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 wasnít 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. Heíd 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 Jennyís room. He smiled when he saw her sleeping, the bear heíd bought her with the pink ribbon that had blown in front of Meganís 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 Tonyís info so they could be checked out by child services. Even though it was in Monicaís 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 wasnít the only way his life was about to change. There were so many things to do. Heíd asked Tony to move in with him, which meant packing up Tonyís things from his apartment and moving them to his house or putting it into storage if they werenít going to use it.
And it wasnít just Tonyís stuff they needed to move. It seemed they would have to be the ones responsible for packing Monicaís and Jennyís things. Jennyís things would be moved to his house. MonicaísÖhe 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 wasnít 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 motherís death and the fact that two men, one of whom sheíd only met twice, would be taking care of her now.
She had taken the news of her motherís death much better than heíd expected. That worried him. Heíd 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 heíd 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, heíd already quit. But would he really quit? If he did, he knew heíd want Tony to be team leader, but deep down he knew he wouldnít be truly quitting any time soon. He loved his job too much and was damned good at what he did.
He wouldnít 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.
Gibbsí head snapped towards the hall, in the direction of Tonyís room, when he heard Tony yell. He hurried to Tonyís room and found him crying in his bed, Beth holding his hand and patting it. While she was a woman heíd 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. "Whatís wrong?"
"Gibbs, Iím sorry for upsetting him. I brought in his new orders from the doctor. I thought heíd 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. "Thatís great news."
But Tony was shaking his head. "No, Jethro."
"Honey, whatís the matter?" Gibbs asked, still confused.
"Once I leave, Jenny will be transferred up to the peds ward, and they wonít 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 heís had you added to the list, so visiting is not a problem. You just wonít be allowed to stay."
"Thanks, Beth, Iíll take it from here."
"Iím sorry, guys." She squeezed Tonyís hand before releasing it and patted Gibbs on the shoulder as she walked by.
"Shh," Gibbs murmured, hugging his Tony.
"Damn it, Gibbs, why canít 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 was still crying, but this time he fell into the embrace rather than pushing Gibbs away.
"Your body is in shock from being sick. Youíve 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 DIDNíT cry. Crying is good, itís cleansing."
"But it just seems itís all Iíve done since-" Tony stopped, shaking his head.
Gibbs continued to comfort him, rubbing his back and kissing his head.
"No, itís not nothing. Tell me."
"Boss, really, itís nothing," Tony managed, his crying slowing down.
Gibbs stepped back but didnít let go of Tony. With one hand he lifted Tonyís chin till they were eye to eye. "If you have it to say, it is important to me. Okay?"
"Yes, really DiNozzo. Iím not going anyplace. I didnít 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 weíve both said things to each other in the past few days that weíve been wanting to say for awhile now. Now that weíve 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 judgeís 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 donít have to do it on a computer, otherwise his own would never get done. The reminder of his loverís computer illiteracy brought a smile to his face.
"So sheíll 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 Iís are dotted and the Tís 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 donít 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 Tonyís paperwork. Glancing behind the lawyer, he noticed his team in the hallway, waiting to come in.
"Itís my pleasure, gentleman. Iíll be in touch Monday with the court date." He shook both menís 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 Tonyís 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 didnít faze any of the people in the room. Gibbs thought he might have gotten at least a raised eyebrow raise from Ziva, but that wasnít 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, itís about time the two of you got together."
"Itís obvious with the way you two are at the office. I thought you were already a couple till Tony became ill."
"Youíre cool with this?" Tony asked.
"Tony, I donít 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 Donít ask Donít 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 McGeeís 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.
"Iím sorry, but your visitors will have to go now," she said, glaring at Gibbs.
Gibbs didnít back down, just glared back at her, but he did offer the apology heíd 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 nurseís 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 Gibbsí property. Pointing to the screen, Gibbs said, "Ziva, you can park right here around the corner from my place. Itís hidden in the edge of the woods and your car wonít 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 Tonyís. "You two are just way too cute."
"Thanks, Abs." Tony leaned up and kissed her cheek in return.
"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 youíre going to live?"
"Yes, but things might change now," Gibbs said, giving Tonyís hand a light squeeze that meant weíll talk about this later, just the two of us.
"Good. Well, should you need help movingÖ"
"I know, youíll all help."
"Gladly," the rest answered before they left.
"Ziva, can I talk to you for a moment?"
Gibbs kissed Tonyís 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 donít want me to move in now?"
"No, Tony, that isnít 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, itís 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 Tonyís head with that statement. Tony was about to cry again.
"Donít 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. Itís 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.