Epilogue: Coming Home

Gibbs was standing outside, feet bare, when Tony found him. It was early. The eastern sky was just brightening, the sun still hours away from rising. There was an eerie calmness in the near complete darkness that surrounded them.

He didn't remember ever seeing the older man so… relaxed. Gibbs had trimmed his hair, but not the 'high and tight' cut he used to sport. That, and the cargo shorts and plaid shirt combo made him look at least ten years younger. The sea breeze was carding through his short hair, making it dance.

Tony wished he had a camera. He wanted to remember this moment forever. He felt content and happy – truly happy – for the first time in his life. He smiled at that notion, shaking his head. Not good. He was turning into a romantic sap! DiNozzo men were not saps. This simply would not do!

He walked, still limping slightly, to stand behind Gibbs, knowing that the former marine was well aware of his presence, and wrapped his arms around Gibbs' waist. He hooked his chin onto the older man's shoulder, taking in the comforting scent of his lover—still the same Old Spice, coffee and sawdust, but now with a hint of the salty ocean breeze.

Callused hands came to rest on top of his hands, holding them tight, thumbs circling, rubbing against them. The cowrie shell bracelets they both wore mirrored each other in the dim light. Gibbs had bought them after the older man saw Tony looking at them with interest. He was sure he didn't say anything, but somehow Gibbs just knew that he'd thought about buying them. Tony smiled at the memory of that day. Gibbs didn't do emotions, but Tony could always feel Gibbs' love through the little things that he did for him.

The breeze picked up, and Tony shivered slightly in the wind. He hadn't bothered putting on a shirt or sandals, walking out with only a pair of tattered jeans. Gibbs turned slightly, saw his shirtlessness and frowned. The soft blue eyes had the look of worry in them. It was early spring, and while the daytime temperatures were comfortably warm, it still got chilly at night.

"It's not that cold, really," Tony said, trying his best to put on his innocent face. "What're you doing up so early?" he began nibbling behind Gibbs' ear as he whispered.

"Thinking." Gibbs sighed, tugging himself out of Tony's arms. "Tony…"

"Okay, okay. I'll go inside if you come back to bed with me." Tony smiled, and his entire face lit up brighter than the rising sun. Gibbs didn't remember ever seeing the younger man so… happy.

It's a good look on him, he decided. And knowing that he himself was the reason for that incandescent smile—he was in awe. He still didn't quite understand how he deserved to have the younger man's complete loyalty and trust and devotion. He was the one who had left; he was the one who had given up.

But Tony came searching. And he refused to leave. Tony was like a beacon for his ship at sea. He guided him, helped him find himself again, even if the rest of his memory never came back.

And Tony loved him. Really, truly, loved him, beyond the shadow of a doubt. That knowledge had been earth shattering for him. Never had he known a love so pure, so fierce, so…extraordinary.

He had thought that he would never love again, but he was wrong. So very, very wrong. He had fallen in love with Tony. He'd fallen in love with that man who loved him more than anything in the world. His memories were still lost, and his heart still ached each and every single time he thought of Shannon and Kelly, but Gibbs knew he'd be all right, so long as Tony was right there beside him.

He stood there, soft blue eyes meeting his lover's green, mesmerized. His hands rose to touch Tony's sun-kissed cheeks, thumbs stroking lightly.

And then their lips met, all too briefly.

"Let's go," Gibbs said with a wide smile that left Tony breathless and slightly dumbstruck.

They made love to the sound of the ocean.

"…I love you, Tony," Gibbs whispered, as he came with a grunt and stilled, his eyes tracing the golden rising sun on his lover's body.

"I love you too, Jethro," Tony answered with a smile, basking in the afterglow of his own orgasm. Later, they would have to drive over to the airport and pick up Abby, Greg and their baby Katie, visiting for the first time. But that was later. Now, he just wanted to lay there, his lover's body draped over him, and enjoy the closeness.

People had always said that the darkest hour was just before dawn.

But it was in that darkness that they had found their guiding light.

In each other.