Tony was standing at the bottom of the steps when Gibbs emerged from the courthouse. He had been back in the office for almost a week now, but it had been incredibly quiet and dull without Gibbs. The older man still had another week of sick leave before the director would permit him to return to light duties, but that hadn't stopped him from contacting the prosecutor in the Kevin O'Connell case and insisting he was fit to testify. Gibbs had spent two days being cross-examined and was looking decidedly haggard as he limped down the steps, using his right hand to grasp the handrail firmly. His left arm was still immobilised. Tony walked up to meet him.
'You been standing there all day, DiNozzo?' Gibbs asked. Tony grinned. Gibbs had no way of knowing that he had recently been on a few dates with the prosecutor's assistant, nor that he had asked her to contact him once they had finished with the senior agent's testimony.
'Something like that,' he answered. 'Thought you might need a ride.' Gibbs nodded his head in thanks and climbed into the car. 'I heard you nailed him in there,' Tony began, conversationally. Gibbs looked at him suspiciously and raised an eyebrow, but chose not to comment.
'If he doesn't go down, we'll know the judge is dirty. The case is absolutely water-tight.'
'Good,' Tony decided. 'With Mary O'Connell and her goons behind bars, I guess Kevin's going to be finding it difficult to get away with anything for a while. So, where to?'
'Home, DiNozzo,' Gibbs replied tiredly, closing his eyes and letting out a breath. 'I'm glad that's over,' he admitted. Tony examined him out of the corner of his eye as they pulled up at a set of lights. The older man still looked exhausted. Maybe now his testimony was out of the way, Gibbs would allow himself the sleep he sorely needed.
They finished the rest of the journey in silence, Tony not entirely sure whether Gibbs had fallen asleep. Finally, they pulled up outside the older man's house.
'Need a hand with anything before I head back to work?' DiNozzo asked as Gibbs climbed slowly out of the car.
'I'm good, thanks Tony,' the older man replied, though he looked anything but. Tony wanted to say something, but he couldn't find the words.
'I guess I'll just…' he responded, gesturing towards the road. Gibbs' next words were entirely unexpected.
'You like steak, DiNozzo?'
'Does Abby like Caf-Pow?' A smile spread across the older man's face.
'Come round at seven. Bring beer.' Tony nodded in acknowledgement. Gibbs closed the door and began to walk carefully towards the house. Tony watched until he reached the front door. He wound down the passenger side window.
'Hey boss,' he called out. Gibbs turned, raising a questioning eyebrow. Tony's face broke into a wide smile. 'I love it when a plan comes together.'
Gibbs was still shaking his head as Tony pulled away from the kerb, laughing. As he drove back to work, Gibbs remained in the forefront of Tony's thoughts. He would go round tonight, and they'd have a good dinner and a few beers. Maybe they'd talk, and maybe they wouldn't, but Tony knew one thing. This friendship had…possibilities.
And so the friendship begins. That's all folks. As I said at the beginning of the last chapter, please let me know if you enjoyed.