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Chapter 4: Sharing is Caring
Later that evening, Tony found himself seated at Pride’s piano plunking away quietly. He hadn’t started off playing anything in particular, but gradually it had settled down into something original he’d written years before. The boys were playing quietly next to the instrument on the floor. Chris and Pride were in the building somewhere, and he was pretty sure that Gibbs was watching him from somewhere behind him. At least he hoped it was Gibbs, he could feel someone’s eyes on him, and he didn’t want to consider the alternatives. He got his confirmation though, when he came to the end of his made up tune, and heard the man speak. “You’re pretty good at that. I don’t recognize the song though.”
Tony smiled shyly and turned on the bench to look at the older man. When Gibbs moved to lean against the side of the piano though he turned back around and began to just puck away randomly again. “Thank you,” Tony offered softly. “It’s called Rainy Days come before Sunshine. I wrote it in college after I busted up my leg.” He saw Gibbs’ eyebrow lift, and he blushed slightly reading the surprise and admiration on the other man’s face.
“That takes talent,” Gibbs offered quietly studying Tony a moment before speaking again. “Have you decided what you’re gonna do once this is all over?”
Tony nodded letting the notes flow through him, hearing them take a happier turn, and chalked it up to Gibbs’ presence. “LaSalle seems to think that Pride is gonna offer me a job. If so I’ll take it and settle down here somewhere. I’ve got enough money in the trust my mother left me when she died to buy us a house and furnish it. The people here have been good to me, and it’s nice to be around LaSalle again. He’s more like a real brother than some random guy I knew in college. I’ve missed him through all the chaos.
“I’d like to have a chance to be able to pay everyone back for what they’ve done for me. I’m more than ready to start new and put all this crap behind me. My only regret is that I can’t really do much for the boys in the way of Christmas. I know they’re still little, but I feel like I’m letting them down. I’m afraid they’re gonna realize Santa didn’t come, an’ I have no idea what I’ll tell them. They’ve gone through enough they shouldn’t miss that, too.”
Gibbs smiled and looked to where the boys were playing. They’d moved to sit under the table for some reason and were chattering in what he guessed was their twin-speak. “I wouldn’t worry about Christmas. I have a feelin’ Ol’ Saint Nick will find them just fine. He’s good that way.”
Tony frowned and shook his head starting to protest. “I can’t…” Gibbs held up a hand though and cut him off. “Tony, you’re saving your country from terrorists. I think that the least the rest of us can do is make sure you’re boys have a Merry Christmas. One thing you’ll find out about this place is that it takes care of its own, and please… call me Jethro. You’re not one of my marines’ and I’m not your boss.”
When Tony nodded his acceptance, Gibbs dipped his head in return. “Tell me how you’re doin’ with all of this. I know that Pride said that you used to be a cop, but this must still be a little overwhelming.”
Tony ran a hand over the back of his neck. While his normal MO would be to just deflect and say that he was fine, there was something about this man that made him want to be honest. “I feel like I’m coming to the end of a long dark tunnel that I’ve been trapped in for years. To be frank, it scares the crap out of me about what I could find on the other side. As great as everyone has been… I’m not use to this, and I’m afraid to get comfortable with it.” Tony saw Gibbs cock his head to one side in question, and rubbed the back of his neck anxiously.
“I know Pride told you about my background. Christopher warned me he’d need to most likely after they brought you in to help. So, you know my experience with people is that most people think I’m a nuisance. Most can’t wait to be rid of me once they’ve gotten whatever they needed from me. I mean I know there are exceptions to that but right now…
“My mother died when I was little. Most of my memories of her include her dressing me up in sailor outfits, and her drinking my sea monkeys when she was drunk. I mean sure I got my love of movies from her, but the rages of drunken anger followed by days where she couldn’t seem to be bothered by me are hard to forget. My father never wanted anything to do with me before she died, but once she was gone it was even worse. I was just in the way most of the time. He’s a charmer though.” Tony snorts and flashes Gibbs a cynical grin.
“People love Senior. He’s great a charming fellow as they say… right up until you realize that he’s stolen all your money and you’re now homeless. Senior can and probably would scam the pants off a homeless guy if he thought he could make a buck off them. Even better he can make you thank him for the experience you’ll be so charmed. Family though…”
“You now he always says that my mother was the love of his life. I don’t remember that though, but I suppose a child’s memory of an adult relationship could be a little off kilter. Mostly I remember them hating each other, and wishing I would just go away.”
Tony stood and moved to the window to look out at the courtyard. “Senior would tell you that those memories are wrong, too. He would tell you that we have a close loving relationship. My memory of it is somewhat more… painful and absent. But hey! He gave me Ziva right?” Tony flashed Gibbs another mostly plastic and empty grin before he settled into morose again.
“You want the truth, Gunny? I’m scared shitless that, that’s what my boys are gonna remember about Ziva and me what I remember about my parents. What the hell will I do if I’ve already messed up their lives already? What am I gonna do if someday they hate me as much as I hate my father now? I don’t think I could live with myself. Of course… I’m probably being ungrateful.
“I mean, who wouldn’t want a marriage to a beautiful spiteful woman who it turns out is a terrorist. Who wouldn’t want to live the rest of their life with someone who threatens to murder them on almost a daily basis? Who wouldn’t enjoy being reminded of all their failures constantly? Who wouldn’t want to live every day knowing the loving, sympathetic, kind hearted woman that you fell in love with and married was just a ruse?”
Tony chuckles and turns to look back out the window. “Chris says that I must have been hit by the crazy train at some point, because you are so much more my normal MO than the elusive Ziva David.”
Tony saw Gibbs’ eyebrow lift, and a smile cross his face before he realized what he said. Groaning he pounded his head against the glass cursing his stupidity. “I can’t believe I just said that. Feel free to ignore that last part… Sometimes my mouth gets ahead of my brain.”
Gibbs just smirked and moved closer to Tony’s spot at the window. “It’s ok Tony.”
Tony huffed and turned to look at the man to apologize again. “Look, Gibbs…”
“I said that it’s ok, DiNozzo. I’m interested in you, too.” When Tony just gaped at him, Gibbs chuckled and leaned in closer so that he could whisper in Tony’s ear. “I think you’re pretty damn hot actually, and I’m glad you came here, too. Your parents were fools, and when you’re ready let me know. I’d like to take you out.” Turning his head, Gibbs placed a kiss on Tony’s cheek then left, whistling happily in search of some coffee.