Gibbs never watched much television in the days after his family had been taken from him, but as he baked in the sweltering Mexican sun listening to Mike Franks talk about the old days and where it all went to Hell, he finds himself thinking about television.
No, not television itself, nor any show in particular. Those weren't what crossed his mind on those long, hot days.
It was sitting on the couch in his unused family room he remembered, with Tony by his side. While images flickered across the screen - and through his mind - Tony rambled amicably about the plot, the characters, and the actors who played them. He was a font of movie trivia and lit up whenever he got the chance to share it. Gibbs would make popcorn - Tony loved popcorn as part of the rituals of movie viewing - and they would watch anything from John Wayne to Marlon Brando to Will Smith. It didn't matter what they watched, though. Gibbs wasn't in it for the movies or the popcorn.
At first, he couldn't quite put his fingers on what exactly was in it for him. Not right away, but the more he remembered, the more it became clear.
Movie night usually began with a steak dinner which Gibbs cooked himself. Mike couldn't cook to save his life and neither could the cook at the local cantina. After the first burnt steak Gibbs had suffered through, he started doing his own cooking. The smell of the meat, tenderized in his own special blend of seasonings, reminded him of the movie night dinners. Tony would lean casually in the kitchen doorway, watching while Gibbs seasoned the steaks. He always made comments about ordering take out and Gibbs would smack him upside the back of the head. "Someone has to make sure you eat right, Tony," Gibbs recalled telling him on more than one occasion.
"One of the reasons I'm lucky to have you." "Ya think?"
Gibbs never smacked him twice, though. 'Lucky to have you' and 'ya think?' was followed by some sign of affection. A caressing touch on the arm, cheek or back of the head. Running his fingers through Tony's hair. Pulling him in for a brief kiss before going back to his cooking.
Gibbs didn't know quite when it was that he'd given in to his curiosity about other men, but apparently it had been with Tony DiNozzo. When he closed his eyes, he could see Tony's smile, warm and bright. Inviting him to take a chance. Begging to be kissed.
Movie night would ended with Gibbs taking the popcorn bowl out of Tony's hands and setting in on the floor while the credits rolled. Their hands would touch, skin brushing skin, and Gibbs would pull the younger man into his arms. In his reawakening mind, though, it felt more like coming home each time they embraced and each time he remembered it.
Little by little, Gibbs was remembering all of the things he was leaving behind... and all of the reasons he needed to go back.