Chapter Thirteen

Guess I must be better......


The next morning Tony woke up feeling pretty good. He was still tired but already he could feel his body improving after getting so much rest. He hadn't ever slept solidly at the hospital, but for some reason he had no such trouble since getting to his boss' house. Tony had not only fallen asleep easily, but stayed that way.

He was pondering that odd fact when he heard his name being called.


Tony obediently wheeled himself out of his room. Bumping his leg on the way, he gritted his teeth to avoid cursing out loud. He was still getting used to the chair and his sense of body mass was being thrown off by the extra length of the cast. Doorways were turning into his biggest foe.

"Yeah Boss!" Tony replied, rolling around the corner to find Gibbs standing in the living room.

"Bath time."

Tony's face fell and his gut clenched nervously. Was Gibbs serious? He hadn't actually given a single thought about that particular aspect of his care. Being helped in and out of bed and even changing clothes was one thing, but a bath?

This is so not good, Tony thought.

"Um…. Boss? You know, I think I can handle that on my own. Just get me something to wrap this thing with," he tapped the cast. "and I'll be good to go."

"Not a chance, DiNozzo. You slip and fall and Pitt will have my ass for it."

Gibbs turned on his heel, heading towards the bathroom. When he reached it and found himself alone, he poked his head out of the door, looking down the hallway to find Tony staring at him nervously.

"C'mon! Move it!"

Reluctantly Tony began rolling down the hallway, trying desperately to figure out a way to talk himself out of this one. When he got to the bathroom he found Gibbs laying out towels. Tony opened his mouth to plead his case when they both heard the doorbell ring.

Saved by the bell....literally, Tony thought.

Gibbs left to answer it and a minute later Tony heard two sets of footsteps coming down the hall. Curious, he spun his chair around to watch as Gibbs stopped in the hallway, waving someone else into the room. Tony nearly fainted with relief when he saw a nurse walk through the door. She was the very epitome of the perfect healthcare practitioner. Not too young, not too old and she smiled kindly at him as she introduced herself.

"Hi, I'm Meg." she said, shaking Tony's hand.

Tony smiled and then looked over her shoulder to find Gibbs grinning at him, looking quite amused.

"What, DiNozzo? You didn't think I was gonna give you a bath, did you?"

Tony laughed as Gibbs closed the door behind him.

Well, maybe for a second there….


After a few more days, Tony and Gibbs settled into a routine. Tony began to sleep less and less, his body not requiring all of it's energy to heal. He got down to sleeping only at night, with maybe a small nap in the afternoon.

The trouble with that, of course, was that Tony became increasingly bored. He watched every DVD McGee had grabbed from his place, plus everything on Gibbs' shelves. He'd gone online and played computer games, even going so far as to play McGee at night. The Probie had trounced him soundly a few times and he'd grown tired of it quickly. It was so much more fun to challenge the younger agent on the firing range. At least there, Tony was the one with the advantage.

Gibbs started working most hours of the day as Tony became better able to care for himself. At first Tony had appreciated it, knowing his boss must have confidence in him to leave. After awhile though, he began to miss his boss' constant company. While Gibbs didn't exactly talk up a storm, it was still better than an empty and quiet house.

So it was after yet another long day of nothing to do that Tony practically attacked Gibbs the moment he walked in the door, like a little boy running to his father the moment he returned from work.

"Gibbs!" Tony called, wheeling down the hall towards his boss and talking a mile a minute. "So I was thinking, maybe I could go in to the office with you tomorrow. I'm sure Ziva and the Probie must be going crazy without me there. I know I can't go in the field but I bet I could still be helpful. C'mon you gotta let me, I'm going crazy here by myself."

Gibbs had kept walking as Tony talked, heading to his own room to take off his coat and put away his weapon and badge.

"Okay," he said, hanging up his jacket in his closet.

"Because seriously Boss, if I gotta stay home alone one more day I'm not sure what I'll do. I don't know if I could get down the stairs in this thing but I may try it. Because working on that boat is about the only thing I haven't done in the past week and you can't expect me to….." Tony paused as he realized what his boss had just said.

"Wait. Did you say okay?"


"So you'll let me go back to work?"

"One condition."

"Name it," Tony said with a grin.

"You do exactly what I say, when I say it. We clear?"



The next day Tony had never been so happy to do paperwork in his entire life. He even asked McGee and Ziva if they needed any help, he was so grateful to be doing something other than sitting on his butt all day.

He was surprised when Gibbs tapped him on the shoulder in the afternoon and told him it was time to go home. Tony almost argued but remembered his promise and kept his mouth shut, meekly allowing Gibbs to take him home and put him into bed. Once again Tony was surprised by how Gibbs knew more about what was going on in his body than he himself did. For as soon as he got home, fatigue hit him like a ton of bricks and he napped until dinner. He was beginning to wonder just how long it was going to take for him to fully recover. It seemed like every time he tried something just a little out of the norm, it took more energy than he thought possible.

Tony was starting to notice something else too. It had been hard to see at first, he being so weak and constantly under Gibbs' care. Something had been nagging at him though and it wasn't until he'd been working at the office for a couple days that he spotted it.

Gibbs was handling him with kid-gloves.

It went beyond not allowing him to do more than paperwork or work for more than a half day. It even went beyond Gibbs having him at his house, cooking for him and caring for his every need.

His boss was still being downright nice to him and truthfully, that really freaked Tony out.

Now Tony knew that Gibbs had an almost uncanny knack for giving people exactly what they needed to help them do their jobs, or even survive. He was never easy on anyone but Tony had observed that he could take it easy when the situation called for it.

If McGee was having a rough day, Tony had seen Gibbs hold back a head slap, using a gruff word instead.

In fact it was one of the reasons Tony didn't mind getting smacked or yelled at most of the time. If the boss felt he was strong enough to take the somewhat rough treatment without going in to a corner to cry at the injustice, then Tony took it as a compliment.

Sensing his need, the boss had responded to Tony in a way not usual for them and yet not that unusual either. Tony had fuzzy memories at best about what all had happened up on that mountain just before their rescue and in those first frightening days in the hospital afterwards. The trauma had been a lot to handle and Gibbs had responded in the exact way Tony had needed, without Tony even realizing he needed it in the first place

Now that Tony felt stronger, he wondered when his boss would switch back to "normal". The fact that he hadn't, made Tony realize that he probably wasn't as strong (either mentally or physically) as he thought he was. Gibbs was most likely acting the way he was to remind his second in command that he still needed to take it easy for a while.

Tony was grateful but a part of him was strangely looking forward to the day where Gibbs screamed at him or head slapped him.

Only then would he know that he was really recovered.


Tony hopped into the squad room, grinning from ear to ear.

"Whattya think, Probie?" Tony asked, indicating the new cast and the fact that he was on crutches instead of in the dreaded chair.

McGee looked up from his computer, distracted with the report he was currently typing.

"Cool. Does this mean you can start going out with us again?"

Tony propelled himself around to sit at his desk, carefully stacking the crutches behind him.

"Let's hope so, Probie, let's hope so. Because between you and me I'm getting pretty sick and tired of paperwork."

McGee snorted. "I was wondering how long that would take."

"Yeah well, you try doing nothing but paperwork for more than a week and see how you feel."

McGee grinned. He didn't want to try that at all.


Tony was disappointed when, despite being much more mobile on crutches, Gibbs still wouldn't let him into the field right away.

"C'mon, Boss," he said over dinner the day after he got the crutches. "What trouble could I possibly get into at a crime scene?"

Gibbs swallowed his bite of dinner before answering.

"I don't know DiNozzo, seems to me that you're pretty good at doing that pretty much anywhere."

Tony looked sheepish. "Okay yeah, I'll give you that one but you gotta admit that there's not much trouble I can get into at a crime scene."

Gibbs finally had to admit that and the next day Tony was allowed on to his first scene since the accident. Like everything else in his life since then, it turned out to be harder than he expected.

Taking photos didn't work, he discovered that the hard way when trying to handle both the heavy camera and his crutches at the same time. Mindful of how much the delicate equipment was worth, he had allowed one of his crutches to fall in order to keep the camera from slipping from his grasp after stumbling in the grass. Luckily McGee had been nearby and managed to catch the Senior Field Agent before he'd managed to fall.

Gibbs had been angry, taking away the camera and sending Tony to do sketches and measuring. Unfortunately that hadn't worked out well either. Handling a pad, pencil and crutches proving to be even harder than just crutches and a camera.

Finally Gibbs had allowed Tony to interview the witnesses, something that worked for both of them. Tony finally feeling useful and Gibbs knowing that at least he wouldn't have to worry about the man falling down and breaking his other leg.


For the next few weeks Tony continued to do interviews, calls, and even an interrogation or two (only on witnesses that were pretty much ready to break the moment they were escorted into the room).

Tony was still staying at Gibbs' place but as he got stronger, he needed the boss less and less. They even let the nurse go, Tony figuring out how to put a bag over the cast and shower by himself.

All the while Tony waited for Gibbs to start treating him like he used to before the accident. When it didn't happen the younger man began to worry that it never would. He couldn't understand why Gibbs didn't trust him to be on his own, both at work and at home. He knew what the doctors had said but surely the boss could see how well he was doing? Did he really think that Tony was still that weak?

Finally the day came for Tony to get his final cast removed and get fitted for a walking one. It was the last step in his recovery and Dr. Pitt had said that it would mean he could go home.

As happy as he should have felt about that, Tony was a little somber as Gibbs drove him to the hospital. Abby had elected to come along, wanting to see a cast cut off as she'd never seen it done before.

Tony didn't mind the extra company at all and was happy that Abby would be there to help distract him when they took the thing off. Tony sat down on the bed to wait for the doctor, while Gibbs and Abby stood out of the way.

When Pitt brought around the saw Tony's eyes opened wide.

"Oh man, I always forget about this part."

"What're you scared DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked with a grin. He hadn't been in the room the last time the agent had the cast changed and he had no idea Tony would react the way he was.

"It's the sound Boss. That terrible high pitched sound. It's like a dentist's drill," Tony said, shivering involuntarily.

"Here, ya big baby. You can hold my hand," Abby said and Tony smiled gratefully, grabbing onto her so tight that her eyes opened wide with surprise. Then she grinned and patted his back.

"If you're really good, I'll give you a lollipop."

"Promise?" he asked hopefully.

"Sure, I think I have a couple eyeball ones in my purse."

Tony looked skeptical and opened his mouth to say something when the doctor turned on the saw.

"Nothing to worry about Tony, I already told you this won't hurt," Pitt smiled indulgently at the full grown man sitting in front of him more scared than some of his younger patients.


Abby accompanied them back to Gibbs' place, helping Tony to pack up his stuff and getting it all into Gibbs' car. They then began the trip to Tony's apartment.

"Hey Tony," Abby said from the backseat as they drove. She was busy texting and talking to Tony at the same time. "What was that movie you said I should watch? I was just going to text my friend Laura about it."

"Reservoir Dogs, and I can't believe you've never seen it. Heck, I was just watching it again myself the other night."

"Really? Is it that good?" she asked distractedly, still looking at her keypad.

"It's a classic," Tony replied. "In fact, I think it's in my bag. I'll just give it to you now."

Tony began reaching into the backseat. Finding that he couldn't get to his bag easily, he began to twist himself around. Abby was still busy texting on her phone and didn't notice as the agent contorted himself to reach for the wayward DVD.

They stopped at a red light and getting frustrated, Tony absently went to unclip his seatbelt so that he could reach for his bag…...


Tony slowly turned his head to find Gibbs' face just inches from his own.

"DiNozzo you move one more muscle and I swear I still stick my boot so far up your ass...." Gibbs left the threat hanging as the light turned green and he turned back to look at the road.

"Sorry Boss," Tony said, quickly turning his face to the window so the other man wouldn't see the Cheshire-wide grin on his face. For with that simple motion and a few words, Tony suddenly knew one thing.

Guess I must be better......