Author's note: This is it - the next and last chapter of this story! It took me long enough and I undertsand if you are annoyed about the delay, I am annoyed about me as well. I hope you enjoy it now!
A giant THANK YOU to XX-Samantha-XX for being the wonderful beta, she was for this story!
When Gibbs awoke, the first sensation that registered with him was a dull pain in his back. For a moment he had no idea where he was and why his bed would be so hard. He had a headache, equally dull, and a hollow feeling in his stomach that told him about the beer and the scotch he had drunken the night before.
Upon opening his eyes, he wasn't that surprised to find himself in his basement, lying on a stack of wood.
His gaze fell on his Field Agent, who was sleeping in an impossible position on an old chair, his head resting against the workbench and his feet propped up on a pile of wood. He was nestled down in the blanket Gibbs had draped over him last night. He finally looked somewhat peaceful in his sleep as well.
It was Friday and they had to go to work today, so when he got to his feet Gibbs didn't bother keeping quiet. Tony just stirred silently and slept on.
He must have been exhausted; the last few)days had obviously been rough. He was pleased that he had finally conned the young man to relax and get some sleep. He wished that Tony would get a break, some peace and quiet. But, well, not right now!
"Tony, wake up, let's get ready for work. We've still some time for breakfast."
The Gibbs-bark got the expected effect. Tony jumped instantly to his feet, startled awake. He seemed disoriented as well, but when he saw his boss standing in front of him grinning; he settled down somewhat.
"Apparently, we slept with the boat."
Gibbs saw Tony recall the events of the previous night, but his features were guarded and he couldn't read him.
It was way too early in the morning though, and all Gibbs was capable of thinking about right now was his need for his morning coffee. Need? Pah, craving! So without another word he headed up to the kitchen to set up the coffee machine, before going upstairs to get ready.
Coming back down he was satisfied to hear Tony use the shower in the second bathroom and he decided that a morning like this called for banana pancakes.
While preparing the breakfast his own thoughts involuntarily came back to the previous events and his agent. The harsh morning light wasn't the right setting for emotional exploring and dwellings though. He was fully aware that a night of sleep had not magically erased all problems. What a pity!
He just hoped that Tony would, in retrospect, accept his stay over at Gibbs' house as the simple act of hospitality from a friend, as it was meant to be. Maybe he would learn that he could trust him to have his back in all situations.
Gibbs would have to talk to Ducky. He needed some advice on how to proceed from here. He could trust his older friend to provide some insights and directions. Ducky usually held some helpful insight and he had an experience or at least an opinion on pretty much every matter. When Gibbs was actually smart and patient enough to listen to him it nearly always turned out for the better.
He would ask Abby to keep going with the fuss over Tony for another day. He could take a little more of being cuddled. On second thought, there was probably no need to ask her to do so. He would help Tony, but he was not alone in his quest.
He was half way through his second cup of coffee. The caffeine was kicking in and making him muse about the blessing of everything Italian in his life. He quietly lifted his cup to his every-morning salute to Giovanni Gaggia and Saeco.
His cell phone rang. He answered with his usual shortness: "Gibbs." And while he listened he grabbed the thermos jug from the cupboard. They had a new case.
Putting the phone down, he turned to get his gear. "DiNozzo!" he yelled, "Get down here, we've got a case. Hurry up we need to get to Nor…" He stopped dead, mid-sentence, when he stepped in the hall to get his weapon out of the little safe there. There was DiNozzo, a hand already on the door, ready to sneak outside, bolting. Well, you could call that being caught red handed!
The young man was frozen in the motion and stared back at him with big eyes. He was deeply embarrassed anyway, about everything that had happened the last few days. That embarrassment was what made him try to leave without another word this morning in the first place. Being discovered now, sneaking out of the house, well, he was screwing up once again!
He dropped his hand from the doorknob and lowered his head, avoiding Gibbs' eyes. He didn't even try to explain.
Gibbs actually stared in silent disbelief. No, a night of sleep definitely had not magically erased all the problems.
"DiNozzo! Seriously! Seriously, it is way too early for this… We've got a case!" He would just have to settle for that, for now. "I made breakfast."
A sudden pang of guilt filled Tony. He trotted behind his Boss back into the kitchen. Upon seeing the breakfast his jaw dropped open in awe. Banana pancakes! Holy mother of…! Seeing Gibbs standing behind the kitchen counter, filling coffee in a second thermos jug for him and filling two plastic bags with the pancakes adding maple syrup for good measure, his mind cast his boss for another TV-mom, this time of the series 7thHeaven, he involuntarily shuddered.
Tony followed without a word. His thoughts were troubled. Guilt, embarrassment, shame. The full package.
The silence in the car was awkward, full of unspoken, unresolved feelings.
After a while Gibbs broke the silence.
"That didn't go so well, did it Tony?" He was referring to last night and the whole earlier mess.
"No, it didn't."Tony admitted subdued. "It's a good thing I can go back to my apartment tonight."
"Yes, I suppose it is a good thing."
Tony pondered for a while then, suddenly with a light tone, he said, "Some of it was fun though! You definitely have to watch Air Force One next. You're gonna love it."
Tony was bouncing back, letting things slide once again. He wasn't actually coping, but ignoring and enduring. As he did so he put on his 1000 watt smile, the one he wore while waiting for the pain to subside to a manageable level.
Gibbs recognized what Tony tried to do and was taken aback by the ease the young man could push things aside that came only with way too much practice.
"We'll work on it, you know?" He said calmly, but with a lot of conviction behind the simple words. He meant a lot more than merely the boat, but for now it would do as a substituted for the grater meaning.
"You've got your own spot in that basement now."
Author's note: Thank you for bearing with me through this story. Please REVIEW this chapter and the story as a whole, what did you like? what did you hate? what was confusing or not clear enough? what would you like to see elaborated on in another story. Please, I apppreciate and value your feedback highly.
I'm not done with this Tony and Gibbs yet. I am planning to write next a story about that mandatory physical exam that Ducky conducts on Tony (anyone volunteering to beat that would be awesome- I might need some help with the right use of the english medical terms - without drifting completly into medical babble).