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Epilogue: Home for the Holiday
Tony walked in the door, and threw his keys in the bowl on the table. Pausing he listened, hearing shrieks of laughter coming from the kitchen. Smiling he headed upstairs to change and secure his weapon in the gun safe in the bedroom he now shared with Jethro. His partner had moved in just the weekend before, and Tony couldn’t have been happier. The older man had practically been living at the house anyway for the last 6 months, but they hadn’t wanted to rush things. Both knew they were building something too important.
Because of his unpredictable hours at NCIS though, Jethro was the one who tended to pick the boys up from daycare and get dinner going. About a month back, Tony’d finally bitten the bullet and asked Jethro to move in. It’d taken several weeks for their cases to cooperate, but things had eventually worked out. Pride, LaSalle, even Loretta and Sebastian had helped along with a couple of his frat brothers who lived in the area. Steve had driven down from DC for the weekend to help as well.
Picking his new badge up off the bed, Tony headed downstairs and toward the kitchen. About a month after moving into Loretta’s he’d been frustrated feeling like he’d never find something perfect. Everyone outside of Jethro been telling him he didn’t need perfect, but Tony hadn’t been willing to compromise. Jethro seemed to understand his need, even if Tony hadn’t quite. The older woman, sensing his frustration, had offered to keep the boys, and suggested he go out for a drive. He’d at the time just recently gotten an old Mustang that he was restoring, and had been more than happy to take her up on the offer.
Driving around aimlessly he’d ended up on the outskirts of town, and frankly was more than a little lost. He’d decided to pull into the driveway of what looked like an abandoned house to figure out where he was. The sun had been setting and he’d been trying to locate where he was using google maps on his phone, when he decided to get out and walk around.
As he moved up the driveway, the old house came into view, and Tony’d been enchanted right then and there. He chuckled remembering the call to Jethro excited and completely lost. It’d taken Jethro, Pride, and LaSalle tracking his phone for them to figure out where he was. The house was a little further out from the office than Tony’d wanted, but Pride gave his approval the second he’d seen the house. Apparently it had a long and colored history, like most of the older buildings in New Orleans. Tony had enjoyed researching the history of the place in his spare time. Fixing the place up was quite a project, but fortunately Tony had the money, and Jethro had the know-how. It helped that Pride and Christopher were both handy with a hammer and more than willing to help of free weekends in exchange for booze and Tony’s home cooking.
Pausing in the kitchen door Tony smiled seeing the boys, now 3, standing on chairs “helping” Jethro make dinner. They tended to make more of a mess than they did help, but his lover didn’t mind. They both liked teaching them what they knew. Jethro’s own cooking skills had gotten better as he tended to hang out with Tony when he was cooking, and had picked up some things. When Jethro looked up, Tony grinned as the boys shouted their hellos. Moving to the counter, Tony gave them each a peck, Jethro’s being a little more than that, before leaving them to their devices. Heading to the living room, Tony sat in his rocker. He sat looking at his first Christmas tree thinking about how different this Christmas was going to be from the last.
Last year he’d been overwhelmed and low on self-confidence. He’d been scared for not just his life, but his children’s lives as well. He hadn’t had any idea what he was going to do, how he was going to support his children, or if he was even going to be able to keep them safe. This year he had a home of his own, a lover who treated him as if he was some treasure, and his boys were showing no negative signs from what they’d gone through. Last year he hadn’t been sure who his friends were, this year he had more friends and family than he knew what to do with. With the news he’d gotten from Pride that afternoon… things were only going to get better from there on out.
Later that evening, after finally getting the boys to bed. At 3 they were finally old enough to kind of understand the concept of Santa. It had finally been the threat of him not coming that had gotten the exited boys to sleep. He and Jethro had finally gotten all of Santa’s gifts out and under the tree, and were setting down enjoying the quiet together.
“The FLETC training is officially over. You are now living with Very Special Probationary Agent Anthony Dimitri DiNozzo.” Reaching in his pocket, Tony handed his new badge over to Jethro who opened it and nodded proudly.
“M’proud of ya, Tone. I knew you could do it. Did Pride an’ Christopher get off on their trip?” Tony nodded smiling.
“That’s why I was a little late getting home. I took them to the airport this afternoon, and wouldn’t you know it. The second I got back to the office a lead came in on a cold case. I had to call a friend of Pride’s at NOPD to help me track it down. Wouldn’t ya know we caught the guy, which is a pain in the ass only because it was just me. Good thing for my new shiny probationary agent badge. NOPD is storing the guy ‘til Pride gets back. The guy definitely did it, Sebastian already has the DNA evidence back. Pride’s detective friend is gonna help me do the interrogation on Monday. I uhh… I got some other news today.”
Tony paused and could feel Jethro turning to look at him. Taking a deep breath, Tony grabbed the older man’s hand, squeezing it slightly tighter than normal needing the reassurance. “They’re all dead, Ziva, her father, and Senior. They’re all dead. Pride says that Fornell and the FBI think it was some coordinated attack from one of Eli’s enemies. Fornell figures someone must have been afraid of what one of them was gonna say. I guess Eli had started talking to the FBI & Homeland, and they figure that’s what triggered it. So, it’s done. It’s officially over. We’re finally 100% free.”
Tony felt his eyes fill with tears, and Jethro drew him into his arms as Tony let go of the final bit of pain. He’d worked hard over the last year not just in FLETC, but also with a psychiatrist friend of LaSalle’s. She was helping him get over the abuse he’d gone through from not only Ziva, but his father also. He’d felt for some time though like he was in some kind of holding pattern. Taking a shaky breath, Tony sat up and looked at the man who had become the love of his life.
“Thank you, Jethro. Thank you for sticking by us, and being patient though all the moods and the bullshit. I love you Leroy Jethro Gibbs.” The older man just nodded and pulled him into a kiss, and finally Tony relaxed fully.
“Love you too, Tone.” Jethro whispered in his ear after the kiss ended. Tony let his head drop to rest on the older man’s chest as he sprawled out on the couch. He’d had no idea this would become home a year ago, but the rest of his life would be spend living and loving in The Big Easy.