- Explicit Sex
- Established Relationship
Tony rinsed off the last dish and placed it in the large industrial dishwasher. He dried his hands and then set the dishwasher to work. The big kitchen at the shelter bustled with volunteers cleaning up after the dinner service. They were tired but full of good cheer and the satisfaction of a job well done. This was Tony’s second Christmas Eve volunteering at the shelter, and there was nothing else he’d rather be doing tonight. He’d first started coming to spend time with Gibbs, but he had swiftly realized he enjoyed the work.
“Tony,” a voice called pulling him from his reverie, “it’s almost time for the presents and carols. Come on.” Phyllis smiled knowingly. Everyone knew it was Tony’s favorite part of the evening.
Phyllis was tall and matronly, with kind eyes and a big smile. She was everyone’s mental picture of what a grandmother should look like. The first time they’d met, Tony had still been suffering the aftereffects of the plague; Phyllis had taken one look at him and insisted on feeding him, and “fattening him up,” despite his protests. Gibbs had just laughed, the bastard, and left him to Phyllis’ tender mercies. Since that day, Tony had found himself unofficially adopted by all the older ladies who worked in the kitchen at the shelter.
Tony grinned back at her. “You know I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“I want to thank you for all your work. You and Gibbs have been a godsend. Is there nothing that man can’t fix? I don’t know what we’d do without him.”
Tony smiled softly thinking of Gibbs. “We’re both happy to do it, you know that. I really enjoy working here.”
Phyllis smiled brightly. “I know. It is so nice to see a young couple willing to work together to help people.” Tony grinned, holding back a laugh. Phyllis was one of the few people who would describe Gibbs as young. She patted him affectionately on the shoulder.
Phyllis and the other ladies who volunteered at the shelter made no secret of the fact they found Tony and Gibbs adorable. He and Gibbs had been together for over a year, ever since Tony had been infected with the plague. Tony’s near death had opened both their eyes. They’d both realized life was too short to wait any longer.
He still remembered the frightened but determined look on Gibbs’ face when he’d come storming into the hospital and ordered him not to die. Gibbs had leaned down and whispered, “I need you, don’t leave me,” into his ear. Tony had been certain that he was hallucinating. Gibbs had kissed him gently, and he’d heard Kate’s shocked gasp at the sight. Even as sick as he’d been, Tony had been delighted by the public acknowledgement of their feelings. If only he’d felt well enough to really enjoy the moment, he thought ruefully. He was sure the look on Kate’s face had been priceless.
Tony had been afraid Gibbs would change his mind, but Gibbs had stood by him through his recuperation, and they were still going strong.
He set his apron aside and followed Phyllis out into the main room. Mabel’s House was a shelter for women and children; it had an excellent reputation. They provided breakfast and dinner daily as well as secure places to sleep for several families. The shelter was always full to capacity, and had a waiting list.
Tony had started out volunteering at dinner, but he’d found himself wanting to do more. He’d organized a movie night, and he also gave piano lessons to several of the children on the weekends.
The dining room looked warm and inviting tonight. The room had been decorated not only for Christmas, but for Hanukkah and Kwanza as well. There were twinkle lights hanging over several of the doorways, and a big banner that proclaimed Merry Christmas on one wall. In the corner, there was a small tree that someone had donated anonymously, and it was decorated mostly with ornaments the kids had made themselves.
Someone had set up an old CD player, and Christmas music played softly. It made for a festive if slightly chaotic atmosphere. The kids and their mothers all seemed to be having a nice time. It felt good to see everyone relaxed and happy for a change; their problems and worries put aside if only for the night.
The kids were all gathered around the tree where they had been told to wait, talking and laughing loudly. They were excited, sensing something was about to happen. Many were fidgeting and impatient. Some of the older kids knew what was going on, and they were buzzing with anticipation. Tony was pleased to see the older kids were watching the younger ones, making sure they had a good view of the doorway. Tony smiled to himself; they were going to be very excited any second now.
Then a deep voice boomed, “Ho ho ho!” and the children screamed, “Santa Santa!” excitedly at the top of their lungs. Santa made his way inside carrying a big bag of presents slung over his shoulder. The kids ran over to him, nearly knocking him over with their enthusiasm. Tony started toward them to control the chaos, but one of the other volunteers beat him to it. She quickly got the kids arranged neatly around the tree once again, along with several smiling mothers.
Santa looked around over the kids’ heads, until he found Tony, and smiled. Tony felt himself light up. It was a little embarrassing, but he couldn’t help it. Gibbs looked adorable. Tony gave him a wink and a grin in return. He’d promised Abby pictures of Gibbs in his Santa suit, so he took out his phone. Gibbs saw the phone and frowned, but Tony ignored him. Gibbs didn’t usually play Santa, but Reverend Carlyle had fallen ill with the flu. Phyllis had called Tony very upset because it was impossible to get a last-minute replacement. After some effort by, Tony had been able to convince Gibbs to take over.
Gibbs sat in a chair and opened the sack. He had made all the presents himself down in the basement like he did every year. This was the first time in several years he’d actually gotten to see the kids’ reactions since he was usually either fixing something or out on a case. Tony suspected that even if he hadn’t been busy, Gibbs wouldn’t have stayed. He didn’t like having a fuss made about him.
It didn’t help that Christmas without Shannon and Kelly was still a difficult time for him. This time of year always seemed to open up the old wounds, and his lover had grown increasingly quiet as the week had gone on. Tony understood why and didn’t push. He made sure Jethro knew he was there for him, but gave his lover the space he needed.
Right now, he was smiling softly but genuinely as he watched the kids open their presents. Tony was glad Gibbs had gotten to enjoy the results of his hard work at least once. He snapped several more pictures. He took one extra just for himself, as he wanted to remember the moment. It was a memory he would treasure.
Tony watched as one of the women walked over to Jethro and plopped her three-year-old daughter down on his lap for a picture. Gibbs look startled, but he quickly recovered and settled the little girl on his lap, smiling for a picture. Soon several of the other kids were demanding pictures as well. One of the social workers volunteered to take photos for those mothers who didn’t have cameras, and Tony didn’t bother to hide his amused grin. Gibbs was well and truly caught. Tony watched as Gibbs hid a grimace as he gave in to the inevitable. He smiled down at the little girl, readjusting his beard patiently when she pulled on it. Tony smothered a laugh at the sight. It was right then that he found himself falling in love all over again. He really didn’t know how he’d gotten so lucky.
Later, after the last child had their picture taken and everything had been cleaned up, Tony caught up with Jethro while he was talking to Phyllis. After saying goodbye to her, he led Jethro over to the mistletoe and stole a kiss. He loved that he had to lean down a little to do it. Jethro was surprised, but he quickly got with the program. Despite the room being mostly empty, they kept the kiss light, but Tony still felt desire curl up in his stomach. Desire never seemed to be far away when he was with Jethro. Even when his lover was being an ass or they were fighting, Tony still wanted him. He was as vital to Tony as breathing.
“Thank you for doing that. I know I pretty much browbeat you into it,” Tony said.
“I still say it should have been you.” Gibbs shrugged. “But it wasn’t so bad. It made the kids happy. You aren’t that persuasive, DiNozzo. Did it because I wanted to,” he added gruffly. Someone was a little grumpy, but Tony could change that when they got home.
Tony leaned in as said quietly. “Oh I think we both know I am, but I’ll let you keep telling yourself otherwise.”
Gibbs glared at him but didn’t say anything, making Tony laugh delightedly. Gibbs wasn’t even bothering to deny the truth of Tony’s words.
“Come on,” Tony cajoled. “Let’s go home. We’re both tired, and we have a movie to watch before I prep some stuff for tomorrow. The good news is we don’t have to worry about anyone showing up until the afternoon. The invitations Abby sent out said three o’clock.”
Gibbs frowned at him in confusion. “There’s three sides in the fridge. What more is there?” he demanded a bit incredulously
Tony grinned. “I have to prep the dough for the dinner rolls. It has to proof twice before I can put them in the oven. I know they’re your favorite.”
Gibbs frowned. “I wanted you all to myself.”
Tony gave an exaggerated leer. “Do you want to have your wicked way with me? We could play a game; you could be the principal and I could be the naughty schoolboy,” he teased.
Gibbs didn’t head slap him, though he looked like he wanted to. Tony had put a stop to those early in their relationship. No lover of his was going to smack him—not unless they were both enjoying it. Gibbs did roll his eyes, though. When he spoke, his tone was affectionate, and he clearly didn’t mind Tony’s teasing. “Your mind…” He shook his head. “I’m not encouraging you.” He opened the door and waved Tony out.
Tony didn’t reply. He wasn’t fooled. Despite his words, Gibbs did occasionally like to tell him what to do during sex, which Tony didn’t mind at all. They kept things light; neither one of them was into any heavy play.
They walked out into the snowy evening. Gibbs took Tony’s hand in his, and Tony gently kissed his fingers in return. He got a small, almost shy smile for his effort. Tony was actually pretty excited for a white Christmas this year as he was hoping to convince Jethro to play in the snow with him tomorrow.
Neither one of them was really big on holiday decorating, so they hadn’t bothered to get a tree. Tony wouldn’t be surprised if Abby brought some decorations, and Gibbs would let her put them up after complaining a bit. It was a yearly tradition. Just like watching It’s a Wonderful Life after dinner.
Tony was really looking forward to curling up with Jethro on the couch tonight and making him watch A Christmas Story. It was their new Christmas Eve tradition; Last year, had Jethro complained and accused Tony of torturing him, but he stayed. Tony was certain he’d seen him laughing during the leg lamp scene, no matter how much he denied it.
The car ride was quiet, but they held hands the whole way home.
When they arrived, Gibbs when upstairs to change out of the suit. He hadn’t bothered to take the extra time remove it before they’d left. Tony knew that by the end of the night Jethro had been more than ready to leave. They’d been socializing steadily since the early morning. Prolonged exposure to large groups of people was draining for him. Christmas was still a difficult time for Gibbs which added to the strain. Jethro loved kids, but even after all these years, being near them wasn’t always easy. He assumed Jethro would go down to the basement while Tony worked in the kitchen. After all that, he’d need a little time to himself to relax.
Tony took a moment to check his email. Jethro had made him a desk and put it in the corner of the dining room so Tony would have a place to keep his laptop and whatever else he wanted. Tony had been surprised and touched, but a laptop was little use without internet. When they’d been together a few months, and Tony was staying over during the week, he’d felt comfortable enough to complain about the difficulty of doing paperwork without internet. Not to mention the boredom of having nothing to do after his work was done. He loved watching Jethro work on his boat but he could only do it for so long.
Jethro had taken the hint and gotten broadband and even cable. Tony had realized it was a true gesture of love on his part, done solely for Tony’s benefit. It was a gesture for which Tony was truly grateful. He had introduced Jethro to the Western movie channel, which he seemed to enjoy, so at least they were both getting something from it.
Jethro had made room for Tony in his life so much more easily than Tony had ever expected. Although he technically still had his own apartment, he spent most of his time at Gibbs’ place. They both hated sleeping alone. Gibbs’ house had begun to feel like home in a way none of his apartments ever had.
His email finally opened, Tony was relieved to see a reply from his dad. He and his father had never had an easy relationship. When Tony had been sick, the hospital had tried to reach Senior to no avail, it hadn’t been until a month later that his father had even heard the messages. He had shown up at NCIS the very next day, apparently out of sincere concern for Tony’s health. He even apologized for not being around much, and had promised to try to do better. It had been a turning point in their relationship, or so Tony had hoped.
Apparently he was wrong. At least Senior didn’t just blow him off this time. It was an improvement, however minuscule. He realized he’d been expecting just that. His dad was supposed to send him his flight information. Even though he would be taking a car from the airport, Tony wanted to have some warning of his arrival time. He was cautiously optimistic about seeing his father. It had been a long time, and it would be nice to have his whole family together for a change. He opened the email from his father.
I’m sorry, son, I’m not going to make it. An important business deal came up. Maybe we can get together in the New Year.
That was it; not even a Merry Christmas or even an insincere I love you. Not that Tony had ever heard that growing up. Tony frowned in disappointment, surprisingly upset. He’d wanted his father to see how happy he was with Jethro, to be able to share that with him. He’d hoped they’d have a good Christmas together for the first time in years; it looked like none of that was going to happen. He really should have known better than to get his hopes up, and now he was disappointed. It was his own fault, really.
He heard Gibbs coming down the stairs, so he pasted a big smile on his face for his lover’s benefit; senior’s antics always upset Jethro so much on Tony’s behalf. He entered the room dressed comfortably in a t-shirt and jeans. Tony really loved those jeans; they hugged Jethro’s ass in all the right places. It was too bad he couldn’t enjoy the view at the moment.
Jethro knew him too damn well and wasn’t fooled for a minute by Tony’s casual demeanor. He frowned and quickly walked over to Tony. “What’s wrong?” he demanded. With a sigh, Tony gestured toward the computer screen. Gibbs quickly read over Tony’s shoulder.
He let out a growl of frustration. “Asshole,” Gibbs bit out. “I can’t believe him. He swore. Several times.” Tony knew Gibbs had had a couple of discussions with Senior about his behavior towards Tony. They didn’t hide things from one another, but Tony had gently asked him to leave well enough alone, because Tony knew best how to handle his father. Jethro had reluctantly agreed.
“Give me his number. He and I need to have a chat,” Gibbs ordered hotly.
Tony grinned at the concern he heard in Gibbs’ voice. It had taken time for him to grow accustomed to having someone in his life who was always in his corner no matter the circumstances. They disagreed on occasion, but even when Gibbs was angry with him, he still had Tony’s back; when Tony had decided to accept a position with the Family and Sexual Violence Unit, Gibbs hadn’t been happy at first, but he’d come around. After six months of quietly dating, they had been outed at work by a well-meaning Abby. He loved her, but the girl had a big mouth at times.
Jenny had asked one of them to move to another team for appearances’ sake. It had been a hard transition for both of them. Tony had worried that something would happen to his team when he was gone. Jethro had found work difficult without Tony at first, but he had adjusted. It helped that Tony had trained McGee on how to do the SFA paperwork until they found a replacement Gibbs liked. Leaving the team, had been difficult, but it had turned out to be the right choice. In the end, it was great not only for Tony’s career, but for their relationship. Though, sometimes, Tony still had nightmares about Gibbs being hurt without him to watch his back.
The FSVU was hard work, but Tony felt that he was doing some good. The senior supervisory agent for the team was retiring at the end of the next year, and Tony expected he’d get the job.
Tony turned in the chair and squeezed Gibbs’ hand. “No, you will not call him. I know yelling at him makes you feel better, but I’m the one who has to deal with the aftermath. Let’s just let sleeping dogs lie. I wasn’t expecting him to show up anyway, not really.”
Jethro sighed. “If that’s what you want. I just hate to see you disappointed. Especially on Christmas. I know how much it hurts when he breaks his promises no matter how accustomed you are to it.”
Tony stood, and Jethro, reading him correctly, pulled Tony into a tight comforting embrace. “I am disappointed, but I’m okay,” Tony confided. “You’re here, we’re together. That’s the most important thing to me.” He moved back a bit so he could look Jethro in the eye.
Jethro reached out and brushed his finger down Tony’s cheek. “I’m always here for you. Remember that.”
Tony grinned. “As you wish,” he said seriously.
Jethro groaned, but then he smiled lovingly. “I love you, too. Although sometimes I wonder why,” he added dryly.
Tony grinned. He could think of a few reasons; he’d list them for Gibbs later. “Just shut up and kiss me,” he said.
Jethro did. This time, the kiss was deeper and more passionate, but much to Tony’s surprise, before he could deepen the kiss, Gibbs pulled away.
“Hey,” Tony protested, mildly confused. Gibbs had said he wanted to be alone with Tony tonight. They’d been so busy with work and the shelter the last few days, they hadn’t had any time to really spend together. It was hard to be romantic when you were exhausted.
Gibbs smiled and took Tony’s hand, pulling him along. Tony allowed it without protest. “Want to show you something I was saving for tomorrow.” He sounded weirdly uncertain.
Tony wished he could see his face. Feeling confused, he wondered what was going on.
Jethro led Tony down to the basement. Whatever it was, he was very determined to see it through. They had almost reached the bottom when Jethro said, “Close your eyes.”
Tony looked at him for a moment, searching his face. Jethro looked an odd mix of nervous and excited. Tony was surprised, because Jethro almost never got nervous like this.
He wanted to ask, but he knew Jethro well enough to know he wouldn’t get anything out of him until he was ready. The best thing to do was comply. He closed his eyes, knowing Jethro wouldn’t let him walk into any walls.
Gibbs hummed his approval before sternly admonishing, “Keep ‘em closed.”
Tony allowed himself to be led to the far corner of the basement. It was an area that was overly-cluttered with a bunch of junk, so no one went over there much, not even Jethro. It would be a good place to hide something. Tony had an idea of what was happening now. He felt his excitement beginning to rise. He loved getting presents, especially presents from people who knew him well. Those were always the best. They were supposed to exchange gifts tomorrow, but Tony was fine with doing it now. He just wished Jethro had given him time to get his.
“Open your eyes,” Jethro said softly.
Tony did and was shocked by what he saw. In front of him was a beautiful free-standing wardrobe with a big red ribbon tied around it. It was simple in design but not plain. Elegant was the word that came to Tony’s mind. It was absolutely gorgeous.
It took a moment for Tony to find his voice. “You built me a closet. It’s beautiful, Jethro. Wow.” Tony reached out and touched the door gently. The wood was smooth beneath his touch.
“I looked into expanding the closets upstairs but it would be pretty difficult. This seemed a better solution,” Jethro explained. “Glad you like it,” he added, sounding quite pleased.
Tony looked away from his gift to study Jethro’s face; he looked much more relaxed now. The quiet confidence he normally exuded was back.
He was happy to see it, but now he was the one feeling uncertain. Why would Jethro need to expand the closet space? He could think of one reason, but he was afraid to get his hopes up. “I love it, I really do. It’s just that…” Tony trailed off.
“What?” Gibbs asked calmly. His sharp blue eyes focused on Tony. He wasn’t giving anything away, the jerk.
“Well, it’s just… where am I going to put it?” he asked. Not the question he actually wanted answered. It wasn’t like him to be so coy, but this felt too important to risk a misunderstanding.
Jethro smiled and took Tony’s right hand between both of his own. “Was hoping you could keep it here. Put your fancy suits in it. The inside is lined with cedar — keeps moths away.” Tony blinked. He had never heard Gibbs speak so many words or so quickly.
Jethro’s words sank in, and Tony’s pulse began to race in his ears. This seemed too good to be true. He’d been thinking of bringing up the possibility of moving in, but Jethro offering made it twice as special. The man didn’t share his space easily, but he wanted to share it with Tony.
Still, Tony couldn’t resist teasing him a little. “Keep my clothes here,” he said slowly. He felt a large smile forming on his face. “If I’m still living at my place, you’re going to have to give me visitation rights, I’ll need to spend time with them,” he said mischievously
Jethro glared at him, but there was a smile playing across his lips. He gave Tony a playful look. It was a look that really did it for Tony. “You know I’m asking you to move in.” Jethro’s expression turned solemn. “Seriously, I miss you. It’s too quiet. Sometimes I put on one of your movies to keep me company.”
That was so incredibly sweet. Tony knew how much Jethro valued his solitude, so to hear him say how much he missed Tony meant a lot. Without really thinking about it, he pulled Gibbs closer and kissed him. Gently at first, but the kiss quickly deepened. Gibbs let Tony keep control, and his lips parted so Tony could slip his tongue inside. Jethro pulled him closer, and everywhere their bodies touched, Tony felt his skin tingling. Desire danced up his spine, and his cock grew hard in response. He could tell Gibbs was just as turned on as he was, and he really wanted to move this upstairs, but he didn’t want to stop kissing Jethro long enough to move.
Jethro pulled away and took a deep breath. “That a yes?” he rasped, voice deepened with his desire.
“Of course it’s a yes,” Tony said. “I’d love to move in with you. For the record, I miss you too, when we’re apart. I was going to ask you about moving in together, but you beat me to the punch.”
“Good,” Jethro said and kissed him again. This time, his hands found their way under Tony’s shirt and rubbed at Tony’s back. The warmth of his hands on Tony’s skin made him shiver.
Jethro reached out and fondled Tony through his jeans. Tony gasped at the contact, and his cock pulsed in response.
“Let’s go upstairs,” Tony suggested
Jethro shook his head. “No. Want you right here, right now.” Tony sucked in a breath. He loved when Jethro used that commanding tone. Jethro squeezed Tony’s cock again firmly. “So hard for me already. Feels like you’re ready to come any second.”
If Jethro kept doing that it was a distinct possibility.
He moved Tony over to his workbench and pushed him back until he was leaning against it. He lowered Tony’s jeans and pushed down his underwear so that his cock sprang free. Jethro stroked the hard length, applying just the right amount of pressure. Tony bit his lip, trying to keep from coming. He reached out for Jethro, but Jethro stopped him.
“Not yet. Put your hands behind you. Leave them there,” Jethro ordered sternly.
Tony leaned back against the bench, clasping his hands behind his back. It was actually the perfect height for this they’d discovered, and Tony automatically widened his stance to give Jethro better access. He was expecting a hand job, so he moaned in surprise and desire when Gibbs sank to his knees. He willed himself not to come at the sight.
Precum was already leaking out. Jethro leaned forward and licked him clean, eyes closed as if savoring the taste. Tony’s cock seemed to throb harder.
He pulled the tip of Tony’s cock into his mouth, sucking gently at first as if getting used to the feel of Tony’s cock. He always started like this, easing them both into it. The sensation felt truly amazing.
He began to suck harder, reaching back and grabbing Tony’s ass with both hands, squeezing. Jethro’s mouth was hot and wet. It was perfect. Tony felt the pressure building, the pleasure growing more intense. Desire rushed through him, orgasm building rapidly as Jethro sucked a little harder.
“Yes,” Tony gasped out encouragingly. “Just like that.” He got a light slap on the butt cheek for his trouble; he wasn’t supposed to make demands when Jethro was in charge. The slight sting only added to his pleasure.
Tony fought to remain still and not move his hips. He knew the rules. The pressure was building and building; he was so close.
Not yet. He wanted to enjoy this a little longer, but then Jethro hummed around his cock, and the vibration caused pleasure to course through him. He didn’t even have time to give a warning before he came in Jethro’s mouth. Tony’s orgasm seemed to explode from him. He nearly passed out from the intensity.
Jethro swallowed and gently sucked Tony clean, then stood and pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket. He made sure Tony was as clean as he knew Tony liked, before he gently pulled up Tony’s jeans. Tony was still a little out of it, and he leaned against Jethro, feeling sated and boneless. He softly kissed his lover’s collarbone in thanks.
As his mind started working again, Tony realized Jethro hadn’t come. He reached for Jethro’s jeans only to be stopped yet again. “I want to come inside you,” Jethro whispered. Tony shivered at the pure want in his voice. His cock gave a jerk as if trying to get hard already.
“I want that, too,” he murmured.
“Let’s go,” Jethro said, putting his hand on the small of Tony’s back. Together they walked upstairs.
The next morning, Tony woke up feeling safe, content, and pleasantly sore. He could smell fresh coffee and cinnamon buns baking. It was a great way to wake up; the only thing that would make it better would be if the food and his lover were in the bed with him.
He suspected Jethro was getting ready to bring him breakfast in bed, but he wanted to have Jethro’s gift ready to surprise him. He left Gibbs’ bedroom and walked quickly down the hallway to the hall closet. He pulled out the package from where he’d hidden it under a couple of blankets. He hadn’t been worried about Gibbs finding it; this closet was full of old junk and other odds and ends. Gibbs liked to pretend it didn’t exist, because he didn’t want to deal with the mess. It made it a perfect hiding spot.
He heard Gibbs moving around downstairs so he reentered the bedroom, put the present under the bed, and got back in. He was pretty nervous about this gift. He really hoped Gibbs liked it. He’d wanted to give Jethro something meaningful, but there was a small chance it could backfire on him. Jethro was still unpredictable when it came to Shannon and Kelly — particularly Kelly.
He heard Jethro coming up the stairs, and cheerfully called out, “Merry Christmas!” when Jethro appeared in the doorway.
“Merry Christmas,” Jethro said, smiling at Tony lovingly. It never failed to take Tony’s breath away. “Thought you’d still be asleep.”
Tony grinned looking at the tray. “Just woke up. Is that for me? I’m starved.”
Jethro nodded. “Uh huh. Must have been a really large mouse moving around up here. You could have come downstairs you know.”
Tony gave him an innocent look. “And deny you the pleasure of bringing me breakfast in bed? How dare you suggest such a thing? Besides, I’m still tired from last night. You wore me out.”
“I live to serve,” Jethro said drily, but he was smiling again. He gave Tony the tray and got into bed with him. In addition to the coffee and cinnamon rolls, there were blueberry pancakes and orange juice—most of Tony’s favorites. He leaned over and gave Jethro a quick kiss in thanks before they both dug in. It was delicious. It turned out Jethro was a good cook when he wanted to be; he just usually chose not to bother. So this was a real treat for Tony. They ate mostly in companionable silence.
When breakfast was done, Gibbs took the tray, and started to leave with it. Tony held up a hand to stop him. “Hold on. I didn’t get a chance to give you your gift last night. We got too distracted,” he added ruefully.
Jethro shrugged. “Give it to me later,” he said, leaning forward, but Tony stopped him.
“No, I want to do it now, before I lose my nerve.”
Jethro looked startled. “Lose your nerve? What’s going on?”
Tony was already getting out of bed. He reached down and grabbed the large, flat, rectangular parcel wrapped in brown paper. It had a red ribbon tied around it.
“Here you go,” he said, holding it out to Gibbs. His heart was beating rapidly in anticipation and a little fear.
Gibbs took the parcel, and examined it carefully. “What’s this?” he asked cautiously.
Tony stifled the urge to roll his eyes. Trust Jethro to be suspicious of a Christmas gift. “Just open it!” he ordered.
Jethro carefully removed the bow and began removing the paper slowly. Tony wanted to tell him to hurry up, but he decided to be patient. It wasn’t often Jethro received gifts, so Tony hoped he was intrigued at least, even if he wasn’t enjoying it. Tony couldn’t quite read the intense look on his face, though.
When the last of the paper was removed, Jethro got his first good look at the painting. He gasped and went a little pale. That was not the response Tony had been hoping for. He waited for several seconds for some sort of reaction, but Jethro just continued to stare at the painting, as if trying to memorize it.
Finally, Tony couldn’t stand it anymore. “If you don’t like it–” he started, but Jethro stopped him with a fierce kiss.
When Jethro pulled back, Tony was shocked to see his eyes glistening with tears. “Just surprised. I love it, Tony.” He looked back at the painting. “She looks beautiful. Just like I remember her.” He turned to the painting toward Tony, showing the image of Kelly from an old photograph he’d found. Kelly was standing next to a fireplace in a red and white Christmas dress. The picture had been taken at Shannon’s parents’ house, and Shannon had sent Jethro a copy overseas. It was one of the last pictures he had of her. Tony had spent over six months working on it. He didn’t usually do portraits, but he’d wanted to do this for Jethro himself.
Relieved, Tony smiled; his gift had been received so positively. “I know you don’t have any larger pictures of her.” Shannon had always made copies small enough for Jethro to carry with him. “I thought we could put it in the living room, or you could hang it in here.”
Jethro shook his head. “This deserves to be seen. It’s going in the living room.” He stood up, and set the canvas carefully on the floor against the wall. He let his finger trail gently, tenderly along Kelly’s face. Tony felt his own eyes grow wet at the sight.
Jethro turned and walked back around the bed to Tony’s side. He leaned down and hugged Tony tightly, a hug Tony returned wholeheartedly.
“Thank you,” Jethro whispered in his ear. “It means a lot.” His voice broke just a little on the last word.
“You’re very welcome. I love you,” Tony said quietly.
Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “Ditto,” he said affectionately. Tony burst out laughing at the movie reference. He was laughing so hard, he had to lean on Gibbs.
Jethro chuckled good-naturedly. “It’s not that funny, but consider it a second Christmas gift. I’d show you how grateful I am, but we have too much work to do. Turkey won’t cook itself,” Gibbs said in serene tone, and Tony could hear the contentment in it.
“Let’s go,” Tony said. Together they left the room in companionable silence. Tony sighed in satisfaction. He’d never imagined his life would turn out this way, or that it was possible to be this happy. He’d never imagined it was possible to feel this safe and loved. He knew no matter what happened in the future he and Gibbs would weather it together.
For now, they had a party to get ready for. Everyone would be arriving soon, and their family would be able to share in their joy. This was the best Christmas of Tony’s life, and he was sure next year would be better.
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