The light hurt his eyes and he squinted at the two blurry copies of Gibbs, trying to mentally force them to combine into one seriously scowling likeness. Two Gibbs were more than he could handle right now. "I thought they called Abby."

"They did. I just happened to be there at the time."

"I wanted Abby," protested Tony, trying to not make the whining sound like ... whining.

"Well, she was in the middle of something, so you got me."

Gibbs bent down and peered at the shiner rapidly swelling Tony's right eye shut. He looked reproachfully over at Rufus who whimpered in the corner where someone had tied him to the treatment room's supply cabinet.

"Don't look at him that way. It wasn't his fault."

"Stairs," surmised Gibbs, lightly touching Tony's wrapped wrist. "You fell down the fucking stairs."

"Well, grace never was one of my attributes. Ask Todd."

"You're moving."

Tony tried to clear his aching head. "What?"

"You're moving," repeated Gibbs.

"I've got a two-year lease."

"Then you're breaking it." Gibbs caught himself starting to push back the lock of hair curling drunkenly over Tony's forehead and quickly lowered his open hand. "Better it than you."

Lending his grip, he let Tony pull himself up. "They said you can go, but just take it easy. Sit there while I untie Rufus."

He turned back to see DiNozzo holding himself upright with a white-knuckled grip on the gurney.

"What part of 'sit still' escaped you, DiNozzo?"

He wrapped Tony's free hand around the harness, feeling Rufus instinctively position himself to give the swaying body stability. Then with a gentle prodding he managed to separate the tightly clasped fingers from the gurney frame.

"Let go, Tony. I've got you." When DiNozzo finally stopped swaying he took the first step toward the door. "Tonight you're coming home with me."

"You've got stairs," mumbled Tony.

"And I'd advise you to avoid them."

"Gibbs."

"It's got a first floor master bedroom, you know that."

"That would be your bedroom, boss."

Gibbs tucked an arm around the younger man's waist, ignoring the protest.

"Not tonight."


"How come you never told me your folks were rich?"

"How come you never told me, like ...anything," countered Tony.

"Okay," Gibbs straddled the kitchen chair. "What do you want to know?"

"What's with the ex-wives?"

"Same reason you're here." Gibbs ducked his head. "I'm a sucker for a pretty face."

Tony sighed. "I didn't say anything about answering honestly, did I?

Gibbs took a reflective sip of his coffee. "No, you didn't."

"I'll never learn."

"No, you won't." He tried not to let the confused look on Tony's face cause him to reveal any more than he had already. "So, the folks are rich?"

"Wealthy. They would never say 'rich'."

"So, what are you doing sitting my kitchen?"

"Ah," Tony looked around the small but tidy room. "I wasn't exactly keen on following in my father's footsteps."

"You talk to them?"

"Mother's Day. I call once a year on Mother's Day."

"She talk to you?"

"She tells me that if I just give up these stupid ideas about being in law enforcement I'll be welcomed back with open arms."

"Would you?"

Tony looked down at Rufus who was busy draping himself over his shoes. The large, furry body hid the new brace that strengthened his left leg.

"With a wheelchair looming in my future? That wasn't in my father's plan either." DiNozzo squinted in the direction of the small window over the sink. "You have kids with any of those ex-wives, boss?"

"Nope."

Tony picked up his own cup. "Good choice."

(tbc)