Not Quite an Anniversary

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: This was a pinch hit story written for leggyslove in the ncis_tinsel exchange.

Tony really should have known better than to expect to have a normal day at work. If the jewel thieves and transgendered men--women?--hadn't convinced him of that, the mummified bodies and treasure maps and not-quite-alien encounters should have. But despite just over five years of experience, there were still times when he stepped off the elevator feeling like he had a handle on things. Like he was prepared.

Today, the sensation barely lasted until he got to his desk. Tony shrugged off his jacket, set down his bag, and reached out to turn on his monitor. That's when he noticed the cards. There were three of them, all standing up neatly in the center of his desk. Tony leaned down and peered at them for a long time before he risked picking one up. Mail could be dangerous.

But it was just a card, after all. There was a generic art print on the front and the inside said "Congratulations!" in a loopy, sentimental font. Tony frowned. Congratulations on what?

He picked up the other two cards. One of them had a sappy message on the front with the congratulations inside as the punch line. The other had the congratulations right on the front of the card in metallic letters. All three were blank--no salutation, no signature. Maybe they were meant for someone else? Except if that were the case, why were there three of them on his desk? Tony could understand one getting misdirected, but three seemed a little bit odd.

Shaking his head, Tony set the cards aside and flicked his computer monitor on. He had work to do, after all.

Gibbs, McGee, and Ziva all trickled in over the course of the morning. Not one of them said anything about congratulations. Tony was just about to write it off as a mistake after all when an agent from another team--Tom Robertson, he thought--wandered by and dropped another card on his desk. Congratulations! it proclaimed cheerily.

Tony blinked at it for a second before snatching it up and jogging after Robertson. "Hey, Tom," he said, holding up the card. "Congratulations on what?"

Robertson looked up at him, smiling a little. "You don't know?"

Tony shook his head. "Not a clue. I thought it was a screw up until you wandered by."

"You've gotten more than one?" Robertson asked, his eyebrows shooting up.

"Yeah," Tony said slowly. There went the theory that this was some sort of practical joke. He supposed Tom could be lying, but he was pretty sure the surprised was unfeigned.

Robertson's smile broadened. "Let me know how many you get," he said, and turned his attention back to the form he was filling out.

"Oh, come on," Tony wheedled. "What can it hurt to fill me in?"

"Nothing." Robertson shot him an amused look. "But it'll be fun to see how long it takes you to buy a clue."

"You have a bizarre sense of humor, Tom."

Robertson just turned his attention back to his report. "Pot, meet kettle."

Sighing, Tony wandered back to his desk and added Tom's card to the original stack of three. Over the next hour three more people--one field agent and two administrative staff--came by his desk and delivered their own congratulatory cards. Robertson must have spread the word of his confusion, because not one of them would spill the beans. Not even when he flirted.

By the time the mail cart came around it was taking a serious effort of will for Tony to concentrate on anything other than his growing collection. Seven cards from people all over the office. All bearing congratulations. Tony wracked his brain. It wasn't his birthday, and besides, you didn't generally congratulate someone on a birthday. He hadn't gotten married--God forbid--or promoted. At least as far as he knew. He hadn't gotten a raise, or won a trip, or been presented with some sort of award. His five year anniversary with NCIS had been more than a week ago and the fact that all these cards were arriving today told him that this day in particular was the special day. There were no hints in the cards themselves, either. The only people who'd included a personal message had left it vague: things like "Congratulations on hanging in there!" or "I don't know how you do it, but I'm impressed." Neither shed much light on the issue.

The mail guy worked his way down the aisle in his usual fashion, dropping little stacks of letters in Gibbs's inbox, then McGee's, then Ziva's, and finally Tony's. Today's stack was considerably larger than usual. Tony regarded it with suspicion. Sure enough, there were more cards in amongst the envelopes and loose sheets of paper from the internal mail.

"Well, what have you got there?"

Tony looked up to see Ziva looking down at the cards he'd filtered out of the stack. There was a gleam in her eye that he didn't like. Tony flattened his hand on the pile of new cards, but Ziva's quick gaze found the original stack of seven. She snatched them up and flipped through them.

But her look of triumph quickly slid into a frown. "Congratulations on what?"

"I don't know," Tony said impatiently, holding out his hand for the cards. She surrendered them with a sniff. "But the ones that just came in the mail make seventeen of the damn things." Tony took a moment to mentally weigh the risk he was about to take before straightening up and calling across the aisle, "Hey, Boss! You know why everyone's congratulating me?"

Gibbs didn't look away from his computer screen, but he smiled. "Yep."

Tony waited. Nothing. "You want to fill me in?" he prompted finally.


"Oh, come on!" Tony paused as yet another agent wandered by his desk, grinned at him, and added to the stack of cards. "How am I supposed to concentrate while this is going on? It'll drive me crazy not knowing, Gibbs, I swear."

"You're an investigator, DiNozzo." Gibbs looked up from his computer. "So investigate."

Tony scowled and slumped back in his chair. Ziva just shrugged and returned to her desk, leaving Tony to stare at his monitor. Gibbs wanted him to investigate, huh? Well, he was going to take that as permission to move this particular mystery up to the top of his list. He minimized the window he'd been working in and stared at his computer's desktop for a moment, considering where to start.

Well, there was no way to be sure of the cards that had come through the mail, but Tony was pretty confident that most, if not all, of them had been from people within NCIS. So that meant it was something professional. A few clicks of the mouse brought up his employee profile, but reading it over twice got him nowhere. So Tony went deeper. Employee evaluations, physical examinations, requests for leave. He examined anything appended to his file, but none of it led him anywhere. And in the meantime, another four cards had arrived.

Congratulations on hanging in there!, one of the cards had said. So maybe it wasn't a specific event. More like a period of time. But not an actual anniversary, because Tony knew there wasn't anything special about this particular date. Not to him, anyway.

Not to him.

Tony frowned. Maybe this date was important to someone else? It didn't explain why Tony was the one getting the congratulations, but maybe the connection would come clear when he knew what the date itself meant.

An hour later, the closest he'd gotten was the date Stan Burley had transferred off of Gibbs's team. And it wasn't even today. It was yesterday. Tony stared at his computer screen. He'd worked with Gibbs one day longer than Burley, as of today.

Congratulations on hanging in there!

It took more digging than he'd expected--he had to go through more than a decade's worth of records in the end--but Tony soon discovered that he had, in fact, worked with Gibbs one day longer than anyone since Gibbs had been made lead investigator of his own team. After a long, surprised moment, Tony closed the files he'd been examining and leaned back in his chair, lacing his fingers together behind his head and grinning.

The next person to drop off a card did a double take at Tony's warmly delivered, "Thank you."

Ziva and McGee were hovering over him a moment later. "You figured it out," McGee stated.

"Yep." Tony was grinning so hard his face was starting to hurt.

"Well?" Ziva made a "give it here" gesture with one hand.

Tony just shook his head. "Nope."

Ziva and McGee traded an exasperated look, then turned in unison to look first at Gibbs, who was unsuccessfully suppressing a smirk, and then back at Tony. "You two have been working together for too long," Ziva muttered.

Tony couldn't help it. He started laughing.

When he'd calmed down a little, he got up from his desk, circled around his bewildered fellow agents, and went over to stand in front of Gibbs. "You're taking me to lunch," Tony informed him.

Gibbs turned away from his computer screen. "I am, am I?" he said, expression deadpan. But Tony could see the twinkle in his eye.

"Yup. I think you owe me lunch at the very least."

"It's almost one o'clock," Gibbs argued.

Tony folded his arms over his chest. "Neither of us have eaten yet."

After a moment Gibbs ducked his head, a tiny smile coming and going almost unseen, and stood up. They passed by McGee and Ziva together, exchanging an amused glace at the identical expressions of frustrated confusion that the two wore.

Silently, Tony put the chances of Gibbs stopping the elevator at about fifty-fifty. He might want to have a private chat, but he also took an inordinate amount of pleasure in waiting for Tony to break and say something first. Which he always did. Gibbs had a scary amount of patience when it came to interrogations.

The elevator had all but arrived and Tony was about ready to concede his eventual defeat when Gibbs reached out and flicked the stop switch. "At the very least?" Gibbs asked, turning and stepping up close to Tony.

Grinning, Tony slipped his hands into his pockets and rocked back on his heels. "Sure. Don't you think I deserve a reward for my years of service?"

Gibbs took another step forward, forcing Tony back against the wall of the elevator. "I just didn't think lunch would be your chosen reward." Pressing one hand flat against the wall next to Tony's head, Gibbs leaned in and covered Tony's mouth with his own. Tony parted his lips automatically, letting Gibbs's tongue slide inside, hot and slick. God, that was good. Tony had to force down a moan.

After a moment Gibbs pulled away and Tony let his head fall back against the wall. "I'm willing to consider alternate rewards," he said, licking his lips.

Gibbs chuckled. "But if we don't go to lunch, people will wonder what we've been doing instead."

"Lunch now, alternate rewards later?" Tony waggled his eyebrows.


"Sure." Tony reached up to pull Gibbs into another, longer kiss. When they parted again, lips clinging for just a moment before they let go, Tony left his hand curled around Gibbs's neck, his thumb brushing the man's jaw. "Got to say, Boss, I wasn't expecting half the office to congratulate me on the longevity of our relationship."

Gibbs drew Tony's hand away, but he squeezed it before letting go. "I'm not great with anniversaries, Tony."

Tony snorted and smiled crookedly. "After three years, I think I've figured that out," he said. "I'm just saying, it's nice to know other people think we're good together, too."

Gibbs tugged Tony away from the wall and flicked the stop switch again, putting the elevator back into motion. In the instant before the doors opened he cast Tony a sidelong glance. "Very good," he said, quirking an eyebrow.

Tony could only wonder what the two agents waiting for the elevator thought of his blush.