“Come on, Gibbs. We can afford it.”
“That’s not the point. If we buy everything that looks intriguing we’ll soon be out of money.”
“Do you always have to be so parsimonious?”
“Yes. Three alimonies, remember?”
“Yeah. Those women weren’t some of your better decisions.”
“Being in the Marines made sure I was always tidy. Going through 3 divorces made sure I was tidy with my money too.”
”So what made you decide to start a coffee shop?”
“I got a better offer, as you would know.”
Tony grinned happily and dropped a peck on Gibbs’ lips. “Is that all?”
“Well my daughter Kelly always thought it would be cool if Shannon and I opened a coffee shop. After I lost them, it was all I could think about and then I found your shop and you were looking for a partner.”
“Best decision I ever made even if you are stingy.”
Gibbs glared. “You’d be bankrupt if it weren’t for me.”
Tony simply smirked in response. “That doesn’t mean we can’t have any fun.”
Gibbs rolled his eyes and continued brewing the coffee for their early morning customers who would be arriving soon. ”Just order the normal order, Tony. We don’t need more than that.”
“But Gibbs,” Tony pouted.
Gibbs just gave him a look.
Tony huffed. “Fine.”
“Atta boy, Tony. Now, hurry up, Ellie and Jake are on their way in.”
“You got it, boss.”
Tony finished up with the computer and grabbed the muffins out of the oven to put in the display case. By the time Ellie and Jake entered, Tony was at the counter with a smile waiting for them.
“Ellie! What do you want today?”
“I’ll take the usual. What about you, Jake?”
“You have that special, yet, Tony?”
“No,” Tony pouted, “Gibbs wouldn’t let me buy it.”
“Well you keep working on him. I’ll take the Marine Duster for now.”
“You got it.”
“One Alimony and one Marine Duster coming up right away.”
”I still don’t understand how you can drink that crap.” Jake muttered to Ellie.
“Yours is the crap.”
Tony shook his head. “Let’s just agree that they’re all awesome before you guys end up insulting Gibbs again, ok?”
‘Ain’t nothing wrong with my coffee.” Gibbs butted in.
“Damn right.” Tony agreed.
Ellie and Jake took their coffee to their normal table. Tony helped the other customers that came in, keeping an eye on Jake and Ellie. He really liked them.
They seemed like a nice couple, but there was something about Jake that seemed off to Tony. He couldn’t quite place what it was, though. He’d discussed his concerns with Gibbs and Gibbs had told Tony to leave it alone.
So Tony watched, but did nothing. He hated it, but Gibbs was right. They were just coffee shop owners, what could they do?
Well Gibbs could do a lot. He was a Marine, after all. Still they didn’t want to bring unnecessary trouble down on their heads.
Tony watched them leave. Jake had his arm around Ellie’s lower back. He was sending a clear message or so it seemed.
Tony watched his other customers as well. He liked to think this was a family coffee shop joint. He cared about each and every one of his customers.
After all, that was how he’d gotten Gibbs to marry him so many years ago. Gibbs had been grumpy and angry at the world after losing his kid and wife and having just divorced his third wife. The guy had stopped in for coffee, black.
Tony had taken one look at him and asked, “You sure you don’t want some sugar in it? You look like you could use some.”
Gibbs had just glared. Tony had grinned and prepared the black coffee. He didn’t know why, but Gibbs had kept coming back.
They’d kept each other on their toes and before he knew it, he was offering Gibbs’ a chance to be his partner in the cafe. He’d never imagined then that he’d be easily calling Gibbs, boss. He didn’t regret it, though.
Marrying Gibbs had been the best thing to happen to him and he was thankful for it every day. The coffee shop was more profitable with Gibbs in charge of finances too. Oh, it had been profitable before, Tony wasn’t bad at finances, but Gibbs was a lot more of a penny pincher and the shop was absolutely thriving under his management.
More than one customer had come in for coffee and gone out knowing how to solve the problem they were facing at work. Tony knew they were doing good. Still sometimes he couldn’t help wondering what their lives would have been like if they’d met before he’d been forced to leave the police force.
Would they be cops together or federal agents? Tony didn’t know. He shook his head as Ellie came in alone and broke him from his thoughts of what could have been.
“Hey Ellie. No Jake today?”
Ellie shook her head. “Nah. He had a meeting with his boss or something. Just me today.”
“That’s too bad. You want your Alimony?”
“That would be great. Thanks Tony.”
“No problem. You just sit down and I’ll bring it out to you, ok? It’s a slow day today.”
Ellie flashed him a smile and put the money for her coffee on the counter before heading for one of the stools along the counter. Tony quickly made her coffee and brought it over to her. “Is everything alright?”
Ellie nodded and smiled slightly. “Yeah.”
“Come on, Ellie. I know you better than that. What’s really bothering you? You can talk to me.”
“I don’t know if I should.”
“Come on if you can’t talk to me, who can you talk to?” Tony gave her his most charming smile.
Bishop laughed and smiled, “I guess that’s true. Still you don’t really want to hear about my troubles.”
“Sure, I do.”
“It’s nothing really.”
“Ellie.” Tony affected a disappointed air.
Ellie sighed. “Fine. It’s Jake.”
“Yeah. His behavior has changed. I don’t know what’s wrong.”
“Well he has a lot more meetings with his boss than he used to.”
“Did you ask him about it?”
“I sure did. He says he’s being looked at for a promotion, but I don’t know it just feels off.”
“Well then there’s only one thing you can do!” Tony announced gleefully.
“Why, investigate, of course. Gibbs and I will help out too. It will be awesome.”
“Oh no, I don’t think that’s necessary.”
“Of course it is, Ellie. It’s bothering you and you won’t feel better until you know for sure what’s going on, right?”
“Well I suppose.”
“Exactly. Now come on, I’ll just tell Gibbs what’s up so he can watch the counter and then we’ll go find this husband of yours.”
Gibbs gave Tony a look that told Tony his husband was well aware of what he was doing. Tony just grinned, shrugged, and waved. “I’ll be back later. Don’t have too much fun without me.”
Gibbs rolled his eyes as he watched his husband leave with Ellie. He hoped that Ellie’s husband wasn’t cheating. Ellie deserved better than that.
Gibbs had experienced the whole cheating spouse thing, but at least he sort of deserved it by being a bastard. Ellie didn’t deserve it at all.
“Did Jake tell you where he was meeting her?”
Ellie shook her head. “He just said something about the capitol building.”
“Alright. Well we’ll start there and see what we find. Remember let me do all the talking. They won’t try to sugarcoat with me.”
Ellie nodded. She had no idea what was going to happen, but she was excited for the first time in a long time. Tony parked the car and started sneaking along the wall of the building like he was a spy or something.
It was hilarious. Ellie couldn’t believe what was going on. She had no idea what was up with Jake.
She feared the worst, but Tony’s antics were making it hard for her to stay sad. Tony led her to a bench to sit on while he headed into the capitol building to find out where Jake and his boss were. It felt like forever since Tony went in the building, but finally he was coming out with a beaming smile.
“Come on, Ellie. They’re supposedly at the Red Lobster over there. Let me buy you lunch and let’s see what is really going on with your husband.”
Tony took Ellie’s hand and led her into the restaurant. “Can we get a table with a good view of the restaurant?”
“Sure. Right this way.”
They were handed menus and left to decide. Tony looked around to see if he could see Jake and his boss. He spotted them quickly and swiftly regretted it.
It was obvious that there was more going on here than boss and subordinate. Tony didn’t want to have to be the one to break it to Ellie. Unfortunately, he’d been looking in the same direction for too long and Bishop looked over to see what he was looking at.
“Damn.” She whispered.
“Yeah. What do you want to do now? Confront him?”
Bishop shook her head. “No. Let’s just finish dinner and leave.”
“Whatever you want.”
Tony couldn’t imagine being confronted with proof that your spouse was cheating on you. Gibbs would never do something like that to him, but he knew Gibbs had experienced this pain before. He didn’t know what to say or do now.
He tried to pretend like it was just two friends out for dinner. It seemed like that’s how Ellie wanted to play it. He really wanted to punch Jake, though.
How could he do this to someone like Ellie? Ellie deserved way better than this piece of trash gave her. There had to be something Gibbs and he could do for her when they got back.
He texted Gibbs who responded that he’d make a special pumpkin spice latte for her and to just say when they were a few minutes away, so that he could get started on it. Tony hoped that would help. It didn’t feel like much, but what did you say in this situation?
Sorry for your loss? That made it sound like a funeral. He was a dickhead? That seemed inappropriate for multiple reasons.
Tony didn’t know about Ellie, but his food tasted dry and unappetizing. He was very happy to get the check and leave the restaurant. They headed back to the coffee shop a lot more subdued than when they left.
Tony knew Gibbs would tell him I told you so, but Gibbs would wait until they were alone. He was always getting into trouble like this trying to help out his customers. “I’m sorry, Ellie.”
“It’s not your fault, Tony.”
“I feel like it is.”
“No, it’s not. I’d rather know now than months or years down the road whenever Jake deigned to tell me himself.”
“Maybe there’s an explanation for what we saw?”
“No. No explanation is good enough for that.”
“Take care of yourself, Ellie.”
“Here.” Gibbs grunted, handing the pumpkin spice latte to Ellie along with a note.
Ellie opened the note and stared at it for a minute. “Really?”
Ellie hugged Gibbs and then Tony. “Thanks so much. I can’t wait to start.”
Tony looked at Gibbs in confusion. “She’s our new barista.”
“Oh.” Tony smiled brightly. “We look forward to it, as well, Ellie.”
Ellie waved as she headed back to her house. Tony flipped the closed sign. It was just him and Jethro now. “That was a brilliant idea, Gibbs. Ellie needed that.”
“We do too.”
“Yep. If we’re going to try out that new idea to attract customers you had, we’ll need more hands on deck.”
“Really, Gibbs? I thought you said I couldn’t order it.”
“You couldn’t. I’d already done so.”
Tony gave Gibbs a big hug and kiss. “I love you.”
“Love you too, Tony.”