I think this may have been born between watching old seasons of NCIS, and the new episodes and reading far too much Tony whumping. Be warned, there is attempted suicide and torture, though nothing *too* graphic. They may all be woefully out of character, but once this one burrowed into my brain, I had to get it out.

Hope you enjoy!


Rule Number 9

Tony leaned against the shiny wall of the elevator as the doors closed on his floor and the young couple that had moved into his apartment.

That was it.

He had no job, no home, no family and no life.

He'd been gone four months and no one seemed to care that he had gone missing.

One night after a particularly gruesome case, Tony had gone to a club to loose himself. If only for a few hours, he just wanted to forget the feeling of holding that little boy as he bled out in his arms. The little girl who'd been drowned by her own father for getting the police involved in their messed up life.

He had gone alone after the others had declined and there'd been a guy, older than Tony who had reminded him of Gibbs. He had gone with him willingly. He needed to forget, to pretend. He was pathetic.

The guy had spiked his drink, and then had locked him in a basement for months on end. For four horrible months – no, he was free, he'd gotten away and he was NOT going to think about it.

Gibbs. He needed to find Gibbs again.

Somehow he managed to get to Gibbs house. He didn't know what he was expecting, but it wasn't this. They were all there. Gibbs, Abby, Ziva, McGee, Ducky and Jimmy, and they looked happy.

He couldn't hold back the sob that had been threatening him since he'd realized that they weren't coming anymore.

He slumped back against Gibbs' door before sliding down it.

They didn't need him.

He held the knife in both hands like it was something precious. Had he had this all along?

Never go anywhere without a knife.

He couldn't remember.

He sighed in bliss as the blade dug painfully into the soft flesh of his left forearm, the cut to his right arm wasn't deep, but it did the trick.

The blade thumped from Tony's limp hand.

Inside, Gibbs looked up from his coffee cup and stared at the door in confusion.

xXx

Rule Number 3

Gibbs slammed the phone down in irritation. He'd been trying to get a hold of his senior agent all morning with no luck.

'Where the hell is DiNozzo?' he snapped at McGee who had just come back from checking with Abby about evidence from their most recent case.

'You mean you haven't got a hold of him yet?' McGee asked in disbelief.

'Yes McGee, that's exactly what I mean,' he scowled darkly at the younger agent.

'Perhaps he has been handcuffed to his recent playmates bed as punishment,' Ziva offered bitterly.

McGee stared at her in confusion.

'Go through his phone record, David,' Gibbs snapped. 'I don't want to hear from you until you know something.'

'Yes, of course.' She immediately focused on her computer screen, her face burning in shame.

'Find out where he is, McGee.'

'Of course, Boss,' McGee stated as he worked on tracking the GPS in Tony's phone and car.

Gibbs stormed from the bullpen, heading straight for Tony's apartment.

Never be unreachable.

Gibbs stood in front of Tony's apartment door, staring at the absurd purple key that Tony had gifted to him after a night of drinking.

He slowly pushed the door open, and stared in shock at the empty apartment. Everything was just gone.

He pulled his phone from his belt to call someone when it rang.

'Tony's phone was disconnected and his car is in Ohio,' McGee blurted.

'Where?'

'Senecaville Lake.' McGee replied sadly.

Gibbs sighed as he snapped his phone shut and headed back to the Navy Yard.

'Damn it, DiNozzo, what the hell did you get yourself into this time?'

xXx

Rule Number 8

'He didn't quit, Gibbs!' Abby stated emphatically.

'Abby,' he tried to sooth her, but she wasn't having it.

'He didn't! Tony loves his job, he loves us, he wouldn't just up and leave like that. He would have said something to us, to me. To you.' Her bluster faded and she slumped against Gibbs who had pulled her into his arms.

'I know Abs,' he said into her pigtails.

'And he isn't… he's not…' she couldn't bring herself to say it.

Gibbs tightened his hold on her.

It was times like this that he missed Tony, not that he didn't always miss him, but at times like this even more so. He would always have something well timed and inappropriate to say.

Palmer was trying, but he was just usually inappropriate.

Never take anything for granted.

Tony had always had a way of being smarmy but charming. He could liven the team with a bad movie reference or lewd suggestion.

He could find that one thing that they need for a viable lead on a case that everyone else had overlooked.

He always had his six.

He missed Tony, and had to find him because he needed him. He hadn't realized just how he needed Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, Jr. until the agent in question had vanished without a trace.

They'd been searching for months for Tony, even when the trail had gone cold in Ohio. They had no leads, no clues, no hints. They had nothing.

Vance had been adamant about them giving up, but none of them could. None of them wanted to.

They were missing a vital part of themselves with Tony missing. They were missing their heart.

Ziva was their strength, McGee their brain, Gibbs their driving force, Ducky the voice of reason, Abby was their innocence.

Tony was the glue that held them together.

He was the glue that held Gibbs together, and Gibbs was slowly falling apart.

xXx

Rule Number 6

Gibbs sat watching his team; they had just wrapped a difficult case involving children, and were letting off steam together.

Ziva was losing to Jimmy, Abby and McGee as they played some racing video game. He and Ducky watched them.

Ziva celebrated as she managed to pass Jimmy after having hit him with a red shell.

Suddenly Abby was trying to sit on Jimmy and Ziva was trying to get McGee's controller from him, as they insulted each other through their laughter.

Eventually though, the laughter stopped and the quartet looked like they were all about to cry.

'This feels wrong.' Ziva stated as she set her controller down like it was a bomb about to explode.

They all glanced at the framed photo above the fireplace. It was of a laughing Tony who had his arms around Abby, the others were around the pair. No doubt laughing about something that Tony had said.

He wished that Tony was here, they all did.

There was so much they wanted to say to him.

Never apologized, it's a sign of weakness.

He'd thought he'd heard something at his front door. He wasn't positive though, but he went to investigate. Some kid might have lost a ball.

He froze when a body fell against his legs when he opened the door.

'Tony!' Abby yelled, trying to rush forward. McGee held her back.

'Duck!' Gibbs yelled, as he dropped to his knees, ignoring the pain.

'You still don't have permission to die on me DiNozzo!' Gibbs stated as he wrapped his hands around Tony's wrists, after he'd pulled the younger man against his chest.

'You don't get to die on me, AJ. Not today, not now when I finally got you back. I can't lose you, not like this. I need you, please.' Gibbs mumbled into Tony's hair, 'I'm sorry I didn't find you. I'm sorry I didn't look harder. I'm sorry.'

xXx

Rule Number 12

Gibbs watched Tony, just like he had for the last weeks.

He was in a coma, there was no medical reason for it; it was like Tony just didn't want to live. The resemblance to when he was in a coma was not lost.

He'd tried talking to Tony, they all had, but the agent was still asleep, still out.

Taking Tony's hand Gibbs leaned his elbows on the bed and kissed Tony's hand before resting his forehead on it.

'I tried AJ, I tried so damn hard, but damn it! Rule 12 was there for a reason.'

Gibbs was silent for a long time.

McGee had brought coffee.

Ziva had brought soup.

Jimmy had brought something for Gibbs' hands to do.

Ducky had brought stories of Tony.

'Sometimes rules are meant to be broken, Jethro.' Ducky offered as he gave his friend a rare hug before he left Gibbs alone with Tony.

Never date a co-worker.

'I've already lost one family, I don't think I can survive losing another. Losing you. I need you to wake up so you can see how much you mean to us, to me.'

Gibbs fell silent. He wasn't a talker, he showed his feelings, though even that was iffy.

Eventually he leaned into Tony and whispered, 'I love you,' into his ear. 'I know you think you're not worth it, but you are. Please let me see those gorgeous green eyes of yours so I can show you just how worthy you are. If anything, I am not worthy of you.'

'Boss,' it was hoarse whisper, but Gibbs heard him.

Tony had no idea if he was dreaming, or if he he'd died, but he melted into the kiss, relishing the taste of coffee and bourbon that was the older man.

'Don't ever scare me like that again,' Gibbs stated when he reluctantly pulled away.

xXx

Rule Number 51

It had been a week since Tony had come out of his coma, and the doctors were letting him go home. Only he had no home to go to. His apartment had been leased to a young couple.

'AJ,' Gibbs called softly as he entered Tony's room.

'I got a hotel room,' he announced as he set the phone down.

Gibbs sighed, 'we've been through this.' They had, they'd talked about for the last three days, and Abby had, and McGee and Ducky but Tony was adamant about not staying with him - with any of them because he didn't want to be a burden to them.

Of course, they hadn't talked about what happened the night that Tony had woken up but Gibbs wondered if Tony even remembered it.

Gibbs moved silently and startled Tony when he pulled the younger agent into his arms.

'Boss, no. I'm not worth it; you should just leave, and forget all about me.'

Gibbs smacked the back of Tony's head. Not as hard as he had in the past but enough to get the point across. You're being an idiot.

Tony stares at Gibbs, both grateful for have some sense knocked into him and irritated that he hit him. He is injured and he has no home, why shouldn't he stay with Gibbs who has a house big enough for both of them. He's stayed there often enough that the spare room is really his now.

It's actually been his since he first move from Baltimore and hadn't found a place yet and ended up staying in it for a week. But Gibbs doesn't tell him that.

Sometimes you're wrong.

'I…' rule 12, he's heard it often enough, 'Thank you, Lee.'

Gibbs gives him a soft smile, before pulling him into a deep, hungry kiss. 'I will spend all the time in the world making it up to you,' Gibbs promised, resting his forehead against Tony's.

'You really don't…' he starts, but Gibbs' hand covers his mouth and he's tempted to like to see if Gibbs tastes like sawdust too, but Gibbs gives him that glare, not quite you're an idiot, but nowhere near as intense as you're already dead, you just don't know it yet.

The nurse arrives with the wheel chair and Gibbs glares, don't argue with me, I can have you fired. She walks beside Tony's chair carrying the balloons that Jimmy had given him and his bag. He knows there will be a long road, the investigation and the therapy, but he can get through this.

Abby, Jimmy, Ducky, McGee and Ziva are waiting in the lobby, and as Abby squealed, Tony knew that he'd been wrong.


Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed. Don't forget to leave a review on your way out! :D