It's well past 2200 when Gibbs entered the room. The night shift nurses had came and gone, after checking all of the readings on the myriad of equipment next to the bed. The machines beeped and chirped as if playing an unintentional symphony. They had finally moved Tony out of isolation and into an ICU room. While he was no longer infectious, Tony's condition was still too unstable and the pneumonia could still kill him if they're not careful.
He was not supposed to be there; it's way past visiting hours, but none of the nurses dared to keep him away after Dr. Pitt had given his silent permission. He stood by the foot of the bed, placed his hand on the railing and hesitated. He shouldn't be here.
But you want to. A little voice in his head said to him, and he sighed. Yes, he wanted to. He had secretly wished that he were the one that had the cold and not Kate, so he'd be in there with him. It pained him to stand outside isolation, unable to do anything but to pray, for the first time in many, many years, that everything turns out all right.
He closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief.
All that was important was that he, one Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, was alive.
Gibbs moved the chair that had been left at the bedside by Tony's previous visitor – probably Abby or Kate – so that it's closer to the bed and sat down. He reached for Tony's right hand, which didn't have the IV line attached to it. Gibbs didn't want get Tony in trouble with the nurses by accidentally pulling out the IV. Tony's a restless patient, if his normal behaviours were any indication. After the third time he pulled out the IV by accident, he got a warning from the day shift nurse that if he did that again, she was going to tie his hand to the bed.
The knot in his gut finally loosened up when he sat and felt the warmth from Tony's hand. He saw the new cell phone that he had given to Tony sat right next to the bed on the table and suddenly, it all became too much. He felt his breath caught as the previous day's memory came flushing back.
"Tony… Listen to me. You listening?" Gibbs whispered next to a cyanotic Tony.
"Of… of cour… course I'm lis… listen… ing… Boss," Tony strained to answer his Boss.
"You will NOT die. You got that?" with Tony's seemingly worsening condition, it took Gibbs all of his self-control not to give in to the urge and break down. He needed to be strong for Tony. Giving Tony a swat on the top of his head, which ended up being more of a caress than a slap, he repeated himself, "I said, you WILL NOT DIE."
"I got you, Boss," Tony whispered with all of the strength he had, tear in his eyes.
Remembering their conversation from the day before, when he ordered Tony to live, Gibbs could no longer resist. He brought Tony's hand to his forehead, and mouthed a silent thank you to their maker. Icy blue eyes, too bright with emotions swimming, watched Tony's sleeping form, unblinking for fear that the next moment he would wake up from a dream and it's all gone.
Gibbs reached one hand up to cup Tony's slightly sunken cheeks, pale with sickness. Brushing his hand through Tony's hair, Gibbs was surprised to find it thick but soft. "I need you to be strong, Tony. I can't lose you. Need you to be there, right behind me, to watch my six. I…"
Gibbs felt like his brain was in a fog, and he couldn't think clearly. It's an emotion unfamiliar and long forgotten, but he didn't have a name for it. So he did what he'd always done and pushed the thought to the back of hid mind.
Suddenly, Gibbs woke from his thoughts with a start. He felt a presence – someone, or rather, something, was in the room with them. He jumped up from the chair, one hand on the holster of his gun, and turned to face whatever it was that spooked him.
There was something in the shadow of the room.
"Who's there? Show yourself," Gibbs tensed and focused his glare in the figure's direction.
"Just a friend of Tony's," a tall, lean figure, dressed completely in white emerged from the shadows. It was a man, with light blonde hair, sky blue eyes, pale complexion and… wings?
Gibbs felt his eyes widen in shock. What the…?
"What the hell are you?" Gibbs frowned, then demanded.
"As if you couldn't tell from this get-up," the man replied with a chuckle and pointed behind his back. "What do you think I am?"
"But…" that's not possible. Gibbs instinctively moved closer to the bed, protectively over Tony.
"Don't worry, I'm just here to make sure he's ok," putting his arms up as if surrendering, the angel said, "Tony's got everyone worried, even us."
"Archangels, or Archies as Tony used to call us – he really loved giving people nicknames," the angel rolled his eyes. "The name is Gabriel, by the way, but you can call me Gabe."
Gibbs felt light headed. He slumped back down in the chair as Gabriel walked up by his side. Angels? Is this guy serious?
"Raphie – Raphael as humans call him – would've came in person to see to Tony's speedy recovery, but he's got his hands full at the moment, so Mike – Michael – dispatched me instead." Gabriel reached out to touch Tony's hair.
"How…?" Gibbs muttered under his breath.
"Like I said, just checking up on Tony, since he used to be one of us."
"What?" Now that got Gibbs' attention. "You're saying… that Tony's a… an angel?"
"I said 'used to' – he's not one anymore. I doubt he remembers anything though. The Fallen weren't allowed to carry the memories down here. He's human through and through, and he gets sick and hurt just like everyone does – although we do take care of our own." Gabriel said with a small smile.
"Why he Fell?" Gabriel was still smiling, but Gibbs could feel the sudden air of sadness surrounding the angel. "That is not something I should divulge."
"Tell me. Please." Gibbs looked up at Gabriel, almost pleading with him. He didn't know why, but he could feel that the information would be important to him.
"Why do you want to know? What's Tony to you?"
"He's my second-in-command, one of my team – in fact the most important person on my team, the best agent I've ever trained, and…" Damn, there's that fog again!
"And what?" Sky blue eyes met Gibbs' ice blue ones, and all of a sudden, his thoughts weren't hazy anymore.
"And I… love him." The words slipped out before he could stop himself.
Finally figured it out, did you? Leroy Jethro "Second-B's-for-Bastard" Gibbs? The small voice sounded again.
But he was Tony's boss! And Tony trusted him and…
So? So he's a former marine who's got three ex-wives for God's sake! Never mind the "don't ask, don't tell" and the fact that Tony was his very male, very straight second-in-command. He'd probably freak out and put in for a request to transfer to a different planet.
"Now was that so hard?" Gabriel said with a grin, and got a glare back from Gibbs.
"It's none of your business." Gibbs retorted harshly. "You still haven't answered my question."
"Of course it's my business. Well being of humans and all that."
Gibbs intensified his glare. He didn't like the fact that Gabriel can see through him so easily.
"Alright, alright!" Gabriel was now chuckling, thoroughly entertained by Gibbs' reactions. "You want to know why Tony Fell."
"Don't make me ask again."
"Would you believe that he did that because of you?"
"Me?" Gibbs' frowning expression didn't change, but the look in his eyes went from annoyed, to shock, then finally gave away to confusion.
"I don't know all the details." Gabriel shook his head slightly, "but it's not easy to Fall. Those who'd Fallen never get an easy life. Although Tony seems to be doing quite alright, after all."
Gibbs nodded, thinking back to all of the things that Tony had been through over the years. Tony didn't like talking about his past, and did the best he could to distract others from asking when the subject was brought up. Though Gibbs could gather from what little bits Tony had mentioned, that his childhood was anything but happy.
"All Tony said was 'I can protect him better down there' when the big guy asked. Apparently that was good enough a reason – but then He's always had a soft spot for Tony."
"Big guy?" Gibbs quirked an eyebrow.
"He doesn't seem mind that. He's got a much better sense of humour than you do in any case," Gabriel grinned. "Anyways, I've got to go. Places to go, people to see – you know, angel duties."
Before Gibbs could say more, the angel's form brightened and then simply vanished without a trace. If it weren't for the single pure white feather that dropped to the bed, right on top of where Tony's heart would be, Gibbs would've thought that he was hallucinating. He picked up the feather and looked at it like he would examine a piece of evidence, wondering what Tony would've looked like with wings. The image in his mind brought a small smile as he put the feather on the side table next to the bed.
"Sleep tight my angel," Gibbs whispered as he ran his hand through Tony's soft hair, then sitting down to continue his silent vigil and digest Gabriel's words. He wondered if maybe, just maybe, Tony also had feelings for him. Gabriel did mention that Tony 'Fell' for him – to protect him. Gibbs let out a sigh – maybe this could explain why Tony seemed to be a magnet for troubles of all shapes and sizes? What would Tony say if he told him about what Gabriel said?
Feeling a tug at his hand, Gibbs' eyes snapped open, unsure where he was. It took him a few seconds to remember that he was in the hospital with Tony, and realized that he must've dozed off thinking. Gibbs took a quick look at the clock – 0432, still early.
"Boss?" Tony asked sleepily, brought the hand that Gibbs had been holding until now up to rub his eyes. He was zonked out on the meds that Brad had prescribed, and it must've been stronger than he thought, because he's now hallucinating that his boss was in his room, taking a nap while holding onto his hand.
"Hey there," Gibbs said with one of his rare, lopsided smile. He reached out to bring Tony's hand back into his, reflexively rubbing small circles with his thumb. "How're you feeling?"
"Better," Tony answered with a big yawn. So it wasn't a hallucination. "What're you doing here?" He paused. It's not exactly visiting hours, so… "Have you been here the whole night?"
Busted. Gibbs quirked an eyebrow. "So what if I'd been?"
"Good," Tony's lips curled into a smile that lit up the whole room. The two men continued to stare at each other, and fell into a comfortable silence – Tony still too weak and too prone to coughing fits to carry on a conversation, and Gibbs being a man of few words.
"I'm sorry, Boss," Tony finally said, after turning his head to face away from Gibbs. After Abby's visit, and her subsequent rambling of how everything turned out, Tony was completely caught up on the case. That, however, didn't make him feel any better about the mistake of opening that stupid SWAK.
"Ain't got nothing to be sorry about, DiNozzo," Gibbs shook his head. "Not your fault."
"I should've followed protocol, I should've been careful – I'm the senior field agent, I should've known better," Tony closed his eyes, trying to suppress the urge to cough.
"You couldn't have known," Gibbs raised one of his hands to cup Tony's cheek and turn his head to face Gibbs. "Tony, look at me."
Tony looked straight into Gibbs' blue eyes, afraid of what he would see – disappointment, blame, anger. Instead, all he saw was concern, fear, relief and something lurking deep in Gibbs' eyes that he couldn't quite place.
"It's not your fault." Gibbs repeated slowly, eyes focused on Tony, watching the younger man slowly nod in acknowledgement. Gibbs was a man of few words, preferring to let his action speak for itself. Tony had long realized that to truly understand the man's intention, you'd have to look him straight in the eyes – those eyes would tell you all you need to know.
It'd be a while before he would feel normal again, but for now, with his boss watching over him, Tony finally felt at peace.
"So when're they going to let me go home?" Tony asked, sporting his 'up-to-no-good' grin. He knew that he was far from being fully recovered, but the sitting around doing nothing was starting to get to him. Even a normal person could only rest and sleep so much, let alone someone as active as Tony. "I bet the nurses will be sad to see me go!"
Gibbs snorted at that comment. "The rate you're going, they'll kick you out sooner than you think. I heard that you've already gotten several warnings about your IV line."
Tony's grin turned into a sheepish smile. "Not exactly my fault there, Boss. I was asleep when that happened."
Gibbs had to keep reminding himself that Tony's still sick in order to resist the urge to smack him upside the head. "Alright, back to sleep for you."
"But I just got up!" Tony pouted and tried to protest when he launched into a big yawn.
Tony could only grin. "You'll stay here?" Another yawn.
"Uh-huh," no other place I'd rather be, Gibbs thought to himself. "I'll be here."
"G'night, Boss," Tony said before shutting his eyes again, letting the machine beeps and Gibbs' rubbing his hand lull him back to sleep.
"G'night to you too, Tony." Gibbs whispered close to Tony's ear after placing another kiss on his forehead. And I love you, he added silently with a small smile.
This was not the time, nor the place to get into how he felt about Tony. Hell, he didn't know if there would ever be a good time for him to admit his feelings for his second-in-command.
Maybe one day.
For now, he'd content himself with the knowledge that his own personal angel would be all right. Soon.