Note: The original story was short and fun and made me giggle, but then there was a commentfic prequel over on LJ and I couldn't leave Abby hanging, so here's Powers of Observation again, this time with a prequel and a sequel. I hope you still like it. Thanks to the person who pointed out gay marriage is now legal in Washington DC - hurray! So all of that said, this is Tony/Gibbs slash which means a homosexual relationship. If you don't like that sort of thing, if it's illegal where you are, if you're underage - don't read this. Life's too short to be upset by what you read on the internet, okay? Oh, and also - thanks to the writers and actors and everyone involved in making NCIS such a great show. It's not mine and all I get from this is the pleasure of imagining Tony and Gibbs together.

The prequel

It's late on Saturday evening. Outside, the weather is atrocious, but here in Gibbs' basement it's warm and surprisingly cozy. Tony thinks it must have something to do with the smell of sawdust that permeates the place. Gibbs pauses in his smoothing down of a graceful arch of rib and takes a sip of bourbon. He looks over at the stairs, where Tony is still nursing an empty beerbottle and it can't be the liquor loosening his tongue because nothing short of the really good drugs will do that, but still he hears himself saying, 'You ever going to stop checking me out and make a damn move?'

Tony's jaw drops. So does the bottle. It rolls down the last couple of steps to lie in the corner. And Tony, suave, confident ladies' man that he is, blushes.

'I, uh... I could go. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable, I just didn't think you'd notice and you're just... The way you... I'm sorry,' he babbles.

Gibbs puts down his drink with a sigh. 'Come here, Tony.'

Reluctantly, the younger man leaves the stairs and comes around the boat to stand in front of the ex-marine. He hunches in anticipation of the mother of all headslaps, but the hand Gibbs reaches out curles possessively around the curve of Tony's neck and pulls him closer, close enough to kiss.

So he does.

After a moment of astonishment, Tony melts into the kiss, pressing himself against Gibbs' lean, strong frame. He kisses back shamelessly, hungrily, devouring Gibbs' mouth with his own, lips narrower, less gentle than any woman's and late-night stubble just making an appearance, felt rather than seen. The heat is a match for Gibbs' own and Tony's hands are at his hips, gripping him firmly in place as though Tony's afraid he might suddenly disappear.

They end up in bed together and past all the first-time awkwardness it's great. Something lying dormant in the connection they've always had sparks to life and they both feel its fierce burn. This attraction, this itch-scratching, this whatever-it-is isn't enough. They fuck until they fall asleep, exhausted, and even asleep they move together, one turning and the other following so that they never lose contact throughout the whole night.

Gibbs is an early riser and with his hands stroking Tony's smooth, tanned skin, so is the younger agent. There's a noticeable lack of grumbling about the hour and demands for coffee; instead, moans and prayers and grunts fill the air until they're sated temporarily and tumble back into sleep at least for a little while.

They spend the whole day in bed, apart from the necessities of the flesh, such as food, eaten together standing half-naked in the kitchen, pressed up against the worktop, flavors savored and stolen from each other's mouths and fingertips.

Tony has to leave early Monday morning in order to go home to shower and change into a fresh suit of clothes, but neither of them has to like it.

People notice Tony looks like he got laid, but it's not an uncommon look on him and he makes the expected comments about long legs and a great ass, all the while not mentioning who they belong to, and pretty soon Tim's throwing paper at Tony and Ziva's making pointed comments and no one thinks anything more of it. His highly-trained investigative team somehow fail to notice that Gibbs, too, looks as though he's been thoroughly fucked through the mattress. It's obvious, Tony thinks and makes a note to get them to look past the surface. Later. When he and Gibbs have their grins under control.

They aren't deliberately discreet; it's just a byproduct of their upbringing, their chosen profession. Even though the world has changed almost beyond recognition since sodomy was illegal in most states, they've both worked more than enough cases to know the consequences of intolerance. Besides, whatever it is they do have flourishes in the dark, in secrecy and stolen hours. And it's nice not to have it exposed to scrutiny, to oversight and questions about their future intentions. They've come close enough to death on so many occasions that the future is something they no longer automatically expect. It'll take care of itself.

But after they've been together exclusively for over a year, after they've learned each other's bodies and those parts of their minds that are too intimate to share with anyone not a lover, a partner, after they've learned to sleep better together than apart, they catch a month of case after case. Late nights and early morning call outs take their toll until they're barely sleeping when they get a few hours of downtime because they end up in alone, needing time apart but unable to relax in too-large beds. Gibbs' frustration builds, coming out as impatience, anger, until Tony is all that stands between him and murdering the next stupid son of a bitch that thinks they can get away with selling drugs and weapons and killing their fellow servicemen. His hand aches from slamming it down on the table in the interrogation room, but better that than into the suspect's jaw.

They wrap up the case and with the final reports filed, the director orders them to take a week off. They scatter, relieved beyond all measure to be out of each other's company for a few days. Gibbs stands in his basement, bourbon in hand, and stares at his boat. He still wants to hit Tony, furious at his clowning around that draws his ire away from the rest of the team as unerringly as a lightning rod at the height of a storm. But Tony isn't there and Gibbs refuses to go and search him out in case he does hit him: he isn't sulking.

An hour later and Tony still isn't there and Gibbs can't stand it any longer. He slams down his tools and pounds up the stairs, determined to go find the younger man and drag him back here, back home, to be with Gibbs where he belongs. He stops short in the living room. A sneaker lies on its side in the middle of the floor. It's Tony's and it most certainly hadn't been there when Gibbs got home. He picks it up; it still carries a trace of warmth. Gibbs shakes his head. He hadn't heard Tony moving around: he's been getting much better at sneaking and being stealthy. Gibbs isn't convinced this is such a good thing.

The other sneaker lies at the bottom of the stairs and Tony's faded Ohio State sweatshirt sprawls across the top three steps. His jeans are in the hallway; his t-shirt hangs from the doorknob of door to their room. It hasn't been Gibbs' room since the first night Tony slept in it. Gibbs takes the t-shirt and pushes the door open. Tony is lying face down on the bed, hips propped up on a couple of pillows, his head pillowed on his arms. He looks fast asleep; Gibbs thinks he should look vulnerable, waiting there with the graceful arch of back and neck exposed to Gibbs' gaze. Somehow he manages to look strong, sculpted, confident and when he opens one green eye and arches that perfect eyebrow, Gibbs steps over the shorts on the floor and drops the rest of Tony's clothes, tearing at his own in his haste to join his lover.

After the month they've had, it should be hard and fast and brutal when they come together, but instead it's achingly sweet and tender and Gibbs hasn't felt this urge to cherish and protect, to bury himself in another person and hold them safe forever, hasn't felt this cherished and protected and loved since... Since Shannon died. Since he lost his first wife and their beautiful daughter. He's forgotten how overwhelming these feelings are and when they're finished he wraps Tony in his arms and buries his face in Tony's neck and holds him close for what seems like hours. Tony strokes his hair, the back of his neck, his shoulders and in the end holds him back until Gibbs can breathe again.

'You okay?' he asks softly, voice edged with concern.

Gibbs nods, clears his throat. 'Been a hell of a month,' he says roughly.

Tony grimaces. 'Don't want to go through that again, that's for sure.' He pauses, then takes a breath and says, 'I missed you.'

Gibbs doesn't make the expected joke about Tony needing to work on his aim. 'I missed you too,' slips past his teeth and he hears himself following up with, 'stay. Here. Make this your home.'

Tony eyes him for a long few moments. 'You're my home, Jethro. You have been ever since you dragged me out of Baltimore.'

'Then make it official,' Gibbs says quietly. 'I don't ever want another month where the only damn time I see you is at your desk at work. I'm too old and too selfish and I want you here every night because if you aren't in my bed, in our bed, I can't sleep.'

'How official?' Tony asks. His voice is just as quiet, lightly curious, but Gibbs hears the absolute seriousness beneath. This means more to Tony than he'll ever willingly let on and Gibbs has a sudden rush of vertigo, as though he's standing at the edge of a cliff and the wrong answer will send him plunging to his death. His breath catches as he remembers the ruling that came down just a month ago.

'All the way,' he says.

Tony's eyes go wide, the vulnerability he keeps so well hidden spilling out. 'What?'

'There's a three day waiting period, but we can go down and file the paperwork tomorrow,' Gibbs says. He doesn't want to admit to feeling vulnerable himself, but something shows because Tony rolls him over and kisses him until Gibbs can barely tell where he ends and Tony begins. 'Is that a yes?' Gibbs asks, hours later, arms wrapped around the younger man, his chest pressed to Tony's broad back and their legs tangled together.

'Yes,' Tony mumbles and falls into sleep. Gibbs falls after him and sleeps better than he has in thirty long nights.

In the morning they go to the courthouse, fill out the paperwork and hand over the fee. In return, they are handed their marriage license. They head back out into May sunshine and amble down to a wedding chapel a couple of blocks away where a quick enquiry confirms they can be fitted in for a basic service plus wedding video after the three days are up.

'You need to bring your witnesses in here first to sign the paperwork,' the clerk explains, tapping a form with her pen.

Tony and Gibbs exchange glances, then Tony smiles his most charming smile. 'Can you provide witnesses?'

The clerk shrugs. 'Sure. I'll make a note.'

It's all arranged so the only thing left to do is start their honeymoon early. Well, that and stock up on groceries and do some of the laundry that's piled up over the last month. They return home with the shopping to find Fornell waiting in the living room wanting to discuss a case.

'I'm on leave,' Gibbs says drily. 'Any particular reason this couldn't wait?'

Fornell eyes Tony curiously. 'I didn't know you spent your leave with DiNozzo.'

Tony pastes on an insincere smile. 'My car crapped out and Gibbs picked me up from the garage on his way past. It'd be impolite not to come in for a coffee.'

Gibbs scowls, but makes coffee and awkward small talk until Tony goes down to the basement and flicks on the ancient television so that Fornell can discuss the case and get the hell out. When he's gone, he joins Tony in the basement.

'We're getting a hotel room,' Tony says firmly. 'I'm not having Fornell or anyone else walk in on my damn honeymoon.'

'Okay.' They spend the rest of the week at a nice place that has a small gym and an indoor pool. The only time Tony gets to use the pool, Gibbs watches him for twenty minutes, then hauls him out and back up to the room where he points out just how indecent those speedos are and how much he'd appreciate Tony only ever wearing them for him and not for the rest of the world to see. Tony laughs, breathless and wet and lets Gibbs strip him off and push him into the shower and proceeds to show just how much he enjoys the water.

The service is short but it means more than all of Gibbs' last 3 weddings put together and he knows Tony can tell. They walk out of the chapel hand in hand and go back to their hotel room. They're married.

They're lying in a sweaty, tangled heap on the bed, clothes in a rumpled pile somewhere on the beige hotel room carpet. Gibbs grins suddenly, a bright smile that shows his teeth with just a hint of the predator showing through.

'Abby's going to be pissed,' he says, his voice that shade of low and raspy that always gets Tony's libido stirring.

Tony ignores the valiant way certain parts of his anatomy are trying desperately to rise to the occasion and settles for dropping a kiss on the older man's cheek. 'I wonder how long it'll take her to figure it out.'

'I don't know,' Gibbs says thoughtfully, absently running a callused palm up and down Tony's thigh. 'It's been close to two years now and she hasn't worked out we're more than colleagues.'

'We've always been more than colleagues,' Tony protests, but Gibbs tuts away his objection. 'Okay, who do you think's going to work it out first, then?' he asks, genuinely curious. 'Ziva? Ducky?'

Gibbs shakes his head. 'McGee.'

Tony laughs, incredulous. 'Oh, come on! He wouldn't figure it out if we sent him an email spelling it out with our wedding video attached!'

'Want to bet?' Gibbs' tone is silky, dangerous. He's far too confident.

'No dropping hints!' Tony admonishes. 'Not that you would, but... Okay, ten bucks says it's Abby, and another ten says it's within six months.'

Gibbs shakes his head. 'McGee, inside five. And make it twenty for figuring out you're married and another for who to.'

'What, you don't think he'll figure it out from you? I'm great at keeping secrets. The best. My undercover work is why you hired me, remember?' Tony waggles his eyebrows and leers comically.

Gibbs raises an eyebrow. 'Last I checked, we hadn't made it under the covers, Tony. Now, you taking that bet, or are you chickening out?'

Tony laughs. 'Oh, you are so on! I'm going to really enjoy that forty bucks.'

Gibbs slides his hand down to the back of Tony's knee and pulls his leg up and over his own. 'I can think of a few other things I'm going to enjoy in the meantime.' He dips his head and kisses Tony and a couple of seconds later, the bet is all but forgotten.

The original story

April is a long, hard month. The team catches cases back to back, and by the end of it only Tony is still daring enough to brave Gibbs' wrath by actually speaking to him without having been barked a question first. The director has visions of carnage in the bullpen and, not wishing to have to get bloodstains out of the carpet, sends them all home for a week.

When their leave is over, Tony's in early, hard at work filling in what look suspiciously like personnel forms when Tim gets in. 'Just keeping my details up to date,' he grins. Tim would be suspicious, but this is Tony after a week off: he's like a golden retriever, all bounce and bright eyes, ready for mischief.

'Did you have a good week off? Get outside, smell the roses? What am I saying, of course you didn't, but I just bet you leveled up that elf lord, huh, McGeek?' Tony grins.

'At least I don't look like I spent the entire week bed hopping,' Tim grumbles, secretly glad the atmosphere's no longer that of a storm just waiting to break. Right over their heads. With Buy One Lightning Bolt, Get Three Free on special.

'You say that like it's a bad thing!' Tony laughs, teeth gleaming white, shoulders loose and relaxed like they haven't been in months.

Then the elevator pings and Ziva steps out, followed by Gibbs and five minutes later they're rolling out of the Yard, rushing to yet another crime scene and it's business as usual, so Tim thinks nothing more of it.

There's nothing to think more of.

Life goes on as usual; dull and exciting, busy and dangerous by turns, until four months later it's a scorchingly hot September and tempers are once again frayed to the point of snapping. After Ziva comes close to turning Tony into their next investigation – one inappropriate comment about bikinis too far – Gibbs hauls Tony off to his 'office'. Five minutes later, they're back in the bullpen and Tony's stuffing some of his things into his backpack.

'So Gibbs has finally had enough and fired you,' Ziva says viciously. 'Good.'

Surprisingly, Tony doesn't retaliate. Tim watches with what he won't admit is concern. 'I'm taking a couple of days off,' Tony says instead. 'Going to go hang out with some frat buddies, watch a game or two, have some beers.'

'More bed hopping?' It slips out before Tim can bite the words back and he has no idea where that came from.

Tony looks at him with an odd expression for a moment, then shrugs. 'Who knows? I'm sure there are plenty of women out there who can't resist the DiNozzo charm.'

Gibbs jogs back down the stairs from the Director's office. 'Come on, DiNozzo. Tim, Ziva, if you don't want to take a couple of days off too, make sure you stick to cold cases. I don't want either of you out in the field without us.'

'You're taking time off too?' Ziva asks in surprise, her expression just short of comical.

'End of the damn summer and I haven't done any sailing yet,' Gibbs grumbles. 'Might be the last good weather we have.' He strides impatiently towards the elevator. 'Get a move on, DiNozzo,' he calls and Tony scurries after him.

'On your six, boss,' he replies automatically, sliding into the elevator just as the doors begin to close.

'That was... unexpected,' Ziva says, staring at the metal doors.

'Yeah,' Tim frowns. 'But hey, we've got a four day weekend if we want it.' He brightens. 'I'll see you Monday, Ziva.' Hastily he puts in his own request for time off, knowing Gibbs has it cleared and a few minutes later he's on his way out into the sunshine, already anticipating the taste of the coffee at his favorite bookstore. After so long working for the toughest team leader in the agency, he knows not to question the gift of time off and not on call.

So when Monday rolls around, the team find themselves at their desks once more, relaxed and ready for anything the Navy or the Marines can throw at them. Gibbs was right; the weather broke some time in the early hours of the morning and a steady stream of rain spatters against the windows. Gibbs is wearing a little smile, although he's hiding it behind his coffee cup. Tony is tanned, his hair sun-bleached.

'How was the game?' Tim asks, powering on his computer. He doesn't really care; he doesn't even know what sport the game was, but Tony's humming something earwormy and if he's talking, that'll stop.

'Game? Oh, right, yeah, it was fine. Good, even.' Tony's distracted, sending a text message or playing tetris on his phone.

Tim looks over at him and frowns. There's something different about him... 'You didn't go to a game, did you?' he asks, certain, suddenly, that Tony's hiding something.

'What?' Tony frowns over the top of his phone. 'What makes you think that, Probie?'

Tim frowns back at him. 'You didn't, did you? Or meet up with your frat buddies.'

'Where are you getting this?' Tony asks, sitting up straight. 'I kicked back, had a lazy long weekend, you know, the kind we almost never get. I'd ask how yours went, only I really don't want to know the details of your online gaming. Funnily enough, some of us have real lives.'

Tim blinks and it's like one of those 3D pictures coming into focus. Things he's seen without knowing. Tony, relaxed and looking calmly satisfied in a way he's never done before. Change of personal details forms. A tan line on his ring finger... Tim shoots to his feet.

'Oh my god! You got married!'

The bullpen goes quiet, every head turning to look at the stunned agent.

'Wow, I owe you, boss,' Tony says into the silence. He gets to his feet, pulls out his wallet and drops a twenty on the lead agent's desk. 'I was so sure Abby would figure it out first.' He tuts and shakes his head.

Bizarrely, Gibbs is grinning. It's a full-on, light his face up smile as he pockets the bill. 'Be proud,' he advises. 'He learned that from you.'

'Hey, he knew how to investigate things before he joined the team,' Tony argues good-naturedly, perching on the corner of Gibbs' desk with his arms folded across his chest.

'Yeah, but leaps of intuition are your thing.'

'You're just trying to make me feel better about losing the bet,' Tony smiles.

'When have I ever tried to make you feel better about anything, DiNozzo?' Gibbs growls, but he's still smiling and there's something really weird going on here; Tim can feel it.

'Wait, Tim is right? You really got knotted?' Ziva asks, finally finding her voice. 'Tony, you are really married? I cannot imagine any woman who would put up with you!'

'It's hitched, Ziva. And yes, I really am married, have been for–'

'Four months, two weeks and three days,' Gibbs interrupts.

'But who's counting, right?' Tony's beam is incandescent and the way he and Gibbs are looking at each other...

Tim's knees give way and he drops back into his chair with a hysterical giggle. 'You're the latest Mrs Gibbs!' he hears himself exclaim and knows those will be his last words: either Tony will kill him or Gibbs will, or maybe they'll join forces and kill him together. Then he thinks that joining forces is exactly what they've done and he giggles again.

Tony stares at him like he's grown a second head, then sighs, stands up and fishes his wallet back out of his pocket. 'Damn, McGee! When the hell did you learn to pull your head out of your PC?' He slaps another bill into Gibbs' outstretched hand, letting the callused fingers squeeze his briefly. 'Looks like you're buying dinner tonight, then, Jethro.'

'Thai okay?' Gibbs asks and Tony nods. Gibbs holds Tony's gaze for just a second longer before he turns his attention to Tim.

'McGee!' he snaps, 'Rule number eight.'

'Uh... Never take anything for granted?' Tim stutters, at a loss for what this means here, now, in this context.

'You assumed Tony's the fifth Mrs Gibbs,' the agent says, and there's a look in his eyes that tells Tim whatever he's about to say is going to completely and utterly break Tim's brain and he knows it and he's really, really going to enjoy watching it dribble out of Tim's ears. 'But what if I'm the first Mrs DiNozzo?'

Tim hears himself whimper as his fertile imagination hastens to provide him with images he doesn't want, never, ever wanted in his head. He shuts his eyes, but that only makes it worse. 'Right. Yes, boss.' When he opens his eyes again, Gibbs is standing right in front of his desk. The expected headslap comes but it isn't as hard as it could have been and for that Tim is grateful.

'For the record, neither of us is Mrs anything,' Gibbs explains, as patiently as he ever does and complete with his trademark glare.

'Got it, boss,' Tim says, swallowing hard.

'Oh and McGee?' Gibbs says, turning back to his own desk where his husband – his husband – is waiting. 'Good work.'

'Uh, thanks, boss,' Tim says, blinking in surprise. He's about to make an excuse to get out of the bullpen so he can go down and tell Abby, let her enthusiasm help his world settle back into place now that everything he knows has been turned upside down and shaken, when the phone rings. A few seconds later, Gibbs slams it down.

'Gear up, people, we've got a case.'

And just like that, everything's back to normal except Tony isn't goofing around to get Gibbs' attention and Gibbs isn't squashing down the guilt he feels over looking for another redhead and Tim has a moment, right before the elevator doors close, to wonder why he hadn't worked it out before, because with hindsight it's blindingly obvious.

Tim grins. 'So did you tell Abby? Because she's going to be pissed.' This time the headslap is harder, but it only makes his grin wider. 'Ow! Does Ducky know?'

Ziva finally joins in. 'Which of you is the... bottom? This is the right word, yes? I bet it is you, Tony.'

Gibbs glares at them all as Tony sighs. 'And this is why we didn't tell any of you. Can't we just pretend you didn't work it out?'

'Oh, no, we cannot possibly do that,' Ziva says wickedly. 'After all, you deserve a bachelor party. Both of you. It wouldn't be right for you to miss out on such an important part of your culture.'

Normally, Tim hates bachelor parties, but this time he agrees. 'I'm sure Abby can arrange the strippers,' he says. When Tony and Gibbs turn and glare at them, Tim stands firm. 'You got married and you didn't invite us,' he says.

Ziva nods. 'And you didn't tell us for four months, two weeks and three days.'

As the doors open, they head out into the parking garage. 'You think Canada's got an NCIS?' Tony asks Gibbs. 'We could transfer. And hey, our marriage is legal across the whole country.'

Gibbs grunts and headslaps Tony.

Tim feels himself relax. Secret marriage or not, nothing's changed.

Abby's still going to be pissed.

The sequel

Abby's bobbing between three computers, Major Mass Spec and a centrifuge when the team gets back from the crime scene. Gibbs drops a box containing clothes and a diary on her workbench. Somehow, he's managed to carry a Caf!Pow too. Abby hits a button and the room goes silent. It's only then that she notices Tony hovering in the doorway. At the same time, an icon pops up in the corner of her monitor. It's the one that lets her know Tim's watching via the security feed. She could override it, cut him out of the loop, but now she comes to think of it, both Tony and Gibbs look uncharacteristically nervous, so presumably there's going to be something to watch.

Abby takes the enormous drink and sips, one eyebrow raised in silent query. Even more uncharacteristically, Tony doesn't fill in the silence and Gibbs doesn't demand results ASAP. She makes them wait another long moment while she sips again, and yes, Tony actually squirms. She puts the drink on a shelf out of the way.

'Okay, what did you do?' she demands and has the immense satisfaction of seeing something remarkably akin to discomfort flash through Gibbs' eyes. 'Spill!'

Tony breaks the silence. 'It's not so much what we did, as what we didn't do,' he says. 'Well, okay, it's what we did that makes what we didn't do a bit– In our defense, it seemed like the best thing to do at the time, but still, that doesn't make it right, and–'

There's real fear in his eyes, Abby realizes, just as Gibbs cuts in. With a hug. And an apology. 'Abby, I'm sorry.'

Abby enjoys the strength that surrounds her for a moment before pushing Gibbs away. 'Guys, you're freaking me out here. You're acting like I'm going to kill you when I find out whatever it is, and I gotta say, if you don't tell me, like now, I am going to kill you. And then I'm never going to find out why you're down here freaking me out and I'm never going to forgive you.'

Tony opens his mouth to start babbling again, but Abby holds up a well-aimed index finger. 'Ah! Gibbs, you first. And keep it concise, mister.'

Gibbs looks about as uncomfortable as she's ever seen him. If she didn't know better, she'd swear he was embarrassed, but Gibbs doesn't get embarrassed. Ever.

'Tony and I got married.'

She stares at him, then turns her attention to Tony, who looks as though he'd rather be going a second round with Y Pestis than standing here in her lab right now. 'Your turn.'

'We've been seeing each other for just over two years,' Tony says, and he's about to say more when she holds her finger up again.

'You, go,' she tells Gibbs.

'We got married back in April,' Gibbs tells her.

'Tony, report,' Abby snaps.

'Tim worked it out just before we got called out this morning,' Tony says.

Abby looks at the two men who are practically family to her in every way that counts and she takes a deep breath. 'Out. Both of you.'

'Abby–' Gibbs tries, but she makes a shooing motion.

'I will let you know when I have something for you. Go. I'm busy.'

They stare at her for a long moment, then Gibbs nods, respecting her wishes in her domain. He turns and walks away, putting a hand on Tony's shoulder and leading him away too in that understated way they've always had of being together. The door swishes shut behind them. For a second, Abby stares at it, then hits the button on her keyboard that unmutes her music and the lab is once again full of hard pounding rhythms that match her feelings, surging wild and uncontainable.

Abby pulls on a fresh pair of gloves and goes over to the box. Right now, she has work to do.

Three hours later, she has a handful of preliminary results. Gibbs does not appear just as Major Mass Spec gives up secrets and Abby doesn't look at the shelf where the barely-touched Caf!Pow still sits. She phones Tim and two minutes later he walks into her lab.

Abby punches him in the arm.

'Ow! What was that for?' Tim rubs his arm and looks aggrieved.

'You didn't tell me they got married!' Abby shouts, hurt spilling out.

'I was going to, only we got called out on this case,' Tim says and Abby realises his hurt is a match for her own.

Wordlessly she holds out her arms and Tim hugs her and for a few moments, it's all better. Then she sighs shakily and steps back and tells him what her tests and her instruments have learned.

It's the end of a very long day and Abby hasn't seen Gibbs or Tony again. She goes down to Autopsy, in need of Ducky's avuncular brand of caring, but when she reaches the doorway, she hears voices coming from the ME's office. Very quickly, she realizes she's stumbled across Tony and Gibbs telling Ducky their secret.

'Of course I knew,' Ducky's saying in a matter-of-fact tone. 'I'm Anthony's physician, after all. It would be remiss of me not to remain well-informed about changes to his medical records. You've been listed as his spouse for several months. I had thought you were aware I knew.'

'Right.' It's Tony. He sounds a little upset at not realizing Ducky knew.

'I'm at a loss as to why you two felt it necessary to tell me in person after so long,' Ducky says and although he's good, very good, at keeping his emotions under control, Abby imagines she detects an echo of the same betrayal she feels.

'Tim figured it out rather loudly this morning in the bullpen,' Gibbs says. 'I didn't want you to find out through scuttlebutt.'

'Forgive me if I'm rather surprised you care how I find out,' Ducky says stiffly and Abby's definitely not imagining the hurt there.

'I'm sorry we didn't tell you sooner,' Tony says and Abby closes her ears to the pain in his voice, but it's there nonetheless. 'We didn't tell anyone because... Look, I know what people think of me and it's not all that flattering. And Gibbs has been married before and he's my boss. And neither of us is out as bi, and we work for a quasi-military agency dealing with the Navy and the Marines, and...'

'It was easier,' Gibbs says. There's something brittle about his voice and Abby finds herself clamping a hand over her mouth. She doesn't like him not to be invincible, invulnerable, because he's Gibbs. 'And it was something private, between the two of us. It worked. I don't... I didn't want all the staring and the questions and the snide comments. Tony deserves better than that. Hell, he deserves better than me, but he's a grown man and he knows his own mind.'

Abby can't believe it. Gibbs has apologized and he's explaining himself, all in one day. Briefly she wonders if it's a sign of the apocalypse, but Tony speaks up again.

'Jethro, you're worth it. You're worth anything,' he says fiercely and Abby knows without knowing how she knows that Tony means he's worth the deception, the secrets, the sneaking around they've had to have done. For the first time she allows herself to think of what it's cost them not to be able to share the most important relationship in their lives with any of their friends.

She takes a step forwards just as Tony clears his throat and says, 'I didn't think... I thought for years there was something wrong with me. I'd watch all these movies and there's so much love, you know? Unconditional love. Like, I don't know, like Taken, the one where Liam Neeson's daughter gets kidnapped and he goes after her, kills anyone who gets in his way. Or, god, any one of a thousand romances. But the only person who ever, who ever... you know... was my mom and she died. And you do. You don't say it, but you do and no one ever... There was never anyone who... Everyone always wanted something from me, you know? Wanted me to be someone else.'

Abby breaks. With a sob, she runs into the room and throws her arms around Tony because even though she's so angry and so hurt, a lifetime is a very long time never to know you're loved. He takes a step back, absorbing the force of her impact, but his arms close around her automatically and he hugs her back as tightly as she's hugging him. In the corner of the room, Ducky is blinking, his eyes suspiciously bright. And Gibbs... He wears a pinched expression, as though he knows exactly what the forced independence has cost Tony and he'd dearly like to go back and headslap all the people who didn't think this boy, this man, was worth loving. Then he steps forward and wraps his arms around both of them and they stand there in Ducky's office for a long time until Tony draws in a ragged breath and gives Abby one last squeeze before letting go.

'I'm sorry, Abs,' he says. 'We should have told you. We should have told all of you.'

Abby nods, not trusting herself to speak until she's taken a few deep breaths. 'Show me,' she says quietly, determinedly. Tony looks at Gibbs, who nods.

'Come over to the house,' Tony says. 'I'll order pizza.'

'You too, Duck,' Gibbs says and it's Tony's turn to nod.

'I'll see if Tim and Ziva can join us,' he says. 'Are you okay to drive?'

'Probably,' Abby says, but Ducky pats her arm.

'If you would, I'd be glad of the company, my dear.'

And suddenly it's all settled. They arrive at Gibbs' house – Gibbs' and Tony's house – in ones and twos and drift into the living room where a stack of pizzas waits. There's beer and bourbon for those who want and coffee and tea for those who don't. And for Abby, there's a Caf!Pow waiting on the coffee table. She takes the offering and sinks into the cushions on the sofa. There's a large flat-screen TV against the wall and a surround sound system, even a DVD player. Handmade shelves hold Tony's extensive movie collection and it's the clearest possible sign that they are together in every sense of the word.

When people have loaded their plates with pizza, grabbed drinks and paper towels, Tony goes over and puts on a DVD. The light from the TV screen catches the plain gold band on his finger before he retreats to watch his friends and colleagues as they watch the movie.

It's Gibbs and Tony in a tiny wedding chapel. They're standing up in front of a minister, reciting the short vows one after the other. To one side stand two strangers, presumably witnesses provided by the chapel. Gibbs and Tony exchange rings, the same rings they're both wearing now, then they kiss and the minister shakes their hands. Someone hands them a certificate and that's it, the DVD freezes. The whole thing has taken maybe six minutes, tops. But on the screen, Gibbs and Tony look at each other as though the rest of the world doesn't exist.

They both look tired, worn, and Abby thinks back to April when they were all working so hard without a break and only Tony's presence stopped everyone from killing Gibbs and Gibbs from killing recalcitrant suspects and witnesses. The way they turned together to leave the wedding chapel, the way their shoulders relaxed once those rings were exchanged and they were bound together, Abby gets it, just how much uncertainty they'd been carrying around, unaware.

She takes a breath. 'You owe us a bachelor party. Ziva, Ducky, you sort out the drinks. Tim, you can organize the games. I'll get the strippers.' And just like that, she's not pissed any more.

ETA: And now, by special request, the sequel to the sequel!

Vance is going through personnel files. Reviews come around so quickly and while the majority are carried out by team leaders and their senior agents, the director has to do his team leaders' reviews himself. He flicks through Gibbs' file; it's a couple of inches thick, easily. Clipped to the inside front cover is his current personal details; address, contact details, medical proxy, marital status. He's a couple of pages down when he realises something about that form has caught his attention, so he flips back to it.

It's the date. This one's only a few months old, according to the date on the bottom, which means Gibbs has had reason to update his personal details since Vance last carried out his review.

Curious, Vance glances over the form. Gibbs hasn't changed his name or address; Vance would be highly surprised if he'd done either. Then his eyes stop at the marital details section. Where previously it had read simply, 'Divorced', it now says 'Married'. Name of Spouse: Anthony DiNozzo.

Vance frowns. His position precludes him from the practical jokes he knows are common down in the bullpen. Even if he didn't, his personality is the kind to discourage such things. But this smacks of a practical joke and he wonders what the punchline is meant to be. Scowling, he uses the intercom to ask his secretary for DiNozzo's file.

When it arrives, he checks and sure enough, DiNozzo's file lists Gibbs as his spouse. There's the same date on the form, the start of May. Whoever did this, did both files. But why? He doesn't get it.

The men are close, sure, but they've worked together for years. No one but DiNozzo would put up with the infamous Gibbs temper, would know how to. Vance has seen him deflect the wrath of Gibbs from coming down on those less able to withstand the storm and has to admit the man does it with a skill and finesse that he wouldn't have believed the agent capable of. And Gibbs gets the best out of DiNozzo, knows how to get that overgrown fratboy to behave like the seasoned investigator he is.

So, someone looking to get them busted for fraternization, break up his Major Crimes Response Team? If there's a relationship there, one of them should move to another team. Only if the two men have a relationship that goes beyond the professional, it clearly hasn't affected their performance. As much as he hates, really viscerally hates to have to admit it, they are his best team and they know it. Since DiNozzo came back from being Agent Afloat, Vance has witnessed first hand how his presence inexplicably transmutes the team into something greater. He isn't about to split them up again.

With a sigh, he shuts the files and uses the intercom again. 'Ask DiNozzo and Gibbs to come see me when they get a minute.'

It's a couple of hours before they show up at his office, which gives him time to finish off the paperwork on a few more reviews. Vance lets his gaze flick over them, drop to their left hands, then back up to their impassive faces.

'You wanted to see us, Leon?' Gibbs asks with his customary hint of impatience.

Vance nods. 'I need to see you for your review, Jethro,' he says. 'Make some time on Monday if you don't catch a case.'

Gibbs raises an eyebrow. 'Is that it?'

Vance shakes his head, leans back, grins. 'I wanted to wish you gentlemen congratulations. You've kept it very quiet.' To his surprise, Tony flushes and Gibbs looks faintly ashamed.

'Thanks,' Gibbs says. 'If that's all?'

Vance stares at them for a long, long moment, unsure what their atypical response signifies. 'That's all.' They turn and leave Vance looking at his office door until with a mental shake, he turns back to the files. 'I'll be damned,' he murmurs, then grins. He understands completely. 'I bet Abby was pissed.'

Fornell storms into the waiting room. 'I told you to hang back!' he rages at the man in the corner. 'It was my operation and you went charging in like a bulldozer! What the hell were you thinking?'

The man looks up, a world of pain in his expressive green eyes. 'I was thinking I wasn't going to lose my husband because of an interagency pissing contest.' There's blood on his shirt and under his nails.

Incredulous, Fornell stops and stares at him. 'What- DiNozzo?'

Tony sighs. 'Fuck off, Fornell.'

Instead, the agent takes the seat next to him. 'Shit.'


They sit in silence for half an hour until a doctor comes in looking indecently cheery. 'Special Agent DiNozzo?'

Tony stands. 'How is he?'

The doctor beams. 'He's going to be fine. In fact, he's in more danger from the nurses, demanding to be let out of bed than he is from his injury. You'd better come see your husband and persuade him to stay put before someone gets needle-happy and sedates him just to shut him up.'

Tony sags and Fornell catches his elbow. 'Come on, Tony,' Fornell says. 'Let's go give him hell.'

With a laugh that's half sob, Tony lets Fornell and the doctor guide him through the hallways to the room where even from the other end of the corridor, he can hear Gibbs bellow, '... and get me some damn pants!'

Tony perches on the side of the bed and carefully pulls Gibbs into hug. He presses a kiss to an unbandaged patch of the older man's salt-and-pepper hair. 'You ever scare me like that again and I swear I'm going to kick your ass into the middle of next week,' he says softly and Gibbs huffs.

'Damn nurses have hidden my pants.'

Fornell bites back a smile, forces his face into a scowl. 'What the hell did you think you were doing, Gibbs?' he snarls. 'You could have cost us six months of undercover work!'

Gibbs glares at him. 'Back off, Fornell! If your men had done their jobs properly, I wouldn't be in this damn hospital!'

Fornell can't hold it any longer. He collapses into the bedside chair and laughs out his relief. 'So is this meant to be some big gay secret?' he asks when he finally gets his breath back, nodding at the two of them.

Tony rolls his eyes and Gibbs shrugs. 'Not since McGee worked it out a couple of months back.'

Fornell looks at them and shakes his head. 'You got married and you didn't tell your team?' He whistles. 'I bet they were pissed.'