A/N: Hello again! Sorry for the delay but I wasn't expecting as many people to want a second chapter - I had seriously decided that this was going to be a oneshot but then you all wanted more and here you go! Then again, nor was I expecting to become completely obsessed with Doctor Who after watching this year's Christmas Specials especially as they were the only two episodes with David Tennant I'd seen! Anyway... that's enough drooling, now on with the second (and final) chapter! And there's a couple of notes at the end of this for those interested, too.
Tony pulled up in the street, parking as close to the kerb as he could and plunging the immediate area of the street into darkness as he switched off his headlights, and then stepped out, grabbing a plastic bag full of groceries from the passenger seat. He strode through the white gate in the picket fence, all traces of his knee injury from the desert disappeared. Briefly, as he reached the front door, he thought about fishing out his keys again but then he tried the handle and found the door was not even locked. Stepping over the threshold and making sure to wipe his feet on the mat as he came in, Tony swivelled, slowly closed the front door and then locked it. "Hey, boss!" he called, knowing full well Gibbs would be down in his basement. DiNozzo, carelessly dumping the plastic bag on the nearest kitchen counter he could find as he walked through the house, winced at the chink of glass bottles, silently praying he had not just smashed Gibbs' new, precious bottle of Bourbon.
Taking off his thick, warm, black jacket and then throwing it over the back of a dining chair, Tony wandered over to the basement door, which was slightly ajar and a crack of light shone through it. Silently, the door creaked open – obviously Gibbs had been keeping everything in perfect working order – and Tony stepped in, flicking the light switch as he crept down the stairs.
Am I seriously thinking I can sneak up on Gibbs?
He thought that Gibbs would hear him when he stepped into the first step, but there was no response from the Marine, wherever he was. At the second from bottom step, when Gibbs still had not appeared to growl and slap the back of DiNozzo's head for disturbing him, Tony stood perfectly still and listened. He gave a soft chuckle at what he heard then walked to the bow of the upside-down boat, ducking under the planks that Gibbs had already glued to the frame. Tony could not help the smile that spread across his face but he did manage to hold back a laugh. There, lying on his back under his boat, a small volume of Bourbon in a jar in his right hand threatening to spill all over the NCIS agent if Gibbs' grip relaxed any further, was Gibbs. As Tony leant further under the boat to grab Gibbs' drink before he dropped it, there was a sleepy growl. "Don't even think about it, DiNozzo."
Gibbs sat up quickly – Tony was worried he might hit his head on the cross-beams but Gibbs avoided them easily – and pushed out from under the boat, making Tony back up until his head touched the wooden staircase. Gingerly, Gibbs limped over to the work bench and placed the jar on it – he knew that, with the painkillers he was on, drinking alcohol was not a good idea, but when had that stopped him before. Even so, Gibbs had decided, for once, that his body deserved some sort of respite from the rigorous, repeated abuse he put it through: he had poured a half-measure of neat Bourbon, and barely touched it.
Tony followed Gibbs to the bench, wistfully running his hands over the untreated wood planking of the boat, and came to stand behind him. "Get much work done today?" he asked, leaning back to rest against the frame with his arms crossed over his chest. Gibbs grunted and gave an indiscernible shrug. "How was work, Tony?" Gibbs enquired, subtly moving the topic of conversation away from himself. Haphazardly, Gibbs tossed a sanding block in Tony's direction with his left hand and then handed the junior agent a sheet of fine sandpaper. Gibbs had finished planking the port side of the frame a few days ago, with Tony's help, and now was just waiting for the epoxy resin to set fully before he put a sheathing over it – a layer of epoxy resin impregnated fibreglass – which would give the wood a hard protective cover and also allow the natural wood to show through.
Tony chuckled at Gibbs' attempt at changing the subject. "Not got a case at the moment, boss. Just working on cold cases. McGee was having a field day when he found a link between ten million dollars that had been stolen from a bank and a Marine corporal. Until he found out the corporal had been in Iraq at the time." Tony twisted to face the boat and began sanding gently with the grain of the wood, two weeks experience of woodworking with Gibbs telling him what to do. "Itching to go back, huh boss?" Tony added, turning his head to find Gibbs thinking of ways to solve the cold case. Gibbs pushed away from the bench and hobbled to the starboard side of the upturned hull. Although he was supposed to be concentrating on sanding the planks, Tony could not help sneaking a glance at Gibbs, noticing the way his shoulders had tensed and, peering over the keel, his knuckles whitening as he gripped the frame to stay upright. "Yeah..." Gibbs sighed, with a note of resignation, "But I won't be back for a while yet." Tony nodded his agreement at Gibbs' ambiguous acceptance that his injuries would still prevent him from doing his job. Subconsciously, Tony glanced at his watch, eyes widening when he saw it was almost 2100.
He watched Gibbs for a moment as the man worked – one hand still gripping the frame tightly – and then announced, hoping that Gibbs would accept his proposal, "I'm going to go watch a film, boss, if that's all right?" Gibbs did not stop working but Tony could see his eyebrows raised. "You're welcome to join me, if you want." Gibbs sighed deeply, looking up at his senior field agent and knowing that Tony was only trying to get him to rest. "I'm good, DiNozzo," he answered softly before going back to working on his boat. Tony nodded again, secretly disappointed that Gibbs had not decided to join him, and then bounded off, up the stairs and into the sitting room. Gibbs could hear his heavy footsteps on the wooden floors and paused to listen, reminiscing as the sound of another person in his house reminded him of Kelly and Shannon. Then, walling off those painful memories, Gibbs returned to work with a shake of his head to clear his thoughts.
Slumped comfortable into Gibbs' well-worn couch, Tony was just watching the final scene in The Searchers – for about the tenth time in his life – when he heard a crash followed by several loud, unrepeatable curses in Gibbs' kitchen. Getting swiftly to his feet from the couch, Tony rushed into the other room. "Boss?" he called worriedly. Gibbs could usually go all day without complaining about being tired, but Tony had come to recognise – in the two weeks that he had been staying there – the signs of Gibbs' exhaustion. Tony had seen the beginnings of today's overtiredness when he was in Gibbs' basement, but Gibbs had refused a chance to rest.
He always had to push himself, further and further until his body simply refused to push with him. Often, Tony had had to resort to practically dragging Gibbs up the stairs to his room when his knee had given out after one too many Bourbons and far too much time slaving away in his basement over the cabinets they were building – well, Gibbs was building them as much as his knee would allow, Tony varnished and sanded a lot, and sawed on the days when Gibbs' knee was too stiff to hold his weight for long – and then selling to make money.
DiNozzo passed under the arch in the wall – which made the hall, sitting room, kitchen and dining room into one, big, open-plan room – and stared at the man leaning heavily against the sink. "Boss?" he called again, slightly less concerned now that he could see Gibbs standing upright. Gingerly, Gibbs turned, a sheepish half-smile on his face. Tony frowned in confusion at his boss' expression and then looked him up and down. Gibbs was standing – barely – in front of the sink, his right leg bearing most of his weight. His face was slightly paler than usual at this time of night, the skin at the corners of his eyes pinched, and, as Tony's studious gaze travelled to Gibbs' hands, he saw why.
Gibbs was gripping the counter top with all his strength – his knuckles startlingly white. His shoulder was obviously not giving him much trouble anymore and the laceration had healed to form yet another scar to add to the list. "I uh... I dropped the glass, DiNozzo. In the sink. Nothing to worry about," Gibbs admitted, moving to grab the hand towel swinging from the fridge door. However, Gibbs had only taken one step before he felt the niggling exhaustion wash over him completely and his knee twinged painfully, making him stagger to the right to remove the pressure.
In two long strides, Tony was at his side, holding him up whilst manoeuvring him to a dining room chair. When Gibbs was sitting down, Tony gently took Gibbs' hands, despite his weak attempts to pull them away from his senior field agent, and turned them over, surveying them for injury. Fortunately, it seemed the only thing that had been damaged – aside from the glass – was Gibbs' ego, which was a result of Gibbs' exhaustion and, admittedly, own stupidity, stubbornness and pride.
"Had a bit too much Bourbon tonight, boss?" Tony asked, grinning from ear to ear as he drew conversation away from the tiredness that was plainly evident on the senior agent's face. Gibbs gave him an almost stern glare, indicating that he was gradually recovering his strength sitting in the chair, and then his expression changed so quick that Tony had barely time to register it before Gibbs spoke. "How much money do you that cousin of yours now, DiNozzo?" Gibbs growled, making sure that his irritation at himself did not slip into his tone of voice. Even though he knew it was merely playful banter, Tony paled visibly and answered seriously, "About thirty-nine thousand dollars, boss. I've paid off a little more than a tenth, which is pretty good for two weeks." Gibbs winced – some of the money had been earned from Tony's job at NCIS, some of it had come from Gibbs and DiNozzo building and selling personalised wooden cabinets – the debt might teach DiNozzo some lessons in self-control and restraint, but it was still a lot of money. And a lot of stress for both of them.
Again Gibbs' strength faltered – it was lucky he was sitting down – and eagle-eyed Tony noticed his eyelids droop and his shoulders slump. Rolling his own shoulders, Tony laughed off the air of seriousness that had settled over them and moved to stand behind Gibbs' chair. "And if I don't want to land my sorry ass so deep in accumulated debt that I have to take up a job as a delivery boy, I better give you hand getting to your room." Gibbs growled in protest futilely as Tony grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet, slinging Gibbs' arm across his shoulders, and then Gibbs gave in, taking as much of his own weight as he could.
When they reached Gibbs' bedroom door, the Marine stopped and shifted out of DiNozzo's grasp, although the younger man stayed close enough to catch him if he swayed. "I can take it from here, Tony," he said softly. Obligingly, Tony nodded and stepped back, watching as Gibbs limped to his bed, lying down on it still fully clothed, and carefully kicked off his shoes. When he noticed Tony still standing in the doorway, Gibbs propped himself up by his elbows and raised an eyebrow. "Thanks and goodnight, DiNozzo," he said pointedly, eliciting a small smile from his agent before Tony pulled the door shut and disappeared behind the dark wood.
As Gibbs closed his eyes and allowed the fatigue, which had been building all day, to wash over him, he heard DiNozzo moving around – presumably going to bed himself – and realised how much he enjoyed having another person in the house – this big, empty house.
Maybe going back to work can wait a few more days...
Gibbs smiled – maybe letting his leg heal properly, coupled with the company of DiNozzo for a few more days, would do him some good – and then allowed his mind to drift, falling asleep almost instantly.
A/N: Thanks for sticking with this. I found the ending a bit rushed but under current time constraints this was the best I could do, especially since inspiration for NCIS seems to be dropping in the Hawkeye4077 camp. Reviews are appreciated.
www (dot) selway-fisher (dot) com/Stripplank (dot) htm
This site was useful, although Gibbs is actually shaping the planks (steam bending, which I think we see him in the middle of in seasons 1 or 2, maybe even 3), which makes his boats carvel built rather than strip plank built.
Thanks must also go to my father for providing an extensive and Ducky-like insight into the world of boat building, including how many coats of varnish are needed, which types of varnish to use and when, types of sandpaper required and a demonstration of epoxy resin mixing.
This is how I worked out how much Tony might have to pay back:
At the current exchange rate (05/01/10) of US$1 to £0.6199, that would mean US$10000 = £6199.
I don't know what bank Tony/Crispian's with so I can't tell you an exact interest rate but looking online I found British banks' rates ranging from 5.5% to 10%.
So, taking an average of that is 7.75%. Compounded interest would mean using basic recurrence relations to work out 20 years worth of interest, i.e. 1.0775^20
Therefore = (1.0775^20) x 6199 = £27584.63 (to 2 d.p.)
£0.6199 to US$1 gives us 27584.63/0.6199 = $44498.52 (to 2 d.p.)
So, theoretically, Tony could owe his cousin $44498.52!
And I'm sure inkpen1 will be able to sort through all my math...s to spot any potential mistakes... *prays there aren't any*