Word Count: 1257
Disclaimer: They're not mine, pretty as I find them. Go to the producers if you want to talk money.
Summary: AU but following canon events: Ziva worries. Tim teases. Tony questions. And Gibbs wants.
“Thank you, boss,” Tony said with fervor once they were out of hearing range of the seminar room.
“Don't thank me,” Gibbs said. “I didn't kill anyone.”
“I have to agree with Tony,” Ziva cut in. “Anything to get out of that nightmare. We have no such seminars in Mossad.”
“No, for you sexual harassment is either a part of the job or a good excuse to shoot the guy,” Tony said teasingly.
“Exactly,” Ziva said, her eyes lighting up as the fingers of her left hand trailed over the handle of the knife at the small of her back.
“Behave,” Gibbs snapped. “If I didn't hate those things as much as you do, you'd both be in trouble for your performance in there.”
“What did I do?” Tony protested. “Ziva's the one that licked me.”
“What kind of undercover operative are you that you could not choose a better question than about Gibbs' head slaps?” Ziva needled. “You should think on your feet better.”
“She has a point,” Tim cut in.
“Hush up, McGoo,” Tony snapped. “I didn't see you helping in there.”
“No, I was just trying to sleep with my eyes open until it was over,” Tim countered.
“Enough,” Gibbs roared. “Harass each other on your own time. You have five minutes to collect info on our victim and her setting before the truck leaves.”
Tim almost ran Ziva over getting to his desk. Fortunately, she expected it and dodged him adroitly, shooting a smug smirk over her shoulder as she sauntered away.
Tony brushed past Gibbs, close enough their sleeves touched, and whispered, “You wish,” into his boss' ear.
Gibbs called Tony's cell phone but found himself sent straight to voice mail. That pissed him off. He'd trained the younger man for years to never be unavailable. That was rule number three.
But as he stared at the inside of his windshield, he thought and calmed down. Tony had a girlfriend now, a life outside the office. They'd just closed a case and they weren't on call. There was no reason for Tony to pick up the phone tonight.
He forced himself to drive home, to focus on the road instead of the image of Tony entwined with a soft female form. It hurt. He knew exactly where he wanted Tony to be, and it wasn't going to happen right now. He'd given up his right to drag Tony home when he ran off to Mexico.
Several hours later, and a good bit of bourbon, Gibbs was surprised when the ring of his cell phone echoed through the basement.
“Gibbs,” he snapped into the small microphone.
“You called, boss?” Tony countered.
Gibbs stared at his phone in puzzlement for a moment. “I didn't leave a message,” he finally said.
“No,” Tony agreed. “But it’s usually better to call you back, just in case.”
“Just in case what?” Gibbs asked. He forced himself to sound puzzled, but deep down he was feeling rather pleased. He had managed to train Tony up fairly well after all.
“When it comes to you, boss, just in case of anything and everything,” Tony said teasingly. “So, what was on your mind when you called?”
“Ziva's worried,” Gibbs replied.
Silence echoed down the phone line for a minute. “Somehow that doesn't surprise me,” Tony finally said. “But how has that come to concern you?”
“She was researching Y-Pestis today,” Gibbs explained. “All your talk of hospitals has her convinced you're relapsing.”
“I was exhausted this morning because of the Director,” Tony said. “You know that.”
“I know,” Gibbs replied. “You called and warned me. If you hadn't, I would have woken you up when you fell asleep at your desk this morning.”
“Thanks, boss,” Tony said, sounding more than a touch sheepish.
“So, what are you going to do about Ziva?” Gibbs asked.
Tony sighed, the exhalation echoing badly down through the speaker of his phone. “I don't know, boss,” he said tentatively. “It’s ... my girlfriend is a doctor. I don't want to tell Ziva. Not yet.”
“But then you have to keep making up excuses,” Gibbs pointed out.
“And Ziva is an investigator,” Tony added. “Though how she could assume I was relapsing from a bug that had a suicide chain ...”
“She doesn't know all the details of the case,” Gibbs pointed out. “And the hospital bracelet was an odd clue to add to the mix.”
“Jeanne,” Tony hissed. Gibbs felt as though he could feel the heat filling the younger man's cheeks even as he tried to assimilate learning the name of his rival for Tony's affection. “It was a joke. If Ziva had gotten a close look, she would have seen it was for the psych ward.”
Gibbs let out a bark of laughter. “Good thing she didn't get a closer look. I don't think that would have helped your case.”
“Probably not,” Tony agreed. “Any suggestions?” he asked plaintively.
“She's your problem, DiNozzo,” Gibbs insisted. “If you want to keep lying to her, you're going to have to deal with the consequences.”
“Thanks, boss,” Tony said sarcastically.
“I won't encourage her,” Gibbs offered.
“Thanks, boss,” Tony said again, this time actually meaning it.
“Go back to your girl, DiNozzo,” Gibbs ordered. “Worry about Ziva tomorrow.”
“I ... I'm home, boss,” Tony admitted hesitantly. “She got an emergency call in to work and I went home.”
Gibbs considered this line. Did that mean Tony wouldn't have called from his girlfriend's place? And how did that make him feel? “I'm sorry your evening was cut short,” he finally said. It was polite and at least somewhat heartfelt, if not really honest.
“I'm not sure if I am,” Tony admitted softly.
“Tony,” Gibbs said hesitantly, not sure if he were reprimanding or encouraging.
“Sometimes I feel like it could really go somewhere,” Tony said. “And others ... I miss you, Gibbs.”
Gibbs could feel his heart breaking at those words. “Miss you too,” he whispered.
Silence fraught with possibilities crackled between them for some time. Only the faint sound of breathing passed across the microphones. Finally, Tony cracked.
“I should get some sleep. You too, boss. Work will be waiting bright and early tomorrow,” Tony said, the words drawn out of him like something painful.
It was just as well. Another minute and Gibbs probably would have given in and suggested either going to Tony's apartment or Tony coming to his house. “Right,” he hissed into the phone. But he couldn't bring himself to just hang up.
“Night, Gibbs,” Tony added, but he didn't hang up either.
Silence echoed again, and finally Gibbs pushed himself to act. “Night, DiNozzo,” he said formally and closed his phone, cutting off the call.
He wasn't sure how long he stood there, staring at the small phone in his hand, waiting. Was he waiting for Tony to call back, for work to call, or perhaps for the world to end? He wasn't really sure. Finally, he threw the phone onto the workbench and turned back to his boat. At least his boat was still there for him after Mexico.