Chapter 24: After Everything
Gibbs' reputation, and that of his team, meant that often they would get the cases so weird, complex, or convoluted that it would take every one of them doing all the things they could think of just to get a break. It was much more rare to get a scene or a victim so clean that there just wasn't a handhold. No sharp or rough edges, no hinky vibes, no bread crumbs.
Corporal Googins—called Goggles by the unit, for his glasses and his name—was killed by two blows to the head. First, he was struck, hard, and then fell to hit his head on the pavement even harder. He didn't have a roommate: not unusual. He went out with some of his buddies on Friday nights for a beer: not unusual. He didn't have a girlfriend currently: less unusual than young men would have you believe. His digital footprint was small and contained representative facebook and email postings—also not unusual. In fact, there wasn't much that was unusual. Nothing, actually. Except that he was dead. And no one seemed happy about it.
He'd been found behind the apartment building where he lived, and there were abrasions on his face and hands. But there were abrasions on the face and hands of every member of the unit, including their commanding officer, Lieutenant Desjardins. This particular Friday night, the entire group of men went out for that beer had gotten involved in an honest-to-god barroom brawl. By bar employee accounts, the group of marines had helped restore the peace, but not without throwing their weight—and fists—around first. The end of that night, clapping each other on the back, walking back on base together, was the last time any of his unit had seen him.
When Gibbs and the rest of the team had arrived on scene, it was to take over from the MP's. The team was joined almost immediately by some of Googins' platoon and his lieutenant, all distraught, the men having somehow heard about the death. Gibbs watched carefully, even as Tony and Ziva stopped the marines' progress to preserve the boundaries of the scene. He was looking for any unusual reactions from any of the—let's face it—most likely suspects. But there was nothing. Nothing but levels of shock and grief. Mostly grief, in the case of the lieutenant, but he was, while clearly stoic and tough as nails, still relatively young and this might very well be his very first loss of this sort.
And that was it. There was nothing else to find.
But there had to be something. And that something kept Gibbs picking at it Tuesday afternoon. And Gibbs at work meant Tony. And Tony at work meant Ziva and Tim, except that Ziva and Tim were both at a two-day training. Gibbs made calls, talked with the family again, friends, the owner of the bar where the brawl broke out, the super at the corporal's apartment building. Tony went around and around, similarly, but looking into Googins online life: checking for buying patterns, memberships to websites, connections to less common social media sites. Nothing. Finally, in exasperation, Gibbs stood up and took his gun and badge out of the drawer. Tony looked up.
"Let's go back to the base, DiNozzo."
"You think we missed something, Boss?"
"No. But it never hurts to talk."
Tony raised and eyebrow and smirked. Gibbs raised his brows in return, challenging.
"Just not a sentiment I have heard you express often," Tony explained.
"Maybe you don't know me as well as you think you do, DiNozzo," Gibbs brushed by the other man on the way to the elevator and Tony scrambled for his weapon and badge and to catch up. He didn't make it and the doors closed on Gibbs' smug face. Tony headed for the stairs.
At Quantico, on the way into the building, Gibbs stopped just before pushing open the door. Tony waited for instructions.
"We'll start with the Lieutenant. Let me take the lead. I won't introduce you. You be...unthreatening, a little insubordinate." Waited.
Tony didn't disappoint, smiled wide, eyes twinkling, and nodded. "Slouchy Sidekick. Got it, boss."
Gibbs snorted a little but didn't say anything more. By the time they checked in and had been led through the building and up the elevator to the fifth floor, Tony's hair was mussed, his shirt was untucked, and he had somehow acquired half a bag of Fritos.
When the lance corporal who showed them into Lieutenant Desjardins' office had closed the door behind them, Tony leaned against a filing cabinet by the door and occupied himself reaching for the corn chips at the very bottom of the bag. Gibbs noted the small glint of disapproval in the lieutenant's eyes when he registered Tony's casual stance, but other than that, the man was harder to read than many people Gibbs met. For that reason alone, he was intriguing.
The marine across from them could have been—maybe was—on a recruitment poster. Not only was he young and handsome, fit and lean with muscle, he also looked—and had behaved, throughout the investigation—like someone who knew what he believed in and didn't hesitate to fight for it, for others. Gibbs would be willing to bet that he was a man others wanted to follow.
"Thank you for seeing us again, Lieutenant Desjardins."
"Anything I can do to help, Gunny."
Gibbs nodded acknowledgment. Desjardins had checked up on him too. "You haven't thought of anything else that might help us? Anyone who might be mad at your boy?"
Almost imperceptible. Maybe just a trick of the light, but Gibbs thought...something. But the other man was truthful, if Gibbs knew anything.
"No I have not." Truth.
"No visitors at work ever?"
"No. We checked the logs even." Truth.
"Any relatives or family ever come?"
"No one he might have pissed off in his downtime?"
"I wasn't usually included when my men went out. Didn't spend a lot of time with them in a group off hours." Again, truth.
Gibbs felt more than saw Tony start to wander around the room, touching things, swiping his finger to check for dust, standing at the window peering through the blinds, picking a manual off the shelves. Vaguely, Gibbs registered how much he loved working with Tony. The other man's timing was incredible. Just when he wanted the diversion, Tony was there.
Desjardins' eyes followed Tony while Gibbs watched him.
"Tell me again who was closest to your corporal?"
Desjardins shifted and looked back at Gibbs. "As I told you, probably Dennison, Kutik, Shardi, and Collet. He roomed with Collet for a while his first year here."
"Did he have a girlfriend?"
"I don't believe so. I never saw him with a woman. Never heard him talk about a girlfriend. But he wouldn't have talked to me about that." Truth.
"Did he ever have a girlfriend?"
"Not that I knew." Truth.
Something made Gibbs want to ask the obvious next question. Maybe he only thought it because of things with Tony, and he hesitated. But only briefly.
"Did he have a boyfriend?"
The lieutenant's brows drew in, but his eyes were steady on Gibbs. His answer was as measured as the previous ones. "He never mentioned a boyfriend. Never seemed close to any of the other guys in the platoon in...that way." Truth.
Before Gibbs could ask any further questions, the other man offered, "He and his friends went out sometimes. Maybe they know." Truth. But it was also offered freely. The first thing that had been. A diversion? But from what? Gibbs shrugged mentally and moved on.
"Can you take us to Corporal Collet?" The lieutenant rose from behind the desk and held the door for them.
Tony dropped the empty chip bag in the trash with attitude.
An hour later, Gibbs and Tony weren't any farther. They were standing, waiting, while their last interviewee retrieved some coffee for Gibbs. Tony said, under his breath.
"What do you want to do now?"
"What do you think we should do, DiNozzo?"
"Maybe look at his locker again?"
Gibbs nodded. "Okay. Let's have the lieutenant unlock it for us though this time, maybe he'll see something out of place."
Ten minutes later, Gibbs looked at the small pile of clothes folded at the bottom of the narrow metal box. There was a red hoodie sweatshirt hanging on a hook inside, just covering something that looked like sports glasses on a rubber cord. Sudden tension in the room made him look at the clothes harder before touching them. Nothing. Looked a lot like his own sweatshirt. He glanced over at the Lieutenant.
Without asking permission, or looking at Gibbs, the other man reached in and took the sweatshirt off the hook. His face didn't change. It was almost expressionless. Even his eyes were moving normally, though there was a little tension in the lids, maybe he blinked a few times more than he usually would have. When he had the sweatshirt in his hand, he held it out in front of him, as if he didn't know what to do next. Turned to Gibbs.
Gibbs felt that something again. Guessed. "Is that his?"
"I never saw him wear it." Truth. Gibbs was watching the man's face so hard that he almost flinched when he saw the slow clench of Tony's fist out of the corner of his eye. Careful to not check out the lieutenant's hand, Gibbs peered into the locker, suddenly intent. When Desjardins' eyes shifted to follow his, Gibbs could see how hard the other man was clutching the sweatshirt.
Desjardins looked back at him, face calm, eyes quizzical, pretending to care what Gibbs saw. Waiting. Gibbs didn't dare look at Tony. He thought he knew, recognized something…
"Did I introduce my partner?"
"What?" The lieutenant was surprised.
"My partner." Gibbs stepped a little to the side so Tony could reach around him but still stay at his back. "Special Agent Tony DiNozzo."
Tony leaned forward around Gibbs and stretched out his hand.
Desjardins moved the red hoodie to his other hand, shook Tony's. "DiNozzo." He nodded acknowledgment and then looked back at Gibbs. "If that is all, Agent Gibbs..." Not Gunny anymore.
Gibbs stepped back, practically onto Tony. The younger man's hands came up automatically to rest on his shoulders, to steady him. And Gibbs would have smiled, if he hadn't begun to sense the despair in the room, when Tony's warm hands closed on his shoulders to touch him a little deeper, keep the connection for a moment longer than anyone else would.
Desjardins had seen, understood, and his eyes were blazing on Gibbs'.
"My partner," he confirmed, and despite the tension in Tony's body at his back and the small huff of irritation from the younger man, the hands stayed steady on his shoulders.
And now, the lieutenant looked older, the lines on his face deepening, and his eyes shut for a minute. His head shook a little. Oh no, oh no. His voice was hoarse when he spoke.
"It's mine. I didn't know where it went, that he had it—" He looked down at the sweatshirt in his hand and raised it to his nose, buried his face in it. Gibbs heard him inhale, heard the small catch in his breath, even through the thick cloth.
Long seconds later, Desjardins dropped the sweatshirt low enough to clutch it to his chest instead of his face. When he looked up, it was to lock eyes with Tony, not Gibbs. "It...he must have had it a while...it...it...it smells like him."
He looked lost. "We fought—"
Gibbs waited, but that was all there was. And that probably explained it all, but still. They took him back to the Navy Yard, conducted the formal interrogation, charged, and held him.
Gibbs ended up meeting with the Director after the processing. He made eye contact with Tony as he marched up the stairs to her office. Tony was at his desk, but as Gibbs started up at the stairs Tony leaned back, swivelled in his chair to keep Gibbs in his sight, his eyes warm and interested. They'd had this part of the bullpen to themselves today, but now even the other teams were gone. Despite Tony's open appraisal, Gibbs was careful.
"You can head out, DiNozzo."
"I can wait, Boss."
"I'll be right behind you, probably. Go on."
"I'll wait." Tony's eyes were bright and serious, despite his relaxed posture. Gibbs didn't respond, not wanting to make it an order, force a situation where Tony would have to be insubordinate to stay, which he was obviously intent on doing. Gibbs felt Tony's eyes on him until he passed through the double doors.
When Gibbs returned, twenty minutes later, Tony was leaning on the corner of his desk, jacket draped over his arm, computer dark. His head was down and he was unusually still. He wasn't doing anything to hide the fact that he was waiting for Gibbs, and Gibbs walked by to his own desk without commenting.
"You almost ready?" Tony wanted to know.
Gibbs realized that this was big. Tony didn't assume that Gibbs wanted to be with him. Even though they lived together, Tony rarely mentioned that fact, as if he was afraid that Gibbs hadn't noticed and the offer would be withdrawn. He always asked or hinted or figured it out, what Gibbs wanted. Tony was always anticipating, ready when Gibbs wanted him, needed him. Always there when Gibbs wanted him to be, just like today. If Gibbs had thought about it, he would have put it down to habits developed on the job. But he knew better now. Tony continued to struggle to believe that Gibbs wanted to be with him, chose to have him in his life and his bed. All they have been through, big and small, didn't change the daily struggle Tony went through to believe in himself, and in them.
Because of this, Gibbs swallowed caustic replies, squelched the urge to stay at work for another hour just to show he could, and asked, even as he bent to switch off his computer, "You alright?"
Tony took a deep breath and let it out as he rubbed the tension out of his neck. "Yeah, I just need to go home." He almost got that sentence out without a hitch, but Jethro heard it anyway. Tony waited, but Gibbs made it easy for him, grabbed his own jacket and strode toward the elevator. Tony rose smoothly and rode down to the parking level with him. Almost to the car, Tony smirked and said, "I thought we'd run by the newspaper offices and you could take out an ad announcing to the world that we are gay. Save you the trouble of telling people one at a time."
Gibbs didn't bother to hold back his snort of laughter. "That what's bugging you?" Tony was not angry, Gibbs would know if he was, but this was on Tony's mind.
"No." Truth. "But I just think it's funny that you've now outed us twice in the last month, first to a bunch of kids and now to an officer in the Marines. Just wondering, uh, where this urge is coming from, and—" he held Gibbs' eyes over the hood of the car, "who you'll tell next."
The two men climbed into the car. Gibbs wasn't sure what to say, and he had a feeling of deja vu: the woman he was involved with asking him questions and him not knowing what to say. Him not saying anything for too long until finally she broke the silence. And her forgiving him, letting it slide, but each time wanting answers, and then wanting becoming needing and then…
But Tony didn't disappoint. He didn't give Gibbs a pass, but he didn't push either, didn't seem to care whether Gibbs answered or not. Fiddled with the radio, gave him time.
Tony knew Gibbs in a way almost no one ever had, and Gibbs was coming to believe that it wasn't all careful study and planning on Tony's part, to please his boss, to curry favor, be accepted, to belong. Maybe, just maybe, Tony knew how to please him, to work with him, to live with him, to...love him because he was meant to.
Gibbs started the car and drove to keep from touching Tony's face, the cut of his jaw and the rough stubble triggers he found hard to resist after hours of not touching the other man. Gibbs was coming to accept this wanting, the way he needed to taste his partner's skin with his lips and tongue, the way he needed to curl into Tony at night, feel his hand at his back, thread his hand in Tony's hair and tug the other man's head back, baring his throat and neck.
Tony had given him two pieces of information. 1. He wanted to go home. 2. He wondered about Gibbs' outing them. Gibbs hadn't been thinking about either of those things. He wanted to be where Tony was and Tony was at work with him, so he hadn't thought about going home. As for Gibbs outing them, both times he had led with his gut. Didn't question why, just knew that it was the right thing.
But he had to give Tony something. Something that was on his mind.
"I have this nightmare." Tony looked up at him from where he bent over the radio. He turned the radio off and sat back in his seat. Tony knew he had nightmares; he had his own. They didn't talk about them. "Not the usual ones about things that really happened."
Gibbs forced the words out. "In the dream, I wake up in the hospital and remember what happened to my family. To Shannon and Kelly." It had happened but it was still so rare for Gibbs to mention them. Tony broke the silence finally.
"In your nightmare?"
"You didn't know before you woke up? In the dream?"
"No. That's the bad part. I had forgotten them."
"You are afraid that being with me will make you forget them?"
They were on the highway now, nighttime had already set in, and the bright streamers of light outside of the car, the speed and the way he passed most everyone in front of them was bracing in its way.
"No. Before, being with someone made me remember them more." The wives and other women, he meant, hoped Tony knew. "But since they died and I didn't—" He had never told Tony how close he came to killing himself. "—I have had the nightmare, was afraid that I was forgetting, would forget them completely, and then something would happen. In the dreams, I get blown up, shot, drowned, burned, tortured, stabbed...something like that would happen and I would wake up in the hospital and have to remember, to relive their deaths."
Tony didn't say anything. Gibbs realized he didn't understand.
"Since the day they died, I've been dreaming about forgetting them. No one knows about them, no one asks me anything. I don't talk about them." Not to Abby. Not to Ducky. "Never did til...lately." Just you. "The dreams were bad but what made it worse is that they felt inevitable. That I would forget and then I would get hurt and have to relieve their deaths and everyone would know."
"And now?" Tony's voice was a lifeline.
"I don't have them anymore."
"What? At all?"
Gibbs shrugged. Tony probably couldn't see, but seemed to know.
"Why're you telling me this, Jethro?" Gibbs could tell Tony's use of his name was deliberate.
Again, Gibbs shrugged. Gibbs took the exit without slowing down, but Tony was used to it. There was silence the last ten minutes home.
In the driveway, in the dark car, engine ticking in the silence of a suburban evening, Tony turned toward Jethro. "That didn't have anything to do with you outing us, did it?"
Jethro smiled and shook his head, just glad he didn't have to keep talking about it. "Nah."
Tony smiled back, bright with the cheer that came when he figured something out, when he figured Gibbs out. "Never hurts to talk, huh?"
Tony reached out to hook a warm hand around Jethro's neck and leaned close to kiss his partner. He kissed Jethro for a long time and Jethro didn't know about Tony, but goddamn he loved how Tony kissed. He let himself sink into the comfort and heat of Tony's mouth. Tony's taste, the way his lips moved, strong and soft against his own, over and over, drawing out the kisses, long and loving and deep, Tony's thumb stroking his face in gentle counterpoint to the demanding grip on his neck. When Tony drew back finally it was just to put a little space between them. Tony often did that, tilted his head as if he was going for a better angle but instead just breathed, breathed in Jethro's air, eyes flicking up to watch him, letting Jethro see the desire in his eyes until he pressed one last kiss to Jethro's lips, a few more on the corner of his mouth up the hollow of his cheek to his eyelids or his ear and Jethro would moan and tell him not to stop, and then then Tony would stop except for one last—and this really was the last—kiss against his mouth while he smiled and Jethro couldn't help the way his own lips turned up and into this kiss. Like Tony did now, before he climbed out of the car. He waited for Jethro to come around before walking up to the house, close by the other man, easy and happy at his back.
Jethro was only surprised when Tony didn't attack him in the dark of the hall, realized that he had expected it. Instead, in a different kind of intimacy, Tony closed the door behind them and flicked on the light, even as Jethro put away his gun, left the safe open for him. Tony added his gun to the safe, his keys and badge and wallet to the pile on the hall table, and called out as Jethro headed upstairs to shower and change, "Should I order something, or do you want an omelette?"
Jethro didn't care, said so, though as he shed his clothes and turned on the water, he was glad to hear Tony opening and closing the refrigerator, gathering ingredients for an omelette. There was leftover steak in there and Tony's steak and onion omelettes were good.
Tony had made a frittata, whatever that was, but it was just as good, and even Jethro could tell it had some of that fancy cheese that Tony bought and not the packaged store stuff. Tony seemed perfectly normal, although Jethro paid attention. I just need to go home, he had said. Tony nattered on about the movie he and Abby had seen, about McGee's latest date, about the interagency basketball game coming up. Jethro just listened and grunted when it seemed appropriate. After dinner, he cleaned up, leaning back into the kiss Tony pressed into his neck before he went to take his own shower. Tony's arms snaked around his waist for a quick hug, and Jethro's hands stopped washing as the other man's weight rested warm against his back.
By the time Tony came downstairs in his own clean sweats and t-shirt, long bony feet quiet on the stairs, Jethro was in the basement. But despite the bare feet, Jethro could track the man's progress through the house as he found socks in the laundry, got himself a beer, made a couple phone calls and finally settled with a sigh—Jethro imagined he could actually hear it all the way down in the shop—on the couch to watch the game on the television he himself had installed on the wall.
At a sudden thought, Jethro left his tools where he was working and crossed around the boat to the hooks under the stairs. His red hoodie sweatshirt wasn't there. Huh. He couldn't remember the last time he wore it. Maybe running, so maybe it was in the wash.
A while later, he heard Tony coming to get him. Oh, Tony didn't say that, but on week nights, when he came down to sit on the steps, it was to see if Jethro was thinking of calling it a night soon. Jethro used to spend whole nights down here, still did sometimes, but not tonight…
"What're you doing?" Tony leaned forward on his knees, casual and comfortable in this favorite position.
Jethro told him because sharing the details of boat-building was part of their routine, and then asked, "Who won?" Jethro didn't care about sports as much as some guys did, but if one of his teams was playing, he would listen on the radio or sometimes watch with Tony. "Mets. They are looking good this year. Beltran, Wright, Reyes. DelGado hit a homerun. Wouldn't be surprised if they had a shot at the World Series." Eventually, Tony fell silent. By now, Gibbs had turned back to his work. He was absorbed by it even as he registered Tony getting up and making his way down the steps and across the basement to the far side of the boat.
He raised his head too late though and Tony was reaching out to take tools from his hands, setting them down, pushing Jethro back, back against the boat, hands slipping, hot and rough, under Jethro's t-shirt even as he pressed his hips hard against the other man. Jethro groaned and pushed back, flipping them, leaning on his elbows either side of Tony's head, drawing the younger man's bottom lip into his mouth and then covering his mouth with his own, grinding his cock, hard and eager, against Tony's. Jethro moaned when he felt Tony give in, wanted to take him, here against the boat, wanted to fuck him hard from behind as Tony braced himself on the wood. Jethro shifted so his weight was on one elbow and his right arm, free, snaked down into Tony's pants. A strong hand gripped his wrist, stopping him.
"Upstairs. Now." Tony's voice was harsh and demanding, as if he wasn't the one laying spread out beneath Jethro. Even as he thought it, a quick hand cupped Jethro's balls from below, pressing and rolling them through the cloth, his long fingers reaching back to press toward a more secret spot. His other hand snuck beneath Jethro's t-shirt into the hollow of his back, bare skin on skin, and stayed there even as he pushed his lover up the stairs, through the house and up to the bedroom, flicking lights off as they went.
Jethro started to strip but Tony stopped him, pushed him down onto the bed. Jethro could see that Tony had already turned the covers down, that lube was out on the nightstand. Scooting up onto the pillow placed in the center, Jethro felt the same dark pleasure he always felt at the sight of his very male lover crawling over him, muscles shifting in the warm amber light of the room. He was already beyond thinking, only feeling, and Tony didn't let him down. Tony wanted to come home tonight, but for him, for Jethro, despite the fact that he owned this house, Tony was his home now.
It felt like Tony loved him for hours, kissing every part of his body as he stripped off their clothes. He kissed Jethro's chest and nipples, sucking them wetly, the sound making Jethro as crazy as the sharp spikes of pleasure shooting to his groin, and then he stripped off his own shirt, rubbed his bare chest and hard nipples against Jethro's. Tony nuzzled below his arm, kissing the soft undersides of his arms and torso and belly and across the seam of his leg to oh my god don't stop don't stop to mouth his balls, and pull them all the way into the heat and wet of his mouth and before Jethro could slow him down, Tony's mouth was on his dick, sucking the head and then all of him he could take down to press at the back of his throat. Tony moaned, his eyelids thin and shiny where they rested against his cheeks, as he concentrated on the cock in his mouth. Tony did this better than anyone Jethro had ever known and he wanted to watch, didn't want to look away, but as always the pleasure spiraling through him was so intense that he ended up falling all the way back and arching into Tony's touch.
Just as Jethro felt the pressure and heat at the base of his cock start to compress and build, Tony slid off slowly, his hands coming up to slide under Jethro's leg, pushing it up to give him the access he wanted. Tony moved up to rest at Jethro's side, eyes dark and possessive as he surveyed the older man laid out before him. He warmed some lube in his hand and without hesitation or lingering on the way, reached down to smoothly slide a finger into Jethro's ass, sliding deep enough to stroke against his prostate even on its first thrust.
Jethro had opened his eyes again when Tony moved to his side, but now he gave in utterly, eyes slamming shut and his body shuddering, shivering with pleasure so intense he thought he might come right now, but Tony rubbed and thrust slowly enough to back him off just before adding another finger and taking him right to the fucking edge again, and then slowing down to add yet a third. Four fingers fucking him had Jethro begging, begging without shame or self-consciousness, and Tony, now that Jethro was loose enough and ready, straddled Jethro and kissed him to within an inch of his life. Jethro bucked against him, trying to get the friction he wanted. His ass burned with tension and need, wanting what Tony's fingers had promised, but it wasn't until Jethro gave up— his body once again relaxing, every nerve on fire and aroused but ready to wait because that was what Tony wanted—that Tony positioned himself between Jethro's legs. He pushed them both up this time, knees tucked close to the other man's chest. He reached up with his clean hand and traced Jethro's lips blindly and Jethro sucked the shaking fingers into his mouth, desperate for any kind of penetration at all. When Tony took his hand back to brace himself, the fingers were wet with saliva and he made sure Jethro was watching as he sucked him into his own mouth.
"Tony. Jesus. Now, for god's sake, now. Please."
"Gibbs." And he pushed in, all the way in, so far in that Jethro hoped he would never find his way out and Tony's green eyes, pupils large and open on his, were hazy with passion. "Mine. Oh, babe, mine, please please please, mine." His body, limber and strong, plunged rhythmically into Gibbs'.
Tony had them both so worked up by now that this wasn't going to take long. Gibbs could feel Tony speeding up, losing control, even as he wrapped a hand around Gibbs' cock. Unnecessary, since Gibbs had found that the stimulation of Tony's cock pounding into him was more than enough to send him flying.
Tony moaned and cried out, high and breathy: Jethro's name and a curse and Jethro felt heat fill him. And that did it, he let himself go, shooting all over his belly and chest even as Tony pressed down on him, mouthing any skin he could reach.
They spent long minutes pressed close together, sweat and semen slick between them, Tony's arms holding Jethro tight and Jethro's hand moving through Tony's hair.
It was Jethro who flipped them so that Tony slipped the last bit out and kissed the protest from the other man's lips. It was Jethro that rose and padded to the bathroom to get warm washcloths and a hand towel and who cleaned them up. It was Jethro who kissed Tony's neck, sensitive and ticklish, to rouse the younger man enough to get him to shift beneath the sheets, who pulled the quilt up, who tossed the dirty towels into the bathroom and flicked the small light on the nightstand off, leaving them in the dark together. It was Jethro who slid in next to Tony and pulled the other man onto him, holding him tight and kissing the top of his head until Tony tipped his head up for one last kiss on the mouth before settling against Jethro's chest to sleep.
"I love you, Tony." He stroked a hand down Tony's hair and back, soothing, as he felt the younger man tense and shiver at his words, press his face harder into him.
"I believe you," Tony murmured, another routine, a new one. "I love you, Gibbs."
Jethro pinched him. "Jethro, Tony."
He could feel Tony's smile against his chest. "Babe."
Gibbs huffed out a laugh, then remembered. "Tony?"
"Where's my red sweatshirt?"
Tony kissed his chest one last time, half asleep already. "In my locker."
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