Author's Note: I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone for joining me on this wild ride. It's been a great learning experience for me, and I hope that somewhere out there someone will draw some strength from Tony's story. Tony is a survivor—as all rape survivors are. Not all of their stories look the same. It isn't always perfect, and it's not always following the original plan, but there are happy endings to be found in every survivor's story—even if they can't always see it or know that it's there. I hope you all enjoyed this fic, and we'll see you on the next go round. Enjoy!
Warning: Get your tissues. Though, I do think the tears should all be happy ones in this. Also, there's a scene for the grown-ups at the end. Younger eyes need not partake. :)
Special thanks as always to my wonderful friend. This story would not have been possible without your bravery, help, honesty, and guidance. You are truly an inspiration to me, and to every rape survivor out there. Love you sooooo much!
No Chains Holding Me
About One Year Later:
"Mist—uh—si—uh…erm…Gibbs? Sir? Are you still here?" There was a soft knock on the woodshop door at the community college.
Gibbs was sitting at his desk, back around the corner from the door, grading the last final exam of the semester. "Yeah? Who is it? C'mon in!"
"I…I was asked to deliver this for you…Mis—uh, Gibbs, uh Mr. Gibbs, sir," the kid replied. He held out a phone message.
"Just Gibbs is fine," Gibbs replied. He held out his hand for the yellow slip of paper and fought the urge to roll his eyes when the kid took his hand and shook it, introducing himself.
"My name is Kevin," the kid said with a smile.
Gibbs raised his eyebrows and nodded. "Can I have my phone message now, Kevin?" he asked. He loved these college kids—they were so much fun.
"Oh right, oh I bet you um…weren't…oh I'm so sorry…" the kid stuttered.
"Hey. Take it easy," Gibbs said. "You know, you remind me of a guy I used to work with," he said. He leaned back in his seat and put his feet up on the desk.
"I…I do?" the kid asked. "Um. Is that a good thing?"
"It's a very good thing. His name is Jimmy and he's a dear friend of my family's. I used to work with him."
"Back when you were a cop?" The kid blurted. Gibbs was fast becoming legendary around the school. Everyone wanted to know everything about him.
"I was a federal agent, Kevin," Gibbs said, "Not a cop. There's a difference."
"Oh. Right. Sorry," the kid apologized. Then he winced. "You don't like apologies do you?"
Gibbs smiled. Smiles were coming easier and easier for him now. "Only if they're necessary," Gibbs said. "And that one wasn't. Seriously kid. You need to relax."
"I um…I just am…always…nervous when I meet…new people…and I always blurt out stuff and then nearly piss myself when I…" the kid blushed and dropped his gaze. "When I say dumb things," he finished sourly.
"Well you have met me now so you don't have to worry about that anymore. Aren't you signed up to take my Shop I class next term?" Gibbs had been given tentative student lists for the Fall the previous day.
"Yes," Kevin whispered.
"Well then, Kevin. You oughta be nice and relaxed when you get to my class. See you and I are going to be friends. I don't bite." Gibbs offered his friendliest smile. These young kids were funny—some of them were so naïve, some of them were cocky and sure of themselves, and some of them were such little balls of nerves it's a wonder they didn't die of heart attacks before school started.
"Yessir, thank you sir, I understand sir," Kevin said quickly. "And uh…you might wanna answer that phone message. It seemed like it was important. I mean they wanted me to walk it down to you and all."
"I will. Thank you Kevin. And do me a favor?"
"Of course Mr. Gibbs. Anything?"
"Two things. Don't call me Mister and don't call me Sir. I work for a living," he smiled at Kevin. "Have a good summer."
Kevin nodded and nearly fell over the table saw trying to get out of the room. Gibbs shook his head and smiled, wondering if the kid would survive his class. He hoped so. He didn't want to clean up blood anymore. Wasn't in his job description.
He glanced at the clock and then at the phone message and smiled.
The message was from Tony and held only five words. The five words had Gibbs smiling even brighter. He was finished with his grading and needed only to turn in his paperwork on his way out. He picked up his bag. When he left, he made sure to pick up the phone message to bring with him.
Five little words from Tony.
Come home. I miss you.
Tony was scurrying around the house, collecting the things they would need and throwing them into various bags set up around the house. Gibbs slipped into the house undetected and stood near the front door, watching his soon-to-be-legal-husband racing around trying to get everything done at the last minute.
"Good God," Tony was muttering to himself, "How did the time go? How did it fly by so quickly? How is it time already? I'm out of time! I have so much to do—so much to d—JETHRO! When did you get here? I NEED YOUR HELP MAN! There is so much to do! Why are you just standing here?"
Jethro smiled. He smiled and then he burst into laughter.
Tony stomped up to him. He face beheld a mixture of exasperation, excitement, exhaustion, and happiness. "Why are you just standing here?" he asked again.
Jethro pulled him into a hug and kissed him. "Because I love to watch you. I love you so much. You're so amazing. And I am so crazy in love with you. I just can't help but stare."
Tony kissed him back. "You're so stupid," he said affectionately. "We seriously need to hurry though—we have to be at Dad's by six. It's noon now and it's a four hour drive—we're not ready!"
Gibbs put his hands on Tony's hips. "Do you love me?"
"Yes you know I do," Tony said. "Wha—"
"And do I love you?"
"Yes," Tony said.
"So if you love me and I love you then what are you worried about?"
"What am I worried about? WHAT AM I WORRIED ABOUT? I am worried about the caterers, I'm worried about the florists, I'm worried about the preacher and the musicians, I'm worried about the guests and the—"
Gibbs kissed him again and shut him up. "Let your father worry about them," he said, his lips pressed against Tony's still. "I'll worry about you. And you? Sit back and relax babe. It's your weekend. It's your day. Just relax!"
Several hours later, Gibbs pulled up at Senior's house in Long Island. He smiled when he saw Abby's car, knowing that McGee would be with her. Palmer's SUV was also there, and Gibbs knew that he would have brought Ducky, Mrs. Mallard, and Breena with him. Everyone was there. Gibbs glanced over at Tony who was staring out the window.
"What are you thinking?" Gibbs asked softly.
Tony looked at him. "I am thinking about how much fun the next few days are going to be," Tony said softly. He smiled. "It's going to be the best weekend ever. Everything is perfect." He leaned over and kissed Jethro sweetly. "I love you so much. Thank you for doing this with me," he whispered.
Gibbs leaned in and kissed Tony again. He cupped his face and smiled. "Where else would I be?"
They got out of the car and Senior burst through the front door. "You're here! You're here! I was beginning to think you'd eloped!" The old man smiled and opened his arms.
Tony rushed into his father's embrace, laughing at his father's words. "Hi Dad!" he exclaimed. He stepped back and Senior shook hands with Gibbs and then pulled him into a hug. "So Dad, where are we with everything? Is there anything I need to do?" Tony clapped his hands together once then rubbed his palms together.
"You each have your own rooms tonight," Senior said. "And the only thing you need to do is relax until it's time for the rehearsal."
"Are you sure?" Tony and Gibbs were both surprised by this. They'd expected to help.
"We've got everything well in hand," Senior said.
"We?" Gibbs asked.
"Yes Leroy," a familiar voice said from the doorway. "WE." Gibbs rushed up to his dad. "You told me you were going to be out of town!"
"I am out of town!" Jack said laughing. "Anthony and I have been planning this for some time now."
"Sneaky bastards," Gibbs grumbled good naturedly.
"You learned from the best," Jackson said, clapping him hard on the back.
Dinner was a hugely exciting affair with the entire wedding party present. Gibbs and Tony had decided to serve steak and potatoes for their rehearsal dinner. Senior had the caterers bring out several bottles then, making sure to pop the corks at the table where everyone could see them opened. Senior noticed Tony watched the drinks intently, a faintly ill look on his face. He stepped around the table to his son with two glasses and presented them to Gibbs and Tony. "Grape juice," he said softly. "The party is alcohol free this weekend." Tony looked up at his dad and smiled gratefully. "Only the best for my boy," Senior said, patting him on the shoulder.
Senior raised his glass. "I'd like to make a toast," he said once all of the glasses had been passed around. He smiled at Tony and Jethro. "I am honored and proud to be a part of this celebration with all of you wonderful people. You've had many happy moments up until now, and I wish you many happy moments in the future. Bless you both. Thank you for sharing your special day with me."
Everyone clinked their glasses and drank happily.
Senior sat down and Jackson stood up. "I'd like to make a toast as well," he said and everyone raised their glasses again. "Leroy and Tony," he said. "My boys. I've watched the two of you grow over the past several years. You're so good together. You know how to make each other smile; you know how to support each other when life gets hard. And my advice for you, my wish for you, is to keep that. Stay in love with each other. Stay as crazy about each other as you are now. I wish you all the best."
Everyone cheered and glasses clinked and more sips of drink were taken.
Tony looked over at Gibbs and smiled. He'd never been happier in his life. Everything was perfect.
Everything was not perfect.
Tony rolled over in bed for the millionth time and punched his pillow. He was wide awake. He'd taken extra care to not eat or drink anything that would keep him awake, but still sleep eluded him. He knew he needed to sleep. He needed to rest and sleep so he could be focused tomorrow and have the energy he needed to enjoy his day.
He rolled over on his back and stared up at the ceiling. He knew the reason he wasn't sleeping. Tonight was the first night since he'd gone undercover a year and a half earlier that he'd slept alone. He hadn't slept without Jethro nearby since he'd been raped. And without Jethro nearby the shadows seemed just a little darker and the noises sounded just a bit more threatening.
"Stop it," he grumbled at himself. "You're just being stupid. Just go to sleep."
Still he stared, wide awake, at the ceiling. Maybe, if he was lucky he'd get some sleep before the sun came up. He sighed. But he wasn't counting on it.
In the room next door, Gibbs was having a similar problem.
Like Tony, he'd been careful to avoid eating or drinking anything that would keep him awake. But he couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. It wasn't the wedding—everything was ready for that. Everyone had arrived and they were all safe. He couldn't put his finger on what it was. But his gut was tingling.
He rolled over and looked out the window. The last few times he and Tony had stayed here, they'd occupied this room together. It was lonely without the younger man in here.
Suddenly it struck him. He knew what the problem was. He knew why his gut was churning.
And only one thing would fix it.
Gibbs quickly rolled out of bed and headed for the door.
Tony was out of bed and pacing the floor, his fingers intertwined around the back of his head. He wasn't sleepy. He couldn't get his brain to turn off. He'd debated going out for a walk, but he still didn't like to be out late by himself. It wasn't that he didn't feel safe, but it brought up a lot of memories about things he didn't want to have to think of.
As he paced, he glanced at the clock. Nearly 1:30 in the morning.
"Dammit," he swore softly.
Tony whipped around when there was a knock on the door. "Who is it? Who's there?" he asked nervously. Everyone in the house should be sleeping.
The door opened and Gibbs poked his head in. "Tony?" his gut was right, dammit. "Why aren't you sleeping honey?"
Tony turned away and wrapped his arms around himself. "I'm fine Jethro," Tony said tiredly. "I am just um…excited, about tomorrow."
"Excited, eh?" Gibbs said.
"Yeah," Tony said. "Why are you awake? You should be sleeping too?"
Gibbs nodded and stepped further into the room. "I couldn't sleep," he said, closing the door behind himself.
"I think our dads want us sleeping in different rooms," Tony said.
"Well neither one of us is sleeping, so I don't see any reason why we should be apart, do you?"
Gibbs took a step closer. "Tony…babe…what's wrong?"
"I just…" Tony wandered away from Gibbs a bit. "I'm a little…a lot…nervous…about, well, everything," he said softly.
"Tell ya what," Gibbs said. "Why don't we go downstairs and make some coffee and we'll talk. We'll figure it all out ok?"
Tony hesitated for a moment, but then nodded. "Ok," he whispered. He followed Jethro out of the bedroom, and he wondered if there would still be a wedding by the next morning.
Downstairs in the kitchen, Gibbs turned on the light. They both squinted in the sudden light and Tony sank onto a stool at the kitchen's bar. He put his face in his hands and let out a heavy sigh. Gibbs started a pot of coffee and then moved over to sit beside Tony while the coffee brewed.
"Are you having second thoughts?" Gibbs asked softly.
"NO!" Tony said quickly. "Yes…no…Gibbs…I don't know," he breathed. "But I do know this. I know I love you. That hasn't changed. It's just…y'know…getting married…it's kind of a big deal…"
"Yeah Tony," Gibbs said gently. "I've been married four times. I know. I also know that the first time I got married was the scariest."
"Was it really?" Tony asked.
Gibbs nodded. "Absolutely," he said. "You know what else?"
"What's that?" Tony asked.
Gibbs smiled at him. "I'm nervous too," he said quietly.
"You…why? You're like…and old pro at this. Sorry that sounded bad!" Tony quickly backpedalled.
"I'm nervous about it just like I was the first time I got married. I want this to be perfect. I want our lives to be perfect."
"It'll be perfect if we're together," Tony said softly.
"I agree," Gibbs said.
"I don't want to change my name," Tony blurted all of a sudden. "I just…I mean…"
Gibbs smiled and got up, heading for the coffee pot. He got out two mugs and poured them full. "I get it," he said softly. "We don't have to change your name. It's ok. Lots of people opt to not change their names."
"I know but…I just…I don't know why it's a big deal to me," Tony whispered. "I never thought about it before."
"I think it's because you have that sense of family now and you didn't before," Jethro said softly. "I mean you had it with the team…you had it with us, but you didn't have it with your parents. But you do now. You and your dad are close…I can see why you'd want to hang onto that legacy. I'm not interested in changing my name either."
Tony smiled. "Leroy Jethro DiNozzo just doesn't have the same ring to it," he said.
"And I'll love you no matter what your name is. You can change your name to Mud Puddle and I'll love you just as much."
The two men sat up drinking coffee and talking for most of the night. Gibbs smiled sadly when Tony laid his head on his crossed arms on the bar at one point and dozed off. He poured their coffees in the sink and left the cups for the morning. He then guided a very sleepy Tony up to the room his things were in and helped him in to bed. He was just about to turn and wander off through the house again, when Tony's arm wrapped around his wrist.
"Stay?" Tony asked sleepily.
Gibbs smiled and climbed in to bed beside Tony. They rolled to their sides and spooned up close together. "Don't have to ask me twice," Gibbs said. He kissed the side of Tony's neck, but the younger man was already asleep. "Goodnight Tony," he whispered, shortly before sleep swept him away as well.
"JUNIOR!" Senior's voice bellowed through the house. "JUNIOR WHERE ARE YOU?"
Gibbs groaned and opened his eyes. He could hear Tony's father yelling throughout the house, but he was warm and comfortable, and Tony was actually sleeping, so he didn't wake him. Senior would understand. A moment later the bedroom door was flung open and Gibbs was glad they'd kept all of their clothes on last night.
"Good God what are you two still doing in bed! The wedding starts in three hours! There is a ton of stuff to do! WAKE UP JUNIOR!" Senior fussed.
Gibbs glanced at the clock. Nearly 11am. Oops. They really hadn't intended to sleep that late. "Good morning to you too," Gibbs said around a yawn. He shook Tony's shoulder. "Wake up babe," he said. "It's nearly eleven. We overslept. Time to get up."
Tony sat straight up. "Oh God!" he exclaimed. "C'mon Jethro we've got lots to do!" He hit the ground running and was out the door in a split second. Senior followed him.
Gibbs looked after him and smiled, shaking his head. Sometimes Tony reminded him so much of Shannon…he got out of bed and made it quickly. "Gonna grab a shower," he said to no one.
After he got out of the shower, he put on shorts and sandals with a t-shirt to go help get everything ready. He was surprised to meet his father on the stairs. "You need to stay out of the back garden," he said. "You can't see Tony before the ceremony."
"Why not Dad?" Gibbs tried to brush past him, but was stopped.
"It's bad luck. That's why we put you in separate bedrooms last night."
"Yeah and we ended up sitting up half the night in the kitchen drinking coffee and trying to work out some last minute stuff before we both practically fell asleep at the bar. We stumbled upstairs to Tony's room and collapsed down together and fell asleep. If we're gonna jinx the wedding we've already done it." Senior walked up to the bottom of the steps. "And besides," Gibbs continued, "Tony and I have been sleeping in the same bed together every night for almost two years now. We aren't some scared kids. We're going to see each other. We're going to be together. It's our day. OURS. Please understand that."
The two fathers nodded, understanding what Jethro was saying. "Now if you'll excuse me," Gibbs said. "I need to go find out what it is my husband is wanting me to do." He brushed past both of them and walked out the nearby door. He didn't realize Tony was standing just outside the door, and had overheard every word that Gibbs had said.
He pounced Gibbs with a tight embrace and kissed him softly. "I love it when you get all growly with the parental units," he said playfully.
"Yea yea yea," Gibbs grumbled good-naturedly. He eyed Tony carefully. "How ya doing today?" he asked quietly.
"I'm doing amazing," Tony said, and he practically glowed with happiness. "This might be the best day ever. Really might."
Gibbs smiled and kissed him. "I think so too," he said.
The wedding that Gibbs and Tony planned was unlike any wedding Anthony DiNozzo Senior had seen before. He was used to lavish weddings with huge bridal parties and lots of flowers and a band. The wedding that Jethro and Tony had planned had a small bridal party—the entire wedding, guests included was smaller than some of the wedding parties that Senior had seen. They'd set up picnic tables out back under a tent, overlooking the water. The caterers were preparing light finger foods to keep the party going without filling everyone up. There was no alcohol on the premises at all. The florists had arrived with beautiful bouquets of simply arranged flowers to adorn the tables and the area where the arch had been set up.
The arch was in the backyard, near the food tent, overlooking the water. Senior's house was up off the beach a bit so the view was incredible.
The guest list was small. Tony had insisted that he didn't want to spend the entire day shaking hands and greeting people. He wanted to get on with the party and get on with their lives together. He didn't want a lot of posturing. Gibbs agreed. Together they'd decided that only their closest friends would be in attendance. Jackson and Senior. Ducky and Mrs. Mallard. Abby and McGee. Palmer and Breena. Cheryl and Fornell. Priscilla and Jordan from the support group were there. And Kate. Kate would be represented in the wedding by the bamboo plant that she'd gifted to Tony so many months earlier.
Their wedding celebration was unconventional. They were planning a southern style barbecue for their reception. Pulled pork, baked beans, cole slaw, and hush puppies. Abby had made their wedding cake and was keeping its design a secret from the two men who trusted her to pick something that suited them. Senior had begged the two men to wear tuxedos at least, but Tony and Jethro both refused. Gibbs was wearing a crystal blue colored button down shirt, with khaki pants, and Tony was wearing a white button down shirt with khaki pants. Because they were so close to the beach, they were opting to party without shoes on—much to Senior's horror. The old man wandered about clucking over this and that, shaking his head at the choices that had been made, and slapping his forehead in surprise, until Jackson finally pulled him off to one side.
"Need to talk to ya Anthony," Jackson said gently.
"What is it?" Senior asked. "There's much to do."
"Actually there isn't," Jack said. "Everything was planned to be simple. The boys don't want a lot of fuss today—they want everyone to relax and have a good time. They were very intentional with how they planned this whole event—from the ceremony, down to the napkins. They picked the things they wanted, the things that would make their day as easy as possible, and as much as I know you want to help make this day memorable and exciting—we need to respect their wishes. They don't want a big and flashy wedding. That's not either of their styles. They prefer things to be quiet and reserved. Sure they're going to have fun with it—and they're going to pick things that might leave both of us scratching our heads—but we have to remember that it's THEIR day. They are the ones getting married, not us. And they've allowed us to be part of that. We just need to get swept up in it and celebrate it with them instead of questioning all of their choices. Jethro and Tony are both pretty meticulous planners. I'm sure they've thought of everything."
Senior thought for a moment about the words his friend was speaking to him. "You're right," he finally relented. "I need to calm down. You're right. I just…" he shrugged. "I want Tony's day to be perfect. He's had so much…so much hurt. I just want this to be his perfect day."
Jack slapped him on the shoulder. "It will be," he promised. "Just wait and see."
About an hour and a half before the wedding, Ducky sent Gibbs and Tony upstairs with their fathers to get ready. Jackson smiled as he ironed Jethro's shirt and watched through the mirror as Jethro carefully shaved and trimmed up his hair. He brushed his teeth and pulled on his pants, fastening his belt. Jackson held out the shirt for him.
"Is this it?" he asked.
"Is this what?" Jethro asked in response.
"Is this the last time we're doing this?" Jack asked quietly.
Jethro looked at him for a long moment. "Last time," he said. "I can't imagine my life without Tony. The only one who's come close to him is…"
"Shannon," Jackson said and Jethro nodded.
"You know she's still here," Jackson said gently.
Jethro nodded. "I know," he said softly.
"And you know? I think she'd be damn proud of you," Jack said proudly.
Jethro's cheeks colored slightly and his eyes glazed with tears. "Thanks Dad," he said, choking up a bit.
Jackson pulled him into a tight hug and Jethro breathed out shakily, not even caring that three tiny tears slid down his cheeks. "You've got a good one this time Leroy," Jackson said, pointing a finger at Jethro's face. "If you hurt him I'll kick your ass."
"Won't have to," Jethro said softly. "If I ever hurt him I'll be kicking my own ass."
Tony smiled softly as his father helped him roll up his sleeves to his elbows. "The white shirt really compliments your tan Anthony," his father said. "You've always tanned so nicely. You're lucky. Your mother used to always burn so easily."
Tony blinked. Senior rarely, if ever, mentioned Tony's real mother. "Really?" he asked.
Senior smoothed Tony's collar. "Yes," he said. "Was always sad…she was always so excited to go down to the beach…and she'd always come back terribly burned."
"Dad…what was she like?" Tony asked. "I mean…I guess what I'm trying to say…Am I like her? At all?"
Senior smiled and cupped his boy's face in his hands. "You have her eyes," he said. "And her smile. You look quite a lot like her. And your personality…my goodness, yes you remind me tremendously of her."
"Is that hard for you?" Tony asked, holding onto his father's wrists gently. "I mean, does it make you sad? When you look at me?"
Senior kissed Tony on the forehead. "The only thing that makes me sad is that she didn't get to see you grow up. She'd be so proud of you. She was crazy for you."
"How…how old was she when she died?"
"She was thirty-three Tony. Your age."
Tony tried to imagine his father much younger, and his mother being only his age and them having a small child together. He tried to imagine what it must be like to die so young. It made him think of Kate. "I wish they could be here," he murmured.
"Who?" Senior asked.
"Mother…Kate," he said. "You'd have loved Kate, Dad."
"I'm sure I would have. She sounds like a nice girl."
"She's the best. I mean I love Abby too, don't get me wrong, but Kate…Kate was special. Next to Gibbs, I think she's the best friend I ever had. And Palmer."
"They're here," Senior said and he pulled Tony into a hug. After a moment Tony backed up and nodded. Senior patted Tony right on his heart. "They're right here with you. And they're with you every minute."
"Thanks Dad," Tony said, a few tears trickling down his cheeks. "Hey Dad?"
"I'm…I'm glad you're here today," he said. "Thank you for letting us use your house to get married in."
"What's mine is yours," Senior promised. "All I ask is that you love each other."
"We do," Tony whispered. "We really do."
The sky was blue and the sun was shining and the afternoon could not be more perfect. There was a nice breeze blowing and the music of guitars and mandolins drifted on the air. The preacher stood in the middle of the arch. First down the aisle came Ducky and Jimmy. They were dressed identically to Gibbs and Tony, Ducky wearing a crystal blue shirt with khakis, Palmer in a white button down and khakis. They took their places on either side of the arch, Ducky on Gibbs' side and Jimmy on Tony's. As the music continued playing, Fornell started down the aisle. Like Ducky, he was also dressed like Gibbs. Abby smiled and tears filled her eyes when she saw what the FBI agent was carrying. A small bamboo plant, in a funky patterned pot and a white ribbon, was held carefully in his large hands. He walked down to the pedestal placed carefully beside Jimmy and he set the pot on it before taking his place beside Ducky.
Abby couldn't stop smiling as she held up her camera and took the picture. She knew that McGee was behind her, videotaping the entire thing. She glanced down at the wedding program and smiled. Instead of having "groomsmen" listed, the wedding party was listed as "The Besties" and were divided under Tony and Gibbs' names. She smiled at how creative they'd been planning the entire thing. Next Jethro headed down the aisle, escorted by his father. A moment later, Tony was escorted by Senior down the aisle. The four men stood in a row in front of the preacher.
"Dearly beloved," the preacher said. "We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two souls. Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Anthony DiNozzo Junior." He smiled down at them. "Who gives these men away?"
Jethro and Tony looked at each other and smiled as their father's each replied, "We do."
"Join their hands please," the preacher instructed.
Jackson and Senior carefully locked Jethro and Tony's hands together, and smiled. Jackson patted his son on the shoulder, and Senior blessed Tony with a kiss on his forehead. Jethro and Tony looked at each other and smiled. This, today, was truly their finest moment. Today they would become one.
The service progressed on, until it was time for the vows. It had been decided the night before that Gibbs would go first in saying their vows. He and Tony had done a lot of research, a lot of talking, and a lot of thinking, and finally decided to write their own vows. They'd done it in private, while the other wasn't around, so that each would be surprised by their partner's words when the time came.
Ducky handed Gibbs the ring he was to place on Tony's finger. He took a deep breath. In all the times he'd gotten married, he'd never had to write his own vows before, had only ever repeated what the preacher told him to say. Now he held Tony's hand and slid the ring onto it and smiled, their gazes locked.
"A ring is a circle," he began softly. "It's meant to be a symbol of eternity because it has no start and no end. My feelings for you, Tony, are a circle—no start, no end. I love you and I promise to be with you through the good stuff, the bad stuff, the hard stuff, and the boring stuff. If you get sick I'll take care of you, if you get scared I'll protect you. If someone tries to harm you I will guard you and keep you safe. You are the best piece of me. The piece of my soul I can see and hear and touch. You are the piece of me that I love best and most. Our lives have held some pretty great adventures, but I think this, right here, today, is the start of our best adventure yet. I am so proud to marry you and call you my husband, even though you already were the husband of my heart. I love you so much."
Tony stared at Gibbs in awe, not sure he'd ever heard so many words from him at once, and certainly not sure he'd ever heard that many sweet, loving, caring words about him all at once.
The preacher turned to Tony. "Your turn," he said.
Tony turned around and smiled as he watched Jimmy pull Gibbs' ring off of one of the bamboo branches and hand it to him. He held the ring up and he kissed it and then slowly slid it onto Jethro's finger. "I nearly lost myself a year and a half ago," he said quietly. "I nearly lost myself to grief and shame, fear and doubt. But you didn't let me drift. You stuck by me and you helped me to see and helped me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. You were my beacon of strength. I promise I'll do the same for you Jethro. I'll help you when you're lost, I'll always be your beacon home, because your home will always be with me. I promise to care for you when you need it, be with you when you're afraid, stand by you when you try to push me away, and I promise to be your rock. I promise to love you and be with you and to be the very best husband for you that I can be. I am so honored to marry you. We are going to have a beautiful life together, because our love is a beautiful and magical thing. Nothing can touch us or hurt us if we have each other. We've proven that we can survive anything. I love you Jethro."
Jethro didn't bother to stop the tears that ran from his eyes. Neither did Tony.
The preacher talked for a few moments more before he raised his hand. "In the name of God the Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I now declare you to be husband and husband." He smiled. "Please. Kiss your groom."
Tony smiled then, the euphoria of the moment sweeping over him. Jethro cupped his face with his hands and leaned in. Tony put his hands on Jethro's hips and pulled him in close. The kiss they shared was more passionate and filled with love than anything anyone in attendance had ever seen. "Ladies and Gentlemen," he declared. "I would like to introduce this newly married couple to you!" Everyone broke into wild applause when Tony and Jethro kissed. Above them, a lone dove flew in the sky, cooing gently on the breeze.
Gibbs and Tony looked up and smiled at the bird. Then they looked at each other. "Kate," they said simultaneously, and wrapped themselves up in each other again.
It was just as Tony had hoped. Everything was most definitely perfect.
That evening, Senior put everyone up at the house again. What had been a nice ceremony turned into a very entertaining reception, and was shaping up to be the world's greatest slumber party. It was a hot day in mid-June and most of Senior's guests drifted towards the swimming pool. The old man smiled at Jackson, standing at the door beside him, and nodded. "Think it's time?" he asked.
Jackson looked out at all of their smiling children and nodded. "Definitely time," he said.
Because Gibbs and Tony had been living together for so long, thinking up creative wedding gifts for the pair had proven difficult for all of the guests.
Palmer and Breena got them a new set of pint glasses and a new movie rack.
Ducky bought them a towel warmer for their bathroom.
Abby and McGee were putting together scrapbooks—both paper pictures and videos—for them.
Cheryl's gift had made everyone but Tony and Gibbs scratch their heads. The long package was nearly flat, with a card attached to it. Tony had pulled the card off and read out loud: "You can find the answers if you work together." Tony had glanced at Gibbs and they both smiled at Cheryl. When they opened the large pack of markers both men chuckled.
"Hey Jethro," Tony'd said. "I bet we could make a stand for this—you know, get some funky way to display these markers. I bet you could make something to hold 'em! And we could hang 'em up!" He'd flipped the markers over and his eyes rounded when he saw the gift card taped to the back of the pack. The gift card was for the local paint store. They'd mentioned in one of their therapy sessions that they were thinking about creating a room that was only theirs, that only they would see. It would be their special room—their private space to connect with each other and leave the rest of the world for a while. The implication of that gift was very moving to both of the grooms.
Fornell's gift, like Cheryl's, was a bit on the practical side. He'd gotten them a gift certificate to the hardware store where Jethro bought all of his woodworking supplies—wood, connectors, and such. The card that accompanied the certificate merely said, "Giving you a head start on your next project."
Senior and Jack had held their gift back, telling them that it wasn't time to give it to them yet. Jethro and Tony had both given them strange looks, but hadn't argued, instead continued to party with their friends. Now the two older men watched as their children and friends one by one started to get out of the pool. Ducky joined them at the glass paned door. "Gentlemen I do appreciate such a wonderful gathering," he praised. "Mr. DiNozzo, you in particular, have been most gracious to offer up your home for us these last two days."
"It's been my pleasure, Dr. Mallard," Senior responded.
Ducky smiled. "Please. Call me Ducky. All my friends do." Senior smiled then, grateful to be included in their circle. "I believe I overheard you all mentioning something about with holding your gift from the boys until the time is right," he stated.
"That's right," Jackson said. "Though if I know Tony," he chuckled, "we're going to want to give them enough time to get their things together."
A short while later, with towels wrapped around everyone to keep them warm and covered, Jethro and Tony were sitting together, cuddled up in a chaise lounge, listening to their friends talk. It really had been the most perfect day either of them could have imagined—right down to the perfect little cupcake wedding cake that Abby had made for them. She'd made them a yin-yang style design with the cupcakes—half of them vanilla with chocolate frosting and the other half chocolate with vanilla frosting. The symbolism and thought that had gone into the cake was not lost on Tony and Jethro, who both really loved the cake. And by doing both flavors, Abby had managed to capture each of their favorites: Gibbs preferred the chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing on them, while Tony preferred the vanilla cupcakes with the chocolate frosting.
Jethro and Tony both smiled lazily when their dads walked out onto the pool deck with them. "Boys," Senior said. "Jackson and I…well we realized we haven't given you your wedding present yet."
"Dad you don't have to get us anything," Tony protested, "Just letting us be here was plenty of—"
"Nonsense," Jackson cut him off. "We wanted to."
"We?" Jethro asked. "As in, the both of you? Together?"
"Yes," the two fathers answered together.
"You really are doing too much," Tony said softly.
Senior and Jackson each held out an envelope. The one addressed to Tony came from Jackson, while the one for Jethro came from Senior. Tony and Jethro took their envelopes and furrowed their eyebrows at each other, wondering what their fathers had done.
"Want to open them together?" Gibbs asked.
"Sure," Tony said, sitting up a bit.
Together, the ripped open the envelopes, both of them unaware of the wonderful surprise that lay inside waiting for them.
Three Days Later
Gibbs stood on the balcony and smiled as the sun rose. He took a long, satisfying sip of coffee and greeted the day with a long deep breath. He looked around and still couldn't believe it. For their wedding present, Jackson and Senior had combined their efforts and resources to give them an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii for two weeks. They'd arrived yesterday in time for a wonderful dinner and dancing on the beach, courtesy of the resort where they were staying.
Turning around, Gibbs peered through the white gauzy curtains at the beautiful sight in the bed. Tony was lying flat on his back, one arm folded up near his face, lips slightly parted, sound asleep. God he looked good enough to eat. Gibbs' chest swelled when he thought back to that rainy night last year when Tony had proposed to him in their front yard. He smiled when he thought about the wonderful wedding celebration they'd had. The entire weekend had been filled with wonderful treats and surprises. And this…now…Gibbs thought maybe he'd died and gone to heaven.
In fact, he just couldn't resist any longer. He had to kiss Tony. He needed him like he needed the air.
He moved slowly up on to the bed, taking extra care not to wake his husband just yet. He stayed on his hands and knees and stared down at Tony lying beneath him. Memories washed over him, of the first time they met, the first time they kissed, the first time they…He recalled the changes that Tony had undergone during the past couple of years, and all of the progress he'd made. Their lives were entirely different, 180 degrees from where they'd been, but they were happy. There'd been some heartache along the way, but they'd come out of it alright, and they'd gotten through it together.
Gibbs smiled. "Tooony," he murmured softly. He leaned down and kissed the soft skin of Tony's wrist. Tony stirred a little bit, but quickly resettled. "Toooony," he murmured, just a little bit louder, and this time his lips drifted to the bare chest beneath him. He kissed slowly down Tony's sternum and smiled against the tanned skin when a sleepy hand settled on the back of his head.
"Give ya a million years and a day to stop," Tony mumbled, still mostly asleep.
"Like it better if you woke up and wanted to play too," Gibbs said softly, nipping the skin near the waistband of Tony's shorts.
Tony's breath hitched slightly and Gibbs smiled wider when he saw the bulge in the shorts begin to grow. The hand on the back of Jethro's head tightened slightly and Gibbs breathed out a laugh. "I love you so much," he breathed. "Tony…" he looked up at the younger man. Tony's eyes were slits of molten emerald.
Gibbs crawled back up Tony's body until he was looking his husband right in the eye. "I love you so much," he said louder, more sincerely than he'd said it a moment earlier.
Tony reached up and brushed his fingers over Jethro's cheek. "I love you so much too," he said with a smile. "I…Jethro…can we…"
"Can we what?" Gibbs breathed.
"Will you make love to me?" Tony whispered.
Gibbs thought his heart might fly out of his chest. "Are you sure?" he asked. "I mean you know I want to…but…"
"But I've waited long enough," Tony said. "You've spent all this time showing me over and over again how much I can trust you. And now I want to show you. I DO trust you. I love you. I trust you with my life. And…" Tony looked at Jethro's lips and licked his own. "I trust you with my body."
Gibbs lunged himself on Tony then, his mouth devouring Tony's. Tony gave as well as he got, their tongues dueling for dominance, fingers scrabbling over each other's body trying to explore every inch, years of built up sexual desire pouring out all at once. Gibbs ground their hips together until Tony whimpered with need beneath him, the shorts now tight and restraining against Tony's body.
"Got you," Gibbs breathed, hooking his fingers on Tony's shorts and pulling them free, before shucking his own shorts. Tony groaned at their body heat between them until Gibbs stopped, hovering just over Tony's body. "Tony," he whispered, panting for breath.
"Mmm?" Tony's eyes were closed and he was panting for breath as well.
"Are you alright?" Gibbs kissed Tony's jaw.
"I'd be better if you'd let Little Jethro have some action," Tony replied with a cheeky grin.
"Do…do you want me to use a condom?" Gibbs asked.
Tony had gone for the required checkups and bloodwork religiously. He'd not missed or rescheduled one appointment. Much to their relief, he'd always tested negative for any illnesses to haunt him after his rape. Jeffrey White was now truly dead. He was gone. He couldn't hurt Tony anymore.
Tony looked at him for a long moment, debating. "No," he finally said softly. "But use lots of lube," he requested.
Gibbs kissed him. "Anything you want." He reached for the bedside table drawer and smiled when he pulled out a tube of the same kind of lube he and Tony had always used. He squirted a liberal amount onto his fingers and rubbed them together to warm them a bit. He wanted Tony completely relaxed. He didn't want this to hurt in the slightest. He would spend a long time prepping him, and then hopefully a long time making love to him.
Tony stared up at his husband, wondering what he was thinking. He had the happiest look on his face, not smiling, but a look of pure bliss on his features, and Tony wondered if he was the reason for it. "Do you know how fucking sexy you are?" he murmured to Jethro in his best bedroom voice. Jethro shivered at his words. Tony wrapped a leg around Jethro's hips to give the older man better access to his ass. He stared deep into Jethro's eyes. "I trust you," he said again. "I trust you and I love you—and I want you to take me Jethro. I want you to make love to me."
Gibbs began prepping him then, wiggling and scissoring his fingers, slowly adding digits until Tony was a squirming quivering mass beneath him. Tony's penis was rock hard and leaking generously. Gibbs was careful not to stimulate him too much—he didn't want the party to end before they even got started.
Tony leaned up and kissed Jethro again, nibbling on the older man's lower lip playfully. "Jethrooo," he said, his voice taking on a sing-song tone.
"Yeah?" Gibbs was concentrating on his task.
"You're thinking too hard," Tony said, running his fingers through Jethro's hair. Blue eyes slid shut momentarily and Tony smiled as the look of relaxation crossed his husband's face. He tugged Jethro closer to him. "Jethro," he whispered hotly.
"Yes," Gibbs whispered back.
Tony kissed him. "Do me a favor?" he whispered.
"Anything…anything you want. I'll do anything for you," Gibbs said softly.
"Talk to me?" Tony requested.
Gibbs stopped for a moment and stared down at him, sweat already dripping on his forehead. "Are you ok?" he asked. "Do we need to slow down? Do you want to stop?"
"NO!" Tony said, pushing himself up on his elbows. "I don't want to stop! Not at all! But…just keep talking to me…helps me keep my head in the game ya know?"
"I hear ya Tony," Gibbs said. He didn't know what he'd talk about, but he'd do whatever was necessary to help Tony. "I'll keep talking but you gotta tell me if we need to stop or change or backup ok?"
"Ok," Tony breathed. "I can do that. Just please…whatever it is you're doing," his eyelids fluttered with pleasure. "Pleaseeee…don't…stop…"
Gibbs continued prepping Tony for several minutes, murmuring to him the whole time. "You know," he said after a couple of minutes. "I um…I'm kinda nervous too," Jethro admitted.
Tony blinked up at him. "Really?"
Jethro kissed him. "Really. I want this to be perfect. Start to finish and beyond, all of it."
Tony cupped Gibbs' face in his hands. "Look at me," he said.
Gibbs stared into Tony's bright green eyes. "We're in this together. We are each going to get whatever we need here ok? That's how I want it."
Gibbs kissed him. "Then that's what you'll get," he said. "You ready?"
Tony nodded beneath him. "I trust you," he whispered. He let out a long breath, forcing himself to relax.
Gibbs slid their bodies together, and he fit like a glove. Like he belonged there.
It felt like he'd come home.
"I love you," Gibbs gasped. He kept an eye on Tony, talking to him softly as he slowly moved in and out. This went on for an impressive amount of time, before Tony suddenly wanted more. He wrapped his legs around Jethro's hips, drawing him in deeper.
"I love you," Tony gasped. "I love you love you so much oh God I can't believe how much I love you Jethro I love you!"
Gibbs groaned at the suddenness of Tony's enthusiasm. He hadn't expected to be pulled deeper in to his husband's body, but he was happy to make the journey. And then Tony suddenly tightened on him, a wickedly passionate smiled on his face and Gibbs knew he was going to lose it.
"Gonna cum Tony," he panted. "You ok? You sure you wanna keep going?"
"I'm sure," Tony gasped in response. "I have missed you—missed this—missed US for so long…oh God shit fuck I'm losing it too…"
Their bodies erupted like passionate volcanoes filled with lust and love for the other.
After what seemed like an eternity, Gibbs collapsed down on Tony's naked body, enjoying the morning coolness on their bodies and the sheets. He looked at Tony and smiled.
"That was amazing," Tony whispered.
"Yes you were," Gibbs countered and smiled when Tony blushed. "What do you want to do for the rest of the day?"
Tony rolled them over gently so he was on top and he balanced his head on his hand, his elbow just above Gibbs' shoulder. "Eat breakfast then do it again?" he asked.
Gibbs smiled and rolled them back over. "Sounds good to me Tony. I love you."
"I love you too Jethro."
Their lives weren't perfect, but they were pretty damn close. Tony leaned up and kissed Jethro with a smile on his face. He recalled the words Jethro had spoken when he gave his vows. About love being like a circle. It had no starting point; it had no end; it merely was. He reached one hand up and with one finger traced a circle on Jethro's back.
Jethro recognized the circle and what it meant. He leaned down and kissed Tony on the nose. "I love you too Tony," he said softly.
Tony smiled. He knew with certainty that Jethro was speaking the truth. He traced more circles on Jethro's back and giggled when Jethro leaned down to nibble on his neck.
Perhaps breakfast could wait.