The Art of One-Upmanship
(Or Four Times Tony Tried and One Time He Succeeded)
Junior Field Agent Anthony DiNozzo groaned in frustration as he approached the coffee shop. The sign on the door was going to lead to his demise, he was sure of it.
His boss, Team Leader Leroy Jethro Gibbs, had sent him on a coffee run. And even though DiNozzo was relatively new to NCIS, he had been on Gibbs’ team long enough to know the man ran almost exclusively on coffee. And not just any coffee. His brew of choice came from a little corner shop outside the Navy Yard called “Brew To Go.” And they were closed this week for repair.
“Argh!” What the hell was he going to do? There was a Dunkin' Donuts and a McDonald’s within driving distance, and the sooner he made a decision, the better. Gibbs wasn’t going to give him much latitude.
Sprinting to his car, Tony grinned as something in the backseat caught his eye. It was an old. empty Brew To Go cup. A plan solidified and he raced out of the Yard, heading for Dunkin' Donuts. He completed the task in record time, smiling in satisfaction as he dumped the fresh brew into the old cup.
This might just work.
Racing back to the office, he parked and decided against the elevator, instead sprinting up the stairs.
He noted that Gibbs wasn’t at his desk, and placed the cup where it could be easily seen before returning to his own work area. He took a seat and typed in his password, returning to typing up his report on their last case.
Ten minutes later, Gibbs and Director Tom Morrow exited MTAC. Looking up as they approached, Tony watched anxiously as his boss grabbed the cup without missing a step and took a sip. In the next instant, the older man spit it out and wiped a hand over his mouth in distaste.
“DiNozzo, what the hell is this shit supposed to be?” he demanded, thrusting the cup at his newest agent.
“Uh… coffee?” DiNozzo offered weakly.
“The hell it is! Where’d you get it, a gas station?” he asked, glaring at the younger man.
Director Morrow smirked. This was not an unfamiliar scene between Gibbs and his agents. It was merely the first time that Agent DiNozzo was directly experiencing the phenomenon.
“Well, you see… the usual place was closed, and, uh… I improvised.” DiNozzo grinned sheepishly.
Gibbs reached out and smacked his agent on the back of the head.
“Next time I ask for coffee, make sure it’s the real stuff, not this dishwater crap!”
“On it, Boss!”
Morrow grinned as he walked away. Yes, DiNozzo was going to fit just fine with Gibbs.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~~ ~*~ ~*~ ~ ~*~ ~*~ ~ ~*~ ~*~
“C’mon, DiNozzo!” Special Agent Chris Pacci lightly punched the younger agent in the shoulder. “You’ve been on Gibbs’ team long enough now. You know there’s no way you can beat him.”
Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo shook his head, grinning mischievously. “Don’t count me out just yet, Pacci. I’ve been doing some research. You just wait… I’ll show you who’s faster!”
The drive to Rock Creek Park took thirty minutes from the Washington Navy Yard. For most drivers, that is. With Gibbs at the wheel it took somewhere around twenty. Fifteen if the older man was feeling inspired. Tony at least had gotten used to Gibbs’ driving after all this time, but watching Kate try to hold her composure gave him great satisfaction.
It still irked him that he could never beat Gibbs there when they got a call out to the Park. Even when he left before Gibbs, the older man still got there before him. And the smirk on Gibbs’ face told Tony that he clearly knew how much it bothered him.
With it now being a source of pride, DiNozzo had been studying street maps and testing alternate routes, and he had managed to shave six minutes off his best time. It would be close, but he was confident that he could beat Gibbs when the next call out came to Rock Creek Park.
So, when the call came, Tony was ready. Gibbs was delayed in MTAC and told him to gather the team and start out. Using the shortcut he had meticulously mapped, Tony channeled his boss and pushed the car’s speed.
He ignored Kate's yells of protest and when he parked, she swore viciously and rushed out of the car. With a smirk, Tony was about to comment on his time when he realized that the MCRT truck was already at the scene and Gibbs was examining their dead Petty Officer.
“What took you so long, DiNozzo?” Gibbs wondered mildly. “Been here five minutes already, and I left after you did.”
Son of a bitch, Tony cursed silently. Pasting on his trademark goofy grin, he responded, “Traffic, Boss. It was a real bitch.”
He wasn’t ready to admit that he was never going to beat Gibbs at this game, but damn it sure felt that way.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~~ ~*~ ~*~ ~ ~*~ ~*~ ~ ~*~ ~*~
Tony DiNozzo was a damned good shot. He had medals and commendations for his shooting skills from various police departments he’d formerly worked with. But the one he really wanted, the one that kept eluding him, was the NCIS Pistol Marksmanship Award.
His first year he hadn't been eligible to compete, having only worked for the agency for four months. And while he had enrolled for his second year, he had been in the hospital, recuperating from a gunshot wound.
Third time’s the charm, DiNozzo hoped.
There was just one roadblock he could see. His boss, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, was a former Marine sniper. Even though age wasn’t exactly on Gibbs’ side any longer, no one was overly hopeful about winning against him.
Always thorough, DiNozzo thought he might actually have a chance. Gibbs didn’t always win. Last year he had tied with Special Agent Balboa and two years before that, Chris Pacci. Gibbs’ specialty was the rifle, not the pistol and while no one could argue about his proficiency with the smaller weapons, they weren't his strong point.
In Tony’s mind, that meant if he practiced and remained focused, he had a chance at least.
On the morning of the competition, Tony got up and took his usual run. He took care to warm up before and stretch thoroughly after, and he stuck to a route that wouldn’t be too taxing. After eating a light lunch, he headed for the gun range.
He wasn’t surprised by the crowd that had already gathered. Although it was seriously frowned upon, bets were laid weeks in advance, once the roster of shooters was announced. He knew Abby and Ducky had money riding on him, and he was willing to bet they had money on Gibbs as well. He just didn’t know who they were favoring to win.
Tony shot third from last and he knew he’d scored his best time ever. As he joined Ducky and Abby, they congratulated him heartily. He couldn’t help grinning at the praise.
The next shooter, a transfer to Balboa’s team, did good, but it didn’t match Tony’s score. That only left Gibbs in the lineup.
“Oh my,” Ducky said, “I can’t recall a time when the finish has been this close. Well done, Anthony!”
“Thanks, Duck.” Tony flashed the older man a quick grin while hugging Abby close.
“Go Gibbs!” the Goth yelled.
“Way to feed my ego, Abbs,” DiNozzo dryly chided.
“I’m sorry, Tony.” She didn’t look the least bit repentive, though. “But it’s Gibbs, y’know?”
He nodded. He knew only too well.
And, in the end, it was Leroy Jethro Gibbs who walked off with this year’s NCIS marksmanship trophy.
“Congratulations, Boss,” Tony said. “I’m glad I’m with the good guys, and you’re not aiming that gun at me.”
Gibbs smirked. “Gotta remember that specializing in one weapon doesn’t limit you learning another.”
The younger agent nodded, resigned. “Got it, Boss.”
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~~ ~*~ ~*~ ~ ~*~ ~*~ ~ ~*~ ~*~
“I’m going for coffee,” Tony announced. “Anyone besides Gibbs want one?”
“Why ‘besides Gibbs’?” Ziva wondered, puzzled. “Besides the obvious that Gibbs is in a meeting in MTAC and it would be cold before he drank it.” She had only been on Gibbs' team for a few weeks and was still trying to make sense of her teammates' actions.
McGee snorted. “Because if one of us ever went out for coffee and didn’t bring one back for the boss, it’d be desk duty for the indefinite future.”
The Mossad liaison nodded her understanding.
“So, any takers?” Tony prodded, grabbing his badge and gun and walking out to the center aisle.
Both gave him their order and he nodded, heading for the elevator.
It took less than fifteen minutes for Tony to get the coffee and return. Over the years, he'd honed it down to a science, figuring that his life, or at least his sanity, depended on keeping the boss caffeinated.
As he re-entered the bullpen, he slowed as he approached their cubicles. He had found his own ways to listen in on the team while Gibbs was in Mexico, and sometimes he still put it to use.
“Ziva, have you seen Gibbs lately?” Ducky's Scots brogue was more pronounced than usual, an indication that something had him riled.
“He came down from MTAC shortly after Tony left for his coffee run,” the former Mossad agent responded. “He left the bullpen, but did not state where he was going.”
Tony was about to step out when he felt a presence behind him. Very close behind, in fact. Uh, almost ~too~ close, to be honest.
“That coffee I smell better mean there's one for me, DiNozzo?” a quiet voice growled in his ear.
Tony fought down a shiver as he turned to face his boss. The proximity of the cubicle wall forced him into closer contact with Gibbs than was comfortable, but he didn't really have much choice. At least it helped bank his erection, something that was happening more frequently in Gibbs' presence.
Holding out the largest, strongest, blackest coffee possible, Tony smiled ear to ear.
“Right here, Boss.” He hoped the coffee would deflect Gibbs from his very physical reaction to having his boss so close.
Gibbs accepted it eagerly and took a long gulp, ignoring the fact that it was still steaming hot. As he turned to walk away, he said, “Just remember... eavesdroppers never hear anything good.”
"Right, Boss. Thank you, Boss.” Taking a steadying breath, Tony followed the team leader and took his seat at his own desk.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~~ ~*~ ~*~ ~ ~*~ ~*~ ~ ~*~ ~*~
Tony took a deep breath before entering Gibbs' basement. It had taken him most of the afternoon to realize that he hadn't been the only one affected when Gibbs had caught him eavesdropping earlier. He had been so focused on his own erection that he hadn't caught on that Gibbs was sporting an equally impressive one of his own. Only when he had closed his eyes to relive the moment had he recalled feeling that hardness against him.
He didn't think it was a coincidence. Gibbs had taught them all not to believe in coincidences. So what, exactly, did that mean? Tony had been with a few guys in his past, but never a longterm relationship. And Gibbs was straight, if four wives were any indication.
Still, another one of Gibbs rules was to never assume. So... here he was. Tony refused to consider the consequences if he was wrong. There was definitely something growing between them, and more so since he had returned from his stint as Agent Afloat.
“DiNozzo! You coming down, or are you just gonna stay up there all night?”
Tony couldn't help grinning at the familiar bark. It relaxed him in a way that would probably delight a therapist. Taking a steadying breath, he jogged down the stairs and quickly located his boss, standing on the far side of the boat with a mallet.
“Decided to take her apart already, Boss?” he quipped.
Gibbs glared, but Tony knew there was little heat in it. “What's on your mind?” the older man asked.
“That's a loaded question. Sure you want an answer?”
“Well, yeah, DiNozzo. Wouldn't have asked otherwise.” Gibbs put the mallet on his workbench and walked around the boat until he was facing Tony. “Spit it out.”
Tony took a few steps, closing the distance between them. Because he was watching Gibbs closely, he could see the older man's eyes dilate as they studied the tight jeans he'd specifically chosen.
Ah-ha, he crowed silently. Maybe not wrong after all!
Taking his life in his hands, Tony said, “Well, I noticed something earlier, when I handed over your coffee.”
“Noticed something, too, DiNozzo.” Gibbs smirked, taking a step until he and Tony were standing flush.
The scent of sawdust and coffee made Tony close his eyes. He swallowed against the surge of arousal. “Boss, I--”
“Not boss here, Tony. Not if you're thinking what I think.”
DiNozzo grinned and leaned forward, planting a chaste kiss against Gibbs' lips. Strong arms went around him, pulling him close. He moaned, feeling the older man's erection brushing against his.
When they finally separated, Tony reached around and swatted Gibbs on the back of his head.
“What the hell?” Gibbs wondered, rubbing the stinging area.
Tony rolled his eyes. “For being so slow on the uptake, Jethro!”
The older man smiled the little-boy grin few people got to see. “All in good time, Tony... all in... mpf!” Tony pulled him into another kiss, effectively silencing him. Gibbs opened his mouth, but it wasn't in protest.
As they headed up to Gibbs' bedroom, Tony couldn't help smiling. He'd finally gotten one up on Gibbs.