See Main Page for Content Warnings, Characters, Relationships, Etc.
Chapter 6: Confessions
Tony stepped out of Loretta Wade’s house needing some air. He was a little overwhelmed with so many people being there for him, people he knew and didn’t. The fact that this woman opened her house on Christmas to himself and his frat brothers was more than a little overwhelming in of itself. Every single person had brought things for him and the boys. Every one of the boy’s gifts had been marked From Santa with some elaborate story about how Santa had spread out their gifts because he wasn’t sure where they would be. Of course their favorites were still the little wooden truck and boat they’d gotten from Jethro on that first day and the wooden train set that’d been in Gibbs’ store. Tony found that somewhat fitting.
“Hey, you ok?” Tony heard from behind him, and turning quickly surprised saw Jethro standing behind him. “Whoa, sorry I didn’t mean to scare you. I can leave you alone if you don’t want company. I just wanted to make sure nothing was wrong.”
Tony quickly shook his head, trying to smile, but guessing he wasn’t doing a good job. “No, please… stay Gunny. I just needed some air.” Gibbs nodded and motioned toward a bench in Loretta’s garden. Both men moved over, sitting close together unconsciously. “Everything’s happened so fast. Did you know Miss Loretta offered to put us up until I find a home for me an’ the boys and get it decorated and such? She doesn’t even know me!”
Gibbs snorted, putting his arm across the back of the bench so he could rub the younger man’s neck. “That’s just the way they do it down here, Tony. People help each other. Plus you’re a friend of Pride’s, an’ there’s a lot of people in this town who would give their right arm for him. I’m uhh… I’m really glad you decided to stay. I got you something. I thought… Well I wanted to give it to you in private. I don’t want you to feel obligated to wear it, but…” Jethro handed Tony a small black leather pouch.
Opening it up, Tony tipped the pouch over feeling something small slide down into his hand. It appeared to be a silver pendant of an axe on a black leather strap. Turning his head Tony looked at Jethro questioningly as he slipped it on over his head.
Jethro sighed, feeling relieved when Tony put the gift on. He hoped that meant that the younger man liked the gift and still would after he heard what it was. “I don’t… It’s the axe of Ogoun. Supposed to be for protection. I dunno if I believe all that hoodoo/voodoo stuff, but it’s a big part of this place and I… Well I know you’ve accepted Pride’s offer. I thought… I just want you to be safe. I know…”
Tony watches as Jethro huffs frustrated and moves a hand to squeeze his leg staying silent. He had a feeling if he interrupted the older man would never finish. “I’m not very good at talkin’ ‘bout all this emotional stuff. I wanted to get you something more personal. Like I said I don’t know if I believe all that, but I know you’re gonna be out in the field, and I just… I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a little more protection.
“I used to have a partner. His name was Shannon. We met in the marines. He died here in New Orleans though. I was… I was still overseas. I was finishing up my final mission. He’d gotten out six months before and we’d decided to settle here. He was killed by a drug dealer a week before I was to come home. He’d seen him kill someone, and tried to help. He survived two tours in Iraq, and then gets murdered here.
“I never thought I’d get over Shannon, never thought I would meet someone who could compete with who he was. Pride’s pointed out though that Shannon loved life, and demanded that it be lived to its fullest. Christopher says that you have the same life philosophy. Shannon would’ve been the first one in line to help out you an’ them boys of yours, too. You’re the first person I’ve met since he died that reminded me of him, but at the same time felt like your own person.”
Tony nodded understanding, and rubbed Jethro’s leg trying to show his support. He was awed that this proud man was laying out all of his pain to share with him. “I don’t want you to think you’re some substitute for Shannon, ‘cause you’re not. I’ve had a lotta them. I didn’t tell any of them about Shannon up front though an’ they all failed miserably. I thought maybe if I laid it all out at the start… Shannon will always be a part of my life. The others all wanted me to forget him, but…”
“What bullshit!” Tony shot out finally unable to stay silent. “Who the hell do they think they are? You don’t forget someone you love. Not ever.” Tony shook his head scowling. “Sounds like those other people were all idiots. The last thing I want for you to do is feel like you have to hide how you feel about Shannon. Just because you and I are starting something doesn’t mean I expect you to not love him anymore. Do I want to compete with the memory of someone who is not living? No, but you’ve said I’m not a replacement and I am taking you for your word. If Shannon was a part of your life, I WANT you to talk about him when you feel the need. I want my boys to grow up knowing who Shannon was. People are stupid. Fortunately I’m not.”
Jethro snorted looking at Tony and just gave in letting his head fall back as he laughed. He had a feeling his life was going to be as far from boring as you could get from here on out. He saw Tony leaning toward him and closed his eyes, letting himself enjoy his first kiss with this amazing man. Wrapping his arms around Tony, letting himself savor this moment. When he opened his eyes, he could see a star shining brightly in the sky above them. A very hidden romantic part of himself believed beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was Shannon giving his blessing.