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Silent Support

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"We missed you at our impromptu movie night." Tony stopped on top of the stairs and looked down at Gibbs. When he got no response, he started do walk down slowly. "We watched a classic, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. You know, the one with James Stewart and Donna Reed about an angel who convinces a man not to commit suicide."

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Tony stopped for a moment and glanced over to Gibbs again. The older man was slumped on the only chair in the basement, a bottle of Bourbon next to him on the table, a not so clean glass in his hand. Gibbs was staring at nothing or everything or maybe just the boat, Tony wasn't sure. He wasn't even sure, Gibbs had noticed his presence.

Suppressing a sigh, Tony pushed himself another step forward, his gaze flickering between the floor and Gibbs while he slowly approached the other man. "It was quite fun to use MTAC as a movie theatre. I bet no one has ever done that before. The whole team was there; never thought I would get all of them to agree to watch a movie together. We had popcorn and everything.” Tony stopped when he reached the end of the boat. “I missed you." One more step and he would be able to touch Gibbs, but he couldn't tell if he would be welcome. Gibbs still hadn't moved, hadn't lifted his gaze from the point at the boat, he was staring at.

It was when his eyes fell on the tape recorder on the table that everything clicked into place and Tony felt a dull pain in his heart. He followed Gibbs' gaze and wasn't surprised to find it locked on the boat's name. It was as if something pulled his legs out under him and Tony leaned heavily against the smooth wood of the boat. He couldn't possibly know what Gibbs was feeling, but he had a good grasp on it, thinking back to many a Christmas alone while his dad was somewhere in the world doing business.

However, he had no idea what to say now. Gibbs would never have the chance to celebrate Christmas with his daughter again and their latest case with Ned Quinn made for a painful reminder of that. Tony would bet everything that Gibbs had driven Ned to see his daughter, reuniting them while he would only have his memories.

Unable to come up with the right thing to say, Tony settled for the silent approach and just offered his company, hoping that Gibbs would see it as the support it was instead of an intrusion. Despite the common conception Tony was very well capable of being quiet if necessary. Shuffling into a comfortable position propped up against the boat, Tony shoved his hands into his pockets and waited.

There weren't many things in the world that could upset Gibbs, but if there was one thing that stripped his emotions bare and destroyed the marine bravado he usually had going it was being reminded of Shannon and Kelly. And to have it pushed in his face that he could never see them again while other people got their happy reunion was easily bringing him near his breaking point. Tony had witnessed his boss floating near the edge several times now and he knew it was just a matter of time when the dam would break. He just hoped he could be there for Gibbs when that happened and his gut told him that the moment was close.

It took almost an hour before Gibbs started to talk. "I took Ned to see his daughter."

Tony had figured so much and kept quiet. This was not his time to talk.

"He didn't want to see her, said he was not worth it. I told him about Kelly." The rest of the neglected Bourbon found its way down Gibbs' throat, before he gently put the now empty glass next to the bottle.

Watching him through his lashes, Tony saw Gibbs draw a deep breath, the fight for control over his emotions clearly visible. He noticed the exact moment when Gibbs lost the battle and was at his side before the older man lifted his head to finally look at him.

"I miss them." The voice sounded so broken and small, it frightened Tony to see his usually so strong partner like this.

"I know." Tony gave into the temptation to touch his lover, hoping Gibbs would allow it. Weaving his fingers gently through the grey strands, he knew he had done the right thing, when Gibbs arms came around his waist and pulled him close. Burying his face in Tony's chest, the old man finally released emotions that had been bottled up for years and allowed himself to cry for his lost wife and daughter.

Feeling slightly overwhelmed by the sudden show of raw feelings, Tony was proud that Gibbs trusted him enough to break down in front of him, trusting him to support and hold him. He wrapped one arm around the broad shoulders while still carding his fingers soothingly through the other man's hair.

Tony had no clue for how long they stood like that, but it didn't matter. He was just glad to be there for his partner and offer some sort of support as small at it might be. When Gibbs finally released his death grip, Tony smiled down at him, using his thumb to wipe the last of the tears away before bending down to press a gentle kiss to his lips.

"Thank you."

Tony knew better what that simple statement did cost Gibbs as to casually dismiss it. "You are very welcome, boss. It's what I'm here for." At the raised eyebrow, Tony quickly added with a grin: "Okay, it's part of why I'm here."

"Our big Christmas plans are ruined."

"We still have one day left."

"Then we should make the most of it."

"On it, boss." Gifting his lover with one of his most blinding smiles, Tony was relieved to see Gibbs answer him with one of his own.