Summary: Summary: This was not how either man envisioned their first Christmas together. They had just come to terms with their feelings for one another and now this. Then Jimmy brought out the gift that Tony had been adamant about picking up and everything changed. All Gibbs had to do was believe and that seemed the most difficult task as well as the one he wanted most to accomplish.
As Jethro looked out the window and watched the snow fall, he was struck by its pristine beauty. Tony would have loved that it was snowing and been the first to run outside and catch a snowflake, reveling in the fact that they were going to have a white Christmas just like in his favorite movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a movie and Tony was unable to bask in the beauty of the first snowfall. Suddenly Gibbs felt guilty and cold. Turning around, he headed back to the waiting room to sit in a chair, wait, and pray. He wasn’t sure how much good it did to pray to a God that he didn’t much believe in, but for Tony he would do that.
He should have been with him, he asked if he could come, but Tony had smiled that DiNozzo smile and told him that there was no way he was going to get a sneak peek at his last present and kissed him as he ran out the door. Christ, he didn’t want anything more than the man himself and he’d already seen the huge pile of gifts that were hidden away. What the hell was so important that had to be picked up two days before Christmas?
But this was Tony he reminded himself, he wanted it perfect. It was their first Christmas together and he knew that Tony really didn’t have any great memories of the holiday. He could take it or leave it, but not after he and Tony had gotten together.
He smiled as he was brought back to that moment.
“Boss?” Tony took a few steps down to the basement and watched Gibbs measure the large pieces of wood.
“What are you making?” He asked genuinely curious.
Gibbs glared at the younger man and continued measuring.
“So…you’re going to be all silent and stoic? Good idea Boss makes a lot of sense to me.” Tony’s own anger at Dearing and Gibbs’ need to face him alone surfaced and he couldn’t have shut his mouth if he wanted to.
“You decide to go lone wolf again without back up and more importantly without me and that’s ok. I’m supposed to accept that you can break your damn rules but every one else is held accountable.” Tony had walked to stand toe to toe with Gibbs.
Ignoring the glare he carried on, needing to get it out. “You are not impervious to danger Gibbs, you can get hurt. Though I believe that you have super powers and are a super hero, you are not Superman. You should have taken me so that I could watch your six.”
“Remember the last time you failed to do that? I had to drag your sorry ass out of water Jethro and watch you die. You died damn it and I can’t let that happen again. I love you too damn much for that. So next time you had better damn well follow your own fucking rules or I will not be here. I can’t do this again.”
Tony’s chest was heaving, his eyes glowing with every emotion that was flowing through him as he continued to stare into his blue eyes, his gaze never wavering. Two calloused hands grasped his face and held him still as his eyes searched his and seeming to find what they were looking for, Gibbs brought his lips to meet Tony’s in a gentle kiss.
Shocked for a mere second that it was actually happening, his brain kicked in and silently shouted ‘Yes!’ as he kissed the older man back letting him lead the way. The kiss deepened and Gibbs pulled him closer until the need for air forced them apart.
Resting against each other’s forehead, they tried to regulate their breathing.
“You love me?” Gibbs quietly whispered.
“Yes. For as long as I can remember, don’t really remember a time when I didn’t.” Tony honestly answered.
Tony smiled shyly, a smile Gibbs had never seen. “Going for the tough questions right from the get go.” Sighing he continued. “It’s everything about you. Your sense of loyalty, stubbornness, the way you stand up for those without a voice, and the way you are. What you see is what you get, there is no difference; you are exactly what you say you are.”
Tony’s green eyes met blue. “Do you have any idea how rare that is? I even love the fact that you’re a bastard because that’s part of who you are. And most of all I love the way you still love and treasure your girls. Because that means when you truly love someone you don’t toss them away.” Tony’s voice had gone to a mere whisper at the last words.
Gibbs, amazed by the revelations was stunned. No one had ever understood his need to keep his girls near, until now. Words failing him he captured Tony’s lips once more letting his actions speak for him, letting everything that he felt for the man in his arms for years flow through and finally be heard.
As they pulled apart, Gibbs knew the message was clearly received by the light in those green eyes and the smile on his face.
“Rule 12?” Tony teased.
“Amended. And I want to do more than date you Tony. I want a real relationship and all that it entails.”
“Since when do I have all the words? We’ll tell them when we’re ready. Not gonna hide or be ashamed.”
“But you’re-“ Gibbs put his fingers over Tony’s mouth.
“Private, I know. We will have a lot of things we won’t share with them. But they deserve to know and you deserve more than to be kept a secret. This will not be a clandestine romance. It’s real Tony.”
Gibbs sat up in the chair as his knee protested. That was three months ago and he couldn’t remember being happier. They had finally moved Tony into his no, their house, and unpacked last weekend. The team was coming over for dinner the day after Christmas and they had planned on telling them.
The team. Shit. Gibbs sighed. There was no sense in telling them anything right now. He knew nothing. For the first time in three years, they were off rotation and given an extra week off. He refused to spoil their holiday. He knew that Tony would be pissed if he found out that they sat around a hospital room.
Tony. He looked at the doors hoping upon hope that a doctor would be coming out to tell him something, anything. All he knew was that the local LEO that came with the ambulance said a drunk driver had swerved into Tony’s lane and he didn’t have a chance to avoid the collision. He was hit head on.
Tony had been wearing a seat belt but the air bag hadn’t deployed and because of that, Tony had been squeezed between the steering wheel and the seat. When the front of the car moved backwards with the force of the impact, his head had ricocheted off the steering wheel and rendered the man unconscious.
The LEO was prepared to give him any reports that he needed to sue the automobile manufacturer for a faulty airbag and Gibbs was forced to explain that Tony had had the Plague and the fine powder in an airbag, should it go off, would cause great damage. Of course, that led to the inevitable look of disbelief regarding the plague and he simply didn’t have the energy to go into that, all he wanted was to know that Tony was going to be all right.
He had lost track of how long he had been sitting there waiting for any news at all. But he was thankful he was there for if it hadn’t been for the LEO who recognized Tony from a case awhile back, knew where he worked and called dispatch he wouldn’t have been. Dispatch in turn called him knowing his reputation and possessiveness over his team and knew he would want to be informed regardless of whether it was a case or not.
Wouldn’t be a case though, the other driver had died upon impact, he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. Though personally Gibbs would love to have gotten his hands on the man and strangled him himself for placing Tony in this situation, it was a very good thing that he wasn’t able to do that. He was needed here and not in a jail cell.
He heard the doors open and was shocked when Ducky walked into the room.
“Jethro. I am going to give it to you straight and then we shall discuss why you took it upon yourself to handle this alone, and why you thought that no one else had the need to know that Anthony was in a serious car accident. Then we shall get some food and yes, coffee in you.” Seeing the man in front of him was near his breaking point, he softened his voice.
“It’s quite serious Jethro. The impact pinned him and caused a massive head injury that the dear boy has yet to show any signs of waking from. The Cat Scans show no bleeding and there is hope that this is his body’s way of healing. He has three broken ribs and was lucky one did not puncture his lung.”
“His knee is swollen and quite bruised but there appears to be no lasting damage. And though the head injury is a cause for great concern, we are more worried about the damage to his lungs actually. The impact had him pressed tightly against the steering wheel and column and caused a great deal of pressure. Normally a man just might be bruised and in a great deal of pain.”
“But Anthony’s lungs are already compromised and react differently to stress and trauma then a set of lungs that were not scarred by the plague. Bradley is with him now and watching over him carefully. There certainly is no reason to believe that Anthony can’t beat any odds thrown at him. He has done so before when the odds seemed insurmountable.”
Ducky watched as Jethro processed what he had been told. He didn’t miss the look of fear that flashed across his face and the need for the reassurance that Anthony would be all right.
Gibbs took a deep breath processing all the information the best that he could and trying to gauge Ducky’s reaction to the damage. If Ducky believed that Tony could pull through this, then he could. He needed to see him though, touch him, and let him know he was there. Make him fight to come back.
“When can I see him?”
“Soon Jethro, I assure you. And of course, Bradley will insure that you are able to stay with him. But if you plan on doing that you must come with me and grab something to eat.” Seeing Jethro about to refuse he put a stop to that right away. “You will eat or I will make sure you are unable to visit.”
Gibbs sent him a glare that would cause most men to cower in their tracks.
“Jethro you know that doesn’t work on me. Now let us go grab a bite and you can tell me a story. You will tell me why you didn’t call the team or me about young Anthony.”
Gibbs stood up reluctantly knowing he wouldn’t win this battle and he did not intend on being kept from being by Tony’s side.
“How did you find out Duck?”
They started walking to the cafeteria. “Have you forgotten that I am listed as Anthony’s personal physician? They called me to consult and since I too am listed as a medical proxy, they asked for my permission to treat him.”
Gibbs was silent until they reached the cafeteria and sat down at a table. Taking a sip of coffee as he looked at the sandwich before him, he sighed. Trying to find the words to explain his reasons, he wondered if he shouldn’t just tell Ducky everything. There didn’t seem to be any answers forth coming from the food and he just was so tired, worried, and afraid.
He was afraid that again he was going to lose the one person who he loved and needed more than he ever could have imagined. He wasn’t sure that he could live through that again; losing Shannon and Kelly had nearly pushed him to the edge and only by sheer will was he able to pull himself back. But this time it was different. The bond he had with Tony was deeper on so many more levels. They were so intertwined that he wasn’t sure where he began and Tony ended. He couldn’t imagine any separation. This time he was certain without a shadow of a doubt that if Tony didn’t survive, it would indeed kill him.
Gibbs sighed. “I didn’t want to spoil their holidays and I didn’t know anything yet. I figured I could at least wait until I knew something. I didn’t know if it was life threatening or there would be quick recovery time. Damn it Duck, you know Tony would hate knowing everyone was sitting in a waiting room during Christmas.”
“True Jethro, but that is not the full reason. And if you think I will sit here in front of you and allow you to tell me half-truths then you are wrong. I understand your desire to protect the team from bad news but at the same time, they have a right to know one of their friends is in trouble and that also includes you. You don’t need to sit here alone as you go through this.”
Ducky looked at the man in front of him knowing that a war was going on inside his head; that he was trying to decide whether to open up to him or come up with another plausible reason for his silence.
“You’re right Duck. I should let the team know. But truthfully, I’m afraid that if they’re here they will see a lot more than they know about Tony and me. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen.” Gibbs’ tight control over his emotions was crumbling and he was unable to stop the words as they tumbled from his mouth.
“He shouldn’t be here Duck, I wanted to go with him. But he insisted that I would try to peek at the last Christmas present that he wanted to get for me. I didn’t need more; all I ever needed was him. But he looked so damn excited as he waved from the car.” His eyes were burning as he tried to hold back the tears. Tears of anger, guilt, frustration, fear, and love finally free to flow left a single track down his side of his face.
“If I had known this was going to happen I would have said so much more, made sure that he knew how much I loved him and that all I ever wanted was him. But I didn’t do that, instead I sat on the couch with a book.”
“Jethro, he is alive and fighting, you must believe that. There is also no way you could have known any of this was going to happen nor did you do anything to cause it. If you had been with him, it could have been made far worse. Do you think if the situation were reversed, Anthony would feel any differently than you? No, he would be doing the same exact thing.”
“Yes. Anthony has some serious injuries and I am concerned but I do believe that he has every chance at a full recovery and see no reason to doubt that. That young man survived the plague and those odds were definitely stacked against him. You have to dig deep and find faith that he will be all right and hold on tightly to that; believe in it. You most certainly hold the power to help bring him back Jethro, but he will sense if you have given up on him.”
Gibbs glared at Ducky. “I have not given up.” He all but shouted.
Ducky smiled, relieved that he had received the response he was hoping to. The man in front of him could move mountains when provoked and Anthony needed that man here now. “Good to hear it. Now eat your sandwich.”
Gibbs sullenly ate his food and as he drank the last bit of coffee, he down he looked at the other man.
“No questions Duck? About Tony and me?”
“No, I shall break one of your infamous rules and assume that is why we were being summoned to your house for dinner after the holidays and that is when the two of you planned to announce it. I shall be the first to offer my sincere congratulations that you at last saw what was in front of both your faces and finally acted on it, but I shall contently wait until you both can regale us all with the stories of how you came to be.” Ducky smiled at Jethro.
Gibbs smirked. “Didn’t realize it was so obvious.”
“To those who aren’t observant, perhaps not to all.” Standing Ducky looked at Jethro. “Come. He should be situated in his room. You need to see him as much as he needs to feel your presence so let’s make haste, shall we?”
Gibbs relieved that he was going to see Tony quickly followed Ducky as they left the cafeteria.
Reaching the door to Tony’s room, Ducky turned to Jethro. “I want to warn you that he will have a breathing tube to take the stress off his lungs. Bradley wants them to heal without having to work so hard. Other than that, there are just the normal monitors that you have seen surrounding him before.”
Gibbs nodded anxious to finally see and touch Tony. Ducky sensing his need pushed him through the doors. “I shall join you in a moment; I just want to check on some things.”
Gibbs walked over to Tony’s bedside so relieved to lay eyes on him. Reaching down and stroking his face. “I’m here Tony. Not leaving you, you just rest and get better.” Placing a gentle kiss on his forehead, “I love you so much, you fight for me. We have barely begun us Tony.” A tear dropped on the younger man’s forehead. “I can’t lose you; you would take so much of me with you, there would be nothing left without you. Please Tony, fight to come home.”
Ducky moved down the corridor, pulled out his phone, and dialed.
“It is Dr. Mallard.”
“I need to ask if you are able to assist me with a couple of favors my dear boy.”
“I do appreciate that, but I certainly would have understood if you were busy.”
“Anthony was in a serious car accident.”
“Serious, still unconscious but all signs point to a good outcome.”
“Very astute Mr. Palmer, but Jethro is already here. I do need you to contact the team and tell them, but there is something very important I need you to do.”
“Anthony was finishing his shopping for Jethro, and I believe this gift was extremely important to him. Would you please go to the impound lot and retrieve any packages that you find?”
“Your ID shall give you clearance.”
“Yes, I do so appreciate you going to the trouble. Bring any items here.”
“I’m sure under the circumstances Anthony will not mind his surprise being blown and I daresay it will help Jethro.”
“Yes, he opened up a bit, or his emotions demanded to be let out of their cage is more like it. I do not expect you to divulge any confidences that Anthony placed in you. You may keep his secrets.”
“That would be lovely and how very thoughtful of you. I’m sure Jethro would appreciate a change of clothes and a decent cup of coffee.”
“I shall see when you arrive then. I do thank you for your assistance, I really hate to leave either of them at the moment.”
Closing his phone and smiling, he headed back to Jethro knowing that everything was well in hand.
Jimmy called the team one by one and told them about Tony’s accident and that Dr. Mallard had said it was serious but there was cause to believe in a good outcome. They all were making changes to their plans and heading to the hospital and Jimmy was fairly certain none of them would be empty handed.
Before heading out to the impound yard he stopped at Tony and Gibbs’ house. He chuckled at the fact that everyone would be surprised that he was the one, and now Dr. Mallard, that first knew about Tony and Gibbs. He walked into the house and quickly grabbed Gibbs some clothes and supplies, trying to think of anything that would help. He picked up a few things for Tony as well, his IPod, portable DVD player, a few movies and comfort items.
As he drove to the impound lot he already knew what Tony had been going to pick up; the present that meant the most to him - two rings that he designed for Gibbs and himself. He wanted a way to show Gibbs and the world that this was it for him, that in fact he’d given his heart to the older man. He had shown Jimmy design after design that he had drawn up for the two rings and each he discarded, deeming none of them right.
He had marveled at the talent Tony had shown in the designs and wondered what other talents he was hiding. After a while, Tony had come to him excited beyond belief, he had found the right one. He had almost shyly shown the design as he waited to hear what Jimmy thought and after looking at the picture, he told him it was perfect.
He thought about what Dr. Mallard had said about Jethro needing it and tried to decide what to do. Would Tony want the other man to have it now? Would he want to wait and give it to him himself? Actually, that was a stupid question; of course, he would want to do it himself. But perhaps he would want it to give Gibbs the strength he might be lacking at the moment, to hold something tangible that represented just how deeply Tony felt about him.
Arriving at the lot, Jimmy showed his ID and was directed to the car. When he saw the damage, it took his breath away. Dear God how had Tony even survived? Shaking his head to clear his thoughts he began to look through the car and found what he was looking for along with a few more packages that he also grabbed. He took a moment to make sure there were no more personal items in the car and left continue his errands.
First grabbing dinner for everyone and then a massive amount of coffee for Gibbs, he started to wonder what the man would say when he saw the rings. Jimmy was fairly certain that he would be surprised. Not that he believed the older man doubted Tony’s devotion, but that he would want to proclaim it.
The young ME imagined he would be touched beyond words by the design and the sheer fact Tony had designed them. The meaning was obvious and he was certain that even though the man always seemed to be stoic, he was going to be moved.
He reached the hospital, parked in the Doctor’s lot, and went to grab a cart to haul everything inside. Pushing the loaded cart towards Tony’s room, he was ready to help in any way that he could.
Reaching Tony’s room, he knocked before walking inside and looked to see who all was there. Gibbs was sitting beside the bed, Ducky standing next to him, Abby on the other side of the bed with Tim behind her, his hand on her shoulder.
Gibbs gave him a small smile. “Come in Jimmy.”
“Hi everyone.” He pushed the cart over to the side and first went to see Tony. Making sure to touch him as he spoke, “Hi Tony. Brought your IPod and some movies for you, I certainly wouldn’t want you bored. Besides this way Gibbs can have a break from all the talking he does.” He heard some snickering and carried on.
“Cleaned out your car of all your personal stuff and brought the presents back with me. Found the one you were so worried about. I’m going to give it to Gibbs, I think he needs it. You need to remember all that you have here Tony and fight your way back.”
Ignoring the look from Gibbs, he went back to the cart and first brought out the thermos of coffee and handed it to the man. Seeing the look on the Gibbs’ face, he knew that the time was right, that Tony would want him to have it as a touchstone, a way to help him through this. And despite the fact that the team didn’t know of their relationship yet, he could see that Gibbs needed the support from them in more ways than one.
Turning to get dinner for everyone, he asked. “Where’s Ziva?”
“She was unable to change her flight or take a different one. She’ll be here as originally scheduled, the day after Christmas, but she sends all her positive thoughts this way, as does Damon.” Tim stood up to help Jimmy as he answered. “What can I do to help?”
“Just pass these out to everyone please. I got everyone Mama Rose’s lasagna except for Abby who gets the Pasta Primavera with all veggies. And drinks for all.”
“Cool Jimmy, thanks.”
“Jimmy?” Gibbs hesitantly spoke.
“After you eat, I’ll give it to you. Tony would skin us all alive if he thought for a moment we weren’t looking after you and you know it.” Jimmy deftly replied.
Tim and Abby shared a glance wondering what that was all about. Tony had always been protective of Gibbs, but the statement seemed to imply a great deal more than the surface meaning.
Nodding Gibbs took his container. “Thank you.” He proceeded to eat.
Jimmy and Ducky smiled at one another and the older man gave him a wink. Everyone was quietly eating lost in his or her own thoughts about Tony, the mystery present and how they could help make any of this better.
Gibbs stood tossing his empty container in the trash. “That was very good. Thank you for thinking of it. Did you know that it is one of Tony’s favorite Italian restaurants? He has a few, but he swears by Mama Rose. He is always so torn by the menu, takes him forever to decide what to order.”
“We usually get three or four things and have it buffet style at home and the leftovers taste just as good the next day. He took me there to eat inside the first time because Mama Rose had to meet me. Actually she is Mama Rose’s great granddaughter Cecelia, but I had to be vetted.” Gibbs smiled a true smile as he was back in the memory he shared, completely unaware that he was actually doing it.
The room was silent and enthralled as he opened up. Abby had figured it out the minute Gibbs had started speaking and whispered in McGee’s ear. His eyes went wide at first, but as he watched his boss’s face light up, he realized it all made sense and it was as it should be.
“Cecelia came out and hugged Tony kissing both cheeks in greeting and then narrowed her eyes as she looked at me. I don’t think I was that nervous meeting Shannon’s parents. Apparently I passed the first inspection because I received a hug.” He chuckled. “Could have knocked me down with a feather, I wasn’t expecting that. She led us to a table and said that she would take care of our order. We were alone until dessert and then she began questioning me. About my intentions no less! But I answered her totally understanding that she saw Tony as her son and that I had to meet her standards.”
“I passed inspection because we were sent home with bags of food and told we must return every Sunday for dinner. We have never missed one unless work made it impossible.” A sad look came over Gibbs face as he realized they would miss this Sunday. “I had better call her and tell her.”
Jimmy went over to Gibbs and touched his arm. “I already did when I was there. I was informed that dinner will be sent to you every night because she knows you won’t leave and you need to eat. You’re both too thin.” Jimmy smiled. “Hey, those are her words not mine.”
Abby walked over and hugged Gibbs tightly before asking. “How long?”
The older man smiled at her. “For which Abs, how long I’ve loved him or how long have we been together?”
Twirling her pigtails her green eyes sparkling, “Feel free to answer both! You know that we are happy for you, right?”
Gibbs nodded. “We planned on telling all of you at the dinner after Christmas. We just wanted some time to ourselves. How long have we loved one another…hard to say. Neither one of us can remember a time that we didn’t. We’ve been together officially for three months, just finished moving his things in.”
Jimmy reached in his pocket and handed Gibbs the box. “This was important to Tony. He was so damned excited about it.” Jimmy smiled. “He went through design after design, and they were all beautiful, but he said they weren’t right. And then he drew this and came to show me, telling me this was it, this was what he wanted.”
Taking the box with a shaky hand the silver haired man opened it slowly. A smile appeared at the same time a single tear rolled down his face. He couldn’t have been more stunned, amazed, and honored by what Tony had designed. For inside the box were two matching platinum rings engraved with ‘Semper Fi’ in the center and on either side four different colored stones. A ruby and citrine for the Marine’s colors and a blue and green for their eyes. The meaning was so clear and heartfelt.
Seeing that Gibbs was too moved to show them what was in the box, Abby walked over to look. “They’re beautiful and so perfectly the two of you.” She hugged Gibbs and kissed him on the cheek. Her mind was racing with plans for something special that she intended to do for the two men as soon as Tony was better. She needed to talk to the Sisters and ask for their help later tonight.
Gibbs finally finding his voice, “They are perfect.” He looked at Jimmy. “He designed these?”
Smiling Jimmy nodded. “Yes. Those and close to two dozen others that he didn’t feel were right.”
Tim and Ducky walked over to look, seeing that Gibbs was frozen.
“I have to agree with Abby boss, those are beautiful.”
“Anthony has always been full of surprises. He captured everything that is important to the two of you perfectly.”
The door opened and Brad walked in to check on Tony. “Smells good in here, you trying to wake him up by appealing to his appetite? If so, it just might work.” He looked at Gibbs who was still sitting there with a look of wonder, holding the box. “Ahhh, the rings. Beautiful, aren’t they? Can’t tell you how excited he was.”
“You too Brad?” Gibbs asked.
“Oh yeah, I am sure between Jimmy and me, he was bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball. What about this one? Is this design better? They were all incredible really, but not what he wanted for you, until that one.”
“But before we get side tracked, Tony’s tests look good. As you know I have him on the respirator only to help his lungs heal, they still sound and look good considering. There is nothing showing up from the Cat Scan or MRI that give us any cause to panic over him not rousing from his state of unconsciousness. Just keep talking to him, reassuring him and letting him know that you’re there. He will wake up when his body is ready.”
“You of course are approved to stay Gibbs, so no worries there. Just do what you normally do and bring him back; I have no doubt that you will do just that.” He waved goodbye as he walked out the door. Shortly after that, they all decided that they needed to leave Gibbs and Tony alone so they said their goodbyes to both men promising to return.
After everyone had left, Gibbs pulled his chair up to the bed and grabbed Tony’s hand. “I’m not sure if I have the words to tell you how the rings made me feel. I feel like I won the lottery; you chose me, a battered old Marine for your partner in life. Tony, you know every one of my flaws, my issues, and everything that I never let show, yet you still chose me.”
“The rings are perfect, beautiful and I am so amazed that you designed them.” Gibbs struggled to put it all in words. “I’m not ready for you to leave me, really not sure if I ever will be, but we just started and I want more Tony, I need more. I wish we hadn’t wasted so much time and I wish I could go back and head slap us both, but I can’t. So you need to come back to me. I love you.” Gibbs fell asleep with his head on Tony’s bed, his hand firmly in his grasp.
Days and nights began to blend into one another and Christmas came and went. There was still no change in Tony’s condition. He hadn’t regained consciousness, but the doctors were adamant that there was nothing causing it; that he would come out of it. Brad was pleased at how his lungs were responding and healing.
Tony’s hospital room needed a revolving door as many visitors came often to make sure both men were doing all right. Ziva made it home and joined the cast of well-wishers, reassured by all that he really was fine, just not awake yet. They all told him stories about their holidays and teased him about the gifts that he had yet to open.
Abby would whisper in his ear about super secret plans and that all he had to do was wake up. No matter how many times Gibbs asked her what they were she would just smile and say he had to wait for Tony.
A never ending supply of coffee kept finding its way to Gibbs and Cecelia made sure that he had something wonderful to eat every night.
Gibbs showered in Tony’s room and never left his side. Telling him stories about his childhood and about his time in the Marines, and anything else he could think of; plans he wanted to make, trips that he wanted them to take together, and about their future.
He had never talked so much about anything to anyone before, but he felt he needed to. He wanted to open up and share everything with Tony and talking was a huge part of that. He just looked at it as a dress rehearsal for when the man was actually awake.
Gibbs took his regular spot by the bed holding Tony’s hand and started to doze, finally drifting off to sleep. His eyes flew open sensing a change in the room but he looked around and seeing nothing started to settle back down until he felt it. He waited, afraid to move, afraid that it was a dream until he felt it again and raised his eyes to look at Tony. He was met by green eyes looking at him.
Seeing the unsure look in his blue eyes, Tony squeezed the man’s hand again and was rewarded with the smile that he loved.
“Thank God! Let me call the nurse.” Gibbs started to let go of Tony to run out the door but Tony wouldn’t let go. Looking back down at the man puzzled until he realized what he wanted. He kissed the man’s forehead and smiled.
“I’ll do better when you don’t have a tube down your throat.” The green eyes smiled at him as he went to get a nurse never even thinking about the call button in his excitement.
The nurse walked in smiling. “Well it seems you decided to join us.” Looking at his vitals, she continued. “I’m Lesley; I’ll get your doctors in here. I am certain they will be thrilled to see those green eyes of yours. Jethro told me about them, but I didn’t believe they were as he described.” She winked at Gibbs. “But I can see I was wrong.”
“I know you can’t talk, but I am just going to ask you a couple of yes or no questions that you can nod or shake your head to answer. OK?”
“Good. This silver haired was in the Navy right?”
Tony’s eyes rolled and he shook his head.
“You like being called Junior?”
Lesley chuckled. “You work for NCIS?”
“Did Dr. Pitt break your leg in a college football game?”
“Ok, that will do it. Everything looks good. It’s possible after the doctors get here we can get that tube out of you. Just take it easy and I’ll get those scallywag doctors of yours in here.” Lesley bustled out of the room to get things moving.
Sitting back down beside the man at a loss for words for the first time in over a week, they merely held each other’s gaze and that said more than enough.
Brad walked in the room smiling. “You know just because you managed to wake up on New Year’s Eve doesn’t mean you get to party.”
Tony rolled his eyes.
“Everything does look really good and I have been more than pleased with how your lungs are healing so why don’t we remove the breathing tube? Let’s get some ice in here first so we’re ready.” And no sooner than the words left his mouth, Lesley walked back in with a pitcher, cup, spoon, and straw.
“Excellent. You know the drill, gonna be uncomfortable but it’s quick and soon there will be relief. You ready?”
Seeing Tony nod he looked at him and pulled the tube. Prepared for the coughing, Gibbs got behind the younger man helping to calm down the physical jarring, knowing his ribs still were tender. Tony finally settled and sat back fairly relaxed as he was offered a spoon of ice chips even before he spoke.
Brad watched with a smile on his face. “Lesley tells me your brain is still working so how do you feel other than that? Do you need anything for pain?”
Tony shook his head before speaking. “Ribs hurt like a bitch from coughing, but I can manage”, his voice rough and scratchy.
“Alright then, I’ll check on you much later in the morning. Good to see you back with us.”
Alone again Gibbs looked at Tony. “Scared me this time Tone. I was so worried.”
“I’m not ready to leave you Jet. Too much we need to do. Is it really New Year’s Eve?”
“Damn. I missed our first Christmas.” Tony looked so dejected at the thought.
“No you didn’t, not really. The official day may have passed, but we haven’t celebrated, so you missed nothing. We can have Christmas when we get home.”
“I like that logic.” He spied the box on the table by his bed. He looked at Gibbs through his eyelashes. “How did you get those?”
Smiling as he took the younger man’s hand. “Jimmy retrieved them from the car.” He placed his finger under Tony’s chin and gently lifted his head. “I love them. I’m amazed and touched by the design and what it means.”
“I love you. I love who you are and I wanted that to show. I’m sorry I couldn’t give it to you, but not sorry Jimmy did.” Gibbs leaned over and gave him a gentle kiss.
“He handed me a box Tone, you will indeed be the one giving it to me.” He stole another kiss before pulling away.
“I had better call the team before they find out you’re awake and start a riot.” He pulled out his phone and called Ducky.
He didn’t have a chance to say anything at first.
“He’s fine Duck. He’s awake and cognizant. Brad removed the breathing tube.”
“That would be great Duck, I would appreciate that.”
“I am sure there will be hoards of visitors.”
“He will Duck, I promise you that.”
“Ducky is calling the team and letting them know. You’re supposed to take it easy as am I.” Gibbs smiled. “And we should expect the masses to arrive at some point.”
Tony patted the bed and scooted over. Not needing a second invitation, he climbed in beside the younger man and gently pulled him closer and they both fell asleep peacefully in each other’s arms.
Abby, upon hearing the great news, went into full busy bee mode. The Sisters, Ziva, and Tim were helping to get everything set up after she convinced them both it would be perfect for the two men. Tim and Ziva shrugged and there they were, decorating the small room while the Sisters cooked and baked.
They only had a few hours to get the first part done, visit Tony and Gibbs and make some sort of excuse so that they could finish it up. But as Abby looked around, she knew it was going to be perfect. Tony and Gibbs deserved that and more, but this she could do.
The trio went down to visit Tony, keeping the plans secret from them. While Tim was keeping the two occupied, Abby filled in Ducky and Jimmy who both fought to keep the smiles off their faces upon hearing her plan. They called for more reinforcements.
The two men looked at everyone suspiciously but no one was budging. The day flew by and before long it was a forty five minutes till midnight.
The group looked around and was thrilled with how everything looked. The twinkling lights set off the stained glass beautifully and the few flowers were perfect. The tables were loaded with food and a few presents and Ziva had the camera ready to capture it all. Sister Rosita smiled at everyone and nodded.
“This is perfect. Beautifully done. Now go get them.”
Abby headed down to Tony’s room and was too excited for words as she walked in the door.
“Gibbs you need to change into the jeans and white button down that I brought you, it’s in the bathroom. Tony we just need to get you in a shirt and Gibbs can get you in some sweats. There is somewhere you both need to be.” Abby handed Tony a shirt and helped when he needed it, grabbing the rings while the two men were busy.
Gibbs walked out dressed as directed and Tony nearly fell out of the bed. How could such a simple white button down shirt and jeans look so sexy? Gibbs smirked at his reaction before going to help him.
“You have any idea what’s going on?”
“Nope. Not a clue, but it looks like we will be finding out soon.”
Abby had left the room to let Tony get sweats on and came back with a wheelchair. “Hop in. Places to go, people to see.” She was practically bouncing up and down and the two men couldn’t help but to get caught up in her enthusiasm.
She grabbed the chair after Tony was settled with a blanket over his lap and started wheeling him out the door calling to Gibbs. “Hurry up slowpoke you don’t want to be late and miss it.” Laughing he followed her out the door to the elevator.
Going up two floors, she pushed the chair out the door and into the old chapel of Bethesda. Stopping in front of the doors, she looked at both men that she loved so very much.
“This is for the both of you from all of us. We love you both and all of us think it’s great that you finally got your acts together and admitted how you feel. No more time to waste. The New Year is going to be here soon and you need to begin it together as a united couple.”
Before either man could respond, even if they could find their voices, she pushed open the doors and they were blown away. There were twinkle lights everywhere, food and drink, their friends and it was beautiful. Then Gibbs heard a voice behind him.
Jackson chuckled. “Of course, son. I wouldn’t miss this for the world. That is if you two accept what these fine friends of yours have gone and done. I know it’s a bit overwhelming but their hearts were sure in the right place. Guess it depends on the two of you.” He looked at his son. “You know I always liked him better than any of your ex-wives.”
Gibbs chuckled. “You never met them.”
“Exactly.” He looked down at Tony in the chair. “You always have made Leroy here smile and remember life is good. Seems it’s fitting that you join the family officially, don’t you think so son?”
Tony beamed at Jackson. “Yes sir, I do believe it is.” Jackson moved away feeling that they needed a moment alone.
“Jethro, this part may be a surprise, but you saw what was in the box, the rings. Two of them because I wanted to put one on your finger as you put one on mine claiming each other.” He gestured around. “This maybe more official than I dreamed, but I want that. I want to be yours as much as I want you to be mine. Married, committed, joined or in a partnership. It doesn’t matter to me what we call it only that we are joined together in some fashion.”
He looked up at Gibbs. “Leroy Jethro Gibbs will you do me the great honor of joining our lives together in every way that they can be, to be by my side always and to love me as I love you?”
Gibbs smiled. “Yes. There is no one else I would want to do any of that with but you.” He leaned down and kissed Tony regardless of the countless eyes upon them.
“I don’t have the rings.”
Abby bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet and beaming spoke up. “Yes you do.”
Gibbs pushed Tony to the altar and they stood facing each other as Abby handed them each a ring.
“Do you wish to recite your own vows from the heart?” The pastor asked smiling.
The two men nodded.
Jethro took Tony’s hand as he looked into the green eyes that shined with more love than he ever expected to have again.
“Tony, I never expected to feel this way ever again. I had it once and figured that was all I was allowed. I married my wives trying to recapture something that none of them could give me, so I closed down. And then I met you. You wouldn’t take no for an answer and every time I pushed you pushed back and for the first time I felt like loving again.”
“To say I was surprised would be an understatement, but in a good way. I love your smile and the way you make me laugh. I love the way you care about everyone and always make sure they are cared for. But I love the fact that you’re you, no matter what anyone says or does, you stay constant. I even love when you talk through a movie.”
“I want to share every day and night with you until my last breath and then know that someday you will join me there. I love you.”
Tony moved by every word, struggled to keep control.
“I think I loved you from that first tackle in Baltimore, may not have known it then, but knew it was something different. I filled my life with one nighters’ not even sure what I was looking for but knowing none of them were it.”
“You kept me even after I gave you reasons to toss me out and you never once gave up on me. I love your loyalty and strength of conviction. I love watching you build something from nothing with your hands. I didn’t know what a true love was until you.”
“Never thought it was something I would have or deserved. But you are more than I dreamed and as we grew together in friendship, our bond grew stronger until I can’t tell where you and I begin or end. We fit together like two puzzle pieces and we always have.”
“Every day I am thankful for you and love you more than they day before. I love you.”
“Please take your rings and place them on each other’s fingers.” The pastor directed.
The rings, so uniquely the two men, were slid on their fingers as though they always belonged there and were merely waiting, as the pastor said the words. “I now pronounce you husband and husband. Let’s seal the joining with a kiss.
Leaning down to Tony Jethro mouthed the words I love you and captured his lips as the clock struck midnight.
‘Happy New Year’s’, ‘congratulations’, and ‘it’s about damn time’ rang out through the small chapel.But the two men never noticed as they were lost in one another celebrating their first New Year’s together as a newly married couple.