You didn't really expect me to let that basement conversation go untagged... Especially after he put the 'work' cup back inside the 'family' cup. That was just Michael Weatherly's Christmas gift to all the fanfictioneers out here!

I have such love for Tony/Gibbs conversations... I think Tony would have been chewing on Gibbs' statements all through Christmas dinner and wouldn't be able to leave it alone afterwards.

Disclaimer: Still not mine.

"Thanks for the invite tonight."

His eyes slid to the side to study Gibbs, but the older man just nodded in acknowledgement, his attention focused on the snowy roads. Tony found his hands tapping out a random melody on his thighs as he tried again.

"Amira seemed to really like her new bike...I bet she has the training wheels off by Easter." Gibbs still gave no reply. Tony grimaced as he stared out at the lights flashing by, his tapping falling in time with the repetitive bumps of the highway seams.

"You know I have never really been a big fan of lamb but…"


It was little more than a sigh; a tired, long and annoyed exhale. Unfortunately for Tony, he wasn't entirely sure at the moment if it was Gibbs' get to the damn point already sigh or more of a shut the hell up. He went with the former as it suited his interests.

"When I was talking about the cups before… I just want to be sure we are, you know, on the same page."

Gibbs' mouth twisted in a way that instantly made Tony think he should have gone with shut the hell up. But then Gibbs gave one curt nod, "We are."

Common sense and a long history of head slaps told him to leave it at that. And yet his mouth moved again, words tumbling out of their own volition. Because the alternative - the possibility that they didn't have a mutual understanding after all - held too many disturbing ramifications to ignore. "Are you sure about that boss? It's just… If we are, then that means...that means that I'm going to have to break one of your rules in a big way…"

"Wouldn't be the first time."

Tony grimaced at the grumbled retort, but he couldn't deny the truth in the statement. "I know. You just always seemed particularly adamant about some rules over...others. You gave me real shit about twelve this spring with EJ."

"Different situation, different application of the rules."

Tony's brow furrowed. At least he got Gibbs talking, but rather than clarifying the situation, that comment just confused him further. "Oh-kay?"

Gibbs' mouth twisted either with annoyance or impatience. Or both. "EJ distracted you from your work. That's why I was pissed."

"That, and you didn't like her."

He was rewarded with a smirk and a small nod in acquiescence. "That too. But at the end of the day, the rules all boil down to trusting your gut, trusting yourself. And what did you tell me in the basement tonight about the cups?"

"That I really think I can find a way to fill them both. To be dedicated and focused on my work and have a life and a family in the future…"

Gibbs nodded. "And what did I tell you to do?"

"To shit or get off the pot."

He earned a glare for the crass - but in his opinion apt - summation. "Well there ya go. You've got the only answer you need."

Tony didn't respond; he just stared out the window again, studying the lit Capitol dome in the distance. He gnawed on his bottom lip, thinking over the short and increasingly uncomfortable conversation.

"Gibbs, you know I'm talking about Ziva right?" The words came out before he could stop them, echoing loudly in the otherwise silent car.

Gibbs groaned. "I swear to God, DiNozzo, if you don't stop talking I'm going to leave you on the side of the road."

"Okay, just checking," Tony said quickly, content to leave the subject there before it got any more awkward.

It caught him off guard therefore when Gibbs spoke again. "Wouldn't wait too long if I were you," he said gruffly.


His mouth twisted with a scowl, and Tony knew Gibbs was in the ninth circle of hell with this entire conversation. "She put in a leave request for New Years. She's heading to Miami."



"Well...okay then, thanks for the head's up." They were pulling up to Gibbs' house now, and Tony jumped out of the car almost before it was in park, grateful for an exit.

"DiNozzo," Gibbs called, getting out and looking at him from across the roof of his car. "Either of you screw this up, I will kick and/or fire your asses."

Tony was tempted to throw out a smart-ass comment or a cocky grin but he recognized the weight of the situation and how much they all had at stake, both professionally and personally. And so he met Gibbs' warning stare with an equally serious expression. "Understood."

Gibbs just nodded and walked toward his house.

"Merry Christmas!" Tony called after him. "And...thanks Gibbs." The older man didn't look back but gave a quick wave over his shoulder, leaving Tony alone to lean against his car and wonder if Ziva would even understand - and reciprocate - his sudden interest in those damn cups.

This will be a couple of chapters unless the tag bunnies latch onto something more substantial. Please leave a note and let me know your thoughts and thanks as always for reading!