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Story Notes:
See part 1
Author's Chapter Notes:
Gibbs is allowed home from hospital - but his memory is affected
2 weeks later...

Gibbs glared at Ducky, furious.

"Why do I have to stay here?" He gestured at the hospital room, simmering with suppressed anger and frustration. "I've been here for days, I've sat through all your tests, and every one of your experts has said the same thing. Retrograde Amnesia. My memory will come back in time and there's nothing I can do but wait for it to return. I may as well be at home or work until then!"

"Jethro... You’ve just had surgery! You can't remember the last ten years! As far as you're concerned, you're still partnered with Jenny. The world has moved on since then. Jenny's now the director of NCIS and you've been through at least 2 marriages and a serious relationship since then. Plus, last year..."

"I'm walking out of here!" Gibbs snapped, not giving Ducky a chance to finish. The fact that he could barely walk without a crutch didn’t enter into his argument.

Ducky sighed. Gibbs in this mood was like a force of nature; best go with the flow. And in truth, there was no medical reason for keeping Gibbs in hospital. He was healing quickly, with no sign of infection. He was driving the nurses to distraction and even Ducky was feeling a little frayed round the edges. On a personal level however...

Gibbs couldn't remember the past ten years, so he certainly didn't remember his partner. His very pregnant male partner. He was going to get one hell of a shock when he found out, and remembering the vigorously heterosexual, total bastard Gibbs had been back then, Ducky just hadn't found the right moment to tell him. How did you tell someone like the man Gibbs had been, that he had regular sex with his subordinate, let alone that he had made the young man pregnant?

Perhaps he wouldn't need to. Sooner or later, Gibbs' partner instincts would awaken and he would connect with Tony again. It was a calculated risk, but Ducky decided to leave things as they were for a while. He would closely monitor Jethro's progress, but perhaps some time at home with Tony would help. At least then, he would know Tony; trust him a little. At least he wouldn't be like a stranger, the first time, post-explosion, that he found himself having sex with the young agent.

Ducky began to plan.

*******

Tony had gone home. For about thirty seconds. Then he had come back to the hospital and he was presently hovering in the vicinity of the waiting room beside Gibbs' room. Ducky sighed when he saw the young man waiting there. He shouldn't have been surprised. Like all of the partners in Washington DC, he knew quite well how strong the partner bond could be. The anxiety partners felt for each other. Tony's green eyes were filled with misery.

Poor Anthony. The miserable look on his face when Gibbs hadn't recognised him still haunted the medical examiner. A pitiful, despairing expression. Hardly good for him in his condition, so perhaps staying at the hospital was a good idea. Ducky had at first agreed to send him home, knowing that at present, being with Gibbs would only bring him heartbreak, but the young man hadn't been able to stay away. For the long days of his treatment and recovery, Tony had hovered in the background. The hospital was probably the best place for him to be, so that Ducky could keep a watchful eye on him, in his condition.

At some point, however, Gibbs was going to get a big, big shock, now that he was recovering physically, if not mentally.

While Gibbs was getting dressed, Ducky took the young agent aside.

"Anthony. He's feeling much better. He's going to be all right, though he’ll have to take it easy for a while. He can go home and recuperate there."

The relief in Tony's green eyes was touching. "We have a problem though. His memory is going to take some time to return. You're just going to have to be patient with him." Ducky squeezed Tony's shoulder.

"He doesn't remember anything from the last ten years. Not you, and certainly not your condition. And the Gibbs of ten years ago isn't the man you know and love"

"Oh god." Tony said softly. "What do I do?" Again, Ducky squeezed his shoulder, his eyes filled with compassion. "I have a plan. I'm going to ask you to drive him home and stay with him - because of his head injury, you understand. That way you'll have a natural reason for being in your own home - one he can understand at the moment. As for the truth... Well, you'll have to tell him eventually, but take your time. Let the nature of the partnership guide you. Somewhere deep down inside him, he knows that he loves you. Use your judgement. I would imagine that the shock for him will be quite severe when he realises the truth."

Gibbs emerged from his room at that moment, walking somewhat unsteadily, and looked expectantly towards Ducky, who forced himself to smile reassuringly at the two men.

"Ah, Jethro. I was just giving Anthony instructions. He's to take you home and stay with you. No arguments. I'm making it a condition of your release that Tony keeps an eye on you. You've had a serious head injury and I don't want you to be alone right now."

Gibbs frowned but didn't argue. There was a point beyond which you didn't push a medical professional and Gibbs could see that he'd reached it. Besides, he trusted Ducky more than anyone else, except maybe Jen. He didn't really know anyone else in this strange new world. The young agent he had been saddled with was a small price to pay for freedom, and at least he could direct Gibbs to his own home. He looked easy to intimidate. It had belatedly occurred to Gibbs that he wasn't even sure where he lived at the moment!

They headed for Tony's car and began the short drive from Bethesda to Gibbs' house. Tony tried to concentrate on his driving, but he couldn't help the odd, worried glance at his partner. Gibbs looked pale and tired. His face was marked by small cuts, and worst of all, when Tony looked into the familiar, blue eyes, there was no affection there. Just... nothing intimate. Maybe a faint curiosity. The gaze of a stranger, in fact, as he saw when Gibbs met his glance, the next time his green eyes flickered sideways.

"So, you're an NCIS agent?" Gibbs asked. "Tony... Wasn't it?"

"Tony DiNozzo. Your senior field agent." Tony let a little bit of pride creep into his voice. He was proud of his achievements as part of Gibbs' team.

"Huh!" Gibbs studied the young agent coolly, noting the curve of his belly and the way he was wearing his shirt carelessly, hanging outside of his pants. "If you're going to continue as my senior field agent, you'd better lose some weight."

Tony's eyes went wide and he looked momentarily like a kicked puppy. He opened his mouth to answer, then paused. What the hell was he going to say that wouldn't sound insane to this stranger who wore Gibbs' face? He forced himself not to reply, then let his attention swing back to the road. He desperately tried to remind himself that it wasn't Gibbs' fault and this mess would be over... eventually. Still, he felt the sting of tears threatening to spill down his cheeks. He was concentrating so hard on holding back his tears that he didn't see the look of puzzlement the older man gave him.

******

His young companion perplexed him. Normally Gibbs could read a person easily; he prided himself on being a good judge of character. But Agent DiNatso really had him stumped. Gibbs wondered whether it was because of his own head injury, but there were anomalies to the agent's behaviour that couldn't be easily explained. Like now. Years of interviewing suspects had made him recognise those little things in a person's demeanour that gave away what they were feeling. The young man's expression was neutral, but something about the way he held himself told Gibbs he was really upset. Gibbs just couldn't imagine what he had said to cause that reaction. The guy was an NCIS agent. He knew the fitness requirements of the job just as well as Gibbs did.

The way he looked at Gibbs bothered the older man too. Most agents tended to show respect, wariness or dislike when they met him, even long time colleagues. But the young agent showed none of that. The way he watched Gibbs was more like the way you looked at a brother. Or family. Not typical for a young agent ��" terrified was the norm. Useful, of course, when you wanted to keep a green agent to heel.

Hmmm. His gut told him that there were things going on here that he didn't understand. Best tread carefully with DiWhatsit till he understood more. His musings were cut short as the car drew to a standstill. The green eyed young agent nodded towards a house and Gibbs let out a sigh of relief as he saw the familiar sight of his own, well-known home. He did still live here!

Gibbs was glad to be home. He hated hospitals and he was glad to be out of Bethesda, at any price. So he had a watchdog. It was a small price to pay, to be in familiar surroundings once more. He was immeasurably relieved that he still lived in the same house that he had owned ten years ago. It looked much the same inside, too. A few cosmetic changes, like a coat of paint in the kitchen and a new coffee maker. And fortunately, no wife. He remembered the break-up of his marriage eleven years ago with a shudder. They had even fought over the rugs. Damn lawyers and their division of marital property! Pity he couldn't have forgotten that!

He opened the basement door and squinted into the darkness, then grinned. There was still a boat in the basement! Who knows how many incarnations it had gone through. He could be the owner of a fleet by now, though admittedly, the craftsmanship he could see displayed was a level of skill he had to admire. Apparently, he had become quite practised in boatbuilding over the missing decade, which argued, either patience and dedication, or a lot of lonely hours down here. He had taken up boat building as a hobby to get away from the aforementioned wife and the hobby had proved unexpectedly satisfying. Which led his mind onto coffee, an urge he urgently needed to satisfy after that all hospital crap…

He wandered into the kitchen, and he was pleased to see that the young agent was in the process of making his favourite beverage. He nodded to Tony and sat at the kitchen table, and moments later, a mug of steaming hot, black coffee was placed in front of him. He took an appreciative swallow. Apparently, DiWhatsit was well versed in what pleased his boss.

"Aren't you having any?" Gibbs studied his companion. Momentarily, the young agent's expressive green eyes flickered his way, then he shook his head.

"Bad for my health," he said softly.

Gibbs snorted. He hoped he wasn't stuck with some bleeding heart, health nut. Then again, if he had made the position of senior field agent under Gibbs, the young agent must have some good qualities, though apparently physical fitness wasn't one of them. And he was evidently not as shallow as his pretty face and expensive clothes suggested, for the same reason.

A surprise awaited Gibbs when he went next door to watch the news on tv. A state of the art, wide-screen tv hung on the wall, and a pile of dvds rested on top of one of the big speakers attached to it. Gibbs frowned. He had never liked watching movies in the past, not to this extent, and the apparent change in his character puzzled him.

He watched the news in a kind of daze. Everything seemed to have changed, except for the fact that American servicemen were still dying in another foreign war in some place dusty and hot. He didn't recognise the faces of the politicians, and when a picture appeared showing the President in the White House, he was just another face. The story was some scarcely believable scandal about the President's son and his Secret Service bodyguard heading to Niagara Falls to get married. Hell, the fact that any two men could get hitched was just bizarre! The world had definitely changed over the last 10 years. Gibbs tuned the words out. His head began to ache.

Gibbs sighed tiredly. He would get something to eat, then he would gladly rest. He was more tired than he would admit to anyone else, and from the delicious smells emerging from the kitchen, Tony was cooking. Well, at least he could get that right.

He paused at the kitchen door; he could hear voices. Curious, he eavesdropped on DiWhatso.

"...You'll see, sweetheart. Everything'll be okay. Ducky said so..."

Damn. Apparently, his senior field agent was nuts for real.

"...Wow, you sure can kick. Think I'll put your name down early for the Ohio State football team..."

Weirder and weirder. Gibbs shook his head. Who the hell was Tony talking to? He had left his cell phone and laptop on the table next door. And the young man had seemed so normal! Gibbs decided to keep his mouth shut for the moment. He may be a bastard, but he didn't kick the mentally ill when they were down. He would have a word with Ducky later. Still, priorities.

"What's cooking?"

He caught a glimpse of startled green eyes as Tony looked towards him. The young agent was stirring a pot of pasta, one hand resting on his fat belly. He smiled at Gibbs, a little shyly.

Just for a moment, a picture flashed inside his head, like a freeze frame image; Tony sitting right there at the kitchen table, a mug in his hand, grinning widely at him. Then it was gone.

He had known DiWhatsit before! Well enough for the young agent to be a visitor in his house. The memory had been of some early morning event, to judge from the way the sun had been streaming in through the windows. Interesting, and annoying too, that he couldn't place the image in context...

"Hey boss. You want some pasta. You'll like the sauce - I'm Italian so you know it'll be good." Tony was smiling at him, so like that elusive memory, his green eyes sparkling. Gibbs surprised himself by nodding.

It was good too. Hardly surprising that Tony was a bit on the heavy side. Gibbs found himself eating a second bowlful, after which he could barely keep his eyes open. He headed upstairs, calling over his shoulder at DiNutso, "You're welcome to the spare room," though it vaguely occurred to him that he didn't even know whether it actually had a bed in it. He swallowed the pills Ducky had given him, fell into bed and was asleep, as the cliché goes, as soon as his head hit the pillow.

*****

Tony curled up on the spare bed, lying on his side to try and get comfortable. No one had told him how damned uncomfortable this pregnancy thing could be! He seemed to take hours these days, trying to find a comfortable position for sleeping. He ended up with a couple of pillows at his back for support. Not Jethro, but it would have to do. And no chance of mortgaging his soul for one of Jethro’s famous foot massages…

He sighed unhappily. Gibbs wasn’t the man he knew. He seemed more edgy, more angry at the world, and somehow, less human. Robocop Gibbs! Tony sighed again. He wanted so much to feel his lover’s arms around him.

He had been alone for so long before he had fallen into a relationship with his boss, or so it seemed. A series of shallow relationships with pretty women; nothing permanent or meaningful. And then came Jethro Gibbs, who made him feel like he had come home. A few glorious, tempestuous months later and his life had changed irrevocably for the better. He was so deeply in love with the man now. And then Jethro had given him the greatest gift of all ��" his daughter.

The knot of loneliness inside him eased a little. He really wasn’t alone any more. And for two more months, he would have her close to him, inside him. His arms wrapped protectively around his bump. The idea of parental responsibility was strange to him, but it was growing on him. Or should that be in him?

She kicked against his hand and he found himself grinning, despite his troubles. She was going to be as feisty as her father. And a bond between them that would link the three of them together forever.

Not that it helped him to get any sleep…

*******

Gibbs groaned as the rays of the early morning sun woke him as they slanted through the blinds across his bedroom window. He had slept like a log, but that didn’t stop him from feeling as though a guy with a jackhammer was excavating a hole in his head. No dreams. He fumbled for his pills and gratefully swallowed down a couple of the powerful painkillers. He was glad that he didn’t have anything more energetic to do today than sitting around on his ass, trying to remember who he was, these days.

He dragged himself unsteadily to his feet and headed for the shower, only to hear the sound of water running inside. After a moment, it stopped and he heard whistling coming from the bathroom.

DiWhatsit!

The door opened and the young agent appeared, wearing a towel round his waist. He gave a start as he saw Gibbs watching him.

–Making yourself at home?” Gibbs snapped sarcastically. The young man blushed, the colour flooding his face and spreading lower... His skin gleamed with moisture and despite himself, Gibbs let his eyes drop. DiWhatso was definitely out of shape. Though his chest and legs were firm and muscular, his belly was definitely bulging. Gibbs glared at him. The pills hadn’t kicked in yet.

–You invited me to stay. Remember?” Tony gave an easy grin, refusing to be intimidated. Oddly, the young agent’s strength of character made a better impression than if he had been a kiss-ass.

"Go do something in the kitchen!" Gibbs snapped sarcastically. "You seem quite at home there." Tony’s grin deepened. He wasn't sure where his anger was coming from. It was just that he was so frustrated that he couldn't remember even the simple stuff. Who his team was? What cases were important right now? He would have loved to know DiNutso's story, for example. He got the feeling, every now and then, that there was something about the young agent... Something really important that he should be remembering, and not just about Tony’s weight problems.

Stiff and bruised, he dressed, slowly after his shower, his body dictating his speed. Coffee was a priority, followed by something to eat. Then he would look over his home, trying to place his life in context.

Surprisingly, the young agent had followed instructions and the coffee machine was switched on, brewing a cup of something that smelled pretty good. That was twice he had gotten it right. His appreciation of DiWhatsit was definitely growing. Still, it wouldn’t do to encourage him too much, so he merely nodded to the young man and took his cup into the other room so that he could flick through the channels on the big-ass tv. He didn’t see the look of disappointment that Tony gave him.

The memory flash caught him by surprise, freeze frame, almost perfect in its clarity. DiNozzo lying sprawled on a tiled floor, his face white and one arm raised defensively. The other arm lay limp at his side, as a man dressed in chef's whites brought a pipe down towards the young agent's head. Gibbs gasped and the coffee mug wavered in his hand.

True memory or not? He had to know. He picked up his mug and headed for the kitchen. Hopefully, DiWhatsit had gotten over his annoyance by now. Yeah, right.

The green-eyed agent was sitting, glaring at a kitchen gadget. Despite his determination not to like the young idiot, Gibbs felt his lips twitch towards what might have been a smile. DiNutso's expression was pure pout. Note to memory: this agent could win an Olympic medal in pouting. Gibbs wondered whether it was just him, or had the waffle maker done something to offend DiWhatsit too.

He didn't remember having a waffle maker, but then most things passed him by lately. He could see that, whatever the young agent's strengths might be, the ancient art of waffle making wasn't one of them for the young agent. Gibbs finally did grin, as DiWhatsit cursed loudly and pulled the smoking ruin of a waffle out of the gadget. Though he would never tolerate incompetence in his agents in the work they did - apart from waffle making skills, that is - he was beginning to get the idea that he kept the young agent around for the entertainment value.

"Having trouble?" Gibbs schooled his expression to neutrality. The young agent glared at him.

"I'm not too good at this," he said, sounding as though the admission was being dragged out of him. "I've been trying to get it right for months but I just don't have the knack."

"Months, huh? You must love waffles."

"Oh yes!" The young man's face lit up. "I get cravings, you know. Waffles with maple syrup and pick..." He faltered. "Well I just like them, that's all."

"You need the right temperature, that's all. And the waffle has to cook evenly." He found himself taking over, and in a few minutes, he had salvaged something out of DiNatso's mess. He turned out four perfect waffles onto a plate.

With a quick grin, the young agent grabbed one as soon as it had cooled enough and poured an obscene amount of syrup over it. He bit into it hungrily, making a sound of pleasure that was almost indecent. Gibbs found himself fascinated by the way the young agent was licking the sweet stickiness of the syrup off his fingers. The way he sucked his fingers in, one by one, and slowly drew them out again, his tongue tracing the end of each one like he was exploring every last intimate nook and cranny in his search for sweet maple juices…

Gibbs realised abruptly that he was staring as if hypnotised, and he jerked his gaze away, feeling strangely off balance. For a moment, it seemed as though there was a trace of amusement in those green eyes, but he could have imagined it. He searched for something to say, then remembered that odd memory.

"Were you hurt?" he asked softly. "I remembered... Your shoulder. There was a cook and you were on the floor..." He shook his head. "Did it really happen or did my brain make it up?"

"You're remembering things!" Tony's grin was like the sun coming out.

"Only that, and you drinking coffee at my kitchen table. I get frozen images. Not in context. It's confusing as hell."

"I was attacked while we were on a case about six months ago. You saved my life!" Tony rubbed at his shoulder and grimaced at the memory of pain. "Nearly three months of hospitals and reconstructive surgery to set the bones he shattered."

Gibbs hadn't realised he was so tense until he heard the young agent's word and knew that it was a real memory. He wasn't dreaming it all. Plus, long term illness went some way to explaining why his senior field agent wasn’t as fit as he should be.

The young agent finished his waffles and headed to his laptop. He opened it and began to type some sort of report. Gibbs sighed. Apparently he had a nursemaid. Ducky had been determined and Gibbs knew better than to thwart his friend. They were right that he couldn’t work till his head was put back together. Why he didn’t even know who was on the ten most wanted list on the wall of the NCIS office.

Tony’s cell phone rang and he listened to the conversation for a few minutes, then he burst out, –You’ve got to be kidding me!” A swift glance towards Gibbs. –He’s doing good, McGee. He remembered some stuff ��" just little things, but it’s still a good sign, right?” Another pause. –Okay. Send me your crime scene pictures” He looked tired, Gibbs realised. The young agent turned to him.

–I have to go on the computer to check out a crime scene,” Tony said. Apparently, there’s no-one else available ��" they’re all chasing your terrorist cell. He looked oddly reluctant to leave. Gibbs realised that he was the reason that Tony hadn’t run off right away.

–Go be my senior field agent,” he said with a smile. The young agent’s devotion was touching, though a little strange. But then, what was normal about the young agent?

******

End of part 2
Chapter End Notes:
See part 1
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