AN: A reviewer said at the end of Wise Men, very kindly, I stress, that she was disappointed that I hadn't done the whole conversation between Tony and Gibbs. I thought I'd said enough in the dream sequence, and didn't want to overdo it, and I didn't want to get too far away from the Tony/Tim friendship. However…. I HATE to disappoint people, so for Samanthasgal, here goes.

BTW… the site got funny about chapter 4 of WM. It posted the story, but didn't acknowledge receipt or tell me about reviews. I also don't think the alerts were getting to people who'd asked for them. I sure hope this fixes it; like any other scribbler, I need regular stoking of the ego, and I LIVE for interaction with readers!

Wise Men Revisited

by Scousemuz1k

Bright, slightly amused blue eyes met woozy green ones. His hand on DiNozzo's shoulder, to either push him back down if he moved too quickly, or to help him up, Gibbs said, "So, d'you plan on sitting up any time?"

"I sure ain't staying down here all night, Boss."

"Ain't, DiNozzo? Ain't?" Gibbs was easing himself gradually round behind his SFA as he spoke, allowing him to lean back if he needed to. "What did they teach you in school?"

Tony chuckled slightly. The Boss didn't tease very often, it was usually the other way round, and since it was so rare, he enjoyed it even more. Something else Gibbs rarely did was to allow physical contact, so Tony was grateful for the solid shoulder that was behind his, and he permitted himself to rest for just a little longer than he actually needed.

Ducky came over with a cool-pack and a couple of pain-killers, and squatted down beside the two. He studied Tony's eyes carefully. "Ye-e-s," he said heavily, "You seem to have been fairly lucky this time, Anthony." He handed the tablets over, with a glare that said 'take them or else', and mindful of the close proximity of Gibbs, who could find other ways than head-slaps to make him miserable, Tony swallowed dutifully. He took the proffered cool-pack and held it to his throbbing temple. "I will not mention the word hospital again," Ducky went on severely. "However, you did suffer a concussion, so, arrange it how you will, you will not be alone tonight, and you will do as you're told!" The finger wagging that accompanied the speech made Tony smile internally, but he wouldn't have offended the ME for the world, especially since he could feel the affection behind the words.

"So," Gibbs said again, as Ducky went off to speak to Abby, "Ya want to tell me what the grin was about?"

"The grin?"

"DiNozzo, as you came round you had a smile on your face like you'd pulled Salma Hayek."

He was astonished at the younger man's reaction. Tony actually blushed. "Oh, no… Boss… it wasn't anything like that…" He looked round. Abby, Nikki and Jimmy were gathering wood, Jackie Vance was bustling about laying blankets out and producing food, while her husband struggled to light a wax flare. Gibbs understood. DiNozzo never liked an audience when he was serious about something.

He stood up. "Come on," he said, and stood behind Tony. He put his hands under the younger man's shoulders and heaved. They were both still wearing their skates, so they both wobbled for a moment. "Ya good?"

"I'm good." Tony followed his Boss slowly to the vehicle nearby, and they sat down on the tailgate.

"Right, so what's on your mind? What's been on your mind the last few days?"

Tony didn't bother with 'How do you know', or anything like that. "I've been up and down like a yoyo, Boss."

"I know that."

"I've talked to Tim about it, cuz I wanted to tell you, but I needed to think about it a bit first."

"I know that, too." Gibbs' tone was gentle.

"Did he tell you…"

"No, he didn't. You know that."

"Yeah, I do. McGee said I should tell you. Well, McGee said a lot of sensible things, actually. Just now, when I was asleep… I didn't realise I'd been knocked silly until I woke up… I was dreaming about it. Put some things in perspective."

"Yeah,Tony, what things?"

The use of his first name registered, and he almost gulped, recalling the dream. You've got a dad….

"My father's been in touch."

"Ah." Tony was looking straight into Gibbs eyes, as he said that one heavy word, and he wondered if he was right about what he saw. He was good at reading people, it came with the job, but a flash of fear in Gibbs'eyes? "What did he want?"

"He didn't say." Tony told Him what he'd told Tim about wanting to meet him in the New Year."

"OK…" Gibbs couldn't keep a note of exasperation out of his voice. Dammit, if ever there was a time for finding some people skills it was now… "So what stopped you from telling me before now?" Tony sighed, and fiddled with the cool-pack. "Are you up to this?" the Boss asked more gently.

Tony squared his shoulders. "Boss, I've never known you be afraid of anything. You'd tackle the devil head on if you had to. But if you tackled my father, you'd be taking on his lawyers, and they're not like any perp you've ever known, I promise you. I'd do anything to keep those sharks away from you."

"Like face him on your own?"

"I'd have come to you in the end, Boss. I just needed to figure out how to play it."

Gibbs' reply surprised him; not so much the words as the diffident tone in which they were spoken. "We could figure it out together." The SFA's eyes went wide, and he studied his Boss closely. Gibbs tentatively offering help rather than charging in with his Sig drawn barking orders, as something he'd not encountered. He remembered the day in the bull-pen when he'd said 'no' to Gibbs and then braced himself for having his ears ripped off. The Boss's understanding answer then should have prepared him for this.

They were both silent for a moment, Tony fidgeting and studying his hands, Gibbs perfectly still, his head turned slightly to watch the younger man. After a while the Boss went on, still with that tentative tone in his voice, "Do you want to see him?"

"No, Boss, I don't. Feel as if I must though, or it'll hang over us for ever."

"Us?"

Tony realised he'd left himself wide open by his choice of words. You've got a dad…He took a deep breath.

"You, me, the team. We're a family. If he has some weird idea of reconciling…. I've got everything I need. I guess I'm most worried about him trying to break up what I've got. I won't let him."

"Hey," Gibbs said softly. "I won't let him. We won't let him. The family'll hold you in." He heard Tony draw his breath in with a quivering gasp, and became aware that there was a tear on the SFA's cheek. OK, the time for holding back was long past. He put his hand on Tony's shoulder and squeezed it, and the younger man's head turned towards him, rather than trying to hide his full eyes.

"I only just realised, Boss… that was the worst fear. That the family would encourage me to go. That you wouldn't want to keep me…"

Gibbs' face twisted. "Jeez, Tony! How could you think… How could I…" He pulled the younger man into a rough embrace, brief, since that was the kind of guy he was, but fierce and full of meaning., then held him by the shoulders. "I'm only going to say this once, cuz I'm never likely to find the voice for it again. You're my son, not his. Mine. And I'll never let that change."

He ran out of words abruptly, and covered by picking up the cool-pack that Tony had dropped. "Here." He handed it to him, and Tony put it back on his temple.

So softly Gibbs hardly heard him, he said, "Thanks, Dad."

They sat in silence for a time, while the world stopped spinning and the intensity ebbed away to a bearable, everyday level. Finally, Gibbs said, and didn't bother to hide the affection in his voice, "So, are you still going to be worrying about it over the holiday?"

Clear-eyed now, Tony said "No, Boss, I'm not worried about how to handle him or me…"

"And you're not worried about me and his lawyers?"

Tony's grin was a combination of delirious happiness and wickedness as he replied, "You promise you won't go all Poppa Bear on me?"

Gibbs smiled. This Tony he could cope with. This Tony he could love without fearing for him.

"Hell, no, DiNozzo, I won't promise that," he growled. "But I won't eat your father or his cronies." He went serious for just a moment longer, then he reckoned, he'd be done. "Look, Tony, you do know that you don't have to face this alone? I don't have to say that? You know we're here for you? You know I'm here for you." He mentally added 'son'.

Tony's smile was blazing. "Yes, Boss, I know it." He mentally added 'dad'.

OK, Samanthasgal… hope that filled the gap!