As Tony walked towards the car after he made an inappropriate joke about the police woman – a very sexy police woman – who outran him to catch the suspect, he fully expected a head-slap from Gibbs. Tony, however, did not expect to trip on a rock just as Gibbs' hand connected with his head.

He heard his boss mutter a curse and the local police gasp at the sickening sound of his head connecting to the pavement. Tony's hearing faded, making noises and voices sound galaxies away. His vision spotted with black dots as his head bounced on the ground. He felt strong arms – Gibbs? – roll him so he was on his back after he was still from his fall to the ground. He heard a feminine voice speak calmly into his ears. Ziva, he hoped for, over the sexy woman who caused his current pain.

"Tony," a firm voice called to him. "Open your eyes."

They were closed?

"Anthony, my dear boy, I am going to open your eyes." Not even a second later, blinding light flashed through both of his eyes. Then, just as sudden as the light started, it was dark again. "A concussion, I'm afraid."

"He will be okay, yes?"

"I called an ambulance, it'll be her-"

Tony stopped trying to follow the conversation. Their words were going a mile a minute and his head started to spin.

"Tony."

It was Gibbs, he knew. Tony tried to answer with his normal reply of "Yes, boss," but his response was muffled and almost nonexistent.

"Tony," his boss all but commanded.

"Yeah," he forced himself to ask. He slowly opened his eyes, with only a small stinging sensation. Gibbs was keeling in front of him, piercing blue eyes staring at him with worry. "You'll be okay," the older man said.

Such a simple sentence, not even four words, but Tony knew how hard it must have been for Gibbs to force out. And, Tony thought, it was the closest to an apology he was going to get.

"Yes, boss," he whispered before it became dark again.

000

Hours later, in a private hospital room, Tony sighed with frustration. He'd been pricked, prodded, and all but annoyed. He had two MRI scans and was currently being forced to stay overnight for observation.

The head-slap that helped him fall to the ground gave him a grade three concussion. Later tomorrow, Tony could escape the hospital if – and only if – he had someone to look after him for the next forty-eight hours. Since he lived alone, Gibbs volunteered for the job.

"I don't understand why I can't leave now," Tony told Gibbs. His boss was the only one yet to leave. Abby, Ducky, Ziva, and McGee all left just minutes ago. "You know, I don't get any sleep in hospitals. Strangers everywhere, germs, sickness-"

"Without your beauty sleep, DiNozzo, you'll be like a cranky toddler," his boss ever so kindly told him. "So you should probably get to it."

"Yes boss," the younger man said on command. He laid back and started at the ceiling. Minutes passed in silence. "Gibbs," he asked later. The older man grunted, and Tony took that as the go ahead in the conversation. "I just wanted to thank you." His boss remained silent and the younger man closed his eyes. "You know, for coming to the hospital and dealing with everything."

"Somebody had to do it, DiNozzo."

"Yeah, but I'm thanking you for being the one to do it, boss. I know Abby, or even Ducky would do it, but I'm glad it was you."

The older man did not reply for a while, silently staring at his agent in the hospital bed. "Look at me, Tony," Gibbs demanded. After several seconds, the older man growled and Tony reliantly obeyed. "Anyone, Tony, anyone, would have helped you today. Today and any day."

"Thank you."

"Besides, it's my fault you're in here, and I wanted to-"

"Boss, apologizing is against rule 6," Tony stated in mock panic as his green eyes danced in humor.

"I wanted to tell you I'm going to be taking you home tomorrow afternoon," Gibbs told his senior field agent with a smirk.

Tony gave a sheepish laugh and closed his eyes. In the back of his mind, he noted Gibbs ruffling his hair and telling him goodnight, then the sound of the hospital room door closing. Home, Tony thought as his mind started to fade into darkness. That sounds nice.

000

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