Warnings: None for this chapter except that it is extremely cheesy, fluffy!
A/N: Well here is the last chapter of this story. Thank you everyone for all your kind words and encouragement, it is very much appreciated and I love writing for you guys!
The sun was hot on his back while they strolled down the beach. Tony had his shoes, socks neatly tucked inside, in one hand, and was clutching tightly to Leah's with the other. He had rolled his jeans up slightly so they wouldn't get wet, but Mother Nature, like always had other plans. The waves crashing at his feet while he walked, soaking his pants through on the bottom, didn't bother him nearly as much as he thought it would.
Probably because he was holding Leah's hand, which was soft and delicate, and if he were going to use a romantic cliché, he'd say it fit into his perfectly. They had spent the afternoon by eating ice cream and fried dough—a healthy lunch Leah insisted. She had challenged him to some kind of race game where you used a water gun to propel a hot air balloon to the top. And naturally he had won of course, and of course he had given her the teddy bear prize, which was now tucked underneath her arm. She'd made him promise though to take her to the firing range and teach her how to shoot. He had to admit the idea of standing behind her and fixing her stance excited him a little bit.
Now, as the sun began to descend they were enjoying the peaceful serenity that the ocean had to offer. It had been a long time that he'd felt this relaxed. Two weeks had come and gone since their nightmare of Tim's abduction had come to a close. Tim was now home, resting comfortable with Delilah, his mom and Abby taking care of him. Leah's parents had gone back to Boston, but not before Tony had worked up the courage to take John out for a drink and ask properly for her hand.
Tony pulled on her hand slightly and directed her away from the water. He found a spot nestled in the sand dunes facing the ocean and sat down, pulling her towards him and wrapping her in his arms. "Do you really have to leave tomorrow?" he whispered in her ear.
"It will go by super fast. I promise," Leah said, smiling up at him. "Especially if you write to me."
"Writing to you and having you here, in my arms, are two different things," Tony lamented.
"We'll be okay, Tony," she said, with a reassuring smile and pat on his cheek.
Tony sighed and reached for the backpack he'd brought with their dinner of sandwiches in it. "Well, if you insist on leaving me for three months, there's something I wanted to give you-call it some things for the plane, alright?"
Leah smiled at him and nodded her head. "Alright," she said, reaching into the backpack. She pulled out a stack of magazines, some gum and boxes of candy. "Aw...all my favorites."
"Don't tell anyone I didn't take care of you."
"Wouldn't dream of it."
"There's more, you know. Figured there were some things you were going to need in Egypt."
She pulled out a bottle of suntan lotion, a Nationals baseball cap, and a traveler's guide to Cairo. "This is sweet," she said, pressing her lips to his in a tender embrace, "Thank you."
He kissed her back and smiled. "You missed something."
"I did?" she inquired, reaching into the bag. Her fingers found a piece of twine. "String? What's that for?" she asked and she started to pull it out, confused, until she had pulled the twine out completely and discovered what was tied at the end of it. Her heart must have stopped for several seconds and she just sat there, staring at it. "Tony..."
"Something to tie you to me forever," Tony whispered, eyes searching hers. "Leah, I love you. I want us to be together for the rest of my life. Make this awful separation we're going to go through tomorrow a tad less terrible. Will you marry me?"
Leah let her fingers brush against the ring, it sparkled in the sunlight, enhancing its timeless beauty. She turned towards him, tears filling her eyes. "Yes," she said, smiling. "Yes...I'll marry you."
Tony brought his mouth down to hers, hungrily kissing her. Pulling away he took the engagement ring off the twine and slipped it on her finger. He threw a beaming smile at her, heart bursting with...well, sheer happiness. "Oh bella, I love you, so, so much."
"I know," she whispered, cupping his face between her hands. "I love you so, so much too," she said before kissing him again. She pulled back, smiling. "My mom is going to want to know when to expect a wedding."
"Well...I was thinking...can we pull it off by Columbus Day?"
"You...you want to get married that soon?"
Tony stroked his thumb across her cheek. "Yes," he said, softly, "Before...before all this happened I thought about a longer engagement but...Leah...almost losing my partner two weeks ago...it opened my eyes. Life's too short and I want to spend the rest of that life married to you."
Leah smiled at him, her entire face aglow with happiness. She pressed her lips to his in a lingering kiss and whispered, "An October wedding sounds perfect."
Gibbs was not surprised to find Tony sitting on his porch the next day. After all, the SFA had dropped Leah off at the airport that morning and thus began the three month separation that Tony was dreading. "Everything go okay with Leah?" the lead agent asked, stepping up to the porch.
Tony raised his eyes and a lopsided grin adorned his face. Gibbs was slightly confused by the happy glint in his green irises. For a man that was going to be apart from he woman he loved for three months, he certainly was not playing the part. "She said yes," Tony finally supplied the confused older man. "She said she'd marry me."
"Well, that would explain the happy smile," Gibbs said, grinning as he sat down on the steps next to Tony. He reached out and placed his hand on his SFA's shoulder. "This calls for a drink."
"I'd love a beer, boss," Tony quipped with a smile.
Gibbs shook his head. "Beer doesn't fit the occasion, Tony. Come on, my dad gave me a bottle of bourbon once to open when Kelly got engaged. Said he did the same when I asked Shannon to be my wife. I don't think he'd be upset if I opened it to celebrate my son finally finding the woman that makes him truly happy."
Tony grinned, the one that so often reminded Gibbs of the little boy at times that resided inside. "Sounds good to me. But first...let's give Tim a ring-this isn't just our moment, boss. I want to celebrate this with my brother too."
Gibbs nodded and gave Tony's shoulder a squeeze. "I wouldn't have it any other way, Anthony."