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Title: Confrontations & Comfort
Note: angst, wrote this way before Hiatus. go figure, huh?.
Summary: Not all confrontations end up with someone being left.
It was a toss-up as to whether or not Gibbs would be done with his boat therapy before Tony had fallen asleep; as it was most times that something struck a chord in the other man. He wasn't sure what it was about the case that had so hit Gibbs in the gut, aside from there being a kid at the center of it. Zach was a good kid, as much as he'd basically pissed all over Tony during the investigation.
And how low could he go, being jealous of Gibbs' attention to an eight-year old?
Tony sighed and turned over in the big bed, shifting until he was face first in Gibbs' pillow. It didn't matter how many showers the man took, he inevitably smelled of sawdust. Tony was a little worried that one day soon, he would have a permanent association that would make him spring a boner on smelling sawdust somewhere outside the home.
"You're in my spot," Gibbs announced gruffly.
Peering up at his lover, Tony saw that the therapy hadn't done all that much this time around and groaned to himself. He moved out of the way to let Gibbs climb under the covers and settled back on his own pillow, even as he wanted to find a way to comfort the other man. When Gibbs was there, Tony smelled the bourbon and turned onto his side as he said, "You could've at least brushed your teeth first."
"I can smell the booze, Gibbs."
"I didn't drink that much."
Not wanting to get into it, Tony grunted and stared at the bedroom wall. They'd had this conversation before and he knew they would again because Gibbs sure as hell wasn't going to change for him. It was something of a surprise when Gibbs pressed up behind him, lips resting against the curve of his throat in an apologetic fashion. Not in a very forgiving mood, Tony just shrugged and said, "It's okay. Get some sleep."
"It's not okay," Gibbs countered softly. "You're stiff as a board, and not in a good way."
"I don't want to talk about this."
Knowing Gibbs was going to hound him about it, Tony squirmed free and climbed out of bed altogether. He pinned Gibbs with a glare and said, "When you come clean about why you drink, I'll come clean about why I hate it when you do. Until then, fuck off," before stalking to the bathroom and slamming the door. Not very original, maybe, but he needed space without actually leaving the house. If he left the house, he wasn't all that sure Gibbs would let him back inside.
"Tony, I know why you hate it when I drink, but you're overreacting," Gibbs said reasonably through the door. "I don't drink to excess and don't use it as a coping mechanism."
"Bullshit," Tony snapped back, turning on the faucet to splash his face with water.
There was a long silence, like Gibbs was counting to ten, and then the other man asked, "Will you let me in, please?"
Tempted to say no despite the 'please,' Tony hesitated before muttering, "It's open."
And of course Gibbs heard him; the man had bat-ears. The door opened and Gibbs stood in the doorway, looking at him.
Tony crossed his arms over his chest and waited defensively.
Gibbs didn't try to approach him, instead staying where he was as he observed, "This has been building for a while now. Want to let me know what set you off?"
"Nothing," Tony snapped, leaning against the sink. "Absolutely nothing. What could possibly set me off when one of my best friends is dead, there's a new agent on the team who can run circles around me, a new director who seems to have it in for us, not to mention a thing for you, and you're off spending more time with a damn eight-year-old than you ever fucking do with me?"
And okay, he really hadn't meant to let all of that come pouring out, especially not about Zach, but it was out there and he couldn't take it back. Gibbs didn't even arch an eyebrow at the revelations and Tony couldn't decide if that was good or bad.
Gibbs sighed faintly and leaned against the doorframe, looking at Tony. "You can't keep doing this, Tony. It's not fair to either of us."
Tony swallowed hard against the lump in his throat and looked away from Gibbs. So this was it, then. Funny that the end would come with quiet words instead of shouting or a bullet from someone they were chasing. "You're right, I'm sorry. I'll get dressed and get out of your hair. I'll have my resignation on..."
"God damn it, DiNozzo, that's not what I meant!" Gibbs exclaimed, stalking over to him.
Tony flinched automatically, but there was no head-smack or any other physical blow.
Gibbs gripped his arms and pulled him in for a tight hug. "I told you before, and I guess I'll tell you again, probably more often than I have been, that nothing's going to separate us. I just meant that you can't keep bottling things up."
Stifling a half-hysterical laugh, Tony asked, "And who do I talk to, Gibbs? You?"
"You've had worse ideas," Gibbs replied, stepping back.
Tony shook his head and said, "So you want me to bitch about you, to you? Yeah, right."
Snorting, Gibbs countered, "Ducky's always on hand for someone bitching about me. And I'm sure Abby would be happy to jump on the bandwagon if I withhold the CaffPows for a day."
But this was too personal for Tony to bring to either of them. It was all his fault and there wasn't anything that talking about it would fix.
"Damn it, Tony, it's not your fault."
The tired words evoked a minor panic that he'd spoken aloud. Meeting Gibbs' gaze, he found only a silent understanding there which didn't dispel the possibility, so Tony stayed right where he was, waiting and defensive again.
Scrubbing fingers through his hair, Gibbs said, "Let's go to bed, okay? If you can't talk to people you know about this, we'll find someone you don't know."
"Therapy? Gibbs, come on, I'm too smart for that," Tony protested, shaking off the hand on his arm.
Gibbs did arch an eyebrow at that. "Thanks for the warning. I'll be sure and tell the doctor that."
Angry at the presumption, Tony demanded, "Since when were you into baring your soul to strangers?"
"I'm not," Gibbs replied simply. "But I'm not the one jealous of an eight-year-old."
"But we'll figure it out later. Right now, I'm exhausted and just want to go to bed, with you in my bed, so I can get rid of the thoughts burning my brain."
Tony stared at the outstretched hand for a few minutes, but it wasn't withdrawn and, eventually, he took it. Gibbs tugged him out of the bathroom and back to the bed. It was only a few more minutes before they were settled with Gibbs spooned behind him and the lights off. Tony was nowhere near sleep, but relaxed as best as he could in his lover's arms.
"I need to tell you something and not have you freak out. Can I do that?"
Considering that just about anything was able to rattle him these days, Tony could only say, "I'll try not to."
Gibbs huffed, the breath a puff of warmth against his shoulder, and said, "Fair enough."
But then there was silence and Tony didn't know if Gibbs had changed his mind or was trying to figure out how to tell him whatever was burning his brain. Knowing that he wasn't being dumped, given Gibbs' assurances in the bathroom, Tony just waited as patiently as he could.
"I had a daughter, once."
The words lit through Tony like a bolt of energy when his feet were dunked in a bucket of water. It took all he had to just stay where he was and not react.
"Zach reminded me of her. She used to follow me around all the time, too, before...We worked on the boat together. The first one. I...didn't mean to cut you out...it was just...it felt good to be a father again."
The pained words were enough to get Tony right in the gut and he turned in his lover's arms, wrapping his own around Gibbs. There was a single, harsh, in-drawn breath, but Gibbs didn't cry. Tony wasn't all that sure the other man knew how to, anymore. He did, however, plaster himself into the embrace and Tony instinctively tightened it around him. He didn't know what had happened, maybe he never would, but it had clearly devastated the other man and Tony could weep for him as he pressed soft kisses to Gibbs' forehead and temple.
It was a long time before he was able to follow his lover into sleep.
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