Title: The Art and Science of Thankfulness
Pairing: Gibbs/DiNozzo, Abby/McGee (implied)Rating: NC-17
Summary: Nothing much, just a Thanksgiving day-in-the-life. A little romance, a little more angst, a turkey and, eventually, some sex.
Notes: Thanks to C and Aly for Thanksgiving-fic-duty above and beyond.
Warnings: Fictionalized football and more lonely, rich-kid past for Tony
"McGee, no. No, McGee. Dont hang up! Dont hang" Abby stared at the cell phone in her hand, "up."
She set it on the counter and let out a little whimper.
Thirty-two degrees outside.
Seven fifty-two in the morning.
Thursday morning, to be exact.
The fourth Thursday morning of November.
"Fuck you, McGee," she finally whispered bleakly.
But she didnt mean it.
Gibbs let the aroma from the fresh mug of coffee wash over him, the steam warming his cheeks as the news anchor cracked bad jokes in the frigid New York air.
Tony might have even laughed over that last one.
Out at Marshall and 17th, Tony probably was laughing over that one. He knew DiNozzo had snuck a battery-powered TV in the surveillance van. He knew because McGee, in a fit of vicarious remorse, had turned him in.
But, hell, stakeout on Thanksgiving.
Despite his reputation, even Gibbs had a heart.
When the doorbell rang, he didnt, however, have the inclination to answer it. If it was someone he knew, theyd just come in. If it was someone he didnt know He picked up the sander. Well who gave a fuck?
The voice at the top of the stairs definitely fell into the someone-he-knew category.
"Gibbs? Okay, now thats taking the whole ship-in-the-bottle thing just a little too far."
He frowned up at her, the expression wrinkling his forehead. "Why are you here, Abby?"
Undeterred, Abby continued to gape at the skeleton of wooden ribs. "Youve got a ship in your landlocked basement, Gibbs. How freakin weird is that?"
"Well youve got a turkey there, Abs," Gibbs noted, "so I wouldnt talk."
"Oh," Abby looked down at the roasting pan nestled in her grip. "Yeah, I do. And I need a stove."
"Whats wrong with your own stove, Abby?"
"Dead. Kaput. Definitely mortis."
"You do realize," observed Gibbs dryly, "that you dont strike people as the cranberry sauce and turkey sort."
"Its the whole meet the parents thing, okay? McGees parents are coming and I *need* a stove."
Gibbs took another deep swallow of coffee. "Dont you have neighbors?"
"Gone. Gone. Gone." The turkey bounced a little with each repetition. "And Waldos way too creepy."
"Waldo?" repeated Gibbs, frowning even more at the name.
"Leroy Jethro?" retorted Abby shifting the fifteen-pound bird.
"Take it upstairs." He watched a burdened Abby hitch herself back up the plywood risers. "And I want to hear exactly how creepy Waldo is."
"You gotta watch the entrée, Gibbs." After a few minutes with a decidedly stubborn Gibbs, Abby had resorted to begging. "Youve just got to."
"Why?" He stretched the word out.
"Because the instructions say to baste it and Ive got to go cook the rest of the feast."
"Youre having a feast?"
"Just the usual," Abby hefted the main entrée again, placing the laden pan on the top of the stove, "potatoes and stuff."
Sighing, Gibbs put down the mug. "Fine, Ill watch the turkey."
Abby practically bounced. "Thank you! Thank you! I knew I could count on you, bossman!"
"Dont overdo it, Abby."
"Okay," continued Abby, coming to an abruptly obedient stillness, "so I sprinkled the cavity with salt and pepper and I put him on the roasting rack--"
"Him?" interrupted Gibbs.
"Well, as the turkey is less than sixteen pounds, in all probability its a hen and not a tom but," Abby put her hands up and framed the domestic picture in front of her like she was pondering camera angles, "it just looks like a him to me." She wrinkled her nose.
"So, you can handle this, right? You just suck up the juices in the little baster-guy and squirt it back over him. In about four hours you should start checking to see if hes done, but Ill be back by then. And youre going to relieve McGee, right? So hell be there by two." She looked suspiciously at him. "You promised, Gibbs."
"If I have to relieve him myself," swore Gibbs, amused by the lab-techs unexpected feminine side.
"Kay, then Im going. Ill be back." She looked at her watch. "Maybe we should synchronize."
"Go, Abby," instructed Gibbs.
"I love Bullwinkle."
McGee buried deeper into his overcoat and pressed the earphones harder against his ears, which, of course, only seemed to egg DiNozzo on.
"Did you even watch cartoons as a child, McGee? Or were you off playing chess or something?"
"Stratego," murmured McGee. "Played in the first Mind Sports Olympiad."
"That board game with the little blue and red tiles with the bombs on them?" Tony made a little tile in the air with his fingers.
"A game of strategy, memorization and unit management," intoned McGee, seriously. "I preferred a version of the Shield Defense."
"The Shield Defense," echoed Tony.
"While many players prefer the Shoreline Bluff or Scouts Gambit, I found that protecting the flag while deploying the marshal and general in a forward position with a corps of miners in reserve provided the best"
"McGee?" Tony cut in. "The jocks called you a geek and took your lunch money, didnt they?"
"No," replied McGee, scowling under the skeptical gaze Tony was blessing him with, finally admitting, "they made me do their homework."
"Tommy McLarty," said Tony with a fond smile.
"I beg your pardon?"
"The year we won the state championship, he got me a B in English lit. Wrote all my papers." Tony leaned back in his seat, clasping his hands behind his neck. "Oh, at first, he refused but we hung him upside down from the high bar."
McGee winced a little in sympathy with Tommy McLarty.
Ducky poked doubtfully at a taut stretch of turkey skin with the end of the temperature probe.
"Youre the physician, doctor. The patient needs hands-on attendance."
"Im afraid all I can determine is that this particular turkey was undoubtedly garroted, possibly," Ducky gave an extra poke to the slightly curved stretch of neck that lay on the side awaiting some ritual service that Gibbs couldnt even guess at, "by a left-handed killer."
Gibbs snorted, raising his cup of coffee as the front door swung open again, the click of stack-heeled black boots echoing through his foyer.
"Oh geez. This is why I came back to check on you." Hands on black-clad hips, Abby survived the open oven, the pale mound of half-jelled avian skin and muscle. She grabbed the baster and sucked up some of the pan juices, sputtering them over the offending fowl before she pushed the roasting pan back in with a metallic clatter and swung the oven door closed. "Youre gay, Gibbs." She fixed him with a jaundiced eye. "Youre supposed to know how to cook."
"No, Im gay so I know how to find DiNozzos prostate," retorted Gibbs. "Tony knows how to cook."
Abby stuck her cell in Gibbs direction. "Then call him."
"You havent gone Mr. Bean on me, have you?"
McGee frowned over at a widely grinning DiNozzo, who tilted his head further toward the cell phone.
"Youre not running around the kitchen with a turkey stuck on your head " Tony put his feet up on the small shelf holding the surveillance equipment. "Duckys there? And Abbys there?"
Tony could see McGee lean slightly in his direction at this last bit of information.
"And none of you know how to cook a turkey?" Tony grinned again, shifting to lean back in the uncomfortable seat. "Well, lets see theres bourbon in the basement, an apple in the crisper, peach preserves in the fridge and, if youll go check the bar, I think theres some Angostura bitters left."
Gibbs handed off the phone to the medical examiner. "I have to go shopping."
"I believe Giant is open," reported Ducky.
"Tony doesnt actually shop at the grocery store." Gibbs pulled open one side of the refrigerator and yanked the crisper drawer out. "One apple," he reported, pulling out a reddening specimen. He dropped it on the counter and shuffled through an assortment of glass jars. "Peach preserves. Tell him Im working on the liquor."
"Jethro says he is working on the liquor," repeated Ducky. He held the phone more tightly to his ear. "The basement? Of course, I should have guessed. Angostura bitters? Did you know they were originally a health tonic developed in the 1820s by the Surgeon General in Simon Bolivar's army in Venezuela? Interesting story actually, the word "Angostura" came from the town of that name in Venezuela"
"Tell him Ive got the bourbon," came echoing from the confines of the basement.
"He has the bourbon," Ducky relayed. "Now regarding the history of those bitters "
"So Abs is meeting the folks," commented Tony when the cell had been folded shut.
He watched as McGee squirmed a little before conceding a soft, "Yeah."
McGee squirmed a bit more. "You dont know how big "
"We talking diamond-ring time here?"
"Abby is not the diamond-ring type," McGees face scrunched thoughtfully. "Maybe matching tats sometime. But I dont think Abbys the type to settle down."
"So the meet-the-parents is for " led Tony.
McGee sighed. "It was kind of their idea."
"Quit fretting, McGee. I dont know anybody who doesnt like Abby."
"You ever met Gibbs parents?"
"Gibbs parents are dead."
"Has Gibbs met yours?"
Tony raised his eyebrows. "Oh, thats a definite no. Although seeing Gibbs and my dad out-alpha each other might be amusing." His lips quirked in a wry smile. "Until Gibbs pulls out his gun."
"So, do they " McGees hands made some unintelligible motions in the air, " know?"
"Know Im bi?" Tony finished for him.
"Yeah," said McGee, nodding seriously.
"Im sure they do. Not that theyd ever mention it in polite company."
McGee chewed briefly at his bottom lip. "So what were Thanksgivings like when you were a kid?"
"Big turkey, big table for just the three of us. My mom had these rococo candelabras that shed put in the middle of the table. It was like eating lunch on Liberaces piano."
McGee seemed to frown deeper at the image. "Are you and Gibbs planning anything?"
"Ill whip up something when we get home tonight. *Late* tonight," he put in. "Gibbs let Kate off to go to her brothers. Youre sprung in a couple of hours. So itll just be me and Gibbs and those fibbies that Fornell has watching us watch the warehouse."
Ducky accepted the offered coffee then sputtered at the first sip.
"Put some Baileys in it," Gibbs said innocently. "I remember how you get jittery at the thought of seeing your relatives."
"I do not get jittery. It is just rather appalling to realize how closely matched my DNA is to that of Cousin Hubert." A larger portion of the Irish cream-spiked coffee disappeared in a gulp. "The man tells these horribly boring stories about his days at Oxford and somehow imagines everyone to be interested."
Gibbs managed a straight face. "Cant imagine that."
"Oh its dreadful. Then he goes off on these long, tiresome anecdotes. Truly a nightmare."
"Its only one day a year."
"Easy for you to say, my dear boy," chided Ducky. "You dont have family to endure."
"Got Tony," Gibbs pointed out.
"Yes," observed the ME. "I guess you do. And young Anthony has you. Hes been good for you, you know."
The lean shoulders shrugged. "Not sure Im doing him any favors."
"Youve given him self-confidence."
Gibbs smiled. "Dont know DiNozzo needed more self-confidence."
"We all have an outer mask, Jethro."
The smile rapidly disappeared. "Im breaking about every rule in the book, Duck."
"Your book," emphasized Ducky, cupping the mug to take another deep swallow.
"The Navys book, too. Im involved with a male subordinate under my command. If it ever gets out, then Ive not only ruined my career, Ive ruined Tonys as well."
"You could retire."
"True," Gibbs took another thoughtful sip from his cup, "but Tony couldnt."
"Oh wow. Thats thats beautiful, Gibbs."
Abby ran her hands above the glazed, browned skin like she was sensing the cooked fowls aura.
"Thank DiNozzo. He said that if you wanted some garnish theres a can of picked peaches in the pantry." Gibbs head tilted in a cabinetward direction.
"You keep pickled peaches in your pantry?"
"Tony keeps pickled peaches. I keep saltines."
Still gazing proudly at her entrée, Abby ran an arm around Gibbs waist, giving him a squeeze as she laid her head on his shoulder. "This is going to be so perfect. A regular Leave It to Beaver kind of Thanksgiving. McGees parents wont know what hit them."
Drawing her a little closer to him with a squeeze of his own, Gibbs remarked softly, "Probably not."
"Guess I better blow and go change," said Abby, disentangling herself.
"Dont change too much," instructed Gibbs. "Be who you are, Abs."
"Thought Id just dress the Goth down a little."
Gibbs reached and tweaked the glossy black bangs. "I think they need to meet the real Abby."
From underneath the ebony fringe, Abbys green eyes smiled back at him. "Kay. I got you, brother. Well leave the Leave It to Beaver to the table."
"Good." Gibbs hefted the still hot pan using a couple of bar-b-q mitts. "Grab a towel from the laundry room, so we dont scorch the car seat."
"Wait the pickled peaches." Abby swung back around and retrieved the glass jar, running back to open the front door. "What are you and Tony going to do?"
"Tonys got a TV in the van. Well probably catch the game."
Abby frowned. "Doesnt seem fair."
"Lifes not fair, Abs," observed Gibbs succinctly.
"Well, happy Thanksgiving anyway." She squeezed him in another hug. "You guys are the greatest. You saved Turkey Day."
"McGee, youre relieved." Gibbs watched McGee tidy his small corner of the surveillance van, the younger man obviously in no particular hurry to trade the safe confines of work for a parental meeting. "Go, McGee," instructed Gibbs, "Abbys waiting."
Gibbs settled into the already-warmed seat as Tony watched McGee close the van door.
"Not much scarier than meet the parents," grinned Tony.
"Been there, done that and done that and done that," muttered Gibbs, donning the earphones. "We got anything?"
"Nah, its been quiet. I think they took the day off."
"Crime takes a holiday," Gibbs mused.
Tony smiled. "Crimes smarter than we are."
Gibbs nodded toward the TV. "That thing get the game? You know McGee turned you in."
"The boy is too honest for his own good," observed Tony, swatting the TV to resolve the snowy picture into miniature Colts and Lions. He watched the action for a while. "The mans fucking brilliant."
"Hmm?" murmured Gibbs.
"Manning," explained Tony. "God, if I could have done that, I wouldnt be freezing my butt off on surveillance on Thanksgiving Day."
Gibbs turned and watched him watch Manning connect again with Marvin Harrison, a kind of wistfulness in Tonys gaze.
"November 14, 1992," supplied Gibbs, earning a look of surprise from Tony, "you were the backup quarterback in the game against Nebraska. Starter went down, season-ending injury, and you led a drive late in the fourth quarter to set up a winning field goal with 17 seconds left."
"You know that?"
Gibbs adjusted the gain on the audio equipment. "Yep."
"And I went on to get my butt kicked in the Citrus Bowl by Georgia," supplied Tony, grimacing. He fidgeting with the pad of paper that hed obviously been doodling on most of the morning. "In the spring I was the backup once more."
"You did your job," observed Gibbs.
"That doesnt matter to some people the way it does to you, Gibbs."
Tony smiled. "Gibbs, you are unique."
He got a shrug in response. "Not my fault people cant figure out whats important."
"What is important?" questioned Tony.
"Doing the right thing. Doing it fairly. Giving your best."
Tony shook his head good-naturedly. "Youre a boy scout, Gibbs, you know that?"
A small smile ruefully crooked the corner of Gibbs mouth. "I dont think theyd let either of us in the boy scouts, Tony."
"You worrying again?" Tony stretched out his hand. When Gibbs ignored the outstretched fingers, Tony fisted them and rapped them against the hard shelf. "Come on, weve had this conversation. You want me to transfer?" Tony grinned, "I go to Fornell and tell him how much it would piss you off if he gave me a job and Id be hired on the spot."
Gibbs shook his head. "No, I quit before you do."
Tonys eyes became serious. "I dont think I can do this without you."
"Tony." The name came out in a kind of hard exasperation.
"Im just the backup," explained Tony. "Youre the starter. Im not ready to do this without you."
The game was long since over and only Tony could be interested in watching an episode of the Andy Griffith show for what had to be the twentieth time. Gibbs, looking for all the world like he could actually make out something interesting in the black and white video feed, appeared to be the picture of professional obsession.
He was aware Tony was surreptitiously dividing his time between chuckling at the antics of Mayberry and giving him worried glances. Gibbs had never been good at holidays. Life in the Marines, where, if he was lucky, he was deployed over most of the major opportunities for the gathering of family and friends, had its advantages. If the mixed feelings he got at this time of year werent that unusual, the Marines at least gave him ample opportunity to ignore them.
"How long we going to keep this up?"
Gibbs wasnt sure if Tony was referring to their so-far futile surveillance or the uneasy atmosphere that had reigned in the close confines of the van since Tony had made it clear that he would not allow him to forsake his career for the sake of
Hell, for the sake of what?
Sex that Tony could easily get elsewhere?
Gibbs turned and faced the empathy in the softened gaze.
"You know what Thanksgivings were like when I was a kid?"
Gibbs shook his head mutely.
"McGee asked," Tony admitted. "We had this king-sized dining room table and my mom would spread us out my dad at the head and wed sit halfway down. Shed get out the silver, the heavy old antique stuff that shed made the maid polish by hand, and the gold-banded plates and wed sit there with this turkey on a platter that could have fed twenty. My dad would be on his third or forth stiff drink by then, even though it was only one or two. The cook would have staff for the holidays and one of them would come around and pour the wine, even pour me some, in honor of the day. And my father " Tony paused, " my father would recount the history of his family coming to America then tell me that I had a lot to live up to." He crossed his arms, his gaze fixed at some indeterminate point in space. "Ive always hated Thanksgiving," he finally concluded with a rueful smile.
Gibbs turned the video feed off. "Give me a minute, I think its time we call it a day."
Tony frowned as Gibbs then opened the van door, letting in a blast of near-arctic breezes. The older man closed the door behind him and Tony, not about to let curiosity be denied, moved to the other side and peered out the darkened windows. He grinned when he realized the destination a forcefully striding Gibbs was making for and he watched the FBI agent poke his head irritatedly out of the door Gibbs had just knocked on. Gibbs pointed. The fibbies head swung in the direction of van. Gibbs jabbed his finger a couple more times in the vans direction, clearly making a point. Then he turned and marched back toward their vehicle, shoulders slightly hunched against the cold.
By the time the door opened with another chilling rush of air, Tony was innocently back in his seat, wrapping the cords around the headphones.
"Go out for a stroll?" he queried with just a hint of amusement.
"I thought as long as theyre going to be here all night, theres really no reason for us to be here all night."
"You really do think crime took a holiday," teased Tony. "Otherwise youd never give up control to Fornell."
"I think crime took a holiday," acknowledged Gibbs as he rubbed his hands together to disperse the chill.
The house was dark and slightly cold. Tony snapped the lights on, the artificial illumination bringing the interior into sharp relief. Despite it only being eight oclock, the hard-edged shadows and the dark views through the windows made it suddenly feel like early morning, like hed just wakened from too deep sleep.
Gibbs moved to the fireplace and the gas logs whooshed to life. Then he simply stood there, fists balled on his hips, surveying the flickering. Tony moved behind him, wrapped his arms around his waist and rested his chin on the hard angle of his shoulder.
"Want something to eat?"
Gibbs nodded, his hands unclenching to cover Tonys and, for a long moment, they simply stood that way until, finally, Tony observed, "If we want to eat, were going to have to find the energy to get to the kitchen."
Gibbs head tilted back, silver hair brushing Tonys cheek. Then he gave the hands that palmed his stomach a pat and stepped out of the embrace. After a second step, though, he offered a hand to Tony and Tony took it, warm and calloused in his own.
The kitchen lights sprang to the same bright hardness and Tony was about to make for the refrigerator when a tug on his hand took him toward the table instead to a cardboard box simply marked "feast for my heroes" in Abbys scrawled penmanship. Inside were well-laden platters marked "heat me" and "dont heat me".
"Only Abs would have frozen carbon dioxide around the house," noted Tony, eagerly reaching for the "heat me" platter and taking it to the microwave.
Gibbs retrieved the other one, noticing, among the bags of dry ice, a small wrapped package tied with twine and, likewise, bearing a note. He picked it up, flipping the tag over to read "light us". Inside were two turkey candles, wicks sticking out of their precisely feathered backs.
"Romantic appeal," grinned Tony, reading over his shoulder. He slipped him a fork and knife then went back for the utility matches and plates, while Gibbs moved the box.
Arranging the turkey duo, he lit them and turned off the lights. The candles bathed the kitchen in a soft, golden glow, limned Gibbs silver hair in a nimbus of radiant light. They settled over the food, spearing the same slice of turkey with matching grins then magnanimously splitting it equally.
"Whered Abby learn to cook like this?" mumbled Tony through a full mouth.
"Hey, thats my turkey, buster," pointed out Gibbs, jabbing a fork in the direction of the roasted meat.
"And very nice turkey it is," Tony observed, spearing another piece. He stopped suddenly, fork poised in mid-air, and he looked around -- looked at the dimly lit kitchen, looked at his partner across the table.
"Tony?" Gibbs was frowning slightly. "You okay?"
"I think " Tony took a deep breath, "I think I just realized its Thanksgiving and Im actually thankful."
Gibbs, too, turned around, looking at the kitchen like he could see something that had triggered this declaration.
"Its not the kitchen Im thankful for, Gibbs." Tony sounded pleasantly exasperated.
"No desert?" Gibbs eyed the empty box like it had somehow betrayed him.
A body pressed warmly behind him, arms wrapping his own.
"Probably meant for us to make our own," Tony observed, nibbling delicately along the curve of Gibbs neck. "Found mine," he concluded when hed reached an earlobe.
Gibbs turned in the hard, wooden chair, raising a hand to splay fingers against the side of Tonys neck, drawing him closer. Tonys breath brushed along the edge of his jaw, warm and moist. A faint hint of his aftershave lingered along his roughened cheek. He tasted of the Italian brandy Gibbs knew he imported at an ungodly price from Chianti Hills. He tasted of sunwarmed grapes and smoky oak.
His tall frame bent nearly double, he was finally released, Gibbs rising to his feet, his hands framing Tonys waist, his mouth reaching hungrily again. They stumbled into the hallway, hands tugging recalcitrant buttons while they tried to coordinate the dance of their feet. At the door of the bedroom they lingered, Tony spinning them so that Gibbs back was to the doorframe, the younger man grinding his body against his, his attention turning to the tender, shallow dip between Gibbs collarbones.
An electric arc of pleasure shocked through Gibbs, running from his groin to the hollow of his throat and he allowed Tony to strip off his shirt, hands tugging cloth from smooth biceps, moving to palm the silvered hair of Gibbs chest, finally settling on the hard bones of his hips, swaying him side to side, their cocks brushing each other with growing hardness.
Reaching down, Tony unbuttoned the now-tight khakis. Then he knelt down studying the bulging zipper with a grin. "I had a friend who used to get off on the girls unzipping his pants with their teeth." A rather goofy smile radiated up at Gibbs. "Always wanted to try it."
"Tony " panted Gibbs, "Im not exactly at the age where this can wait."
His answer was an indecipherable mumbling as Tony gripped the zipper in his teeth and tugged. And tugged and tugged again.
"Tony " Gibbs pled.
Tony laughed happily as the tiny wedges and hooks separated with a satisfying rasp, sending Gibbs arching against the doorway, his cock straining the fabric of the briefs that were Tonys next target. Tony shrugged out of his own shirt and kicked off his pants, leaving a trail of divested clothing as they reeled toward the bed.
Sweeping the comforter from the mattress, Gibbs sat on its side, his hand unerringly finding the nightstand drawer, identifying the shape of the lube by feel, his eyes never leaving the younger mans body as Tony lay back, his gaze lingering on the flat plane of Tonys stomach, the nubs of the erect nipples, the stiffened cock. Handing the tube over, Gibbs got his knees under him, curling forward, and Tony slipped a lubricated finger into the tight ring of muscle, began a gentle massage until he could slip two fingers inside.
Released, Gibbs sat astride the younger man, his inner thighs brushing Tonys skin as he lowered himself to allow the sensitive head to gently rub against him. Tony arched slightly at the first contact, his spine drawing up and inward, ribs expanding as he sucked in a deep breath. Then Gibbs lowered himself, pushing down to draw him into his own body.
Knowing, having done this now many times, Tony lay still while Gibbs took in the feeling, the tightening of Gibbs muscles shooting pleasure through him. When the intense sensation had passed, Tony gently wrapped a hand around Gibbs waning cock and Gibbs raised himself up slightly, giving Tony room to begin slowly moving in and out. When he hit the prostate gland, Gibbs groaned with pleasure deep in his throat and he closed his eyes, riding the rhythm of the contractions.
"God, Tony," he breathed just before he covered Tonys hand in sticky warmth and Tony came a moment later, bucking under him, groaning himself as Gibbs bent forward to suckle at his nipple.
Spent, they stayed that way for some time, Gibbs lying over him, panting chest to panting chest, Tony still drawn inside him. Craning his neck up, Tony placed a kiss on the crown of silver hair.
"Best Thanksgiving I ever had," Tony murmured.
With a less pleasurable groan, Gibbs rose to his knees, separating them, then rolled off Tony and onto his back, leaving only their bare arms touching.
"Tony " began Gibbs, staring up at the ceiling.
"No," Tony replied as if reading his mind. "No regrets, no were doing the wrong thing. I dont want to hear it, Gibbs. Im a grown man. If one day MPs come and escort me out of the building, then one day they come."
He rolled on top of the older man, bracing himself on his arms so he could look deep into Gibbs gray eyes.
"Youre not quitting," he instructed. "God, youd wrestle with an angel, Gibbs, just because you couldnt believe anyone would bring you good news."
"Not used to being " Gibbs frowned as if he were in search of the right word, " content," he finally determined.
"Happy?" Tony substituted. His smile was gentle. "You might actually be happy," he instructed. "Say it, Gibbs."
The gray eyes scoured him skeptically.
"Happy," Tony repeated. "You get to be happy, Gibbs. Its allowed."
Gibbs smiled but Tony could see he remained unconvinced. "Okay, youre allowed to be content, Gibbs. That safe enough for you?"
Tony leaned into the hand that caressed his cheek. "How bout thankful?" asked Gibbs.
Taking the hand, Tony kissed the rough palm. "Then I guess we have something in common. Because Ive got thankful and happy and youve got thankful and content."
He lay back down, nestling his head on Gibbs shoulder. "Maybe, by Christmas, we can actually bring up love."
The shoulder beneath him tensed and Tony grinned. "Or maybe well wait until Valentines Day."