Final chapter, folks! Even though the conclusion won't suit everyone, it's the way the story came to me, LOL! Thanks for all the lovely feedback and PM's. I'm glad people like Josh O'Connor. Love, Zan
Gibbs tightened his grip on the steering wheel as the car sped through the streets towards his home. Mick was in the passenger seat, still wet and grimy from his ordeal. In the rear vision mirror Gibbs could see Ziva and McGee in the car behind. It spoke volumes as to the potential seriousness of the situation that Ziva had been able to overtake him.
Gibbs felt sick to his stomach at the thought that one of his agents and a young boy were in danger in his house. He could only imagine how frightened Josh would be, knowing he was in peril while his father was still missing. Tony was in no shape to defend himself, let alone protect a child from two grown, and probably armed, men. He kept thinking about the assistance he needed to give Tony that morning, simply to get the man out of bed. In fact, if Gibbs had been asked who he was most worried about, he'd be hard pressed to answer, particularly in front of the man sitting beside him.
'You seem pretty concerned, Jethro,' said Mick as he glanced sideways at his friend. 'Didn't you say one of your agents is with Josh.'
'He's my best agent,' Gibbs told him, grimly. 'But he's recuperating from surgery. He's not technically on the clock or fit for duty.'
'So it's Tony,' said Mick. 'I'm sure they're both fine.'
Gibbs didn't know whether Mick was trying to convince himself or Gibbs.
Tony kept Gibbs' gun pointed at the tarpaulin that was shielding them and hoped to God that he wouldn't need it. His face was covered with a thin sheen of sweat. Aware of the quivering boy who was still wrapped around him, Tony knew Josh was wishing his dad was there. Tony found himself desperately wishing that Gibbs was there. Under normal circumstances, he'd have this situation in the bag, but he was feeling faint and his gut hurt where Josh clung on to him. He was sure he'd ripped a stitch. Gibbs was going to be totally pissed.
Suddenly, a loud noise made them both jump in their small, enclosed space. The door to the basement had been kicked in. Pieces of splintered wood came crashing down the stairs. If it were even possible, Tony felt the boy hold him more tightly.
'I've got you,' he dared to whisper. The last thing they needed was for Josh to cry out and give away their position. He wondered when help would arrive. He wondered if Gibbs even knew they were in danger. He wondered how long it would be before he passed out.
Jeffrey and Paul scanned the dark basement, lit only by the light coming from the hallway above. Jeffrey knew they were down there. It was now just a matter of time before they flushed them out.
'Hey!' called Jeffrey. 'Kid! You'd better come out. We can take you to your old man!'
Tony felt Josh move slightly but the boy didn't make a sound. Both Josh and Tony knew that there was no way they could trust these strangers – no matter what they said.
'Come on!' yelled Jeffrey. 'You both know you're sitting ducks. We're gonna search every inch of this basement until we find you.'
Tony allowed himself the luxury of closing his eyes for a moment. If this all came down to him against the two men, he'd fight, but he had to mentally gather his strength first. He could feel the perspiration dripping down his front. In fact it was kind of like a Die Hard movie, except that he had far more hair than Bruce Willis. Damn, he hated having a movie reference in his head when there was no-one there to share it with.
'Okay!' yelled Jeffrey. 'We're done waiting. I'm gonna start shooting after I've counted to ten. You don't come out by the time I get to ten, look out!'
As Jeffrey began to count, Tony drew himself as close to the wall at the back of the recess as he could, making sure that Josh's small body was shielded by his. His shaking hand still held the gun in the air. And then the counting stopped and the shots began.
Gibbs, closely flowed by Mick, Ziva and McGee, crashed through the front door, just as the terrible sounds of gunshots began.
'Basement!' he yelled as he led the way, surprised by the way Ziva pushed her way to the front.
One moment Gibbs was aware of Ziva standing at the top of the basement stairs. The Mossad/NCIS agent seemed to pause, and then suddenly she was airborne. As Gibbs took her place, he looked down to see her land on and take down the shooter. Using the fact that her attack has stunned the other man, AWOL Petty Officer Paul Williams, Gibbs quickly raced down the stairs and pulled his arms behind his back. With the arrival of McGee, Gibbs pushed the cuffed man over to him before taking a swing at Ziva's target as she was pulling him to his feet. His fist connected with Jeffrey's chin with a resounding thwack and he hit the floor again. Gibbs was so incensed that the man had invaded his house and may well have hurt people that he cared about.
'Get 'em out of my sight!' Gibbs growled as he began scanning the room for Tony and Josh.
'Josh!' yelled Mick, peering into the darkness.
'Hit the damn lights!' yelled Gibbs. McGee obliged as he reached the top of the stairs with Slim in tow.
'Here,' came a croak from the dark recess beneath one of Gibbs' work benches. Gibbs rushed forward and ripped away the tarpaulin. Reaching forward, he found Josh's arm and gently pulled him out. White-faced, Josh looked beyond Gibbs to where Mick was standing. Father and son rushed towards each other. Josh was wrapped in a warm embrace and hauled off the floor into loving arms.
Still in their hiding place, Tony felt oddly bereft, despite his relief and despite the physical pain he was feeling.
'You okay in there, Dinozzo?' asked Gibbs, squatting down so that he could get a good look at Tony.
'Jethro,' said Mick, before Tony could answer. 'Take a look.'
Gibbs turned to see Mick gesturing towards what looked like a great deal of blood on the front of Josh's clothes.
'It's not his,' explained Mick, his eyes full of concern.
Gibbs looked anxiously back at his agent. Surely Dinozzo hadn't been shot!
'Sorry Boss,' said Tony, 'but I think I pulled a stitch.'
Gibbs gently helped Tony him out and up into a standing position. He saw the blood seeping through the front of Tony's top and shook his head. The younger man was ashen faced and looked ready to collapse. In bad shape to begin with, Gibbs could see that his number one field agent had given everything he had to protect Josh, and would have given even more if it had come to that. Disguising it as preventing Tony from falling over, Gibbs wrapped Tony into a fierce embrace, suddenly overwhelmed that he was okay.
'I'm good, Boss,' said Tony, feebly trying to resist.
'I'm just making sure you don't fall over and smash my boat,' said Gibbs. He felt Tony relax in arms and heard him sigh.
'No offence, Boss,' said Tony. 'But I reckon I'd be safer at work.'
'Shut up, Dinozzo,' growled Gibbs, rubbing Tony's hair affectionately.
'You want me to call an ambulance?' asked Mick, eager to do anything to help Josh's protector, his arm still across his son's shoulders.
'Nah, I'll organize a home visit for now,' said Gibbs, knowing the last thing Tony would want would be a trip back into hospital. 'Come on, Tony. Let's get you upstairs.'
Mick was on hand to help, but it was clear on the way up the basement stairs that Gibbs had it covered. Mick understood. If it had been Josh who had been hurt, Mick would have insisted on carrying him out of there single-handed. Josh hurriedly followed his new friend, Gibbs and his dad, but not before retrieving the laptop.
Two weeks later, the 'ding' of the elevator announced the arrival of two special visitors to NCIS. While Mick O'Connor hung back, Josh rushed straight up to Tony's desk.
'Hey Josh!' exclaimed Tony, putting his paperwork aside. 'How're you doing?'
'Okay,' replied Josh. 'Is your gut better?' Ziva looked across from her own desk and raised her eyebrows at the blunt question.'
'Oh yeah,' Tony told him. 'Sorry about bleeding all over you and all.'
'Hey, it's not like you could help it,' protested Josh.
'I got the bandages off,' Tony told him. 'Wanna see?'
Ziva shook her head in disgust and returned her gaze to her computer as Josh moved enthusiastically to Tony's side of the desk.
Gibbs came up the stairs and moved to stand next to Mick who was smiling at the interaction between Tony and his son.
'How are things?' Gibbs asked Mick as they continued to watch Josh's close inspection of the healing wound.
'Fine,' said Mick. 'Thanks to you. And to Tony. I think he's become just about Josh's favourite person.'
'He's a good man,' Gibbs said with a great deal of pride. 'A really good man.'
Later that day, the team had gone except for Gibbs and Tony. Tony was back at work, but only on the condition that Gibbs drove him to and from the office. Gibbs walked to Tony's desk and saw that the agent was looking at a hand-made card. As Gibbs sat down on the edge of the desk, Tony looked up, his green eyes particularly bright.
'From Josh,' he explained. 'He made me a Thank You card as a present, and he wants to go see a movie with me.'
'That's real nice,' said Gibbs quietly.
'He's a great kid,' said Tony.
So are you, Tony was on the tip of Gibb's tongue, but it wasn't really his place to say. He wasn't Tony's father, and Tony wasn't the result of any parenting from him. Hell, he'd even been out of line giving him a hard time about not knowing his medical history. That was Tony's business. How could Gibbs justify telling a 30-something man how to live his life?
'You did a great job under difficult circumstances,' Gibbs told Tony, loving the way Tony's face gave away how much he appreciated Gibbs saying that. 'In fact, the Director's talking about a commendation.'
Tony smiled but then held the card up in his hand.
'What's written in here is better than a commendation,' Tony told his boss, causing Gibbs' heart to once again swell with pride.
Tony spent a little more time looking at the card before standing it up on the corner of the desk. That done, he carefully stood up and opened his filing cabinet's top drawer.
'Speaking of presents,' he told Gibbs, 'I got Ducky to help me get one for you. It's to kind of thank you for looking after me after the hospital and … you know… that night.'
Tony took out two folders and passed them to Gibbs.
'I've taken a look, and I'm happy for you – and only you – to read them as well,' said Tony. 'I've gotta go to the head, and then I'll be ready to go.'
As Tony strolled out of the office, Gibbs looked down at the folders and swallowed the lump in his throat. Tony trusted him with copies of the medical histories his mother and father.
'You're a great kid too, Dinozzo,' said Gibbs out aloud to the empty office.
Josh may make an appearance in a future story! Zan XX