Hope you enjoy it.
Headers in part one.
Someone in his dream was wailing, a loud, hight-pitched sound that
threw Jethro from the depths of sleep into instant wakefulness. Puzzled
when the cries continued, he sat up on the edge of the bed and
belatedly realized it was Emmy crying. Glancing behind him, he saw
Tony was gone and he stood, gathering his robe from the end of the
bed then heading down to the nursery.
Tony was pacing the room, Emmy in his arms, her tiny face red-
cheeked and tear-streaked. Jethro wrinkled his nose as an odious smell
became noticeable and winced as Emmy let out another ear-piercing
Tony looked over at him helplessly. "Sorry," he called above the noise.
"I was trying to calm her down but it's not working."
"What's wrong with her?" Jethro asked, stepping into the room and over
to Tony's side.
"Diarrhea, diaper rash. The meds do this to her sometimes. I'm sor-"
Jethro placed a gentle hand over Tony's mouth. "No more saying sorry.
Tell me what I can do to help." He picked up the soiled diaper from the
change table. "I'll start with this," he said, taking it out to the trashcan
outside the house.
Back in the nursery, he saw Emmy had settled a little, her screams now
shuddering sobs as Tony held her over his shoulder while he walked,
patting her back rhythmically.
"What else?" Jethro asked. "Does she need a bottle of formula?"
"No, she had one just a little while ago." Tony moved Emmy from his
shoulder and cradled her in his arms. "I think she's going to sleep
Jethro watched as he rocked the child to and fro, crooning nonsense to
her while her red-rimmed eyes looked into his. Gradually she closed
them and went to sleep and Tony turned and placed her carefully in the
crib, blowing out a relieved breath when she didn't move and didn't
"Want some breakfast?" Jethro asked quietly.
"Coffee for sure," Tony replied.
"Breakfast for sure," Jethro said firmly. "You're not getting run down
from malnutrition again on my watch."
Tony gave him a tired smile and a nod of agreement. "Okay, just don't
blame me if I end up face down in my food."
"How often did she wake up?" Jethro asked, walking down to the
kitchen and across to turn on the coffee pot.
"Three times," Tony said around a yawn.
"Shit, I'm sorry. I can't believe I didn't hear her," Jethro said contritely,
getting eggs, bacon, milk and cheese from the fridge.
"Yeah, well, you were probably pretty tired after looking after both of us
the past couple of days. Besides," Tony propped himself up at the
counter as Jethro began to whisk up the omelette mix, "I'm always kinda
listening for her subconsciously now. The first week or two I had her
home with me I slept through her starting to cry. Then when I did finally
hear her I'd feel terrible. She'd be almost hysterical…"
Jethro gave him a smile of understanding. "When Kelly first came home
from the hospital, Shannon said she couldn't understand how a guy who
could hear the enemy creeping up on him from five hundred yards away
could miss hearing a crying baby in the next room."
"At least Shannon was there to hear her," Tony said softly.
Jethro couldn't help a twinge of guilt at that. "I wish I'd been there for
you both," he said.
"My fault," Tony replied, "I didn't give you the chance."
"No, you didn't." Jethro held his breath as Tony leaned sideways, his
lips just barely brushing Jethro's own.
"I am now," Tony whispered, pulling back and holding Jethro's gaze with
Jethro turned from the stovetop, his arms reaching to pull Tony closer
but Tony moved away, pushing off from the counter to go sit down at
"Did you mind me doing that?" he asked, fiddling with his fork.
Jethro turned to face him. "No," he said, adding honestly, "I wanted it to
be more though."
"I do too."
"Then why'd you walk away?"
"Remember those strings, Jethro? I want to make sure I'm not pulling
yours either. When we were together before, it wasn't because of what
you could do for me or what you had done for me. I'm not sure whether
it would be this time."
Jethro shook his head. "You're not like that, Tony. You wouldn't be with
me just because of what I can give you and Emmy."
"Maybe I would, for Emmy. I keep telling you. I'm not that Tony you
knew anymore." Tony laughed harshly. "When I found out she was
probably going to die, I would have offered my soul to the devil if it could
have saved her."
"So… what we had before? That's gone?" Jethro asked, not sure he
wanted to hear the answer.
"I still love you. Never stopped. But I want to be with you because I
know I can't be anywhere else, regardless of what's happening with
Emmy. Give me some time, Jethro. Let me go back to work, get Emmy
into a routine, live the way whatever passes for normal in this Tony
"Then you'll know?" Jethro asked, turning back to the stove.
"And you'll be the first person I tell," Tony replied.
"What's all this?" Jethro asked, looking into the nursery where Tony was
setting up the camping mattress on the floor.
Tony looked up, a blush creeping over his cheeks. "Um, I just thought
after the talk we had this morning, it wouldn't be fair of me to keep
sharing your bed," he said.
Jethro walked over to the crib and smiled down at Emmy who reached
up with one small hand. He bent and kissed it then patted her head
gently. "Is that what you want?" he asked without turning around.
"Then put the damn mattress back where it belongs," Jethro replied
gruffly. "Is she better, do you think?"
Tony stood up and joined him next to the crib. "Yeah, she's okay. Takes
a while for her system to adjust every time the docs increase her
dosage." He leaned down and kissed Emmy goodnight then tucked the
covers up more securely around her and put her pacifier in her mouth.
"I'm going down to work on the boat," Jethro said. "Night, Em."
Tony grabbed his arm and pulled him around. "Night, Jethro," he said,
brushing another of those sweet, light kisses across his mouth.
"Night, John Boy."
"Smartass," Gibbs said but he smiled all the way down the stairs to the basement.
Jethro slumped forward over the wooden spine of the boat, sweat
slickening his skin. He worked harder than he ever had in an effort to
keep the questions crowding his mind from rising too close to the
surface. Despite his exhaustion, he'd been unable to completely quell
the main one that was currently niggling at him. Was Tony testing him?
Seeing if Jethro would stick to the "no strings" promise he'd made no
matter what temptation Tony threw at him? Or was Tony, like Jethro,
desperate for any small shreds of affection he felt he could share? Proof
of love perhaps.
Yawning, he tossed aside the sandpaper and straightened up, glancing
across to the stairs. No Tony there tonight. He walked slowly up them
and headed straight for the shower, sluicing himself clean efficiently, too
tired to want to enjoy a long, leisurely wash. He toweled himself dry,
dressed in the sweatpants and t-shirt he'd left in the bathroom that
morning and walked into the bedroom.
Tony was asleep, curled on his side, one hand resting limply on Jethro's
Jethro slid under the covers and Tony rolled over the other way then
wriggled backward till he was spooned against Jethro's all too willing
"Night, Jethro," he murmured, his voice heavy with sleep.
This time Jethro did kiss him, nuzzling against the soft downy hair at the
nape of his neck. "Goodnight."