A/N: Last chapter, guys! I feel like everything has been wrapped up and this chapter is more of an epilogue than anything, so I'm naming the chapter Epilogue, because I'm creative like that. So, uh, reviews are appreciated! Please! :)
"Baby, how I've missed you!" Tony's joyous cry echoed through his spacious apartment, causing the forensics expert to chuckle as she playfully hit his arm. Abby obviously thought that Tony looked a bit too relieved at finally being released from Gibbs' watchful eye.
"C'mon, Tony, Gibbs isn't that bad." Tony gave her a look that clearly conveyed his lack of agreement and she shrugged in response. "He's nice when I stay over."
DiNozzo felt his eyes widen significantly at the statement. For a moment he didn't know what to think. Perverted situations for why she would stay over flooded his brain, the reflex too overpowering to staunch immediately. He had to repeatedly insist to himself that the two had a more filial relationship than anything even vaguely approaching sexual. Apparently, he had stayed silent a little longer than he should have because Abby's eyes narrowed in suspicion before widening abruptly in realization at what he must have been considering.
"Not like that! Jeez! No, he's like…" Abby slapped his arm a few times, perhaps a little harder than necessary in repulsion at the idea. Her expression contorted into deep thought, though, after she failed to find a sufficient ending for her sentence.
"Like…?" Both NCIS employees jumped at the sudden voice from behind them. The sly man in the doorway had his arms crossed almost protectively across his broad chest as he considered the younger woman he had addressed.
"Hey, Gibbs," Abby replied, obviously stalling for time as her intelligent brain searched for a suitable word or phrase. "I was, uh, just saying that…Tony said he didn't like staying with you!" She let out in a rush, eyes the size of saucers. Tony's lightly bandaged head shot over to his friend's in disbelief at the sudden betrayal. Abby gave him a sympathetic look before risking a glance over at Gibbs.
His eyebrows were drawn together to express his confusion and Abby immediately felt guilt wash over her. The MCRT team leader wasn't looking at her, though, instead, his eyes were boring into his SFA's. Tension flooded the room and Abby knew that while not necessarily the best time or way to have the following conversation, it was inevitable. She had the sneaking suspicion that this very discussion was the reason he had offered to meet them here to help Tony settle back in.
"I'm gonna…" She vaguely gestured the door behind Gibbs and mouthed a quick apology to Tony before rapidly leaving the apartment. She really didn't want to get caught in the crossfire.
Tony steadfastly held his superior's gaze, refusing to waver even in the face of the steely blue eyes that had broken terrorists with just their stare. He couldn't help but wonder why all this random, crazy shit happened to him. In this case, he knew the reason was a certain pigtailed goth, but everything else…did he step on an ant or something when he was six? Did the universe have some vendetta against him? He was just beginning to consider renaming "Murphy's Law" to "DiNozzo's law" when Gibbs broke the tense silence.
"Coulda just said something yourself." The innocent enough statement became warped when it entered Tony's skeptical, self-deprecating mind. Instead of being understood as a way of telling Tony that he could be honest with Gibbs, Tony interpreted as Gibbs' way of telling him that he should grow a pair and be able to face the possible incurrence of his boss' wrath for a little while. In reality, Gibbs wouldn't have really minded if Tony had sought refuge with another member of the team; he just wanted Tony to get healthy again.
"Sorry, boss, what I said to Abby, she kinda misinterpreted it. Well, not entirely, but what I mean is…I only meant that I was glad to be back in my apartment, it's my space and I have all my stuff and now you don't have to watch over me every night and-"
"You can work on your boat again without being in danger of murdering me and-"
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs finally barked, halting any more of Tony's nervous ramblings in their tracks. Tony's mouth immediately shut; worry crossing his visage as he awaiting his castigation. It didn't even seem to occur to him that he hadn't even done anything that would invoke any scolding.
"Yeah, boss?" He replied, not missing a beat.
"Shut up and listen. I don't care if you tell me you want to stay somewhere else. I just needed to know you had someone watching your ass or you'd have gone straight here and risked falling into a coma in the middle of the night with no one the wiser." Gibbs kept as much gruffness in his voice as he could, wary to sound too gentle in front of the younger man (he had a reputation to uphold after all) but he made sure to soften it minutely. He wanted to sound sincere not harsh.
"Oh," Hardly the most eloquent of responses, but he was justifiably startled. It wasn't that often that he heard Gibbs say an entire paragraph at once. "Thanks, boss."
While Tony was not usually a man of few words, in certain, special moments he has learned that limiting himself to a few necessary words and allowing expressions and body language to tell the rest has the most profound impact. So, now, standing only a few feet into his apartment with his boss standing a mere three feet away, he kept his words to the minimum. He allowed his eyes to show his gratitude and express what he couldn't get himself to say aloud.
They told Gibbs that he was thankful for the hospitality, despite what he said to Abby. They told Gibbs that he was thankful for not pressing any of the touchy subjects that had been brought up in the last few months. They told Gibbs that Tony knew he would not have gotten through this whole debacle in (relatively) one piece if it weren't for Gibbs.
They told Gibbs that he loved him.
He needed Gibbs, had for so long, and standing here only a few feet into his apartment with his boss a mere three feet away, he realized that. He had known that he valued the older man; had known that their relationship was unique since the day that Gibbs offered him the job at NCIS with just the point of a finger.
Tony knew that he loved Gibbs because love is knowing that you couldn't even exist without them. Gibbs had become the best father he could ask for, so he knew. He knew that he couldn't exist without him anymore.
A/N: 1) I'm sorry if the ending is sappy or cliche or both and if you guys don't like it, I'm sorry, but I secretly live for this sort of thing so...yeah, sorry for the sap... 2) This is still gen! Don't think I meant the 'I love you' as a romantic thing, 'kay? 3) Please review this is my longest completed fic and the most impressive thing I've done so yeah, reviews are love! 4) THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! To everyone that has taken the time to read all of this and review, follow, or favorite it. I owe you guys the world, and am sad that all I can give you are stories and sentiments. THANKS GUYS! I love you all! Look out for more of my stories if you're interested! :)