Chapter Sixteen

It was interesting watching Gibbs submitting to the doctor with a grumble. Tony had the idea that Gibbs didn't just submit to anyone's authority and there was no way the kindly medical examiner outranked Gibbs, either in actual authority or force of will. Tony had no doubt that the doctor could—and would—be a strong ally and an even stronger adversary, but there was just no way he was in Gibbs' league.

And yet Gibbs let the older man lead him to the window where they stood now, Gibbs staring out into the city, his eyes intense and wary, always scanning, always aware of his surroundings. It couldn't have been easy for the shooter to get a shot in with Gibbs nearby, and the fact that he'd escaped was pure dumb luck.

Tony watched the older man clean Gibbs' forearm wound. It was obviously more than just a scratch, but Gibbs wasn't acting like the furrow was a big deal. If any of Tony's workmates had gotten injured like that, they would have been complaining and clutching it. But Gibbs didn't even look as if he'd realized it was there until it had been pointed out to him, and even then, it was just an annoyance.

Gibbs was clearly unhappy about being treated, but Tony could see that there was some bond between the doctor and Gibbs that hadn't been there when Gibbs had interacted with the other agents. It was there in the way Gibbs had just smiled and reassured the woman as well. These two were special to Gibbs. And for some reason, they'd warmed to him, Tony DiNozzo, the guy always on the outside.

Tony didn't know much about Gibbs' personal life, but he had a feeling these two were family to him. And some niggling feeling in the back of his head told him that if he stuck around long enough, he'd be thought of the same way. A sense of belonging warmed Tony's chest, healing something deep inside him, something he couldn't ever give voice to. Overwhelmed by what he was thinking and feeling, Tony rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, shifted around in the bed, and sighed.

"Do you hurt badly?" Abby asked and Tony shook his head, moving around a little more. He was sore, but the pain was manageable. There was no way he was taking any pills or dulling his senses. If Gibbs was right and whoever did this had targeted him, Tony wasn't going to be at any disadvantage. He had the distinct idea that Gibbs would feel the same way.

"I'm just sore," Tony said, automatically reaching for the TV remote. When she slapped his hand away, he could only stare at her, torn between being pissed off and shocked at her audacity. They'd just met, she had no right.

"What the hell?" he asked, pitching his voice lower so that he didn't alert Gibbs.

"You are not watching TV. If you're really just sore, you can help with the case. If you're more than sore, you need your rest." She chewed her lower lip and began speaking again in a burst of sound. "It's not that I want you hurt, Tony. I was completely freaked out to hear that you'd been shot. And when we just found you and all, that was not cool, Mister, not cool at all!" She punctuated her word—spoken in a rapidly rising tone of voice—by poking his arm before she pulled in a couple of breaths and pranced around, clearly trying to control herself. "But one of Gibbs' rules is to not believe in coincidences, and I trust him! There's something hinky here and as soon as we can figure it all out, the sooner we can get you home. In one piece and healthy."

"I could get home now," Tony pointed out.

"Against medical advice, Mister!" She was kind cute when she got angry, her face screwing up, her lips pressed tight together.

"You have a doctor," Tony pointed out, gesturing to the man wrapping Gibbs' forearm in gauze.

"You're safer here for now," Gibbs replied. Tony hadn't thought Gibbs had been listening to the entire conversation, but his eyes and full attention were on Tony. "You're staying and one of the four of us will be with you at all times."

"What about the evidence and the case?" Tony asked.

"Ducky can do his magic here," Gibbs said. He studied Abby for a long moment and Tony realized Gibbs didn't want her to go back to DC. He swallowed hard, realizing he was making his first conscious steps toward actively working with the NCIS people. And damn his precinct, his chief, and the rest of them. It might take a while to get there, but his mental shift was turning toward NCIS. He'd made the decision and damn the fallout.

"I know a guy, Erik. He works at the lab, second shift supervisor. With the attack on Jarvis, someone taking shots at me and a federal agent, we know this is escalating. And we now have a good case for running the samples through quickly. I have something that'll sweeten the deal. Anyone have a pad and pen?" Abby rummaged through her purse, pulling out a notepad in the shape of a skull. Tony wrote down the address and did a doodle of Erik.

"That's him. Curly dark hair, stubble, late twenties, six foot even. Tell him if he puts a rush on everything for me, I'll forget what he owes me."

"You carrying his debt?" Gibbs asked with a smirk on his face. Now that the doctor was done with him, he moved closer, dropping gracefully into a chair next to the bed.

"Poker night," Tony said, shrugging. He could feel his ears heating up. It was pretty cliché. Was he going to admit eating donuts every once in awhile too?

"You good?" Gibbs asked, looking thoughtful all of a sudden.

"Maybe. Why do you need to know?"

"Good. When we've wrapped the case, the four of us will play. Abby and Duck against you and me." He'd completely ignored Tony's question and Tony didn't feel like repeating it for now.

There was something that sounded so confident in Gibbs' voice, as if he knew Tony would be a part of their group, as if it had already been decided regardless of Tony's imput. He should have been chafing, should have been pissed off, should have been acting out against an authority he'd never asked for.

But Tony couldn't bring himself to get angry or even annoyed. It was a nice feeling, not only the whole being wanted thing, but someone planning events for them all. He'd never been a part of any group so easily, and with law enforcement being such a tight brotherhood, he was having trouble wrapping his mind around the easy acceptance from these strangers. What did they see in him, anyway?

Tony blinked a few times, startled when Gibbs spoke again. "Duck, get the files, and see if one of the guys brought along a laptop. This'll be our command post for today. Abby, this room have a laptop hookup?"

"Right there," she pointed. "And I brought your laptop, Gibbs. I'll go get it."

She disappeared in a whirlwind of energy, the doctor leaving much more sedately. When they were alone, Tony grinned at Gibbs.


"You're really confident in yourself. Poker night. What if I say no?"

"You won't say no," Gibbs said, his tone low and commanding. Tony couldn't help the small squeak he emitted at the sound of Gibbs' voice. He'd always responded to authority—that whole kink thing—but this was…different. Gibbs was an alpha personality unlike any Tony had ever met. He was more commanding than anyone Tony had ever known—even his father, who could make him spill his guts with just one look.

"How do you know?" Tony asked. He was consciously aware of the quieter tone of his voice and the way he'd pulled his body language in slightly. He always reacted that way in the presence of stronger and more alpha men, and Gibbs was top of the heap.

"Because you're mine," Gibbs replied, simply. "I know it. You'll know it soon enough and when you do, neither of us are really gonna want you anywhere but at NCIS as my probational agent."

"How come everyone thinks it is a done deal?" Tony asked, curious. It wasn't only the doctor and the Goth who thought so, the agents from NCIS had the reaction that Tony was important, too.

"Don't take to people well. When I find someone I like and respect, I keep 'em close. And I chose you, Tony. Don't forget that."

"Somehow I don't think you'll let me."

"Damned right! Now rest up until they get back here."