Gibbs descended the stairs from MTAC down into the bullpen and looked around worriedly, not seeing Tony or the little girl anywhere. As he reached the floor, he checked his desk for a note, not finding one. He walked up to the partition.
Spotting the other team lead still at his desk despite the late hour, Gibbs softly called for his attention. The other man turned and looked at Gibbs.
“Know where DiNozzo is?”
“Upstairs conference room. The little kid was falling asleep, so DiNozzo got Abby’s futon. Said he would put the little girl to bed upstairs, where she would have some privacy.”
Gibbs went back upstairs, heading to the conference room, and smiled a little to himself. Tony was always uncomfortable around kids, but this little girl had ignored his awkwardness and grabbed hold of Tony, refusing to let him go. It didn’t surprise Gibbs, Tony had been the one to pull her from the wreck of the car earlier today, the first one she’d seen when she opened her eyes, and she had simply held on to him since then. But Tony had been surprised, and had looked to Gibbs for guidance. Gibbs had smiled and shrugged his shoulders a little, telling Tony to just let it happen.
They had been called out late that afternoon for a car crash involving a marine, and when they arrived at the scene, it became immediately clear that it was a lost cause. The marine and his wife were in the front seats, the car was basically destroyed and blood was everywhere. The only reason the MCRT had been called out was a report from a witness that the car had possibly been followed, so NCIS was asked to investigate whether the crash had been an accident or foul play. Tony was taking photographs and moving around the car for different angles, when he had spotted movement in the back of the car. Trapped in the remains of the vehicle, stuck on the floor between the front and back seats, was a little four year old girl, barely visible. If she hadn’t moved, they would have thought it was just a coat or something, which is why the first responders hadn’t found her. It had taken time and a lot of careful maneuvering, but Tony had managed to grab hold of her and get her safely out of the wreck, after which she had wrapped her arms around Tony’s neck and her legs around his waist and would not let go.
Tony had held her awkwardly at first, but when he realized nothing he said would make the girl loosen her grip on him, had settled his arms around her carefully and carried her away from the wreck, finding a quiet spot a little distance away where he could sit on a boulder while they waited for the ambulance that had been called when they had found her. When the paramedics arrived, they had to work around Tony to check out the girl, because she refused to let go of him. Miraculously, considering the state of the wreck and the fact that her parents had been instantly killed by the crash, there wasn’t a scratch on her.
After positive identification of the bodies, McGee had quickly located next of kin, the marine’s sister, and Gibbs had called to give her the bad news. The sister was heartbroken about her brother and sister-in-law, but at the same time relieved that her little niece was alright, and immediately made arrangements to come pick up the girl. But she lived a couple of states away, so her flight wouldn’t arrive until morning. Leaving Bishop and McGee to finish processing the scene, Gibbs had taken Tony and the little girl clinging to him back to NCIS to wait for the girl’s aunt to arrive. Somewhere during the drive back to the Yard, the girl started softly asking Tony questions.
“What’s your name?”
“My name is Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. But you can call me Tony.”
“Hi Tony. I’m Cathy.”
“Where are we going?”
“To the Navy Yard.”
“Basically a great big orange room.”
The girl pulled back a little so she could look at Tony’s face questioningly. Tony grinned at her, then started to elaborate. Soon the two were babbling away at each other, and Gibbs listened to them while he drove, hiding a small smile. Once they were in the bullpen, the girl still refused to let go of Tony, so the younger man had settled at his desk with the girl on his lap, paper and pencils laid out his desk, helping her draw while they continued their quiet babbling. That’s how Gibbs had left them about an hour earlier to go up to MTAC, and now he was on his way to the conference room to see if everything was still alright. The door to the conference room was slightly ajar, and Gibbs approached quietly, stopping outside the room so he wasn’t visible, listening to their soft voices.
“Ready to take a nap, sweetie?”
“Will you tell me a story?”
“Which one do you want to hear?”
“A made up one.”
“Hmmm, I don’t know… what should it be about?”
“About a prince of course, Tony.”
She said it as if that should have been obvious, and Gibbs heard Tony chuckle a little.
“Of course, how silly of me to ask. Let’s see…”
Gibbs heard Tony move a little while he was thinking up a story, and Gibbs settled against the wall outside to listen to Tony’s soft voice.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, a little prince was born to the King and Queen of a small kingdom, and everyone was happy. But a few years later, when the little prince had grown from a baby prince into a boy prince, the Queen went away, and the King explained to the boy prince that he would never see her again. This made the boy prince very sad, and it made the King sad too, and they were no longer happy together. The boy prince grew up more, until he had become a young man, a proper prince now, a handsome prince with sparkling green eyes and fantastic hair, a great body and a quick mind. The prince was strong and brave and funny, and the King, always looking to use such opportunities, searched the world for a princess for the prince to marry who would add to the family fortune, but the prince valued other qualities much more. So one day, when the prince and the King had argued once again, the prince decided to leave and find another kingdom.
When the prince traveled around trying to find a new home, he discovered that his father’s kingdom had been very small, and that there were far bigger and better kingdoms out there, with kings and queens who acted just and good. But every time when he thought he had found a good place to stay, the prince was betrayed, and after each betrayal he traveled on. The prince became disappointed and sad, and he didn’t trust anyone anymore, and he didn’t want anyone to know he was a prince because they used it against him, so he hid who he truly was. Because he was also funny, people just assumed that the prince was a clown, and he could hide easily behind that mask.
Then one day, the prince was running down an alley, chasing after a man he thought was a thief, and when the prince caught the thief and looked at him, he stared into a beautiful pair of icy blue eyes that sparkled with joy, but with sadness underneath. The prince brought the thief to the sheriff of the kingdom, and there discovered that the man was not a thief but a king, who had a kingdom of his own. The blue eyed and silver haired King took one look at the prince and saw through his mask, saw that he was not a clown but a prince, and the Silver King offered the prince a place at his table.
Before he accepted, the prince tried to find out more about the Silver King, because he did not want to be disappointed and betrayed again. The prince discovered that the Silver King was a sad and lonely King, who had lost his family to an evil wizard long ago, and that was the reason for the sadness in his eyes. But the prince also discovered that the Silver King was just and honorable, and that even though he ruled his kingdom with an iron fist, his people loved and trusted the Silver King and would follow him always. The prince felt hopeful that things would be different this time, and he accepted the offered place at the Silver King’s table.
The Silver King took the prince with him and taught him everything about his kingdom, and the prince felt like he had found a new home, but he was still wary of being betrayed. So while the Silver King knew he was a prince, the prince still hid behind his mask and the Silver King’s people thought he was just a clown. The Silver King let the prince hide himself because it was useful to the Silver King, and as time passed, the prince learned to trust the Silver King. But one day again, the prince was betrayed. But it was not the Silver King who betrayed the prince, it was the Upper Queen who used the prince while the Silver King was away, and when the Silver King returned with even more sadness in his eyes than there had been before, the prince tried to make it right and stayed despite the betrayal.
Years passed and the Silver King and the prince got to know each other well, and they trusted each other. When the Upper King who had replaced the Upper Queen tried to betray the prince and sent him away, the Silver King made it right. When other kings and queens tried to lure the prince away, offering him a kingdom of his own, the prince always turned them down and stayed with the Silver King. But the prince was sad sometimes, and felt dishonest, because he was hiding a secret from the Silver King even though he trusted him.
You see, the Silver King was loved by his people, but what the prince was hiding was that he loved the Silver King more than anyone else did. The prince wanted to stay with the Silver King forever and hold him in his arms and kiss him. But with all the people who came to his court, the Silver King only ever looked at the ladies in their pretty dresses like he wanted to kiss them, never at the knights in their sharp suits of armor. So the prince kept his secret, afraid that the Silver King wouldn’t want the prince at his court anymore if the Silver King knew how the prince felt about him. But it made the prince sad sometimes, and then he would secretly look at the Silver King and dream about what could be.
Tony whispered the little girl’s name softly, trying to see if she was really asleep. The girl’s eyes stayed closed and she was breathing deeply and evenly, and Tony quietly got up. He would go downstairs and quickly grab some files and coffee, then return to the conference room to keep an eye on her while she slept as he went through the files. Tony shook his head at himself, wondering what had possessed him to tell the girl that story. Of course he had immediately pictured himself as the prince the girl wanted to hear about, and she had giggled softly at him when she recognized him in his description of the prince, but the story had taken an unexpected turn somewhere and he ended up telling her his deepest secret. Tony sighed deeply. It didn’t matter. He was pretty sure that she had already been asleep halfway through the story, and even if she hadn’t been, she wouldn’t know exactly what he had been talking about anyway.
Glancing back at her one more time to make sure she would be okay alone for a couple of minutes while he went downstairs, Tony pushed open the door and stepped into the hallway, then turned and froze. Gibbs was leaning against the wall next to the door, his piercing gaze fixed on Tony, unreadable. His heart pounding in his chest, Tony shuffled his feet a little, then cleared his throat.
Without a word, Gibbs pushed away from the wall and strode away, leaving Tony staring after him. Tony stood there for long minutes, completely numb. His mind was racing, his heart was pounding, his stomach churning, but he didn’t feel any of it. Gibbs hadn’t even wanted to listen to him, let him explain. He’d just rejected him completely. Tony gave up on the idea of coffee and getting files, and went back into the conference room, sat in a chair and stared into the distance all through the night.
It was still very early in the morning when Bishop knocked on the door to the conference room, checking whether she could bring Cathy’s aunt in. Tony woke up the little girl, and as soon as she saw her aunt, ran into the woman’s embrace. Leaving Bishop to take care of the rest, Tony tried to sneak away, but the little girl stopped him.
“I fell asleep. Did the prince get to kiss the Silver King? Were they happy ever after?”
Tony swallowed hard, his eyes turning away from her while he replied.
“Of course, sweetie. The Silver King loved the prince very much too, and they were happy together forever.”
She nodded in satisfaction.
“Good. Bye, Tony!”
Tony gave her a quick peck on the cheek, then fled before his emotions floored him. He held it together while he made his way to his desk and grabbed his things, while he rushed down the stairs to the parking garage, not willing to risk the elevator, and reached his car. Then the hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he smelled coffee, and knew he was caught. The soft growl made him shiver.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?”
Tony hung his head and didn’t respond.
When Tony didn’t move, Gibbs grabbed his wrist and dragged him towards Gibbs’ car, opening the passenger side door and practically shoving Tony inside, closing the door after him. Tony slumped in his seat, eyes closed and head hung dejectedly, and stayed that way the entire drive over to Gibbs’ place. When Gibbs had parked the car, Tony got out without prompting and followed Gibbs inside, leaning against the closed door while Gibbs took his coat and bag and put them away. Tony’s eyes stayed glued to the ground, and he startled when Gibbs’ hand softly squeezed his neck. Gibbs’ voice was equally soft.
Tony gave a tiny nod. This was where Gibbs told him to get the hell out of his life. At least he was apologizing for it, a shock in itself, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.
“My brave, romantic, loyal, foolish little prince…”
That made Tony’s head snap up, and his eyes found Gibbs’, staring into them intently, searching for answers. The unreadable expression that had been in those blue orbs the previous night in the hallway was gone, and instead Tony saw hope, and caring, and pride and… Tony’s breath hitched in his throat, and when Gibbs softly caressed his thumb over Tony’s stubbled cheek, the younger man shivered.
“How could you ever think I would turn you away, Anthony? I may be a bastard and I may be stupid, but I’m not that big of a bastard and I’m not that stupid. Don’t you know that by now?”
“And I may be obtuse when it comes to the personal stuff, but when I finally know it, I won’t ignore it.”
“I may be a foolish old man who can’t see what’s right under his nose, but when I at last see it, I won’t let it get away.”
“So I may have neglected to show you how much you mean to me and hurt you in the process, but I’m not above begging you to let me make it up to you.”
“And I may have needed a few hours to be angry with myself for being such a coward, but I can’t change the past and I’m done being a coward now.”
“So I realize it may seem easy for me to say all this after I heard you pour out your heart, but I’m still a closed-off stubborn bastard who’s worried that you’ll hate me.”
“One more thing. I love you, Anthony, and if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, then I’ll be waiting for you.”
“Think about it… please?”
Then Gibbs brushed his thumb over Tony’s cheek again and withdrew his hand, turning to leave and give Tony some space, but Tony grabbed Gibbs’ arm and pulled him back, reversing their positions so Gibbs was with his back against the door and Tony standing in front of him, then echoed Gibbs growl from the parking garage.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?”
And then Tony’s lips were on Gibbs' mouth, softly and gently nibbling and tasting, and Tony’s hands were sliding down Gibbs’ sides to his hips and then to his ass, and Tony’s body pressed Gibbs tightly against the door, not letting him escape. Gibbs opened his mouth and moaned into the kiss, and Tony slipped his tongue inside to properly taste the older man, moaning in pleasure himself too. The kiss lasted long minutes, and when Tony finally released Gibbs, both were panting with desire. Tony visibly restrained himself and created some space between them, taking a step back so they were no longer touching.
“Can it be my turn to talk now, Jethro? I think you've used up a year's supply of words just there.”
Gibbs stared at him, then gave a small nod. Tony grabbed Gibbs' hand and dragged him to the couch, practically shoving the older man down onto it, then he hurried to the kitchen to grab them a couple of beers, and hurried back to sit on the coffee table facing Gibbs.
"I never finished the story, so let me finish it now."
Another small nod from Gibbs. Tony took a deep breath.
Whenever the prince would look at the Silver King, his heart started pounding with desire. He knew the Silver King was sad because of his family and always would be, and he also loved that about the Silver King. He would never ask the Silver King to give up his feelings for his family, and the prince wanted them all to be part of each other. He wanted to hold the Silver King at night, soothe away his worries and pain, and do anything to make the Silver King feel better.
The prince still hid behind his mask, not showing the Silver King anything about his feelings. But one day the Silver King heard the clown prince tell a story to a little princess, and found out the prince's secret. The Silver King glared at the prince when they finally faced each other, and the prince felt his heart break. The prince stared out of the window the entire night, thinking about everything, thinking it was time to move on again to another kingdom, but the prince knew that he would never get over loving the Silver King who had captured his heart.
So when the Silver King took the prince back to his castle and spoke to him profusely, the prince couldn't believe that the Silver King was willing to do this for him, to lie to the prince to make him feel better. After all, the prince had been lied to and betrayed his entire life, and even though he trusted the Silver King, the prince just couldn't believe that the Silver King would have this change of heart overnight. The prince was only a prince of a small kingdom and had been a clown most of his existence, and his father the King told lies, and while the prince had always tried to live up to the Silver King's expectations, he knew he screwed up sometimes.
But while the Silver King was usually not very good with words, his actions always spoke truth. So when the prince at last kissed the Silver King, he knew the Silver King had told the truth. He felt it in the Silver King's touch and heard it in his moan, and the prince finally believed. The prince stripped away all his own defenses, laying his heart bare, and knelt in front of the Silver King and spoke, hoping the Silver King would understand.
Tony knelt on the floor in front of Gibbs, and spoke quietly.
"I give myself to you in love and trust. Can you accept a humble screw-up prince and care for him despite this faults?"
Gibbs' breath staggered in his throat and he pulled Tony to him, kissing him deeply to convey his true feelings. Then Gibbs pulled back.
"Story's still not finished, Anthony. Let me."
The Silver King stared at the prince offering him his heart, and felt humbled. He was not a King, he was a cad, having treated the prince so terribly all these years. But the Silver King at last had something he hadn't had in a long time. Hope. The Silver King hoped that the prince would have him in return, and begged the prince to guard his heart. The prince smiled at the Silver King and took his heart into his protectively grasp, keeping it safe until the end of time. The Silver King fell to his knees as well, grasping the prince into his embrace. The prince? The Silver King realized something at that moment, and couldn't wait to share it with his love. The younger man wasn't a prince, he was a King, a King in his own right. The Silver King breathed in deeply and told his love.
"A King?", his love replied, "King of what?"
The Silver King smiled.
"The most important one of all, Anthony. The King of Hearts."
"You broke the story, Jethro."
"It was necessary."
Tony stared at Gibbs for a long time.
"I agree. This is not a fairy tale."
"Yes, it is. I…."
"I love you, Tony."
"I'll keep your heart safe, Jethro. Forever."