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He wakes up, snuggled deep into his sleeping bag on the couch, the television muted but still flickering with some late night infomercial. For a moment it confuses him why he is in his sleeping bag and not just sprawled on the couch with his pillow and blanket as is his usual habit, but sitting up, he catches sight of Bishop on the other couch, only her blond hair showing, the rest of her hidden in her own sleeping bag.

Right. The team is spending the night at his house because none of their apartments had power during this interminable winter storm. He glances over at Bishop again, her hair shining brightly in the relative darkness of the room. The case they just closed had been rough on her. It had been personal. He hopes she will be able to walk away from it after this, and to trust in her team and work with her team the next time instead of going to confront the killer by herself. Even though he’d yelled at her afterwards, reminding her of the rules that she’d broken, he immediately forgave her too. These were the hardest rules to follow. He should know.

Sighing, he unzips the sleeping bag partially and crawls out, feeling the cold air. The fire in the fireplace has died down some. Immediately he worries about Tony and Tim on the cold floor. He sees McGee zipped up like a burrito, only his nose, forehead and hair showing, eyes closed, in a deep sleep. Tony’s sleeping bag is unzipped and empty.

Where has the man gone? Last thing he remembered was him shushing Tony when the younger man complained about the pacing of the movie they had been watching. Holiday Inn. No doubt Tony would have been able to rattle off the year it was made, the director, the actors and probably at least three amusing anecdotes about the filming of the movie, and then launch into a diatribe about the issues he had had with the pacing of the movie. Hence the pre-emptive shushing. But that was hours ago. Where the hell was the man and why wasn’t he in his sleeping bag?

Tony had better not be snooping around, he thinks grumpily. Tony should have already done most of his snooping during the first weeks that they had started working together all those many years ago, when Tony had ended up staying with him after leaving Baltimore, staying with Gibbs until his apartment was available. So he should really be done snooping by now. But if Tony wasn’t poking his nose where it didn’t belong, then where was he?

Gibbs pokes the fireplace, stirs it up and places a few more logs in it, ensuring that the room will warm up some. He stops to check his thermostat, adjusting it a little, before going to relieve his bladder. He sees that the door to the basement is cracked open a little, and a sliver of light coming from it.

He’d better not be messing around with the goddamn boat, Gibbs thinks, still grumpy with sleep. Tony might be multi-talented and multi-faceted, but woodworking is not his strong suit. Stifling a yawn, he quietly moves to the door to the basement and carefully steps in to the top of the stairs. He sees Tony immediately, back to him, sitting on a sawhorse at his workbench, scarf wound around his neck, ears plugged up with something connected to his little music player iPod thing. He seems to be typing things into his laptop and humming quietly under his breath, occasionally swaying to the music and moving his hands gracefully in the air, fingers fluttering, apparently moved by the music.

For long moments, Gibbs stands and watches him silently, smiling to himself. It is rare that he is able to observe his partner and friend of fifteen years in such an unguarded moment. Being able to observe Tony in private, a Tony without the usual masks, a Tony who is being honest with himself, that is a very rare occurrence and Gibbs stands there, appreciating the view for a long time. Tony is listening to something that seems to be making him genuinely happy and that in itself seems to be something even rarer these days.

Tony’s hands alternate between typing on the laptop and fluttering in the air in time to the music, long fingers moving gracefully. Although the man is humming quietly under his breath, Gibbs’ sharp ears are able to pick out that he is not pulling his punches, and his under-the-breath humming is sweet and melodious. Tony tries hard to sing badly in front of people, but as Gibbs has always suspected, his actual singing voice is more than adequate. Beautiful, even. Tony’s voice dips into a lower register for a moment, and the vibrations deep within his chest makes Gibbs’ dick harden in his sweatpants.

He closes his eyes and thinks of McGee making out with Abby’s elderly nun friend Sister Rosita, which quickly makes his erection die down. For a moment he contemplates just crawling back into his sleeping bag and leaving Tony to have his moment alone, but then he wonders why the man is up at – he looks at his watch – 0300, and typing away into his laptop. Has he turned into McGee and started writing novels in his spare time? He smiles as he scoffs at the idea. Unlike McGee, Tony is far too full of life to sit and write about it instead of cannonballing himself into participating in it, eyes wide open. He’s too busy experiencing life to sit and reflect upon it or write about it. He sees Tony writing his very colorful memoirs when he is old and feeble, but probably charming a very beautiful young woman to scribe it for him. He smiles at this image.

He moves quietly and deliberately down the stairs. Tony is oblivious – still typing on his laptop and humming tunefully under his breath. When he is right behind the man, he peeks over his shoulder and sees that Tony is completing NCIS paperwork – was that requisition forms? Huh. Still working late at night then, just not dragging himself into the office as often. Gibbs still keeps an eye on the night time security feed in the bullpen to monitor Tony’s nocturnal work habits, thankful to see a lot less of it in recent years, but now he realizes he should speak to Abby to see if she can track his nocturnal work online from home.

He places a hand on Tony’s shoulder, making him jump, squeak, wrench his arm away and pull out and unfold his knife in one quick move, a shocked response.

“Motherfucker!” Tony swears when he sees that it is Gibbs, his heart pounding in his chest. “You just about gave me a fucking heart attack!” The swearing is uncharacteristic of him, at least not usually directed at Gibbs.

“Sorry,” Gibbs says, causing Tony’s eyes to widen. Had Gibbs just apologized to him? Gently, Gibbs pushes the hand with the knife out of his face and sheepishly, Tony folds it up and slips it back into his pocket.

“Yeah, sorry, Boss,” Tony says meekly. “Didn’t mean to pull a knife on you in your own home, at a time when you literally took us in out of the cold. Usually you head slap me when you sneak up on me. Wouldn’t have reacted this way if you’d done that.”

Gibbs waves the apology away wordlessly.

“What are you doing up?” he asks the younger man.

Tony shrugs. “I always have trouble sleeping through the night and the floor was doing nasty things to my back. I thought about snuggling up to McGee to at least use him as a pillow or a cushion but didn’t think he’d appreciate that,” he grins saucily.

Gibbs has to contain the anger and possessiveness at the thought of Tony cuddling up to McGee but his mind shies away from thinking about who he thinks Tony should be cuddling up to instead.

“Besides, there’s always a ton of paperwork to do, so I just came down here to work. I didn’t wake you, did I?” Tony continues.

“No, I had to hit the head,” Gibbs shakes his head. “How is your laptop even connected to work? I don’t have the internet here. On purpose.”

“Ah, the power of the wifi hotspot,” Tony grins, holding up his phone.

“Whatever,” Gibbs purses his lips, frowning. “You do this often?”

Tony is already turning back to his laptop and typing away, listening to Gibbs with half an ear. “Do what often?” he puts his earbuds in and fiddles with his iPod.

“Get up and work in the middle of the night.”

“You know I do my best work at night,” Tony quips with a grin. “Plus this means tomorrow I get to do something cruel and unusual to McGee and Bishop instead of boring paperwork. So it’s totally worth the hassle of getting this done tonight.”

Gibbs grunts. “Don’t do anything too awful.”

“I haven’t superglued anyone to anything in a while,” he says thoughtfully. “Haven’t been able to think of original ways to get him. Might mean I’ve been picking on the Probie too long.”

“Might mean you need to stop pranking him.”

“But then what would be the point of my life?” Tony’s words are light, but Gibbs is taken aback at the slight edge of bitterness and maybe even desperation in his tone. Tony has been pulling back in the last few months, not coming around to the basement, not seeking his counsel on things. Their usually familiar relationship outside of work has cooled considerably of late. He had had to hear about Tony breaking up with Zoe second hand. And although Tony seems to be kidding now, there is something there. He has been soul searching of late, and Gibbs has been trying to keep himself more aloof than usual, so as to not influence Tony’s conclusions and / or decisions. But maybe that was a mistake? He tries to recall the last time Tony had come by and hung out in the basement with him, and it might have been when the younger man had dropped by to give him a garment bag to use to pack his things before his trip to LA, after the Mitchell case.

“Hey,” Gibbs pulls the earbud out of one ear, deciding to close the distance between them. “What’s going on with you?”

“What do you mean?” Tony looks genuinely surprised.

“You haven’t come around for steaks and beer for a while.”

Tony shrugs, his expression suddenly shuttered, his green eyes carefully bland. “Didn’t seem like you wanted me around.”

“Why would you think that? My door’s always open.”

Tony gives him a pointed look. “Think I don’t know when I’m not wanted?” he says quietly. “Given what you know about my family, you, of all people, know that I know when I’m not wanted.” He plucks the earbud out of Gibbs’ hand, plugs it into his ear, and deliberately turns away from Gibbs. “I’ll be out of your hair in the morning.”

“You have no power at your place. You’ll turn into a popsicle.”

He grunts a response, turns up his music, and goes back to typing. “Won’t be the first time I’ve slept in my chair at work.”

“Even if the rest of the team is still here?”

Tony sighs and turns back to Gibbs, trying to keep his expression bland. “Look, I know you’ve put up with me for fifteen years. You’ve made it clear in the last few months that you think it’s time for me to get my own life and leave you alone. You even got yourself a new probie and you’re actually taking an interest in her this year, the way you used to take an interest in me – so I got the message, OK? I’m looking around for other opportunities. But I’m taking my time. Cause I really don’t want to leave DC and start over completely in a new city, the way I did before this job. Surely you wouldn’t be so cruel as to push me out into the cold without any support.”

“What?” Gibbs is genuinely surprised at Tony’s words and the underlying bitterness accompanying it. “What exactly are you talking about?”

Now Tony cannot hide his expression, he looks tired and put upon. Keeping his voice low, and without meeting Gibbs’ eyes, he speaks tonelessly, as if he has said these things to himself many times. “Look, Gibbs, I get it. I’m all grown up now. You’re done with me and you’ve made it clear since I got back from Hong Kong that my place is no longer on your team or on your six. I might be persistent, but after fifteen years of you being my boss, you’ve got to know that I get what you’re doing. You’re pushing me out of the nest. Asking me to think about what I want in life? Making me make decisions that upset our team’s chain of command? I get it. OK? I’m looking for opportunities. But you also have to understand that, at the end of the day, you guys are still the only family I know…” Tony’s voice stutters a little at this, “so I really would prefer to stay in DC rather than move someplace new and start completely over. I’m too old for that shit, Boss. I’d miss you guys too much if I had to move from DC. So I’m looking but I’m looking for something that’s right for me but still in the area.”

Gibbs sighs, and Tony practically jumps out of his skin when he puts a hand gently on his shoulder. “I didn’t mean for you to move across the country or anything. Or do anything immediately.”

Tony shrugs. “I know when I’m not wanted, Boss. I get it. I’ve been bugging you for fifteen years. Even Burley only lasted five.”


“Fuck, Gibbs. The man’s name is Stan,” Tony rolls his eyes.

Gibbs shrugs, uncaring. “I never got your name wrong.”

“For which I’m eternally grateful. Not to mention I am grateful for you being a big part of the best years of my life, Boss.”

Gibbs sighs again. “I was surprised you stopped coming around. Thought maybe you would come and talk to me about this before you did anything.”

Tony arches an eyebrow and purses his lips but remains silent. Gibbs finds himself staring at the deep dimple in Tony’s left cheek, something that he has been obsessing about for the past fifteen years.

“Let’s be honest tonight, Tony,” Gibbs says, and his use of Tony’s first name surprises the younger man.

The younger man frowns. “It didn’t seem like you would want me hanging around your house, if you were pushing me out at work,” he finally says, very softly, stiltedly. Almost in an undertone. He cannot stop from flushing at his extreme honesty, and he turns his reddened face away.

Gently, Gibbs cups his face and turns it, waiting until Tony raises his big green eyes to meet his. He smiles fondly. “I told you before, I don’t waste good. At this point, you know you’re wasted being my second. You need your own team. I don’t want to stand in the way of that. Didn’t mean you weren’t welcome for dinner, or down here. Even after you get your own team.”

Surprisingly Tony’s eyes fill with tears which he quickly banishes by sheer willpower. “Thanks, Boss,” he says softly.

“’Sides, you can’t leave it so I only talk to Taft and Fornell outside of work.”

Tony shudders at that thought. “That does sound pretty dire, Boss.”

“It is.”

They stare at each for a long moment before Gibbs taps his chin once and releases it, and Tony visibly shakes himself. “Got it, Boss. Separation of work and home then.”

They stare at each other, and for the first time in months, Tony feels like they are communicating non-verbally again. Gibbs’ eyes are warm, reassuring and welcoming, and they understand now where the other is coming from. Gibbs picks up a mug and blows on it, reaching for the bottle of bourbon. He pours them each a drink.

“You going back to bed, Boss?” Tony asks, turning back to the laptop and beginning to type again.

“Might work on the boat.”

Tony nods and starts to plug the earbuds back in. “Mind if I stay down here and work while you do that?”

“Just told you you’re always welcome.”

Tony flashes him a grin, small but genuine. “Got it, Boss.” He puts the earbuds in and turns the music back on. But before Gibbs moves away, he puts a hand on Tony’s shoulder again. The younger man takes the earbud out and fiddles with his iPod, a questioning look on his face.

“Didn’t mean to hurt you,” Gibbs says quietly, regret coloring his tone. “Didn’t know how to have this conversation with you. I should have found a different way.”

Tony’s smile shakes a little at the almost apology. He nods. “It’s OK.”

“Don’t really want you to go,” Gibbs continues, committed to the honesty of the moment. “But it would be a disservice to you for me to keep you with me.”

Tony’s heart skips at this, and his shaky smile widens.

“Meant it when I told your father you were the best young agent I ever worked with. Now you’re just the best agent I ever worked with.”

“You saying I’m old now, Boss?” Tony says playfully, prepared to duck the head slap, but Gibbs slowly moves his hand from Tony’s shoulder to the back of his head and pets his hair softly.

“Never. You’ll always be my golden boy, Tony,” Gibbs words are soft but heartfelt, and Tony’s eyes fill with tears again. This time he brushes it away quickly with a sniff.

“I appreciate that, Boss,” he says just as softly. “You’ve been everything to me for so many years, it will feel like I’m being orphaned when I go.”

Gibbs tries to ignore the stab of pain in his chest at the thought of Tony leaving his team.

“But if I can come over every so often, then maybe I won’t be completely orphaned.”

“You do that. Consider it an order.”

Tony’s pleased smile lights up his face. “Thanks Boss.”

Then, the men turn to their separate tasks. Tony goes back to the paperwork and begins humming under his breath again while Gibbs picks up a sanding block and begins the painstaking work of sanding down the boat. After a while, he pauses his motions. Tony’s humming keeps affecting him. All this honesty is making it difficult for Gibbs to tune out his feelings, not to mention an honest and open Tony, a Tony showing his true self and some of his vulnerabilities is a truly attractive Tony. And either Tony isn’t aware that he’s humming using his real voice (his sweet, soulful voice), or he is aware but has decided Gibbs is allowed to hear it, either way, Gibbs is finding it very distracting.

He walks back to the workbench, tosses down the sanding block and his safety goggles and waits for Tony to look at him. When the younger man looks up, eyebrow raised in question, he plucks the earbud out of one ear.

“Oh sorry, Boss, am I bothering you?”

“What are you listening to?” Gibbs asks, ignoring Tony’s question.

Surprisingly, Tony flushes again. “Uh, well.”

“Not some sappy song?”

“Well. Kind of,” Tony makes a face as he takes the other earbud out and gestures to Gibbs to put the earbuds on.

Throwing caution to the wind, Gibbs nudges Tony with his hip to make him scoot over and sits himself down next to him on the sawhorse, their hips and thighs flush so they both fit on it. He lifts his chin to signal to Tony to keep one and he puts the other earbud in his ear, and both men keep their heads close together to hear the music. To Gibbs’ surprise, he hears classical music. Stringed instruments of some sort, and not very many of them. The music is slow, melodious, and dramatic.

“The hell is this?”

“Brahms String Sextet in B-flat,” Tony says, his tone uncertain. “The second movement.”

“You listen to classical?”

“Well, you know I double majored in Phys Ed and Music at OSU, right?”

Gibbs grunts, listening to the music and finding himself strangely moved by it. “You playing in this?”

“Oh, hell no,” Tony grins. “No, I don’t play violin, viola or cello.”

They listen together, and Gibbs finds himself watching closely when Tony closes his eyes, a small smile teasing his full lips, swaying a little to the music. “This piece is special to you,” he says, a statement, not a question.

Tony opens his eyes, and grins sheepishly. “Yeah. My mother, you know, she used to drag me to the symphony, the opera, and the ballet when I was a kid.”

“Weren’t you eight when she died?”


“She took an eight year old to the symphony, opera, and ballet?”

“I was probably much younger when she started taking me. I don’t even remember not going with her. My dad, well, let’s just say he wasn’t the kind to do this with my mom, so I got to go,” Tony says matter of factly. “I didn’t mind. At least I got to wear a suit suit and not the sailor suit. Anyway, I liked those performances OK. I just liked spending time with my mom, I think. But when I went to college, I went to my first chamber music concert, and this was the first piece I ever heard performed live. It was in this small venue, and this girl from my music class invited me to go to this concert. It was amazing. Unlike those big productions my mom took me to, this was small, this was intimate, this was personal,” Tony flashes an intense look at Gibbs. “They were playing for us. Honestly, it got me so…turned on,” he looks embarrassed.

“I bet the girl you were with was happy about that.”

Tony starts chuckling and shaking his head at the memory. “Actually no, cause I ditched her and hit on the first violin and the first cellist after the performance. Went home with them, if I recall correctly.”

“Bet that made music class interesting after that?”

“Eh. It was worth it,” Tony’s eyes are far away. “Mmm. That first violin was something else.”

“She was tiny and delicate?”

“No, that was the cellist. She was tiny and delicate. No, the first violinist was delicate I suppose, but uh, he was definitely not tiny.”

Gibbs finds himself raising his eyebrow at Tony’s words, his heart pounding. While he had strongly suspected this about the younger man, he had never had real confirmation of it. “You were into men?” he asks carefully.

“Still am,” Tony shrugs. “Didn’t advertise that, especially when I was a cop. Helps that I enjoy women too, of course. I just always thought you knew that about me. You didn’t know about my preferences? Or I suppose, lack of? Which makes me sound like I’d sleep with anyone, but really, I do have standards.”

Gibbs suppresses the urge to slap his head to stop his nervous babbling. “I guessed it, but I didn’t really know for sure,” he tells him.

“Well. Hope that doesn’t change what you think about me.” Gibbs could hear the uncertainty in Tony’s words.

Gibbs snorts and cuffs the back of his head gently.

“Thanks, Boss,” Tony smiles at him. They sit in silence, listening to the rest of the movement, heads almost touching, connected by the wires of the earbud, shoulders occasionally brushing.

When the music ends, Gibbs smiles at the younger man. “That was nice.”

Tony smiles shyly. “Yeah? Not as good as hearing it performed live.”

“You still get…turned on by that?”

“Guaranteed,” Tony sighs, smiling at the memory.

“Whatever happened with the violinist and the cellist?”

“Uh, well, I don’t have the best track record for monogamy now, Boss, and I was even wilder back then. Although can you call a threesome a monogamy?” Tony frowns as he thinks about that. “Anyway, it didn’t last.”

Gibbs shakes his head.

“But man, was it good while it lasted,” Tony grins wickedly.

Gibbs snorts a response, rolling his eyes.

“Maybe you’d like to come with me to a performance some time?” Tony says hesitantly. “I mean, I know it’s not your thing. And I haven’t really been open about it being my thing…”

“You gonna ditch me for the performers?”

“No way, Boss. You’d be way hotter than anyone else there, for one thing.” There is a pause, and Tony stares at Gibbs, eyes wide. “Uh, any chance I only thought that and didn’t actually say that out loud?”

“No, you said that out loud.”

“Right. This honesty thing might be a bad idea, Boss. Uh, so you gonna kill me now or later?”

Gibbs stares at him for a long moment – Tony’s green eyes are wide with worry, his breaths coming in short pants. They are still sitting so very close together on the sawhorse. Without thinking about it, Gibbs leans in closer, getting in Tony’s face. The younger man takes a deep breath and holds it, ready for his punishment. His eyes widen as Gibbs moves even closer and tentatively brushes his lips over his, a soft caress, soft lips exploring his tentatively. Completely stunned, Tony freezes, his entire being focused on Gibbs’ lips on his, so surprised by this development that he forgets to respond, staying still, not even breathing.

After a moment, Gibbs pulls away and looks into Tony’s stunned eyes. “Is that honest enough for you?” he asks quietly.

Tony nods, swallowing audibly.

“You OK with that?”

Tony nods again.

“Want me to stop?”

Slowly he shakes his head.

“OK if I do that again?”

He nods.

Smiling, Gibbs leans in and presses his lips on Tony’s again, this time sucking his lower lip in, cupping the back of the younger man’s head as he nibbles and sucks on the lips that he has fantasized about for years. He swipes his tongue on Tony’s lips, requesting entry, and when Tony responds with a breathy moan and begins kissing back, opening his mouth, Gibbs pushes his tongue in and begins exploring his mouth thoroughly. He pulls away when the need to breathe is overwhelming, and Tony’s whimper makes his already hard cock throb and weep.

“We can’t go into this right now,” he says softly, fingers still in Tony’s hair.

“Right,” Tony nods, face falling, taking it as a rejection.

“Because the rest of the team is upstairs,” Gibbs reminds him.

“Oh, right,” he nods again, smiling slightly now.

“When power is restored, and they’ve all gone back home, come for dinner.”


“I’ll cook.”

“Like old times?”

“Hopefully not,” Gibbs rolls his eyes. “Like a date, DiNozzo.”

“A-are you asking me out?”

Gibbs nods.

For a moment Gibbs thinks he will say no, but then he smiles, a wide open smile, a smile that Gibbs hasn’t seen in a long time. “OK,” he says. “I’d like that.”


Tony grabs the front of Gibbs’ hoodie and pulls him close for another kiss. This time, he is the aggressor, mouth slanting over Gibbs’, sweeping his tongue into Gibbs’ mouth, exploring it fully, sucking on Gibbs’ tongue, nibbling on his lips.

When they pull apart, they are both breathless and panting, and definitely aroused. They kiss again, slowly, deliciously, arms around each other, pulling each other close, moaning softly into each other’s mouths.

“Maybe it’s a good thing, you pushing me out of the nest,” Tony mutters into Gibbs mouth as they continue to kiss.

“Why is that?”

“This might get in the way of work. Aren’t we breaking Rule 12?”

Gibbs smiles. “We’ll see,” he says.

Finally they pull away and Gibbs puts his hand on Tony’s cheek, caressing it gently, letting his thumb dip into the dimple that has fascinated him so. “So, dinner with me?”

Tony nods. “Sounds good.”

“Maybe you can take me to a concert sometime. Chamber music, was it?”

“I’ll look for a good one for your first experience.”

“No ditching me. Not even for a threesome.”

“No way. But I might not be able to keep my hands off you during the performance.”

“I’ll be counting on that.”

Tony’s surprised smile is worth it.

“But first, we’ll need to talk some things through.”

Tony’s green eyes are wide and solemn now. He nods quietly.

“Even if nothing comes of this,” Gibbs gestures between them, “I still want you to know that whatever happens at work, you’re always welcome in this house. You hear me?”

Tony nods again, his expression serious. “I hear you, Boss.”

Throwing a quick glance at the top of the basement stairs, Gibbs leans in and claims Tony’s lips again, and this time neither man holds back, kissing with passion and expressing their feelings through the kiss, sighing and moaning into each other’s mouths. Gibbs pulls away, smiling at Tony’s whimper of protest. “I need to step away from you or I won’t be able to stop with just kisses,” he says softly.

“Maybe I don’t want you to stop,” Tony says, his eyes glazed with passion.

“And when we make too much noise, and Bishop and McGee walk in on us, wouldn’t that certainly be an interesting conversation?”

“You assuming I can’t be quiet?”

“I’m assuming we won’t want to be quiet.”

Tony grins. “They should know to keep out of your basement.”

Gibbs caresses Tony’s face and sighs as he stands. “And we should talk first. Before we go further.”

Tony’s eyes widen at the open admission that there would be a ‘further’ to explore. “OK,” he agrees. They smile at each other for a long moment before Gibbs stands up, reluctantly.

“Gonna work on the boat.”

“I’ll get back to work, too.”

And with that, Tony plugs himself back into his iPod and with one last longing look at Gibbs, he turns back to the laptop and forces himself to go back to work. Tony resumes humming under his breath after a while, but Gibbs can tell that he is no longer listening to the song that they had been listening to together, and for some reason that makes him smile. They work in companionable silence until about twenty minutes later, McGee comes shuffling down the stairs.

“Boss?” he mumbles sleepily. “What are you two doing up?”

“Boat,” Gibbs says tersely. He goes over to Tony and puts his hand gently on Tony’s shoulder. McGee is surprised to see Tony turn and give Gibbs a huge smile, one that actually looked genuine and sincere. Tony hasn’t smiled like that to anyone in a while, McGee thinks. Gibbs inclines his head, and Tony turns to see McGee on the stairs. He pulls the earbuds out of his ears and the smile turns into more of an inquiry.

“I woke up and neither of you were up there. Boss is building his boat. What the hell are you doing?”

“Working,” Tony answers honestly.

McGee sighs and rolls his eyes. “Case is over, Tony.”

“I know.”

“Thought you were done with the case reports.”

“I am. Just doing other administrative paperwork. We should set up some time to go over all the paperwork that I do so you know how to pick them up.”

McGee frowns. “What?” he asks sharply. “Why do you want to go over all your paperwork? You going somewhere?” Tony has trained him well. He is suspicious.

“This way I can take my next vacation in peace?” Tony says easily.

McGee keeps frowning. “Things are OK down here?” he asks, trying not to sound too suspicious. Gibbs has been noticeably colder towards Tony in recent months, and while McGee is enjoying the attention that he’s getting, and so is Bishop, he has noticed that Tony has gotten quieter and less exuberant, less Tony-like in response. Despite all their bickering, McGee is more than fond of Tony and worries about the fact that he has chosen to live his life so alone and so separate from the world. Gibbs withdrawing his attention from Tony had to have been a huge blow to the Senior Field Agent, and Tony is his friend and a sweet guy underneath all the bluster and the exterior crap.

“It’s all good,” Tony confirms. He puts his earbuds back in and his finger pauses over the iPod, “you need anything else?”

McGee shakes his head, seeming to be appeased now. Tony turns his music back on and turns back to his laptop screen. McGee sneaks over and looks over Tony’s shoulder.

“He’s actually working, Boss,” McGee turns to Gibbs, eyes wide.

“He works hard,” Gibbs agrees, suppressing a smile.

“Shit, I hope this doesn’t mean he’ll be super glueing me to my keyboard tomorrow,” McGee grumbles as he goes back up the stairs. “I really haven’t missed being an uncooked macaroni in Tony’s toy box. Good night, Boss.”

Gibbs grunts a response. “Put another log on the fire when you get back up there,” he orders McGee.

“On it.”

When McGee has disappeared upstairs and there are no further creaks in the floorboards – he has settled back into his sleeping bag – Gibbs goes back and nudges Tony, making a face at him.

“Yeah. That would’ve been awkward,” Tony responds with a grin, pulling out an earbud.

When they are done in the basement about an hour later, they decide to go back up and try to get a couple more hours of sleep.

“Want me to sleep on the floor?” Gibbs offers.

Tony waves it away. “McGee’ll freak if he wakes up next to you unexpectedly,” he grins.

“Maybe I don’t want you to wake up next to McGee.”

Tony’s eyes widen at the possessive tone in Gibbs’ voice. “Jealous much?”

Gibbs blushes at the rebuke.

“Besides, he’s McGee. He’s my Probie. He doesn’t do anything for me. Unlike you,” Tony bats his eyelashes playfully.

“You remember that.”

“Grumpy Gibbs,” Tony slides an arm around Gibbs’ waist, daringly, and kisses him softly. “I promise, nobody else will get their hands on me until we have our date and the talk.”

Gibbs grunts. “You could come on the couch with me.”

“Yeah and when Bishop and McGee see that, that won’t raise any questions?”

Gibbs sighs. He knows that Tony is right.

“If we’re here tomorrow night, you trade with McGee and we can both be on the floor,” Tony suggests.

Gibbs nods. Once upstairs, Gibbs tends to the fire before settling back down in his sleeping bag on the couch. Tony flips his sleeping bag so his feet are to the TV and his head near the couch. Tony falls asleep first, still smiling up at him. Gibbs slides an arm out of his sleeping bag and places it on Tony’s head, fingers in his hair before he finally falls back to sleep.

Two nights later, power is restored to Bishop’s and McGee’s apartments. Tony’s apartment is still without power, and might remain so over the weekend.

“You can stay with Delilah and me this weekend, Tony,” McGee offers.

Tony grins. “Thanks, McBednBreakfast, but I have a hot date tonight, and my date has assured me that there will be a warm bed for me to sleep in. For as long as I want it,” he smiles lewdly. “I may or may not be sleeping in the bed, but I’m sure we’ll both be warm.”

McGee groans. “Tony,” he objects. “Don’t you think it’s time you looked for something more…serious?”

Tony shrugs. “Didn’t work out with Zoe, McGeek. Maybe serious isn’t in the cards for me.”

McGee sighs. “Don’t just give up on it.”

“I’m not,” Tony says lightly. “But no point holding my breath either. Don’t worry about me. I appreciate your offer for this weekend.”

“If it doesn’t work out with your hot date, you’ll call me?”

“Sure thing, McGee.”