This story was inspired by Lila-Blue's "Never Saw it Coming". Lila not only kindly gave me permission to use her idea, but was good enough to beta for me.
While this is my first published "slash" story, I'd like to think that it was as much about the characters as themselves as it is about "slashiness". And it's really not very slashy anyway! Please feel free to review, including any constructive criticism.
I will post it in 2 parts.
She'd been at work for 36 hours straight and all Kate wanted to do was go home and undo her bra. Anyone who thought that at the end of a long day women wanted to get home so they could kick off their shoes obviously hadn't worn an underwire for more than 24 hours, she thought grimly.
She took her time in the ladies' room, brushing her hair, cleaning her teeth and applying a subdued tea-rose lipstick. She might be doing nothing more than going home, but a liberal application of strong hold hairspray might be all that kept her head from exploding before she got there. Her only consolation was that the rest of the team were just as tired and looked just as bad. McGee was barely able to keep his eyes open and DiNozzo had changed into his last clean shirt 12 hours before.
Taking a deep breath, she re-entered the bullpen and her eyes fell on Gibbs. Her eyebrows shot up, and after a moment, her mouth quirked. Was this it? she thought. Had this case achieved what nothing else had? Had it exhausted even Gibbs?
It was strange to see him slumped boneless in the chair - hell, his posture was normally so straight you could make pleats with it. But somehow it seemed wrong to her to say something about him acting... well, normal.
And then, just as Kate reached her desk, he whistled.
Her head shot around to look at him.
"Lookin' good there, Kate," Gibbs commented with a grin. "Got a date?"
"Um, no, actually." Kate hesitated – she was too close to home to blow it now. "There's not something I'm supposed to be working on is there?"
"Nope." Gibbs spun the chair around. "Nada. Zip. Zero."
Kate flashed a look at McGee, but he looked as clueless as she felt.
She had to say something, so she went for neutral. "You're in a good mood."
"Yeah." He stopped spinning and looked at her, head tilted, almost perplexed. "I am."
"And you're in a good mood because we wrapped up the case...?"
Gibbs got to his feet and staggered slightly, holding on to the desk. He frowned down at his legs as if they were not doing what he wanted them to do.
Surely he's not drunk? Kate thought incredulously. All I've seen him drink all day is coffee!
Then DiNozzo walked into the bullpen and Gibbs' face lit up like it was Christmas.
You could have heard a pin drop. Tony froze for about half a second, green eyes as round as saucers. Then he took a long look at Gibbs.
Kate looked from Tony's wide eyes to Gibbs' grin. "What?"
"Get Ducky NOW."
Tony moved quickly to Gibbs' right-hand desk drawer and opened it, flinging a small, black kit on the desktop. Then with utmost care he settled Gibbs back in the chair and knelt down before him.
"Hey, Boss. You take your insulin today?"
At Tony's words, Kate unfroze, moving quickly around her desk, grabbing the phone and pressing the button for autopsy.
She looked up in time to see Gibbs' hand move shakily to stroke Tony's cheek. Tony reached up and gently forced the hand down.
"Gibbs, listen to me," Tony said quietly, turning Gibbs' hand over in his. "I've got to check your blood sugar."
Kate hung up the phone and moved closer to Tony, noticing a shimmer of perspiration on Gibbs' forehead and upper lip.
"How much coffee did he drink today?"
Tony snapped out the question again. "How much coffee has he had?"
"I don't know. A lot. Why?"
"Too much caffeine masks the hypoglycaemic symptoms." He professionally lanced the finger held between his own. "He can go into insulin shock and you don't notice 'til he's not making sense."
Tony glanced down at the monitor and cursed at the result. Gibbs stared at his injured hand with intense fascination for a moment, before reaching again to stroke Tony's face.
Ducky arrived and slid between the pair, putting his own fingers expertly on Gibbs' carotid. "What's the reading?"
Tony held the reader toward him in answer.
"Ambulance?" asked Ducky quietly, keeping his fingertips on the pulse point.
Gibbs seemed oblivious to both Ducky and the commotion as he continued smiling softly at Tony.
"He'll hate that," Tony objected. "Can't we get him stabilised here? I'll stay and monitor him. If anything changes, I'll call an ambulance straight away, I promise."
Ducky sighed and then conceded. "Where are his glucose pills?" he asked.
Tony stood up and fished in his pocket for a flat pill case. "Here."
Gibbs finally noticed Ducky, turning to smile at him.
"I need you to swallow these."
When there was no response, he shook him a little.
The tone was more insistent, but still there was no reply. Ducky glanced at Tony and gave an apologetic shrug.
Tony knelt down again. "Boss," he said softly. Gibbs turned to Tony and smiled again. A little unsteadily he raised both hands and cupped Tony's face, staring at him as if memorizing every feature.
"Boss, I need you to take these pills," Tony coaxed gently. He held out his hand, two white pills resting on one fingertip.
Gibbs glanced down and saw the pills. He looked back at Tony with a slight frown.
"Please?" Tony urged. "For me?"
A glint of mischief appeared in Gibbs' eyes. Ducking his head he took the pills, and the tip of Tony's finger, into his mouth.
Tony slowly drew his hand back, but the pills stayed in Gibbs' mouth. "Atta boy," he praised softly. Then he glanced around, noticing the stunned looks on the faces of Kate and McGee.
"We need to get him down to Abby's lab," Ducky interjected, breaking what was threatening to become a very uncomfortable silence.
Tony stood and turned to McGee. "Probie, get over here and give me a hand," he ordered. "Kate, call Abby and tell her to unfold the futon in her office."
McGee and Tony each took one of Gibbs' arms and slowly drew him to his feet. He swayed for a moment before righting himself. Tony put one of Gibbs' arms over his shoulder and his own arm around Gibbs' waist. McGee moved to do the same.
But Gibbs pulled from him, wrapped his other arm around Tony's middle and turned his face into Tony's neck.
Tony rolled his eyes and wrapped him arms firmly around the Team Leader. "Okay Boss," he conceded, "but you're no lightweight." He took a few steps and glanced back. "Stay close Probie. I don't want to drop him."
McGee did, and with Ducky and Kate following behind they made their way slowly to the elevator. Kate glanced around but the rest of the floor was empty – a small mercy granted to those who worked till the small hours of the morning.
When they entered the elevator Tony leaned back against the wall and Gibbs promptly draped himself over him, eyes closed, head resting in the crook of Tony's neck. Tony kept his eyes fixed on the illuminated numbers above the doors, not shifting his gaze even when gently removing the hand that Gibbs slipped up inside his shirt.
Abby pounced on them as soon as they entered her lad, moving immediately to Gibbs' side to help, or possibly hinder, Tony's efforts to navigate the wilting Team Leader past the equipment.
She had opened out the futon, and a pillow sat at its head and a blanket near its foot.
Tony carefully disengaged Gibbs' arms and sat him on to the bed. But as he tried to move away Gibbs tightened his grip on Tony's shirt, pulling Tony forwards.
With a sigh, Tony steadied himself. "You need to lie down, Boss," he murmured encouragingly into Gibbs' ear. "I won't go anywhere, just lie back."
Slowly Gibbs released him. Tony put one had on Gibbs' chest and one behind his head and pushed him gently backwards. True to his word, he then sat on the edge of the bed near the pillow and ran a quick hand through Gibbs' hair.
"See, still here," he confirmed.
"He's being all ..." Abby commented, frowning.
"Yep," Tony responded shortly, not looking up.
"Just like last time."
"And the time before," Ducky added.
Tony shot him a glance and the ME fell silent. Then he sat on the side of the bed and began examining the patient.
"Go home," Tony ordered, shooting a look at McGee and Kate. "You too, Abby."
Kate opened her mouth to protest, but Abby gave her a gentle nudge. She glanced around, and the Goth tilted her head quickly back out to the lab. Kate closed her mouth and followed her. Looking back over her shoulder, she saw Tony run his hand again over Gibbs' hair. Then the office door slid closed.
Kate turned, questions bubbling to her lips.
"Not here," Abby hissed. Grabbing one arm each of Kate and McGee, she dragged them into the elevator, stopping to snatch up her coat and bag on the way past.
The words burst forth from McGee as soon as Abby's hand hit the emergency stop button.
Kate raised her arm and gestured back in the direction of the lab. "Abby, what...?"
"Just stop, both of you." Abby held up her hands, demanding silence and getting it. She drew a deep breath. "It's not what you think..."
"I think Gibbs was all over Tony like white on rice," McGee interrupted heatedly. "And Tony was letting him do it!"
"It's not like that! It's just when his blood sugar drops ...!" Abby protested.
"Abby," Kate interjected. "Has this happened before?"
Abby gave a miserable nod. "Twice that I know of. Once I saw. The other Ducky told me about after." She shrugged. "When Gibbs' blood sugar ditches, he gets all... affectionate."
"He wasn't affectionate to me," McGee countered.
"To Tony," Abby corrected. "He gets affectionate to Tony."
Kate tilted her head and looked at Abby, who was gazing at her boots. "So, are they.... do they....?"
Abby shook her head. "No," she murmured sadly. "When Gibbs wakes up, he's his usual old self again. He doesn't remember."
There was a moment of silence
"Doesn't Tony say anything about it?" Now McGee was with the program.
Abby vigorously shook head. "No way. No-one does. Tony is adamant. He says that no-one can mention it because Gibbs would be embarrassed."
"But if that's how Gibbs feels about him...?"
"Tony says it's not how he feels – it's just the blood sugar ditch. So he won't let anyone say anything."
There was silence.
"So they're not....?" McGee asked.
Abby's pigtails swung as she shook her head again.
"And Gibbs really doesn't remember?" Kate asked doubtfully.
Abby nodded, and then tilted her head, frowning. "At least, he says he doesn't remember. If he does remember but he is saying he doesn't ...." Her eyes narrowed and nostrils flared.
Kate paused. As far as she could tell, Gibbs was not homophobic. He was generally no more or less a bastard to gay people than he was to straight people. She had never heard him make any comment on gays in the military, or use a derogatory epithet to describe homosexuals. But he'd been married – quite a few times, so he couldn't possibly be... Could he?
Or was it possible that Gibbs only had those feelings when his blood sugar plummeted? Was it possible that these feeling were caused by a chemical imbalance? Low blood sugar, like alcohol or drugs, could affect behaviour, make a person less inhibited and more open (her own youthful indiscretions had taught her that) but could it make someone express an emotion they did not otherwise feel?
Or perhaps what Gibbs was expressing was simply affection, not desire?
She ventured that opinion. "Perhaps it's just a kind of ... brotherly or fatherly affection?"
Abby and McGee both looked at her.
"Your father ever look at you like that, Kate?" McGee responded rhetorically. "Mine didn't."
Her mind flashed back to the look in Gibbs' eyes when he had cupped Tony's face. For a second she remembered the last time someone had looked at her like that. There was no mistaking that look.
She knew about Rule 12 – it was the first of Gibbs' rules that she had learned, and she learned it the hard way. Was that at play here? But that presupposed a romantic interest – towards Tony. Was that even possible? And what did Tony feel about it?
All at once the underwire in her bra seemed to stab into her brain, right behind her eye.
"I can't deal with this now," she declared, hitting the button to start the lift. "I am just too exhausted. I'll think about it tomorrow."
Neither McGee nor Abby demurred. They didn't speak again until they parted ways in the carpark, when they exchanged muted goodbyes.