Tony opened his eyes to find a grey haired man staring at him. He sighed and looked up at the ceiling.
"Hey Agent Gibbs."
Tony rolled back over to look at the man.
Tony shrugged then winced.
The room was quiet.
"How did you find me."
Gibbs leaned back in his chair and watched the other man carefully.
"Between your voicemail, a bug we found in your apartment and what we got from Bergan things just fell into place."
Tony sat up, wincing at the pain it caused.
"My apartment was bugged?"
Gibbs gently pushed the man back down.
"Bergan broke into your place and planted the bug near the end of your undercover. It wasn't Cline who broke your cover, it was Bergan, Cline just took the fall, then Bergan had him taken care of. But you already had that figured out, that's why you mentioned him, you knew we would go looking. Same with Bergan. We would investigate both of them closer and see how they tied in with Malachi."
"I had gotten the last puzzle piece that night."
Gibbs dipped his head knowingly.
"Turns out the bug he planted wasn't activated until you got home and then it was transmitting to straight to where the rest of the Malachi was hiding. We got them by the way."
"So they had been watching me since I got home?"
Tony fought back the urge to throw up.
Seeing his reaction, Gibbs placed a grounding hand on his shoulder and began speaking again, giving him something to focus on rather than the feeling of violation.
"I called in a favor to the FBI to check on Cline who had been missing and never showed up at the prison. Turns out his body had been dumped at a landfill, with just enough evidence to tie it to Bergan. Picked up Bergan and brought him back to Washington where he was...persuaded to give up your location."
Gibbs was careful to leave out just how the marine had convinced the dirty cop to give Tony back.
Tony screwed the corner of his mouth.
"When in all of this did Daniel get shot?"
"When we picked up Bergan."
Tony furrowed his brow.
"Why they didn't shoot Bergan? They knew he knew where I was, they could have gotten rid of a liability right there. They wanted to shoot Daniel... but why didn't they take care of Bergan too?"
Gibbs raised an eyebrow at the man. Beaten, shot, grieving and doped up so high his eyes could barely focus and the kid was still thinking like an investigator.
Abby was right, they didn't make them like this anymore.
"They tried. Two more shots came out, one caught Bergan in the arm, but he stayed down in the backseat. They assumed he was killed and didn't bother to check."
"Rule 37." Gibbs replied.
"Rule… Okay. So, bad guys all go to jail, loose ends are tied up. Everything is taken care of. Bergan ends up living the rest of his life in a prison cell with a scarred arm and Daniel rots in a box."
Gibbs was quiet, listening the bitterness in the man's tone. There were several things he could say to the wounded man. He had said them to grieving family members, and heard them all himself and one thing about them always remained the same.
They were only words.
So he said the first thing that came to mind.
"You saved the roses."
Tony was pulled from his dark musings.
Gibbs gestured towards the glass of water that now held a dozen black roses. Tony blushed.
"I didn't want to hurt her feeling."
"So, what's the damage?"
Gibbs raised an eyebrow.
"Three broken ribs, a pretty good concussion, through and through to the shoulder, cracked cheek bone, heavily bruised jaw. Actually an *ss load of bruises."
Tony nodded and rolled his eyes.
"Another concussion. Of course."
Gibbs grunted in response.
The room lapsed into silence.
"Gibbs… I don't suppose… I mean I wouldn't blame them if they didn't but… I guess… I was wondering..."
"They stopped by. Marissa wanted you to have this."
Gibbs handed Tony a thick envelope.
Tony swallowed, this throat tight.
"Would you like me to leave?"
Tony startled himself by the intensity of his reply, but Gibbs didn't react, merely settled himself in his chair.
With shaky hands Tony opened the envelope and pulled two letters. Recognizing both Marissa's elegant script and Tessie's six year old scrawl, he held Tessie's close as he opened Marissa's letter.
My Daniel died a hero, he died trying to save someone he loved, his friend, his brother. I want you to know that I do not blame you for this. I never will and neither would Daniel. He made his own choices, and if you wouldn't have come to him for help he never would have forgiven himself. He loved you Tony, you were more than his partner, you were something special to all of us, and you still are. I will be thinking of you, but you have to know that I'm taking Tessie and we are going to Colorado, back to my parents. I can't stay here, all I can see is Daniel, everywhere I turn. I can't do this, not alone but I can't watch you give up the rest of your life taking care of us, because you would, without me ever asking. For me and Tessie and Daniel, you would do anything, and with that knowledge and love I can go home. Take that love and loyalty and find a new family Tony, you deserve someone to take care of you for once. Please Tony, please do not blame yourself for what happened. Do not let your life stop here. There is so much waiting for you, please go find it.
Tony closed his eyes and closed the letter, slowly sliding it back into its' envelope.
Tessie's letter was waiting.
His voice was strangled.
He slowly opened the letter.
Mommy says that Daddy is in heaven. Like when Billy my goldfish died and Daddy buried him in the backyard and he went away forever. I don't want my Daddy to go away forever. I want him to come back and see me. I miss you Tony and I miss my Daddy. Mommy says that we're going to live with Grandma and Grandpa for a while. I like it there, I have a room that's purple and they have a dog. I like dogs. Daddy said for my next birthday I could get a dog. But Daddy's in heaven now. Do you think he could see me when I play with Grandma's dog? I don't feel like playing anymore and all Mommy does is cry. I don't like it when Mommy cries. Do you ever cry? Daddy used to say it was okay to cry, but it when you were done crying you had to get up and fix what was wrong so you wouldn't cry anymore. I don't know how to fix Mommy to make her stop crying. Mommy says that Daddy died doing something very brave, that he was trying to save someone he loved. That makes me happy, I'm glad. Daddy loved a lot of people like Mommy and me and you and I'm glad that he was doing something nice for someone he loved. Mommy says we're not going to see you anymore when we go to Grandma's. I wish you could come with us. Don't forget me Tony. I won't ever forget you. I'll miss you.
I love you Tony.
Tony cleared his throat and put the letter with Marissa's.
Gibbs watched him carefully.
"Marissa spoke to me. She wanted you to know, this wasn't your fault."
"Yeah, that's what people keep telling me."
Gibbs reached out a hand and gently squeezed Tony's arm. He looked up sorrow written across his face, his eyes edged with red.
"I miss him Gibbs."
Tony looked up and smiled at Abby.
"Hey Abs, you here to save me? I'm about to go out of my mind with boredom."
She beamed at him and plopped in the chair next to him.
"I hear you're getting out tomorrow!"
"Thank goodness, five days of this is enough."
"Darn those doctors and their desires to keep their patients healthy."
Tony rolled his eyes at her and smiled.
"So what do you have for me today?"
She pulled some cards from her purse.
He cracker his knuckles.
"Let's do this."
Gibbs and Ducky stood at the door watching silently.
"Have you asked him yet?"
Gibbs shook his head.
"Are you planning to?"
"I'm asking him tomorrow Duck. Wanted to give him time."
"He has bounced back tremendously well."
Gibbs narrowed his eyes.
"Not as well as you would think."
Ducky turned to look at his friend.
"What do you mean?"
He turned and walked down the hall. Ducky shook his head and walked into the room, ready to join the fun.
Gibbs sat on a bench outside the hospital.
He meant what he said. Tony was coping, and well, but he knew what the younger man was hiding. He had stopped by the night before and found him staring out the window, tears quietly streaming down his face. He had watched him wake up silently from a nightmare and shake it off like it was nothing. He used his pull to check Tony's visiter logs and found that other than him, Ducky and Abby, not a single person had stopped by.
He really was alone.
Gibbs sighed and looked up at the building. He had come by everyday, making the drive from Washington to Baltimore. Sitting with the younger man for a few hours every evening. Sometimes talking, sometimes finding an old movie on the hospitals cable, sometimes just sitting in silence. Tony had been surprised the first time he had come back, he obviously wasn't expecting to see him again, but Gibbs took it in stride, helping him deal with the loss, pain and guilt wrecking him from the inside out.
It was a strange feeling, worrying about someone this much, when you had known them for so short a time.
Gibbs stood from the bench and began to pace, thinking about the day to come.
Tony would have a home to go to tomorrow no matter what his decision, Gibbs had spent the last two days cleaning Tony's apartment. There wasn't much left, but it no longer looked like a war zone. Hopefully he wouldn't need it though.
He shook his head and headed back into the building.
Tony winced as he pulled his jacket on. He was finally getting the hell out of the hospital and he couldn't get out of there fast enough. Grabbing his bag he walked to desk, signed the last of the papers and headed towards the exit. Tony sighed when he breathed in the fresh air and felt the sunshine. It felt like years since he had been outside.
Gibbs stood a few feet off and smiled when he saw the flash of joy on the other man's face.
Tony sighed and turned, walking down the street. He knew he should call a cab, but he really just couldn't resist the chance to enjoy the day.
"Your apartment's that way."
Tony grinned but didn't stop walking.
"Best Italian place is this way. No food in fridge or did you forget?"
Gibbs' lips twitched and he caught pace with the other man.
"Ducky was cursing your lack of nutrition all the way home."
"I bet. What are you doing here Gibbs, not that it's not great to see you, but I thought you'd be back in Washington."
"Had something to pick up."
Tony raised his eyebrows and then shrugged, fighting back curiosity.
"Alrighty. Well since you're here, care to join me for lunch?"
"Don't mind if I do, had a question for you anyway."
The restaurant was nothing fancy, more a hole in the wall than anything else.
Tony walked in and waved at the three of the servers, calling all of them by name. They all smiled and replied in turn.
"Grab any table Tony!"
Tony smiled and slid in a booth by a window. Gibbs sat across from him and pulled out a menu.
"This is Serina's place, everything is good."
A plump woman, who looked as Italian as they came shouted something unintelligible and came running from across the room.
Tony's smile lit up the booth.
Gibbs watched with amusement as a conversation played out in front of him in Italian.
Well that explains the language that Abby couldn't identify. He speaks Italian. That should have been obvious.
Gibbs attention snapped back when he heard his name. He found himself shaking hands with the bright smiling woman.
"I know exactly what you need, I be right back!"
She scurried off and shouted something in Italian to the kitchen.
"You're in for a treat, if Serina's picking your meal, you're getting the best of the best."
Tony's grin dimmed.
"Father was Italian, mother was British, grew up learning both. That the question you had for me?"
Gibbs took the change of subject and filed the information away.
"Yeah, how do you feel about Washington?"
Tony raised an eyebrow.
"I need a Senior Field Agent."
"Are you...offering me a job?"
"Are you interested?"
Tony opened his mouth then shut it again. He blinked several times.
"Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. That I could get used to."
Yeah, he could get used to it too.
And that is it! Being Careful is finished! Thank you so much to everyone who stuck through to the end of the story, all the reviews and PM's that people sent, it all meant so much! I hope you all enjoyed the story and please tell me what you think of the wrap-up! Thanks for reading!