A/N:So here it is, the last chapter of fear of the drove, sorry for the delay folks. I'd like to thank you everyone who read, reviewed or put this story on alert. I can't believe this story has gotten 160 reviews! Thank you to Finlaure who has helped me so much with this story and who is an amazing beta. I loved writing this story and i'm a bit saddened to end it, but this is it:
As it turned out, getting Tony to talk was harder than either of the two men thought. Abby and the rest of the team came to visit Tony the day after his waking up, after he had been moved to a regular room, and tried to get the man to talk. Tony's answers were all one or two words at the most and he concentrated so much on sounding normal, that after a five minute visit he was exhausted. Gibbs told the young people to head out so that Tony could get some rest. After a few parting hugs from Abby and a wave and well wishes from Kate and McGee, Gibbs closed the door behind the visitors and took his place beside his younger lover.
He looked Tony over and sighed as the younger man pretended to be asleep.
"Tony I know you're awake."
"Sso?" Tony cursed under his breath as the slur made its self known, he hated that he sounded like a retarded person. He hated his physical weakness that was the result of his injuries and the pain he was feeling, but more than that he hated the stupid slur and occasional stutter. And to top it all off, he couldn't remember some words when he needed them. He had tried earlier that morning to get Gibbs go and get some rest, but he couldn't remember the word home, that had resulted in his breakfast tray sailing through the air.
"Tony, you don't have to try so hard around us, we won't think any less of you for something so-"
"Ssso what Gibbss! Sso meaningless? Sstupid? Or m-maybe d-disgusting! I Ssound like I belong i-in a f-freaking facility!" The more agitated Tony got, the more difficulties he had with his speech and it made Gibbs' heart ache for his lover.
"Calm down Tony. You sound like you, maybe you're having a bit of difficulties forming words right now, but you still sound like you, though the silent version of you isn't half as good as the original." Gibbs took a deep breath before he continued, he watched as Tony lay defeated on his bed, the earlier anger all but faded leaving behind only desperation and sadness. He took the younger man's hand in his and stroked his head with his free hand...
"We'll get through this, even if you never speak like you used to again, none of us will leave you or think less of you, but we need you to try and get better. And for the record, I was going to say something you have no control over. "
Tony looked at Jethro and saw the sincerity in his eyes and nodded, too emotional to speak in fear of bawling like a newborn baby. He gave a shy little smile and was grateful when Gibbs smiled reassuringly back at him.
"Get some sleep, I'm sure Abby will come and visit again soon and she will expect you to talk to her."
Tony groaned but dutifully closed his eyes and smiled. He fell asleep as he felt Gibbs' fingers massage his scalp where a little stubble had grown.
It took a little over a week of being in the hospital, a week of constant poking, prodding and speech therapy, before Tony was well enough to be left home. During that week, his speech had improved and the physical injuries had started to mend, so that his ribs weren't hurting anymore so much and the wound on his side had started to mend, even though the stitches were still in place and would be for a little while yet. But the most visible change was the fact that Tony's hair had started to grow back and there weren't thick bandages on his head anymore, only a small patch where they had to cut the scalp to access his skull.
Gibbs had gone home the evening before he could take Tony home with him and he was back at the hospital bright and early, carrying a duffel bag back with his lover's clothes in it. He made his way to the room where Tony was enduring his final check up from both his own doctor and the neurologist who had performed the surgery to relieve the pressure in his skull.
Gibbs knocked on the door before stepping inside, seeing that the doctors were about done anyway.
"Sso am I free to go?" Tony asked eagerly, looking form one doctor to the other and to Gibbs who was looking at his lover with amusement. The slur in Tony's voice was still easily recognizable, but after a week of speech therapy Abby's style, it had gotten a lot better.
The doctor who was in charge of Tony's case smiled at his patient as the neurologist had to take his leave as his beeper went off.
"Well Tony, it seems that everything is fine enough that I can let you go, but I need to caution you to take it easy." To Tony's annoyance the last words seemed to be directed at Gibbs rather than himself, the doctor knowing his patient after caring for him for over a week and seeing him try to overdo things in order to get home sooner.
"I believe you have appointments set up with the speech therapist, and you need to come back to have the stitches on your scalp and side removed. Your latest scans were clean, but we need to take control scans so we'll do the first set when you come back in a few days. Now if you'd just take it easy and the nurse will be by in a while with breakfast and after you've eaten, I'll be by with your discharge papers."
Both Gibbs and tony nodded the doc their thanks, even if Tony was pouting about the fact that he had to suffer through one last crappy hospital breakfast.
After the doctor left the room, Gibbs placed the duffel at the foot of Tony's bed.
"You ready to change out of the gown?"
"Oh, 'm more than ready," Tony said as he kicked the blanket off his legs and moved to get up. He was glad that the iv that had been his constant companion for a while, had been removed the previous evening and the catheter had been take out days before, when he'd first been able to walk to the bathroom and back by himself.
Gibbs steadied his lover as Tony stood up too quickly and gave himself a head rush and swayed.
"Whoa, easy there tiger," With Jethro's help Tony got changed into the sweatpants and -shirt that had been in the duffel. Afterwards Tony sat resting on the bed, his side and head hurt after the activity, but he was feeling better than he had since Randy's return.
Soon the nurse brought the breakfast and even if tony had gotten a lot of his confidence back as his speech improved, the clearest sign of everything slowly returning to normal, was the fact that unlike any other day, Tony flirted. Jethro chuckled to himself as the nurse left giggling to herself after her encounter with DiNozzo charm and he was in too good mood to feel the tiniest bit jealous.
Tony ate his breakfast and watched as Gibbs walked around the room, carrying all of his get well gifts and cards to the duffel and putting them inside. He chuckled around his spoonful of porridge as he saw his lover eying the care bear plushy Abby had brought him. Tony was amazed at where on earth the lab rat had managed to get a gray Care Bear plushy, with Goth make-up and a skull on his tummy.
Gibbs glanced at his lover and smiled at the quiet chuckle, before pushing the toy in the duffel with the rest of the gifts.
After the nurse came to collect the dishes, Tony and Gibbs took a last survey of the room to ascertain nothing had been forgotten as they waited for the doctor to arrive. They didn't have to wait long and soon Gibbs was pushing tony out of the hospital and listening the younger man grumble about the mandatory wheelchair.
They left the chair by the hospital's exit and with Gibbs keeping a constant hand on the other man's elbow; they made their way to the parking lot. As they made their way to the older man's car, Tony stopped and stared at the vehicle. Jethro felt his lover stop and turned to look at him, confused to see that Tony had paled and was watching strangely at the car.
Suddenly it hit him and Gibbs swore silently. It seemed like a lifetime ago since the accident that left Tony fearing his driving, so much had happened since then that not only had Gibbs forgotten about it, Tony himself hadn't been thinking about it either.
"Oh shit, Tony I didn't think."
"It'ss okay Jeth," Tony swallowed hard and made his feet move to the car and with his lover's help, sat at the front passenger's seat. Gibbs knelt down before him and rubbed his arm up and down.
"We'll figure this out tony, do you think that-"
"I c-can make it. Just go s-slow please?"
Gibbs smiled through his worry and placed a kiss on Tony's lips.
"For you, I'll drive as slow and carefully as I ever have."
With that Jethro shut the door and made his way around the car and got inside, he started the car and looked at Tony.
"Yea 'm fine."
Gibbs backed carefully out of his parking spot and headed for the house where he knew that Abby and the rest of the gang was waiting for them, even Bill had promised to come after Gibbs asked him to. Gibbs still didn't trust the man completely, but Tony seemed to have forgiven him so that was that.
Jethro kept a close eye on Tony the whole drive home, and every two minutes asked the other man if he was okay. Tony for his part relaxed slightly when Gibbs held the steady pace and didn't drive like a maniac, and even though he had a tight grip of the edge of his seat, there was no sign of a panic attack.
The two men got safely to their destination and once Gibbs pulled the car on the drive way, Tony gave a sigh of relief and muttered a quiet, "Home ssweet home." Gibbs smiled at that and bent over to place a kiss on Tony's temple.
Gibbs went around the car and helped Tony out of the car and they made their way inside, where the rest of the gang was waiting for them. Gibbs watched as Abby and Ducky fussed over Tony and he smiled at the scene.
Bill came to stand next to him and the two men smiled as Tony told about how he had survived another trip in the boss man's car, the significance of the statement made Abby squeal and the rest of them smile at the step towards Tony's recovery.
"How is he really doing?" Bill asked the ex-marine as tony insisted that he was fine and that everyone could stop fussing as Abby tried to cover him with a blanket.
"He's gonna be fine."
And for the first time since it all started, Gibbs was certain that Tony would be just fine. They had a long way to go still, Tony's speech would slowly improve and his hair would take a while to grow back, and even if he had managed to sit in car with Gibbs behind the wheel, his fear wasn't cured with only one trip. But they'd take it one day at a time.
Gibbs smiled as he thought that he might have to start driving more slowly and carefully for good, but he didn't really mind. He'd do it for Tony and they'd get through this like they got through everything else, together and with the help of their friends.
A/N:I know some of you are gonna say that it was a bit rushed, but I really didn't want to work this chapter to death and make it worse, and really i didn't want to drag this fic out, when it would just seem forced, but if even one person liked this chapter, then I'm happy.