Better Together

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: This is a pretty ordinary little ficlet, but one doesn't necessarily have do something hot/original/stylistic/deep with every story.

Kate stepped into the hospital elevator and wondered if Gibbs would still be in his room. Nevermind that he'd been flat on his back with a raging fever the day before. Knowing Gibbs, even delirious and with an infected gunshot wound in his leg he'd rather check himself out against medical advice than stay in hospital one second longer than he could manage.

But it was possible the hospital had hung onto him, and if he was finally sleeping well Kate didn't want to wake him, so she slowed and softened her steps as she approached Gibbs's room. The bed near the door was still empty--they'd have to be ready to leave patients on gurneys in the hall before the hospital staff would give Gibbs a roomie--so she crept through the room and peered around the curtain that surrounded Gibbs's bed.

Gibbs was still there. So was Tony. Kate blinked. She knew Tony had been by a few times, but visiting hours had just started for the day. Yet there he was, seated in a chair next to Gibbs's bed, slumped over and asleep. How long had he been there?

And why did Gibbs have a hand in his hair?

Kate all but held her breath, still peering around the curtain. She didn't know why Gibbs hadn't noticed her yet, but the recent fever probably had something to do with it. As she watched, Gibbs slowly petted the back of Tony's head. He stirred. "Boss?"

"What are you doing here, Tony?" Gibbs asked, his voice rough from the strains of the fever.

Tony straightened up, dislodging Gibbs's hand, and rubbed a hand over his face, apparently trying to wake up. "Waiting for your fever to break," he said, leaning his elbows on the edge of the hospital bed.

"It's broken," Gibbs pointed out dryly. "Go home and sleep."

Tony smiled a little. "But I sleep better with you, Boss."

"When you're with me neither of us does much sleeping," Gibbs shot back.

"Yeah, but it's definitely better," Tony said, snickering.

Well. That explained a lot.

Kate eased back behind the curtain, tuning out the rest of the soft-voiced conversation. As she crept back to the door in preparation for making a louder re-entrance, she had to wonder: Was there any way to tease Tony about this without bringing down Gibbs's wrath?