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by: silverfoxfiles (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 7360
Rating: MATURE
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Hurt/Comfort
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Episode(s): 2-22 SWAK
Summary: In the wake of Tony's illness, Gibbs takes control.

Chapters: 1


Gibbs couldn’t believe they’d let Tony out of the hospital so soon. He’d just made it through the plague and forty-eight hours after the suicide chain had been discovered, he was being released. NCIS had been generous with sick time but that didn’t help the situation very much.

Tony had nobody. He dated a lot but didn’t have anyone permanent in his life. Gibbs knew his family wasn’t interested, he’d encouraged his father to visit DiNozzo and the elder DiNozzo had flatly refused. All he wanted was notification of Tony’s death so that he could collect the benefits from a life insurance policy. Made Gibbs sick.

Ducky insisted that Tony have someone with him, and Gibbs immediately volunteered. While Ducky was processing Tony’s discharge from Bethesda and driving him to Virginia, Gibbs was setting up the den for Tony. He’d even dragged in Tony’s flat plasma TV or whatever it was called and arranged for the cable service to be run from the living room here and even into the bedroom. The team was shocked that he’d be taking time off to ’baby sit DiNozzo’, as Kate put it, but Gibbs didn’t see it that way at all.

Tony was his teammate, and he was Tony’s family. He didn’t get the chance to be there when Tony had been struggling for breath and dammit he’d be here for him now. He surveyed the room. Tony’s suitcase was open, sweatpants and T-shirts and comfortable shorts lying in neat rows. Tony’s cologne and toiletries were tucked away in his shaving kit and Abby’d helped Gibbs select a few dozen DVDs. The big surprise was Abby reaching into the nightstand at Tony’s apartment and pulling out a dozen books about the psychology of criminals. She explained it away as a hobby but Gibbs knew it was more…and he was intrigued.

He arranged the blankets on the couch and tried to relax. Everything was well in hand. The fridge was stocked, a pot of Abby’s gumbo warming in the crock-pot. Kate had offered to make something for later in the week and Ducky and McGee had promised to bring something by as well. Even Morrow had offered a meal on NCIS. All Gibbs had to do was call in an order. Nobody wanted him to leave Tony and it was a damn good thing that he was a homebody.

Ducky had nixed the idea of working on the boat while Tony was recovering and Gibbs understood. He would not put Tony’s lungs at risk. He had a bunch of books he’d been wanting to read anyway. And this time wasn’t about him hiding himself away. It was about him having someone else to care about and watch over. He hadn’t been anyone’s guardian for a lot of years, but he was ready to open his home—and hell, his heart. He’d come too damn close to losing DiNozzo and only now did he realize what his senior field agent meant to him.

But he couldn’t start thinking about that right now. He had to get Tony settled and help him recover. Then he could consider what his next step would be.

He managed to sit still for a full ten seconds after he heard a car door close. Tony was leaning heavily on Ducky and Gibbs raced out, slipping Tony’s arm around his shoulder. “Easy there, Tony. Lean on me.”

“I can make it, Boss.” Tony didn’t want to look weak in front of Gibbs; it was bad enough he’d almost died in front of the man. Now he was going to be staying with him. He planned to play the good agent while Ducky was here, then make as quick an escape as possible. “Ducky wouldn’t let me walk on my own, but I’m capable. Don’t need you guys worrying about me like this.”

Ducky bit his lip but stepped back, giving Gibbs a significant look. He knew that Tony would be in good hands here and had warned the younger man what would happen if he tried to run. Leroy Jethro Gibbs and handcuffs could make Anthony’s life no end of messy. Ducky just hoped the younger man would listen.

“Almost lost you,” Gibbs muttered with a grunt as he took on ninety percent of Tony’s weight. “Not gonna risk that again.” He flicked his wrist, nodding as Ducky caught a packet of keys. “Know you’re thinking of cutting and running, DiNozzo. I changed the locks at your place, got your car keys and the copies, as well as your wallet. You’re stuck with me unless ya jump Duck for the copies.”

He gave the younger man his most winning smile as he led him into the den. “All the comforts of home…and me to boot. You’re a lucky man, Tony.”

"Might have been better off." Tony mumbled, hating the fact that he was so predictable and that Gibbs could so easily take his knees out from under him. "Really didn't need to do that boss, I'm fine. Wouldn't have let me out of the hospital if I wasn't. I really just want to get home, kick off my shoes and sleep for the next seven to ten days."

Gibbs gave Tony a firm headslap. “Never better off dead, DiNozzo. Never. And you’re not fine. You’ve lost a good ten pounds and your skin color is grey. Duck can probably confirm that isn’t a color known to healthy humans.”

"It most certainly isn't healthy. You shouldn't be out of the hospital yet, but you seem to have fooled someone into believing you were. Doctors these days aren't thorough enough for my liking." Ducky flinched at the head slap, and reminded Jethro with a look that Anthony was still recovering, and beating the boy into submission wasn't suggested.

"I was cleared, so obviously I'm healthy. Just need to get out into the sun, get my tan back. Need a beach, not to be in DC right now."

Gibbs nodded slightly at Duck’s unspoken reprimand. He shouldn’t have whacked the kid. “You were cleared but you’re not healthy, DiNozzo. And you’re sure as hell not flying anywhere. You want beach, I’ll get ya a sunlamp and you can embrace your inner lizard.”

Gibbs barely resisted the urge to stroke a hand through Tony’s hair, curling his hand into a small fist instead. “They need ya back at NCIS, Duck. I can handle him.”

Ducky nodded, unsure that Jethro truly understood the situation. "There are medications, and instructions I should go over with you, Jethro. And I'll be back in the morning just to do a checkup. Make sure there aren't any setbacks."

"Ducky, I was there. I can give the boss the break down of what is needed when." He'd paid very close attention, not wanting to kill himself in an attempt to break away. "If the boss thinks he can handle me, probably best not to argue."

"As you say, Anthony." Ducky held the bag out to Jethro. "Any questions, any problems. If he coughs and can't stop, you call me, Jethro. Neither of you two should be martyrs about this. You need help, you just need to ask."

“I can read instructions, Ducky. It’s okay. If we need you, I’ll call. And I know how to prop him up and clear his lungs.” He’d done in a few times, settling behind Tony when the younger man had struggled for breath.

He gave Ducky a small smile. “Not being a martyr. Want to do this.” He wasn’t sure he wanted DiNozzo hearing that but he couldn’t resist. “If we need you, I’ll call. We’re not losing him, Duck.”

“I believe you, dear boy. Take care of one another. Tony, you have my permission to tell him to go to bed and leave you alone, just as Jethro will be able to tell you if you’re overtaxing yourself.” Ducky knew Jethro could more than handle this, but it was still difficult to leave knowing how sick Tony had been. “I have a nurse staying with Mother and I, so call if you need anything, and I’ll come right over.”

“Think we’ve got it, Ducky, Boss isn’t going to let me die. Would take all the fun out of killing me later.”

“I’ll call if I need you, Duck. I’m not losing him. We’re not losing him,” he emphasized with a sideways look to Ducky. Duck had some idea of how his feelings were strengthening but hadn’t said anything. And Gibbs appreciated that.

“Then I’ll leave you to it. Medications in the small bag, Jethro. See you both in the morning.” Ducky knew that Jethro would watch out for the younger man, and he wouldn’t want for anything.

“Once he’s gone, I can take off, Boss. You really don’t need me around here tonight. I’m fine, can take my own drugs. Don’t need a babysitter, he finished in a whisper.”

“You aren’t going anywhere, DiNozzo,” Gibbs growled. “If I have to cuff you to my headboard, I will.” He looked at Ducky. “Hey, Duck what do I have permission to do if DiNozzo tries to leave?”

“I don’t suspect he’ll make it very difficult to catch, he can’t run. But if he tries, gently stop him and if you must restrain him, handcuffs might be best, although be careful of the arm that had the IV. I also suspect once he takes his medications, he won’t want to leave anytime soon. There is a mild sedative in there as well as his antibiotics and his pain medication.”

“Didn’t need to bring it to Ducky’s attention. He’s already worried about me, Boss.”

Gibbs grinned. “I can handle DiNozzo, Duck. Don’t worry about me. Sedative, huh? When is he due for his next dose?” Gibbs gave Tony a huge smirk, knowing he was going to retain the upper hand.

"Several hours from now, although the sedative can wait until after dinner and when he's ready to sleep." Ducky knew that Jethro would find a way to keep the boy happy and here, without knocking him out. "Once a day, not with every medication dose, Jethro. Do be a good boy, Anthony, I don't want to come back and find you knocked out and tied to a bed with silk scarves or ties."

"Yeah, got the point that Gibbs isn't letting me leave, Ducky, I'll try to be good." Tony knew he didn’t' sound very appreciative, but he wasn't feeling it right now.

“We’ll watch some TV. I’ll make him comfortable, Duck. Don’t worry, I’ve got Tony well in hand.” He rested a hand on Tony’s chest very lightly. “If he gets into trouble, he can mimic my breathing.” But Tony was breathing okay now, thank God.

“Tony,” he said quietly but firmly. “A thank you to Ducky wouldn’t go astray. Plague make ya lose your manners?”

"Thank you for getting me out of there, Ducky. I would have gone crazy if I had to been stuck at the hospital any longer." Tony wasn't angry with Ducky, or even Gibbs for that matter. He was angry at the situation he'd landed himself in. "I'll be fine, they wouldn't have let me out if I were still sick would they?"

"You're very welcome, Anthony." Ducky understood the young agent wasn't happy about this, but he was still very ill, even if he wasn't in the hospital. "No, if you were at death’s door, they wouldn't have let you out. But if you didn't have a doctor to back up your claim that you would be well taken care of, I don't imagine they would have let you leave so fast. You have some good friends, who just want to see you get well my dear boy, so allow us to pamper you for just a little while."

"I'll take it under advisement, Doctor Ducky. Just never had anyone around to baby me before, and it's a strange sensation being an adult and having a number of people wanting to do so now."

“Well be gracious about it, DiNozzo. Lot of people coping this way. You gotta let ‘em. Nobody could fight for you in there. We’re all overreacting now but you can learn to deal and adjust. Too recent history thinking of you fighting for life. Fact is, ya were at death’s door. Shook everyone up.”

Gibbs had fought to keep Tony. Kate and Abby had wanted him to stay with them; McGee had offered to move in with Tony. Ducky would have fought harder if he didn’t have his mother to look after as well.

He gave Ducky a long look, conveying that it was time to go. “We’ll see ya tomorrow, Duck. Gotta get my boy here settled.”

"Good luck to the both of you, and Jethro... Remember the object is to keep Anthony alive. He may be trying your limited patience, but we want to keep him breathing." Ducky couldn't wait to see the boys tomorrow, after an evening in each other’s presence. Would be entertaining at the very least.

"Guess that means no head smacks, Boss. And if I snore, you can't put a pillow over my head." Tony didn't feel well enough to be gracious or any more polite than he already was. "I'll be polite tomorrow. Today, you pretty much get what you get."

Gibbs nodded a goodbye to Duck and ignored DiNozzo’s response for right now. Tony would adjust. He wouldn’t be given a choice. He stared the other man down for a minute or so, pleased when Tony didn’t look away. “I have ways of getting pouts and sulks off faces,” he finally said casually. “An electric cattle prod.”

"You'd help spring me from the hospital just to electrocute me, that's cold, even for you." Tony knew there was no way Gibbs was serious, but it did give him a good reason to adjust his attitude. "If you did that, in two weeks when I'm expected back at work, who would you have to stay late and come in early to complete your paperwork for you? McGeek won't do it, and Kate would shoot you with that gun she keeps under her pillow. Neither of them are ready for a promotion, so that leaves me."

Gibbs smirked. “You think so. You’ve only stayed with me when you were able-bodied before.” He lowered his voice to an almost whisper. “McGee would fall into line, Tony. He knows how to follow the boss’ rules. If you check out on me from the electrocution, I hear Balboa might be interested in a team. Or I could get Burley back.”

He hoped the subtle challenge would galvanize Tony.

“You couldn’t pay Burley enough money to come back to your team, Boss. He enjoys not having to take blood pressure medication and live on antacids.” Tony wasn’t going to be goaded into an argument, he was pretty sure Gibbs was doing it on purpose. “And if you think you can convince Balboa to come to work with you, go ahead and put me out of my misery. I won’t even fight you.”

“Maybe the fringe benefits are worth it to Burley,” Gibbs teased. Tony couldn’t know that he and Burley had heavily flirted, even though they never actually did anything. No, Gibbs had to get his mind away from that thought. DiNozzo was better looking and much sexier to Gibbs than Burley could have dreamed of being.

“Come on, DiNozzo. Not like you to not give it back to me. Makes me worry.” What worried him more was the dullness in Tony’s eyes.

“ Let’s get you settled so you can rest.”

“Yeah, resting would be good.” He’d spent the last few days doing nothing but resting, but it still sounded like a decent idea. Maybe he’d close his eyes, pretend to catch some shuteye.

Wasn't likely going to do much sleeping, he had every intention of spending his NCIS enforced vacation calling every contact he'd ever made in law enforcement and trying to get a ticket out of DC. His carelessness had caused the building to be shut down and the Navy Yard to be locked down. You just didn't walk back through the doors after causing an event like that.

"I need my stuff. I've got things I need to take care of, Boss. Not a baby, don't need to be taken care of."

“Got clothes, DVDS, your TV, Abby even sent over your books. You will be fine here. You get bored, I’ll figure something out, Tony.” He softened his voice, seeing the turmoil in Tony’s gaze. “Let me. Let me worry.”

"Don't need worry, Gibbs. Need to be home." Tony knew his voice sounded whiny, but he wanted to get his life back together and start packing it up. "You don't need me here either. This can't be your idea of a good time."

“We almost lost you,” Gibbs said in a low tone that conveyed his intensity. “You’re damn right I need you here. I need you here.” He needed the assurance that Tony was okay. “I need you…” he trailed off. What was he going to say? To be okay? To stay? Or something much more intense?

Unable to hold off any longer, he smoothed a hand through Tony’s hair. “Your choice. The couch or the bed upstairs. I can move the TV wherever you want it.”

"Couch will be fine. I'm already putting you out, Boss, don't need to kick you out of your room on top of it."

“Not putting me out.” He tightened his hand on the back of Tony’s neck. “Can you get changed on your own, Tony? If I give you your clothes?” He released Tony, propping two brand new huge pillows against the arm of the overstuffed couch.

“Gonna get you in some comfortable sweats and then some food into you. Gumbo sound good? Abbs made some for us.”

“Abby cooked for us? She really must have thought I was dying if she broke down and made gumbo.” Abby had adopted him and had been cooking for him on Friday nights, but she hated taking the time to make gumbo. There were other things just as good that she made that didn’t take a day of simmering.

“Did she send her firecracker cornbread too? You’ve never enjoyed Creole cooking until you have that. I don’t need to change, I’d suffer the indignity of wearing a hospital gown the next two weeks if it meant I got seconds tonight.”

“She loves you,” Gibbs replied quietly. “And you scared all of us. She was at NCIS trying to find answers and spent her nights outside watching over you. Sure it was the least she could do, Tony. And yeah, she sent her cornbread too. And some homemade ice cream.”

Gibbs pulled Tony close, hand burying itself in the younger man’s hair, not censoring himself like he usually did. “Let us help. We need to feel like we’re able to make some impact on your recovery. I needed to do this, Tony. For both of us.”

Tony was trembling slightly and Gibbs eased him down on the couch. “We can always move you to the bedroom. King-sized bed. The TV isn’t too heavy. You tell me what you need. Let me help.” He stroked a finger over Tony’s cheekbone. “Let me help. I couldn’t sit with you in there…let me help.”

“Here is fine for now.” Tony knew he wasn’t going to be able to get out of here. There was no way Gibbs was going to let him escape. “And some dinner. If Abby cooked, we should enjoy and appreciate the hard work. I’ve been trying for months to get her to make gumbo again, and she said it was only for special occasions. Guess me not dying is special in her eyes. And her ice cream. Boss, I don’t know what she does to it. She won’t tell me her secret, but it’s to die for… Once it’s done, she rolls it in sprinkles, just to add to the excitement.”

He was tired, he knew he should just head to bed, but he had been in bed far too long over the last few days. “Didn’t mean to worry anyone. Was stupid, shouldn’t have opened the letter to begin with. Could have killed all of us, just me getting sick was a best case scenario.”

Nobody getting sick was the best case scenario, and they all knew it. “Wasn’t your most shining moment,” Gibbs agreed. While Tony was distracted and talking about food, Gibbs tipped him back on the couch and pulled his jeans down.

“You’re getting comfortable, DiNozzo. No arguments. You get sweats on and then we eat.” He smirked when he saw the Bugs Bunny boxers. “Wouldn’t have thought of you as a Bugs man, Tony.”

“They were a gift.”

“Mmm,” Gibbs said, rolling his eyes.

He got DiNozzo’s shoes and socks off and grabbed a pair of sweats, settling back on his knees in front of Tony, his mind going to places it had no business being. “Commando or with the boxers, Tony?”

Tony didn’t think Gibbs could stun him, but this was perhaps more than he ever expected from his boss. The man just didn’t give off caretaker vibes. “With boxers is fine boss. You’re already doing more than you need to do, don’t need you stripping me for comfort. Already stripping me of my remaining dignity by not letting me leave.”

Gibbs realized Tony had no idea of his feelings when he was crouched between Tony’s open legs. He’d hardened almost immediately, aching, wanting. And he sure as hell liked the view, muscular legs, tiny strip of abdomen when his T-shirt had rucked up.

“If you’re more comfortable without the boxers, they come off,” Gibbs explained in a calmer voice than he felt. He reached up, gripping the waistband and pulling them down.

“Don’t worry, Tony. Nobody’ll know your secrets except me.” It tumbled out and Gibbs took a longer look than he should, checking out the size and girth of DiNozzo’s privates. Blinking a couple of times to shake off his rapidly rising lust, Gibbs began to pull on the sweats, hands running over Tony’s legs as he pulled the fabric up strong legs and over muscled calves.

“Lift your hips, Tony.” Gibbs had to focus on this as a purely scientific exercise. But it was so damn hard when his knuckles rubbed over warm flesh, thigh muscles quivering under his rapidly moving hands. He paused when the material bunched at the back of Tony’s knees, his hands resting on DiNozzo’s upper thighs so damn close to his cock.

“Lift up, Tony,” he repeated, his voice softening, his hands clenching the muscles more tightly before relaxing. He didn’t dare glance up at the other man, knowing lust and need had to be shining in his eyes.

"Boss?" Tony was mortified, but intrigued. This was not the man he knew, this couldn't be Gibbs stripping him. It had to be pod Gibbs, and the real one was going to pop up and smack him. Or there was a camera and this was all a huge cosmic joke. Because getting a dormant disease wasn't bad enough. "Maybe you better let me finish, Gibbs. I'll manage it, shouldn't have to have you dress and undress me."

“Why, DiNozzo?” he asked, his voice firming up. He tapped Tony’s leg right at the knee. “I said lift up.” When Tony didn’t respond immediately, Gibbs tipped him further back, yanking the sweats the rest of the way up. He knew Tony would want to adjust himself, and there was no way Gibbs was touching Tony’s dick right now. Was bad enough his own cock was throbbing. There was no hiding it; he just had to hope Tony was sick enough to not notice.

Gibbs stood slowly. “Feel up to eating at the table or you better in here?”

"Here is fine, if you've got a tray." Tony's breathing was a little rushed, but it had nothing to do with the plague. "Although I can get my own food. Don't need you serving me hand and foot Gibbs. I'm a big boy, I can manage some things on my own."

“You’re a big boy,” Gibbs remarked with a smirk. “What are you? Six two, one eighty?” Tony’s eyes had darkened and that was worth the ache in Gibbs’ groin right now. “You stay, get comfortable. You want a soda?”

He turned away, grabbing a tray table and setting it up, very purposefully putting the remote on it as well. “Hauled this TV in just for you and ya better give it a workout.” This taking care of Tony thing was giving him purpose. He cocked his head, listening. “You’re breathing more shallowly, you okay?”

"You didn't have to do all this, Gibbs. I'm sure the black and white and the bunny ears you use would have been fine. Could have put a whole new spin on TV." But that he did have his own TV and his own clothes here made it easier to try and settle in.

Being called out on his breathing though, that was embarrassing. This evening was nothing if not a challenge in keeping his dignity. "I'm fine. If I'm not paying attention, sometimes I forget to take deep breaths. And who actively thinks about their breathing? Fine boss, nothing to worry about."

It sounded logical to his ears at least.

“If you’ve ever bruised or broken ribs, you do,” Gibbs shot back, letting Tony know that he was being called on his crap. “Football player like you never bruised your chest? Unbelievable. A miracle.” He let the sarcasm creep into his tone, hoping it would ease Tony’s mind and relax him a little.

"I'm fine, Gibbs. If I start turning blue, then worry about me. Until then, I'm all good."

“Don’t worry me,” Gibbs said quietly. “Gained a lot of gray hair this week.”

“Apparently it’s a little too late for that. You’re already worried, and probably not letting up anytime soon.” Tony couldn’t remember the last time someone had worried about him, that wasn’t Abby.

“Because I can’t lose you,” Gibbs said, stark honesty roughening his voice. “Came too damn close, DiNozzo.” He sighed, knowing his intensity was probably pushing Tony away.

“But here I am, still alive. Didn’t lose me boss, you aren’t going to have to train another agent.”

He swallowed, regarding Tony seriously. If Tony wanted to play it off lightly, he’d comply. “Haven’t trained you completely yet, have I? Gotta get my money’s worth.”

“Doctor said no gym time for a couple months at least. So you’re not going to get your chance in the ring. Guess I’m going to have to suck it up and deal with all of your paperwork huh?” Tony smiled, knowing he already did most of the team’s paperwork anyway. “I’ll have to clear my schedule out, because who’s going to have time for a social life when I have office work to do”

“I’ll get ya cleared for field work when you’re ready to be cleared for field work and not any sooner, Tony.” He looked over at the pile of books Abby had dug out for Tony, his curiosity over their presence spiked.

“Continuing education, those psych books don’t look like light reading. Tell me you’re doing this for yourself and not to impress some woman.” Gibbs had been surprised but Abby had brushed it off, as if it as the most natural thing in the world that Tony was reading some pretty weighty material.

"No, those are my fun books, always was interested in psychology in college, but I had a reputation to live up to." Since he chose law enforcement, Tony had enjoyed doing additional reading that might help on a case someday. He always had a book out that had several bookmarks, and most of the volumes were dog eared and tattered from multiple readings. "You don't just keep me around for my looks, Gibbs, and I have to get some of my brilliant ideas from somewhere."

He nodded, regarding Tony with a small smile. “Impressed, DiNozzo. Very impressed.” He really was. Gibbs knew Tony’s persona was just that, but he couldn’t fail being impressed that Tony was reading such weighty volumes. “You know this is college level psych material? Could even be beyond me.”

Gibbs flashed Tony a fond smile.

"It's masters level Gibbs, although I doubt beyond you." Tony knew Gibbs hadn't done any real formal education after high school, but there wasn't much that got by the boss. "If you want to check some of the books out, you're welcome too do so. Never know. What you read might have direct impact on our next case. I fall back on my readings
more often than not."

Gibbs had done his own studying, especially documents from the FBI and CIA files that had filtered through the agencies. “I’ve studied some myself, but not this level.” He smirked at Tony. “Too big words for me.”

Tony gave him a penetrating look and Gibbs shrugged. “Not a college guy, DiNozzo, but I may look at ‘em.”

"You don't have to be a college guy to want to learn. I wasn't exactly a great college student, but I enjoy the reading now. It's not pressured, it's about what I want to know." Tony had some other books at home that might be more Gibbs style, and made a mental note to try and remember to drop them off.

"I'm not a big word guy either. But I still enjoy learning."

Gibbs grinned at Tony’s eagerness to get him to learn. “Tony, I have a couple thousand pages of CIA and FBI studies in the bookshelf. Interrogation techniques, psych studies. I do my own light reading. That’s when I’m not reading the latest from Clancy.” He playfully nudged Tony’s shoulder. “Not so different, are we?”

"No, guess we aren't." It wasn't that Tony really believed that Gibbs would go home at night, drink bourbon and work on the boat they'd all heard about. Reading anything by Clancy wasn't a huge surprise, knowing some about Gibbs' military background. "I prefer Crichton to Clancy personally, but I don't like to get tied up in all the intricacies of the military, where that would excite you."

Gibbs smirked slightly. “I have other hobbies beside sanding, ya know. Read a bunch of a stuff, Tony, not just military.” Okay, most of what he read was military and spy thrillers, but he liked Ken Follet’s historical novel too. “Reading a book called Outlander now.” Stephanie had left a set of the books behind, it had been something she and Ducky had loved discussing. “Nurse goes back in time in Scotland.”

"Got to say, that isn't something I'd think you would be reading. But it sounds interesting." If not a little girly. There had to be a story behind it, or a Scottsman, which would make more sense. “Duckman, he's a good influence on you I guess."

“Can’t only read Clancy and Ludlum.” He walked over to the bookshelf, holding up books one at a time. Vince Flynn, political thrillers. Brad Thor, same. Dan Brown, military. Steve Berry, historical stuff kinda like the DaVinci Code. James Rollins, history and scientific creatures. Bernard Cornwell, historical stuff. Daniel Silva, spy stuff. Alex Kava, John Sandford.” He shrugged. “And Diana Gabaldon for Scottish history, C.S. Forrester for naval history, James Michener, Ken Follet.”

Yeah, he was a reading junkie. So what? “Can’t sleep so sometimes I read.” He pointed to the lower shelf. “The stuff you like is there, reports from the FBI and CIA mostly.”

"Wasn't implying you didn't read, Boss. Just that you surprise me." It was still early in his stay, and already he was antagonizing Gibbs. "I like a lot of the authors you mentioned, but never see you reading at work, so it's a surprise that you enjoy it so much."

“We solve cases at work, DiNozzo, don’t play computer games and read books.” Gibbs shook his head in amusement. “I have a lot of surprises,. You’ll learn some of ‘em if you’re a good boy.”

"I was always good at getting the toy out without eating the popcorn, Boss. So it sounds like a challenge."

“Knew there was a reason I called ya a cracker jack agent,” Gibbs teased.

“You sit. Make yourself comfortable.” He motioned toward Tony’s pants. “Got socks and slippers if you need ‘em.” Before Tony could answer, he escaped, sucking in breath harder than Tony was. His hands were shaking and he was completely unnerved by the situation and the force of his lust for the other man.

Instead of dwelling on this, he went into the kitchen, dishing up a huge bowl of the gumbo and slicing off a hunk of the cornbread. He grabbed a soda and some butter, salt and silverware before he assembled it all on a breakfast tray and brought it in to Tony.

“Here ya go, DiNozzo.”

Tony was impressed, Gibbs might not seem like a caregiver type of person, but he was good at it. "Thanks, I appreciate the help. Might have over estimated my energy levels." He hated admitting it, but he was exhausted just from the little he'd done already today. Not one to be polite, as soon as the food hit his tray, Tony picked up his fork and dug in. "I have missed real food though. The soft crap they had me eat last night just didn't do it for me. This is what I'm talking about. Where's yours, Boss? You can't pass up gumbo. This is the food of the Gods."

“Just be careful,” Gibbs warned quietly. “Don’t wolf it down, DiNozzo. Go easy and give your stomach time to adjust.”

His food? He shrugged, hoping Tony wasn’t hearing his stomach growl. “ Not hungry. You eat first.” He couldn’t relax until he knew Tony had been fed. He sank into the recliner next to the couch and regarded the younger man. “Like I said…slow and easy, Tony. Don’t want it coming up and you aspirating it. Not a marathon…just a stroll.”

“It’s food. Might not pay much attention to my breathing, but I know a thing or two about not choking on my dinner.” Taking another bite, Tony quickly speared some chicken and what looked like a chunk of crawfish, and held it out to Gibbs. “Come on, you know you’re hungry. I can hear you rumbling from over here, and that’s over my wheezing. Take a bite, Abby’s food should be savored by everyone, not just me.”

“Tony,” he began, exasperated. “You want to feed me?” Tony just looked at him, a slight smile curving his mouth. “I can get my own food, DiNozzo. I’m not the invalid.” But before Gibbs had worked it out, he was crossing the room, mouth closing around the fork.

“God that’s good,” he said, chewing, watching Tony with the hint of a smile on his face. “Plan on feeding me some more, Tony?” Gibbs hadn’t expected to sound sexy or needy, but he couldn’t help it. He was standing over Tony; looking down at him and it was only due to his self control that he didn’t make a move. But God, he wanted to…

Tony hadn’t meant to start anything, but Gibbs was being so flirty. It was impossible not to flirt back. “If you need someone to feed you, then I can manage that. You certainly put enough on my plate for the two of us. Keep your hands off my cornbread though. But if you want me, then yeah, I’ll feed you, Boss.”

Gibbs sank down on the couch next to Tony, puzzling out what he said and nodded. Had he really said if Gibbs wanted him, to let the other man feed him? Strange, but DiNozzo wasn’t anyone’s idea of normal.

“I want.” He didn’t finish the sentence. As Tony had said, if Gibbs wanted him…and God he did. He’d almost lost DiNozzo. He wasn’t gonna be subtle, he couldn’t afford to be.

“I want, Tony. What ya prepared to do about it?”

Tony dipped the fork back into his gumbo, and held it out again. “Depends on if you mean food or more, Gibbs. I’m usually not slow about things, but I’m not sure I’m at the same place you are.”

The fork between them, Tony thought he knew what his boss was talking about. But it was too big of a chance to take if this was about food and not anything deeper. “See, I’ve already screwed up big time once this week already. Could probably be used for cause to get rid of me if the director wanted to be that way. I’m not giving you any other reason to want to get rid of me. So if you’re talking about something other than food, you better tell me, or else I’m going to pretend we never brought it up.”

Gibbs regarded Tony for a long moment and then stood, disappearing into the kitchen for a bowl of gumbo and a huge slab of cornbread…and a beer. When he returned, Tony was looking very uncertain and little boy lost.

“Nobody’s getting rid of you, DiNozzo. I talked to Morrow. Your job is secure. And whatever happens here…whatever you decide you want…your job is secure.” He took a bite of the food, never breaking Tony’s gaze. “Talking about a hell of a lot more than food, Tony. You said if I want you, you’d feed me. And hell, Tony,” he lowered his voice, almost growling the words. “I want you.”

"Me?" Tony knew his voice squeaked, and his breathing was anything but normal. But while he had been pretty sure that was what had been happening between them, hearing it out loud was pretty stunning. "Job is never secure, but you want to keep me. That's kind of powerful stuff on it's own. Never been wanted before, not for just me. Someone's wanted me for my skills as a detective or for my body. But none of that was just for being Tony. But you really want me?"

His insecurity was as endearing as it made Gibbs sad. “Yeah, you,” he said simply, taking a few more bites. “But not just on my six, DiNozzo. Not just at NCIS. More. A lot more.” He angled a gaze at Tony, lowering his voice to a sexy rasp. “I really want you, Tony. Ball is in your court now.”

"My court." Tony swallowed, trying to get control of his emotions. Gibbs wanted him, and that meant so much. Scared him to death, but it was everything he could have ever wanted. "Don't have to sneak around and try to find a new job, don't have to worry about the team hating me. Just need to worry about what to do about you. I can manage that. I'm not feeling up to playing games right now, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested. Just would rather be less of a patient when I make my move."

He brushed Tony’s hair back gently. “Doesn’t have to be now. Doesn’t have to be until you’re ready.” He pulled his hand away and continued eating, slathering the cornbread with butter. The food was incredible and DiNozzo’s nearness enhanced the experience.

When he was done with the food, he downed the beer and leaned back, watching Tony. “My house, my rules. When you’re ready, I’m taking you upstairs. I can move the TV into the bedroom and McGee laid cable there. You’ll be more comfortable in a king size bed, won’t you? Nothing needs to happen,” he repeated softly.

"I'm fine down on the couch." Tony said, but knew he wasn't going to win that battle. "You let McGee in your bedroom to wire it for cable? Do you even have a TV that you can hook cable up to? I thought you were anti-technology guy. Don't you have a black and white TV hidden away?"

“You’re gonna look better in my bed,” Gibbs told him intensely, before he backed off, realizing Tony needed a little space.

Gibbs motioned to the TV McGee and he had brought over from Tony’s place. “Yours can go upstairs. And yeah, I let McGee lay cable and one of those router doohickeys so you can have e-mail here. He even brought your laptop over. Fact is you’re stuck here with me until you’re a lot stronger.”

"Thanks, for letting McGee set you up in preparation for me. I know I haven't seemed very grateful, but I am. It's just a lot to take in." Tony took Gibbs at his word that nothing would happen until he was stronger. He knew he wasn't anywhere near physically ready for a relationship, and not even really emotionally yet.

"I'm going to look good anywhere I am. Do you have bedding that will enhance my grey skin? That could be kind of nice, something that matches my sweats would work as well."

“It’s okay, DiNozzo. It’s fine. We all wanted to help.” Gibbs stood, bringing the food and drinks back into the kitchen. Without saying much he brought the TV upstairs and plugged the cable in where McGee had labeled it on the TV. It sat on the bureau and was the perfect height for Tony and Gibbs nodded in satisfaction as the thing turned on and the stations changed without any problem.

He tugged the sheets back and returned to Tony. “Come on. Gonnna take you upstairs, the TV is working fine and if you want your laptop you can set that up. McGee says the wireless doodad should just connect you right away. You ready,” he finished, mussing Tony’s hair gently.

"Yeah, think I am. Might be a little more worn out then I thought I'd be." He was exhausted and just sitting up was becoming a chore. "This laying around thing is hard work. TV and maybe a nap would be a good idea. I know I'm not a great guest, but I'll be better later tonight, or tomorrow."

“You’re okay, DiNozzo,” Gibbs assured, pulling the other man to his feet. “Don’t ya worry,” he whispered into Tony’s ear. “You’ll show me how appreciative you are later.”

"That sounds like a lot more fun then laying around watching TV. I look forward to showing you just how good I can be boss."

Gibbs leaned in close, stroking a hand through Tony’s hair again. “Sounds like a promise. You get better and you show me, Tony. I can wait.”

Chapters: 1

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