Disclaimer - I lay claim to nothing but the strawberry lip balm
"We're on the next flight to Tel Adviv."
Taking his leave of the Director Gibbs headed straight up to the bullpen. He didn't want DiNozzo hearing this latest development from anyone but him. As he exited the elevator he paused in the shadows to survey his senior field agent. Tony was working on something or other, probably the monthly requisition forms which were almost due. What he saw made him glad the next available flight to Tel Aviv wasn't until 0700 the following morning. DiNozzo might have insisted that his was 'okay' that morning at the Hospital, but a fractured radius was nothing to be sneezed at and Gibbs had had enough experience of Tony's idea of 'a few bruises' not to take that assessment at face value. Especially, since Ducky had also flagged up a whole assortment of other injuries.
It had already been one hell of a long day.
And anyone who knew DiNozzo's usual reaction to prescription drugs, didn't need to see the thin lines of pain around the younger man's mouth, to know that the unusually sober and serious NCIS Special Agent hadn't taken a damned thing yet to ease his very obvious pain. It was obvious in his tense, careful moments, the pallor of his expression and the thin drawn line of his mouth. Gibbs could hardly blame him. With everything at stake, Tony needed to keep his wits about him. Vance had made it pretty clear it he was prepared to throw DiNozzo to the wolves if that was what it took.
He knew DiNozzo could handle it.
That didn't mean he planned on letting him do it alone.
Reaching over, he closed the file Tony had been working on and powered down his computer. Tony looked at him wordlessly as his Boss handed him his bag. Gibbs expression told him all he needed to know. Not here. Not now. Neither man spoke as Gibbs turned off his computer and gather his own things, watching out the corner of his eye as DiNozzo carefully eased his bag onto his un-injured shoulder and following him towards the elevator. The two men travelled in silence down to the parking garage and made their way towards Gibbs bright yellow charger. When he noticed Tony trailed behind, his eyes cast over his shoulder, he stopped.
"Its nothing," Tony tried, then caved under Gibbs' steady gaze. "Look, I know this isn't really important in the scheme of things, but what's going to happen to my car?"
"Leave it here," Gibbs shrugged. "You won't be driving for a while."
He watched as Tony's face fell and felt a pang of sympathy. The kid had seen his previous two vehicles blown to bits and crashed by a joy rider. His current ride had been a roundabout present from Gibbs who had 'persuaded' Jenny Shepherd to write a personal check cover what DiNozzo's insurance wouldn't and the former Marine knew that Tony cherished that car for the act of friendship it represented.
"I'll get McGee to pick it up," Gibbs relented as he unlocked the Charger. Remembering that DiNozzo's place didn't have secure parking he added. "It can sit in my driveway until you're back on the road."
"Oh," Tony's sigh was pure gratitude as he sank back into the passenger seat. "Thank you, Boss."
"You eat anything today?" Gibbs asked, as he pulled out into the traffic.
"Um, sure, I did," Tony said brightly. "Protein and Carbohydrate."
"What'd I tell you about Hershey bars, DiNozzo?" Gibbs spared him a glance.
"That Hershey bars, don't count, Boss," Tony winced. They drove a few blocks without speaking before he broke the silence again. "How about Nutter Butters?"
Tony was a little surprised when they headed towards his apartment. Usually, when he was sick or injured Gibbs would take him back to his house, make sure he ate something, took his meds, and offer the kind of no-nonsense caring that made Tony feel genuinely valued, rather than smothered. Still, this was his mess, after eight years of being his senior field Agent he could hardly blame Gibbs for expecting him to stand on his own two feet.
It was what the Marine had trained him to do, after all.
So, DiNozzo bit back his slight feeling of disappointment, pasted on his best smile, thanked Gibbs for the ride, jumped out at the kerb, before things could get awkward, or even worse, embarrassing, scowled at the fact that the elevator was out of service again and was staring at the bottom of the four flights of stairs that led to his apartment, when he felt a familiar head slap and an exasperated voice.
"Are you trying to get me towed, DiNozzo?" Gibbs groused, even as he slipped an arm around Tony's waist and helped brace the raw ends of his broken bone as they made their way side by side carefully up the stairs. "I had to drive around back to use your parking spot."
Tony was sufficiently content in the knowledge that his Boss wasn't washing his hands of him, not to question as Gibbs helped him up the stairs and let them in to his apartment until he was standing in his bedroom, leaning against the wall and watching as Gibbs pulled his large leather holdall out of the back of his closet and set it on his bed. Moving with the ease of long practise around the room he tracked Gibbs movements as he picked out a couple of crisp white shirts, a few T-shirts, some clean cotton boxers, a couple of pairs of those silk socks Tony really loved, his shaving kit, toothbrush and, to DiNozzo's surprise his favourite cuff links.
"This might take a few days," Gibbs allowed. "What else do you need?"
"That depends," Tony responded dryly, cradling his broken arm protectively against his chest. "On whether we are going to make like Mickey Rooney in Quicksand, off Vance, and make a run for the boarder – or if I'm packing for Leavenworth."
"Tel Aviv," Gibbs met his gaze, Tony deserved to here it from him straight. "0700 tomorrow."
"I'm guessing a dip in the Dead Sea isn't on the agenda." Tony raised a brow.
"Eli David is calling in a favour," Gibbs' tone was clipped. "Vance has decided to oblige."
"Serving up my head up on a platter?" Tony narrowed his eyes.
"Not if you do what I trained you to do," Gibbs answered simply. "So, what else do you need?"
"Since when did you care so much about my wardrobe?" Tony asked curiously. "Normally, when you pack for me I'm lucky if you bring me some sweat, a change of shorts and a toothbrush."
"Sweats and stubble is good enough for a few days riding a desk," Gibbs tone was crisp. "But if my senior field agent is going to- to-toe with the Director of an International Agency then I want him at the top of his game. Since your arm is pretty much useless you're going to need help with getting cleaned up and what ever the hell you've been doing with your hair recently, so tell me what else you need."
"De-odorant, on the bathroom shelf," Tony spoke without expression. "Shampoo – the one in the green bottle, hair gel, next to shampoo and ..," He hesitated.
"What?" Gibbs' tone demanded honesty.
"Skin moisturiser, the one with the SP factor – it's going to be hot in Israel. And," Tony coloured slightly. "The strawberry lip balm."
Gibbs rolled his eyes, but he nonetheless went off in search of the requested toiletries without comment and packed them into the soft leather holdall.
"You know, I don't actually need the lip balm." Tony backtracked.
"DiNozzo, I go into battle with desert desert camos and a sniper rifle," Gibbs shrugged as he zipped up the bag and headed towards the front door. "You wear Armani and lip balm. We both get results."
"Boss," Tony trailed after him, "You're not really gonna touch the hair are you?"
"Sit down before you fall down," Gibbs declared, as he carried the large Pizza over to his kitchen table and looked out glasses and filled them with water, bringing them to the table. "We'll eat first so you can take some meds. Then we'll see about getting you cleaned up."
"Boss. I really don't think that's such a good idea." Tony fretted, as he settled into a chair.
"DiNozzo, Gibbs was exasperated. "Enough about the hair."
"No, I meant the pain meds," Tony was deadly serious. "You know, how I get on those things."
"You can't tell me a fractured radius doesn't hurt like hell." Gibbs retorted calmly.
"The pain will keep me sharp." Tony dismissed that.
"True," Gibbs allowed. "But it will also distract you. Put you on a short fuse, and 12 hours being jolted around on a transport, sure isn't gonna help matters any."
"I can manage."
"Yeah, I know that," Gibbs allowed, as he fished a small bottle out of his pocket and checked the label, snapping the lid open and tipped two white tablets into his palm, exchanging the bottle for a glass of water and offering both to DiNozzo. "But you don't have to. Ducky says these will knock you on your ass tonight, but then if we keep the dose low enough they will just take the edge off things."
"No fingers, being fingy?" Tony sought reassurance.
"Not a one." Gibbs agreed.
"Alright, I trust you guys," Tony conceded, accepting the pills and the water and swallowing them down with a satisfied sigh. Then he grinned. "Ducky, never said ass."
"I was paraphrasing."
Gibbs pointed out as he moved back to the table and flipped open the box, thrusting a slice of pizza at DiNozzo to forestall any further comment that might be coming out as his mouth.
"P'araprasing?" Tony mumbled, as he contentedly chewed.
"Eat," Gibbs quelled him with a glare. They ate in silence for a while, both men content to focus on slating their hunger, Gibbs was full after just a couple of slices, but Tony ate more than half the pizza, before he sighed contentedly and pushed the box away.
"Thanks Boss, I really needed that."
Gibbs was pleased to see that the stiff set of his senior field agent's shoulders had visibly relaxed, as the food, painkillers and genial company had kicked in. Nodding an acknowledgement, he cleared up the box and turned to put coffee on.
"You still haven't asked me what happened." Tony spoke quietly.
He had tried at the Hospital to explain his actions to his Boss, in the face at Ziva's obvious distress and his own guilt at causing that pain, he had sought to justify himself to Gibbs, determined to give his side of things. Tony scrubbed at his face. He didn't know what had touched him more, the fact that even in the midst of a mess of international proportions Gibbs' first concern had been for him and his injuries or .. the other thing.
Gibbs could make those two big and five little letters say just about anything. Over the years, his name had meant everything from 'get your head out of your ass," through "I trust you to handle this," right up to "I'm proud of you, Anthony," Not that Gibbs ever came right out and said any of those things. Or at least, not very often, but then, infuriatingly, he knew he didn't have to. Tony was the one who liked to hear the actual words Gibbs was content with just getting his message across.
So Tony had known exactly what Gibbs was asking, and what he was offering in return when he looked him in the eyes and softly spoken his name. Right here and now, it was just the two of them. This conversation was just between partners. Gibbs was demanding his total honestly, but he was also pledging his total support. Trusting that even if Tony hadn't followed Agency procedures he had still done the right thing and when he had told his Boss it was justified Gibbs had simply taken him at his word.
Even so, he'd expected further questions. Gibbs was renowned for wanting to cover all the bases. But all his Boss had done all day was provide answers that forced Vance and Ziva to back off, offering his steady support in every action, word and glance. It had helped.
"I told you before, DiNozzo, you don't need an alibi with me," Gibbs now responded easily.
"But my word against a dead guy's isn't going to cut any ice with Mossad." Tony pointed out what they both knew.
"Read your report too," Gibbs reminded him. "Ducky's forensic evidence backs up your version of the fight. Plus, the blood alcohol level will go a long way to explaining Rivkin's short fuse in deciding to attack you and why you were able to kill him."
"Why does no-one think I could take this guy?" Tony groused.
"Because, he was Kidon, DiNozzo," Gibbs pointed out. "A Mossad assassin, a trained killer and the only reason, Tony - that it's him lying in Ducky's morgue right now and not you is because he was hammered."
"Oh." Tony made a face as that finally sunk in.
"Why didn't you come to me, Tony?" Gibbs locked gazes with him. "I get why you didn't inform the Director. You wanted to protect, Ziva. And I don't care that you went off grid. Hell, I was the one who told you to stay on Rivkin. But you went into what you knew was a potentially fatal situation without any backup. I trained you better than that. Why the hell didn't you wait for me?"
"I was just following my gut, I didn't know how this was going to pan out but I knew it could go belly up at any moment," Tony ran a hand through his hair as he tried to defend his actions. "I didn't want to take anyone else down with me, especially, not you."
"Never took you for a hypocrite, Tony." Gibbs raised a brow.
"What?" Tony blinked, for once not making the connection.
"How many times have you ripped me a new one for going vigilant in an attempt to protect my team from my actions?" Gibbs pressed. "And you were right, every damn time."
Tony screwed up his face. He couldn't deny that he had always been as mad as hell when Gibbs had gone off half cocked on one of his crusades under the guise of shielding his people. Especially, as in the end he had usually needed his team to bail him out anyway.
"Much as I love to here you say that I'm right, Boss," Tony shook his head. He had been prepared to risk his own career, but involving the others hadn't been an option. He sighed. "I guess, things look different when you are the one on the other side."
"Yeah," Gibbs sighed, his mouth quirking in a rueful grin as he acknowledged the plain truth of that. His next words were full of meaning. "They sure as hell do, DiNozzo."
The two men looked at each other in a moment of perfect accord, as they each understood exactly where the other was coming from. When Gibbs looked away, his eyes shining a little too brightly, Tony knew that the other man was feeling guilty that his own stubborn example had almost cost DiNozzo his life. Again.
"Rivin's dead, Boss, and I'm not," Tony offered what comfort he could, before his own mouth twisted. "For now. They don't still have the death penalty in Israel do they?"
"It won't come to that."
Gibbs didn't see any reason to expound on the crimes still eligible for the death penalty in Israel. Only one man had faced capital punishment in that country since 1962. Restrictions under Jewish religious law to prevent the death of the innocent mean that execution was de facto illegal. However, Eli David's ability to arrange an 'accident' in revenge for the death of his operative was perhaps another matter.
"Hope you're right," Tony swallowed hard; meeting his Boss' eyes with a degree of trepidation, willing to let Gibbs and Gibbs alone, see exactly how much the upcoming confrontation was un-nerving him. They both knew just how badly this could go. "Not that the alternatives are much better. I've already tried prison, and those jumpsuits really aren't my colour. And I love this job, Boss. I don't know what else I would do if Vance fired me."
"Hell, DiNozzo," Gibbs scoffed. "That's the easy part. I'll retire, we'll buy a couple of those god awful shirts you like and open that detective agency in Hawaii you're always talking about."
"Like Magnum?" Tony grinned, over a large yawn. "That's a pretty good plan, Boss."
"C'mon," Gibbs wrapped his hand around the younger man's good arm and hauled his senior field Agent to his feet, steadying him as he swayed slightly. "Time for you to hit the rack. Tomorrow is going to be a big day."