Gibbs helped Tony into his house, absentmindedly noting that it didn't look as though it had been unoccupied for the past month. Although clean and tidy, there was a lived in feeling in the house and he mentioned this to his son. Blushing slightly Tony admitted that he'd been staying in his old room and working on the boat, adding cheekily that he hadn't been falling asleep under it like the older man tended to, before worriedly checking that his father didn't mind. Smiling gently Gibbs ruffled his hair and gently settled him on the couch, heading to see if there was any food left in the fridge. He'd refused to leave his son's side for the week the younger man was forced to stay in hospital for observation; the team, Abby in particular, had been great, bringing him clothes and food whilst he watched over his senior field agent. It seemed someone had stocked his kitchen for him and he asked if Tony wanted something to eat. Shaking his head Tony said he was just going to lie down, levering himself onto his feet to head upstairs. Cursing silently as he saw what his son was doing Gibbs rushed to the younger man's side.

"Easy," he warned.

"I'm okay," Tony protested weakly. "I can make it."
"But it will be easier if I help," he offered, knowing his son needed help, guiding Tony to the stairs.

"Alright," the younger man reluctantly agreed. "But you don't have to."

"I know," he smiled. "But I want to."

"Really?" there was a note of awe in Tony's voice.

"Really," he settled his son on the bed. "Get some rest, I'll check on you later."

"'K," the younger man nodded.

He left the room as Tony changed, knowing his son wanted some privacy. Ever since he was a child Tony had hated having to depend on other people meaning that he was going to be difficult to live with until his wound healed. Sighing Gibbs made himself some coffee, knowing he was going to have to be on the top of his game to keep up with the younger man's antics for the next couple of days.

Later that night Gibbs checked on Tony to ensure his son was alright before going to bed. The younger man was lying curled up on his side, the posture of an exhausted child (A/N, think when he was lying on Jeanne's couch at the end of the season 4 episode, 'Friends and Lovers'). Smiling slightly as he was once again reminded that Tony wasn't as old as he sometimes appeared when awake Gibbs headed through to his own bedroom, falling into bed fully clothed. Closing his eyes slightly he couldn't help but think about his son.

Tony had been a miracle: Gibbs had always wanted a son but after Kelly had been born they'd found that Shannon could no longer have children. Although disappointed he had decided to simply spoil his little princess. Then, when Kelly was five, a small mal-nourished child showed up on their doorstep. The boy hadn't looked older than nine or ten, although they later found out he was twelve, and had been looking for Gibbs. Before he left to join the marines Gibbs had slept with his high school sweetheart. Both had only been seventeen and neither thought about using contraception. He left for his tour of duty and, as being an unmarried single mother was frowned upon even then, she had married a rich socialite less than a month later. They hadn't spoken since. Biologically Tony had been his son but the boy's mother had passed him off as Marko DiNozzo's. Everyone naturally assumed that Tony had lived in the lap of luxury until his parents cut him off but the reality was far different, Marko had used him as a human punch bag for most of his life and his mother had died when he was just ten years old. It had taken him two years of increasingly violent behaviour from his father before he finally decided to cut his loses and run. Taking all the money and as much fod as he could he snuck out of DiNozzo manor. Two weeks later he'd managed to track Gibbs down. It was winter at the time and freezing cold. Shannon had ushered him inside and fussed over him, much to his chargrin, whilst Gibbs had read a letter that his mother had left for the marine should Tony ever decide that he wanted to meet his real father. After he explained everything to his wife, and she told him of the fading bruises she'd seen on the boy's body, they'd agreed that Tony could come to stay with them. From then on the spare bedroom became Tony's room, his son got the father he deserved and Gibbs got the son he'd always wanted. Tony was the only thing that kept him from taking his own life after he lost Kelly and Shannon. His son was shattered by the deaths, having formed strong bonds with the two females.

Soon he managed to drift off into a dreamless sleep but he didn't kept to sleep for long. He was woken by cries from Tony's room. Shooting from his bed he was by Tony's side in seconds, pulling his son into his lap, rocking the crying man until he awoke. Tears streamed down Tony's face and he fisted his hands in his fathers shirt, getting a childish feeling of safety and security from being held.

"Sorry," he whispered quietly.

"It's okay," Gibbs assured. "Do you wanna talk about what you were dreaming about?"

Tony shook his head, "It was nothing, jus' when you left some of my nightmares came back."

"I didn't think," Gibbs apologised.

"S'okay, I didn't mean to make you feel bad," Tony smiled. "It's just it felt like you didn't want me anymore."
"I never meant to make you feel like that," Gibbs assured. "I just had to get away for a while, I should have called once I was settled."

"Nah," Tony grinned. "You wouldn't be you if you had. Am I making any sense? I think it's the drugs."

Gibbs chuckled, "You mean the ones that you haven't been taking?"

"How did...?" he frowned. "Nevermind. You know everything, right?"

"You always act the same," Gibbs ruffled his hair. "Try to escape hospital, avoid taking your meds, and push yourself to get back to work."
"Guess I really am your son," Tony teased.

"Yeah," he smiled. "You really are."

Tony smiled up at his words, the younger man's eyes betraying a depth of emotions that tended never to see the light of day, being hidden by the frat boy facade. Hugging him tightly Tony thanked him quietly before moving away, lying back on the bed and trying to get back to sleep. He sat with his son until the younger man finally drifted off and, brushing a gentle kiss across Tony's brow, headed back to his own room. Sleep would be a long time coming for him, he couldn't believe he hadn't considered that his leaving would have hurt his son so badly. He knew of how hard a life the boy had had and yet he'd acted so selfishly, causing more hurt and heartache for the younger man. Growling at his own stupidity he gave up on sleep and headed downstairs for some coffee.

...

Two weeks later and both were back at work, Tony a week earlier than his doctor had reccomended. Agent Lee had gracefully accepted her transfer back to the legal department, claiming that after their last mission she wasn't sure she was ready to be on a fild team and Gibbs was once again the team leader. Sauntering into the bull-pen Tony gladly took a seat at his desk as Gibbs' senior field agent, playing the boss was fun for a little while but he couldn't be happier that his boss was back. The others snarked a little about the fact he had been demoted since his father's return but he just smiled cntentedly and took it all in his stride. He knew he wasn't ready for his own team yet, his failure to listen to his gut had proven that to him, but at least he could still lean from the master and when he finally stepped up to take his father's place for real he knew he would be ready.

"Gear up, we got a case," Gibbs led the team from the bull-pen, hitting him on the back of his head when he wasn't quite quick enough, and he couldn't help but smile - everything was as it should be.

FINIS