“Good, you’re all nice and comfy.”
Jethro Gibbs looked up warily at his lover’s cheerful voice. Tony had been doting on him ever since Gibbs had slunk back from Mexico. It was though the younger man thought Gibbs was made of spun sugar, the way he tiptoed around him. Gibbs hated being doted on. He hated even worse that his leaving all those months ago had made Tony so hesitant. Ever since he came back, the two had been dancing around each other, being oh-so-careful of fragile, newly reformed ties. Jethro longed to pull Tony into his arms and kiss his doubts away, but he didn’t dare. He didn’t have that right anymore. It was enough that Tony let him back into his life, even if their relationship was a shadow of what it had been.
Tony walked into the living room, a towel slung over his shoulder and tray carefully balanced in two hands. From his seated position in the easy chair, all Gibbs could see of what was on the tray was a bowl and the vague shape of various other items. From the careful way the other man was moving, though, it was a fair bet that the bowl was full of liquid.
Gibbs folded the newspaper he’d been reading. “What are you doing?”
“You’ll see,” Tony responded.
He set the tray down on the table next to the chair and Gibbs could see that the bowl did, in fact, hold a liquid. Water, to be specific. Next to it were some folded towels, a can of shaving cream, barber scissors and a razor.
Gibbs raised his eyebrows as he did a mental inventory, but didn’t say anything further as Tony silently took the paper from his grasp. The younger man let it casually drop to the floor and then, without saying a word, straddled Gibbs’ knees. With a cocky grin, Tony settled on the ex-Marine’s lap, facing Gibbs.
“Comfy?” Jethro asked, the characteristic sarcastic bite lacking from his voice.
“Very, thank you.” Tony took the towel off his shoulder and dipped a corner of it into the water before dabbing it on Gibbs’ upper lip.
The water was warm, but Tony’s touch, even through the soft terry cloth, was hot. Despite having a tall, muscular man perched on his knees, Gibbs felt himself relaxing.
Next, Tony picked up the scissors. “You’ve got some dirt on your upper lip, Jethro. I thought it was time to take care of it.”
Gibbs didn’t protest as Tony started clipping away at his moustache. He didn’t know why he’d kept the damn thing. It was as though he wanted his exterior to mirror the changes that had taken place inside of him since waking from the coma. He watched as Tony’s forehead creased in concentration, the other man taking great care not to get too close to the skin.
Gibbs almost wished that Tony would snip him a little; he deserved to bleed.
After he was finished wielding the scissors, Tony put them down and picked up the shaving cream. He squirted out a dollop and spread it over Gibbs’ newly shorn upper lip, exercising care in making sure that none of the foam got on Jethro’s lips. When it was covered to his satisfaction, he wiped his hands off on the towel before grabbing the razor.
Gibbs felt something akin to true pleasure as the razor scraped across his skin. With ever swipe of the blade, he felt more hair removed. Even more, he felt the barriers that’d been between him and Tony ever since he’d returned from Mexico drop. He closed his eyes, not at all ashamed at the single tear that slid down his cheek.
He felt, rather than saw, the shave completed. Tony leaned across Gibbs’ and Jethro heard something clink. The razor, he supposed, being returned to the tray. Next, he heard the faint sound of water sloshing and so wasn’t startled when the towel returned to his face, wiping away the remnants of the cut hair, the shaving cream and the lone tear. There was more movement, the towel being discarded, and then nothing.
Gibbs opened his eyes. Tony was still sitting on his lap, looking at him intently.
Tony smiled when he saw the older man looking at him. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Gibbs said, feeling anything but silly at the greeting.
“You look like you again,” Tony commented, reaching out to stroke Gibbs’ smooth upper lip with his thumb. “I missed you.”
“Me too,” Gibbs responded in a cracked voice. “Tony, I -. . .”
“Shhhh. . .” Tony put his thumb across Gibbs’ lips. “You’re back, that’s what counts.”
“Come here,” Gibbs whispered hoarsely. He pulled Tony closer and the younger man came willingly, allowing himself to be pillowed against Gibb’s chest.
“We’re gonna be okay,” Tony reassured his lover as he snuggled close, burying his face in the warm spot between Gibbs’ neck and shoulder. “We’re gonna be just fine.”
As he held his lover, Tony impossibly warm and right in his arms, Gibbs allowed himself to believe. Fixing his insides wouldn’t be easy, the way a simple shave had restored his outward appearance, but with Tony’s help it could be done. Leroy Jethro Gibbs would make it all the way back from his coma, all the way back from Mexico, all the way back from his ill-conceived retirement.
And Tony would be right there with him.
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