Series: The Things #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 1871
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Character Study, Romance
Summary: Sometimes the things you carry with you say more than words ever can. Gibbs/DiNozzo
Title: The Things He Carries
Author: CJ aka WritinginCT
Categories: Romance/Character Study
Feedback: Love it? Hate it?
Disclaimer: I donít own the recognizable characters Iím just inspired by them. Hopefully theyíve had fun playing in my sandbox.
Summary: Sometimes the things you carry with you say more than words ever can.
Status: Complete 11/16/07
Tony's wool overcoat desperately needed to go to the dry cleaners. As he dug it out of hall closet on his way out he decided that he might as well take his partner's as well, it had seen equal abuse recently. When he slipped it off the hanger he realized it was heavy, heavier than it should be and he wondered what he had in the pockets, rocks maybe?
Taking the coats with the dry cleaning bag into the living room he sat on the couch and proceeded to empty the various pockets. With each new item he pulled out, his understanding of his partner grew. He found things he expected, a pen, a handkerchief, a penknife, and a half empty pack of gum. But it was the things that he didn't expect that made him smile at the rare glimpse into Gibbs, a strawberry flavored lip balm, a travel sized tube of hand lotion, a rubber stress ball, an article on woodworking torn from a magazine, a couple of wood screws in different sizes, and a die cast metal car that was identical to Tony's Mustang right down to the color.
Tony fingered the items on the coffee table and thought about what some of them meant.
The strawberry lip balm had started a long time ago as a mistake when Gibbs had grabbed a tube out of the canister at the gas station on impulse, not realizing it wasn't plain. He had used it anyway and when he had kissed Tony the younger man tasted it and gave Gibbs a megawatt smile as he teased him about it. It had been early in their relationship and they were still learning about each other and each trying to find little things that pleased the other. Strawberry lip balm pleased Tony, and Gibbs had used it ever since, not caring what anyone else thought.
Tony had gotten Gibbs to use hand lotion. Gibbs' hands were rough and chapped from woodworking all the time, and when the cold winter weather had hit they just got worse. The scrape of them on his skin almost made Tony cringe, not out of repulsion but out of knowing that the cracks and rough edges would hurt Gibbs sometimes although he would never admit it. He knew that Gibbs would never just use lotion so he had to attack the problem differently. So one night as Gibbs came to bed, Tony was sitting up against the headboard with his legs stretched out in front of him. He had patted the space between his legs and made Gibbs sit and lie back against Tony's chest. Once he had Gibbs settled, he pulled out the tube of hand lotion out from under the pillow where he had hidden it and proceeded to massage it slowly into each of Gibbs' fingers and palms, all the while whispering all the things he loved about those hands into Gibbs' ear. It had been a romantic, erotic thing to do and had culminated in lovemaking that was incredibly tender and loving. Gibbs had used hand lotion ever since.
The woodworking article was one that Tony had pinched from a hospital waiting room as they waited to interview a witness. It contained instructions and plans for building a beautiful entertainment cabinet to house the television and dvd's. Tony looked at the list of wood needed and saw Gibbs' neat little check marks near most of it. He was making it out of antique wood, and was making Tony help him. Side by side they had gone over the plans, and spent several Saturdays driving to different specialty lumber outlets looking for the perfect materials. And side by side and hand over hand they worked in the basement, Gibbs teaching Tony, both men basking in the companionship and closeness. They only had a little left to do to finish it and they were already planning something else to work on together.
Tony chuckled seeing the wood screws. Gibbs needed to get a few more of those to fix the shoddily made headboard that had fallen apart on them at Tony's apartment. The running jokes about strong grips and who's fault it was amused them both. And it had been the first time in bed with Tony that Gibbs had laughed, and just reveled in the moment, just let himself be happy. And the sight of Gibbs happy had filled Tony with warmth and something else that he couldn't quite put his finger on but the feeling didn't just go away. And Tony chose not to examine it too closely, afraid of what it might be.
The bottom pockets of Gibbs' coat empty, Tony realized there was more in the inside breast pocket. His hand came into contact with papers and he carefully pulled them out. What he saw completely surprised him. They weren't papers, they were two photos. A beautiful red-haired woman and a little girl with Gibbs' smile stared back at him from the first one, Shannon and Kelly. He smiled gently as he looked at their picture. Their presence was a quiet one in Tony's relationship with Gibbs. He could only imagine the pain that Gibbs lived with because of their deaths. Tony hated not being able to do anything to alleviate its weight. All he could do was wrap his arms around Gibbs on the bad nights, and just be a rock for him. Over time Gibbs had started to share pieces of them with Tony, little things. And each and every time, Tony felt like he had been given a gift, something precious to Gibbs.
The other photo confused him. It was taken about a year after Tony started working for Gibbs at an agency softball game. He and Gibbs were walking off the field both of them laughing at something and Gibbs had his arm thrown over Tony's shoulder. And Abby had captured the moment on film. Tony stared at the photo trying to understand why Gibbs was carrying it around with him. They hadn't gotten together for a few years after that. It didn't make sense.
His hand made its way back into the breast pocket and pulled out a small box. It was a black velvet jeweler's box. Tony took a deep breath looking at it, part of him wanting to open it, the other part wanting to bolt out the door.
"Taking inventory?" Gibbs quiet voice asked from the doorway behind Tony.
"No, I, ah, was just gonna bring your coat to the cleaners with mine. Had to clean out the pockets." Tony didn't turn around.
Gibbs stepped up behind Tony and ruffled his hair gently, "I know." He had watched Tony from the doorway, letting himself steal the small pleasure of watching Tony when he wasn't aware. He had seen Tony's gauntlet of expressions as he cleaned out the pockets and looked at the items. And he felt his eyes want to well up when Tony smiled at the picture of Shannon and Kelly. Tony never begrudged him his feelings for them, never resented them.
And Gibbs would never forget the night of the anniversary of their death, when Tony had found him sitting on the floor in the basement, drunk and hurting, and wanting Shannon and Kelly so badly it hurt. Tony had just pulled him in tightly and let him rage, never letting go. And when he finally got Gibbs upstairs to bed and he was lying in Tony's arms as Tony stroked his head, Gibbs would hear the words come out of Tony's mouth that he would never forget, "I wish I could give them back to you, I'd give anything to give them back to you." Something in Gibbs had clicked that night, like some piece that had been missing fell into place.
He saw Tony staring at the picture from the softball game again with a questioning look on his face.
"I keep the things that are important to me in that pocket." Gibbs said lightly as he sat next to Tony.
Tony looked at him, a little disbelieving. They had never talked about what they did or didn't feel. Never analyzed what their relationship was or where it was going, they just let it come day by day.
Gibbs took the two photos and he smiled back at Kelly, "I would have stayed married to her forever, Tony. I never wanted anybody else. But then she was gone. And I tried to find someone to care about like that again but it just never worked out. Until now." He paused a moment and held up the pictures to Tony, "These are the most important things in my life. Shannon, Kelly, and you."
Tony had never in his life had anyone lay claim to him like that and the lump in his throat just wouldn't let him speak. But his eyes latched onto Gibbs' seeing the truth there, and the...love. And that's what it was, that feeling that he couldn't put his finger on, that thing he didn't want to look at, didn't want to name. He was in love with Gibbs. And from the sounds of it Gibbs was in love with him. He tried to speak, his voice husky with emotion and only coming out as a whisper, "I love you."
Gibbs leaned in and brushed Tony's mouth with his, and sharing Tony's breath said, "I love you, too."
Gibbs pulled back and gently tugged the jeweler's box out of Tony's hand and opened it to show a wedding band. It was not new, and there were little dings and scratches on it. "Shannon gave me this. And I never took it off. I've been carrying it around trying to figure out how to give it to you, figure out how to tell you..."
Tony looked at the ring, the enormity of what it all meant slamming into him. Gibbs was giving him everything he had, everything.
Gibbs slipped the ring out of the box and held it out to Tony, "It's a little beat up, like the guy giving it to you."
Tony took the ring with shaking fingers and slipped it on his ring finger, "It's perfect." He closed his fingers around it tightly and with his other hand pulled Gibbs in and kissed him deeply.
When they parted they wore matching grins. Gibbs playfully slapped Tony on the thigh and teased, "C'mon we've got errands to run, don't want to miss the dry cleaners. And I've got a line on were to get the rest of our wood."
They stood to go, and Tony took one last glance at the items on the table, his gaze falling on the two pictures. And then he realized that the things Gibbs carried said more than words ever could.