A/N: Gibbs looked a bit overly emotional for the whole episode… made me think that maybe there is something going on in his head that he's not telling. And then the plot bunnies invaded my house, held me hostage and demanded a post-ep to this episode… *sigh*
He had started to trace the wood with the roughly sharpened pencil when he heard the front door open. The floorboard creaked under the weight of the visitor. He didn't need to turn to know that his senior field agent was now leaning by the door to the basement.
"I thought you're done with building boats?"
He grunted. After the 'Kelly' had set sail and with the whole Hernandez case buried, he really hadn't felt the need to do immerse himself in wood – until now. Although it was still heartbreaking when he thought about Shannon and Kelly, the pain no longer had any power over him.
"You didn't call, so I figured I'd probably find you down here," Tony walked down and deposited himself at the bottom of the stairs with an easy smile. "Whacha gonna make?"
"Haven't decided yet." Gibbs set down the pencil and the square on the workbench and turned his head to look at Tony. He'd obviously gone home, showered and changed before coming over to Gibbs'. Rather than his usual sharp suit, he had on a pair of ripped jeans, Ohio State hoodie and a leather jacket that looked incredibly soft. He didn't bother gelling his hair; he had opted to simply run his hand through his hair, allowing it to stick up any which way.
"How did it go at the recruitment office?" Tony looked at him searchingly.
"Thought you were with the gang, hanging out with Magnus?" Gibbs pulled over a sawhorse and sat down, changing the topic. "Heard McGee showed him some of his computer magic in MTAC today."
"Yeah, Tim did good today. They decided to take Magnus out to Chinese afterwards," Tony smiled. McGee had set up pictures from every case file Magnus ever worked on, and did a whole show and tell with Ducky's help. Magnus was pretty upset that his favourite Chinese take-out place closed down, so the rest of the team took him to their favourite place instead. And man could the old man talk up a storm! Ducky had commented that he'd never seen Magnus that happy in his life. But… "You didn't answer my question."
Gibbs snorted. "Persistent much, DiNozzo?"
"Hey, persistence is a virtue." Tony shrugged. "Wouldn't have solved all those cases if I wasn't persistent."
"Thought that was supposed to be 'patience'?" Gibbs quirked an eyebrow. "Ziva rubbing off on you?"
"With you, patience wouldn't be nearly enough," Tony chuckled. Oh no, if he was only patient, he wouldn't be here right now. He looked up, straight into the older man's blue eyes. No masks, no antics – just genuine concern. He might only have a bachelor's degree in PhysEd, but he was a PhD in Gibbs. There was something about this case that was clearly bothering the older man. He'd probably be right on the money if he had to guess, but he would prefer to have Gibbs tell him. They both needed this. "What's wrong, Jethro?"
Gibbs could see the worry in Tony's eyes. His lover could always tell that something was wrong, even if he tried to hide it behind his seemingly bulletproof exterior. He sighed, and got up to take off the tool belt. Might as well – it didn't look like Tony's going to let this one go easily, and he wasn't going to get any work done when Tony became determined like that.
Not that he didn't appreciate the gesture. It's nice to know that he didn't always need to bottle it up, that he could talk it out with someone he trusted, that he wasn't alone. Over the years, Gibbs had learned to open up to the younger man, and in turn, received something that was so utterly incredible and wonderful in return: his love. The kind that he didn't think he'd get another chance at.
But he wasn't sure if he was ready, or even knew how, to talk about this, whatever this was.
Earlier in that conference room, talking to Petty Officer Craig's sister, his gut had started to protest loudly, and when he saw the kid's file in the office, everything had clicked into place. Turned out that his hunches were right.
Gibbs felt a gentle hand cupping his cheek. He looked up to find Tony standing in front of him, a sad smile on his face. In that precise moment, he knew that Tony knew exactly what it was that he didn't want to say out loud. They both had been there – the faking and the lying, the denial and the anger, the hopelessness and the loneliness. They both knew exactly what the kid felt.
"I was so proud of him today," Gibbs finally said, raising his own hand to lightly hold the hand Tony had on his cheek. "So damn proud. I just wished that his father could've seen it that way."
Tony didn't say anything. He didn't need to. He leaned in towards Gibbs, wrapped his arms around Gibbs' shoulders, pulling him into an embrace. Gibbs in turn buried his face into Tony's shoulder, hands wrapped around the small of his back. Breathing in Tony's scent – minty, spicy, and something unidentifiable but uniquely Tony. It felt comfortable, warm – safe.
"Fucking stupid waste," Gibbs muttered into Tony's sweatshirt. Craig had been a good man, even if he had his own faults. He didn't deserve to die. Gibbs was shaking with the sudden bout of anger shooting through him, but the hands that started rubbing circles on his back soothed it away.
"Ssh… I've got ya."
He didn't know how long they held each other like that in his basement. He looked up, gasped slightly at the intensity of the love that was shining through those beautiful green eyes, and in that exact moment, he knew he'd be all right. Not right then and there, but eventually. It'll take him a while to feel normal again, but as long as that love – the love that he'd do anything to hang on to and cherish for the rest of his life – remains, he'd be all right.
Moving one of his hands to caress the back of Tony's neck, he pulled the younger man down for a gentle, chaste kiss. Resting forehead against forehead, he let out a small, lopsided smile.
"I seemed to remember that someone mentioned Chinese," Gibbs placed another kiss on Tony's lips.
"Plenty in the fridge."
"Perfect," Tony pulled Gibbs to his feet, fingers entwined. "Come on, I'm hungry."