When Gibbs opened the door, he found Tony asleep on the plaid couch his second ex-wife had told him not to buy, and his third ex-wife had tried to give to a thrift store.
Tony opened his eyes.
"How are you feeling?" Gibbs asked.
"A little creeped out. Were you watching me sleep?"
"Just trying to decide how to wake you up. Hit you, or dump hot coffee on you?"
Tony yawned. "That's easy, Boss. You wouldn't waste the coffee."
Gibbs took off his coat, and draped it across the back of the couch.
"You feeling any better, Dinozzo?" he asked again.
When Tony didn't answer, Gibbs reached out and hit his agent on the back of the head.
"Hey? You in there?"
"That's the question, isn't it?"
A car passed by the house, and Tony's teeth shone in the glare from the headlights, but his smile disappeared as quickly as the car. The sound of the engine faded away and the street was quiet again.
"Do you think I've been drugged?" Tony asked.
"We'll know soon. Ducky is on his way."
"Do I have to go to the hospital?" Tony asked.
"I don't like needles, Boss."
Tony shook his head. "I've told them before. Blood goes on the inside."
"With you on that one, Dinozzo. You want pancakes?"
He looked up at his boss. "Those go on the inside too."
Gibbs laughed. "I'll take that as a yes."
Tony followed Gibbs into the kitchen, and jumped up onto the counter to watch his boss pull syrup and pancake mix out of the handmade cabinets.
"What are you going to do with me if I haven't been drugged?"
"What do you want me to do with you?"
"There are rooms," said Tony. "They have locks, and guards."
Gibbs didn't look up from the bowl of batter he was stirring.
"Is that what you want?"
Tony stared out the kitchen window for a minute before answering. "I'm afraid of hurting someone."
"Who? Because we both know I could take you."
"Are you afraid of hurting yourself?" Gibbs asked.
"No," Tony said slowly. "I'm not afraid of that."
"You told me to."
Gibbs crossed the room in a couple of steps. Tony flinched when his boss took his jaw in his hand and turned his face toward him.
"That wasn't me," said Gibbs.
"I can't tell the difference."
"Like hell you can't!" Gibbs yelled. "You know me!"
"I always had a vivid imagination."
"Yeah? Well, here's a hint. I would never tell you to hurt yourself."
Another car passed by the house.
"Don't worry, Boss," Tony's voice was quiet.
"Who says I'm worried?"
"Your hair is gray," Tony smiled. "And your pancakes are burning."
Gibbs let go of his agent's jaw and turned to face the stove. He scraped a charred pancake from the frying pan and threw it away. The smell of burned sugar filled the kitchen.
"Is that what they tell you to do?" Gibbs asked.
Tony watched Gibbs flip a pancake. "Sometimes."
"What else do they say?"
"I can't arrest them, because I gave you my badge and I gave you my gun. Don't give me back my gun. Not even if I say please." Gibbs didn't say anything, so Tony raised his voice. "Promise me you won't give me back my gun!"
Gibbs set a plate of pancakes on the kitchen table, but Tony didn't move from his seat on the counter.
He said, "Sorry I was loud. They talk even more than I do."
"That's saying something."
"I've told them before. Yelling doesn't help me think."
A car pulled into the driveway, and the two men heard Ducky's quiet footsteps on the porch.
"Doesn't help anyone think," said Gibbs, watching Tony kick his heels against the counter. "Don't know why we do it."
"Probably because we're not thinking."