A/N: Wrote most of this while bored at school. :) Some Gibbs/Tony father/son, post-Aliyah.

Italics are thoughts; 'this' indicates a flashback. Minor spoilers for a variety of episodes throughout all six seasons.

Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS.

Lovable Idiot

Gibbs sat in the hospital waiting room, face buried in his hands. Around him, the harsh smell of ammonia and the loud hum of air conditioning only served to increase his already overflowing discomfort.

He hated hospitals.

He didn't mind morgues, because the people in them were already dead. He had to be content with the fact that there was nothing he could do about that. End of story. Hospital patients, on the other hand, could often be saved. Yet he could do nothing anyway, because he wasn't a doctor.

Gibbs was not a man accustomed to waiting. He did what he wanted, when he wanted. He was never helpless—it was not a good feeling, so he did not tolerate such situations. But when one of his agents was gravely injured, as happened far too often, he had no choice.

Damn it, DiNozzo. Why do you always have to play the hero? When are you gonna learn that real life is not like one of your movies?

Gibbs' thoughts drifted back to the events of earlier in the day, back to the site of what was supposed to be, as Tony would refer to it, 'the grand finale.' Or, in simpler, Abby-like terms, 'when the bad guy gets caught.'

Such climaxes were not supposed to lead to a bullet spinning directly toward Gibbs, Tony leaping in front to cover his boss and taking it instead.

The déjà vu, in that frozen moment before McGee flattened the man to the ground and handcuffed him, was almost laughable. The warehouse might as well have been a rooftop; Tony might as well have been Kate. Except Tony had not been wearing a bullet-proof vest, and there had been no sniper to finish the job through the forehead.

Thank God.

Still, Tony's wound was serious. The agent had not, so far as Gibbs knew, left surgery yet. McGee had remained behind to secure the scene as their suspect was hauled away. Abby and Ducky met Gibbs at the hospital; Ducky had long ago talked his way through the doors of the waiting room into the hospital itself, and Abby had recently disappeared to find some caffeine.

Why is it always him?

Tony was constantly the one getting in trouble or receiving the brunt of the backlash, even if the situation itself was not his fault.

Case-in-point: The time Tony had gone alone to keep tabs on Major Sacco, a suspect in the disappearances of the men in his unit. Then Tony himself had gone missing—was drugged and then dragged off to the sewer system. For a while, Gibbs had been honestly afraid the man might be dead.

'As far as I'm concerned, DiNozzo, you're irreplaceable.'

Then there was the time he'd gone undercover as an escaped convict and almost had his throat slit from behind.

'I've never lost an agent undercover. I'm not going to let DiNozzo screw that up.'

…the time he'd gotten the pneumonic plague and come so close to dying that Kate had broken down into tears—the first (and last) time Gibbs had ever seen her do so.

'You will not die. You got that? I said...you will not die.'

…the time, when, while still recovering from the plague, a car had blown up at a crime scene, and Tony had been closest.

'Boss. You remember when I said I never felt better? I lied.'

…the time he and Ziva had gone undercover as an assassin husband and wife. They'd been captured and Tony had been beaten up and almost stabbed by a very long, ugly knife.

'I want a divorce.'

…the time Abby's assistant, Chip, tried to frame Tony for murder.

'Tony didn't do it.'

…the time Tony and Ziva had gone missing, trapped in a cargo box. They were nearly killed.

'You'll find them, Jethro.'

The moments of peril went on and on, and even though a federal agent's job was expected to be a dangerous one, somehow Tony seemed to get far more than his share. Maybe because he had a special knack for pissing everyone off.

Including Ziva and her father, Director David. The Rivkin incident was truly a special climax in the life and times of Anthony DiNozzo. Gibbs tried not to think about those few hectic days, because they were a nightmare for everyone involved. None of them had seen Ziva since.

Gibbs was interrupted from his musings by the harsh clearing of a throat. He looked up to find Ducky and an unfamiliar doctor standing before him. To his relief, both were smiling.


"Special Agent Gibbs, I'm Dr. Summers," the doctor introduced himself. He did not pause before plunging into the report he obviously knew Gibbs was waiting for. "Anthony DiNozzo is going to be just fine. The bullet missed all major arteries, and I don't expect any permanent damage. I've conferred with Dr. Mallard here-"

"-and I agree," Ducky broke in. "Tony will recover, in time."

Gibbs finally smiled. He stood and shook hands with Dr. Summers.

"Thanks, doc. Can I see him?"

The man nodded. "I believe that would be all right, though he may not be awake when you go in."

"Can you wait here for Abby, Duck?" Gibbs asked his friend. "She went to find something to drink. You might want to fill McGee in as well."

Ducky smiled and patted Gibbs on the shoulder. "Of course, Jethro. Take your time. I'll bring Abigail up-to-date when she returns."

Gibbs followed the doctor into the inner part of the hospital. He balked slightly as they entered the Intensive Care Unit, but Dr. Summers smiled reassuringly.

"It's protocol to keep patients with serious injuries like Agent DiNozzo in the ICU overnight, just to be on the safe side. He isn't in any danger."

They stopped before a room with a large glass window, through which Gibbs could see DiNozzo lying in bed, apparently asleep. The doctor opened the door and nodded at the NCIS agent.

Gibbs approached the bed slowly, relieved to hear the steady beeping of the monitor that meant Tony's heartbeat was normal. Even more reassuring, there was no tube—he was breathing on his own. Gibbs would never admit it, and would deny it if anyone asked him, but he had been genuinely frightened. Without Tony, the team simply would not be the same. Unfortunately, Gibbs could remember having these same dismal thoughts too many times to count.

"…hey, boss."

If Gibbs had been an easily startled man, he would have jumped as Tony greeted him in a barely-there voice, without even opening his eyes. As it was, he didn't even bother asking how the patient knew it was him. He leaned closer.

"How do you feel?"

Tony took a breath. His eyes fluttered but remained closed.

"Been worse. Been better. 'M fine."

"Good." And Gibbs slapped his agent on the forehead.

Tony's eyes flew open and narrowed.

"What was that for?!"

"If you ever do that again, I swear to God, DiNozzo, Ducky will have another body to dissect in the morgue."

"Aw, you were worried?" Tony cracked a grin. "I'm touched, boss."

Gibbs rolled his eyes. "One of these days, you are going to learn that you will not always be so lucky. Then maybe you'll grow up!"

Tony frowned. "I hope not, boss. What would be the fun in that?"

Gibbs turned away, hiding a small, exasperated smile that relayed both his relief and his fondness for the man beside him.

"You'll have to deal with Abby," he pointed out, sneaking a glance over his shoulder. Tony had the decency to look alarmed for a second, but then he relaxed and shook his head.

"She'll be too happy to see me okay to be angry."

"And," Gibbs said slowly, turning all the way around and smiling triumphantly, "when you come back, you're on desk duty. For a month."

Tony froze in horror.