"I must admit, Jethro," Ducky said as he took a canapé from the tray his friend was holding. "I never thought I would see the day when you retired."

Gibbs smiled his patented Gibbs-smile, the one which started at his dimples and faded away to a pleasant memory and looked around the room, his eyes lingering on each of his guests. "It was time, Duck."

Across the room, Abby was having the same conversation with McGee and Palmer. All three of them were baffled by the suddenness of the retirement. When Vance called them all together to announce it, none of them could believe it. A week later, they still could not wrap their minds around what they had been told.

"I guess this means it's really real," Abby said sadly. "I just never thought I'd see the day when the silver fox would slip off into the sunset." She wiped away a lone tear which had gathered in her eye and shook her head, her pony tails swishing as she did so. "At least he's not moving away."

McGee nodded and placed a hand on her arm. "There is that," he said reassuringly because, like everyone else, he knew how attached Abby was to Gibbs. Like a daughter, in a lot of ways.

"Don't you think that's odd, though?" Jimmy Palmer chimed in, thoughtfully. "He has family back in Stillwater. His Dad -" who couldn't be there tonight because he was in the hospital, still recovering from his run-in with the head of the Mexican drug cartel. None of the three of them would say it, but they all were wondering why Gibbs was planning to stay here when it was so obvious that his father needed him at home. That was, after all, the most logic reason for his retirement.

The only one not speculating about Gibbs' plans for his future or his father was Tony, who stood over by the fireplace watching Gibbs while Gibbs was watching everyone else. When those brilliant blue eyes finally made their way to him, both men smiled in a moment of mutual understanding.

"Yes, but time for what?" Ducky was asking when Tony joined them, appearing at Gibbs' elbow and taking the tray of appetizers away and setting them down on the mostly unused coffee table. It was a fair question from Ducky's perspective. His long-time friend had not so much as hinted in the last few months that he was considering retirement. Granted, with everything which had happened in this past year, it was not an entirely unexpected response.

From anyone who wasn't Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

"Time," the man in question said, speaking the words as if they contained the weight of the world "to put an end to the secrets and live the life I ought to be living." By this time, he had the attention of every one in the room. All eyes, all of the sparkling with curiosity, turned to him while their owners waited for whatever else he had to say with bated breath. "Tony."

Gibbs held out his hand, and the younger man reached for it, drawing closer to him until they stood shoulder to shoulder with hands still clasped. "We wanted you all to know," Tony said speaking to everyone in the room, although he could not seem to help but steal glances at his lover every other word. "Because you're our friends, and really the only true family either one of us has right now."

"You're getting married!" Abby exclaimed, grabbing McGee's and bouncing with excitement.

Gibbs chuckled. "Not unless someone changes the law anytime soon. But we are moving in together, as soon as I get back from spending time with my dad." He paused and then asked, "why do none of you look surprised?"

"Because Jethro," Ducky replied for the group. "We've been waiting for you to realize what we've all known for quite some time now."