It was just Tony’s luck of course that not only did the bad guy push him into the freezing mountain brook, he had also twisted his ankle badly during the chase. As he had dragged himself out of the water, Ziva and McGee had caught the guy and were bringing him in. Gibbs, having sent them on their way with instructions, came over to help Tony up, pulling Tony’s arm over his shoulder and wrapping his own arm around Tony’s waist to help him hop over to the car, Tony’s ankle not up to bearing his weight.
Propping himself up against the car, Tony waited while Gibbs got a warm blanket out of the trunk and spread it out over the passenger seat. When he started hopping over to sit down, Gibbs stopped him and unzipped Tony's jacket, taking it off him.
“You need to get out of those wet clothes, DiNozzo. It’s freezing and you need to warm up.”
Shivering and slightly embarrassed, Tony let Gibbs help him out of his wet clothes, until he sat sideways on the blanket on the passenger seat, bare chested and sopping wet pants around his ankles, while Gibbs kneeled down and untied his shoes. Removing the shoes, socks and pants, careful of Tony’s twisted ankle, Gibbs saw Tony’s shivering increase and quickly helped him further into the car, wrapping him up in the warm blanket. Putting Tony’s wet gear into a plastic bag, Gibbs stowed it in the trunk, then got behind the wheel and started driving.
Despite the heater being on high, Tony’s teeth were chattering, and Gibbs could see his ankle swelling up and turning a vicious purple. Taking a command decision, Gibbs starting heading for his own house instead of the Yard. When Tony noticed the route they were taking and deduced their destination, he looked at his boss questioningly.
“Uhm.. Boss? Why are we going to your place?”
“The elevator in your building isn’t working, and I’m not hauling you up four flights of stairs. No way you can walk with that ankle.”
“Shouldn’t we go back to the Yard?”
“McGee and Ziva can handle things for the rest of the day.”
Realizing that he would get to spend the remainder of the day at Gibbs’ house, and that Gibbs was staying with him, Tony hid a happy little smile. Suddenly the throbbing in his ankle wasn’t that bad anymore, and he was starting to feel warmer already.
Arriving at the house, Gibbs again helped Tony hop, first over to the door and then into the living room. Settling the younger man on the couch for a moment, wrapping the blanket tighter around him again, Gibbs went to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. Then he helped Tony to the downstairs guest bathroom and put him under a hot shower to warm up, taking the opportunity to sneak a few peeks at Tony’s naked body. Smiling to himself, he left the bathroom to fetch Tony’s wet clothes from the car to take care of them. He was sorry that the younger man was hurt, but it gave him the chance to hold Tony close as he helped him move around, and getting a few eyefuls of Tony’s fine physique was a reward in itself. Shaking his head at his thoughts, Gibbs chastised himself. His attraction to Tony was nearing the point where he would have to do something about it, one way or another. He had been watching Tony for years now, seen him grow up and become the fine man Gibbs had always known he could be, and with every year that passed, Gibbs’ infatuation grew, until he admitted to himself that he loved Tony. Sighing and shaking himself out of it, Gibbs hung Tony’s clothes to dry, then called McGee to let him know Gibbs and Tony would be out for the rest of the day.
Tony stood under the hot spray, leaning against the wall of the shower to help support his weight, unaware of the thoughts going through Gibbs’ mind, but having very similar ones himself. Spending one on one time with Gibbs always made him happy, and staying at Gibbs’ house was even better. When he was here, he could pretend that he and Gibbs were living together, that he was with the man he loved. Being attracted to Gibbs the moment they met in Baltimore, his fascination with the man had only grown the more he had gotten to know him, and he had long since realized he was in love with Gibbs. But he was also sure that he didn’t stand a chance, so kept himself in check, trying not to give his secret away. But lately it was becoming more difficult and he couldn’t even really get himself to date anymore, because whenever he was out on a date, all he could think of was that he really wanted to be with Gibbs instead. So even though the reason for him being here wasn’t great, he was still happy.
Gibbs had grabbed Tony’s go-bag from the car as well, and found some sweats, a soft warm shirt and socks – no underwear of course, he smirked to himself – and had put them in the dryer to warm up while Tony showered. Pouring himself a cup of coffee, he sipped at it while waiting for the shower to be turned off, heading to the bathroom when he heard the sound of running water stop. As he walked in, he saw Tony carefully reaching for a towel, and handed it to him.
“Need any help?”
“Nah, I’ll manage. Can you get me my bag?”
Stepping out again, he got Tony’s sweats out of the dryer, nice and warm and fluffy, and brought them back. Tony was sitting on the closed lid of the toilet, towel in his lap, trying to reach down enough to dry his aching ankle. Putting down the warm clothes, Gibbs took another towel and knelt down to carefully rub Tony’s feet dry. With Gibbs’ head bent down to focus on his task, Tony smiled a loving little smile at the care the older man was showing. Feet dried, Gibbs picked up the warm sweats and gently pulled them over Tony’s hurt ankle, then up his other leg as well. Helping Tony stand to pull them up, the towel in Tony’s lap dropped and Gibbs got an eyeful, which both men steadily refused to acknowledge. Sitting back down again, Tony pulled on his sweater while Gibbs managed to get his socks on without jarring Tony’s ankle too much.
“Nice and warm, Boss. Thanks.”
“Come on. I’ll help you to the couch.”
After settling Tony on the couch again, cushion on the coffee table propping up his bad ankle, Gibbs went to the kitchen, returning with two mugs of coffee, each doctored with a healthy glug of bourbon. It was early in the afternoon, but Gibbs justified the booze by saying that it would help Tony warm up. Smiling, Tony teased him a little.
“Yeah? Your own coffee spiked too?”
“But you didn’t fall into the water.”
“For me, it’s against shock.”
“What shock? You worried about me, Gibbs?”
It was said softly and seriously, no joking undertone, and Tony eyed Gibbs curiously. Looking back steadily, Gibbs spoke again.
“Of course I worry about you, Tony.”
Getting up, Gibbs brushed his hand gently over the back of Tony’s head, the usual head slap now replaced by a soft caress. Tony shivered in pleasure.
Noting the reaction, Gibbs asked: “You still cold?”
“A little,” Tony lied.
Gibbs put down his cup and set to work lighting a fire. When the fire was blazing away, Gibbs sat down next to Tony, and they sipped their spiked coffees in silence for a while, before Tony quietly spoke.
“Thanks for taking care of me, Jethro.”
Pleased at the use of his given name, Gibbs reached out his hand and brushed it over the back of Tony’s head again in acknowledgement, making him shiver again.
And Gibbs pulled Tony back against his chest, scooting them down a little so they laid back comfortably, and wrapped his arms around the younger man. Gibbs knew he was indulging himself and heading into dangerous territory, but he couldn’t help himself. His heart fluttered a little when he heard a contented little sigh escape Tony’s lips. After only a couple of minutes, his adrenaline crashing and feeling warm and happy, Tony’s eyes closed and he fell asleep.
Gibbs studied Tony’s face, relaxed in sleep, and let his mind wander as he lost himself in the pleasure of holding Tony in his arms, feeling the younger man’s solid body against his own. He could spend hours like this, and allowed himself a little fantasy of being able to do this every day, of Tony living here with him, being able to touch and hold him whenever he wanted. He felt himself getting hard at the thought, and worried a little that Tony would feel it, but the younger man didn’t stir in his sleep. Brushing a soft kiss against Tony’s hair, he rested his head back against the couch and closed his eyes for a moment.
Tony woke a couple of hours later, his head resting on Gibbs’ chest, feeling the gentle rise and fall that told him Gibbs was asleep. Moving carefully, he shifted his head so he could look at the older man. He drank his fill of the beloved features of Gibbs’ face, then daringly reached up his hand to brush the tip of his finger softly over Gibbs’ lips. He was part grateful and part disappointed when Gibbs didn’t wake up at the touch. He stayed still for long minutes, just looking at Gibbs, enjoying being held by him and feeling his body against him. When he shifted a bit to be able to take in more of Gibbs, he jarred his ankle and a soft yelp of pain escaped him. Gibbs’ eyes flew open and focused immediately.
Gibbs voice was rough with sleep, and it sent a bolt of pleasure through Tony’s body. Breathing deeply to try and settle himself, which didn’t help because now he was breathing in Gibbs’ scent of Old Spice and sawdust which only excited him more, Tony managed to respond.
“My ankle. It hurts.”
“Let’s take a look at it.”
Tony was disappointed when Gibbs carefully extracted himself from under Tony so he could take a look at the younger man’s ankle, and cursed himself for having moved. If he hadn’t, he would still be in Gibbs’ arms, warm and comfortable. Sitting up, he watched Gibbs peel back Tony’s sock to examine the sprain.
“It’s very swollen. We should’ve put ice on it.”
“It was already too late for that, Boss. The drive back from the scene was too long, it wouldn’t have done any good anymore if we had iced it when we got here.”
“It’s gonna keep you off your feet for a couple of days, by the looks of it.”
Tony just shrugged. As long as he could spend those days here with Gibbs, he wouldn’t care how long it took.
Pulling Tony’s sock back up, Gibbs went to the kitchen and returned with a couple of beers. Handing one to Tony, Gibbs sipped at his own, then put it down to rekindle the fire. He wanted to sit down next to Tony and pull him into his arms again, but restrained himself. Sensing Gibbs’ discomfort, but reasoning incorrectly that it was because the older man didn’t want to sit down again for fear that Tony would crawl up against him again, Tony thought fast.
“Boss, I need to hit the head. Could you help me get over there?”
Inwardly smiling that he had the opportunity to hold Tony close again, Gibbs helped the younger man up and over to the bathroom. Waiting until Tony had finished, Gibbs helped him back to the couch, where Tony dropped down, dragging Gibbs with him and landing against him.
Tony was not sorry at all of course, and hid a smile when Gibbs just settled the two of them a little more comfortably, still holding Tony close.
“Warming up yet?”
“Oh yeah, Boss.”
Tony could barely keep the satisfied smile off his face this time, and Gibbs thought himself lucky that Tony couldn’t see his face, because he knew he was sporting a contented grin. Grabbing the remote, Tony looked up questioningly at Gibbs and when the older man just shrugged in acceptance, Tony switched on the television. Channel surfing for a while, Tony finally settled on a movie he liked and they watched it for a while. When Gibbs got up to tend the fire, Tony worried that he wouldn’t settle back with him on the couch again, but when Gibbs had also gotten them each another beer from the kitchen, the older man took up his previous position, holding Tony close, as if it was the most normal thing.
Spending the entire afternoon cuddled up to Gibbs left Tony happy and content. Gibbs ordered food, tended the fire, fetched and carried for Tony – not that he had many needs as long as Gibbs held him – and helped him to the head and back when it became a necessity. After dinner, Tony thought that Gibbs would want to retreat to the basement, but when he tentatively suggested that he would understand if Gibbs wanted to go downstairs, the older man just said that he was not leaving Tony alone to get around by himself. Tony didn’t push the issue of course, and didn’t mention anything about being able to yell loud enough for Gibbs to hear him in the basement if he needed anything. When Gibbs became bored with watching television, he grabbed a book and read while Tony watched another movie, never relinquishing his hold on the younger man.
It was still relatively early in the evening when Gibbs noticed Tony’s eyes starting to close. Despite their earlier nap, the strain of getting hurt and his dip in the freezing water had left their mark, and Tony was tired. Gibbs helped him upstairs, but when he steered Tony to the master bedroom, Tony objected.
“I’m not letting you sleep on the couch, Boss. If anyone is going to sleep on that lumpy thing, it’s me.”
“Wasn’t planning on sleeping downstairs, Tony.”
“Then where are you gonna sleep?”
“Bed’s plenty big. You mind?”
But even before he said it, he already knew that Tony wouldn’t mind. Gibbs may have been blind where it concerned Tony’s feelings for him for a long time, but this afternoon his eyes had been opened. Tony was far too relaxed lounging against him for long hours for it to be just for the sake of warmth, and besides, the younger man hadn’t felt cold to the touch anyway and hadn’t been shivering since he got out of the shower, other than when Gibbs had stroked his hair. And he had been thinking about that too, what it meant, realizing that Tony had shivered because of his touch. And every time Gibbs had gotten up, Tony had waited for him to return to his previous position with a hopeful little look on his face, and had sighed contentedly every time Gibbs did indeed return to holding him. No, Gibbs was blind no more.
He studied Tony as he asked the question, and saw Tony’s eyes darken with pleasure and want. Tony didn’t need to answer, and he knew it, saw it in Gibbs’ eyes. Helping Tony to the bathroom and using it himself as well, they got into bed, Gibbs carefully arranging some pillows under Tony’s leg to keep his ankle elevated. In the dark, close together but not yet touching, Tony spoke softly.
“For a long time.”
“Finally opened my eyes and saw.”
“You wanting me too.”
Tony reached out his hand to brush it over Gibbs’ face, and Gibbs leaned in to claim Tony’s lips in their first kiss.