Can't Forget To Eat

by: slashscribe (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 3014
Rating: TEEN
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Episode Related, First Time, Fluff, Hurt/Comfort, Romance
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Summary: Tony has spent a lot of time observing Gibbs over the years, and lately he's noticed a few changes that make him worry.

Author Notes: IMPORTANT: SPOILERS for end of Season 8 and episode 9x01

Also, this was written for a prompt by dietpunkfics: "Gibbs keeps forgetting to eat and Tony tries to fix that."

Big thank you to kesterpan for the beta!

Chapter 1

Tony's used to sitting in the bullpen and seeing Gibbs stride in, coffee in hand, completely focused on whatever his next task is. Over the years, though, he's seen him change a bit; he's seen a few new wrinkles, and he's seen his hair get a little more silver, and he's seen that atrocious mustache that he likes to forget ever happened. However, some things have stayed the same, like Gibbs' no-nonsense attitude and how fit he always is, and Tony's gotten used to the way his posture and general attitude automatically demand respect and attention from everyone in a 500-foot radius and the way the fabric of his jackets pulls across his shoulders, taut against his broad back.

That's why when Tony sees Gibbs walk into the bullpen and his jacket isn't quite pulling at all - it's bunching because it's too loose - he takes notice. Tony knows this jacket; Gibbs has had it for at least six years, and it's never fit like this before. He frowns and watches Gibbs closely, frown deepening when Gibbs drinks the last half of his coffee in one long gulp, tosses the empty cup into the trash, and then glares in his direction when he catches him not working.

Tony goes back to work, of course, because he's not stupid and he knows that if Gibbs says work, he should work, but that doesn't mean he's not thinking about it - and they're not happy thoughts at all.

--

The next time the team has lunch, Gibbs isn't there. Tony's not sure where he is; knowing Gibbs, he's probably at home sanding something in his basement while he mulls over the case, but he really could be anywhere. It's what Tony had the most trouble with when he was team leader - where exactly was he supposed to go when he'd delegated all of the important tasks and there was nothing left to do but wait and think?

As he bites into his sandwich and gets over the initial bliss of perfectly smoked ham, he wonders what Gibbs is eating for lunch. So when Gibbs returns from wherever it is he goes (sometimes Tony wonders if he has a secret hiding place at NCIS where he watches a video feed of the team working so that he can appropriately time his grand entrances and he may or may not have looked for it while Gibbs was in Mexico), Tony casually mentions how great his sandwich was, but it gets overlooked because Gibbs gets a call, and then they're grabbing guns and badges and heading for the door.

And when it's dinner time, Tony's eating his miso soup and thinking about how amazing it feels when he's hungry and he can feel the hot liquid making its way down to his stomach, filling him up with warmth, and he thinks about Gibbs again, and wonders what he's eating for dinner.

But Gibbs isn't there, and when he finally returns and sits at his desk, lines in his face deep with stress, Tony knows better than to speak to him because he'd just get snapped at, so he finishes up his report and heads home.

--

He notices it more and more every day, and when he says something to Ziva and McGee, he's not surprised that they haven't noticed. For badass federal agents, Tony can't help but think that sometimes they miss the forest for the trees.

When he orders lunch that day, he gets a bag of chips with his sandwich and doesn't eat it. He's saving it for Gibbs.

Gibbs comes in with what Tony's sure has to be his fifth coffee of the day, and there's no lunch in his hands, so Tony takes a deep breath (because giving Gibbs gifts is not an easy task, but someone has to do it) and heads to his desk.

"Hey, Boss, eat lunch today?"

Gibbs isn't paying much attention to him because he's busy looking at his computer like it has offended him, but he glances at Tony quickly, confusion on his face. "Huh?"

"Have you-"

"McGee!" Gibbs says, ignoring Tony and twisting so he can see past where Tony's standing to McGee's desk. "Fix this damn thing!"

McGee scrambles out from behind his desk and stands next to Gibbs, and Tony is not jealous at the way McGee leans over him to use the computer mouse and click a few times and the way Gibbs is only inches away from him, and he is not jealous that Gibbs had ignored him in favor of calling McGee over.

McGee fixes whatever was wrong with it (knowing Gibbs, he'd typed a website address wrong, gotten an error page, and thought he got hacked by the FBI), and Gibbs thanks him - thanks him - and Tony is definitely not scowling at McGee and he definitely does not want to trip him on the way back to his desk.

"You want something, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asks, glancing up at him now that his computer's working again and McGee is back at his desk like a good little probie.

Tony stands a little straighter because he's the Senior Field Agent, after all, and Gibbs shouldn't be treating him like dirt while he treats the Probie like king. "Here," he says, tossing the chips onto Gibbs' desk. "You didn't eat lunch."

"Checking up on me?" Gibbs asks, but there's something like approval in his eyes and Tony's glad to see that he takes the bag and rips it open, popping one into his mouth and turning back to his computer rather than waiting for a response from Tony.

Tony's okay with that, though, because Gibbs is eating, and so he goes back to his desk with a smile and raises an eyebrow at McGee, who rolls his eyes.

Now he just has to get Gibbs to eat a real meal.

--

The next day, Tony knows Gibbs doesn't eat lunch or dinner again. He's frustrated and more than a little worried, and from a completely selfish standpoint, he'd much rather look at Gibbs when he fills his clothes out rather than wear them like a clothes hanger, and with Gibbs wilting away and McGee suddenly turning into a skeleton, Tony's beginning to feel a bit self-conscious of the fact that his bones don't stick out because it's apparently the new trend on his team.

So when they're done working and it's only 7:00, he leaves a few minutes after Gibbs does, picks up a pizza, and heads straight to Gibbs' house, not sure if it's the Italian in him that just wants to strap Gibbs to a chair and feed him the whole damn thing, or if it's something elseentirely, and he stops that line of thought before ideas of strapping Gibbs to a chair take over his brain.

The living room light is on when Tony pulls in the driveway, and he's surprised; usually Gibbs is in the basement with all the other lights out because he's a cheap bastard and he turns the light off every time he leaves the room so he can keep his electricity bill down. Tony figures that if he had to pay the alimonies Gibbs does, he'd probably do the same.

He grabs the pizza and gets out of the car, whistling as he heads up the walk. He likes going to Gibbs' house. Mostly, he just likes being with Gibbs, whether it's at work or not, but when it's not at work, Tony gets to see a different side of Gibbs - a human side of Gibbs, and he likes it (maybe too much).

Even though Tony had eaten a light dinner at work, the smell of the pizza's been enticing him the entire ride to Gibbs' house, and he can't wait for them to sit down and eat together. He doesn't get to eat with other people a lot unless it's at work, and he likes eating dinner with Gibbs; it feels like he's always imagined the closeness of family should feel, only even better than that.

When he walks in, Gibbs is sitting on the couch with his feet propped up on the coffee table reading a magazine, and he glances in Tony's direction.

"Oh," Tony says, brow furrowed, because that just wasn't what he'd been expecting. "Hey, Boss."

Gibbs sits up and sets his magazine down, pulling his glasses off without taking his eyes off Tony. "Pizza?" he asks. He looks surprised and pleased, and Tony's glad.

He sits next to Gibbs, setting the pizza on the coffee table.

"I expect you to eat at least half," Tony says firmly, eyes trained on the box as he pulls it open, glad he'd gotten the meat special for Gibbs because the man needs some protein. "You're getting too skinny. You look like Fornell could beat you in a fight with his pinky finger." Tony knows he's going too far, but he's worried, dammit, and he doesn't mind the headslap he gets in return for his comment. He's actually kind of glad to feel it; Gibbs' hand is still strong despite losing a few pounds, anyway.

"DiNozzo, if I eat half that pizza, I could beat Fornell by sitting on him," Gibbs says, but he's reaching for a piece and pulling it towards his mouth, and Tony feels so relieved when he sees Gibbs take a giant bite that he feels a tension he didn't realize he'd been carrying in his shoulders melt away and he reaches for a piece himself.

They eat in silence for a moment, and Tony sneaks a few glances at Gibbs now and again, watching him eat, and once he's halfway through his own piece, he knows he has to bring this up. "You've been forgetting to eat," he says. "That's not like you, Boss."

Gibbs shrugs, taking another bite. Tony's pleased to see that he's almost worked his way up to the crust, but that doesn't mean the issue is over. "Are you sick or something?" Tony asks, worry creeping into his voice.

"Sick of mother hens," Gibbs grunts, and Tony's not really surprised.

"I'm serious," Tony says, and it must come across in his voice just how serious he is because Gibbs turns to him, eyes scanning his face, and then sighs.

"Only lost a couple pounds, Tony," Gibbs says. His voice sounds kind of gentle, and Tony likes it despite his worry.

"All your clothes are too big," Tony points out. "Your jackets are all bunchy and your belt's a notch tighter."

"You pay that much attention to my belt?" Gibbs asks. He sounds amused, and Tony scowls.

"I'm an investigator," Tony says. "I'm trained to be aware of my surroundings," he adds, and an urge to keep expounding on this overtakes him but he resists so that he can stay on track; Gibbs knows him way too well sometimes. "Don't change the subject. Why aren't you eating?"

Gibbs shrugs again. "Just forget sometimes," he says. "That's all." He shoves the last bite into his mouth and reaches for another piece, looking pointedly at Tony as he does so.

Tony ignores the look because it's going to take a lot more than a few slices of pizza to fix this. "Are you sure there's not something going on? I mean, there's been a lot-"

"Tony," Gibbs says. "Don't make it more than it is."

Tony frowns, because he doesn't think he's overreacting at all. He's finished his slice of pizza by now, and he doesn't grab another one, not yet. He's still worried. "You gotta eat, Boss," he says.

Gibbs looks at him. "Tony," he says. "Stop worrying."

Tony sits up straighter. "Don't tell me not to worry," he says. "You're not eating, Gibbs. Of course I'm worried. That's not normal."

Gibbs sets his pizza down in the box, grabbing a napkin and wiping his hands off before turning to Tony. "Been a lot going on at work," he says, and his voice almost sounds soothing. "The new SacNav's putting a lot of pressure on Vance."

"Since when have you given a shit about bureaucracy?" Tony asks. He doesn't buy that for a second.

Gibbs looks away for a second, then turns back to Tony. There's something on his face that Tony's not really used to seeing, something open and vulnerable, and Tony swallows because it looks good on him - but he's still worried, worried about whatever it is Gibbs is about to say and why he's losing weight.

"Had a lot on my plate," Gibbs says. "Mike, P2P - it was a lot," he adds. He looks away for a minute, scrubbing a hand over his face, and then turns back, looking at Tony so intensely that Tony is taken aback and he can feel his heartbeat quickening. "And you," Gibbs says. "I was worried about you. First the assignment, then -"

Gibbs' voice breaks off, and Tony doesn't think he's capable of replying because he's so shocked that Gibbs was this worried about him so he waits, not sure exactly how to take this.

"When they called me and told me you were in the hospital, it made me realize how close I was to losing someone else who's important to me," he says, and Tony blinks, heart pounding fast now.

"Still here, Boss," Tony says, and his voice is hoarser than he'd intended it to be. Gibbs' shoulders are a bit hunched, and something about the fact that Gibbs has shown more vulnerability in the past five minutes than Tony's seen in years is getting to him, and it's all he can do not to grab Gibbs in a hug - but Gibbs isn't a hugger, and Tony knows better.

That's why it comes as a complete surprise when Gibbs reaches out and squeezes Tony's knee, and Tony stares at that hand, that weathered, strong, calloused hand, at the knuckles that have gripped guns and worn wedding bands, at the fingers that have sanded boats and twisted necks and petted his little girl's hair, at the spots born from too many days in the sun and the silvery hairs near his wrist and the sturdy tendons trailing down from his knuckles, and with a rush of hope he reaches out and covers Gibbs' hand with his own.

For some reason he feels shaky and nervous and he's not exactly sure why, and he's sure Gibbs notices. He can feel Gibbs looking at him, but he can't bring himself to look back because he's afraid of what he'll see so he keeps his eyes trained on their hands, and when Gibbs' hand shifts underneath his, he feels disappointment filling him because putting his hand on top of Gibbs' felt like putting himself on the line somehow, and he doesn't want it to be over yet - but Gibbs doesn't pull his hand away like Tony'd expected him to do. Instead, he turns his hand over so that it's palm up and laces his fingers with Tony's, and Tony is pretty sure he's stopped breathing, and when Gibbs squeezes his hand, he looks up, eyes wide, and feels his heart twist when Gibbs takes his hand away and uses it to cup Tony's cheek.

"Couldn't bear it if I lost you, too," Gibbs says, and Tony doesn't know what he's doing, but he leans into Gibbs' touch, wondering if this means what he thinks it means because he's pretty sure that it couldn't mean anything else.

"I'm not going anywhere," Tony repeats.

Gibbs quirks a smile, and so Tony does, too, because things like that are really infectious, especially when it's Gibbs doing the smiling. Before he knows what's happening, Gibbs' hand is putting pressure on his cheek, urging his face forward just a little bit, and that's all the encouragement Tony needs. He shifts closer to Gibbs, every second feeling like a torturous moment spent hanging off the edge of a cliff, waiting for someone to pull him up to safety - and then he's kissing Gibbs and it's like he's falling fast, grip on the ledge gone, only to land in soft underbrush in some kind of crazy world he never could have imagined in a millions years because this is Gibbs, and this is everything he's always dreamed of and he never really needed that hand to lift him up, anyway, not when he'd get this if he fell.

When they stop kissing, Gibbs doesn't pull away. He stays close to Tony, pressing a kiss against the corner of his mouth and his cheek and brushing his thumb along Tony's jaw, his breath warm against Tony's lips, his nose nudging Tony's.

Tony brings his hand up and rests it against the back of Gibbs' neck, the fine hairs at the bottom of Gibbs' head brushing against his fingers. Gibbs' skin is warm and Tony just wants to kiss him again, so he does, and it's like something he didn't know was broken is fixing itself, twisting into place inside of him.

It's a quiet moment, and while he'd imagined himself getting together with Gibbs in lots and lots of fantasies in his head, it had never happened quite like this, but somehow, this is better than anything he'd ever dreamed up - mostly because it's real. Gibbs kisses the corner of his mouth again and Tony feels like he's flying and then Gibbs pulls away, squeezing Tony's knee before picking up his abandoned piece of pizza.

"Can't forget to eat," Gibbs says, and he shifts closer to Tony, so close that their legs are pressing from hip to knee.

"No," Tony agrees, because that's all he can manage to say, and he rests his hand on Gibbs' knee, and when Gibbs turns his head to the side and smiles at him, Tony grins.

He'll remind Gibbs to eat and get him to fill his clothes out properly again because he meant what he said - he's not going anywhere. He's staying right by Gibbs' side where he belongs.

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