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No More Sick Days

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It was a normal day at NCIS. At 0900 hours Gibbs walked into the office. He had already been there for 2 hours and his team would be arriving soon. They had finished a case late the night before and Gibbs had given them permission to not report for duty till 0900, giving them the chance for some much needed rest after a bitch of a case.

Ziva was fitting into the team nicely. Even if Gibbs did not like the fact she was a member of his team now, she was being of help. She certainly gave the boys a run for her money, plus Gibbs did get a chuckle from her trying to pick up US slang.

Abby and her new assistant were not working out like the director had wanted, but Gibbs agreed to a month, and he told Abby to just hang in there and to be herself.

Tony had not been doing well lately, looking run down and pale. Ducky was still hounding Gibbs about not talking to the boy and admitting to him that there was more to their relationship than just boss and subordinate. Abby, too, had jumped on the bandwagon as well and both people were trying to get him to admit to the truth to Tony. They wanted Gibbs to come clean and admit to Tony that he loved him.

But there were more important things on his mind lately where Tony was concerned. As bad as he'd looked the last few days, Gibbs was worried about him from a health standpoint.

Gibbs walked in to find Ziva beating her computer. Tim tried to help, but the new agent continued to pound away at the hapless machine.

"McGee where the hell is DiNozzo?"

Tim jumped. After being on his team for over a year now, Gibbs still had a way of making the young man act like a puppy dog with his tail between his legs, jumping at each bark of his voice.

"Um-um-um," Tim stuttered.

"Out with it McGee," Gibbs demanded as he put away his gun and sat down at his desk.

"Tony never showed up for work, and he didn't call Boss."

Gibbs glared at him. "Has he been in the building?"

"Um."

"Then find out McGee," Gibbs barked, making Tim run back to his desk

'Ziva."

"Yes, Gibbs?"

"Go down and see if Abby has seen him."

"Could I just-"

Gibbs glared at the newest officer on his team, causing her to get up and run down to Abby's lab.

5 minutes later

"Um, Boss, security has him checking out last night at 2100 and not coming back into the building today at all."

Gibbs just glared at him, thinking, 'Tony, where the hell are you?'

"I'll try his place."

"You think McGee?"

Tim was busy dialing his phone as Ziva came back into the room.

"Gibbs, Abby has not talked to him since last night at about 2300 hours. She said something about Tony not feeling well."

Gibbs got up, grabbed his gun and walked out of the room, not even waiting for Tim to tell him about the call to Tony's apartment. Gibbs went down to the morgue.

"Jethro, how good of you to visit me today."

"Ducky, has DiNozzo said anything about not feeling well in the past few days?"

"No, but now that you mention it he has not looked his bright and cheery self. Is something wrong, Jethro?"

"I'm going to find out."

Gibbs stormed out of the morgue and went to the parking garage but was stopped by the new director.

"Jen, not now."

"Jethro, I am still waiting on Ziva's prelim evaluation."

"Jen, not now," Gibbs repeated, scowling at the director and pushing past her to get into his car. Tires squealing, he pealed out of the garage, heading for Tony's apartment.

Once he got there he punched in the code to the apartment complex to get past the gate. Gibbs whole team had keys and pass-codes for each other places for just such a case. All Gibbs could think about was that if Tony was playing some game he would have his ass nailed to the wall. Gibbs parked next to Tony's car.

The young agent had gotten a new mustang. Gibbs never asked Tony where the money he always kept buying things with came from. He didn't have to. He knew Tony had a very large trust fund and never had to work a day in his life if he didn't want to, but Tony loved being a cop. This was, in fact, the longest he'd ever stayed at one job.

Gibbs got out of the car and took the elevator to the 3rd floor were Tony lived. He lived in a nicer section of town but not the best. Gibbs phone went off as he strode down the hallway.

"Gibbs."

"Boss I tried his place about 20 times and no answer."

Gibbs hung up on McGee as he stopped in front of Tony's apartment. He banged on the door and listened but heard nothing. He kept banging on the door. When Gibbs heard a crash from inside the apartment he got his gun in one hand and the key to the apartment in the other. Gibbs unlocked the door and opened it slowly, gun drawn as he entered Tony's place. He walked in carefully. He'd only been in this place once before, right after Tony's car was stolen and smashed up.

Gibbs checked the kitchen and found nothing. The place was big but not huge, just about right and filled with ever kind of high tech equipment imaginable. Gibbs rounded the corner into the hall that led out of the kitchen and froze when he saw the rest of the place. On the floor, broken glass around him, was a naked Tony, lying face down and the dining area table was a mess. Gibbs took in the image of the man he loved on the floor, naked and sweaty.

After only a moment Gibbs put the gun away and bent down

"DiNozzo."

When Tony didn't reply, Gibbs checked for a pulse. He was still alive, thank God. Now he just had to get him out of this spot. Gathering himself, Gibbs bent and picked Tony up, causing the younger man to stir a little.

"Boss," Tony mumbled.

"Quiet, DiNozzo."

Tony's skin was very hot, almost burning to the touch. Tony started to cough. It sounded bad, and Gibbs couldn't help but remember what both Ducky and Dr. Pitt had said after Tony had had the plague, that Tony would be more prone to sickness than others and would possibly develop a worse case of whatever he succumbed to.

"Boss," Tony said weakly, "I'm-"

"Tony, save your strength. I'm putting you to bed and calling Ducky."

"No."

"This is not up for debate, DiNozzo."

Gibbs walked through his place and put him in the master bedroom. The bed was huge, and the room was filled with even more high tech gadgets. Gibbs put a now-sleeping Tony in the bed and pulled up the down comforter to cover the man. Gibbs noticed there was a pail next to the bed and it reeked. Gibbs looked up. Tony had been vomiting. Not good. Going into the bathroom, he found a thermometer and put it under Tony's tongue. Gibbs watched his watch, and after a minute took it out.

"102.3," he muttered. Damn, that was not good at all.

It killed Gibbs to see this man like this again. He left the room, leaving the door open a crack as he called the morgue.

"Morgue," he heard in Ducky's British-accented voice.

"Ducky."

"Jethro. Did you happen to find young Anthony?"

"Yes. I need you to get over to his place now, and bring your bag."

"Oh, dear."

"He has a temp of 102.3 right now."

"I will be right over, Jethro."

Both men hung up, then Gibbs then dialed McGee.

"McGee."

"McGee you're in charge till I get back. I want reports on my desk by end of day and tell the director that we are not on any cases till further notice."

"B-b-b-but-"

"Out with it, McGee."

"What if she insists?"

"Then tell her to talk to me about it."

"You found Tony?"

"Yes," Gibbs answered, hanging up the phone without elaborating.

He walked into the kitchen and looked around for some fluid to put into Tony. He opened the fridge and only found take out food boxes. No food and nothing but a few beers and out of date milk.

Gibbs heard something from the bedroom and walked calmly towards the sound. When he got closer he heard Tony again vomiting but nothing coming up. Gibbs walked into the bathroom, got a damp cloth and a glass of water. He then walked into the bedroom and found Tony bent over the side of the bed, trying to vomit what was not in his stomach.

Gibbs sat on the bed behind Tony. Tony leaned back on Gibbs. Gibbs wiped his brow with the cloth. Tony leaned over till his head was in Gibbs' lap.

"Here, you need to drink something," Gibbs said, holding out the glass of water.

"Why? It'll just-" Tony didn't even finish the thought, instead leaning over again and vomiting.

Gibbs was rubbing his back and steadying him this time. Tony was still very warm to the touch. Warmer now than he'd been a few moments ago when he'd carried him into the room.

When Tony was done his head once again found its way to Gibbs' lap. Gibbs put the cold cloth on his brow this time and took his temperature again, frowning when he saw it was now up to 103.

"Damn it, Tony, if this doesn't go down I am taking you to the hospital."

"No, Boss, please not the hospital. I hate them."

"Tony your temp is 103."

"I'm fine," Tony insisted faintly.

Gibbs took the cloth and wiped Tony's face.

"You sure don't look fine to me," Gibbs muttered, but Tony was already sleeping again.

Gibbs put Tony's head on the pillow and went and got a basin of cold water and another washcloth. Ducky should be there any moment. Gibbs had left the front door slightly open. Going back to the kitchen, Gibbs got another glass of water for when Tony woke up again. This would have to do for now.

He went back to the bedroom, and Tony was dry heaving, since there was nothing left in him to vomit. Gibbs put the basin of water on the floor next to the bed and was wiping Tony's back. When Tony looked up, Gibbs face was right there.

"Boss."

"Yes, DiNozzo."

"I love you," Tony said dreamily, reaching up and kissing Gibbs.

Gibbs was more shocked then anything. He didn't fight the kiss but neither was he able to get into it. Not now. Not when Tony was so sick and nearly delirious.

"Um."

Tony fell to the bed again and Gibbs saw Ducky in the doorway with that I told you so look on his face.

Chapter Text

Ducky looked at the covered naked man in the bed and the ex-Marine on the floor. Gibbs looked back at the ME, meeting Ducky's eyes almost hesitantly. Ducky was struck by how much Gibbs resembled a dear caught in headlights, a look he never thought he'd see on his old friend's face.

"Now, Anthony, what have you gotten into this time," Ducky said as he walked closer to the bed as Gibbs helped Tony settle more fully into the depths of the plush mattress.

"Boss, I love you," Tony said again.

Gibbs didn't know what to say. He'd wanted to hear those words from the young man since that first day he'd walked into NCIS. Hell, even before that if he was truthful. He'd fallen for one Anthony DiNozzo the first time he'd seen him in Baltimore.

After Cait's death Tony had said the words, but Gibbs had thought it was merely for the pizza he'd filched from night shift for his young agent. Abby and Ducky had insisted it was something altogether different, but he hadn't believed them. Why would someone like Tony, young and handsome, a man who could have anyone he wanted, want a broken down ex-Marine with a bad attitude?

With Ducky looking on in amusement, Gibbs felt like he was in the spotlight in a crowded auditorium. The man he'd fallen for had now said the three magic words. Twice. And he'd kissed him. Okay, so it had been after Tony had thrown up and Gibbs had been too startled to participate, but it had still been a kiss.

"I-" Gibbs stopped and looked up at the doctor standing next to the bed, not really sure what to say, especially since Ducky had that look on his face, the look that said I know this will hurt but it's good for you.

"Tell him, Jethro," Ducky whispered.

"I love you, too, Tony," Gibbs said, afraid to say it too loudly. He'd just said it. Out loud. He hadn't really admitted it aloud to anyone, not even Ducky or Abby. Who would have thought three little words could make him sweat so much?

"Glad to hear it, Boss."

Tony was lying in the bed. Gibbs put a cool, wet cloth on his brow but stood up and got out of the way so Ducky could do his job.

Ducky was putting on latex gloves and peering at Tony over the top of his glasses. "Now let's see what is the matter, Anthony," Ducky said as he got out his stethoscope.

Tony kept drifting in and out of consciousness, so Gibbs helped him sit up, propping him against the pillows.

"I'm fine, Ducky. You didn't need to come."

"I will be the judge of that, if you please."

Tony shivered when Ducky put the cold stethoscope against his chest.

"Now take a deep breath."

Tony tried but started to cough. Ducky didn't like what he heard in Tony's chest.

"Again please," Ducky instructed, moving the piece of equipment over different parts of Tony's chest, each time asking Tony to breathe. Then he moved to Tony's back.

After he finished listening to Tony's chest, Ducky touched the inside of his wrist to Tony's forehead. His skin was still very warm to the touch, too warm. Ducky put a thermometer under Tony's tongue, not even having to use a watch to know how long it needed to stay in. Tony's temperature was back down to 102 now.

Gibbs was watching the older man's face and the expressions he was making. It didn't seem to be good thus far. He swallowed when Ducky took out a needle and a vial for taking blood.

Tony was semi-awake during the examination, and he became agitated when he saw what Ducky was doing. "No. No needles."

Gibbs slipped in behind Tony again, leaning him back against his own body, hand in the center of the lightly furred chest to hold him still. "Relax, DiNozzo."

His other hand began rubbing Tony's back. The soothing circular motion seemed to help. Tony was sick, and it hurt Gibbs to see it. He couldn't help but remember when Tony had been under the blue lamps with Y-Pestis. He'd wanted to hold Tony then but hadn't been able to.

"Boss?"

"Yes, Tony."

"Don't leave me."

"Not planning on it."

Tony relaxed when he heard the surety of Gibbs' statement and put out an arm. Well it wasn't so much that he put it out as it was that Ducky took the arm without Tony trying to fight him. Gibbs was grateful for the gentle way Ducky put a tourniquet around Tony's arm and cleaned the area where his arm bent before carefully drawing two vials of blood.

"I will get these back to Abby and see what my young patient might have wrong with him."

"Ducky I don't what this all over the office."

"Jethro, I will use the utmost discretion. Now, is there anything that you will be needing?"

Gibbs began moving out from behind Tony.

"Don't go," Tony protested as Gibbs helped him lay back down.

"I'm just going into the other room to talk to Ducky. I'll be right back," Gibbs promised, crouching beside the bed to put him on eye level with Tony as he gently wiped Tony's brow again with the damp cloth.

"I'm not dying, am I?"

"I gave you an order a while back, and it still stands, so no, you're not dying."

Gibbs looked at Ducky for reassurance, but the doctor was stone-faced, which worried him. He kissed Tony on the forehead before walking out of the room with the ME.

Gibbs pulled the door nearly closed before walking into the kitchen with Ducky.

"So..."

"I will know more once I get his blood work back, but for now I think he has a bad flu that might even turn into more if we haven't caught it in time."

"Okay, now what?"

"Well, I will go back and have Abigail run the blood work for me, and then we will know more, but until then I would suggest you stay with the boy and look after him."

"Okay, sounds like a plan. I'll just run down to the store and my place to pick up a few things."

"I am sorry, Jethro, but I cannot allow that."

Gibbs turned his patented glare on Ducky. "And why not, might I ask?"

"Well, far be it from me to judge about kissing the young man."

"I did not kiss him. He kissed me."

"Who kissed whom first is not what I'm talking about. The point is that you did kiss, and it is about time I might add."

"Ducky," Gibbs growled.

"All right, well since I am not sure what he has and you both just shared germs, I am putting you both under quarantine. You both must now stay here."

"Ducky," Gibbs said, walking over to the fridge and opening it. "If you haven't noticed, there isn't much to eat around here and nothing but beer to drink."

"That might be the case, but you are not going anywhere. If you make a list myself or someone else will stop and pick up the things you need and drop them off at the door. I do NOT want either of you to leave the apartment or have contact with anyone else for the time being. I don't think it's life threatening, but with Tony's recent aliment it could lead to something a lot worse. I refuse to take any chances with either of you."

Gibbs was almost growling as he said, "And what do you plan on telling Jen?"

"I will inform our new Director that I have given you both medical leave till I feel that you're well enough to come back to work."

"And how long is that?"

"Well, again I can't say for sure till I get the blood work back and see what we are dealing with."

Gibbs was glaring again, but Ducky was not affected by it at all.

"I might also suggest that you use rubbing alcohol. It might help cool young Anthony down a bit."

Both men could hear Tony dry heaving again. Gibbs walked calmly back into the bedroom, even though he wanted to run to Tony's side. He wouldn't let his emotions for this man - the man he'd just told he loved - to overwhelm him while trying to look after the ill agent.

Damn, Leroy Jethro Gibbs had just told Tony DiNozzo that he loved him. He never thought he'd say that again, let alone to another man, but after three wives he thought he might have found the one person on this earth who could make him truly happy.

He wasn't new to male love, but it wasn't what he ran out and looked for. The only other time had been in boot camp with one of the drill sergeants. That man had introduced Gibbs to how much fun male love could be. Yes he'd participated in the standard circle jerks in high school but nothing had ever gone further than that. He'd thought about it with a few of them, but he'd never acted on those thoughts. Good Southern boys didn't do things like that.

When he entered Tony's room again, he saw the younger man moving slowly back against the pillows and lying down. Ducky was right behind him. Moving to the side of the bed, Gibbs took the pail from Tony and took it into the kitchen, quickly changing the liner, just in case. He didn't think Tony had anything left in his stomach, but he didn't want to take any chances, so the pail went back next to the bed.

"Boss."

"Yes?"

"Boss?" Tony said again, faintly.

Gibbs could see the unvoiced fear in the younger man's green eyes and sat on the edge of the bed. "Tony you're going to be fine. Ducky will take your blood back to the lab. Abby will run it and find out what's wrong with you, besides the fact of never shutting up."

Gibbs smiled to soften the words. Tony smiled, too. It wasn't often Gibbs said something like that teasingly.

"I'm not going anywhere. Ducky will take a list of things we might need and have someone drop them off."

"Good. I don't want you to leave me."

"Not now, not ever."

Tony took Gibbs' hand, curled up and fell asleep again. Gibbs tried to pull his hand free, but it wasn't happening. Tony had it and wasn't letting go.

"Okay, Ducky, now what?"

"Be there for him, Jethro. He needs you and always has I would venture to guess."

"Three ex-wives," Gibbs reminded him.

"Yes and only one Anthony to set you right. Now I am off, back to the lab."

"Thanks, Duck."

"Well it was my pleasure. It's nice to work on a living person for once. I will see myself out." Ducky walked out of the room, put on his hat and coat and let himself out, locking the door to the apartment behind him.

Gibbs phone went off about 5 minutes later.

"Gibbs."

"Boss-man, you found Tony?"

"Yes, Abby, I did."

"And?"

"He is fine or rather he will be. I need a favor, Abs."

"Anything it's yours."

"Good. Ducky left without getting a list of things I might need. I need you to make a list for me and please bring the things over to Tony's. Seems I won't be leaving for a few days."

"Gibbs, tell me the truth, is Tony okay?"

"Ducky will be there shortly and we'll find out. For now take this down."

"Sure thing."

Gibbs gave her a list of food, adding rubbing alcohol since he wasn't sure Tony had any. He then asked her to go by his house and pick up several changes of clothing for him.

Tony started to shake, his skin becoming clammy and sweaty.

"Abs, got to go."

Gibbs hung up the phone in his usual abrupt way, making Abby worry a little, but she would get the low down from Ducky when he returned to the lab.

Gibbs could hear Tony's teeth chattering.

"Cold," Tony mumbled.

Gibbs knew Tony's fever was finally breaking. Tony released his grip on Gibbs' hand, instead wrapping his arms around himself in an attempt to get warm. Gibbs remembered seeing a throw in the living room, so he went out and got it, putting it over the thick comforter already covering Tony.

"Boss."

Tony was thrashing around, his breathing becoming erratic. If Gibbs hadn't known better, he would have thought Tony was having a nightmare. What did he do now? He wasn't used to caring for someone who was ill.

Gibbs put his hand on Tony's forehead. It was cooler and sweaty. Tony was still shivering. Gibbs was still unsure what to do. The extra blanket didn't seem to be helping. There was only one thing he could think of to warm Tony up. Undressing to his boxers, Gibbs lifted the covers and crawled into bed, pulling Tony back against him. Body heat was the best way he knew of to warm up someone, and Tony needed to be warmed up quickly. A survival trick he'd learned in the military.

Putting one arm under Tony's neck and the other on Tony's chest, right over his heart, Gibbs said, "I'm here, Tony."

That was all it took for Tony to stop thrashing about and relax. He was still shivering but he was more relaxed now, and Gibbs could almost feel the heat being leached off him.

"I'm not going anyplace, DiNozzo," Gibbs said, softly kissing the nape of Tony's neck.

Being in such close proximity to the man he's wanted for so long made Gibbs harden, but this wasn't the time to act on that. There would be time for that later. First he and Tony would have to talk once he was better. For now his senior agent needed comforting.

Talking about the future would have to wait. He wasn't about to have a conversation with Tony that would change both their lives until he was coherent. This was too important to him, to both of them.

Chapter Text

Ducky pulled into the NCIS parking garage. Normally he would have continued on to the fourth floor where he usually parked but right now he was more interested in getting Tony's blood to the lab, so he parked on the ground level. He got out of his car and was walking towards the entrance when it dawned on him that he had forgotten to get a list from Gibbs of what he would need. He'd been too lost in thought when he left young Anthony's apartment.

"Doctor Mallard."

Ducky was slightly startled by the voice behind him and turned to see Director Sheppard heading towards him.

"Oh, hello, Director Sheppard."

"Sorry, Doctor, I didn't mean to startle you."

"No, no, my dear, how can I help you?"

"Have you seen Special Agents Gibbs or DiNozzo?"

Ducky thought for a moment. He'd told Gibbs he would use discretion about what he told to whom, and this was one person who had no need of the full truth.

"Yes, I have as a matter of fact. I was going to call you after I stopped in at Abigail's lab."

"Oh, really, and where are they?" She glossed over the fact he needed to talk to her.

"I am sorry, but right now I am not at liberty to say."

"Really? And why is that, Doctor?" the redhead questioned coolly, walking closer to the older British doctor.

"Doctor-patient confidentiality. I will also be removing them both from active duty for the time being."

"Doctor," she said warningly.

"Director Sheppard, again I am not at liberty to talk about them, but just so you know, they are safe and are being well taken care of. Other then that I do not know when they will return back to duty. Now, if you will please excuse me, I must see someone." Ducky smiled, tipped his hat and continued to walk towards the entrance to the building.

The director just stood there for a moment, then the ME heard her walk back to her car, her heels echoing in the cavernous structure, before getting into her car and pulling away as he entered the building.
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Abby was in her lab looking into one of the microscopes. Chip was, more or less, sitting in the corner.

He moved to look at something.

"Nope," was all Abby said when he went to reach for something. She didn't even have to look up from her microscope to know what he was doing as he reached for an evidence bag.

Chip went back to sitting on the stool where she had instructed him to remain. After a moment he tried again to get up.

"Ah-ah," she said, holding up one hand with her index finger out for him not to move.

"Ma'am."

Frustrated, Abby stopped what she was doing and looked at him. "What did we talk about?"

"That I was to sit here and not touch anything."

Abby smiled. "AND?"

"To stop calling you ma'am."

"Bingo." Abby Put her finger on her nose and pointed at Chip with the other hand. "And what were you doing wrong?"

"Moving and calling you ma'am."

"Right." Abby went back to the slides she had under the microscope. She was switching slides when she heard the doors to the lab open.

"Abigail, I need you to run these vials," Ducky said, reaching into his bag.

Abby stopped, turned and looked at him, brows drawn together in worry.

"Ducky, please tell me Tony is okay. Gibbs gave me some list."

"Good. I failed to remember getting the list for the things he might need."

"Ducky, what's going on?"

Ducky looked at her, then looked at Chip. Chip, never slow on the uptake, took the hint.

"I'll, um, be at lunch if anyone should need me," he said, getting up and heading for the door.

"Unlikely," Abby said as new lab tech left the room.

"Okay, Ducky, out with it. What's Boss-man up to?"

"Abigail, that would be gossiping, and I will not be part of that."

Abby pouted as she took the vials of blood from Ducky, but she didn't move, just stood there, pouty-face in place.

"Oh, all right. Anthony is rather ill, I'm afraid. The vials you have are his blood, and we need to find out what he has. I think it is just the flu, but with Tony and his compromised immune system from the Y Pestis, it could lead to more. I did hear something in his breath sounds, so we cannot be too careful. As for Jethro, he was taking care of the poor boy and, well, Tony kissed him and said he loved him."

"Right on. It's about time. And what did Boss-man do?"

"Well, what could he do other than return the sentiment?"

Abby grinned. "Yes! So why couldn't he run out and get the stuff himself?"

"As I said, Anthony kissed Jethro, and not knowing what is wrong with Anthony, I have place them both in quarantine."

"Was that really necessary?"

"Well," Ducky said innocently, "perhaps I prevaricated a bit."

"All right, Duck!"

"Now, when you go out for the things on his list-"

"I gave it to McGee," Abby said. "I'd just gotten trace off a victim and had to process ASAP."

"Oh, dear."

"What, Duck-man?"

"What did you tell Timothy?"

"Just that I needed a favor. I asked him if he could pick up the things on the list, then run over to Gibbs' place and pick up some clothing. I thought he was going to burst a blood vessel when I asked him to go to Gibbs' house. He looked like road kill," Abby said with a smile as she changed her gloves and began working on the blood for Ducky. "I should have the results in about thirty minutes."

"Thank you. How about I help you with the test. It might go faster that way."

"Tony's that bad?" she questioned worriedly.

"He is not doing well, no. I would like to know what we're dealing with so I can call any prescriptions into the pharmacy." Ducky put on a set of gloves and helped Abby work on the tests.

They both worked well together, each doing what needed to be done without having to say it. Chip had not come back from lunch yet. After about an hour the door opened and a nervous McGee walked in holding a duffle bag that said NCIS on the side.

"Will someone please tell me why I just had to grab Gibbs' boxers out of his drawers?"

Abby smiled. She loved torturing Tim. He was just too cute when he was flustered.

"I was busy," she said with a smile.

McGee looked at Ducky. "Is everything okay?"

"Yes, Timothy, just a precautionary measure."

"Director Sheppard called me saying that Ziva and I are on desk duty till further notice."

"Yes, well, Jethro and Anthony will be a little busy with other things."

"Oh, um, okay," was all Tim got out. "I'd better go find Ziva and inform her as well."

"I believe she and the director are out together right now. I thought I saw her in the director's car when she was pulling out of the garage," Ducky said, smiling.

McGee blinked. "Oh, okay, um I better, um, get back to my desk and get that report ready for Gibbs like he asked."

"Wise lad," Ducky said as McGee left the lab.

"Duck, I think we're dealing with a very nasty version of the flu. Looks like it might be going into pneumonia." Abby's face showed her worry over the results.

"Not to worry, Abigail. We can fix this. We caught it in time, and Tony is in good hands right now. Now that we know what we're dealing with, we know how to stop it from going any further. I will call the correct medication in to the pharmacy and we will make young Anthony better. Then after he is better, he and Jethro will have a lot to talk about."

Ducky went over to the phone and called in the few drugs that they might need, then called upstairs to have McGee meet him in the garage, intending to get the food he had picked up from the store as well as Gibbs' clothing.

In the parking garage McGee pulled his car next to Ducky's and helped him put the many bag of groceries into the doctor's car.

"Ducky, will you be able to carry all this stuff in by yourself?"

"I doubt it, dear boy. I think I will need help. Into the car, if you please."

"B-b-b-but, Ducky."

"Timothy, please get into the car. You are correct. I cannot take them all up without having to make several trips."

Ducky put the duffel bag with Gibbs clothes in the trunk of his car. McGee got into the car and they drove to the drug store. Ducky went in to get the meds he'd called in for Tony and anything else he thought Gibbs might need to look after the young man, then they were off again.

"Okay, my boy, when we get there you will help me take the bags up and then you will come back and wait in the car. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Doctor."

When they arrived at Tony's apartment complex Tim took most of the bags. Ducky only had to bring up the duffel bag and the bag from the pharmacy. They rode the elevator up to Tony's floor and carried the groceries to the door of his apartment.

"Just leave them here, Timothy, and I will be out shortly."

"Got it, Ducky."

Ducky waited till McGee had gotten back on the elevator before knocking on the door. He had to knock again, but eventually he heard the sounds of a lock being turned.

Chapter Text

Without rising up to look at the clock, Gibbs had no idea what the time was. He did know the sun was high in the sky from the way the light came through the window. He had been spooning with Tony since Ducky left. Tony had finally stopped shivering and was now going back to being too warm. That wasn't a good sign.

He tried to pull away, to go after another cloth and more cool water to bathe Tony, but every time he tried to move, Tony would start to thrash about, mumbling in his fever-induced sleep. It was as if he was caught in a web of nightmares and the only thing that quieted them was the feel of the body snuggled up next to his own, so Gibbs just lay there, soaking up the feel of the naked form pressed to this own body.

He had seen Tony nude many times after a workout in the gym or a sparring match on the mat. If he was truthful with himself, he always looked forward to the sight of a sweaty, naked Tony in the locker room. The younger man was comfortable with his body. He didn't flaunt his nakedness, but neither was he shy about being seen.

He remembered the conversation they'd had after the incident with the envelope and they had all gone to shower. Gibbs had admitted to getting the Honey Dust from Tony. The younger agent had played it off as an accident, but now Gibbs wasn't so sure. It was as if pieces of a puzzle were coming together. Maybe it hadn't been an accident that he'd gotten it. He still had it, unopened. Honey wasn't a flavor he cared for, but perhaps if mixed with the flavor of Anthony DiNozzo...

"Boss, watch out!" Tony yelled, thrashing about.

'Tony, relax, I'm right here," Gibbs said softly into Tony's ear, trying not to startle the young man.

"Boss, God, no," Tony moaned, starting to cry. He woke up to the feel of a hand on his chest and started moving away, unsure of where he was and whom he was with.

'Tony, calm down, it's me," Gibbs once again said in calm and even tones.

"Boss."

"Yes. I'm right here, holding you."

Tony skin was unnaturally hot again, worrying Gibbs.

Tony rolled over, eye-to-eye and nose-to-nose with Gibbs, close enough that his warm breath hit Gibbs' face. Tony was too sick and had thrown up one time too many for the scent to be pleasant, but Gibbs didn't care. It was Tony, and that was all that really mattered right now. Now that he had finally opened up about his feelings for Tony, he wasn't about to shut down over a little thing like bad breath.

"Boss, um."

"Tony, we're in bed together. Think you can call me Jethro?"

"Yeah, um, sure. Jethro, what are you doing?"

Tony got no further with his questions, rolling over quickly to find the pail on the floor next to the bed. It was no longer dry heaving. Instead there was a yellow liquid coming out. The stomach bile burned coming up, and his chest hurt like hell from the force of trying to bring up the vile matter from his stomach.

Gibbs moved a little closer, supporting his front so Tony would not fall out of bed and again rubbing his back in small circular motions.

"Shh, it's okay, Tony, you're doing fine," Gibbs said, keeping his voice calm and even.

Tony stopped throwing up but didn't move back just yet. He just hung there, feeling Gibbs' hands on his chest and back, reeling from the touch of his boss.

"Tony let's get you lying down again."

Gibbs pulled Tony up and laid him down, letting the pillows support him so he wasn't lying flat. Tony started to cough again. Gibbs could feel the young man's chest tense up during the violent coughing fit. The coughing triggered another round of retching, sending Tony's head over the side of the bed once more.

Gibbs was getting worried. If Ducky didn't come back soon, he was taking Tony to the ER, no matter how much he protested. He knew Tony didn't like going to the hospital, but he wasn't taking any chances with his senior agent's life.

Tony once again stopped heaving and needed help to sit back up. Gibbs made him sit up even more this time, hoping the upright position would, if not stop, then slow down the coughing.

"Boss."

"I thought we just agreed."

"Sorry, Jethro."

"Yes, Tony?"

"What are you doing?" Tony couldn't see below the sheets but knew Gibbs was at least shirtless.

"What does it look like, DiNozzo?"

"Lying in my-" Tony started coughing again.

Gibbs climbed out of bed and went to change the water in the basin and get a fresh cloth. Tony's eyes widened as Gibbs returned. The man's boxers had some serious tenting going on in front. His gaze swung up to Gibbs' face as the older man sat down next to him on the edge of the bed.

"Why are you in my bed half-naked?"

'Trying to take care of someone I love," Gibbs said a bit nervously.

Tony's eyes widened even further. "You love me?"

"Yes, Tony, I do. I'm just sorry it took so long to tell you."

Tony started coughing again. Gibbs wrung out the cloth and wiped Tony's forehead with the cool water. He had to stop when Tony once again leaned over the bed, retching.

"Okay, that's it, I'm taking you to the ER."

"No. No hospitals. No, Jethro."

"Tony, you're sick."

"NO. No hospital, please."

"If Ducky doesn't call within the hour, you're going. I-" Gibbs stopped what he was saying and sighed, instead asking, "Do you think you can drink something?"

"No."

"Tony, you have to stay hydrated. You've lost a lot of fluids between the throwing up and the sweating. You need to drink something."

"I don't think so."

"How about you humor me and try."

"What?"

"Well, let's try water for now. I'm going to go get a glass of fresh water, okay?" Gibbs said gently, taking full note of the fear in Tony's dilated eyes.

"Boss. Jethro."

"Relax, Tony, I'm just going to the kitchen. I'll be right back, okay?"

Tony nodded, his eyes following the nearly naked form of his boss as he left the room. He'd wanted to get Gibbs in his bed since they'd met in Baltimore, but this wasn't the way he'd envisioned it.

Gibbs could feel Tony's gaze on him as he walked out of the master bedroom, and he wondered why he'd never before realized just how Tony looked at him. Shaking his head at his own blindness, he took a clean glass out of the cabinet and filled it with tap water, since that was all Tony had at the moment. When was Abby going to bring those groceries? Tony needed the Gatorade he'd put on the list.

When he walked back into the bedroom, the bed was empty, and there was no sign of Tony.

"Tony."

Gibbs looked around, noticing that the bathroom door was closed. Okay, so Tony had just had to answer the call of nature. He heard water running, followed by a crash. He ran to the door, spilling some of the water but not caring. All that mattered was Tony and making sure he was okay.

Gibbs opened the door and saw the naked Tony sprawled out on the floor, unconscious. Putting the glass on the vanity, Gibbs bent down and placed his fingers over Tony's carotid artery, please when he felt a strong pulse.

 

"Tony, can you hear me?" He patted Tony's face. "Come on, Tony, wake up," Gibbs said, continuing to pat Tony's face.

Tony began to stir, moving his head against the cool tile of the bathroom floor.

"Good, there you are. Come on, where are those beautiful hazel eyes of yours?" Gibbs teased gently, brushing the hair off Tony's forehead.

Tony opened his eyes.

"There they are. Okay, we're going to have to sit you up. Can you do that?"

"My head hurts."

"Let's get you sitting, then we can see about that thick skull of yours."

Gibbs moved Tony's legs a little, helping him sit up to lean against the large whirlpool tub.

"You okay?"

"The room is spinning," Tony admitted.

Gibbs gently moved Tony's head around, sifting through his hair till he found a good-sized bump on the back of the young man's head.

Gibbs sighed. "What were you thinking, Tony?"

"I had to go."

"Then you should have waited till I got back and I would have helped you."

"Boss, I'm fine, I don't need help."

"Tony do you remember anything from today?"

"No, not till I woke up and had to go to the bathroom."

Gibbs touched Tony's forehead. The young man was burning up again. "Let's get you back to the bed and we can try talking a little. Okay?"

"Boss, why are you here?" Tony's gaze roamed over his boss. "Half-naked?"

"I'm taking care of someone special," Gibbs said with a smile, his piercing blue eyes meeting Tony's hazel orbs as he put his hand under Tony's arm and lifted with his knees, helping an unsteady Tony to his feet.

"See, you should have waited, Tony."

"Sorry, Boss, but I didn't even know you were here," Tony said as Gibbs helped him back to the bed and sat him on the edge.

"Don't move," Gibbs ordered.

When he'd undressed he'd left his clothing lying on the floor. Warming Tony had been more important than worrying about folding his clothes neatly. Picking up his pants, he took out the small flashlight he always carried and returned to Tony's side.

Having Tony lean forward a bit, he examined the bump on the back of his head. There was a tiny cut in the middle of the knot. Fortunately it was small enough that it didn't bleed much, not like head wounds usually did.

"Okay, I think your thick head saved you yet again, DiNozzo," Gibbs teased, picking up the damp cloth he'd earlier had on Tony's forehead and placing it over the cut on his scalp.

"Boss, did you mean what you just said?"

"Tony, when have I ever said anything I didn't mean? Right now we need to worry about getting you better, then we'll have a long talk."

Gibbs looked Tony straight in the eyes. Unable to resist, Tony leaned forward and kissed his boss, jumping in headfirst. At first Gibbs didn't respond, once again shocked that Tony was kissing him, but after a moment he returned the kiss, slanting his head for a better angle. He groaned when Tony's tongue invaded his mouth.

Gibbs had to pull away before this got out of hand. His erection had subsided during the ordeal with helping Tony off the floor, but after that soul-stealing kiss he was hard again. Tony, too, it was obvious to see, was excited. Kind of hard to miss when the gorgeous young man was naked.

"Tony, I, well let's think about getting you well before we continue this."

Tony gave him a look that reminded him of a puppy that had just been smacked with a newspaper.

"Now, don't look like that, Tony. I want to kiss you, believe me I want that, I have for a long time, but you're sick. If I get sick, too, who will take care us both?" Gibbs never broke eye contact with Tony. "Hmm?"

"Okay, but we can continue when I'm better," Tony said, giving Gibbs that huge smile he used when he wanted to get his way.

"We'll talk," Gibbs corrected, kissing Tony's nose and helping him back against the pillows and under the covers. He was smoothing the comforter over Tony's chest when he heard knocking.

"I'm going to see who that is. Think I can leave you alone for a few minutes without you getting into too much trouble?"

"Yes, sir," Tony said smartly, playing the part of subordinate.

Gibbs reached out to smack Tony on the back of the head, then remembered the bump and instead turned it into a caress. Tony's eyes closed from the feel of his boss' hand on his head and he made a sound somewhat like a satisfied purr.

Gibbs wanted to explore that sound, to learn what else caused that purr, but whoever was at the door was knocking again. Sighing, Gibbs put on his pants and pulled his shirt over his head.

"I'm coming," Gibbs called as he neared the front door. Looking through the peephole, he saw the doctor on the other side.

Gibbs opened the door. "It's about damned time."

"Feeling a bit out of sorts, Jethro?" Ducky questioned, looking Gibbs over from head to toe and taking note of the changes since he'd last seen him.

Gibbs saw all the bags outside the door and scowled. "Please tell me you didn't carry all those yourself," he said, stepping barefoot into the hallway and bringing in the grocery bags.

"No," Ducky said, closing the door once everything was inside, "Young Timothy is out in the car waiting till I return."

"You told McGee?"

"No, he only knows that you and Tony are in quarantine. Abigail was really the person who brought him in. She was busy and had him run out to get the groceries and gather your things."

"McGee went through my clothing?" Gibbs barked.

"Relax, Jethro, I think it affected him more then it will you." Ducky looked at Gibbs over the top of his glasses after the last of the groceries had been put away in the kitchen. "I see that you and Anthony have been busy."

"What?" Gibbs questioned, wondering what his old friend was talking about.

"Your shirt, Jethro, is inside out. It was not like that when I left. I really think if you are going to have relations with the young man, you should wait till he is better." Ducky smiled. "Of course," he continued as he headed towards the bedroom, "from the looks of the strain on your zipper, I would say I interrupted just in time."

Chapter Text

Gibbs was a little embarrassed by Ducky's comment as well as ashamed that he let himself get caught up in the moment like that, but kissing Tony had been pure heaven. He was so looking forward to going beyond heaven to paradise. He just didn't need to let Tony know that, he thought as he took out a glass and poured Gatorade for the young man. Tony was already too sure of himself. No need to feed his ego further, at least not at this point.

"Jethro!" Ducky called.

Hearing something in the doctor's voice that sounded a bit like panic, Gibbs ran out of the room, leaving the glass of yellowish-green liquid on the counter. When he entered Tony's room he saw him still on the bed, sleeping again.

"What's the matter?" Gibbs asked as Ducky moved his stethoscope around Tony's chest.

"You tell me. He is not responding to anything I do or say."

"Shit," Gibbs said, moving to the side of the bed and reaching out for Tony's strong shoulder, shaking him lightly. "Tony. Come on, buddy, wake up."

But Tony didn't answer, didn't even move.

"Jethro, what is this?" Ducky asked, noticing a bit of blood on the pillowcase.

"He fell a little while ago when he was trying to use the head. He hit his head on the floor."

Ducky felt the back of Tony's head till he found the knot. "Jethro, you should have known better," he said in a scolding manner as he pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911.

Gibbs paled a bit.

"Yes, my name is Doctor Mallard, and I need an ambulance at 123 Westminster Court, apartment 3C, please... Yes, possible concussion with complication of flu, possibly pneumonia...Thank you, and yes, please hurry."

"How long?"

"Ten minutes or so. Possibly longer with traffic at this time of day."

"Like hell," Gibbs said, wrapping Tony's naked body in the throw and picking him up.

"Jethro, you'll hurt your back. Young Anthony may have lost weight while he's been sick, but he's no lightweight."

Gibbs just glared at him as he continued out of the room.

Ducky followed him. "Jethro, they will be here soon."

"Not soon enough. I can get him to the closest hospital in five minutes flat. You coming or are you going to stay here arguing with an empty room?"

Gibbs walked out of the apartment. Ducky shook his head as he followed, calling 911 again and canceling the ambulance. They got to Gibbs car, and he put Tony in the back with Ducky being used as a pillow. Gibbs had wanted to hold the man himself but knew he had to drive.

Gibbs told a wide-eyed McGee to go back to HQ and sit tight, that they would call when they knew something. Tim didn't want to just sit around, he wanted to help, but by the look on Gibbs' face he knew he wouldn't be welcome. It was a look that clearly said back off.

Gibbs got in the front seat and threw the flashing light on the dashboard and hit the siren. They were standard with the car in his line of work, but he'd never used them till now. He drove even more haphazardly than usual. Tony, now HIS Tony, was in the backseat with a head injury, a possible concussion, and it was his fault that he hadn't acted sooner.

"Anthony, dear boy, can you hear me?" Ducky questioned, handling the lad with care. There was no response, which was probably a good thing at this point because Gibbs' driving was sure to make Tony's nausea that much worse.

Gibbs pulled into the ambulance bay in front of the emergency room. The security guard was walking up as he got out of the car, telling him he couldn't park there. Gibbs ignored him as he opened the back door.

"I'm sorry, sir, you have to move," the guard tried again.

Gibbs glared at him as he pulled out his wallet and showed the man his ID and badge. "Official NCIS business."

"But, sir, you can't park here. And you're not wearing shoes! You can't go in without shoes."

Gibbs scowled. He'd been too worried about Tony to worry about shoes. Thank God he'd had his pants on. He walked up to the guard and got right in his face, causing the guard to visibly swallow.

"I thought this was a hospital, not a damned restaurant," Gibbs barked. "My agent is sick, and we ARE going in. You can move the damned car yourself once I have my man inside."

"But, sir, I can't move your car. It's against the rules."

"Then have it towed. I don't really care."

 

Not giving the man time to respond, he strode through the automatic doors and grabbed an empty stretcher. Together he and Ducky got Tony onto the stretcher.

"But, sir," the guard tried again, a look of panic on his face.

Ducky intervened then. "I'll move the car. Jethro, take Tony inside. I'll be right behind you."

Gibbs was already wheeling the stretcher through the automatic doors as Ducky got in the car to move it. The guard looked from one to the other, not sure what had just happened but grateful the silver-haired man was no longer slicing through him with those piercing blue eyes. That man was damned scary.

Ducky, moving quickly across the lot and into the ER, soon caught up with Gibbs, who was now arguing with a nurse who had come out from behind the desk in the ER.

"Nurse, I'm Dr. Mallard. This man is an NCIS agent. He has a head wound with complications of flu and possible pneumonia."

"Yes, Doctor, we've been expecting you. As I was just telling Agent Gibbs, if he will have a seat in the waiting room, we'll let him know something after we've examined Agent DiNozzo."

"Like hell," Gibbs growled.

"Jethro, they need to do their job."

"I'm not leaving his side."

"Then stay out of the way," Ducky snapped. He understood what Gibbs was going through. He, himself, had watched a loved-one shot right in front of him in the NCIS morgue, but he also knew the hospital personnel had a job to do.

Shooting Gibbs a glare that rivaled his own, the nurse took the stretcher and rolled it into a room. She was locking the wheels as the doctor came in.

"Hi, I'm Doctor Craft. What do we have here?" he asked, looking at Ducky.

Ducky proceeded to tell the good doctor what had happened, Gibbs filling in the part about how he had found Tony unconscious after he fell and how he hadn't remembered anything up till that time.

"Well let's get him a CT scan and an X-ray just to be safe."

The transporter came for Tony right away. Gibbs didn't want to let go of Tony's hand but Ducky held him back.

"Mr. Gibbs we need you to fill out the paperwork for Mr. DiNozzo. You are his emergency contact, aren't you?"

Gibbs started when the woman spoke. Wracked with worry, he hadn't even noticed her entering the room.

"Yes, yes I am. What do you need to know?"

"Well, let's start with his full name."

He told the woman what she needed to know. Tony, it turned out, had been to this ER once before for something Gibbs hadn't even known about, so most of his information was still on file and all he had to do was update it.

Ducky called Abby and was having her fax the results of Tony's blood work to the hospital. He spent half the call trying to calm her down; she had freaked when she found out Tony was in the ER. Because she and McGee had driven in together that morning, she said she would have to wait for him to return before she could be there. Ducky assured her that was fine before hanging up.

"Ducky, I-" Gibbs began, only to stop. He wasn't sure what to say as he stared out the open door through which they had taken Tony.

"Jethro, you could not have known. Head wounds are a tricky business. You never know what can happen. In normal circumstances Tony might not have had a problem but his body is weak. He has a very nasty strain of the flu and the onset of pneumonia."

"But I know better, Duck. I know any illness can be worse for him. I remember what Dr. Pitt said."

"Yes, you do, but you were a little distracted, not just with getting him better but also with the new feelings that you have. I am sure you can come to terms with yourself over this."

Gibbs was pacing, but he paused long enough to look at Ducky, one corner of his mouth quirked upward. "That obvious, huh?"

"Jethro, you told the boy you loved him. I know even though your shirt is inside out and that you had an erection, nothing happened. I'm just curious as to how that came to be."

"His fever broke, and he was chilled. I was using my body heat to warm him up. Every time I tried to move he cried out. He was having some kind of nightmare and me lying next to him seemed to help."

"As I have been saying for quite some time now, our young Anthony has always wanted more than a working relationship with you."

"Yes, you did. It only took him almost dying, Kate dying and now this to get my stubborn ass in gear."

"Yes, but it is in gear now and I know you will not let go so easily or you would have waited like a sane man for the ambulance to get to the apartment."

"I can't lose him, Duck."

"You won't, Jethro."

Dr. Craft entered the room. Gibbs looked up with his piercing blue gaze.

"How is he?" he questioned, not even waiting for the doctor to speak.

"Mr. DiNozzo has a concussion, a little more than minor but nothing too serious. Also with his flu symptoms and the onset of pneumonia he is dehydrated. He should be down in a few minutes, and then we'll get him a room upstairs. We want him to stay to monitor his condition with the concussion and the pneumonia.

"Thank you, Doctor," Gibbs said, shaking the doctor's hand.

"Doctor, may I have a word with you outside please?" Ducky asked.

Both doctors left the room as they were pushing Tony in. The young man's eyes were still closed. The transporter put him into the bay, locked the wheels and walked out. Gibbs went to his side and picked up his hand.

"Hey, you in there?" Gibbs asked, shaking his hand a little.

Tony gave no answer.

"Come on, DiNozzo, you better stop milking it just for the nurses to pay more attention to you," Gibbs said, trying to make light of the problem.

Still there was no reaction from Tony.

"Let's see those eyes." Gibbs was almost pleading now.

Still Tony didn't move.

"Damn it, Tony, you have to wake up. The longer you're out, the more of a possibility of you slipping into a coma," Gibbs said, his voice a bit shaky by now.

Tony began to stir, just little movements that let Gibbs know he was being heard.

"There you go. Come on, wake up," Gibbs said, his tone soft yet firm.

Tony's eyelids began to move. "Um, what...?"

"There you are. Welcome back to the land of the living."

"Boss, where am I?"

"The hospital."

"But I asked-"

"Shh. Your fall was a little more then we thought. You have a concussion, the flu and the onset of pneumonia. The hospital isn't letting you out of their sight for a few days and neither am I."

Tony sighed. "I guess I messed up again."

"Nope, this one is my fault."

"Now I know I'm going to die."

"And why is that?"

"Jethro Gibbs just admitted to a fault," Tony said, flashing a smile at Gibbs.

Unable to resist, Gibbs leaned in and without thought kissed the younger man. It wasn't a hard, searching kiss but rather a soft kiss of passion and tenderness and a promise of things to come.

"Boss, I-"

"I know, Tony, I know, and I love you, too," Gibbs said, rubbing his thumb over the back of Tony's hand.

Tony sniffed, tears leaking from the corners of his eyes.

"Hey, what's with the waterworks?"

"I, well, I," Tony stuttered, trying to compose himself. "I've wanted you to say that to me for a long time now."

"Then we're even because I've wanted to say it to you for a long time now."

Gibbs was kissing Tony's warm forehead when a goth chic and a computer geek walked in, hand in hand.

"Right on, Boss," Abby said after witnessing the kiss.

"Abby, McGee, what are the two of you doing here?"

"Ducky called me to fax the results of Tony's blood work. McGee said you were here, too. I just wanted to make sure our Tony is okay," Abby said as she bounced over to the side of Tony's bed.

"Hey, Abs," Tony said, smiling at her. No matter how bad he felt, Abby always made him smile.

"You're okay, right, Tony?"

"Not sure. I think I'm going die."

"DiNozzo," Gibbs warned, knowing where he was going with this.

"No, Tony, you can't," Abby said, almost in tears from the comment that was meant as a joke.

Tony opened his mouth, ready to tell her he only thought he was dying because Gibbs had not only said he loved him but had admitted to a fault, but he never got the chance
.
"No, Abby, Tony is not dying. He has a concussion on top of the flu and is dehydrated," Ducky said as he came back into the room.

Abby smacked Tony on the shoulder, more of a playful tap than an actual hit. "Not nice, Tony, don't scare me like that. I can't lose another friend."

"Sorry, Abby," Tony said, taking her hand and kissing the back of it.

Touching the shoulder she'd just hit, she said, "What's the matter, Tony? Didn't they have designer gowns?"

"Nah, had to go off the rack for this gem," he said, indicating the pale blue gown covering him. He leaned closer to her. "I think it came from Frederick's of Hollywood. Want to see the open back?"

"Tony," Gibbs said with an exasperated sigh.

Abby winked. "I might take you up on that if I didn't think the boss-man would mind."

Gibbs just shook his head. He was on one side of the bed, Abby was on the other, and Ducky was standing at the foot. McGee was standing behind Abby, near the wall. Tony looked around her at the younger agent.

"Probie?"

"Tony. You okay?"

"I am now," Tony said, glancing at Gibbs.

McGee looked at Gibbs also. "Boss, the Director is having a fit, wanting to know where you and Tony are."

"Let her stew."

"But, Boss-"

Gibbs shot Tim a look of death, a look that said 'I know how to kill you and make it look like an accident.' Abby looked at McGee, too, her look saying, 'And I know how to cover it up.' McGee swallowed nervously and tried to get closer to the wall.

"Now, the good doctor said that Anthony will be moved upstairs shortly," Ducky said into the awkwardness, "and that he can have visitors but not to stress him out and to let him get his rest. I have already told him, Jethro, that it will take half the marines and all the navy to keep you away from our lad, and he has agreed to let you stay with him as long as you're a good boy."

"Good," Tony and Gibbs said at the same time, then smiled at each other.

McGee blinked. He didn't care that his boss and coworker/friend had a thing for each other. It was just...weird to watch, having never thought of them together this way.

"Okay, McGee, you and Abby go back to Tony's place and make up an overnight bag for Tony and bring my bag. Don't forget my shoes," Gibbs added ruefully. "And, McGee..."

Almost to the door, McGee stopped, once again looking like a deer caught in headlights.

"Thanks for making up the first bag," Gibbs said, shooting the scared boy a smile.

"Hold the phone. You mean Probie has been in your drawers and I haven't been there yet? Oh, that is so not fair."

Gibbs put his hand behind Tony's head.

"And, Tim," Tony continued with a smile, "stay out of his drawers. They're mine." He winked at McGee.

McGee smiled shakily, not sure how to take the teasing. This was still just...weird.

The transporter came before Abby and Tim could leave.

"What room are you moving him to, if you please?" Ducky asked the nice young lady.

"He's going to the 4th floor, room 432. It's a private room."

"Nice. Hey, you come here often?" Tony questioned with a smile, unable to resist hitting on the young woman as she took him up to this room.

Gibbs shook his head. "DiNozzo, you are incorrigible."

Chapter Text

Abby and Tim left right after they took Tony up to his room, Gibbs and Ducky both following behind the stretcher. Tim and Abby were off to Tony's place to fetch a few things for Tony and to grab the bag McGee had made for Gibbs.

As he drove, Tim was quieter than usual; the reason was he was thinking about what Tony had said about him going through Gibbs' drawers and the warning to stay out of them.

"Okay, McGee, out with it," Abby said, turning in the seat so she could look at him.

"What? I'm just driving."

"Nope. Something is eating at you, I can tell. The last time you got this quiet was after you found out about sleeping in my coffin."

"Abby, nothing is wrong."

"You are so lying."

"How can you tell?" he asked curiously.

"Your lips are moving," she said with a smile.

McGee chewed on his lip a bit, then asked, "Are Gibbs and Tony, um...?"

"Shacking up? Banging? Boning each other? Doing the horizontal mambo?"

"I get your point. So, are they?"

"I sure hope so after this. If you ask me it's about damn time."

McGee looked at her quickly. "What do you mean? I thought with the way Tony talks about all the dates he has and with Gibbs having three ex-wives..."

"You heard Tony tell you to stay out of Gibbs drawers, right? Well, Tony has had a thing for Gibbs since they began working together, and Gibbs has had one for Tony. Neither one of them thought the other one even noticed him in that way. It's kind of sad if you ask me, both men trained to pick up on subtleties yet missing these great big clues."

"Like?" McGee questioned, curious as to what he, too, had missed.

"Like last year Tony sent Gibbs Honey Dust."

"He said it was a shipping mistake," McGee reminded her.

"Yeah, right, dream on. It was so deliberate. Ducky and me have been trying to get them to see the light, and I guess this finally did it. It almost killed Gibbs after Tony got sick last time."

"You're telling me they've been after each since Tony joined NCIS?"

"Yup."

"What about all the ladies Tony talks about?"

"All talk, McGee. Jeez, you're dense as well."

"Not that dense. I picked up on the fact that you wanted me."

Abby just smiled as they pulled up to Tony's apartment complex. Tim punched in the code, and they parked next to Tony's car.

Both went up to Tony's apartment, finding it unlocked. They didn't think either Ducky or Gibbs would have left it unlocked. As they entered the living room, they heard a noise coming from the kitchen. Tim pulled out his gun and motioned for Abby to stay back. He slowly moved towards the kitchen, turning the corner quickly to have the element of surprise.

"Hold it right there!"

The figure standing in front of the open refrigerator door was a young girl. She was putting something inside the refrigerator, other dishes on the cabinet next to her. When she saw the man with the gun pointed at her she screamed and dropped the plate, the plastic-wrapped glass shattering with a dull sound.

Abby came running and saw the little girl and Tim pointing a gun at her.

"Christ, McGee, scare the poor girl to death, why don't you."

Flushing, Tim put his gun back in the holster.

"Hey there, kid," Abby said with a smile, "what are you doing in this apartment?"

The girl looked at the goth chic and the man who had just held a gun on her, her eyes wide. She couldn't have been more than ten years old.

Licking her lips nervously she said, "Mom sent me up here to bring Tony some food. She always complains he never eats right."

"How'd you get in?"

The girl's eyes darted about. "I have a key. Tony gave it to me."

Tim exchanged a look with Abby before asking calmly, "Where do you live?"

"Right down the hall. Who are you people?"

"We work with Tony."

"Oh. You're...NCIS I think he said?"

"Yeah, I work in the lab, and this geek works in the field with Tony."

"Tony is a nice guy," the little girl said. "Sometimes he does stuff to help out my mom and me. He even has me come over and watch old movies with him when Mom has to work late."

"How nice. My name is Abby, and this guy is McGee."

"McGee?"

Tim shot Abby an irritated look. "It's my last name. My first name is Tim."

The girl smiled. "Hi, Tim, hi, Abby. My name is Jennifer, but people call me Jenny. Where's Tony? Is he okay?"

"He's in the hospital."

"Again?" Jenny questioned, sounding distressed. "Mom said he was really sick a few weeks back. Is he that sick again?"

"I don't think he's that bad, but it is serious," McGee said.

"Mom is going to be mad at him. She's always on him about taking better care of himself. After he got sick Mom started to send food over when she could afford to."

"That's sweet of your mom. Tell her Tony is in Mercy General in room 432. I'm sure he would like to see you guys. The doctor said he can have visitors as long as he doesn't get stressed out."

"Thanks, Abby." Jenny looked down. "Guess I better get this mess cleaned up."

"Don't bother. It was McGee's fault. He can clean it up and put away the rest of the food while I pack Tony an overnight bag."

"Okay, thanks."

"Sorry for pointing a gun at you."

Jenny just smiled as she left the apartment, going to her own.

"Nice one, McGee," Abby said, hitting him.

"What? I didn't know Tony was a baby-sitter."

"Shut up, McGee and clean up the kitchen and put the rest of the stuff away while I get Tony's stuff."

Abby had been there a few times. She grabbed his backpack from where he kept it next to the door and emptied the few items that were in it out on the sofa. Then she went to Tony's room.

She opened up Tony's underwear drawer and started grabbing a few pairs of boxer briefs when something fell out and hit the floor. She stopped, looked down and started laughing aloud. Bending down, she picked up the item as McGee was walking into the room

"What?"

"Look," Abby said, holding up a pair of fuzzy handcuffs. "This is too cool."

"Abby put those away."

"Why? You didn't bitch when I used some on you."

"Yes, but these are Tony's," Tim said, feeling a bit uncomfortable, especially if he let himself think they might be used on Gibbs.

He went back to the kitchen to finish up there as Abby found Tony some socks and a few old T-shirts that were folded rather than hung up. She also found two pairs of flannel house paints and a pair of sweats. She grabbed Gibbs' shoes and was bounding out of the bedroom as Tim was walking out of the kitchen.

"All done. Tony's all packed."

"Here's Gibbs bag, still next to the front door."

Taking the bags and Gibbs' shoes, they left the apartment, locking the door behind them, then went back to their car and drove to the hospital.

Chapter Text

Gibbs rode in the same elevator with Tony and the transporter as they made their way up to the fourth floor. He hadn't let go of Tony's hand since they'd brought him back to the room in the ER after his CT scan and X-rays.

"Boss."

"Yes, Tony?"

"I feel like shit."

"Well, you look pretty bad."

"Oh, thanks, make a man feel good."

The transporter smiled at the byplay between the two men. The door slid open with a "ding" and Ducky was already there, waiting for them. He followed as the transporter took Tony to his room.

After Tony was transferred to the bed in his room, she said, "Nice to have met you, Mr. DiNozzo."

"Sure I can't get your number?" Tony asked, eyebrows raised.

Shaking her head, she smiled and walked out of the room.

"You know you might have to stop that."

Tony looked at Gibbs. "Stop what?"

'Tony, if you haven't gotten the clue yet, I'm hoping to be part of your life."

"Jethro," Ducky said, "I will be outside. I feel rather like a third wheel."

"No, Ducky, don't go. Tony and I will have this conversation when he's feeling more up to it and might remember the whole conversation."

"Boss, I-"

Tony stopped when a woman in her mid-40s walked in, her white nurses shoes squeaking a bit on the floor. Posture military straight, she looked like the kind of nurse you didn't mess with, no matter who you were. And he was right. She ran the floor with an iron fist, but she had the sweetest Southern accent and personality to match as long as you didn't piss her off.

"Well, hello there, cutie. To what do we owe the pleasure? What are you in for?" she asked, taking his chart and looking at it. After reading the chart she walked over to the corner where there was a blood pressure machine and brought it back to the bed where Tony lay.

"Okay let's see about getting a BP."

She put the cuff on Tony's arm, looking at him from under her eyes when he flexed his muscle.

"Honey," she said, patting his rock-hard bicep, "it's going to take more than that to impress me."

Tony grinned and relaxed his arm so she could take his blood pressure reading. She made a note of the reading on his chart, then took out the digital thermometer and put the probe in a new plastic sleeve before putting it in Tony's mouth.

"Under your tongue please."

"Is that all it takes to keep you quiet?" Gibbs asked, making a joke about Tony not talking.

Tony started to say something but the nurse said, "No, Mr. DiNozzo, not till you're done."

Tony rolled his eyes but didn't try to speak again.

Looking at the good-looking silver-haired man she said, "You must be Special Agent Gibbs."

"Yes, ma'am." Gibbs was brought up right. He extended a hand for shaking, pleased when the nurse took it with a firm grip. A handshake could say a lot about a person.

"Dr. Craft said you would be staying with our young stud here."

Tony grinned around the probe.

"Yes, ma'am."

"One rule: stay out of the way and listen to what the doctor says. Are we clear?"

"Crystal, ma'am," Gibbs answered. He'd met a woman like her once before, when wife number three had hit him over the head with a golf club.

The thermometer beeped. The nurse checked the display as she removed the probe from Tony's mouth and ejected the plastic sleeve.

"Okay, your temp has come down a little. It's only 101.8 now. That's down more than two points since you first came in. That's good." She patted the back of Tony's hand. "I'll be back in a minute with an IV kit so we can get you all hydrated and run some antibiotics through you to be safe. With your history the doctor doesn't want to leave anything to chance."

When the nurse left, Gibbs looked at Ducky.

"Antibiotics?"

"Yes, Jethro. I told Dr. Craft about Tony's history with Y-Pestis and he is just being precautionary. They will also give him some steroids as well and an IV solution for getting fluids back into Tony."

"Boss, can you get me-"

Before Tony could finish he began to vomit, a small amount of the yellowish liquid splashing on Gibbs. Ducky quickly handed Gibbs a basin to hold under Tony for whatever else might come up. Gibbs held Tony with one hand and the basin with the other.

"Boss, I'm sorry," Tony said after he was lying back on the bed.

"Shh, don't think about it at all, you got me?" Gibbs said, making eye contact.

Ducky brought over a small glass of water. "Here, Anthony. Wash your mouth out with this and take a small sip. The doctor is going to give you something for the vomiting and the acid that has affected your esophagus."

"Boss, I'm tired."

"Okay, try to get a little sleep, but I will be waking you up soon to ask you the questions."

"Yes, Mom." Tony scooted down a little, still holding onto Gibbs' hand.

The nurse walked back in, noticing the wet spot on Gibbs' shirt and the basin on the nightstand next to the bed.

"Special Agent."

"Just Gibbs."

"Okay, Gibbs. You can go out to the nurses' station and ask for a scrub top if you want."

"Thanks. After we're done here I might do that."

The nurse took Tony's left hand, the one Gibbs didn't have. This woke Tony up from the momentary nap he'd just had.

"Okay, cutie, let's get the IV in."

Tony squeezed Gibbs' hand harder when the nurse stuck Tony with the butterfly needle. She attached the IV and then hung up a bag of saline. She injected something else into Tony's IV.

"Okay, cutie, all set. Try to get some sleep and I'll be back in half an hour to ask you a few questions."

"Ma'am, if you would like I will be happy to do that for you. No need to bother you with them."

Ducky was watching the interaction between Gibbs and the nurse, then picked up Tony's chart and began to read.

"Sir, that's privileged information," the nurse said sternly, giving him a hard look.

"I quite understand, but I am young Anthony's personal physician, Dr. Donald Mallard."

She looked him over once again as if to judge him for the truth, then turned her attention back to Gibbs. "You've obviously done this before, Gibbs."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Okay then, for the time being wake him up every half hour. After a few hours, if he is still okay, we can go to every hour. Think you can handle that?"

"Yes, ma'am, just inform me please when we can change the times."

"Oh, joy," Tony muttered, glaring at Gibbs. "How can I get the rest my poor abused body needs if you're waking me up every half hour?"

"You'll know what abuse is, DiNozzo, if you don't behave."

Tony grinned and wiggled his eyebrows. "Is that a promise, Boss?"

The nurse smiled. "You two are cute together. I'll have someone come clean this up " she said as she left the room.

"Well, Jethro, I will be heading out as well," Ducky said as Tony drifted to sleep again. Before he could leave, Abby and McGee were walking into the room.

"Boss-man, here's your clothes," she said, putting the bags down on a chair and Gibbs' shoes on the floor.

"Thanks, Abby, Tim." Gibbs was still holding Tony's hand.

"He, okay, Gibbs?" Abby asked, worried that Tony was so out of it that he didn't even hear them come in.

"Yes, he's just sleeping for the time being. I think they gave him some pain meds in his IV."

"Yes, they did," Ducky confirmed. "The drugs might make him drowsy. Just make sure he wakes up to answer the questions."

"Thanks, Ducky."

"My pleasure, Jethro. I think it is time for us to leave. Abigail, Timothy, can I interest you in dinner, perhaps?"

"You're on, Duck-man," Abby accepted with a smile.

"Thanks, Ducky," McGee added.

Abby walked over to the bed and kissed Tony's forehead, then kissed Gibbs' cheek.

"Take good care of him, Gibbs."

"You think I won't?"

"Nope, just worrying about both my men," Abby said, taking one of Ducky's hands and one of Tim's as they walked out of the room.

Gibbs was alone with Tony once again, something he'd wanted for a very long time, only not in a situation like this. He stood there, looking down at the man, the marvelous man in front of him. As he watched Tony began lightly thrashing about again.

"Gibbs, no, watch out!"

"Tony, I'm right here," Gibbs said, pushing the damp hair off Tony's brow.

"Gibbs, oh no, not you." Tony started crying again and woke up with Gibbs looking into his eyes.

"Hey, I'm right here."

"Don't ever go anywhere."

"I'm here to stay if you want me to," Gibbs vowed.

"Have for a while," Tony said, holding onto Gibbs hand more tightly.

"Want to tell me what your nightmare was about?"

"Nothing."

"Tony," Gibbs said warningly, not letting go of the younger man's hand but stretching out and pulling a chair closer to sit down, "want to try that again?"

"It's stupid. You'll make fun of me," Tony mumbled, blushing.

"You never know, DiNozzo. Try me and see. Till this morning, I'm guessing you never thought I would be holding your hand and kissing you like we have today."

Tony smiled hugely. "About that, think I can get another one?"

"How about you tell me and then I'll think about it." Gibbs cracked a smile of his own since they both knew they would be kissing again.

"Really, it's nothing."

"Tony, it's not nothing if you get all worked up and end up crying."

"You've seen that?"

"Yes."

"Boss," Tony said, not really sure what to say. He licked his lips. "I'm just worried about losing you like we did Cait."

"Tony, I worry about that same thing every time I send you out in the field. It's why I made you tail Ziva that night."

"Boss, every time I have the dream, it's you dying, not Cait," Tony admitted, tears once again bringing a sheen to his beautiful hazel eyes.

"Shh, don't go losing anymore water. The nurse will come in here and make me leave," Gibbs said, trying to help Tony not think about his dream. "She's pretty scary, you know."

"Stop," Tony said, smiling. "Jethro Gibbs wouldn't be afraid of a nurse. He'd be more apt to terrorize her."

"Please. Even I'm not stupid enough to mess with her."

Tony snickered suddenly. "I bet McGee was petrified having to go through your clothes."

"Yeah, I bet he was," Gibbs agreed with a smile. Standing, he stood up and leaned over the bar to kiss Tony. Once again it wasn't much but it was tender and filled with love.

"Boss, I can't wait to get out of here and do that for real."

"Tony, you think you can call me Jethro?"

"I'll try, but it's a habit and the nickname fits. It's not a kink, not some thrill I get from nailing the boss or anything, but I do hope it comes with a few perks."

"Like?" Gibbs questioned, still smiling.

"Well, I'm sure I can show you a few of them after I get out of here, unless you want to lock the door now and try out a few things."

"You're too much, Tony." Gibbs kissed him again "I'm telling you this now; I want to be part of your life and you part of mine."

"Me too, Jethro, me too."

Chapter Text

Tony had fallen back to sleep. Gibbs let go of the young man's hand, walked over to his bag, grabbed a T-shirt that McGee had packed for him and changed out of the shirt Tony had vomited on. He threw that one in the biohazard waste bin. He wouldn't be wearing it again. He'd never really cared for it anyway.

He set the alarm on his watch to go off in thirty minutes before walking back over to Tony's side. He sat down and took the sleeping man's free hand again and just held it. He had never had the chance to just watch Tony sleep before, and he realized he liked the sight. Tony was strong, with a personality full of energy, but now, sleeping, he looked vulnerable and innocent as a child.

The day was Thursday. He hadn't even thought about tomorrow being Friday until he'd seen the date on his watch. Friday was the day he had a meeting with the other team leaders at NCIS headquarters. He should probably call Jen and let her know something about what had happened. Not that he cared what Jen thought, but she had the right to know. Now that Tony was out of the woods, so to speak, and he should be fine.

He had a feeling Ducky's worry about him leaving the house had been as much for him to stay and watch Tony as it had been to keep from opening that can of worms. If anything he owed Ducky a nice bottle of Scotch, he thought, still taking in the sight of an innocent-looking Tony in front of him.

When Gibbs' watch went off he hit the button and reset it for another thirty minutes.

"Hey there, handsome, think you can wake up for me?" Gibbs asked, standing now and gently cupping Tony's face, his thumb stroking from forehead to temple.

The voice of Gibbs and the gentle stroking of his face roused Tony and he began to stir.

"You in there?"

"Five more minutes, Mom, I don't want to go to school," Tony muttered, rolling over and pulling the covers over his head. He was fully aware but was playing with Gibbs.

"Come on, Tony, the faster we get this done the, faster you can go back to sleep."

Tony rolled onto his back once again. He opened his mouth to speak but instead began coughing. Gibbs helped him sit up. The cough attack didn't last as long this time nor did it seem as deep. For once Gibbs was happy his Tony was in the hospital so they could monitor him the way he needed.

"Okay, there we go, Tony, let's lay back again. Slowly, okay?" Gibbs guided Tony back against the elevated bed. "Think you can answer some questions for me?"

"Yes, Jethro. My name is Anthony Michael DiNozzo. The president is George W. Bush, and I work for NCIS."

"That's good, but don't get an attitude with me, young man. Who would you rather have asking questions, me or-"

Gibbs stopped when the nurse came into the room. He had earlier discovered her name was Beth, and this time she had a bunch of wires and some pads in her hand, causing him to arch an eyebrow.

"Okay, cutie, I tried to wait till you might be up. The doctor has ordered you be put on a heart monitor."

That worried Gibbs, and it showed in his expression. It wasn't normal procedure to his way of thinking. Wasn't that something they only did when they thought there might be more of a problem?

"Is that really needed?" Gibbs asked, careful to use a tone that didn't sound like he was questioning her authority. He'd meant it when he'd said this was a woman he wouldn't want to piss off.

"The doctor just wants to monitor his heart as a precaution. There's nothing to be alarmed about. With your Tony's background with the plague, Dr. Craft doesn't want to leave anything to chance."

She put the wires and pads on the rolling bedside table as she checked his vitals again. She made a note that his temp was now up to 102.6.

Gibbs could read upside down and he noticed the numbers written there. "His temperature has gone up?"

"It could just be a reaction to the antibiotics doing their job. It doesn't necessarily mean Tony is getting worse. The only way to know for sure is to keep a close eye on his vital signs."

Gibbs nodded. What had be been thinking? He knew those things, but he'd fooled himself into thinking Tony was already out of the woods, mainly because it was difficult for him to think of Tony being so ill. After all, he hadn't been there more then five hours. That wasn't long enough for Tony to be cured. Even a few days might not be long enough. It was one of those wait-and-see situations that he so despised.

"So, cutie, how did you answer the questions?"

Gibbs rolled his eyes. "He didn't even wait for the questions, just gave me the answers."

"Been in this situation before, I'm guessing."

Tony just smiled.

"Okay, honey, let's expose your chest a little."

"Trying to get into my pants, aren't you?" Tony asked with a smile.

"Honey, you don't have anything I haven't seen before," she said, playing with him.

"Ah, but you haven't seen mine."

"Sweetie, I've seen better."

"Ouch," Tony said, putting his hand over his heart as if she'd hurt him.

Gibbs smiled at the banter. It was funny seeing Tony taken down so fast. He had this way about making people feel at ease around him, but the nurse just might have him beat.

Beth untied the top tie of his gown and exposed Tony's chest. She used alcohol pads to clean several spots on his chest before peeling the backing off the pads.

"This might hurt coming off, might take off some of that manly chest hair with it. Of course I could always shave you first."

"No, I don't think so. Anthony DiNozzo does not shave his chest," he said with a frown.

Beth smiled. "Then we'll just have to be careful to pull them off slowly rather than ripping them off," she said, although there was the implication that it could go the other way if he pissed her off. " I might even be nice and use some alcohol to take off the excess glue."

Tony's head fell back against the pillow. "This sucks."

"Yes, Tony, but you're getting better, and that's all that matters," Gibbs said, taking Tony's hand as the pads went on his chest.

Beth had already plugged in the monitor, and now she turned it on before putting the pulse ox clip on his finger. She then took a new package of clear tubing from the cabinet behind him and plugged it up to a silver nozzle coming out of the panel on the wall above his bed.

"Okay, honey, the Doc also wants you on O2," she explained, putting the tubing over his head and into his nostrils.

While she was doing all this Gibbs watch alarm went off again.

"I think we can skip this round of questions, gentleman, since our young stud seems to be good for now and hasn't slept since the last round." She winked at them. "Just don't tell anyone."

Gibbs smiled as he reset his watch. Beth puttered around a little more, doing all those things nurses do to a patient and all the equipment hooked up to him, checking this and that, making sure Tony was set up right. As she was finishing her round of machine checks, a handsome man in a set of scrubs walked in, holding a PDA.

"Hey, Tom."

The man smiled. "Beth."

Both Tony and Gibbs were looking at the new person like 'who the hell are you'.

"Hi, I'm Tom, and I'm your dietitian. I'm here to ask what you would like to eat for tomorrow."

"Can I get surf and turf?"

Tom smiled. "No, but we have some lovely cod for dinner tonight."

Tony turned up his nose. "No thanks, I don't think I'm hungry."

"DiNozzo."

"Boss, really, I'm not hungry. Just the thought of food makes me want to puke."

"Honey, you hold that thought. I have orders for a steroid and an anti-nausea medication," Beth said before walking out of the room and heading for the nurses' station.

"Sir, we can get you-"

"No, really, I'm not hungry. Sorry, but I don't want anything."

"Tony, stop being a baby. You need to eat."

'Then-" Tony stopped, not wanting to embarrass Gibbs in front of this man. He sighed. "Please, I just want to sleep."

Gibbs let go of his soon-to-be lover's hand, then had to blink in stunned realization. Damn, he'd just thought the word lover in connection with Tony and not in the abstract sense. Never in his imagination had he thought it would actually happen. It had always been just a fantasy.

Tony saw the strange look on Gibbs' face. "Boss?"

Gibbs shook his head. "I'm okay, Tony."

Gibbs motioned for Tom to follow him, talking too softly for Tony to hear as they left the room. Tony was scowling as Beth came back into the room holding a weird looking mouthpiece attached to tubing and a small holding area. He groaned. He knew what that was. It was a nebulizer. He'd had to use one after the Y-Pestis. This just got better and better.

"Okay, sweetie, time for your nebulizer treatment," she said, putting the end of the now-smoking treatment in Tony's mouth before he could protest.

Tony glared at her. The door was still partially open and he noticed Gibbs and Tom were still in the hall talking. Glancing toward the window, he realized that the sun had long since set, leaving the sky dark. His gaze swung back to the doorway as Gibbs shook Tom's hand and walked back into the room.

Tony tried to talk but got the look of death from Beth.

"Okay, I will be right back. Gibbs, make sure this man does not talk and behaves like a good boy while doing his treatment."

"Yes, ma'am."

Gibbs sat down in the chair next to Tony's bed again. His watch went off again before Beth game back. He reset the alarm. Tony couldn't answer with the nebulizer in his mouth. Beth came back soon after that and unhooked Tony from the treatment.

"There we go. Now, that wasn't hard, was it?"

"That stuff tastes like shit."

"Tony," Gibbs growled, his tone warning him to show more respect.

Beth just smiled. "I know, honey, but it helps you breathe. Now keep that O2 in your nose," she admonished, nodding to both men before leaving the room.

"So what did you and that guy talk about?"

"Oh, nothing, just about what you will have to eat tomorrow."

"Dinner." In walked a little old lady, eighty if she was a day, dressed in a peach-colored smock and white pants. "Here you go, Son," she said, placing a tray on the rolling table and moving it over the bed in front of Tony.
Tony looked at the tray. There was a covered plate, a small covered bowl, milk, juice and a small square of something that he was sure was supposed to be cake.

"I'll be back for the tray after while."

"You can take it now," Tony said. "I'm not hungry."

"You'll eat, Tony, if I have to force it down your throat." Gibbs stood up and nodded to the nice older lady as she walked out. "Now, let's see. It can't be all that bad."

"Boss, hospital food is the same thing as bio-waste."

"Let's have a look-see."

Gibbs moved around to the side with the tray and took the lid off the covered plate. It was fish with mashed potatoes and over-cooked veggies.

"Okay," he said, opening the plastic sleeve and taking out the fork and knife. He put them on the small plate, then took down the side bar on the bed and pushed the table closer to Tony.

"I am not eating that crap."

"Come on, Tony, you need to eat."

"I feel like shit, Boss. You eat it."

"Okay, I will." Gibbs picked up the fork, broke off a piece of fish and lifted it towards his mouth.

"Boss, you're -"

Gibbs faked Tony out at that moment, putting the food in Tony's open mouth. Tony now had a flavorless piece of fish in his mouth and was throwing an evil look towards the older man.

"You better not spit that out," Gibbs warned.

Tony had seriously thought about it, but the look in Gibbs eyes was more than just warning. There was also worry and concern in the blue depths. Tony chewed and swallowed, then opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue.

"Happy?" Tony asked.

Tony suddenly paled, his face going white. Gibbs noticed and quickly grabbed the basin and put it in front of Tony just in time for the fish to make a return appearance. Gibbs held the basin with one hand and rubbed Tony's back with the other.

"Sorry, Tony. Maybe we should try the soup and not the fish. My fault again," Gibbs said in calm and even tones.

Tony frowned. "See, I told you it isn't edible."

"Stop that. It's because you have the flu."

Gibbs took the plastic lid off the small bowl of soup. It was matzo ball soup.

"Now, will you at least try some of the broth for me, Tony?"

Once again Gibbs' eyes said it all, showing a mixture of concern and hurt. Tony nodded, picked up the spoon and dipped it in the soup. He was trying to get it to his mouth, but his hand was shaking so badly that the spoon was nearly empty by the time it made it to his mouth.

"I guess we do this another way," Gibbs said, taking the spoon from Tony.

"Boss, I'm sorry about all this. You really don't have to stay here and take care of me like this."

Gibbs put the spoon down. "Tony, I'm sure this is new for you, someone looking after you and caring what you eat and what happens to you, but I meant what I said about wanting to be a part of your life. I'm not going anyplace. If I knew the world was going to end five minutes from now, this is the only place I'd want to be. This is where I NEED to be. Do I make myself clear?"

Seeing the genuine caring in Gibbs' piercing blue eyes was almost enough to make Tony cry. Never before had he ever known someone who loved him like this.

"Now, let's get some broth in your body."

Gibbs picked up the spoon and gave Tony a few spoonfuls of broth, then waited a few minutes to see if it stayed down before feeding him some more.

"Okay, Boss, that's enough. I need to lay down now."

"Okay, we can do that."

Gibbs recovered the soup and moved the table with the tray away from the bed. He fluffed Tony's pillow, then reclined his bed a bit so he could lay down more than sit up. Gibbs then went back to the other side of the bed where the chair was and sat down, turning the TV on low to an all-news channel. Tony put his hand through the bars on the side of the bed and took Gibbs' hand. A surprised smile flashed across Gibbs' face.

"I love you, Boss."

"I love you, too, Tony."

Gibbs kissed the back of Tony's hand. Tony's breathing evened out as he drifted to sleep. Not soon afterwards the alarm went of. Gibbs wanted, once again, to ignore it but he thought better of it.

"Okay, time to answer questions again. Come on, wake-up. The faster you do, the faster we get this done."

"Um."

"What's your name?"

"Anthony Michael DiNozzo," Tony mumbled.

"Who is the president of the United States?"

"Bush."

"Which one?"

"George W."

"Where do you work?"

"NCIS."

"Okay, go back to sleep," Gibbs said, resetting the watch.

This went on for another hour, each half hour Gibbs waking Tony to answer questions. Tony became more irritated each time. Around 8:00 PM Beth walked in with a male nurse.

"Gibbs, this is my relief. His name is Mike, and he will be looking after Tony for the night."

"Special Agent Gibbs," Mike said, holding out a hand.

"Just Gibbs. It's nice to meet you. I just asked him this round of questions."

"Good. The doctor called to check on him and said since he seems to be doing fine he can go to every hour."

"Thanks, Beth."

"You're welcome. Gibbs you should go home and get some rest."

Gibbs shook his head. "Not till he's better."

"We can have a convertible chair brought in for you." Beth turned to Mike. "Think you can get that up here?"

"Yeah, not a problem. I'll call down and have it up before the hour is up."

Mike read Tony's chart and together he and Beth checked his vitals, then both nurses left the room. Gibbs changed his alarm for every hour and sat back down to watch the news.

During one of the times Tony was out a young lady came by and brought the phone for the room. She told Gibbs what was necessary to call out. As she was leaving his alarm went off again. Waking Tony, he asked the latest rounds of questions.

"Boss, you need to rest, too."

"I can rest once you're better."

"You stubborn ass," Tony said just before falling back to sleep, Gibbs' hand still held in his.

Just like Tony, Gibbs would nap between alarms. For the rest of the night Gibbs woke Tony every hour. Mike came in several times to take his vitals. Gibbs would wake up every time he entered the room. Each time he asked the nurse about the results, frowning when Tony's fever continued to inch upwards.

Noting the haggard appearance of the older man's face, Mike said, "Gibbs, you really should sleep. We can come in and ask Tony the questions."

"No. Thanks for the offer, but this is something I need to do."

"Understood. If my other half was here I would be doing the same thing." Mike smiled and walked out of the room.

The convertible chair had been delivered hours before, but Gibbs just used it as a chair, holding Tony's hand and leaning his head on the metal side rails of the bed. Tony woke up once, moved a little, and Gibbs' eyes opened right away.

"What's wrong?" he asked, standing up and looking at the man he loved in the dim light of the television.

"Just moving, trying to get more comfortable. Jethro, you need to lay down."

"No."

Tony sighed. "Well, at least use a pillow. Those bars are hard."

Gibbs was about to say 'No' again but thought better of it, looking at the half-asleep Tony.

"You could curl up here and sleep in the bed with me," Tony offered.

"No, Tony, no matter how much I want to, I can't. Mike might get jealous." Gibbs winked. "I think he has a thing for me" He was stroking Tony's forehead with his free hand. "Tony, we'll have plenty of time for that when you get better."

"Jethro, I just meant sleep."

"I know, so did I. Now, go back to sleep."

Gibbs kissed the younger man. Tony kissed him back, wanting more than just a peck. Gibbs took the invitation, his tongue entering Tony's mouth and searching out every little nook and cranny, Tony returning the favor. Tony smiled as he pulled away and immediately fell asleep again.

Gibbs woke Tony up every hour for the rest of the night. At 7:00 AM the phone rang. Gibbs noticed how early it was, frowning as he quickly answered, hoping it wouldn't wake Tony.

"Gibbs," he all but barked. "Abby, it's 7:00 AM, he is sleeping...Okay, I'll let him know ...Well tell her that I'll call later today maybe...Thanks, Abs."

Gibbs hung up the phone and looked at the sleeping form. The alarm went off as well and Gibbs did the questions. He had changed them up a little now, sometimes asking his for his name or Tim's.

At 8:00 AM Beth came back on duty.

"Morning, Gibbs. I see you didn't get much sleep last night." She could tell from the bags under his eyes.

"I got enough. I was used to much less in the Marines."

She smiled and shook her head before turning her attention to Tony. "Okay, cutie, time to get up and have another treatment from the nebulizer."

Tony was groggy but waking up as she went for the breathing treatment. After he finished with the tasty-tasting treatment his food was brought in, but he couldn't eat any of it. Beth scolded him for not eating as she hung up a new bag of fluids and gave him the other meds in the IV port. All Tony wanted was to go back to sleep.

She looked at Gibbs. "Have you eaten anything since you got here?"

Tony snickered and Gibbs glared at him.

"No, ma'am."

Beth shook her head as she left the room. In no time at all she returned with a tray, placing it in front of Gibbs. "Now, eat."

"Yeah, Boss, eat."

Gibbs narrowed his eyes at Tony but did as the nurse instructed.

"Gibbs, Dr. Craft will be in later to see Tony. Until then he's said Tony can be woken at random internals since he's been doing so well."

"Thanks."

"Gibbs, we'll do it."

But Gibbs was shaking his head, looking at the now-sleeping Tony.

"All right, but we'll let you know when to wake him."

"Yes, ma'am, thank you."

"You're more then welcome, and thank you for the help." She looked at the now-empty tray, noticing how the coffee had perked the man up. "There's a coffee pot in the waiting room," she said, bringing a light to those bright blue eyes.

She walked out of the room, Gibbs right behind her.

"Beth, I need to make a call, but I don't want to wake Tony by making it from the room. Do you mind if I use the phone at the nurse's station?"

"No, honey, just dial 9 for an outside line."

Gibbs thanked her and dialed.

"Jen...No, you would...You know what then, screw the reports...No, I am not telling you where either of us are...Jen you know what?" Gibbs just hung up the phone, wishing he could have slammed it instead.

"Everything okay, honey?"

Gibbs blew out a breath. "Yeah, thanks, Beth, just the head boss."

"I understand, honey, believe me."

Gibbs could hear Tony mumbling through the open doorway and went back to the room.

"Boss, no, watch out." Tony was thrashing around.

Gibbs quickly walked over to take hold of Tony's hand. 'Tony, I'm right here," he said, putting his other hand on Tony's shoulder and shaking him a bit.

"No, Gibbs, watch out!"

Gibbs was by now holding onto Tony's shoulders with both hands, trying to keep him still so that he didn't hurt himself. Tony woke up, not knowing where he was or who was touching him and reacted instinctively. Gibbs didn't even see the fist coming towards him till it was too late and it had connected with his face.

Gibbs jumped back and put his hand to his face. Tony was awake now and aware of what he'd just done. The door was still open and Beth witnessed the whole thing from the nurse's station just outside Tony's room. She hurried towards them.

"Oh, God, Boss."

Chapter Text

Tony looked at Gibbs holding his hand over his eye and began to cry.

"Special Agent Gibbs, are you okay?" Beth asked.

"I'm fine," Gibbs assured her, walking over to Tony. "Tony, don't worry, I'm fine." He gathered Tony against him, hugging him tight. His eye was beginning to darken and swell, but Tony was all that mattered right now. "Tony, relax, I'm fine. I should have known better than to grab you."

"Boss," Tony said, still crying over hitting Gibbs.

"Tony, look at me." Gibbs put both hands on Tony's shoulders. Tony was looking down, but Gibbs wasn't having any of that. "Tony," he said again, trying to get Tony to look at him, finally putting a hand under Tony's chin and lifting it till their gazes met.

"Boss, I'm sorry."

Gibbs shook his head. "Tony, you didn't mean to do this. Don't think twice about it, okay?"

With the combination of the illness, the drugs in his system, and hitting Gibbs, Tony couldn't seem to stop crying.

"Tony, come on, it's okay."

Tony nodded. Gibbs put the guardrail down. Beth was still in the doorframe, making sure everything was okay.

Gibbs took Tony in his arms again and hugged him, making sure not to bother Tony's IV and the other wires attached to him. Tony fell into the hug, more like melted into it. Gibbs sat on the edge of the bed, wanting to get as close as possible.

Beth, seeing that the men were taking care of each other, walked out of the room smiling and closed the door behind her. Those two men were good together.

Tony managed to stop crying and was just breathing in the scent of Gibbs. Gibbs could tell Tony was falling asleep in his arms. He let Tony lean on him, still careful of the IVs and wires.

At about 9:00 AM the phone rang.

Gibbs quickly picked it up. "Gibbs."

Tony woke up, stirring and mumbling, rubbing his face against Gibbs' shirt.

"Shh, go back to sleep," Gibbs said before turning his attention back to the person on the other end of the phone. He listened, then said, "Yes, send them up."

"Who was that?"

"Security. You have a couple of visitors."

"Who?"

"Someone who wants to surprise you. They wanted to make sure you were awake and up to visitors."

"Cool, hope they brought me a gift," Tony said around a yawn, smiling and still leaning against Gibbs.

Five minutes later there was a lovely middle-aged lady and a ten-year old girl standing in the doorway.

"Monica, Jenny, come in," Tony said with pleasure when he saw who was there to see him.

Exhausted from his night of waking Tony every thirty minutes and from not having had near enough coffee for the day, Gibbs had fallen asleep in the few minutes it took the visitors to come up. He woke up after Tony said something and tried to get out from under Tony where he was snuggled against him, but Tony wasn't having any of that.

"Tony," Jenny said happily.

"Hey there, half-pint. Why aren't you in school?"

"I have a doctor's appointment later, and Mom said we could stop and say hi before I go. Who's this?"

"Jenny," Monica scolded.

Tony smiled. "It's okay. This is Special Agent-"

"Gibbs," Monica finished for him.

"Yes, ma'am." Gibbs said with a smile. He hadn't tried to move again. He could tell Tony didn't seem to care if these two saw them snuggled together, so why should he? He felt a little weird showing affection for another man in front of people he didn't know, but Tony seemed to know them, and they seemed to have heard about him.

"Hello, Special-"

"Just Gibbs, ma'am, or Jethro."

"Okay, Jethro, it's nice to finally meet you," she said, walking over and shaking his hand.

"Yeah, Tony talks about you all the time," Jenny said. "My name is Jenny," she added, standing on Tony's other side.

"Nice to meet you both. How do you know our Tony?"

"We all live on the same floor," Tony said. "Sometimes Jenny comes down and keeps me company."

"Tony is such a dear. I work two jobs and some nights I can't get out early enough and he'll watch Jenny for me."

Gibbs raised his eyebrows. "Really, DiNozzo? Never knew that."

Tony shrugged, a touch of red on his cheeks that had nothing to do with his fever. "It's nothing, Boss."

"He talks about you all the time, Mr. Gibbs. We watch movies or he helps me with my homework sometimes."

"Heck, she's the one who does all my spell-checking on reports."

"Good. We both know you can't spell," Gibbs said, causing everyone to smile.

"So, Tony, does this mean-" Monica was about to say.

"Yes," he interrupted, knowing what she was going to ask.

"Good. You two make a very nice couple."

"Thank you, ma'am," Gibbs said, once again being the polite Southern boy he'd been brought up to be.

"Tony, you know the gift you got me for my birthday was just too much."

"It was nothing, Monica. You give to me all the time, making sure I eat. I just wanted to return the favor. I hope the scent of the bath oil was okay and the lingerie was the right size."

"Tony, that was Lapearla, you know."

"Monica, it was nothing. You need to feel special."

Gibbs smiled at this side of Tony, the way he treated other people. He always was thinking of ways to make other people feel good about themselves. He always talked about chasing women, making him seem like a sexist pig, but even then he always took them to nice places. Whether or not there was more to it than just a meal, he wasn't sure. He didn't even want to know. That was the past and had nothing to do with their future.

"Really, Tony."

"Don't think twice about it, Monica. I love to do that sort of thing."

Monica and Jenny sat with them for nearly half an hour. During that time the nurse came in to ask Tony questions to make sure there were still no complications from the concussion.

"Oh, look at the time," Monica said as she glanced at her watch. "Honey, we need to get you to the doctor's office."

"Mom."

"Listen to your mother, Jenny," Gibbs said. "If you're good, when Tony comes home how about you come over and we can make him a special dinner. How does that sound?"

Monica smiled. She was happy for Tony, that he had found the man he wanted, the man he had never shut up about for the last year that they had been living in the same building.

Being a single mother, Monica had to work two jobs just to make ends meet. She worked a 9-5 job at a law firm every weekday in an office building and every few days she would waitress at the local TGI Fridays to make extra cash to help pay the bills. She was always just able to make the payments without much left over, but this was a nice area, with better schools, and she wanted the best for her daughter since her father had jumped ship a while ago.

Not long after moving into the apartment building, she had bumped into Tony in the elevator and they had hit it off and had become fast friends, hanging out when they could. After coming to know and trust Tony, she had one night asked him to watch Jenny when she had to work late and the regular babysitter had to leave. After a while it seemed as if Tony watched Jenny more than the babysitter.

But Tony didn't mind. He was great with Jenny, and her daughter loved him. Knowing she had someone like Tony there to take care of Jenny made her feel less guilty about the extra hours she worked, especially when she had to work so late while trying to earn the money to give Jenny a special Christmas.

Jenny and Monica left, and Tony was once again falling asleep on Gibbs. Literally. Beth came in at various intervals to take Tony's vitals, but he would sleep through it. Gibbs, who would nap as well, would snap awake the moment he heard footsteps in the room, even if Beth was trying to be quiet. She had at one point assured Gibbs that leaning on the bed like that was okay but was bound to kill his back.

The day passed much in that same way. Beth would make a signal to Gibbs, and he would wake up Tony every so often to ask the questions. He was almost sure this would be the last day for that. Tony seemed to be getting a little better, even if his skin was still very warm to the touch. Gibbs, however, was not looking so good. His eye was almost black all around now and slightly swollen. He could still see out of it and it didn't seem to bother him that much. It just looked, as Beth told him, like he'd been in a barroom brawl and come out the loser.

Around 6:00 PM Abby and McGee showed up together. Tony was awake but Gibbs was out cold. He didn't even hear them come in.

"Tony-"

Tony put his finger up to his lips.

"Boss-man hasn't slept, has he?"

"Nope."

"What happened to his eye, Tony?" Tim asked.

Tony looked down guiltily.

"Tony punched me for being stupid."

"Boss."

"He was having a nightmare, and I went to hold him, but he woke up confused and struck out at me."

Tony flushed, looking even more miserable and guilty.

"Tony, don't think about it. I told you, I'm fine."

"Looks like it hurts, Gibbs," McGee offered.

"Nope, not at all," he said, wanting to make sure Tony put the guilt behind him.

Abby and Tim came into the room and sat with the men for a while, McGee sitting in the convertible chair and Abby perching on the foot of the bed near both Gibbs' and Tony's feet.

"Look, guys, I'm not sure how to say this..."

"Out with it, McGee," Gibbs barked.

"I'm cool with the two of you...dating."

Tony smiled. McGee was bracing himself for another barked comment from Gibbs and had to blink when all he got was a, "Thanks, McGee," from the boss.

Dinner came, a tray for both Tony and Gibbs.

"I am not eating."

"Tony, you're going to at least eat the soup. You didn't eat lunch."

"But, Gibbs, they have me on a liquid lunch," Tony said, pointing at the IV.

"I don't care. Do I need to feed you myself?"

"No, I think I can do it," Abby said, getting up to help Tony.

Since Tony wasn't letting Gibbs move, the older man was forced to eat with his left hand.

"Here you go, Tony," Abby said, opening the soup and the spoon. "Think you can manage this, or do I get to feed you?"

Tony grinned. "I think my hand still works, Abs. It's even steady today."

"Yeah, I can see that by looking at Gibbs' eye."

Tony rolled his eyes as he began to eat the broth. He managed to eat it all without incident.

"Good," Gibbs said when he was finished, "I'm glad it stayed down."

"You and me both, Boss."

"Gibbs, the Director is having a kitten about you both."

"Yeah, I talked to her this morning, Abby."

"She is such a bitch."

"Jen means well, Abby."

"Still..."

Gibbs just smiled, knowing where his team's loyalties lay. "Okay, guys I think this man needs a bath, he's starting to smell."

"I think that is our cue to leave, Abby."

Abby's lips came out into a pout. "But I want to watch."

"You can have a cheap thrill some other time, Abby."

"Hey, who are you calling cheap?" Tony blustered.

"Not to mention he's not all that much to look at right now," Gibbs continued, finally able to work himself out from under Tony. He smiled at the pouting younger man.

"Gee, thanks, Boss. You're no prize yourself," Tony teased back, smiling too.

"Okay, you two, play nice. And no over-exciting yourself," Abby warned with a wink as she and McGee left the room.

"I'll be right back, Tony. I need to ask Beth a question."

Tony watched Gibbs walk away and grinned, thinking he couldn't wait till he got out of there and he could see that ass naked.

"Beth, can I close the curtain on the window? I think our boy needs a bath."

"Sure, but-"

"I know, nothing more then that."

She smiled. "I was going to say we can have the nurses do that, but now that you mention it."

Gibbs was laughing as he walked back into the room, shutting the door and closing the curtains on the door and the outside window.

"Oh, you take all the fun out of this. We could give them a show."

"Nope, those goods are mine alone to look at."

Tony grinned. "Well, I won't argue with that."

Gibbs filled a new basin with warm water and placed it along with soap and a cloth on the rolling table next to Tony's bed after moving the food trays to the nightstand. He went into Tony's bag for the first time and took out a pair of boxer briefs and a pair of flannel house pants.

"Only yours, huh?" Tony questioned, still having trouble believing he and Gibbs had finally made it to this point.

"Yes, mine," Gibbs answered with a smile.

Gibbs rolled the table closer to the bed, then took off Tony's gown, carefully maneuvering it around all the wires and IVs connected to him.

"Okay, lets have you sit up."

"Boss, you think you can give me a shave? I feel kind of grungy with all this stubble."

One corner of Gibbs' mouth lifted. "I think I can handle that."

Abby hadn't packed Tony a razor, so Gibbs took his own razor and shave cream from his bag. Wetting Tony's face, he then rubbed the cool gel on, working it into a cream over the sexy stubble on the younger man's cheeks, chin and upper lip, his touch more of a caress.

Tony's eyes never left Gibbs as he slowly stroked the razor over his face, careful not to nick him as he removed the stubble. If Gibbs put this much concentration into shaving him, what would it be like when he finally got around to making love to him? Being the focus of all that intensity would be an erotic experience in and of itself. He closed his eyes and had to bite back a groan as Gibbs gently removed the last little bits of shaving cream from his face with the wet cloth.

Finished with the shave, Gibbs began washing Tony's back. He wasn't trying to turn Tony on, but Tony couldn't help but respond. As Gibbs soaped his back and dipped the cloth into the basin of warm water before washing the soap away, Tony began to make a sound much like a purr. This was GIBBS running his hands all over him, even if it was just a sponge bath, and his body seemed to have a mind of it's own. By the time Gibbs moved to his arms, Tony was hard as a rock.

"Gibbs, can you help me out here?"

"Tony, I think we better not today."

"Oh, you're just going to torture me. I see your kink now," Tony said with a smile.

Gibbs finished washing Tony's arms, then moved to his chest, carefully washing the lightly furred muscles so as not to bother the electrodes attached to him. He moved the cloth downward till he came to a very hard member. He swallowed heavily, wanting to do more than just wash that hardness.

Blue eyes glazed over as his gaze tracked a pearly drop of precum as it slowly trickled down the hard shaft. He wanted to take that hard member in his hand, using the precum as lubricant as he slowly stroked up and down. Or better yet he wanted to trace the path of that salty liquid with his tongue, making sure to get every bit of it before taking the head in his mouth and tasting the source.

Or maybe he would tease him first, licking the shaft, then just licking the head, over and over without sucking it into his mouth. Only when Tony was begging would he take the head into his mouth, sliding his lips down the shaft, his hand following.

Caught up in his fantasy, Gibbs didn't realize he was doing more than washing Tony until he heard him groan. That was when he became aware of the fact that he was running the washcloth over Tony's erection in a sexual manner. He immediately stopped before this went too far.

"No, Gibbs," Tony groaned. "Please, Boss, I need release."

"No."

"Boss," Tony whined.

"Tony, do you want to be the one to explain to Beth why the alarm on your heart monitor is going off?"

"Oh, God, Gibbs, you really are a bastard."

"Deal with it, DiNozzo. I'm not about to get on the wrong side of Nurse Beth."

Gibbs moved down to wash Tony's legs. He was glad he'd already shaved him, because as badly as his hands were shaking right now, he might have slit Tony's throat. After he finished washing Tony he put his house pants on him. He forewent the underwear, knowing it was best if he didn't try tucking Tony's erection into the boxer briefs. The shirt he left off, too, since they hadn't brought a button up, only pullovers, and he couldn't put one on him as long as the heart monitor and IVs were still connected.

Not that he minded seeing Tony's bare chest. The man was beautiful.

"Boss," Tony said plaintively.

"I know, Tony."

Gibbs kissed Tony hard, with love. He finally broke the kiss, leaving he and Tony both hard and breathing heavily. When he opened the curtains over the window and the smaller window on the door, he noticed Beth was no longer at the desk. Instead there was an older lady there now.

"Boss, you can sit on the bed again," Tony said when Gibbs sat down in one of the chairs next to the bed.

"Tony, I'm not sure that's a good idea."

Gibbs could see the need in Tony's eyes.

"Sure, okay, but let me shower and change first."

Tony got a pouting face as he looked at Gibbs.

"Do not even think it, DiNozzo. I am not showing the world my business."

"Mine, right?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact, it is."

Gibbs smiled. Gathering up his razor, shaving cream, boxers and a pair of sweat pants, he went into the bathroom to shave and shower.

Gibbs turned on the water in the shower before stripping. He stepped into the shower and lathered his face. As he removed the whiskers from his face, he couldn't help but remember shaving and washing Tony. His erection had half-wilted, but now he was hard again, and he wasn't sure he could go back out there and lay on that bed with Tony without doing something that might get him kicked out of the hospital.

There was only one thing to do. Soaping up his hand, he took hold of his hard member and began stroking, running up and down the shaft, adding a twist over the head. There wasn't any teasing to this. This was merely about relief, needing the release to continue to be so close to Tony without losing it. It was Tony's face behind his closed eyelids when he came, spurting his seed in long threads that washed down the drain along with his built up tension.

Gibbs knew it wasn't fair to Tony that he had gotten off while the leaving the younger man with a case of blue balls, but he would make it up to him later, after they were out of this place. Feeling better after his own relief, he walked out of the bathroom with just his pants on, since he hadn't taken socks or a shirt into the room with him.

"Now that is not fair."

"What?"

"Boss, you're not the quietest person in the world when you come."

Gibbs blushed a little.

"But I like this look for you."

Gibbs walked over to Tony and kissed him. Tony responded, his hands roaming over Gibbs' bare chest, fingers teasing the nipples hidden in the light covering of salt and pepper hair. Gibbs broke it up when his body decided it might be interested again.

"Oh, God, Tony, we have to stop. You need to reserve your energy for getting better. We'll have plenty of time for this when you get better."

Tony pouted again. Gibbs shook his head at the younger man's antics as he got a shirt out of his bag and slipped it on. Once he was dressed, he sat down on the edge of the bed, then swung his legs up so that he was stretched out beside Tony. He stayed as close to the edge as possible, wanting to make sure Tony had plenty of room.

But Tony wasn't going to let him fall off. He scooted down, wrapping his arm over Gibbs and putting his head on his boss' chest, using him as a pillow. Tony fell asleep like that. Watching him, Gibbs soon fell asleep as well. They slept for about two hours till the older nurse came in to wake him per Beth's instructions. He thanked her, then woke Tony and asked him the questions.

"Okay, Tony, what's my name?"

"Gibbs," Tony mumbled against his chest, eyes still closed.

"Full name, please."

Tony was still out of it since they had given him a new round of painkillers while Gibbs had been in the shower.

"Leroy Jethro Gibbs," he said sleepily.

"Good. Where do you work?"

"NCIS."

"Good. One more. Who is your personal physician, and full name, please."

"Doctor Donald Mallard."

"Good. You can go back to sleep now."

Gibbs was stroking Tony's hair, running his fingers through the dark strands even after Tony had fallen asleep.

Sometime in the middle of the night the older lady came in and woke up Gibbs again.

"Sir, I'm sorry to bother you, but, well-" She pointed out to the nurses station where two police officers where standing. "They need to talk to Mr. DiNozzo."

"Did they say why?"

"Not really. They said it was important. Shall I send them in?"

"Yeah, sure."

The older nurse walked out.

"Tony, come on, you need to wake up."

"Um," Tony mumbled, slowly waking up and noticing the two police officers walking in.

"Mr. DiNozzo."

Tony slowly sat up with help from Gibbs. "Yes, that's me."

"Sir, do you know a Monica Blass?"

Tony looked at Gibbs, then back at the two officers. "Yes," he said slowly.

"Sir, I'm sorry to inform you-"

Tony swallowed, knowing this talk by heart, having given it many times when he'd been a cop.

"No," Tony whispered, starting to cry, the heart monitor beeping faster and faster as he got worked up.

The nurse came running to check him.

"Sir, I'm sorry for your loss, but Ms. Blass had your number and info in her purse, that if something happened to her you were to be contacted."

Tony was still crying, muttering, "No, no."

"Officer, what happened?" Gibbs asked.

The nurse, seeing what was happening, whispered something into the ear of one of the officers, who nodded in return.

"Mr. DiNozzo, there was an accident. She was on her way home from a doctor's appointment. She passed away on scene."

"Officer, did... what happened to her daughter?"

"She is in recovery now, waiting to be brought up to a room. She was in surgery and is still unconscious. You might have been able to see her when she was first brought in, but it took us hours to track you down, Mr. DiNozzo."

Tony couldn't speak for the silent tears slipping down his face, soaking into Gibbs' shirt.

"Thank you, officers," Gibbs said, and both men took the hint and left.

Chapter Text

Tony's face was buried against Gibbs' chest as he silently cried. Gibbs held him as he cried, rubbing his back soothingly and murmuring quietly to him.

"Shh," Gibbs whispered, trying to calm his lover down.

The heart monitor reading was higher than normal, but it wasn't enough to bring the nurse back into the room. She knew what had happened and that the young man was crying, mourning for the loss of a beautiful woman.

"B-b-b-boss," Tony managed into Gibbs' shirt, his voice muffled.

"Yes, Tony?"

"I want to see her."

"Tony, they won't let you down there," Gibbs said reasonably, still holding Tony, glad he wasn't crying as much and that his breathing seemed to be okay.

"Oh, God, I'm going to be sick," Tony said.

Gibbs reached behind him for the clean basin, holding it for Tony as he emptied his stomach. He held the basin with one hand and Tony with the other, keeping Tony's back pressed against him comfortingly. After Tony was done Gibbs took the basin to the bathroom and emptied it, then took the bottle of water off the food tray and took it to Tony.

"Here, rinse your mouth out," Gibbs said, handing him the bottle, then holding the basin for him again to spit in. "You need to take a few sips if you can."

Tony finally leaned back against the bed, looking at Gibbs through tear-glazed green eyes. "Boss, I want to be there."

"Tony, that's not the best idea you've had."

"Boss," Tony said pleadingly.

Gibbs had never met the little girl or her mother till that day, but he knew to Tony they were special.

"Honey-" Gibbs froze when that word fell from his lips. He wasn't the kind of person to use endearments or give cute names for someone, but it somehow felt right. Smiling gently, he cupped Tony's face with one hand.

"Gibbs, she needs someone. Her mom was the only person that little girl had," Tony managed to say despite the fact that he was crying again.

"Okay, Tony, I'll ask, but don't expect too much. "

"You're Leroy Jethro Gibbs. You can make anything happen." Tony tried to shoot him a smile, but he was hurting too much right now.

Gibbs kissed the man, softly and passionately, his tongue invading Tony's mouth. Tony returned the favor, his tongue already knowing just the right spots to hit in Gibbs' mouth to make the man moan softly; the feel and taste of it caused Tony to moan, too.

Gibbs moved his free hand to the back of Tony's head, pulling him into the kiss more. The hand that was cupping his face moved, stroking from temple to jaw line, stopping at the chin. After he traced Tony's face he broke the kiss.

"I'll try, okay, but" -Gibbs hand on Tony's chin lifted his face so they were looking eye to eye- "and this is a very big but, if the doctor says no, we listen to him. But then we have Ducky come by in the morning and fry them all."

Gibbs smiled when he said the last, bringing a smile to Tony's face, too. He placed a quick kiss on Tony's lips before heading out the door. Gibbs then did a strange thing; he shut the door behind him.

Gibbs walked over to the older lady who seemed to be in charge tonight. Tony could see Gibbs as he said something to her and her moving her head in a negative motion. Gibbs kept talking, gesturing with his hands and from the looks of him not liking what the nurse had to say.

Tony continued to watch, even though that was a bit difficult through wet, scratchy eyes, but whatever was being said, Gibbs was not happy. He seemed to be getting louder, his gestures more animated. Tony could see the woman wasn't backing down from Gibbs, even though he was towering over her.

From what he could see, Gibbs seemed to be yelling. The woman wasn't backing down; instead she seemed to be trying to calm an angry Gibbs. Tony shook his head, thinking the woman couldn't be the brightest bulb in the chandelier. No one in his or her right mind went toe-to-toe with an angry Jethro Gibbs.

Eventually the woman turned and picked up the phone, glancing at Gibbs with a scowl as she spoke. After hanging up she said something to Gibbs. With a nod he turned and walked back into Tony's room, leaving the door open once again.

"What was that?" Tony asked. His tears had dried up, even though he was still concerned for the little girl who had just lost everything. But he was also concerned for his lover.

"Just putting the second B to good use. She put a call into Dr. Craft to see about getting you in to see Jenny. Since your temp is still elevated, she didn't want to, but I convinced her to make the call," Gibbs said with a smile.

"You know," Tony said, holding out a hand, "you're kind of cute when you get all manly on me."

Gibbs took the offered hand in his own and sat on the edge of the bed. Tony leaned over on him and almost before Gibbs was settled comfortably, Tony was sleeping. About thirty minutes later the head nurse came into the room softly.

"Special Agent Gibbs, the doctor said Mr. DiNozzo can go over and see the young girl, but he will not be allowed in her room. He'll have to stay in the hallway and see her through the window. She's recovering from surgery and can't be exposed to Mr. DiNozzo's germs. Dr. Craft-"

'Thank you," Gibbs cut her off. "If you can get me a wheel chair, I'll take him over."

"I'll have one brought in. ICU is on this floor, just at the other end. I'll call ahead for you."

She walked out of the room, and Tony was reminded of someone trying to keep from pissing their pants. He was even more assured Gibbs had truly intimidated her when she kept glancing back at him as she picked up the phone in the nurse's station and made a call.

Gibbs' hand stroked up and down Tony's arm, lulling him to sleep once again. Before too much time had passed a tiny Asian woman entered the room pushing a wheelchair. Gibbs shook Tony a bit to wake him.

"Tony, come on, let's wake up," he said, mouth against Tony's ear.

Tony moved his head, turning away from the voice.

"Honey," Gibbs said again, again not forcing it out, it just came naturally out of the mouth of the ex-Marine.

Tony looked up into the electric blue eyes of his new lover. "Jethro, she has no one now."

"That's not true, Tony," Gibbs said, kissing the tip of Tony's nose. "She has you and me."

Tony looked shocked.

"What?"

"You don't even know her, Boss."

"You do, and that's all that matters in my book."

Tony leaned up and kissed the man.

The young Asian woman unplugged the wires to Tony's heart monitor but left them attached to his chest, warning, "Sir, you'll have to be careful of the loose wires."

"I'll make sure he's fine. Thank you, ma'am."

With a nod the nurse's aide hooked his IV bag to a pole that would fit into the back of the wheelchair, then left the room.

"Tony, they said you can go down, but you can't go into the room, okay?"

"But-"

"Tony."

"Okay, fine, Boss."

Gibbs helped Tony out of bed, the first time he'd been up since being admitted the day before.

"Um, Boss."

"Yes, DiNozzo."

"I've got to go."

Tony was shaky and was basically being held up by Gibbs.

"Okay, this is a good sign, Tony."

He helped Tony to the bathroom. The light was kept on, so all he had to do was help him inside and hook the IV bag to the hook on the wall that was there just for that purpose.

"I have to GO."

Gibbs took the cue, helping Tony sit down to use the facilities. Gibbs waited outside the door, happy Tony's body was beginning to process the broth he'd eaten earlier. He was already moving inside when he heard the toilet flush, before Tony even called him back.

"Okay, let's go."

"You have to wash your hands first," Gibbs ordered, always the Marine.

He helped Tony over to the sink, pulling the wheelchair close and hooking the bag to it while he held a weakened Tony up as he washed his hands. Once he was finished, Tony turned slightly, leaning against Gibbs and lifting a hand to turn the older man's face towards him.

Tilting his head, he leaned closer, meeting Gibbs' mouth with his own. Gibbs didn't pull away. When the kiss turned hard and fast he moved into it, meeting Tony halfway. One of Tony's hands went around his waist while the other flattened on his chest, caressing the still-firm muscles.

Gibbs already had one hand around Tony's waist, and now the other one went around it as well, moving down and working it's way into the open back of the gown. Tony groaned when that work-roughened hand grasped his right cheek, kneading the firmness.

Tony's hand moved from Gibbs' chest to the front of his pants. When Tony touched the hardness behind his fly, Gibbs gasped for air. He didn't break the kiss, just moaned into Tony's mouth as his erection was petted and stroked. When Tony squeezed the thick shaft he gasped, eyes popping open. That was when he realized just where they were and what they were doing. He didn't want to, but he had no choice but to break the kiss.

"No. Not here. Not like this."

"But, Boss-"

"Tony, I love you. I'm not saying no, I'm just saying not like this. I don't want our first time to be outside the bathroom of a room in the local hospital. I want to make love to you, slowly and filled with passion. I love you, Tony. I want to be inside you, and I want you inside of me."

Tony's eyes widened. "I never thought you..."

"Tony, I LOVE you. Yes, I normally top, but with you it's different. I want to be with you in every way possible, so you think we can wait till we get back to my place?"

"Your place?"

Gibbs helped Tony into the chair, then opened the door. The nurse's aide came back in, holding a small box no larger than a deck of cards.

"This is a portable heart monitor. Let's plug those wires in, shall we?" She attached the wires to the box, then left the room again.

"You ready?"

"Yeah, Boss. What did you mean your place?"

Gibbs pushed him into the hallway and began moving towards the ICU. Taking a deep breath, he said, "I know I haven't talked to you about it yet, Tony, but I want you to move in with me."

Tony took his foot off the footrest and put it on the floor to stop his forward motion. "Boss?"

Gibbs came around and crouched in front of him. They had passed the rooms and were in a hallway that only held the elevator bays.

"You okay, Tony?"

"Yes, sure fine," Tony said, but he was almost crying again.

Gibbs kissed the tear that was falling down his cheek. "So why the waterworks, DiNozzo?"

"I guess because it just hit me that you really meant what you said about loving me and not wanting to leave."

"Why would I say it if I didn't mean it?"

Tony shrugged and looked down, pleating the hospital gown with a hand that shook. Gibbs covered that hand with one of his own big hands.

"Boss, no one has ever loved me like that since my first nanny. She would always take car of me when I was sick, sitting on the bed and holding me and doing the things a parent should do."

"Well, I mean it, Honey. See? I've never called anyone that. I really want you to move in."

"But you don't have cable," Tony mock complained, smiling at the man in front of him.

"Then I guess you have lots of work to do making my house livable."

All Tony could do was smile. Gibbs kissed him once more, just a peck on the lips, then went back around and began pushing him down the hall again. But he was worried. Tony was starting to get warm again. If his fever was going up again, he had to make this a short trip and get Tony back in bed.

Gibbs walked up to the ICU nurse's station, gave them Tony's name and asked where Jenny was.

"Yes, sir, we've been expecting you. This way, please."

The nurse tried to take the handles of Tony's chair but Gibbs waved her off, preferring to push Tony himself. The nurse shrugged and led the way to the little girl's room. There was no door to the ICU cubicle, and they could see Jenny lying there, looking small and helpless hooked up to various machines.

"Is she okay?"

"Because of the Privacy Act I wouldn't be able to talk about our little patient, but since you're down as her emergency contact, I can tell you that all things considered, yes, she's doing fine. She'll be moved to the pediatric ward in the morning." The nurse shook her head. "It could have been a lot worse. We were told her mother wasn't so lucky."

Tony looked up at Gibbs. "Boss, I want to hold her hand."

"I know, Tony, I know, but you can't."

"It's not fair. She needs someone to hold her hand, to let her know she's going to be okay."

Gibbs patted Tony's shoulder. "You stay right here, and stay out of trouble"

"Where are you going?"

"To hold her hand and tell her she'll be fine."

Tony swallowed around the lump in his throat. "Thanks, Boss."

Gibbs placed a quick kiss on Tony's lips before going into the cubicle. The ICU ward was quiet, and he could hear all the machines working. Walking to the left side of the bed, he picked up her hand.

"Jenny, I don't know if you can hear me, but I will make sure that we do everything in our power and take care of what you need, okay?"

Gibbs ignored the lump in his own throat, pushing back the tears that were forming in his eyes. Bringing the tiny hand to his mouth, he kissed the back of it, then leaned over and kissed the little-girl cheek before leaving the room.

"Gibbs."

"Yes, Tony?"

"Never mind."

They both thanked the nurse before Gibbs pushed him back out into the hallway.

"Gibbs."

Gibbs stopped and moved around so he could see eye to eye with Tony. "Yes?"

Tony wrapped his arms around the other man and hugged him, laying his head against the flat stomach, silent tears soaking into Gibbs' shirt. The quiet grief was too much for Gibbs. Even ex-Marines have a breaking point. Leaning over Tony, he wrapped his own arms around the younger man, unable to hold back his own tears.

That was how the nurse's aide found them, wrapped around each other, silently crying, unmindful of who might happen by.

"I'm sorry, sir, but the ICU nurse called to say you were on your way back, and when you didn't arrive, we began to worry."

They ended their comforting embrace, wiping tears from their eyes. Gibbs pushed Tony back to his room and helped him back into bed, once again sitting on the bed beside him.

The nurse's aide hooked Tony up to the heart monitor once again and hung up his IV bag while a nurse, not the one Gibbs had threatened, took his vital signs. He frowned when the nurse said Tony's temperature was back up to 102.8. Damn, that wasn't good.

"Tony, I'll call Ducky in the morning and have him check on Jenny and what happened to her," Gibbs said, but he was talking to a sleeping mound of Tony.

The night went amazingly well. Gibbs slept curled up with Tony, not waking till the sun came up. Muscles cramped, he tried to move out from under Tony, but even in his sleep Tony wouldn't let him move. Tony's head was on his lap, and both his arms were around Gibbs waist. Gibbs smiled. He could get use to this. And it wasn't as if he really wanted to move either.

Looking through the window in the door towards the nurse's station, he realized the nightshift was still there. Looking at his watch, he saw it was only 7:00 AM. He hit the call button. He hated to make them come in, but he needed help, and Tony was in no condition for that. The little Asian girl was the one who responded.

"Yes, what can I get for you?"

"I'm sorry to bother you, but can you hand me my cell phone from that bag?"

"I'm sorry, sir, but cell phones aren't allowed in the hospital."

"Shit, right, I forgot. Okay, thanks anyway, and sorry to bother you."

"You're welcome, sir."

Gibbs managed to move a little till he could reach the hospital phone. He dialed 9 for an outside line, then dialed Ducky's number.

"Ducky...Yes, we're good, thanks...That's okay. Ducky are you busy?...Yes, I need your help...Tony's neighbor was in an accident and she passed, but her daughter is here in the hospital. I need you to come over and make sure everything it okay...Yes, I trust them, but I want English, Ducky...Thanks, Ducky." They both hung up the phone.

Gibbs was stroking Tony's head where it lay in his lap, playing with the dark strands of his hair. Gibbs was still new to this. Yes, he'd thought he was in love before, he really had been with his first wife, but since then he'd never really known love till now. Tony had puked on him and given him a black eye, and Gibbs hadn't cared either time. He just wanted the man to get better so they could live the rest of their lives together, happy and in love.

"Well, isn't this a sight."

Gibbs looked up and saw Director Jennifer Sheppard.

"Jen."

"Jethro, you're a hard man to track down."

"Is there going to be a point to this?" Gibbs questioned, already on the defensive.

"You know the regs about fraternization with a fellow team member will not be tolerated."

"I seem to recall you forgetting rule 6 years ago, and making me make up rule 12."

"That was then, this is now, Jethro."

"You couldn't leave it alone, could you, Jen?"

"You gave me no choice."

"And why is that?"

"Ducky removing you both from work till further notice."

"It's not like I don't have time coming, and so does DiNozzo."

"As a matter of fact, Agent DiNozzo is out of sick days. His contracting Y-Pestis used up the last of them."

"That's low, even for you, Jen. That was a work-related incident."

"I don't make the rules, Jethro."

"No, you only break them when you feel you need to."

"Jethro, you've tied my hands on this one."

Gibbs glared at her, wanting nothing more than to yell at this lady, and that was a term he used loosely; the same lady that he had at one time had feelings for.

"Effective now, Special Agent DiNozzo will be transferred to our San Francisco Office."

"You can't do that," Gibbs growled.

"Watch me, Jethro. Also effective immediately, I am placing you back on active duty."

"Ducky has not cleared me for work."

"We'll see about that. I expect you in the office and ready for work within the hour."

"If that's the way you want it, Madame Director," Gibbs said, choosing his words carefully, knowing the wrong word would drive Madame over the edge, "effective immediately, I QUIT. Now, leave before I have security called and they take you out like trash."

The director was shocked and pissed. She'd wanted Gibbs back since she'd come back, and now she knew that wasn't going to happen because he had found love with someone else, and that someone else was another man.

Chapter Text

Jen was pissed and left in a huff. Gibbs didn't care. He would do anything for Tony, and if it meant quitting, then so be it. He had a large enough pension due him from both NCIS and the Marines. But he didn't think it would come to that. This would all blow over, he was sure. There were higher powers than Jen at NCIS, and they wouldn't take his resignation lightly.

Beth distracted him from his thoughts, striding into the room in a purposeful manner, a look of extreme agitation on her face. Ducky was due to arrive at any minute, and Gibbs found himself wishing the ME would hurry because he suddenly had the feeling he was going to need him to put his ass back together after Beth reamed it out.

"Young man," she began.

Gibbs would have found that funny considering she was at least a decade younger than him, but something about her tone made him feel like he was ten again and being called on the carpet for some infraction.

"Yes, ma'am?"

"One, I am not happy that you are in the bed with our young stud. I can understand wanting to hold him, but that is not the point. I can overlook your breaking of hospital policy in that manner since you have, up till last night, been a good boy. And that brings me to my second point: threatening one of my staff was uncalled for."

"But-"

"There are no buts. You did not need to tell her, let me see, how did she say you said it? 'Take the blood pressure machine and shove it up your rump sideways' if she did not let Mr. DiNozzo go down to see his young friend." The whole time she was lecturing, Beth was taking Tony's blood pressure.

Unmindful of the cuff around his arm or the drama around him, Tony continued to sleep.

Gibbs felt like a puppy that had been whacked on the nose with a newspaper.

"Yes, ma'am, it was uncalled for, and I will make as apology the next time I see her or put it in writing if I do not see her again."

"Thank you. Now, I'm told the young girl was going to go up to the peds ward, but I pulled a few strings, and she will be moved to a room just a few doors down. I heard what happened, that she doesn't have anyone but Mr. DiNozzo. This does NOT mean our young stud can make a lot of trips to her room. He is still sick. We just got his last batch of blood work back, and the flu is still in his body. He might seem a lot better, but that is the drugs talking." She glared at Gibbs. "Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, ma'am. I will keep him in the bed if I have to tie him down."

One corner of her mouth quirked up, and she winked at Gibbs to put him at ease again. "Now, none of that till he's feeling better. Let's see about getting him up after I take his temp and give him a nebulizer treatment."

"Yes, ma'am." Gibbs began stroking Tony's back. "Come on, Tony, time to wake up."

"Five more minutes, Mom," Tony murmured, unable to keep a smile from his face as he once again teased Gibbs.

"No. NOW, mister, or this nice nurse will take your temp rectally."

Tony sat straight up, smirking. "Now, if YOU threatened to do that, I-"

Beth didn't let him finish, sticking the thermometer probe in his open mouth and smiling.

"I see my patient is up," said an older British-accented voice from the doorway.

Ducky entered the room, McGee right behind him.

"Sorry to be late, but I was at the office, and you know there are some things that just won't wait."

"It's okay, Ducky," Gibbs said. "McGee," he added, nodding at the younger agent.

Beth removed the probe from Tony's mouth after it beeped. "101.9. It's down from last night, but it's still too high." She patted Tony's arm. "So no excitement, okay, cutie?"

Tony smiled. "Just can't keep your hands off me, can you, Beth? You sure you don't want to, you know?"

Tony felt a hand on the back of his head. Had he been feeling better it would have been a smack. Instead it was just a caress. Beth merely smiled before walking out.

"Ducky, I need you to find out what happened with the little girl. Her name is Jenny Blass. She's being moved to a room a few doors down."

"Of course, Jethro, my pleasure."

"Also," Gibbs proceeded to tell them about the director's little visit.

"That bitch," was Tony's reply. "I'll quit before I leave this area."

"Tony, we'll make sure it doesn't come to that."

"But you already did," Tony reminded him.

"Anthony," Ducky interjected, "Jen is trying to make a play for her old turf. I am sure she will see reason."

"Well, I might have an idea," McGee spoke up.

"And that would be?" Gibbs asked, looking at the man.

Tim started to concoct a plan that might work. Gibbs didn't like it, but he had a feeling that it would work very well.

"Pro- Tim, thanks," was all Tony said about the plan.

But Tim knew what it meant to him by the fact that he had stopped from calling him Probie and had instead used his name. Gibbs merely smiled.

Ducky left the room to check on Jenny, returning a few minutes later.

"She is a very lucky little girl. There was no major damage. She did lose her spleen, but that's all other than some bruising; and the personal tragedy, of course. She is still in an unconscious state from the painkillers being administered. I'm sorry about your friend, Anthony."

"So am I," Tony said softly. He wasn't crying, but was holding onto Gibbs. He didn't care that he other two men were in the room, and Gibbs didn't seem to mind. Ducky was Gibbs' best friend and a friend to him as well. And for all the hell he gave McGee, he trusted him with his life.

Ducky picked up Tony's chart and began to read it.

"Anthony, I'm happy to see you're starting to keep food down. I'm concerned with the fact your temperature is still high."

"Ducky, he's okay, right?"

"Yes, Timothy, Anthony will be just fine in a few more days. If his temp would come down I see no reason he wouldn't be discharged. But knowing him, he will not be leaving anytime soon." Ducky smiled as he said that, and they all knew what he meant.

"We should head back to NCIS," McGee said. "There are people we need to talk to."

"Thanks again, guys."

"Jethro, we watch out for our family. You of all people know that. Now, nothing too strenuous, Anthony, and let's see about getting your temp down a little more. Okay?"

"Yes, Ducky," Tony said, rolling his eyes. He was starting to feel like a child, but he didn't care as long as he was in the arms of the man he loved.

Ducky and McGee left the room. Tim would be returning later that night after setting his plan into motion.

Their breakfast trays were brought. Tony was eating some toast while Gibbs was eating the crappy reconstituted powdered eggs they had sent him. Having been in the military and having traveled to some of the worst parts of the world, he'd eaten a lot worse. They were still eating when there was a knock on the door and a man in a suit was standing in the doorway.

"Come in," Tony said with his mouth full.

"Which one of you is Anthony DiNozzo?"

Eating his last piece of toast, Tony just raised his hand. Gibbs had already glared at him. He knew how much the boss hated it when he talked with his mouth full; and it was full just then. His appetite was returning, and he'd quickly finished off all five pieces of toast. There had been other food as well, but he wasn't sure his stomach was up to anything more just yet. At least this was a step in the right direction.

"Mr. DiNozzo, my name is Cliff Cline, Jr. I am with Kid, Finnegan and Cline."

"What is this in reference to?" Gibbs questioned, standing and taking the card the man offered.

"I'm here about Monica Blass."

"Sir, I'm sorry to say she passed away yesterday," Gibbs said.

"Yes, sir, I am fully aware of that, and I'm sorry for the loss, Mr....? he said, talking to Gibbs.

"Special Agent Jethro Gibbs."

"Can I ask you to step outside, please? I have private business to discuss with Mr. DiNozzo."

"Anything you can say-" Gibbs began, only to be cut off by a warm hand on his arm.

"Anything you have to say to me, you can say in front of my lover," Tony said, his voice only a bit shaky from having said that out loud to a stranger.

Gibbs wasn't sure how to feel about the declaration. On the one hand the words gave him a warm feeling, but on the other hand it was scary to hear it said aloud.

"Fine, then let me start. I'm sorry for the speed of which we're working, but it was the express wish of Monica that we move as fast as possible. Ms. Blass worked at our office and a while back, maybe eight months ago, she drew up a will."

Tony took Gibbs' hand, holding it tightly. Gibbs sat back down, not letting go.

"She drew up a will in the event of her death. That's always smart for a single parent. At Kid, Finnegan and Cline we try to take care of our own. She asked us to draw it up, so we did. I am sorry to say, or happy to say, depends on your point of view, that you were named in her will"

Tony blinked. "Me?"

"Yes, sir." Mr. Cline walked over and put the briefcase on the windowsill, opening it and pulling out papers. He began to read. "I, Monica Diane Blass, in the event of my death would like to award custody of Jennifer Lisa Blass to one Anthony Michael DiNozzo."

"But we were just friends. I didn't really know her that well, not well enough that she would give me custody of her daughter."

"That might be the case, sir, but she did name you as legal guardian of her daughter. And as an employee of Kid, Finnegan and Cline, the cost of the funeral will be covered by the firm."

"I never even thought about that, about who would make the arrangements," Tony said, his head spinning. He never would have guessed Monica would give him custody of Jenny; she'd never mentioned a word about it.

Gibbs saw the lost look on his lover's face. Never taking his eyes off Tony, he said, "Mr. Cline, could you give us a moment." Worried about Tony, he was careful not to let any of his own thoughts show.

"Certainly. I'll step outside and check on the little girl's condition. And about that, the firm will also be paying all medical expenses for Jennifer." Returning the will to his briefcase, he closed it and carried it with him as he left the room to talk to Beth.

"Tony, are you okay?"

"Boss, I barely knew her, not enough that she would do this."

"Well, she was a good judge of character, obviously," Gibbs said, cupping Tony's face and smiling at the love he saw there.

Tony's head was still whirling. "Did he just say what I think he said?"

"If you think he said you are now the legal guardian of Jenny, then you heard right."

Tony was speechless.

Gibbs was determined to support Tony through this, but first he had to do something, and then he had talk to Tony about his past and what it could mean for their future.

"I said we'd be there for her," Gibbs said, never realizing just how they would be there. He'd never thought he'd be a father again, let alone so soon and with this man.

"We?"

"You think this will scare me off?" Sure the thought had crossed his mind that this was the time to run, as far as he could from the man in front of him and everything he brought with him, but this was the love he'd looked for all his life. He knew in the end Tony would understand his momentary doubts.

"Boss, this is a lot. I mean we just now got together. We haven't made love, haven't even been on a date, and already you're planning on me moving in with you, and now I'm bringing a little girl with me, a girl you don't even know."

"So you both come. I have a large enough house. We have the two bedrooms upstairs, the master and the guest room. I have the study downstairs we can convert to a room, and we have the finished attic that is just being used for storage. She can have any one of those rooms, except the master, since I hope you'll be sharing my bed with me in there."

"I'll share your room, but don't ask me to share that ratty old mattress on that rickety bed. We will be using my bed," Tony stated with a smile, hazel eyes lighting up with mischief.

Gibbs smiled. He couldn't even berate Tony for what he'd said about his bed because it was true. It wasn't like he actually slept there a lot himself, usually falling asleep in his chair in the basement or on the couch. That was about to change, though. Now he had a reason to sleep in his bed.

"Boss," Tony said, his tone worried, "this is all so fast. I want to talk to her first, make sure she's okay with this."

"Wise decision, DiNozzo. She needs to be part of the decision."

"Yes, she's old enough to know the what she wants to do. This will be a change for all of us, moving in together."

Gibbs leaned in and kissed his lover. "So that's a yes to moving in?"

"Well, if she says yes, then I don't see a reason why not. I always wanted a kid but never thought it would happen with me being gay."

"Okay, let me go get Mr. Cline and you can tell him." Gibbs let go of Tony's hand.

He left the room. He talked to the lawyer for a moment in the hallway before leading him into the room.

"Your partner said you wish to talk to me, Mr. DiNozzo."

"Yes. I need to know if I have to say yes today."

"Monica's wish was to move as fast as we could."

"I understand that, but Jenny doesn't even know what happened. I want to talk it over with her first."

"I can respect that wish. I'm sure Monica would have wanted that as well. I can see why she chose you, sir. You seem to have the best interest of the child in mind. Agent Gibbs has my card so after you talk it over with the little girl give me a call."

"Yes, sir, and thank you," Tony said, beaming with joy. He was happy, but he was starting to feel cold again, and he wasn't even sure it was from the illness. Chances were it was just a physical reaction to everything that had just happened.

Gibbs walked back in and noticed the way Tony was shivering. He got on the bed again, and Tony latched onto him. Once again Gibbs could feel the heat being leeched off him. He covered Tony with the blanket, trying to keep his young lover warm, and leaned over, placing a kiss in Tony's hair.

"Sleep, it might help."

Once Tony was sleeping, Gibbs placed a call to Abby.

"Abs, I need a big favor...Can you get out of there and come sit with Tony for a short time?...Yes...Thanks, Abby."

Gibbs was watching the sleeping form of one Anthony Michael DiNozzo as he slept curled against him when Abby came bounding into the room twenty minutes later.

Gibbs nodded at a sleeping Tony and pointed to the hallway. He carefully put Tony on the bed, and he and Abby went outside the room. Gibbs brought her up to speed about what had happened. Most of it she knew already. The lawyer was the new part. She said McGee had talked to her and that the plan was moving as it should be.

Gibbs smiled and kissed her cheek.

"I'll be back shortly, shouldn't be more than a couple of hours."

"You better, Boss-man." She kissed his cheek before going into the room with Tony.

Gibbs watched them for a minute. Abby put some flowers on Tony's table, and he could just imagine her saying the room was too sterile. Sitting in the chair next to the bed, she took Tony's hand in one of hers and opened a trashy novel she'd bought in the gift shop with the other. With one last look he turned away.

That was when he left the hospital and went to Baltimore to visit his daughter.

Chapter Text

Gibbs had been driving for about an hour when he got to the cemetery where his daughter had been laid to rest. Megan Stephanie Gibbs, lost more that fifteen years ago at the age of nine in a drive-by shooting. She had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Parking the sedan at the edge of the drive, he sat in the car, hands gripping the wheel tightly as he worked up the nerve to exit the car. His gaze scanned his surroundings out of habit, taking note of the gray day and how well it suited the situation.

With a sigh he exited the car and walked towards the headstone of polished marble with an angel perched atop it. Carved into the pink speckled marble was her name, the dates of her birth and death and the words AN ANGEL TAKEN HOME TOO EARLY.

The last time he'd been there to visit his daughter had been the first time he'd met Tony. Oh, God, the irony of it all. It was in this godforsaken city that he'd lost the only person he'd ever loved with all his heart...until now. He remembered thinking during that last visit that he would never love again. How wrong he'd been. It had been on that very day that he'd met Tony, hiring him on that same day. And while it was a different kind of love he felt for Tony, it was still a heartfelt love.

That last time he'd been here to pay his respects to his daughter. Now he was here to ask her for a sign. He wasn't the most religious person, but it seemed there had to be more to it, him finding the man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with after visiting his daughter. Surely there was more behind it since he didn't even question his love for another man.

Now that man had been asked to look after a child, a daughter about the same age as Megan. A child his lover only knew casually but was great with nonetheless. But he could see Tony being good with just about any child since at times he thought Tony had never grown up and was just a big kid himself. It was part of Tony's charm and part of the reason why he loved him so much.

He was still standing in front of her headstone but eventually knelt down on one knee. Images flooded his mind of trips they'd taken as a family. They'd gone to Disney World once and various other places around the US. They'd been happy.

But then that day had happened, that horrible, awful day when his daughter had been taken away forever. It was why he and his first wife had divorced. There had been problems beforehand. They had, in fact, been separated a week before the drive-by. But rather than bringing them together again, the death of their daughter had been the final nail in the coffin of their marriage.

Flooded with memories of his precious angel, he started to well up. But he didn't let the tears fall. He couldn't. Not yet. He'd erected a dam against his emotions years ago, a barrier to keep others from getting too close. The second B was, after all, for bastard. Only Tony had found his way around those barriers.

"Meg, I've met someone. His name is Tony. I love him with all my heart, and I know you would have loved him, too. And I told him, Meg. I finally told him I love him."

Unable to completely hold back the tears, a single droplet tracked down his face.

"I let him in, Meg, into my heart and into my life. I haven't done that for a lot of people. He managed to find his own way past the walls. Now I've let him know I love him and already he's turned my life upside down."

One corner of his mouth lifted momentarily as he thought of Tony.

"I want to be there for him, angel. I'm GOING to be there for him. But it's not just him, Megan. There's a little girl, a little girl who lost everything and only has Tony. And if she has Tony, then she has me."

He reached out and lightly traced her name on the headstone.

"I just needed you to know that I'll never replace you. Yes, I hope Jenny will want me in her life. She's a great little girl. But she will never replace you. No one can ever replace you. You are my special angel, and you'll always be my beautiful daughter. But now there's a little girl who needs someone to love her, to be there for her, and I want to do that. I hope you can understand that. Can you understand that?"

The dam on his emotions finally broke. He was now fully crying, the first time he'd cried this wholeheartedly since he'd lost his Megan. He never would have guessed he'd have another child, especially since falling in love with another man. He knew he was being premature about having a future with Jenny, but he'd felt the need to talk to Megan, to let her know he would always love her and she would never be replaced in his heart. No one would ever take over the part of his heart that belonged to her. But he was hoping there would be a new part opened up for Jenny, right beside the biggest part that belonged to Tony.

The sky had darkened even further since he'd been there, and thunder rumbled around him. But he didn't move. He had to be with his daughter, even after the rain began to fall, soaking into the earth around him, cleansing the air the way his tears were cleansing him.

But Gibbs didn't move. He continued to kneel there in front of his Megan, hand pressed against her name on the headstone. The wind picked up, and the rain became a steady downpour, but he didn't care that he was being soaked. He continued to kneel there for a good half hour, grieving for the daughter he'd lost and asking for her approval.

"Give me a sign, Meg, let me know one way or the other how you feel."

It was still raining, not straight down but at an angle because of the wind. It was that same wind that blew a pink ribbon in front of him. Despite the fact that the wind continued, the ribbon came to rest against the headstone, unmoving.

Gibbs saw the ribbon, and a smile flashed across his face as he picked it up, brought it to his lips, then put it into his pocket. Pink had been Megan's favorite color, and she'd loved wearing pink ribbons in her long blonde hair. This, he knew, was his sign.

"Thank you, Meg."

He stood and walked back to the car. Tony would be up by now, and if Gibbs knew his man, he knew Tony would be hurting. Too many people had left him in his life. His father had even left him in a hotel in Maui for two days before even realizing he was missing. Tony would think he had run, that he'd changed his mind about them being together.

He had to get back to the hospital, had to tell him nothing could drive him away.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Tony didn't even know Abby was there. He was still sleeping, but it was a restful sleep rather than the fitful sleep of illness. He didn't awaken till around 1:00 PM when a particularly loud clap of thunder seemed to rattle the windows. He felt a hand holding his, but he knew it wasn't Gibbs' hand. That banished any sleepiness left over.

"Gibbs!"

"Nope. Will I do?" Abby asked, looking at a newly awakened Tony.

"Where's Gibbs?"

"He had to run an errand," Abby said. Seeing the hurt in Tony's hazel eyes, she added, "He'll be back soon, I'm sure. He said he'd only be gone a couple of hours."

But Tony was shaking his head. "He's left me already, Abby." Tears began to streak down his sleep-flushed face. "He got scared because my life sucks."

"Don't you dare say that," Abby admonished, hitting his arm lightly. "Your life does not suck. And you know Boss-man isn't like that."

"Then why didn't he wake me up before he left, Abby, if he was only running an errand? Hmm?"

"You need your rest, Tony, and Gibbs knows that."

"Abby, I love that man more then life itself."

"I know, honey, I know, and so does Gibbs. He loves you, too, Tony. You know that, right?"

Physically stronger now, Tony sat up. "Why wouldn't he wake me up?"

"I swear sometimes you're as dense as Gibbs. He LOVES you, Tony. He didn't let you sit here alone. He called me, and I came right over. He made sure someone was with you the whole time."

Her words were punctuated by another loud clap of thunder, as if the heavens themselves were agreeing with her.

"How long has it been raining?"

"About two hours. So, Boss-man said you're like a father now."

"He told you that?"

"Yes."

"So that's why he ran. He's scared about everything I'm bringing with me into this relationship. This almost-relationship. It never even got a chance to get off the ground."

And Tony knew why. He knew about Gibbs' past. He'd done some good old-fashioned detective work when Gibbs had first offered him a job. What had surprised him was finding something about the man right there in Baltimore. He'd done his research, then had gone to the library and pulled up the newspaper article about the shooting from their archives, then he'd gone to the PD and pulled the file.

He'd never told Gibbs about the background search he'd done on him.

He just sat there, tears silently slipping down his face. Gibbs had bolted, and he hurt, he hurt so badly. Abby said nothing else, just continued to hold his hand, squeezing it in sympathy, the only sounds the rain against the window, the low murmurs from the TV and the beeping of the heart monitor. After about twenty minutes Beth came into the room.

"Honey, the little girl is waking up. Would you like to go down to her room?"

Tony's eyes widened. "Yes, please." He let go of Abby's hand and swung his legs around till he was sitting on the edge of the bed.

"Abby, I have to do this alone, okay?"

Abby knew he was still hurting, but she knew he needed to do this alone, needed to see this little girl who had lost her mother.

Tony was a lot stronger today and was able to get from the bed to the wheelchair without help. Beth was there just in case, standing close if needed. She smiled when he made it to the chair, then disconnected the wires to the heart monitor and once again hooked them to the portable box and hooked the IV bag over the pole on the back of the chair.

And once more she checked his temp, making sure it was safe to visit the little girl. It was down to 98.9, the first time it had been below 100 since he'd been admitted. That was a comfort, knowing he was healing.

"You ready, cutie?"

"With a chauffeur like you I'm always ready for a ride," he said, tears finally drying. Right now Jenny was all that mattered. His own drama would have to wait.

Beth laughed as she wheeled him out of his room. "You're just looking for an excuse to show off that chest to the nurses and other patients," she said as she rolled him down two doors, into the room and next to Jenny's bed.

Tony smiled at Beth as she left the room, then took Jenny's hand. Jenny felt the warmth against her own skin and instinctively tightened her small fingers around the larger ones holding hers.

"Mom," she said groggily.

"No, honey, it's Tony."

"Tony, where's Mom?" the little girl asked, trying to sit up.

"Relax, honey, okay? You're hurt and can't move around much."

"Where am I?" she asked, looking around.

"In the hospital, honey," he said. Her bed wasn't elevated much, so he used the controls to raise it so she wouldn't hurt herself trying to sit up.

"Where's Mom, Tony? Where's my mom?"

"Um, Jenny..."

Jenny heard it in his voice. She might have been only ten, but she still heard something not right in his voice, something sad, and Tony was hardly ever sad.

"My mom."

"Honey, she passed away," Tony said softly, holding back his own tears and trying to be strong.

Jenny wasn't strong. Her tears began to fall, and she tightened her hold on Tony's hand as she cried.

After about ten minutes of crying she asked shakily, "Did she suffer?"

"No, honey. They said she died instantly. Do you remember the crash?"

"Yeah. Mom screamed and put her arm over me, and that was the last thing I remember." She was crying again.

Tony was tearing up as well, almost unable to hold them back. He let her cry, holding her hand in both of his.

"Tony..." She was crying harder, unable to say anything other than his name.

"Honey, go ahead and cry. It's okay to cry." Tony was losing control of his own emotions. At that point he wanted the strength of Gibbs with him, to help him through this. But Gibbs was gone.

"What's going to happen to me?"

"Well, honey, your mom asked me to look after you."

"You and Mr. Gibbs?"

"Well, me at least," Tony said, having not heard the squishing from wet shoes coming into the room.

"What about me?"

Tony's head snapped around at the words. Jenny was looking at Gibbs as was Tony. Losing what little control he had left, Tony began crying. Gibbs went to his side and crouched down till he was at Tony's level. That was when Tony noticed he was soaking wet. Even the pink ribbon tied around the neck of the stuffed bear he held was wet, as was the single red rose he carried.

"You came back."

"Tony, never doubt that I love you and will always be here for you."

"But you left."

"Yes, I left, but I came back. I had someone I had to see."

Gibbs placed the teddy bear in the crook of Jenny's arm and the red rose in Tony's lap, then took her hand in one hand and Tony's in the other. The older man's hand was cold, but Tony didn't care. Gibbs was there, holding his hand, giving him his strength, and that was all that mattered - that and the rose. It was perfect, beautifully formed and fragrant. But best of all was the meaning behind it, for a red rose was the symbol of everlasting love.

"I'm sorry you thought I left, Tony. I had to talk to someone who was special to me a long time ago and was taken from me."

"I know, Boss," Tony said, understanding now just where Gibbs had gone.

"What? What do you know, Tony?"

"I know about your daughter."

Stunned, Gibbs could only blink. Not once had Tony ever let on that he knew about his loss.

"You have a daughter, Mr. Gibbs?"

"I did, yes," Gibbs said, looking into Jenny's eyes, "but I lost her a long time ago. If you say yes to Tony and I raising you, then one day I'd like to call you our daughter." Saying the words had Gibbs tearing up as well. His talk with Megan had brought down the walls surrounding his emotions.

"Boss, I'm sorry for doubting you."

Gibbs kissed Tony lightly, not a kiss of passion but one of love and tenderness.

"It's okay, honey, go ahead and cry," was all he said to Tony.

Eventually the tears dried and they all just sat there, each holding a hand of the other's. Gibbs had felt the tears welling but he hadn't let them fall. He knew he could have now, but instead he'd wanted to be strong for Tony and Jenny. Tony's and Jenny's tears eventually dried up as they sat there together, a new, fragile family unit.

"I think I'd like that," Jenny said finally. "I'd like living with you two."

"Good," Gibbs said. "I'll call Mr. Cline after I dry off and change out of these wet clothes." He stood up and kissed Tony's forehead. "Why don't you stay till Beth kicks you out?"

Tony smiled.

"Thank you for the teddy bear, Mr. Gibbs," Jenny said.

"You're welcome, honey," he said, leaning over and kissing her forehead as well before leaving the room to return to Tony's room and his dry clothes.

Abby was still sitting there next to Tony's bed, chewing on a thumbnail.

"Boss-man," she said in relief.

"Thanks for staying with him, Abby."

"That was not nice, leaving without telling him where you going."

"I know, Abby, and I told him I was sorry, but I had someone I had to see."

"Next time give him a head's up."

"I will, Abby."

"So..."

"So what, Abby?"

"Are you both going to be daddies?"

Gibbs smiled. "Yes, Abby, we are. Now let me get changed. McGee call about the plan?"

"Nope, but he should be here about 7:00 with everyone else."

"Good."

Gibbs grabbed dry clothing out of his bag, everything down to boxers and socks, then went to the bathroom to dry off and change. If his hand was shaking, he put it down to caffeine withdrawal rather than nerves.

After he was once again dry he went back to the room and picked up the card Mr. Cline had left, calling the lawyer to start the paperwork. He wasn't sure what the lawyer would think, but he asked if his name could be added as legal guardian as well. Mr. Cline said he would have to ask permission himself from Mr. DiNozzo but that from a legal stand point it shouldn't be difficult.

Abby left to grab something to eat, bringing back something for Gibbs, including an extra large coffee. She even managed to sneak something in for Tony. She was just returning to the room when Gibbs came in, pushing a smiling Tony in the chair and helping him back into bed while Beth reconnected his wiring. He'd wanted to stay longer with Jenny, but Beth had reminded him that he was a patient as well and needed his rest.

Tony teased Beth some more about her just wanting to get him into bed, never once letting go of the rose he held. But Gibbs didn't even notice. His nose had sniffed out the coffee.

Chapter Text

Tony had not run a fever all day long, which was seen as a good sign, a sign that he was healing. He was also eating more than just toast and broth, having eaten his mashed potatoes at dinner and the milkshake Abby had brought him earlier. He wasn't ready for anything else just yet.

Beth came in to run her last set of vitals and Gibbs stepped out to get another cup of much needed coffee. He'd had very little in the last three days, at least compared to what he normally drank, and his system seemed to be going into shock from lack of caffeine.

After snagging an extra large cup of the gift of the gods, he stopped in Jenny's room. He smiled when he saw her sleeping, the bear he'd bought her with the pink ribbon that had blown in front of Megan's headstone tied around the neck clutched in her hands.

Watching her sleep, Gibbs thought about how his life was about to change. The lawyer, Mr. Cline, was due to come by around 8:00 PM. He had a late appointment and was going to stop by afterwards to get his and Tony's info so they could be checked out by child services. Even though it was in Monica's will to award legal guardianship of Jenny to Tony, they still had to go through the same checks as anyone else applying for guardianship or custody of a child, including a visit from child services.

But that wasn't the only way his life was about to change. There were so many things to do. He'd asked Tony to move in with him, which meant packing up Tony's things from his apartment and moving them to his house or putting it into storage if they weren't going to use it.

And it wasn't just Tony's stuff they needed to move. It seemed they would have to be the ones responsible for packing Monica's and Jenny's things. Jenny's things would be moved to his house. Monica's...he had no idea what to do with them. That was a decision that should probably be made by Tony and Jenny.

And then there was the problem of Jenny and school. By moving her into his house, she would be in a different school district. But how could he ask her to switch schools in the middle of the school year after everything else that had happened to her? He wasn't even sure how long it would be till she was able to return to school. There was the accident and the surgery she had to recover from and there was the emotional healing she needed to do, not to mention coming to terms with her mother's death and the fact that two men, one of whom she'd only met twice, would be taking care of her now.

She had taken the news of her mother's death much better than he'd expected. That worried him. He'd seen post-traumatic stress often enough to know that sometimes it hit at the worst possible moment. Add to that the fact that the girl had no one to take care of her other than a neighbor who sometimes watched her while her mother worked and his new boyfriend, and he was afraid the poor child was in for a rude awakening somewhere down the road.

And then there was THE PLAN as he'd taken to thinking of it in his mind. Would it work? And if it did, what would be the outcome and the possible fallout? Well, if worse came to worst, he'd already quit. But would he really quit? If he did, he knew he'd want Tony to be team leader, but deep down he knew he wouldn't be truly quitting any time soon. He loved his job too much and was damned good at what he did.

He wouldn't doubt Tony taking more time off to help Jenny readjust to the changes in her life, and he intended to be right there with him, for better or for worse. Not that he was ready to get married again, let alone to a man, a union that would piss off much of the world. But he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Tony, even if they had to keep the news of them being a couple out of their work life. The only people who needed to know already did. The others had no reason to know.

"WHAT?"

Gibbs' head snapped towards the hall, in the direction of Tony's room, when he heard Tony yell. He hurried to Tony's room and found him crying in his bed, Beth holding his hand and patting it. While she was a woman he'd learned not to mess with, he also knew she could be one of the sweetest women in the world.

"Tony," Gibbs said anxiously as he entered the room, throwing his empty coffee cup in the trashcan. As he neared the bed, he noticed the IV drop was gone. He still had the connection in his hand, but the tubing was gone.

"Tony," Gibbs said again, taking hold of the hand with the IV needle in it, careful of it. "What's wrong?"

"Gibbs, I'm sorry for upsetting him. I brought in his new orders from the doctor. I thought he'd be happy."

"So fill me in," Gibbs demanded, worried over what it could be if Tony was crying.

"Tony is being released tomorrow. Dr. Craft just issued the orders."

Gibbs frowned. "That's great news."

But Tony was shaking his head. "No, Jethro."

"Honey, what's the matter?" Gibbs asked, still confused.

"Once I leave, Jenny will be transferred up to the peds ward, and they won't let us stay with her."

Not sure what to say, Gibbs looked at Beth. "She can have visitors, right?"

"Yes. Tony is down as emergency contact, and he's had you added to the list, so visiting is not a problem. You just won't be allowed to stay."

"Thanks, Beth, I'll take it from here."

"I'm sorry, guys." She squeezed Tony's hand before releasing it and patted Gibbs on the shoulder as she walked by.

"Shh," Gibbs murmured, hugging his Tony.

"Damn it, Gibbs, why can't I stop crying?" Tony questioned harshly, pushing Gibbs away.

Gibbs was a bit taken back but, stubborn bastard that he was, he hugged Tony again.

"Tony."

Tony was still crying, but this time he fell into the embrace rather than pushing Gibbs away.

"Your body is in shock from being sick. You've had a lot of different drugs running through your veins, and now a good friend was killed in a car wreck and you have to take responsibility for her daughter. The only thing that would scare me was if you DIDN'T cry. Crying is good, it's cleansing."

"But it just seems it's all I've done since-" Tony stopped, shaking his head.

Gibbs continued to comfort him, rubbing his back and kissing his head.

"What, Tony?"

"Nothing."

"No, it's not nothing. Tell me."

"Boss, really, it's nothing," Tony managed, his crying slowing down.

Gibbs stepped back but didn't let go of Tony. With one hand he lifted Tony's chin till they were eye to eye. "If you have it to say, it is important to me. Okay?"

"Really?"

"Yes, really DiNozzo. I'm not going anyplace. I didn't let that ex-cow of mine frighten me away from you."

"Even with me being truthful about my feelings for you?"

"Honey-" Gibbs stopped for a moment, gathering his thoughts. "Tony we've both said things to each other in the past few days that we've been wanting to say for awhile now. Now that we've opened up to each other, we can deal with them together." Gibbs kissed his lover hard, a kiss filled with love, until he heard a cough from behind him.

Both men looked up and saw the lawyer.

"Mr. Cline, please come in," Gibbs said.

"Thank you. I have a few papers for you to sign, and I need some information from the both of you. I think by Tuesday or Wednesday we should have a judge's signature on the paperwork for temporary custody. With the both of you working for the government," he said, handing papers to each of them, "this process should so a lot smoother."

Both men filled out the paper work, Tony making only one joking comment about how much he hated paperwork, and Gibbs countering with the statement he should be glad they don't have to do it on a computer, otherwise his own would never get done. The reminder of his lover's computer illiteracy brought a smile to his face.

"So she'll stay in the hospital for a few more days, then we can take her home, right?"

"Yes. She will remain a ward of the state as long as she is in the pediatric ward. Monica awarding you custody will make this process a lot easier, Mr. DiNozzo. Child Services is stepping in as a mere formality until all the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed."

"But we can still visit her?"

"I hope that you will. She needs people she knows around her now after her loss. The nurse said you were with her most of the day. It seems she approves of the two of you adopting little Jenny."

"About that," Tony said. "Will that be a problem? I know Monica named me in the will, but will adding Jethro cause a problem?"

"No, I don't see that it would. If it does, then for the time being you will be awarded custody and at a later date Mr. Gibbs can adopt her as well. But with the new laws in the state, same sex couples adopting is not hard at all. As I said, if it is, then later down the line we will work on getting him named as a legal guardian."

"Good. Thank you, Mr. Cline," Gibbs said as he handed over his and Tony's paperwork. Glancing behind the lawyer, he noticed his team in the hallway, waiting to come in.

"It's my pleasure, gentleman. I'll be in touch Monday with the court date." He shook both men's hands before walking out of the room.

The team had waited in the hall till they got the okay to enter. This time Ziva was with them. Gibbs was holding Tony's hand when they walked in. Gibbs tried to let go, but Tony refused to allow it. Instead Tony drew him in closer till Gibbs was forced to sit on the bed. Tony leaned on him for support.

The closeness between the two men didn't faze any of the people in the room. Gibbs thought he might have gotten at least a raised eyebrow raise from Ziva, but that wasn't the case.

It was McGee, Abby, Ducky, and Ziva, his team. Abby set up a laptop and Tim had a printer with official NCIS letterhead.

"Boss, you really want to go through with this?" McGee asked.

"Yes, she needs to fry."

"I agree with you, Gibbs," Ziva said, "and for the record, it's about time the two of you got together."

"You knew?"

"It's obvious with the way you two are at the office. I thought you were already a couple till Tony became ill."

"You're cool with this?" Tony asked.

"Tony, I don't know if you know this, but the Israeli Army is one of the few armies that does not care about your sexual orientation. If you live there and are a citizen, then you are in the army. I never understood this Don't ask Don't Tell policy. Americans are just uptight about a lot of things. Although they do seem to like their porn," she added with a smile before pulling a chair from the hallway to sit in.

As a team they discussed McGee's plan, each saying whatever they thought needed saying. Abby played stenographer and wrote down what was said. After about two hours of work the new head nurse, the same one Gibbs had threatened the night before, came in.

"I'm sorry, but your visitors will have to go now," she said, glaring at Gibbs.

Gibbs didn't back down, just glared back at her, but he did offer the apology he'd promised Beth he would make, although it was only half-hearted at best. The nurse accepted with a stiff nod of her head before going back to the nurse's station.

"Tony is getting out tomorrow, right?" McGee asked.

"Yes," Tony answered.

"So by Sunday we should be ready to make all this come to light." McGee had pulled up a map of the area around Gibbs' property. Pointing to the screen, Gibbs said, "Ziva, you can park right here around the corner from my place. It's hidden in the edge of the woods and your car won't be spotted from there." Holding up the web cam McGee had brought and looking at the laptop, he said, "So this thing, Abby, all I have to do is plug this thing in and turn it on."

"Yep. Even you can make this work, Gibbs," she teased, kissing his cheek and then Tony's. "You two are just way too cute."

"Thanks, Abs." Tony leaned up and kissed her cheek in return.

"Thanks, guys."

"Jethro, when you take young Anthony home, if you should need anything, do not hesitate to call. Either Gerald or myself will gladly come over," Ducky offered with a smile. "About home, have you talked about where you're going to live?"

"Yes, but things might change now," Gibbs said, giving Tony's hand a light squeeze that meant we'll talk about this later, just the two of us.

"Good. Well, should you need help moving..."

"I know, you'll all help."

"Gladly," the rest answered before they left.

"Ziva, can I talk to you for a moment?"

"Certainly, Gibbs."

Gibbs kissed Tony's cheek and followed her out into the hall. Tony could not make out what they were saying, could only see them talking, then Gibbs shaking her hand. She turned and walked away while Gibbs returned to the room.

"What was that all about?"

"Nothing really. I just wanted to thank her for her help in all this."

"So what did you mean things might change? You don't want me to move in now?"

"No, Tony, that isn't what I meant."

Gibbs sat back on the bed. The charge nurse glared at him, telegraphing her displeasure with him being on the bed with the patient. Gibbs got up and drew the curtains around the bed but left he door open, then stretched out on the bed once again, letting Tony lean on him. He thoroughly enjoyed the younger man snuggling with him this way.

"Tony, Jenny is already enrolled in a school. I think she should stay in the same school, at least till the end of the school year."

"Then we take her ourselves."

"Have you asked her about moving into my place? I would love to have the both of you there, but we can always sell the house and get a bigger place in your building."

"What about your boat?"

"What about it?"

"Jethro, it's not like you can work on it in the basement of the apartment building."

"And your point?"

"You would give that up for me?"

"No, Tony. I would give that up for US."

Gibbs kissed Tony's head with that statement. Tony was about to cry again.

"Don't even start, DiNozzo. Do I want you to move in? Yes. And the house would be much more space for the both of you."

"Then why the argument?"

"Just thinking about you and Jenny and what would be best for the both of you. It's not just me anymore."

"I love you, Leroy Jethro Gibbs," Tony declared, putting his arms around Gibbs and falling asleep.

"I love you, too, Anthony Michael DiNozzo."

Gibbs smiled and fell asleep as well, cuddled with the man who would be his future.

Chapter Text

Dr. Craft had been to the room every day that the boys were there. He was the only person who could enter the room without waking Gibbs, and the ex-Marine wasn't sure how the man did it. But today was different. Today Gibbs felt the presence of the man when he entered the room.

"Good morning, Special Agent Gibbs."

"Doc, so Tony can go home today?" Gibbs asked quietly, not wanting to wake Tony just yet.

But Tony was stirring anyway, instinctively knowing his lover was awake and wanting to seek him out. But Gibbs didn't want to wake him. Instead he was petting Tony, running his hand over his head and back, letting him know everything was fine and he should go back to sleep.

"Yes. His blood work is a better, he's well hydrated and the latest X-Rays show no sign of the pneumonia. I have a feeling that he's in good hands and won't be pushing himself in his recovery."

"That is correct. He won't be alone. I'll make sure he behaves."

"Good. I also hear congratulations are in order."

Puzzled, Gibbs looked at him.

"The young girl two doors down will be in your custody, I'm told. It was a tragedy about her mother, but I think Ms. Blass was smart leaving the child with Mr. DiNozzo here."

"Yes, and thank you. It is a tragedy, but Jenny is strong, and she'll come out of this a much better person."

"You talk like you've seen death a few times Special-"

"Just Gibbs."

"Okay, Gibbs."

"Yes, Dr. Craft, I have. I saw it in Desert Storm, and I see it on the job almost everyday."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Now, about young Mr. DiNozzo, I'll leave a few scripts with the charge nurse, and he can leave within the hour if you like."

"I don't think he will. He'll want to sit with Jenny and explain what will be going on."

"That's fine. She's scheduled to go up to peds sometime this afternoon, so the two of you can sit with her till then."

"Thank you, Doctor." Gibbs got off the bed and shook the man's hand.

"You're more then welcome, and you both have a nice and safe life together."

The doctor left. Gibbs had expected to see Beth in the nurse's station when he looked up, but she wasn't there. Instead it was a nice, older, very thin black lady. She didn't look like she could lift more than five pounds. Dr. Craft spoke with her. She nodded, then went into Tony's room.

"Good morning, Special-"

"Just Gibbs, ma'am."

"Okay, then, Gibbs. How is the young man this morning?"

"Not sure yet. I was about to hit the head, then grab some coffee before waking our Sleeping Beauty."

"Good. The young girl two doors down has been asking for him."

"Thanks."

She left the room, and Gibbs used the bathroom before going to get himself a cup of coffee. He then stopped in Jenny's room, glad to see her awake.

"Hey there, Sunshine."

"Hi, Jethro."

"What's with the long face?" he asked, walking in and sitting in the chair next to her bed.

"They said Tony is leaving today."

"Yes, he's better and can go home. But we'll stay with you till you go up to the pediatrics ward."

"Is Tony awake?"

"Why don't I go find out?"

"Thanks," Jenny said, voice wavering, looking for all-the world like she was about to cry.

Gibbs winked at her as he got up and went back to Tony's room. Once there he found Tony awake and grimacing in pain. Gibbs bit back a smile when he saw the reason for Tony's expression. The charge nurse was removing the pads for the heart monitor from Tony's chest, pulling hair out with each one.

"Someone wants to see you," Gibbs said, leaning over and kissing the man he loved.

"She's awake?"

"Yes."

"Can I see her?"

"Yes. The doctor said you can sit with her till she gets moved upstairs. How about you let this nice lady finish with you, then we can go down to her room."

"What? Finish trying to pull all the hair off my chest?" Tony complained, glaring at the nurse, but his hazel eyes twinkled. "I think she likes smooth chests better. Ouch! Hey, that hurt!" This time the glare was more real.

The nurse smiled sweetly as she finished with the tabs, then removed the IV needle from his hand. Squinting at something on his chest, she reached over and pulled several hairs.

"Hey!" Tony huffed, rubbing his chest where she'd just pulled. "Why'd you do that?"

"I was just removing a piece of glue, young man," she said, winking at Gibbs before she left.

Tony looked at Gibbs. "Good thing you like the hair on my chest, Boss."

Before Gibbs could comment, their breakfast trays arrived.

Gibbs didn't even look at his tray. "How about we take this down to Jenny's room and you can eat with her?"

Tony smiled. "Yeah, that sounds good."

Gibbs helped Tony into a wheelchair and put the try on his lap. "You ready?"

"You got it, Boss."

Rolling his eyes, he pushed Tony down the hall to Jenny's room. When they entered, she was sitting up in bed, her own breakfast tray on the rolling table across the bed in front of her.

"Hey there, peanut, how are you today?" Tony asked, flashing that bright smile he was known for: the smile that made everyone happy.

"Hey, Tony."

"Thought we'd come down and eat together so you can keep me company. Jethro's getting old, you know, and I need a young, pretty face to look at," he said, leaning forward a bit as if imparting a secret.

Jenny started to smile.

"There's the smile I want to see. Honey, everything will be okay. We talked to the lawyer, and you should be home with us by Wednesday."

"Yeah, the lady from child services said the same thing. She said this is all just a...for-mal-ity since Mom had it in her will." Jenny was hurting emotionally, both men could see it in her face, but she was remaining strong. "Tony, Jethro, where are we going to live?"

Tony looked up at Gibbs and found him looking back.

"Well, Jethro has a very nice, large house all to himself, and he wants us to move in with him. Is that okay?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"What's the matter, Jenny?" Gibbs said, moving closer to the girl. He sat in the chair between Jenny and Tony.

"What about school and all my stuff and-" Jenny was starting to lose it.

Gibbs reached out and took Jenny's hand in his own. "Honey, we'll worry about that after we get you out of the hospital. Okay?"

"But-"

"No, really, you need to get better. Tony and I can stop over and get a few things from your bedroom for you to change into, and if you want, we can move some of the things over to the my, I mean OUR house." Gibbs had to get used to the use of the pronoun 'our' since it was not just 'his' anymore.

"Really? You really have a house?"

"Yes, I do. I have a large amount of land with a house on it. We can go hiking in the woods and camping if you want."

"Can we get a dog?"

Gibbs looked at the little girl without even looking at Tony.

"If that's what you want, then yes, we can get a dog."

"Sounds like fun," Tony said. "I know you always wanted one but the apartment complex doesn't allow pets."

"They let you in there, DiNozzo." Gibbs shot him a smile.

Tony put his hand over his heart as if he'd been wounded. "Ouch, Boss, that hurt."

"Mom said you and Jethro were together," Jenny said, tears starting to roll down her cheeks.

Gibbs started rubbing the top of her hand that he was holding.

"Well, we, well, yeah, we are together," Tony said, not sure how to say this to a ten-year old girl. "Is that okay?"

"Tony, you talked about him every time I was over at your place. I feel like I know him already," Jenny said, smiling through the tears. "M-mom said it was nice to see you so happy before-" Jenny lost the control then.

Gibbs stood up and hugged the little girl. She stiffened at first, but then she melted into the older man's embrace. Tony put his food tray on the nightstand, then wheeled closer to the bed and stood up. Gibbs frowned at him for trying to stand unaided. Had he not been holding Jenny, he would have taken Tony's arm to make sure he didn't fall.

Fully aware of Gibbs' displeasure, Tony carefully walked around to the other side of the bed and sat on the edge. Reaching out, he wrapped his arms around Jenny and Gibbs both, his own tears falling silently. Monica had been a special woman, and he had liked her a lot. Rather than be disgusted with the idea of him loving another man, she had encouraged him to make the first move. And she hadn't hesitated to trust him with Jenny.

"So, how about you two try and eat some of the food before it gets cold," Gibbs said as the charge nurse walked in.

"Mr. DiNozzo, I have your discharge papers. All you need to do is sign them. I know you're not going anyplace, but we need the room for someone else."

"Oh, sure," Tony said, releasing Jenny and Gibbs and signing the papers.

Gibbs pulled away. "I'll go get our stuff, Tony. You two sit here and talk. And EAT," he admonished before leaving the room.

"He's cute, Tony."

"Yeah, he is, but he's a good person, too."

"I'm glad you two finally got together."

"Thanks, honey. Now, let's eat something before he comes back and frowns at us." Tony lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "He's really good at frowning."

Jenny giggled, covering her mouth with her hand. Tony smiled and winked before reaching for his tray of food. They had been eating about five minutes when Gibbs came back in with his and Tony's bags.

"Tony, how about you go in there and get some clothing on. I'm sure the nurses are tired of seeing your chest." Not that Gibbs himself was tired of seeing it. He wanted to touch that broad chest, to run his ringers through the light coating of hair, to kiss every spot of it.

"Are you okay, Jethro?" Jenny asked. "You look kind of funny, like you're sick or something."

Tony snickered, recognizing the flush on Gibbs' cheeks.

Jethro snapped out of it. What had he been thinking? Much more along the line his thoughts had been wondering and he would have been hard in no time. That wouldn't do in front of the little girl

Gibbs cleared his throat. "I'm fine, Jenny, just tired." Scowling at the still snickering Tony, he barked, "Change those clothes NOW, DiNozzo."

"Sure thing, Boss," Tony said, winking at Jenny.

He put his tray on the table again, took his bag and wheeled over to the bathroom. Once there he carefully stood. He hadn't taken a single step before Gibbs was there, holding his arm and helping him into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him after assuring himself he would be okay.

"So, Jenny, what kind of dog do you want?" he asked, sitting in the chair so that he could see her and the bathroom door as well in case Tony needed help.

"A big one," she said, smiling.

"Well, that narrows it down. How about after we get settled, with you and Tony moved in, we can check out the shelters. If we don't find anything there we can have our friend Abby find a good place to look. How does that sound?"

Just then Tony walked out of the bathroom in a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt, motioning for Gibbs to stay put.

"I met Abby the other day. Mom gave me our key to Tony's place, and I was taking food to him. I was putting it in the refrigerator when Abby and a guy, I think he said he was Tim, came in. I think Tim thought I was stealing something `cause he pulled a gun on me."

Gibbs' blue eyes narrowed, and he filed it in the back of his mind to kick McGee's ass for holding a gun to this kid. Then it hit Gibbs; he was going into protector mode for this little girl, and it was more than just the normal protectiveness he would have of any child. It was different because it was Tony's right to protect her and it would soon be his right as well.

Trying not to think of this child having a gun pointed at her, Gibbs said, "I'm sure child services called your school to let them know what happened, and they know you won't be back for a while, but when you are ready to go back, we'll make sure you get to finish the year at your school. Too much change all at once might be hard on you."

"Thanks, Jethro. I don't want to leave my friends."

Tony and Gibbs sat with Jenny till about 2:00 PM when the transporter came to take her up to the children's ward. They all hugged each other, Tony and Jenny almost crying at the separation, but Gibbs told her they would be back tomorrow afternoon and maybe, just maybe, they would be able to sneak in some BK.

Jenny was taken to the pediatrics ward, and Gibbs pushed Tony out of the hospital in a wheelchair. Gibbs had parked back in valet, where Ducky had earlier left his car, after returning from his trip to Baltimore.

"We'll stop at the drug store and pick up your scripts, then it's home."

"Home," Tony said with a happy sigh. "That sounds nice."

"Yes, it does."

Gibbs helped Tony into the passenger seat of the car, then went around to the driver's side. Reaching across the space separating them, Gibbs pulled Tony's head over to meet his, lips meeting in a kiss of passion, relief and discovery. He didn't really care who saw them. And he didn't care who knew about them but at work; they just had to use discretion.

When he parked in the lot of the chain drug store, both men got out.

Gibbs looked across the roof of the car at Tony. "You can stay in the car. I can get whatever you need."

"I know, but I've been cooped up in a hospital room, I want to see people who aren't dressed in scrubs and wearing crepe-soled shoes."

"Just take it easy, okay?" Gibbs warned as he reached Tony's side.

"Yes, Mom," Tony huffed, ducking, thinking Gibbs was going to hit the back of his head.

But Gibbs just shook his head, wrapping his hand around Tony's bicep and helping him across the parking lot. Gibbs walked back towards the pharmacist. Tony went in the opposite direction, walking the aisles till he found what he needed.

He had picked up a few things, mostly junk food, when he found the aisle he was looking for. Examining the various tubes and bottles, he finally settled on the warming kind of lube. He looked at the condoms, then decided against them. He knew he and Gibbs were both clean; they had a yearly physical for their job, after all. Knowing they were safe, he went against the norm and decided to go bareback. He wanted to feel Gibbs in him, not a latex barrier.

Looking around to make sure Gibbs wasn't anywhere near, he went to the front counter and paid. He knew Gibbs would protest when he heard what Tony wanted, but Tony intended to stand firm. This was Leroy Jethro Gibbs he was giving himself to, the person he intended to spend the rest of his life with. They were going to be partners in every way.

Gibbs was standing in line waiting for the scripts to be filled when he noticed a rack of condoms next to the register. He knew he didn't have any at home, and he knew he wanted Tony. Not tonight since Tony had just gotten out of the hospital, but soon. And he intended to be prepared.

He wanted to be in Tony in a way he'd never wanted another person. But it wasn't just that. He wanted Tony in him, too. He'd never bottomed before, but he wanted to feel Tony all around and in him. Just the thought was enough to make him half-hard. One corner of his mouth lifted as he reached for the larger box.

He paid for the drugs and the condoms, then met Tony at the front where he was flipping through a movie magazine.

"What did you get?"

Tony shrugged. "Oh, nothing much, just some junk food and stuff."

"Tony, you need to eat more healthy food."

"Got it, Boss. Healthy. I can do that," he said with a smile.

Gibbs stopped at Panera Bread and picked up some soup and fresh bread, then they headed home.

Gibbs' place stood on about twenty acres of land. Most of it was woods. He would go camping in the summer when he would get a weekend off. Now he hoped Tony would come with him and maybe even Jenny. The house itself was a two-story house with a good-sized front porch.

Tony had been in Gibbs' house a few times and knew his front door was always unlocked. There was nothing really in the house to steal. That would have to change and not just because of his expensive electronics. No, the main reason would be because Jenny would be coming to live with them.

There were no other houses around for at least a mile, and the woods surrounding his property acted as a natural fence. The paved driveway was long and winding, up through the woods to the house. Gibbs stopped at the bottom of the drive to get his mail, frowning when he found the box empty. It was strange, he thought as he drove up to the house, that he hadn't gotten even junk mail.

"Boss."

"Yes, Tony," Gibbs said as he parked the car.

"Nothing. It's just weird, that's all, me being here to live."

Gibbs smiled and kissed the younger man before he got out of the car. He walked around to help Tony, but Tony was already out of the car, holding the bag of stuff he'd gotten at the drug store and the food from Panera. Gibbs reached in the back for their gym bags and the bag of meds and condoms.

After they walked into the house, Gibbs found his mail on the table in the entryway next to the door. He took off his jacket and hung it next to the door, then toed off his shoes and placed them next to the door. Tony followed suit, hanging his jacket next to Gibbs' and putting his shoes next to Gibbs'. Gibbs was already in the kitchen, making a pot of coffee.

"Make yourself at home, Tony," Gibbs called back through the house, opening the refrigerator and throwing out the food that had spoiled while he'd been with Tony in the hospital. Tony sat on the couch in the living room, placing the food on the coffee table and the drug store bag on the end table Looking around, he felt weird.

Gibbs walked in and sat on the sofa. This was a new situation for both of them, and neither man knew just what to say or do. Both began to speak at the same time.

"Boss-"

"Tony, I want-"

They laughed nervously, and Gibbs gestured for Tony to continue.

"Jethro," Tony said, turning so that he was looking at Gibbs. "I...don't really know what to say. This is weird, ya know?"

Gibbs turned as well, till they were facing one another from either end of the sofa. The only light in the room came from the kitchen where the gurgle of the coffee pot could be heard.

"Tony, this is your home now, and I want you to treat it as such. I'll call the lawyer in the morning and have him put it in your name as well as mine."

Tony blinked in surprise. Looking into Gibbs' beautiful blue eyes, he saw the desire and love and caring there. But more than that, he saw hunger.

Looking into Tony's hazel eyes, Gibbs saw the same.

Tony scooted closer to Gibbs, till they were merely a breath apart. Gibbs swallowed heavily, desire flaring to life in him like a flash fire. Tony leaned closer still, intent on tasting that desire. But at the last moment Gibbs pulled back.

"No, Tony, we can't," he protested huskily.

"Why not?" Tony murmured, staring at the moisture glistening on Gibbs' mouth where he'd licked his lips.

"You just got out of the hospital. You're still weak."

"But I'm going to be lying down, Boss," Tony said reasonably.

Gibbs shook his head and closed his eyes against the sight of Tony's desire-filled gaze. Tony used the moment to lean in closer, slanting his mouth over Gibbs', licking against the seam in a plea for him to open.

Gibbs' eyes flew open, but it was too late. Tony was kissing him, tongue teasing him, asking for entrance, hands gripping his shoulders. How was he supposed to deny himself what he wanted most?

With a groan Gibbs wrapped his arms around Tony, pulling him closer, falling back on the couch and pulling the young, hard body on top of his own. Tony laughed into the kiss, and Gibbs used that moment to take control, thrusting his tongue deep into Tony's mouth, wanting to memorize the taste and texture of the honeyed depths as well as imprint the feel of his own self there.

Tony groaned when Gibbs' hands slid down his back, working their way under his sweatpants and boxer briefs to palm his ass cheeks. The feel of those work-roughened hands against his backside caused all the blood to drain from his brain and rush straight to his dick. Wanting to get closer still, he rubbed against Gibbs, grinding their erections together.

Gibbs broke away with a gasp. "Good God, Tony, if you don't stop I'm going to come in my pants. I've wanted this, wanted YOU, too long to deal with that kind of stimulation."

"I can fix that," Tony said gutturally, sitting back on Gibbs' thighs and swiftly pulling his T-shirt over his head, sending it flying through the air to land somewhere on the floor behind the sofa. He didn't know where it went, and he didn't care. All that mattered right then was getting naked with the man he loved, the man he'd wanted for so long and never thought he'd have.

Gibbs slid his hands out from under Tony's pants and around his waist, meeting over the flat stomach and running up and over that chest he'd coveted. Finding the nipples hidden in silky hair, he tweaked them, making them harden and Tony moan and push into the touch.

"Boss!" he hissed.

"You like that, Tony? You like having your nipples twisted and pulled? Bet you'd like my mouth on them, wouldn't you?"

"Oh, God, yes!"

Smiling wickedly, Gibbs lifted up and licked across one hard nipple, then sucked it into his mouth, teeth nipping at the hard bud. Tony's eyes closed and his head fell back, mouth open in a silent moan as Gibbs switched from one nipple to the other, treating both to the wonder of his mouth.

"Tony?" Gibbs questioned when the younger man suddenly tore away from him and scrambled off the couch.

"Just getting more comfortable, Boss."

Gibbs smiled when Tony stripped his sweatpants and boxer briefs off in one motion, his cock springing up hard and proud against his stomach, a glistening drop of precum tempting him to taste.

Leaning down, Tony grabbed Gibbs by both arms and yanked him up off the sofa with amazing strength for someone who'd just been released from the hospital. Gibbs was still blinking in shock when Tony grabbed his shirt and pulled, sending buttons flying in every which direction to ping against the wooden floor.

"DiNozzo-"

"I'll buy you a new one," Tony interrupted, pulling Gibbs close for a fast, hard kiss. "If you don't want the same thing to happen to your pants, I suggest you take them off."

Gibbs pushed Tony down on the sofa, then reached for his belt. Tony stretched out, spreading his legs. Gibbs swallowed at the blatant invitation, and his hands trembled slightly as he unfastened his pants and pushed them down along with his boxers.

"Damn, Boss, you're perfect."

Gibbs snorted as he crawled onto the couch, between Tony's legs. "Try blowing that smoke up someone else's ass, Tony. I'm nothing but a battle-scarred ex-Marine."

Tony pulled him down, placing his lips over a crescent shaped scar on his right shoulder. "To me you're perfect, and I love every inch of that battle-scarred body."

"I love you, too, Tony, body, heart and soul."

Tony nipped an ear. "Can we do the mushy stuff later? Right now I want you in me, and I've waited too long as it is."

Jethro laughed, pulling back enough to reach for the drug store bag he'd set on the table. At the same time, Tony reached behind him for the bag on the end table. They faced each other, Gibbs holding condoms and Tony holding lube. Both grinned.

"Good thing you went in. I didn't even think about lube. But at least I remembered the rubbers."

"Won't need them," Tony said.

"Tony, I'm not going to risk your health."

"Jethro, we've both had our yearly physicals. I'm clean, and I'd bet good money you are, too."

"Yes, I am, but that's not the point."

"No, Jethro, it IS the point." Laying the lube on his chest, Tony reached up with both hands and cupped Gibbs' face. "I've never made love without protection before. Hell, this is the first time I've 'made love' period. Before it was always just sex. But I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, without any barriers of any kind."

Overwhelmed by the love in Tony's voice and the intensity in his eyes, all Gibbs could do was lean down for a soul-stealing kiss, carelessly tossing the condoms in the general direction of the coffee table.

Tony broke the kiss just enough to say against Gibbs' lips, "I don't want to wait any longer, Boss. I want you in me NOW."

Gibbs sat back on his heels between Tony's legs. Opening the lube, he slicked up a finger and worked it into Tony, checking the younger man's face when he heard a quick intake of breath. But what he saw only encouraged him further.

"Oh, yeah, Boss, just like that," Tony said breathlessly.

Gibbs worked in another finger, causing Tony to moan when they hooked just right to hit his prostate. He worked his fingers in and out, scissoring them and stretching Tony for something bigger.

Tony was starting to sweat. "Hurry, Boss. I want you in me."

"I need to stretch you, Tony. I don't want to hurt you."

But Tony was shaking his head. "The only hurt will be a good hurt. Just do it, already."

"You need to learn patience, DiNozzo."

Tony growled, reaching for the lube and squirting it over his fingers, then grasping Gibbs' erection and slicking it up. Gibbs hissed at the first touch of Tony's hand on him. He wasn't sure which was warmer, the lube or Tony's skin surrounding his hardness. Tony, yeah, it had to be Tony, he decided. The lube was merely warm, but Tony was hot as fire.

Tony threw one leg over the back of the sofa and put his other foot flat on the floor, opening himself for the hard cock he was guiding in. Gibbs braced himself, one hand on the back of the sofa and the other hand on the cushion next to Tony's head. He moaned and bit his lip to keep from coming when the velvety head worked its way past Tony's tight sphincter.

Once he was lodged inside the tight hole, Tony released him, placing both hands on Gibbs' ass and pulling him in deeper while he bore down, opening himself further for the hard shaft.

When he was fully sheathed, balls resting against Tony's tight ass, Gibbs had to stop, closing his eyes against the sight of the ecstasy on Tony's face to keep from coming then and there. This was the closest to outright bliss he knew he'd ever be.

Digging his fingers into Gibbs' firm ass, Tony said breathlessly, "Move, Boss. I need you to MOVE."

So Gibbs did. He began to thrust, slow at first, then faster, changing the angle with each inward motion. He knew he'd hit the magic spot when Tony let out a strangled cry, his eyes closing, his head arching back.

It made for an awkward angle of attack, but Gibbs leaned down, sucking the skin of Tony's throat into his mouth, biting down just enough to mark him as his. From the deep rumble in Tony's chest, he knew the younger man liked it.

Tony reached down with one hand, grasping his own aching hardness and stroking, matching the motions of his hand with the thrusts that pushed him deeper into the sofa cushions.

"Come on, Gibbs, hurry! I'm going to come."

Sweat dripping from his forehead to Tony, Gibbs gritted his teeth and speeded up the motion of his hips, pumping into Tony almost savagely, reveling in the moans, grunts and expletives coming from the younger man's mouth.

"Jethro!"

"Oh, God, yes, Tony!"

Tony shot his cum between them, the warm stickiness bathing them both. The spasms created by his orgasm sent Gibbs over the edge, Tony's inner muscles milking him, bringing him to his own mind-blowing orgasm.

"Oh, God, Tony, I don't know if I can move," Gibbs rasped, sweaty forehead resting against Tony's own sweat-slick skin.

Eyes closed, Tony smiled, running his hands over Gibbs' quivering back. "Mmm-hmm, I know what you mean," he mumbled before drifting to sleep.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Gibbs reluctantly pulled out of Tony. Exhausted, Tony didn't even awaken. Gibbs shook his head, pretty damned tired himself. Pushing Tony over on his side, he snuggled up against him on the sofa. It was awkward, but he didn't want to be separated from him just now. He needed to hold him, to feel him against him after what had been the most exhilarating experience of his life.

They slept for a while, snuggled together, hand-knitted afghan thrown over them. Eventually they awakened. Gibbs reheated the soup and bread, and they ate, kissing between bites after the initial hunger for food had been satisfied. Tony protested, but he took the meds Gibbs gave him.

"What do you say we move this upstairs to the bed? It might be ratty as you said, but it's better than trying to keep from falling off the sofa."

Tony grinned and took the hand held out to him, pulling himself up. "Sounds like a plan, Boss. Wait." Turning back, he grabbed the lube. "I think we might need this."

"We just might at that," Gibbs said, smacking Tony's ass as the younger man walked by him, heading up the stairs.

Gibbs had every intention of sleeping, but Tony had other plans. Pushing Gibbs back on the bed, he proceeded to kiss and lick every inch of the man, except for the hard shaft straining upwards, quivering with the need for physical stimulation.

"Damn it, DiNozzo, what do you think you're doing?"

"Just loving you, Boss," Tony said, looking up from between the older man's thighs where he was lightly nipping the tender skin on the inside.

Gibbs gasped when Tony breathed on his cock without actually touching it. "I think you're trying to kill me."

"Dying of pleasure wouldn't be so bad, would it, Boss?"

Gibbs groaned and threw his head back against the pillow when Tony's tongue flicked into his navel again and again. "Might not be at that, Tony."

Mouth locked around a hard nipple, Tony chuckled, causing Gibbs to catch his breath. Gibbs was so hard he hurt. He wanted Tony to take his cock in his mouth, to lick and suck till he came. He wanted to have Tony jack him off while he sucked his balls. Hell, right now he'd settle for his own hand, but he'd promised Tony not to touch himself, and he would keep that promise, no matter how HARD it was.

Tony continued to kiss, lick and nip, driving Gibbs wild. With his teeth scraping a hard, red nipple, one hand twisting the other nipple and one finger of his other hand twirling around the inside of Gibbs' ear, Tony reveled in the sounds coming from his victim.

"Oh, God, Tony!" Gibbs cried, hips arching off the bed, cum spurting up in milky threads as he came without ever being touched.

"Mmm, Boss, damn you're hot," Tony breathed against his skin before licking up the still-warm seed.

"God, Tony, I can't believe I did that."

Tony crawled up Gibbs body. "I almost came just from touching you and watching you come," Tony whispered before kissing him, letting him taste his own cum.

"I'm glad you didn't," Gibbs said around the lump that had formed in his throat. "There's something I want."

"Anything," Tony vowed, breath warm against the sweat-slick skin of Gibbs' neck.

Gibbs licked dry lips. "What I said in the hospital? I want you inside me."

Shocked, Tony pulled back, looking at Gibbs, seeing the sincerity in those blue eyes. "You're sure?"

Gibbs nodded. "But I have to tell you, Tony. I...I've only ever had one other male lover, and I never bottomed."

Tony blinked, then a sweet smile spread over his face. Leaning down, he kissed Gibbs gently. "You don't know how honored I am that you'd do this for me."

But Gibbs was shaking his head. "It's not just for you, Tony. I want this. I want to know what it's like to truly belong to you."

Tony kissed him again. "I'll make it good, I promise."

"I know you will. I trust you, Tony."

Tony smiled and began kissing his way down Gibbs' body, finally taking the softened shaft into his mouth. Both men were surprised when the spent flesh began to stir.

"Damn, Boss, that's some stamina you've got there."

Gibbs laughed. "I'm surprised myself. Must just be you, DiNozzo. You make me feel like a teenager again."

Tony wiggled his brows. "Good. I could get used to this."

All Gibbs could do at that point was gasp because Tony's mouth had traveled further down south, glancing over his balls and aiming for virgin territory. At the first touch of Tony's stiffened tongue to his hole he hardened fully, back arching off the bed as he sought more of that stabbing motion.

"God, Tony!"

"Just loosening you up, Boss."

Tony continued to rim him till Gibbs was a quivering mass of need. Reaching to the nightstand with a shaking hand, Tony grabbed the lube. It took three tries to open it, nervous laughter exploding from him, but finally it was open and he had slicked a finger, introducing it to Gibbs' body.

Gibbs sucked in a breath.

Tony kissed a hipbone. "It's okay, Jethro. Just bear down, and it'll be a lot easier on you."

Gibbs did as instructed, eyes widening when a second finger was added, thrusting in and out, scissoring, stretching him in a way he'd never imagined. When Tony added more lube and put in a third finger, Gibbs didn't think he'd ever speak again. At the fist touch to his prostate, he thought he'd died and been reanimated.

"Oh, God, Tony, I never knew."

Carefully pulling his fingers free, Tony moved up for a kiss. "It only gets better."

Spreading the lube over his aching hardness, Tony bit his lip to keep from coming. Just the THOUGHT of entering Gibbs was enough to push him over the edge.

"You ready, Boss?"

"Yeah, Tony, I am. Make love to me."

"Turn over on your side. It's easier your first time."

Gibbs turned over with Tony's help. He didn't think he was capable of that much without help. Tony kissed the nape of his neck as he pushed his top leg forward, opening him up. One hand grasping his own hardness, he guided his aching cock to Gibbs' opened virgin hole, pushing in with just the head. He wasn't sure which one of them gasped the loudest.

Pushing in a bit further, Tony stopped, needing to give both of them time to catch their breath. Holding Gibbs leg, he pushed in further, finally sheathing himself completely. Gibbs' was breathing erratically, his heart feeling like it was trying to pound its way out of his chest. And Tony wasn't any better.

Tony began to move once Gibbs had adjusted to the feel of him inside. He knew when he hit the prostate because Gibbs gasped out his name, his muscles tightening. Tony kissed the back of his neck and took hold of his erection, jacking him in time to his thrusts.

"Faster, Tony!"

Tony managed a shaky laugh as he complied. "Just can't stop issuing orders, can you, Boss?"

Gibbs growled, putting his hand over Tony's and speeding up the stroking motions. Tony bit his lip, trying to hold off, wanting this to last. He was inside Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He'd gone where no man had gone before, and he fully intended to make sure his lover remembered this the rest of his life.

Lord knew he would.

"Oh, God, Tony! Yes, yes, YES!"

Tony groaned when Gibbs came, his warm cum spraying over their clasped hands, although there wasn't a lot of it since he'd already come twice. But the contractions around his cock were all he needed to trigger his own orgasm, his warm cum bathing Gibbs internally.

Resting his sweaty forehead against Gibbs sweaty shoulder, Tony said, "Thank you, Jethro. You don't know what that meant to me."

Gibbs twisted till his mouth could just reach Tony's. "No, thank YOU, Tony. And I know what it meant, because it meant the same to me. It means I love you, Tony, and I want from you what I've never truly wanted from anyone else."

"And what's that?"

"I want you to be the person I grow old with."

Chapter Text

Even after a night of mind-blowing sex with his younger lover, Gibbs' internal clock went off at 0500 hours. He felt the pressure in the bed from another person, an unusual occurrence in and of itself these days; the fact that it was another man, not just any man but Anthony DiNozzo, made his mind whirl. The scent of sex still in the air.

Gibbs winced as he moved. Tony was right, he needed a new bed and mattress. Rolling over, he saw Tony curled up in a ball, almost falling off the bed in an effort to keep from settling into the dip in the middle of the mattress.

The top part of Tony's bare back was exposed, the covers over him just above his waist. Gibbs marveled at the sight, the contour of muscles, the way it curved, the smooth unblemished skin. He wanted to run his hands all over the man's body again like he had the night before, but he wouldn't, not yet anyway. Tony needed to sleep. His body was still healing from being sick, and after last night, Gibbs' own body almost didn't want to move.

Last night had been the best sex Gibbs had ever had. It had been hot and heavy and loving and caring all in one session. But it hadn't been just sex: not at all. It had been pure love. He and Tony had made love in the truest sense of the word.

Gibbs routine was to get up every day at 5:00 AM, make coffee, then go running for an hour or so. He liked running since it gave him time to think and just gather his mind together. He hadn't had that in nearly a week. With everything that had happened in the last few days and what was on the books for today, he needed the mind-clearing ritual more than ever. His whole future might hinge on what transpired today.

Getting out of bed carefully so as not to wake Tony, Gibbs threw on a pair of sweats and an old shirt, not bothering with underwear or even socks. He kissed Tony lightly on the cheek, found a piece of paper and left a little note telling Tony he'd gone for a run should the younger man wake up before he returned. As tired as Tony was, he didn't think he'd wake up before he returned, but just in case, he didn't want him to worry.

And a young man Tony was. Walking down the stairs, Gibbs wondered why Tony loved him. He was nearly fifteen years his senior, a battle-scarred ex-marine known for being a bastard and downright curt at times. Yet Tony seemed to eat it up. He knew Tony was starved for attention; as a kid his parents had been more than just inattentive, they'd basically left him for the servants to raise.

But this seemed to be more than just someone starved for attention. He knew Tony looked up to him as well. At first it had been almost hero-worship, but now it seemed to have gone beyond that. In Tony's eyes Gibbs was perfect, even with all his faults. He even saw the head slaps as a sign of affection: which, in fact, they were. He was always careful not to hurt Tony.

If he were a more romantic sort, Gibbs would think he and Tony were meant to be together. Tony was everything he wasn't: two complementary halves of a whole. They fit together, like a hand in a glove. Tony had a way about him that put people at ease, including Gibbs. It was part of what made him such a good agent.

Heading into the kitchen, Gibbs grabbed a mug and filled it with coffee, closing his eyes as the hot ambrosia slid down his throat and settled warmly in his stomach. He'd like to savor the coffee, but he didn't allow himself the time right now. He finished the cup he'd poured, then put on his running shoes and left the house.

He headed up the driveway to the road and started his run, following his usual route. The nearest house was about a ten-minute drive from his house. He frowned when he saw the house, because it was the first in a new subdivision being built, just one of many such complexes popping up everywhere like fleas on a dog.

As he ran, Gibbs thought about THE PLAN, going over it in his head. Abby had typed up an affidavit concerning various infractions the new director had committed, Ziva being one of the most serious. Jen had been using the new agent to make Gibbs jealous. She'd admitted it to Ziva one night while drunk. Ziva had confided in McGee and that was how he came up with the idea for taking down Madame Director. But it would be a team effort, needing the help of them all working together.

Last evening Ducky had had dinner with the SecNav and had handed him a file to go over later when he got home. Also in the file was a computer address the SecNav was to open at the specified time. The SecNav did nothing more than raise an eyebrow as Ducky handed over the folder. The two men had been friends for many years, so gaining his cooperation without going into full detail had been easy. The file, Ducky told the man, would explain it all.

Abby showed Gibbs how to hook up the web feed to show the SecNav everything that was going on firsthand. Gibbs was going to call Jen and invite her over around 0900. Once there he would encourage her to talk, going so far as to nearly seduce her if that was what it took. She had to admit to her sins, forcing Ziva into a sexual relationship, transferring Tony to the San Francisco, and all to get to him. Not to mention the fact that Jen was a bigot.

If all went well the NEW Director would be an OLD Director, and the best job she would be getting would be working for Burger King.

And what about him and his future? He'd told Jen he quit. Maybe it was time he did it for real. He had enough time in if he wanted to retire. He'd put in over twenty years with the Marines and NCIS combined and had a great time, for the most part, doing it. He'd seen more than his fair share of death during that time, but there had been far more people he'd helped.

And now he had a family again. He wasn't about to make the same mistakes he'd made the first time around, or the second and third. He would be there for this family, for Tony and Jenny. He also knew Tony would be a very hands-on parent. Lord knew the younger man's own parents hadn't been there for him, and Gibbs knew Tony well enough to know he would be everything his parents hadn't been.

He knew he or Tony would neither one push the little girl to do something she didn't want. They hadn't really talked about it, not yet anyway, but he knew how Tony felt. Jenny had just lost her mother, the only family she'd really ever known, and they wouldn't push her into anything she wasn't ready for. If she for the rest of her life called them Tony and Jethro he didn't care. He wouldn't lie to himself. He'd love to hear the word Dad directed at him once again, but it wouldn't matter if she never called him that. He didn't really know the little girl, and for all that he'd watched her for nearly a year, neither did Tony. The important thing now was to build a family unit they were comfortable with, one where Jenny felt safe.

One thing he did know for sure was that they wouldn't be returning to work just yet, if he even did return. It was early November now, and there was the possibility he and Tony would take the rest of the year off. They needed to get Tony and Jenny both moved and settled in. Only once they had established a routine would he go back to work, and he knew Tony would feel the same way. If he went back at all.

As he reached the first set of new homes, still running at a steady pace, mind still wandering from one thing to the next, he saw the police car that patrolled the area at this time every day. He waved, and they flashed their lights at him.

The cop had stopped him once, just doing his job. Gibbs had shown his ID and the man had apologized and let him go. Every morning after that when they would meet Gibbs would wave and the patrol car would flash its lights in return, almost like clockwork. It was part of his routine now, and routine was good.

As Gibbs turned around, heading back home, his mind was still busy, thinking about all the things still to be done. He thought maybe he would have the attic refinished and let Jenny have it as her room. It was larger than the other room, running the full length of the house. It would give her a bedroom, a sitting area and an area for a desk for her schoolwork.

He figured he would have to start locking his doors now as well since Tony would be bringing all his expensive electronics over and they would have a little girl living there. He didn't know what half the things Tony owned did, but he had a feeling between Tony and Jenny he would get a crash course in the world of technology.

He'd meant what he'd said the night before. He fully intended to have half the house put into Tony's name. And not just the house; checking, savings, stocks, bonds, everything would now have Tony's name on them as well. Insurance would need to be changed, too, making Tony and Jenny his beneficiaries. That was something he hadn't even done for his last wife and almost hadn't done for the second one.

Tony was different, though. While Gibbs wasn't into the whole ring and ceremony thing, he did want to get Tony something, maybe a small band to symbolize his love and commitment. Even a bracelet like the one he wore his first wife and daughter had given him.

And then it hit Gibbs. He'd never thought he'd feel this way again, but he did, and he knew it would never happen again. Tony was the last person he would ever love like this again, and he knew it. He also knew they would be together for a very long time, the rest of their lives in fact. And quite frankly it scared the hell out of him considering what they did for a living and the possibility of loss. Look at what had happened to Cait. She had passed doing what she loved to do. And now it wasn't just themselves they had to think about. Now Jenny had been thrown into the mix.

When he returned home, there still were no lights on except the small light in the hall, and there weren't any sounds of anyone stirring. Going into the kitchen, he poured himself another mug of coffee and opened the newspaper he'd retrieved on his way back inside and read a few articles.

Around 6:30 he placed his empty mug in the sink and went back upstairs to their room. That made Gibbs stop. He'd automatically thought THEIR room, and that made him smile. Already Tony was embedded into every aspect his life.

That smile turned wicked when he entered the room and saw Tony. The younger man had taken over the entire bed, arms and legs spread out towards all four corners of the bed, almost as if he was tied that way. Which might not be such a bad idea. Yes, he would definitely file that thought away for future reference.

Stripping quickly, he threw his sweaty clothes in the hamper and crawled up on the bed. Tony didn't move, just continued to lie there like an all-you-can-eat buffet. And Gibbs was hungry.

Bypassing the appetizer, Gibbs went straight for the main course. Tony was already half-hard. Leaning down, Gibbs kissed the tip of the thick shaft, smirking when it twitched and hardened even more. As his lips traced the vein down the length, Tony stirred, mumbling but not quite waking up.

Wrapping a hand around the shaft, he sucked the head into his mouth, flicking his tongue into the slit, lapping up the salty precum. It had been a long time since he'd done this, so he wasn't able to take much into his mouth just yet, but his hand compensated, stroking up and down as his mouth swallowed as much of the hardness as possible.

"Mmm, what a way to wake up," Tony murmured, voice sexy and sleep-rough.

Gibbs looked up from his task, twinkling blue eyes meeting glazed hazel ones. Had his mouth not been full of a tasty Tony treat, he would have smiled at the look of bliss on his young lover's face. Instead he merely sucked harder, moving his head up and down, hand stroking and squeezing.

"Oh, God, Boss," Tony moaned, one hand burying itself in Gibbs' silver hair.

Gibbs released Tony long enough to suck a finger into his mouth and wet it, then returned to his task, sliding his mouth down the throbbing hot velvet of Tony's cock, his wet finger slipping underneath Tony's balls and insinuating itself into the still-tender hole.

Yes!" Tony hissed, fingers tightening in Gibbs' hair as he nearly went into overload from a combination of being sucked, stroked and fingered by the man he loved, the man he'd fantasized about for years.

Encouraged by the moans coming from deep within Tony, Gibbs tried taking him deeper but could only manage so much when his gag reflex kicked in but knowing eventually, with practice, it would be easier. And he intended to practice. A lot.

"Jethro," Tony warned, "I'm going to come."

Rather than back off and finish him with his hand, Gibbs sucked harder, wanting everything Tony had to give. He gagged a bit as Tony came, hips thrusting his cock further into his mouth, but he swallowed every drop, drinking in the very essence of the man he loved.

"Damn, Boss, that's a helluva wake up call you give," Tony said with a smile as Gibbs crawled up his body for a kiss, sharing the taste of his cum with him.

"Morning, Tony."

"Mmm, yeah, mornin'."

Gibbs winked at Tony, smacked him on the hip and got out of bed, heading for the bathroom. Tony grinned as he watched the tight ass walking away, then quickly scrambled out of the bed and hurried after Gibbs, joining him in the shower.

"Got room for one more in here?"

"I think I can fit you in."

"That's what I'm counting on," Tony murmured just before leaning in for a kiss, tongue slipping inside Gibbs' mouth, learning the shape and texture of his teeth, tongue and the roof of his mouth, searching for his tonsils.

"Damn, DiNozzo," Gibbs managed faintly when he pulled away for breath, "you know how to kiss."

"Never had a complaint in that area," Tony said, nipping at the juncture of Gibbs' neck and shoulder, then licking the mark he'd left.

Gibbs forgot all about the reason he was standing under the spray of warm water when Tony's mouth traveled further down, capturing a nipple and tugging the hardened nub before treating the other nipple to the same pleasure. His breath caught in his throat when Tony's hands slid around his body and down, holding onto both his ass cheeks, squeezing and releasing.

"Tony," he sighed when the younger man's tongue dipped into his navel over and over, hands holding him tight.

Tony made a sound of appreciation when his mouth first touched the hard shaft that was pointing straight at him. He licked the head like a lollipop, smiling when Gibbs' hissed in pleasure. Opening his mouth, he swallowed Gibbs' cock, carefully keeping his lips over his teeth as his mouth slid down, taking in more and more.

"Tony!"

Tony's cheeks hollowed as he sucked, with each up and down motion taking in more and more of the hard length. Gibbs had one hand braced against the wall, the other hand braced on Tony's shoulder, fingers digging into the firm flesh.

Tony's hands slid inward, meeting in the crevice of Gibbs' ass, spreading the cheeks, one finger teasing the tight anal pucker. Gibbs gasped, head thrown back at the sensation of the finger invading his tender region. Till the night before he'd been an anal virgin, but now he'd discovered that he craved the feel of Tony inside him, even just a finger.

When Tony's finger hooked upward, finding the prostate and stroking it, Gibbs gasped his name and came, shooting his warm seed down Tony's throat. Tony drank it greedily, sucking it all down before releasing the spent flesh.

Looking up, he smiled at Gibbs, earning a smile in return, one that reached the dazed blue eyes. Tony rose, knees cracking, earning a snort of laughter from Gibbs and a comment about him not being as young as he used to be.

"I can keep up with you," Tony said, wrapping his arms around Gibbs.

Gibbs returned the hug. "Then why are you always one step behind when we chase down a criminal?"

Tony laughed into Gibbs' throat. "Haven't you figured it out yet, Boss? I'm always on your six so I can watch your ass when you run."

Gibbs groaned. "Why is it I believe you?"

Tony grinned. "Because it's the truth."

The water was already beginning to cool, so they showered quickly, then got out and dried off, each helping the other, running towels over hard muscles in more of a caress than actual drying.

Pulling on his boxers, Gibbs grabbed his cell phone and called Jen while Tony put styling gel in his hair, running his fingers through the dark strands. Gibbs watched until he was too distracted and had to turn away to concentrate on his conversation with Jen.

 

"Jen...Yeah, I wanted to talk about that...Yeah, we could meet. How about 9:00?...No, I kicked his sorry ass out, left him at his place...Yes, please, thanks." Gibbs disconnected and turned back to Tony.

"So my ass is sorry?"

"Not from were I'm looking," Gibbs said with a smile, watching as Tony ran a hand over his bare ass.

"Good." Tony smiled, kissed his lover and walked into the bedroom and dressed before heading out of the room.

Gibbs watched him leave, then glanced at the bedside clock. It was 8:00 AM. Throwing on his own clothing, he left the room, hurrying downstairs when he heard the low murmuring of voices coming from the kitchen. He found Tony and Ziva there, both with cups of coffee, another pot brewing.

"You really should lock your door, Gibbs," she remarked.

Gibbs shrugged. "Nothing here to steal." Taking Tony's mug of coffee and taking a sip, he looked at Ziva. "You sure you're up for this?"

"Please, Gibbs, I've been up against a lot worse then this person," she said, blatantly not using the word lady.

"Good. She'll be here in about an hour. Both of you need to stay out of sight."

"Got it, Boss." Tony kissed the tip of his nose, then pulled out a pan and scrambled some eggs while Gibbs made toast.

An hour later Tony and Ziva were in the study, listening to the live feed that Abby had shown Gibbs how to set up. Gibbs heard a car door out front. He had the laptop in the living room, open on the coffee table, papers spread around it, making it look like he was merely working on a report. He made sure nothing was in the way of the transmitter, then walked towards the door and opened it when the doorbell rang.

"Hello, Jen."

"Jethro," she said, walking into the living room as if she owned it. "I was surprised at your call after our last conversation."

"I got to thinking about that and wanted to say I'm sorry. Can I get you something to drink?"

"A cup of coffee, please."

Gibbs motioned for her to sit down. She took him up on that as he went into the kitchen for the coffee, fixing it the way she liked it. He went back into the living room and handed her the mug, noticing she had made herself at home and was going through the papers he'd left on the table.

"So you'll be back to work and that fa- I mean Special Agent DiNozzo is off to San Francisco."

"If that's where you're really sending the little faggot, then, yes."

"I'm glad we're finally thinking the same way, Jethro. Send him back to his own people and away from the good, decent people."

Gibbs was careful to keep his anger from showing. "Sounds like a plan to me."

Jen leaned closer to Gibbs. "What about us, Jethro?"

"What about us? You're saying you want to rekindle the old flame?"

"I was thinking of a little more than that."

"What about your own little plaything?"

"Who?"

"Ziva."

Jen shrugged. "Oh, her. I could care less about that fucking Kike. She shouldn't even be here. I just wanted to make you jealous."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ziva's instinct on hearing the racial slur was to go out and kill the woman. Tony put his hand on her shoulder and shook his head. It was hard for him to hear some of the things being said as well, especially coming from his lover, but he knew Gibbs was merely playing the part to get what was needed.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Really? I never would have thought you would be the type, Jen, to even think that way, let alone carry through with it."

"There's a lot about me you don't know, Jethro."

"I think I'm beginning to see the true you, Jen."

Gibbs stood. As he stood looking down at her, Jen's phone buzzed.

"I would answer that if I were you, Jen."

Frowning, she dug her phone out of her purse. Looking at the screen, she saw that the call was coming from the SecNav himself.

"Yes, Sir...No, Sir, but...Yes, Sir, right away, Sir." Mouth pursed in anger, she flipped the phone closed and jumped to her feet.

"Something the matter, Jen?"

"You bastard," she spat.

"That is what the second B is for. Guys, you can come out now."

Tony and Ziva came out of the study, both smiling, even though there was suppressed anger in Ziva's dark eyes.

"So what you said?"

"All a part, Jen. We both said a lot of things, and I'm sure the SecNav had some good reading last night with our affidavits stating you've been sexually harassing Ziva and myself, with the rest confirming our statements. Also, laptops I'm told, make good mikes with a direct feed to the SecNav's office." He walked over to the laptop, hit a button and Jen could see that it was an open mike and had been picking up every word they'd said.

"You fucking bastard."

Jen walked over to Gibbs and raised her hand, ready to slap his face, but he caught her hand in midair, grip tight but not enough to leave marks.

"You ever again try to screw over my friends and family and you're going to wish it was the SecNav handling you and not me."

He let go. She stormed off in a huff, slamming the door behind her. Gibbs phone shrilled in the suddenly quiet room.

"Gibbs...Yes, Abs...Thanks to all of you...No, we're going to go see Jenny in a few...Yes, dinner sounds nice, just let us know what time and where...Bye."

"I'll be going, now," Ziva said. She was almost out the door when Gibbs stopped her, hand on her arm.

"Thanks for what you did. You didn't have to do any of it."

"No, you're right, I didn't. But I hope now you know I can be trusted and that I'm not her little bitch."

"I never thought that, Ziva. I hope it will be okay if Tony knows."

"I had a feeling you didn't, but I wasn't sure. And, yes, if you tell Tony, I'll understand. Thanks, Gibbs."

"Meet us all for dinner."

"I don't know. I don't-"

"You're part of the team, Ziva," Tony added. "We want you there."

Ziva smiled. "Thank you, I think I will. Just let me know when and where, and I'll be there."

Tony leaned down and kissed Ziva on the cheek before she walked out the front door.

"So."

"So." Gibbs pulled Tony to him and started to kiss him, shutting the door with his foot. "How about we go visit a little girl?"

"Sounds like a plan, Boss."