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Moving Forward

by: ksl (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 030 Word Count: 111544
Rating: ADULT
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Alternate Universe
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Episode(s): 4-03 Singled Out
Summary: An AU where Tony accepts the position in Rota, Spain when Shepard offered it in season four.

Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30

Previous Chapter

Tony blinked, frowning at the darkness as he groggily tried to figure out why he was awake.

He reached instinctively for the warm body he’d gone to bed with. The sheets were still warm, but beginning to cool. Gibbs was no longer in bed with him. Tony cocked his head, listening. There were no sounds coming from the in suite bathroom, and no light leaked from under the door. Wherever Gibbs was, he wasn’t nearby.

Tony sighed, and rubbed tiredly at his eyes. He’d thought the delicious meal they’d eaten and the round of gentle lovemaking that had followed would be enough to make it easy for both of them to sleep the night through.

“Clearly, I was wrong about that,” Tony muttered.

He slid out from under the covers, shivering as the cool air hit his bare skin. He turned on the bedside lamp, unwilling to stumble around in the dark. He squinted and winced in the face of the sudden illumination, regretting turning it on but grateful for the ability to see clearly. Tony cursed quietly as he rifled through Gibbs’ dresser looking for something to wear. While he and Gibbs were roughly the same height, they did not have quite the same build.

Tony rolled his eyes, annoyed with himself for not wanting to wear the dirty clothes he’d discard earlier and being vain enough to care about how Gibbs’ clothes would fit at three in the morning. Like anyone other than Gibbs would see him? And really… would Gibbs care that the sweatpants he found were a little too short or the t-shirt was too snug across his shoulders? No, no he wouldn’t.

Tony’s bare feet made little noise as he padded quietly down the stairs. He thought Gibbs had headed for the basement. It had been the man’s refuge for years so it made sense he’d have headed there to work through whatever was keeping him from sleeping.

Tony stopped at the bottom of the stairs, his attention caught by the flicking light coming from the living room. Gibbs had banked the fire when they’d headed upstairs earlier. By now it should have been little more than embers.

Tony made his way across the hall and into the living room. Gibbs was on the couch, sipping what was likely bourbon and staring into the fire. He was wearing an old pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. It was his usual wood working attire.

Tony frowned. So why wasn’t he in the basement? Was this more serious than sanding wood could fix? Hell, Tony’s own tried and true method of old movies and junk food failed from time to time, but he’d never known Gibbs’ choice to let him down.

Gibbs looked up when Tony hesitantly crossed the threshold. He didn’t look startled by Tony’s presence, merely curious. “What are you doing up?”

“Could ask you the same thing.”

Gibbs shrugged one shoulder, blue eyes once more on the fire. “Couldn’t sleep.”

Tony moved to sit on the couch, opting for the opposite end from Gibbs. He was tempted to snuggle in to the warmth and comfort the older man represented, but hesitated, not sure if Gibbs wanted him that close. The man had left him alone in bed. Maybe he wanted some distance. Maybe he didn’t want Tony here.

Gibbs looked at him. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“You didn’t.” Tony smiled, pleased by the conciliatory tone. Not an apology exactly, but definitely not a rejection either. At least Gibbs wasn’t ignoring him or shutting him out completely.

Tony sighed silently. He hadn’t felt Gibbs leave the bed, heard him get dressed or even sensed Gibbs had left the room. He’d always been a sound sleeper, but that was ridiculous even by Tony’s standards. He must have been more tired than he realized.

“Why are you up then?” Gibbs asked, sipping his drink again.

“Bed got cold.”

Gibbs gave him a sharp glance. “You warm enough?’

“I’m fine.” Tony said, unconsciously folding his arms across his chest to hold in body heat.

“C’mere.” Gibbs waved him closer.

Tony scooted closer, not quite sitting in Gibbs’ lap, but close to it. He rested his head on Gibbs’ shoulder with a sigh, relaxing into him. Gibbs offered him his glass. Tony took a sip before handing it back.

“Why couldn’t you sleep, Jethro?”

Gibbs wrapped his arm more tightly around Tony’s shoulders. “Too much on my mind.”

“Shepard?” It was natural for Gibbs to be thinking about her. Hell, Tony might have lain awake thinking about her too if not for the fact that sex with Gibbs had put everything else out of his mind.

“Among other things.” Gibbs rubbed his hand up and down Tony’s arm, deftly avoiding the bandage wrapped around his bicep.

“Like?” Tony asked quietly. He wasn’t sure if he should keep pushing or not, but he figured Gibbs would tell him to shut up if he went pushed too hard.

“SecNav mentioned who he’d be looking at to replace her.”

Tony frowned. “He want you to take the job?”

Gibbs chuckled and then placed a kiss in Tony’s hair. “Not just no, hell no. The man knows me too well to even consider putting me in the big chair.”

“Well, other than the political aspect, I think you’d make a good director.”

Gibbs snorted. “Tony the job is more politics than not.”

“True.” Tony grinned. “But you’d kick ass at the rest of it.”

Gibbs gave his shoulders a squeeze. “Thank you for the endorsement, but I don’t want the job.”

“So who does SecNav want to fill the big chair?” And more importantly why is that keeping Gibbs’ awake?

“Assistant Director from the west coast.”

Tony frowned, trying to remember who that was. He’s never had much dealing with the West Coast when he was in DC. He had even less now that he was in Spain.

“Lance?”

“Close.” Gibbs rubbed his cheek against the top of Tony’s head. “Leon Vance.”

Tony was fairly certain he’d never me the man, but Gibbs had a lot more time in with the agency. And he’d met a lot of people.

“You know him?”

“Yeah.”

Tony pulled away enough to make eye contact. “He that bad?”

“Not bad, just a stickler for the rules.”

Tony smiled. “So are you.”

“My rules.” Gibbs’ eyes narrowed in a mild glare. “I’m a stickler for my rules.”

“Right.” Tony nodded. “And Vance is a stickler for the agency’s rules?”

“Yeah.”

Tony cocked his head to one side. “I know you don’t always toe the letter of regulations, but you aren’t usually so far outside the line—“

“There is a mandatory age limit for field agents.”

“There is?” Tony blinked. “Hunh. I didn’t know that.”

It wasn’t all that surprising he wouldn’t know that. Tony had never actually read the NCIS regulations from cover to cover. He knew the parts he needed to and pretty much ignored everything else. Which is why he had no idea the agency recommended using comp time rather than having to pay agents for it at year-end until one of the HR clerks mentioned it when she’d reviewed Tony’s time sheets. He’d been working for NCIS almost four years by then.

Gibbs grimaced, took another sip of his drink and then set it aside. “I’ll be too old to be an active field agent in six months.”

Tony had never given the difference in their ages much thought. Gibbs didn’t seem old. Older, sure, but not old. Tony could personally attest to how fit Gibbs was. The man was still strong, lean, stomach still flat. Sure he had a bad knee, but so did Tony. It hadn’t slowed either of them down…much. And yeah, Gibbs needed reading glasses, but his vision was still keen, his aim still spot on. His mind was razor sharp and his instinct still good.

“You really think Vance would bench you?” Tony sighed and rested his head on Gibbs’ shoulder again. That didn’t seem likely to Tony. “Your still the best team lead NCIS has.” Probably the best they’d ever have in Tony’s opinion.

“Not so sure about that.” Gibbs tightened his hold on Tony, pulling him closer. “I missed a lot of shit that was going on with my team. Shit I would have noticed and dealt with before it got out of hand.”

“My leaving—“

“Not just you leaving, Tony.” Gibbs sighed heavily and rested his cheek on Tony’s head again. “Shepard didn’t get sick over night. I should have noticed. Seen something. Bahl was on my team for months and I never cared enough to notice how badly Ziva and McGee were treating him. Hell, I didn’t even know his first name.”

“You didn’t know Burley’s either.”

“I knew it, I just never used it.” Gibbs cleared his throat. “I didn’t see how far apart my team had drifted. I never noticed McGee struggling. I never checked to see if he was doing okay as my senior agent.”

“He should have come to you. Bahl too.”

“You saw it.” Gibbs countered. “They didn’t need to come to you.”

“No I didn’t. Well, Bahl yeah, that I noticed. But that’s the sort of thing I usually do pick up on.”

The treatment Bahl was getting was too blatant for Tony to miss, but he could see Gibbs not noticing. It wasn’t something the older man typically paid much attention to. Team dynamics had never bee of interested unless it got in the way, and regardless of how badly Bahl was being treated, it hadn’t affected the team’s job performance. A certain amount of hazing of the new guy was a given. And it was McGee’s job, as senior agent to step up to the plate and take care of Bahl, to see to it that the hazing didn’t get out of hand or go too far.

“McGee… he had to say something.” McGee had a lot he’d needed to say and it was good they’d cleared the air. “I wasn’t clued in there any more than you were.”

Tony rubbed his cheek against Gibbs’ chest. “I didn’t see anything more wrong with Shepard than you did.” Tony was fairly certain the only one who saw anything wrong with her was Ducky. And Ducky had the inside track. He knew her health was failing.

“I never realized Ziva’s got abandonment issues big enough to fill a stadium.” In hindsight he should have. It made a lot of sense that her daddy issues and desire to keep something good in her life for herself would affect her attitude and actions. Hell Tony had his own daddy issues and knew they still colored his perceptions even as he tried hard not to let them.

“I missed shit too, Boss. Everyone does.”

Tony raised his head to make eye contact. “And you see it now. You can do something about it.”

“For how long?” Gibbs countered. “Vance could bench me in a few months.”

Tony understood Gibbs concern. Hell, he’d had similar fears every time he screwed up, but Gibbs hadn’t done anything to warrant being sidelined. The man hadn’t done anything unpardonable except get older. Surely the new Director would see that. Even if he didn’t there was no point in borrowing trouble yet.

Gibbs was the best NCIS had. Everyone knew that. Even Vance had to know that. No matter how big a stickler he was for following the rules, Tony was sure an exception could be made. Exceptions had been made before.

“Vance might bench you, but that doesn’t mean he will. You shouldn’t worry about that until he’s actually in the big chair and starts laying down the law.”

Gibbs sighed. “Even if he doesn’t take the job or push the retirement issue, I’m not sure I want to do this any more.”

Tony stared at him. Had this case gotten to Gibbs’ more than Tony realized? It isn’t every day you work to take down your former partner, someone you’d cared a lot about, but this case hadn’t been nearly as intense as some they’d worked together. It wasn’t nearly as hard as working Pacci’s murder, or going after Ari. There were no children involved, no devastated spouses to be consoled, no traumatized victims to comfort and protect. There wasn’t anything that pushed obvious buttons.

“Might not seem like it right now, but there are a lot of positives that come with the job,” Tony reminded him. The job might not be so appealing at the moment, but once the sun came up and Gibbs remembered there was more too it than betrayal and madness, he’d stop worrying about whether or not he wanted to do it.

“You help a lot of people,” Tony offered. “You do a lot of good.”

“I know.”

That didn’t sound convincing to Tony. He tried again. “You love being an agent.”

“Yeah, well, I love you too.”

Tony’s jaw dropped. He had to have misheard that. “You what?”

“I love you.” Gibbs smiled hesitantly, intense gaze locked on Tony. “I know I should have found a better way to say it. Maybe picked a better time. Waited and done something romantic, like from one of your movies, but I was never good at that kind of thing. Ever. “

Gibbs bit his lower lip. “And I’ve already wasted a lot of time. Seems stupid to waste any more.”

Tony took a moment to absorb what Gibbs had said. Gibbs didn’t say things he didn’t mean. He loved him. That was…wow…it was just so much to take in. It wasn’t something he’d expected to hear. Hoped for, yes, most definitely but he hadn’t thought Gibbs would actually say the words…or mean them when he did. Tony felt oddly light and grounded at the same time. Gibbs was still talking, but Tony had stopped listening, too lost in the earlier declaration and what it meant.

Gibbs shook him. “Tony…hey…you with me here?”

Tony smiled. He leaned in and kissed him. “Love you too.”

“Yeah, I know. I finally figured that out.” Gibbs smiled back at him, warm and content. Tony couldn’t remember ever seeing him look that way before.

“I should have caught on a lot sooner. A hell of a lot sooner.” There was a lot of regret in Gibbs’ voice.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Tony grinned. “You got it now.”

“Yeah, and now that I have you, I don’t want you to go. Ever.” Gibbs raised a hand to cup Tony’s face, thumb gently caressing his cheek. “I’ve done the long distance romance thing before. It sucks.”

Tony tilted his face into Gibbs’ touch. He didn’t have any experience in long distance relationship. Truth be told, he didn’t have any real experience in long-term relationships, but Tony was confident Gibbs was right. Being thousands of miles apart was not any fun. He’d been dreading going back to Spain and leaving Gibbs behind ever since they’d managed to have their first real conversation.

“There isn’t a position for me in DC.” Tony winced. It was a stupid thing to say. The man had just said he loved him, and now he was saying the job was more important. Stupid, so stupid, Tony mentally berated himself.

“No, there isn’t a position for you in DC. And there is no way to know when there would be an opening. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t come to Spain.”

Tony blinked. “You’d come to Spain?”

“Yeah. I would.”

“But what about—“

“My career as a field agent might not be for much longer, and I don’t want to ride a desk. Franks was my age when he retired. They were going to bench him, and I understand why he didn’t fight it.”

Gibbs smiled sadly. “I didn’t at the time but I do now. Looking back on it, a lot of things make more sense than they did.”

Gibbs curled his hand around the back of Tony’s skull and gently guided his head back onto his shoulder. “Other than the job, there isn’t much holding me here.”

“But what about Abby, McGee, Ducky---“

“They are all adults. Functional, capable people. And I haven’t been there for any of them much in the past year. Not in any real sense. I’ve gone through the motions and so have they. I think maybe my leaving would be good for all of us. If I do it right this time.”

“A proper good-bye would probably help.”

“Probably.” Gibbs laughed softly.

The last time Gibbs left, the team had been devastated. They’d all been so reliant on him it had been hard to imagine life at NCIS without him around. They’d all seen him as invincible, infallible, strong and unbending. It had been a shock to discover he was human and breakable. And it was just as much a shock for Gibbs as it had been for his team, Tony thought wryly.

But this time his leaving wouldn’t be the result of an injury, it wouldn’t be a decision made out of pain and anger. Tony thought that might make all the difference. If everyone knew Gibbs was formally stepping down this time because he’d thought it out, weighed the options and chose to do so.

And they all knew how to survive without him; they might not like it, but this time they knew Gibbs’ leaving wasn’t the end of the world. The team wasn’t the cohesive unit had once been, but Gibbs leaving might just be the impetus they needed to recapture what they’d had. It might be the push they all needed to value what they’d had and recreate it. Hell, it had worked for Tony, no reason it couldn’t work for Ziva, McGee, Bahl, Abby, Ducky and Palmer.

“I won’t be abandoning them this time either.” Gibbs looked determined. “It’s not like I can’t learn how to stay in touch.”

Tony smirked. “You have never been good at that.”

“It will do me good to pick up a new skill.”

Yes, yes it would, Tony silently agreed. It would help to reassure the others that Gibbs hadn’t left them high and dry this time. They could keep the ties they’d formed and make them stronger.

“What about your house?”

“I can rent out the house or sell it. There are a lot of good memories here, some great ones even, but I think it might be time for me to let go of the past a bit.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Tony protested. He knew how much this house meant to Gibbs. He knew how much Shannon and Kelly meant to him.

“No, I don’t have to Tony. I want to.”

“Are you sure?”

“You saying you don’t want me to come to Spain?”

“Of course I want you with me. Don’t be stupid.” Tony lightly smacked Gibbs’ chest. “I just don’t want you to…regret it.”

A lot of people in Tony’s life had found reason to walk away. And while he knew it wasn’t his fault, at least not entirely his fault, some part of him felt like it was. He couldn’t help thinking he was deficient in some fashion; something was fundamentally wrong with him that people eventually always saw.

Gibbs put a finger under Tony’s chin and gently tilted his face upward. “Hey…I’m not going to regret this.” He smiled. “Nothing has been right since you left. If retiring and following you to Spain means I’m going to get the life I want to have, the life we both deserve, I’m all for it.”

Tony searched blue eyes for confirmation. He didn’t see any doubt, no hesitation. “You really mean it.”

“I really mean it,” Gibbs confirmed. “I was stupid to ever let you go at all, and I’m not making the same mistake twice.”

Tony laughed, unable to contain the happiness bubbling up inside of him. “I love you, Leroy Jethro Gibbs.”

“I love you, Anthony David DiNozzo.”

Gibbs kissed him soundly.

“So you think we’ve settled enough you can come back to bed?”

Gibbs grinned. “We going to go to sleep?”

Tony grinned back, waggling his eyebrows. “Eventually.”
****************** ************** ***************** **************
Epilogue:

Gibbs sighed contentedly, sipping his coffee. It had taken him just a day to find a place in Rota that made coffee the way he liked it. It was a definite bonus that it was only a short walk from the apartment he shared with Tony. The proprietor, Antonio, knew his name and liked to make small talk when Gibbs stopped in. Not that Gibbs ever needed to say much; Antonio, much like Tony, could talk enough for both of them. Listening to him over the four months he’d been in Spain had improved Gibbs’ grasp of the local dialect and made it easier to understand what was being said.

Not that it mattered much. Most of the time Gibbs went places with Tony or his team, so there was always someone who could readily communicate with the locals if Gibbs failed to figure out how to do it for himself.

The sun was bright, the sky an intense blue with no clouds in sight. Gibbs took a deep breath, enjoying the smell of the ocean. It was going to be hot today.

Gibbs made his way down the street to a small furniture shop he’d found one day while exploring the neighborhood. The owner had been delighted when he discovered Gibbs knew enough about woodworking to offer capable assistance. Gibbs now spent a few days a week refinishing old furniture, restoring various pieces to their once pristine condition.

Days he didn’t spend working at the shop, he spent working as a consultant primarily helping out Tony’s team. It helped keep his mind sharp and he liked being involved, even if only indirectly. Tony’s team seemed to accept him, and had no objections to letting Gibbs have input. Gibbs was proud that his insights and instincts were still useful.

He knew Tony didn’t mind having him participate, but he limited his time at the office. Gibbs didn’t want to step on Tony’s toes, even accidentally. And in all honesty, he found himself enjoying having the freedom to spend his days doing other things. He liked coming home at night and having Tony talk about his day, letting his lover share the details and events as he saw them unfold. He liked being able to tell Tony about his day as well. It was a novel concept, one that hadn’t yet lost its appeal, and Gibbs doubted it ever would.

Being at the office at least once a week made it easier to stay in touch with his old teammates and keep tabs on how they were doing. The satellite feed was better there than anything they could rig up at home. So Gibbs could ‘see’ them all, and they could see him. It was satisfying in a way he’d never expected to see them settling in and succeeding without him there every day. He suspected it was what he might have felt if Kelly had made it to adulthood, gone off to college and then started her own life.

He went to the beach several times with Tony and Mouse, but neither had been able to convince him to try surfing. He preferred to watch them rather than join in. Miri had been correct when she said the wet suit Tony wore left little to the imagination. It was not much less revealing than the board shorts Tony opted to wear now that summer had arrived.

Just seeing so much skin had made Gibbs’ heart beat faster. It had taken more than one pointed glare to keep several female beach goers from approaching Tony. And Gibbs had come close to punching at least one guy for trying to flirt with Tony.

He hadn’t tried rock climbing yet, but Miri was persistent in her efforts to convince him to give it a try. Gibbs had so far dissuaded Tony from base-jumping with her, but he was pretty sure it was a lost cause. It didn’t seem particularly safe to Gibbs, but then surfing wasn’t exactly safe either. The shark bite scars on Mouse’s leg readily attested to that.

Gibbs had opted to keep his house in Virginia. McGee and Palmer checked on the place, made sure it was safe and secure. It would still be there for them when Tony finished his stint in Rota, and would offer them a place to stay whenever they went back to DC. They already had plans to return for the Christmas holiday. For the first time in years, Gibbs was looking forward to Christmas.

Gibbs stepped into the small shop, waving casually in acknowledgement when the owner’s son greeted him. The young man would be going off to college soon.

Gibbs was working on a wedding chest from the sixteenth century. The rosewood had held up amazingly well, but several of the carved details needed to be replaced. Recreating the intricate work had kept Gibbs busy for some time.

He lost track of time as he worked, his focus on the task at hand. He sipped his coffee occasionally, consuming the dark, bitter brew slowly over the course of several hours.

The sound of someone clearing his throat made Gibbs look up. Tony grinned at him. Gibbs hadn’t even heard him come in.

“You free for lunch, Boss?”

Gibbs made a show of looking at his work before grinning back. “I think I can squeeze you in.”

“Excellent.”

Gibbs shrugged out of the leather apron he wore to protect his clothing. He’d taken to wearing it when Tony had started surprising him by showing up looking for a lunch date.

Tony leaned in and gave Gibbs a quick kiss. Gibbs returned in.

As they stepped out into the warm, afternoon sunshine, Tony brushed his shoulder against Gibbs’. “Good day.”

Gibbs smiled and bumped him back. “Yes, yes it is.”

Every day with Tony was a good day.

It wasn’t where he expected his life to be, or where he’d thought he’d end up, but Gibbs had decided that this was so much better. His old life had been stagnant, mired in the past. This life, the one he was making with Tony was fresh, focused on here and now as well as the future. They were moving forward, together.


The end

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