The team had surrounded the warehouse - Tony with Agent Lee at the front and McGee with Ziva at the back. Tony gave the signal to enter, despite his gut telling him that the mission was a mistake, and they stormed the building. Their intel had been bad. The terrorists had been much more heavily armed than the reports had suggested. Tony and Agent Lee took the brunt of the attack, pinned down and taking heavy fire. Cursing Tony ordered Lee to retreat, and call for back-up, whilst he provided cover fire. Reluctantly she agreed, backing carefully out of the building. It all happened in slow motion, one minute the NCIS team were giving as good as they got, McGee and Ziva taking out the terrorists from behind since Tony seemed to be drawing the majority of their fire, the next there was a cry of pain and the team was down its leader. There had been only two terrorists left, both with sub-machine guns. One had been firing at McGee and Ziva, and the other at Tony. Tony had broken cover to take out the terrorist who was keeping his team pinned down. He had succeeded but before he could make it to safety again his assailant caught him in the chest with a bullet. None of them had been wearing vests, not having expected a firefight, and he went down with a cry of pain. Ziva quickly killed the shooter as McGee rushed to Tony's side, yelling for Lee to call for an ambulance.

"Tony, Tony, come on open your eyes," McGee spoke worriedly.

"Thought I was your boss," Tony choked out.

"Yeah," McGee smiled. "You are, but I need you to stay with us."

"Don' worry," Tony's eyes opened a crack. "I'm not gonna run off, you're still too green for your own command," it was becomming more and more difficult to talk.

"Tony, I'm serious," McGee snapped.

"Christ am I dying?" Tony looked down at where they were putting pressure on his chest.

"Your wound is bad," Ziva informed.

"Well that's comforting," Tony scoffed. "McGee if I die I need a favour."

"You won't die," McGee spoke firmly.

"Probie," Tony gasped. "Tell Abby I'm sorry, take care of her," he coughed, blood splattering his lips. "An' if you see Gibbs, tell him I'm sorry as well," his eyes drifted closed.

"Tony!" McGee couldn't hide his worry.

Paramedics rushed into the warehouse as Tony forced his eyes open again. The special agent coughed harshly, as an oxygen mask was placed over his nose and mouth, and looked at McGee, trying to convey the need for the younger man to remember what he had said. McGee nodded at him, telling him that he had gotten his message across, before his view was blocked by the paramedics. Tony was eased onto a stretcher, and rushed into the ambulance. Sighing McGee sent Agent Lee to the hospital with him, knowing that there was nothing she could do there and that he would have to sort out the 'back-up' team who he fully intended to leave with the clean up. Ziva went round all of the perps, checking to see if any were still alive and he exited the warehouse, just in time to see the 'back-up' arive. Giving them their orders he called to Ziva and they headed to the hospital to check on their team mate, calling Abby and Ducky en-route to tell them what had happened.

They reached Bethesda to find Agent Lee in deep conversation with what looked to be one of the doctors. Quickly approaching them McGee demanded a report. Hesitantly she answered that Tony needed surgery, but that the hospital needed the consent of his next of kin to operate, and that Gibbs was his next of kin. Cursing McGee called Abby, asking her to get him a number for Gibbs. Worriedly she ordered him to tell her how bad Tony was. Trying not to groan he informed her that they needed their previous boss' permission to save Tony's life. She agreed to getting the number and quickly rattled it off.

McGee sighed and dialed the number. It was answered after several rings and he asked to speak to Gibbs. Moments later his boss' gruff voice came over the line, demanding to know what he wanted. Hesitating slightly he told the older man that he needed to come back to Washington, that Tony needed him to sign off on some medical treatment. He heard Gibbs' sharp intake of breath before the gunny instructed him to put the doctor on. He immediately handed over the phone, listening as the doctor out-lined Tony's condition and requested that Gibbs come to the hospital as quickly as possible - stating that the sooner they operated the better Tony's chances were. A strange expression crossed the doctor's face and he handed the phone back. On McGee's confused look he admitted that Gibbs had said he would come and then hung up.

McGee paced the waiting room, anxious for Gibbs' arrival. It seemed to take years for the ex-gunny to get there. The doors banged open and Gibbs rushed up to the front desk, barely sparing a glance at the team. Tony's doctor was paged almost immediately and Gibbs quickly filled out the neccessary consent forms, asking if he would be allowed to see the younger man before the surgery. The doctor agreed and showed him to Tony's room, telling him he could only have a couple of minutes. Tony was on a respirator, his skin pale, and surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of tubes and machines. Gibbs stifled a gasp and approached the bed, running a hand through the younger man's hair and ordering him to live. The doctor asked him to leave, stating that they were ready to take Tony to surgery, and nodding Gibbs returned to the waiting room. Sinking into a seat he buried his head in his hands and sighed, barely aware of the team watching him.

"Boss?" McGee questioned.

"I'm not your boss any more Tim," he sighed.

"Well actually you kinda are," the younger man stated.

"What?" he looked up.

"Tony spoke to the director, convinced her that he would be taking care of the attendance forms so that you were on leave," McGee admitted.

"How?" he frowned.

"I'm not sure but he totalled up all of your annual leave and added it to the medical you were entitled to after the explosion," the younger man shrugged. "He wouldn't even accept anything other than temporary command."

"Why would he do that?" he was genuinely confused.

"He was sure you would come back," Ziva interjected. "I've never seen anyone so confident about something."
"Damn," he sighed. "I really screwed up this time."

"You weren't planning to come back," McGee stated.

"I hadn't planned anything," he confessed. "But Tony, Tony knew I couldn't stay away for long."

"You're staying?" McGee grinned.

"Yeah, if he'll have me back," he sighed. "But I'll probably need time to tie things up in Mexico."

"That's great," McGee enthused. "Tony, and Abby, will be delighted."
"If he survives," Agent Lee added.

"Oh Gibbs, this is Agent Lee," McGee introduced. "The director insisted we needed a fourth."

"Ah," a knowing grin spread across his face - Lee was scared of losing her place on the team.

"I need to call Abby," McGee's eyes widened.

Whilst the younger man rushed off to make the phone call, Gibbs sighed and returned his head to his hands. Ziva watched him, mulling the fact that he no longer looked a scary marine but more a concerned father, or lover. Hesitantly she placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, getting a thankful smile for her efforts. McGee joined them and they waited as a team for a report on Tony's surgery.

It was dark by the time Tony's doctor, dressed in bloody scrubs approached them. In the time they had been waiting they had been joined by Abby and Ducky. Gibbs stood as the man got nearer, trying to read the man's expression to find out whether it was going to be good news or bad. Once he got close the doctor directed Gibbs away from the group and the special agent looked to Ducky, hoping his old friend would accompany him to hear what the doctor had to say. Ducky nodded at his silent question and moved to his side as the doctor began speaking.

"Mr DiNozzo pulled through surgery," he stated. "We lost him twice on the table but he pulled back, all in all I'd say it was a success and I'm hopeful he'll make a full recovery."

"Thank you," Gibbs sighed in relief. "Can we see him?"

"I can let you go in in twos, five minutes each," he informed. "I can only let family stay the night."
"I'm his next of kin," Gibbs put foward. "Can I stay?"

"Of course," he nodded. "If you all want to follow me, I'll show you to his room, he's still unconscious."

Gibbs nodded and gestured for the team to follow him. He sent Abby and Ducky into the room first, followed by McGee and Ziva. They all looked at him in surprise, having expected him to want to go in first. He did but he refrained, knowing that he was allowed to stay with the younger man. Finally he entered the room with agent Lee. The probie didn't know how to act and quickly left the room, leaving him alone with the younger man and his thoughts.

Tony groaned and his eyes fluttered open. He could hear the quiet beep of a life support system and quickly realised that it was HIS life support. Looking around the room he caught sight of the slouched figure in the seat beside his bed. His eyes widened in surprise and he shakily reached out, half expecting his hand to pass straight through the older man. The hand came in contact with his boss' arm and he couldn't help but let out a startled gasp. Gibbs was back. His father's eyes snapped open, looking worriedly at him, and he felt himself smiling in return.

"Hey boss," he croaked.

"Tony," Gibbs ran a hand through his hair. "How do you feel?"
"I'm okay," he smiled. "You came back?"

"Yeah," the older man nodded. "I needed to sign off on surgery for you."

"Oh," his face fell. "So you're not staying?"

"Not if you don't want me to," Gibbs informed.

"Please, stay," he begged.

"Yeah," the older man nodded.

"Knew you'd come back," he grinned.

"So I heard," Gibbs smiled. "Rather it hadn't taken you getting hurt to make me see sense."

"Yeah that'd be nice," he yawned. "I missed you."

"I missed you too Tony," the older man informed. "But I'll have to go back to Mexico to sort my stuff out."

"Don' leave me alone, please," his eyes were wide.

"Hey, I'll be back I promise," Gibbs brushed a hand through his hair.

"Dad, I don't think I could take it if you left again," Tony stated.

"I'll have Franks sent me my stuff," Gibbs decided.

"Thanks dad," his eyes drifted closed. He forced them open, "Sorry."

"Ssh, it's okay," the older man assured. "Get some rest, I'll be here when you wake up."

Tony quickly drifted back to sleep and Gibbs couldn't help but smile indulgently: Tony looked so much younger and more innocent than he probably ever was, he always had done. It made his guilt return as well, however, as he held himself responsible for Tony's injury - if he hadn't left the younger man never would have been shot, he would have protected his senior field agent. Without thinking he began running his hand through the younger man's hair, soothing Tony even in sleep. His son had always been slightly clingy and insecure but it had never occured to him the affect his apparent abandonment would have on the young man. Cursing his own stupidity he swore never to hurt his son in such a way again. Soon he once again slipped into a light doze by the side of the bed, content that now he was home he could keep a closer eye on the younger man and keep Tony out of trouble. His son would pull through and everything would get back to normal, of that he was sure.

FIN