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The inheritance

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Tony's been away from the office for twelve days now, and Gibbs is going insane. McGee and Bishop are walking on eggshells, Ducky does what he can to protect Palmer from Gibbs' outbursts, and even Abby is careful in her approach whenever Gibbs come down to her lab these days, keeping her responses professional and already aware that she shouldn't expect the usual kisses and hugs Gibbs was once to free to bestow upon her in thanks. Vance watches from on high, standing on the balcony outside MTAC, looking down on the MCRT and worried about the interactions between Gibbs and his team, for the first time really understanding the value of DiNozzo which he had been denying for so long, unable to see the importance of the man he'd always seen as a clown, and had wondered more than once why Gibbs had always insisted should remain on his team. Vance now clearly sees the way Tony levels out the team, the way he plays Gibbs almost surreptitiously, the interference Tony runs when Gibbs becomes unmanageable, the way Tony shields the others from Gibbs' wrath and moods, bearing the brunt of it himself, calming the older man down. At last Vance decides enough is enough, and he summons Gibbs to his office.

Gibbs is furious when Vance tells him in no uncertain terms that Gibbs is taking a leave of absence. The silent fury is obvious in Gibbs' stance, but Leon has been dealing with the formidable Supervisory Agent for years now, and is not easily subdued himself, so he stares Gibbs down and repeats his order.

"Where's Tony, Leon?"

"I don't know."

"Have you had any contact with him?"

"No."

"Is he on some mission for you, or for SecNav?"

And it's only then that Vance realizes DiNozzo didn't talk to Gibbs before he left, and he silently curses himself and DiNozzo in one go. He should have realized that Gibbs didn't know, and that part of this irrational behavior came from worry. DiNozzo has been used before, Vance knows that, and Gibbs has never responded well to it. He takes a deep breath, weighing his options, then decides that he will not betray DiNozzo's confidence, but will set Gibbs on his path, anything for his best team to return to some semblance of normalcy.

"DiNozzo didn't talk to you?"

"No. Not answering his cell, or returning calls. What's going on, Leon?"

"I'm not sure. But it's not a mission, not from us. He asked for personal time."

That seems to freeze Gibbs, and for a moment the man looks almost lost. Vance knows from studying DiNozzo's file that in fourteen years on Gibbs' team, the younger man has never requested for personal time, and thinks he understands Gibbs' reaction. Any time DiNozzo does something unexpected, Gibbs derails. Vance fortifies himself and in an almost understanding tone, again repeats his order for Gibbs to take a leave of absence.

"Go find him, Jethro."

 

McGee and Bishop breathe a sigh of relief when Gibbs comes down from talking to the director and grabs his coat, then leaves without saying a word. Vance watches from the balcony and descends only when Gibbs has safely disappeared into the elevator to inform the two Agents that Gibbs is taking leave and they are to review cold cases in his absence, or are free to take leave as well. Bishop and McGee call Ducky and Abby, and the team meets in the lab a few minutes later. Speculation is rife, but no one dares draw a conclusion on the strangeness of Tony's absence and now Gibbs taking leave, and they all decide that they will remain in the office in the absence of both their lead agents, just in case either one of them needs anything. They'll wait patiently, and provide back up if it's needed, be there for their friends.

Gibbs retreats to his basement and drinks bourbon, not able to concentrate on his project, so just sitting there drinking and thinking. What was with Tony's personal time? Why did he need it? Why hadn't he talked to Gibbs? Why hadn't he shown up in Gibbs' basement? He spends the remainder of the evening and a large part of the night drinking and thinking, but doesn't come to a conclusion. The following morning, waking up early despite the late night, Gibbs decides the first step is finding Tony. Showering and shaving, taking only coffee for breakfast, Gibbs dresses and grabs his car keys, on an afterthought searching for the spare keys to Tony's apartment he had been given years before, but has never used. Driving to Tony's apartment, Gibbs imagines various scenarios of what's going on, and impatiently sips his coffee while he drives. He sees Tony in danger, out on a secret mission, being used for nefarious games again the way he knows Tony hates and is the one thing Tony can't ever forgive, and his heart is pounding in his chest when he at last arrives at Tony's building. He doesn't need to think about why he's feeling this way, he's long since known the depth of his feelings, and resolves to tell Tony the truth when he finally finds him.

Finding Tony is surprisingly easy.

As soon as Gibbs uses the spare key to open the door to Tony's apartment, he's surrounded by the sounds of a piano, playing softly and beautifully, and it's only when he silently steps into the hallway that he realizes there's a voice accompanying the dulcet tones, Tony's deep and rumbling voice, crooning a song Gibbs knows he should know, but unable to place it. Tony's home, and Gibbs quiet breathes a sigh of relief. He makes his way to the living room without making a sound, standing there leaning against the door jamb, watching Tony at his piano, playing and singing, Gibbs' heart in turmoil. He watches and listens and waits, and when Tony finishes the song, he finally moves, walks over to Tony and brushes his hand through the younger man's hair, then wraps his arms around Tony's neck and holds him close, pressing a kiss against Tony's temple.

"You're here."

Gibbs says it almost breathlessly, and Tony seems to freeze in the embrace.

"Gibbs?"

"Where did you go, Tony? Why didn't you tell me, talk to me?"

It comes out plaintively, and Tony doesn't really know how to respond, except to turn around and look at Gibbs. Tony sees the look in Gibbs' eyes, and breathes in deeply.

"Gibbs?"

 

It's long, awkward minutes later when they're sitting on the couch together, beers in hand, and Gibbs is leaning into Tony uncharacteristically, but it feels good and right to both of them. Tony's free arm is around Gibbs, and he pulls the older man close, presses his lips against Gibbs' temple.

"You missed me?"

"Always."

"Why?"

"Worried. Surprised. Upset. Missed you."

They breathed together in silence for a while.

"Where did you go, Tony? What's going on?"

"I was just here. Didn't go anywhere. Never go anywhere without talking to you."

"Then why?"

Tony stayed quiet for a while before he finally spoke again.

"I turned 45."

"I know."

"Turns out my Mom left me an inheritance. Dad says he didn't know."

"Oh?"

"45, Gibbs. 45."

"So?"

"Hell of an age to face the truth."

"Truth?"

"That what you want is something you'd never expect you'd get."

"What's that?"

More silence.

"Gibbs?"

"Yeah?"

"How angry will you be if I kiss you now?"

Gibbs gently turned his head to look up at Tony.

"Angry?"

"Well, yeah…"

"Not angry at all. Hopeful."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

The brush of Tony's lips against his was the best thing Gibbs had experienced in long, long years. He reciprocated enthusiastically, hardly able to believe he was getting the chance to kiss this beautiful younger man, who, if the feeling of the hardness pressing against his back was anything to go on, actually wanted him right back. Gibbs had to ask.

"Tony?"

"Hmmm?"

Tony managed between nibbling kisses.

"What did your Mom leave you?"

"Millions, Gibbs. That matter?"

"Not to me."

"I know. So why ask?"

"Why'd you leave?"

"Trying to decide whether to stay or go."

"Go?"

"You hardly showed me you cared, Gibbs. Figured now would be the time to go, if anytime would be that."

"Don't ever leave, Tony. Please."

"I won't. Not now, not ever."

They sat together in silence for a while longer, before Gibbs spoke again.

"So you're a millionaire now?"

"Guess so."

"Fuck. Then what are you doing with me?"

"I love you, Gibbs. Who else am I ever going to be with?"

And Tony smiled, then pulled Gibbs' face to him, and kissed him deeply.