He fought to open his eyes. Why was this so fucking hard? And his mouth, his mouth felt like the Goddamn Sahara. He coughed, and white-hot pain radiated from the left side of his chest. Jesus fuck!... Okay, DiNozzo, get your shit together. Finally, his eyelids cooperated and Gibbs filled his hazy view.

"Well, hey there, good-lookin'," A dopey grin spread across his lips, as the words filling his brain spilled out his mouth. He really could stare at that handsome face forever. Gibbs smiled, hell, he may have even blushed, but it was Abby's giggling that caught Tony's attention. His vision cleared, mostly from a sudden surge of adrenaline, and into view came not only Abby, but Ziva, McGee, and Ducky as well. Shit. He was definitely blaming this on morphine.

"Hey, Tony!" Abby beamed, placing Bert at the foot of the hospital bed, a fart emanating from the stuffed hippo.

"Hi, Abby," He croaked. Fuck, he could really use some water.

"Thought you were a goner," McGee jeered.

"More like wished, " Ziva slung.

"Oh, Tony, don't listen to them. Though, you are a very lucky man. Reminds me of my stint in Paraguay, middle of sum—"

"Duck," Gibbs gave him a look, that look.

"McGee, we need coffee!" Abby snagged McGee's arm.

"But, Abby, you don't drink coffee…" McGee's voice faded as she dragged him from the room.

"You know, I'm feeling a bit parched myself. Ziva, my dear, would you be so kind as to escort me?"

"Of course, Ducky," though she stopped before leaving the room, "You know we didn't mean it, Tony."

As she shut the door, Gibbs pulled a chair close, his hand resting atop Tony's. Calloused fingers crossed his own and no words were spoken. For a fleeting moment he wasn't in this hospital, but in Jethro's bed.

"I'm sorry, Tony."

"Don't apologize, it's a sign—" A fit of coughing stopped him mid-sentence.

"Of weakness," Gibbs finished for him, helping him to drink by angling a cup of water towards him, "Stop using my rules against me, DiNozzo."

"Rules are rules, Boss," Tony quipped, smiling as he snagged the straw and drank deeply. Gibbs put the drink down, and brought Tony's hand to his lips and placed the lightest, playful kiss upon it. He threw Jethro a sideways glance, petulant even. Gibbs sighed, but ceded, leaning close to Tony and satisfying him with an apprehensive kiss on his lips.

"Don't know if I'll ever get used to that."

"Used to what, DiNozzo?"

He smiled, unable to help it, "Kissing you."

This time, he definitely blushed. More and more, he surprised Tony. For years, he'd been this impenetrable wall, a… Castle. With a moat. And alligators, the works. But finally, Gibbs was letting him in, little by little. Already Tony was blown away by how comfortable he felt with him. It wasn't that he hadn't before; it was that this was such an entirely different feeling he couldn't explain.

"I thought I'd lost you."

"You think I'd let a—" Another bought of coughing interrupted him, "bat-shit Gunny bring me down? Wouldn't let you down like that, Boss."

"There's the DiNozzo I know."

Jethro leaned in for another careful kiss. Yeah…Tony would never get tired of that. Their kiss was cut short, though, by the latch bolt of the door clicking open and a figure clad in a white lab coat stepping into the room. At least it wasn't Ziva or McGee.

"Uh…" The man cleared his throat, "My apologies, gentlemen, but I'm Agent DiNozzo's attending physician. I just need to check his vitals."

"Check away, Doc," Tony breezed, as Gibbs sat back, brooding slightly. So, Gibbs doesn't like to get caught, duly noted. The doctor looked over the chart, watched the monitor next to the bed, and even double-checked the readings.

"Well, you're blood pressure is slightly elevated, heart rate as well, though I don't think its… Significantly related to your injury. Try to get some rest, Agent DiNozzo."

"I'll do my best," Tony nodded as the good doctor left the room.

"He's right, you know. You should get some sleep."

"Could you, um… Would you stay with me?"

"I'm not going anywhere, Tony," Gibbs smiled softly, giving Tony's hand a light squeeze. A knock on the door disturbed them yet again, though this time it was only Abby poking her head in.

"Aww," She cooed, spying him holding Tony's hand.

"Abbs?" Jethro questioned, barely above a whisper.

"Sorry, Gibbs," She smiled, "McGee is taking Ducky home, then he and Ziva and I are heading back to NCIS."

"You guys should probably go home. It's been a long day for all of us."

"Would it make you feel better if I said we would?" Abby tested with tongue-in-cheek.

His face flashed frustration for only a second, before softening and changing into one of quiet understanding, "Keep me updated."

"Keep us updated, Abby. I'm not out of this yet, Boss," Tony grinned, giving Jethro's fingers a squeeze as Abby shut the door, a Cheshire-esque smile donning her face. Gibbs swung his chair parallel to Tony's hospital bed, kicking off his shoes and relaxing back. As he reached back to flick off the bedside lamp, his beautiful blue eyes met Tony's.

"Night, Tony."

"Night, Boss."

Darkness enveloped the room. His chest hurt like hell, and overall he was feeling pretty shitty. But at least he had Gibbs there with him.

"Either of you think Tony's been acting strange?" McGee asked as they all stepped into the elevator.

"Getting shot will do that to you, McGee," Ziva replied, her tone thick with sarcasm.

"Not what I meant, Ziva, but point taken."

"I'm just jimmying you, McGee."

He frowned, "You mean 'joshing'? You jimmy a car door."

"Whatever, yes, I meant joshing. Regardless, I do actually agree with you," She returned, the doors opening and the three making their way into the bullpen.

"Maybe it's a new girl?" McGee suggested.

Ziva eyed him, "That would make sense, but why hasn't he told us about her yet?"

"Well, maybe… Tony just doesn't want to talk about it?" Abby tried. Both McGee and Ziva looked to her with unbelieving eyes before bursting into laughter, Tim even going so far as to lean on the file cabinets for support.

"Abby, all the years I've worked here and not once has Tony failed to gloat about how he 'scored'."

"Or, 'dominated'," Ziva pinged.

"'Conquered'," McGee ponged.



"And, finally, 'fucked'," Ziva finished.

"Alright, I get it. Geez, guys," Abby surrendered.

"He's probably still sour about getting punched," McGee replied, turning the conversation left.

"How did that happen, anyway, McGee? Tony's been awfully secretive about it." Ziva questioned.

"Oh, Tony just kissed some girl that had a boyfriend, is all. Typical DiNozzo stuff."

"Ha! I knew it! He was far too sneaky regarding the origins of his… What is it, McGee?"


Ziva pointed to him, elated, "Exactly!"

"Yeah, well, you try getting punched, Mc-G, and then shot! And, we'll see how you act!" Abby scowled at them both before stalking off.

"Ziva… You think it's something in the water?" McGee questioned, utterly perplexed by Abby's outburst.

"If it is, then we must be next."