|Category||Slash >> Gibbs/DiNozzo|
|Genre||First Time, Drama, Angst|
|Spoilers||For "Twilight". Reaction fic leading to slash|
|Summary||I HAVE UPDATED THIS STORY AND COMBINED PARTS 1 & 2 TOGETHER!!!
Summary: You function but you're not always functioning
|Status||This story is completed|
Numb. He knew he was numb. His first thought after Kate went down had been to protect Gibbs then to preserve the scene until another team arrived. His boss dealt with Ducky... and the Director... then put out an all points bulletin on Ari. Then Tony helped to lift his friend, his co-worker, still warm, into the body bag. Watched as the zipper was closed. He had wanted to help carry her down the steps but Ducky held him back... held McGee and Gibbs back. With respect... with great care... two men and a woman from another team lifted her and carried her away. Gone.
He couldn't remember how long he stood, staring at the pool of blood and tissue that had been a part of Caitlyn Todd only twenty minutes before. Already there was a darkening. Already insects were finding their way to it. Waste...
The Director would not allow them to drive so they were driven back to headquarters. Gibbs disappeared up into MTAC. McGee stood frozen as if unable to process what was happening. Young. He often forgot how much younger McGee was... the five or six years made a difference in experience and perspective. He moved, ready to give the other man a hug but held back. His face was stiff with drying blood and... tissue. Kate's blood and tissue. His shirt was covered too. Was it evidence? Did he have to go to Ducky? But... then he'd have to see the bag... or even her... dead...
The elevator doors opened. Abby flew out, her eyes on him instantly, taking in the gore on his face and clothes. Her eyes were bloodshot with crying. Her pale skin even more pale, if that was possible. She walked over and threw her arms around him before he could stop her, sobbing. Sister. She was another sister he had never had. Tony hugged her and rubbed her back. He couldn't speak, hadn't spoken more than the most necessary words since... the shock of splatter hit him... since Kate fell without so much as a cry...
His eyes were dry. He just... couldn't muster the emotions. He couldn't... Abby pulled back to look at him, her grief turning to concern. He shook his head quickly, knowing he could not let her do that... he would lose everything and never get it back. Instead he gave her a hard smile and tilted his head towards McGee. She followed his direction and her expression became even more concerned as she ran to him and he almost fell into her arms. They were friends... once lovers... still friends... with occasional benefits. As he watched Abby comfort him, as he watched McGee comfort Abby, he was glad he had somehow accomplished this.
His eyes strayed to Kate's desk. When he came back yesterday morning... yesterday... she had been on the phone... ignoring him. Something went on just before he had returned from sick leave. Something petty... small... sibling like. He was almost relieved to see it though a quick 'how are you?' would have been nice. But having things start out normal was all right too. He knew how Kate felt. She had come to his apartment... several times... complaining about a file. But in the midst of bringing in a meal and some of his favorite beer the "official" reason for her presence seemed to get lost. She would make sure he was taking his medicine... that he was watching his temperature... that he was resting. //Need you back,// she informed him tersely. //Gibbs has become impossible to work with.//
Yeah. Sure. All a part of the game. He knew. Kate knew. Everyone knew. He walked over to her desk. He knew where everything was. In his lifelong mission to irritate her he had been through all her drawers... her files... her PDA... her...
Her sketchpad caught his eye. It was out of place, usually put away... locked away. Personal. But oddly it was set aside, in the open, with only a few forms on top. Curious he looked, easing the official papers aside. Kate was a gifted artist. Creative. He almost stumbled as he beheld her latest work. Him. Not a caricature. Not a joke. Him.
His eyes burned. Without thinking he ripped the paper off the pad. Anger. He came close to destroying it but something held him back and he merely folded it... put it in his pocket. He... didn't want to be here. He suddenly realized there was someone who needed to be told... to be cared for... someone no one would think to focus on...
He said nothing as he left NCIS, as he got into his car, as he drove and drove. The last time he had driven... he had bought a bottle of her favorite wine... expensive. He had simply put a bow on it and a smiley face. Thus was their game. Some thought they were intimate. But those close knew better... understood.
He had a key. Light from the late afternoon sun lit the stillness of Kate's apartment. His eyes searching then sighed as he saw it. She lay in her bed, her body tensely curled, her head down on her paws, her eyes open, staring at him with a sad expression.
He approached slowly, thinking. He usually got along with animals. At first he and Toni had an odd meeting. But after he gave her a biscuit and walked her when no one else could they got along all right. //She already knows,// he realized sadly. "Hey," he said as he knelt by the soft bed. For this dog Kate had provided everything.
Toni licked his hand then put her head back down, otherwise disinterested. "I'm sorry, girl," he whispered, his throat knotted with emotion. He gently petted the dog's head as he sat down. What was he going to do? Could he take her?
Toni whimpered then crawled into his lap and collapsed. Tony continued to pet, his own eyes tearing. "I'm so sorry," he told her brokenly. "I'm so sorry..."
He didn't know how long he sat. How long he petted the soft fur. How long he just didn't think. There were voices, sharp and excited. Startled he looked up to see Gibbs, Abby, McGee and Ducky coming towards him with various expressions on their faces. Anger. Relief. Surprise. Concern. Tony glanced at his watch. Eight-thirty at night. Three hours? Tony frowned. There were red dots on the crystal of his Rolex. Red drops...
"My god!" Abby dropped to her knees at his side. Her eyes studied him. "We've been looking for you everywhere!"
Tony stared at her. He didn't understand what she was talking about. He was right here...
"Do you know where the hell your cell is!"
Gibbs. He winced. His cell. Tony stared at his boss. "No," he said honestly.
If possible Gibbs expression grew darker. "It's on your desk! What the hell did you think you were doing!"
Tony shrugged then returned his attention to Toni. The small dog was shaking, clearly distressed. "Don't yell," he demanded quietly. "She's upset enough as it is."
"Jethro." Ducky. Soft. Commanding. "Abigail, my dear. Why don't you take Toni home with you? I think she could use some TLC and she knows you best."
Tony looked at the Medical Examiner, surprised. "I can take care of her," he defended. He couldn't protect Toni's mistress but he would protect her.
Old blue eyes smiled at him. "I'm sure you can, my boy. But you need some care yourself. Go ahead, Abby."
Abby gave Tony a teary smile as she gently took Toni from him. "She'll come live with me," she told him as she stood with the dog in her arms. Toni's head craned up to gaze at the Goth. Her tail wagged in response. Tony almost smiled in response, knowing it was the right decision.
The next few moments were a blur of movement. Silently McGee gathered Toni's bed and picked up the container of food just inside the entrance to the kitchenette. Then they were gone.
"DiNozzo, what the hell did you think you were doing!"
Gibbs. Sharp. Tony sighed as he started to move in preparation. He wasn't going to take his boss' tirade sitting down. But a hand landed on his shoulder and held him down.
"Jethro," Ducky began quietly in warning. The Medical Examiner's black bag was on the carpet beside Tony. "If you can't remember what we discussed then you can wait outside."
Surprised Tony glanced from one man to the other. Ducky was kneeling beside him, a stethoscope around his neck, a blood pressure cuff in hand. His expression was that of a typical grandfather coming to the aid of an injured grandchild. Gibbs... Tony glanced away. The ex-Marine's eyes were intense. Deep emotions. //I'm fucked,// he knew.
"Let's get this shirt off you."
Shirt. Tony glanced down. His shirt was white. But there were stains. Dark red stains...
Fingers pulled the expensive cotton fabric from the waistband from his pants. "Ducky, I can--"
"Just relax, DiNozzo."
Gibbs. Tony stared. His boss was kneeling in front of him. His expression was different... softer. His boss' fingers were quick and efficient as they unbuttoned his expensive shirt... his stained expensive shirt.
"Open your mouth, lad."
Lad. Ducky didn't call a man "lad" unless he was being at his most gentle... most coaxing. Tony obeyed, tasted the brief bitterness of alcohol on the thermometer as it was placed under his tongue.
"Here's a bag, Jethro. Get his undershirt off too."
Orders. Ducky was ordering Jethro. Rare but he had seen it.
"Arms up, Tony."
He obeyed, frowning as an oddly familiar smell passed his nose, as moisture touched his face. Blood. When he had killed Jeffery...
"Grab something quickly!"
Ducky. Tony's body convulsed. His stomach contracted. The thermometer was plucked from his mouth as a strong hand gripped the back of his neck, guiding. There was a gold bowl under his chin as bile exploded from him. Vomiting. Pain lanced through his ribs... his bruised ribs...
"I'm done," he managed as everything quickly settled. He hadn't really eaten so there wasn't much to come up. "Sorry..."
The foul smelling bowl was taken away. A cuff was wrapped around his arm. Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. Release. Tony watched vaguely as Ducky took his blood pressure. Ducky's expression was doctorly, focused, concerned. "One forty-seven over ninety-one," he announced as he pulled off the cuff. "His temperature's elevated. I think he's a bit dehydrated."
Gibbs presence was beside him again. When had he gone away? The hand returned to the back of his head, gently cupping as cool, moist paper towels wiped at his face. "Hospital?"
Something beyond the grief touched his heart. Tony focused on the men sitting around him. "No hospital."
Gibbs shifted, faced him. Marine blue eyes regarded him. "You don't get a choice." Eyes moved aside. "Duck?"
The Medical Examiner's lips tugged in the corners, though downward or upward he couldn't tell. "Depends on what you want, Jethro."
What Gibbs wanted? Tony frowned. What the--
His boss' eyes closed then opened. Finality and determination dominated them. Gibbs stood and took off his jacket then his shirt. He pulled off his undershirt then held out a hand. "Think you can stand up?"
Something beyond the feeling of not feeling curved through Tony as he took in the older man's bare torso. Not the first time he had seen Gibbs bare-chested. Not the first time there was that tingling in the pit of his stomach in response. But now... Tony looked away, conflicted. He was feeling. He didn't want to feel... because if he did--
Ducky. Tony risked a look at the old man then regretted it. The kindly grandfather expression was gone, replaced by a knowing gleam. Shit.
"You need to drink water... fruit juice. No soda, alcohol or caffeine for a few days. And you need to eat... and rest... and--" He patted Tony on the shoulder and gathered his things then closed his case then stood. He picked up a red bio-hazard bag and faced Gibbs. "I'll see about getting Kate released to her family tomorrow afternoon. I'm not in charge of her... disposition but I'm fairly certain Eric will do what he can."
"Thanks, Duck." Gibbs patted the medical examiner's shoulder. "I'm sorry... I--"
Ducky raised his hand to stop him. "I've told you. There's no fault here except for that monster." His voice was old. "She died doing what she devoted her life to. Don't make it meaningless by forgetting what's most important... now." He glanced back at Tony. "Young man, you're making yourself ill for no reason. Jethro is going to take you home and make sure you're taken care of... and you're going to let him." He sighed. "I'm going home to tell my mother that 'that girl who wouldn't show me her knickers' won't be able to now."
Tony watched Ducky go, concerned by slower gait in the old man's stride, the sudden frailty in his stature. Breeding prompted him to get up and see the man out, to be sure he was all right. But he was too tired, too... detached...
"Let's go, Tony."
Gibbs continued to hold his hand out to him. Patient. Unnaturally patient. Surreal. Everything moved slow and fast at the same time. His boss stood half-undressed. Tony was half-undressed. What was he going to do if he took Gibbs' hand...
His boss eventually sighed and replaced his hand with the undershirt he had taken off. "Put this on," he said evenly.
Tony caught the cotton fabric as it was thrown at him. "I've got stuff in my trunk," he said.
"Your car's been towed." Gibbs put back on his shirt then his jacket.
Towed? That prompted him to stand as surprise moved other thoughts aside. "Why?"
"The Director doesn't want us driving." Gibbs didn't sound pleased but resigned. "We're under Federal protection for the next seven days."
Protection? Tony absorbed this. "He thinks Ari is still after you?"
Gibbs' brows met then parted. "The protection is for all of us, Tony. Ari's cover's been blown. His status has been changed. He's a hunted man. If we don't get him... the Mossad will." His lips jumped. "Personally I hope they get to him first."
Tony agreed but something didn't sound right. "What about you... I mean... Don't you want to--"
Gibbs smiled faintly. His stance relaxed a little. "I was reminded I have something more important to do and to let others deal with Ari."
Oh. Tony didn't know what to make of that. He slowly put on the undershirt. He and Gibbs wore the same size boxers and undershirts... knowledge he had gained working overnight in the office or in stakeouts. His bare skin covered, Tony felt more in control though still a bit off balance as the faint scent of Gibbs wafted into his nostrils.
"Let me take care of this then we'll go."
He watched Gibbs lift a big gold bowl from the floor; the one Kate kept on the table behind her couch, just within reach of where Gibbs and Ducky had been kneeling next to him. He had teased her about it once... twice. She told him her mother had gotten it for her when she was twenty and moved into her first apartment...
Now he had thrown up in it. Tony studied the scattered fake fruit and nuts that had probably been in it. Kate would be freaking about now...
"Let's go, Tony."
Gibbs was drying the bowl with a towel as he walked out of the kitchenette and put what contents were within reach back into it. Tony picked up a few things to help but he couldn't quite bring himself to follow through. Gibbs silently took the waxed apple and orange from him then stepped away from the haphazard display. Not as it had been before but the best they could do.
Then they walked out. A man and woman stood the hallway, respectful but alert. Armed. Protection. Changes. Tony jerked as Kate's door slam shut as apartment doors usually did. Locked. He stared at the plain green paint that sharply contrasted the tasteful interior. Most of him understood it would be the last time he would be here visiting. It wasn't Kate's apartment anymore.
A firm grip on his arm made him focus. Gibbs. Blurred. Shit. He quickly and efficiently wiped his eyes. No feelings. If he felt it would be true. And it couldn't be true...
Gibbs expression was sad. His fingers brushed hair from his forehead. Puzzled Tony stared at him, unable to understand even if he did... suddenly. Then they walked with their escort. Down the hallway. Down the elevator. Out the door to where a dark sedan with tinted windows waited in the shadow of street lamps. An agent got out of the front passenger seat and opened the back door, her attention alert as she ushered them in. Then the door was closed and they were driven away.
Other than the brief, official conversation between the two agents in the front, Thomas and Mary, and Gibbs then between themselves as they called in report, all was silent. It was nearly Memorial Day weekend. He would already see preparations, even in the suburban darkness. A new surfboard was strapped to the top of an SUV. As they turned a corner there was a bicycle locked onto the rear of an RV. Kate had said something about Ocean City to Abby. They had a three-day weekend coming to them after all.
"Your house is clear, Agent Gibbs."
Mary's voice and Gibbs' touch brought him back. They were in his boss' driveway. Tony prepared himself to say good-bye. He idly wondered which of the two agents lost the coin toss to be Gibbs' babysitter.
"Thank you. You have my cell number and I have a panic button," Gibbs said as he opened his door and got out in sync with the female agent. "So other than the required check-ins, please don't call us unless there's a good reason. Understood?"
"Of course," Mary's drifted in from the darkness outside.
Tony opened his mouth to say good-bye when Gibbs' face suddenly appeared, his gaze direct. "Out, DiNozzo."
Out? "Gibbs, what--"
"Are you deaf?" his boss questioned sarcastically. "Out."
Order. Tony started to open his door only to find it locked.
"You know procedure," Gibbs reminded though his voice lacked its usual sting. "All out on one side."
Okay. Tony slid over and stepped out, carefully breathing in and out as the movement irritated his aching ribs. Car explosion. He had felt overwhelming relief when Kate and McGee left him, when he knew they were safe. Only then had he released the key as he ran for his own life...
"Almost home, Tony."
Home. A firm hand gripped the back of his neck, urged him to walk. The two agents silently flanked them until Gibbs opened the back door and gently pushed Tony in before following him. "Good night," he told the agents as he closed the door.
For the first time since he had first come to Gibbs' house Tony heard the dead bolt thrown. Locked. He didn't even know it could lock. They were in the kitchen, small but efficient. The light was on but shades were drawn. Protocol. Safety. Tony knew he should be nervous about that. Ari was a hell of a sniper. But he just couldn't muster the emotion.
"Are you hungry?"
Tony shrugged. He couldn't remember when he last ate. Was it Chinese? Something Gibbs has thrown in front of him. "Not really."
"Okay." Gibbs took out a large glass and opened the refrigerator. Tony raised his eyebrows. It was fully stocked, something Gibbs never did. Protocol. They would be well fed and well guarded. His boss took out a container of grape juice and poured it into the glass. "Start drinking."
Grape juice. He loved grape juice. But-- "I--"
Gibbs shook his head and held out the glass. "This is not a suggestion, Tony. I don't need you to collapse on me. Food can wait but not this."
He knew there was no choice. He took the glass and started sipping. His stomach twinged then settled as it accepted the cool liquid. Before he realized the glass was empty.
He held out his glass, ready for Gibbs to take it back. Then stopped. Gibbs was leaning against the counter, arms crossed, watching. His blue eyes were on him. Concerned and... something else that made Tony swallow hard. It wasn't a bad something... but maybe it was a something he didn't think he could handle right now because he'd have to feel...
"You need to get out of those clothes and clean up."
Clean. He could smell himself... and Gibbs... and just dirt. He knew where the shower was but he didn't have any clothes...
"They brought over some things from your apartment," Gibbs informed him as he stepped up. "If you need anything else they'll get it."
Brought them over. "You knew I was staying here?" Tony wondered aloud. Why would Gibbs think he was coming here?
His boss' eyes were still sad yet there were a spark, almost a hopeful gleam as they continued to assess him. "I'm not letting you out of my sight, DiNozzo."
Gibbs was in protective mode. Not a bad thing... not always a good thing. Tony studied the older man. There was something else. "It's not your fault," he fished. He didn't want to be here because Gibbs felt guilty.
His boss blinked and glanced away. "Of course it is, Tony. I was warned off this--"
Tony didn't want to hear. He stepped closer as some anger reached out from within. "If we hadn't done what we did innocent people... men, women and children... would be dead!" He gave in and swatted Gibbs on the side of the head. "Kate died..." Shit. Tony turned away. He couldn't--
He flinched as careful hands gripped his shoulders. It was all inside... all of it. He couldn't...
Please? Tony sniffled then coughed then groaned as his ribs spoke to him. "It should have been me," he threw out, speaking the first feeling he let go. "Kate... It should have been me..."
"No." Gibbs' hands shifted and came around his waist then pulled. Embracing from behind. Strong. Gentle. Warm. "It shouldn't have been anyone, Tony," he countered, his voice breaking. "And god help me but I don't know what I would have done if had been you..."
Tony held still. He understood but he couldn't let go. It would be too painful.
Gibbs' hands rubbed over the cotton covering his chest. Lips brushed the back of his neck. Breath touched his ear. "She's gone, Tony." The man behind him began to sway, to rock Tony. "She's gone. Keeping it inside won't bring her back..."
Tony grabbed the soothing hands meaning to rip them away. He didn't want to-
"I'm here, Tony. It wasn't your fault either."
A scream came and went through his throat but died before it could escape. His hands were still on Gibbs' but more to hold on than to tear away. "It's not fair!" he sobbed, embarrassed by the childish words... the childish emotions that went with it. Kate had no right to go... he had no right to let her...
"No it's not, Tony." Gibbs turned his hands to hold Tony's. His stronger body continued to support, to protect. "It's not."
There was a time, long ago, when his grandfather died. He was twelve and loved his grandfather. His grandfather taught him that everything his father told him, even if they hurt and scarred, were lies. Then he died. It was sudden too, a heart attack. Tony thought himself brave and noble, holding it in, standing next to his father at the graveside, being a man. But later, in his special place, he sat and let it go. Yelled and screamed then just sobbed until it was gone and he felt safe to return to his parents, ever the son they wanted him to be...
"It's all right, Tony. Just let it go..."
The pressure in his chest burst. Wave after wave escaped him. He was crying... and crying. Arms that held him close shifted, turned him. Fingers combed into the back of his head, holding tight as an arm came around to hug him close to a hard, male body. Tony's own arms wrapped around strong shoulders and held on. Kate was gone. She wasn't coming back. She wasn't going to be there to tease him... help him tease McGee... sympathize with him when Gibbs was not having a good day. He wanted to be there... see her get married... maybe be an uncle to her children in some form... all gone... all gone...
"That's it, Tony," Gibbs whispered into his ear, his voice unmade. "I'm here." His body continued to gently rock Tony, fingers in his hair continued to pet, to sooth. "I'm not going anywhere. Promise."
Promise. Assurance. Gibbs never lied. Never. Tony held on tighter, assured when Gibbs own embrace became nearly painful. As the cries leveled out a cough escaped him, followed by another as the constant tickle he had had in his throat since getting sick fed one spasm after another. Oh shit... a fit... Tony found it hard to breathe between wracking coughs that pulled already strained muscles in his chest and stomach. As a veteran of bronchitis he knew it would stop... eventually... hopefully...
"Here... blow your nose as hard as you can!"
Tony knew he was on the kitchen floor. Paper towels were bunched in his hands. He knew the routine, to stop the coughing he had to clear himself out. He did as instructed with immediate results. The next cough wasn't as deep; the ability to take in a single breath was a blessed event. Then the coughing began again. More paper towels, silent instruction. A strong hand braced his shoulders, counter to his own arm instinctively wrapped around his chest to lessen the pain. "Just breath in, Tony. I've got an open jar of Vicks here."
Vicks. Tony drew a breath and almost sighed as the vapors invaded his nostrils and made their way into his lungs, clearing a path. The next cough was only half as heavy as everything loosened. "Oh god!" he said finally as he drew two breaths together, getting only token spasms as the vapors continued to do their job. His head fell back. He had expected to hit the wall or the metal leg of the table. But instead there were the warmth of another human being under the nape of his neck, down his spine, supporting. "Boss?"
"Tony?" Gibbs' voice was strong but rough. "You all done?"
"I think-" Tony coughed lightly. "Um... yeah... sorry..." He felt completely washed out in all ways he thought possible to be washed out and not unconscious. But even so he tried to sit up on his own, to move from the welcoming contact. Gibbs-
"Stay." Order. Gibbs' body shifted. The small jar of Vicks was taken from under his nose then the cover screwed back on and the jar set aside. Then the older man moved closer, an arm pulling Tony from behind until his back was flush with Gibbs' chest. Then the arm around Tony's waist loosened into a more comfortable hold. More intimate.
Tony looked... stared... unsure. For months there had been hints... perhaps... odd moments. Ducky had made a comment... once... when he was recovering from what was done to him by that crazed mortician family. Tony had come with groceries. Ducky's mother had tipped him, a dollar. Tony graciously accepted then tried to give it back to the Medical Examiner who chuckled as he waved him off.
"Keep it, Anthony. It was well earned." The older man was tired but alert. His fingers moved towards the tall glass on the table beside his chair. "Could you get me another glass of orange juice?"
Tony quickly complied. When he returned Ducky was on his phone with Gibbs. "Yes, Mr. Palmer knows how to dispose of those, Jethro. He's very capable but he's just beginning his experiences. You have to let him make those little mistakes without biting his head off." Ducky smiled as he saw Tony. "Young Anthony is here taking care of me." Pause. "I'll send him along. Just remember in terms of experience he's has some things to learn too but he's going to need the proper environment." An evil smile graced the old man's face. "No, my friend. This isn't over but for now I'll accept a truce."
The phone was hung up. Tony stared at Ducky, surprised and confused. What the hell were they talking about? Mallard merely chuckled again and patted Tony's arm. "He needs you back in the office." He lightly gripped Tony's wrist. "Don't forget this... even if you don't understand... because you will one day. Hmmm?"
Understand. Tony's stomach tingled as did understand, as Gibbs merely held him as if waiting for him to understand. He hesitated. Not the first time he found a guy attractive. Not the first time he was in a situation of a stolen kiss... half a jerk off... once even... something else not finished... But he never felt what he felt now... for a man or woman... it was Gibbs-
"We need to talk," Gibbs assured, his hand flattening over Tony's abdomen. "No pressure... assuming your want-"
"I-" Tony cleared his throat. A cough was threatening again. "Why?"
Gibbs' breath blew over Tony's neck. A sigh. "You're filthy," he observed.
True. Tony felt like baked slime. His emotions were stable for the moment. He shifted as he realized he was probably offending...
"Didn't tell you to move, DiNozzo," Gibbs countered verbally as his arm tightened around Tony. Secure. Then, after a time... "Do you think you can get up? Because we both need to clean off."
Clean. Tony sniffled then blew his nose on what remained of the towels he had been given. "Okay. Yeah, I can do it." He moved to get up, hoping his legs would cooperate. But Gibbs was right behind him, moving with him, making sure that they did.
"Just take a step at a time, Tony," Gibbs guided as they reached the hardwood steps leading to the second floor. Everything hurt. Tony stumbled only to be caught by the older man then set on track. Fourteen steps later he was on the upper landing. Fifteen steps later he was in Gibbs' bathroom and his boss was opening his pants.
"Hold onto the counter as you step out," Gibbs order quietly as he pulled down Tony's pants. Efficient, impersonal movements. As Tony obeyed his gaze shifted to the mirror and glimpsed a stranger with a thin face, bright reddened eyes, hair askew... drops of blood caking over his forehead and nose..
"Don't look, Tony."
A gentle hand cupped his cheek and drew his gaze away from the terrible tableau. Gibbs blue eyes were bright and reddened... tearful. Tony frowned. He had never seen his boss tearful. Without thinking he mirrored the older man's touch. "I'm sor-"
"Don't!" Gibbs fingers gripped Tony's hair. "There's been enough of that!" His fingers relaxed, caressing as they withdrew. "Take off your shirt."
Tony peeled off the cotton shirt as carefully as his aching ribs and sore muscles would allow. Gibbs helped at the end and threw the garment on the floor. Naked. It really didn't register. He had been naked in front of Gibbs before.
Gibbs gave him a small smile as he stepped back and stripped off his own clothes with Marine-like efficiency. In under a minute he was nude, his firm body facing Tony's. Some nervousness filtered through the fog as Tony studied his boss. He had seen it all once or twice before but hadn't really looked... except the last time... before he got sick...
Gibbs' smile became a smirk then he turned on the water in the stand up shower... the large stand up shower. He held out his hand. "Come on. We both need to get cleaned up and there's only so much hot water."
Hot water. Tony took his hand. Gibbs has showered in close quarters with other guys... in Iraq. The water was warmer than he liked but he didn't mind. He didn't know what to expect. Gibbs simply pushed him back and made him stand then grabbed the soap and washed himself with the same efficiency he had undressed. In short order he was rinsed, including his hair. Shampoo. Tony smiled. Gibbs didn't believe in shampoo. He had learned that the first time he had spent the night here... when his apartment...
"Just concentrate on not falling, Tony," Gibbs informed him as his hands, slick with soap, rubbed over his chest. "Let me get this done then you can sleep."
Sleep. Tony watched his boss' hands. Hands he had seen take out guys twice his weight glided over his skin in a fashion that skated the edge of personal and professional. Feeling. Tony closed his eyes as his body quaked from the inside out. Gibbs fingers were touching him on more than the superficial level of bathing his skin. Feeling. He was feeling... He backed away from the contact or tried to. The shower wall stopped him. Gibbs hands cupped his shoulders.
"Let go, Tony," Gibbs ordered softly. "It's okay to let go."
Tears stung painfully behind his eyelids. Didn't he just get this out of his system? What kind of wuss was he?
Fingers combed through his hair, thick with soap. Scrubbing. Washing. Tony knew there had been blood there... bits of Kate... now running down the drain...
"Just feel me, Tony. Trust me." Gibbs' voice was direct but soft, the kind of soft Tony never heard except when he spoke to children. Did his boss think he was a child?
His body was guided, his hair rinsed. But hands remained. Moving. Gliding. Caressing. Tony's eyes snapped open to find Gibbs' face close to his, blue eyes sad but aroused. Aroused. Tony swallowed hard as his body began to respond, to feel...
"No." Tony pushed though not with the force he would have liked. "I can't-"
"Trust me, Tony." Gibbs' lips brushed, invited. "It's okay. It's okay." His hands were on Tony's hips, holding without trapping. "It's okay to feel, Tony."
Tony shook his head but before he could speak Gibbs went down on his knees. His boss's face lean towards his partially arouse crotch, Gibbs' mouth-
"No!" Tony collapsed back against the tiled wall as the slide of a tongue and the motion of a warm mouth brought his cock to life. In the cooling warmth of the shower his own fingers slid into Gibbs hair meaning to push him away. This wasn't right... Kate was dead...
Strong hands held his thighs. Knowing lips and tongue moved with experience. Tony tried to protest but his body seemed to know better. Feel. A sob escaped him in conflict with the erotic stimulation Gibbs was providing. Feel. Tony's vision blurred with renewed grief even as his hands encouraged Gibbs to continue. Feel. His hips rocked as his cock demanded... as the crying began again...
Gibbs' moan sent vibrations up Tony's spine. Between the quiet sobs he gasped as his cock was swallowed, as things were done a woman had never done, that he had never allowed another man to do...
He held Gibbs' head against him as he came, as the universe shifted then returned. Tony leaned against the cold tile of the shower. Cool water flowed over him as Gibbs stood and faced him. Tony met his supervisor's... his lover's... gaze. Still sad but focused... on him. "Boss..."
Gibbs' smirked. His fingers petted the fine hairs on Tony's chest. "Jethro." His other hand rubbed up and down Tony's side, soothing. "I think we're past 'Boss'."
Tony couldn't help but smirk back. Probably. Gibbs' mouth met his, demanding. Tony gave in immediately. Taste. Odd. Tony realized his cum was still present. He had never tasted his or anyone else's cum. As Gibbs drew back he licked his lips...
"First time?" Gibbs questioned with a gentle smile.
Tony's skin tingled. "Um... yeah... I mean... I've done... but not this..."
Gibbs put a hand to his mouth. "It's okay." He heaved a sigh. "I'm sorry this happened because..." He kissed Tony again, briefly. "Better?"
Sad. Tony blinked residual tears from his eyes. He felt sad. But some of the numbness was still inside. He shrugged, not knowing how to respond. Then he looked down as he realized Gibbs hadn't...
Gibbs brought Tony's face back up. "I'm fine... just you jerking off was enough for me." He ruffled Tony's hair then turned off the now cold water and opened the shower door. Air rushed in, making him shiver. Gibbs grabbed a towel from the rack just outside and started to dry Tony's hair and face then his shoulders. "I'm not going anywhere." He paused in his ministrations. "Unless you don't want-"
"No." Tony sighed. "I mean yes... I want this... I-"
"Okay." Gibbs continued his work. In a minute he was done with Tony. "Go ahead to the bedroom. You know where I keep my sweats." He smiled. "You've borrowed enough of them."
Tony smiled back in spite of the surreal atmosphere that was suddenly emerging. They had just... but Gibbs seem to think it was all a part of it... a part of...
"You can sleep in the spare bedroom, if you want."
Gibbs was drying himself off, his attention focused on his task but his tone betrayed him. Unsure. Tony touched the older man's shoulder. "I'm a pain in the ass," he announced.
Gibbs finished and threw out the used towel then stepped out of the shower. He studied Tony who still stood within. "Got that about twenty minutes after the interview started three years ago." He gestured with his hand. "Come on. You're going to get sick again if you stand there like that." His eyes rolled. "Then I'll have to deal with Ducky."
Ducky. Tony honestly didn't know anyone Gibbs feared more, on that friendly fear level... He carefully stepped out and took his lover's hand as he faltered. Together they went into the bedroom and silently dressed into sweatpants. Gibbs got into bed, a queen sized bed, and held open the covers, waiting.
Tony followed as if doing all his life and got in, letting Gibbs pull him close as they lay side by side. Feeling. Tony coughed a little as his eyes filled once again, as he remembered. "Kate's dead, boss."
Gibbs' pulled him even closer until they were spooned like puzzle pieces. His lips brushed Tony's shoulder. "I know, Tony. It's going to be all right. I'll wake you in a couple of hours so you can eat and drink some more. Okay?"
"Okay." Tony let his eyes shut.
A few hours later his internal clock woke him. He watched his lover sleep, assured himself of the young man's improved color and breathing then got up and went to the bathroom. As he gathered the dirty towels and clothes he noticed a piece of thick, folded paper sticking out from Tony's pants pocket. Curious he unfolded it...
"Oh god, Kate..."
Gibbs all but collapsed onto the lid of the toilet. His tears blurred the sight of his now dead subordinate's talents. Tony... the real Tony, drawn as her gifted eyes saw him. He swallowed hard as he tried then failed to hold back the feelings that constantly clawed at him since that moment on the roof... since he had to tell the others... since his panic when he saw the cell and gun on Tony's desk... his overwhelming relief and anger when they did find him, sitting like a lost little boy in the middle of Kate's apartment.
Perhaps it was the extra years and experience but Gibbs knew he couldn't hold back any longer. Pain... anger... concern... fear... He let the tears fall and cried himself out, careful not to harm the treasure he had found or wake the young man sleeping in the next room. Several minutes later, after it was over, he splashed cold water on his face and continued to clean up the bathroom. It was close to midnight. He had to check in with their babysitters outside. Then he'd make some pancakes and hash browns, something simple and plain for himself and Tony... his lover...
His reason for feeling...