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Long Time Coming

by: taylorgibbs (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 002 Word Count: 6838
Rating: MATURE
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Hurt/Comfort
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Episode(s): 6-09 Dagger
Summary: Tony makes Gibbs a Thanksgiving meal, and gets something much more significant in exchange.

Author Notes: Thanks to Anna for the beta.

Chapters: 1 | 2

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1

Spoilers for Dagger.
The shelter is fictional.

Tony had been working for hours to make the perfect Thanksgiving dinner as a surprise for Bossman. Gibbs had been injured in the gun battle on the bus and when Abby had questioned him about his plans, all Gibbs had done was shrug. She’d passed the news on to Tony, her frustration at the fact that her mother was coming to town easy to see. She couldn’t be there for Gibbs much as she might have wanted to and Tony had to be the go-to guy. Not that he minded. He’d almost lost Bossman too, and he needed to be close by, especially on the holidays.

Especially on Thanksgiving.

So Tony had been cooking for hours. He’d done his best job, spending most of the time on the phone to the Butterball help line. And now he’d brought his meal over to Gibbs’ empty house. Tony had no idea where Gibbs could be, but he was getting a little worried. He probably wasn’t taking his painkillers, but that nasty compound fracture of Gibbs’ finger had to hurt like hell.

After calling Jackson, who had no idea where Gibbs was or what had happened, Tony tried the entire team. Ziva was spending time with her Israeli friends and some guy named Michael was in her personal space as she’d spoken with him. She actually giggled, and Tony found himself smiling briefly. Maybe she was moving on from Roy, who’d died before they’d gotten to really explore their connection.

McGee was at some kind of Elf Lord gaming thing, Ducky was with his mother alone, Palmer had driven to New Jersey to be with his family, and Abby’s mom had come up from New Orleans. For a team who had been so fired up about getting back together, they’d quickly headed off to the four winds when the first “family” holiday came up.

Tony swallowed back the bitter bite of loneliness and sighed. This was what he had to work with; his crappy food and all, but it was something. Tony knew that even if Gibbs never admitted it, he’d appreciate the effort.

Tony waited another hour and then started to get a little nervous. This wasn’t like Gibbs; the man was a homebody. And with all the craziness of the past few months—Jenny’s death, the team splitting up, the betrayal by the Kileys, the mole and having to kill one of his agents up close and personal—Tony had fully expected him to be wedged in his basement so tight a crowbar would have to be used to wrench him out.

With one final sigh, Tony flipped his phone open. He’d try Gibbs one last time, and if that didn’t work out, he’d ask McGee to trace the number. Tony knew that Gibbs was a capable Marine who could more than handle himself, but he didn’t like the idea of Bossman being alone on the holiday. He barely resisted the urge to poke through Gibbs’ mail, knowing he shouldn’t disturb the man’s inner sanctum if he ever wanted respect from Gibbs. And he did. Tony had missed Gibbs so damned much when he’d been away—much more than anyone else.

The phone rang three times before it was picked up. “Hello?”

The voice was young and female, not at all what Tony had expected. He stood, reaching for the keys he’d tossed on the table littered with his casserole dishes.

“Hey,” Tony said, trying to keep his voice relaxed and non-threatening. “Is this your phone?”

“Who is this?” the girl asked.

“Tony. And I need to talk to the man who owns this phone. It’s real important.” He wanted to ask how she’d gotten her hands on the phone, if she’d found it somewhere or what.

The girl sighed dramatically in the way only teenagers can. “He’s busy. Can I take a message for him?”

Was he being stonewalled by a kid? Deciding to go with charm rather than fury, Tony continued. “Busy doing what? I’m with NCIS and we work together and it’s really important.”

“Duuuh! Why didn’t you say so? Hold on.”

Tony heard a lot of rustling and voices and catalogued what he was learning. The voices were echoing and there were far too many for it to be a small get together. When he heard Gibbs’ commanding tone rise out of the din, Tony breathed a sigh of relief, muscles unclenching.

“Gibbs said he’s not on call today, so call one of the other teams,” the smug teenaged voice replied.

“Yeah, I’ll do that,” Tony replied. “Can you tell me where he is so that I can log it in my report?”

“The Northeast Shelter.”

“The homeless shelter?” Tony asked. He knew the area—it was one of the rougher ones in DC and the shelter was close to the VA hospital.

“Yep. And he’s working really hard here and his hand is hurt, so he can’t work for you.” Tony could almost hear the smirk in the girl’s voice before she disconnected.

It all made perfect sense to Tony. That shelter was near the VA hospital and naturally there were a lot of the homeless vets in the area, and Tony vaguely remembered a memo going around for volunteers to help serve up dinner at the attached soup kitchen. He moved quickly, making room in the fridge for his food, even though he wasn’t sure Gibbs would eat it. Tony supposed it was the thought that counted, especially on a day like this.

Calmer now and with a renewed sense of purpose, Tony strode out of Gibbs’ house. He couldn’t explain why it was so important that he made contact with Gibbs right now, but Tony knew he had to go for it. And maybe a hell of a lot more.

He’d been wrestling these complex feelings for Gibbs for years now. When they’d first started working together, there had been a connection that Tony knew was sexual. They’d flirted a lot, Gibbs using his commanding tone and Tony’s need to respect and respond to someone in authority as a teaching tool. There had been a few times when Tony had gone toe to toe with Gibbs that their connection had been electric, and Tony knew Gibbs had felt it too.

Then Kate had joined the team and Gibbs had backed off a little. Not completely, but a little. Tony had pushed; Gibbs had started with the head slaps, coming into Tony’s space on a regular basis. It was nice; it was familiar. He took what he could get.

They’d sparred every weekend for months until Gibbs had been injured in South America and then shot by Ari, and Tony missed those times. When he was pinned under Gibbs, bucking up, sweaty bodies rubbing together, lust gleaming in Gibbs’ eyes.

And it had been lust. Tony didn’t know why Gibbs had never acted on it, but he was sure it was there. They’d played with it for the two years they’d worked with Kate, and the night after she’d died, their connection had exploded in a deep kiss that had only stopped when Tony had started coughing.

The look in Gibbs’ eyes when he’d patted Tony’s cheek still haunted him. Gibbs had needed more; Tony had known it. But Gibbs’ worry for Tony and his concern that Tony had been soaking wet while looking for evidence had won out and Tony had had to make do with Gibbs wrapped around him all night. It had felt right in a way nothing ever had, but when he’d gotten out of bed the next morning, Gibbs had already been up and nothing had been mentioned again.

Then less than a year later Gibbs had been the one in the line of fire, and Tony had been so damned worried about him. He’d gone to Gibbs’ house the night he’d quit NCIS, only to find Gibbs already gone. A note had been left for Tony, one he had in a special place even now. Gibbs had written a couple of paragraphs and Tony had the sense that Gibbs had spent a lot of time crafting his words. Gibbs had put his faith in Tony and not in the flippant way he’d done in the squad room. That letter had been one of Tony’s strengths in the time Gibbs had been gone.

When Gibbs had come back, he and Tony had both quickly become bound by their own responsibilities, but Tony hadn’t stopped longing or wanting. He was sure Gibbs hadn’t either, even if Bossman was too damned upstanding to cheat on Hollis Mann and Tony had been too wrapped up with Jeanne. There were times when Gibbs gave him that look and Tony knew he wasn’t the only one who remembered what they could have had.

Tony had expected that he and Gibbs would have had words after Jeanne had been revealed and the extent of Jenny’s op had been clear, but Gibbs had been a lot nicer than Tony had expected. And they’d danced around their attraction for far too long.

When Tony had been sent afloat he’d almost expected to not see Gibbs for a long time, if ever. There was a part of Tony that had expected Gibbs would get McGee and Ziva back and forget about him. Tony had been shocked when Gibbs had moved mountains to keep in constant contact with him; Abby claimed Gibbs talked more to Tony than McGee and he hadn’t been sent to prison on a Navy ship.

He’d hoped that with the team reuniting and meeting Jackson and all that Gibbs would be more lighthearted, but then Tony had learned about the mole misdirection and everything made sense. Gibbs had almost died in the bus; the fracture of his finger and his shrapnel wounds should have been a lot worse and they all knew it.

A renewed sense of urgency to see Gibbs and assure himself that Bossman was okay rushed through Tony and he yanked himself out of his thoughts, moving quickly to his car and heading for Northeast DC.

~*~

Gibbs knew he was right where he needed to be. After all the upheaval and loss for the team this year, Gibbs didn’t really feel like giving thanks. He knew he was being unfair and that he should count his blessings. His team was home and back where they were supposed to be, and he and Jackson had taken huge steps with each other.

But the bitterness of the losses the team had weathered struck Gibbs hard—and deeply. In a year, he’d lost three agents, and even though Jenny was head of the agency, Gibbs still thought of her as his agent. He’d trained Jenny and Langer personally, had shaped them to be the agents they’d become. He hadn’t been as hands on with Michelle Lee, but the intimacy of the way she’d died—the way he’d had to kill her—was hitting him hard and cutting deep.

Gibbs hadn’t known what to do with himself during the morning, and he’d made his way over to the VA hospital, hoping to visit with some of the guys there. He should have gone to Bethesda, but his hand was bothering him so much that he didn’t dare make the drive yet. The VA was much shorter distance and he had a feeling that many of the guys there needed a friend.

One of the nurses on duty had mentioned the shelter to Gibbs, asking if he might be willing to go down and help out. That had been at oh nine hundred. Even though his hand was bandaged and his finger splinted, he did the best he could and had been serving food for a few hours now.

He looked over at Anna, the teenager who had found games on his phone and was playing them. Gibbs couldn’t understand how kids had technological homing beacons to that sort of thing. She’d been due a break and had worked her butt off, so he’d offered her his phone when she realized it could play games. Gibbs supposed he knew that; he’d seen Tony play the one game a few times.

He rocked back and forth a couple of times, trying to get comfortable. Gibbs had been locked down hard since Tuesday, had held in far more tension than he’d ever known he had. And his body was complaining now, muscle tension giving way to muscle fatigue.

“Jethro, you’ve worked for hours already and we’ve hit our rush. I’m sure you have some place to be.” Kenny, the shelter supervisor and Anna’s father, had been friendly and chatty, much more talkative than Gibbs was. His running commentary as they’d served the patrons was kinda soothing.

He did the best shrug he could under the circumstances. All he had was an empty house, a bottle of bourbon, and a boat his hand was too damn injured for him to work on. “I’m good,” he said, but he could hear the exhaustion in his voice.

Kenny angled his head and Gibbs followed the man over to an alcove. Everyone had been fed for the moment and they could abandon their food stations as long as they kept an eye on things.

“You’re the one who was in that bus shootout the other day, right? The cop who saved the day?”

Gibbs winced. The last thing he wanted to do was admit that mess, but he wouldn’t lie either. There had been pictures of the standoff put on the Internet and in the Washington Post. With all the cell phones that did pictures these days, Gibbs had expected something like this.

“Does it matter?” Gibbs asked heavily. He didn’t want to chit chat about an event that had taken his agent’s life.

“Guess not,” Kenny said quietly, before clasping Gibbs’ left hand. “Thank you, Jethro. The world needs more men like you.” He didn’t say anything more, just drifted away and leaned over his daughter. Gibbs watched them together, thinking about parents and children, what Amanda Lee had lost. And even though he tried to block the memories, times with Kelly and Shannon came rushing into his head.

And he felt alone. Gibbs didn’t like admitting that to anyone—not even himself—but the last thing he wanted to do was spend another holiday alone or at the office pretending he had someone at home who cared.

The doors to the shelter suddenly flew open and a figure rushed in, looking around wildly. Gibbs recognized the posture and moved immediately. What the hell was DiNozzo doing here?

“Gibbs!” Tony rushed across the room and without stopping or even slowing down, pulling him into a tight hug right there in front of strangers. Tony was shaking a little bit, his breathing harsh.

“Easy, DiNozzo,” Gibbs said in his most soothing voice, relaxing into the embrace. “Ya okay?”

Tony pulled back finally and Gibbs winced inwardly at the break in contact. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine, Boss. I brought over food and you weren’t home and I got worried.”

“I’m fine, DiNozzo.” Gibbs was charmed that Tony had worried about him. “Just been here helping out.”

Tony nodded, looking around. When he saw the teenager, he chuckled. “That was the one who answered your phone? I called looking for you.”

“That was her,” Gibbs confirmed. There had been a call from NCIS that he’d blown off. It must have been Tony. “You brought over food?” Gibbs asked. He was touched that DiNozzo had done that. The team had given him a wide berth for the last couple of days.

“Cooked a Thanksgiving meal myself,” Tony said. He drew himself up proudly and Gibbs arched a brow. DiNozzo wasn’t known for being a cook, so this must have taken a lot of effort; especially for a man who’d much rather watch football all day.

“Where is it? Your place or mine?”

“Yours.”

“What’re we waiting for then?” Gibbs asked. He collected his phone from Anna, promised Kenny he’d come back on weekends when he could, and they were out the door in a couple of minutes.

Gibbs wobbled slightly when he got out into the colder weather and he felt Tony’s hand gripping his wrist immediately. “I’m okay, DiNozzo,” he said in as firm a voice as he could manage. He didn’t even have a concussion and he was doing okay all things considered. Sure, maybe he’d pushed himself today, but he’d be fine.

“So?” Tony shot back good-naturedly, but Gibbs could see the concern in the younger man’s eyes.

“You can let go of me now,” Gibbs said, his voice a study in exaggerated patience.

“Yeah, I can,” Tony agreed, his grip tightening almost imperceptively. “But you need a keeper, Boss.” Tony’s voice had softened and any hint of the wise-ass was gone. Gibbs shifted his weight and Tony released his arm, their gazes locked together.

“You applying for the job?” Gibbs asked, his voice much softer than he’d intended for it to be. Tony licked his lips and stepped closer, so close that Gibbs could feel his body heat. The entire situation had changed and turned in a second and Gibbs was reminded of all the times he and Tony had played with something bigger—something more.

“You hiring?” Tony asked and there was a definite seductive edge to his voice. Gibbs’ gut clenched and he licked his own lips, watching Tony absently rub the back of his neck.

“Damned right I am. You’re hired,” Gibbs said, his voice firm and strong. He looked Tony up and down slowly, making his intent clear; though he had a feeling he didn’t need to hand Tony a roadmap.

“No turning back,” Tony said quickly, his voice warmly sensual. He jerked his head toward his car. “I’ll drive you can come back for yours later.”

“Not happening,” Gibbs shot back. In this neighborhood, he wouldn’t have a car to come back to.

“Then I’m following you,” Tony said, his eyes darkening. Even though he wasn’t happy about it, Gibbs knew that DiNozzo understood.

“Follow away. And when we get back to my place, we’re eating this dinner you made.”

“Yeah, about that, Boss…” Tony began, color staining his cheeks.

“What?”

“It probably isn’t that good.”

“Did you cook it yourself?”

“Well, yeah, Gibbs. But…”

“No buts about it. It’ll be good.” He reached over and mussed Tony’s hair, resting his hand on the back of the other man’s neck.

“And if it isn’t?”

“You think the only way to my heart is through my stomach?” Gibbs asked, his eyes locked on Tony’s as the other man absorbed the verbal intent. He made a quite rumble of satisfaction as Tony’s eyes softened and brightened, a small smile making DiNozzo appear younger all of a sudden.

“Nah, you’re more complicated than that,” Tony said. The words were nonchalant, but DiNozzo knew where this was leading, that was clear in his eyes.

“You sure you’re ready to deal with complicated?”

“Been waiting for years, Boss. Long time coming.”

This wasn’t a conversation they needed to have on the streets of Northeast. “My place. Food, then ya get to deal with as much complication as you can handle, Tony.”

“Think I can handle whatever you can give, Gibbs.”

“Somehow, I believe ya, DiNozzo.”

















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