This is it ... the last chapter!
It has been a wonderful ride writing this story. All your reviews and private messages have been very much appreciated. I love this story and am sad to see it come to an end...
So one last time ... please review and let me know you overall feelings about this story...
Thank you and stay tuned to my other stories...
A few days passed with the team taking turns to stay with Gibbs and Tony. Gibbs and Tony lapsed into a quiet, comfortable existence. Both had sessions with Dr Ashman at separate times and sometimes together.
A lot of Tony's childhood was revealed and he was forced to deal with it. Gibbs was also forced to deal with his feelings of failure regarding Shannon, Kelly, all his divorces and Tony. Sometimes it was difficult and sometimes easy. But throughout it, Gibbs made sure that Tony never doubted his love and respect and Tony never questioned Gibbs' affection, but accepted and revelled in it.
Today it seemed that Ashman and Ducky were on a mission. They had Tony and Gibbs sitting comfortably in the living room. Gibbs had a sponge ball in his hand and was flexing his injured shoulder muscles. The pain had intensified of late and that was good news as far as Ducky was concerned. Tony was allowed to keep his arm out of its sling for short periods of time too.
"Firstly, I must say that we are making real progress." Dr Ashman said.
"But?" Gibbs asked.
He knew what Ashman's was getting at and he wasn't looking forward to it.
"There is one more step that needs to be taken." Ashman said.
Tony looked from Ashman to Ducky. Ducky stood up and moved towards the basement door.
"No." Tony whispered.
"Anthony, Jethro, you need face this last obstacle. You can do it together or on your own." Ducky said.
Gibbs tried to calm his racing heart. He had not even looked in the direction of the basement since arriving home. He didn't want to go back down there. Then he looked at Tony and realised that he had to be strong and he had to initiate the action if Tony was ever going to get past this.
And if you breakdown in front of him? Gibbs's mind prodded.
"All you have to do today is open the door," Ashman said.
"Tomorrow you will open the door and step into basement. Each day you will venture further until you reach the bottom and face what happened there." Ducky said.
"We don't need to do that." Tony insisted, his voice trembling. "We are doing better now. We never have to face that. Never!"
Tony's fear spurred Gibbs' to life. He didn't want to end up having a panic attack and putting all they had achieved into jeopardy. He forced his breathing to ease up and released the sponge ball from his tight fist.
"Tony, we have to do this." He said.
He couldn't quiet hide the tension in his voice.
"No. I don't want to." Tony replied. "We don't have to do this now. We can wait."
"Tony, help me do this." Gibbs said.
"Boss?" Tony was stunned. Gibbs, the strongest men he knew was asking for his help.
"It has to be done and I'd be able to get through it with you at my side." Gibbs said.
"Please, Tony." Gibbs said his hand on Tony's forearm.
"Okay." Tony sighed placing his hand over Gibbs'. "Okay, let's do it."
Ducky and Ashman were touched by the exchange between Gibbs and Tony. Their love for each other was clear as day. Ducky knew that Gibbs was terrified. After all he had spent many a night helping Gibbs deal with the after effects of the nightmares that still plagued him. Strangely, Tony hadn't had nightmares. After accepting Gibbs' forgiveness Tony seemed to be settling down and even smiled occasionally.
But right now his face was pale, his hands shook and his eyes were haunted.
"Ready?" Gibbs asked, standing up.
Tony nodded. This was going to be tough, but they would do it together.
Ducky stepped out of the way as Gibbs moved forward, reaching his hand to the door knob of the basement door. Looking at Tony Gibbs whispered, "It will be okay."
Tony just nodded again.
He watched as Gibbs turned the knob halfway. When it seemed like Gibbs wasn't going to turn it further Tony placed his hand over Gibbs' and turned the knob the rest of the way. He gave the door a shove and let it fly open.
Both men stood still, each waiting for the other to take the first step. Gibbs was shaking now and Tony realised that he would have to take on the stronger role.
"I've got your back, Boss." Tony said as he took first one step and then another, pulling Gibbs onto the top step of the basement stairs.
Gibbs' breathing changed as he looked down at the basement. He expected to be assaulted by the smell of blood and bourbon. He expected the ground and rigging to be stained with his blood. He expected the bullwhip to be on the ground, threatening to swing through the air again.
Tony was similarly surprised. He expected to hear Gibbs's shouts of pain, his pleading voice begging Tony to stop, his sobs. Instead, there was a beautiful silence.
And the basement was spotlessly clean. The rigging of the boat was gone. Hell the entire skeleton of the boat was gone. There was new rigging lining a far wall. On the other side there was a couch, with colourful pillows scattered in it. Two throws covered the backrest of the couch. A plasma screen TV covered the wall a few feet in front of the couch. A DVD player lay below it and below that was a collection of over 40 DVD's.
Gibbs and Tony sighed simultaneously. Then they looked at each other and smiled. Their smiles turned to laugher. Then their laugher turned to tears.
"I'm so sorry Boss." Tony sobbed, hugging Gibbs tightly.
"Shhh." Gibbs replied, hugging Tony as they collapsed on the top step of the basement stairs.
They cried together for a long moment, each reliving the horror of the past and each accepting that it was truly over.
"Jethro, Anthony, are you okay?" Ducky asked as he and Ashman walked around them and came to stand in front of them.
Gibbs wiped his eyes as did Tony.
"Better." He said, looking at Tony.
"Yeah, better." Tony concurred.
Later that day, Gibbs and Tony fell asleep on the couch in the basement, a Magnum PI DVD playing softly in the background.
Abby, Ziva, Jenny, McGee and Ducky stood in front of them, various food items in their hands. Ziva put the pasta down and reached for the throw. She covered Tony, as Jenny covered Gibbs. Both man stirred but neither woke up. Ducky suggested the rest of the team head back upstairs to have supper.
As he turned to follow the team out he heard Tony murmur, "Love you, Gibbs... Dad..."
Gibbs sighed, "Me to... Son... Me too."
Ducky smiled, relieved because everything would be okay now.