"You going to be okay?" Gibbs asked abruptly. He glared at Dinozzo, daring him to lie, but not surprised when he did anyway.
"Sure. It's not like this is the first time someone has tried to kill me." Tony leaned in conspiratorially. "I mean, I make a lot of bad jokes."
"Yeah. And that was one of them."
Gibbs took in the dark circles under his eyes, like Abby had been pressing kisses to his cheekbones, and leaving smears of black lipstick. He wondered if Dinozzo had gotten any sleep at all. He'd thought that his agent would deal with the hurt in his own time. He knew Tony wouldn't be punching any walls for a while, but he had other ways of coping. They weren't sophisticated or original, but they worked, for a while. Except the bones in Tony's hands had healed, and he still hadn't found release in the gym or a bottle or Gibbs' basement
"You want to talk about it?" Gibbs tried for gentle. He wasn't sure it came across, though, because Tony flinched.
"Why? It's not like we've had a heart to heart every time someone has tried to kill you."
"You make it sound like that happens a lot," said Gibbs.
"Well sure, Boss. You aren't exactly known for your charming personality."
Gibbs could see Tony tense in anticipation of a head slap, but he just said, "Still don't seem to get in as much trouble as you do."
"Oh, that's easy, Boss. You were a Marine. I was a cop. Everyone who wanted you dead is dead. Everyone who wanted me dead is just getting out on parole."
Tony's teeth sparkled in the dim accent lighting, and Gibbs realized that the conversation had gotten away from him again.
He could still feel the dirt on his hands, and he wondered, with no small amount of horror, if that was how Tony felt about Kate's blood. He'd tried washing his hands. He'd even used some of the rose scented soap that Hollis had left and he hadn't gotten around to cleaning out. He could still smell the dirt on his hands, and feel it under what was left of his fingernails.
What was harder to remember was the feeling of Tony's pulse under his fingers, when he'd finally gotten to the end of the dirt. He'd seen the state of Tony's hands, and grabbed his wrist instead, pulling him out of that hole. Now, sitting on to Dinozzo on his living room couch, Gibbs felt like reaching over and grabbing his wrist again, just to feel his heart beat, but he was afraid Tony would flinch again if he touched him.
Tony's grin faltered in the face of Gibbs' stare. He looked down at the coffee table.
"Thank you for coming for me," Tony said.
Gibbs had to look away too. "Hell, I knew I wasn't going lose you that day."
Tony smiled shyly, and Gibbs realized that it was just because he'd said his death would be a loss, and for the first time in a long time, Gibbs felt guilty for being a bastard.
He reached over and took hold of Tony's wrist, wrapping his fingers around the knobby bones. Tony pretended not to notice, picking up his beer with his free hand and taking a sip.
"A gut feeling," Tony summarized. He shook his head. "Wish I could be that sure of myself. Although it's probably a good thing my gut isn't as sensitive as yours, considering the junk I eat."