Better Late Than Never

For the first time in many years, the team was not on call for Christmas and spirits were high. Or at least most spirits.

"Yes!" exclaimed Ziva, grinning at her computer screen.

"Good news?" McGee asked her.

"My friend in Miami was able to get Christmas reservations at Prime 112," she answered.

"You really are looking forward to your trip, aren't you?" Tim said with a smile.

"Most definitely. What are you doing for the holidays, McGee?"

"The whole family usually gets together in Vermont. I haven't been able to make it the past few years so this year should be fun. Hey, Tony, do you have anything special planned?" he asked before he realized that their senior agent had beat a hasty retreat. "What's up with him?" he wondered aloud.

"I do not know. He does not seem to be in his usual holiday mood," Ziva replied.

Gibbs did not look up from his paperwork but he had been listening to the exchange. They were right. The closer they got to the holidays, the more morose Tony had become. He hadn't even tried to get Gibbs to watch "It's a Wonderful Life," and that had always been deemed a DiNozzo tradition. Gibbs had no idea what could be bothering Tony but he knew who might have the answer.

"If anyone needs me I'll be in the lab with Abby," he said as he turned off his computer and headed for the elevator.

"What can I do you for, Gibbs?" Abby asked cheerfully when he came through her door.

"I have a question for you."

Abby glanced at his empty hands. "Uh oh! it must be serious since I see you forgot my Caf-Pow."

"I'm sorry."

"No worries, bossman. So lay it on me, I'm ready."

"It's Tony. He doesn't seem himself and he's not doing his usual Christmas bullshit. Do you know what's bothering him?"

"I do, but you're not going to like it. Promise me you won't shoot the messenger, or like, cut off her Caf-Pow supply, or anything."

"Just tell me, Abs."

"Well, it's kinda, uh ... you." Then she flinched a bit, closing her eyes in anticipation of his reaction.

"What?"

When that was all that came from Gibbs, Abby cautiously opened her eyes and continued. "You know that all that nonsense he always gives us about DiNozzo Christmas traditions? You know that it's not true and all?"

"Met his dad, so yeah, I figured that out."

"Well, it was also a sort of wishful thinking on Tony's part. You know, what he wished Christmas would be like if he had someone to share it with."

"He does have someone to share it with," Gibbs said defensively.

"But you haven't done anything," Abby pointed out.

"I got him a present, ordered a turkey. Hell, I even bought stuffing."

"Gibbs, that's like the bare minimum as far as Tony is concerned. Did you decorate the house? Get a tree? Play Christmas carols?" Gibbs just glared at her. "I didn't think so."

"How was I supposed to know he wanted all that?" Abby rolled her eyes at him. "He could have asked, you know."

"No, Gibbs, he couldn't," she replied with a sigh of exasperation. "See, everyone knows that the holidays are a hard time for you. Asking might have opened old wounds, but that didn't stop him from hoping. This is your first Christmas together and Tony thought that maybe, now that you finally had someone to celebrate with, things would be different. When they weren't, well, you might have well as told him that he was second best."

Any retort Gibbs might have made died in his throat as he considered Abby's words. It was a long moment before he spoke. "Guess I'd better get busy then. Christmas Eve is tomorrow."

"That's the spirit, Gibbs. Hey, I could help if you want. I've got a whole box full of extra ornaments and some wreaths and stuff."

"No, Abbs. This is something I've got to do myself. Besides, I don't think a tree filled with little skulls figures heavily in any of Tony's fantasies."

Then, like a man on a mission, he hurried out the door.

There hadn't been a lot to choose from at the Christmas tree stand, but Gibbs managed to find a modest tree that was still in good shape. Once it was strapped to the roof of his car, he made a beeline for one of the huge department stores. This late in the season, they were rather low on decorations and ornaments, but he picked up several sets of lights, a bunch of brightly colored glass balls, and plenty of tinsel. He even grabbed a package of candy canes and a rather anemic wreath for the front door.

Then, with his treasures stashed in the car, he headed for home. He grabbed a hammer and a handful of nails from his basement and went to work on the house. About an hour later, he plugged in the last extension cord and stepped back to survey the result of his efforts. He winced a bit as he looked at the blinking colored lights that now encircled his front porch and were draped over the two trees flanking the stairway. The garish display was not exactly his taste but he had a feeling Tony would love it.

Before he could set up the tree, Gibbs had a brief moment of worry when his cell rang and he saw his senior agent's number. Then he answered and Tony told him that Abby had invited him to her neighborhood caroling party. Gibbs breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that Abby had purposely distracted Tony to give him time to finish his preparations.

"You wouldn't want to come, would you, Boss?" Tony asked tentatively.

"Ya think I'm gonna sing?" Gibbs was incredulous.

"I guess not." Gibbs heart ached when he heard how disconsolate Tony sounded.

"Look, you just have fun and I'll see you tomorrow afternoon." He hated to disappoint Tony again, but he knew that tomorrow it would all be worth it.

Then he went back to his labors. He panicked for a moment when he realized he had forgotten to buy a tree stand, but with a basement full of tools and random wood scraps, that problem was soon remedied. He strung the lights on the tree but didn't hang the ornaments. Instead, he opened the boxes and put the shining balls and tiny figurines into a basket he found in one of his closets. He took a long look at the tinsel before deciding to strew it over the tree himself. He planned on having Tony help him decorate but the thought of an exuberant DiNozzo turned loose in his house with a bunch of stringy glitter was a little more than he could handle. It was best to simply dodge that bullet.

By the time Gibbs was finished, he was exhausted. He still had a few more things to do but he decided they could wait until tomorrow. He grabbed a quick bite and headed for bed, more excited about the holiday than he had been for years.

By twelve o'clock, Gibbs was ready. He had turned on the outside lights even though it was broad daylight, dumped the candy canes in a bowl on the coffee table, and started a roaring fire. Now all he had to do was wait.

It wasn't long before he heard Tony's car pull up and he waited with bated breath for his lover to come in the door. And waited, and waited. After a few minutes, he began to get worried. He stepped out on the porch to find Tony gazing dumbstruck at the blinking lights that wreathed the house.

"What are ya staring at DiNozzo?" he said as he tried to keep a grin off his face.

"Uh, did the Ghost of Christmas Past visit you last night or something?" Tony said as he indicated the flashing decorations.

"Just decided the house needed some holiday cheer."

Tony shrugged and then, with a last disbelieving shake of his head, he came inside. He hung his coat in the hall and turned into the living room only to stop and stare again.

"Gibbs, when did that get here?"

"Put it up last night."

"It's nice and all, but where are the ornaments?" Tony asked in confusion.

Gibbs picked up the loaded basket and showed it to Tony. "I thought we could do that together."

Tony's eyes were shining. "Wow! Just ... wow!"

"I figured it was time to start a few Christmas traditions of our own. So are you gonna help me or are you just gonna stand there like an idiot?"

Gibbs didn't have to ask twice. Tony's enthusiasm was infectious and although Gibbs had started out doing this to please him, in the end he was enjoying himself as much as Tony. Finally the tree was finished and they both stepped back. Gibbs handed the cord to Tony.

"Do you want to do the honors?" he asked.

Tony plugged it in and then clapped his hands in childish glee.

"It's perfect!" he exclaimed.

"It'll do," was Gibbs more modest assessment.

Tony turned to him and gave him a long look. He removed the candy cane he had in his mouth and moved in close.

"I think it's time we started another tradition," he said in a husky voice.

Then he slid his arms around Gibbs and kissed him. Gibbs smiled against Tony's lips as he tasted the sweet minty flavor that lingered there. Deepening the kiss, his tongue explored Tony's mouth, drawing a moan from deep in his throat. But soon he was the one moaning as Tony used his mouth to trace a burning path down his neck, pausing only briefly to pull off his tee shirt before continuing ever lower.

The next thing he knew, Tony was on his knees in front of him, his hands making short work of the button and zipper on Gibbs' jeans. Then they were off and his cock sprang free. Tony wrapped one hand around the thick shaft and ran his thumb over the leaking head, smearing the bead of pre come waiting at the tip. Gibbs made a small noise deep in his throat and thrust into Tony's waiting hand. Cupping Gibbs' balls in his free hand, Tony leaned forward and slowly swirled his tongue around the head before pulling back and smiling up at Gibbs.

"Better than any candy cane," he said with a sexy grin.

Gibbs couldn't help but smile back. "Less talk, more tongue," he growled.

Tony obliged. As his mouth worked its way up and down the length of him, Gibbs fisted his hands in Tony's hair and gave himself over to the sensations. The fire was still roaring behind him and its heat only heightened Gibbs' pleasure as he felt its burn mirrored by the heat that Tony's lips and hands were generating. Then despite the warmth of the room, Gibbs felt himself shiver with pleasure as Tony gently ran his teeth up the sensitive underside of his cock before enveloping the head with his lips and swirling his tongue around it.

Soon Gibbs legs were shaking as he neared his release. Tony must have felt his increasing excitement because he instinctively quickened his pace. The small sounds he was making went straight to Gibbs core and he thought it couldn't get any better until Tony took him even farther in and he could feel the vibrations his moans created. With one final thrust, he came and Tony took it all.

Then Tony raised his head and looked up at Gibbs as he licked his lips and smiled. Gibbs finally let his shaking legs collapse and knelt down to join his lover on the rug in front of the fire. He kissed Tony long and deep before he broke away, still holding his lover's face between his hands as he gazed into his eyes. The happiness he saw there was worth any amount of trouble and Gibbs thought that he would endure all the holiday kitsch he had to if he could just keep seeing that look on Tony's face. An answering smile began to quirk the corners of his mouth.

"Now this is one holiday tradition that will definitely bear repeating," he said.