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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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15

With a Little Help 15/?

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Almost forty minutes later, Jethro released a quiet, relieved breath as he finally heard the upstairs door open. Now in t-shirt and sweatpants, Tony slowly padded down and dropped onto the second step from the bottom, elbows on his knees, hands clasped, head bowed. Laying aside the board he'd been measuring, Jethro moved to greet the younger man, one hand sliding into Tony's hair above his ear, the other settling flat on his stomach. Tony grinned, nodded and shifted back, leaning his elbows on the step above and behind him, and Jethro began to move his fingers in calm, random patterns over Tony's abdomen.

As he reveled in how wonderful the touches felt, Tony was abruptly hit with the revelation that he was starting to not only depend on this simple act of comfort and peacemaking, but on Gibbs knowing when he needed it and providing it without question. This implied absolute trust on his part and that thought momentarily frightened Tony beyond all reason, but he swiftly suppressed the instinctive response and shoved it aside for examination in Lewiston's office the next day. When Jethro spoke to him softly, Tony made himself relax and get his mind back on the topic he'd come down here to discuss.

"Hey."

"Hey. I, uh... can I explain? About upstairs?"

"You don't need to."

"I know. Want to."

"Okay. Go for it."

"I've never seen myself as really strong or focused... or brave. I wanted to be... more than you can imagine. The day we met it was like... damn, there's everything I'm not, all in one person. He can show me, teach me. I guess... I know it sounds so elementary school, but I sort of hero-worshiped you. I actually made a list... "What L.J. Gibbs Would Never Do." Number one, in big huge letters..."

"... was cry." Gibbs finished, gently beginning to use the hand in Tony's hair to mimic the one already in motion.

"Yeah. I watched you, paid close attention... you were the best example I'd ever had and I tried so hard to get it right. I thought I was pretty good at it. Even in that damned isolation unit, I used up a lot of energy joking and trying to *seem* tough... inside, I could feel myself slipping away, but I wasn't about to let it show. When I was stuck in that prison cell, you saw and heard so much more than I meant for you to. I kicked my own ass for days and days after that slip-up. Then Ducky came to see me at Bethesda. He told me you lost someone close to you and kinda went crazy... said you cried and cried. I yelled at him and accused him of lying... I just refused to believe what he was saying."

Gibbs' fingers hesitated for a second or two before resuming their soothing movements.

"He didn't lie."

"I get that now... sort of. I'm still hung up on the idea that I have to be a Vulcan in front of you, though. Mind over heart, all the time. It'll take a lot more sessions with Lewiston before I can move past that." Tony cautioned, sitting up and locking gazes with his lover. "I just wanted you to know I'm working on it... but until I get there, there'll probably be more times when I have to walk away. It doesn't mean I don't feel love or gratitude or happiness over something you did. It just means it's hard for me to face you when those emotions overwhelm me. Okay?"

"Okay. You know... when I get such a big reaction to a gesture that was so small and simple... I start to rethink all the rules and stupidity I've put between me and the idea that I could ever have love again."

"Small? You're kidding, right? Tonight was huge!"

Gibbs snorted.

"I bought some candy, picked up dinner from the pizza place and stapled paper to blocks of wood."

"For you. This was huge for you. I mean... your speed bumps must be as high as mine are."

"Some of 'em, yeah. How... specific did Ducky get, exactly?"

"He said it was your daughter you lost... but no details."

"Good."

"Huh?"

"You'll hear the story when I'm ready. Until I am, nobody else has the right to talk about it."

"He was trying to help, Jethro. He wanted to convince me you didn't belong on that pedestal I've put you on... that you were just a human being and I had the right to love you and expect love back. Don't jump all over him for that..."

"I won't. He and I are gonna have a serious conversation... but not a loud one. You feel like popping in a movie?"

"Maybe... tell me what you're working on first?"

"That's your last present. C'mere..." he said, offering his hand. Tony took it, rose to his feet and allowed himself to be led to the far corner of the basement.

"Shelves?"

"Close. Bookcases. Mosta your books are still in boxes 'cause there's no place to put em. Long as you're okay with it... I figured we'd turn that guest room into a library."

"Hmmm. And, uh... if one us gets pissed at the other and kicks him out of bed?"

"Couch. It's tradition."

"Yeah, well, three exes...I'll defer to the expert." Tony joked, keenly anticipating the crack to the skull and grinning through the mild aftershock.

"Movie, smartass."

"I'll make the popcorn." Tony announced, headed back up to the main floor of the house.

Though he knew it was an excellent sign and it made his hope soar, Jethro felt his part-time dad status required a token protest.

"Popcorn? I thought you were stuffed!"

"That was an hour ago! We can share another truffle before we brush our teeth..."

Gibbs thought for a few seconds then strode for the stairs as well

"Okay, but I get to kiss you with the chocolate still in your mouth this time..."

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

NOON THE FOOLOWING DAY: BETHESDA

"Tony, c'mon in. Sit, sit..." Lewiston urged, gesturing Tony to a chair before settling into his own "So did anything happen yesterday? Ah-hah, there's that goofy smile again. Tell me."

"Should I be scared that you're suddenly channeling a twelve year old girl?" Tony quipped

"More like my grandmother, the biggest yenta ever known to man. She'd be so proud that I've finally taken over the family business." He laughed.

'Don't waste your talent on us. Gibbs and I have already found each other and we're doing fine."

"Right now, maybe, but there are major issues left to overcome. You and Jethro both deserve fabulous, amazing, complete love and I'm going to make sure neither of you gets shortchanged. So what did he do last night?"

"Abby dropped me off at the house... I stepped in and I kicked something on the floor. Gibbs took a little square of wood, staple-gunned a sheet of paper onto it and glued two of those little conversation hearts to the paper. There were three more blocks laid out, leading me to the kitchen... he got all my favorites; pizza, hot-wings, cheese bread and root beer..."

"Okay, now we've got you eating on a regular basis, maybe it's time to talk about food choices."

"Do you wanna hear this or not?"

"Sorry. Go ahead."

"Thank you." Tony huffed lightly, only mildly irritated. Reaching down to retrieve the plastic grocery store bag he'd brought with him, he handed it over to his doctor. "I knew you'd wanna see, so I put everything in there. Except my chocolate. Nobody touches the Lindor truffles but me and Gibbs."

"Lindor? Wow... he knows the way to your heart."

"That was Abby's idea. And when it comes to the wow factor... check out the certificate. Just... don't read it out loud, okay? I had a little... problem when he did that for me last night."

"The weakness issue, I'm assuming. I'm sorry that happened."

"Yeah... me too. I talked to him about it, though. I explained the why's and wherefores... that I really do love him and I appreciated what he did, it's just sometimes..."

"I know. We'll put that on the schedule for Monday, alright?"

"Good. Thanks."

"URA 10... KISS ME ANGEL...that is so cute. Not at all what I'd expect from Gibbs."

"I know. He's really trying. He wants this to work as much as I do."

"Oh... oh, Tony." Lewiston exclaimed softly as he read the framed item to himself. "Doesn't get much more perfect than this, does it?"

"Nope. Look can we get to the phobia work, before just thinking about that certificate makes me start leaking at the eyes?" the younger man asked through a tense smile.

"I've seen it before. I've also seen how good breaking down can be for you. It's a big stress reliever."

"Later... maybe. I need to concentrate, not exhaust myself before I even get started. Let's work..."

"I understand." Lewiston acceded, slipping the frame back into the bag and returning it. "Okay. Sit back... get comfortable. Breathing slow and relaxed. Slow... that's good. Nice. Now close your eyes... and picture yourself in a movie theater, looking up at the screen. One long, blank, stretch of white canvas. Now it's slowly expanding. It gets bigger and bigger until it fills your whole field of vision... then it stops. The white is all you can see. Got it?"

"Yeah..."

"Great. Now I want to you think about male friends, colleagues you've had over the years, and pick a married one. See his wife's image on the screen and describe her to me."

Tony opened one eye, arched an eyebrow and questioned the other man silently. "Trust me." Lewiston stated calmly. Tony subsided, shut his eye again and went with the flow.

"My college buddy, Wesley Carter. His wife, Lisa, is really beautiful. Long dark hair in a ponytail, heart shaped face with this amazing smile... she's kind, sweet, funny and she really loves him."

"What's she wearing?"

"Last thing I saw a picture of her in. Cute little yellow sundress and a half apron. It was last Fourth of July and she was helping Wes grill burgers... I think. Been a long time since I got that letter..."

"Good work. Let the screen go blank again. Take a deep, easy breath or two... and bring up the board game Life for me. Can you see the cover?"

"The way it was when I was a kid, yeah. I only saw it at my friend's houses, so I'm not sure all the details are right..."

Lewiston fiercely resisted the urge to ask why Tony had no games of his own and moved forward with the technique.

"They don't have to be. Just tell me as much as you can bout how the game was played."

"You had these little flat plastic things that were supposed to look like cars. They had holes for sticking tiny pegs in when you got married and had kids..."

Lewiston took Tony through two more similar sounding items, pulling all the detail he could from his patient and working as slowly as he reasonably could given the limited time they had. At last, he went for the real point of the exercise, steeling himself for Tony's reaction.

"You're doing so well, Tony. One last one. Stay relaxed... breathe easy. Good. Now you're seeing a steak knife."

Tony paled and visibly jolted in his chair, but he kept his eyes closed and remained in the visualization, which drew a hopeful sigh from his doctor. "You can do this, Tony. I believe you can do this..."

"A... a steak knife? Just that? And I can wipe it out if I want?"

"Absolutely. Just give it a few seconds... long enough to describe it."

"God... okay. It... it's about two inches long... maybe a little more... dark wood handle, with gold rivets... and wavy, sort of... to fit your hand. It's got a... serrated blade. That's enough... I need to get rid of it! Now!"

"Go ahead. Blank the screen. Only white... white is all you can see."

When Tony began to relax, Lewiston added one last change. "Slowly, very slowly, the screen is filling up with colors. Swirling and shifting around each other..."

"Yeah... blue and green... and white. Deep water... ocean colors"

"Sounds wonderful. Stay there as long as you need to. Follow the patterns... let the colors ease all the tension out of you... all the fear... let it go... when you're ready to be back here in the office, slowly open your eyes."

Several minutes later, Tony finally felt able put aside the beautiful vision in his mind and return to reality. "Okay?"

"Better."

"You did an amazing job, Tony. Obviously, visualizing is easy for you."

"Right up to that last thing. Talk about giving a guy a false sense of security..."

"I meant the concept. In general, it seems to be a simple thing for you to do."

"I guess. I'm a visual person, mostly. Movies, T.V... a book has to bring up the pictures in my head right from the start, or I'll probably drop it before I'm halfway through. I liked that room... the theater. It worked."

"That's your place, now. Anytime you're stressed or need to calm down, you can close your eyes for a minute and go back there."

"I hope so. I'm gonna need it the next few weeks. Look, can we just... not talk for a little while? Have we got time for me to just sit here and chill out?"

"There's about fifteen minutes left. I'm fine with being quiet."

"Thanks." Tony responded, laying his head against the back of the chair and staring at the ceiling.

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2:00 MANHATTAN:

Seated in a narrow, uncomfortable chair that he knew was meant to discourage any visitor from staying too long, the big man nevertheless tried to both practice and project complete patience. Despite the minimal seating he provided for guests, his occasional employer had never been one to rush himself to please others. He would be finished when he decided he was and you simply had to wait him out. The chairs just meant that he didn't want you hanging around afterward.

Finally the slighter man behind the desk closed the folder of photographs, slid it back into the envelope it had come in and exchanged it for a thick packet from one of his file drawers.

"Excellent work, as usual."

"This is more than our standard fee. A good deal more." The other said carefully, examining the size of what of what he'd been handed.

"The excess is a the first installment on a retainer. I want you available exclusively to me for the next month or so. I assume you haven't changed your standards? You'll do whatever I tell you as long as the... incentive is provided beforehand?"

"That's still the way it works."

"Glad to hear it."

"Details?"

"You'll receive them when and if it becomes necessary. I have a bit of reconnaissance of my own to do first. Then I'll know more."

"Very good, sir. I'll be leaving now, if it's alright?"

"Yes. You're dismissed."

Rising to his feet, the man turned smartly and exited the office, already making plans for an extended stay in the area.

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

TBC........

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