Title: Training Wheels
Author Name: GibbsGirlAbby
Pairing: Gibbs and DiNozzo
Summary: Tony thinks deep thoughts about life, love, and second chances.
Spoilers: Episode 9:11 Newborn King
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: Boy on boy action. Don't like? Don't read.
Author's Note: This is not only my next fic for the Tibbs YuletideAdvent Calendar, but my episode tag to the awesomeness that was "Newborn King." Sorry it's so late!
Tony sat on the bench outside Leyla's door, watching as Gibbs helped Amira with her new bicycle. The snow had stopped and Gibbs had shoveled the sidewalk before dinner so the little girl could try out the new bike as soon as possible.
He smiled softly at Gibbs and Amira, at the patience of the older man, the utter joy he seemed to be having helping the little girl learn to ride.
"They are good together, yes?"
Tony turned to spy Leyla coming sitting next to him, handing a cup of steaming coffee to him before sipping on her own. Turning back to Gibbs and Amira, Tony nodded. "Yes, they are," he agreed.
"I was worried, at first, moving here. But always knew it was for the best." Leyla waved at Amira who was wobbling along on the bike, despite the training wheels. "Mike was wonderful, don't get me wrong. He was everything to us, saved us. But he was also a bit overprotective." She smiled at Tony's chuckle. "Okay, more than a bit overprotective," she admitted. A shadow passed in her eyes. "We argued before he left."
Tony remained silent, letting the woman gather her thoughts.
"I wanted to leave Mexico," she finally continued. "Amira needs to go to school, and there wasn't one where we were living. She needs friends, and a community. Mike argued, telling me it was too dangerous anywhere but with him. I wanted him to come with us. Move here, to Washington. I…I knew he was sick, though we never spoke of it. Thought maybe here…" Another pause. "He refused. Wouldn't even talk about. Then…he got the call from Jethro and I never saw him again."
"Leyla, I'm so sorry," Tony said, squeezing her hand briefly.
She nodded. "Thank you. He was a good man. And Jethro said he would have eventually have agreed to the move, but…" Her voice trailed off.
"It's hard to leave things unfinished and unsaid," Tony continued for her. For some reason, Tony's words made Leyla laugh loudly. He watched as Gibbs' head turned sharply toward the sound, eyes narrowing in thought.
"And are you and him ever going to finish your business and say the right things?" she said, nodding toward Gibbs and Amira.
"We did," Tony said. "Had a bit of a hiccup over EJ, but things are back on the normal, even keel. He head slaps and growls, I schlep and follow. Same as always."
"That's not what I mean," she explained, slapping his arm lightly in reproach. "And it's certainly not what I see." Tony raised a brow in question, making Leyla laugh again. "You do that almost as well as Jethro," she said.
Tony laughed as well. "So, what do you see?" he asked.
"I see love, Tony."
Tony's face changed ever so slightly, his mask of protection dropping automatically. "Not sure how you're seeing that, Leyla, but Gibbs and I are friends, noting more."
Leyla rolled her dark eyes. "Tony, I've been in love. I know how it looks on a man.
Tony shook his head. "I—."
"And it's not just you, Tony," she said, nodding in Gibbs direction again. "On him. Believe me, what is there is in Jethro's eyes is not just friendship."
The mask slipped a bit. "I was going to be somewhere else today, to see someone from a long time ago. Thought maybe there was something still there, but couldn't go through with it. Next thing I knew I was in the basement." Tony shrugged in resignation. "Like I always do."
"We talked about Wendy, mistakes I might have made, family. The chance at a family now." Tony smiled as Amira wobbled again and Gibbs held just tight enough on the seat to keep her straight. "He told me to get out of his basement, to man up and move on."
"What do you think that means?" Leyla asked.
Before Tony could answer, they were joined by a chilly Amira asking for hot chocolate, and an equally chilly Gibbs with a questioning gaze, which Tony avoided. Gibbs lifted the bike up to the porch and crouched down to Amira's level before speaking. "Now, no riding unless your mother or I are with you, agreed?"
Amira nodded, throwing her arms around Gibbs' neck and squeezing tight. "Thank you so much, Uncle Jethro," she said.
Tony watched Gibbs' eyes slide closed as he hugged the little girl back, a look of both sadness and happiness cross his features. "You're very welcome," he whispered, setting the girl away from him and standing up. "Tony?"
"Ready when you are, Boss," he said.
"Jethro!" Leyla protested. "Stay for a bit more. I've made coffee," she said, pointing to her and Tony's cups."
Gibbs shook his head. "Looks like more snow, want to get home before it hits." He leaned over and kissed Leyla's cheek. "I'll be by next weekend to fix that window. Just keep it closed and locked for now."
Tony stood up as well, placing his coffee on the bench. "Thank you for dinner," he said simply.
Leyla shook her head. "You're family, Tony," she said, pulling Tony close and kissing both his cheeks. Tony blushed, his eyes meeting Gibbs' amused ones. "You're always welcome here. And think on what I said, yes?"
"I will," he said, following Gibbs down the steps to the truck.
The ride back to Gibbs' house was made in silence, Tony's usual chatter absent as he thought on both discussions he'd had today.
"You think I made a mistake."
"I think you made it twice now."
Had he made a mistake with Wendy? He really didn't know. When he'd joined NCIS, it had been so new he needed all his energy to learn. Those first years when it had just been the two of them, he and Gibbs. He'd kept pushing the wedding back, a few weeks here, a month there. By the time they had a third team member and Tony could breathe, Wendy had had enough, had left him and married someone else. While his actions might not have been stellar, wouldn't someone who really loved him have waited?
"I've been in love. I know how it looks on a man."
Did he love Gibbs? Tony admitted to himself it was possible, even probable. Beyond any feelings of friendship, Gibbs was his anchor. The older man was his longest lasting relationship, Tony realized. And closer to him than any other person alive—who else would have known Tony wouldn't see Wendy and would instead end up at his house? A thousand other moments splashed through Tony's mind as the answer came to him softly. He did love the other man.
"Believe me, what is there in Jethro's eyes is not just friendship."
Could Gibbs really love him? He knew Gibbs liked him, respected him, and relied on him. Sure, they hit a rough patch or two, but always came back to the two of them, a tight unit at work and close friends outside of the job. Thinking on it, though, maybe he hadn't imagined the looks Gibbs had given him over the years, the other man watching Tony when he thought he wouldn't be noticed. Tony always thought he imagined the look of longing on Gibbs' face, but if Leyla was right…
"Man up and move on."
In Tony's mind it was more man up or move on. Be man enough to tell Gibbs how he felt and build on it, make the family he's been missing with the other man, or… Tony couldn't finish the or part, not until he knew for certain.
The silence of the engine pulled Tony from his thoughts as he realized they'd arrived back at the house. Tony opened the truck door as Gibbs was walking up the steps.
"You comin' in?" Gibbs asked casually, leaving the door open for Tony.
Tony followed, brushing off the snow from his coat before heading toward the basement door.
"Where ya going?"
Tony stopped, turning toward the living room. Gibbs was crouched down, pushing logs and kindling into the fireplace and lighting the twigs with his zippo. A moment later the wood caught, sending a pleasant smell and a light warmth into the air. Tony walked over as Gibbs rose to his feet. "I thought you'd be downstairs already," he said, waving absently toward the basement door.
"No, I'm up here. Told ya," Gibbs said, moving closer to Tony, stopping when they were mere inches apart. "You're not gonna find what you're looking for down there."
Tony's heart was beating hard, and he felt as wobbly as Amira had been on her bike. With a smile, Gibbs reached out and brushed Tony's cheek with the back of his hand, calming Tony's nerves with just a touch. "I love you, Tony."
Though the answer to his question of Gibbs' feelings was clear in the bright blue eyes and soft smile on his face, it was nice to hear to was nice to hear the words.
"I love you, too," he said. "Merry Christmas," Tony whispered just before Gibbs closed the slight distance between them and kissed him for the first time.