The following morning the sun rose high in the sky as Gibbs wiped the sweat from his brow and sat back on his haunches to look across at DiNozzo. Crawling on his hands and knees tearing up the old boards, the young man was dressed like him in ugly brown work boots and heavy gloves, faded jeans and an old sweat shirt. His only accessories were sweat stains on his top and wood chips in his hair. During the course of the morning they had pulled up almost all the rotten planks between them.
Gibbs smiled fondly, as he eased himself to his feet, ignoring the pop of his knee, as he took off his work gloves and headed into the kitchen to make some lunch. Watching the younger man immersed in his task made him certain that leaving the house to DiNozzo was the best possible call. Any of the others would have helped if he had asked, but none of them would have put their soul in it like Tony was. Without roots or siblings Gibbs' house was already the closest thing to a home he had ever had. Gibbs paused as he realised his senior field agent was just Italian enough to want to move his wife in here, so they could all live like a family.
Gibbs thought about the third bedroom, still painted with pink butterflies and stacked to the hilt with boxes. Wondered how it might feel to have a dark haired child in there. He thought he could learn to like it.
"Hey," Walking back out onto the deck carrying two plates of cheese and ham omelette and two beers, he sat down on the steps. "Take a break."
"No, I'm good," Tony panted slightly, "I want to get this part finished before those rain clouds come in."
Gibbs shook his head. He had expected this. It was exactly why he had laid down the house rules in the first place. DiNozzo's desire to repay him for his help with over the top gestures had always been something of an issue between them. Now Gibbs was offering more than simple kindness, he was giving him a place to truly belong. He wouldn't put it pas the kid to try and work himself to death in gratitude.
"You screwing with the rules already?" He asked mildly.
"Huh?" Tony looked up with a confused expression. "Which rule?"
"The one about three square meals a day," Gibbs held up the plate. "Come and get it whilst it's hot. That's an order, DiNozzo."
As always Tony responded well to the clear structure, climbing to his feet and pulling off his own gloves, before sinking down beside his Boss on the wooden steps. For a few minutes, they ate and drank in companionable silence. Until, Gibbs noticed Tony's forehead creasing in a small frown.
"Its nothing," Tony looked away, obviously struggling. "It's just, what are we going to tell Ziva and McGee and everyone. And Vance will have to know, and HR. Delores already hates me, she'll never let me live this down. I mean, don't get me wrong, Boss. I'm happy to be here. But being screwed over by a little twerp like Crispin – it's embarrassing. I mean, I carry a gun for a living, I've got an image to maintain."
"There a reason he has it in for you, apart from the whole taller and better looking thing?" Gibbs asked knowingly. "Like a woman, maybe?"
"We were fifteen," Tony protested. "And it's not like they were engaged or anything."
"Um, Boss," Tony blushed, which peaked Gibbs' curiosity, because his senior field agent was rarely so bashful, especially where his activities with women were concerned. "It's kind of personal. See, I might have been joshing the Probie that time I told him I lost my virginity to a Rockette. But I actually was fifteen."
Gibbs fixed him with an unreadable look.
"It wasn't entirely my fault. She was sixteen and she was really pretty." Tony protested. "Pretty determined too as I recall. But before I showed up she had been dating Crispin for a while so I guess he has a right to be pissed at me."
The head slap made him blink in surprise, he thought he was being mature and accepting of his responsibility in all of this. He genuinely didn't understand what he might have done to earn the wake up call.
"You were right the first time," Gibbs pointed out. "You were only fifteen and the guy has millions. Family isn't supposed to screw over family like that."
"You got a rule for that, Boss?"
"Don't need one for that. Just the way it is."
"So, what are we going to tell the others?" Tony winced slightly. "I guess we could just go with the truth. I mean, how bad could it be? McGee will gloat that I have to start shopping at Sears. Ziva will want to know if I have a curfew. Abby will start knitting us matching scarves. Vance will probably ask if we are planning a civil union. Who am I trying to kid, it'll be bad."
"It will if you go at it like that."
"So, what are we going to do, Boss?" Tony looked at him.
Gibbs allowed himself a small smile. If he was honest with himself he was proud as punch that someone with issues as complex as DiNozzo could trust him so completely. Granted the trust had been hard earned and it had been tested a time or two through the years but their faith in one another had never wavered and their friendship had only grown stronger.
"Leave it to me." He decided.
"You won't like, kill or maim anyone will you, Boss?" Tony worried.
Gibbs just smirked into his coffee cup. So long as they didn't catch a case it should be a simple enough to find an errand to send DiNozzo on a nice long road trip tomorrow. While he was away Gibbs would have a chance to get every body up to speed with recent events, whilst making it absolutely clear that it was not to be discussed with DiNozzo at all.
"You ready to get back at it?" Gibbs put his beer aside.
"Tonto, always ready, Kemosabe."
Gibbs couldn't help it, he laughed. Gathering up the plates, he rose to his feet, tousling the younger man's hair as he passed. He might think that Crispin was a grade 'A' ass, but he was thinking having DiNozzo underfoot would be good for both of them.
"Hey honey, I'm hooome."
It was Friday evening and DiNozzo was grinning broadly as he slammed the front door. As he toed off his shoes and took off his coat, he carefully balanced the bag of Chinese and six pack of beer like he was performing a Circus trick. He had been almost certain this day would never come. They had spent the last few days working a high profile hot case, which meant both Vance and Sec Nav had been breathing down their necks and they had been left with little time to do anything other than eat or sleep. But now finally, thankfully, it was successfully closed and even better all the good guys were safe and well.
Tony had insisted on springing for dinner to celebrate their first five whole days as housemates without actually killing each other. In truth things had gone pretty well. They were so used used to working together in the field that each was attuned to the others moods. Gibbs understood when Tony put on his headphones and immersed himself in a DVD. Tony didn't take offence when Gibbs disappeared into the basement. Gibbs liked to cook, whilst Tony preferred to do the clearing up although they both liked company when they ate.
"You got Chinese?" Gibbs raised a brow.
"Egg drop soup," Tony smiled shyly. Whilst they both knew Pizza was his runaway favourite, Gibbs preferred Chinese. "Got some of that Micro Brew you liked too."
"Guess we really are celebrating," Gibbs pulled out plates and a fork for Tony, as the younger man began opening boxes. "You got mail by the way."
"I did?" Tony glanced at the envelope, his eyes widening as he checked the return address. "It's from England."
"Ya think?" Gibbs rolled his eyes. "Well go on, open it."
"Maybe we should take it to Abby. Have her put it under that hood thing of hers," Tony gingerly put the envelope down and pushed it away as if it might bite him. "I can't imagine that Crispin is sending me anything good."
"DiNozzo," Gibbs slid the envelope right back. "Just open it."
"You know something, don't you?" Tony's eyes narrowed. "Gibbs what do you know?"
"I know its not going to bite."
Tony realised that he was holding his breath as he opened the envelope, which was probably overkill because he didn't think even cousin Crispin would resort to sending him Y-pestis through the mail. But still he did it anyway. He frowned slightly as he realised the envelope only contained a single piece of paper and a compliments slip from Crispin's lawyers. And the single piece of paper was a very large check.
"He's returned all of it," Tony couldn't believe his eyes as he stared at the check. "Every cent I paid him over and above the original £10,000 Uncle Clive lent me."
"Bout time he came to his senses." Was all Gibbs' said.
"Boss," Tony looked up at him, his eyes wide and questioning. "What did you do?"
"Man just inherited 24 million," Gibbs didn't look up from his soup. "Honouring a debt is one thing. Being a blood sucking leech to family, when he doesn't need your money, that's something else."
"You called Christian? You spoke to him?" Tony blinked. "Boss, please tell me you didn't go all Marine on him. That man has lawyers that makes the barracudas your ex-wives used look like goldfish."
"It was fine," Gibbs assured him. "I just pointed out that you had used the money your Uncle Clive had given you to become a highly successful Federal agent who has saved countless lives, including high ranking officers and politicians."
"And?" Tony pressed.
"I might have mentioned how interested the British Press would be in how a member of the nobility, who had just inherited millions, was trying to screw over his cousin who just happened to be a war hero because he was jealous."
"Not exactly a war hero, Boss."
"You think you haven't paid your dues in the war against terrorism?," Gibbs raised a brow, thinking of all his agent had lost and endured, from taking a bullet, losing countless friends, having his heart broken and nearly dying more times than he cared to count. "Because, I sure as hell do."
"Boss," Tony felt his ear heat up at the unequivocal endorsement. To deflect from his embarrassment he gave a quirky grin. "Please tell me you didn't make any threats to remove his ability to produce a son and heir?"
"Might have done."
"Ouch," Tony grimaced. "I'm glad you're in my corner, Boss."
Gibbs watched as his young agent, with a proud smile, as he gathered the now empty boxes and put them in the trash. He was pretty damned pleased that DiNozzo was in his corner too. Tony was good company when he set his mind to it, he did more than his share around the place, and most of all, he had coaxed his Boss out of his lonely basement and made the empty house feel more like a home again.
"So Boss," Tony didn't look at him as he wiped his hands. "Now that I'm financially viable again, I guess I should start looking for a new place."
"You better not be thinking I called your cousin to get you out from under my feet." Gibbs warned.
"No Boss," Tony met his gaze. "I know better."
"You want to start looking for a new place?"
Tony considered that. The whole thing had turned out to be pretty low key at work and whilst he was pretty sure Gibbs had to have had something to do with that, it did mean that it wasn't a big deal. Gibbs had been as good as his word in expecting him to treat the place as his home too, even asking his advice and possible modifications. He hadn't felt so comfortable since sharing with his frat brothers in College.
"Only if I've worn out my welcome," Tony asked carefully. "Because there is still that decking to finish up and the weather boarding needs to be done. Like to finish what I've started, Boss."
"Can understand that, DiNozzo," Gibbs smiled warmly at the young agent who had been his personal project, ever since he had laid eyes on him in Baltimore. "Feel the same way."