A/N: Something that wouldn't let me go... Strong H/C and pre-Tibbs-slash! :)


After rain comes sunshine

It took a while for the insistent ringing of his cell phone to cut through his thick sleep induced haze. He cracked open one eye and looked accusingly at the source of the noise.

He groaned loudly. Who would call him at this ungodly hour? Probably dispatch. He blinked a few times to focus on the little screen. When he saw the name there, he was wide awake.

Abby.

Why would she call at three in the morning? And if something was wrong, why call him instead of Gibbs?

"Hey Abs, what's up?"

"Tony! Help me! You have to come over, like, right now !" Then she seemed to yell at someone standing next to her. "STOP that! Put down the hammer!"

Tony's eyes grew wide and his blood ran cold. He was out of bed in seconds and tugging on his pants while trying not to drop his phone.

"Abby, where are you?"

"Bossman's house. Please hurry Tony, I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself!"

That was all Tony needed to adopt Gibbs' driving style. He floored the gas pedal but the car still seemed to go way too slow. His knuckles were white from gripping the steering wheel so tightly.

Finally he arrived at Gibbs' home and he quickly parked behind Abby's hearse. There was no one in the living room and Tony frowned for a moment before a loud noise from the basement made him jump.

He ran towards the stairs but what he saw when he got to the top of the steps leading to the basement, paralyzed him for a second.

"Tony! Finally! I don't know what to do, it's like he doesn't hear me!" Abby pleaded with tears in her eyes.

Gibbs was holding a hammer and he was hitting the boat over and over again in a blind rage. There came a strangled sound from his throat and Tony sighed. Now he remembered what day it was.

He stalked down the stairs and towards Gibbs. He couldn't approach the older man without risking to get hit so he ducked and then gripped his Boss' shoulders tightly.

The older man shook him off like he wasn't even there and hit out again. The hammer made contact with the wood but Gibbs didn't seem to notice the harsh noise it made, just raised his arm again to re-attack the timber.

"Gibbs!" Tony yelled. Gibbs quickly glanced behind him but Tony's presence didn't seem to influence him in any way because he simply turned his back to the younger man and resumed his attack.

"STOP IT!" Tony barked. He head-slapped his Boss. Yeah, that got his attention alright. He jerked his head towards Tony and the younger man had to suppress the urge to run off when their eyes met. Gibbs stared hard, his swollen eyes were red and his lips made a thin, angry line.

"Get the fuck out!" Gibbs raised his arm once more and it looked like he was going to hit his Agent. Tony heard Abby gasp.

"No." he was relieved to hear his voice was quiet and steady. Tony cupped Gibbs' neck and brought their foreheads together. "I'm sorry I didn't get here sooner. But I'm here now, okay?"

Their eyes met and the look in Gibbs' steel blues tugged at Tony's heartstrings. It was as if the comfort of Tony's presence was what Gibbs had been waiting for and all the energy visibly drained from his body in a matter of seconds. His knees gave out and he collapsed onto the floor. Tony swallowed hard and he sat down on the floor with his chest pressed against Gibbs' back and the older man between his legs. He intertwined their fingers and crossed their arms over Gibbs' chest. He pulled the man flush against his body and waited for what he knew was coming.

The first sign was the slight shaking of the older man's body. Then he felt the tears falling on his sleeves and soon the sobs were racking the body of the man in his arms. He held Gibbs tighter and pressed a soft kiss on the back of his head.

Gibbs could barely breathe through the sobs and Tony continued to hold him.

"Shhh..." he whispered in the older man's ear. He leaned his chin on Gibbs' shoulder.

"I... I miss them!" Gibbs forced the words over his lips and into the world that was sometimes so unfair.

"I know." Tony whispered back before kissing his neck softly. The sound of Gibbs' desperate cries for his lost family made Tony's heart ache and he glanced in Abby's direction. She was slumped on the bottom step of the stairs and silent tears ran down her cheeks.

"It's okay, go" Tony mouthed to her, hoping his tired smile was enough consolation for the raven-haired girl. He knew she depended on Gibbs to be strong, to be her rock. This was probably as hard on her as it had been on him when he first found Gibbs like this. But after ten years of the same ritual, he'd gotten used to having to be the stronger one when this happened.

He felt Gibbs sag down against him and a warm feeling welled up in his chest.

Abby couldn't help but feel like she was intruding on an incredibly intimate moment. Neither man was paying attention to her and sadness was replaced with confusion. What was going on between them? Evidently, Gibbs and Tony had an entirely different bond than they let on at work... She smiled back tiredly at the younger Agent and made her way up the stairs. There probably wasn't much she could've done to help anyway.

After spending a few more minutes in utter silence, Tony let his fingers slip through the silver strands in front of him. He broke the connection between their fingers and decided to ignore the heartache that went along with it, as he had for years. He walked around the older man and tugged at his hands to pull him up from the ground. Tony enjoyed Gibbs' heavy weight when he stood up and grabbed the younger man's shoulder to force down the dizziness.

Tony let Gibbs ascend the stairs first. Neither man addressed the issue, Tony always let him go first to check if his boss was okay. He knew that Gibbs was on to him but wouldn't stand up to him right now; he simply didn't have the energy to fight him on the matter.

When they came up to the living room, Tony made a slight detour to the kitchen with Gibbs waiting for him in the middle of the room. Grabbing a new bottle of Bourbon from the kitchen, he walked past the front door on his way back into the living room. He locked it and glanced at Gibbs to gauge his reaction but the silver-haired man was still standing in the middle of the room, looking lost.

Tony grabbed his hand and pulled him onto the next flight of stairs leading to Gibbs' bedroom. He silently set to the task of undressing his boss, pulling the heavy sweatshirt over his head and the T-shirt underneath. He tossed the pieces of clothing somewhere behind him – he couldn't care less about where they landed. As he began to undo Gibbs' belt buckle, the older man slowly started to unbutton his shirt, sliding it off his arms when it hung open. An involuntary shiver ran down Tony's spine and it had nothing to do with the sudden breeze of cool air hitting his skin.

He tugged Gibbs' jeans down his legs and unzipped his own slacks, leaving them both in nothing more than boxers. He'd learned long ago not to let his eyes roam over Gibbs' body and he turned to pull back the covers, watching as his boss crawled under them. He'd never get used to the sight of the older man on this day, he looked like he'd aged ten years in a matter of hours. It felt impossible to recognize his unwavering mentor in the broken man lying in a bed that appeared to make him look even smaller.

He walked around the bed and slid in, scooting over until his side touched the other man's. He sighed when Gibbs' body warmth immediately soothed his tired body and he lifted an arm, without question knowing what the older man needed to leave this day behind him.

It only took a second for Gibbs to lay his head onto Tony's chest, sighing gratefully when the wheels in his head finally stopped turning for the briefest amount of time. He wrapped his arm around the younger man's torso and tugged him closer, reveling in the way Tony's presence grounded him.

Tony dropped his arm and laid it against Gibbs' back, absentmindedly stroking across his ribcage. He pulled up the covers until only Gibbs' head was sticking out and dropped a kiss on his forehead.

"Thanks."

It was barely a whisper – Gibbs didn't like to depend on anyone and Tony never rubbed it in.

Tony closed his eyes and he found himself wondering if this would ever play out differently.

"Tony?"

"Hmm?" His voice was hoarse from having been quiet all night and he cleared his throat before looking back at the man lying on his chest, even though he couldn't see him in the dark.

"Do you love me?"

Although he could have seen that coming, he tensed up anyway. He forgot how to breathe until his lungs demanded oxygen and he sucked in a large gulp of air.

"Yeah… yeah, I do." He felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest but he didn't move a muscle.

"I think I love you too." Gibbs spoke the words slowly, as if he was tasting them on his tongue, testing the long-hidden truth behind them. Then he laid his hand on top of the younger man's chest and leaned his chin on it.

"Do you think it's possible to have such a defined image of love stuck in your head that you test everyone by the same standard until eventually, you lose the ability to view someone as an individual with its own set of principles, likes and dislikes?"

Tony nodded in the dark and cleared his throat again. "Isn't love always the one thing that makes us lose perspective?"

He could just pick up on the contours of Gibbs' tired smile before the man lied back down on his chest and released a long breath.

"I think I'm done with the redheads…", and then, after a slight hesitation, "stay?"

Tony caressed through Gibbs hair and nodded, for once not feeling the urge to say more. He felt Gibbs' breathing even out and his heartbeat slow down until the man's weight against him grew heavier as sleep overtook him.

For the first time in ten years on this date, he fell asleep with the idea that something new awaited them, rather than something in the past that was holding them back.

THE END


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