Title: Falling Down

Author: rose_malmaison
Rating: FRAO
Warnings: M/M, sexual situations, language
Spoilers: Tag to Under Covers, 3x08
Genre: Pre-slash, angst, romance, first time, h/c
Pairing: DiNozzo/Gibbs
Word count: 28,500 in 9 chapters - complete
Disclaimer: Using the characters for further exploration
For: Boat, Bourbon, Basement 2 Zine in print, 2011
Beta: Annie B

Summary: After Tony is hurt in an undercover op, Gibbs makes it his personal business to take care of his agent. Tony discovers he's attracted to his boss and invites him to spend a weekend away with him even though he is sure it won't work out.

Notes: I feel I wrote this ages ago even though it was about 1 1/2 years ago. When I was asked to contribute to a fanzine I reworked a long, unfinished story, and with Annie's help, edited it down into a more compact and cohesive story. I hope you enjoy it! Drop me a line or leave a comment, please.

Chapter 1 - Falling

A brave man struggling in the storms of fate,
and greatly falling with a falling state.

~ Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

***–***

Tony strained against the bindings that secured his arms to the heavy chair, and kicked the man lying prone at his feet, shouting, "How does that feel? Huh? Huh, big guy?"

As if from a distance he heard Ziva calling out, "Enough!"

***–***

Abby hugged him with a bit too much fervor, and Ducky prodded and poked unnecessarily, and prescribed scotch and aspirin, but Tony put their minds at ease by reassuring them he was still alive and kicking.

***–***

"Someone responsible has to keep an eye on you, DiNozzo."

"I'll take him home, Boss," McGee volunteered.

Tony insisted that he was going to his own apartment; he refused to be coerced into going to Gibbs' home. For once he dug in his heels. He needed to recuperate at his own place and for a change he did not require, or want, Gibbs to watch over him. Surprisingly, Gibbs backed off as soon as Tony made it clear he had no intention of going home with him. Although Tony was suspicious that his boss was up to something, his brain wasn't working in a linear manner. Guess that's what happens when you're beaten up, and then dosed with pain-killing drugs that you didn't ask for.

Before they left the Navy Yard, Gibbs handed McGee Tony's newly filled prescriptions along with verbal instructions. It was telling that the entire team knew medical directives for concussions, gunshots and other trauma better than some first-year residents in the ER. McGee paid strict attention to everything Gibbs said, as if he was a babysitter being left with a troublesome child and he wanted to make sure he got the kid's bedtime right.

Tony shook his head at the sight of Gibbs passing the torch to McGee, even if his skull felt as though it was about to split wide open at any minute. "There will be a pop quiz later, McDoctor," Tony said with a loopy smile, slinging his arm over Tim's shoulders and pretending he didn't need the support the younger man offered.

***–***

By the time they finally got to his beloved Mustang, Tony was drained and just about ready to collapse. He was so out of it from the shot they'd given him in the ER that he barely noticed when McGee buckled him into the passenger seat. Tim drove at a steady pace and handled her gears smoothly, so Tony had no complaints.

***–***

Next thing Tony knew he was stripped down to his underwear (he was almost positive McBashful had not been the one to undress him) and he was tucked into bed. Tony sighed with relief - there was nothing like his own bed with its high thread-count sheets and memory-foam mattress. His head, raised by two fat pillows, was woozy from the bedtime pills that Tim had made him take but at least he was comfortable for the first time in hours.

As he lay there, thinking back, Tony wasn't sure how he'd been coerced into taking the meds but then he vaguely recalled Tim saying something about being practiced at pilling cats. Tony accused, "That doc shot me up wi' somethin', 'Gee." When they were in the ER Gibbs had distracted Tony long enough for the overly tired doc to stick a honking great needle deep into the thigh of his reluctant, and squirming, patient. It was at that point Tony had called Gibbs a bastard and had refused to go anywhere with him. "They ganged up on me, Timmy. Gibbs doesn't play fair."

"Just get some rest, Tony," Tim said, pulling the comforter up to cover Tony's bare chest. "I'll be waking you soon enough. Better brush up on all the past presidents' names." Tim turned out all the lights except for a small one by the bedside and quietly slipped out, leaving the door ajar.

At some point during the night, Tony had a vague, faraway feeling that someone insistently shook his shoulder and shouted at him to wake up. No way could he summon the strength to open his eyes, or even grunt a reply, and eventually the annoying shaking stopped.

***–***

There was a terrible pain in his chest. Through the fog Tony realized someone was rubbing his breastbone hard with bony knuckles. He raised a hand to ward off his assailant. "Don't," he mumbled, frowning with annoyance.

"DiNozzo!"

A hand slapped his cheek and then shook his shoulder more vigorously. "Cut it out," Tony grumbled. He opened his eyes a crack to find Gibbs was looking down at him. Even with his bleary vision he could make out the worry on his boss's face.

"Tony, wake up!"

God, please stop shouting. "Onitboss." Maybe now he'd go away. Tony could just about make out Tim peering around Gibbs' shoulder to get a better view, as if Tony was the main attraction in a circus sideshow.

Tim asked, "You want me to try again to get hold of Ducky, Boss?"

McGee sounded concerned, but Tony imagined it was simply Probie being his usual probie self. Tony blinked at the two men hovering over him and groaned, "I'mmmfine."

Gibbs half-smiled with what appeared to be relief. "Oh yeah? Who's the President?"

"Prez? Of whah? Teamsters? Ron Carey. Nashn'l Football–"

"Of the United States, DiNozzo!"

McGee said worriedly, "Ducky's still not answering. He must have turned his phone off when he went to the ball with the director."

"Birthday Ball…" Tony said with a smile and started humming.

"What's my middle name?" Gibbs demanded.

Tony chuckled. "Bastard." There, he'd said that without slurring too much, he thought, inordinately proud of himself.

"He doesn't sound all that lucid, Boss," Tim said worriedly.

"Hell, he sounds normal to me," Gibbs said with a smile in his voice.

"Mmmmfine." Tony turned over, away from the light.

***–***

He was dying, no doubt about it. His head felt like it was about to explode and he was positive his eyeballs were going to pop out of their sockets and roll around on the floor screaming in agony any moment now. The image was so real Tony panicked and raised his hands to his face just to make sure everything was still in its proper place. Damn meds were messing with his brain. He sighed with relief even if his face hurt like a bitch and he really needed to take a piss even if he couldn't make himself get up. He opened one eye and squinted around the bedroom. It was still dark out and the small bedside lamp behind him was the only source of light. He couldn't hold it any longer, had to get to the bathroom.

With a moan Tony started to roll over, but came to an abrupt halt when he encountered a hard body in bed next to him. What the hell? Without looking, he let his hand meander and discovered a nicely muscled thigh encased in sweatpants. He was feeling around a bit more when a strong hand clamped on his forearm and prevented any further exploration.

"You looking for something special, DiNozzo?"

"Boss?" Tony peered over his shoulder and saw Gibbs was sitting on his bed like he belonged there, reading glasses perched on his nose and an open book in his hands. "You're in my bed," Tony said stupidly. A flush rose to color his cheeks when he realized that his hand was resting on Gibbs' crotch; he could feel the ridge of a penis under his thumb. He pulled his arm back quickly, out of Gibbs' grasp. "Thought you were McGee. Not that I'd grope McGee or anything…or that he's anything like you…not that I know what you feel like…well I do now…but I…uh…"

Gibbs snorted. "Nope, I am not McGee." Removing his glasses and tossing them and his book on the bedside table, Gibbs slipped off the bed and asked, "Gotta use the head?"

Tony nodded, which proved to be a mistake because it not only hurt - a lot - but it set off a wave of dizziness. He waited a couple of moments, half-blinded by a stabbing pain in his head, and then slowly sat up with a groan. Squinting against the light, Tony complained, "Knew you couldn't leave me alone in my own bed for long." As soon as the words were out he realized they were just wrong, but he wasn't in any shape to make a follow-up joke. "God, I'm a mess," he groaned.

"Ya think?"

Gibbs came around to Tony's side of the bed, pulled the covers back, and attempted to help Tony get out bed. Tony rebuffed any assistance with a vague wave of his hand. He somehow got to his feet on his own but immediately stumbled into Gibbs' supportive arms.

"Give it up, Tony. You're too unsteady." Gibbs displayed an unusual air of patience when he said persuasively, "Let me help."

Tony allowed Gibbs to slip an arm around his waist but all the same grumbled under his breath. Not that he wasn't glad to have a solid body to lean upon; it was just that he didn't feel right about Gibbs seeing him being so damned weak. Well, it had happened before and no doubt it would happen again.

They made it to the bathroom, and Tony was able to stand in front of the toilet bowl only for a few seconds before he listed dangerously to one side. Gibbs immediately steadied him and enveloped him in a no-nonsense hug from behind. The undershirt that Gibbs wore did little to prevent Tony from feeling the heat coming off his body. Gibbs might be acting all matter-of-fact about this close encounter but it was stirring an unbidden reaction from Tony's body, making his breath quicken and his cheeks grow hot. "I'm okay now," Tony said in an unconvincingly weak croak.

Gibbs voice, very close to his ear, assured him, "Just do what you need to do. I gotcha."

Objecting a little under his breath about the firm grip around his middle, but in reality feeling way too unsteady on his feet to stand on his own, Tony did his business with his eyes half-closed. Being physically supported was embarrassing especially when it was Gibbs' warm breath on that sensitive spot just behind his ear that always got him all hot and bothered, that was making his knees so damned weak. As soon as he finished urinating Tony tidied up and shuffled over to the sink to wash his hands. He splashed some cool water on his overheated face and sighed in relief. Gibbs stayed close behind him, but his grip had loosened.

"Don't get your bandages wet," Gibbs said as a reminder.

Both of Tony's wrists were wrapped in lots of white gauze and for the first time he took notice of how sore they were. The anesthetic must have worn off. He remembered then that he'd had stitches in the left wrist, which had been cut deeply by the bindings during his struggle to free himself. The right, the doc had said, wasn't as bad. Tony remembered Gibbs being there in the ER, his hand on Tony's shoulder throughout, making sure he'd received the best of care. He'd stayed by Tony's side through the CAT scan and had helped to field the all-too familiar questions the ER nurse had asked.

"I see two fingers, I got no allergies, and yeah I've been in a hospital overnight recently. Hey Boss, was that for the gunshot, the concussion, or the plague?"

Tony accepted a towel that Gibbs handed him and carefully dried his face. "Thanks," he said.

Gibbs grunted in reply.

"For being there," Tony felt compelled to add, even though he had a pretty good idea that Gibbs knew what he meant.

Strong arms slid around Tony's bare waist, tightened a little and then loosened, and it took Tony a moment to comprehend that was Gibbs' version of a hug. It made him smile even if having Gibbs hugging him when he was loopy and half-naked was sort of awkward. Tony was still trying to think of something witty to say, though his mind was as slow as molasses from the meds, when he looked up and caught sight of his reflection in the mirror over the sink. He stared at his messed-up face and asked, only half-joking, "Who the hell is that?"

The left side of his mouth, and the nearby cheek and jaw, were swollen and turning a dark shade of plum. Tony raised a hand to his bruised and swollen face and grunted at the resulting pain. No wonder he'd been mumbling. Even his teeth were loose, damn it. There was a cut under his right eyebrow and he'd be lucky if he didn't end up with one hell of a shiner on his left eye. "Jesus, please tell me I killed that asshole." Tony ran a hand over his aching ribs and belly, avoiding touching Gibbs' arms as he did so. There were bruises on his left side and his stomach was coloring up from being used as Cord's punching bag. He looked past his mirrored self to see Gibbs' face was dark with anger.

"You damned well tried to kill him," Gibbs said in a growl. "Next time, do it right. And don't wear those fancy shoes."

Tony drew a blank and then remembered he'd been wearing Gucci loafers. Too bad they hadn't been steel-toed boots. "You should've let me finish the job," Tony said, remembering how he'd been interrupted while trying to kick Cord to death. He could see that Gibbs was still angry at what had gone down in the hotel room, and about how close both he and Ziva had come to being kimbo-sliced. Well, he was pretty pissed about the whole 'tie DiNozzo up and work him over real good' thing himself. Tony looked away from Gibbs' reflected face and leaned towards the mirror in order to gingerly pull back his lip and check out his teeth, flinching at the mess inside his cheek.

"I should have finished Siazon and his men off myself." Gibbs reached out and laid a hand on Tony's arm. "Stop touching your face, Tony." He moved both of his hands to Tony's bare shoulders but as he seemed to have recovered some of his equilibrium, the touch was light. He rubbed Tony's muscles a bit and asked sympathetically, "You okay?"

"I will be when the drum corps gets outta my head," Tony mumbled with a vague attempt at a smile, very much aware of Gibbs' warm hands against his bare skin. Gibbs was standing so close behind him that Tony could smell his scent - sweat and spice mingling with the ever-present aroma of coffee - and all of a sudden he found himself getting hot. He met Gibbs' eyes in the mirror, so blue and full of concern that Tony's heart quickened, to beat a lively tempo within his chest, and he had trouble catching his breath. Gibbs' warm smile deepened and merely seeing it was enough to make Tony's dick twitch of its own accord. Whoa, down boy! What the hell was that about? It wasn't like Tony to react sexually to any man, much less to his boss, for chrissake.

Tony leaned against the bathroom cabinet, evening out his breathing, hoping that Gibbs didn't catch on to what was happening. God, this was mortifying. Had to do something… He closed his eyes and pictured someone else touching him - Mrs. Mallard - there, that did it. A couple of deep inhalations and Tony was able to conjure up a sort-of-smile. It was pitiful but under the circumstances it was the best he could do. Gibbs was looking him over, concerned, so Tony made the excuse, "Headache. There's a majorette bangin' away on the biggest drum you've ever seen. Think I better get some sleep, Boss."

Gibbs made a huffing sound, apparently amused. "How short is her skirt?"

"Real short, and she's really cute." Tony laughed goofily and winced at the pain that shot through his mouth. "Ow."

"C'mon. Bed. And stop smiling, DiNozzo."

"Smiling's good for you. That's what Abby says. Lowers your blood pressure. You should try it sometime, Boss," Tony said with a sideways glance at Gibbs, who did not follow his advice. Then it was back to bed with Gibbs hovering all the way, and Tony was more than glad to be lying down once again. How could getting beaten up make him so damned tired? The trouble was that after his excursion to the bathroom he was wide awake. Gibbs handed him a glass of water and some aspirin, and assessed Tony while he swallowed the pills and then drank thirstily. After Tony was finished and put the glass aside, he reclined on a pile of pillows and watched Gibbs making himself comfortable next to him, on top of the covers.

***–*** TBC