Here it is… the final chapter! Wasn't easy to motivate to finish… I'm sad it's over. There's more to come in this AU, though – see the author's note at the end if you want to know more. Once again, I own the story but not the characters. Tremendous thanks go out to everyone who has reviewed or alerted!
36: Figured Out…?
Sunday Morning Memories
Tony lay in bed Sunday morning, absently stroking Jethro's back and listening to him snoring softly, his head resting on Tony's shoulder. Yesterday's party had been beyond Tony's hopes, really pulling the team together. The fact that Jethro had been as open as he had, high fiving Tony about their sexcapades for one thing, had been mind-boggling.
There had been so many highlights. He thought back to late last night, when everyone had been getting ready to leave. Abby and Jimmy had been having a quiet yet animated conversation on and off throughout the evening; Tony had picked up a pattern in that it seemed to happen right after Jethro spoke to Jimmy about something, but despite his best attempts at eavesdropping, he hadn't managed to find out what was going on. Then Jimmy was saying his goodbyes, and Jethro reached out to shake his hand.
"Take care, Jim. Thanks for coming."
"Uh, Ag-, I mean, Gibbs… it's Jimmy, not Jim. I actually really don't like being called Jim. Kind of a long story... which I'm sure you don't need to hear."
Jethro had tilted his head to one side, then reached out again to clap Jimmy on the shoulder. "Won't happen again, Jimmy."
Jimmy had smiled, but then suddenly looked worried. "Uh, does that mean you won't invite me back, so that you won't have occasion to call me Jim anymore?"
Jethro had laughed, shaking his head. "No, it doesn't, Jimmy. You're part of the team, remember? Means I won't forget."
Jimmy had stood just a little taller and grinned at everyone before he walked out.
Jethro shifted in his sleep, nuzzling into Tony's neck. He mumbled something that Tony tried to catch, but couldn't. Jethro's arm tightened a bit around Tony's side, and Tony reached over and gently ran his fingers through Jethro's hair. The older man settled down and his breathing quieted. Tony removed his hand before his petting woke Jethro, resting it on the arm Jethro had slung across Tony's waist. He closed his eyes and smiled as he continued thinking about the party.
Abby was about to say her goodbyes, but then ran, or rather clomped, into the living room and back, bringing the stuffed hippo to Jethro.
She shoved the hippo into Jethro's arms. "You have to name him, Gibbs!"
Jethro got a funny expression on his face and just stared at the hippo for a moment, then looked over at Abby. "What if it's a her?"
Abby's eyes narrowed. "He's a he. I was thinking masculine thoughts when I got him for you."
Tony opened his mouth to comment, but Jethro tapped him on the head before he could say anything. He simply grinned at Jethro and then at Abby, who smirked at him and then turned back to Jethro.
"I mean it, Gibbs! He needs a name!"
"I'll have to think about it and get back to you."
"You could always name it Ernie," Tony suggested helpfully. He got a head slap and an arm punch for that one.
Abby looked seriously at Gibbs. "Make it a good name, Gibbs. He's there to remind you that we all love you. Not the way Tony does, of course, 'cause that would be hinky and make Tony jealous, but you're really, really important to us and you should remember that the next time you decide to do something stupid! Well, you wouldn't do something stupid, not really, 'cause you're Gibbs and you're not stupid, but –"
Jethro cut her off by pulling her into a hug. "Thanks, Abs."
Abby grinned and hugged him fiercely. "I'm just glad you're okay. Stay that way!" She pulled back, hugged Tony, then went to leave. Turning around, she pointed at the stuffed toy still in Jethro's hands. "Name, Gibbs! Monday!"
Jethro's sleep-filled voice brought Tony out of his reverie. "Wha' time s'it?"
Tony smiled, thinking Jethro was really cute all sleepy like that. "Early still. Sleep."
"Yup. I'm happy we can be here like this. Go back to sleep."
Jethro shifted a bit, careful of his injured side even though he was maybe only a third awake, pressed a kiss to Tony's neck, and went boneless in that way that told Tony he'd already fallen back to sleep.
Tony's thoughts returned to the party. His eavesdropping skills had paid off when he'd managed to hear a conversation between Ziva and McGee by hiding around a corner while people were cleaning up after dinner, before dessert was brought out.
"McGee, I wish to talk to you."
"Um… okay. What's up?"
"I am concerned about your reaction to Tony and Gibbs being together. I had thought you worked through your difficulties, but now I am not so sure."
"Wait, what? What makes you think I have problems with them? I'm fine with it."
Ziva sighed. "You act all… hinky, whenever anyone talks about them having sex."
"Yes, that! They are letting us share in their happiness, and I do not think you are reacting the way they would wish."
"Ziva, it's not what you think." There was a moment of silence, and Tony could imagine the expression on Ziva's face as she stared at McGee. "No, really… okay, look. I admit that it's still a little weird to think about Gibbs and Tony being together, but it doesn't bother me, not really. I'm just trying to yank Tony's chain a bit, that's all."
"Tony is wearing jewelry?"
McGee snorted. "No… it's an expression. I'm just trying to get back at him a bit for all the hard times he's given me about dating, or not dating, or telling women at the office that I'm gay…"
"Well… I do not think you have really thought that through. Do you realize that by teasing Tony about his relationship with Gibbs, you are also teasing Gibbs about his relationship with Tony?"
"And that it would be very easy to misinterpret this chain yank as true discomfort? They are trusting us with their private life, McGee, and I doubt that it is easy for either one of them to do. Perhaps you could… pull a little more gently?"
"Yeah, you may be right. Thanks, Ziva."
Tony's mind then flashed forward to dessert and what he considered the real high point of the evening, even better than being called the hero or getting presents.
Abby finished placing dessert at everyone's place, and they all sat down. Jethro leaned over to whisper in Tony's ear, "The real dessert will come later," and the two men grinned at each other, then turned toward the rest of the guests. The conversations around the room came to a sudden halt, as everyone sat astonished at the repetitive clinking sound of Ziva's spoon tapping against her wine glass. Everyone stared at her, and Ducky chuckled.
"Ziva!" Abby called out. "That's the signal for couples to kiss… you know, at wedding receptions."
Ziva smiled serenely and stopped tapping, looking over at Tony and Jethro. "I know it is customary at weddings, but I do not see why there should be such a limitation. I, for one, would greatly enjoy witnessing a public display of their commitment to each other." She grinned wickedly at Tony, who grinned back despite turning a bit red. A glance at Jethro showed his jaw hanging slightly open and a reddish tint spreading up his neck and onto his face.
McGee suddenly grinned at Tony, picked up his spoon, and started to tap his own glass. Within seconds the room was filled with tapping, clinking, and a few words of encouragement from Abby.
Tony turned to Jethro, who looked a bit pained. "Whaddya say, Marine?"
Jethro shook his head, frowning slightly. "Not interested in putting on a show, Tony."
Tony leaned in, speaking quietly under all the noise. "It's not really a show, Jeth. They just want to know that we're okay. I don't mind, but if you really don't want to…"
Jethro looked at Tony, then sighed. He reached out and grabbed a fist full of Tony's new shirt, then pulled him close. Tony expected a quick peck on the lips, but was surprised when Jethro's lips slid softly over his own. His eyes closed and he brought his hands up to frame Jethro's face. Jethro let go of Tony's shirt and moved his hand up, his fingers running through Tony's hair, his other hand resting on Tony's shoulder. Jethro's mouth opened, and Tony's tongue slid in, caressing and tasting. The kiss deepened further, and Tony was dimly aware of the clinking sounds faltering then stopping altogether. Jethro pulled Tony even closer, his fingers tightening in Tony's hair for a moment before he hummed softly, then slowly pulled back, resting his forehead against Tony's. Then he let go of his lover and turned to his dessert, picking up his spoon and getting a mouthful of ice cream. He glanced at Tony, who was smiling happily, then looked up at everyone's gaping faces. "What?"
Abby laughed, delighted, while Ziva smiled and turned to her own dessert. Ducky raised his glass and saluted the two men, and McGee grinned at them while Palmer stammered something and focused intently on his ice cream.
Tony grinned at the memory, and his grin turned slightly calculating as he realized that there hadn't been any real dessert later on… Jethro had been exhausted by the time they'd made it to bed, and had quickly and apologetically drifted off to sleep. Tony decided to make it a top priority to do something about that some time during the course of the day. He wouldn't interrupt Jethro's sleep; the man was still recovering from his ordeal at Johnson's hands. Tony starting thinking about what they could do once Jethro was all healed up… that brought his thoughts back to the collar and leash Ducky had given him, that he'd fished out from behind the couch while most everyone was busy with clean up in the kitchen.
Tony straightened up with the collar and leash in his hands, wanting to take it upstairs and hide it before Jethro could decide to throw it out. He turned toward the stairs, stopping as he saw Ducky smiling at him. Tony's eyes narrowed. "You're not nearly as shocked by everyone's interpretation of this gift as you let on, are you, Ducky?"
Ducky laughed. "My dear boy, do you honestly believe me to be so clueless, given my age and my profession?"
Tony grinned. "Think I'll survive if I actually do put this on him?"
Ducky shrugged, his eyes twinkling. "You'll never know until you try."
A soft hum aborted that particular memory, and Tony realized that Jethro was clumsily caressing his side. Tony's eyebrows shot up as Jethro's hips moved forward, pressing his hardening cock up against Tony's leg. Jethro muttered Tony's name, and Tony laughed quietly as he realized that Jethro was having a sex dream about him. Wasn't gonna wake him… but can't let the opportunity go to waste.
Tony shifted a bit from his back to his side, reaching down to stroke Jethro's erection. His lover groaned and tried to move closer, mumbling something indistinct and rubbing his face against Tony's shoulder. Tony gripped just a bit harder, and managed to move the arm that Jethro was lying on enough to slide his hand down Jethro's back and over his ass, squeezing lightly, pulling Jethro against him and adding a twist to his wrist while he slowly jacked his cock.
Jethro came awake with a gasp, eyes wide for a moment, then he whispered Tony's name and lightly bit his neck. Tony hummed happily. "So what were you dreaming about?"
"Silly question," Jethro growled, as he reached for Tony's cock and started returning the favor. He shifted up a bit so that he could reach Tony's mouth more comfortably, and began kissing him demandingly. "Wanna come fast," he muttered.
"Okay," Tony whispered, and then he let go of Jethro's cock and carefully rolled him over, straddling him and keeping his weight off the injured side. Jethro's hand slid off of Tony's cock as he automatically moved to steady himself, and Tony shifted a bit so that their erections were pressed together. Both men groaned at the sensation, and Tony used his arms to brace himself as he began thrusting against Jethro, trying not to jostle him too much but suddenly desperate for release. Jethro grabbed Tony's hips and started to thrust as well, trying to match Tony's rhythm, but had to stop at the sudden pain in his side. Tony slowed down at Jethro's hiss of indrawn breath, leaning in and kissing him hard on the mouth. "Let me do the work."
Jethro nodded and lay back, still gripping Tony's hips but trying to force himself to lie still. Tony nipped Jethro's bottom lip, then pressed against him as he increased the pace of his hips' motion. "This – okay?" he panted. Jethro nodded, then pushed his head back against the pillow and stiffened his whole body, holding himself steady, pressing harder against Tony. Both men were breathing fast as their cocks slid more easily against each other, gliding with the help of the copious fluid they were already releasing. A few seconds later, Tony could feel his orgasm coming on, and ground down against Jethro, who cried out with pleasure as he began to come. Tony followed rapidly behind, calling out Jethro's name, and then they both lay there, sweaty and breathing hard.
Tony lifted his head to look at Jethro. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
Jethro shook his head rapidly. "No… no, I'm fine, Tony. As long as I don't try to move too much, I'm okay."
Tony sighed and dropped his head back down. "I'm ready to go back to sleep. You?"
Jethro grinned. "Sure, now that I've had dessert."
Tony chuckled and nipped Jethro's shoulder before shifting over and wrapping his arms around him. Jethro moved back into his usual position with his head on Tony's shoulder. "We're all sticky."
"You really don't care?"
Tony shook his head. "Sleepy."
Jethro smiled slightly and made a mental note to do some laundry after they woke up.
Sunday Afternoon In The Basement
Jethro ran his fingers gently over the wood panel, hunting for spots in need of more sanding. He glanced over at Tony and smiled at the sight of him so intensely focused on his own sanding. Then he dropped his gaze to the stuffed hippo at Tony's feet; the younger man had brought it downstairs with them in a fit of whimsicality.
"You know those Muppet things?"
Tony looked up. "Not personally."
"Funny man. Seriously, do you remember that show?"
"Sure." Tony was looking at him strangely.
"Do you remember the name of the one with the long crooked nose?"
"Umm… yeah. Gonzo, right?"
"Yeah, that's it. Thanks."
Jethro went back to sanding, trying not to smile as he felt Tony's eyes on him. He started a mental countdown.
"C'mon. You have to tell me why you wanted to know that." Tony's voice was perilously close to a whine.
Jethro grinned, then pointed at the stuffed toy. "Name for the hippo. I've got a deadline."
Tony looked down, then back up at Jethro. "What on earth made you think of Gonzo?"
Jethro smiled slightly and gazed off into space. "That weird thing was Kelly's favorite character on the show."
Tony's eyes widened, and then he smiled. "That's cool. Will you tell Abby where the name came from?"
Jethro pulled out of the memories and looked at Tony. "Yeah, I think I will."
"She'll like that."
They went back to sanding for a while.
"You had a funny look on your face when Abby told you to give Gonzo a name."
Jethro smiled; he'd wondered if Tony had picked up on that, and wasn't at all surprised that he had. "When Kelly was six, she gave me a stuffed animal for my birthday… some kind of cat. She insisted that I name it."
Tony leaned forward. "What name did you give it?"
"I think I called it Fluffy."
Tony smirked at that. "Very creative."
Jethro reached down to pick up a small piece of wood and lobbed it at Tony, who dodged easily. They both went back to sanding. About fifteen minutes later, Tony spoke again.
"I'm really sorry about Shannon not being back yet."
"How do you know she's not back?"
"Oh." Tony shifted uncomfortably. "I just assumed…"
"Forgetting the rules, Tony?"
"Uh, no, Boss."
Jethro looked up and shot him a warm smile. "You're right, though… I haven't heard anything from her, so I guess she still needs more time… wherever she is."
Tony nodded. Jethro resumed sanding, but stopped after a few minutes when he realized he wasn't hearing Tony doing the same. He glanced over to see Tony staring off into space, a confused look on his face. "What's up, Tony?"
Tony looked at Jethro, opened his mouth to say something, hesitated, then closed his mouth again and shrugged.
He capitulated quickly. "It's just… I just had this thought. I mean… now we know that there's something after we die – and we're still us. I mean, it seems that way, 'cause Shannon's still Shannon…"
Jethro nodded when Tony looked at him, tilting his head slightly, indicated for him to continue.
"So… what happens when we've both crossed over to wherever, and you're there and I'm there and Shannon's there… I mean, who gets you?"
Jethro was torn between amusement that Tony's thoughts went in that direction and happiness that Tony was assuming they were going to stay together over the long term. "Maybe the two of you can fight over me."
"Not funny, Jeth."
"Tony… don't worry about it. She likes you, you seem to like her… I love you both. It'll work out."
Tony stared at him for a moment. "I can't believe we're having this conversation."
Tony was apparently just getting warmed up. "I mean, we don't even know if we'll end up in the same place. And what are the rules? Do we get to stay together? Is there sex after death? Please tell me there's sex after death!"
Jethro laughed. "I suppose we could ask Shannon at some point, although I might not like the answer."
Tony thought about that, then nodded seriously. "I see your point."
"Hmm. How about we talk about something else?"
"Okay." Tony went back to sanding, then suddenly his head shot up. "You have got to tell me about going undercover in a brothel! Pleeeease?"
Jethro grinned. "We were tracking a drug ring operating out of Norfolk. We were able to trace the activity back to the base, but not exactly who was involved. Evidence indicated that the brothel was a distribution center… we managed to get an informant from inside, and Ducky and I went in undercover… I worked security and Ducky was a rich client who was interested in investing in the place. He would meet with the informant under the guise of paying for her usual services."
Tony's eyes were wide. "Did he…?"
Jethro shook his head. "Of course not. He taught her to play chess once information changed hands."
Tony grinned. "So, the implication was that you gave him a head slap?"
Jethro nodded. "Oh, yeah. As part of his negotiations with ownership, he brought up the idea of expanding from offering only women to their clients… suggested they look into hiring men as well. Then he got the bright idea of suggesting that their newest bouncer might fit the bill."
"Are you serious?"
"Yup. Ownership approached me, I declined. Then the next time I saw Duck back at the Navy Yard, I head slapped him. Only time, too."
Tony grinned. "I'd have paid for you."
"Good to know. If I'm ever hard up for cash, I can start charging."
Tony grinned, and Jethro could see the wheels spinning in his head. He decided to head off whatever plans Tony was forming. "We were eventually able to identify the petty officers involved in the drug ring, and used them to trace back to the source. Also figured out that some of the girls were earning extra cash by distributing to clients – ownership was clueless. They were actually pretty grateful when they found out what we were really up to; they were able to stay in business because someone high up here in town owed ownership a favor… they even offered me the job again."
Tony grinned at that. "You certainly have the talent for it."
Jethro rolled his eyes and went back to sanding.
Hours later they were still at it. They'd gotten hungry and ordered in, then gone right back to the basement. Jethro wanted to get to a certain point with the cabinet before heading to bed. Tony had tried a few times to convince him that he needed some rest before going back to work, but Jethro had shot that argument down, pointing out that he was going to be stuck on desk duty anyway for at least a week. After a while, Tony put his own tools and wood down, and walked over to the workbench where Jethro was modifying the plans for the cabinet.
Resting his chin on Jethro's shoulder and encircling his waist with his arms, he watched for a moment, then commented on the time. Jethro was deep in thought and didn't answer. Tony sighed and said he was just going to run upstairs for a minute. Jethro grunted to show that he'd heard him, and continued to focus on his work.
A few minutes later he felt something on his neck and heard a snap, then felt a mild tug. He whirled around, grabbing the leash Tony was holding. "Are you nuts?" he exclaimed.
Tony shot him a nervous smile. "Probably," he admitted. "But you're still recovering, and Vance has never actually officially cancelled me as protection detail. You need rest." Tony tugged on the leash again, which wasn't all that effective since Jethro was holding on to it. Jethro glared at him and reached up to undo the collar, when Tony spoke, lowering his voice. "C'mon, Jeth… let me play with my present a bit?"
Jethro hesitated, then dropped his hand from the collar. He tugged on the leash, and Tony moved closer, until he was close enough for Jethro to lean forward just a little and place a light kiss on his lips. "Okay, Tony. You can play a little."
Tony grinned and backed up, pulling gently on the leash. Jethro sighed and moved forward, following as Tony slowly walked backwards. Tony made his way through the house and to the bedroom like that, tugging a bit every time Jethro slowed down. Jethro kept his eyes on Tony's, challenging him just a little every time he felt a pull around his neck. They reached the bedroom, where Tony stopped next to the bed and slowly reeled Jethro in, wrapping the leash around his hand and gripping Jethro's hair, holding his head still as he kissed him slowly and passionately. Jethro returned the kiss but kept his hands at his side, waiting to see what Tony wanted to do. Tony just kept kissing him, moving from Jethro's lips to his face and then back. Finally he dipped his head and kissed Jethro's neck, then grabbed the collar in his teeth and growled, at which point Jethro couldn't help but laugh. Tony's head came up and he grinned, then reached up and unfastened the collar, letting it fall to the ground along with the leash.
"That was really hot, Jeth."
"I'm surprised you stopped there."
Tony shook his head. "Your neck's still healing," he pointed out. "I left it really loose on purpose. Besides, I want to try playing like that when we're both in the mood for it… and I don't think you are, not yet. And you're not up to reversing roles either, not with this." His hand stroked over Jethro's side, moving lightly over the bandaged area. "Someday," Tony continued, "I'd like to collar you and cuff you and have my way with you… and I'd like you to do that to me… but only if you want to, too. In the meantime… why don't you strip and lie down and let me get you nice and relaxed?"
Jethro smiled and stepped closer to Tony, wrapping his arms around him and pulling him into a hug. "I'm looking forward to trying all sorts of things with you," he said quietly. Then he moved back and pulled off his clothes, while Tony disappeared into the bathroom, coming out with a bottle of massage oil and another bottle that Jethro recognized as the vitamin E Palmer had given him. He set those down on the nightstand, then went back for towels, which he laid out on the bed to protect it from the oil. He removed his own clothes while Jethro watched, then picked up the bottle of vitamin E and shook out two capsules. Taking his pocket knife off his belt, he pierced one of the capsules and drizzled the liquid onto his fingers. He sat on the bed and gestured for Jethro to join him, then proceeded to rub the vitamin E gently over the healing skin on Jethro's neck.
"Yeah, fine. Doesn't sting or anything."
"Good." Tony finished up with both sides of Jethro's neck, using one capsule for each cut, then waved toward the towels. "Will it hurt to lie on your stomach?"
Jethro shook his head. "Don't think so." He stretched out on the bed, finding that as long as he kept his arm down by his side, the injury didn't hurt.
Tony started in on a massage that had Jethro half asleep within fifteen minutes. He started on Jethro's shoulders, worked around the cuts on his arms, then worked his way down Jethro's back, over his buttocks, and down his legs to his feet, then back up to his shoulders again. He cleaned the oil off his hands and gave Jethro a scalp massage that had his lover humming in appreciation. Once he was done with that, he leaned over and whispered in Jethro's ear. "Sleep or sex? Your choice."
Jethro cracked open an eye and smiled at Tony. "Sex, then sleep."
"I like that choice," Tony smiled. "Think we need to wait a bit longer to get back to penetration, though."
Jethro sighed. "Yeah, you're probably right."
Tony grinned. "How about a repeat of this morning, but slow?"
Jethro nodded. "Sounds good to me." He rolled over onto his back, and Tony gathered up the towels and tossed them in the general direction of the bathroom. He crawled onto the bed next to Jethro, grabbing the massage oil and pouring a little bit onto his hand.
"Turn onto your good side," he said, a little huskily. Jethro did as suggested, ending up lying on Tony's left arm, which came up to caress his back. Tony hooked his right leg over Jethro's legs, and lined up his hips with Jethro's, so that their cocks pressed together. Jethro moved his right arm up so that he could grab the headboard, and he rested his left hand on Tony's rear, pulling him closer. Tony leaned forward, licking his way into Jethro's mouth and kissing him hungrily, while his oil-slicked hand moved to encircle both their cocks.
They took their time, with Tony doing most of the work again. They kept kissing, breathing into each other's mouths until they had to pull apart for air, and Tony kept his hand moving as slowly as they could both stand it. They tried to keep as still as possible, to avoid aggravating Jethro's injury. They ended up pressing against each other, holding on tightly as their bodies trembled and shivered with need. Tony's hand gradually sped up, and they kept going, kissing and stroking and moaning their way to climax.
Afterwards, they lay there, holding each other for a long time until Tony got up to clean them off. Then they fell asleep in their usual position, with Tony on his back and Jethro curled around and on him.
Business As Usual…
Tony breezed into the bullpen the next morning, tossing his pack next to his desk and greeting his teammates. "Probie! Probette! Didja have a good rest of the weekend?"
McGee and Ziva both shot him mild glares. "One of these days, Tony," Ziva said, "pow, right in the kisser!"
Tony stared at her, then looked over at McGee, who shrugged. "Honeymooners marathon on cable yesterday."
"Ah, of course. What better way to learn American culture?" Tony sat at his desk and turned on his computer, looking over at Gibbs' desk. "Where's the bossman?"
McGee looked over at him. "Delivering Caf-Pow to Abby. How was the rest of your weekend?"
Tony grinned. "Got to put some of those presents to good use."
McGee looked a bit perturbed and started to say something, then stopped as Ziva loudly cleared her throat. He shot her a small smile, then looked back at Tony. "Role play with you as Magnum?"
Tony grinned. "Nope, but that's an excellent idea! Though I can't see Gibbs in the role of the girl of the week."
McGee rolled his eyes. "Me neither." He glanced around the bullpen, then continued, "Seriously, Tony, I'm glad you're happy."
Tony sent him a genuine smile. "Thanks, Tim."
They worked quietly for a few minutes, then McGee spoke up. "You know, I'm thinking I should make some changes to the relationship between Tommy and Tibbs in my next book…"
The paper ball war that ensued was truly on an epic scale.
Gibbs returned while they were finishing the clean up. One corner of his mouth quirked up a bit, and he looked inquiringly at Tony. "Just defending your honor, Boss."
Gibbs shook his head. "Vance wants to see you, DiNozzo. Call ahead, make an appointment for some time today."
Tony nodded. He'd been expecting that Vance would push for an answer to the Seattle job offer.
"We're on cold cases for the week, or until I'm cleared to go out in the field," Gibbs announced as he sat at his desk. "Let's make the most of it."
He smirked at the chorus of groans, even though he felt the same way they did.
A few hours into the morning, Abby came upstairs and handed Tony an envelope with black edges and smiley skulls. She grinned at him without saying anything, then turned and headed back to the elevator. Tony used his letter opener to slit the envelope. McGee watched him curiously. "Who died?"
Tony pulled out a black-edged card and read the calligraphy. This is to announce the immediate cut back in data collection for the Gibbs Smile Scale. The Scale is considered essentially obsolete at this time, although the scientific team conducting data collection reserves the right to randomly carry out spot checks as they see fit. It has, however, become completely obvious that close monitoring is no longer necessary.
Tony grinned and put the card back in the envelope and into his desk drawer. "Just a project Abby was working on," he said, looking meaningfully from McGee to Gibbs and back again.
"Ah, yes," McGee said. "She told me about that."
Tony smiled and went back to his cold case files.
He got a call at 1:30, saying Vance could see him now. He got up, looking over at Gibbs. "Gonna go see the Director." Gibbs nodded and saluted him with his coffee.
He arrived in Vance's office to find the Director sitting behind his desk, looking through a file which Tony soon saw was his. Vance gestured for Tony to have a seat in front of the desk, which Tony did. He started to speak, but Vance held up one finger while he continued to read the page he was on. So Tony waited until Vance sat back and nodded to him.
"Special Agent DiNozzo. Have you made a decision about the team leadership position in Seattle?"
"I have, Director. I have decided to stay here in D.C., on the MCRT."
Vance nodded slowly. "I thought you would." He popped a toothpick in his mouth and chewed on it for a moment. "Still think going to Seattle is a better move for you. But I'll respect your decision. You are aware that it could be years before another team lead opens up?"
Tony nodded. "Yes, Sir. Director Shepherd told me the same thing when I turned down Rota. I'm content to wait for my shot to lead the MCRT when Agent Gibbs retires."
Vance snorted. "You see him retiring any time soon, Agent DiNozzo? Man's got nothing to go home to but a half-built boat."
Tony smiled. "Actually, Sir, he's not building a boat at the moment."
"Then what the hell is he doing?"
"I believe he's trying his hand at cabinet making."
Vance shook his head. "He needs a life." He looked at DiNozzo. "You lead an active social life, don't you?"
Vance grunted. "You should give him some tips, try to get him out more."
Tony flashed Vance a bright smile. "I'll do my best, Sir."
Vance nodded, and gestured toward the door. Tony got up to leave, and Vance called to him just as he was reaching the door. "Agent DiNozzo! Do me a favor and remind Gibbs of our agreement. That's all you have to say."
"Will do, Director."
Tony left Vance's office, smiled at his secretary, then walked out toward the stairs, pausing to look down at his team. Ziva was scowling and hitting her computer monitor, while McGee hovered over her and tried to fix whatever was wrong. Abby was talking animatedly to Gibbs about something, waving her arms around to emphasize whatever point she was making. Gibbs was giving her his 'tolerantly amused' look. The elevator dinged, and Ducky and Palmer stepped off, happily discussing either some bit of trivia or the latest body in the morgue as they returned from lunch. He grinned down at the scene below, thinking he would have made the same decision even if he and Gibbs hadn't gotten together. He looked back at Gibbs, to see him looking back and smiling. Tony grinned and headed back down the stairs.
…With A Twist
"Tony, you're going to damage the wood if you don't pay attention."
Tony jumped a bit, having completely spaced out down there in the basement. Jethro was looking at him, a bit concerned. "Having second thoughts about that team lead?"
Tony glared at him. "No way! Of course not. I was just thinking."
Jethro looked at him searchingly and then nodded. "'Bout what?"
"Just that it all started here."
"This. Us. We had that conversation after Dana… and the rest is history."
Jethro leaned back against the workbench and considered that . "True. Short history, though. Been just about a month."
Tony nodded. "Huh. Feels longer."
Jethro shot him a crooked smile, then walked over to another section of the bench where he stored the jars with various nails and fasteners. He grabbed two, emptied them out, then picked up the bourbon and poured two shots. He handed one to Tony and raised his own. "To soul mates."
Tony smiled and raised his jar as well. "To soul mates," he repeated.
They both sipped the bourbon, and then Jethro grinned at him. "So," he said, "you ever jack off thinking about me now?"
Tony laughed. "Why would I need to? We have plenty of sex." He pointed at Jethro. "That doesn't make us gay, you know."
Jethro laughed and shook his head. "Yeah, just makes us two heterosexual guys who happened to realize they were in love with each other."
Tony had another swallow of bourbon and stood up. "Exactly." He looked at Gibbs for a moment, his head tilted to one side. "Wanna go have not-gay sex?"
"Thought you'd never ask." Jethro downed the rest of his bourbon and headed for the stairs. He stopped when he heard Tony call out to him.
Jethro turned to look at him.
"You said that night that we'd figure things out. Think we've done that?"
Jethro thought about that. "I think we've made a damn good start."
Tony grinned and walked over to him. "I think you're right." He reached for Jethro's hand and tugged him close enough to drop a light kiss on his lips. "Let's go upstairs. Vance told me I need to get you a life."
"Yup. Said I should give you tips."
"Tips on what, exactly?"
"You know, stuff. Life stuff. You need more to come home to than a bunch of wood in a basement."
"Already got more. Plenty more."
Tony grinned. "You should show me."
"Tryin' to. You keep stalling."
Tony let go of Jethro's hand and raced up the stairs. Jethro grinned and followed at a more sedate pace. He glanced back down into the basement, looking at the drawer where Shannon's picture lay. "Goodnight, Shan… you too, Kells." Then he headed up the stairs, turning off the light and shutting the door behind him.
The End… for now!
Author's Note: Wow. I can't quite believe it's done. This is the longest and most complex fiction I've ever attempted. I really want to thank everyone for all the support, especially those of you who have been reviewing consistently from almost the beginning, offering advice and suggestions and in some cases being a sounding board.
So, as I wrote earlier, there's more coming. First up is a set of 'missing scenes' from what I'm calling the FIO-verse (Figuring It Out universe). At the moment it's based off reader requests… so if there's something you feel is missing, or you'd like to see expanded upon, pm me or mention it in a review, and I'll add it to the list of possibilities. Examples: first up is Tony writing the letter to Gibbs while he's in the hospital, and the conversation he has with Ducky when he asks him to deliver it. Also planning to take a closer look at Gibbs' attempt to escape the hospital. No guarantees that I'll write all requests, but I'll certainly try the ones that make sense to me. There are other stories, one-shots and longer sequels, planned to follow up this story. Lots more for the guys to work their way through!
Thanks so much to all of you for making me feel welcome in this fandom.