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Just as Much

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Tony cuts in after the fifth song and can tell Jethro appreciates the rescue even if he’d never say so. “Abbs looked like she was having fun.”

“She doesn’t get much chance to swing since Ducky’s health stopped him from being her partner.”

“She does know she doesn’t get to keep you, right?”

“You wanna to lindy hop with me?”

“No, when it’s my turn I prefer to slow dance. I meant more that I get to go home with you.”

“I think everyone knows who I take home at night, Tony.”

“Really because you seem to have danced with all the girls before I cut in and stole you.”

“I danced with all three of our girls. You danced with Ziva, Sam, Cole, and three strangers.”

“My husband was unavailable.”

“Still enjoying saying that?”

“Don’t think I’m ever going to stop enjoying it.”

“And I seem to recall that the whole world knows that I married you. But if you want all the spots on my dance card you have to tell the girls.”

Tony shakes his head, “I’ll just cut in when I need to. But save me the last dance?”

“Always. You gonna get Jackson out on the dance floor?”

“You think Jack would dance with me?”

“Just avoid the mistletoe.”

Tony grins as he leads Jethro to the spot in question. After a kiss worthy of their audience they separate and Tony heads directly to Jackson.

“Tired of all the staring?” Jackson asks on Tony’s approach.

“Nope. Came to get you stared at. Dance with me Jack.”

“You didn’t get enough of stumbling ineffectually with me at your wedding?”

“Dance with me Jack.”

“My boy put you up to this?”

“No. I danced with most of my girls, one of my boys, my husband, and now I want a dance with my father in law before the last of my girls tries to break my back with some swing dancing I’m really not up to.”

Jackson laughs, “Let her lead. And if she tries to flip you just give her a kiss on the cheek, she’s a sucker for that.”

“I know. Now come on, give the crowd a thrill.”

“You are damn persistent.”

“And it has served me well.”

“I’d say it’s served us all well.”

Tony makes an inquisitive noise in response to that.

“You like to say that it was Abby that made us all a family, but the rest of us know it was you Tony. If you hadn’t brought Leroy around Abby might have the same family she does now, but the rest of us wouldn’t. You make him happy, and in turn that makes him more open. Easier to connect to and deal with.”

Tony shrugs, “He makes me happy. I just do my best to make sure I get to keep that.”

“By reminding him that it’s all right to be happy, to connect to other human beings. I don’t think you have any idea how much you’ve changed him. In the two years you’ve been together I’ve learned more about my son than I ever knew before that. He talks to me. Mostly about you, but to lesser extent about himself, his hopes, his dreams, his plans, his accomplishments, and this quirky little family he acquired by falling for you. My son was always a good man, Tony. But you make him ever better. And while I love you for who you are I love you for what you do for him just as much.”

“I…” Tony shakes his head, “I have no idea how to respond to that Jack. Aside from telling you that is everything I never knew I needed to hear.”

“Merry Christmas, Son.”

That makes Tony grin brightly, “Thanks, Dad. And Merry Christmas to you.”

“And look, here’s Leroy, set to cut in at just the right moment.”

Tony laughs but lets Jethro lead him away.