"Twelve Steps to Understanding"
|Category||Slash >> Gibbs/DiNozzo|
|Genre||Angst, Character study, Established relationship, Hurt/Comfort, Romance|
|Summary||Part Twelve of the Home Is... Series. Tony and Gibbs have an argument after an undercover mission goes sour.|
|Status||This story is completed|
"Twelve Steps To Understanding”
The Home Is… Series
"There should be no yelling in the home unless there is a fire.” David McKay
Gibbs stormed through the front door, letting the screen door slam behind him, and headed straight for the basement, slamming that door as well. He was furious. So furious he couldn’t see straight. He was so angry he didn’t trust himself to say anything, not at all confident in his ability to control what might come out of his mouth, and now was not the time to say something wrong. He’d already done that, although he wasn’t ready to admit that culpability yet. He needed to be alone, to have time to get his emotions in check, and then he could think about how he was going to handle things.
Tony came into the house much more quietly. As a matter of fact, he’d been silent for hours, only answering questions that were posed directly to him, and then only with one or two words. After a while, people had just stopped asking him anything. He went straight up the stairs, heading to the bedroom. He wanted to go to the basement and curl up into a ball on his chair, but he knew that Gibbs would be down there, and Gibbs was the last person he wanted to see right then. As he walked along the upstairs hallway, he paused briefly when he came to the spare bedroom that had been transformed into a home gym. He supposed he could go in there, spend some time running on the treadmill and try to release some of his pent up emotions, but he didn’t feel inclined to expend that amount of energy. He hadn’t gone to the living room to sooth himself by playing the piano, either. He wasn’t ready to let it all go ��" to feel better.
Gibbs stood beside the work cabinets in the basement, unsure of what to do next. His partially constructed boat, built of the finest woods, stood in the center of the room, whispering its siren call to him. Gibbs gritted his teeth and ignored it. He didn’t want to work on the boat, not tonight. He was afraid that in his present mood, he couldn’t give it the attention it deserved, and he wasn’t willing to risk making a mistake on something he’d invested three years in building. That was the same problem he was having with Tony. He didn’t want to make any more mistakes there either, and accidentally destroy something that had developed slowly, sometimes painfully, sometimes joyfully, over an eight year period.
Tony toed off his shoes as soon as he walked into the bedroom, flicking them carelessly out of his way with his feet. He then yanked his suit jacket off, and tossed it onto the chair beside the dresser. It didn’t matter if the jacket wrinkled; the enormous hole in the back of it ensured that it would never be worn again anyway. Taking off his shirt proved to be more of a challenge, as his hands trembled so much that he had trouble pushing the little pearly buttons through the holes. Finally he gave up, and just yanked hard. Buttons scattered around the room, pinging off furniture and the wood floor, like tiny pellets of ice in a hailstorm, but at least the shirt was now open. Slipping it off his shoulders, he looked at it. It was trash; its snowy whiteness now marred by a deep red stain, all across its back. Shrugging, he tossed it on top of the jacket. Now he stood, bare-chested, in the center of the room, wondering what he should do next. He knew his side must hurt, but he was too angry to feel it right now. That would come later.
Gibbs opened an upper cabinet and yanked down his bottle of bourbon. After unscrewing the top, he lifted the bottle to his lips, tipped his head back, and swallowed. The amber liquor burned as it made its way down his gullet, and he welcomed the sting.
Tony undressed the rest of the way, until all he was wearing were the dressings they’d applied to his right side at the hospital. He was trembling, but it wasn’t from the cold.
Gibbs’ cell phone shrilled as he stood there drinking. He yanked it out of his pocket and looked at the caller ID ��" Vance. ‘He can go to hell,’ he thought as he threw the offending object across the room, and watched with some small satisfaction as it splintered into a dozen pieces when it connected with the concrete wall.
Tony’s phone began to ring. Making his way over to where he’d just tossed his pants, he dug it out. It was Vance. ‘Let Gibbs deal with him,’ Tony decided, as he pressed the ignore button on the side of the phone. Then he let the phone slip out of his shaking hands and drop back down on top of where his pants lay. Tony sank down on top of the bed, not having the energy to even try and pull the covers back, and thought about the day.
Gibbs drank again, as he stood trying to sort through everything that had happened that day.
It had started out like almost every other typical work day, Gibbs remembered. When the alarm had gone off at 0530, he had poked and prodded Tony until he’d finally swatted his hands away and had rolled out of bed, grumbling under his breath, as he trod off to the bathroom to get ready to face the world. When they’d arrived at the Yard, he had made a beeline to the coffee kiosk in the lobby, while Tony had taken the elevator up to the bullpen. By the time he had gotten upstairs Tony already had his computer up and running, and was sorting through the emails that had poured in overnight. McGee had arrived not long after, and he and Tony had sparred verbally for a few moments, then McGee too had plugged into his computer. They’d sat there, each quietly working on their own projects for well over an hour before his phone had rung. Vance had been on the other end.
“Gibbs, need to see you in my office,” Vance had grunted into the phone.
When he’d gotten to Vance’s office, the Director had quickly outlined an emergency undercover assignment he needed to put in place for an operation one of the other teams was running. He hadn’t liked what he'd heard, and pointed out some of the problems with the plan. Vance had nodded his agreement, but then explained to him why, despite the inherent danger, the sting had to occur that day. After hearing the reasons, Gibbs had been forced to concur. He had then suggested two newer NCIS agents who had extensive experience working undercover because of their previous jobs as police detectives. ‘Just like Tony,’ he’d thought, as he rattled off their qualifications. He didn’t mention Tony, though. The plan was just too sketchy, and Tony had been caught in another too hastily conceived operation not that long ago. Vance’s thoughts must have been traveling down a similar path, because when Gibbs was done talking, he’d asked about Tony. Gibbs reminded him about the drug bust sting that had gone sour, resulting in Tony having to shoot a teen aged boy, and suggested that it was someone else’s turn to take a risk. Vance hadn’t commented on that, he’d merely grunted, and then thanked him for the recommendations. Taking that as a dismissal, he’d gone back down to the bullpen.
Ducky had called him not long after that, he recalled, wanting him to look at something he’d found in an autopsy he was in the process of performing. He’d told McGee and Tony where he was going, and had gone down to see his old friend. Ducky’s discovery had resulted in a trip to Abby’s lab, so that she could run a series of tests on the mysterious fibers Ducky had found in the fatal stab wound of the young Marine he’d been working on. When he got back up to the bullpen, perhaps an hour later, neither McGee nor Tony was there.
As he lay on the bed, his long legs dangling over the side, Tony let his mind wander back to the start of the work day.
Gibbs was down conferring with Ducky, and McGee had gone to get both he and Tony some coffee, leaving Tony alone in the bullpen. When his phone had rung, he’d been surprised to hear Vance’s voice on the other end.
“DiNozzo,” Vance had said. “I need you to come up in my office.”
Figuring it wouldn’t take too long, Tony hadn’t bothered to leave a note before he went to see what Vance wanted. Before he knew it, he’d agreed to take part in an undercover operation Vance was being forced to throw together at the last minute. Apparently, Balboa’s team had been running surveillance on a known mob boss, Billy Salerno, who was using sailors to smuggle in young girls from foreign countries. The women were being forced to prostitute themselves, with the promise that they could earn money to buy their freedom. Of course, not a single girl had ever really succeeded in gaining her freedom. They all just seemed to disappear after a few months. Balboa had learned this morning, from an informant, that Salerno was scheduled to meet with the dirty sailors that afternoon, to take possession of a new shipment. This was the first chance they’d had to catch him red-handed, and they couldn’t afford to let it slip through their fingers.
They were afraid to use anyone from Balboa’s team, for fear of the mobster recognizing them, since they had all been taking turns trailing him for over a month, and had gone to Vance to get outside help. According to the informant, the meeting was supposed to take place early that afternoon, at a dinner club Salerno frequented. They needed to get someone who was wired inside the club, and get the meet recorded. Vance had told Tony that he and Gibbs had discussed using either Andrews or Bennett, but that he was afraid they were too green, and wouldn’t be able to blend in with the late lunch crowd. What Vance had neglected to mention was that Gibbs had opposed the idea of using him, so thinking everything was kosher with Gibbs, he’d agreed to participate.
Vance had then said they needed to leave immediately. They were supposed to meet up with Balboa’s team so that Tony could be briefed, and then they would need to give the techs time to get all the wires in place. The bullpen had still been empty when they left.
As Gibbs took yet another swig from the bottle, he remembered what had happened next.
He had been sitting at his desk, wondering where in the hell his two agents were, when McGee emerged from the elevator, carrying two coffee cups. “Sorry Boss,” McGee had cringed when he saw him. “I went down to get coffee, and got caught by Thomas Sebastian. It took me forever to get away. It won’t happen again. Uh, do you want this coffee?” he’d asked, after he placed one of the cups on Tony’s desk.
Gibbs had told him to drink it himself, and had settled back in to reviewing the reports he’d been looking at before Ducky had called, occasionally glancing up to see if Tony had returned yet. When almost ten minutes had passed, and there was still no sign of Tony, McGee had cleared his throat and asked, “Um Boss, where’s Tony?”
“I was kind of hoping you could tell me,” he had snapped, looking over at Tony’s vacant desk.
“I’ve got no idea. He was here when I went down to the lobby,” McGee had answered. “Maybe he left a note. Have you checked his desk?”
“No McGee, I haven’t checked his desk. I’m not his babysitter,” he’d slapped the folder he was folding down. McGee had wisely not answered, although he had craned his neck, looking for anything on Tony’s desk that might represent a note.
After another five minutes had passed, and there was still no sign of his senior agent, he had pulled his cell phone out and punched number one. The call had gone straight to voicemail. ‘I’m going to kill him,’ he had thought to himself, as he angrily punched the disconnect button. ‘How many times have I told him to never be out of touch?!?!?’ McGee had watched him furtively from his own desk.
Five minutes later he had tried again, only to get the same results. Just as he was beginning to get really mad, he remembered his conversation with the Director that morning. “Son of a bitch!” he’d said out loud, causing McGee to jump in his seat. He’d reached over to his desk phone and punched in an extension. He’d asked Vance’s secretary to connect him, and she’d told him that Director Vance was out overseeing an ongoing operation. When he’d asked if Agent DiNozzo had accompanied Vance, she had confirmed his suspicions, causing his blood pressure to skyrocket. Vance had gone behind his back and dragged Tony into a potentially deadly situation!
The stab wound in Tony’s right side was beginning to hurt as he lay on the bed, remembering what had happened.
When they had gotten to where Balboa’s team was located, he’d reached into his pocket to get his cell phone so that he could give Gibbs an update, only to discover that he must have left his phone back at NCIS. ‘Swell,’ he’d thought, ‘that’ll go over big with Jethro.’ From there, things had gone even further downhill. The operation had been too hastily planned, and Tony had been forced to wing it.
He’d gone into the club, carrying a briefcase he’d procured from someone on Balboa’s team, posing as a businessman, and had gotten a table for one. By the time the two sailors had joined Salerno at his table, his comlink with Balboa’s team had failed, and he had no way of knowing whether they were reading the feed from the miniature camera and microphone that had been planted on him before he had entered the restaurant. When Salerno and the sailors had gotten up to leave, he hadn’t had any choice but to follow them, since he wasn’t sure Balboa’s team had been able to hear where they were headed. He’d have to hope that at least the GPS tracker he was wearing was still functioning properly.
He’d managed to follow them undetected as they’d gone around to the back of the club, where a huge delivery truck had been parked. He had immediately known that the women were inside. He had just been backing up, intending to go find the surveillance van, when two of Salerno’s toughs had grabbed him from behind. After a scuffle, he’d ended up being dragged down to face Salerno, who’d demanded to know what he had been doing in the alley. Salerno hadn’t been convinced by the story he had come up with, and had ordered his men to force him to talk. Balboa’s team had arrived just about then, but not before one of the thugs had slid a knife through his right side. His next clear memory was of the other NCIS agents unloading the girls from the back of the truck, just as the EMT’s were loading him into an ambulance.
Gibbs walked over to Tony’s rocking chair and eased himself down into it. The soft upholstered cushions enveloped him, and as his lay his head back, a familiar aroma wafted up to greet him. The chair smelled like Tony; a combination of his ridiculously expensive shampoo, the light citrus scented body wash he always used, and a musk that was Tony’s alone. He turned his head and buried his nose in the seatback, letting the scent start to sooth him, as his continued to think about the events of the day.
Once he knew why Tony wasn’t there, he’d given in and gone over to his desk, hoping for some clue as to where the operation was taking place. He knew there wasn’t any point in trying to call Vance, the bastard wouldn’t have taken his call he was sure, since he wouldn’t want to hear what Gibbs had to say. There hadn’t been anything on the desk to help him out, but he had wanted to punch something when he’d found Tony’s cell phone sitting on its side, turned off, between two stacks of files. ‘Well, that certainly explains why he never answered the phone,’ he’d told himself, as he slid the phone into his jacket pocket. Frustrated, he’d gone back to his own desk. McGee had watched his every move but had wisely refrained from asking him what was going on.
It had taken McGee another hour before curiosity got the better of him, and he broke down and asked him what was happening. “Tony’s working an undercover op for the Director,” had been his terse answer. Upon hearing that McGee had winced; whether because of his tone, or because he remembered the last time Tony had done that, Gibbs didn’t know, nor did he care.
By 1300 he couldn’t take it anymore. The silence in the bullpen was beginning to suffocate him. “Run a trace on Vance’s phone,” he’d ordered McGee. When McGee had gotten the coordinates, he had ordered, “Grab your gear. We’re going to check it out.”
For all intents and purposes, it was over by the time they’d gotten there, even though the area was crawling with squad cars and television station vans. Vance was standing in an alley talking with Balboa, while an army of agents were dealing with six men in handcuffs, and about ten hysterical Asian women. Techs were working the far end of the alley, fingerprinting, sketching and measuring. He hadn’t been able to see Tony. Vance had sighed when he saw Gibbs stalking over to him.
“Where’s DiNozzo?” he’d demanded, not bothering to say hello.
“You just missed him,” Vance had told him, and his stomach had clenched when a look of guilt had momentarily flashed across the Director’s face. “He’s on his way to Bethesda. He caught a knife in his side. He’s going to be fine. The medics didn’t think it hit anything. I was just getting ready to head over that way,” Vance had added, but he hadn’t answered. He was already on his way back out the alley, with McGee trotting along at his heels.
He had pulled the car up to the front of the emergency room at the hospital, slammed it into park, and opened the door. “Go on and park it,” he’d told McGee, as he climbed out, then he’d hurried inside. Looking around, he hadn’t seen anyone who looked familiar. ‘Had Vance let them take Tony without sending someone with him?’ he’d wondered in disbelief, as his anger ratcheted up another notch.
Once he’d established his right to be informed of Tony’s condition with the bitchy nurse on duty at the information desk, he’d learned that Tony wasn’t in the ER at the moment. They’d stitched him up, then sent him to X-Ray, to make sure the knife hadn’t hit anything important. He’d been forced to wait in the examination room until Tony got brought back downstairs.
Tony’s side was truly throbbing by now. In an attempt to lessen the pain, he eased himself further up the bed, until he could get his legs up onto the mattress, too. That accomplished, he rolled onto his left side, drew his knees up closer to his chest, and closed his eyes. He wasn’t trying to go to sleep; he just wanted to lose himself in the blackness. His phone rang again, but he ignored it. It would be Vance, McGee, or Abby, and he couldn’t bring himself to talk to any of them right now, not when he couldn’t talk to Gibbs. As he began to drift on wave after wave of pain, he thought about the last words he and Gibbs had exchanged.
Gibbs had been waiting for him in the examination room, tight lipped and silent, when they wheeled him back in after having had x-rays of the wound taken. The doctor had looked at Gibbs questioningly, and Tony had quickly said that it was fine that he was there, that he was his boss and his emergency medical contact. After hooking Tony up to an intravenous antibiotic to prevent infection, the doctor had excused himself.
“Nice to know you still think of me as your boss,” Gibbs had said when they were alone, causing him to wince. “I wasn’t sure about that, since you didn’t feel the need to consult with me before you took an undercover operation, especially one as poorly planned as this was.”
“Vance said,” he had begun, only to be cut off by Gibbs.
“I don’t give a damn what Vance said, Tony. You should have known I’d want to talk to you. And you should definitely have known that this wasn’t going to turn out to be anything but a cluster fuck! What in the hell were you thinking?” Gibbs had hissed. “Or were you thinking? Of course, you couldn’t check in with me, could you, since you didn’t have any way to call me?” Gibbs had added, as he plopped Tony’s cell phone onto the gurney next to him. “Don’t need to say anything about that, do I?”
‘You just did,’ he remembered thinking, but not saying aloud. He’d been about to try again to explain to Gibbs what had happened, when Vance and McGee had appeared in the room. ‘Apparently I’m hosting a party and no one remembered to tell me,’ he’d thought, as he grunted his hellos to the new arrivals. Both of the newcomers were brought up to date on his condition. Wanting them to leave so he could straighten things out with Gibbs, he had assured them that he was fine and that they weren’t even keeping him overnight. Vance had told him to go home once they released him, that his report could wait until tomorrow.
Gibbs had tersely informed Vance that he would take Tony home, and asked him to give McGee a ride back to the Yard. Vance had readily agreed, and then said, “He did good today, Gibbs. Real good. A more inexperienced agent wouldn’t have been able to handle the situation nearly as well, especially after we had equipment failures. He led us to where the women were being kept, and allowed us to catch all of them in the act.”
Gibbs had looked over at him and glared. “He shouldn’t have been there, and you know it,” Gibbs had barked at Vance.
Vance hadn’t responded to that, he’d merely given Gibbs a look that implied that this discussion wasn’t over, then he’d jerked his head towards the door, indicating that McGee should follow him. McGee had looked nervously between Tony and Gibbs, handed the car keys off to Gibbs with instructions on where he could find it, then hurried after Vance.
“You heard Vance,” he’d said to Gibbs once they were alone again. “I really did have it under control. And I’m sorry about the phone. Vance hustled me out of Headquarters so fast I didn’t have time to even think about it.”
“Oh yeah, I can see how ‘under control’ things were. How many stitches, Tony?” Gibbs had asked through clenched teeth. The throbbing vein on the side of his neck showing just how angry he was.
That was it. He’d gotten angry too, at that point. What right did Gibbs have to be so mad at him? He’d just been following orders, and it wasn’t his fault that everything had gone to hell! He was actually kind of proud of the fact that he’d remembered he was wearing the GPS chip, and that he’d succeeded in leading Balboa and his team to where Salerno and the sailors were keeping the girls. What would it hurt for Gibbs to acknowledge that he’d done a good job?!?! And the whole phone thing just pissed him off. It wasn’t as if he’d purposely left it sitting on his desk.
“What difference does it make?” he’d muttered, in response to Gibbs’ question about the stitches. “Two or forty, you’re still going to be pissed at me.”
“It matters ‘cause I need to know how long you’re going to be on desk duty,” Gibbs had snapped. “I can’t afford to be down another agent right now.”
“Of course, don’t know why else you’d be concerned,” he’d said, past caring if he sounded childish. “Fifteen stitches, and the doctor said I’d probably need to ride a desk for about two and a half weeks. Maybe you can get a temp in to take my place.”
Gibbs had just grunted. Neither of them had said anything to each other after that. His mood had deteriorated so much that he all but snarled his answers to the questions posed to him by the various nurses when they came in to check on him. When all of the antibiotics were in his system a couple of hours later, and he’d been unhooked from the IV, the doctor had released him, with prescriptions for oral antibiotics and painkillers, and strict instructions on how to care for the wound. He’d been forced to change back into his soiled clothes, since they were all he had with him. Gibbs had stared at the blood stains and rips when he slid them on, but had refrained from commenting. Once he was dressed, Gibbs had grunted, “Stay by the front door. I’ll bring the car up to the front.” He’d given a curt nod of the head in agreement. Other than Gibb’s order, “Give them to me,” in reference to Tony’s written prescriptions when they’d gotten to the pharmacy, they hadn’t exchanged a single word in over three hours.
Gibbs found himself rocking gently in the chair, as he sat, cocooned in Tony’s scent. His anger was ebbing, only to be replaced by something even more debilitating ��" fear. Gibbs didn’t know what to do. He and Tony had never really had a major argument before. Sure, they’d disagreed over things, bickered, even occasionally snapped at each other in irritation; but they’d never had the kind of door slamming, voice raising, and throw things at each other kind of fight. This was where he’d always screwed up in the past with his ex-wives. He wasn’t good at backing down, and was even less adept at making up. He had a tendency to walk away from conflict in personal relationships, to let things fester. The divorces had just been the inevitable conclusions to unresolved, ongoing arguments. He didn’t want that to happen with Tony, couldn’t let that happen. He didn’t know what had changed. Maybe it was him, maybe it was Tony. Maybe he was just older and wiser; or maybe he loved Tony more. He didn’t know what the reason was, and didn’t really care. All that mattered was that they get past this, that Tony stay here, where he belonged.
Tony rolled into an even tighter ball. He wasn’t angry anymore, he realized, just sad, so very sad. He was having more difficulty ignoring the pain, and the evening air was chilling his exposed skin. He longed to stand under a hot shower, let the hot water warm him as it washed the day away - made it vanish down the drain, but the wound prevented that. He wanted Gibbs to wrap his warm body around his, hold him in his arms, and make the ache disappear, but that wasn’t likely to happen. They weren’t speaking. Tony didn’t even know how the situation had gotten so out of control, why he’d gotten so mad. What was going to happen now? Gibbs didn’t apologize, and he didn’t like getting apologies either. So how were they going to fix things?
Gibbs set the bottle of bourbon down on the ground and pushed himself out of Tony’s chair. ‘Tony’s chair,’ he thought to himself. ‘Tony's left a little bit of himself in every part of the house, even down here, in my private sanctum.’ His wives had refused to come down here, objecting to the sawdust, and resenting the time he spent working in the basement; but not Tony. Tony had embraced it, made a spot for himself down here, just like he’d made a place for himself in Gibbs’ heart. It had been a perfect fit. Then suddenly, things were so screwed up that he didn’t even know where Tony was right now. For the first time in months, he felt empty and cold, and wrong. He felt wrong. This was his fault. He’d blown everything out of proportion. He’d let his irritation with Vance, and his worry for Tony’s safety, get the better of him, and he’d lashed out at Tony. He had pushed Tony into retaliating. 'I need to make this
right, and I need to do it now,' he thought, as he climbed the basement stairs.
The house was dark as he made his way through the main floor. ‘God I hope he’s still here,’ he worried. He’d been so angry, that Tony could easily have come in, packed his things, and left, and he would never have been the wiser. He looked in the study, no sign of him. When he got to the stairs that led up to the second story, he paused, hoping to hear something that would reassure him that Tony was up there, but the house was as silent as it was dark. Silently offering a little prayer, Gibbs went up. There weren’t any lights on upstairs either, but his eyes were beginning to adjust to the darkness. He made his way down the hall, headed for the master bedroom.
When he got there, what he saw almost made him collapse with relief. On the bed, lit by just a splash of light that spilled in through the window, lay Tony, naked and curled up in a tight ball, his back to the door. Gibbs gave thanks to whatever gods had listened to him. Tony was still here; he had a chance to repair the damage. Now he just needed to figure out what to say. Very quietly he moved towards the bed. He couldn’t tell if Tony was awake or not, and he didn’t want to startle him.
“Tony?” he asked softly.
“Tony?” he tried again when he got to the edge of the bed.
Still no answer.
Gibbs eased himself down gently onto the bed, and reached out to touch Tony, right above the bandage on his side. Tony’s skin was ice cold. ‘What is he doing, lying on top of the bed, stark naked, when he should be under the covers?’ Gibbs wondered, but he wasn’t going to ask. He wasn’t going to say anything that could be construed as criticism. Not this time. He couldn’t see Tony’s face clearly yet, but for some reason he could tell that the younger man wasn’t asleep. Maybe it was the tension he could sense in Tony’s tightly coiled body, or maybe it was the rhythm of his breathing; Gibbs wasn’t sure.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “For everything that happened today. For the way I jumped on you, for the things I said, and most of all, for the fact that you got hurt.”
“I thought you didn’t believe in apologies,” Tony whispered back, equally as quiet.
“That was before I had so much to lose,” Gibbs murmured, and waited to see what Tony would say.
Tony didn’t say anything for what seemed like an eternity to Gibbs. Finally, still not having responded, he rolled onto his back and looked up at Gibbs. Their eyes locked, and Tony continued to stare unblinkingly at him, as if he could tell what Gibbs was thinking, merely by looking at him. Maybe he could, for after a few moments Gibbs saw his face soften. Still not making a sound, Tony reached up for him. Gibbs didn’t hesitate. He bent down and pulled Tony into a tight embrace, burying his nose in Tony’s soft hair.
“I’m sorry, too,” Tony finally broke his silence.
“I was so afraid you were going to be gone,” Gibbs admitting, hugging Tony even tighter.
“Not going to happen. Like you said, too much to lose,” Tony breathed softly.
Gibbs didn’t know if Tony would have said more, because as soon as the words were out of Tony’s mouth, Gibbs covered those lips with his own. The kisses they exchanged were gentle, but there was no hesitancy about them. They were kisses of affirmation; full of love and promises and commitment.
Later, as he lay snuggled warmly under the blanket, and secure in Gibbs’ arms, Tony thought about how things had worked out. They’d never really discussed the fight, maybe they never would, and that was okay. They were here, home together, and nothing else mattered.