Hoping for a Miracle

by: slashscribe (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 6757
Rating: YTEEN
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Ducky Mallard, Abby Sciuto, Ziva David, Timothy McGee, Other Male Character
Category(ies): First Time, Fluff, Holiday, Romance
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Summary: Tony's agonizing over Gibbs' Christmas present; he wants to get him something meaningful, but the only thing that comes to mind is bourbon, and that just doesn't make the cut. After a phone call to Jack, though, he gets an idea that requires a lot of effort - but, of course, Gibbs is worth it.

Chapter 1



Six Days Before Christmas

Eyes shifting left and right as he assessed the situation, Tony looked every part the serious federal agent. He waited until the elevator doors closed and then mentally counted to seven before turning his head to look first at Ziva, then at McGee with an expression that was somewhere between thunderous and stony - deadly serious with just a touch of James Bond, perhaps.

"Campfire," he said, allowing just enough mysterious edginess into his voice to convey his meaning.

Ziva looked at him in obvious bafflement. "You look like you just swallowed an elephant made of bricks," she said, making no move to get up from behind her desk.

"An elephant made of bricks?" Tony asked, mysterious edginess gone in the face of one of Ziva's strange turns-of-phrase. "What does that even mean? I don't think that's an idiom in Israeli or English, Ziva." As he realized he was getting off track, though, he cleared his throat and forced his expression to go back to serious. "I will not be derailed. Now campfire," he said.

"I thought campfires were only in effect when Gibbs is away," Ziva pointed out.

"She's got a point, Tony," McGee said with a shrug, eyes still trained on the computer screen.

"What is wrong with you people?" Tony asked. He stood up and paced around their desks as he spoke. "I am Senior Field Agent Anthony DiNozzo! When I call campfire, we have campfire!" He paused for a moment, and then conceded to Ziva's point. "And Gibbs is out of the building, so I'm officially in charge," he added, hoping he didn't sound petulant at that point.

"Actually, since he just got on the elevator a second ago, he's probably still going through security," McGee pointed out.

Tony gave him a withering glare. "That's not the point, Probie. The point is, I called a campfire because I have something really serious to discuss with you two. So maybe you should stop being Grinches and join me."

"We are not Grinches!" Ziva said, clearly offended. "You never said this campfire had anything to do with a holiday."

"Well it does," Tony said, heading to his desk and pulling his chair out from behind it. He plopped into it and used his feet to roll towards the center of their desk area, and gestured for Ziva and McGee to join him, which they did, with a few token protests in the form of sighs and eye-rolling.

"What is so important that you had to call a campfire?" Ziva asked, crossing her arms over her chest. "Our case is closed."

"First order of business is that there are now peppermint brownies in the break room. Martha in Legal made them and you should really consider having one before the guys from the mailroom eat them all. Second order of business is that we need to buy Gibbs a Christmas present."

"Oh," McGee said. "I should've known."

Tony spared him an annoyed glance, and was about to ask what he meant when Ziva interrupted.

"We? I have had his gift for months."

"What'd you get him?" Tony asked.

"A new sight for his Sniper rifle," she said. "And I am baking him gingerbread cookies. I believe they are his favorite, no?"

Tony narrowed his eyes. "That's good," he said. "Can I give you money and sign the card?"

"No," she said and wheeled back to her desk.

Tony gave a bit of a growl in response and turned to McGee, grabbing the arm of McGee's chair before he, too, could wheel away from the campfire. "Probie."

"No," McGee said.

"I didn't ask you a question," Tony pointed out.

"No," McGee repeated.

"Probie-"

"No, Tony," McGee said.

"Oh come on, McGrinch," Tony said.

"You can't sign the card on my present and pretend you helped pick it out. If you asked me this a month ago, it would've been a different story," McGee said, shoving Tony's hand off his chair and going back to his desk. Tony followed, awkwardly wheeling his own chair behind McGee, ignoring the annoyed look that McGee swiveled in his seat to give him.

"So you did get him something already?"

"Yes," McGee said. "I got him that awl he wanted."

Tony drew back as if he'd been burnt. "That's really good, McThoughtful," he said, awe edging his voice.

McGee smirked. "Of course it is. So what are yougonna get him, honey dust?"

"That was once," Tony said defensively, standing up and shoving his chair behind his desk and straightening his tie. "And it was an accident. Now if you'll excuse me, I have important things to do." He headed towards the elevator, but turned back first with a glare of warning. "And we never had this conversation!"

--

"Goth Elf Chic?" Tony asked as he strolled into Abby's lab, handing her a Caff-Pow and taking in her black and white striped stockings, black pointy-toed shoes, and black skirt adorned with a strangely macabre trim of skull-and-cross bones with holly.

Abby grinned and gratefully took the Caff-Pow, taking a long sip and then setting it down. "My favorite style this time of year," she said.

"I can tell," he replied, leaning against the counter. "Listen, Abbs, have you -"

"Yes, I have gotten Gibbs a Christmas present, and no, you cannot pay me to sign the card like we went in on it together in the first place, but nice try and thank you for the Caff-Pow," she said, taking another long sip and grinning at him.

"Wha - how -"

"Tony," Abby said gently, taking in the genuine surprise on his face. "You do this every year."

"I do not!" Tony said indignantly.

"You do," Abby said with a nod. "Exactly six days before Christmas, you realize it's time to get Gibbs' present. You put it off all year long and then you try to get ideas from all of us when you don't know what to do. And today is Monday, December 19, exactly six days before Christmas, and you're trying to get ideas from all of us because you don't know - "

"But it's so hard!" Tony complained, pulling out her stool and sitting heavily. "I mean, what do you get Gibbs?"

"I got him a coffee pot with an automatic timer that will have his coffee ready at five AM when he gets out of bed, and I even programmed it for him already," Abby said. She took another long sip and then smiled. "Beat that."

"What am I supposed to get him now?" Tony complained, running a hand through his hair in frustration. "Probie got him a tool. Ziva got him a weapon. You got him coffee. That covers every single one of his interests."

"You could get him some Old Spice," Abby said thoughtfully. "He obviously likes it since he smells like it all the time."

"Old Spice?" Tony said incredulously. "You think I should get him deodorant?"

"It also comes in body wash," Abby pointed out. "You could get him a whole kit."

"Gibbs wouldn't use body wash," Tony said, giving Abby a look as if she'd just pointed out that the grass was green.

"Oh," Abby said. "I guess you're right. I don't know, then. You could always get him honey dust again."

"That was an accident!" Tony said, standing up and shoving Abby's chair back in.

Abby grinned. "Right," she said. "Keep telling yourself that, Tony-boy."

With a scowl, Tony turned and left. When he got to the door, he turned to speak, but Abby spoke before he could get a word out.

"And no, I won't tell anyone we had this conversation."

Confused, Tony turned and left. "Am I that predictable?" he murmured as he pushed the elevator button.

"Yes, my boy, you are," Ducky said as he turned the corner and emerged from the stairwell. Tony blinked in surprise as Ducky patted his shoulder. "And for the record, Mister Palmer and I bought Gibbs a deluxe Simonizing kit for his car, as well as accompanying sprays for the tires and interior, and I bought him a nicely aged bottle of bourbon as well. And no, you cannot pay us and sign the card as it's already sealed in anticipation of this very moment six days before Christmas. And no, I will not tell anyone we had this conversation."

Ducky grinned at him and headed into Abby's lab, and Tony was left standing in the hallway, gaping, wondering what the fuck he was supposed to get Gibbs for Christmas.

--

Tony tossed his coat over the arm of his couch and sat down heavily, scrubbing a hand over his face in frustration. He'd gone shopping after work, hoping to find something for Gibbs, but nothing had seemed right. He'd seen a few sweaters he'd thought would look nice on Gibbs, but Gibbs wasn't the kind of guy to want a sweater for Christmas. He'd had the same thought about scarves, gloves, and ties, and he was beginning to feel desperate.

He wanted to get Gibbs something special, something that said exactly how important he was to him, and how meaningful Tony felt their relationship was, but he had no idea what that gift should be. He didn't want to get him something obvious, like a tool or a weapon or a coffee maker or Old Spice. He wanted to get him something personal, some kind of telling gift that would let Gibbs know how grateful Tony was to have him in his life.

He toyed with the idea of making something for Gibbs, but he didn't really have any skills that would help with that, unless he wanted to give Gibbs a finger-painting a five year old could've done, and he was pretty sure that wasn't a good idea. He thought of getting Gibbs an electronic picture frame and filling it with pictures of the team together, but that felt too, well, girly for him to give Gibbs - he felt a bit embarrassed just thinking about it. Nothing he could think of seemed adequate, and he didn't want to fall back on his old standard of liquor.

He chewed his lip for a moment as he thought, and then blinked when an idea occurred to him. There was someone he hadn't asked yet.

He pulled his phone out and scrolled through his contacts, hesitating just a moment before tapping the name "Jackson Gibbs." He drummed his fingers on his knee impatiently as the phone rang in his ear, glancing at the clock and hoping Jackson would pick up. It was only seven, so he should be home from work, at least.

After a moment, a familiar gruff voice picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"Hey, Jack? It's Tony. Tony DiNozzo," Tony said, hoping it wasn't strange to call Jack out of the blue.

"Tony!" Jack said enthusiastically. "How are you doing? How are things down in DC? Leroy treatin' you okay?"

"I'm good," Tony said, relieved that Jack seemed happy to speak with him. "And Gi - Leroy is fine, too," he added, grinning at the chance to call Gibbs 'Leroy.' "He's actually why I'm calling."

"Is he? He get himself into trouble again? I'm always telling him he - "

"No, no, nothing like that," Tony interrupted. "I just don't really know what to get him for Christmas."

"Hmm," Jack said thoughtfully. "Always was a tough one to shop for, that Leroy. He was easy when he was younger; I'd just get him a BB gun or something. These days, he's a lot harder. You could always get him some bourbon," he said.

Tony sighed. "I always get him bourbon," he said. "I wanted to get him something meaningful, though."

"Something meaningful?" Jack asked. "Then why're you asking me? It's gotta be from you if it's meaningful."

"I know," Tony said. "It's just - I really can't think of anything, Jack. Got any ideas?"

Jack laughed. "Always wanted new trains for his train set when he was a kid," he said. "But the set's just sittin' here in the basement rotting away now."

Tony thought for a moment. "Does it still work?" he asked.

"Think so," Jack said. "He was working on this one set, just needed one more freight train for it to be done. Never did get it...it was made by this company Lionel - it was Leroy's favorite. He always thought their trains were the best."

Tony blinked and the idea hit him hard, like an elephant made of bricks. "Jack, you're a genius," he said.

Jack laughed. "Glad to know somebody thinks so, been trying to tell Leroy that for decades."

Tony grinned. "Listen, I gotta go, Jack, but I'll call you soon, okay?"

"Okay, sounds good, Tony. You have a Merry Christmas, now."

"You, too, Jack. Merry Christmas."

Tony hung up the phone and then grinned in delight, heading over to his computer. He only had a few days until Christmas, but he'd make it work. He had an absolutely brilliant idea.

--

Four Days Before Christmas

Tony headed into Abby's lab with a Caff-Pow for the second time that week, grinning and whistling Christmas carols as he handed her the drink with a grandiose flourish and a bow.

Abby took the Caff-Pow with a curtsy and Tony grinned, leaning against the counter casually. "I know what I'm getting Gibbs for Christmas," he said.

"Oooh, really? What is it? Is it a flame-retardant coverall suit with heat insulation for when he's in the basement? Because I was thinking and that seems like something he should really consider, I mean - "

"Not quite," Tony interrupted, wondering for what had to be at least the millionth time exactly how Abby's thought processes worked.

Abby frowned in confusion. "Then what is it?"

Tony grinned. "It's really good," he said. "Really good. But I need your help."

"Doing what?" Abby asked. She frowned again and her eyes widened. "Oh my God. Did you kill someone? Do you need me to destroy evidence?"

"No!" Tony said incredulously. "Why would you even think that?"

"Why else would you need my help?" Abby asked.

Tony blinked and then shook his head, ignoring Abby's whole line of thought. "I was just gonna ask if you could get Gibbs out of his house for a few hours on Christmas Eve," he said. "That's all."

"Oh!" Abby said. "Of course I can! I have church at eleven that night, but maybe I could ask him to go out to dinner beforehand. That would be awesome, Tony, wouldn't it? Christmas Eve dinner with the Bossman? What time?"

"I don't really care," Tony said. "I just need a few hours...maybe three?"

"Okay!" Abby said. "What'd you get him? This is all so mysterious!"

Tony grinned and mimed zipping his lips.

"Oh, that's cruel, Tony! You have to tell me!"

Tony shook his head. "Nope. It's a secret. You'll find out - just not before Gibbs does."

Abby eyed him for a minute, and he made sure to keep his expression serious and unflinching, and then she smiled. "It must be a really good present," she said. "Good for you."

"Good for me?" Tony asked. "That doesn't really seem appropriate here."

"Of course it's appropriate," Abby replied. "Every year you agonize over what to get Gibbs for Christmas, and you always end up folding and just getting him booze or something. And this year, you're getting him something special." She paused for a moment and regarded him, and then smiled mischievously. "Maybe something that shows him just how much he means to you."

Tony gave a nervous chuckle, not sure exactly where Abby was going with this. "Well, he's been my boss for ten years," he said. "That's pretty meaningful."

Abby smiled and turned away from him, heading towards her office with her Caff-Pow. "Keep telling yourself it's just that, Tony," she said, giving him a little wave and leaving him strangely embarrassed and, not so strangely when Abby was involved, confused.

--

Three Days Before Christmas

Tony stared at the computer screen, biting his nails, his heart beating fast in anticipation. "Please, please, please," he muttered, hoping like hell he'd win.

Six agonizingly long seconds later, the gods of eBay decided to side with him, and he grinned, jumping out of his chair and pumping a fist in the air in excitement. "I won!"

He pulled his phone out of his pocket and quickly called Jack, still grinning as the phone rang in his ear, eyes trained on the eBay confirmation page that stated his achievement.

"Hello?"

"Jack? It's Tony. I won the auction!"

"You did? That's great!" Jack said enthusiastically. "Leroy's gonna love it, just you wait!"

"I hope so!" Tony said, still grinning. "I'm gonna pick it up in New Jersey tomorrow - I emailed the guy before I bid to make sure it would work out. I'm gonna fake a toothache in the morning and get the dentist's office to tell Gi - er, Leroy - that I'm there if he calls to check, and head to New Jersey right after. The plan's in action, Jack! You ready?"

"Of course I'm ready! All set on my end, Tony. Just let me know if you need anything else."

"Will do, Jack. Listen, I gotta go get a few things straightened out for this. I'll talk to you soon, okay?"

"Sounds good," Jack said happily. "Talk to you soon, Tony. Take care."

Tony hung up the phone and went straight back to his computer, still grinning as he opened up his email so he could contact the eBay seller. This was going to be the best Christmas gift he'd ever given.

--

Two Days Before Christmas

Tony wearily rang the doorbell of Jack's house in Pennsylvania, yawning blearily and shivering in the cold. Gibbs better damn well love his present or Tony was gonna kill him; he'd had a long day.

"Tony!" Jack said as he opened the door. "Come on in; it's freezing out there!" Tony smiled at him and stepped inside, the warmth of Jack's home settling into his bones the moment he stepped through the threshold. It was comforting and it almost made up for the awful day he'd had.

Jack surprised him with a hug, and Tony dropped his overnight bag and hugged him back once he'd gotten over the initial shock.

"How are you?" Jack asked as he pulled away, looking Tony over with a hand on his shoulder. "You look tired. Come on into the kitchen, I'll make you some hot chocolate."

"Hot chocolate sounds pretty good right about now," Tony said, following Jack and taking a seat at the kitchen table, glancing around and wondering if maybe the chair he was sitting in was the one Gibbs sat in when he was a little boy, and if this is what Jack used to do for Gibbs when he came in from the cold after a long day outside.

"How'd it go in New Jersey? Thought you'd get here at least an hour ago," Jack said.

"The GPS sent me the wrong way," Tony complained. "Tried to send me down some road that doesn't exist anymore, and I was really low on gas, so I had to drive around to find a station, and I ended up a half hour out of the way, then when Igot there, the guy had all these dogs that kept jumping all over me, and it took me another half hour just to find the highway again and I'm still covered in dog hair."

"Sounds rough," Jack said as he pulled a mug down from his cabinet. "Leroy's lucky you're so dedicated."

For some reason, Tony felt a little flutter in his stomach when Jack phrased it that way, but he nervously ignored it. "Guess so," he said. "Hey, you got it all boxed up?"

"Yup," Jack said. "It's all set, don't you worry."

Tony watched him fix the hot chocolate, and he felt a rush of gratefulness. "Thanks, Jack," he said. "Don't know what I would've done without your help."

Jack put the mug in the microwave and turned to Tony with a smile. "I'm an old man, Tony. I've seen Leroy grow up, and I've seen him turn into a miserable, cranky bastard. And then I saw the way he is with you, and you wanna know something, son? He's not so miserable anymore. Still a cranky bastard, but I don't think that's gonna change any time soon. Then he wouldn't be Leroy. Just in his nature, I think. It's my pleasure to help you out, Tony. You're a good man."

Tony wasn't sure if it was nerves or cold or exhaustion or the strange maudlin feeling that Christmas often seemed to bring about, or more likely, something else entirely, but he felt a surprising rush of emotion, and a stinging in his sinuses that had him blinking fast before something truly embarrassing happened. Jack smiled and turned to the microwave when it beeped, and poured a packet of hot cocoa into the steaming water, giving it a stir before setting it in front of Tony.

"Thanks, Jack," Tony said, voice hoarse. "Thank you." He wasn't sure he could remember the last time anyone told him he was a good man, and he couldn't let himself think about what Jack had said about him making Gibbs less miserable, not when he knew what he wanted those words to really mean. He wrapped his hands around his mug, letting the warmth soak into his fingers, and then Jack rested a warm hand on his arm.

"This'll mean a lot to him," he said. "It really will."

Tony turned to him, still feeling a bit raw and exposed. "I hope so, Jack. What if this whole thing turns out to just be really stupid?"

Jack shook his head, taking a seat beside Tony. "It won't be," he said. "Not when you put so much thought into it. When a gift comes from the heart, it's never stupid. And you've got a lot in your heart for my Leroy, huh?"

Tony blinked, his heart beating a bit faster. "Uh - what?"

Jack smiled and chuckled. "I might be old, and I might be a small town guy, but I'm not blind, Tony. I see what's between you two. And if it makes Leroy happy, that's enough for me. He deserves a little happiness, you know?"

"I don't know - I don't know what you're talking about," Tony said nervously, sure that Jack couldn't be saying what Tony thought he was saying.

"Yes you do," Jack said. "'Course you do. You love him."

Tony blinked, swallowing hard. "Um - "

"You don't have to say anything," Jack said. "It's okay, Tony."

He sounded kind and understanding, and for some reason, that felt worse to Tony than it would've felt if Jack had told him how disgusting it all was, and he swallowed again, emotions rushing to the surface fast. "I know it's weird," he said to Jack, his eyes wet, hands still wrapped around the warm mug. "I know it's crazy to - to fall in love with your boss, your male boss who is straight, but I couldn't - I couldn't help it, and I just - I want to settle down, Jack. I'm getting old, and I just don't know -"

"Don't have to explain it to me, Tony," Jack said. "I get it. I'm just glad Leroy's got someone who'll take care of him."

The whole situation was surreal - Tony could not believe that Jack was that observant, and the whole thing was suddenly becoming terrifying because Jack seemed to think his gift was a giant declaration of love - and maybe it was, in some ways, but he didn't expect Gibbs to get that, and now he was having second thoughts, because what if Gibbs did get it? "Maybe I should forget this whole thing," Tony said, voice hoarse. "Just give him some bourbon."

"Don't you dare," Jack said sternly. "This'll be the best present he's had in years."

"Jack," Tony said, beginning to panic. "I can't - what if this ruins everything?"

Jack shook his head. "It won't," he said. "I know my Leroy, Tony. May've missed a few years, but I know him. He's my son. He loves you; I have no doubt about that. You drink that hot chocolate and listen to me because I know what I'm talking about."

Tony blinked, feeling a strange warmth settle into his chest despite his panic, and he drank his hot chocolate and thought about what Jack said. He glanced up, seeing the Christmas lights on the tree in Jack's front yard twinkling in the absolute darkness of Stillwater, and he hoped for a Christmas miracle - because if he wanted things to work out in his favor, he needed one.

--

One Day Before Christmas

Tony sat on Gibbs' couch, watching It's a Wonderful LIfe and trying desperately not to fall asleep. He was exhausted. He'd stayed over at Jack's the night before, and left early that morning at six AM to return to DC. He'd had a twisting panic in his gut the entire drive home, brain mulling over Jack's words and plotting different outcomes to his gift, each one worse than the last. They ranged from him getting laughed at to getting sent to a mental institution.

It'd been a long day of driving and stress and preparations, and he'd spent the last two and a half hours in Gibbs' basement, cursing and getting way too pissed off for Christmas Eve as he set up Gibbs' present, which proved to be much more difficult than he'd thought. Just as he felt his head drooping down once more, sleep beginning to cloud his mind, he heard a car pull into the driveway, and his head shot back up like a rocket as his whole body jumped to high alert, his heart beating fast. He listened intently to the sound of the engine cutting off, then to a car door slamming shut.

He heard footsteps coming up the walk, and then he heard the doorknob turning, and his heart was no longer just beating fast - it was pounding in excitement and nerves and fear and he'd gone from the fuzziness of dozing off to pumping with adrenaline so quickly he felt like he could pass out.

"Tony?" Gibbs called as he entered the house, going into the living room with a look of confusion on his face. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Hey Boss, Merry Christmas to you, too!" Tony said nervously, standing up and grabbing the fairly heavy gift bag beside him, hoping he didn't look as nervous as he felt. "Here, I got you something," he said.

Gibbs looked at him warily and took the gift bag from him, taking his glasses out of his pocket and putting them on to read the tag, which said, "Merry Christmas! From Tony." He glanced at Tony again, still suspicious, and then opened the bag, pulling out a bottle of bourbon.

"Thanks, Tony," he said, eyeing the bourbon. He still sounded confused, and Tony grinned.

"Want to have a drink?" Tony asked with a grin. "A toast to Christmas?"

Gibbs narrowed his eyes. "Sure," he said. It sounded sarcastic, and Tony grinned, knowing that Gibbs was on to the fact that Tony was hiding something, his excitement beginning to outweigh his nerves.

"Maybe we should have it in the basement," Tony said. "That is the proper place to drink in this house, isn't it?"

Gibbs regarded him for a moment. "Let's drink up here," he said.

Tony blinked. That wasn't part of his plan, and he had a feeling Gibbs knew it and was trying to throw him off. The man had no appreciation for surprises.

"I really think the basement is a better choice," Tony said. "I mean, if we were having a beer, then fine, living room it is, but this is bourbon, Boss, and you know that's best in the basement. Who drinks bourbon on the ground floor, anyway? FBI agents or something?"

Gibbs regarded him stonily. "What's in my basement?" he asked.

"Not a boat," Tony said. "Got that one out already. How'd you do that, anyway? You build a boat tunnel or something? I always wondered that...is your basement wall removable?"

Gibbs glared at him. "DiNozzo," he said threateningly. "What is in my basement?"

Tony grinned despite the fact that suddenly his nerves were hitting him full force. This gift felt extremely personal, and he began to worry more than ever if the whole thing was stupid, and if it made it look like he cared too much, or if Gibbs would think it was the dumbest thing he'd ever seen. "Dunno, Boss, maybe you should go take a look," he finally said.

Gibbs regarded him a moment more and then headed to the basement, Tony trailing behind, resisting the urge to ramble incoherently as Gibbs flipped on the light switch and headed down the stairs.

Four steps from the bottom, Gibbs stopped abruptly, and Tony caught himself just in time before he barreled into him and ruined Christmas with broken skulls on the basement floor. Tony's heart caught in his throat when he saw Gibbs staring at the present, his expression wistful and open and grateful and, well, happy.

Gibbs turned to Tony, expression more appreciative than Tony ever remembered seeing it, and the urge to ramble came back full force. "Uh, I know you never finished your set, Boss, just missing the freight train, so I got that, see? And I got a few houses and stuff for your village, too, and a few more things I thought maybe - "

"You went to Stillwater?" Gibbs asked.

Tony couldn't really read his tone of voice, and he swallowed nervously. "Yeah."

"You went all the way there to get my trains?"

This time Tony just nodded. "Picked up a new one in New Jersey, too," he said. "From a charming man with a pack of wild dachshunds and a really large beard."

Gibbs looked at him and if Tony didn't know better, he'd say the look on his face was awe, but Gibbs turned away before Tony could examine it further, going down the rest of the steps and heading over to the train set. Tony followed, swallowing hard and standing to the side, watching as Gibbs examined the table Tony had set up, with the trains all set up with a village and houses and figurines, Christmas lights all around the edge.

"It's all plugged in and it works," Tony said, shoving his hands, sweaty palms and all, into his pockets. "You can turn it on, if you want?"

Gibbs blinked. "In a second," he said, reaching out and picking up one of the trains. He held it in his hand and looked at it from all angles, examining it and then placing it reverently back on the track. He did that to a few other trains, and then to a couple of the houses and figurines.

"Tony," Gibbs said, turning to Tony. He still had an awed quality to his voice that Tony wasn't quite familiar with. "Thank you."

Tony shrugged nervously. "You're welcome," he said. He watched as Gibbs flipped the switch to turn the trains on, a grin illuminating his face when they began to move along the track. Gibbs laughed, and Tony felt some of his nervousness recede at the joy on Gibbs' face.

He was completely taken aback when Gibbs turned to him, took a step forward, and pulled him into a hug. Tony stood stiffly in it for a moment, eyes wide in surprise as Gibbs wrapped his arms around him and squeezed. Something fluttered in his stomach and he felt warmth in his chest and for a moment, he thought maybe it was the best feeling he'd ever felt in his life - and he hugged back for a moment, terrified he'd hug too tight and give himself away, but then Gibbs broke the hug, stepping back and looking at the trains.

"Always wanted that freight train," Gibbs said. "Never had it until now."

"That's what Jack said," Tony said, thinking it was a Christmas miracle just that his voice remained steady.

"My mom used to buy these trains for me," Gibbs said after a moment, picking up a lamppost with a crooked smile. "Every year at Christmas and my birthday she'd get me trains and things for the village. The freight train was the last one in the set and then she died."

Tony blinked. He hadn't expected that, and he had a sinking feeling in his stomach. He'd fucked up - why hadn't Jack told him that? "Shit, Gibbs, I didn't -"

Gibbs shook his head and replaced the lamppost before stepping towards Tony, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Tony, this is - this is an amazing present." He paused, and then smiled softly. "You did good," he said.

Tony smiled, eyes locked on Gibbs', and thought about how easy it would be to take just one step closer, to just kiss him, to tell him exactly how much he meant to him, but Gibbs stepped away, heading over to his work bench. He pushed aside a drop cloth, and underneath was a large wrapped box.

"Have a seat," Gibbs said, gesturing to a bench next to his work area. Tony did as he was told, excited as Gibbs picked up the box and carefully set in front of Tony on the work surface. Before Tony could reach for it, though, Gibbs continued. "Don't shake it," he said. "It's breakable."

Tony's eyebrows shot up. "Breakable? What is it, a leg lamp? And really, Gibbs, this time of year it's not breakable, it's fra-gil-e."

Gibbs snorted. "Don't shake it," he repeated, deadpan. "It's fra-gil-e."

Tony grinned as Gibbs leaned against the side of the workbench, watching with a fond smile as Tony carefully pulled the box towards him. Tony ripped the paper off and then pulled out his knife to open up the sealed box, setting it on the table beside him and then standing so he could see inside, pulling out the newspaper Gibbs had stuffed inside, giving Gibbs an excited look before reaching in and pulling out a wooden object he couldn't quite make out yet.

Once he pulled it out, his eyes widened in surprise and his heart sped up again. "Gibbs," he said. "This is - you made this?"

Gibbs gave a nod, and Tony carefully set it on the table and then sat down so he could look at it properly. It was a clock, a miniature grandfather's clock that was only about a foot and a half high, made out of cherry wood with details that Tony couldn't believe - from the intricate vine carved along its frame, to detailed geometric pattern along the top, and everything in between, it was absolutely incredible. He gaped at Gibbs.

"Gibbs, this is incredible," he said. "Thank you. Thank you so much."

Gibbs grinned, sitting beside Tony on the bench. "You're welcome," he said.

"How long did that take?"

"A while," Gibbs said.

"A while?" Tony asked. "How long is that? I mean, it took me a while to get to Stillwater. Jack says hi, by the way. But I'm pretty sure it took you longer than a while to make this clock."

Gibbs shrugged. "Took a while," he said again, and Tony snorted.

"Bastard," he said. "You can't just answer me?"

"Nope," Gibbs replied, turning to Tony and smiling, the corners of his eyes crinkling upwards.

Tony's breath caught in his throat for a moment and he knew that this was his moment, the moment he'd been waiting for - Gibbs was so close! - and so he steeled himself, but before he could do anything, Gibbs turned away, glancing at the trains still whirring around the tracks.

"Can't believe you went to Stillwater and got my trains," Gibbs said. "And got the freight train, too."

Tony smiled at the back of Gibbs' head despite the fact that his palms were slick now, and his heart was pounding out of his chest. "It was fun. Jack made me hot cocoa."

Gibbs turned to him. "What'd you talk to him about?" he asked.

Tony grinned. "Don't worry, Gibbs, no embarrassing stories about your childhood," he said.

Gibbs snorted. "Better not be," he said. "That man loves to talk."

"He's got good advice," Tony said.

"What kind of advice?" Gibbs asked warily.

Tony steeled himself yet again. "Advice about you," he said, and he glanced at the clock for a moment, taking in the details and the amount of work it must've been, and he felt a little courage seeping into him as the second hand slowly ticked away.

"About me?" Gibbs asked incredulously.

Tony nodded. "He said I had nothing to worry about," he said, heart hammering hard now. "That I - that I make you happy."

Gibbs blinked. "He - what?"

"He said I make you happy," Tony repeated softly. "And I - I really hope he was right, Gibbs, because you - you make me happy. Even when you're slapping the back of my head or bossing me around or driving like a maniac." Tony kept his eyes trained on the clock, hoping this didn't end in disaster. "I didn't mean to," he said, swallowing hard. "I really didn't mean to, but somewhere along the line, I think I kind of fell in love with you, which I know is really stupid, but I do stupid things a lot, you know, and I can't really help it, and I really hope I'm not doing something stupid right now - "

"You're not," Gibbs interrupted, and Tony's head shot up as he looked at him, face flushing in hope and nerves and fear, his eyes flicking over Gibbs' face.

"I'm not?" Tony asked hopefully. "Does that mean -"

"Shut up," Gibbs said, and before Tony could even register the words, Gibbs' leaned forward and kissed him. It was a closed mouth kiss, but it was sweet and romantic and Tony could hear the trains moving on the track and the second hand of his new clock, and the butterflies in his stomach were going crazy now, fluttering up a frenzy, and his whole body felt like it was on fire.

Gibbs pulled away a moment later and Tony smiled so hard he felt like his mouth went all the way to his ears, hoping like crazy Gibbs couldn't tell how fast his heart was beating.

"I wanted a Christmas miracle," Tony blurted. "I thought - thought it would take a miracle for this to happen."

"Guess you got one," Gibbs said with a shrug. Tony laughed at how absurdly simple it all ended up being, and then Gibbs kissed him again, and this time, Tony let his mouth open and then they were really kissing, mouths open and tongues exploring, and Tony pulled Gibbs closer. He felt like he was going to explode; the feeling of Gibbs so close was incredible, and he smelled so good, and best of all, he was his, and every nerve ending in his body felt like it could explode at any moment.

When they pulled apart this time, Tony felt shaky and exhilarated. Gibbs cupped his face and let his thumbs rub along Tony's cheekbones, their faces only inches apart.

"Tony," Gibbs said.

"Mm?" Tony replied, not sure he could say much more at that point.

Gibbs' voice was gruff, and there was a look on his face, a mixture of nerves and honesty and intensity. "I kind of fell in love with you, too."

Tony blinked, a smile spreading across his face, warmth coiling in his chest. He leaned forward and kissed Gibbs again, grinning into the kiss, but jumping and pulling away when they were interrupted by the sound of the clock chiming midnight.

"Jesus," Tony said. "That scared me."

"Hey," Gibbs said as the clock continued to chime. Tony turned to him expectantly, waiting for him to speak.

Gibbs smiled. "Merry Christmas, Tony."

Tony kissed him, reveling in the feel of Gibbs' lips and Gibbs' hands and Gibbs, and pulled away just as the clock finished its chimes, ridiculously, deliriously happy. "Merry Christmas, Gibbs."

--

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MTAC - NCIS Fic