AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Tobias C. Fornell
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Fornell gives Gibbs some news and Gibbs seems untroubled by it. However, then Fornell goes missing in a snow storm and Gibbs has to reevaluate his feelings.
WORD COUNT: 3,040
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Gibbs was in his basement working on some toys for the kids at the local hospital when he heard his front door open and close. Moments later he heard footsteps on the steps and he glanced up to see Fornell, snow on his shoulders, coming down.
"Aren't you cold down here?" Fornell asked, brushing the snow from his shoulders and rubbing his hands together.
"Nope." Gibbs went back to sanding the toy he was holding. Fornell was silent for a moment, but Gibbs was aware he was staring at him. He glanced up. "The good stuff's over there," he nodded at the work bench where a bottle of Mccallums stood.
Fornell went over to the bench, grabbed the bottle, tipped some screws out of a jar and poured some whiskey into it. "You want some?"
Gibbs nodded. "Thanks," he said, holding out his mug and waiting for Fornell to pour some whiskey into it.
"Cheers," Fornell said, taking a deep swallow and making a soft noise of pleasure; Gibbs just nodded and went on sanding the toy. "Do you want to know why I'm here?" he asked, after a minute or two of silence went by.
Gibbs glanced up. "You want to tell me?"
Fornell sighed. "You really are a bastard at times, you know, Jethro."
Gibbs shrugged. "Yep, know that. Well?" he asked, "why are you here?"
Fornell glanced away from him, and for a moment Gibbs put the toy down and stared at his friend and occasional bedmate. "Diane came to see me earlier," he said finally.
Gibbs stared. "And what did the bitch from hell want?"
"Don't call her that."
Gibbs shrugged and picked the toy back up. "What did our ex-wife want?" he asked.
Fornell fell silent; he was silent for so long Gibbs wondered if he was going to reply. Finally, he sighed, turned around and picked up the bottle of Mccallums again before saying, "She wants me back. She wants us to be a proper family again; she thinks it'd be good for Emily."
Gibbs froze the toy in one hand, his mug of whiskey part of the way to his mouth as he stared at Fornell's back. Then as Fornell began to turn back around, Gibbs put his mug down and once again picked the sander up and bent his head over the toy.
"Aren't you going to say anything?" Fornell demanded after a long period of silence had gone by.
Gibbs shrugged. "You going to agree? Well?" he said, finally looking up to see Fornell just staring at hm. "Are you?"
"Is that all you've got to say?"
Gibbs shrugged again. "What else do you want me to say, Tobias?"
Fornell shook his head as he just stared at Gibbs. "Why did we ever go to bed together?"
"You wanted it. I wanted it."
"And that's all it is?"
"What else do you want it to be?"
Fornell again just stared at him. "Don't you care if I go back to Diane? Wouldn't it bother you?"
Gibbs lowered his gaze, put the toy down and picked up another one. "If you want to go back to her, go back to her, if you don't, don't. What's it to do with me?"
"But we're . . . At least I thought we were . . ."
Gibbs sighed. "Look, Tobias, just because we've gone to bed together a few times, it doesn't mean we're," he paused for a moment, not quite certain what to say next. Finally, he said, his tone a little softer, "lovers. It doesn't mean I own you or that you own me. It doesn’t mean -"
"I get it. I get it. Well, fuck you, Gibbs. Fuck you." And with that Fornell swallowed the rest of the whiskey, put his overcoat back on (Gibbs hadn't realized until that moment he'd taken it off) and strode across to the stairs. He took them two at a time and it was only a few seconds later that Gibbs heard the front door open and then slam behind Fornell.
Just for a moment he felt a wave of pain, of sorrow, pass through him. Then he emptied his mug, grabbed the bottle and poured some more before returning to the toys he'd been working on. "Bitch," he muttered.
A WEEK LATER
"No, Sacks, he's not here. Hang on a minute, I'll ask him." DiNozzo put his hand over the phone and looked at Gibbs. "Hey, boss, do you know where Fornell is?"
"No." Gibbs went on reading the report McGee had given him. Or at least he tried to. After a second or two he glanced up. "Why?"
"Sacks said he went out over three hours ago, he didn't say where he was going and he hasn't called in."
Gibbs looked across at McGee. "McGee -"
"On it, boss," McGee replied, his fingers already flying over the keyboard.
Gibbs looked back at DiNozzo. "Tell Sacks we'll find him."
"On it, boss."
"Oh, and DiNozzo?"
"Tell him to call us if Fornell turns up or calls in."
DiNozzo nodded and put the phone back to his ear and delivered Gibbs's messages.
Meanwhile Gibbs stood up and went over to McGee's desk and leaned over him. "You found him?"
McGee nodded and then said, "I think so."
"What do you mean 'you think so'?"
"The signal keeps dropping out. I can't get a complete fix on it."
"Can you get near enough?"
McGee nodded. "Yes, boss. He's here," and he pointed to a place on the map. Gibbs glanced at it, noted it and turned to go. "Boss?"
Gibbs stopped. "What, McGee?"
"That road is cut-off."
"By the snow."
Gibbs just stared. "Show me the whole area."
In a second McGee had the map up on the plasma. Gibbs strode over and stared at it. "Is that one closed as well?"
McGee nodded. "The only one that I don't know about is this one," he pointed.
"That's a road?"
Gibbs stared at it, glanced at the map in general and committed it to his memory. "Right," he said, going to his desk and grabbing his coat. "I'm going to find Fornell."
"Do you want us to come with you, boss?"
Gibbs shrugged on his coat, grabbed his Sig, his gloves, his scarf, his hat and (even though Ducky wouldn't approve) his hip-flask and glared at DiNozzo. "Would have told you, DiNozzo," he said, and without another word began to head towards the elevators. Part of the way there he stopped and turned around. "DiNozzo."
"Don't tell Ducky," he said. The last thing he wanted was for Ducky to worry about him - or worse still take it upon himself to follow him in case Fornell needed a doctor.
Gibbs turned around again. "Boss?"
"Yeah, McGee?" He glanced around.
"Don't turn your phone off."
Gibbs stared at McGee and nodded once.
AN HOUR LATER
McGee had been right; the roads were all closed, shut off by deep snow falls and drifts. Even though Gibbs was driving his truck, rather than the sedan, which had snow tires on them, more than once he felt it begin to drift and he'd already had to get out of the truck on two occasions to dig some especially deep snow out of the way.
He'd called McGee several times to see if they had heard from Fornell and to check the signal was still in the same area. Each time the answers had been the same: no, they hadn't heard from him and yes, the signal, which was growing weaker was still in the same area. The third time he'd called, McGee had told him that Sacks had been hassling DiNozzo about the whereabouts of Fornell. Gibbs had told McGee to tell DiNozzo to handle it.
He'd also tried calling Fornell's cell phone on several occasions; each time it had gone to voice mail. "Damn you, Fornell," he growled, leaning forward in order to see more clearly as it had now begun to snow and the white flakes swirled around him front of the windscreen. "If you die, I'll kill you."
He hadn't spoken to Fornell since the evening Fornell had gone to his basement and had told him Diane had suggested they got back together, thus he had no idea if Fornell had gone back to her. He wouldn't be that surprised if Fornell had agreed - if only for Emily's sake. But it wouldn't have just been for Emily's sake, no matter how much Fornell loved his little girl. It would be also because for all his grouching and bluster, Fornell actually (unlike Gibbs) didn't like living alone.
"Just hope you protected your bank account this time," he muttered, slowing down even more and turning the heat on to blast the screen that was beginning to freeze over. "Guess I'll be the one to pick you up again after she leaves you. God damn you, Tobias, what the hell were you thinking?"
He pointedly avoided the little voice in his head that told him had he behaved like a human being and not a bastard a week ago, had he told Fornell he didn't want him to go back to Diane, had he even hinted that Fornell was more than someone to just take to bed, then Fornell wouldn't have considered going back to the bitch from hell.
He drove slowly, carefully, staring ahead of him and also turning his head to look down the odd side-road that branched off the road he was on. Suddenly he thought he caught sight of something black. He stopped the truck, but left her engine idling, grabbed his cell phone from the seat next to him and pressed a button.
"McGee? You got a fix on me?"
"Am I near the signal you've got for Fornell?"
"We lost the signal completely about ten minutes ago, Gibbs. But yes, you're right by where it was."
"Thanks, McGee." Gibbs was about to hang up, but McGee's voice stopped him. "What is it, McGee?" he bit down on his instinct to shout or growl as he knew McGee wouldn't have stopped him if it hadn't been important.
"Two things: one, the forecast has got worse, a lot worse and two," McGee paused and Gibbs bit his lip and forced himself to wait. "Ducky knows."
"Fuck! What? How?"
"I don't know, boss. But he does."
"Tell Palmer to take the van keys and hide them."
"Already done that, boss, and Tony has the keys to the Morgan and to the sedan."
Gibbs nodded. "Good work, Tim. Look, if you have to, lock him in the conference room and I'll sort it when I get back. Just don't, whatever you do, let him out of the building. Do you hear me, McGee?"
"Yes, boss. We'll make sure he doesn't leave."
"You'd better. Because if he leaves the building before I get back, all of you can start looking for new jobs." And with that Gibbs hung up. "Damn it!" For a second he considered calling Ducky and ordering him to stay put, but he decided against it. Rescuing Fornell was a priority - he just had to trust McGee, DiNozzo, Palmer, Ziva and Abby - after all five of them should be able to keep one sixty-something man under control. "Yeah, right," he muttered, as he turned the truck and began to drive even more slowly towards the black car.
He only managed a foot or two, before he felt the wheels skid and he drove into the skid and then stopped. He got out of the cab and stared at the snow covered road, before grabbing the spade and sticking it into the snow. It went in and covered the bottom of the spade. He decided to leave the truck where it was in the hope that it wouldn't get stuck, because there was no way the sedan Fornell was driving was going to get out of the snow.
He turned up his collar and with the spade in his glove-clad hands he began to walk towards the car. It was hard going and as careful as he was, he nearly fell over once when his foot sank into the snow a lot more deeply than he'd expected.
Finally he reached the car and swore as he saw Fornell slumped over the steering-wheel. He forced open the passenger door and slid inside next to Fornell; it was as cold inside the car as it was outside.
Gently he maneuvered Fornell back and stared at him. Fornell had a large lump on his forehead and a cut over his eyebrow was dark with dried blood. Gibbs pulled of his glove and put his fingers on Fornell's carotid artery. He sighed with relief as he felt a steady beat beneath his rapidly cooling fingers.
He pulled the glove back on and stared at Fornell and an over-whelming feeling of emotion raced through him, an emotion that was far more than relief that his friend was alive - at least he was for now. Fornell was cold and completely still. Gibbs gave thought to getting him out of the car and carrying him back to the truck, but he wasn't sure he could manage it.
Thus he moved a little nearer to Fornell, reached around him to find the lever that moved the seat back, pushed it back as far as he could get it and then maneuvered them both until he had Fornell in his arms. He'd already undone his coat and now pulled Fornell against him, getting him as close as he could as he began to rub his hands over Fornell's back.
The chill that emanated from Fornell's body began to chill him as well, but after some time he felt them both begin to warm up a little. It was barely anything at all, but he noticed it. "Come on, Tobias," he said as he pulled Fornell a little nearer to him and went on rubbing his back. "Wake up, you silly fool."
Fornell made a noise and shifted slightly, moving even nearer to Gibbs, but he didn't open his eyes. Gibbs sighed and glanced across Fornell's shoulder out into the once again swirling snow. If they didn't get out of the car and back to the truck fairly soon, there was no way even the truck was going to get through the snow - and if it didn't, the chances of anything getting to them was remote.
"Hey," he yelled. "Will you wake the hell up, Fornell!"
"Jethro?" Fornell's voice was groggy, but it was a voice.
"Yeah, it's me," he said.
"What are you doing? Why are you holding me in your arms? I thought we -"
"I'm keeping you alive," Gibbs said. "Sharing body heat."
"Oh. What happened?"
Gibbs was silent for a moment before saying. "Don't you remember?"
"Oh, yeah, I do. A tire blew under me and I lost control of the car in the snow." He lifted his head from Gibbs's shoulder. "How did you get here?"
"Which we have to get back to before it gets stuck as well. You reckon you can walk if I help you?" Gibbs knew making Fornell go outside into the freezing snow wasn't the best idea he'd ever had, but he also knew staying where they were wouldn't help either.
"Do I have a choice?"
"Nope." Gibbs hesitated for a moment, again it was hardly the right time (especially if he didn't know whether Fornell had gone back to Diane) but to hell with 'right times'. He pushed Fornell away from him a little and for a second or two kissed him. "Now come on." And with that, he slid back across the seat, opened the door, bit down on a gasp as the snow hit his face, got out and tramped around the car to help Fornell out.
HALF AN HOUR LATER
"Here," Gibbs said, handing his flask to Fornell. "Just don't tell Ducky the next time you see him, he wouldn't approve."
"I won't," Fornell, his hand shaking more than little, took the flask and put it to his lips.
Meanwhile Gibbs pulled out his cell phone and pressed a button. "I've found him, McGee, we're on our way home. Tell Ducky I'll stop by the hospital to have him checked out. Shut up, Tobias," he said quickly, "we're stopping by the hospital."
Fornell sighed softly but said, "Yes, Jethro."
"I'll call you again when we get to the hospital, Tim."
"Okay, boss, and take care."
"Always do." He ended the call and pushed his cell back into his pocket. "Hey," he said as he glanced at Fornell, "don't go to sleep."
"I wasn't." Fornell sat up a little more and stared at Gibbs. For a moment Gibbs just looked back at him in silence as he felt the fear he'd deliberately ignored that had been eating away at him ever since Sacks had called DiNozzo begin to fade. "Thanks, Jethro," Fornell said his tone soft and slightly gruff as he put his hand on Gibbs's thigh and squeezed it.
Gibbs swallowed hard and for a moment put his hand over Fornell's. They sat for a moment or two, before Gibbs turned away and took the brake off and urged the truck forward. He sought around for something to say and ended up with, "So you go back to her?"
Fornell turned his head and Gibbs saw he was looking at him. "Do you care whether I did or not?"
"Course I do."
"Because you don't want her to empty my bank account again?"
Gibbs shrugged. "What do you think?" he said quietly, risking a glance away from the road and looking at Fornell in a way he hoped was saying silently things he couldn't say in words. "Well?" he asked, after he'd turned back to the road. "Did you?"
Fornell was silent for a moment then said softly, "No."
"Good. And once the hospital's given you the all clear you're coming home with me for a few days."
"Yeah, Tobias, you are. Someone's got to keep an eye on you."