Fornell and Gibbs are in the elevator and Fornell surprises his old friend.
An established relationship story.
Warning: Major character death.
Gibbs/Fornell as a couple also appear in this story. Abby/McGee as a couple are mentioned.
Written: February 2008. Word count: 736.
Fornell hit the elevator's stop button. Before Gibbs could say anything, he yanked his old friend into his arms and kissed him.
Seconds later he released Gibbs, took a step back and waited, watching warily.
Gibbs just stood and blinked at him. "Tobias?"
Fornell swallowed hard. "Sorry, Jethro. Wrong time, but there won't be a right one, will there?"
"Why did I kiss you? Or why now?"
Fornell tried to keep his voice matter-of-fact. "I've always wanted to. Damn it, Jethro, I've always been attracted to you. Then it turned to love. As for why now . . ." He left that part hanging.
"But you've never . . ."
"Couldn't. You and Ducky were . . . " Fornell trailed off. Whatever he said wouldn't be worthy, couldn't describe the relationship between his two oldest friends. In the end he settled for, "Beyond description. And I valued our friendship."
"I never knew."
"I know." Fornell considered for a moment. Then said softly, "Ducky did."
Gibbs just stared at him. "How?"
Fornell shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe because he loved you too. He told me once if he thought, if he believed, I could make you happier than he could, that he'd . . . He'd have walked away from you, Jethro. He loved you that much."
Gibbs leaned against the wall and slid down until he was sitting on the floor. "I know," he said softly. "That's so like Ducky. God, I miss him, Tobias."
Fornell squatted down so he could make eye contact with Gibbs. "I know," he said softly. He looked at his friend. In the two months since Ducky's death, Gibbs had aged ten, fifteen years. He was a shadow of the man he used to be, physically and emotionally. He seemed no longer to care about anything.
Fornell knew the harsh truth: the only reason Leroy Jethro Gibbs was still alive was that Abby had been seven months pregnant when Ducky had died. And as her surrogate father, Gibbs had wanted to make sure the pregnancy ended well.
It had done. Three nights ago, with McGee by her side and Gibbs pacing the corridors, Abby had given birth to twin boys. She and McGee had named them: Benjamin Donald and Thomas Jethro.
Gibbs had stayed. Had done his 'duty'. But Fornell knew this was it.
He wondered if the kids knew it too? He suspected the McGees did, as Gibbs had already handed over the keys to the Reston house he'd shared with Ducky for far too short a time.
Fornell continued to look at Gibbs, wondering if there was anything he could say to make his old friend change his mind. But deep down he knew there wasn't. "How?" he asked finally.
Gibbs frowned for a second. Then he said, "The Ducky is ready. I'll take her out." He left it at that.
Fornell closed his eyes. Damn it. He'd known for two months, but it still hurt. "I keep thinking I should say something."
Gibbs looked at him. "What? That you could make me happy? That Ducky wouldn't want me to do it? That the kids need me?"
"I'd like to think I could, but I know I couldn't. He wouldn't, but he's always known you would, so he'll forgive you. They don't, not really." Fornell spoke frankly.
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah." Then he said, his voice softer, "I'm sorry, Tobias. If I thought there was any chance . . ." He trailed off and shrugged.
Gibbs pushed himself to his feet. "Guess we'd better get moving," he said, offering his hand to Fornell.
Fornell took it and let Gibbs help him to his feet. To his surprise, rather than let go of his hand, Gibbs tugged him into his arms, and for a fleeting second kissed him. The pain as well as the beauty in the kiss came closer to breaking Fornell than anything else ever had done.
Then as quickly as it had begun, it was over, and Gibbs had pushed the emergency button again.
As the doors opened and Gibbs strode out, moving more like the old Gibbs than the Gibbs he'd become, head up, looking as though he had a purpose in life, Tobias knew. He knew two things: he'd never travel in an elevator again, and he'd never again return to NCIS.
"God speed, Jethro," he whispered. "Be happy."
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