Important note: You may want to re-read chapter 18 to refresh your memory and also because I made corrections and a few slight improvements to the writing.

Reward: As a reward for your patience I have made this entire chapter pretty much 100% hurt/comfort with nice Gibbs/Tony scenes. I hope you like it.

FYI – I double checked but did not see where I have ever stated the last name of Jesse or of Cal – so I mention Jesse's last name in this chapter so if any of you recall my stating a different last name before now – please send me a Private Message. Thank you!

NCIS episode Feedback: Did anyone else feel like the writers kind of dropped the ball on the story behind Wendy and Tony's break up? I'm sure there is more to come but I had hoped there was a more tragic reason behind their break up. Not just that Tony worked too much. Wld love to know your thoughts if you have any on this subject.

~ Enjoy! ~

~ncis~ncis~ncis~ncis~ncis~ncis~ncis~ncis~

Previously on A Deadly Phobia:

End of Ch. 18 – Kincaid was pulled up to his feet by Jesse, but before he took even one step forward he turned and looked down at Tony, "Hey uh . . . Agent DiNozzo . . . I uh - I'm sorry." He had to fight to control his emotions that were threatening to make his voice falter even more.

Tony nodded his chin upwards in a half nod, silently reassuring the dentist that it was okay. "Don't sweat it Kincaid!" Tony answered, his voice still a fraction of his usual volume. "Everything will work out, you just get back to that wife and daughter of yours and I'll be happy."

Knowing there was not much more that he could say, Kincaid nodded back to Tony giving him his own silent form of acknowledgement before being pushed towards the stairs by an anxious Jesse.

~ncis~ncis~ncis~ncis~ncis~ncis~

A Deadly Phobia

Scene Nineteen

Hostage House – Basement Level

Both Tony and Gibbs looked upwards as the door to the basement opened. They watched until they could finally make out which captor was coming down towards them. The light finally lit up the face more so they both realized at the same time that it was Jesse.

Tony swallowed a nervous gulp as he recognized the look of pure hatred exuding from the man's narrowed eyes, He looked pissed even more than he had the last time he had threatened to kill Tony just a few hours earlier after Tony mocked him by saying Cal was the brains and leader of the two man team.

Gibbs immediately tensed as he noticed the looks passing between the long time criminal and his own long time senior field agent –looking just as angry and determined, Jesse swiftly turned his head changing his focus to Gibbs. Now it was Tony's turn to tense up as he watched the seething creep suddenly change his original trajectory towards Tony - and start heading towards Gibbs instead. He had to try and stop him!

"What'rya doin Jesse? You leave Gibbs outta this! It's ME you're mad at." Tony attempted to sway the man's attention back to himself again, hoping to save Gibbs from harm on his behalf. Even when both of them were tied up and rendered helpless, he still felt an obligation to watch his boss' six!

Jesse just continued on his path towards Gibbs, silent and visibly fuming. Once he got over to Gibbs, he grabbed a hold of a chunk of his thick silver hair and used it along with a tight grasp on the man's arm to jerk him away to another side of the room not too far over to the left where there was a couple of additional exposed pipes protruding out from the cement wall. Gibbs could he had no choice but to follow in the direction he was being dragged to – it was that, or risk losing a handful of his hair not to mention the skin it was connected to.

As soon as Jesse got him into the position he wanted, seated in front of the exposed pipes with his hands still tied behind his back, the mad man reached back and pulled out the handcuffs they had confiscated from Gibbs earlier and he used them to cuff one tightly around the ropes binding Gibbs hands together, and snapped the other end to the strongest of the extruding pipes. Gibbs gut was churning as he thought of the only possible reason for the action. Jesse was moving him far enough away from Tony that he wouldn't be able to help him if needed. He wouldn't be able to do much of anything now that he was cuffed in place.

Standing back up to his full height Jesse stared down at Gibbs. "I don't know if you remember me Agent Gibbs but your Agent here is responsible for all the time I spent in prison. I remember you where there when I was first apprehended. I figured it was about time I got all those years of pent up anger and frustration now that I finally have your precious agent in my grasp."

Pausing, he finally continued. "Ya know, I guess in some twisted way I'll also be getting some revenge for your own involvement at the same time since you will be forced to witness what I do to your agent - and you'll be powerless to stop me!" then grinning with renewed excitement he turned and headed towards the part of the room where Tony remained seated.

Tony was getting frustrated himself and angry with his broken body – particularly his leg - for the numbness and pain that forced him to remain seated on the floor, unable to attempt to hoist himself up to tackle Jesse before he had a chance to act on his vengeance. His heart was in his throat as he watched the insane dirtbag as he gained ground on Tony in a hurry.

Tony put on his best cocky expression only to hide his anxiety from the other man as well as to keep Gibbs from sensing his fear. He wanted to be strong for his boss so as not to look like some kind of coward. Gibbs own mouth became dry as he worried about what was going to happen next. His wrists started to chafe from his insistent yanking and rubbing in an attempt to somehow break the chain between the two metal bracelets and free himself. He had never felt so helpless in his entire life and the only thing he had to hang onto was the relief that at least he was here to offer his support even if right now it was only by being present so he didn't feel abandoned. One way or another he would get free and help him.

He decided to try taunting the dangerous ex-con in an attempt to lure him away from Tony just as Tony had done for him earlier.

"Hey Gates!" (Jesse's last name)

"I'm the one who ordered Tony to chase you down and arrest you back then! He was only following orders. Are you not man enough to go for a Marine is that it? You can only handle someone who is already injured and weak? What the hell kind of pansy are you anyway? No wonder Cal is in charge."

Tony's eyes grew even wider as Jesse stopped immediately upon hearing that last remark. He was just one foot away from Tony at the time.

Gibbs watched, hoping the sudden stop meant Jesse would turn back to go after him instead. Dropping his head in disappointment over what happened next.

"You don't think I see what you are trying to do there Agent Gibbs?" Jesse said without taking his cold eyes off of Tony's weary green ones. "I already told you – I'll make you suffer MORE just by what I am going to do to good old Tony here."

Suddenly Jesse knelt down and grabbed a hold of Tony's face tightly squeezing his face with one hand while pulling out his sharp knife with the other. He had the knife sheath tucked into the back waistband of his jeans and simply reached back to pull it out of its holder. It was the same kind of hidden sheath he had pulled a knife from the last time he had injured the NCIS Agent.

Moving the hand that was previously squeezing Tony's face like a vice, he slid it down until he had Tony by the neck, again squeezing just as tightly there. A few flicks of his extremely sharp knife and 5 buttons fell from the front of Tony's dress shirt, slightly exposing his chest.

Jesse proceeded to push Tony's shirt open further using the tip of the knife, barely grazing Tony's chest just enough to cause the agent to suck in his breath, expecting to feel pain from cuts. But Jesse had held the knife with such finesse that he not left so much as a mark on Tony's slightly tanned flesh – at least for the moment.

Jesse then looked down at Tony's ribcage, Gibbs noticed this and knew that the asshole was looking for the scar from when he had stabbed Tony all those years ago. 'What a sadistic bastard!' Gibbs thought, seething more and more at the thought.

Tony released the air he had sucked in right before the grip around his neck increased, cutting off his air supply completely. Jesse relaxed his grip just enough to allow him to take in the shortest of breaths and then tightened it once again as if playing some kind of barbaric game. Tony watched Jesse's line of sight and realized what he was looking at. It caused his skin to prickle with gooseflesh at seeing the sickening enjoyment that was evident on his torturer's face.

"Admiring the result of your past sloppy escape attempt Gates?" Gibbs taunted. You get off on stabbing people? I'll remember that when I come after you! Maybe someone needs to give you a taste of your own medicine!" he continued ranting.

But all Gibbs' comments managed to do was anger Jesse even further as he raised the knife up once again only this time he brought it down slowly coming to rest the flat side against Tony's collarbone. Letting go of Tony's neck he smirked in amusement as the agent he hated gasped for air trying to replace much needed oxygen.

After he recovered somewhat Tony kept himself from looking down at the weapon, keeping his dramatic glare directed at Jesse's face. That was until he felt the tickling heat of his own blood as it started to flow lightly down his chest.

Jesse had turned the knife from the flat side slowly to the sharpest edge while lazily gliding the knife's edge sideways just below Tony's collarbone, stopping only after the knife had left a 5 inch gash in the it's wake. It was a fairly shallow cut, he had been cautious not to let the blade go in too deep, after all he wasn't going for a kill with the move, but he was definitely going for pain and discomfort.

"You feel better now you sick sonofabitch?" Tony shouted, partly to cover for the scream of agony that he wanted to let out as the severe sting suddenly hit him as his nerve ending seemed to finally realize they'd been damaged.

"Does that make you feel like you're getting revenge on me somehow? I've been scratched harder by a girlfriend's finger nail!"

"DiNozzo!" Gibbs knew he had to stop his agent's fired up comments, knowing it would only cause Jesse to hurt him worse. "Stand down, that's an order!" he added.

Tony took in a loud deep breath through a slightly clenched mouth as he forced himself to calm down. He was grateful that Gibbs was there and knew, as always, that the man was right in ordering him to shut up essentially. His words being a verbal head slap since the physical version was not possible.

Jesse pushed off of Tony, standing up to his full height. Still staring down at the bleeding NCIS agent he seethed with anger from years of built up resentment that had resulted in his hatred of a man he barely knew. Turning on his heel he flew up the stairs, turning just before he exited to throw out another warning.

"I need a damn smoke break before I break your damn neck! As he turned to walk out the door he muttered, "Cal would be pretty pissed off if I killed of our only hope of getting a damn ransom!"

Gibbs and Tony both sagged in relief upon hearing the slam and the lock being set on the upstairs door.

"Tony! I need you to tell me how bad it is – and don't tell me it's fine if you know what's good for you!"

Tony looked down at his new wound and evaluated the speed in which it was bleeding, finding it not to be very heavy at all. He cringed as he took in the long, smooth red line that oozed enough blood to cause the waistband of his pants to become slightly damp with the run off.

"Uhh . . . well . . . it doesn't look too bad I guess. S'not bleeding very heavily so I suppose that's a good sign."

Gibbs watched his agent's facial expressions closely since he would know immediately if Tony was lying. Pleasantly surprised, he found that he appeared to be telling the truth.

"Okay, that's good. But we still need to get you outta here."

"How bout you boss? You okay? I mean, I don't know how they nabbed you in the first place – did they knock you out? I imagine they would have to in order to even bring you down . . . did th-"

"DiNozzo stop, just listen to me. I came willingly alright? No one knocked me out, no one hurt me. It was my idea – me for the dentist."

"What? Dammit boss, I swear you have some kind of death wish!"

"Oh yeah? I do DiNozzo? Well at least I'm not some kind of magnet to danger like you seem to be! Who the hell gets in trouble at the damn dentist?" he made sure to flash a smirk in Tony's direction to let him know he was attempting to lighten the mood.

"Yeah well, I'm sure you've heard of the old saying boss- wrong time, wrong place. Well I can't help it if I just happen to be in the wrong place . . . a lot okay? I mean jus-" Tony conceded wincing in pain that ceased his speaking mid-sentence. Head, tooth and leg pain all having been aggravated just from the sheer exertion of their rather argumentative banter, knowing it was coming from a place of concern for each other's well being since both men felt equally responsible for watching the other's six.

Gibbs didn't miss the wince of pain that stopped his rambling senior agent in his tracks. "Tony take it easy." He pleaded, resorting to a first name basis whenever he wanted his best agent to know he was sincere.

"I mean it, calm down and just take some deep breaths if you can. I shouldn't have let this conversation go that far."

Minutes passed before Tony felt well enough to speak again, "Thanks boss . . . uh - even though you are in danger now too - and you definitely put yourself at risk just for me . . . I um - I appreciate it and I'm . . . I'm glad – you're here." Tony looked down at his own legs the whole time he was speaking, he hated to look people in the eye when he was being sentimental or sincere about his feelings.

Gibbs was the opposite, when he was speaking from his heart he would look people directly in the eyes, but his problem was more about trying not to come across angry with his words since his emotion tended to come out much more gruff than he intended.

"Yeah well we ain't outta this yet so, you better save that appreciation until I do get us outta here." Gibbs purposely shifted Tony's focus back to their present situation mainly to avoid having any more emotional chatter but also to get Tony back into a fighting frame of mind rather than depressed and stressed with worry.

"Well if anyone can do that boss it's you so, you just tell me what I can do to help and I'm on it!"

"Okay good – then the first thing I need you to do is tell me exactly what injuries we're dealing with – and don't give me that 'fine' bullshit."

"Uh, don'cha mean- injuries that I'm dealing with?" Tony jested. Then he couldn't help letting his head drop down on his chest for a minute, resting his painful head and jaw and trying to again breathe through a flare up of his leg pain.

"No DiNozzo, I don't. Any injury you have affects me too and I don't mean physically. I also need to know so I can determine just what you can do physically if we find a way to escape from this basement."

"Fair 'nuff. " his words came out muffled by where his mouth rested downward towards his shirt. Lifting his head wearily while keeping his eyes closed, he swallowed from strong feelings of emotion caused by the sincere words his boss had just spoken. he ran through an only slightly downplayed description of his injuries . . .

"Well I'm sure Ziva told you about the tooth - 's worse now since the dentist cut my gums to drain the infection. Feels hot now like maybe the infection is getting worse. Small stab wound to my hand, not bad, seems to have stopped bleeding. Busted my leg when they tossed me down the stairs – Doc put it back in place - we think. You know about the knife wound on my chest, seems to be shallow . . . 'n it's already starting to clot – looks like there's a little blood still coming out but not much."

"Aren't you leaving something out Tony?" Gibbs hinted.

"Uh, nope – I think that just about covers it." His voice straining and sounding weak again as if the adrenaline surge that he was fueled by after Gibbs shocking arrival, had finally started to disappear, leaving him bone weary and beyond tired.

"Uh-huh, so you don't figure I need to know about your injured ribs? Don't think I haven't noticed how you are favoring your side and taking only shallow breaths whenever possible."

Tony shook his head slightly to keep from passi- . . . falling asleep – a half smile appearing on his face as he responded to his bosses' almost psychic observation. "How do you do that boss? My ribs are really not hurt that bad, just bruised from when they pretty much dumped me out of the vehicle when we got here. Seriously though boss, ya gotta show me that trick if we get outta this. You always know . . . things and – well it's kinda creepy."

"Okay, but hey it's not 'if' we get out of this Tony . . . it's'when' we get out of this. So it was obvious you and Kincaid were trying to escape when I first got here – and don't tell me you just going to look for the john."

"Yeah, the doc – he was actually pretty cool and he only –"

Gibbs gut clenched as he looked over when Tony once again stopped talking mid-sentence. He could tell by the way his agent was loudly sucking in air through clenched teeth while his eyebrows knitted together in a look of sheer agony - sweat breaking out on his face from his body's fight to control the pain somehow.

"Take it easy Tony, slow and easy."

Letting out the air he had just sucked in, Tony blew the breath out with his lips pursed like a woman does when doing Lamaze breathing, or like he was blowing out a birthday candle. Having been injured as much as Tony had been, he had found the Lamaze like breathing method to be the most helpful in getting his body to relax and not tense up which always made pain a lot worse.

"So I ws jus' sayin' – Kincaid was a good guy and tried to help me numerous times. His mistake was more of an illness in the form of addiction . . . to gambling." He turned to look towards his boss in the first time in a while, continuing. "He owes someone money, a lot of money." He paused just to rest his jaw that had loosened up from the movement caused by his increased talking – but at the same time the same action seemed to be causing the infected gum line to throb mercilessly.

"Ya get a name DiNozzo?"

Tony frowned, unsure of what Gibbs meant but then it registered. "Oh, you mean who he owes? Uh . . . not yet no. I do know that Laurel and Hardy work for the big guy and came to collect on the debt this morning."

"You think Jesse recognized you? 'S probably how they came up with the plan to kidnap you – thinking how impressed their boss would be if they delivered on the debt."

Tony had turned his head back forward, dropping it down onto his chest again in fatigue.

"Yup . . . you got it. Uh - boss? I'm really starting to feel woozy now . . .'m not sure how much longer I c'n keep from falling asleep" he had been wriggling his hands behind him off and on for the past twenty minutes trying to loosen the bond. He wondered if Gibbs had faired any better.

"Any luck with those cuffs on your end boss?"

"Yeah I'd say so DiNozzo." Gibbs whispered now kneeling down with his mouth close to the level as Tony's ear.

To Be Continued . . .

I thought that would be a fun place to end this chapter.

Next time on A Deadly Phobia: We'll see what Ziva and Tim have been up to as well as Abby and Ducky back at headquarters. Also – find out what happens next as Gibbs and Tony formulate a plan to subdue Jesse while they wait for Cal to return.