*Three months later*


He was in the basement, sanding away the frustration of being in the middle of a long, twisted investigation when he heard the shout. He was slightly annoyed that he had given in to Tony's repeated nudgings to let the team get some rest tonight, so he kept on at his soothing task and yelled, "What?"

He was met with silence for a moment, and then a thump, and he pictured Tony dropping onto their new, soft—and really comfortable, he had to admit—couch upstairs. Gibbs read the silence correctly this time, and he dropped the hand sander and ran up the stairs, quickly moving into the living room and finding Tony curled up on the big plush couch.


Gibbs immediately recognized his partner's low moan of pain and realized he should stick to whispering. He took in the pillow covering Tony's face and turned out the overhead light.

"God I love you," came Tony's muffled voice.

Gibbs smiled at that as he crossed the room to pull the heavy shades he had installed after their talk about just how bad the migraines could get—after he made Tony recount every symptom he had ever had. The smile dropped off his face as he caught sight of Tony's hands, balled into shaking fists as he fought the pain. Gibbs pulled down the last shade and went to retrieve the case of needles from a drawer in the kitchen. He grabbed the small flashlight he had put there, too, remembering Tony's almost shy smile at the care Gibbs was putting into his emergency plan.

"What?" Gibbs had asked. "Every op needs a good plan."

Returning to the couch, Gibbs sat beside Tony's curled body and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, frowning hard at the tremors he felt there.

Tony sighed in relief, equally glad to have Gibbs and his needles nearby. He remembered lying on his bathroom floor three months before and blindly jabbing the needle into his stomach, all the while longing for Gibbs' touch so fiercely it had hurt about as much as his head. He rolled onto his back, not bothering to stop the soft moan at the change in position, and he was suddenly immensely grateful Gibbs had ignored his protests and demanded a "dry run" of how to give the injection. Just the thought of speaking that many words now was enough to make Tony gag, and he felt Gibbs' hand settle gently on his, resting on his churning belly.

Gibbs reluctantly broke the contact to pull Tony's shirt up and out of the way, and as he flattened his trembling hand on his lover's stomach, he breathed a small sigh at Tony's hand on his, giving him the reassurance he needed to do this. Gibbs used the alcohol wipe and then took another breath before sliding the needle into Tony's skin, hating that he had to hurt him to help him.

Tony didn't flinch at the sting of the needle, but he felt Gibbs' hand grasp his anyway. The soft clink of the syringe hitting the table echoed like a gunshot inside his splitting head and Tony gave a quiet gasp, his body jerking as white lights exploded behind his closed lids.

Gibbs' free hand moved to the back of Tony's neck and he massaged lightly, wishing like hell there was something more he could do to ease his partner's suffering. He didn't speak, didn't apologize for the sound of the needle—so soft he had barely heard it. With that, he realized just how bad these migraines really were, and it made a knot form in his chest as he imagined Tony, three months ago, lying alone in his apartment and struggling through this kind of pain while Gibbs stood not three feet away.

He swallowed his guilt and focused on the man beside him, who had curled up again, pressing his face into the soft cushions of the couch. Gibbs moved his hand to Tony's back and asked in a whisper, "What can I do?"

Tony's answer was either "Shhhhhh" or a hiss of pain, and Gibbs simply nodded. He had always believed actions spoke louder than any words so he slid down, moving Tony in slow increments until they were both horizontal. Tony was half-lying on Gibbs' chest, his face buried in his lover's neck as he tried not to scream the agony out of his head. Gibbs' hand on his back was soothing, and the gentle, even strokes down his spine made him realize it had been a long time since someone had been there to help him through the pain. He tightened the arm he had slung over Gibbs' middle and wondered how he would ever make himself let go.

"Thank you," he whispered against silver scruff.

Gibbs could feel the tension in the muscles quivering under his hand, but he didn't know if it was from the headache or the emotion he could hear in Tony's voice. "Of course," Gibbs breathed. "I love you, Tony."

Tony pulled his hand from under Gibbs' shoulder and rested it on his chest, his thumb, index and little fingers extended in the sign language indication for "I love you."

Gibbs smiled even though his lover's ragged breathing was making his own chest hurt, and he covered Tony's hand with his and gave it a squeeze.

Tony returned the squeeze with a fierceness that made Gibbs wonder how long before the medication would start to take the edge off his suffering. He kicked himself for forgetting to ask during the dry run, but he kept his mouth shut and resumed the long, regular strokes with his free hand. He ignored too the crushing grip Tony had on him because he knew the slight ache in his fingers was nothing compared to the agony in Tony's head. Gibbs would gladly trade places with his gasping partner if there were a way.

The harsh gasps gave way slowly—too slowly for Gibbs' impatience—to more even breathing punctuated by the occasional shuddery sigh, but Gibbs' hand never stopped or slowed its gentle tracks up and down Tony's spine.

"I hate this," Tony whispered, wincing at the broken silence.

"Yeah," Gibbs said, keeping his voice as low as possible. "Me too."

They lay quietly for a while, Gibbs unwilling to speak until Tony's breathing was back to normal. Not surprisingly, it was Tony who first spoke.

"But this is kinda nice."

Gibbs grinned, his hand still tracing vertebrae even though there was no longer any pain in Tony's voice. "We do this all the time," he said, still whispering as though afraid to reawaken the agony with too-loud words.

"Yeah," Tony agreed, his lips soft against Gibbs' neck, "but I'm not usually on drugs while we do it."

Gibbs held in his chuckle at that—but he couldn't stop his soft rumble of laughter at Tony's squawk when Gibbs pinched him hard on the ass.

"Hell was that?" Tony asked, squinting in the dark to try to see Gibbs' face.

"Didn't dare headslap ya?"

Tony laughed, the light, pain-free sound music to Gibbs' ears. "Fine," he said, dropping a kiss on Gibbs' smiling mouth. "Just don't make a habit out of it."

"Yes, sir," Gibbs said, giving a sloppy salute and watching Tony's green eyes glow with mischief. "What?" he asked, unable to read the look.

"You still have your dress blues, Marine?"

"You are impossible," Gibbs said, shaking his head. "You should rest."

"You should fuck me," Tony suggested, undeterred.

Gibbs gave him a thoughtful frown, but before he could open his mouth, Tony looked up at him with a grin. "You're thinking about it right now, aren't you?" His hands started wandering and the grin got wider. "Yep. You're thinking about fucking me into tomorrow."

The frown deepened. "Why do you always put it that way? It sounds so…"

Tony rolled his eyes, sighing and then focusing on Gibbs' face, batting his eyelashes dramatically. "Leroy Jethro Gibbs, will you make slow, sweet love to me?"

Gibbs' laugh turned to a groan at the magic Tony was working with his skilled hands. "I think," Gibbs said with a slight pant, "we should stick to fucking."

Tony grinned again and returned Gibbs' sloppy salute.

"You're the boss."