The Telltale Limp

By Juli

July 2004

"Tony, you okay?" Kate asked, concern coloring her voice.

DiNozzo didn't even look up from his typing to answer. "What do you mean?"

"When you got off the elevator a minute ago, you were limping," Kate explained.

"I'm fine."

Kate cocked her head to the side, faintly worried. 'Stoic' wasn't DiNozzo's middle name and it wasn't like him to flatly deny a physical ailment - and the attention it would bring him.

"I know what I saw and you were walking like it hurt," Kate persisted.

Tony’s head stayed down and Kate could see that the tips of his ears were turning rosy. "I think you need glasses, Kate. I'm fine."

He still wasn't looking up and so couldn't see her, but Kate rolled her eyes anyway. "Cut the macho crap, Tony. If you're hurt, then you at least need to go see Ducky. Make sure it's nothing serious."

"I guess there's something wrong with your hearing too." Tony responded, finally lifting his head to glare at her. "I said I'm fine."

Just then, Gibbs strode through the office and took his place at his own desk. Kate immediately latched on to him as an ally. Gibbs did not tolerate injury to his people, nor did he approve of not getting such things taken care of and potentially endangering the entire team by not being up to par.

"Gibbs, Tony's injured and won't go see Ducky," she reported, sitting back in her chair and crossing her arms across her chest.

Gibbs looked at Tony. "That so, DiNozzo?"

"No, I'm fine," Tony said, shooting another glare Kate's way.

"Tony…." Gibbs growled a warning, idly rubbing his right hand as he spoke.

DiNozzo sighed deeply, blowing an errant lock of hair off his forehead. "It's nothing you don't know about, Boss."

Kate's forehead wrinkled in confusion as she saw Tony give what appeared to be a significant look at Gibbs' hand. Whatever message Tony was trying to convey, apparently Gibbs understood because he smiled wryly.

"DiNozzo's fine, Kate," he said.

"Yes, but he was limping," she responded, with the dogged determination that made her a good investigator. "If he was injured, then he needs to get it taken care of."

"I can guarantee you that he isn't hurt," Gibbs answered.

On any other man, the look Gibbs gave Tony would have described as fond. DiNozzo blushed deeply and ducked back down behind his computer screen. Only when Tony's face was hidden did Gibbs spare a glance for Kate.

"He might think twice about asking about my eyesight again, though," Gibbs said with some satisfaction as he ran a thumb across the palm of his right hand.

Kate looked from Gibbs' hand to Tony and finally made the connection.

"Oh," she said faintly, now blushing herself. "Just wanted to make sure he was okay."

"Your concern is duly noted," Gibbs responded. "But you concentrate on taking care of you. I'll take care of DiNozzo."

The warning was subtle, but clear in his voice. Kate nodded wordlessly and pulled her chair closer to her desk, determined to dive into work and forget her embarrassment.

But, as she did, she resolved to be more careful with the questions she asked. Unlike one of their cases, when it came to Gibbs and Tony, there was such a thing as too much information.

~ the end~


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