Written for the Valentine Tibbs ficathon on LJ. Thanks to dietpunkfics for organizing the event, and tremendous thanks to gosgirl for the beta! This is from kaylashay81's prompt: Tony helps Gibbs clean out his attic on Valentine's Day and they find something Shannon and Kelly left behind that Gibbs didn't know about.
The Best Surprise
Tony DiNozzo glanced up at Ziva David, who had a small smile on her face while she shut down her computer. He decided he couldn't resist poking the bear.
"Big plans, Zee-vah?"
She stood, smiling as she put on her coat. "I have a date tonight. It is our third one."
"So, he might get lucky?"
Ziva narrowed her eyes and glared at him.
"Better be careful," Tony added. "It's Friday the thirteenth. Watch out for men in hockey masks."
She rolled her eyes and shook her head, then looked over at the others. "Goodnight, Gibbs, McGee. Enjoy your weekend."
Gibbs looked up at her and nodded, and Tim waved. Ziva slung her bag over her shoulder and rounded her desk, sticking her tongue out at Tony as she walked away.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do!" Tony called out as she got on the elevator. He glanced over at Gibbs and was gratified to see a slight smirk on the man's face.
"What about you, Tony?" Tim asked. "Got a date for Valentine's Day?"
"Do I have a date?" Tony leaned back in his chair, propping his feet up on his desk. "You gotta ask? I refrain from stating the obvious… more importantly, what about you, Probilicious?"
Tim smiled. "Going away for the weekend with Maxine."
Tony's legs crashed down to the floor as he sat forward. "You're back together?"
"She called me last week, and we've been talking. We're going to see if we can make it work." Tim got up, holstering his weapon and grabbing his coat and keys. "So, who are you seeing this weekend?"
Tony grinned widely. "The lovely Britney from that new club downtown."
"The stripper?" Tim asked as he walked past the desks. He grinned at Tony, shaking his head. "Have fun. Night, Boss."
Gibbs tossed off a wave, his attention still on the files in front of him. Tony sighed and refocused on his computer. They worked in companionable silence for a while, and then Gibbs spoke up. "So, DiNozzo… what'cha really doing this weekend?" He glanced over at his senior field agent, eyebrow raised.
Tony shot him a mock glare. "You need to stop doing that."
Gibbs simply sat back and watched him. Tony sighed. "DVD marathon, Oscar best picture winners starting with the first year of the award. Gonna take a lot longer than just the weekend, but, hey."
Gibbs tilted his head a bit. "No date for Valentine's Day?"
Tony shrugged. "You told me once never to settle. Guess I'm waiting to find the right person."
Gibbs smiled. "Good for you."
Tony returned the smile, then watched while Gibbs got back to work. I already found the right person, Tony thought, unfortunately, he's you. Tony shook his head as he turned his attention back to the screen. Fooling around with guys was fine, he reflected, but I always figured I'd fall in love with a woman. Life's just full of surprises.
Startled, Tony sat up quickly. No way. I did NOT say that out loud.
Gibbs was reaching for another folder off his desk. "You get bored, I could use some help clearing out the attic this weekend."
Tony breathed a sigh of relief that he hadn't given himself away. "Yeah? What's the payoff?"
Gibbs shot him a knowing look. "I'll buy the pizza, you bring the beer. And depending on what we find, maybe you'll get a story or two."
Tony's eyes widened. "Seriously?"
Gibbs smiled a bit, his lips twitching on one side. "Well, only if you want to hear it."
"Are you kidding? Count me in!"
Gibbs chuckled quietly, and Tony smiled. The weekend was looking up.
Tony showed up at Gibbs' house just after lunch. He walked right in, calling out a greeting and dumping his bag next to the couch Gibbs was currently reclining on. Gibbs looked up from his book and peered down at the bag, then up at a grinning Tony.
"Figured I should be prepared for anything." Tony smirked at him and then moved to the kitchen to put the beer in the fridge.
Gibbs shook his head, but smiled slightly as he got up and led the way to the attic.
Tony looked around eagerly when Gibbs switched on the light. There were boxes everywhere, along with suitcases, a few trunks, and quite a few random items scattered around. He whistled low, and glanced over at Gibbs. "Been a while, huh?"
Gibbs shrugged, a slightly sheepish expression on his face. "Didn't have any incentive for a long time. And when the ex-wives wanted me to do it…"
"You avoided it just to annoy them, didn't you?"
Gibbs grinned at him. "You've gotten to know me pretty well, haven't you?"
Tony smiled. Not as well as I'd like to. "Yeah, well, sometimes you're not that hard to read, Boss."
Gibbs simply raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. Tony sighed as he looked around again and mentally revised how long this was going to take. "So what's the incentive now?"
Gibbs ducked his head a bit, in that endearing way that made Tony want to get way closer than he was sure would be allowed. "You know I've been building toys for disadvantaged kids, right?"
"Yeah, around the holidays."
"Thought I'd do it year-round. Get that sense of accomplishment a lot quicker than with a boat. Need the storage space."
Tony nodded. "Makes sense." He reached out to tap on the nearest box. "Anything I shouldn't touch?"
Gibbs shook his head. "Don't think so. Went through most of it years ago, when I first became an agent –helped to have a distraction. Should be old clothes, books, videos, stuff people sent over the years, stuff I threw up here when I didn't know what else to do with it. You sure you don't mind helping out? I know it's a lot to ask on a free weekend…"
Tony shook his head. "It's fine, Gibbs. Anything for you." He said it lightly, but Gibbs turned to look at him questioningly, and Tony cleared his throat and grasped for a distraction. "So what's the plan?"
Gibbs' eyes narrowed a bit, then he looked away, sighing as he considered the mess. "Go through each box and container. Figure most of it's going to charity, but I want to keep anything from the Corps. Anything else you're not sure of, I'll take a look."
They started off working side by side, pulling open boxes and suitcases, most of which did contain clothes along with the random items that people accumulated over the years. They made a large pile of boxes to go downstairs, and Gibbs handed them off to Tony who stacked them near the front door.
A few hours into it, Tony found a box full of pictures and other memorabilia from Gibbs' time in the Corps. "Hey, Boss, come check this out."
Gibbs moved to Tony's side, resting his hand on Tony's shoulder while he reached into the box and moved some things around. Tony glanced over at Gibbs' face, then over at his hand, trying to suppress his smile and make sure he didn't do anything stupid, like lean into the touch.
Gibbs pulled a picture out from the box; it showed a much younger version of himself holding a football, along with a bunch of other Marines, gathered around a makeshift banner that read 'Division A Champions.' He held it out to Tony, who took it with a grin. "Let me guess… quarterback?" Gibbs smiled and tightened his grip on Tony's shoulder. Tony looked up at him, then back at the picture. "Wouldn't recognize you with dark hair, Boss."
Gibbs snorted and moved back to the trunk he'd been digging through, beginning a story about the impromptu football league they'd created that year. Tony listened, enraptured, while he moved on to another box.
They took a break, had a beer in the living room, then headed back upstairs. They worked in silence for a while, and then Tony moved to a corner near a window, where he found a box that, unlike the others, was taped shut.
"Know what's in here?" Tony picked up the box, which was pretty light, and showed it to Gibbs, who shook his head.
"Nope. Open it up and find out." Gibbs turned back to the pile he was working on.
Tony set the box back down, knelt down next to it and took his knife off his belt. "Rule 9," he said happily. He cut through the packing tape, wondering why there were so many layers. Replacing his knife, he pulled the flaps open, and found a folded piece of paper sitting on top of some newspaper. He picked it up, unfolded it, and started reading the unfamiliar handwriting.
Kelly, keep out! I told you to wait until Daddy gets home. We don't want to ruin the surprise, remember? Love you – Mommy.
Tony stared at the note. He read it again, just making sure he was reading it correctly.
"Tony? What'd ya find?"
Tony's eyes widened as he looked up. He turned his head and looked at Gibbs, who was looking back at him curiously. Tony looked back down at the note, then held it out to him. Gibbs' eyebrows went up, and he stood, brushing his hands off on his jeans. He knelt next to Tony and took the note.
Tony watched Gibbs read, saw the color drain from his face. "Gibbs…" He reached out and touched the other man's arm, hoping his offer of support would be welcome.
Gibbs stared at the note, holding it in one hand while he ran his fingers gently over the writing. "Shannon," he said quietly, and Tony didn't really think the word was meant for him. After a moment, Gibbs set the note down on the floor and looked at the box, which Tony pushed toward him.
Underneath a layer of newspaper was another note, also folded, with 'Jethro' written on one side. Gibbs reached in to pick it up, and Tony was startled to see that his hands were shaking. He wondered if he should leave Gibbs alone, but Gibbs didn't ask him to go, and Tony wanted to have his six.
Tony watched while Gibbs opened up the note and read it, seeing his jaw clench and his eyes fill with tears. Gibbs looked up at the window, closing his eyes for a moment, then looked down, running his hand over the back of his head. He looked at the note again, then held it out to Tony.
Tony stared at it, then looked up at Gibbs. Gibbs didn't meet his eyes, just continued to hold the note out to him.
"Are you sure?"
Gibbs nodded. Tony took it, watching Gibbs, then finally tore his gaze from the man and looked down at the paper.
Kelly and I wanted to welcome you home with something special… I know you didn't want me to work, but I took a part-time job at the library, and Kelly made some money working for our neighbors, cutting lawns and doing some odd jobs. I've also set aside as much as I could from your pay so that we could do this. Now before you ask why I'm writing this instead of just telling you, it's because I know you too well, and you're just going to protest and interrupt and make me kiss you into submission! I'll do that anyway, of course... later.
Open the little box first – Kelly made it for you, and it's a great hint.
Love you so much, and so glad you're home!
Tony got a sudden picture in his head… Gibbs just back from deployment, sitting at the kitchen table downstairs, Kelly clinging to his arm and Shannon sitting next to him, smiling, while she handed Gibbs the box. He swallowed heavily… if I'm feeling like this, what he's going through right now…
Gibbs waited until Tony looked back up at him, then reached into the box and removed a smaller box. He opened it, shifted some newspaper out of the way, and pulled out a ceramic Mickey Mouse, obviously made by a child's hand, with its lopsided ears and crooked nose. He sat back against the wall and settled it on his knees, looking at it with a small smile. "Ah, sweetheart," he said quietly. A tear ran down his cheek, and Tony swallowed the lump in his own throat, then looked down into the box.
There was a manilla envelope on the bottom; Tony glanced over at Gibbs, who appeared to be lost in another world, his eyes unfocused while he held the ceramic figure. Tony looked back down at the envelope, then took a deep breath and picked it up, looked at Gibbs again, then opened it.
There was a picture inside, of Kelly standing next to a lawn mower and holding the Mickey Mouse, grinning from ear to ear. She looked so proud of herself, and Tony couldn't help smiling a bit. Holding the picture between two fingers, he reached back into the envelope and pulled out a folded brochure from Disney World.
He opened the brochure; there were three plane tickets, a printout of lodging reservations, and three all-inclusive passes to the park. The dates on the plane tickets made him blink; they were for a few months after Shannon and Kelly had been killed. He hadn't realized that Gibbs had expected to be home so close to the time of their deaths.
Somehow that made it worse.
He heard a noise, and looked up to see Gibbs looking back at him. Tony got up and moved to sit next to him, then handed him the picture and the brochure.
Gibbs set the ceramic Mickey down on the floor and took them from Tony. He looked at the brochure first, clearing his throat so he could speak. His voice was a bit husky when he did. "They'd been after me for over a year to go to Disney World. I always said we couldn't afford it, so we would go camping whenever I was home. Looks like they came up with a way to get there."
Tony didn't say anything, just watched while Gibbs looked at the picture. Another tear made its way down Gibbs' face, and Tony fought the urge to reach out and brush it away. Gibbs didn't seem to realize he was crying at first, then he blinked and reached up quickly to scrub at his face.
Tony swallowed, then spoke quietly. "It's okay, Gibbs. Nothing wrong with showing some emotion. I know how much you love them."
Gibbs' eyes widened a bit, then closed, and his head dropped forward. Tony watched helplessly while the tears came. Gibbs didn't sob, just breathed through it as best he could, his shoulders twitching every so often. The brochure and the picture were still clutched in his hands.
Tony was at a loss. The situation was tremendously uncomfortable; he couldn't believe Gibbs hadn't asked him to leave, and part of him didn't want to invade the man's privacy this way. The larger part, though, needed to give comfort to the man who had been on his own six all these years.
So Tony awkwardly reached out and put his arm around Gibbs' shoulders. His other hand moved to Gibbs' hair of its own accord, stroking gently, while Tony murmured words of sympathy, not quite sure what he was saying.
He couldn't have been more shocked when Gibbs leaned into him, resting his head on Tony's shoulder while the tears continued to flow.
They stayed like that for a few minutes. When Gibbs' breathing quieted and he reached up to wipe at his eyes, Tony, impulsively dropped a kiss on the silvered hair. "You all right, love?" Tony asked quietly – and unthinkingly.
Gibbs tensed, and Tony reflexively tightened the arm around Gibbs' shoulders, realizing what he'd just done and said and wondering if he'd just ruined the best friendship he'd ever had.
Gibbs sat up, looking at Tony, his eyes red and still wet. Tony opened his mouth to say something, anything, and stammered out, "I just – just wanted you to know you're not alone, Gibbs."
Gibbs kept looking at Tony, who couldn't read his expression. And then that didn't seem to matter much, as Gibbs leaned forward and brushed his own lips lightly over Tony's. He then sat back and looked at Tony carefully. Tony just sat there, frozen, staring back at Gibbs, whose lips twitched with a hint of a smile before he leaned back in and kissed Tony again.
Tony's head felt like it was spinning, or maybe the room was spinning, and maybe it didn't matter either way, because Gibbs' lips were soft on his, and Gibbs' hands had come up to Tony face, and Gibbs' body had shifted to give them both better access.
Tony was vaguely aware of the fact that his fingers were running through Gibbs' hair, and the hand that had been around Gibbs' shoulders was now on his back, holding him closer. He knew he was putting everything he felt into this, on some level realizing that it was safe to put those emotions out there, just like Gibbs had a few minutes ago.
It was Gibbs who broke the kiss first, pulling back to look into Tony's confused and hopeful eyes.
"I didn't know," Gibbs said quietly.
"Didn't know what?"
"About you. How you felt. I wondered, sometimes, hoped, but…"
Tony smiled. "I'm good undercover."
Gibbs returned the smile. "Yeah." He looked down at the floor, where the brochure and the picture were lying, right where Gibbs dropped them when he moved to hold Tony closer. He let go of Tony to pick them up and put them carefully back into the box. "I thought I'd found all their things… Shannon and Kelly – they loved to surprise me."
Tony kept his hand on Gibbs' shoulder. "Wish you'd been able to take that trip."
"Yeah." Gibbs reached out and pushed the box back to where Tony found it. "Thinking this might be the best surprise they could have gotten me."
Tony tilted his head. "Even though you didn't get to go?"
Gibbs smiled gently. "I don't mean the trip, DiNozzo… I mean you."
Tony grinned, his confidence growing. "You do realize I'm in love with you, right?"
"I do now. I'm right there with you, Tony."
This time they met each other halfway, and didn't stop until well after the unspoken questions were answered and they moved to the bedroom, where they stayed for the rest of the weekend, except for when Tony reminded Gibbs – Jethro now, actually – about the pizza.
They didn't finish clearing the attic until several months later, when they needed to make room in the house for all of Tony's things.