Warning: this chapter has an almost invisible spoiler for the new episode "Bounce." Can you catch it?
"What's with you calling me boss again?" Gibbs asked noticing Tony's continued distance.
"Uh… yeah," He looked shyly at his boss again. "I've been reconsidering this whole calling you Dad idea."
"You were okay with it before McGee came over."
"Yeah," Tony paused. "I'm not anymore."
Gibbs raised his eyebrows challenging Tony to talk about it. Tony just tugged his blanket tighter around himself.
"I don't wanna talk about it, Boss. I'm beat. And if I don't get to bed soon I'm going to have a hell of a hangover." Tony was tired. Gibbs could tell. But he knew he had to reinstate their connection before the younger man went to bed. Meanwhile, he was concerned Tony had decided drinking was an acceptable path when he was angry.
"Didn't your father ever tell you not to drink on a school night?" Gibbs questioned, knowing the answer he would receive.
"Well, he has now. Go to bed I'll see you in the morning."
Tony climbed into the bed in the spare bedroom with a sigh. Again, he didn't know what to do. He wanted Gibbs to be a father, but wasn't that childish? How many almost forty something men were following their boss around calling them Dad? And now McGeek knew. Maybe if he stopped calling Gibbs Dad right now he could save face. He could tell McGee it had been a joke, and the information wouldn't get to Ziva. Or if it got to Ziva, he would tell her it was a gag. He would tell her he was just pestering Gibbs.
Besides, Gibbs would probably be glad to get rid of him. Why would Gibbs want him as a son? He had just freaked out and drank a quarter of a bottle of Bourbon over nothing. Gibbs might be glad to get rid of the situation too. On the other hand, Gibbs had also just referred to himself as Tony's father again. Even after Tony had attempted to break off the attachment, Gibbs had reinforced it.
Tony grunted and rolled over attempting to get comfortable and shut his thought process down. He was very tired and maybe his head would be clearer in the morning. Everything was very confusing right now.
Meanwhile, Gibbs also climbed his bed with a sigh. He had thought he had the whole situation figured out when he came downstairs to find Tony drinking. He was aware almost immediately of Tony's jealousy and assumed that was the only problem. Now the jealousy situation had been fixed. (His 'son' certainly was smart.) But there was another problem. It reinforced rule number 8. Never take anything for granted.
At the moment he had no idea what the problem was. Tony obviously needed something. He would have to figure out what tomorrow. Sometimes he wished he could magically fix all of Tony's troubles. He had thought he was making some progress in the last month, but now he felt like they had taken two steps back. He was frustrated but he also realized tomorrow would be a new day.
The next morning, Gibbs was drinking his coffee waiting for Tony to wake up and come downstairs, when he was surprised by a sound on his front porch. He was shocked to realize the noise was Tony. The errant man came into the kitchen covered in sweat. He'd been jogging and he sprang in immediately pouring himself a glass of juice.
"Hey Boss, finally awake?" He teased.
Gibbs grunted in response. "Sit" he instructed tapping the spot next to him.
"Actually, I gotta get going. I need to stop by my place before work. I …"
"Sit, Tony. We're going to handle this before we go in today. I don't want it distracting either one of us at work."
Tony sat down and stared at his boss uncomfortably. "Uh, what are we handling?" Tony said feigning ignorance.
"Why you've decided you don't want to call me Dad any more."
"DiNozzo." Gibbs insisted.
"I'm too old." Tony said with a frown.
"Too old?" Gibbs asked.
"Yeah, I'm almost forty. I'm too old to need a father."
Gibbs was confused. "You realized you were too old to need a father last night? When McGee was talking to me?" He questioned.
"No." Tony answered with a sigh. He hated talking about this but Gibbs was not going to let it go and he couldn't lie. "Last night when McGee was talking to you I realized that he heard me calling you Dad and he was going to tease me because of it and Ziva was going to find out."
"You're embarrassed?" Gibbs asked clarifying the situation.
"Yeah" Tony answered.
"No" Tony yelled. "No, I mean it's not you it's me."
"Cliche?" Gibbs smirked.
"Can we just go to work?" Tony begged. "I don't want to call you Dad anymore. That's the end of it, okay?"
"No, we can't just go. We're going to finish talking." Gibbs instructed. Tony huffed. "Quit pouting." Gibbs reprimanded before continuing. "McGee's not going to tease you. He has other things to worry about."
"And what about Ziva?"
"She's not going to tease you either. Not about this." Gibbs could understand Tony's fear of harassment. What he didn't understand was why Tony thought his friends would tease him about this. They knew about his horrible childhood and they also knew better than to poke a wounded bear.
"They're going to tell me I'm screwed up and immature because I need a father figure at my age. I'm too old." Tony disagreed.
"You're not too old!" Gibbs insisted. He continued more calmly. "Nobody is too old to need parents, Tony."
Tony looked unconvinced. For that reason, Gibb's continued with a different angle.
"If they tease you they would be teasing me too. They wouldn't dare." Gibbs explained. He could see that Tony was considering the statement but that it hadn't completely convinced him either.
Gibbs knew he had to take this all the way and forget about the fact that he was about to embarrass himself. Taking care of your children was more important than worrying about how you sounded. "Besides, I'd miss it." Gibbs admitted.
Tony's voice cracked as he responded. "You'd miss it?"
"Yeah." Gibbs replied. He knew Tony would do anything to make him happy.
"Really?" Tony replied as his heart skipped a beat. He hated admitting how he felt, but hearing Gibbs say that he liked being called Dad, had been almost as great as being told he could call him Dad.
"Really." Gibbs confirmed as he smiled at Tony's enthusiasm. He let Tony bask a moment of pleasure before he continued. "Now," he said looking at his watch. "You've got five minutes before you've got to go. And I hear your boss gets really grumpy if you're late."
Tony burst out of his chair realizing the time. He rushed to the kitchen door heading for the shower, but stopped and turned to face Gibbs just before he exited. "I'll be ready in three minutes, Dad." The title tugged at Gibbs heart again. Man, did if feel good to hear Tony call him dad. As Tony turned and rushed up the stairs he could hear Gibbs respond to him loudly.
"You better be ready or I'm leaving without you." Gibbs yelled as he sipped his coffee.
Thanks everyone for the great reviews. I've got another idea as to where this story should go but I need Tony to get upset or in trouble again. Any ideas?