.” Gibbs said firmly. And was shocked that he damn well meant it.

Tony was looking about as stunned as he felt. “Are you…”

Gibbs squeezed his hand before releasing Tony’s arm. “I wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t sure.” He stated. “You need somewhere to stay. And as an officer of the law, I can’t allow you to drag those kids around seedy motels. I’m home late and rarely at weekends. So, while you need a place to hide out… you can stay here.”

The smile Tony gave him was almost blinding and Gibbs wasn’t as immune as he wanted to be as his chest tightened a little with attraction.

“But…” He said and watched the smile on Tony’s face fade a little. “I want a full report on what’s going on and why for when I get back. I need to know if I can help you or just offer you sanctuary.”

The smile returned, and Gibbs heart skipped a little again.

“On it, Boss.” Tony teased, his green eyes all but sparkling.

Gibbs nodded once as he shoved the last of his sandwich in his mouth then stood. Tony following him as he went and got his bag and coat in the hall.

“Have a safe journey.” Tony said as Gibbs started to walk through the door.

Gibbs couldn’t help but pause halfway out the door as he looked over his shoulder. “See you in a few days.” He replied, before he hurried away quickly. Not wanting to face how much he had missed such small things, or that he actually had someone to come home too.

 

+ + + + ~o0O0o~ + + + +

 

Tony watched as Gibbs’s car pulled away and out of sight.

He still couldn’t believe that this guy was just going to leave his home and everything he owned in Tony’s hands.

He closed the door and locked it.

At least for now.

He had somewhere to hide.

 

TBC