Gateway to His Heart—Chapter 6

He exchanges kisses with Tim making the younger man sigh with contentment. Gibbs is still smiling moments later when exhaustion finally catches up with them sending both men into slumber. All of their contentment is forgotten a little while later, when the nightmares begin.

He's not sure what wakes him until he feels the racing heartbeat and panicked breathing of the man beside him. Gibbs blinks once to get the sleep out of his eyes and sees that Tim is still asleep, apparently in the throes of a nightmare. Considering everything they've talked about in the past twelve hours, Gibbs is mildly surprised that he isn't in the midst of his own nightmare.

"Don't go…"

Gibbs first thought is that Tim is pleading with his father not to leave him again. After all , the other man had left Tim once before at a crucial point in the younger man's life. Then he hears Tim's next words.

"Jethro…don't…don't walk… away…please?"

Ahh, McGee … Gibbs pulls the younger man closer, running his hands over the younger man's back. Tim starts to calm down and Gibbs breathes a little bit easier. He keeps a hand on Tim's back, listening to his heartbeat slow back down and his breathing deepen to that of a normal sleep.

Once Tim is again in a deep sleep, Gibbs gently rolls him to his back so that he can study his young companion's face. Gibbs can't help running the back of his hand over Tim's face; from his currently closed green eyes to the high cheekbones. The still slightly pouty lips that Gibbs had kissed just a few hours ago.

Gibbs then runs his hand over Tim's ears, watching in quiet amusement as Tim reflexively brushes his hand away. He lets his hand trail down Tim's throat, his own breath catching slightly at the scar tissue from when the dog Jethro had bitten Tim. Gibbs shakes his head; a wild shot is probably the only thing that had saved Tim from being mauled to death as none of them would have heard the dog if Tim hadn't tried to defend himself.

Gibbs lightly touches the area surrounding the scar and can see that where he touches turns a quick red color before going back to normal skin tone, another testament to Tim's honest declaration that he has sensitive skin. Gibbs eyes crinkle with humor as he imagines what Tim would have looked like in high school or even college after a makeout session. Gibbs wouldn't be a bit surprised if that's the reason Tim wore turtlenecks so often his first few years on the team.

DiNozzo would have seen bruises and jumped to one of two conclusions: a) Tim was getting more sex than Tony or (b) he was being abused. Considering Tony's experience a cop and former homicide detective, Tony would more than likely go with the abuse theory. Then again, knowing Tony, he'd have thought that Tim was just getting more sex…it would depend on the bruising.

Gibbs runs a hand over Tim's shoulders and arms, again stopping at the scarring on Tim's wrist. Twice in the same day, in that same short period of time, he could have lost this man. If the dog had succeeded in his attack or worse if Tim hadn't gotten a shot off…Jethro has to admit that he too was surprised when Tim accepted the dog into his life.

Gibbs can feel Tim's heartbeat and breathing starting to accelerate again and knows that another nightmare is beginning. He looks up into Tim's face. The younger man's eyes are still closed as he starts mumbling. Gibbs can't hear all the words, but the primary one is dog. Gibbs tightens his slight hold on Tim and lightly brushes a hand over his head.

Tim quiets down again and this time opens sleepy, green eyes.

"Jethro?"

"I'm here Tim, go back to sleep."

Tim obediently closes his eyes, then opens them again. He can feel Gibbs still caressing his wrist and knows instantly what the older man must be thinking.

"Jethro, don't blame Abby. I'm the one who took the dog in. "

"Why would you do that when you feared it, what it could do to you…what it did do to you?"

"I.." Tim sighs. He blushes as he imagines trying to explain it to the man he's with; even now, weeks after he'd brought the dog in, he couldn't explain why he'd done so. He couldn't possibly admit that he had wanted to take care of the human Jethro and the dog was just a poor substitute for the real thing.

"I think I know…thank you Tim." Gibbs says softly still caressing Tim's wrist and running his hand up to the base of Tim's neck. Seeing as Tim is awake, Gibbs places kisses on the two injuries and frowns when Tim starts laughing.

"Sorry, but that tickles."

Gibbs narrows his eyes and Tim stops laughing. The intensity of Gibbs gaze tells him that Gibbs is plotting something. Tim gulps not sure what to think or do next.

"Gibbs?"

"Shhh…I'm figuring this out…it's the textures…gotta be…"

Gibbs runs his hand over Tim's neck again and aside from a light twitch, no response. When he replaces his hand with a kiss, Tim starts laughing. Tim then twists away and says, "It's my ears. You're tickling my ears when you kiss me there. I told you my ears are sensitive too. They're ticklish sometimes."

Tim looks down at Gibbs, who's still running a hand up and down his neck. Tim leans in and exchanges kisses with Gibbs before lying down and snuggling close. The next few hours pass quietly as both men catch up on some much needed sleep. Morning dawns and Gibbs is surprised when he opens his eyes and he doesn't immediately see Tim beside him.

"Coffee?"

Gibbs pulls himself to a sitting position and then accepts the ceramic mug filled with the aromatic brew. Tim chuckles as he watches Gibbs come to life just from breathing in the coffee's aroma. Gibbs blinks a few times to finish getting the sleep out of his eyes and then takes his first sip of the day.

"Ahh, that's another reason to keep you, you make damn good coffee."

Tim just smiles as he sits beside the mattress and sips his own cup of coffee. When they finish both men stand up and Gibbs heads for the shower while Tim tidies up the living room and kitchen. Dressed once again in their finery from the night before they head outside where the limo driver is patiently waiting and opens the door.

The drive back to town is quiet as the men stay lost in thought. It's not until they are in Gibbs driveway that Tim turns to his companion. He gazes at Gibbs who knows immediately what is going on behind those green eyes. Gibbs starts to leave the car then leans back in and says,

"I'm not letting you go. I'm not letting tonight end with a simple kiss. I told you before we ever got this far that I want to get to know you better. Having gotten this far only emphasizes my belief that you have something no one else has."

"What's that?"

"I've told you things tonight that no one knows, that I couldn't tell to anyone, not even Ducky. You hold the key Tim; something inside of you holds the key to the gateway to my heart."

Gibbs saunters up the driveway, whistling as he enters the house. He knows that Ducky will be waiting for answers and what he will be telling the older man. The one thing he won't tell him about is the shining look of happiness in Tim's green eyes and the slow spreading smile on his face as he'd left the car. That is an image he is going to savor for a few hours anyway deep inside his heart.

A/N: this is the final chapter for this particular story. thank you as always to those who don't only read but review as well.