Disclaimer : I own nothing, but the typos.
Warnings : Rated T for language.
Author's Note : As always, thank you for the reads, favs, and follows. And thank you for all of the reviewed. I truly appreciate reading your thoughts.
And we're done another one. Thanks again for all of the support and well wishes! It was a wild ride writing this one.
I'll be back for the other two soon.
Four Months Later
Rosie swoops into the Camp Ground like her ass is on fire. Without even looking over at Tony, she dives into her desk drawer for her purse. She crams a couple of case files into it, then a few loose papers. When she turns towards Tony, she freezes, a slightly embarrassed smile on her lips.
Tony opens his mouth to ask exactly where she's going.
"We got it, Chief," she says, the words rushed. "That bastard just confessed to killing his girlfriend. I was hoping to update my report from the road." She fingers the strap of her purse, trying to avoid saying the word Please. She never was one to beg. If you consider saying please to be begging like Rosie does.
Tony tilts his head. "Your sister?"
Her grin broadens, bold and excited this time. "Just went into labor. I'm hoping to make it to Charleston before the squirt shows up."
"Get going, Rose." Tony waves his hand to tell her to get going. "You shouldn't miss you twin having her baby. Get me that report when you can."
Rosie stands a little straighter and gives a tiny salute. "I should be back on Monday."
"Don't bother. We'll be on cold cases for a little while." Tony laughs. "McGee and I can handle that next week. Enjoy your leave."
Rosie grins. "Thanks, Chief."
Then, she races out of the Camp Ground. At that moment, Tim McGee heads over from interrogation. When Rosie rushes past him with a quick see you next week, McGee, he is smart enough to press himself flat against the wall. He clutches his papers and files to his chest as though they might get sucked into the winds of Tornado Rosie. Once the doors close and she's safely gone, he heads for his desk.
He shakes his head at Tony. "She beat me, Boss. And I took the quick way."
Tony quirks a smile. "Never get between a woman and a baby. It's the quickest way to lose a limb."
After giving it some serious thought, Tim nods his agreement.
Then he catches Tony up on the details of their case. Petty Officer killed his girlfriend for sleeping with his best friend while he was shipped out. Written up, signed and with the JAG lawyer supporting his client the whole way. Slam dunk. Just the way Tony liked them. It doesn't take long for them to finish their reports and get them ready to be filed.
Just as they're ready to leave, Tony gets a text: Dinner. Bring McGee.
He doesn't even bother to check the sender. Every order that comes under the guise of an invitation is only ever one person. Gibbs.
Tony grins broadly. "Looks like we're going to dinner again, McGee."
"Gibbs?" When Tony nods, Tim continues: "Didn't we just go last weekend?"
"Are you going to turn down good food and board games?"
Tim considers the thought. "Well, Eileen does keep kicking my ass." Then a moment later: "What do you think Mrs. Gibbs is making this week?"
"Does it matter?" Tony asks.
Tim smiles. "Not really."
Tony already has his stuff out, keys in hand and suit jacket buttoned. "I'll see you over there?"
"Yeah, sure." When Tim reaches into his desk, he makes a face. "I forgot my car's in the shop. I was going to take the bus home. I might have to – "
The wave of Tony's hand quiets Tim. "Come on, McFreeLoader. I'll give you a ride."
In a companionable silence, Tony and Tim take the elevator to the garage. It's a routine they have fallen into in recent months. If case work allows, of course. On a Friday night, around dinner time—since Gibbs never stays late anymore unless he must—Gibbs sends one of them a text. At first, it was an actual invitation. Dinner at my place, if you want. Then it slowly morphed into just, Dinner. Tony isn't entirely convinced that Gibbs is the one sending the texts, thinks it's probably Eileen taking on technology in her father's stead. Not that Gibbs would admit that to anyone.
With rush hour traffic, the drive to Gibbs' house is slow, at best. Clutching the steering wheel, staring at the brake lights in the car in front of them. To celebrate the end of yet another work week, Tony rolls the windows down in the Mustang. The air outside is hot, stifling for early summer. The sun, growing bold enough to stay out longer every day, belts down on them with a blazing heat.
Somewhere on I-95, Tim asks: "Can we turn on the AC?"
Tony obliges. Air hotter than the bowels of hell pours out.
"Turn it off. Turn it off!" Panting, Tim rubs the sweat from his brow.
"If you insist." Tony half-shrugs. "Being a little warm is a small price to pay for a piece of motor history like Betty."
Tim scowls. "Why don't you get that fixed?"
"No one's ever been able to fix it."
Tim doesn't complain again.
By the time Tony pulls into Gibbs' driveway, they're both soaked with sweat. It takes Tony a full minute to peel his ass off the leather seat. Once he's free, he notices Tim staring at him over the top of the car.
"What?" he asks.
Tim uses his tie to wipe his flushed face. "Next time, I'll drive."
"As you wish," Tony says, heading towards Gibbs' front door.
Tim hangs back. "Did you really just quote The Princess Bride?"
Glancing over his shoulder, Tony laughs. "Of course, you've seen that one." Then he trolls, "Inconceivable!" just like one of the characters.
"You saw it too," Tim counters. "Mrs. Gibbs picked it for that movie night a couple of weeks ago. Don't you remember? You spent the whole following week telling Rosie that your name was…whatever the heck that crazy Spaniard's name was."
"Inigo Montoya. How hard is that to remember?" Tony pinches the bridge of his nose. "But like usual, I think you missed the point, McGee."
"And what was that?" Tim asks, clearly confused.
After that roundabout conversation, Tony doesn't have any idea either. He drops it with a one-shouldered shrug and that shit-eating grin that lets him get away with murder.
Tim just rolls his eyes.
With a jerk of his head, Tony leads the way up to the front door. Since their first visit months ago, signs of life have slowly sprouted as the winter snow thawed and spring eased its way back in. Pink and yellow petunias celebrate, their flowers in full-bloom, cheering on the summer days. On the porch, the swing is back up, covered in a fresh coat of robin's egg blue pain, while a potted geranium army invades the space under the big, bay window. A woman's touch, Tony decides, looks good on the place.
Tony heads straight inside with Tim right on his heels.
The door is still never locked, except now it isn't in case Shannon and Eileen chose to return. Now, it's for two men who fit into the Gibbs family like they've always been a part of it.
As soon as he's inside, Tony nearly trips over a gym bag and a lacrosse stick that's propped up by the door. While he rights himself, Tim moves the athletic equipment out of the way. The whole house smells like burgers and grilled potatoes…with still a hint of stale sawdust.
Eileen whips around the corner, hair up in a high ponytail and wearing a lacrosse uniform from the local high school. At the sight of Tony and Tim, her relaxed face breaks out into a grin. Gone are the quiet frustration and the wilted look in her eyes, replaced by boundless energy and genuine joy.
"Mom! Dad!" she calls. "Tim and Tony are here!"
Shannon's head pops out from the kitchen, surveying them both. "Dinner's almost ready! It looks like neither of you have had a good meal in a week!"
Tony and Tim share a look that says Well, not since you fed us last week.
"What are we having, Mrs. Gibbs?" When she stares Tim down, he corrects himself: "Shannon."
"That's better, Tim." She nods resolutely. "We're having burgers."
Realizing he hasn't eaten all day, Tony starts to salivate. "I can't wait."
Shannon laughs. "I've still got some work to do. Why don't you play a game first?"
"Monopoly?" Eileen blurts out.
"Only if I get to be the shoe," Tony says.
Tim raises his eyebrows. "You know I'm always the shoe."
Tony shrugs. "Sorry, McSlowpoke, I called it first."
While Tim fumes, Eileen yells: "Hey Dad! We're going to play Monopoly first! Is that okay?"
When he comes out of the dining room to join them, Gibbs offers Tony and Tim a quick, silent nod. They return it, strangely accustomed to the usual greeting. No words ever pass between them anymore, they just pick up where they left off as though their time together never really ended.
And Tony understands why.
In his jeans and old Corps T-shirt, Gibbs is relaxed for the first time in years. His face is open and calm, his eyes clear and tranquil. And there is a slight uptick to the corner of his lips, a near smile. While that will be the most that Tony and Tim ever get, he graciously accepts it. The grins and the laughter and the joy are reserved for his girls, only for his girls. Tony and Tim are just guests.
I'm glad he's happy. Maybe it's time for me to start working on myself now.
"I'm the shoe," Gibbs announces, ending any and all arguments about it.
Tim's face sours even further. Tony tries to figure out which game piece could be Tim's back-up because he has been the shoe every freaking time they've played this game.
I bet he'll go for the thimble next.
Eileen shoots Tony and Tim a familial glare that's increased in intensity over the months. "I'm going to kick everyone's ass." Her face goes white when Gibbs lasers his on her. "Butt. I meant to say butt."
Gibbs' eyes fall on Tony next, sending his heart straight into his throat. He takes a full step back, hands up in surrender. While he may have been the culprit in corrupting many a man's daughters, he sure as hell didn't teach Eileen Gibbs to swear like a sailor. Even he is smart enough to know a foul word would be the first thing to lead to a burial at sea on a boat built by Gibbs.
"Don't look at me. I didn't teach her to say that." Tony coughs awkwardly, casting a sideways glance at Tim. "Even if it is true."
When all eyes land on him, Tim just sighs. "But she always kicks my ass…"