Title: The Art and Science of Thankfulness

Author: lila_blue

EMAIL: lila_blu

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. Don’t hang up! Don’t 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 didn’t 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 didn’t, however, have the inclination to answer it. If it was someone he knew, they’d just come in. If it was someone he didn’t 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 that’s 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. "You’ve got a ship in your … landlocked basement, Gibbs. How freakin’ weird is that?"

"Well you’ve got a turkey there, Abs," Gibbs noted, "so I wouldn’t talk."

"Oh," Abby looked down at the roasting pan nestled in her grip. "Yeah, I do. And I need a stove."

"What’s wrong with your own stove, Abby?"

"Dead. Kaput. Definitely mortis."

"You do realize," observed Gibbs dryly, "that you don’t strike people as the cranberry sauce and turkey sort."

"It’s the whole ‘meet the parent’s thing’, okay? McGee’s parents are coming and I *need* a stove."

Gibbs took another deep swallow of coffee. "Don’t you have neighbors?"

"Gone. Gone. Gone." The turkey bounced a little with each repetition. "And Waldo’s 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. "You’ve just got to."

"Why?" He stretched the word out.

"Because the instructions say to baste it and I’ve got to go cook the rest of the feast."

"You’re 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, I’ll watch the turkey."

Abby practically bounced. "Thank you! Thank you! I knew I could count on you, bossman!"

"Don’t 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 it’s 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 he’s done, but I’ll be back by then. And you’re going to relieve McGee, right? So he’ll 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-tech’s unexpected feminine side.

"’Kay, then I’m going. I’ll be back." She looked at her watch. "Maybe we should synchronize."

"Go, Abby," instructed Gibbs.

She went.




"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 Scout’s 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, didn’t 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.

"You’re the physician, doctor. The patient needs hands-on attendance."

"I’m 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 couldn’t 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. "You’re gay, Gibbs." She fixed him with a jaundiced eye. "You’re supposed to know how to cook."

"No, I’m gay so I know how to find DiNozzo’s prostate," retorted Gibbs. "Tony knows how to cook."

Abby stuck her cell in Gibbs’ direction. "Then call him."




"You haven’t gone Mr. Bean on me, have you?"

McGee frowned over at a widely grinning DiNozzo, who tilted his head further toward the cell phone.

"You’re 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. "Ducky’s there? And Abby’s 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, let’s see … there’s bourbon in the basement, an apple in the crisper, peach preserves in the fridge and, if you’ll go check the bar, I think there’s 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 doesn’t 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 I’m 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 I’ve 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."

"Big step."

McGee squirmed a bit more. "You don’t know how big …"

"We talking diamond-ring time here?"

"Abby is not the diamond-ring type," McGee’s face scrunched thoughtfully. "Maybe matching tats sometime. But I don’t think Abby’s 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 don’t know anybody who doesn’t like Abby."

"You ever met Gibbs’ parents?"

"Gibbs’ parents are dead."

"Has Gibbs met yours?"

Tony raised his eyebrows. "Oh, that’s 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 …" McGee’s hands made some unintelligible motions in the air, "…know?"

"Know I’m bi?" Tony finished for him.

"Yeah," said McGee, nodding seriously.

"I’m sure they do. Not that they’d 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 she’d put in the middle of the table. It was like eating lunch on Liberace’s piano."

McGee seemed to frown deeper at the image. "Are you and Gibbs planning anything?"

"I’ll whip up something when we get home tonight. *Late* tonight," he put in. "Gibbs let Kate off to go to her brother’s. You’re sprung in a couple of hours. So it’ll 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 Bailey’s 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. "Can’t imagine that."

"Oh it’s dreadful. Then he goes off on these long, tiresome anecdotes. Truly a nightmare."

"It’s only one day a year."

"Easy for you to say, my dear boy," chided Ducky. "You don’t have family to endure."

"Got Tony," Gibbs pointed out.

"Yes," observed the ME. "I guess you do. And young Anthony has you. He’s been … good for you, you know."

The lean shoulders shrugged. "Not sure I’m doing him any favors."

"You’ve given him self-confidence."

Gibbs smiled. "Don’t know DiNozzo needed more self-confidence."

"We all have an outer mask, Jethro."

The smile rapidly disappeared. "I’m breaking about every rule in the book, Duck."

"Your book," emphasized Ducky, cupping the mug to take another deep swallow.

"The Navy’s book, too. I’m involved with a male subordinate under my command. If it ever gets out, then I’ve not only ruined my career, I’ve ruined Tony’s as well."

"You could retire."

"True," Gibbs took another thoughtful sip from his cup, "but Tony couldn’t."




"Oh … wow. That’s … that’s beautiful, Gibbs."

Abby ran her hands above the glazed, browned skin like she was sensing the cooked fowl’s aura.

"Thank DiNozzo. He said that if you wanted some garnish there’s 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. McGee’s parents won’t 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.

"Don’t change too much," instructed Gibbs. "Be who you are, Abs."

"Thought I’d 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, Abby’s green eyes smiled back at him. "’Kay. I got you, brother. We’ll 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 don’t 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?"

"Tony’s got a TV in the van. We’ll probably catch the game."

Abby frowned. "Doesn’t seem fair."

"Life’s 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, you’re 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, "Abby’s 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, it’s been quiet. I think they took the day off."

"Crime takes a holiday," Gibbs mused.

Tony smiled. "Crime’s 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 man’s fucking brilliant."

"Hmm?" murmured Gibbs.

"Manning," explained Tony. "God, if I could have done that, I wouldn’t 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 Tony’s 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 he’d obviously been doodling on most of the morning. "In the spring I was the backup once more."

"You did your job," observed Gibbs.

"That doesn’t matter to some people the way it does to you, Gibbs."

"It should."

Tony smiled. "Gibbs, you are unique."

He got a shrug in response. "Not my fault people can’t figure out what’s important."

"What is important?" questioned Tony.

"Doing the right thing. Doing it fairly. Giving your best."

Tony shook his head good-naturedly. "You’re a boy scout, Gibbs, you know that?"

A small smile ruefully crooked the corner of Gibb’s mouth. "I don’t think they’d 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, we’ve 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 I’d be hired on the spot."

Gibbs shook his head. "No, I quit before you do."

Tony’s eyes became serious. "I don’t think I can do this without you."

"Tony." The name came out in a kind of hard exasperation.

"I’m just the backup," explained Tony. "You’re the starter. I’m 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 weren’t that unusual, the Marines at least gave him ample opportunity to ignore them.

"How long we going to keep this up?"

Gibbs wasn’t 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 we’d sit halfway down. She’d get out the silver, the heavy old antique stuff that she’d made the maid polish by hand, and the gold-banded plates and we’d 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. "I’ve always hated Thanksgiving," he finally concluded with a rueful smile.

Gibbs turned the video feed off. "Give me a minute, I think it’s 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 fibbie’s head swung in the direction of van. Gibbs jabbed his finger a couple more times in the van’s 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 they’re going to be here all night, there’s really no reason for us to be here all night."

"You really do think crime took a holiday," teased Tony. "Otherwise you’d 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 o’clock, the hard-edged shadows and the dark views through the windows made it suddenly feel like early morning, like he’d 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 Tony’s and, for a long moment, they simply stood that way – until, finally, Tony observed, "If we want to eat, we’re going to have to find the energy to get to the kitchen."

Gibbs’ head tilted back, silver hair brushing Tony’s 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 Abby’s scrawled penmanship. Inside were well-laden platters marked "heat me" and "don’t 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.

"Where’d Abby learn to cook like this?" mumbled Tony through a full mouth.

"Hey, that’s 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 it’s Thanksgiving and I’m actually … thankful."

Gibbs, too, turned around, looking at the kitchen like he could see something that had triggered this declaration.

"It’s not the kitchen I’m 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 he’d reached an earlobe.

Gibbs turned in the hard, wooden chair, raising a hand to splay fingers against the side of Tony’s neck, drawing him closer. Tony’s 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 Tony’s 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, "I’m 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 Tony’s 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 man’s body as Tony lay back, his gaze lingering on the flat plane of Tony’s 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 Tony’s 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 Tony’s 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 ‘we’re doing the wrong thing’. I don’t want to hear it, Gibbs. I’m 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.

"You’re not quitting," he instructed. "God, you’d wrestle with an angel, Gibbs, just because you couldn’t 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. It’s allowed."

Gibbs smiled but Tony could see he remained unconvinced. "Okay, you’re 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 I’ve got thankful and happy and you’ve 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 we’ll wait until Valentine’s Day."