Title: With A Little Help From My Friends 1/?

Author: BuffyAngel68

Rating FRM - FRAO for slash content, violence, language and dark themes

Summary: As Gibbs and Tony grow closer, an outside force are working to destroy the younger man. Meanwhile the rest of the team find their joy in varied and interesting places...

Disclaimer: Don't own them, never did, not making fundage off them. I have to believe, however, that they'd like my plane of existence much better than the one they live on under DPB's rule...

Notes: As usual, a shorty to start. Won't last, you know that...


Sunk deep into his living room sofa, staring at his hands where they curled around a rapidly cooling mug of coffee, Jethro contemplated the unexpected twists and turns his life had taken. Things had slowly begun to shift and alter around him, until very little seemed familiar to him anymore. Once that feeling would have driven him crazy in a very short amount of time, as he was not someone who easily tolerated change in his environment or his routine, but now Gibbs found himself eagerly awaiting the next surprise, the next new element Tony's presence would add to his days and nights.

After a short period of adjustment and awkwardness, both men had settled in well and were comfortable with each other. Tony was smiling more and more often and Gibbs had discovered that, willing or not, first cup of coffee or not, he was returning most of the grins and smirks thrown his way. The only problem was sleep. Gibbs found it perverse and weirdly ironic that since Tony's restless night and subsequent cathartic breakdown at the office, the younger man was consistently logging a solid seven to eight hours a night and the older was the one who struggled to even close his eyes.

He spent time working on his boat, as always, but it was nearly complete, with only finish work left to do, and was no longer enough of a distraction to fill all the hours he needed it to. His beloved bourbon also called seductively whenever he descended the stairs, but with the very real possibility that Tony might suffer nightmares or simply need someone to listen, Gibbs was now strictly avoiding alcohol past a certain hour of the evening. Therefore, no matter how much he wished it were still an option, he was visiting his basement less and less.

Instead, to his chagrin, he kept surrendering to a desire he knew he should fight, one that he was struggling to make sense of. Every second or third night, he slipped into the guest room and spent an hour or two watching the man he loved sleep. The measured rise and fall of Tony's breathing, the stillness that indicated how deeply he slept, seemed to calm and reassure Gibbs, after which he was able to retreat to his own bed and find rest.

Sighing, Gibbs rose and walked his nearly full mug unerringly through the dark house directly to the kitchen. Again, without the need for any light, he found the sink, sent the dark liquid down the drain and left the mug to be washed in the morning. Hesitating, hands braced on the counter, he tried to convince himself that what he was doing was creepy, wrong and the next best thing to stalking, but the arguments never made it past the logical half of his brain. The other half over-ruled all other opinions, insisting that regularly checking on Tony, who remained physically and emotionally brittle, was an act of love. It also reminded him that, even though tomorrow was Friday, it wasn't 'casual Friday' in any way shape or form, he needed sleep to keep it from looking as if he thought it was and there was only one way he was going to get it.

Unfortunately, as he moved soundlessly to stand just inside Tony's room Gibbs received a surprise and felt heat rise up his neck to stain his face. As a fully awake Tony spoke quietly to him, Jethro swore under his breath, grateful that the physical evidence of his shame couldn't be seen.

"Look... this is the third night this week. I'm not about to run downstairs and christen one of your sharp tools with any of my bodily fluids, okay? I promise not to even spit on the cement floor, so you can stop hovering."

Gibbs breath suddenly froze in his chest and his heart stuttered briefly. The thought had never passed through his mind, but now he had to fight down a powerful urge to run off and lock the cellar door. Getting his emotions and pulse back under control, he finally made himself face the true reason he'd been sneaking into Tony's room. When he knew he could speak without stumbling over the terrifying words, he gave that truth to the other man.

"That's not what it's about. I trust you and Dennis Lewiston too much to think that either of you made a bad decision about you coming home. This... what I've been doing... I'm not pushing for anything, I swear. I just can't sleep. I think I need... can I just lay down with you? I have to be here, that's all..."

Now it was Tony's turn to momentarily stop breathing. Once his brain processed the stunning admission Gibbs had just made, the younger man drew in a slow, cautious amount of air and responded guardedly.

"Sure. That... that'd be fine."

"I didn't ask if you wanted whipped cream on your apple pie, DiNozzo. This is important."

Tony considered turning over to look at Jethro, but stopped himself, sensing that being eye to eye might kill the potential of the conversation, which was the last thing he wanted. In compensation, though it was a move he also wouldn't have chosen, some of the stress and fear that would have shown in his expression inevitably transferred itself to his next words.

"I know. God, don't you think I know? Can you handle the real, honest-to-God, it'll-probably-scare-you-away answer? I mean, without that... actually happening?"

"Don't know. Try me." Gibbs told him, suddenly breathing just as shallowly as Tony was.

"Yes. I want you to lay down with me... every night... for the rest of my life. I want your presence and your voice and your touch, whether you're just brushing my hair out of my eyes or soothing me back to sleep by rubbing my shoulders. I want your breath against my ear first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I want your warmth and your laughter to send me to sleep and your..."

shit, shit, shit. just say it! he admonished himself, fighting for the courage the words required. "...and your morning wood to wake me up before the alarm does. Okay? Clear enough?"

A chuckle and the shifting of the mattress and bedclothes was all the answer Tony received. It wasn't until he actually felt Gibbs slide in behind him and a hand move forward to cover his abdomen, the fingers making subtle, comforting movements, that Tony finally began to relax. His first deep breath in several minutes rushed in on a gasp and out on a half-controlled sob. "God... so this is what's been missing my whole life..."

"Yeah. Me too. I'll give you all of it, Tony. Every single thing you asked for..."

"How did I not know? How could I look in your eyes every damn day... and not know?"

"I missed it too. No... I was too damn scared to try and find it. Never again. I'll never do that again, Tony..."

"I believe you. My heart does, anyway. My brain... may take longer to catch up. Please, be patient..."

"Always. Go to sleep..." Gibbs urged, but the words were unnecessary. Tony was already on his way. Settling into what he now considered his half of the pillow and the bed, Jethro followed moments later.