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With a Little Help From My Friends (Sequel to 'Help, I Need Somebody')

by: BuffyAngel68 (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #2
Chapters: 065 Word Count: 103164
Rating: ADULT
Warning(s): Disturbing Imagery or Content, Violence
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto, Timothy McGee, Ensemble, Caitlyn (Kate) Todd, Tobias Fornell, Gerald, Kelly Gibbs, Jeanne Benoit
Category(ies): Action/Adventure, Angst/Drama, Established Relationship, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, New Character, Romance
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo, Abby/McGee, Ducky/Gerald
Episode(s): 3-12 Boxed In
Summary: As Gibbs and Tony grow closer, an outside force is working to destroy the younger man. Meanwhile the rest of the team find their joy in varied and interesting places...

Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65

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14

With a Little Help 14/?

------------------

TUESDAY 4:30 P.M. :

The day had passed almost normally for Tony, as far as a workday went, which was a great relief for him. The only difference was that he hadn't seen Gibbs since the moment they'd gotten in. The older man had dropped Tony off in the bullpen and promptly vanished, claiming he had some leads to run down concerning the case they'd taken on the day before.

Forcing faint anxiety and niggling worry to the back of his mind, Tony spent most of the morning going over cold cases with Tim. He praised him for the work on the one he'd solved while Tony was gone, making the younger man blush and grin, which led to good natured teasing that finally reassured Tim everything would eventually get back to normal. Lunch was spent with Max and Abby, laughing and teasing over old stories, remembering and missing Kate and telling the newcomer about her, and stuffing themselves with as much junk food as they could hold.

Mid-afternoon, he had enjoyed another quiet tea-time with Ducky and was now waiting patiently in Abby's lab for her to be done with a test, as she had eagerly said yes to driving him home. She, of course, knew exactly where their boss had spent the majority of his day, but was doing a masterful job of playing along and hiding the secret she had worked so hard to help Gibbs arrange.

"I can't believe he just never came back." She lied smoothly. "This case is a weird one, I'll admit that... but it shouldn't have kept him out this long. Maybe he caught a break..."

"Hope so. Weird how? Gibbs wouldn't talk about it last night."

Intently studying images of the car, Abby answered distractedly.

"Somebody ran a Navy lieutenant off the road and beat the crap out of him... but didn't take anything or even ask him any questions. The guy just forced the officer's car into a tree, punched him in the head and took off again."

"Oookay. That would definitely qualify for the WTH files."

Smiling sweetly, Abby turned and patted Tony on the cheek.

"Good for you, Tony. I would've made it an F instead of an H."

"F... Abby!"

"Hey, like Popeye said, I am what I am and that's all what I am." She retorted lightly, facing her computer screen.

"Yeah, but with your brain you don't have to use that kind of language."

"Technically I didn't use it, I abbreviated it."

"Close enough. Popeye would've passed out if he heard his woman talk like that."

Abby turned back around and leaned on the counter, a scornful expression on her face.

"Please! Olive Oyl was nothing but a player. All she gave him and Bluto were head-games. Popeye deserved *so* much better."

"Yeah? Like who?"

"I always wanted to see him with Betty Boop. She would've raised his main-sail, guaranteed..."

Tony shook his head and backed away, palms out.

"Changing subject."

"What? Sailors like that kinda girl, don't they?"

"How do I get myself into these conversations..."

"Then again, the way he and Bluto fought all the time, you never know. Anger like that can be a sign of a really bad break-up... or maybe they're both denying how they really feel about each other and going after the same girl gives them a reason to fight and release all the UST in an acceptable manly fashion! Where does the spinach come in, though..."

"I swear, Abs, one word about natural male enhancement and I'm walking home."

Abby crowed and slapped him on the shoulder.

"Way to go, Tony! I knew something about you was twisted besides your shorts!"

"Taxi!"

"Relax... sheesh, I'm just trying to loosen you up a little, big bro."

"Well, it backfired. I can never, *ever* watch that cartoon again."

"Sure you can. Now you and Gibbs can just use it as fantasy material..."

"Abby!"

"Okay, okay, the test results can wait 'till morning. Let's get you home." She acceded finally, praying Jethro'd had enough to complete his preparations.

-----------------------

5:15

As she dropped him off, Abby kissed his cheek and apologized sincerely for letting her enthusiasm get out of hand.

"I don't mean it, you know that. It's just... me."

"I know, Abs." He told her, returning the peck, but dropping it on her brow. "It's okay. Wasn't all you. I wanna be with Gibbs so much, but I've never done this before, have no idea what, why or how... it makes me a little sensitive about the subject."

"Hey, you and bossman go at your own pace. Slow and steady's the only way to get it right and make sure it stays that way." she advised gently.

"Slow and steady... yeah, try and tell that to my body... certain parts of it, anyway."

"Oww. Been a while, huh?"

"Most of my talk... is just that. My heart's had its idea of the perfect one for me for a long, long time. I kept trying to go in a different direction, but it felt so wrong, so much like betrayal... it was always a disaster."

Abby reached out and touched his shoulder.

"He was doing the same thing. Point is, you both wised up and fixed it. He's got your heart and you've got his. When you're ready to give up your bodies too, it'll happen, but you can't rush it. Pressure can be death to just-born love."

"Stamp that on my forehead, willya? Every time I look in a mirror I'll be reminded..."

"I'll think about it. Go on, get in there." She chuckled, pushing him lightly. As he got out, rounded the car and began the trek up to the house, she tossed out one last piece of sage advice. "And if he's not home yet, don't you dare skip dinner! Even if it's only chips or crackers, you eat something."

"Who, me?"

"You hate eating alone and if I didn't kick you in the butt, you'd think it was okay to go hungry 'till breakfast tomorrow."

Tony's eyes narrowed.

"Should I be scared you know me that well?"

"Oh yeah..." She told him, laughing as she drove away. Tony watched her go with a small grin then turned back and walked to the house. Focused on what Abby had told him, he opened the door and stepped inside, but was stopped immediately by a sound on the floor that confused him. Looking down, he realized he'd kicked a small block of wood with a sheet of paper attached to it. More and more bewildered, he leaned over and picked up the object, staring at it in wonder. Glued to the paper side by side were two white candy conversation hearts, and it wasn't until he read them that he began to understand.

TO NEW LOVE

Glancing up, Tony carefully studied what he could see of the house in the last of the daylight streaming through the windows. The kitchen seemed to be the only place where a light had been turned on. He was tempted to go straight there, but his curiosity about the game Jethro was playing, and his motives for doing it, won out. Still holding his first clue, Tony walked a few feet and picked up the next one. Three hearts this time, purple, pink and white, respectively.

AND TO HOPE

He was halfway to the kitchen now and suddenly realized he was grinning from ear to ear. Rising out of his crouch, he swiftly moved to retrieve his next message, laughing out loud when he saw the words, even as he grimaced at the garish color combination; pink and orange.

MY MAN URA 10

The last block of wood brought Tony to the threshold between the living room and kitchen. Though he hadn't thought it was possible, the final candy sentiment widened his smile even more. Two white, followed by a pink heart bearing a smiley face.

KISS ME ANGEL

This time Tony straightened up slowly, certain that something much more exciting than a block of wood was waiting for him. Arms crossed over his chest, Gibbs greeted his lover with a single word and a restrained grin, the joy shining from his eyes more than making up for what his face didn't reveal.

"Well?"

Dropping his armload of unusual gifts onto the counter, Tony launched himself at the older man, wrapping both arms around his neck and claiming his lips in a fierce kiss that left them both flushed and struggling for air by the time they parted. For a long time, Tony's entire world consisted of Jethro's eyes and the desperate, passionate love he saw there, but a tantalizing aroma soon began to tease the young man's nostrils and he turned his head toward the table to find it loaded down with pizza, cheese-covered breadsticks, hot-wings and soda.

"Wow... " he breathed, looking back to Gibbs. "... okay, you got your kiss, do I get to know what this is all about?"

"Guess I'm not the only one who had too much on his mind to remember what day it is."

"It's Tuesday. We're celebrating Tuesdays now? I can totally deal with that..."

"Now I know how Ducky felt the other day..." Gibbs mumbled, rolling his eyes a little. "I should've said the *date*, not the day. What *date* is it?"

"Uh... hang on, I know this... yeah, it's February f... fourteenth. Oh. Oh damn..."

"Happy Valentine's Day, love." Gibbs said, placing a briefer kiss on Tony's mouth.

"Shit... I'll get you a present tomorrow, I swear... I can't believe I forgot..."

"Take it easy. Ducky had to dope-slap me to make me remember and if Abby hadn't helped out, none of this would've happened. As far a present goes, you're alive, you gladly put up with a moody, coffee-addicted, by-the-book Marine... and you're willing to give him the chance to make up for all the time he wasted. That's the best gift I ever got, bar none."

" 'Ro... hell, you're getting way too good at this 'expressing feelings' thing..." Tony replied hoarsely, hugging Jethro again. "Gonna have me blubbering in my Pepsi and watering it down..."

"Better the soda than what's for dessert."

Tony pulled back, grinning.

"Yeah? Hint, maybe?"

"Not a chance. C'mon. Let's tear into the food before it gets ice cold."

For the next hour, Gibbs reveled in seeing Tony eat his fill, and more, of the food in front of him. He had worried that the younger man might always wrestle with the changes in himself since his breakdown, not able to put aside the 'before' picture and fully, comfortably settle into the reality of living in 'after'. The Tony sitting across from him, however, seemed relaxed, chatty and joyful and that perception eased Gibbs' anxiety, at least for the moment.

Once he'd stowed the leftovers and the minimal clean up had been dispensed with, Gibbs returned to the table with a plastic grocery bag and set it in front of Tony, who grinned and folded his hands.

"It *is* for you... just in case you were wondering. You can open it now." Gibbs laughed, but it died when Tony only then reached for his gift, as if he really had been waiting until the other man granted him permission. His instinct and training told him that Tony's reaction to his present was learned behavior, probably with negative reinforcement, and had gradually developed into something automatic that he wasn't even aware of anymore. He also knew that when one such trait showed up, there were often many more lurking in the shadows, and those weren't likely to be as innocuous as what he'd just witnessed. These thoughts disturbed Gibbs deeply, but, not wanting to spoil Tony's moment, he pushed them away. Later in the week he'd find some time alone and contemplate whether he could help on his own, or if Lewiston would have to be informed.

Grinning, he turned away for a moment to hide what he'd been thinking, forced his mind back to the kitchen and enjoyed watching a stunned Tony pull out his first present.

"Lindor truffles... Gibbs, this is..."

"Top of the line. According to Abby, at least. She said to get the variety pack, 'cause she wasn't sure which kind you liked the best. Guess she knew I'd be clueless."

"You've never had one?"

Gibbs shook his head and Tony immediately jumped up, but after a moment, he sat down again, his face a study in anger and frustration.

"What?"

"I want us to share one. The outside shell is thick... I can't just break it with my fingers. Not without making a mess..."

"You have nothing to be ashamed of, Tony. I told you that. Matching something I can do to something you can't manage yet... that's what love's about. You pick the candy you want and I'll cut it."

Tony hesitated, obviously not much appeased, but eventually he opened the bag, chose a dark blue wrapped piece and handed it off. Gibbs returned a few moments later with the two halves on a napkin.

"God, I can't wait for tomorrow. I wanna get this off my back so bad..."

"And you will. You gotta realize it may not happen all in one session, though. It's not like this fear just showed up outta the blue. It's got a source an' you'll have to deal with that. too."

"I know. I'm just dying to get started." Tony said, his eyes on the floor. Abruptly, he looked up at Gibbs, expression transformed from extreme aggravation into remorse. "Tonight has been great, totally amazing. I'm not saying I want it to end, you know that, right..."

"Hush. Eat your chocolate." Jethro admonished softly, holding the tid-bit up to Tony's lips. The younger man sighed, relaxed and opened his mouth to accept the treat, after which he returned the favor. Both were quiet until the luscious, high-quality morsels had utterly dissolved. "Holy... that's good. Really good." Gibbs commented at last, licking his lips to see if any trace remained undiscovered. "Better than I've had since I was overseas."

"Well..." Tony replied, examining his fingers in vain for a last smear he could lick off, "... the company *is* Swiss. At least I think so. The Swiss make some of the best chocolate in the world."

"Yeah, they do. One more?"

"I couldn't. I'm so full right now I'm pretty sure one more sip of Pepsi would put me in the E.R..."

"How about you check out what else is in the bag, then?"

"More?"

"See for yourself."

Tony opened the bag again and pulled out an envelope with his name written on the front in Gibbs' familiar, neat handwriting. The card inside brought laughter, but also made tears threaten.

" 'Love doesn't care if you make lousy coffee... ' I do not! You'd rather drink mine than the office stuff and you know it!"

"Yeah, yeah, just keep reading."

" 'Love will still kiss you if you have the flu.' It hasn't happened yet so we'll have to wait and see on that. ' Love moves the driver's seat back if you need it, tells you to wear sunblock and cares if you do. We may not have time for intimate dinners, sometimes we'll make do with a night of T.V., but love will stand by you, defend you, remind you... you're never alone in this world; you have me.' "

Tony slung one arm around his neck and kissed Jethro's cheek lingeringly and Gibbs leaned into the touch, cherishing the choked words whispered in his ear a few seconds later, "How'd the hell did I get so lucky?"

"Same way I did, probably. Can you handle one more thing?"

"Don't know. I'm barely holding onto my dignity as it is... but I'll give it a shot."

"In the bag... I wanna read this one, though, okay?"

"Good. Not sure I could without breaking down."

Retrieving the final item in the bag, Gibbs showed Tony a lovely wood frame with a certificate behind the glass panel. The paper was clearly a commercial, store-bought product, but Tony couldn't have cared less. The words were so perfect, so geared to the two of them, that Jethro might as well have typed it up himself. Afraid he wouldn't be able to hold back his tears this time, Tony stood and moved around behind the chair where Gibbs sat, causing the older man to twist and look up at him in confusion.

"I have to do it this way. Someday you'll get to see me lose it and bawl like a baby... just not now. I've got work to do in therapy... I'm not ready yet."

Gibbs nodded and looked back to the frame, steeling himself for getting through the recitation without his voice breaking.

" 'I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I'm with you.
I love you not only for what you've made of yourself, but for what you're making of me.
I love you for passing over all my foolish and weak traits that you can't help but see.
I love you for drawing out into the light my beauty, that no one else had looked quite far enough to find."

Swallowing to clear his throat, battling valiantly to be stronger than the emotions that were flooding through him, Gibbs turned all the way around in his chair, intending to speak to his lover, but Tony had vanished. Rising, Jethro strode to the archway into the living room. He could just make out Tony sitting on the couch, facing away from him. "Take all the time you need. I'll, uh... I'll be downstairs."

He thought Tony nodded, but in the dark it was nearly impossible to be sure. He knew it didn't really matter. Tony still needed space and privacy, so Gibbs went down to the basement to continue work on the project he'd begun earlier that day.

------------------------------

TBC........

Card and certificate are real, though I changed the words just a bit on both.

(c) hallmark licensing, inc.
(c) kalan VAW 152

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