Gibbs drove his Challenger at what was for him a sedate pace, which meant that to a normal person it was only mildly suicidal. Tony sat in the passenger seat, head leaning against the window, fast asleep.
Guess the journey from the hospital to the car tired him out.
Tony had been awake bright and early, practically vibrating with his eagerness to get out of the hospital. Ducky had arrived around 0830, and a little less than two hours later an orderly was wheeling Tony out the door and to Gibbs’ Challenger. Gibbs had stood close by as Tony gingerly stood up from the wheelchair and immediately stepped into his agent’s six, supporting him as he slowly lowered himself into the passenger seat.
He had buckled Tony in himself, ignoring his SFA’s protests as he reached across him to click the belt in place. He had landed the gentlest of headslaps on the back of Tony’s head as he withdrew, no more than a tap, and Tony had ceased complaining with a small, tired smile.
Gibbs knew his friend was hurting, but Tony was stubborn and didn’t want to take more pain meds than absolutely necessary. He knew that the younger man hated the out-of-control feeling that came from opioids, and he fully expected to have a fight on his hands later when it was time for the next dose.
Not, of course, that Gibbs expected to lose.
He turned the corner onto his street and let out a sigh of relief as he pulled into his driveway. It’s good to be home. Gibbs fully empathized with Tony’s hatred of hospitals; had their roles been reversed, he was pretty sure the nurses would’ve violated their oaths to do no harm by the second day.
He shut the engine off and turned to look at Tony. The younger man hadn’t stirred; he slept soundly, tiny snores emitting from his corner of the car. Gibbs smiled at that before reaching over and gently shaking him awake.
“Hey, DiNozzo, we’re home. Time to move.”
“On your six, Boss!” Tony said, awakening with a start.
Gibbs’ lips twitched in amusement as he met the sleepy gaze of his SFA, his hair slightly tousled.
“Oh, hey, Boss. We here already?”
Gibbs wasn’t one to dilly-dally, and he quickly made his way out of the car and around to Tony’s side. Tony had his seatbelt off and the door open by the time he got there, and Gibbs bent down and helped him slide out of the car. Once on his feet, Gibbs stepped back and let Tony make his own slow way to the front door, both their bags in Gibbs’ hand.
Once inside, Gibbs propelled Tony up the stairs to the guest room, keeping their momentum going. He knew that if he let Tony crash on the couch he’d have a heck of a time getting him back up again. Even though it wasn’t even noon yet, he knew the younger man was exhausted. Neither of them had slept well in the hospital.
The guest bed was already made up, courtesy of Abby. McGee had swung by at some point to set up Tony’s massive TV, hauling along a broad selection of movies as well as Tony’s laptop. Gibbs suspected that he would find his refrigerator full of meals prepared by Ziva. All in all, his house was as ready as it could be for Tony’s convalescence.
Tony’s face lit up at the sight of his beloved TV, and he turned to Gibbs with a smile.
“Boss, you got my TV! Thank God! Not that I don’t appreciate staying with you, Boss, because I do, but your idea of entertainment involves hand tools and lumber. I’m not sure your TV downstairs is even capable of handling a DVD player.”
Gibbs gave an obligatory eye-roll at that as he placed Tony’s bag on the bed and proceeded to efficiently unpack it, placing Tony’s clothes in the empty dresser upon which the TV stood, shrugging off his SFA’s noise of protest with a pointed glare. He gathered Tony’s various bottles of hair and shower gels and placed them in the bathroom down the hall, snorting in amusement at the plethora of products.
By the time he returned, Tony was sitting on the edge of the bed, shoes kicked off, looking a little lost.
“You hungry, Tony? I’m guessing Ziva’s stuffed my fridge full of food for us, so I’m sure I can heat us up something for lunch.”
“Uh, sure, Boss. Whatever you scrounge up will be good. If it’s alright with you, I’m gonna pop in a movie and veg for a bit.”
Gibbs gave him a nod of permission before turning and making his way downstairs to the kitchen. He noticed Tony’s medications laid out carefully on the counter with a long list of instructions in Ducky’s sure handwriting. He shook his head ruefully with a small smile as he turned toward his fridge.
Sure enough, his fridge and freezer were full to bursting with various tupperware and pyrex dishes of different sizes. There was a note on top of the most prominent dish, written in Ziva’s neat hand.
Gibbs and Tony,
I have made enough food to last you two weeks. If you need more, please do not hesitate to call me. Here is a list of all the dishes and where they are located. Get well soon.
Attached to the note was a literal map of his fridge and freezer with numbers in various dish positions corresponding to a list of food. Gibbs scanned the list before finding a light-looking vegetable barley soup that would serve as a good first meal out of the hospital. He pulled the dish out of the fridge and poured its contents into a pot.
While he let the soup heat on the stove, Gibbs dug around in his cupboards until he located a serving tray left behind by his latest ex-wife. He sliced some fresh Italian bread Ziva left on the counter and placed it on the tray with some butter before pouring a glass of milk. By the time he had everything ready, the soup was hot enough to serve. He ladled out a generous portion into a bowl and, finally ready, made his way upstairs with the tray of food.
Nudging open the cracked door to the guest room with his foot, Gibbs stopped in the entryway and couldn’t hide his soft smile as he looked at his Senior Field Agent. Tony was asleep, propped into a semi-reclined position by the pillows as some action flick played on the TV. He looks so much younger when he’s asleep.
Gibbs set the tray on the nightstand next to the bed and wondered whether or not to wake the younger man. Lord knows he needs his sleep, but he needs to eat something, too. Besides, it’s about time for his next round of meds. Decision made, Gibbs reached over and gently shook Tony’s shoulder.
“C’mon, DiNozzo, wake up. Time to eat.”
Tony woke with a small start, blinking blearily at Gibbs as he yawned and rubbed his eyes.
“Wasn’t sleeping, Boss. Just resting my eyes. Whatchya bring me?”
“Soup and bread, Tony. Don’t want to overwhelm your stomach with anything heavier. Be right back.” Gibbs nodded to the tray as he turned and left the room, making his way back to the kitchen where he prepped his own food before grabbing Tony’s pills and returning to the guest room.
Tony had made a decent dent in the food, alternating bites of bread with sips of soup. His eyes kept flicking over to the TV as he half-watched the movie. Gibbs moved to the other side of the bed and placed his own food on the other nightstand before sitting on the bed next to Tony.
Tony looked over at him with an expression of mild surprise on his face, spoon frozen halfway to his mouth. Gibbs just looked at him, eyebrow half-cocked as if daring him to say anything. Tony stared at him for a few seconds before shrugging and turning back to his food.
Gibbs looked at the bottles of pills in his hands and read the directions while trying his best to recall Ducky’s long-winded instructions. He opened a couple of bottles and shook one pill each into his hand before passing them over to Tony with a stern glare. Tony looked at the pills in his palm as if they were deadly snakes ready to bite him. Gibbs turned up the glare until Tony reluctantly took the pills, popping them into his mouth with a grimace before swallowing them down with a gulp of milk.
Satisfied that Tony hadn’t tried some harebrained sleight-of-hand maneuver, Gibbs turned his attention to his own food, startled to realize just how hungry he was. The two agents proceeded to eat in comfortable silence, the only sound the slurping of soup and the background noise of the TV.
With a satisfied sigh, Gibbs finally set his bowl aside. He glanced over at Tony and caught the fuzzy gaze of the younger man. Pain meds must be kicking in. He looked at his watch and was surprised to see it was going on 1300 already. Tony looks ready to keel over; better let him sleep. Besides, the basement is calling.
Gibbs rose from the bed and gathered the dirty dishes. Tony sunk down into the mattress, eyes already closing as he gave up the fight to stay awake. Gibbs set the tray back down on the nightstand and turned off the TV before he pulled the covers over the younger man, tucking the edges around his body and smoothing out the wrinkles. Without a word, he picked up the tray and left the room, the soft sound of snoring following him as he stepped into the hallway.
The feeling of the wood beneath his hands was like a balm as Gibbs sanded, losing himself in the grain of the wood. He had cleaned up the dishes in the kitchen before checking on Tony, finding his agent sound asleep. He had then made his way to the basement to work on one of his smaller projects, glad to finally be alone after several days of doctors, nurses, and hospital noise.
He took a sip of his bourbon as he worked the wood, thinking over recent events. Was it only a week ago that I caught DiNozzo at that storage facility? Feels like longer. He hadn’t really had a chance to process events yet. There’d been no chance to do so in the hospital with the constant bustling and beeping, and he’d been too tense to do it anyway. Now that he and Tony were home and safe, he felt himself finally begin to relax.
I almost lost him this time. That was too close.
Gibbs sanded away, lost in thought, and was only startled out of his reverie by the ringing of his cell phone. Glancing at the caller ID, he flipped it open.
“Jethro, I heard you and DiNozzo had a bit of an adventure in Shenandoah. How’s the kid holding up?” Fornell’s voice echoed tinnily through the cell phone.
“Aw, Tobias, didn’t know you cared. DiNozzo will be alright. Remember that time you arrested him and put him in jail? The guy who framed him escaped from prison, presumed dead, and came after us. Put a bullet through Tony and beat the hell out of him before I could stop him, but we won’t have to worry about him anymore.”
“Holy crap, Gibbs, you guys don’t do anything by halves, do you. I swear, that boy of yours has some of the best and worst luck of anybody I’ve ever met. I’m surprised the kid hasn’t been struck by a meteor yet. That seems like something right up his alley.”
Gibbs snorted at that and bantered back and forth with Fornell for a few minutes before the conversation wound down. Fornell offered to swing by and sit on DiNozzo for a few hours whenever Gibbs needed a break, but they both knew that Gibbs had no intention on taking him up on the offer. Gibbs wasn’t letting Tony out of his sight any time soon.
After hanging up, Gibbs turned back to his sanding, and his thoughts wandered to the conversation he’d had with Tony on Friday night. He felt his grip tightening on the sanding block and had to put the wood down and take a sip of bourbon to hold back the resurgence of his anger at the memory of what Tony had told him. He knew that the two of them needed to talk more about that, but he was in no hurry to get there. Vance had given them both sick leave and, in Gibbs’ case, compulsory vacation until they were both ready to return to work. Gibbs had plenty of time to work his way around to speaking to Tony about everything.
Gibbs picked the wood back up and went back to work with the sanding block, thinking deep thoughts.
Gibbs made his way up the steps and into the guest room with the food tray full of dinner to find Tony awake and watching another movie, this time one of the Bond flicks.
“Hey, Tony, how you feeling? Sleep well?”
“Oh, hey, Boss. Yeah, I slept fine. Woke up a bit ago and put another movie on. Goldeneye, 1995, with the debut of the Pierce Brosnan version of Bond. Not my favorite Bond movie, but still a good one. Gotta love Sean Bean as Trevelyan, and they made an awesome video game out of it…”
Gibbs got their dinner situated as he let the babble wash over him, feeling something tense loosen in his gut as he listened to the sound of Tony’s voice. He didn’t say anything to turn the monologue into a dialogue, but that had never stopped Tony before. Gibbs figured the younger man would talk all night if he let him.
“Eat, DiNozzo,” Gibbs ordered, hitching up on the bed beside him again with his own plate of food.
They ate companionably, Tony offering a running commentary on the movie while Gibbs listened, placing in just enough nods and grunts to let Tony know he was listening. Gibbs didn’t particularly care about the film, but he was content to listen to Tony ramble on about cinematography and special effects while they ate. Gibbs was surprised to find himself actually enjoying the movie, Tony’s commentary filling in the blanks that came with missing the beginning scenes. It was a bit over-the-top in his opinion but entertaining nonetheless.
Before he knew it, the movie was over. Gibbs glanced at his watch and saw it was time for another round of meds. He collected the dishes and made his way to the kitchen. He made quick work of cleaning up before counting out more pills and making his way back to Tony’s room. The younger man had already swapped out movies and was engrossed in whatever was on the screen.
He handed the younger man the pills and a glass of water and watched carefully as Tony grimaced and swallowed them down. Satisfied, Gibbs stood there and looked at his agent, suddenly uncertain of what to do next. It was a bit too early for bed, but he wasn’t in the mood for more basement, either. Tony noticed his staring and patted the bed beside him.
“C’mon, Boss, come watch Indiana Jones with me. You’ll enjoy it, I promise. What’s not to like about watching an American hero outsmart Nazis? It’s the first one in the series, and I just started it.”
Tony looked at Gibbs with such a hopeful, puppy-dog expression that the notoriously grumpy former Marine suddenly found himself unable to say no. With a long-suffering sigh, he made his way around the bed and sat down next to Tony for the third time that day and focused on the TV.
He found himself once again enjoying the movie, the slick charm and charisma of the main character drawing him in. He hadn’t watched much TV since Shannon and Kelly had died, having discovered that doing so alone tended to bring up painful memories. This particular movie seemed vaguely familiar; Gibbs suspected that he’d seen it before, a long time ago.
As the credits rolled, Gibbs looked over at Tony and found the younger man gazing back at him with sleepy eyes, looking for all the world like a kid fighting bedtime. Gibbs had to hold back his laughter as he stood up.
“Alright, Tony, bedtime. Your kit is in the bathroom across the hall. You need anything?”
At Tony’s quiet, “No, Boss, thanks,” Gibbs left him to it and made his way down the hall to the master bedroom. He didn’t sleep in here very often; in fact, he had to dig the bed out from underneath a pile of boxes he’d been meaning to get to for a while. Normally he slept on the couch or in the basement, but he wanted to be closer to Tony in case the younger man needed anything. He quickly stripped and remade the bed before making his way back to Tony’s room.
Tony was curled up under the covers, TV off, and fast asleep. Once again Gibbs found himself messing with the blankets and making sure his agent was comfortable before snapping off the light with a whispered, “Good night, Tony,” and making his way to his own room, leaving both their doors cracked so he could hear.
With a sigh, Gibbs slipped into bed, suddenly aware of how tired he was. He’d been running for several days on very little sleep, and the backlog of fatigue seemed to hit him all at once. He was asleep before his head fully settled into the pillow.
Gibbs woke up suddenly, unsure of what had stirred him from his slumber. He glanced at the clock as he rubbed his face. It’s only 0200. Why am I awake?
He listened carefully, wondering what was going on, before he heard it: faint noises, a rustling sound, and a soft thump, all coming from the direction of Tony’s room. Gibbs threw back the covers and had just placed his feet on the floor to stand up when he heard the sharp, panicked cry of his Senior Field Agent echo down the hall.
Now wide awake, Gibbs threw himself into motion, running down the hall and bursting into Tony’s room in mere seconds. He quickly turned on the bedside light, and he couldn’t help but cry out as he took in the scene before him, his face twisting in dismay.
"Aw, hell, Tony! Tony!?”