A/N – I rather lost my momentum on this one. I got stuck and then couldn't get unstuck (so annoying). I never really did rediscover my drive on this story, but at least here's an attempt to show that I haven't forgotten about these characters. Maybe later I'll write a sequel (but not yet).

Chapter 4

Ducky was waiting for them when they arrived at Gibbs' house. Fornell parked the car and then slowly disengaged his fingers from Gibbs' grip.

Glancing at the man beside him, he said, "Just opening the door. Don't go anywhere." He gave Jethro a tight grin and was relieved somewhat when he got a slight nod in return.

Exiting the car, he barely gave the ME a nod as he hurried to get to the front passenger door. He helped Jethro out, hearing a catch in his breath as he pulled him up to a standing position.

I'm going to break that son-of-bitch's neck with my bare hands; he seethed silently to himself as they made the slow arduous trek inside.

The stairs were difficult, but Fornell resolutely kept moving them forwards. He knew that Gibbs wouldn't truly be able to relax until he was in his bed—in their bed. Distantly, he heard Ducky's steady stream of conversation with Dinozzo as he got him situated downstairs; as always, it was rather one-sided, although for decidedly different reasons than usual.

Gently setting Gibbs down on their bed, he brushed a hand across his sweating brow and said, "Just hold on. I'm going to get some towels."

He wondered how many times Jethro had gone to bed wounded and alone since living in this house.

At least he's not by himself this time, Fornell consoled himself. And he's going to have to shoot me to get rid of me, he swore silently.

He came back with the towels and pulled back the bedclothes before laying them down over the sheets. He wasn't sure exactly what kind of mess they were going to be looking at, but judging from Dinozzo's voice on the phone, it was bad enough.

Helping Gibbs lay down on his side, he quickly pulled off his shoes and shirt in quick succession, and then followed with his own. He dropped them to the floor and then climbed into bed next to Gibbs, taking his sweating hands in his own just as he heard Ducky's footsteps on the stairs.

He wasn't sure that he'd ever seen such a look of abject misery Gibbs' face before. It sickened him; knotting his gut and making the fury in his chest threaten to turn into acid in his throat.

"Jethro?" He heard Ducky's unusually sober voice call out from the doorway.

Fornell watched as a wave of tension passed through Gibbs' body. He hated to do it, but the sooner they got this over with, the sooner they could be alone.

"Yeah Duck," Fornell answered, bringing a hand up to Gibbs' face and cupping his cheek gently. "We're ready."

. . .

Tony was miserable. It wasn't just his injuries, although painful, but having to wait here in Gibbs' house while more than aware of what was happening upstairs.

Ducky had given him a once over, and though his injuries weren't anything to be laughed off, the older man had told him that he seemed to be more bruised and swollen than actually broken. Then he'd given Tony a plethora of ice packs from his satchel, and with a somber parting glance, had left him alone to go upstairs.

Now that he was alone and could think—something he had been avoiding—he couldn't help think of all the ways their situation was his fault.

"Always the one needing saving," he muttered to himself, wincing as he tried to shift positions on the couch. "Can't ever save Gibbs," he added, leaning his head back and closing his eyes.

That's not true, his subconscious pointed out; butting its way into his misery. What about the time you had to give him mouth-to-mouth?

"Okay, one time to the hundreds of times he's saved me. Fine," he growled, turning his head into the back of the couch. Maybe he could smother himself.


He'd known he was in deep when he'd woken up in that room, bound up like a turkey. He had been able to tell from their eyes that his kidnappers were a nastier sort. When Gibbs had been tossed in too, his heart had simultaneously leapt and died. Being raped was a horrible idea, but for Gibbs to offer himself up instead . . . gah.

If he could have just gotten a hand free or kicked out or something, maybe created a distraction with his famously loud mouth, but no; he had been frozen as his boss' mouth had been raped. He'd been frozen as Gibbs' jeans had been yanked down and though he hadn't wanted to watch, he'd made himself do so, as his boss had taken it all in stoic silence.

He knew what was going on upstairs. Gibbs, horribly private Gibbs, was having to endure Ducky's examination of his body in a terribly intimate fashion. The thought made him sick.

He tried to shift himself into a more comfortable position but finally had to give up on it. It wasn't as though he deserved to be pain free. Gibbs certainly wasn't.

. . .

"I know you don't want to, but you're going to have to go to the hospital eventually, Jethro," Ducky said in a soft voice.

Fornell watched as Jethro clenched his eyes shut for a moment. Gibbs was on his side with his back to Ducky, and so Fornell was the only one who could see the pain on his face.

"I can gather the evidence here and run the tests at NCIS, but unless you want to run the risk of permanent damage . . ."

"Ducky," Fornell interjected softly. "I'll take him, I promise. But not before tomorrow."

Blue eyes opened and stared back at him in pained relief, and he bent his head forwards to rest against Gibbs' tense brow.

It was after Ducky had left, having promised to take Dinozzo with him, that Fornell dared say anything more than two words to Gibbs about anything.

"Jethro," he said in a near whisper, giving Gibbs' hands a short squeeze. "Is there anything you need, or do you just want to sleep?"

He knew that the chances of Gibbs being able to sleep were slim to none, but luckily they had the pain pills, and perhaps that would give him a few hours of unawareness.

Lord knows he needs it.

"Teeth," Gibbs grunted, closing his eyes as an almost imperceptible shudder moved through him.

"You want to brush your teeth?"

Gibbs nodded, opening his eyes again to stare back at Fornell in misery.

"Aw shit, Jethro," Fornell said as understanding dawned in his head as to why Gibbs needed to brush his teeth.

He climbed out of bed and helped Jethro to his feet. He didn't think that the other man could take wordy declarations of love right now, and he certainly couldn't handle anything resembling pity. The best he could do was show him how he felt through his actions, and then hope that Gibbs wouldn't try to shut him out.

And if he does, I'll kick his ass. The thought made him feel better.

He helped Jethro brush his teeth and then helped him limp to the toilet. In an attempt to give the other man some privacy, he started to turn away after getting him seated. However, a hand caught his arm as he turned, and he stopped and looked back at his lover's face.

"Not like you ain't seen everything already," Gibbs said, his voice rough for reasons that Fornell didn't really feel like thinking too much about.

He nodded and then waited until he was needed again to help his lover back upright. Gibbs leaned more on him now than he had outside, and Fornell knew he had to be in a lot of pain to be willing to rely on someone else.

He moved them back to bed and helped Jethro put on a pair of sweats, before handing him a couple of pills and a glass of water. Then he pulled the covers up around their shoulders and wrapped his arms tightly around Gibbs' chest. Jethro leaned his head down to rest just under Tobias' chin and let out a soft sigh.

"I'm not going anywhere, Jethro," Tobias murmured in a barely audible voice.

After a minute, Gibbs nodded and then began to relax.

It was a start.