It was late but Daniel picked up on the first ring, “Jesus fucking Christ, Tony. It’s two in the morning.”
“Are you drunk?”
“Yeah. Y’know, it’s been a year since graduation. I thought it would be better by now. All the stupid, make-do jobs, I’m sick of it. I’m gonna be a great cop but police academy is nothing like the movies. You’re the shrink, make it better.”
“You’re shitfaced. I’m not a shrink, I’m gonna be a psychiatrist but I’m only a first year med student.”
“Okay, you hate police academy. You hate your life, you’re lonely, you got dumped after graduation, and unlike usual you haven’t quite bounced back. But someday you are going to look back and realize that you’re happy and all of this is just like a bad dream.”
“That’s your sage advice, Dan, that’s it? A cliché?”
“Someday you will realize I was right and you will say thank you. Now go to bed.”
It was odd to have someone with him. Although, he wasn’t quite sure why someone was with him. Leroy Jethro Gibbs was very used to being alone in the bullpen. He liked being alone in the bullpen. It was never a strain to stay late. Sometimes the house felt empty even with the boat to keep him company. So on nights with still so much work to do he stayed in headquarters and, sometimes, it was a relief. But recently he hadn’t been alone. And it was strange, not unpleasant, just strange.
The first time was after just wrapping a case. A sicko had been abducting the teenage girls of marine bases, drugging them, raping them, and leaving them in motel rooms. He’d left DNA under the fingernails of the sixth and last girl: she hadn’t been doped up enough not to struggle. He was the brother of a Petty Officer and they’d gotten a half match of the DNA off their database. His sister had been raped and killed in Afghanistan. And his actions were, apparently, revenge. It didn’t ring true to Gibbs. The sick bastard had just wanted an excuse.
Gibbs was finishing his report: suspect had fired at them after they informed him they were feds, they fired back, McGee got a flesh wound, the perp got four bullets in his head. It was all above board if a little overzealous. He was finishing his report and Tony’s was already done and on Gibbs desk. So he wasn’t really sure what DiNozzo was doing there. There was really only one way to know.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m checking Ziva and McGee’s reports.”
“Isn’t that my job?”
“Consider it delegated.” Tony looked up and saw that Gibbs wasn’t smiling. “I just figured you’d get to go home earlier and as your second in command I could assist you.” He breathed in and quickly added, “Not that you need assistance or anything. Just thought it would be helpful.”
“How’s it going?”
Tony sighed, “McGee’s is clean. He’s gonna grow up to be a good agent. But I really wish Ziva would stop using idioms in her reports.”
“So you’ve been doing this a while?” Tony looked instantly panicked and Gibbs had to suppress a smile. “That explains why they’ve been so good recently.” His own report was done. He gathered up his things. “Goodnight.” Tony did not instantly reach for his coat he kept reading.
The next week Gibbs stayed late to catch up on paperwork. Paperwork was always the worst part of the job. Tony was still at his desk, reviewing a cold case. Gibbs had noticed a pattern. Whenever Tony wasn’t dating someone he picked up cold cases to bring home. “Is there something wrong with your apartment, DiNozzo?”
“So why are you here?”
“Company?” Tony hazarded. “I just thought it would be good.”
“Company for you or for me?”
“So how’s the file?”
“They need to talk to the sister again, she knows something. Her interviews don’t read right. And her alibi is weak at best.” Tony wrote a note and placed it in the folder.
“You like cold cases.”
“There’s less pressure, and new eyes can be a big help.”
“That’s true. Just make sure you don’t use up your eyes on them.”
“Yes, boss.” Tony collected up his things, “Goodnight, Gibbs.”
The third time Gibbs was going over a cold case of his own. Tony, on the other hand, was rereading over a case file they had put to bed. “Y’know, boss, I’ve been thinking about your problem.”
“If you dated someone who knew all about your job to begin with you would never get another divorce. So if you dated someone at NCIS your problem would be solved.” Gibbs just looked at him. “Shutting up, boss.”
“You want me to go, boss?”
Tony took his coat, “Night, boss.”
It became a pattern, whenever Gibbs stayed late Tony was there. He generally left Gibbs alone to just do his work and did his own quietly. One night McGee got a bad concussion and had to stay in the hospital. Ziva went home. Gibbs went back to the office which meant Tony did as well. But Tony didn’t do any work he just paced back and forth.
“I told him to watch out. I told him,” Tony was muttering.
“I told him. I said, ‘Probie, duck, draw, and turn.’ I told him. I told him. Idiot, what an idiot. You try to keep them alive and do they listen? No and then they say, ‘Shut up, Tony.’ Like you weren’t trying to save them.”
“DiNozzo, it wasn’t your fault.”
“I know that, boss.”
“You couldn’t have done anything.”
“I could have shot that man.”
“He had a crowbar and he was frightened. He was too out of it to hear us say we were feds. It would have been wrong.”
“I could have winged him.”
“No, DiNozzo, you couldn’t have. It would have been wrong and you would have been put on desk duty.”
“Probie wouldn’t be in the hospital.” He sighed. “I told him he could wait ‘til the morning to write his report. Ziva is sending hers to me no later than ten.” He breathed out slowly. “Okay. I’m going to start mine.”
“Why don’t you go home?”
“I’m not going to sleep easy while one of my team is in the hospital.” He looked at Gibbs and said, “I mean the team.” He sat down at his desk. “The team.” He repeated and started to type.
“You still think of them as your team? I’ve been back from Mexico for years.”
“Yeah, well, yeah.” Tony just kept typing. He was silent.
“I don’t know why you’re still here.”
“I’ve gotta write this and if I go home I will crash in front of the TV. Adrenaline will wear off once I’m comfortable.”
“I meant on this team.”
Hurt flashed over Tony’s face but he schooled his expression. “Did you put me in for a transfer, boss?”
“No, you should have a team of your own. You did hold this one together while I was gone.”
“Oh.” Tony went silent. He went back to typing.
“Jenny offered… when you first came back.”
“I wasn’t done learning.”
Gibbs smirked, “Learning? Don’t you know all the rules by now?”
“That’s not what I’m studying anymore. Now I’m learning how to be the boss I want to be. I think I’ve learned it all but now I’m waiting for when Vance wants me to be a team leader. But Jenny said at the time that it might be years before the opportunity came up again.” He never looked up from his computer.
“Aw, DiNozzo, you’re modeling yourself off me. That’s sweet.”
“You’re a great boss, Gibbs. But it’s not going to be the same.”
“No?” Tony said nothing. “C’mon, you want to lay out your master plan.” Gibbs wasn’t sure why he was prompting the conversation. But he liked it when Tony spoke so long as it wasn’t while working a case.
“Gibbs, you’re great. It’s all little things. But… if someone on my team had occasional parties and everyone but one person was invited I would make sure the team didn’t allow the excluded person to find out. And, before you make fun, it’s not about hurt feelings. Letting people know they’re being excluded doesn’t build a team it just creates tension. I would actually tell people when they did a good job instead of just hitting them when they’re not doing so great. Reminding people that they’re good when they do something good makes them feel a lot better about all the times things suck, when no amount of good work will change the situation. Cuffing someone around the head has a time and place but so do compliments and you rarely give them.” Tony kept his eyes on the computer screen.
“That all? What about campfires.”
“There will be campfires.”
“What else, DiNozzo? Come on, I’m listening.” Gibbs smirked.
“Well, if I were to suddenly leave I would not appoint my second in command to be boss with the words, ‘You’ll do.’ And, again, it’s not about my feelings. McGee and Ziva never accepted it. They saw me as trying to fill your shoes and failing. I couldn’t fill your shoes, Gibbs, no one can. But I could fill my own shoes; I could be a good boss.” All the time he spoke he typed. “They just couldn’t see it because you never really passed on the torch; I was a place holder; they were waiting for you to come back. And if you had said something more, something about following my orders, they would have paid attention. And those months would have been a lot easier, a lot friendlier, and a hell of a lot smoother if they had accepted that I was the boss.”
Tony paused and looked up from the computer, studying Gibbs for a moment. “And finally: if I came back I wouldn’t just throw my replacement’s stuff back onto his old desk without so much as a thank you. And that is –completely— about feelings. It was more than just rude, even for you. I held them together for months while you drank beer, tanned, grew a mustache, and built a boat in Mexico. We were lost here, Gibbs. You made us dependent on you and you left. I deserved a thank you.” He looked back to his screen. “I’ll keep the rules; I’ll just change the tactics. You’re a great boss; I’m just not going to do it the same way.” He went back to work. His email dinged, “Oh good: Ziva’s report is here. And I’m done.” He hit print. “I’ll read hers in the morning if you want to go home now. If I don’t leave I’ll fall asleep behind the wheel.” He stood and put both reports on Gibbs’ desk. “Good night, boss.”
“Night, Tony.” He read, corrected, and emailed Ziva’s report back to her before leaving. The words stayed with him for the rest of the night. He worked on his latest boat until late but managed to drag his body up to his bedroom before passing out.
It was rare for Gibbs to come in before nine AM. He took his job seriously but he didn’t live at the office when he wasn’t depressed. Which was why it was so odd for Ducky to see him at eight in the morning in autopsy. “Jethro, what are you doing here?” He gestured to the wall of body cabinets, “Is one of my friends of interest to you?”
Jethro shook his head, handed Ducky a cup of coffee, and leaned back against one of the examination tables. “Duck,” he sighed and shook his head again. “I don’t let other’s opinions affect me.” He sipped his own coffee.
“I know that, Jethro.” Ducky had no idea where it was going.
“I value your opinion.” Ducky nodded. “Am I too harsh on my team?”
Ducky had to laugh, “They follow you like goslings.”
“Yes, that can be taught. I’ve trained them like animals.”
“They would die for you.”
Ducky could see that wasn’t enough, “You’re hard on them for their betterment.”
“DiNozzo thinks I’m too hard on them.”
“You’re harder on him than the rest that’s true.”
“He’s better than the rest.”
“What is this about, Jethro?”
“My temporary retirement, three years ago. He thinks I handled it poorly when I appointed him to be in charge.”
“Ah,” said Ducky. “Once I was in Africa and I met a young boy who had AIDs and consequently Kaposi's sarcoma. Both his parents had already died. He had two younger siblings. Neither had HIV but he was the one taking care of them, it was his responsibility. They wanted their parents and he did his best but he was at a disadvantage.”
“Tony doesn’t have AIDs or cancer.”
“We all knew it would be temporary. And you never really handed over the reins. For those months we knew you would come back. And Ziva and McGee never took him seriously: he was keeping your seat warm. He did his best. They wanted you; they wanted their boss, their goose. He acted as much like you as he could because that’s what they wanted but they resented him more for it. If you had been more formal in the way you named him your successor they would have followed him. And while they all missed you, Tony missed you; he tried his damnedest to do his job.”
“He’s always been my obvious successor.”
“Ah, yes well, you don’t tell anyone anything… ever. No one can read you if you don’t want them too.”
“Tony’s one of the best field agents NCIS has.”
Nodding Ducky said, “That’s true. But Ziva and McGee only see the playful, smiling, womanizing movie buff. Those are the facets of his person that you highlight. They follow your lead.”
“Why hasn’t anyone else pointed this out?”
“Cats may look on kings while knights must bow their heads.”
“You’re not a cat, Duck.” Gibbs pushed himself away from the table. “Have a good day.” He threw his empty cup into the trash.
Conversations with Ducky, when Ducky stayed on point, were very useful. And Gibbs was not too proud to take good advice. He wouldn’t apologize; that would be weak. Instead when he walked into the squad room he brought two cups of coffee. One had milk, hazelnut syrup, and sugar in it. He placed that one down in front of DiNozzo. “In the field, whether or not they listen to you isn’t up to you. All you can do is tell them what they should do.”
Ziva looked at them open mouthed, “Tony gets coffee?”
“Did you tell McGee information that would have kept him out of the hospital?”
“Then DiNozzo gets coffee. Do we have anything?”
Tony answered as Gibbs sat down at his desk, “Vance says we’re a man short so it’s no dice. Spoke to McGee, he’s in for another twenty-four hours. But they finally let him have his laptop so his report will be in soon. I called the training center: we can have two hours of hand to hand combat at two, if you okay it. And I got us three cold cases to pick from in the meantime.”
They didn’t get any further with any of the cases than the original agents had. At one Gibbs said, “Take lunch. Meet for training at two.” He stared at the files for another twenty minutes. Nothing popped out at him. He eventually put them down and went to visit Abby.
But when he got to the door of her lab he realized she wasn’t alone. The music was loud but she was signing to someone just out of sight. “How is your plan going?” she signed. She waited for the response and then signed, “You shouted at Gibbs?” She smiled at the response. “He deserved that one.” And then, “No, not really. That one won’t make the cut.” Gibbs walked into the room and she signed, “Hey, Gibbs.”
His name wasn’t spelt out. It was a specific name sign she had given him years ago. It was a gun against a wall. It always made him smile.
Seeing who the other person was he asked aloud, “When did you learn sign language, DiNozzo?”
Tony didn’t answer but Abby signed, “When you went to Mexico Tony realized that signing makes me calm. So he studied.” Tony’s sign was the sign for movie made next to the forehead. It took Gibbs a moment to figure out that she meant Tony. They had always spelt out his name. Being assigned a sign was a big deal and something the named person had to be a part of.
Tony signed, “I’m gonna go. I want a sandwich before sparing. Wednesday?”
She signed back, “It’s a date.”
Tony left with a smile. “You’re going on a date with DiNozzo?” Gibbs asked but he spelled out DiNozzo, not wanting to use the name sign.
She shook her head, “Just dinner,” she signed. “When you guys get a slow week we go to dinner. Murphy’s Law: we rarely actually make it to dinner. Not that I want there to be murders but if there are I want the team on them.”
Gibbs signed back, “It would be odd for you to go on a date.”
“I should be so lucky. Tony’s really good at serious dating, when it’s not a girl at a bar or whatever.”
Gibbs was sick of signing and said aloud, “Why didn’t you tell me he could sign? I might have said something to you I didn’t want him knowing.”
“You and I haven’t signed in a long time, Gibbs. Mostly I just sign with him these days.” She sighed and stopped signing speaking aloud she said, “He’s always known a little: please, thank you, hello, goodbye, this is delicious, Mom, Dad, Merry Christmas, it has a gift receipt. The basics.”
“Merry Christmas and gift receipt are part of the basics?”
“He comes home with me for Christmas if we get it off. Has done for years. It’s either that or Boston Market as his dad doesn’t talk to him. I don’t like him being alone at Christmas. I know he does the whole caramel corn and It’s a Wonderful Life thing but that doesn’t have to be on Christmas day.” She saw his raised eyebrow, “It’s not like you ask about our holiday plans… You should have seen his face when he realized he’d called my parents Mom and Dad for years. Did he think I call them Mr. and Mrs. Sciuto? But that would be another perk of dating him, my parents love Tony. He’s a great guy, he’s kind, and smart, and he takes care of the people he cares about.”
“I know that, Abs.”
“Yeah,” she sighed, “Plus he’s really hot. I should get back to work, Gibbs. Other teams do have cases.”
By the time he got to the training center Ziva and DiNozzo were sparring. They were both damn good. This had little to do with learning and more to do with letting off tension. Ziva hated cold cases and DiNozzo was still a little amped about McGee. He let them fight it out. DiNozzo pinned Ziva down then she flipped him. “DiNozzo, Ziva.” He shouted and they instantly snapped to their own form of attention. “Keep it up. I’m going to the shooting range.”
In the range he worked out his own frustration. He used his two hours efficiently reacquainting himself with every gun they had. He thought about what Ducky had said. The coffee hadn’t been too much. It was more of an, “I understand what you said,” than a, “good work.” But what he had seen in Abby’s lab had been odd. DiNozzo really had taken over all of his responsibilities. Tony speaking to Abby in ASL had made him realize just how long it had been since he had done it. Abby sometimes got so wired that it was the only way to calm her down. But she hadn’t been agitated in a long time. It made him wonder how many times DiNozzo had used his rare lunch breaks to sit with her chatting silently. And Christmas with the Sciutos? He really didn’t know anything about what his team did on their off time mostly because he didn’t want to know. But the idea of DiNozzo in Louisiana just struck him as off.
Tony came in once the training session was done. Without speaking he picked up a Glock 21. He rolled his shoulders before positioning himself and firing a shot directly into the center of the target. Tony trained silently next to Gibbs for an hour, not speaking just shooting. Finally he started to put away his weapons back. Gibbs looked at Tony and Tony signed to him over the noise of the other people’s shots, “I wasn’t keeping the signing a secret. It never came up.”
Gibbs signed back, “Goodnight, Tony.” He used the name sign.
Tony beamed at him, “Night. I am going to the hospital.”
McGee was back and they had a hard case. Someone was kidnapping Ensigns and leaving them dead and positioned in ritualistic ways. Time wasn’t on their side; the kidnapper had another young man. According to the pattern Ducky had established from the autopsy results they had three days left before the missing young man would be a dead young man. All of the victims had were the same age, which was the only thing they had in common. They weren’t even on the same base. They were just all from bases in the area.
McGee and Ziva had both fallen asleep at their desks. Gibbs couldn’t fault them. They’d been working constantly for ten days. They had exhausted every single one of their resources. Tony was out interviewing people again. The ring on his phone woke the others up. “Gibbs, it’s DiNozzo. Come down to Abby’s lab.”
“Okay.” As he stood he spoke loudly to wake the others completely, “DiNozzo’s found something. Abby’s lab now.”
When they got to the lab Abby was smiling. “Tony’s awesome.”
“I went to speak to the mothers. I figured they couldn’t tell us anything but just having someone to sit with can be nice. So I was looking at photo albums for most of my evening.” Gibbs just looked at him. “Abby, show them the evidence.” On her computer screen pictures of the five victims popped up. The boy in each photo had his arm slung around a girl.
Gibbs studied the photos. “Is that the same girl?”
In the photos she had different hair, different clothes, was different ages but Abby smiled, “Bingo. Facial recognition program says yes. And guess what Gibbs?” he didn’t guess. “She has military ID from living on base. That is Lisa Moirin. Navy brat, moved all over the country, cute girl: she dated a lot.”
Tony was still studying the photos. “It’s only a step. We know that’s the connection. But we still don’t know where Lisa is, whose doing it, why, and most worryingly: how many people Lisa dated in high school. Plus, is the perp going after everyone she dated or just the ones who joined the Navy? And why did five of her high school boyfriends join the Navy? If we can find Lisa we could get more information or maybe she’s doing it.”
Gibbs slapped the back of DiNozzo’s head, “Focus. Who can we ask who would know where she is?”
Tony instantly got back on track, “Her dad? Rear Admiral Stephen Moirin. He’s on the USNS Gerdine off the coast of Spain.”
“Okay.” He flipped open his phone. He called someone and said, “Tell Vance I need to meet him in MTAC now… well get him out of the meeting I need him to okay a call.”
While Gibbs was talking on the phone Tony said, “Probie, start digging up everything you can find on this girl and try to find out where she is now. Ziva, find out what schools she attended and where she dated each one of these guys. And, McGee, once you get a lot of stuff you send your overflow to me. It could take ages to get her dad on the phone so let’s not slow down.” They left very quickly.
Tony rushed down to the cafeteria. He grabbed four cups of coffee, a Caf-Pow, and a very large plate of cookies. He rushed back up to Abby’s lab and handed her the Caf-Pow. “Thanks for the help with the pictures. Keep yourself caffeinated: you won’t be going home any time soon.”
Gibbs went back down to the bullpen once he finished his conversation with Vance. Vance and he had sat in the back of MTAC. He explained the issue quietly to Vance. Vance assured him that they would contact the Rear Admiral as soon as possible but that it might take a while. “His daughter might be in danger, Leon.”
“Understood, Gibbs. Go back to your team and do what you can. If you’re out of headquarters I will handle the call myself.”
As he walked down the stairs he saw Tony near the back of the room. He was carrying a large tray of food. Gibbs avoided his team to meet Tony, “What are you doing, DiNozzo?”
“I figured that none of us have slept in ages. Caffeine, carbs, and sugar should kick start us. I’ve got McGee and Ziva getting all the information we can on this girl.”
Very softly he said, “DiNozzo, stop trying to run my team.”
A hurt look flashed over Tony’s face but he quickly masked it. “Yes, boss, do you want me to throw these away?”
“Nope. Just stop doing it.”
“Okay.” He nodded to the one at the very front. “That’s yours. Two shots of espresso topped up with coffee.”
Gibbs took it without saying anything else and walked back to their desks. Tony followed him and put cups in front of each person, “McGee: latte extra foam. Ziva: black with a ton of sugar.”
“Keep yourselves caffeinated, hydrated, and sugared up,” said Gibbs. “What you got?”
“Lisa Moirin graduated from high school with honors. She now attends UVA. Exemplarity student. Lives off campus. The school takes electronic roll. She was in class at the times four of the men were kidnapped. She only had the opportunity to pick up one of them. She has two traffic tickets: one for speeding, one for being double parked. That’s it,” said McGee.
Ziva picked up where he left off, “She went to fourteen high schools. They moved a lot. I’ve got the schools faxing over the pages of her grade’s pictures, see if we can find out where she dated them, the order could be important.”
“Okay, McGee, DiNozzo, grab your gear. Ziva, wait on those photos.” He picked up the keys and tossed them to Tony. “Gas the truck.” It was a punishment, the last few years he’d had McGee or Ziva do it. But Tony just nodded and left.
Gibbs drove and turned the two and a half hours trip into an hour and forty-five minutes the sun was up by the time they reached campus. Tony didn’t talk much on the way he was sat in the backseat. McGee mostly shouted at other drivers to save Gibbs time. Tony read over the things McGee had printed for him. “She got involved in a lot of clubs in high school. She accomplished a lot of things in the short time periods. Total over achiever,” Tony said.
“When we get in there we have to tread lightly. She may or may not be involved. Four of her boyfriends have been murdered. If she isn’t involved then it’s going to be a shock,” Gibbs warned. He pulled up in front of her building. “Let’s go.”
They walked into the apartment and took the elevator. She opened the door with a smile on her face which instantly vanished. “Hi?” she said it as a question.
Gibbs smiled and pulled out his badge, “I’m Special Agent Gibbs, these are Special Agent DiNozzo and McGee. We’re NCIS.”
“Lisa Moirin. Come in,” she stepped away from the door. “Um, hi. Coffee?”
“Sure, thank you,” said Gibbs. She looked scared, worried.
As she was about to walk into the kitchen she stopped and turned around, she had tears in her eyes, “Is my dad okay?”
Gibbs smiled again, gently, “Your dad is fine.”
“Okay,” she gave him a small smile. “Make yourselves at home. I’ll get the coffee: it’s instant, sorry.”
“We like caffeine in any form,” Gibbs said. It was a lie but she seemed to need a minute to compose herself. She left and Gibbs and the others sat down, looking around the room. The couch and chairs they were sitting on were worn and obviously came with the apartment. There were posters everywhere and a picture of her and her dad on a fishing boat. His gut told him that she was innocent of any wrongdoing doing in the case.
He heard the kettle boiling and she came back with coffee on a tray with a small carton of milk and a Ziploc bag of sugar. “I don’t have important guests often enough to have a coffee set,” she apologized.
“It’s fine,” Gibbs assured her.
“Can I ask why you’re here?”
Gibbs took a small sip of the coffee. He listed off the names of the young men and said, “Are any of those names familiar to you?”
She looked confused, “I dated them all in high school.”
“They all joined the navy after they graduated. Do you know why?”
“They couldn’t have done it together. We moved around a lot. It couldn’t have been a pact or anything they didn’t know each other. I never spoke about it. I’m not really pro the navy. I mean I’m proud of my dad and all but my mom died when I was ten and his being in the navy scared me. I wished he was a shoes salesman, you never hear about shoes sellers getting killed in the line of duty. But my dad gives everyone the hard sell when it comes to signing up. It could have been that. I dated really earnest guys, the kind who looked adults in the eye and listened when fathers spoke. But, I mean, that could be it: I dated a type. So maybe my type was naval? Are they in trouble?”
“I’m sorry to tell you this, but with the exception of Gary Rymes, they’ve been killed.”
The look on her face of blank shock confirmed it in Gibbs’ mind: she wasn’t aware of what was going on. In fact she rushed out of the room and Gibbs heard the sound of vomiting and a toilet flushing. There was the noise of running water and then she returned, looking peaked. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I haven’t thought about any of those guys in ages it’s just… was it terrorists?”
It took Gibbs a second to understand her question, “No, no, they were murdered. Rymes might still be alive but he’s missing.”
She nodded slowly, “Okay. Why are you telling me this? I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m not important enough to any of them to be notified.”
“Because they didn’t know each other. You’re their only link.” Gibbs gave her an understanding look. “You’re not in trouble. We just thought you might be able to help.”
She went paler, “I dated a lot of guys in high school. We moved around a lot and if you start dating someone they introduce you to their friends and their friends’ girlfriends and you fit into a social group. And they were all the same type: nice, respectful boys, who didn’t expect you to put out,” she kind of laughed at that, a sad noise. “If the connection is me and not the navy there could be, like I don’t know, eight more people who could be on that list.”
“Would you come back to DC with us?”
“Yeah, totally. Let me just grab my coat.”
Tony spoke for the first time, “You looked happy when you opened the door. Was there a reason?”
She sighed, “I thought you were Sheila, my lab partner, I thought she was early. She should be here in a second. Should I call her?” Gibbs nodded, “And tell her what?”
“Tell her you’re sorry and that a family thing came up,” Tony offered.
She nodded, “Okay, yeah.” She pulled a cell phone out of her pocket and hit a few button. She put it on speaker phone. “Hey, Shelia.”
“Lisa, hey. I’m running late because I couldn’t find my text book.”
“That okay. Actually a family thing came up. Can we reschedule once I get back to campus?”
“Totally, is everything okay?”
“Yeah, it’s fine.”
“Okay, I’ll let you go.”
“Thanks. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Bye,” Lisa said and flipped the phone shut. “Let me just grab my coat.”
She disappeared into another room and McGee asked, “What do you think?”
“She had no idea,” said Gibbs. “But she might be able to help us. We’re going to keep her as calm as possible. She is scared and jumpy. She put her phone on speaker to show us that she wasn’t being sneaky, she’s scared and wants us to know everything she’s doing because she’s trying to be helpful.”
She came back with a purse and a jacket. “Okay, I’m ready.”
Gibbs gave her another gentle smile. “Good.” They went back to the car and McGee gave her shotgun without comment. As they pulled away from the curb Gibbs asked, “Is there anyone who would want to hurt you, Miss Moirin?”
She thought for a few moments and then said, “Oh, God, over the summer I was on base with my dad. And this guy, Petty Officer Kurt Leonard, asked me out. And he was weird on the date. He asked me all these question about my dating history and said that he didn’t like thinking of me with anyone else. He creeped me out. I told him there wouldn’t be another date. He was cool with it, not the least bit menacing or anything. He never tried to call me or anything. I never told him any names though.”
Gibbs glanced into the rearview mirror and McGee was already calling Ziva. “Tell her to tell Vance that we have Miss Moirin for when he talks to her father. She’s safe and she’s not under suspicion.” he said McGee nodded.
“You’re calling my dad?”
“We want to let him know about the situation,” Gibbs said, “don’t want to leave him out of the loop.”
“Good, it makes me feel better, him knowing. When my dad’s worried about me I feel better.” Gibbs chuckled, “I know: it’s pretty selfish.” Lisa was freaked out and even though Gibbs asked her for the other names of people she’d dated she came up blank. “I’m panicking, sorry.”
“That’s okay, take your time. You’ve already given us the biggest break of the case with the Petty Officer’s name.”
She sat silently, trying to think. Finally she said, “There’s a photo album under my bed at my dad’s house. Maybe looking at them will help. I feel like such a loser.”
“That might be how the Petty Officer found the guys in the first place. He might have broken in.” said Tony gently from the backseat. “We can lift prints.”
“I’m assuming time’s an issue?” she asked. “Gary Rymes took me to junior prom.”
“You’re doing great,” Gibbs assured her. “You let us worry about time.”
He drove fast but Lisa didn’t pay attention. “I can remember first names.”
“Just wait, don’t stress out.” Gibbs gave her a smile.
McGee was still on the phone with Ziva, “Where’s the photo album?” he asked.
“Under my bed. It has a blue cover.” She looked out the window.
As they pulled up to the headquarters Gibbs said, “Tony, take Miss Moirin down to the questioning room. McGee, with me.”
“You can call me Lisa,” said Lisa.
“Okay, Lisa, go with Tony. And just do your best with his questions.”
Tony didn’t like bringing Lisa to interrogation. The whole place was designed to intimidate. It was too cold, the lighting was scary, and the hall way was blood red. It didn’t feel right but he’d pissed Gibbs off too much for one day already. He knew that his job wasn’t to interrogate her but to calm her down, until they had the album she couldn’t help them. They needed her clear headed. He opened the door for her and then said, “I’ll be in in a second. I just need to turn on the camera. Are you thirsty? I can grab you something.”
“I’m fine. Do you have any breath mints? I should have brushed my teeth after puking.”
Pulling a roll of mints from his pocket Tony said, “Knock yourself out.” He slipped into the control room and nodded at the man sitting at the controls to turn on the camera, it was protocol. When he got into the interrogation room she already looked cold in her thin jacket. He took off his NCIS windbreaker, “It’s always cold in here.” He handed it over and she slipped it on. “You must be terrified.”
She gave a shaky laugh, “My high school sweethearts are being killed off.”
“I meant being here.”
“To be honest… if I can’t be with my dad I’m happier here. Shouldn’t you be asking me real questions?”
“Lisa, let me worry about time, okay? Most people don’t like being brought in by NCIS.”
“When I was little, you guys were the boogieman. My dad used to say, ‘If you don’t eat your vegetables NIS will come,’ and, ‘Finish your homework or NIS will come,’ and, ‘If you fib about brushing your teeth NIS will come.’ I was genuinely scared. And then, when I was seventeen I was dumped by this boy a week before fall formal. I was friendly with this girl on base. Her parents were out. We got really drunk off her dad’s whiskey. And I was stumbling home and this NCIS agent saw me and offered to give me a ride. And I was so scared ‘cause I was obviously drunk and underage.
“But I got in and we were talking. He asked me why I was so upset. I spilled my guts about the boy. He pulled over and said, ‘Now you listen to me young lady.’ I thought he was going to arrest me and that I was about to get a speech about underage drinking. But he said, ‘Boys are shitheads and they remain shitheads until much later in life. You are much too pretty to be upset over this shithead. Go stag to the dance; you’ll have a better time: you can dance with anyone and you won’t get groped at the end of the night. Please excuse my French, Miss, I’m just saying: there is no way he’s worth this. And you shouldn’t be walking home in this state.’
“He dropped me off and my dad was on our porch and the agent got out with me and told my dad not to be too hard on me because I’d had a really rough day. And on the day of fall formal a messenger turned up with a wrist corsage from the agent and a note telling me to have a good time. And I realized that NCIS aren’t out to get you. You’re taking care of me.”
He grinned, “That’s what we’re here for. Busting seventeen year old navy brats for being sad and drunk is not part of the job description.”
She looked down at her hands, “I feel like maybe you should charge me with something. If it weren’t for me this wouldn’t be happening.”
“You can’t be held responsible for some whack job’s actions. He seemed off to you, you told him you didn’t want to date him, and he was calm. There was nothing you could have reported. There was no way of knowing he was crazy.”
“Yeah, yeah, I guess that’s true.”
He pulled out his phone, “Gimme a second I need to ask a question.” He texted Gibbs: She’s calm. food then Abby?
He waited a moment and then his phone lit up with a message that read, “Yes.”
“Y’know,” he said, “until we get the album there’s not much point in being here. Let’s go to the cafeteria, grab some breakfast, and bring it up to Abby’s lab. She’s our forensic scientist. She’ll take your fingerprints so we can rule them out once we get the album.”
She nodded. He brought her down to the cafeteria and bought them both breakfast and then led her up to Abby’s lab. “You’ll love Abby. She’s awesome. Happiest goth you will ever meet.”
Abby’s back was to them. Some of the screens had tests on them but the main one had a two way video on it. Abby’s mother was excitedly signing to Abby. “Tony just walked in with a girl,” Mrs. Sciuto signed.
Tony signed, “Hi, Mom.” She waved and the screen went blank.
Abby turned with a smile. Lisa clumsily signed, “Hello, my name is Lisa.”
The smile on Abby’s face widened. She spoke aloud. “You speak ASL that is so cool. I’m not deaf but it was my first language as my parents are deaf. I didn’t really grasp spoken English until I was five. I’ve never shut up since. I’m really sorry you’re going through all this, but believe me you’re in great hands.”
“You and Tony are siblings?” Lisa asked.
Abby laughed, “No, he just calls my parents Mom and Dad. So, um, can I fingerprint you so that when your album gets here I can have a baseline?” Abby printed Lisa and afterwards Tony and Lisa sat with her eating their late breakfast. “How’s your plan going?”
“Terrible,” said Tony. “I pissed him off even more.”
“How?” she asked.
“By trying to be helpful and anticipate his orders. Apparently I was overstepping boundaries and I should back off ‘his’ team.” Tony turned to Lisa, “Sorry, we shouldn’t be talking about this.”
“No. I find it comforting to know that even NCIS has office drama.”
“I’m gonna yell at him,” said Abby.
“Not in the middle of a case,” Tony replied.
“Oh please, like me yelling will throw him off his game. Remember when he got blown up, had no memory past nineteen-ninety-one and still kept working his case? This is nowhere near as bad as that. And if you won’t tell Gibbs I will.”
“Tell me what, Abs?” asked Gibbs walking in he had the album in an evidence bag.
“That Lisa has arch pattern fingerprints which is really rare, only five percent of the population has them,” Abby signed the chain of evidence form before snapping on gloves and taking the bag from him.
Gibbs knew she was lying but played along, “Why didn’t DiNozzo want to tell me that?”
“He said it was irrelevant to the case. But I think interesting things are never irrelevant.”
“DiNozzo’s right, Abs. Run the prints. Lisa, have a look at the photos afterwards. The Petty Officer has been UA for three weeks, McGee found out he is renting a warehouse. We’re heading out. DiNozzo, stay with Lisa.” He left as quickly as he’d come.
Abby watched after him even as she cut open the bag, “You’re in the dog house, Tony. Not being allowed to bust the bad guy after you broke the case?” She started to dust the cover and lift prints. “What did you do?” Tony told her about his mistake while Abby worked. She sighed, “That’s,” she signed the word, “fucked,” before saying aloud, “up.”
“You shouldn’t swear in front of guests, Abby,” said Tony as Lisa laughed.
Abby worked quickly. She lifted every print from the cover and pages of the book, “Lisa, are you allergic to latex?” Lisa shook her head. “Good, put on gloves and start your sleuthing.”
Lisa did as she was told and as she flipped through the names came back to her as well as where she was living and when. It proved there was no pattern to the Petty Officer’s killings. Abby started running searches on the other boys in her photo album. Six of them had joined the armed forces and were accounted for. There was only one left to search for and Abby was going in deep. Her fingerprint analysis popped up. There was Lisa’s and the Petty Officer’s prints. But there was another set of prints unaccounted for.
She picked up her phone and called Gibbs, putting it on speakerphone. “Abs, what you got?”
“Petty Officer’s prints all over Lisa’s photo album.”
She cut him off, “There’s more: all except one of Lisa’s boyfriends have been located. We’re working on the last.”
“Okay, Abby, I’ll call you once we get to the warehouse to give you an update.” He hung up.
Abby turned to Lisa, “Can you think of anyone else who might have handled your pictures?”
“My dad. He looks at the photos of my mom sometimes.”
Abby looked up her father’s records and set about matching them. The search on the last boy dinged, “He’s a sophomore at UCLA.”
Tony nodded, “I’m gonna use your back room for a call?” She nodded and he went into her backroom. He called the school and got connected to a snitty receptionist who wouldn’t give Tony the guy’s cell number for ages. He calmly explained that he was Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service: a federal agency and that she would be arrested for precluding the law. She gave him the guy’s number. Ascertaining that the guy was alive was easy as he picked up and shouted, “We have Jell-O shots for lunch, come over!” The rest of the conversation was calmer.
As he walked out he heard Gibbs talking over the speakerphone. “- caught him red handed. Lisa, your prom date is going to be okay. They’re bringing him to Bethesda. He’s got some broken bones and he’s dehydrated but he’s going to be okay. You saved his life.”
“May I go home? Just to the base, I mean, I’m tired and I really want to go to bed.”
It was early for bed but Tony knew what she meant. Emotions are exhausting.
“I’ll take her, boss.”
“Okay. And, DiNozzo?”
Tony gave a small smile, “Yes, boss?”
“You be nice.”
The smile fell from Tony’s face, “Yes, boss.”
Abby said, “Hey, Gibbs, can you come down to my lab once you’re done?” Tony gave her a dirty look but she winked.
“I have a ton of physical evidence for you, Abs.” he hung up.
“Abby,” Tony said slowly, “I don’t want you to tell him.”
She moved towards him and kissed his cheek, “You’re awesome and the only reason we found Lisa and she’s how the reason we found Petty Officer Leonard. So even if he didn’t say it: good work, Tony.”
Abby continued to work on other projects until Gibbs came in late in the evening, “There’s a lot of stuff. I left it in the evidence cage.”
“Gibbs, I’m gonna need you to sit down because we’re going to have a long talk.” He gave her a small smile and sat down on her chair as she perched herself on her desk. “I have done nothing but my job all day. Nothing extreme, nothing amazing. But I have gotten praise at every step.”
“Yep,” he agreed. “You always do good work.”
“Today, I have run a photo ID, one identity search, three fingerprint analyses, and a search for seven people whose names I was provided with. That’s nothing for me. I could do that in my sleep.”
“Tony hasn’t gone home in a week, he’s showered in the decontamination room, he’s slept on my futon. He’s worked twenty-one hours a day, every day, for the last ten days. He has gone over every inch of this case. He found Lisa. He has worked damn hard, Gibbs.”
“No,” Abby’s cheeks flushed and he knew she was pissed. “No. I saw. He hasn’t gotten a single, ‘good work, DiNozzo.’ Since he brought Ziva home you’ve been cold with him. You’ve been working to prove that you’re a bastard to him. I don’t get it. You hold those words like brass rings with your team. Me? You say it all the time. And I understand that if you keep them wanting because it makes them work harder but he’s working as hard as he can and he isn’t going to stop when he gets recognition for it.”
“Abby,” his tone was chiding, he was tired and wanted to go home.
“I asked him why he was babysitting Lisa when he should have been in the field and he told me about this morning. You think he’s trying to steal your job? All the time, all the time, Gibbs, you tell them you wished they would do their jobs without you telling them to. So Tony told them what to do, to save you time. They were the exact same orders you would have given. But he did his job and made it easier for you as you had to go to MTAC and do yours. He’s being the best agent he can possibly be. And you won’t even recognize it.”
“Abby,” this time it was more pleading. He didn’t want to be told why he was making mistakes at this time of night. “So you want me to hold his hand? Praise him all the time?”
“No, Gibbs.” She breathed in slowly, readying herself for a long speech compressed into a breath. “Have you ever read his files? Background and psyche?”
He was surprised by the break and realized that she was actually breathing to keep herself calm. “When I hired him.” She looked at him expectantly. “He was sane enough to work here.”
She swung her legs back and forth, thinking before speaking. “Tony is the adult child of an alcoholic absent mother who rarely remembered his name and died when he was twelve and an alcoholic emotionally abusive father who disowned him when he was twelve, sent him to boarding school when he was thirteen, and severed all relations to him when he became a cop. The reason he knows all those movies is that his parents weren’t there. Those old movies were his real parents. The oldest family he has is his frat brothers. He boosts his own self-esteem constantly, dates beautiful women, he excels at everything he attempts, he’s always working to prove to himself that he’s not useless.
“And then you look at his work: he stays in a place for a few years, gets really good and then he leaves. Now think about his time here: he’s really close with everyone, he protects us, he works all the time. Read between the lines. We’re his family. And you haven’t given him one nice word, or thanks, in months. If you look at all his old records, his recommendations, you see that while he was really good at his jobs he rubbed people up the wrong way, so he left before they fired him and he got thrown out again. He’s working so hard, he’s running himself ragged, because he wants you to like him. He hasn’t gone home at five o’clock in months. If you ever looked him in the eye seriously said, ‘Tony, you make me so proud. You’re so important to me,’ the agency would never have to pay him again.” Gibbs made a scoffing noise and Abby pointed a finger at him, “You’re missing my message: you don’t play nice and he’s gonna quit.”
“I think you’re overreacting, Abby. He’s been here way longer than any of his old jobs.”
“Yeah, well, he’s always gotten a few kind words before. He’s breaking, Gibbs. And now it’s time for the warning: if Tony quits I do too. He’s my best friend and he has been for years. If you hurt him I’m out. And that’s not an overreacting that’s just being honest. It’s not just Tony, the team used to be nice. It used to be like a group of friend who worked together but Tony’s miserable and because of that no one’s fun anymore. And I don’t really care about any of the other teams: they don’t count.” She sighed and she looked tired. Having run out of steam she said, “Fix it. It’s not hand holding when it’s true.” She hopped off the desk and went to Gibbs. She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Man up.”
“Okay, I’ll fix it.” She was still looking at him, waiting for more. “I’ll even go over to his apartment.”
She gave a dry laugh, “He’s at Lisa’s.”
“Oh,” Gibbs said understandingly.
“No, no, no. Gibbs, he hasn’t been with anyone since before getting Ziva back. He hasn’t had any time. He’s too busy trying to work every minutes of the day to also chase skirt. He’s at Lisa’s because you didn’t say he could go home once he got Lisa home so he isn’t going to. He’s going to sit on her couch all night.” Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “Jethro,” she said gently, “start paying attention.”
He pulled out his phone. When Tony picked up, Gibbs said, “DiNozzo, where are you?”
“Lisa’s okay, boss, she seems calmer. She’s getting ready for bed.”
“Get a marine over there. Tell her you’re going home and wait until he gets there. Then leave. Come to my house.”
“Okay, Gibbs. I’ll be there as quickly as I can,” Tony sounded sad and tired.
“Take your time, DiNozzo, my house isn’t going anywhere, neither is dinner. Are you okay to drive? You’ve been putting in extreme hours which makes sense with the case. But, are you okay to drive?”
“Yeah, I’m okay.” Tony sounded a little less tired. “I’ll see you once I get there.”
Gibbs hung up and dialed a number he knew off by heart. A man answered saying, “Pete’s Pizza.”
“Hey, it’s Gibbs. Can I get an order for delivery?”
“The usual?” asked the man on the other end.
“Yeah, but I also need a large one with pepperoni, sausage, and extra cheese.”
“Be about forty minutes? We’re a little backed up.”
“That’s fine I’m not home yet.” He hung up and looked at Abby, “He’s not gonna quit, Abby.”
She finally hugged him, “Be sure he doesn’t: I like working here.”
Gibbs got home, turned on the coffee machine, threw a tee-shirt and sweats onto the guest bed, and changed into jeans and a sweatshirt, before the pizza arrived. Tony arrived a few minutes after the pizza. Gibbs heard the front door open and the footsteps heading towards the basement. “In the kitchen, DiNozzo.”
Tony came in saying, “I didn’t knock. I just assumed you’d be with the boat.”
“Not tonight. Coffee or beer?”
The circles beneath his eyes spoke louder than the words as Tony said, “Coffee.”
Tony was standing awkwardly in the door. “Sit down, DiNozzo.” Tony did, but didn’t start talking right away. “How’s Lisa?”
“Exhausted and freaked out. But she had some soup and we watched a bit of Sword in the Stone which seemed to make it better. Although Sword in the Stone can fix a lot of things.”
“Sword in the Stone?” asked Gibbs.
Tony gave him a weak smile as Gibbs handed him the coffee and sat down across from him, “You wound me. Nineteen-sixty-three Disney animated film about King Arthur? But it’s actually a Cinderella story for boys.”
“Kelly liked the Little Mermaid, The Rescuers, and Oliver and Company. We usually just stuck to those.”
Not reacting to Gibbs’ mention of his daughter Tony said, “If I’m going to watch a musical version of Oliver Twist I usually go for Oliver! I love ‘I’d Do Anything.’” Tony was tactful when it came to Gibbs’ family.
Gibbs cut the chitchat, “There’s a reason you don’t get many ‘good jobs,’ Tony.”
There was a pause as Tony took in the use of his first name then he said, “I told Abby not to talk to you.”
Ignoring that Gibbs said, “There two reasons actually.” He paused. “You’re better than the others, I expect more from you and you deliver better work constantly. If I said it to you every time it wouldn’t mean anything. And the other reason is that your work is too good for it. That’s why the box on the bottom is yours.” He took his own pizza off the top. Tony was just looking at him. Gibbs was a little surprised Tony’s mouth wasn’t hanging open. Gibbs started to eat his pizza. It was time for the big guns. “Besides, everyone knows you’re the favorite. It doesn’t help a team to rub it in.” It wasn’t a lie; it just wasn’t something he ever said. “It’s not just your work. No one else is allowed over here for pizza after a horrible case.”
“It was pretty horrible,” Tony said but he was smiling widely and his cheeks were tinted red. He took out a slice of pizza and studied it for a second.
“I got you the right one,” Gibbs looked away as he smiled. “You found Lisa.”
Tony smiled again and started to eat, “I called her adviser at school, told him to tell all her professors that she’s helping the feds and isn’t going to be in class for a while. Plus she’s going to have to testify. She wants to go to the funerals but doesn’t want to upset the parents. I told her we would ask on her behalf.”
Gibbs nodded, “I’ll do it in the morning.” They both ate quietly for a few moments. “You’ve got over seventy days off saved up.”
“What, really?” Tony looked genuinely surprised.
“With all the weekends we’ve pulled, all the extra days you’ve taken, undercover work which counts as time and a half, all the personal days and vacations not taken, you have over seventy days coming to you. The rest of the team take time off every once in a while but you never do.”
“Wow,” Tony said but kept eating.
“On paper it’s a nine to five job. But you’ve been pulling, on average, over eighty hours a week. So do me a favor and take three days off. That way, with the weekend, you have five days to recuperate.” Tony started to open his mouth to argue. “After this case? We are going to be on a cold case rotation. It’s no good being the best field agent if you’re tired. It’s not a problem yet but it doesn’t matter how good you are, you’re going to get sloppy. I won’t have you dying because you’re trying to please everyone. You only have to please me, no one else, not even Vance. So start taking your weekends. Use these three days off to relax, sleep, and eat food that’s not from the NCIS cafeteria. Once you’re done eating you go to bed and don’t wake up until you want to. I want your report emailed to be in my inbox by five.”
Looking down at his pizza Tony sighed. He’d eaten two pieces hungrily but had labored over the third, “Well, I hate to say it, but as awesome as celebratory pizza is: I’m kind of too tired to eat.”
Nodding Gibbs picked up the two pizza boxes and put them in the mostly empty fridge. “There’s sweats and a tee-shirt on the guest bed.” Tony looked more shocked than he had when Gibbs had said he was the favorite. “Rule number forty-two: you’re not allowed to die in a car wreck because you’re too tired to drive.”
Tony shook his head, “That’s not a real rule.”
“It is now,” Gibbs said. He rolled his neck and it cracked loudly. “C’mon. I’ll show you upstairs.” He could almost feel excitement radiating off Tony as he went through the house turning off the lights and upstairs he pointed to doors, “Guestroom, bathroom, linen closet: if you want to take a shower when you wake up just grab a towel.” He turned to his own door and waved over his shoulder, “Goodnight, DiNozzo.”
Tony shut the door and breathed out slowly. He was in Gibbs’ guestroom. Gibbs had called him the best, too good for words, deserving of pizza: the favorite and not just for work. He felt his blush raise again as he thought it over. It almost seemed like a mean trick, he’s said something similar in mocking in the past. But he was in the guestroom and that was taking it way too far for a mean joke. He took off his clothes and threw them onto the chair in the corner. He pulled on the shirt but didn’t bother with the sweats as he never wore pants to bed. He got under the covers and picked up his phone.
The text message he typed to Abby read: best night ever. in guestroom. wearing a shirt that smells like Gibbs. plan is back on. have 3 days off. friday?
He passed out before she could respond.
Gibbs went into work early. He bought a Caf-Pow and went up to Abby’s lab. Her back was to him and the music was blasting. He leaned around her and held out the Caf-Pow. She turned with a smile, “You didn’t need to. Tony’s happy so I’m happy. What did ya say?”
“Just the truth, Abs… and I’ll keep saying it to keep Tony here.”
She kept smiling, “He slept at your house.”
“Told you that?”
“He texted me. That’s good work, Gibbs. Now I have work for other teams so shoo. Go on.” She sipped her Caf-Pow and made a shooing motion at him.
Gibbs didn’t like cold cases but he worked them as intensely as hot cases. The victims still had families and people waiting for news. It was hard to take on cases that had been in other people’s hands, to wonder what the others had missed, but Gibbs didn’t let that get in the way.
Tony woke up slowly. The sheets smelled amazing, like the shirt he was wearing. It all smelled of Gibb’s detergent. It wasn’t Tide or Cheer, it was something unknown. Knowing Gibbs, it was cheap and came in large amounts. Lying there Tony breathed slowly, in and out, enjoying the feeling of it. There was no way he was going to not take a shower. Taking a shower would mean using Gibbs’ shampoo and smelling him for the rest of the day.
The sad thing was that he was, for the most part, an independent adult. He hadn’t spoken to his dad in almost twenty years. He took care of himself, usually had his own six. But the smell in the room made him feel safe as houses. He never really understood the English idiom but he’d never asked Ducky because it was Ziva’s job to be confused by sayings. Houses got broken in to a lot. And the housing market had plummeted. So houses didn’t seem that safe anymore. He was in the guestroom of a house that didn’t even have a lock on the front door. In DC. That should have been terrifying as DC was one of the most dangerous and violent cities in the country. But no one would ever break into Gibb’s house. It just wasn’t done.
He got out of bed reluctantly and picked up his phone. Glancing at it he saw he had a text message from Abby that just said: FTW. He laughed and then cleared the screen. It was past noon and he momentarily panicked until he remembered that Gibbs had said he wanted the report by five and that Tony should stop trying to impress him. So Tony would send it to him by four-thirty. Yesterday, before last night, Tony would have gotten it to Gibbs no later than two.
He pulled on the sweats Gibbs had left him and went down to the kitchen. Now that he wasn’t exhausted he inhaled his cold pizza while standing over the sink, bachelor style. It was so good. It was good pizza but it was better than that because of the significance. Then he went upstairs to the bathroom and showered. He was a little surprised that Gibbs used Sauve shampoo but then he remembered that it cost seventy-nine cents a bottle and it made sense again. He wasn’t sure why Gibbs was so frugal but he guessed that Gibbs spent his money on more important things: boat building supplies, bourbon, and alimony checks. The shampoo didn’t smell girly; it had practically no scent at all. There was no body wash or conditioner, just soap and it made it feel that much more real. This was Gibb’s bathroom and it couldn’t be anyone else’s. Once he was done, dried, and dressed he went home to his apartment.
There he changed out of yesterday’s clothes and put on Sword in the Stone. He muted it and called Lisa.
She picked up with a hello and he said, “Hi, Lisa. It’s Tony DiNozzo.”
“Hey. You weren’t at NCIS. I went to make my formal statement. Special Agent Gibbs talked to the families for me; they all said I should go to the funerals and that they don’t blame me.”
“That’s good: you’re not to blame. I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’ve been working such long hours that Gibbs told me to take a few days off.”
“You were really tired last night.”
“Adrenaline wears off once you have the bad guy. I just wanted to check you were okay.”
“I’m okay. And they’re air lifting my dad home. He’s getting home tomorrow and I have a friend’s mom here. I feel like, between all the wives, I’m going to be under closer surveillance than NCIS could provide.”
Tony laughed “Good. I’ll let you go. You were great and really helpful and you kept it together.” They said their goodbyes and Tony turned de-muted the movie and quickly, thoroughly wrote up his report for Gibbs and emailed it to him. It was only three thirty. He sank into the couch putting his feet up and his head down. He watched as the girl squirrel fell in love with Arthur. That bit always upset Tony. It wasn’t the girl squirrel’s fault that Arthur was a cute squirrel or that he wasn’t into her. And when she cried Tony always felt really badly especially as the movie never went back to her and showed her happily married, or whatever passes for married in the lives of squirrels. The next thing he knew his cell was ringing. He looked at his watch and realized it was past five. “DiNozzo,” he said picking up.
“Hey, Tony. Did I wake you up?”
“It’s okay, Abby. If I kept sleeping I never would have slept tonight. What’s up?”
“I’m just about to leave work. I wanted to see if you wanted to go out. I may have a date on Friday,” she sounded awkward like she was still worried about waking him.
“Sure, Abs, sounds good. But I need an early night. You want to meet at Sal’s? In half an hour.”
Tony hung up and got ready, washing his face and fixing his hair and pulling on real clothes, not DiNozzo standards, just jeans and a tee-shirt. He drank a cup of coffee before pulling on sneakers and going down to the parking lot. When he finally got to Sal’s Abby was already waiting in a booth. She was wearing wings and a tiara. He went to her kissing her cheek before sitting down. “I’m glad to see we both dressed down,” he said as he sat down across from her. “How was work?”
“Not much happened, we have two thefts and an assault. Boring. How was your day off?”
“I slept for most of it. Talked to Lisa, wrote a report, and fell asleep watching a movie which is a rarity.” The waiter came over and Tony ordered a Thanksgiving sandwich while Abby ordered the barbeque pizza.
“Wow, so now that we’ve gotten our days out of the way, what happened last night?” She smiled at him as the waiter brought sodas.
“What Gibbs say?”
She smiled, “That he told you the truth. That’s all he said.”
Tony beamed at her, “Really, he said that?”
“Yes, so what did he say?” She bounced slightly.
He thought for a moment. “I don’t want you to be offended or hurt.”
“Oh my god, this is way better than I was expecting. C’mon, stop holding back on me.”
And in a rush Tony said, “That I’m the favorite, not just for work, that I’m invaluable, and that I’m so good I get pizza not compliments. Then he told me to sleep there, gave me pajamas, and told me to feel free to take a shower in the morning. I smell like Gibbs. And I’m sorry I’m the favorite.”
He thought the smile she was giving him was so wide it might actually be painful, “Don’t apologize. I’m his replacement daughter and he loves me. I’m so beyond fine with this. You being the favorite doesn’t make me not the favorite. After all, I’m not looking for what you’re looking for.”
“That’s true. I’m not looking for Caf-Pow.”
Abby took both his hands. “So the plan’s back on?”
“Abby, I want to handle the plan by myself. Okay?”
She grumbled, “Fine. I would be so useful if you let me. I was right to yell at him.”
“Maybe… yeah, I guess.” The food was brought out and Tony plowed in without preamble. He was silent for a little while, “Do you think the plan could work?”
The smile fell from her face, “I like to think so. I don’t know. Maybe? I mean, you’ll never know until you try it. It’s not a bad plan.”
“Yeah.” Tony sighed. Then he quickly added, “You don’t think it’s hinky?”
She breathed in slowly, “No, Tony, there’s nothing hinky about it.”
Tony nodded and kept eating as Abby started to tell him all about the nuns and the guy she maybe, sort of, had a date with. It was easy to just chat with Abby but he could feel himself getting tired.
As they finished up with dinner Tony said, “Do you mind if I skip dessert? I’ve been sleeping all day but I’m still wiped.”
“Of course, Tony, that’s understandable. You haven’t really slept in ages.”
Abby and Ducky were the only ones not bored for the rest of the weeks. Petty Officer Leonard broke easily, admitted everything and gave them details about how he broke into the house, found the album, and researched who the boys were and started picking them off geographically. He said that he knew he and Lisa would be together once he cleared the past away from their future.
After that there was no excitement and the team’s area of the squad room was dull. Gibbs wasn’t surprised. Tony was an integral part of the team. It wasn’t just Tony’s skills as an investigator; he was fun. And while it was distracting at times it was also needed. The others hated cold cases and Tony would have lightened up the situation and refocused them by giving them a way to vent their irritation.
Tony made no attempt to sneak in and Gibbs was relieved. If Abby was right, and she usually was, then if Tony was still worried he would have been secretly working. The proof came on Thursday. Evidence from a cold case was bothering Gibbs. It hadn’t been processed by Abby and he never really trusted anyone but Abby with his evidence. The music was pounding as always and Abby was bobbing along with the music with her back to her computer. On the screen Tony was also dancing to the music, clearly they had one of those web camera things. Before Gibbs had wondered if they had a romantic thing between them. But Tony wasn’t trying to be cool in the way he was dancing: he was air guitaring in sweatpants adorned with a bleach stain.
“Abby, DiNozzo,” he shouted over the music.
Tony’s expression of surprise was comical. “Hi, boss.”
Gibbs rolled his eyes, “This is how you spend your vacation?”
“He’s keeping me company,” Abby said. Tony turned off the camera and Gibbs asked Abby to double check the original tests.
Gibbs was glad to finish the tedious week. The boat called to him on Friday promising release. He assumed Tony was bored too as he called on Friday night. “Boss, where are you?”
“At home, DiNozzo. Why?”
“So you’re home, not at work, and alone at seven o’clock on a Friday?”
“Has the rest of your week been as dull as mine?”
“Are you in your basement?”
“Yep. Still haven’t said why you’re asking, DiNozzo.”
“I’ll bring over Chinese food, beer, and that movie? I mean, if you want. You can work on your boat. I’ll hook up the DVD player to your TV?”
Gibbs smiled slightly, “Okay, DiNozzo. See you in a while.” Tony turned up twenty minutes later, “That was fast.”
“I’d already ordered. Figured if you didn’t want to hang out I’d have food for the rest of the weekend, win win.” He put the food down on the counter and then went to the TV, quickly hooking up his DVD player and popping in the movie. “Fun fact. Sword in the Stone is the first movie to have the regular Buena Vista logo. Also, the music in one scene is featured in Sleeping Beauty and Robin Hood.”
Gibbs started to go through the bag of food, finding all his favorites and chopsticks as well as a plastic fork. He considered taking the fork just to irritate Tony but opted for the chopsticks. They ate silently Gibbs leaned against the boat while Tony sat on the stairs. Gibbs paid little attention to the film, instead he covertly studied Tony. It was odd, Tony was watching the movie with a small smile. He chuckled at the asinine jokes that were intended for children.
“Is it all talk?” Gibbs asked.
Tony looked away from the screen, “Is what all talk?”
“All the movie classics and obsessions with artsy directors. Is this what you’re really into?”
Tony turned back to the screen, “Sometimes you want French Asian fusion for dinner. But on your birthday you just want to make yourself some spaghetti Bolognese. This film isn’t even considered a classic within the Disney catalogue, it panders to children and banks on comedy as opposed to the original story but that doesn’t negate its awesomeness. It’s comforting. It’s been a hard, dull, trying week. No one wants subtitles and symbolism after a case like that. Dead twenty-year-olds and a girl whose life will never be the same. And since then I’ve been on leave and you’ve been working on cold cases. There was no release.”
It reminded Gibbs of what Abby said, about Tony being raised not on television but by television. He let Tony go back to watching the film. Gibbs finished his food and started working on the boat. He almost expected Tony to chide him for not watching the film but Tony just watched the film quietly only speaking to quote along with the film, “Blow me to Bermuda,” he said at the same time as Merlin. And when the film ended Tony collected up his garbage and said, “I should get going.” Gibbs didn’t respond. “Thank you for letting me come over tonight and bug you.”
“You don’t bug me, DiNozzo. Just phone first.”
Tony gave him another huge smile and then quietly disconnected his DVD player from the TV and put the television back to its usual settings. Once he was gone Gibbs looked around. Other than the containers of food Gibbs was eating there was no sign Tony had been there. He’d left no trash and the TV was back on the news. In some ways it made Gibbs feel for the child Tony had been. He’d brought food and a favorite movie, sat quietly on the uncomfortable stairs, removed every trace of himself, and thanked Gibbs for the honor. He was so worried about the imposition his mere presence caused; he’d paid his entrance fee with food. Tony’s genuine gratitude made Gibbs wonder how many people had told him to go away: his family, his jobs, his hundreds of girlfriends. It made sense that Tony never went for serious relationships those would have hurt when they ended.
But the amount of insight he’d gotten tonight worried him. He’d never really wanted to know much about his team beyond work but now Tony DiNozzo was his main thought. And while he hated doing it, he found himself dialing Abby’s number. She picked up and he quickly related the events of the night and finished with, “Does he see me as a father figure? Was he finally getting his dad to watch a movie with him?”
She laughed, “Gibbs, I picked up because of rule number three. I’m on a date with a very nice guy. So, when he drops me off with a kiss goodnight and a promise to do this again sometime, I will call you. It won’t be late: he’s a nice guy. Until then just finish your Chinese food and work on the boat.”
At the same time Tony was writing out a text to Abby: call me after your date. He went home and changed into pajamas and flipped through the channels. He went over the events of the night again in his head. Gibbs had given him one of those half smiles, and hadn’t called the movie crap, and hadn’t pushed Tony out. Tony sat on the couch flipping past the news; he hated the news. He saw terrible things everyday and he didn’t need it at home. Finally he settled on TCM. For a Few Dollars more caught his attention so that he jumped when his cell phone rang.
“Abby, where life had no value, death, sometimes, had its price,” his impersonation was as spot on as always.
“A Clint mood is always a good sign. Gibbs called me; he thinks you want a daddy. Do you want me to disavow his idea?”
“I don’t want a daddy, my dad’s a dick. You can tell him that.”
“Unless it’s a sugar daddy.”
“Don’t want one of those either. How was your date?”
“I’ll definitely be seeing him again. How was your date? Besides leaving Gibbs confused.”
“It wasn’t a date, Abs. I had a really good time.”
“Good, I’m going to go deal with Gibbs. Night, Tony.”
He hung up and finished the movie before turning in. It was a good night.
Gibbs was working when Abby finally called. “Didn’t mean to interrupt your date,” Gibbs said picking up but still sanding.
“Oh, well, if he wasn’t cool with you interrupting he wouldn’t make the cut.” He heard her sigh, “Okay, Tony doesn’t want a father. He’s not looking for a dad. Tony doesn’t like his dad and he doesn’t want a new one. You said you were proud of him and that you liked him as a person. So now he’s just testing it a bit, seeing if you meant it.”
“He brought a cartoon.”
Abby must have heard the disdain in his voice because she laughed, “You told him to stop trying to impress you. So he didn’t bring something obscure. He loves that movie, he was just sharing it with you. We all know what you like: bourbon, boats, shooting bad guys, being silent, and little kids. He’s trying to be your friend.” Gibbs sighed. “You could tell him you’re busy and he wouldn’t be offended.”
“Do you know why Ducky and I make such good friends?”
“Because he never demands any of your time?” Abby asked already knowing it was true. “So do you think you could be friends with someone who actually wants to spend time with you?”
“I don’t know. But that was the odd thing, Abby, he didn’t prattle on or berate me for not watching it intensely. He was… calm.”
“Well, he can’t be on all the time, Gibbs, he needs downtime just like anyone else. Besides, if he behaved like that you’d kick him out, or at least not let him come again. He’s coming to you on your terms. He can’t get tickets to a basketball game: you’d never say yes. But you’ll let him hang out in the basement and Tony wants to hang out.”
“Does Tony tell you everything?”
“Pretty much. I tell him everything too.”
“So nothing I say to either of you isn’t heard by the other one?”
“Well, if you said, ‘Abs, don’t tell Tony,’ I clearly won’t tell Tony or vice versa.”
He smiled into the phone, “Okay, Abs, don’t tell Tony but I liked having him here tonight. I wouldn’t mind if he did it more often.”
The next week was all cold cases. Every time Gibbs saw Ziva and McGee starting to itch he would send them to train. But Tony only went with them a couple of times. Most of the time he just worked, reviewing files and re-questioning witnesses. He did take a break to lace McGee’s coffee with salt and put a whoopee cushion filled with chalk on Ziva’s chair.
Gibbs watched his senior agent closely. Tony was a lot happier, and less fractious than he had been in a long time. It was good that Abby had told Gibbs off. He hadn’t noticed the difference before. It had been a gradual process of Tony becoming more and more manic and now that he had reverted back to himself the change was so obvious. Tony’s work was no less impressive now that he was more contented he just wasn’t so high-strung. Tony closed one case on his own, the team closed another. It was a good week.
Tony never brought up the last Friday night and didn’t hint at another one. They were leaving on Friday night, McGee and Ziva had already gone, when Gibbs said, “There’s a great gyro place by me. Greek movie? Unless, you feel like it’s a Bolognese night.”
The smile Tony gave him was sudden, “No, totally.” He paused, “I don’t think I have any that are dubbed.”
“And?” asked Gibbs.
“Well, subtitles make it hard to work on the boat and watch.”
“I know enough Greek to manage. Come by around seven.”
“Where’s the restaurant?” asked Tony.
“No, this one’s on me. Besides, it’s your ‘good job’ of the week. Just bring the movie and DVD player.”
Tony was prompt at seven and said, “Hey, Gibbs. I brought Zorbas the Greek. It’s mostly in English, Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates are amazing.”
Gibbs got the food sorted and it was just like the week before: Tony quiet on the stairs, Gibbs leaning against the boat. He paid more attention to this film then he had the last and Tony was smiling to himself, “What?” asked Gibbs.
“The first time I saw this was near Christmas and I was nine, the Hess Truck that year was so awesome. I remember the commercial clear as day. I would have killed for one.”
“That’s a motive rarely seen,” Gibbs joked. “So how soon after you got it did you break it?”
“I got a pony instead,” Tony sounded so disappointed that Gibbs gave him a half chuckle. “There is very little you can do with five ponies that you can’t do with four. In fact, there’s very little you can do with five ponies that you can’t do with one. I didn’t want another pony. I wanted the truck.”
“You had five ponies?”
“Yeah, for a couple of years there I got ponies for my birthday and Christmas.”
“I don’t think my mom remembered that I already had one. And my dad didn’t pay attention to stuff like that, I mean he was rarely home. I had nine in the end, after she died my dad found out that I had them and sold them all.” He sounded distant as though he was back there. “I think it was punishment. He said I made her sick. Which was bull, obviously. But it’s why he wrote me out of the will. I think he was too drunk to really think straight.” He sighed and Gibbs thought that maybe the twelve year old Tony hadn’t realized it was bull. “It wouldn’t have mattered really: he sent me to boarding school the next year ‘cause his new girlfriend didn’t like me. I was really relieved when he sent me away.” Then he seemed to shake himself and realize that it was Gibbs he was talking to and that it might be inappropriate to say these things. He smiled brightly, “After that Maria started do the Christmas shopping and she got me great stuff.”
“Maria?” repeated Gibbs.
“Our maid. She was really nice and she smelled good too. She used to let me sit on her lap… not in a sexual way,” he added, “I was a kid.”
Tony refocused on the movie and Gibbs was grateful because it allowed him to turn away from his agent. Abby had said that Tony didn’t want a father but at that moment Gibbs wanted to go back in time and shake both of Tony’s parents and take that little kid away. It was the way Tony had said it: like it was normal, like there was nothing odd about his childhood. And he thought of a maid caring for the boy more than his own parents. There was a reason Tony spoke such good Spanish.
Gibbs wanted to shoot something. And with the absence of something to shoot, he instead picked up his chisel and hammer and broke the piece of word he’d been carefully working on for days. He struck it over and over again until it was no longer a piece of the boat. The silence coming from Tony was a presence in the room; Gibbs could feel the anxiety in the gaze that was focused on his back. Tony thought Gibbs was pissed at him.
He turned back with a small smile, “I hate it when I realize there’s a warp in the wood after I’ve nailed it in. I like this movie though.”
Tony gave him a small, nervous smile, like he was worried Gibbs was about to throw him out. “It was one of the first films to put Greek cinema on the global map. Mihalis Kakogiannis is a genius. I believe A Girl in Black is a better film but it’s not as fun. I figured gyros don’t go so well with tragedy.” He took a bite of his sandwich and chewed still looking nervous.
“It’s good, it’s a good choice.” He paused, “Relax, Tony, just watch your movie. You’re alright.” He ate his own gyro and watched the film still feeling Tony’s stress.
Driving home was hellish. Tony felt like he might crash his car at any second. How stupid was he? Telling Gibbs about his rich kid childhood had been a stupid move, in fact, telling Gibbs anything about his childhood was stupid. It wasn’t in the plan to over share. Over sharing wasn’t going to get him anywhere. He pulled over half way home and called Abby. She picked up after the second ring, “Hey, how’s it going?”
“Are you on a date?”
“No, I’m just at home.”
“Can I pick you up? We’ll go dancing. Please? Nothing big, just Ritoziot’s.”
“Totally, I’ll see you in a little bit.” He turned the car around and went towards Abby’s apartment. When he got there he rang the buzzer. There were a couple of beats of silence and then Abby said, “Who is it?”
“Good girl, Abby. Way to not let me right up without asking. It’s me.”
“Now you’re just being cute.” The door unlocked. “See you in a second.” He took the elevator up to her apartment and heard the music before the door opened.
She looked him up and down, “Those shoes couldn’t have cost more than two hundred dollars.”
“I dress down to go to Gibbs’.”
She locked the door behind her, “I’m assuming it didn’t go so well.”
“I don’t know; it was weird.”
“Well, let’s go dancing and you can tell me all about it.”
He took her arm as they walked to the elevator. Sighing he said, “I’d rather just dance.”
“That’s good too.” She kissed his cheek. “You always knew it would be an uphill battle to be his friend.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t expect it to be me throwing up the blocks.” He slipped his arm around her waist and gave her a squeeze. “I’m letting it go now.”
He drove them to Ritoziot’s, a bar that always had a jazz band. It wasn’t Abby’s usual scene but she was always happy enough when they went. They danced and drank hurricanes until late. Tony was still sober and as they went back to Abby’s Tony finally asked, “Why don’t you have a date with Mr. Great Guy tonight?”
“He has custody of his kids this weekend.”
“Ah, I see. Good for him.”
He walked her to her door, “Y’gonna tell me what you said to Gibbs?”
“I told him I was a spoiled rich kid and that I owned nine ponies… not the best thing to say to a man who has nothing, wants nothing, and dislikes rich people.”
“He likes you.”
He smiled at her, brushing off the words, “Thank you for a lovely evening, Abs.”
Gibbs didn’t sleep well for the rest of the weekend. He kept thinking of what Tony had said. It wasn’t so much the content but the way he’d said it, detached and unmoved, as though it didn’t really matter. And he had been so worried after he’d said it which Gibbs couldn’t really understand. It was as though Tony believed Gibbs might throw him out because of his past. That made Gibbs wonder what else had happened in Tony’s life to make him think people would dislike him for talking about it.
Thinking about it didn’t help anything. Instead Gibbs went up to the rarely used living room and brought the two armchairs down to the basement. He covered them with a sheet to keep them clean until Friday. He couldn’t expect Tony to sit on the stairs for much longer. In spite of himself, Gibbs wanted Tony to come, he liked the quiet company. It was obvious that Tony wasn’t sure of his welcome and he didn’t want Tony to stop coming.
He remembered nine years prior when he’d met Tony for the first time, when he’d already decided to steal him from Baltimore. Tony had been thirty, eager to please, a great cop, and so handsome it had startled Gibbs. Little had changed over the years. Tony was just as eager to please, a great agent, and so handsome it still sometimes startled Gibbs. Time had made it easier to ignore Tony’s bright teeth, warm hazel eyes, and all of his other pleasant physical attributes. But time had also made it impossible to overlook all of Tony’s charming qualities that weren’t physical. Having Tony coming over every Friday made it even harder. Tony was gorgeous. And even though it made Gibbs’ life more difficult he wanted Tony to keep coming.
For the rest of the weekend Gibbs worked on replacing the perfectly good piece of wood he’d destroyed on Friday night.
On Monday he got a call from Abby, “Gibbs, would you come up to the lab?”
“Abby, we’re on cold cases. I don’t have any tests for you.”
She sighed, “I’m not going crazy, Gibbs. I just want you to come visit.”
“Okay, I’ll bring you a Caf-Pow. See you in ten.”
He made the circuit down to the cafeteria and up to Abby’s lab saying, “I brought Caf-Pow.”
“You really treat me right,” she said snatching it away.
The music made his head pound and he didn’t want to fight over it so he signed, “Can you turn it down?”
Lowering the volume Abby said, “Thanks for the drink.”
“What’s going on, Abby?”
“You didn’t call me on Friday.”
“I didn’t know it was a requirement.”
“It’s not. I was just concerned. If you need to have a freak-out you should really have it at me.”
“I don’t need to freak-out.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure, Abby.”
“So Tony didn’t say anything that made you freak-out?” Gibbs just stood there, studying her. “That long stare doesn’t work with me. He told you he was a rich kid with a herd of horses.”
“A group of ponies is a string. Now, I think you should be Tony’s confidant in this matter and I believe it would be a clash of interests to be mine as well. I am not having a freak-out,” that wasn’t strictly true, “so let it go. It’s all fine.”
“Can I tell Tony that you’re not angry?”
“I’ll tell him myself. Enjoy your Caf-Pow.”
In the elevator he pressed the stop button and breathed. Tony thought Gibbs was angry at him? That really summed up everything that was wrong with Tony’s childhood. Gibbs turned the elevator back on and went to the squad room. As he sat down at his desk he said, “DiNozzo.”
Tony almost snapped to attention at his own desk, “Yes, boss?”
“I already think this might be a Bolognese week and it’s only Monday morning. You might want to start picking the film now. My gut is telling me this is going to be a rough week.”
Tony sometimes hated Gibb’s gut. A cold case had become a hot case, which became a hostage situation, which became a gunman holding a small child with his gun fixed on McGee’s face, which became a gunman with a bullet between his eyes and a little boy who was possibly scarred for life.
The only good thing was that it made it impossible for Tony to worry about his indiscretion the Friday before. Instead he thought about this Friday’s film. And as he wrote his report Gibbs interrupted his thoughts saying, “I’ll order the pizza. You come over whenever you like. It’ll be waiting for you.”
Tony finished up his case report, then his weapon fired report, then his kill report. By the time he was done he swung by his house for the movie and DVD player and then stopped to buy beer. As he parked he saw Gibbs at the front door paying for the pizza. He walked up saying, “Hey, Gibbs.”
“Hey, Tony. You send me your reports?” Gibbs shut the door behind Tony and walked towards the basement.
“Yeah, they’re done.” He paused at the bottom of the stairs when he saw the chairs, “You’ve added furniture?”
“Can’t leave you sitting on the stairs much longer.”
“Thanks,” Tony smiled slightly. “I did something kind of stupid. I picked out the movie before today.” He started to hook up the DVD player.
“It’s Witness. Y’know, Harrison Ford protecting the Amish kid as he was a witness to a murder.”
“You did the right thing today.”
“Yeah,” Tony sighed. “I like shooting people. It’s a character flaw, I know. I became a cop because I wanted to be on the right side of the gun. I don’t like killing bad guy, I always try to kneecap or wing them. However if he’s going to kill someone on the team I’m gonna shoot to kill, logically it makes sense. But I don’t like shooting people in front of kids, I guess no one does. It doesn’t matter that we were the good guys, that I killed that man to protect him: what that little boy will remember about today is that he was scared and I shot that man.”
“He killed a family of six.”
“I know that. I know that I did the right thing and it was all by the books. Knowing won’t make me sleep easy tonight.”
“Samuel gets over it.”
“You’ve seen Witness? What a bummer.”
“No, it’s a good comfort movie.” He sat down in one of the chairs and started to eat as the movie began. “I took Shannon to see this on Valentine’s Day.” He had a small private smile on his face and Tony was worried that maybe he really had messed up by bringing it but Gibbs just kept watching it contentedly.
Tony let himself relax into the film and eat his pizza. Halfway through Gibbs had finished his pizza and was back to work on the boat. But Tony stayed in the comfortable chair and watched the movie contentedly. Samuel got over it.
There were more bad weeks than good weeks at NCIS, that was a fact. But sometimes it felt like there wasn’t a good week. Recently it had been better because Gibbs had forced him to take weekends and go home on time as much as possible. He felt more rested. Plus the Fridays spent with Gibbs were good, quiet, and nice. But in some ways that made the rough weeks harder because it put them into such harsh comparison. They’d watched, Sword in the Stone, Zorba the Greek, Witness, True Lies, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the Romeo and Juliet with DiCaprio, Groundhog Day, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It was good; Gibbs hadn’t gotten fed up with him yet. But it was only Thursday and Tony needed Friday night so badly.
He stormed into the office with McGee behind him, smudged with soot, and pissed off. Ziva and Gibbs were at their desks, it hadn’t been their shift on the stakeout and now the stakeout was blown. “Why is it always me? It’s never Ziva’s ugly little Mini. This is the third time. I get a car, I grow fond of a car, and someone blows it up! Or it gets stolen, it’s always my car. It’s not freaking fair. I hadn’t even finished paying for it.”
“Ziva pisses off fewer people,” Gibbs said with a smirk. It was the last straw for Tony.
“I mean I try to do everyone a favor, we can’t use a company car for our stakeout: oh that’s okay we’ll use mine. And what happens? We get made and my car gets torched. How is that fair? And now I need to write a case report while really all I want to do is mourn my fallen friend.” He pulled his extra clothes out and went towards the bathroom.
Gibbs saw the smirk exchanged between Ziva and McGee and said, “It’s not funny.”
“It’s a little funny,” said Ziva.
“We’ve all been taking turns using our own cars. It could have just as easily been one of ours. And Tony is awfully fond of his cars. Now he needs to buy a new one even though he is still paying for the old one. It’s not funny. McGee, write your report, Ziva research where he might be moving to.”
Tony came back clean but the morose expression was still on his face. It took him longer to write his report than usual and by the time he was done the others were already gone. “The agency will reimburse you.”
“It’s a sixty thousand dollar car, Gibbs. There is no way they’re going to give me sixty thousand dollars.” Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “I spend more time in my car than in my bed. I know it’s shallow but I don’t want a Toyota.” He sighed, “Change of topic. Tomorrow’s movie was in the car. Demolition Man.” Gibbs raised an eyebrow, “Sci-fi, futuristic with Wesley Snipes and Sylvester Stallone. Thought it would be fun because in the world of the movie you’re Stallone and McGee’s Benjamin Bratt.”
“Who are you?”
“Maybe Sandra Bullock.” Gibbs raised the eyebrow again. “She wants to be the kind of cop Stallone is. Although she tries to use idioms and fails, so maybe Ziva’s Sandra Bullock… anyway now it’s melted.”
“Yeah, good guys win. Stallone and Bullock end up together. Bratt grows a spine. It’s a good movie.”
Gibbs wasn’t sure what to make of that. How deep was the comparison of their team supposed to be? Over the last few weeks he’s gotten kind of confused. Tony never canceled for a date. And if it was anyone other than Tony Gibbs might have thought he was being seduced. But Tony was never indirect when he wanted someone and Tony was as straight as the roads to Rome. So he couldn’t really understand why Tony hadn’t been chasing girls like his usual self. He’d decided years ago that he wouldn’t pursue Tony. He’d thought at times he might have a chance. Sometimes Tony would look at him with such hero worship that Gibbs figured he could get a night out of it.
“I’ll give you a ride home.”
“It’s okay, I’ll call a cab. And my mechanic’s going to drop off a loaner car at my apartment tonight.”
“You’re car got blown up, it’s the least I can do.”
Tony gave a tired laugh. “A couple of my frat brothers are in town for some big business meeting. I’m supposed to meet up with them.”
“They wouldn’t mind if you canceled. You were almost blown up.”
“Haven’t seen them in months. Might be the only bright point of the day.”
“I’ll drive you to the bar.”
“You deserve a break.”
The ride over was mostly quiet. Tony seemed exhausted when they got to the bar he said, “Do you want to come in? Meet the guys?”
Gibbs didn’t want to, could think of several things he’d rather be doing, but Abby said that the frat brothers were Tony’s family and that meant something. Besides, it would make Tony happy. Gibbs didn’t like it when Tony wasn’t cheerful. “Sure,” he saw the surprise on Tony’s face and added, “unless that was a polite but not genuine invitation.”
“It was totally genuine I just didn’t expect you to say yes.” Gibbs parked behind the bar and now Tony was smiling his open, happy smile. That was worth hanging out with a bunch of juvenile men.
Inside there was a chorus of, “Ramen!” from the back corner where four men were sitting Tony smiled again and crossed the room to them, Gibbs in tow. “You brought Gibbs,” said one of them. Then he added, “Unless you aren’t Gibbs.”
“How did you know who I was?” he asked.
“Well we’ve met everyone else,” said the guy. “I’m David.”
There were quick introductions: David, Liam, Jake, and Matt. Matt chided Tony, “You’re late, Ramen.”
“It’s not my fault. My car got blown up.” The men started laughing, “It’s not funny,” Tony said almost petulantly.
“I wish my job was that exciting,” said Liam.
“No, you don’t,” said Tony.
Jake rubbed two fingers together, “Hear that, Tony? It’s the world’s smallest violin playing just for you.”
Tony shrugged, “I don’t know why we’re friends: I hate you all.”
Liam smiled at Tony’s petulance, “Well, I’ll buy you your first drinks. Gibbs, what are you having?”
“Any dark beer, thanks.”
The evening sort of surprised Gibbs. The men were not what he expected, calm and witty. They spoke about wives and kids. They complained that their brother Steve Addler hadn’t been able to get the night off to hang out with them, Gibbs remembered that name. Kate had dated him. And when it was Tony’s turn he filled them in on the team, which seemed sad to Gibbs.
“Abby has a date with Mr. Perfect,” said Matt, “midweek. And isn’t it a bowling week?”
Tony smiled, “I know what you’re thinking. She needs her precious bodily fluids.” Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “No, it’s not that dirty, well it is. But it’s a Dr. Strangelove joke.”
Jake turned to Gibbs, “Usually Ramen would fill us in. But, as you’re here, how are you, Gibbs?”
“I’m great,” said Gibbs not sure how to respond.
“How’s the newest boat coming along?” Jake asked as a follow up.
Tony really did tell them everything, “I’m about to put the outer planks on. It’s looking good.”
“So as we’re not on the team, virtual strangers, will you tell us how you get it out of the basement?” Tony cuffed him on the back of the head. Jake grimaced and rubbed the spot. “He never did that until he met you. I don’t get it.”
“A slap to the face is humiliating.” Gibbs said and they all laughed.
Tony went with David to buy the next round. Gibbs saw the way they stood together, read the body language and knew that they believed they were out of earshot. Which they weren’t. And Gibbs couldn’t help but listen, because the night was so odd.
“So Gibbs is here,” said David. “Does this mean that you and he are…” he let the question trail off.
Gibbs expected Tony to laugh but Tony said, “No. I mean things are going pretty good. But I don’t think Gibbs is… well.”
“You’ve been watching movies for two months.”
“Yeah,” agreed Tony.
“I don’t know. I mean, the usual wouldn’t work and I don’t know. I’m a coward I guess.”
“Hey, you’ve survived the plague.”
“Doesn’t make me brave enough. I just don’t want to fuck up what I’ve got. I feel like I’m coming home every Friday night and I can’t fuck that up over a schoolboy crush.”
“If it was a schoolboy crush it wouldn’t have lasted nine years. I mean, you finally get up the balls to actually do something about it and you’re chickening out now? Have you even suggested going out as opposed to sitting in his basement?”
“He likes his basement. I don’t want to get him to do something he doesn’t want to do. I don’t want Gibbs anyway other than Gibbs; I don’t want to change him. He’s already let me in so far and I can’t lose that. It’s Gibbs,” Tony sighed, “maybe it’s enough. It gets me through, way better than ‘good job, DiNozzo,’ and head slaps ever did. The fact that he even came tonight amazes me.”
“So you think Ziva’s dead, realize she didn’t know how important she was to you, find she’s not dead, decide that life too short to not grab what you want. And then you settle for movies, take out, and companionable silence once a week? That’s not grabbing life.”
“Fuck, man. I feel like we’re Luke and Laura. It’s all anyone talks about. Abby won’t shut up. She keeps coming up with plans to get us locked in a room together. Why won’t anyone leave it alone? I’m happier than I have been in years. Why can’t that be enough?”
“Ever since Gina dumped you after senior year you haven’t been with anyone real. You just never got back on the horse; you’ve never been in a real relationship since. And Jeanne doesn’t count, we were all excited and then you tell us that it was an assignment and that it ended poorly. We love you: that’s why we want more for you… Abby sends out group emails of progress reports.”
“Shut up, Dave. Isn’t Dan supposed to be the shrink? I hate you all.”
The beers came and David said, “No you don’t. But if you are Luke and Laura you’re totally Laura because anyone with testicles would have made a move after nine years.”
And Tony had been in love with him for nine years. Tony didn’t want to change him whereas all of the ex-wives had. They all had an image of him and had browbeaten him into marrying them and then been disappointed when he’d not lived up to expectations. It hurt in a way he hadn’t expected, repeatedly letting them down. But then, as they all pointed out, no one could be Shannon and he didn’t accommodate anyone. Shannon’s ghost never left, and he never really wanted her to.
He didn’t want to let Tony down because he felt more for Tony than he had felt for any person other than Shannon. But he needed time to consider it. So he took the drink from Tony with a nod of thanks and didn’t approach the conversation he’d listened to.
After that round he said, “It was a pleasure to meet you all. But I’m beat.” Tony had dark circles under his eyes. “Give you a lift, DiNozzo?”
Tony yawned and nodded, “Yeah that would be great, Gibbs, thanks.” He got up and hugged the others and said, “Gimme a little more notice next time.”
“Take care of yourself, Ramen,” said Matt.
“Yeah, you too, guys.”
As they drove towards Tony’s apartment Gibbs said, “Why do they all call you Ramen?”
Tony chuckled, “They wouldn’t have joked about it at the time, it wasn’t laughable. I had a scholarship for basketball. And second semester of junior year the school didn’t have enough money to pay for me. I needed six thousand. I had two thousand saved up from working over the summer and Christmas so I was short four grand. There was no way I could get the money. I even tried to call my father but his secretary said he didn’t want to speak to me. My brothers all had a house meeting without me and I couldn’t believe they would decide who they were moving in while I was still in the house. But after two hours they called me in and told me that their parents were all pulling together and that we had two thousand more in the kitty and that if we all took extra shifts at our jobs and lived off of Ramen and peanut butter for two months then we could pay my tuition on time. For two months we were known as the un-fun frat because we couldn’t have a kegger. But it wasn’t that bad because they all had moms like Mrs. Sciuto who can’t bear the idea of kids going hungry so we were always being sent, like cheese and crackers and sausage, and fruit baskets, candy, and steaks. That wasn’t the point though. The point was that they were totally willing to live on Ramen for me. But y’know, I’ve lost my rush title of sex machine and am in fact called Ramen. But that’s okay... first thing I did once I got out of college was pay them back. The next semester Uncle Clive lent me the money. And the scholarship came back for the semester after that.”
The fact that Mr. DiNozzo hadn’t helped irritated Gibbs. But the fact that Tony thought it took a special type of mother to feel ill at the idea of her child going hungry just made him sick. Because Tony didn’t even see that the way he was raised was abnormal. “That’s great, that they stood by you.”
“Yeah, they’re my brothers. David gave Clark a kidney… Clark lives in California so he’s not around much. I mean, David did ask his wife’s permission first but she’s a better match for their kids anyway so she didn’t object. I wasn’t a match at all. We all got tested.”
“It’s nice that you’re all still close.”
“The old rushmaster was a real dick so we bonded a lot. I mean, we did dangerous, demeaning things. So we became pretty tight. Once he graduated I became the rushmaster and I was awesome. The only mean thing I did was force them to stay up for forty-eight hours watching movies which they then had to write two page reports on each film, and not let them walk on the grass for three days, which is really tame compared to what we did. We had to scale a three story sorority house without ropes and then balance on the roof and shout that we had small penises while drunk. Jay broke his leg falling from twenty feet. It was not cool.”
“No, it’s not. Why didn’t anyone tell someone about it?”
“‘Because rats don’t get into frats.’ Be realistic.”
“Why would you want to be in a frat?”
“Because you make close friends who pay for you tuition, give you kidneys, and back your plays for the rest of your life. It’s worth it in the end.”
Gibbs gave a noncommittal grunt as he pulled up to Tony’s apartment. “Thanks for inviting me.”
“Thanks for coming and the drive home. I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodnight, Gibbs.”
The first thing Tony did was check his mail slot, there he found keys to the beaten up Chevy his mechanic had sent over and felt slightly relieved, that was the morning commute taken care of. In his apartment Tony lit his candles. He’d never thought he would want candles, they were for chicks. But they smelled of wood and Tony found them comforting. They made his apartment smell like Gibbs and his basement. Tony pulled a frozen pizza out and put it in the oven. He also pulled ground beef out of the freezer and left it to thaw. Striping as he walked to the bedroom he took a shower to wash away the last ruminants of the explosion. Once he was redressed in a tee-shirt and clean boxers, he ate his pizza while watching recaps of the night’s football games.
He didn’t think about anything much at all. Too much had happened during the day to think about. The suspect had gotten away thus destroying the case, his car had been blown up, he and McGee had almost died, and Gibbs gave him a ride and hung out with his friends. There wasn’t enough space in his head. Instead he microwaved the meat to thaw it completely and set about making a Bolognese sauce. It was mindless and easy.
Crysta had taught him the recipe when he was only five or six. He always used to beg to help cook and she had finally relented. It was her grandmother’s recipe. She hadn’t let him do any of the chopping for fear of injury. But Tony distinctly remembered having a bruise on his face: the result of laughing too loudly outside his dad’s study. He still had the recipe written down in an old notebook. Crysta’s script was elegant and flowing. It was in Italian because she didn’t speak English but that was never a problem. When Tony was little he could switch from English to Spanish to Greek to Italian without thinking. His English was the weakest before he started to go to school because he used it the least.
Once the sauce was done he put it in the refrigerator and went to bed. His mind was totally empty. When he woke up in the morning he didn’t differ from his routine: run, shower, dress, Cap’n Crunch, drive to work. Except that he stopped at a bakery and bought a cupcake. He got to work a half hour early so that he could visit Abby. He turned down her music.
“Hey!” she said angrily and then turned, “Oh hey, Tony.” All the anger was gone from her voice. “What’s up?”
“Saw the guys last night.”
“I know. I was on a date with Roger.”
“Yeah, they said. Abby, you can’t send progress reports.”
“No. You can’t. The plan is mine. And having my brothers come in for a night and getting berated for not going for Gibbs is not my idea of a good time. The plan is over; the end game has been dropped. I’m good with where it is.”
“So you’re just going to be celibate and live for one night a week?”
“Works for me.”-
-“Do you know what happens when you get Gibbs?” Gibbs froze outside of Abby’s door, listening to Tony. “He divorces you. And eventually he grinds you to dust under his boot heel and you don’t have a name anymore just a designation. I don’t want that; I don’t want to be ex-wife number four. Right now if he says, ‘Don’t come over on Friday’s anymore,’ it’ll suck but it won’t be huge. If I were actually with him and he said it… I can’t. So drop it. No more progress reports. Brought you a cupcake to show you I’m not angry. What do you have for the team?”
Gibbs walked in, “Yeah, whatcha got?”
The smile on Abby’s face was fake, “Hey, Gibbs. I’ve got practically nothing. We got a profile photo of the guy who tried to kill our boys: it’s our suspect. McGee put out a BOLO but we still don’t have a name and we don’t have any full face pictures. I’m putting everything we’ve got through every photo database available but no hits.”
Tony added, “He hasn’t used any of the stolen cards. Spoke to the hotline. There haven’t been any muggings that fit his MO in the tri-state area. I’ve put out an east coast advisory but that’s as far as we can go without Vance’s approval and he’s not in yet. I think the guy might have gone to ground.”
Gibbs felt himself practically growl. “Work faster, Abs.”
She snapped off a salute. Gibbs turned to leave and felt Tony hot on his heels. Gibbs didn’t like people who beat up women, raped them, and stole their purses. He didn’t like most criminals but that MO stuck in his craw. The fact that the victims were captains in the Navy made it Gibbs’ fight and he wanted their suspect in custody. But he didn’t even have a name. They didn’t even have enough proof to pull him in and they’d known that he knew they were watching him. He’d been squeaky clean the whole time they’d watched. Gibbs wished that arrest warrants could be issued on the strength of his gut. They needed him to slip up, leave DNA at the apartment but a crew had gone over it and found literally nothing. They had the attacker’s DNA but it wasn’t coming up in any data base.
In the elevator Gibbs said, “Leon is here. He’s just hiding. Spoke to him about your car. Said he’ll get you the blue book value as it happened on our time.”
“It took some convincing.” Gibbs didn’t say that Leon had implied that Gibbs was showing Tony favor for other reasons. And Gibbs had cut though innuendo and said that if he were sleeping with Tony it wouldn’t change the way he treated him. Leon had looked slightly surprised, like he hadn’t expected Gibbs to be so blunt. But Gibbs was always blunt. “But he seemed to think you might sue otherwise. I want you to go get us some cold cases. We need to be useful until we get a lead on the bastard.”
“Yes, boss… Do you still want to watch a movie tonight? Or are you tired after last night? I made Bolognese.”
“You mean you picked a new movie?”
“No, I actually cooked… I can’t decide on a movie. I don’t know whether to mope and bring Gone with the Wind or if I want to cheer up with Dr. Strangelove. What do you think?”
“I’ll make garlic bread.”
“I’ll bring Dr. Strangelove.”
Gibbs smirked, “I’ll see you at seven.”
Tony stepped out on the floor above the bullpen, “Be up in a minute with the cases.”
They got nowhere on their case or any of the cold cases. McGee and Ziva left at five but Tony sat still reading a case. “DiNozzo?”
“Don’t worry, boss, I won’t stay too late.”
“You know, I used to date someone at NCIS, so I’m not sure it would solve any problems…she was almost ex-wife number two. She’s also the reason for rule number twelve.”
Tony laughed, “Maybe you didn’t have enough rules.”
“Well, our cases were always keeping us for different hours.”
“Then maybe it should be a team member, all the same hours and you’d just be pleased to be off and together. And no one would get resentful of someone else not cooking dinner or missing dinner.”
Gibbs had to respect the courage it took for Tony to say it but he still wasn’t sure what to do about Tony so instead he said, “Ziva thinks of me as a father figure.”
Tony nodded, “I guess that is a problem.” He wrote a note on the file. “I’ll see you later, boss. I’ll bring some pasta to boil at your place?”
“Sure, Tony. I’ll have the water boiling when you come.”
By the time Tony came Gibbs had the water boiling and was just about to put the garlic bread in the oven. Tony put a pot on the back burner and turned up the heat. “Hey,” he said, “Thanks for letting me borrow your stove. Did you salt the water already?”
Gibbs watched Tony work and said softly, “Watch out, I need to get into the oven.” Tony moved his hip out of the way.
“It’ll just be a few minutes,” Tony said with a smile. “So, interesting fact about Dr. Strangelove: the first test group viewings were set to be on the day of JFK’s assassination. But they had to cancel them because there was a scene where they all throw pies at each other and the president in the film gets hit and falls over and another person says, ‘Gentlemen, our gallant young president has just been struck down in his prime.’ Obviously, they had to cut the whole scene. It wasn’t funny anymore.”
“What is this film about, DiNozzo?”
“Funny nuclear holocaust.”
“Funny? Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. It’s a comedy. Peter Sellers plays three different roles.” Tony stirred his sauce. “I fell over laughing the first time I saw it. I was little, six or seven, and I couldn’t stop laughing when the Nazi in a wheelchair was fighting his evil hand.” Gibbs just studied him and Tony seemed uncomfortable. “You can judge it for yourself. If you don’t like it we can turn it off.”
“You’ve got good taste.”
Tony strained the pasta with a smile, “Do you mind if I just dish this out?”
“No that’s fine.” Gibbs pulled out the bread and started slicing it up. “Wanna eat downstairs?”
“Sure, sounds good.”
They brought down the food and Tony set up the DVD player while Gibbs started to eat. “This is amazing, DiNozzo. Is it a family recipe?”
“Yes, it’s Crysta’s grandmother’s recipe.”
“Crysta?” asked Gibbs.
Tony’s face fell the way it did when he thought he was about to say something that would piss off Gibbs, “Our cook. All I had to do was look cute and say per favore and she would teach me anything, even secret family recipes. She even taught me how to make cartellate.” He gave Gibbs a tight smile. He hit the play button and the movie started making it unnecessary for Tony to continue. He settled in with his dinner and was focused on his film.
“Well I can see why you make it in your birthday. It’s great.”
“Thanks, so is the bread.”
Letting Tony off the hook Gibbs watched the screen. He couldn’t really see the humor until Peter Sellers appeared, calmly asking if the Russians had bombed America as though it was a mere inconvenience. Tony was fully relaxed now, just enjoying his film and had pulled one leg up under himself. Gibbs finished his dinner, got up, and started to work on his boat. But he paid more attention to the movie than he usually did.
As it finished Tony said, “Did you like it? You kind of watched it.”
Gibbs nodded, “It was funny. I hope Abby denied Roger her essence or else you’ll lose your bowling game tomorrow.”
Tony laughed, “Well, I’m pretty sure she’s already impurified her precious bodily fluids because Caf-Pow has got to be made with fluoridated water.” Gibbs smiled at him gently. “I’m gonna go clean up upstairs and head home.”
Gibbs continued to sand. After a few minutes he headed up and saw Tony doing dishes. “You can leave those, DiNozzo, you cooked.”
“It’s okay. I found Tupperware: I put the rest in your freezer.”
“Don’t you want it?”
“No, I froze a lot already.” Tony smiled, “I’m glad you liked it.”
“I want the recipe.”
“No dice. You’re cute but I spent ages being adorable before she gave it to me.”
“You think I’m cute?” Gibbs regretted the words the second they were out of his mouth.
Tony flinched but continued, “Cute as a button. But it’s a family secret.” He picked up the pot he’d brought. “I’ll see you on Monday, Gibbs.” His voice was too cheerful.
With a nod Tony was gone. Friday was Tony’s night to come home and Gibbs had rushed him out the door with a thoughtless jab. The rest of the night was spent in the basement with the boat and the military channel.
Tony believed that getting his car blown up was the worst thing that could happen that month. Now he was putting as much pressure as he could on the top and bottom of Ziva’s thigh. A through and through bullet shouldn’t be a big deal. Except she was gushing blood from her femoral artery.
The rapist who’d blown up his car, Ryan Morris, had fucked up big when he’d raped his own cousin which provided them with a partial match and the victim had given them a name. And now, this, which was his biggest fuck up: you can’t get away with shooting a fed.
Right now Tony couldn’t focus on how the guy had fucked up. “McGee, on Gibbs’ six,” he ordered as Gibbs’ gave chase to the rapist. “Ziva, can you call 911? I can’t let go of your thigh.”
She dialed and said, “Your hand is incredibly close to my groin that I am sure this is a red light situation.” Tony forced a laugh. An operator picked up and Ziva gave her the address and said, “This is NCIS Probiational Agent David. Shots fired,” Gibbs walked by them with Morris in cuffs. “Shooter has been apprehended. Federal agent down. Please send an ambulance… no we don’t need police, we are NCIS agents… There are four of us. No, I have been shot and am bleeding profusely. Send an ambulance.”
Ziva hung up and Tony said, “That was great. You are doing great. Just breathe calmly and slowly, it’ll slow down your blood flow down.” Ziva did as he ordered and Tony held her leg very tightly. They sat silently for several minutes. “If you die, Gibbs will kill you.” Then he paused. “He’s right behind me isn’t he?” Ziva nodded.
Gibbs asked, “How you doing, Ziva?”
“Tony’s holding in the worst of it. I’m breathing calmly.” Sirens could be heard coming closer. “Take Morris to headquarters. Tony can help me get to Bethesda. We will be okay. I will not die.”
“Good. Otherwise I’d have to kill you.” He crouched down next to her and stroked her hair off her face. “You just stay still.”
“DiNozzo, give me an update when you can.” He took off without waiting for a response. The sirens got very loud and then stopped and Tony heard Gibbs say, “Get in there. I have an agent bleeding.”
EMTs came in with a stretcher. One of them looked at Tony and Ziva with horror. They were, after all, sitting in a puddle of blood. “I didn’t have time to follow OSHA protocol: I’m not gloved up, and I’m not sure when I last washed my hands. I figured you can fight an infection but not death.”
“Sir, would you let go of her?” asked a woman.
“She gushes with blood like a geyser when I take pressure off.” He said. He noticed Ziva’s eyes going heavy, “Stay awake, Ziva. Stay awake. We’re going to get you to Bethesda and you’ll be okay. Just stay awake for me.”
The woman moved to be next to him and put her hands next to his. “Count of three you remove your hands.” He nodded. “One, two, three.” He let go and the woman’s hands instantly replaced his.
As Tony moved back Ziva said, “Tony, do not leave.”
“I’m not; I’m just getting out of the way. As Gibbs isn’t here, if you pass out and they need someone to sign off on a course of treatment, can it be me?”
“Of course.” The EMTs lifted Ziva onto the stretcher and she grunted with pain.
“Sorry,” one of them said.
“It is okay,” said Ziva but then she promptly passed out.
As they carried her to the ambulance Tony said, “She’s AB negative; she’s not allergic to anything. Navy Cmdr. Dr. Brad Pitt has all of her records: hence Bethesda. It’s a bad thing that she’s passed out, right?” He climbed in next to her.
The sirens blared as they started to drive. “She probably fainted. The pressure must be very painful.”
“No, it’s the blood loss. She’s been through way worse than this and stayed conscious.” The EMTs packed the wound with gauze. Tony reached for her ankle and felt her pulse. It was weak but still there. They put an air mask over her mouth to help her breath, physically pumping air into her lungs. Tony remained silent, letting them work without interruption. He kept his hand on her ankle; her pulse didn’t become weaker. As they pulled up at the emergency room Tony saw Brad waiting.
“Talk to me, Tony.”
“Through and through. Hit the femoral artery. The EMTs kept her stable on the way in but her pulse is not great. Also, I wasn’t wearing gloves when I was holding her wounds closed.”
“I have an OR prepped and waiting. I’ll scrub in as a consultant. It’ll be okay, Tony. I’ll update you when I can. It’s going to be at least an hour before I will get to you. You kept her alive.”
Tony nodded as Brad and some other doctors rushed her away. Tony stayed outside and texted Gibbs: at bethesda, brad’s rushing her to surgery, keep you informed. There was no point in calling Gibbs as he would be in interrogation for hours. He turned off his phone and went inside to the nurses’ station. He smiled brightly at the nurses, “Hi. My awesomely tailored suit is, as you can see, totally ruined. Do you have somewhere where I can wash up and some scrubs to change into?” He was quickly pointed towards the staff bathroom and handed a set of pale green scrubs with a bag for his clothes.
Once he got into the bathroom he saw the damage. The suit and his shirt were ruined. And his face was covered in Ziva’s blood. He stripped down to his waist and washed his arms, face, and chest. He scrubbed the blood out of his hair. Even his underwear was soaked through. He threw away the underwear and scrubbed his suit the best he could. Thoroughly washed Tony changed into the scrubs. His socks and shoes were thankfully free of blood.
Back at the nurses’ station he said, “Thank you so much, I’ll get them back to you ASAP.”
He sat down and read through the available magazines, he learned all about feng shui-ing a Christmas tree, how to dress a turkey, and all the “best gifts for him.” He never really liked the holidays because it was all about family. And feng shui was for people who had too much time. Plus the holiday season fervor started too early. It wasn’t even Halloween yet. Time passed and eventually Brad came out and sat down next to Tony.
“Ziva is doing great. There’s still a lot of work to do. Her artery wasn’t just nicked; the bullet went directly through it. And she is doing wonderfully we just need more time to repair her. So it might be a couple more hours… I want to give you a check up once she’s out. I want to listen to your lungs, you’ve been avoiding me.”
“I had the plague five years ago. I’m fine.”
“You had the plague, you need to have regular lung checks.”
“Fine,” Tony said petulantly.
Brad laughed, “I’m gonna scrub back in.”
“Sure. I’ll update Gibbs.”
“Braver man than me.”
“I’m used to having Gibbs be really pissed at me.” Tony gave him a weak smile and headed outside. He turned on his phone and typed: Surgery is going well, brad says she’s okay, will update you when i get news.
He then called Abby, “Tony, tell me she’s okay?” she asked as she answered and he could hear the panic.
“She’s okay. She’s still in surgery, but she’s okay.”
“Oh my God, how could this happen? Gibbs is grilling Morris now. But, oh my God, Tony.”
“Abby, imagine I’m hugging you and calm down. What do you have on the case?”
“The slug that went through Ziva is easily matched to the gun. His DNA was all over the victims. He had all the stolen cards on him. It’s open and shut. How’s Ziva really?”
“She lost a lot of blood but Brad says she’s doing really well and she’ll be out of surgery in a couple of hours. You just keep plugging on at your end and I’ll call you once she’s in recovery. I gotta go now, Abs.” He hung up and went back inside.
Knowing Brad wouldn’t be coming out for a long time, Tony headed for the cafeteria. Unlike all the times Gibbs said he hadn’t earned the right to a meal Tony knew he had this time. He’d kept Ziva from bleeding to death in the field and now that the adrenaline had worn off he wanted dinner. After choosing the least suspect sandwich he went back to the waiting room. He ate calmly, flicked through the magazines, and focused on not wringing his hands.
When Brad finally came out he said, “Ziva’s out of surgery and she’s doing great. She’ll have to stay here while she heals but she’s fine. Tell Gibbs and then meet me in examination room five. I’m listening to your lungs.”
Tony did as he was told. Brad did about a thousand tests on him and Tony didn’t think they were all necessary, they were a distraction. This theory was confirmed when Brad glanced at his watch for the fourth time and said, “She’s out of recovery and you are sounding great. Just keep yourself bundled up in the cold and avoid chest infection like the plague.” He laughed at his own joke.
With a sneer Tony said, “Plague humor: very funny.”
“I’ll walk you to her room,” said Brad with a smile.
Ziva was pale but awake. She smiled at Tony as he walked in, “You saved my life.”
He nodded, “Your thanks should come in the form of money, doughnuts, or a poem you write in my honor.”
“Thank you, Tony.”
Shaking his head he said, “You don’t need to thank me. I mean, God, can you imagine if I had to have McGeek as my partner.” She laughed and he sat down by her bed. “Besides, you aren’t out of the woods yet: you still have to be shouted at by Gibbs.”
“The tongue whipping.”
“Lashing,” he corrected automatically.
“He treats it like a personal failing when we get shot.”
“He get’s scared and he’s unwilling to just hug us.” Ziva laughed.
“Tony, would you mind if I went to sleep? I am very tired. And I do not want a sentry.”
“That’s fine. I’ll come back tomorrow. Abby’s already champing at the bit to see you.” Ziva gave him a look. “She’s desperate to visit. She’ll be here early.” He kissed her forehead. “See you tomorrow.”
Once he was out of the hospital he called Gibbs knowing that Gibbs was out of interrogation. “DiNozzo, report,” said Gibbs as he picked up.
“She’s fine, awake and pushing me out the door.” He sighed, “I’ll be back in headquarters as soon as possible. Can I go take a real shower? I mean, it’s a bit Lady Macbeth but: I think I still have blood in my hair.”
Gibbs sounded tired as he said, “Shakespeare. DiNozzo?”
“I was thinking Orson Welles, but you can go from that angle too.”
Chuckling softly Gibbs said, “Don’t come back tonight. The report can wait until Monday. Do you want to come over later?”
Tony was tired but he wasn’t going to pass up his Friday night, especially not if Gibbs was inviting him. “Yeah, I already ate but, yeah, sounds good. What kind of movie are you in the mood for?”
“No movie, just come over once you’re ready.”
“Okay, I won’t be late.”
“Take your time.”
So Tony drove home, stopping off at the dry cleaner and asking them to do their best. Then at home he showered and washed his hair twice before changing into jeans and a cashmere sweater. He threw the scrubs into his laundry pile and grabbed his car keys to go to Gibbs’ house.
Gibbs had believed he had a choice. Not as to whether or not people got shot but as to what he would do about Tony. But the sound of the gunshot changed that. He hadn’t known who’d been shot but he’d heard the grunt of pain. He hadn’t had the time to check the damage, just chase Ryan Morris. He’d heard Tony breathily shout at McGee to cover Gibbs’ six. And Tony’s voice was rough and frightened and Gibbs had thought that those might be the last words he ever heard from Tony but he couldn’t stop. And when he’d gotten that fucker on the ground he had breathed in deeply, pushing down the panic.
He’d walked back and seen Tony, covered in blood and making glib comments. Relief rushed over him and was quickly followed by shame. He was more relieved that Tony wasn’t shot than that Ziva wasn’t dead. He cared for his team very deeply, all of his team, but he needed Tony to be okay. And he realized that he’d been wrong, he wanted Tony; it wasn’t a decision to be made. Now that it was a possibility there was no way Gibbs could pass up having Tony as his.
So when he got home he showered and changed into jeans and a sweatshirt. He worked on the boat until he heard the front door open. Wiping off his hands he headed towards the kitchen and walked in just behind Tony. Just having him in the room made the relief come back and now, with the stress gone Gibbs felt his desire. He wanted to touch Tony, to assure himself that Tony was there and fine, wanted to take him up to bed.“Coffee?”
Tony turned around and smiled, “I’m okay actually, pretty caffeinated from the hospital.”
“How’s Ziva?” asked Gibbs, still close.
“It barely broke her concentration… but she’ll be in the hospital for a while. She needs a lot of downtime.”
“I’m fine. My suit, Prada, is ruined but I’m fine.” Tony seemed nervous with Gibbs so close. “How’d it go with Ryan Morris?”
“Closed the case,” Gibbs pushed Tony up against the wall, “You’re not allowed to get shot.”
“I know, unnumbered rule number six: it’s not acceptable to die,” Tony nodded looking worried that he was in trouble. He hung his head. “I know, boss.”
“No,” Gibbs tilted Tony’s head up to look him in the eye. He ground his hips into Tony’s, “You are not allowed to get shot. You got me, Tony?” Tony’s eyes were round and he didn’t speak, just nodded. Gibbs leaned up and kissed him, harshly. “Good. Come to bed?” Tony nodded again. Gibbs started to pull Tony towards the stairs.
Then Tony stopped resolutely, “This isn’t a bigger thank you, right? Like the next level of pizza? Like, ‘Thank you for not letting Ziva die,’ right?” He was studying Gibbs’ face.
Gibbs chuckled, “If it’s a thank you then it’s a thank you for not dying before I could have my chance.” He kissed Tony again, slower and gentler. “Do you want this?”
Tony nodded, “Yeah, I do. Okay.” He nodded again and started up the stairs. He reached for Gibbs and took his hand.
Tony still looked nervous and Gibbs knew the exact words to shortcut Tony’s mind, “I want you to fuck me.” And Tony melted and smiled, stupid and happy. And Gibbs felt a little guilty for not addressing Tony’s actual worries but there would be time later. Right now he was just going to push all the right buttons. He kissed the back of Tony’s neck as he herded him up to the bedroom, “Will you, Tony, please?”
By the time Gibbs got Tony into his bedroom Tony was stripping Gibbs of his sweatshirt and touching the exposed skin like it was a reward. He kissed along Gibbs’ shoulders. “God, Gibbs.”
“Don’t call me that in the bedroom.”
“Yes, sir,” said Tony jokingly and bit lightly at the place between Gibbs’ neck and shoulders.
“I’m never sir,” he replied and slipped his hands under Tony’s sweater. “Arms up,” he ordered and Tony obeyed him instantly breaking off the kissing. And once they’re both naked from the waist up Tony moved to have all of his skin against Gibbs and rubbed small circles into his back. “You’re gorgeous,” he said, stroking Tony’s hips. “Want all of it,” he attacked Tony’s belt buckle but it was complicated. “Stupid thing. Who thought this up?”
“Hugo Boss.” Tony said as he unbuckled it himself before attacking Gibbs’ jeans. “And if I’d known what was on the agenda I would have worn things with easy access.”
“Easy access is always better,” Gibbs said softly. He pushed their pants down together. Tony did a sort of jig to get his socks off and then Gibbs allowed himself to fall back onto the bed, pulling Tony on top of him. He canted his hips upwards and said, “You feel so good.”
Tony pushed him down into the mattress and kissed up to his ear, “I know I do. And it’s only going to get better.” His hands roamed all over Gibbs’ body. “Lube and condoms?” asked Tony, stroking him firmly.
And it was amazing but odd. Because while Tony made him feel excellent, fucking him open with fingers and tongue, it was cold. Tony never said his name even as he made filthy comments and gave him dirty compliments. Tony never looked him in the eye, didn’t kiss his mouth. It all seemed practiced, and while Tony did have a lot of practice Gibbs hadn’t expected Tony to be systematic, it felt like Tony was acting by rote. But there was something else too: Tony touched him with something akin to reverence. It was at odds with his detached manner. Afterwards, Tony rolled off of him and said, “Go to sleep, Gibbs.”
“Jethro,” he corrected.
“Sure, go to sleep. It’s been a really long day.”
He wanted to try and figure it out but it had been a really long, rough day and, all fucked out, Gibbs passed out quickly.
Once Gibbs was snoring Tony carefully, slowly, quietly got out of bed. He collected his clothes up and went downstairs to dress and then he quietly left the house and walked to his new car. Tony thought if Gibbs had been awake he would have been proud of how quiet Tony was. The training had paid off. He drove home, showered, and put on T2. He sunk into the mythology and sat on his couch.
It’s a thank you for not dying before I could have my chance.
He might as well have called him the village bicycle, might as well have said, “Before I could have my crack at you.” And while Tony usually didn’t mind being called a slut, didn’t care about one night stands, it was kind of fucked up coming from Gibbs. More fucked up was the fact that he took it. But Tony had wanted it so bad so he’d said yes but he couldn’t do it right, couldn’t act on anything but autopilot because otherwise it would have been too much. He’d wanted it to be so good and slow and awesome. But that’s not what near-death-experience-sex was supposed to be. Near-death-experience-sex was supposed to be hard and fast and dirty. So Tony had played his role and left.
He hadn’t been able to stay, didn’t want Gibbs to kick him out in the morning, didn’t want to have to say, “Thank you, I had a nice time.” Because all of that would have made it worse. And a one nightstand with his boss who he was also in love with had been a really terrible idea. But hey, if crack lit itself, held itself up to an addict’s mouth, and said, “I want you to inhale me,” no one would blame the addict for doing it.
T2 was awesome. Sarah always came back for John, always wanted to be with him even when she was in the loony bin. Tony had always thought of it as being the real meaning of family. She loved him, protected him, and taught him what he needed for the future, y’know: weaponry. He used to watch it in college when he felt like he needed a hug after a bad test or a bad game, when he felt he needed a mother. It made him happy because his own mom had never filled that need but Sarah did, it was nice and relaxing.
And he needed to relax because in the back of his mind he was screaming, loudly and continually, the mindless screaming only paused when his mind turned to shouting at him for being an idiot. Idiot. And as Sarah said that if a Terminator could learn the value of human life then maybe humans could too the credits started to roll and Tony turned off the TV. He climbed into his bed and hugged his pillow to his chest, falling asleep quickly because it was too late in the night to worry anymore.
Banging woke him up. It was Mr. Carter from downstairs. Tony grabbed his notepad and opened it to the page that read, “You forgot to charge your hearing aids. The world hasn’t gone silent. Would you like a cup of coffee?” The words were written in big letters because Mr. Carter’s eyes were pretty bad. He wasn’t sure why Mr. Carter knocked. If the world had gone silent knocking, no matter how loudly, wasn’t going to help him. This happened about once a month. He shrugged into his robe and went to the front door holding his note in front of him and had a smile on his face until he opened the door.
Gibbs read the note and said, “I don’t wear hearing aids. But I’d never turn down coffee.”
Tony stepped away from the door, “I’ll turn on the pot. But I warn you now, it’s hazelnut flavored.” He stretched as he walked away.
“You left before I woke up,” said Gibbs following him into the kitchen.
Tony kept his back to Gibbs while he set up the coffee machine. “I thought we could avoid the awkward morning after conversation where we decide it was a onetime thing, and not a mistake per se but not something that should be repeated or talked about, and that we should really just go back to the way things were, and that rule number twelve is a good rule. I figured we could skip it and just assume all that.” Then he turned and smiled as brightly as he could manage as he pushed himself up onto the counter, “So we’re good. Don’t worry. Sorry about my terrible taste in coffee. Just be glad it’s not next week because I’m about to break out the autumn pumpkin flavored stuff.”
Suddenly Gibbs was in his space; he had a hand on either side of Tony on the counter and was leaning into Tony’s face. Tony was scared for a second that he was about to be shouted at but then Gibbs leaned in and kissed him slowly, “Don’t assume any of those things. I expected to wake up, cook you breakfast, ask you for your rules about dating someone on the team, and then maybe go for a run with you. Last night was supposed to be my grand gesture, not a onetime thing, not a mistake at all, should definitely be repeated, and rule number twelve seems to have a serious flaw.” He kissed Tony slowly again. “How does that sound?”
And for the first time since before his car blew up Tony felt relaxed and happy even through his confusion and disbelief, “Really good… why am I making these rules?”
“I make the rules at work. I function better with rules, clarity.” Gibbs smiled against his mouth, “It also makes intentions easier to read. If we’d had rules I wouldn’t have woken up alone. Rules?”
Tony laughed, “Okay… Rule one: rule number twelve is good. I’m not dating a team member. You are not my boss here and I am not your boyfriend there. They are separate lives. While NCIS doesn’t have rules about agents dating they do have a problem with favoritism and we both like the team way too much to get it separated. And with that in mind I think you should tell Vance and make it clear that while we’re seeing one another you aren’t sleeping with your subordinate and I’m not banging my boss. And anything we say to one another outside of work does not pertain to the other relationship. For instance, when I help you get your boat out of the basement I won’t tell anyone the secret.”
“Rule two is a sort of a sub clause of rule one. If I drink all the milk before you get up and you don’t have any for cereal you can be as pissed as you like but you can’t make me gas the truck, or slap my head, or anything like that at work. If I make you mad as a boyfriend you can’t hold it against me as my boss. And if I mess up with a witness you can ban me from interrogation but not your basement. It’ll be difficult to keep both sets of emotion separate but if we don’t I think we’ll end up tearing each other to pieces because we can both be mean. I think it would snowball to a point of mutual injury to our careers, and our personal lives, and possibly to our bodies.
“Rule three: if we are pissed at each other for personal things we don’t sleep together. Even if it’s only one of us who is angry we don’t sleep together. It leads to violent sex, more hurt feelings, and waking up mad the person next to you. Whereas if you sleep alone you get a better night’s sleep and wake up usually missing the other persons’ presence.
“Rule four is honesty. It’s not always the best policy but on big things it’s needed. Like when I say something that pisses you off you need to tell me. I know you don’t like talking about stuff like feelings… or talking much really which is usually fine, I don’t mind. But you need to tell me when I’m really pissing you off. Because I don’t mean to and if you told me why then I wouldn’t say things that make you angry and you wouldn’t need to break perfectly good pieces of wood to avoid punching me in the face.”
“Can I interrupt?” asked Gibbs.
“I think I’m done, actually, for the minute. I have the right to add to them, ‘cause you add rules as you see fit.”
“They’re good rules. The things you say that piss me off don’t make me angry at you. When you talk about your childhood I want to hurt your parents because they treated you so poorly. While you act like you know that what they did was wrong you don’t seem to realize how wrong it was. I’m not angry at you and you shouldn’t avoid talking about it. I like the stories that come with every movie. While we’re on the topic of honesty, I’ve known about ‘the plan’ since we went out with your frat brothers. I was deciding what to do about it and then I thought you got shot. I realized that thinking was stupid because I like your plan and even though you weren’t going to see it through to ‘the endgame’ I was.”
“Oh God,” Tony could feel his blush, “you knew? You knew and you didn’t say anything?”
“Nope, not until I decided what to do. Once I knew that it was not just an option but that you wanted me for nine years I needed to think because I didn’t want to hurt you; you’re too important.”
Tony nodded and said, “I left last night because I didn’t want to stay after a one night stand, I didn’t want to be your one night stand at all. I came home, showered, and watched T2.”
Gibbs cupped his face and said, “You aren’t a one night stand.” Tony leaned forward and kissed him and it was the first time he had initiated it and in that moment Gibbs became Jethro in his mind and then he yawned into Jethro’s mouth.
“Sorry, I didn’t sleep much last night.” He glanced at the clock on the microwave. “Jethro?” Gibbs made a noise to show he was listening. “It’s five thirty on a Saturday morning when we’re not on duty.”
“I woke up and you weren’t there. I don’t sit around when I see a problem.”
Tony laughed and pushed himself off the counter, “I’ve been asleep less than four hours. I’m going back to bed.” He wasn’t sure what Gibbs would do but Tony felt him moving behind him, following. “To sleep,” he added.
“I know,” Gibbs said, “I’m gonna sleep too. It’s early.” Gibbs leaned in and kissed the back of Tony’s neck. And Tony leaned back into it. “Sleep,” Gibbs repeated.
“I could be persuaded not to sleep.” Tony shrugged out of his robe.
Gibbs chuckled, “No, we’re sleeping.” He started to strip, and once he was naked he slid into Tony’s bed. Tony watched him hungrily. “God, your sheets are comfortable.”
“One thousand thread count Egyptian cotton.”
“I thought you spent more money on your car than your bed.”
“I like my creature comforts.” Tony took off his tee-shirt and boxers and climbed in, lying close to Gibbs who instantly pulled him to be half on top of him.
“Good?” asked Gibbs.
“Yeah, it’s fantastic,” Tony rested his cheek against Gibbs’ clavicle. “Goodnight, Jethro.”
“Good morning, Tony.”
And then the next thing Tony knew the alarm clock was telling him that it was nine thirty by blasting Journey. He sat up slowly and smelled the scent of cooking. He pulled on a pair of sweats that were next to the bed, he stumbled into the bathroom to brush his teeth and gargle before going out to the kitchen. “You’re up and cooking,” he observed.
“I told you I wanted to cook your breakfast.” Gibbs kept his back to him tending the stove. He was wearing a pair of Ohio State sweats and a thin tee-shirt which both belonged to Tony. And Tony went to him and kissed his neck.
“None of the rules are about cooking.”
“Doesn’t mean I can’t do it. I owe you an apology for last night, for not being clearer and making you think that you needed to leave and could only have a comfort movie.”
“An apology?” Tony said, feeling his eye widen.
“Personal relationships shouldn’t have a power balance. Weakness doesn’t come into it.” He turned, “Is that going to be a problem?”
“Why would it be a problem?”
“Because your plan was to get Gibbs. And I don’t usually apologize.”
“I like all your facets. Even the ones I don’t know about yet.” Tony leaned in and kissed him. “Minty.”
“Hope you don’t mind that I used your toothbrush.”
“Why would that bother me? I know where your tongue’s been.” He grabbed plates and started dishing up the food. “I love eggs.”
“I know.” Gibbs took a sip of coffee and grimaced. “This is truly disgusting.”
Pouring himself a cup of the delicious concoction he said, “Sorry about that. I’ll get some tar for next time.”
“Thanks.” They sat down and began to eat. “So you going to text Abby and tell her to send out one last progress report?”
Tony smiled slowly, “You really know everything, don’t you?”
“Quiet shoes, sharp hearing, and investigative skills.”
Nodding Gibbs said, “That’s one of my skills. That’s how I always manage to catch you when you’re saying something inappropriate.”
“Do you want me to tell Abby?”
“I think your frat brothers would be angry if they found out that they hadn’t been promptly informed plus Abby’s been listening to you for ages.” Tony laughed. “I don’t mind. Although I don’t think we should tell the team just yet: Ziva and McGee. Not for a while.”
“I agree,” Tony nodded. “I was thinking: we don’t tell them. Vance will check in with them in a couple of months to ask about favoritism. Then we can watch them squirm while they decide whether or not to tell us they know. It’s pretty funny.”
Gibbs chuckled. “That does sound fun. You always keep things light.”
“We deal with dead bodies and grieving people all the time, if we never laughed we’d all be suicidal. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take it seriously-”
“I know what you mean, and I agree. But the boss isn’t allowed to join in, then we’d never get work done… and what I just said falls under rule one.” Tony laughed, happily and easily. “So what’s on the agenda for the day?”
“Bringing Ziva a few cold cases and paperwork sometime and bowling with the nuns tonight.”
“Wasn’t that last week?”
“We’re into the championships, bowling every Saturday for the next month. We’re hoping to place in the top three.”
“Good for you.”
“Do you want to come? I mean, you don’t have to or anything. It’s sort of fun to watch women in habits bowling.”
“I’ve only been bowling once. Kelly’s friend had a bowling party for her seventh birthday.”
“We don’t have gutter bumpers; it would be a lot less stressful if we did.”
“You don’t have to, don’t feel obliged.”
“No, I’d like to. Could be fun, I’ve never met the nuns.”
“They’re awesome, a little bit too Catholic but that can’t be avoided. They pray for strikes.”
“Nothing else for today?” Tony shook his head and ate his toast, having finished his eggs. “So we can go back to bed?”
Smiling Tony said, “Sure.” His cell phone was on the table and he reached for it, “I’m gonna text Abby now so that she’s a little over the excitement by the time we see her.” Gibbs took his plate and Tony said, “Just throw ‘em in the sink. Dishes should be ignored on Saturday.”
Gibbs leaned over his shoulder, “What is ‘FTW’ and how will Abby understand that?”
“For the win, she’ll get it.” He hit send and before he could even put it down it beeped and Tony said, “See? She wrote ‘OMG’ followed by three exclamation points. She gets it.”
“How does that show she gets it?”
Tony, put down the phone, stood, and pushed Gibbs back against the fridge. “Do you want to talk about texting or do you want to go back to bed? And before you say anything, you should know that there is only one right answer. And last night I totally phoned it in.”
Gibbs smiled and sort of pushed him back towards the bedroom. “Prove it.”
They stripped each other and Tony pushed Gibbs back onto the bed. “Didn’t expect you to like it this way, me on top.”
“I don’t usually. Last night was supposed to be a grand gesture but now, I want to do it right.” Tony laughed and pushed Gibbs flat. “See, this feels good.”
Tony kissed him, demandingly. He stroked his face and said, “God, Jethro. I’m gonna take my time. Wanted this.” He refused to rush, now that time was his to take. He kissed Gibbs, deep and slow, getting to know his mouth and taste. This time he let himself relax, not think, just act and feel and enjoy it. Right now he just wanted to make out because Gibbs had a great mouth. He ground his pelvic into Gibbs but didn’t push it farther than that. This was going to last. He stroked Gibbs’ nipples and Gibbs jolted up against him but Tony didn’t give him any respite. “Wanna drive you crazy, make you lose it, wanna make you writhe. Love it when you lose your cool, even when you shout at me. Such a turn on, makes me fucking wild. So hot, Jethro.” Then he played his fingers over Gibbs’ ribs and Gibbs jumped up, “Ticklish, good to know.”
“Don’t you dare.”
“I do dare, gonna keep daring.” Gibbs laughed and Tony moved to swallow the noise. He cupped his cheek and said, “And I’m not giving you any warning, it’ll be way more fun that way.” He fucked his tongue into Gibbs’ mouth and Gibbs reached to hold his head, running his hands through Tony’s hair. Gibbs just held him there, kissing back, then his slid a hand down to squeeze Tony’s ass. He moved his hips in circles as he pulled Tony down against him. “You’re cheating.”
“I’m fine with that. I can tease with the best of them.”
“It’s not teasing when you’re aiming to get me to speed up.” He licked the shell of Gibbs’ ear.
“Is it working?” asked Gibbs.
“Fuck yeah, you know I’m easy when it comes to you.” He rested his forehead against Gibbs’. “Want to please you.”
“You always do.”
Tony laughed and reached over to the bedside to find the lube and condoms. “Your compliments set me on fire and I want you so bad all the time.” He was gentle as he pushed Gibbs’ legs apart, mindful of his knees. He slid a slippery finger inside and groaned “God, you feel good.” He crooked his finger and Gibbs tensed.
He rubbed over Gibbs’ prostate again and again and loved the way Gibbs moved with him, rocked into him. Beyond words he just kissed Gibbs, over and over again and stretched him slowly adding a second finger. Gibbs wrapped a leg around his waist and pulled him closer. “Cheating,” he said again. He bit Gibbs’ lower lip, “Want you.”
“Damn straight, DiNozzo.” Gibbs’ words trailed off into a moan as Tony added a third finger. And Tony couldn’t help but laugh. “Now, Tony, I’m good.”
“I know, doesn’t mean I can’t take my time and enjoy it. You feel so good, clamped down around my fingers.” He fucked Gibbs with his fingers and Gibbs moved with him, so in tune. It was like when they were in the field, moving with each other without conscious thought. “God, I need you.” He reached for a condom and more lube, “So good.” He pushed inside and stilled. He pulled Gibbs down for a kiss but couldn’t reach his mouth from the angle. He pushed in further to try and be able to kiss, but had to settle for Gibbs’ jaw. “Feel so good. You good?”
“Yeah,” Gibbs panted, “just move.”
“You say such sweet things, Jethro.” Tony sucked at Gibbs’ neck, not hard enough to leave a bruise but not exactly gently. After that Tony didn’t think much, just enjoyed it. He knew when he’d hit Gibbs’ prostate because he tightened all around Tony. And that was when he tickled Gibbs’ ribs. Gibbs surged against him and then groaned at the effect. “See? I’m great when I dare.”
Gibbs chuckled, and craned his head down to kiss Tony full on the mouth. “Don’t push it.”
It was such a Gibbs thing to say but so out of place in bed that Tony laughed even as he kept moving. He tickled Gibbs again and again he jumped and groaned. “I’m going to keep pushing it until you slap me down. You like it when I push; you like slapping me down. I like it too. I like proof that I can get under your skin.” Gibbs held him close with a hand on the small of his back and used his free hand to run his fingers through Tony’s hair.
Tony stroked Gibbs hard, dropping his forehead against Gibbs’ sternum. Moving faster Tony could feel the end coming and it was too soon. As Tony kissed along his clavicle Gibbs said, “So close.”
“‘S‘okay, ‘s‘okay. There always later.” And then it was all fast, hard, almost mindless. But it felt so good and unlike the night before Tony allowed himself to feel it all. Gibbs came and tightened around him. “Fuck, Jethro, so good.” After a few more thrusts he came and collapsed onto Gibbs’ chest and as he did he leaned in and whispered, “Ohrah.” Which made Gibbs chuckle again and Tony liked the way the vibrations moved through his chest. He slid out slowly and removed the condom, dropping it in the small trash can next to his bed. Glancing at the clock he realized they’d been in bed for over an hour and a half. Time flies. “It’s past noon.”
“Did you tell Ziva a definite time?” Gibbs asked, stroking Tony’s back.
“Good, pick a movie.”
Tony laughed, “You want to lie in bed and watch a film? You don’t have to do that anymore. I mean, the movies were a great excuse to be together but you don’t have to watch any more films.”
“Don’t really watch the film. I watch you.”
“I’m a trained detective: I know you’re watching me. But you don’t need the film as cover.”
“I like watching you while you watch films: you’re quiet.”
“Ha ha,” said Tony without a laugh but without anger as well.
“Go get a movie.”
“Okay, The Maltese Falcon. It’s a mystery about this PI who has to investigate his partner’s death.”
“A little close to home.”
“I watch it anytime someone on the team gets shot, tradition. Film-Noir with Humphrey Bogart doing his best Special Agent Gibbs impersonation.”
“Wouldn’t it be me doing the impersonation?”
“No, all the Noir heroes were doing impersonations of you, they just didn’t know it.” Tony slid out of bed and went to the wall where the shelves were lined with DVDs not books. He went to the Noir section and found the film quickly as they were organized by name. He put it on and climbed back into bed. He was sticky with sweat and Gibbs’ come was drying on his stomach but he didn’t care he wanted to relax and laze about. Gibbs pulled him so that Tony’s back was to his chest, “You can’t watch me from this angle.”
“I can feel you.”
“Say things like that and we’re never going to see the film.” Gibbs rested his hand on Tony’s abdomen and held him there as he kissed Tony’s neck.
“Be good, be still.” He rubbed small circles into Tony’s stomach.
“Not fair, Jethro, not fair.”
“That wasn’t in the rules, nothing about fairness. Do you want to add a rule?” his voice was teasing.
“No, I’ll just try to be still so it doesn’t stop.”
“Relax,” ordered Gibbs. “Watch your movie. I’m not going anywhere.”
And Tony started to relax into the touch as he hoped that Gibbs would move his hand lower as a reward. Instead Gibbs just kept rubbing his stomach gently. As time passed Tony realized that Gibbs wasn’t going to do anything else. Knowing that actually made him relax more, it wasn’t meant to be a turn on, even though it was. It was just intimacy, not leading anywhere. Tony liked the feeling of comfort it gave him; he liked the fact that it wouldn’t go anywhere; it was a new experience. He allowed himself to focus on the movie and Gibbs broke the silence asking softly, “So he was having an affair with his partner’s wife? Why is his assistant doing everything he says?”
“Spade is a good man,” said Tony as Gibbs kissed his neck softly. “You’re really watching aren’t you?”
“Kind of,” He chuckled as he said it. His breathe tickled Tony’s ear. Tony wriggled back against Gibbs. “No, relax.”
“Nope.” He pulled Tony more firmly against him but just kept gently stroking his stomach. “I like this film.” And that warmed Tony because he liked it too. So he went still, allowing Gibbs to watch but every once in a while he had to speak along with the film because he couldn’t not. Every time he did Gibbs would gently kiss his neck, not to silence him but to show he didn’t mind.
Tony hadn’t watched a movie this way in years. Not since home, and Maria, and childhood. One of the staff would usually sit with him, curled up, and quiet, and letting Tony enjoy it. Abby couldn’t be quiet for the length of a film, Ziva needed to ask questions, McGee mocked, Ducky monologued, and none of his multitudes of flings had let him finish a film, always jumping him before it got really good. Now Gibbs held him close and silent and let the film play out. Tony felt himself sink into the mattress. He never liked being with someone after sex. Usually he went back to their place because it made it easier: he didn’t have to ask anyone to get out of his bed, he just left. But this was comfortable and Tony didn’t want to get out of bed. In fact he wanted to blow off Ziva, Abby, and the nuns and stay there for the rest of the day.
The next thing he knew Gibbs said, “Huh, weird ending.”
Tony breathed in, “I missed it?” He looked at the screen and saw it was back to the menu. “I missed the last lines. I love the last lines. I love that at the end the true secret is still mostly a secret. That the cop doesn’t get it.”
“You were out for a long time.”
“Last thing I remember was Brigid calling Cairo gay and him saying she was a slut.”
“Like I said, a long time.”
“I take it as a compliment that I can tire you out to the point where you can’t stay awake for a good movie.”
Tony asked, “Shower?”
“Separately. Going to the office, separately. Visiting Ziva, separately. And meeting up for bowling.”
“We agreed to keep this quiet for a while.”
“Quiet doesn’t mean you can’t stay for a shower.”
“No, it doesn’t. But if we get in that shower together we’re never going to get to Bethesda.”
“Right, as always.” He sighed, rolled over and kissed Gibbs, “Sorry I fell asleep.”
“I didn’t mind. What time’s the game?”
“Technically when it’s a competition it’s a match. It starts at seven but we meet up for dinner and to warm up at six.”
“Okay, I’ll be there.” He kissed Tony and got out of bed, starting to dress.
“There’s nothing I can do to convince you to stay?”
“No,” Gibbs shook his head buttoning his shirt.
Tony kneeled up on the bed and kissed his mouth, “Had to check. Let yourself out?”
Gibbs pulled on his shoes, gave Tony a small smile, and left.
Tony rose and went into the bathroom. He showered slowly washing off sweat, and come, and spit. The water sliced over his skin, hot and nice. And as he washed his hair he heard a voice in his head that sounded like Daniel, “What the fuck are you doing, Ramen?” He sighed, “I don’t know. I really don’t.” Daniel said, “This is only going to end badly. He throws people over when he’s done.” Tony shook his head, washing out the shampoo, “Shut up, Dan, always trying to shrink my fucking head. Stay out of it.” He heard his phone ring in the kitchen and quickly put in his conditioner and turned off the water he ran and picked it up saying, “I have three minutes before I need to rinse out my conditioner: talk fast.”
“Tony!” Abby shouted into her phone.
“Turn it down from eleven, Abs.”
“I’m so happy!”
“Thanks, Abby. Why did you wait so long to call?”
“Well, I figured you and Gibbs both have a lot to do today so he’s probably not with you anymore so you can talk freely. What happened? Was it good? Are you guys good?”
“He’s coming bowling tonight. That answers all the questions.”
“Details? Please, please, please, Tony.”
“No, I don’t kiss and tell.”
“It’s Gibbs, okay? Abby, I don’t want to gossip about him. I want to savor it.”
“Awww, that’s so cute.”
“Shut up, Abby,” he said without heat.
“Tony, I’m really, really happy for you. Can I write to your brothers?”
“Yes, and tell Dan to stop lecturing me.”
“You spoke to Dan?”
“He’s in my head.”
“Dan would say that a manifestation of a psychiatrist in your head shows that you should talk to someone about whatever’s worrying you. I could listen.”
“Your three minutes are up. See you at six.” She started to say something else but he just hung up and went back to his shower.
Gibbs arrived at Ziva’s room he saw Tony by her bedside. “No, Ziva, seriously,” Tony was saying. “It’ll be good for you.”
“Tony, you have never been serious for a minute of your life.”
“Knitting is good for dexterity, it’s something to do, and you can’t clean your knife collection in the hospital.”
“I’m not knitting, Tony.”
“You would be good at it,” Tony argued.
“I do not care.”
“Consider it training,” said Gibbs walking in, “it might be useful for undercover at some point. And it’s a way to avoid killing the nurses.”
“Well you can always just work on the cold cases I brought you, or go on your computer; I’ve done my best, Ziva. It’s a great diversion. Meanwhile, I have to go get groceries and get in the zone before bowling. ” He patted her leg, “You call me if you need anything. I’m bringing an extra pair of bowling shoes just in case someone turns up.”
She laughed, “There is no way I’m getting out of here tonight.”
Tony smiled easily, “Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.” He leaned forward and kissed her forehead.
Once Tony was gone Gibbs filled out all the paperwork with Ziva and gave her his standard lecture about getting shot. After that he just kept her company, silently flicking through the cold cases Tony had brought. He glanced at his watch and realized he’d better get going. By the time he arrived at the bowling alley Tony, Abby, and the nuns were already there, warming up. Tony called, “Hey, boss.” Tony was wearing tight, tight, dark jeans and a thin tee-shirt that Gibbs could see his shoulders through. Abby was wearing her poodle skirt getup. Gibbs waved and went towards the bar at the back of the room. He asked for a beer and as the barman was pouring it a guy made a beeline towards Gibbs.
“Hey,” said the guy.
“Hey,” said Gibbs.
“You’re Tony and Abby’s boss? I’ve heard them mention you before.”
Gibbs just nodded, gauging the stranger. He was nervous as hell and watching Tony and Abby out of the corner of his eye. “Yep,” said Gibbs noncommittally as he wasn’t quite sure what this man thought their job was. The barman handed him his beer and he took a sip.
“So how much would it cost to get them both for the night?”
“Well, what do you want them for?”
“Oh,” Gibbs laughed, “see, aside from being hookers they also do a magic show for kids’ birthday parties. Well, how much do ya got?” The barman was paying attention covertly.
The guy pulled out his wallet, “Four hundred dollars.”
“That’s a lot of money to just be carrying around.”
“I always hoped you’d turn up one of these nights.”
“Why wait for the pimp? You could have made the deal with them.”
“They both sort of intimidate me.”
Gibbs chuckled, “I’ve never been called approachable before.”
“They’re just such a couple, that’s intimidating.”
Gibbs held out his hand, “Four hundred will cover it.” The man handed it to him and Gibbs slid it into his back pocket, covertly unhooking his handcuffs from his belt loop and as he turned back to the guy he put a hand on his back and forced him chest down on the bar, snapping on the cuffs quickly. “My name is Special Agent Gibbs. Those people are Special Agent DiNozzo and Ms. Sciuto. She is the forensics expert for the federal agent NCIS. You are under arrest for solicitation.” He started to read the man his Miranda rights.
He felt Tony come towards him, “Jethro, are you arresting him?”
Gibbs nodded, still giving the man his rights. Once he was finished he said, “He tried to hire you and Abby for the night.”
“Like, to solve a crime?”
“Nope, as pros.”
Tony sniffed, “He’s out of our jurisdiction. Want me to call Metro?”
“That would be great yeah.”
Tony pulled out his phone and had a quick conversation with a dispatcher finishing by saying, “Tell ‘em to turn off the sirens. This is a nice bowling alley and we already have the guy in cuffs. We’d rather not call attention to this.” He hung up and said, “We’ve got over an hour until the match. So we’ll keep warming up. Once you’re ready, we’ll get some dinner and you can meet the nuns.” He leaned down to look the guy in the eye. “Next time you should make sure the pimp isn’t a fed.” Turning back to Gibbs he said, “So how much did you sell me for?”
“Two hundred bucks, another two hundred for Abby.”
“I’m hurt: I’m worth way more than that, Jethro.”
“Yes you are. But he only had four hundred on him so I wasn’t going to haggle. Go play. I can handle this. Have some fun, Tony.”
“If you don’t get to join us before the match, you and I can play afterwards. I’ll teach you the game. It’ll be really fun.” He leaned in and squeezed Gibbs’ arm. “See you in a bit.” He headed back to the lane calling, “Abs, the dude thought we were hookers.”
“Did Gibbs at least sell us for a lot?”
“No bargain-basement closeout. We should be insulted.”
Gibbs watched them bowl still holding the guy, “What’s your name?”
“Good to know. You’re ruining my night, Mr. Lee. I’m supposed to be bowling and meeting the nuns and instead I’m arresting you.” He shook his head. “Not good, Mr. Lee.”
A few LEOs walked in and Gibbs reclaimed his cuffs as they took Lee into custody. He gave them his statement and the four hundred dollars. The barmen backed him up, adding that Lee had hung around a lot and that he always thought that Lee was just a harmless pervert who liked watching nuns bowl. The LEOs told Gibbs there was going be paperwork to fill out and a court appearance and Gibbs rolled his eyes, “When isn’t there? Just send it over.” Then he took his beer and headed towards the lane.
But before he got there Abby said, “No, Gibbs, you can’t cross the blue line without shoes. Let’s have dinner before you change your shoes.”
They sat down at a table and introductions were made, Gibbs matched name to faces. Tony said, “Chili dogs are great, cheese burgers are good, I’d give the bacon a pass.”
“Good to know.”
Under the table Abby squeezed his leg. She leaned in close and whispered, “I’m really happy you’re here.” He gave her a small smile and asked about their chances in the competition.
Sister Rosita nodded towards other nuns who were warming up and said, “Usually it’s just fun but we don’t like the Sister of Perpetual Faith.” Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “They do not respect all walks of life which we do not believe is very Christian of them.”
“So we’re going to beat pants off them; like we always do,” said Abby. “It’s good clean fun.”
The conversation continued on happily and Gibbs didn’t need to join in much and the food was good. And afterwards they had a few minutes before the match was to begin and Tony said, “Come on. I’m going to teach you the basics.”
Gibbs rolled his eyes but followed Tony down to a bench where Tony handed him a pair of hideous black and red shoes. “Do I really have to wear these?”
Tony pulled out another of even uglier green and red shoes, “You could wear these instead. Mine are vintage and need a bit of a knack.”
“No, I’m fine. Whose are these?”
“My brother Dan. His wife doesn’t like it much so he only bowls when visiting me.” Tony told him all about the game and Gibbs watched as Tony bowled a strike. “Wanna give it a try?”
Gibbs picked up the ball, followed Tony’s example, and bowled a perfect strike. “Oh my god, Gibbs!” Abby jumped on him as she hugged him, “That was totally awesome. How did you do that first time?”
“I’m a fast learner, Abs.”
They all played together for a few minutes before Tony said, “Okay, it’s show time.”
“I’ll get a beer and watch from up there. Don’t want to get in your way.” He squeezed Tony’s arm as he passed. “Good luck.”
“Luck’s got nothing to do with it, Jethro,” Tony smiled, wide and easy the way he always did when he was happy.
When was the shit going to hit the fan? Tony had to be pissed at him for arresting someone on the first date. Gibbs was pretty sure this was a date although it hadn’t been said aloud. But maybe Tony was just being cool until they weren’t in public, which was possible. Tony was a great actor, made him good at undercover work. Gibbs ordered another beer and watched the alley, well, watched Tony’s ass. He was hot as hell and laughing. Gibbs studied him and nursed his beer.
The bartender said, “I’m glad you were here to take care of that guy. I didn’t like him but you can’t deny someone service just because he creeps you out and leers at nuns. I didn’t know that he was after Tony and Abs.”
“You know them well?”
“Known Abby a long time now. She and I have a deal going for the lanes. She got the nun bowling league started. Nice girl, and Tony well he’s fun. I’m making you some mozzarella sticks on the house, a thank you.”
“You don’t owe me a thank you. I was just doing my job.”
“Off duty, on a Saturday. I can say thank you if I like.”
“Well, I never turn down free food.” He watched as his team trounced the other nuns. “They always win?”
“No, sometimes they let other people beat them. Anyway, I’ll let you enjoy the match.”
Gibbs did enjoy it, liked watching Tony move and the excitement he had. It was easy to get invested in the game when he was watching two of his favorite people having so much fun. The mozzarella sticks came and Gibbs ate them while still paying attention. As the game ended Abby bound over to him before Tony, “Did you like watching?” she asked. “Or were you just watching Tony’s ass?”
“Liked doing both. Congratulations on your win.”
“It’s mostly about the game for me. You should come say goodnight to the nuns. They’re going to go.”
Gibbs made his goodbyes to the nuns and Tony leaned into him and said, “Wanna play another game?”
“I’d rather go home with you,” replied Gibbs softly and Tony smiled at him. So maybe Gibbs wasn’t in trouble.
“Sounds good. Which home?”
“Yours has movies, groceries, and a really comfy bed.”
“And Coltrane and Sinatra if you wanna dance. I’ll even let you lead.”
“I’ll take a pass for tonight.”
Tony smiled dirtily at him, “Okay. Sounds good. Abs,” he said more loudly to get her attention, “we’re gonna call it a night. We’ll see you on Monday.”
She hugged them both and said, “Gibbs, I’m so glad you came.”
“Me too,” he said hugging her back.
He drove back to Tony’s apartment, following Tony’s car and parked next to him in the lot. Tony led him up the stairs and Gibbs knew that the sway of Tony’s hips was being put on for his benefit. As he shut the door to Tony’s apartment he found himself being pushed up against the door and being kissed hard and demanding, “See, now that I can do this, being around the nuns was torture. God, want you.” Tony ground against him.
“Thought I’d be in trouble,” he said between kisses.
“Why would you be in trouble?”
“Arresting someone on the first date.”
“I’m not sure bowling with nuns in a date. Might be offended if you did it on a Friday in the basement: those are secret dates. But, even if it was a Friday, you can’t not arrest someone doing something illegal. I can’t be angry at you for that. Do you want to talk about this or get naked? Because I think we’re both turned on. I like winning, you like arresting people, and you’ve been staring at my ass all night long.” He reached to hold Gibbs’s face. “Come to bed.”
Gibbs nodded and allowed Tony to pull him into the bedroom. Tony unbuttoned Gibbs’ shirt and kissed up his neck. “You shouldn’t wear so many buttons. I’m not wearing a complicated belt.”
Gibbs unbuckled the simple belt and reached into Tony’s pants. “This what you want?”
“Whatever you want. It’s all good. Want your skin on mine. Everything else is a bonus.”
Tony’s jeans were tight on his thighs but Gibbs managed to get him out of them, “You wear these jeans to tease me?”
“No. I like to be confident while bowling. Like to look like sex on legs to intimidate people. I went commando for you.” Gibbs laughed into his mouth as Tony got him out of his pants and pushed him onto the bed. “Love it when you laugh.” Tony climbed into his lap and kissed him slowly. Gibbs rolled them so that Tony was beneath him and Tony bucked up against him, “Jethro, so good.” He ran his hands through Gibbs’ hair, “Please.”
Gibbs ran his hands down Tony’s flanks and said, “You are confident.”
“Glad you think so. If I can fool you I can fool anyone.”
“Okay, you’re usually confident. But usually is enough.” Gibbs reached into the bedside drawer and said, “They’ve got to be in here.”
“Other side of the bed,” Tiny said reaching for it. He pushed the condom and lube into Gibbs’ hand. He spread his legs wider and pulled Gibbs down for more kisses. He didn’t force the pace he just kissed Gibbs, slow and deep and desperate. “So long, wanted this for so long.”
“I know, nine years. Luke and Laura. You’re not Laura.” Gibbs uncapped the lube.
“How much do you know?” asked Tony and he sounds so worried.
Gibbs lied through his teeth, “You’ve wanted me for nine years, everyone knew it but me, there have been many incarnations of the plan, and you acted on the plan this time because Ziva nearly died. Covered?” He kissed down Tony’s neck. And uncapped the lube.
“For the most part. But Ziva, and McGee, Ducky, Jimmy, the Director, they don’t know, the people at NCIS. Abby and my frat brothers they know… and the nuns, and the old people in my building who I hang out with, and most of the people I’ve dated for the last nine years. But those people didn’t know your name, just that I wanted someone who wasn’t them.” Gibbs slid a finger inside of him and Tony jumped.
“You hang out with old people?”
“They need a little help and sometimes they company. They’re nice. That feels so good.” He reached down and started to stroke Gibbs hard. “Knew we’d be good at this.” Gibbs chuckled against his neck as he added another finger and Tony moaned and bit his own lip. “More please.”
“Faster?” Tony nodded and Gibbs added a third finger and thrust in faster and harder than before and Tony’s legs tightened around his hips. “So responsive.”
“Like boats, and guns, and other things that do whatever your hands say.” He opened the condom and slid it onto Gibbs’ erection, “I’m carved enough you can sand me now.”
“That might be the strangest thing anyone has ever said to me during sex.” Gibbs slid into him.
“I think it’s the most apt.” Tony groaned. “I’m done letting you be in charge.” He rolled them over and picked up the pace. He twisted his hips, “Fuck, right there.” He rode Gibbs and Gibbs held his hips, meeting each thrust. Gibbs stroked him and Tony leaned down to kiss him. He rested his hands on Gibbs’ chest, playing with his nipples.
Sweat dripped down Tony’s body and he looked so beautiful, so wanton that Gibbs couldn’t believe he’d ever denied himself this. He’d thought that Tony might go for it, if he suggested it. But he never thought it could be like this, never expected Tony to let him in. Tony threw back his head and came with a moan. Coming didn’t stop Tony moving, kept riding him. Gibbs rubbed small circles into Tony’s hips and stilled as he came. Tony allowed himself to fall against Gibbs, “Jethro,” he groaned.
“No, that was the whole thought.” He kissed along Gibbs’ jaw. He slowly climbed off of him and flopped down next to him on the bed. Gibbs got rid of the condom and pulled Tony to him, wrapping an arm around his waist.
Gibbs was about to ask Tony if he wanted a beer but then Tony snored softly and Gibbs allowed himself to relax into the bed and stoked his hand over Tony’s hip. Tony curled into him more. This might work, and not just for a while. Tony had acted like you’d have to be crazy to be pissed when your date arrested someone, didn’t mind that he hadn’t really joined in the conversation at dinner, hadn’t been offended when Gibbs hadn’t wanted to bowl. When Tony had talked about the perks of dating someone on the team Gibbs had thought he meant having the same hours. But dating Tony really did seem easy. Thinking that he fell asleep.
Tony woke up fast, the way he usually did on Sundays when he got a goodnight’s sleep. He pulled on sweats and a tee-shirt, flossed, brushed, and gargled. Leaning over the bed he said, “Jethro?” Gibbs blinked awake. “I’m gonna go for a run in a little while. Wanna come, sleep, shower, watch a movie, or go home to your boat?”
“Sleep then go home.”
“Okay, if I don’t see you later have fun, I got you some coffee. It’s in the kitchen,” he kissed the edge of Gibbs’ mouth. In the living room he put on his running shoes and grabbed his MP3 player. Sinatra crooned in his ears and Tony took his keys and went for his run. He ran through the park by his house, waving to the regulars. Sunday runs were always the nicest of the week, he didn’t have anywhere to rush off to he could just enjoy the morning. He made his loop and was back home an hour and a half later. He headed towards the kitchen to make his coffee. He saw that the coffee he’d bought for Gibbs was unopened on the counter. That struck him as off. He poked his head into the bedroom and saw that Gibbs was still stretched out over the bed. Tony smiled and went back to the kitchen. He made his coffee in the percolator and Gibbs’ in the press. As the coffee was brewing he took a fast shower and dressed in comfortable jeans and a tee-shirt. Gibbs was still in bed. He never would have expected that Gibbs slept late.
He drank his coffee with Psycho on low. He was onto his second cup when Gibbs came out of the bedroom in Tony’s sweats he’d worn yesterday. “I smell coffee.”
“Yours is in the press.”
Gibbs went into the kitchen and came back a minute later with the whole pot and a large mug. He put the pot on a magazine. “He’s dressing up as his mother and killing people.”
“Wow, good job. You’ve seen it?”
“Shannon loved horror movies.”
Tony worried, didn’t know how to react to mentions of Shannon and Kelly. “Do you like them?”
“Yeah. I like them just fine.” He ran his fingers through Tony’s hair. “Only ones I really dislike are modern warfare.”
“Figured that. It’s why I haven’t brought over any. Wasn’t sure about musicals.”
“They don’t bother me.”
“Awesome. We can watch West Side Story. It’s brilliant.”
“What am I, cut glass?” Gibbs asked softly and Tony laughed happily. Gibbs drained his mug and refilled it. “I’m shaking your world view, aren’t I?”
“A little, yeah. So, you going home later?”
“After the movie and more coffee. Need to spend some time with the boat.”
“Good for you.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Same thing I do every Sunday: dishes, laundry, bills, and cleaning.” Gibbs looked around the messy living room and raised an eyebrow. “Just because it’s not tidy doesn’t mean it’s not clean.” He went back to watching the film. Sam and Lila were checking into the motel. “Y’know, I never really felt badly for Janet Leigh: she stole the money.”
“So she deserved to get stabbed to death in a shower?”
“No, of course not. But she isn’t a good guy so I don’t feel that badly for her.” The commercials came on and Tony got up for more coffee. “Do you want anything to eat?” Gibbs shook his head. Tony went into the kitchen and poured himself more coffee and a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and poured more coffee over it. When he settled back on the couch he saw Gibbs examine his bowl. Gibbs ate anything and Tony couldn’t believe it, “This is so not the most disgusting thing you’ve seen me eat.”
“No, I was just surprised I’ve never thought of it.”
“It’s so good.” Tony sat Indian style and watched the movie while eating.
During another commercial break Gibbs said, “There’s one thing I don’t understand.”
“He’s jealous because she got over his father’s death and moved on to date. He goes crazy with jealousy.”
“No. How did Abby start bowling with nuns?”
“Oh, she Sister Act-ed them.” Gibbs looked at him, waiting for more. “She met them and they were staid and nun like. And she was all, ‘Hi, I’m Abby I’m a good goth Catholic. When do you bowl? OMG you don’t bowl? Why don’t you bowl? I’ll teach you to bowl. Let’s bowl, let’s bowl, let’s bowl.’ And now there is a nun bowling league.”
“How does that have anything to do with a sister act?”
“Jethro, you were doing so well with the film references. Whoopi Goldberg is a singer in Reno, witnesses a mob hit, gets hidden in a convent, teaches the nuns how to sing and have a happy life.”
After Gibbs had finished the pot and the film had ended he got dressed and said, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Tony.” With a kiss he was gone.
Tony got to headquarters early the next day. He went directly to autopsy. He looked at Jimmy and said, “Y’know how sometimes Ducky will give you a ridiculous task just to get you to leave for a half hour?” Jimmy nodded. “Why don’t you make up your own task today? I need the doctor for a half hour.”
Ducky chuckled. After Palmer was gone Ducky said, “Jethro told me. Congratulations are in order. I assume you have a reason for coming up here that isn’t just informing me that you’re dating?”
Tony shut the door, “You’re his oldest friend. And you’re the one person who I trust to be discreet and not tell Jethro I’m asking.”
“That’s true. But Jethro doesn’t talk to me anymore than he talks to other people.”
“Yeah, but you watched him through his marriages.”
“I introduced him to Diane.”
“Right, so, in the end, what caused the divorces? Because I met Diane and it was pretty obvious that, as uncomfortable as she was, she still has something for him. What ends it? I know they divorce him but it’s never one side and he’s hardly broken up about it. So what did they do?”
Ducky blinked at him and said, “My dear boy,” he trailed off for a few moments. “You’re one of the very few people who like Jethro for exactly who he is. None of those women realized that what you see is what you get when it comes to Leroy Jethro Gibbs. They thought that after they pressured him into marrying them he would change but that’s never going to happen. Although it wasn’t wholly one sided. He never got close to them, comfortable. And, I suppose, in retrospect, he was trying to replace Shannon but he didn’t actually want to replace her. You are not a substitute and I think you have a better chance right from the start.”
Tony felt relieved, “Okay, good to know. Um,” he thought about what he wanted to ask next, it was harder. “What do you do when he talks about Shannon and Kelly? Because I don’t know how to react, what to say. And I don’t want to upset him, I don’t want to push and then he’ll say something in passing and I don’t know how to respond so I change the topic.” He saw the surprised look on Ducky’s face. “What?”
“I never knew about Shannon and Kelly until the explosion and since then… Jethro has never spoken to me about them, especially not casually. But, I suppose,” he seemed at a loss, “if he talks about them I think you shouldn’t ignore it, let that conversation happen. I wouldn’t push but I would listen.” Ducky turned away.
“I didn’t mean to upset you, Ducky. I didn’t realize.”
“No, no, Anthony. I’m pleased that he talks to someone and it makes sense that it would be you. Although you weren’t exactly friends you’ve always been very close in a way. In many of the ways that matter you’re very similar men. I’m not upset. Would you like some tea?” asked Ducky.
Tony glanced at his watch. “No, thanks. I gotta be on time.”
Ducky laughed, “No perks to dating the boss.”
“Nope, see you when we get a body.”
Nodding Ducky said, “So about two hours then.”
Tony grinned as he left. They didn’t get a case that day. With Ziva in hospital Vance had put them on cold cases. Jenny never paid attention to team numbers but Vance played it closer to the book than she had. While they didn’t get a case Tony did manage to surreptitiously hit McGee with nine spit balls before he got a head slap so he considered it a good day. And as he was about to leave, only an hour after McGee, Gibbs asked, “You want trout?”
Tony blinked, “I hate fishing.”
“For dinner,” said Gibbs.
“Sounds great,” said Tony, “what time?”
“I’ll bring a movie?”
“That’s the plan, DiNozzo.”
Tony got into the elevator and texted Gibbs: Should I bring a toothbrush too? There was a minute of silence as Gibbs wasn’t the best text-er, he only usually used it while in interrogation. When the response finally came it: Only if you dont want to use mine. Tony laughed put his cell into his pocket.
He went home and scanned his shelves trying to decide what to bring and settled on To Have and Have Not. Gibbs had like The Maltese Falcon and it was the first Bacall/Bogart film. He grabbed his weekend go-bag that had a toothbrush, deodorant, hair gel, condoms, lube, sweats, and a sweatshirt, he added in the DVD and DVD player. He drove over to Gibb’s and opened the front door calling, “Hey, Jethro.” He went into the kitchen where Gibbs was frying fish. He leaned over Gibbs’ shoulder to kiss his cheek, “Smells awesome.”
“What movie did you bring?”
“To Have and Have Not nineteen forty-four classic. So good. And it’s the start of the best Hollywood romance in history: it’s the film where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall first met. Also a fun fact: I had my first wet dream because of this movie but I can’t remember if it was Bacall or Bogart who I was with. I just remember that we were running from the Nazis.” Gibbs chuckled. “Over share?”
“You’ve been doing it for years; don’t see why you should stop now. Go down and set up the DVD player.”
Tony grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge and went down to the basement. He set up the DVD player quickly as Gibbs brought down the plates. It was nice because it wasn’t very different than any of the Fridays he’d spent here. They ate and watched the movie. Tony sometimes spoke along with it doing his dead on impersonations or told Gibbs interesting trivia. Gibbs was quiet and got up once he’d finished eating to work on the boat. The only difference was the slow kiss Gibbs gave him before going to his workbench.
It was close to one thirty in the morning. Gibbs was watching Tony sleep and he wasn’t sure what to do. Did the perks of dating a team mate include doing what he was about to do? He knew how other people reacted, wives and girlfriends got pissed, but Tony was very different. There was no way around it: it was jump time. “Tony,” he said softly. Tony didn’t stir. “Tony,” he repeated. Nothing. “Tony,” he spoke sharply but not loudly but Tony still started awake and alert.
“Yes, boss,” he answered quickly but then looked around and said grumpily, “Jethro, it’s the middle of the night.”
“I have to go back to the office. I have a feeling.”
Tony yawned, “You coming back or will I see you in the morning?”
“Okay, have fun.” He leaned in to kiss Gibbs’ mouth and then rolled over.
Well, that answered that question. He went back to the office and worked through the night. Tony was four minutes late getting into the office and Gibbs barked at him, “Late, DiNozzo.”
“I know, boss, I went for a run in a new park and I got lost.”
“You’re wearing yesterday’s clothes.”
“I didn’t have time to go home.”
“Well then, stop sleeping at her place or buy a compass.” He saw McGee’s smirk out of the corner of his eye and turned quickly, “Have you got those bank statements, McGee?”
“Working on it, boss.”
“Work faster. Come on, DiNozzo, we need to re-question the widow.”
“On your six,” said Tony running after him to the elevator.
The ride over to the woman’s house was nothing new, Tony spoke over the radio, Gibbs paid no attention. It was nice, Tony’s rule one, it didn’t change anything within their working relationship. Which was good as they had the best working relationship possible. Gibbs’ hunch that he’d stayed up all night working on paid off and they talked to the widow who, it turned out, had been having an affair. New suspect, new angle. Tony called McGee on the way back to the office, telling him to get all the information on the guy. They worked on the new lead until five thirty when he said, “Go home, we’re not going to get a new body. This can wait a night. We need a hit on the BOLO. Get some sleep.”
Tony paused as he got up and said, “I’m going to make steak tonight. Eat around seven.”
“Thanks for sharing,” said McGee shrugging into his coat.
“Nice steak and watch The Big Sleep, the second movie starring Bogart and Bacall. Arguably better than the first but not as dear to my heart.”
“I really don’t care,” said McGee as he picked up his things and headed towards the elevator.
Before the doors closed on the pair Gibbs heard Tony saying, “Because of the critical failure of Confidential Agent the studio-” Then the pair was gone but Gibbs figured he would hear it tonight anyway. He worked for a few more minutes before leaving the office. At home Gibbs changed and went down to the boat. He worked for a while in silence it felt good to be alone with the wood. But when it was time to leave he felt no reluctance in going. He packed a bag and drove over to Tony’s.
He knocked on Tony’s door and Tony shouted, “It’s open.”
“What if it wasn’t me?” he asked opening the door.
Tony didn’t turn around from the counter he just lifted his gun from where it was resting next to him. “Covered. Medium or rare?”
“How did you get lost in that park?”
“Got turned around.”
“It’s less than two miles.”
“Have you ever seen me with a map? No sense of direction. If you want you can pick a different movie if you like. They’re all on the bookshelf in the bedroom.”
Gibbs didn’t really care about what they watched, didn’t care about the movies in and of themselves. But he still went to take a look. He threw the bag he’d brought onto the bed and scanned the bookshelves but there were only a few books, all film guides. The rest were DVDs and a shelf of VHSs. He scanned them, they all had labels on them that were just marked with years, the first was nineteen seventy-two. “What are the tapes?”
Tony popped his head into the bedroom. He looked at the tape Gibbs was picking up. “Home videos.”
“Your family doesn’t seem the type.”
“No, but the staff knew I loved movies and I think they bought the camera out of petty cash that my parents left for housekeeping.”
“A camcorder in seventy-two came out of petty cash?”
“There was a lot of housekeeping to do,” Tony shrugged. “You pick a movie?”
“Oh we’re watching these,” Gibbs smiled at him.
“Seriously? They’re not that interesting.”
“I’m pretty sure I want to see this.”
Tony rolled his eyes, “Okay, whatever you want. Dinner’s pretty much ready.” Tony left and went back to the kitchen. Gibbs took several of the tapes and brought them into the living room. He went into the kitchen and grabbed the beers and cutlery.
Back in the living room he saw the tape player and felt, for once, not out of his depth. He turned on the TV and put the tape into the player. A woman not in the picture asked if the camera was on in Spanish and a small boy, on screen said, “Sí hay una luz.”
Tony brought the plates and said, “There are no subtitles.”
“I’ll manage.” Gibbs accepted his plate and Tony sat down next to him on the couch and started to eat salad before moving onto his potatoes and steak. The child was wearing a sailor suit complete with a hat. “Maria and you?” Gibbs asked.
“Yes,” said Tony.
Maria asked Tony what he would like to do with the camera. The little boy shrugged and asked what he should do. Maria told him to act. And Tony spoke in a child’s imitation of a man’s voice. He started to do a speech. “What is that?” asked Gibbs.
“Rhett Butler’s speech just before he joins the Confederate Army. Great speech. Although this doesn’t do it justice. It’s not grammatically correct but you can’t expect much when it’s translated by a four-year-old.”
“You’re translating as you’re going?”
“Yeah,” Tony shrugged, no sign of knowing how impressive it was for a child to be doing it, as his younger self finished and took a bow.
Then another woman came on screen and said, “Il pranzo è pronto, Antonio.”
Tony smiled at her. The wide smile of the kid was easily recognizable as Tony’s. “Che buon'idea, grazie, Crysta!”
“That’s Italian. Crysta’s the woman whose sauce you make?”
“Most of what I cook is Crysta’s.”
The film went static for a moment and then four-year-old Tony was dressed in chaps, boots, and a riding coat, he was in profile. When he turned towards the camera he exposed a black eye. Tony tensed next to Gibbs on the couch. In the film, he was stroking the nose of a pony that was saddled. This time it was a man who was holding the camera. He asked Tony a question that Gibbs couldn’t understand, it was too fast but he still recognized a few words, “Is that Greek?”
“Yeah. All the stable guys were Greek. That was my first pony. Philo is asking if I like him. Had him for about a week at this point.”
“Mr. Ed,” guessed Gibbs.
“Asimi,” said Tony, “It’s Greek for silver.” Gibbs just looked at him, “The Lone Ranger’s horse.”
“The pony’s a bay.”
“I really liked that show.”
“So why not call him Silver? Why Asimi?”
“Well the stable guys didn’t speak any English and I didn’t want him to get confused.” On the screen Tony was still nuzzling the pony. The pony licked Tony’s face and Tony laughed happily. He was talking quickly and softly to the pony. “I’m telling him the plot to an episode.” He sighed, “Are you bored yet?”
“I’m really enjoying it. And the food’s great.”
“I can’t believe we’re watching this.”
“Y’know, when we were in Arizona you were terrible with that horse.”
“I haven’t ridden a horse before, just ponies. And I haven’t ridden since my mother died and my dad sold all my ponies. That was twenty-seven years ago.” The kid pulled himself up onto the pony and the camera was passed off to someone else and the man who’d been holding the camera came over and took the bridle. He gently pushed Tony’s back, correcting his posture and speaking to the boy through a smile. “Philo was so cool. He taught me so much. Really nice guy.” The camera swung around as the pony was led away. Tony was gripping the reins with one hand and Philo’s wrist with the other, “I was so scared he was going to let go. Asimi was so well trained it wouldn’t have actually mattered. But he seemed so big at the time.”
“Why are you wearing that ridiculous outfit? It’s not like you were actually riding.”
“Why was I usually dressed as a sailor? My mother liked having a cute doll that moved. I was always in a costume.” He sighed, “I didn’t mind much. She would come in every morning to dress me until I was ten. I was way too old but I liked the time with her.”
Gibbs knew the woman was an alcoholic and wondered if she was sober when she dressed Tony, if that was the reason he liked it. “What did the kids at school say about the clothes?”
“Didn’t make a difference,” said Tony evasively but Gibbs didn’t push it. The scene changed and Tony was baking with Crysta. He had a split lip and a badly swollen cheek. Gibbs felt Tony tense next to him. Tony and Crysta were making cookies. Crysta was telling Tony what to do and Tony was repeating it to the camera, still in Italian but in a falsetto voice. “Julia Child. I was really into The French Chef.”
“How many languages do you speak?”
“Italian, Greek, Spanish, and English.”
“But you only list Spanish on your résumé.”
“I’m not going to tell anyone.”
“You only put skills on your résumé that you’re willing to use. If you put that you speak four languages you’re not going to get a position a field agent, you’re going to be selected as a translator. I don’t want to be a translator.”
“Was a liaison officer. If she’d started by applying as just a person she would have been sent to Guantanamo Bay to work there. I wanted to be a cop not a mouthpiece.”
“Do you still speak them all?”
“Yeah. It’s not like they just go away.” Tony finished his food and put his plate on the coffee table. Gibbs wasn’t far into his meal; he’d been too engrossed in the video to eat.
The scene changed to a large hall where Tony was playing the piano at a recital. He was too small to reach the pedals. He wasn’t very good but he was smiling widely. “Kelly played the piano.” He had never really liked talking about them but somehow it wasn’t hard to talk to Tony about his girls.
Tony turned towards him, “Did she like it?”
“Yeah, she liked it. Well, that’s not true. She didn’t like practicing but she liked it when she got a song down.”
“I liked that bit too. I didn’t mind practicing as long as it wasn’t a really nice day. If it was really sunny or if it had just snowed then I hated the bench.”
“Nope, she didn’t like it, not even when there was nothing else to do. She could always find an excuse. But once you got her to sit down she always had fun.”
“It’s cool to touch an object and have another part of it make a noise. And the piano is way easier to play than the bagpipes or the violin. My mom tried to make me play the violin but I talked her down to the piano.”
“Kelly wanted to play the cello but they’re expensive and Shannon’s parents had a piano.”
“The upright in the hall?”
“Always wondered if you played.”
“Not at all. Doesn’t seem like you can play either,” he nodded towards the TV.
“I’m four. You can’t judge my performance at four. I got way better.”
“I’m sure you did.”
Tony had finished playing, the screen went to snow and when the picture came back Tony was running over to the camera. He was wearing a very small tuxedo. He spoke in Greek, asking if he was good, if it was okay, if his mom had made it. Tony tensed again. The camera man handed Tony a small box. Tony said, “Efharisto,” before opening it. Tony held up a little plastic figure of Mowgli from The Jungle Book, laughing and happy. The man asked if Tony wanted to go out for burgers just before the camera was turned off.
“I loved that Mowgli. Are you sure you want to be watching this? Aren’t you bored yet?”
Gibbs finished his plate of food as the scene changed to the kitchen. Tony had a cast from his shoulder down to his wrist. “Broken arm?” asked Gibbs. He slung his own arm around Tony’s shoulder and pulled him closer.
“The cast itched like a bitch,” Tony responded as he relaxed into Gibbs’ side.
But, despite the cast Tony was doing his impersonation of Julia Child again. Crysta leaned down while handing Tony a whisk, stroked his hair and kissed his forehead. The boy smiled up at her and the love and trust he showed her was overwhelming to see.
Then Tony was riding again, arm still casted, but a hell of a lot better than he had before. The horse was trotting around with Tony clearly in control. But then the horse stopped and started to eat the grass. Tony tried to get it to move and the picture shook as the person holding it laughed. A man ran out to Tony and took the leads. Then, though he was too far away for the camera to pick up his words, he clearly told Tony to be more confident, puffing out his chest in a show of pride. Tony laughed and took the reins back and got the horse to start walking again.
The tape cut to Tony and Maria outside, doing a dance that they had clearly made up, “I liked choreography,” said Tony, “I was four.”
Tony was then out of the cast swimming in a lake. “Our house in the Hamptons was awesome,” said Tony. “I spent hours in that lake.” The kid treaded water and gave a speech about all life being pain and then slipped beneath the water one hand over his head, sticking out of the water. That he bobbed back up, laughing, spitting out water. Tony shook his head, “I don’t know what film that’s from… huh, weird. That’s going to bother me.” Then it cut to Tony, Crysta, and Maria all doing cartwheels by the lake. “The staff always travelled with us.” The screen went to blue. “That was a year in the life.”
“I liked it.”
“I was bored.” Gibbs took that to mean that Tony was deeply uncomfortable. Tony looked at his watch. “Wanna watch a film? Don’t say another one of these. Something short. I’m too tired for something long.”
“We could just go to bed.”
“I’m not that tired.”
“You will be once I’m done.” Then Tony jumped off the couch and sprinted to the bedroom. Gibbs laughed, turned off the TV, and followed him. As he walked into the bedroom he was thrown up against the wall, “How did you get naked so fast?”
“I know how to undo my belt.” Tony pulled Gibbs’ sweatshirt over his head. The way he looked at Gibbs was not so different than the way he had looked at people when he was a child. He looked so happy, relaxed, and trusting. Gibbs stroked the back of Tony’s head and kissed him slowly. But Tony was actually leaning back into the hand as opposed to leaning into his mouth.
“You like being stroked.”
“I like touch. Even when you hit my head, I like it. Love it.” Tony was rubbing against him and attacked his jeans. “Kick off your shoes.”
Gibbs did as he was told and as his jeans fell he pushed Tony back so he could step out of his jeans. He took off his boxers, Tony was watching him through predatory eyes, “You’re not in charge tonight, Tony.”
Tony nodded and said softly, “Okay, I’ll do my best. I haven’t played this role since college. I’m not very good at it.”
Gibbs leaned in and spoke very softly into Tony’s ear, the way he’d spoken when Tony had the plague. “Let me take care of you tonight.”
Tony swallowed a couple of times, “Okay, boss, okay. I will follow your lead.” Just to get Tony to loosen up Gibbs stroked the back of his head again and Tony melted against him. Tony moaned, “That’s a dirty trick, Jethro.”
“Well, I am a bastard.”
“Not for this you aren’t, feels good.”
Gibbs moved Tony to the bed and Tony let him. Tony gripped at Gibbs’ arms as though he was afraid of Gibbs letting him go. The action made Gibbs think that Tony was worried. He never liked to second guess himself but he thought that maybe he shouldn’t have put the movie on. Tony was always insecure about his place and it was fun to mess with him, to say McGee’s name before Tony’s or compliment someone else when it was Tony’s work that should have praised. It had always amused Gibbs but now he wondered if sometimes he was a little too hard on him. He always wanted Gibbs’ attention and affection and the movie had made it obvious as to why. That kid had been badly abused, bruised and hurt and getting affection from staff not family. That sweet little kid would grow into the proud, righteous, caustic man in his arms.
Tony always protected himself; he always seemed so open but while he talked almost constantly he never said anything with substance. It wasn’t surprising; if Tony never shared anything then no one could hurt him. Gibbs had been playing a similar game for eighteen years. While Tony kept his secrets by seeming to say everything Gibbs kept his by saying nothing at all. But he knew how awful it felt when the secrets were revealed so now he was going to soothe him. With Tony it was harder because Tony didn’t let people take care of him. Hell, Tony wouldn’t even let doctors take care of him always discharging himself from the hospital before the doctors wanted him to. Tony was self reliant but Gibbs planned on taking away that responsibility.
He held Tony very close to him as he laid him back. For the first time in a very long time Gibbs wanted to protect the person he was sleeping with. He had kept his three ex-wives at arm’s length and he felt so close to Tony but it was nowhere near as terrifying as he had expected it would be. “You’re so good, sexy as hell.” He stroked Tony’s sides. “Amazing at everything you try, so talented. Always have my six.” Tony moved up against him, pushing into him and reached up to hold Gibbs’ head and pulled him down for a kiss, hot and needy. “You have all of my focus. Just give in,” he looked Tony straight in the eye as he spoke and Tony nodded slowly. “Good.”
After that Tony followed Gibbs’ lead. When he moved away from Tony, the man didn’t reach for him, trusted him to have a plan. “Roll over,” he said softly and Tony instantly obeyed. Gibbs draped himself over Tony, kissing his neck and rubbing the stress out of Tony’s muscles. The movie had made him tense. Tony relaxed under his hands and Gibbs kissed down his spine.
Tony jumped a little, “Sorry,” he said softly, “God, Jethro.”
“Don’t apologize for that,” Gibbs said just before he nipped Tony’s ass and Tony jumped again. “That’s what I’m aiming for.” He licked the crease of Tony’s ass and then licked deeper, pulling him apart, licking into him. Tony stopped trying to stay still, writhing beneath him. Gibbs could feel that Tony was still slowly relaxing and then something inside of him must have fully unwound because Tony gave a little, breathy, moan and Gibbs felt him go limp in surrender, he moved perfectly with Gibbs, accepting everything. So Gibbs rewarded him with one slick finger. He leaned up and tugged Tony so he was lying on his side which allowed Gibbs to lean over him and kiss his mouth. “Just what I wanted: boneless.” Gibbs parted Tony’s legs so that he was open. “Good?”
Tony didn’t respond, he just reached for Gibbs’ free hand, entwined their fingers and pulled his arm so that Gibbs was half hugging him. “It’s great.” Gibbs stretched him carefully but quickly kissing Tony the whole time. Tony rubbed back against him, “Please don’t tease me. I’ve given in, doing my best, please.”
“I’m not teasing you; I’m drawing it out for you. This is for you: it’s going to be so good.” He opened the condom and picked up Tony’s leg draping it over his own. He pushed into Tony and sighed against Tony’s neck. Tony moaned as Gibbs used the half hug to pull Tony back tighter against him, “See?”
“Jethro, Jesus, this is so… Jesus, Jethro.” Tony squeezed his hand. Gibbs leaned in to kiss Tony more deeply, almost continually, only giving Tony respite to breathe, “No, just keep kissing me. I can breathe thorough my nose, I’m talented like that.”
Gibbs laughed, “Yes, you are.” After that it was like buddy breathing. It was gentle and slow, Gibbs moved their connected hands so that he could pinch Tony’s nipples. Tony was so pliant in his hands obeying him completely. He drew it out as long as he could; taking his time and making Tony shake in his arms. He tried to detangle their fingers but Tony made an unhappy little mewing noise into Gibbs’ mouth and Gibbs broke away from Tony to pant, “I’m gonna stroke you.”
“I’ll help,” Tony said, begging not to be let go.
“Okay, okay.” He moved their hands down to stroke Tony. He kissed Tony’s ear and spoke softly, “You’re so gorgeous and you’re being so good for me.” Tony came with a gasp. The feeling of Tony coming pushed Gibbs over the edge and he came hard, “Jesus, Tony.” Tony slumped against him. Gibbs stayed where he was, stroking Tony’s chest gently. He pulled out slowly. He threw away the condom and then curled around Tony. He played his fingers over Tony’s abdomen, “Being taken care of isn’t so bad, is it?” Tony rolled over and just looked at Gibbs. “Is it?” he asked.
Tony looked at his face, searching it for something. Eventually he shook his head, “It was good.”
“Are you okay?”
Tony was silent for a long time, “That was different.”
“Bad?” asked Gibbs.
“No,” said Tony quickly, with a smile, “Just new.” Gibbs moved onto his back and pulled Tony so that he was draped over him, he stroked Tony’s hair lightly.
Gibbs felt Tony fall asleep but kept stroking him. He liked touching Tony. Years of being a cold bastard could wear down even the most practiced of people. Shannon was the last person he had felt like this around; that he could breathe and be no one but himself. He got the feeling that he could go hours without saying a word and Tony wouldn’t ask him if he was okay, wouldn’t push him to talk, would just be normal around him. Tony didn’t expect anything.
It was only a few minutes after Tony had fallen asleep that he woke up again. The second Tony woke up Gibbs could feel him go suddenly tense and then relax. “Sorry,” said Tony, “My body clock just told me it was time to leave your bed and go home.”
“This is your apartment.”
“I’m not leaving.” Tony rubbed his hand over his eyes, “But we are sticky,” He pulled away from Gibbs, “I’ll be right back.” He kissed Gibbs softly and got out of bed. The light from the bathroom fell into the bedroom and Gibbs heard Tony turn on the tap. A few moments later Tony came back with a wet cloth and wiped Gibbs’ abdomen and chest. He kissed Gibbs again and said, “You want a beer or a soda?”
“A beer would be good,” Gibbs nodded. He watched Tony’s ass as Tony walked away from the bed and Tony turned back and smirked at him. “Like that view.”
Tony laughed and swung his hips as he walked out. Gibbs saw the lights going out outside the door and then Tony walked in with two beers. Gibbs looked him up and down as Tony approached, “You gonna ogle me or take your beer?”
“Can I do both?”
Tony slid into the bed and handed a beer to Gibbs, clinking bottles. Tony took a long swig and said, “God, I was thirsty.” Then he yawned widely.
“Told you I could make you tired,” said Gibbs before taking a pull on his bottle.
“You did,” agreed Tony. He gulped down the rest of his beer. Gibbs reached out to stroke his hair and Tony shifted to be closer to him. He turned off the lamp on his side of the bed leaving the room in half darkness. Gibbs pulled Tony so that his chest was to Gibbs’ back, “Jethro,” Tony said softly.
“Nothing, just like saying your name.”
“Boat’s almost done. You want to come out with me once we get it out of the basement?”
Tony sighed, “I don’t like sailing.”
“Not at all?” asked Gibbs.
“See this goes back to me getting lost in the park. I always used to be put in charge of navigating. Then we’d get lost and people would get angry. All the adults would be drunk and the coastguard would have to find us. It was never fun.”
“I won’t be angry. I won’t put you in charge of navigating. Just keep me company and maybe give me a hand.”
“Do you want me to come?”
“Okay. I’ll come,” Tony nodded, almost resignedly.
Gibbs finished his beer, turned off the other lamp, and pulled Tony to lie down with him. Tony would like sailing once Gibbs was done.
Tony had a really hard time falling asleep. He had slept easily before, orgasms did that to him. But now that he was awake his mind was moving fast. Gibbs wasn’t anyone’s fool, not even his. And he knew enough about Tony’s childhood to see through everything Tony said. The video had been a documentation of obvious abuse. Someone else might have believed Tony was a clumsy child. But Gibbs knew Tony, and he couldn’t have missed how fond of him the staff was, how much like parents they had been while his parents had been conspicuously missing.
When Tony had been little he hadn’t noticed how close he was with the staff, it hadn’t seemed odd. As an emotional, angry teenager he had believed that they had cared for him because they were well paid. As an adult he saw the truth: they had loved him and taken care of him because no one else was going to. He had been a dorky, short, nice little kid. He was bullied at school because he dressed like a sailor, liked ponies and piano, and liked to play pretend, reenacting old movies. At home he’d been ignored or hit, there wasn’t really an in between. At boarding he had a growth spurt and figured out how to fit in, to like sports, to hit on girls, to laugh a lot and be the clown. It was easy he’d learned it all from movies.
Tony wished that the movie had been from later, from one of the rare summers he’d gone home once he’d gone to boarding school, if he’d been even twelve it would have been easier. He’d gotten better at covering for his dad and better at seeming less clingy. Of course, Gibbs already knew how needy Tony was but it was still embarrassing to have the proof of it in the form of his four year-old self cuddling with the staff like it was a lifeline. The broken arm would have been hard to cover, but if he’s been older he could have blamed it on sports. But, then again, Gibbs could always spot a lie.
And then there was the sex. Tony wasn’t virginal, far from it. He’d done things that would make Abby’s hair curl, but this was different. He didn’t like letting other people be in control, it was unpredictable. He trusted Gibbs completely but he had still felt powerless and the sex, as cliché as it sounded, had been incredibly intimate, almost uncomfortably so. Now he felt raw, not physically just mentally. The combination of the tape and the sex had left some of his self preservation techniques in the dust and he felt uncertain. Especially as Gibbs wanted him to go on the boat, it left him wrong footed.
Arms tightened around him and Gibbs mumbled mostly asleep, “Whatever you’re thinking: go to sleep. I’m right here, it’s all okay, and your boss will be pissed if you’re tired in the morning. Relax, you’re so tense.” He stroked Tony’s back softly, “It’s all okay.”
Gibbs’ hands felt good on his skin and Tony relaxed into the sensation. He woke up with the alarm and slapped it off. He heard the water running in the bathroom. Like every other morning he fumbled his way to the sink, scrubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Gibbs was already standing there, washing his face. Tony reached past him for his toothbrush. He started to brush him teeth. He paused, brush in his mouth and asked, “Wanna go for a run?”
As he stretched Gibbs nodded, “We should both put on pants.”
“Generally a good rule for going in public.” Tony agreed through his toothpaste.
It was a good morning. They ran in companionable silence and showered together. Gibbs drank his coffee while Tony had his first cup poured over his cereal. After dressing Gibbs left and told Tony not to be late. Tony drank another half a cup of coffee and went to the office he beat Gibbs. It felt almost normal after the oddness of the night before.
His desk phone rang as he walked in which was never a good sign. He picked it up, “Yeah, DiNozzo.”
“Come up to my office,” said Vance.
“Yes, Director, right away.” He hung up and saw McGee’s wide eyes, “Have I done something I don’t know about?” McGee shrugged as Tony headed toward the stairs. The Director’s door was open and Tony walked in, “You wanted to see me?” he asked with his brightest smile.
“Special Agent DiNozzo, please shut the door.” Tony did as he was told. “Please understand that I have to ask you this it’s protocol.” Tony nodded. “Is Special Agent Gibbs pressuring you to be with him romantically?”
The laugh couldn’t be suppressed, Tony tried, honestly. He couldn’t stop laughing, it was pretty bad and he knew he shouldn’t have been laughing at the Director but he couldn’t help it. When he finally pulled himself together he said, “Do you honestly think Gibbs cares enough about his personal life to actually make an effort to pressure someone? If anyone could be done for sexual harassment it’s me. I’m the one who pushed my way in, brought films and food over to his basement until he really only had two options: date me or tell me to get out of the basement and I think he likes the movies. You have nothing to worry about. And I’m not dating him at work. He’s just my boss here. Nothing is going to change here.”
“You understand that that I will have to ask the team about this after a while.”
“Yes, sir. I completely understand.”
“Alright, you can go now.”
“Thank you, sir.” Tony headed back down the stairs. Gibbs still wasn’t there.
McGee said, “What did the Director want?”
“He asked if Gibbs sexually harassed me.” Tony shrugged sitting at his desk and reviewing what they had dug up.
“Seriously? What did you say?”
“That it was only once at the holiday party, he was pretty drunk, and really was only a grope… but I still have nightmares.”
“Sounds more like a wet dream,” said Gibbs as he walked in behind Tony’s desk.
From there on out it was business as usual. They worked hard and most nights he ended up at Gibbs’ house or Gibbs ended up at his apartment. It was good, nothing changed at work. And Gibbs never got pissed at him for leaving bed to go back to the office and he didn’t mind when Gibbs did it. Gibbs made fun of him when he had to do laundry and put his satin bed sheets on the bed. They still hung out in the basement a lot, watching movies with the boat. It was comfortable. They were only assigned a few hot cases while Ziva was in hospital but they got a lot of work done. The two weeks after Tony first fell into Gibbs’ bed were intense. It felt like being in college again. Just before Ziva was supposed to come back, Tony got a call he’d been waiting for for months.
It was the middle of the night and he was comfortably sleeping under Gibbs when his phone rang. He groped for it on the bedside table and glanced at the caller ID before answering. Gibbs was still completely unconscious. “Dan? It’s four in the morning.”
“Tony, Alice has gone into labor.”
Tony nudged his way out from under Gibbs and walked out into the hallway so as not to disturb him. “Please tell me you called the hospital before calling me.”
“We’re already here. I just called the grandparents and Alice’s sister Shelia but I wanted you to be the first to know.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Get the time off to come down this weekend? It’s two weeks early and we’re kind of freaked out and we’d like to do the christening sooner rather than later and I need the godfather here. Plus we need to go to the lawyers so that you and Shelia can sign all the stuff to be the legal guardians.”
“Okay, talk to Vance in the morning.”
“Can’t you just ask Gibbs now?”
“Well, one he can sleep through the first ring of a phone so he’s still unconscious, and two I can’t ask my boyboss for time off when Vance is worried about favoritism.”
“I don’t think he’d like me calling me his boyfriend and we’re too young for him to be my gentleman friend. Look, I’m going back to bed. Tell Alice I love her and am really proud of her. I’ll call you once I figure out my flight. Call me if there’s any news.” They hung up and Tony went back to bed. Tony reset his alarm so he wouldn’t wake up to run, just coffee and shower.
“Boyboss?” asked Gibbs.
“Shuddup. Dan’s wife went into labor.”
“Dan the freshman roommate, frat brother, psychiatrist, whose bowling shoes I wear?” asked Gibbs, still mostly asleep.
“You pay attention,” Tony curled into Gibbs’ side.
“You talk a lot,” replied Gibbs reaching an arm around him.
“Yeah, but you listen,” Tony said before slipping into sleep.
He woke with the alarm and stretched. He could hear Gibbs in the shower and he walked down to the kitchen to start the coffee. A few minutes later Gibbs came up behind him, silent as ever and wrapped an arm around his waist, stroking his fingers over Tony’s naked skin, “You’re shameless.” He kissed Tony’s neck.
“Nothing to be ashamed of,” Tony leaned back against Gibbs. “I should shower.”
“Yeah,” Gibbs’ breath tickled his neck, “probably should.” But he made no move to let Tony go.
“We’re gonna be late if we go on like this. And that’s okay for you but I’ve got a scary boss.” Gibbs laughed and released him. Tony turned and kissed him gently, “Morning, sorry I haven’t brushed my teeth yet.”
“You worry an awful lot about your teeth.”
“My scary boss likes my smile, I can tell, even though he doesn’t say it.”
Gibbs smirked, “Go on then.”
Tony went upstairs and showered quickly. He hadn’t brought any of his toiletries except the bare essentials. Even though Gibbs was so laidback Tony didn’t want to spook him by leaving things. He had left a toothbrush, a comb, and hair gel, other than that he always brought his suit, and his running clothes, and sometimes a DVD. He still liked the smell of Gibbs’ shampoo. Afterwards he got dressed and went back down to the kitchen. Gibbs had left already and there was a note that said, “Don’t be late.” Next to the note there was a coffee press full of Tony’s coffee. Gibbs thought it was shit but he’d bought it anyway. Tony gulped down the coffee before leaving.
He made it to the office a few minutes before he needed to be. He headed up to the Director’s office and knocked. “Come in,” said Vance.
Tony shut the door after himself. “Hi, Director.”
“DiNozzo,” Vance nodded.
“My brother called me in the middle of the night. His wife went into labor two weeks early. I put in a request for leave but now I’d like to push it forward. He’s freaking out about the baby being premature and I’m supposed to be the godfather. I need to get down to Florida.”
His phone beeped in his back pocket. No one at NCIS would ever dare to ignore a message even while talking to the Director. He pulled it out and opened the message. It was a picture of Dan, Alice, and the baby. The caption read, “It’s a boy.”
Tony smiled, “He just sent me a picture. Want to see?” he asked. The Director nodded and Tony handed over the phone.
The Director looked at it looked at Tony and looked back at the photo, “You’re brother’s black?” he asked.
“Oh, sorry. Frat brother. I always kind of forget that people can have blood brothers. As it’s a boy he’s going to be Malachi, Alice chose the boy name. Poor kid: that’s mouthful. I tried to help Dan win her over with the name James but she pretty set.”
The phone beeped again and Vance looked at it, “Sent you a close up. Cute baby. Fly down this afternoon, take the weekend, and be back on Tuesday.” He handed the phone back. “Why did you come to me? You should have gone to Gibbs.”
“I wasn’t sure how you would feel about that.”
“I’ve been watching you two. You’re still getting as many head slaps as always. In the future you shouldn’t hesitate to go to Gibbs. Besides, you have so many vacation days saved up I don’t think it really matters.”
“Okay, thank you, sir.”
“Take photos, DiNozzo. They grow up fast.”
“Oh, I’m bringing my camcorder. Most of our brothers probably won’t be able to get there and Abby’s been excited for months so it’s sort of my duty.”
Vance smiled, “Have fun.”
Tony smiled back and went down to the bullpen just as Gibbs exited the elevator. “McGee, I need you to print a couple of photos when you get a chance.” He texted as he walked: beautiful baby. vance gave me the go ahead. will tell you the time.
“Evidence?” asked McGee.
“Dan and Alice’s baby.”
“Oh awesome. I have a gift for them. Kept it in my car for weeks.”
“Are you two done chatting?”
“Yes, boss,” Tony said quickly as he tossed his phone to McGee. Tony filled them in on the information he’d collected after the others had gone home for the night. It wasn’t much but then it was a five year old cold case.
Gibbs was surprised by how much he missed Tony. They had lived in each other’s pocket for a couple of weeks now. But it was still odd. He hadn’t missed anyone living in a long time. His house felt lonely and he spent a lot of time with the boat. The strangest thing, the thing he would never admit to anyone, was that he wished Tony had left some films. And actually, looking around the house, he realized there wasn’t any sign of Tony now that he was gone. He’d taken his toothbrush, hair gel, and comb with him. He looked forward to Monday night. Yet missing him was a pleasant feeling.
On Monday they were still working on the same cold case, getting nowhere. Abby rushed in and said, “Are you guys busy?”
Gibbs shook his head, “Not really, Abs. You got something?”
“Sort of, McGee, can I use your computer?”
“Sure, Abby.” He pushed back from his desk and she bounced in front of him. As she typed McGee said, “Oh, Abby, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” She ignored him and put what she was looking at up on the plasma.
It was that YouTube thing that Tony was obsessed with, “Abs, if this is that stupid ‘surprised kitten being tickled’ I’m gonna be angry.”
“No, that’s adorable but this isn’t that.” She said and made the video full screen.
The video started and Tony was holding a little baby, “Say, ‘hi,’ Malachi.” He picked up the baby’s arm and waved it for him.
Abby sighed, “Is that not the prettiest baby ever?”
Tony wasn’t really paying attention to the camera, he was kissing the baby. He turned his attention back to the camera as the baby gurgled, “How awesome is he?” Tony’s smile was huge.
A man sat down next to him, “Can I have my son back?”
“He’s busy meeting NCIS.”
“Oh,” Dan lit up and turned to the camera. “We’re not sending thank you letters to friends because we’re super busy with Malachi. So, Abby, the mobile is awesome. We’re not putting it up while the grandparents are here because they’ll ask what the pictures are of and saying, ‘Well that one’s a cross section of a frozen limb,’ will give them the wrong idea. And I’m sorry that Tony had to miss bowling. I’m sure you guys were awesome. Ziva, I cannot believe you started knitting I lost twenty bucks to Tony: I never thought he’d convince you to do it and that you would get good frighteningly fast. The blanket is really nice. Make him buy you something with the money. And, McGee, the do it yourself baby booty bronzing kit? I run a group for young professionals who are having a hard time coming out of the closet. I’m sure I can find one in DC for you.”
Tony laughed happily as a woman came into the frame and said, “Ignore them, Tim. I love it. I’m going to bronze the hell out of some baby shoes. Tony, give me my baby back.”
“I need to make a video for the brothers. I’ve only had him for, like, an hour. And I’m the godfather.”
“I spent nine months making him and almost six hours getting him into the world. Mother trumps godfather. Give me my baby.”
Tony waved the baby’s arm again, “Bye bye, NCIS, bye bye.” Tony handed off the baby, “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” Then he leaned over the camera to turn it off.
With another sigh Abby said, “So cute.”
“Get back to work, Abs. Other team’s have hot cases,” said Gibbs.
Abby looked at him exasperated, “You have to admit that it was adorable.”
She shrugged and went back to the elevator. Gibbs agreed, the baby was sweet. But he thought that Tony’s excitement and infatuation with the baby was a lot sweeter than the baby himself. He’d spoken to Tony that morning and was going to pick him up from the airport. He wanted Tony home, Ziva at work, and a body on the slab assigned to his team.
He waited at arrival. Tony was hard to miss. He was wearing a cardboard party hat that said, “It’s a Boy!” and he was stumbling a little bit.
Gibbs took Tony’s bag from him, “Are you drunk?”
“They kept giving me congratulatory champagne on the plane. It’s not my fault.”
“Okay, let’s go home.”
“I’ll be sober by the time we get home.” He said taking a sip of a bottle of water he was carrying.
“I got you new milk.”
“You’re the best. Did Abby show you the video? Florida was really nice.”
“He’s a great baby. Have you eaten?”
“Yes, it was either chicken or rubber.”
“Let’s get you to bed.”
“Can’t wait.” Tony put an arm around Gibbs’ waist, “This okay?”
“Usually I would say yes. But I’m parked illegally and we’re going to need to play the Federal Agent card so we don’t get towed.”
Tony let him go, “Did you miss me?”
“Yes,” Gibbs nodded. Tony seemed to hold his breath, waiting for a punch line, “Missed you and wish you’d left movies to keep me company.” It was funny to withhold affection from Tony at work but it was mean to do it in private.
Tony beamed at him, “I’m glad. Well I’m not glad that you were lonely, but I’m glad you missed me.”
As they approached the car they saw a cop looking at the car, “Federal agents,” Gibbs called as he walked towards it. He whipped out his badge and the guy backed away, “You have a nice night.”
As they pulled away Tony said, “That was a total misuse of power.”
“I was not paying to park.” He reached over and took Tony’s hand. “Did you have fun?”
“I wished you were there, you could have met Dan and Alice and Malachi. And they both have really big families so it was nice. I’ve been tight with Dan’s parents for years so it was good to catch up with them and Dan’s lawyer’s cool. Although I really hope I never meet him again.”
“Well as Malachi’s guardian I would get custody of him if Dan, Alice, his parents, her parents, and her sister all died. And while he’s a great baby I don’t want seven people die.”
“Would you want to raise him?” asked Gibbs. He really wasn’t sure what the answer was. Because sometimes, Tony more than anyone else, was hard to read.
“Hell yeah,” said Tony quickly, giving his answer no thought. Then Gibbs felt him tense, the same way he did every time he thought he’d said too much, or that he might upset Gibbs. “So how’s tricks? What’s going on at work? Is Ziva still coming back to the office tomorrow?”
“Yes, she’s on deskwork but with her back Vance will let us go back into the field.”
“Y’know, I don’t get it. It used to be just you and me and then us with Vivian. And when we were with Kate it was just the three of us, and when Ziva stayed in Israel, it was you, me, and McGee. I don’t get why he suddenly wants all four of us or none at all. He saw us when Ziva was gone. We coped.”
“You mean when Tim was drinking, you were having one night stands every night of the week and barely speaking, and I was beating the shit out of every suspect we had? Were we doing a bang up job then?”
“Okay, that’s fair. But she’s in the hospital not missing.”
“Since we lost Ziva he’s gotten to know us a lot better, he’s watched us for months. And he has finally admitted to himself that we’re not just loose cannons, we’re the best loose cannons he’s got. We cause a few lawsuits and a few PR problems but we get the bad guys.”
“The A Team,” Tony agreed.
“And you don’t send out the A Team when a member’s missing.” He paused and then shrugged, “That might not be true: I’ve never seen that movie.”
“TV show. And Dirk Benedict missed one episode. But I get what you’re saying.” Tony relaxed again, thinking that he had glossed over his own words, temporarily.
“I don’t think less of you for wanting children.”
Tony let out a tired breath, “My two hour flight was really closer to five. I had to turn up two hours early because of stupid terrorists and airport security and then there was all the taxiing before and after landing. And I’m still a little buzzed from the champagne. So can we skip the conversations, go home, have sex, and watch a little of the camcorder before passing out?” He took a long drink of his water.
“Yeah, Tony, that’s fine.”
It wasn’t fine though. Tony kissed Gibbs goodbye early the next morning so that he could go to the lab. Abby was there as always. He pressed the button that made the glass door shut and lock, “I need to talk to someone, Abby.”
“Okay,” she said slowly.
“First of all, did we win the match?”
“Yes we did.”
“How was your date with Roger?”
“Awesome. What’s up, Tony?”
“I told you I wasn’t going to kiss and tell but Dan’s busy with the baby so I can’t talk to him.”
“Mind Dan or real Dan?”
“I need someone real right now.”
“Not here.” He took her by the hand and pulled her into her inner office, shutting that door as well.
“Wow, I’m kind of freaked out by how secretive you’re being.”
“I’m having the most personal sex of my life.” She smiled brightly, “I’m not sure it’s a good thing, it’s sort of overwhelming. It’s awesome it’s just…”
“Terrifying,” offered Abby.
“Yes. And everything was fine, I was coping with it. But being with Malachi gave me the same feeling I always do with babies and I sort of, accidentally, told Gibbs.”
“That your paternal clock is ticking?”
“Yes, and he sort of tried to talk about it-”
“I hate it when he does that. He never wants to talk about his stuff but he wants to pry apart other people’s. What did you say?”
“I told him that I didn’t want to talk about it. And then we got home and I gave him a blowjob to distract him but I really doubt that worked, and then we went to bed but the sex was weird.”
“Kitchen utensils or whips?”
Tony just looked at her, “I don’t think either of those is that weird in context… well, depending on the kitchen utensils in question.”
“Thank you,” she said as though winning an argument. “You should talk to Roger for me.”
“I couldn’t look him in the eye last night.” He wasn’t going to tell her that he had felt rent, that it had been a painful loss, that he wanted to go back to the too intimate sex. He didn’t want to say that it wasn’t as good as their sex was supposed to be.
“Tony, I’m going to say something and I don’t want you to get offended. Okay?” He nodded. “I am shocked that you and Gibbs have managed to get this far without a blow out fight. I mean, it’s you and Gibbs. You’re both super driven, angry, justice hounds who don’t like to talk about your pasts or your emotions. And somehow you’ve gotten this far without any fisticuffs or meanness.”
“It’s only been eighteen days, Abs.” Tony paused, “Fisticuffs?”
“It’s a good word. And that’s a hell of an achievement. Don’t you deny it. And, I know you’re going to hate me for saying it, but: the only way to fix this is to talk to Gibbs.”
“I’ve got the dream boy. I’m having the dream sex. So do you tell the dream boy that while you always wanted kids you want him more?”
“Maybe you say just that. I don’t know. You and Gibbs talk a lot more in one night than Gibbs talks to anyone else in a whole week.”
“No, I can’t say that. That sounds crazy. I’ve only been dating him for eighteen days.”
“You’ll figure it out.”
He looked at his watch, ten to nine. “I have ten minutes to figure it out.” He kissed her cheek, “Not a word, Abby.”
“Not even if Gibbs stares at me. Scouts’ honor.”
Tony headed out to the evidence locker. No one was there. He stood in one corner and hit speed dial one. “Yeah,” said Gibbs picking up.
“Are you in the building?”
“Good, don’t come in for a minute.”
“I wanted kids my whole life, always wanted to be a dad. But it’s not going to happen. I’m thirty-nine and career minded. If Malachi were to fall into my lap I would love him and be a good guardian. But kids aren’t part of the plan. And I’m sorry I was so weird last night I was sort of drunk and could still smell newborn on my clothes. I wish I’d had kids but it didn’t work out like that. I like my life just the way it is. Let me have a do over tonight?”
“As many as you need.”
“Seven o’clock, Clint Eastwood, Chinese food, and my bed?”
“Sounds fantastic. I’ll see you in about three minutes.”
Tony went up to the bullpen. Ziva was there and he smiled widely at her. “You’re not getting a cut of my twenty.”
She shook her head, “It was a good scam.”
Tony took out his camcorder and said, “McGee, will you make this a DVD?”
Rolling his eyes McGee said, “Y’gonna pay me?”
“What do you want?”
“For once I want a marathon.”
Tony felt his excitement rise, “I know what we’re going to watch.”
“No you don’t, it’s Doctor Who. You will get hooked in eight episodes or less.”
Tony sighed, “I hate sci-fi TV shows.”
“You’ll get hooked.”
“Fine, but I want the DVD of that camcorder before we go home.”
Gibbs walked in talking on his phone. He threw the truck keys to McGee. “Gas the truck and grab your gear. Ziva, stay here: we’re going to need information on the way.”
Tony was so relieved to be done with the tedium of cold cases that he didn’t mind that there was little chance of getting home that night.
After that the cases piled on one on top of another. They worked continually on murders, theft, drugs, espionage. There was hardly a pause between one case and another. Usually Gibbs liked when the job was like that, liked when he didn’t have a moment to himself. But he’d barely had a minute with Tony and it was starting to wear. He could tell it was grating for Tony too. When they were alone Tony would sit very close, craving as much touch as he could get. And even when they could go home two out of five nights either he or Tony would end up going back to the office. Tony always made it back to bed a few hours later, Gibbs sometimes wasn’t always so lucky.
Tony was still awake and said, “I really don’t want to leave you for the third time this week. So I’m just going to tell you what I’m going to do in the morning. I’ve had an idea. If I’m right we’re going to have to stakeout soon.” He sighed heavily.
“You usually like stakeouts.” Gibbs reached out to stroke Tony’s hair.
Tony nodded but said, “We’d be in a car waiting for a few hours, not a good stakeout. Anyway, we shouldn’t worry until I figure out if my lead’s real.”
“If it does pan out, as the person who found the lead, you’re going to have to be on that not good stakeout. You do know that, right?”
“Jethro, don’t point out the bad news. All that mail is getting returned to sender as it’s being sent to an empty lot and sitting there for days. But what if it’s not the same mail that’s being returned that was sent? What if someone’s replacing it?”
“There are no traffic cams there.”
“Yeah, Vance is going to be pissed when I tell him that we need to reposition a few.” He kissed Gibbs gently. “If I’m right then the lot isn’t a misdirect, it’s ground zero. But we need a team for it so I don’t have to go to the office.” Gibbs tightened an arm around Tony’s waist and kissed his forehead.
“Sounds like it’s going to be a long day: go to sleep. No running in the morning.”
Tony chuckled, “I need my cardio.”
“Oh, you’ll get cardio but you’re staying in bed.”
Tony cuddled closer and said, “That sounds good.”
Gibbs and Tony were bringing in a suspect and out of the office which gave McGee and Ziva time to speak.
“Have you noticed,” Ziva began to ask.
“That Tony and Gibbs both seem like they’re in good moods?” McGee finished for her.
“Yeah I don’t know. I mean they’re both as amped up as usual but somehow…” He shrugged.
“More content,” she said.
“Y’know what it is, right?” McGee smiled. She shook her head, “A bimbo and a redhead.”
“Or,” she said, “a bimbo and a boat. His boat is almost done.”
“But I’ve been over at Tony’s a lot recently and there’s no girlfriend stuff about. And he watches movies with Gibbs on Friday, which I still don’t get, watches Doctor Who with me on Saturday, bowls with the nuns on Saturday night. When is he dating someone?”
“Is he still paying his debt for that DVD of Malachi?”
“No, we’re way past that. He’s hooked, completely. He teared up when the Doctor regenerated into being David Tennant.”
She shook her head, “That means nothing to me.” Then she went back to the bank statements she was going through when her phone rang she picked it up, “David.” She listened and said, “Yes, we will be right there.” She hung up and said, “The Director would like to see us.”
“Did we do something?” asked McGee as he stood and walked with Ziva up the stairs.
“I do not think so. Did you hack something you should not have?”
Vance’s secretary nodded to them and said, “He’s expecting you.”
McGee felt kind of sick; it was like being called to the principal’s office. McGee had never been called to the principal’s office. “You wanted to see us, Director?”
“Please,” he motioned towards his sofa, “sit down.” As they sat down he shut the door and sat down on the armchair in front of it. The seating arrangements told McGee that they weren’t about to get dressed down. “I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable talking to me.”
Ziva nodded, “Alright.” McGee could tell that she had no idea why they were there either.
“Have you noticed any favoritism in the team recently?”
McGee waited for Ziva to answer but he looked at her and saw that they had the same reaction, they had no idea what he was asking. “I’m sorry, sir. We don’t know what you mean,” said McGee.
“Have you noticed one person getting better assignments than anyone else?”
Ziva breathed deeply next to him, “You did not call Tony into this meeting.” McGee saw what she was getting at and he was worried, he didn’t know what Tony had done to get the Director’s attention.
“Is DiNozzo getting favored?” asked the Director.
“Well,” said McGee slowly, “Gibbs runs us on merit. If you find the lead –if you make the break— you run with it, and that’s what we all want.”
“And Tony is usually,” Ziva sighed, “better than us. He is very observant, and while he plays the fool he is very diligent. I come from an assassination and spy background. Even after all my years here I am still learning how to be a good agent.”
McGee jumped right in after her, because no matter what the hell was going on Tony was not going to get kicked off the team because of him. “I’m a computer geek. Tony has been here for almost a decade and he was a cop for years. We have different skill sets and that is reflected in what we do for the team.”
“What about interrogations? When Gibbs allows you to handle interrogations does DiNozzo get choicer ones?” Vance was agitated the toothpick in his mouth was bouncing up and down.
“No,” said McGee, “it’s all about our skill sets. I get people who are young and shouldn’t be intimidated because they’re about to lose it: they see me as an older brother. I get bullies because I know them from life of experience. I get people who are scared to begin with, who need a confidant as opposed to an agent. And I get people who think they are smarter than their interrogator and need to be knocked down a peg by someone they think is just another dorky guy in a suit. Or when they think they’re smart and only want to talk to someone they see as being smart. Ziva gets men who hate or fear women with power, men who disregard woman, women who hate or fear men, women who are intimidated by beautiful woman, and people who don’t speak English but speak a language that Ziva speaks.”
“What does DiNozzo get?” asked Vance.
McGee didn’t like whatever witch-hunt the Director was pursuing and he spoke quickly, “Tony gets people who hate handsome men, people who talk too fast, people who are reticent to speak at all, he gets the cocky people who think they’ve already got away with it, and people who buy into his himbo veneer of hail-fellow-well-met-I’m-not-very-bright. He also handles most of the victim interviews because scared people like handsome people. When he’s with victims he is calm, and kind, and empathetic. He maintains complete control and authority and a low level anger that puts them at ease because it feels protective. Our skill sets are different and that’s why we work well as a team. And on top of all that, Tony is still getting as many punishments for pissing off Gibbs as he always has. Gibbs made him gas the truck the other day for spilling his own coffee. Gibbs was apparently affronted on the coffee’s behalf.”
“So the working relationship between Special Agents DiNozzo and Gibbs has not changed since they began seeing one another?”
“Seeing one another do what?” asked McGee.
“Since they began dating,” the Director clarified.
Ziva broke and through giggles she said, “Director Vance, someone has been pulling your arm.”
“She means leg,” McGee said, “whoever told you that was misinformed.”
“Gibbs and DiNozzo told me. Are you saying that you were not even aware of the fact that they are dating?”
“They’ve both seemed slightly less angry at the world recently,” said McGee. “I thought that they were both dating people. Neither Ziva nor I had any idea that this was happening. Which shows that their relationship hasn’t done anything to change our team at all.”
The Director looked confused, “Why did you think I was asking questions?”
McGee said nothing but Ziva, who’d known Leon as a friend of her father and was more comfortable around him, said, “It is not a secret that you do not like Tony. We assumed you were looking for a reason to take him off the team.”
“I do not want to separate your team. I had to ask because it’s protocol. If one of you were uncomfortable with the situation but unwilling to speak up I would have been failing at my job if I hadn’t asked. Do you now feel uncomfortable knowing that they are dating?” He seemed reluctant to ask the question and McGee realized that Vance didn’t want them to say yes, was really hoping that he wasn’t going to have to change anything.
“Anything that makes them easier to live with is a good thing,” said Ziva.
“Weird thing is,” said McGee, “security needed some help with some tapes of the bullpen and Tony’s still at his desk at least once a week.”
“Shouldn’t he be there all week?” asked Vance.
“No, at night. He comes in at night, usually at about eleven and stays sometimes until three in the morning, following leads. Gibbs too. Neither of them have stopped or started coming on the same nights.”
“They obsess,” said Ziva, “nothing would change that.”
“That’s true,” McGee nodded.
“How long has this been going on?” asked the Director.
“As long as I’ve been here,” McGee shrugged, “It gets worse when cases are bad. Sometimes Tony never leaves: if the case is stressful he just stays for days on end. Gibbs barely leaves when we have a serial killer.”
The Director seemed to think it over and McGee hadn’t realized that the man hadn’t known. “Well, thank you for your time. You may go.”
As they stood Ziva said, “Please do not tell Tony that we have just said that he is better than us. He will lord it over us for the rest of our lives. He would be insufferable.”
“That would be terrible. He’d start doing his Sally Field impersonation,” McGee rolled his eyes.
“Don’t worry,” Vance laughed, “I won’t pass it on.”
McGee was still reeling from the news but he had no time to talk about it with Ziva as Tony was sitting at his desk looking at eBay. “I just found Gucci baby shoes. Malachi is going to be the best dressed baby at the duck park.”
“If you are here then Gibbs is here. Why are you not in interrogation with the suspect?”
“Yeah, the guy almost slipped his cuffs. I didn’t notice that he was dislocating his own fingers. Gibbs banished me even from observation. I wrote my report, now I’m just bidding on stuff.”
He filled them in on the bust as they continued with their own work. They slipped into silence and then McGee said, “Tony, I have this friend-”
“Is the friend you?” asked Tony.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. My friend is dating this guy and I don’t see it at all.”
“Is your friend out of this guy’s league?”
“No, they’re just very different.”
“Like what, McGee? You gotta give me more here if you want me to help you figure it out.” Then he smiled, “You know those huge tee-shirts with the cartoon toned body wearing swimsuits?”
“I just found a baby all in one like that. Continue, I can listen and bid at the same time.”
“Well my friend’s this really upbeat, happy, fun person. And the boyfriend is a silent guy who hates everyone.”
“Well maybe they’re not like that when they’re not with you. Oh my God, there’s another all in one that has the logo of The Godfather but it says godson. I need it.”
“I know them both pretty well.”
“Maybe your friend feels really good around this person.”
“Like they’re doing a good deed by dating him?”
Tony swung around from his computer and stared at McGee. He got up and crossed to McGee’s desk. He leaned over menacingly and said, “You should be ashamed of yourself, McGee.” Then he turned and went toward the men’s room.
“Tony feels good around Gibbs because Gibbs makes him happy,” said Ziva. “McGee, we have mocked Tony for as long as we have known him for following Gibbs like a puppy desperate for attention and affection. I did not know about this either but it makes an awful lot of sense at least from Tony’s perspective. You have just told Tony that you think Gibbs is a charity case. You just would not stop talking.”
“When did he figure out that I was talking about him?”
“The minute we walked out of Vance’s office and you started talking about a ‘friend.’ He let you have your say and you got taken in by the himbo ‘hail-fellow-well-met-I’m-not-very-bright’ act.” She went to the men’s room.
Tony was washing his hands to calm down when he heard the door open. Without looking he said, “Men’s room, Ziva.” He was tired and it had been a long case and he wanted to go to the basement where it was cool and there was nothing bad, just movies and the boat.
“I’m actually looking for the baby all-in-one that has prison bars on it and says ‘I just spent nine months on the inside’ I saw it a while back.”
“McGee is just confused.”
“I was really hoping Vance would wait longer to tell you.”
“Why did you not tell us?”
“I didn’t really want to deal with that sort of stuff. Thought it would be funny to watch you squirm and wonder if we knew that you knew.” He sighed, “So what do you want to say about it, Ziva?”
“I have known you were in love with Gibbs for as long as I have known you. I am very happy for you both. You have seemed happier ever since I got out of the hospital and that is a good thing.”
“McGee was not being mean, he is just an idiot. He is your friend. Do you want to get a drink? With the suspect in custody Gibbs will tell us to go home and finish up tomorrow.”
“No, Jethro and I are ordering Thai and watching The Great Escape I’m too tired for anything more exciting.”
“I thought you and he were fighting.”
“Why would you think that?” asked Tony feeling confused. Just because Tony was pissed at McGee didn’t mean he was pissed at Gibbs.
“He would not let you watch the interrogation.”
“Oh, yeah, Gibbs is pissed at me, really pissed. But my boyfriend isn’t, he’s had a hard day too and I bet he just wants to go home even though he’s stuck in interrogation. He’s not my boyfriend here.”
Ziva laughed, “You are kidding me.”
“No, not at all.”
“Well how did you make such detailed dinner plans?”
“I got a text about three hours ago.”
She laughed again, “So texting does not count?”
“Haven’t you ever texted someone on the sly while at work? If you don’t get caught it didn’t happen.”
“That is amazing,” her smile was wide and Tony felt his own start to come back.
“Well,” he sighed theatrically, “I am amazing. We should go and placate McGee; he’s got to feel pretty lousy.”
They walked back to their desks and McGee said, “I found the nine months on the inside one, the one with arrows pointing to the arm holes that says, ‘Is it legal to carry guns this big?’ and the one that says ‘Future survivor of the zombocalypse.’ I put a top bid of fifteen on them all.”
“Awesome, thanks,” Tony smiled at him. “There’s a website where you can make your own. You know what I’m thinking?”
It took a minute before McGee said, “It’s going to have to be two sided to fit, ‘Kidnap me and NCIS Special Agent DiNozzo will hunt you down…’ on the front, ‘… and Director Vance will cover it up,’ on the back.”
“That’s true,” Tony said, “I wonder if we can make it shorter.”
Gibbs walked in and said, “He’s refusing to break. There’s no way I’m getting out of here before nine.” The words were directed at no one in particular.
“They know,” said Tony.
“Know what?” asked Gibbs.
“Vance asked them about special treatment.” Gibbs rolled his eyes and Tony walked over and placed his report on Gibbs’ desk, “That’s done.”
“McGee, Ziva, report.”
“Whether or not he will admit it,” Ziva said, “his bank statements show he was paid off in increments of twenty thousand dollars from the off shore account. Which traces back to a shell company that can’t be traced to anything else without hacking into the FBI we wanted to wait for your approval.”
Gibbs grimaced, “Let’s only do that if we have to.”
“Abby ran the bullets. They definitely came from his gun. There was a partial that I matched to the victim’s on the barrel which explains the wounds; he tried to push the gun away,” said McGee.
Gibbs nodded, “Go home. That’s enough.” He walked back to the elevator.
“Ziva, McGee, wanna go for a drink?” asked Tony as he collected up his things.
“Sure, sounds good,” said McGee. Ziva picked up her purse and they headed to the elevator. “Y’know what I don’t get,” said McGee as the doors shut. “You’ve been calling me gay for years. Was that just misdirect?”
“Having sex with a dude is way less gay then using girl moisturizer, getting manicures, and reading Ladies’ Home Journal,” Tony shrugged.
“That is true,” said Ziva, “At least, in the colloquial sense of gay and possibly in the social perception of gay life.”
“Okay, but what about when you freaked out because Voss was a guy?” asked McGee with a smirk.
“Call me old fashioned but I like to know the gender of the person I’m swapping spit with and whether or not they killed a friend of mine. I don’t like making out with murderers.”
The elevator door opened and Abby smiled, “Hey, I’m going down to the evidence locker. What are you talking about?”
Neither Ziva nor McGee said anything. “We’re questioning whether McGee’s girly lifestyle gayness makes him gayer than me even though I’m the one sleeping with Gibbs.”
“They know?” asked Abby. Tony nodded. “You being with Gibbs isn’t that gay. It’s like me being with Leah from Plastic Death.”
“Gibbs isn’t a celebrity,” said McGee.
“There’s a YouTube channel devoted to clips of Gibbs saying inappropriate things to reporters. And few people listen to Plastic Death. Only difference is that Tony knows Gibbs whereas I’ve only met Leah for a minute after a show.” The elevator stopped at Evidence and Abby said, “Leaving gayness out of it: McGee, you’re a man and Tony’s a bro. It’s just a different approach. Night, guys.”
“Night, Abby,” they chorused.
Even though the others knew it didn’t change much. Maybe it was just that they were afraid of pissing him off. They knew that Gibbs got pissed whenever they spoke about personal things at work that didn’t directly affect their work. Gibbs didn’t care about the reason. It was good, the team was working as smoothly as always. As Gibbs never went out with the team Ziva and McGee hadn’t seen them together which Gibbs actually preferred. If Ziva and McGee saw Gibbs as he was with Tony it might have changed the team. They had seen him in his natural element, the basement and the boat, but they’d never seen him relaxed. That was for the best, he needed them to view him as their distant boss, not someone relatable.
The only problem was that Gibbs was groggy whenever he woke up on his own as opposed to the ringing of a phone or the noise of his alarm clock. He never set his alarm on the weekend, allowed himself to relax. Which was usually a pleasant experience. He rarely slept as late as he had but they had been up for most of the night, first with a violent chase with a serial wife killer through a dense forest and then having rough sex. There had been several gunshots and Tony had thought Gibbs was dead as he had stayed down and crawled through the underbrush to get behind the man. He hadn’t meant to scare Tony. Then again, that was some intense sex. Rolling his neck he climbed out of bed, sore and loose and feeling great. But as he stumbled out of the bedroom towards Tony’s kitchen for coffee he was too groggy to remember that it was after ten on a Saturday morning.
He heard McGee say, “Oh God, boss, I didn’t see anything.” He saw McGee cover his eyes.
And then he heard Tony start to laugh and step in front of him, “Doctor Who morning, remember?” Tony herded him back into the bedroom and shut the door. Taking Gibbs’ face in his hands and Tony kissed him slow and deep, nipping at his bottom lip as he pulled away. He laughed again, “So not only did McGee see you naked but you’re covered in bite marks. Sorry about that.”
“Not complaining,” Gibbs leaned down for another kiss. “I’ll get dressed and see you out there.”
“I got bagels and cream cheese. Want me to put one in the toaster for you?”
Gibbs sighed, “You’re a terrible influence.”
“Because I’m willing to make you breakfast?”
“No, because I’d rather have Cap’n Crunch with coffee on it.”
“I’ve got another terrible way to influence you,” Tony waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
“McGee is waiting for you on the couch. You’re not getting laid.”
“We can be quiet and fast,” Tony rubbed Gibbs’ nipple, “it’ll be fun, Jethro.”
“He’ll watch the show without you.”
“Fine, get dressed.” Tony pushed him away playfully and left.
Gibbs washed his face and brushed his teeth before dressing. He figured that the morning could only get better. And while he hadn’t wanted to share his private life with the team there wasn’t much avoiding it with McGee on the sofa, and he wasn’t going to be cold or distant with Tony, not on a Saturday morning. He had left things at Tony’s apartment, a couple of changes of clothes, a razor. Tony seemed to have an aversion to leaving stuff at Gibbs’ house. But Gibbs didn’t think Tony was bothered by his leaving things at Tony’s.
He walked out and saw the way McGee blushed, “Relax, McGee. These things happen.” He went into the kitchen and poured out the cereal and covered it in coffee. He walked to the living room and sat next to Tony. Nodding to the blond girl on the screen he asked, “So that’s Rose?”
Tony launched into an explanation and Gibbs saw McGee relax out of the corner of his eye. Gibbs ate his cereal and stroked the back of Tony’s head, sort of watching the show, but it wasn’t to his taste. He finished eating and said, “I’m gonna go.”
“Leave the bowl-”
“I know, it’s Saturday.” Gibbs interrupted. “Dinner?”
“Reservation’s at seven. I’ll pick you up.”
He considered his next move but figured that McGee had seen so much already that it couldn’t hurt so leaned in to kiss Tony almost chastely. “See you later.”
With Gibbs gone Tony said, “You okay, McGee?”
McGee paused the DVD and said, “That was hinky.”
Tony just laughed, “Told you that you didn’t see it. That it’s different when we’re not at work.”
“But that was… odd.”
“Seeing Gibbs naked?”
“No, although, my God, Tony: you basically chewed down to the bone.”
“I thought he was dead.”
“So you gnawed on him?”
“It wasn’t a conscious thing, you’re in bed, and worried, and wired. And I should point out that I’m really grateful I was wearing a shirt when you got here. I’m not much better off.”
“Don’t tell me details.”
“You sure?” Tony joked. “Do you want another bagel? I want another bagel.”
McGee shook his head. Tony headed to the kitchen and McGee went with him to get more coffee, “He ate kid’s cereal with coffee on it. You do that.”
Tony put a bagel in the toaster and said, “He says I’m a bad influence.”
“Well, that’s usually true. I just didn’t think people could influence Gibbs.” Tony just smirked and pushed himself up onto the countertop and refilled his cup and passed the pot to McGee. “I think I get it a bit now.”
“Well,” Tony laughed, “luckily for me I get it all.”
McGee smiled, “Still don’t want details.” Tony laughed and jumped off the counter and went to the fridge for the cream cheese. “Where are you going for dinner?”
“That new place La Tavola di Contadino. Sounds awesome, authentic rural Italian food. I’m so excited, that’s the food I was raised on. Best bit is that it’s really good but not pretentious or fancy. I checked the reviews because I didn’t want Jethro making fun of me and it’s none of that fancy plating: food towers and drawings in the gravy. It’s all awesome sounding soup, meat, pasta, and good bread.”
“How the hell did you get a table? They’re so busy they’re booked solid.”
“You say your last name is DiNozzo and you don’t mention that you were disinherited when you were twelve. They even asked me what time would be convenient for me.”
“Sometimes I forget that your father is really rich and powerful.”
Tony forced a smile and said, “It’s kind of hard to do when you’re his kid but it does get me into the hottest new restaurants.” His bagel popped out of the toaster. Without thinking he picked one half up and then had to toss it from hand to hand as it was so hot. He looked around for his plate and threw it onto the plate, “Ow, thanks for helping, McGee.” McGee was too busy laughing to respond. “Y’know, you could get a table. Call up and say you’re Thom E. Gemcity and would it be possible to maybe, please get a table sometime. And they’ll be super polite and say that of course, it isn’t a problem at all, and what night and time would you like. It’s easy. Use your name.”
“I didn’t think of that.”
Tony spread the cream cheese on his bagel and said, “Okay, I’m ready to go back to the Doctor.”
Tony was stoned but that hadn’t stopped Gibbs from shouting at him while Brad Pitt examined him. Four badly broken rips. Thank Christ he’d been wearing a flak jacket over his Kevlar vest. He’d been hit by three bullets out of a semi before he had time to get down. It wasn’t his fault Gibbs knew, logically, that it wasn’t his fault but he was still mad as hell. Mad at Tony for getting himself shot; mad at himself for allowing Tony to get shot.
The ride home was silent. He pulled into the driveway and stamped his way through the house to the kitchen for coffee. Tony stood by him, quietly; his fingers kept flexing the way they always did when he was drugged. His fingers showed all the pent up energy that his body was too lethargic to expel any other way. He waited for Gibbs to speak and after five minutes he rolled his eyes in an over the top fashion that only a stoned person could think was unnoticeable. With weaving, uncertain steps Tony left the kitchen and walked up the stairs. Gibbs waited to hear the shower turn on but it didn’t. After twenty minutes he went to investigate. Tony wasn’t in the bathroom or the master bedroom. Eventually Gibbs found him in the guestroom, touching his fingers to his face, stroking downwards in a strange imitation of a lover’s caress.
“Tony-” he began.
“Go away, Gibbs.”
Gibbs didn’t budge from the door. “Why are you in here?”
“Well maybe my rules aren’t important to you maybe they’re a joke to you and you’re indulging me by pretending they matter for so long as they suit you. But just because you’re breaking rule two doesn’t mean I’m going to break rule three.” He spoke in a fast slur. Gibbs had to work to keep up and detangle one word from the next. “My boss is allowed to shout at me and be pissed. But I shouldn’t have to sit in a car with my boyfriend for a half hour while he’s too busy being angry to be nice or even look at me, or for him to bang about in the kitchen not talking to me.
“I got shot and my boyfriend isn’t supposed to be mean. The guy you’re in love with should help you get undressed, and keep you company, and take care of you.”
Tony loved him and Gibbs was still pissed. Gibbs was irritated and ashamed of himself and he knew he shouldn’t have spoken as he spoke but said, “Life’s not a movie, Tony. It doesn’t work like that.”
“Yes it is, Sidney. It's all one big movie. Life is like a movie. Only you can't pick your genre.” Gibbs got the feeling that Tony was quoting something. “And it does work like that. I’ve done it enough times for you when we’ve had a hard case. And I’ve turned off the work when we go home, even after big fights, I come home and I’m happy to see you because I love you and it’s worth the difficulty. My boss can be pissed because he’s never going to admit to being scared but my boyfriend can strip me and touch me and assure himself that I’m not dead.
“But you’re not my boyfriend right now. You’re just my boss. And you need to go away because right now, as I’m too stoned to get home and I wouldn’t dream of putting you out and making you take me home, this is my room and you’re not welcome here.” Gibbs crossed to the bed and tried to stroke Tony’s hair but Tony shrugged him off, “We’re not making up: you’re going away.” Tony rolled away from him, hissing as he put pressure on his ribs.
Gibbs nodded even though Tony wasn’t looking and exited the room. It was the first time either of them had mentioned love which the whole situation worse. Declarations of that kind weren’t supposed to come out in fights when the person saying them was drugged. Gibbs loved Tony, loved him in a way he hadn’t loved anyone but Shannon. Tony made him happy, made him relax and be comfortable. He didn’t want to hurt Tony he was just an idiot when it came it being with someone. He went down to the kitchen and got a glass of water and Tony’s pills. Getting a piece of paper he wrote down the times Tony was allowed to take the painkillers. He brought them up to the guestroom and put them on the bedside. “You’ll need these.”
“Thanks, Gibbs,” Tony sounded calm but still pissed and the use of his last name made Gibbs know that Tony wanted him to leave so he did.
Tony woke up feeling ill, he hated painkillers. He tried to stretch but it made his chest hurt like fire so he carefully moved to the edge of the bed. He didn’t have any sweats so he just pulled on the slacks he’s been wearing the day before. It hurt to stand but he didn’t want to take another pill. He could only vaguely remember the night before, shouting at Gibbs. But he did remember that he’d told Gibbs he loved him… twice. He hoped Gibbs wasn’t angry at him for that or still angry at him for getting shot because he didn’t want pills he wanted touch. He moved down the stairs slowly, careful to hold his chest still.
He smelled cooking and he walked into the kitchen to see Gibbs at the stove in sweats and a tee-shirt. Tony saw a coffee pot filled with coffee that he could smell was his and he knew that Gibbs had calmed down. He walked up behind him and slipped an arm around Gibbs’ waist. He started to lean back against Tony but Tony hissed, “No don’t do that.”
Gibbs turned and said, “Did you take a pill?”
Tony shook his head, “I don’t want to.”
Gibbs kissed his forehead, “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t even remember most of it. Just that you were angry and I was angry.”
“Doesn’t stop me from needing to apologize.”
“Do I need to apologize?” asked Tony. He wasn’t really asking about the fight.
“No, not for anything.” Gibbs reached for a waiting mug and poured Tony’s coffee. “Go back to bed.”
“I’d rather it was ours but it’s up to you.”
Ours. Gibbs said ours. “Ours,” repeated Tony.
“Good choice. There’s something you need to sort out in there.”
“What?” asked Tony.
“You’ll see. Can you go up the stairs by yourself?” Tony nodded. “I’ll bring up the food in a few minutes.” Tony picked up the whole pot of coffee and went slowly up the stairs. He walked into the master bedroom. He saw what Gibbs meant; his TV from his living room was on top of the bureau that faced the foot of the bed. Next to it was his DVD player and a large stack of movie series, the Alien movies, all the Indiana Jones films, all the Back to the Future movies, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Human Condition, Koker, The Man with No Name, The Ingmar Bergman Trilogy, Three Colors. On the other side were all of his toiletries including his shampoo, conditioner, face scrub, body wash. The drawers of the bureau were open and Tony saw his clothes neatly folded and tucked inside. He glanced to the side and saw that the closet door was open and several of his suits were hanging inside. It was a little over whelming but the urge to set up the TV and DVD made it so that he didn’t have to think too much, just plug things in. Gibbs came upstairs with a tray and said, “I snaked your keys and went over to your place. I’m going to take some days off to help you through the worst of it and you’re going to stay here. And I know you have some weird aversion to leaving stuff here but I need you to get over it because you’re hurt and I want to take care of you and I can do that a lot better in a place where I know exactly where everything is.” He put the tray on the bed and kissed Tony’s mouth, “Okay?”
Tony paused, unsure of what to say, “You never try to saddle a distressed pony.”
“Are you calling me a distressed pony?”
“I just don’t want to startle you.”
“By leaving things here,” Gibbs said with a raised eyebrow. “Y’know, that thing with the handcuffs didn’t startle me, chaffed my wrists but it didn’t startle me. Why would you leaving things here do it?”
“You loved the handcuffs,” said Tony with a smirk. Then more seriously he said, “You like your space, you like things neat and ordered and in their place. I’ve seen how your relationships end, they push you and you push back harder. I don’t want to push you. I don’t want you to change your life for me. I just want to slide into it. You always say that roommates are a bad idea.”
“You’re not a bad idea. I like you a hell of a lot more than any of my ex-wives. And you’re not the one pushing, I am. I want you here, please, Tony.”
“It’ll never work you know,” said Tony but he smiled as he spoke.
“Why not?” said Gibbs, waiting for the joke.
“Your bed’s not as comfortable as mine.”
Gibbs chuckled, “I can fix that, easily. Later, when you’re asleep and comfortable I will fix that. Now pick a movie and let’s eat before the food gets cold.”
“No subtitles, my head hurts. Indiana or Alien?”
“I don’t mind.”
“Indy then.” Tony put the disk into the machine and took the controller to the bed. He took off his slacks and got under the sheets. As the movie started he began to eat and Gibbs climbed in next to him and started to eat his breakfast.
“So what’s this about?” asked Gibbs.
“Seriously?” said Tony, “You don’t know?”
“Not at all. I just grabbed collections. You can’t go back to work for a long time and I figured they would keep you busy.”
“How long?” asked Tony feeling himself panic. “You need me.”
“Yeah I do, so your boss can stick it.” Tony laughed and Gibbs gave him as small smile as he said, “I need you well and healthy. Brad’s worried about your lungs, broken ribs can upset lungs and yours are scarred. You’re not going back to work for a while. NCIS will have to suck it up, they can’t have you.”
“What about deskwork? I could be on desk duty.”
“But you won’t. You’ll come in with the best of intentions and within an hour you will be in the field and I’m not letting you come back. Hell, when you got the plague you came back too early and almost got blown up. Not again, Tony, you’re staying far away from work until you’re well.”
“You gotta take your pills, and they make you a little loopy. I don’t think you can do much with them.”
“Why do I have to take them? I don’t even like them.”
“You have to take them at least at first. You might not like the feeling but it’s better than pain.”
“You never take pills.”
“I don’t need them.”
“Oh yeah? What about the glucosamine and chondroitin Ducky gave you?” Gibbs rolled his eyes. “You know, needing a supplement for your knees doesn’t make you old. Belligerently refusing to take them even though they could help you, that makes you old.”
“Make you a deal,” said Gibbs, “you take your painkillers and I will try the stupid pills.” He put his plate down and left the room. He came back holding Tony’s pills and the unopened bottle Ducky had given him months before. He opened the bottle, broke the seal and dry swallowed two. He sat on the bed and held out Tony’s pills, “Deal?”
Tony took one and said, “I’m gonna be tingling in twenty minutes.”
“I’ll take care of you, just eat and watch your movie.”
Tony ate and saw something out of the corner of his eye and turned to see it more clearly, “Jethro?”
“The photo that’s always on your bedside is gone.”
“Yep,” Gibbs replied without comment.
“If you put it away because you don’t want me seeing them or don’t want them seeing me that’s cool. But if you put it away to make me comfortable then that’s really stupid.”
“It seemed rude somehow.”
Tony chuckled, “You’ve never been accused of being polite and I don’t think now is a good time to start. I think that you should put the picture back where it belongs. We could be the greatest romance of the century but they’re never going to stop being your girls and you should have their picture on your bedside table if that’s where you want it. You’re trying to be really accommodating but you shouldn’t make changes you don’t like. I like you without any of the changes at all.”
Gibbs opened the bedside drawer and pulled the framed photo out and put it back in its place. “Okay,” he said softly. He stroked Tony’s hair and went back to eating.
Tony felt the lethargy move through him and knew the drug was kicking in. He put aside his plate, Gibbs had cooked a lot food and Tony was full. Gibbs was warm against him and Tony pawed at Gibbs’ sweatshirt. Gibbs’ gently removed Tony’s hands and pulled the sweatshirt over his head. He reached under the covers and pulled his pants off and then pulled Tony back against him. As Gibbs’ rubbed Tony’s stomach Tony felt the sparks between their skin, the electricity flowed back and forth. “We’re a circuit.”
“Yeah,” Gibbs agreed quietly.
Blinking his eyes open Tony realized that the TV was playing Temple of Doom. He didn’t remember Raiders ending. Gibbs was speaking and Tony had to focus hard to catch the words. “Come sit on the chair for me.” Tony let Gibbs move him out of bed and sit him on the chair in the corner. Indy and Willie were going through the secret passage in his room. Tony got engrossed, he loved this bit. Then Gibbs was helping him get back into bed. And the bed had been transformed. “Better?” asked Gibbs.
“What did you do?” asked Tony, cuddling into the bed as Gibbs stroked his hair.
“Once you were sacked out I went to Wal-Mart. It’s memory foam, under a pillow top mattress pad, under flannel sheets, and feather pillows. Happy?”
“Come back to bed, it’s so good.” Then he felt himself giggling, “You really do shop at Wal-Mart.”
Gibbs kissed his forehead, “It’s cheap. I’m going to go make you a sandwich. You watch the movie.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“I’m gonna make you one just in case.” The bed was so comfortable and soft that Tony felt himself start to drift off. Then Gibbs was back. He gave Tony a plate with a huge sandwich on it. “Pastrami on rye with mustard.”
“My favorite,” said Tony struggling to sit up, “I’m still not hungry.”
“I’ll share it.” Gibbs stripped and got in next to Tony, “You should take another pill before this one totally wears off it’s been four hours.”
“I feel really good.”
“And I want you to stay that way.” Gibbs handed him a pill and Tony took it without complaint. He remembered that he hadn’t wanted to take one earlier but he couldn’t really remember why.
“After we eat can we have sex? Because if we’re careful I think my ribs can take it so long as I’m medicated.”
Gibbs nodded, “Sounds like a plan.”
Tony thought it was fantastic, this getting shot and not allowed to go to work thing. He didn’t like to think about when Gibbs would go back to work because right now he was in a haze of sex, sleep, and hanging out and it had only been three days. Gibbs helped him shower, rewrapped his bandages, helped him dress, and undress and he seemed to be getting off on taking care of him. Which sort of made sense because he always wanted to help hurting people. He was down to taking half pills every four hours so he wasn’t loopy and he didn’t hurt too much. Tony refused to stay in bed citing that Brad had said he needed activity to keep from developing pneumonia. Most of the time he ended up in the basement, watching Gibbs put the final touches on the boat. Tony liked watching him work, it was soothing and Gibbs was correcting tiny imperfections Tony couldn’t even see. He worked for hours and Tony kept him company. Neither of them spoke much as Gibbs painted and varnished it, attached all the metal work, hooked up all the wiring.
“First boat I built I called it Ginger. Didn’t have a name when I was working on it. But I finished it the day my divorce was final. I painted on the name, took as ax to it, brought all the pieces into the yard and set light to it. The same thing happened to the next one although it was finished three weeks before the divorce was finalized but I waited until that day to write the name on, Diane, then I chopped it up, put the pieces in the yard and burned it. Stephanie didn’t stick around long enough for the honor of a boat. I started to think that I’d been an idiot to invest in the way to get boats out of the basement. Then I started building the Kellies and every time I finished one I gave it away, didn’t burn it. I have to go back to work in four days. But if we get this out tonight then I can finish up everything within the next couple of days in the garage and we can spend the night on it in the water before I have to go back to the office. If you want?”
Tony felt his mouth go dry and nodded. He didn’t like sailing but he really liked the way Gibbs was with the boat. And a night on it? That would be awesome. “I want that.”
Gibbs nodded, “Okay.” Gibbs started to paint the name on and Tony took in the boat as a whole. It wasn’t done yet but it was still good looking. He walked around it, taking it in. In a little while he would know the secret of getting the boat out of the basement and the thrill ran through him. Gibbs put down the paintbrush and pointed to what he’d just written, “What do you think?” he asked. Tony rounded the boat to see the name Kelly but instead he saw a different name entirely. Tony.
“I won’t burn it. And I changed the inside already, it can’t sleep four anymore. It’s definitely The Tony: it has a sound system so you can play music, one huge-by-boat-standards bed, and one regular boat sized bed for anyone who breaks rule three.”
Tony stared at his name on the back of the boat, “When did you change it?”
“Day you made the rules.”
“You’re sure about this?”
Gibbs nodded, “She’s yours, Tony.”
“Wow.” Tony sat down back down in the armchair he’d been in for most of the evening.
“Do you like your boat?”
“She’s beautiful, Jethro.” Gibbs walked to Tony and kissed him slowly. Tongues fought for dominance but Gibbs won.
“That name needs a while to dry enough to move it,” Gibbs spoke against Tony’s lips. Tony stood and was about to go to the stairs when Gibbs untied his sweats and pushed them down. Tony hadn’t bothered with boxers since breaking his ribs, fewer layers made it easier to dress and undress. “Staying here. I don’t want you to get winded going up and down two flights of stairs.”
“So I can’t go upstairs but we’re gonna have sex?”
“You don’t have to do anything. Arms up,” said Gibbs. Tony was careful, moving his arms fast hurt. Gibbs tugged Tony’s tee-shirt over his head. He ran his fingers over the bandages he had wrapped around Tony’s torso so carefully. “Sit.” Tony sat back down. Gibbs crossed to his workbench and opened the drawer and pulled out lube and condoms. He’d taken to keeping some there because Tony jumped him pretty much everywhere. “Just sit there,” Gibbs slid into Tony’s lap, “Let me do the work.”
He uncapped the lube, put a large amount on his fingers and reached behind himself. Tony had to touch him. He stroked his hands down Gibbs’ back to his ass and touched Gibbs’ fingers as they moved in and out of his hole. It made Tony pant feeling Gibbs open himself turned Tony on painfully and then Gibbs started to stroke him. He started to buck up and Gibbs stopped instantly. “Jethro,” Tony whined.
“Told you to sit still. You move and I stop, got it?” Tony nodded, and leaned forward just a little to kiss him.
“I can do that, right?” he asked with a smirk. Gibbs nodded and kept stroking Tony and stretching himself. The strain of not moving made sweat break out on Tony’s skin. And finally Gibbs sank onto him, “Thank God.” He ran his hands up Gibbs’ side and finally rested on his shoulders. “You feel so good.”
Gibbs was murmuring nice things in his ear, Tony was gorgeous, sexy, Gibbs wanted him on the water, Tony was such a good boy sitting so still and patient, and wasn’t it worth it, wasn’t it? “Yeah, yeah, so good.” And it was, Tony just took it, staying still so it didn’t stop. Even now, in the throws, he knew Gibbs would freeze if Tony moved his hips. Gibbs moved faster, harder up and down in Tony’s lap. He was almost glad he wasn’t in charge because there was no way he could be doing that. All of their sex had been so careful and slow since Tony had broken his ribs and this was good and he was so close.
He loved being inside Gibbs, it was out of his wildest dreams: he never expected Gibbs to want him like this. And Gibbs had said that he usually didn’t like it but Tony wasn’t seeing that because Gibbs was always up for it, even suggesting it. It was fantastic right up until he saw Ziva over Gibbs’ shoulder. She was standing at the top of the stairs, “Ziva,” Tony panted out and then she was gone leaving a teddy bear.
Then Gibbs was coming on his chest and clenching Tony and he couldn’t not come because the sensation was overwhelming. Gibbs dropped his forehead to Tony’s shoulder, panting and kissing Tony’s skin. Tony hugged him closer. “I know why you don’t like having a lock on the door, not blocking the world out, refusing to fear people in your own home. But have you thought of a hook and eye? Wouldn’t stop a break in, don’t have to lock it when you go out or when you go to bed, just when we’re having sex anywhere but bed.”
“Why?” asked Gibbs breathing hard.
“Did you miss our visitor?”
“Ziva. You didn’t hear me?”
“I thought you just said the wrong name. I was going to let it slide.”
“No she was here.”
“Sure it wasn’t a fantasy?” asked Gibbs before sucking a kiss into Tony’s neck.
Tony laughed, “Why would I need to fantasize about someone else when you’re riding me next to a boat you just named after me? This is a fantasy. Look, she left a bear.” He pointed over Gibbs’ shoulder. Gibbs turned in his lap to look where Tony was pointing. He started laughing, “I’m not sure it’s funny, Jethro.”
“We feel comfortable enough that we tell Abby and Ducky but we aren’t sure about the rest of the team. Now McGee’s seen me naked and Ziva’s caught us in the act. That’s funny.”
Tony finally laughed, “Okay that is funny.”
Gibbs slowly moved off of Tony and pulled the condom off. He kissed Tony before walking to the workbench and throwing the condom into the trashcan underneath it. He reached up for one of the many jars of random stuff that were on the shelf above the workbench and poured it out. He sorted through the objects and held up a hook and eye. “I’ll be right back,” he said.
He headed up the stairs and threw the teddy bear at Tony and Tony caught it with one hand. As he caught it he squeezed its stomach Abby’s voice said, “I love you, Tony! Ziva, Tell Tony you love him.”
“I hope you are well soon, Tony,” said Ziva.
“No, Ziva. I said, ‘love him.’ Lo-” the sound clip cut off and Tony smiled.
“They went to Build a Bear,” Tony said when he saw Gibbs’ confused look. “It’s a store where you stuff a bear.”
“Well, I got that, Tony,” Gibbs said sarcastically, “just wondering why they got you such a gay gift.” Tony laughed as Gibbs left. He put the bear aside and stood slowly. He ran his fingers through Gibbs’ now cool come on his stomach and licked his fingers clean. The mess needed a wash cloth. His chest hurt a lot and he looked at his watch just as Gibbs called down, “You should take a pill.”
“Thanks, mom,” Tony called back. Tony walked up the stairs and found his pills and cell phone where he’d left them on the kitchen table. He swallowed half a pill and called Ziva as he walked out to the hall. She picked up saying, “Tony, I am sorry.”
“Don’t sweat it. Although you have changed the world: Gibbs is in the process of putting a lock on the door.”
“Oh, I now feel worse.” Tony watched Gibbs screwing the lock into the door frame.
“Don’t worry, it’s not a real lock, a small child could break through it, it’s just to let people know they shouldn’t come in. I don’t think Gibbs will hold it against you.” Gibbs just shook his head not turning away from the door. “He says no. Thanks for the bear.”
“Abby dragged me but it was fun.”
“Did you see the name on the boat?”
“No, Tony, I saw what I saw and left as quickly as I could.”
“It’s called Tony.”
“Wow, that is wonderful. I feel that Gibbs naming the boat for you is more significant than three of his marriages.”
Tony laughed, “That might be true. Anyway, I should get dressed. I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t gone blind.”
She spoke softly, very seriously, “There was nothing wrong with what I saw. It was just inappropriate for me to walk in on it.”
“Thanks, Ziva, goodnight.”
He hung up and said, “Ziva said we made her hot.”
“No she didn’t,” said Gibbs finishing with the door.
“Yeah, but she thought it.” He went into the bathroom, grabbed the hand towel, and wet it in the sink. He wiped himself off. Gibbs walked in and Tony started to clean him too. “Is the boat ready? I’m really excited about seeing how you get it out.”
“Are you sure you want the mystery solved?”
“I was the kid who tore apart the chrysalis to see how the butterfly got made. I want to know.”
“Okay. I’m going to go get your clothes.” Tony ran his fingers through his hair getting it to look a bit more normal. Gibbs came back fully dressed with Tony’s clothes and helped him into his sweats. He walked to the table in the hall and picked up his keys. “Come into the garage.”
“We go for a ride first?”
“In a way.”
When they got there Gibbs opened the garage door and handed Tony the keys, “Pull the car down to the bottom of the driveway.”
“Wow, I never thought you’d let me drive your Challenger.”
“It’s only to the bottom of the driveway.” Tony laughed, got into the car, and drove it out. As he did Gibbs went to the back of the garage where a boat trailer was propped up against the wall and pulled it down and out onto the driveway.
Tony walked back up to the garage and looked around, “I know you’re a neat freak. But it’s kind of disturbing that there is nothing on the floor. I mean. You even have your snow shovel hanging on the wall. Who does that?” Gibbs just smirked at him as he went to the side of garage and pulled, vigorously on two ropes that hung down from the ceiling. He swung them outwards, dragged them to the center of the room and Tony realized that they were connected to a mechanical winch. Gibbs got the winch to the center of the room and then walked back towards the door that lead into the house, “Okay so you have a way of getting the boat onto the trailer. Still not seeing how you get the boat out of the basement.”
“Come here.” Tony walked to be next to Gibbs, inside the door. “The reason there’s nothing on the floor is so that nothing falls down the hole.”
“What hole?” asked Tony.
Gibbs pressed a button on the wall and the floor of the garage started to move, slide backwards, retracting beneath the back wall of the garage. “That hole.”
“Oh. My. God.” The floor kept retracting until there was no floor, just a hole directly above the boat. The ropes fell down into the hole and landed on the deck. “Whoa.” Gibbs said nothing just walked away. Tony followed him. “For someone who is so cheap –and I say that with great affection and no judgment— that is an incredibly expensive work of machinery. Or did it come standard with the house?” he joked.
Gibbs walked down the basement stairs and said nothing for a moment. Finally he said, “We had life insurance. For Shannon and me it made sense. But the idea of having it for Kelly made me feel sick. Had a big fight with Shannon about it and she said, ‘Gibbs, it would break us if Kelly died, it would. But if we had the money, if we were forced to spend that money on something good, something Kelly would want it might get us through for a little while: keep us occupied.’
“So when I lost them both well, first I used Mike Franks to hunt down the bastard and kill him, then I drank a lot, started violent fights, had a lot of sex, and then I thought about what to spend two lots of life insurance on. Kelly loved boats. For me it was always about the wood but she liked the results. She always liked results more than the process. We used to build little ones down here. She always wanted to build a big one but you can’t get anything bigger than a rowboat up the stairs. And she used to say, ‘I wish we had a button that would make the boat disappear here and be outside so we could build a big one.’ I spent all the money making the button. If I’d had the money when she was alive I would have found a way to keep it secret. Wait for her to go to bed and have it upstairs by the time she woke up. I would have made it a magic trick. It’s why I never told any of you. I wanted it to be magic.”
“Jethro, I just watched you do it: it is magic. You have a retractable floor. It’s amazing.”
Gibbs gave him a small smile, “I guess it sort of is, yeah.” He went about attaching the ropes. He checked them, making sure they were all tight and correctly done. He went to the workbench. There was a switch just below the shelf. Tony had never really thought about what it did. Gibbs flipped it on and the winch slowly pulled the boat upwards until it stopped with a click about a foot and a half above where the floor of the garage should have been. “One more trip up.” Tony followed Gibbs again, feeling giddy from the whole experience. As they got to the door of the garage Gibbs hit the button to shut the floor. Once it was back in place he walked to the trailer and pushed it under the boat, it fit, just. The whole system was meticulously designed. Gibbs anchored the boat to the trailer and then untied the winch ropes. “And that is how you get the boat out of the basement.” Tony went to him and hugged him as tightly as his ribs would allow. “Is that a thank you for the boat?”
“No. It’s a thank you for letting me in on the magic.” He yawned into Gibbs’ shoulder. “Man, I’m wiped from the excitement.”
“That’s why we didn’t come upstairs to have sex.”
Tony chuckled, “Good planning.” He pulled back a little.
“Go on up to bed. I’ll join you in a couple of minutes.”
“Okay, I’m gonna call Abby.”
“Tony, this was the example you used for rule one,” said Gibbs looking slightly horrified and not a little hurt.
“Oh ye of little faith. I’m just going to gloat that I know how it’s done and hang up on her once she gets excited. Why would I share this?”
He yawned again and Gibbs stroked his cheek, “Go to bed.”
Tony snapped off a mock salute, “Aye aye, Captain.” When he got upstairs he undressed carefully, sitting on the bed and called Abby.
“Tony,” she said picking up, “I know everything you’re going to say.”
“Oh yeah?” he asked.
“Ziva walked in on you and Gibbs, you like the bear, and Gibbs named the boat Tony.”
“We just took the boat out of the basement.” And as she started to excitedly ask questions Tony hung up.
Gibbs never liked working on the boat after it was out of the basement as much. But he finished the galley, the water filtration system, the ventilation system, the lights, and the head. He got everything plumbed in and set up and finally, on his last day off the boat was ready to go into the water. It was stupid, Thanksgiving was in a week. He would have to take it out for the winter in two weeks or risk having it break down. But as stupid was it was he still wanted to bring it out, if only for a little while. He hadn’t been this excited about going out on the water in years. It was mid afternoon by the time he was ready. Tony was making sandwiches and packing massive amounts of coffee. “Clothes, Tony?”
“We need clothes?” Tony raised an eyebrow.
“An extra sweatshirt, good boots, nothing else. It’s cold out on the water. We’ll come back before I go to work so we don’t need clothes for the morning.”
“I was really enjoying the staycation.”
“Staycation really, Tony?”
“It’s fun to say. I need to go home anyway, got some stuff to do.”
Gibbs nodded, “Fair enough. Grab your gear and we’ll go down to the launch slip.”
“When you say ‘grab your gear’ I expect you to say there’s a body.”
Gibbs rolled his eyes and grabbed the food. The bag was heavy, “How much food do we need? You realize it’s one night.”
“Sandwiches are my favorite food group,” Tony said with a shrug as he walked towards the stairs.
Gibbs threw the bag into the back of the car and then hooked up the trailer. Tony came down a moment later dressed for sailing. As they drove Tony said, “I want to learn everything. I don’t want to be a freeloader.”
“Okay. I’ll teach you the rules about sailing. Except navigating.”
When they got to the launch slip it was late afternoon. With the boat on the back Gibbs hadn’t wanted to speed. There was no one there, too late in the season which was nice as they weren’t rushed. The ocean looked gorgeous and flat. The docks next to the launch slip were packed. Some of the boats were already covered for the winter. Gibbs never liked leaving a boat in the water for winterizing, it seemed like an insult: I spent time making you but now you’re on your own. Gibbs backed down the ramp, put it into park, and said, “Do you want to help?” Tony just smiled at him. “Okay,” he got out of the car, “come drive,” he said through the window. Tony got out and rounded the car. “When I say so reverse very slowly and stop the second I say stop. We don’t want the car going into the water.”
“No that would be bad,” agreed Tony as he slid behind the wheel. Gibbs shut the door behind him and Tony said, “Such a gentleman.”
Gibbs said nothing just rolled his eyes. He walked to the back and aid, “Slowly.” Tony did as he was told, inching back. He felt the trailer slide into the water and after a few moments Gibbs said, “Stop. Put it into park and put on the hand break.” Tony followed the order, “Stay in the car.” Tony watched Gibbs in the mirror as he unhooked the boat from the trailer. The boat instantly bobbed up and Gibbs tugged it off and to the side where he tied it to the dock. “Okay, now pull up,” he said and Tony drove forward getting the trailer out of the water. “Good.”
Tony parked the car and said, “What next?”
“Next you get on the boat while I park up in the lot.”
“Okay,” Tony took the food out of the back and went to the boat, the boat was bobbing up and down and Tony watched the movement for a moment before stepping over the side but still wobbled a little. He went down into the galley and put the food into the fridge. Back on deck a man walked by and said, “Gibbs got a new boat?”
Tony smiled, “How’d you know?”
“It’s a Kelly,” said the guy. Then he glanced at the stern, “Or a Tony.” He looked surprised. Then shrugged it off, “So, where’s it going this time?”
“He’s keeping it.”
“Wow, he’s owned a dock here for almost twenty years but he’s never had one docked for more than about a couple of months.”
“Well, I mean, I live here.” The guy looked at him with confusion, “I’m Tony.”
The guy nodded as though it was suddenly clear. “Well, it’ll be nice to have one in his spot, always seems lonely to see an empty dock. I’m Ernie the night security.”
Tony reached over the side to shake his hand, “Tony DiNozzo, it’s nice to meet you.”
As Gibbs walked up he said, “Hey, Ernie, how you been?”
“It’s good to see you, Gibbs. Boat’s beautiful.”
“Thanks, we’re just about to take her out for the night.”
“Water’s flat wind’s fair.”
“Flat enough to anchor for the night?”
“Absolutely. Winds for morning are supposed to be good.”
“That’s sad. I’ve gotta go to work in the morning.” He stepped on board and started to cast off from the docks and said, “Have a good night, Ernie.” He waited until they’d drifted away from the dock, pointing the boat into the wind, Gibbs tested the wind, and then hoisted the main sail, setting it at an angle and studying it to make sure it was perfect. “First rule of sailing: never stand behind the wind and the sail.”
“The sail will hit me, I will go off the deck, and you will laugh at me.”
“Yes I will. Second rule, before you know all the rules you obey whatever I say. When I tell you to get out of the way you get out of the way.” They moved fast away from the deck.
“When don’t I?”
“About ten percent of the time,” said Gibbs dryly but with a small smirk.
“I will obey you to the letter, boss.”
“Good.” He began to explain everything he was doing as he hoisted the front sail, giving Tony all the names of things and their functions. And Tony paid close attention like there would be a test later. It was odd because Gibbs knew that Tony didn’t like sailing, or at least, didn’t like boats. Feeling like it needed to be said he spoke, “Tony, you don’t need to learn this stuff.”
“I want to be useful.”
“You are useful: you’re my company. Without you here I’m just some crotchety, lonely, old bastard on a boat.”
“Jethro,” said Tony, in a reprimanding tone, “you’re not old.”
“So I am a crotchety, lonely bastard?”
“Well, obviously.” Tony was deadpan and it made Gibbs chuckle. “You don’t like freeloaders, be honest.”
And that was true for the most part but he really enjoyed Tony’s company and he meant it when he said that that was Tony’s contribution. He hadn’t spent a night on one of his boats in years; they always seemed too desolate at night. He just studied Tony for a few moments and then said, “Do you want to learn to steer?”
Tony nodded, “Yeah, do we need to do anything else to the sails?”
“No, that’s okay.” He pointed at the compass next to the wheel and said, “Just keep the needle there. That’s the direction we want to go.”
Tony walked to the wheel and just sort of looked at it, “I really don’t want to crash the boat.” Gibbs walked up behind him and took Tony’s hands and placed them on the wheel. He started to steer the boat with his hands over Tony’s. He pressed himself against Tony’s back and felt him shaking and then Tony burst out laughing, “Sorry, I can’t hold it in any more. It makes my ribs really hurt. Sailing into the sunset with you copping a feel while pretending to teach me to steer? I’ve seen this movie. Do you honestly think you need to seduce me? We’re standing on a boat that you redesigned for me. How do you think you can top that?”
“Wasn’t trying to seduce you. I was just copping a feel.” He took one hand off the wheel and slid it down Tony’s chest. “You feel good against me.”
Gibbs removed his other hand and stroked Tony’s hip gently. They stood there for a few minutes and Gibbs said, “You’ve been steering for a while now.”
“If you’d taught me like this I would have been the agent I am now eight years ago.”
Gibbs huffed a laugh into Tony’s neck. “You’re doing really well.” He stayed that way, waiting to see if Tony would need any help. It surprised him, he knew that Tony wanted him, knew that Tony loved him, but Tony’s reaction to the boat was overly excited. Maybe it was like the ponies from his mother it wasn’t the gift that mattered it was the thought. Tony relaxed back against him, still steering, keeping the boat straight with tiny shifts of the wheel. The wind was good and they moved quickly. There was a motor, just in case Gibbs didn’t like it but he needed to be prepared for any emergency. Once Gibbs was satisfied with their position he moved away from Tony and took down the sails. As they slowed down Gibbs released the anchor as they came to a halt. The light was failing and the water was flat and quiet, it was a good spot to spend the night. Tony turned away from the wheel with a smile, “It’s freezing out here.”
“It’s November on the water.”
“Pretty though,” said Tony looking out over the water at the sunset. He rested against the banister on the side, sitting on the edge. He chuckled, “One of the last times I talked to my dad, I called him to tell him that I’d picked my major. That I was going to do Phys Ed because it would help me be a cop he said I was a fool. And he said, ‘Cops don’t get ahead, Junior. You’ll never own a yacht.’” Tony smiled. “I mean, that’s not the most important thing, obviously, it’s a stupid thing to say. But I wish he could see me now.”
“She’s not a yacht.”
“She’s better than a yacht, she’s a custom made Leroy Jethro Gibbs sailboat. Way more impressive to people in the know.”
“Your father isn’t in the know.”
Tony shrugged, “I guess he wouldn’t eat his words but I know. Anyway officially it is a yacht: it’s over twenty feet. You hungry?”
“I’ll get the sandwiches.” He opened the hatch and climbed down the steep stairs easily. He pulled out the sandwiches and grabbed the thermoses the light coming in the portholes was weak but Gibbs knew where everything was, he’d built her. Before going back topside he pressed the start button on the sound system. He heard Tony crow up on deck as Coltrane started to play. As he came upstairs he saw Tony was rocking hips to the music.
“I love my boat,” said Tony very seriously. Gibbs shut the hatch and moved to Tony, resting his forehead against Tony’s. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome.” He pulled back slightly moved to stand next to Tony, viewing the sunset. He handed Tony a sandwich and put the thermoses on the side.
They ate in silence, listening to the music and watching the sky, they finished eating and Tony said, “It’s getting too cold out here.”
“Let’s go to bed.”
“You can show me this huge bed.”
“It’s only huge by boat standards.”
“That’s okay. I’m great at cuddling.”
“You have many talents.”
Tony popped half a pain pill and swallowed it with coffee before heading towards the stairs, “Just in case it gets rough.” He climbed down and Gibbs followed him, flipping on the light as he did.
“You think I’m gonna be rough with you?” Gibbs asked, “While you have broken ribs.”
“Well, that does sound fun and usually I’d be on board but my ribs say no. The sea might get rough, that’s what I meant. Rough would be good another time, not tonight.” Tony moved through the cabin and around the galley like a natural, putting away the thermoses and throwing away the bags from the sandwiches.
“I want to be nice to you. On the boat it should be nice.”
“What if I try to mutiny and deserve lashes?”
Gibbs studied Tony, unsure of his next move. “Tony, I could never whip you. Not ever, there’s a limit to what’s sexy.”
“Really?” Tony seemed genuinely surprised. “Not even if I begged?” Tony moved towards him and turned off the music.
“No,” Gibbs said firmly. He stroked Tony’s face, “I can spank you, tie you down, make you beg, blindfold you,” Gibbs watched Tony’s throat as he swallowed, “that’s good fun. And I like it when you do all those things to me. There’s a lot more that’s fun too. But anything that makes you actually hurt or bleed? That’s not turn on.”
Tony nodded, “It’s good to know the boundaries.”
Gibbs said, “I haven’t given you a tour down here.”
“It’s a pretty open plan,” said Tony, “I think I’ve gotten the gist.”
Gibbs acted like he hadn’t spoken. “So we’re standing in the cabin with the galley and the dining room.” He moved to the back, Tony followed him. Gibbs pointed as he spoke, “This is the storage, this is the quarter berth.” He walked towards the front, past the cabin and opened a door on either side, “the bathroom and the shower. And this,” he said, as he shut the bathroom and shower doors and opened the last door that lead into the forepeak, “Is the master bedroom.” He leaned inside to turn on the light. The inside of the door was padded as it actually was the headboard of the bed and the door didn’t go all the way up, the top forth was a window. Gibbs had wanted the room to have a flow, yet they needed a headboard to not fall out of bed. He could have just put in a lee cloth but Tony liked creature comforts so Gibbs had gone big. The whole room was the bed, there was no floor. But the bed was set in pretty low so that you could kneel on it without hitting your head.
Then he turned to Tony and said, “Arms up, there’s not enough room to strip in there.” He tugged both of the sweatshirts over Tony’s head. He saw that the outer layer of the bandages had become loose. He released the catches and then rewrapped them more tightly. “Better?” Tony nodded. When Gibbs was dressing and undressing him Tony always went floppy and relaxed, letting Gibbs move him however he wanted. Gibbs got the feeling that Tony liked it because all Tony really wanted was his attention and affection and he was getting it in spades. He moved Tony so that he was in the doorway, sitting on the bed, to remove his shoes.
Tony sort of bounced on the bed and said, “I’ve never seen a vee shaped bed.”
“Well, it’s called a v-berth for a reason.”
“But where do you get the mattress?”
“It was custom made. You can get them at boat shows but not big comfy ones.” Gibbs knelt in front of him and untied Tony’s boots and pulled them off with his socks. He tapped Tony’s hips and Tony pushed himself up off the mattress and pushed his sweats down. Tony’s knees were scarred from different sports injuries and Gibbs kissed his kneecaps and then pushed his legs apart and pulled him forward by the hips. “Lie back.” Tony flopped onto the bed. And Gibbs stroked him slowly, making him hard. “I’m glad you like the boat. I wasn’t sure. You said you don’t like sailing.”
“Said sailing wasn’t fun but you’re fun.”
Gibbs licked Tony and Tony bucked up, “No, stay still,” said Gibbs.
“You wanted lashes. You need to learn control.”
Tony nodded, “I’ll be good.” Gibbs licked and sucked him, still stroking him. He didn’t want to draw it out, he wanted Tony satiated and relaxed. He swallowed Tony and kept sucking him, Tony played with his hair, Tony never pulled, never forced, always acted like it was a miracle to have Gibbs notice him let alone touch him and he never pushed. He came with a ragged, “Jethro.” And then the tension left his body.
Gibbs stood slowly, his knees cracking. The stupid pills did nothing but he would keep taking them just to humor Tony, wasn’t like they did any harm. He gently pulled Tony so that he was sitting and said, “Get into bed. Lie on your back.” Tony turned his legs and pulled the covers from under him and threw them back he let himself fall back and Gibbs opened the locker and tossed the pillows onto the bed. He undressed slowly and Tony watched him, the light in his heavily lidded eyes showing how much he enjoyed the show.
Gibbs climbed onto the bed on his knees and opened a compartment in the wall and pulled out a condom and lube, “Boy scout,” said Tony.
“Marine,” Gibbs corrected. He lifted Tony’s hips and placed one of the pillows beneath him as he moved to be between Tony’s legs, “Comfortable?”
“More than, please, Jethro, just want you.” Tony reached for him, stroking his nipples. It was amazing, Tony was soft and sleepy and still begging for more. Gibbs leaned down and kissed him demandingly to get all of Tony’s attention. Tony moaned into his mouth and writhed as Gibbs pushed a slippery finger into him. Hands roamed over Gibbs’ back, and Tony moved with him. Breaking away Tony said, “I know it’s supposed to be gentle but I don’t want slow.”
“Careful but fast, I’ve got you.” Gibbs sped up, opening him more quickly.
“Thank you,” Tony panted, “Jethro, yeah, so good.” Gibbs slid inside of him and Tony hugged him close and wrapped his legs around Gibbs’ hips, not letting him move for a few moments, just stroking his sides. And Gibbs’ held Tony’s face kissing him and playing with his hair. “I’m ready,” Tony barely murmured against Gibbs’ mouth. And then Gibbs moved picking up speed quickly. Gibbs held his hips, making sure that his chest didn’t move, wasn’t hurt, as he took Tony hard and fast and all Tony could do was take it. But Tony was becoming better at giving in. Tony was a control freak in bed. No matter what role he was in or what dirty game he was playing Tony tried to direct everything. And Gibbs was slowly breaking Tony of the habit, getting Tony to accept that not being in charge could be a good thing. “Jethro, please,” Tony couldn’t get the words out.
“What do you want?”
“Can I touch myself, please?”
Those words thrilled Gibbs, Tony asking for permission. He wanted to stroke Tony himself but he didn’t want to release Tony’s hips for fear that he might jostle him. “Yeah, okay,” he said, “yeah.” Tony pulled on his cock in time with Gibbs’ thrusts going fully hard again. And Gibbs couldn’t watch, too turned on to last much longer especially with the pretty picture Tony was making, so he leaned in and kissed Tony. It seemed like exactly what Tony needed because he reached to hold Gibbs’ head with his free hand, capturing him and keeping him there making desperate noises in the back of his throat.
The boat rocked them gently and Gibbs realized that he hadn’t had sex on a boat in decades and it made him smile into Tony’s mouth, “Funny?” asked Tony.
“No, just happy,” said Gibbs and Tony smiled at him, brilliantly, all teeth and eyes. Whispering against Tony’s ear he said, “You’re good for me, not a bad influence at all.”
It urged Tony on, he rocked his hips and kissed Gibbs with such urgency that Gibbs couldn’t prolong it any longer and came almost regretfully he didn’t want it to be over, but he rocked with Tony, making him come less than a minute later. Afterwards Tony always needed to be held, though he didn’t ask for it, wasn’t overtly clingy. But it was like he was overexposed and raw, worried that he’d showed Gibbs too much, let him too close and that he’d be pushed away as a consequence. He acted as though it was him who’d pressed for it to be like that.
After Shannon had died Gibbs had gone in for really rough sex, scene stuff with whips and chains. He really hadn’t cared, wasn’t careful, didn’t care if his partners hurt, only thing that stopped him, held him back was safe words. There were no emotions no worries. He took out his anger on any willing male body and didn’t look back. Some of the men who wanted it were still left wanting comfort afterwards, feeling vulnerable but he’d never stuck around to put them back together. Eventually he’d been banned from practically every club there was, he wasn’t a good dom because he didn’t give a damn about the subs. He wanted to hurt them, not do it properly, not take care of them. Tony needed the same reassurances but now Gibbs wanted to give him everything. This was the type of worship he’d owed those people but never given no matter how much they gave him.
Tony would be up for any of the rough stuff, Gibbs knew that Tony would go at it with fervor and desire but Gibbs couldn’t bring himself to be that brutal with him. And this was the flip side of that world. He still wanted the control but now he was doing it for Tony’s benefit. Tony had said that he hadn’t been dominated since college but the way he reacted told Gibbs that it had never been anything like this. It had probably been scene things not the same type of intimacy. Tony could trust someone to hurt him the right way but not to be good to him. There was a time and a place for all things but this was what Tony needed now, even if Tony didn’t fully understand that. Now was his chance to show Tony what it could be like with someone who cared for him so deeply that he was the center of everything.
Gibbs moved off of Tony and got rid of the condom by leaning out of the bed into the main room to toss it in the trash. He made sure he was still touching Tony. He settled back into bed, pulling Tony close and stroking over the bandaged ribs, “How was that?”
“Can’t get away from it,” Tony replied. Gibbs made a questioning noise and Tony moved to look at him, study him, “You can’t get away from it: the sex. There no way to back away from it, to breathe, you have to be totally present. And I don’t want to get away from you, I don’t want to be anywhere else but it’s… it’s touching fire, there’s no control. And I know you won’t let it burn but, you have to get used to it but I don’t know if I can. Can you relax into fire?” There was a long silence but Tony was still watching him. “I meant it.” Whatever that meant it was clear that it pained Tony to say, cost him.
“When I was stoned and we were fighting I said I love you. I meant it, mean it. And that makes this harder, because I don’t want it to go away. I want this, it’s too much and it’s overwhelming and it’s so good. I have a hard time giving in because when I give in it usually goes away and I don’t want to have to claw my way back from this.”
Tony was telling him something so personal, so painful and Gibbs held him closer. “I’m not going anywhere. When you give in I will be right here.”
“I trust you,” said Tony. “You built me a boat, I trust you. Just give me time to catch up to all this. It’s a lot.”
“All the time you want.”
“It’s fast,” said Tony.
“Yeah, but hey, like David said, ‘if it was a schoolboy crush it wouldn’t have lasted nine years.’ And don’t have to worry about it ending.”
“You heard that?” Tony’s face blushed dark. “You heard that and you didn’t say?”
Gibbs couldn’t stop his smile. He never felt the need to suppress them when he was alone with Tony. “Didn’t seem like the time for honesty. You needed to wait until you were ready.” Tony’s blush didn’t recede. He needed reassurance but Gibbs wasn’t ready to say those words, even though they were true, he just wasn’t ready. “I waited and built you a boat. I can be very patient when it comes to the important things.” He kissed Tony’s forehead. Tony was already sleepy in his arms.
“I didn’t think it would be this awesome.”
“No, us. You’re so nice to me and you don’t get sick of me.”
“Thought I’d be mean to you?” Tony sort of shrugged. “Why did you want me then?”
Tony didn’t respond for several moments, “Because I like you, wanted you. I just hoped you’d put up with me.”
The words made Gibbs sad, angry at the people who’d hurt Tony. Somewhere down the line Tony had stopped aiming for the rafters, made him willing to settle. People like Tony should not have to settle, he was too damn good for that. “Do you want anything?”
“Just sleep,” said Tony.
Gibbs nodded, “Let me turn off the lights.” He slid out of the bed and shut off the cabin lights. He rifled through the pockets of their discarded clothes to find their cell phones. Sometimes rule number three was a bitch. But he couldn’t ignore it, would have to pick up the phone if it rang. He really hoped that no one would call but just as he thought that Tony’s cell phone started to ring. Tony held out a hand, not even turning over to look at him, staying on his back in the bed. “You’re on sick leave,” Gibbs said, “Rule number three doesn’t apply.” But Tony kept his hand out reached and Gibbs gave in and handed it to him as he climbed back into bed.
“Abby,” Tony said sleepily, “is this important? Because we’re on the boat and I’m about to drift off,” Tony forced a laugh but Gibbs thought it wasn’t afterglow so much as recovery. “Yeah, we christened it,” he agreed and then after a pause, learning he’d misunderstood the question he said, “no, we didn’t break a champagne bottle.” He sounded a little confused as to what they were talking about.
Gibbs took the phone away and said, “Goodnight, Abby.”
He hung up for Tony who was sort of chuckling, “I thought she meant taking it out of the harbor. Didn’t mean to kiss and tell.”
Gibbs leaned in to kiss him, gently, getting Tony back to his previous state of lassitude. Then he leaned up to open another compartment and put both the cell phones in. He reached over and removed Tony’s watch adding it to the compartment, “That’s where they live.”
“A place for everything,” said Tony.
Gibbs said, “Watch your head,” as he pulled the door shut giving the bed its headboard he snapped off the light and sank into the bed next to Tony. The window at the top of the headboard gave them no light at all as the lights in the cabin was off. The very end of the room, by their feet, had a medium sized port hole on either side, which let in a little light from the stars. They were really only there to let cool air in during the summer. So the room was practically pitch-black.
Gibbs thought that the room would be hell for a claustrophobic even with the three windows and the head room but Tony just curled into his side and said, “I love this boat. Thank yous are never going to cover it.”
“You don’t need to thank me, I wanted to.” He felt the way Tony relaxed against him and knew the moment he fell asleep.
Tony woke up alone. No light coming in the port holes and Tony felt that it had to be before dawn. They had to get back to the harbor in time for Gibbs to get to work. Tony was going to go to the office with him so he could pick up his car which meant he couldn’t take anything stronger than the Tylenol in the bathroom. The boat was moving smoothly through the water and Tony knew that Gibbs was steering the boat. He located his watch and cell phone before moving to open the door and get out of bed.
Rewrapping his own ribs was difficult. He’d done it before, when he hadn’t had someone to do it for him and he figured he’d have to get used to it again now that Gibbs was going back to work. He couldn’t be bothered to shower, just took a leak, ran his fingers through his hair, washed his face, and brushed his teeth. He gave his groin and abdomen a quick wash. He knew he still reeked of sex but he didn’t plan on seeing anyone at work and anything beyond that was too much. He saw his last thermos of coffee on the side and felt from the heat of it that Gibbs had reheated it for him. He gulped down his coffee and dressed slowly before heading upstairs. Gibbs was at the wheel and Tony asked, “Can I steer?” Gibbs stepped back and let Tony slide in front of him to take the wheel. Tony put his hands on the wheel and Gibbs wrapped his arm around Tony’s waist and breathed against his neck.
Pointing to the compass he said, “Just keep the needle where it is.” With a sigh he said, “You smell fantastic.”
“I knew you’d say that,” said Tony. “Did you shower?”
“Yeah, that way we can go to a diner, get some breakfast.”
“I’m in sweats and smell like sex.”
“You have broken ribs and you only smell delicious close up. Don’t worry.” He licked at Tony’s neck and said, “Taste good too.”
“Don’t distract me too much. I need to get us back. You know my sense of direction.”
Gibbs kept licking but paused to say, “Don’t worry, I’m paying attention. You’re doing great.” He kissed Tony’s neck. The sun started to come up and they were getting closer to land. “Need to adjust the sails.” He moved away from Tony and was shifting things, tying ropes down. The harbor came into view, “Just stay on course, Tony, you’re doing great. The wind is gorgeous.”
They were speeding along towards the harbor. “Jethro, I really don’t want to crash the boat.”
“You’re in control.” He started to reduce the sails and said, “Just watch what you’re doing, you’re fine.”
Tony could feel Gibbs’ eyes on him and it made him less worried as they entered the harbor Gibbs came to his side. Because of reducing the sails they were going more slowly, “Where are we going?”
“Hang to the left, we’re on the deck third from the end.” Tony paid close attention to what he was doing. He steered carefully to the deck where there were boats tied up on either side. Gibbs took the sails down completely. “Want me to take over?”
“No, I’m in control. Just stay close and keep an eye and push me out of the way if you need to.” It was odd, Gibbs letting him lead. He remembered back when he’d first come to NCIS before Vivian it had just been him and Gibbs. And Gibbs hadn’t let him do anything; he carried stuff, got stuff, and looked up stuff for Gibbs. He’d never gone to FLETC, he’d just been a cop for eight years, and he’d been overwhelmed by the things Gibbs could do because back then, without a team, Gibbs had multitasked like a mad man. But now Gibbs was letting him steer a boat. It was a huge leap as far as Gibbs’ teaching technique went. As they got to the empty spot on the deck Gibbs grabbed a rope and jumped onto the dock, and pulled it close. “How are your knees?” asked Tony as he went to the prow and handed the rope to Gibbs.
“I think the pills are fakes.”
“It might take more than a week.”
“Yeah, I’ll give it a while. I still don’t think they’ll do anything. Did you take your pills?”
“I took three Tylenol. I have to drive, and go to the supermarket. I’ll take some once I go back to the house. Will you bring me cold cases?”
The day was quiet. Tony cleaned out his fridge, checked his mail, and picked up a load of DVDs before going to the store. He bought a ton of food and went back to the house. He took half a pill and started cooking, well baking. He always got a sweet tooth when he was stoned. Three batches of cartellate later he was kind of bored and the kitchen was a wreck. So he cleaned everything and then took a long hot shower. The water felt like sunshine on his skin. He stood there for a while, just letting it hit him before he finally got out and did his bandages. His ribs hurt and it didn’t feel good so he took another half a pill before climbing into bed for a nap.
The pillow was covered in drool when he woke up but he was less stoned and in less pain than before so he went back down to the kitchen and made sausage and tortellini soup. It kept for days, tasted good, and Tony liked all the chopping up he got to do. Making pasta was fun and Tony had done it since he was little. It was easy and mindless, make the well, beat the egg with a fork, fold in the flour, kneed, kneed, kneed, kneed. It was almost like play dough for adults. While it was resting he started chopping up everything else. The chopping was fun and repetitive too and Tony liked the noise of the knife, okay: maybe he was still really stoned but at least he could handle a knife. Then he shredded the cheese which he never liked because it was boring. Then he rolled the pasta out by hand which was odd because he hadn’t done that since buying a pasta machine. He made the filling and formed the tortellini. He’d made way too many, all of Crysta’s recipes made way too much. But it was good.
He started to put the soup together and once it was going well he fried up some of the extra tortellini and sat on the counter stirring the soup and eating the pasta. It was so good, he loved tasty pasta and Crysta’s was the best. Once he started eating he found he was sort of starving and moved on to the cookies. When the soup was done he put it into the fridge, cleaned the kitchen, put the cookies into Tupperware, and went back up to the bedroom where he put on Batman: the Movie and passed out about ten minutes in.
The noise of the front door shutting woke Tony and he saw that it was still early, five-thirty. He started to it up but then he heard footsteps on the stairs so settled back. Gibbs came into the bedroom scowling. He looked tired which wasn’t all that surprising as he’s been up before five to shower and get the boat back to shore. After a few moments of just looking at Tony he started to strip and slid into bed with him. “How bad was it?” asked Tony.
“Leon has decided that, as we’ve had a rash of injuries he can’t keep putting us on cold cases.”
“Isn’t that a good thing? I’d take a body over paper any day of the week.”
“Yeah,” agreed Gibbs. “But he won’t back down on the ‘needing a full team’ thing. He hands over this probie and walks away. And if the girl had any less of a spine she’d be a jellyfish. Then she tried to start casual conversations. I thought Ziva was going to shoot her. And she tried to sit at your desk.”
“Did you tell her off?” asked Tony as Gibbs curled against him and stroked his hair.
“McGee flipped out on her before I could. And for all that we didn’t get a body. In a city with this crime rate, so close to so many bases, and we didn’t get a body.”
“Sometimes I think there’s something wrong with us: we like solving crimes so much we actually get resentful when people don’t die.”
“Other teams got bodies,” Gibbs grumbled.
“How are Ziva and McGee?”
“They both got lent to other teams as neither of us were there. Ziva’s team had to raise their hands when they had a thought and McGee’s team had feelings that they discussed. Leon should have put him on a cyber unit. I thought they were both going to hug me. McGee said to tell you that his team was like being on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, whatever that means.”
Tony laughed and it made his chest hurt. “Ow, my chest.” Gibbs just stroked his hair and Tony could tell it was going to be a quiet night, that Gibbs was done talking for the night. “I cleaned my apartment, picked up my bills, cooked a lot, and slept. I wish my day had been half as exciting as yours.”
“I could sleep,” Gibbs yawned, “take a nap.”
Tony reached for the controller to turn off the ignored TV and relaxed against Gibbs, enjoying the feeling of skin on skin. The pills still made him feel like there was electricity between them and he enjoyed the sensation as Gibbs got comfortable.
Tony was getting hard to live with. He was so bored that he’d actually closed a cold case from bed, just calling people at NCIS with different leads. He’d memorized the park by the house and cooked so much food that Gibbs’ freezer was over full. He was fractious and irritated and kept telling Gibbs to snap out of “Jethro mode” and let him come back to work. Now Gibbs understood why Tony had come back to work too soon after he had the plague: he was not content to be bored. The only distraction was Thanksgiving at Ducky’s, which had been nice, not too formal, and not too much of a stretch. Tony had had fun anyway.
McGee and Ziva had taken to using their rare lunch hours to go to the house and keep Tony company because they got sick of the endless emails he was sending them of funny videos on the internet. And it was odd that McGee came over to his house to watch their stupid show on Saturdays. But anything that kept Tony occupied was a blessing. Even if that meant McGee was sitting on his bed. It had been sort of funny because Tony had been stoned out of his skull with the painkillers and had pulled Gibbs down onto the bed to cuddle. McGee had looked uncomfortable at first but Gibbs hadn’t pushed Tony away, didn’t want to.
Gibbs started carving wooden toys for the kid’s hospital for Christmas so that he could escape to the basement but when Tony joined him in the basement he would act more like himself, just watch Gibbs and the TV without bitching. They spent a lot of time out on the boat, Tony seemed more relaxed there, less cantankerous. Overall it was a relief when Brad finally said he could go back to work so long as he kept wrapping his chest. It had been a long two weeks.
Gibbs took the boat out of the water, glad to get it out before it got too cold. He’d not wanted to take it out while Tony was still at loose ends because it had been a good distraction. The car could last the season outside so the boat got the garage. And Tony was back to his usual bouncy self the last couple of days before he was allowed to go to work. He was back to acting like he was on vacation. He even brought Gibbs with him to hang out with his frat brothers when they swung into town and Gibbs had fun. His brothers were nice guys.
The next morning Tony went for a jog, not up for his usual run, and came back for a shower. He let Gibbs wrap his ribs and said, “I’m going to go in a little early, sort out my desk.”
Gibbs kissed him slowly and then, just like that, the holiday was over. When he went to the office Tony was already joking around with Ziva about McGee’s love life. They were eating the cookies he had baked. Gibbs didn’t have a sweet tooth so there had been tons left over. The probie was gone from the spare desk. He always felt relieved when they were gone, the team chewed up weak people, he’d trained them well, and she hadn’t really been up to the task. Within five minutes of his arriving they got the call, “Grab your gear: dead petty officer in Georgetown.” Tony beamed and Gibbs threw him the keys, “Gas the truck, DiNozzo, and get your head in the game.”
Tony nodded and headed to the elevator before the others had fully gathered their stuff. By the time they got to the scene the local LEOs had cordoned it off. They worked the scene, got what they needed. They started down all the usual leads, money, phones, friends. But nothing was turning up anything.
Tony and Ziva interviewed the victim’s CO and his unit yet nothing popped out, all of them had an alibi and there wasn’t a motive to be found. They went to the bar where the unit usually hung out. Tony zoomed in on the hot bartender the minute they walked inside. He was all smiles, and chuckling, and leaning in too close. Nineteen times out of twenty it worked but it still got no information. He told her to call if she thought of anything for the case. She batted her eyes and asked the usual question, “And what if I don’t think of anything about the case?”
“Well, then, I guess you won’t be calling,” he smiled at her as though he had no idea what she meant.
When they got back into the car Ziva said, “Do you think you should still be doing that?”
“Doing what? Driving? I’m not letting you drive, Girl Probie.”
“Hitting on sources,” she clarified.
“In almost twenty years of law enforcement it’s a tactic that has served me well. Why would I stop?”
“What about Gibbs?”
“He has always said that I can investigate however I like so long as I keep it mostly legal and get the results.”
“But you are dating him now.”
Tony laughed, “You think he cares if I flirt? He might get irritated if I did it off the clock, and that’s only a maybe. But on the case there’s no way in hell. How many times has some one said they didn’t know anything, been hit on, and suddenly given us a break? My boyfriend isn’t going to be pissed at me for doing my job well and my boss has never cared. It’s all just acting, Ziva, it’s part of the job.”
She sat silent for a moment and then said, “This is why you are good at undercover work. You turn off everything real when you’re working.”
With a nod he said, “If you can’t turn off your personal stuff at work then you can’t turn off work when you’re at home. And that would really sucks considering some the shit we see.” He smiled at her and said, “I know you’ve only been with us for a few months, you’ll get the hang of it, Probie.” She hit him, not too hard, and he laughed.
The scene had looked like a hit and run but it was in a dead-end, Ducky and Abby were figuring out if the body had been dumped or if the killer had purposefully driven into the alley. There was nothing else his team could do without the forensics.
“Go home. Get here at seven, we need an early start.” Gibbs knew that they wouldn’t go home. Ziva would go to a gym to fight and that McGee would go to Abby’s lab to help but he didn’t really care, he wanted Tony to have an early night. It wasn’t purely a boyfriend motivate, as the boss he wanted Tony well rested for the case.
“Chinese food, Rear Window, my place?” said Tony when the others were heading to the elevator.
Gibbs nodded but he didn’t really like idea of going to Tony’s. But Tony hadn’t been home in three weeks and Gibbs could see why that would be attractive. He just hoped that Tony didn’t start taking things back to his house that were at Gibbs’. He didn’t want to slip backwards. He didn’t like people being in his space, it was true. But he liked having Tony around. He hadn’t ever thought of the house as exclusively his space until he started remarrying and dating, then the women were interlopers and Tony wasn’t an interloper.
He followed Tony’s car back to the apartment. The food got there at the same time as them and Tony said, “I ordered on the way.” Tony passed the guy money and opened the door at the same time. “Thanks, man, keep the change.”
Tony kicked off his shoes by the door he always did. Usually that would irritate Gibbs too. When you learned people’s patterns you got attached, when there were routines you got comfortable. Then the patterns got broken and then things ended, badly. But he was hoping to avoid that this time around. He went straight to the bedroom where he took off his coat and shoes and rolled his head on his neck. Tony came in with the food and set about getting the movie going as Gibbs started eating.
“Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window is about Jimmy Stewart, a photographer in a wheelchair, people watching the apartments across from him. He thinks he sees a murder and then he, Grace Kelly, and Thelma Ritter have to figure out if it really happened. It was nominated for four Oscars, and I feel it deserved Best Screenplay. But it didn’t win any. Fun fact: the lights they used to simulate sunlight were so hot that they actually set off the sprinkler system. But they got so used to how many lights they needed that the crew could set it up in under forty-five minutes.”
Tony sat down on the bed, crossing his ankles as he always did. He ate silently but laughed at some lines and quoted others. About half an hour in Tony went silent. Gibbs looked over and saw that Tony was asleep. Reaching over he took the containers from Tony’s hand and lap so that he wouldn’t spill on himself. He went and put the leftovers into the fridge. Then he stripped Tony. He expected Tony to wake up but Tony must have been really wiped because he only let out a small snore.
The morning came too soon when he heard his cell phone ring at four, “Yeah, Gibbs,” he said as he answered. Tony blinked slowly at him.
McGee said, “Another member of Petty Officer Beeks’ unit is dead.” As he rattled off the address Gibbs nodded.
“Okay, McGee, you at the office?”
“Bring the truck and we’ll meet you there.” He hung up and said, “We got a second body.”
Tony yawned and stretched slowly. He stood and went to the bathroom, “Wish I’d showered last night.” He smelled his pits and just added more deodorant. Gibbs brushed his teeth next to Tony while Tony re-gelled his hair. Tony moved to brushing his teeth while Gibbs got dressed and Tony pulled on clean clothes, still mostly asleep. “Coffee?”
“As your boss I want you to get coffee for us on the way. You can be late.”
“Thanks.” Tony stretched again, “I don’t remember going to bed last night… I must have been really tired. Did I forget sex?”
Gibbs chuckled, “You didn’t. I put you to bed.”
Tony grimaced, “Sorry.”
Shaking his head Gibbs said, “I didn’t mind. I didn’t last much longer.”
Tony went into the kitchen to the fridge and pulled out his leftover orange beef, dumped it into a cup, and put a fork in it. Gibbs looked at it and Tony said, “It fits in the cup holder.”
“That’s genius,” Gibbs said with a nod.
Tony pulled on his shoes, turned for a kiss, and Gibbs followed him out the door. Gibbs told him the address and Tony nodded, “Meet you there.” Tony got to the scene five minutes after Gibbs and handed him the coffee. They were in a park and there was a body in a pond. “Probie, fill me in.”
“We got the call.” McGee nodded to a shaken looking woman on a bench Ziva was sitting next to her, “She found him but she doesn’t speak English. We’re waiting on a translator.”
“Ziva doesn’t speak her language?”
“No, she doesn’t speak Greek.”
Gibbs didn’t glance at Tony, kept looking at the scene, waiting for Ducky before he moved the body. “McGee, get back to the photos. DiNozzo, start sketching.”
Tony looked at the woman and he sighed. Gibbs knew this had never come up before; Ziva spoke Italian so that hadn’t been an issue and they’d never dealt with anyone who spoke Greek. “She looks scared.”
“We need a translator,” said Gibbs, looking at a footprint.
“No, we don’t,” said Tony softly and he walked towards the bench.
Gibbs saw the confused look on McGee’s face and said, “Photos, McGee.”
Tony crouched down in front of the woman. They were too far away for Gibbs to hear but he saw a look of surprise on Ziva’s face and knew Tony was speaking Greek. Ziva left them and came over, “Sketches?” she asked.
“Yes,” Gibbs nodded.
Then Tony called, “Boss, we’ll deal with ICE, right?”
“Sure,” Gibbs called back. Tony was still talking as Ducky and Palmer arrived. “Y’get lost, Palmer?”
“Yes,” Jimmy responded pathetically as he carried Ducky’s equipment.
“Didn’t touch the body, Duck.”
“Good man, Jethro. This reminds me of an apocryphal tale-”
“Can you keep it for later, Duck? Got a move fast before we get joggers.”
“Boss?” Tony called.
“Whatcha got, DiNozzo?” he said crossing to them.
“Mrs. Liakos was coming home from her work as a private shift-nurse, she saw a guy leaving the area, and she thinks she can do a sketch. She saw the body, freaked out for a while, and called us.”
“How long of a while?”
Tony grimaced, “‘Bout an hour.”
“Why the wait?”
“She’s illegal. But she said she’d come with us to headquarters, she’s just really scared.”
“We’ll keep ICE off her.” Tony relayed the statement to her with his most calming smile. “Stay with her. Notes?” he held out his hand and Tony ripped the pages out but Gibbs only glanced at them. “This is in Greek.”
Tony grimaced, “That’s always been a problem for me.”
Gibbs handed them back and said, “Take her to the office and rewrite the notes. You can take her in your car.”
“You didn’t need to do this, DiNozzo.”
“Yes, I did. She’s really scared and trying to do the right thing. It never came up before. I would have done even you hadn’t known already.” Tony patted her hand and spoke in Greek and then they were both standing. “I’ll take her formal statement and take her to Abby for the sketch.”
Gibbs nodded and left. Ziva and McGee were talking, asking each other if they knew that Tony spoke Greek. Gibbs just stared at them and McGee started to report. “Too many footprints, taking photos of them all. No real physical evidence around the crime scene.”
“Motive?” asked Gibbs.
“Probably the same as whatever killed Petty Beeks. When we interviewed him yesterday he was pretty shaken: they were close,” said Ziva.
“Duck, what do you have?”
“He was garroted but not to death the bruises aren’t right, and his eyes show that he was not suffocated. I would venture that the poor was caught from behind, subdued with the garrote, and drowned but I won’t be able to say for certain until I get him home.”
“Back to the office then,” Gibbs said.
By the time he got up to Abby’s lab Tony was laughing with Mrs. Liakos and Abby was perfecting the picture, making small changes as Tony translated. It was a damn good picture, if it was accurate; witnesses sometimes thought they saw things they hadn’t seen. He handed Abby a Caf-Pow and the witness an orange juice.
“Gibbs, Mrs. Liakos is amazing.” Abby said with a wide smile. “The only thing she isn’t certain of is his jaw because he was wearing a scarf. But she has a great memory considering how briefly she saw him.”
“Boss, Mrs. Liakos is exhausted. I sent the tape of her statement down to be translated and transcribed. May I take her home?”
“Just tell her we might need her to pick him out of a lineup, not to go anywhere. Promise her that ICE won’t be bothering her. Once you drop her off get legal to sort out her visa.” Tony smiled at him brightly. “It’s a good thing to know when to take the reins and when to delegate. You didn’t get enough sleep and you’re still healing. Brad will skin both of us if you get sick. Get your head down for a few hours. Don’t come back until four.”
“I’m fine,” said Tony.
“It’s not an offer, it’s an order,” said Gibbs sternly but not meanly. “I can’t afford you getting sick and needing more time off.”
Tony nodded and spoke to the woman as he escorted her out. Abby said, “Now that is how you should always treat Tony: firm and fair. If you always acted like that he wouldn’t have gotten so depressed.”
“Send the sketch to Ziva and McGee, tell them to go back and interview the unit again.”
“Done it already.”
“I matched fibers on both victims to a dark cotton material: definitely the same dye but I don’t know what it is. Too generic. Get me the original and I can match it. The first victim was definitely run over but he wasn’t run over where we found him.”
“Good work, Abs,” he turned to leave but Abby grabbed his arm.
“There’s more, Gibbs. You’re always trying to run out on me. The tires come from a nineteen-ninety-nine Pontiac Grade Pre. McGee’s running a search but it’s a pretty common car.”
He kissed her cheek. “Call me when you figure out was he was garroted with.”
She snapped off a salute and sucked at the straw of her Caf-Pow.
It was ridiculously simple with the sketch. It was a civilian named Don Cleaverman, ex-roommate of the first victim, drug dealer. The Petty Officers had tried to talk to him, get him to give up the game so he’d killed them. He spilled like milk when Gibbs got him into interrogation.
They kept sleeping at Tony’s. They got home early after wrapping the case and at Tony’s they settled in on the couch when there was a knock on the door. Tony rolled his eyes. He opened the door with a smile on his face and said, “Hey, Mr. Carter.”
“Tony, can you hear me?” He asked loudly. Tony nodded and held up a finger. He went to the bedroom and came back with the pad Gibbs had seen the first morning. Mr. Carter read it and nodded then shouted, “Who’s that on the sofa?”
Tony picked up a pencil and wrote and the man shouted, “That’s Gibbs? Let me go swap the batteries.” He toddled away and Tony turned to Gibbs.
“Sorry. I can’t just turn him away. Haven’t seen any of my neighbors in a while.”
Gibbs nodded, “That’s okay. He knows who I am.”
“Yeah, you’re a bit of a legend around here,” said Tony going into the kitchen to make coffee. “How do you feel about pizza once Mr. Carter’s gone? All the food I cooked is at your house.”
“Pizza sounds great.”
Then Mr. Carter was back and speaking at a normal level he said, “I brought pictures.”
“I’d love to see them,” said Tony and his smile was so genuine that Gibbs really believed it. “Coffee will be a few more minutes.” Mr. Carter and Tony sat down on the couch and Tony started to look at pictures of a young woman and a toddler. “Carly’s getting big.”
Mr. Carter nodded. “I’m using some of my life insurance to put Anna through nursing school. Don’t see the point in a nice box when I can put my girl through college. There’ll be enough to bury me. And enough to pay if I need to go into a home.” He turned to Gibbs and said, “She got married right out of high school and Rick passed away they’re getting his benefits and his insurance but it won’t last forever. She’s close to graduating.” He sounded proud and Gibbs gave him a slight smile. Turning back to Tony he said, “You weren’t home for weeks. We got worried.”
“Sorry,” said Tony. “I didn’t mean to alarm you.” He pulled up his shirt to show the bandages. “I broke some ribs and Jethro wouldn’t let me come home.” Mr. Carter studied Gibbs for a moment and Tony said, “It’s okay he knows. We’ve been seeing each other.”
“Oh, good. I was afraid of saying something. You know my big mouth.” He seemed honestly pleased and he patted Tony’s knee.
The timer went off on Tony’s MisterCoffee, “Be right back,” said Tony.
Once he’d gone into the other room Mr. Cater said, “You nice to my boy?” Gibbs nodded. “Good. Otherwise the building co-op will hunt you down.” It was a ridiculous threat, especially from a man wearing two hearing aids and really thick glasses, but Gibbs nodded again. As Tony came back carrying three coffees, one black, two very light, Mr. Carter said, “Ellie played a card for you at Bingo. You won.”
“Wow,” said Tony cheerfully. “I never win. What was it?”
“Two hundred dollar Costco card.”
Tony looked thrilled but said, “I never go to Costco. I’ll tell her to keep it. Besides, if I’d played the card luck never would have let me win.” Gibbs didn’t fully understand it: Tony seemed so pleased with the prize but didn’t want it. They talked about the goings-on in the building and Mr. Carter stayed for two cups of coffee.
Once he was gone Gibbs said, “You love Costco.”
“Ellie’s son is a bastard. Never visits, doesn’t call, and then every once in a while he phones her up and asks for money. And she’s so nice she gives him her whole pension for the month. You can’t give away a Costco card.” The statement summed up Tony pretty well. “I’ll order the pizza.”
They ate in bed, finished Rear Window. And then Tony said, “Want me?”
“I want you to ride me. You take care of everyone, take care of me.” He pulled Tony on top of him.
“So I’m in control?” asked Tony. He leaned down and kissed Gibbs. “Totally?” Gibbs nodded. Tony leaned over and pulled out condoms and lube. “Not going slow.” He stroked Gibbs hard, no foreplay.
Rocking against Gibbs Tony stared to finger himself, throwing his head back and biting his lip. “Want help with that?” asked Gibbs. He only had his hands on Tony’s hips.
“No, just stroke me.” Tony was already panting, turned on, not tired out. Gibbs did as he was told and Tony moaned, opening the condom and sliding it onto Gibbs before sinking onto him. He took Gibbs’ hands off of him and pushed them into the mattress above his head, “No more. Come too soon like that.” He held Gibbs’ hands there, keeping them off of him. “I’m in control,” he said like he didn’t believe it.
“I just wanted to help.”
“You’re not allowed to, not right now.” Tony fucked his tongue into Gibbs’ mouth, dirty and hot as he started to move. He didn’t rock, didn’t ease into it, just impaled himself, over and over. He rolled his hips and it wasn’t sex, it was rutting. Tony held his wrists with one hand, so he could readjust the angle of Gibbs’ head and broke away from his mouth, “Jethro, feel so good in me.”
“Let me touch you, please, Tony.” He knew he was begging but he really didn’t care. He didn’t worry about looking weak here. “Won’t try to take over, promise.” Tony let go of him and Gibbs held his face, ran his fingers through his hair. “Thank you.” He ran his hands up and down Tony’s back, over his thighs. “So hard and strong. It’s so good when you take over.”
“So let me do it more often.”
“Never force you to do anything, just drive you crazy to a point where you want to give in. But this is so good, maybe I shouldn’t make you so crazy.”
“No, don’t stop doing that.” Tony kissed him sweetly. “Always been crazy for you, don’t stop now. God you really do feel good.” He stroked himself hard, rocking fast and erratically.
“Don’t stop,” Gibbs moaned and came, hard into him. He settled his hands on Tony’s hips and just rocked with him as Tony came. Tony leaned down to kiss him again. Gibbs held Tony’s face between his hands and kept him close. “You’re amazing.” Tony slowly climbed off of him and removed the condom. He settled next to Gibbs but Gibbs didn’t want that. He rolled over and slung a leg over Tony, resting his head on Tony’s shoulder. He kissed the place where Tony’s neck and head met, “Thanks.”
“You’re thanking me?” Tony huffed a laugh, “You’re totally welcome.” He held Gibbs close.
When he woke up he heard Tony on the phone in the kitchen. Tony was saying, “No, keep it. I never go to Costco. Seriously.” There was a long pause and Tony said, “I’d love to. I’ll let you know. I think the Director is going to ride us now that I’m back.” He laughed, “Well, at least I’ve got job satisfaction.” He paused again, “Yeah, you too. I have to go wake Gibbs or we’ll end up being late.” He laughed again, “Okay, bye.” Then Tony came into the bedroom fully dressed.
“She’s good, if you want a shower you should get up.”
“Did you already run?” asked Gibbs as he stood.
“No, I was catching up with the neighbors. They get up really early, they’re old.”
“I’m old; I don’t get up that early.”
“Jethro,” Tony sighed, “that line works on people who don’t know how old you are, the people who think you were in ‘Nam. You’re only twelve years older than me and I’m sure as hell not going to crack on that I’m in my dotage when I’m fifty-one. But I’m also not going to allow my hair to go grey.” Gibbs laughed, “Just being an honest, self-loathing narcissist.”
Tony wasn’t a narcissist, he just played one, very well. Tony paid attention to other people, not usually the people he dated, but the people who mattered. He took care of the team, and the victims, old people. He always faced his responsibilities. The real Tony, the one underneath the bravado, didn’t think much of himself, wasn’t really that self obsessed. He liked looking good, and he knew he was good at his job, and that he was one of the good guys, but outside of that Tony wasn’t too sure of anything.
But now wasn’t the time for that so Gibbs just kissed him good morning and passed by him to shower. “I’m going to make fun of you when you’re walking around covered in dye waiting to wash it out.” He called over his shoulder as he turned on the water.
Tony came to the door and watched as Gibbs stepped under the spray, “I don’t do anything to my own hair. I only trust professionals.”
Gibbs looked at him through the glass door, “Are you going to join me or just watch?”
With a sigh Tony said, “No, we’ll be late and then you’ll make me gas the car.” He looked Gibbs up and down once more then turned and left.
By the time Gibbs got out and dressed Tony was sitting on the counter pouring coffee over his cereal, probably his second or third. Gibbs stood between his legs leaned in and put a hand on either side of his hips, kissing him slowly. “Did you turn off my alarm?”
“Didn’t seem any point in you waking up so early, you don’t run, you’re alert in minutes, I had to call my neighbors so we couldn’t have had sex, and there’s no wood for you to carve. Do you not want me to do it in the future?”
“Nah, it was a good call,” he kissed Tony again before reaching for his own coffee and a bowl. Tony was smiling at him, “You’re in a good mood.”
“Didn’t get called in early, awesome sex, and I’ve got a feeling that we are going to get a horrific, huge case today that’s going to keep us busy for weeks. So I’m just enjoying a slow morning.”
“Is that what your gut says?”
“Yeah, most times when we get a morning where we don’t get called in before nine we end up landing a doozy. Add in how nice the weather is, cold and clean and sunny; it’s going to be a rough case. Relax into this good morning. We got twenty minutes before we need to leave. Breathe in this slow start; it’s the only pause we’re going to get for a while.” He held out a newspaper with a bright grin. “Read your headlines and drink your coffee.”
Tony was so certain, completely sure, that Gibbs believed him. “That’s going to suck.” He took his cereal, the carafe of coffee, and the paper to the table. He read in silence, Tony stayed where he was, ate his cereal and looked out the window. It was comfortable. They took separate cars; if it really was going to be a hard case then they might need more than one way to get out of the office.
As they walked in Leon shouted, “DiNozzo, my office.”
And Tony smiled, “Told ya, boss.” He was amused by the fact that it was all about to go to hell.
Cockiness, that was why he didn’t like DiNozzo. He was smirking as he walked in and Vance was just about as pissed as he could be. The last thing his agency needed was Sec Nav telling the Director how to run it. “Sit down, Special Agent DiNozzo.” DiNozzo shut the door behind him and sat on the couch. Time wasn’t an issue, the crime scene was well secured, but Vance didn’t mince his words. “There was a murder at your father’s Georgetown home during a party. We’re keeping it from the media, high profile.”
“I didn’t know he had a house in the area,” said DiNozzo. Vance believed him.
“The victim was a business man and a retired Admiral: Craig Vincent.” DiNozzo’s face fell. “Did you know him?”
The Special Agent was silent for a few moments, “He was a good man always very kind. At my mother’s funeral, at the reception, he sat with me for hours, doing magic tricks. He was really good at slight of hand. He and my father were frat brothers, known him my whole life. I haven’t seen him in, god… well, it must have been just before I went to college.” DiNozzo stood, “Thank you for informing me, Director.”
“That’s not why I called you in here, DiNozzo.” The man sat again. “Your father is a friend of Sec Nav. He’s staying with Sec Nav while his house is a crime scene.” DiNozzo’s face registered surprise, clearly that was news. “Sec Nav has requested that your team investigate the case.”
With a slow nod DiNozzo said, “I understand that it’s a courtesy to keep family informed. And that McGee was on the case when his sister was the suspect. But I don’t want that courtesy. I think it’s a conflict of interest. My father has to be a suspect.”
“When Sec Nav makes a request it isn’t really a request,” said Vance leaning against the edge of his desk.
“With all due respect, Sir, no.”
“When I left college I really believed in the system. And it meant that I didn’t last long at any of my jobs. Cops stealing burn phones, not putting in the right hours, lots of stuff. I believed in the system and couldn’t accept any of the small things. But I got more used to it. Hell, little stuff stopped bothering me years ago. I mean, remember when I used to hit the vending machine to get free stuff? But the jobs got worse.
“At Peoria we were working on a big drug bust, I mean huge. We had so much coke in our evidence locker it looked like an igloo. I was in charge of keeping stock. We had two hundred and thirty-six pounds of uncut cocaine when I went home one night and when I went back on shift we were down to two hundred and thirty-two pounds. And the books, the books I had carefully been keeping, had been altered. I went to my sergeant and he told me to keep my nose out of it. I couldn’t stay with a department that was dealing out of the evidence locker.
“When I was in Philadelphia we had a bad, bad situation with pimps. I don’t know how you feel about prostitution. Me? I’ve never had much of a problem, not with the prostitutes themselves. If you need money badly enough that you’re willing to sell yourself, shame on society not you, you’ve got enough problems. Pimps, people living off those girls? That’s what makes me angry, disgusted. Girls started turning up, brutally beaten. And it was obvious that there was a pattern, there was a group of pimps who were getting really greedy, and when those women weren’t bringing in the money they got angry.
“Then I noticed another pattern, some of the wounds we saw were familiar. They were injuries that my partner had inflicted on bad guys who needed to be subdued, it was the way he hit people who ran with his nightstick. And my gut told me it was him. I got close to one of the victims she told me it was him, I didn’t coerce her, she was telling the truth. So I went to the captain and he told me that we were looking at the big picture. I couldn’t let it go so I took it higher up-”
“That was all over the news,” Vance said, he remembered the scandal.
“Yeah, I got him fired and sent to prison, and he deserved it. I also was told to find a new job. And then it was Baltimore. Baltimore was good, nice guys who did the right thing. It was fantastic. I was well respected and I was on the fast track. Hell, I was up for my shield after only a year. But then the captain spoke to my father who offered him a large bribe to keep an eye on me. Needless to say I didn’t get the promotion.”
“Good men don’t like bribes,” said Vance.
“Are you kidding? He got thousands and all he needed to do to earn that money was take away my promotion. But I figured, hey, they’re good guys and well, if I stayed there for years eventually I would get my shield. I could wait it out. I got over it. But then we did a case that crossed with NCIS. And afterwards Gibbs and I went out to dinner, at the time it didn’t seem that odd. But, god, can you imagine Gibbs taking a cop to dinner? Anyway, he said at NCIS no one ignores corruption, that evidence doesn’t go missing, that when there is a bad guy in the ranks they get rooted out because the agency takes it seriously, and that my father would have no say about my career.
“For the first time in my adult life I’ve found a job where I’m on the right team. We might not always get a warrant, but we always get the right person, we always try to do the right thing. I know you don’t like me. I was a favorite of Jenny’s and you can’t like the same people because you need to strike out. I’m a little too like Gibbs, a little too zealous, not the easiest guy to get along with. I get it. Plus I really don’t respect for authority. But I’ve had headmasters, professors, and bosses who’ve been bought by my father my whole life.
“Now, I know you’re a good man, I respect you, I know that you aren’t alright with me investigating this. You don’t want me on this, it’s wrong: my father has to be a suspect. And I’m sure that Sec Nav isn’t very happy either, it’s politics and I’m sure the money is going to things that are important. I’m sure that all of it was given ages ago, long before Sec Nav realized that there would be favors later. But there is no way I’m taking a step backwards. I refuse to take the case.
“This is going to cause a lot of trouble. When my dad wants something he gets it, with money or threats. So if you need me to take one for the team, well, you’ve thrown me to the wolves enough times to know I can handle it. I’m not going to offer you my gun and badge but if you ask me for them I won’t fight it. I won’t go to the media or make a fuss. I believe in this agency, I believe in you as a Director, if you need a scapegoat to save face I won’t argue with you. Hell, it’s an act of insubordination but no, I’m not doing it. I don’t even want to be kept in the loop.”
It was more than Vance had ever heard DiNozzo say. Not one movie reference or glib gloss over. He had never liked him because he couldn’t read him. He was too damn good at both undercover work and at investigation; the combination was hard to trust. But now it all made sense.
He breathed in deeply, “Thank you for your candidness. I’m not putting you back on cold cases. I’m lending you to another team for the duration of the case. There’s no promotion, you’ve been waiting on one for years but there just isn’t one. Then again, you aren’t really trying to get on the fast track. I know you don’t want my job.” DiNozzo shook his head with a small smile. “But you should expect a raise at your next review, it’s the decade mark. Gibbs is the Team Leader but you are a damn good Senior Agent and your pay doesn’t reflect that. I don’t agree with Gibbs’ rules: I’m sorry that I have misjudged you and I’ve never given you a break.”
DiNozzo shrugged, “Lots of people don’t like me: I’m abrasive. I wish we could get tenure at reviews. ‘You’re totally awesome, Tony, we’re never going to fire you.’ That would be great.”
“Can’t offer you that.”
Tony gave him a weak smile, “Craig was a great guy. I’m sure the team will figure it out. So, what team am I going to?”
“Renaldo is short an agent. I’ll call her once Gibbs and the team have left. You’ll start with her team tomorrow. Today you will finish up all your outstanding paperwork then go home. We’re going to be honest: you’re off the case because it’s a conflict of interest and you don’t want to see your father. I’ll deal with Sec Nav.” Tony nodded. “Tell Gibbs to come up.”
Tony went down the stairs feeling hazy. Going to Gibbs’ desk he said, “It really is a doozy. Vance needs to brief you.”
Gibbs took the stairs. Tony started to collect up the things he needed and said, “Ziva, McGee, I’m not on the case. I knew the victim and he was killed at my dad’s house. I haven’t seen my dad in years and I really don’t want to see him over a body. It’s really high profile so watch what you say.”
“Why aren’t you on the case?” asked McGee.
“I care about the outcome too much. It’s not healthy, not good to be so close. You just tell me the ending.”
McGee nodded, “Are you okay? You look like you might puke.”
“I liked Craig Vincent. He was an honorary uncle. So go do your best and find out who did this.”
Tony pulled up all his paper work, expenses, timesheets, everything he usually put off. He felt distant and cold. His dad had never thought much of him, had never been impressed with him, never considered Tony to be even proficient at his job. Which meant that his dad didn’t really want the case solved. Or he was hoping Tony’s team would keep it out of the papers. Or.
Or he had murdered Craig. Because that would make sense, in a sort of nonsensical way. Maybe he hoped that Tony still loved him, still hoped for his love and would do anything to please him, would cover up for him. Or maybe he hoped that Tony was still frightened of him, that Tony would make it disappear because he still thought of his dad was the monster who could get him. Or, maybe worst of all, he was hoping for the Mark Fuhrman effect. That Tony would touch things, work the case, and then his lawyers could say that Tony hated his dad and had contaminated the case.
Or he hadn’t done it. He wanted to reconnect with Tony, that idea hurt the most: that his dad would want to get to know him over a body. Maybe he hadn’t done it and had done his research about Gibbs, knew that Gibbs was good and ignored that his son was on the team. But his mind kept going back to the idea that his dad had done it. Craig was his best friend; would he really do that to his best friend? Sure his dad had a temper but…
Tony had loved Craig when he was little. Craig would come over about once a month just to take him out for ice cream. He paid attention to him and was nice. And his magic was really cool. He would ride with Tony, Tony on one of his ponies and Craig on a horse. When his parents went to Europe for a month the summer he was seven Craig had taken Tony to Disneyworld and took him on all the rides and didn’t complain when Tony wanted to go on the submarine ride a lot of times.
He finished his paperwork and printed it. He left it on Gibbs’ desk and went home, glad to be out of the office, he stopped at the supermarket and bought a lot of food. He called his friends in the building and invited everyone to dinner. He pulled the table into the living room. It was a good table made of oak he added the extra leaf so that it sat ten and then started cooking. He spent the rest of the day cooking. He put on Sinatra and sang along, trying to distract himself. He cooked for old people, pot roast, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. It was calming. He went over his memories again and again. He wouldn’t have thought he would miss Craig so much, hadn’t seen him in years but the news hurts.
Then people came and he could focus on them, being the good host. They had drinks and caught up and when they asked why he wasn’t at work doing his usual “horrific hours” he just smiled and said that it was “confidential” with a wink. It was nice to hang out with people who didn’t know. He could pretend that it was normal, that his team wasn’t all over his dad’s house. That his dad wasn’t a likely murder. When they were finished and the party was winding down he packed up the leftovers for everyone, he’d cooked too much on purpose. There were no more distractions and he was tired. He went through his VHS, looking for the one from Disney. It was maudlin and stupid but he didn’t really care there was no one to impress. He stripped down to his tee-shirt and boxers, got into bed, and watched the film. It was nice, just him and Craig and fun. About halfway through he heard the front door open.
Gibbs called out, “Tony?”
“Bedroom,” he called back. Gibbs walked in, standing at the doorway. Tony paused the film and said, “Did you already wrap it?”
“Taking a break, Ziva and McGee are running the usual information.” He sat down on the bed and pulled off his shoes before he swung his legs up and put an arm around Tony’s shoulders.
Tony relaxed against him, “I think this might break rule two, but under the circumstances I’ll forgive it.”
“What are you watching?”
Tony huffed a laugh, “Our trip to Disneyworld.”
“How you doing?”
“I haven’t seen him in twenty years. I don’t know what’s upset me.”
“You didn’t even know your dad had a house here. It’s a shock.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Gibbs reached over, took the controller, and hit play. Tony was sitting on a bench eating a Mickey shaped ice cream, swinging his legs. “How’s the ice cream, Anthony?” asked Craig.
Tony patted the bench next to him, “Come sit, we can both be on the camera.” His voice was accented, like English wasn’t his first language, which it really wasn’t. Tony never really noticed it until he watched the tapes with someone else.
The camera moved and then Craig was sitting next to Tony holding the camera at arm’s length so that they were both in the frame but they didn’t look at the camera, they talked to each other. “So what have we done today, Anthony?”
“We had breakfast with Mickey and Donald. Then we came to the Kingdom. And we went on the Small World, and Peter Pan, and submarine ride three times. We saw the parade, singing show with the robot Mickey and Minnie and Pluto. We had lunch in Frontierland, went on the raceway and you let me drive the car which is cool ‘cause I want a car.”
“What kind of car?”
“A red Ferrari like the one my dad drives.”
“Yeah? That sounds cool. And then what did we do?”
“We went on the flying ride with the song about having wings and we went the haunted house.”
“Did it scare you?”
“I didn’t like the bit with the ghosts popping out. But I liked the dancing ghosts, and the talking the crystal ball, and the party.” Tony held out his ice cream, “Wanna bite?”
Craig leaned over, trying to keep the camera steady and took a bite, “Thank you. So what are we doing next?”
“We’re going on Splash Mountain, the Skyway gondola, and then we’re going on the sub ride again. Then we’re gonna go to the hotel to swim and have dinner and then we’re coming back for the fireworks.” Tony popped the rest of the ice cream into his mouth, sucking it off the stick and with a very full mouth said, “Ready!”
Craig laughed, “Finish chewing.” The screen went to snow and Tony turned it off before it could start again.
“You were close,” Gibbs said, “were your parents on the trip?”
“No,” Tony shook his head, “they were in either France or Spain that week. Y’know, nowadays, if a single man took a friend’s kid to Disney people would call him a pervert. But Craig was just really nice; there wasn’t anything funny going on. I think that he wished he had kids so he used to play at being a parent. And my parents didn’t care, were only too happy to lend me out.”
Gibbs said nothing just kissed Tony’s forehead. And maybe, thinking about it, that was what upset Tony so much. Tony could be Craig, nice guy, unmarried, wanted kids, a frat boy who never fully grew up. But while he planned on going to Disney with Malachi Dan and Alice loved their kid and would come with, plus Dan was never going to murder him and. Whereas Tony was pretty sure his dad had killed Craig. “How bad was it?”
“It’s murder, Tony, it’s never nice.”
Tony moved to straddle Gibbs, “How soon do you have to go back to work?”
“Too soon,” said Gibbs as Tony stroked his face.
“Do we have time?” asked Tony as he kissed Gibbs’ neck.
Gibbs ran his hands up Tony’s back and then tilted Tony’s head up to kiss his mouth, “No, I should head back in ten minutes.” They lapsed into silence, just making out. Tony ground against him. Gibbs moaned, “That’s not nice, Tony. Cut it out.” He kissed Tony again for just a few minutes more. “I gotta go.” He lifted Tony off his lap gently. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“I’ll bring you coffee.”
“That would be great.” He put on his shoes and kissed Tony one more time, “Finish your movie and try to get some sleep.”
“Usually when you go back to the office late at night I say ‘have fun’.”
“Doesn’t fit tonight.” Gibbs gave him a weak smile and left.
Gibbs hadn’t wanted to leave bed. The scene hadn’t been too bad compared to other things they’d seen, except that the victim was important to Tony. Craig had been punched in the head repeatedly. It was brutal and slow. There had been a large party at the house. A guest had found him in the upstairs bathroom.
As he sat down McGee reported on all of the guests at the party and then paused. “Say it, McGee,” Gibbs said.
“Tony’s dad was smarmy, creepy, and a dick. All of that smiling and, ‘Now you get to meet the real Tony DiNozzo’ stuff. He’s way too smooth. Tony’s smooth but it’s comical over the top and just part of Tony but on his dad it just looked… oily. And his wife is twenty-five.” He sighed. “Tony isn’t here to jump to a conclusion one day into the case so I’m going to say it: Tony’s dad did it.”
“Do you have any proof?” asked Gibbs and McGee’s face fell.
But Ziva said, “No but we have a motive.”
From there on out it got worse. Tony’s dad was more than slick, he was guilty as sin and the evidence was piling up. Gibbs told himself that he was being thorough that he was building a good case because people like Tony DiNozzo Senior had too many lawyers. But he wasn’t a man for self deception; he was looking to throw a wrench in the works. He wanted some small anomaly in the evidence that would give the lawyers some way out. Over the next two weeks Gibbs watched Tony closely. He wondered if Tony knew, or if there was some other reason why he didn’t want to be on the case.
When he went home one night Tony was already in bed and he stripped, climbed into bed, and held Tony very close to him, his chest pressed tight to Tony’s back. And Tony said, “I know I said I didn’t want to be involved.”
“But?” asked Gibbs.
“Has he asked about me at all?”
Gibbs ran his hand over Tony’s bare chest. It was nice to touch his abdomen without the bandages. “He wanted to know why you weren’t on the case. I told him that it was a conflict of interest.”
“No. How did you get out of this? Your father said that Sec Nav asked for you specifically.”
“I told Vance that you said I would never have to deal with my dad again if I came to NCIS so he either had to fire me or not make me do it. He says I’m getting a raise at my next review. I think he sort of likes me now.”
“You deserve a raise, put up with me for almost a decade.”
“That’s true,” said Tony. Gibbs slid his hand into Tony’s boxers and rubbed him to hardness, “But it has its benefits.” He craned his head back to look at Gibbs. “Do we have time?”
“Abby’s running a test and we have all our suspects under surveillance. I sent the team home for the night. We all need a break.” There wasn’t actually much they could do, except arrest Tony’s dad. But there was one last test Abby could run. That man made Gibbs’ skin crawl, he seemed to think he was above everything because of his money. He thought he’d bought the investigation. But the only thing that was holding Gibbs back was that he didn’t want to throw Tony’s dad in prison. “Your dad might not care,” said Gibbs, “but I love you.”
Tony rolled over with a huge smile, “You built me a boat, Jethro, I don’t need words.”
It was still early when Abby called, his cell rang and Tony wanted to ignore it. He was warm and sleepy, fucked out and buried beneath Gibbs who loved him, but he answered anyway. “Yeah, DiNozzo,” he said picking up.
“Tony, I need your help on the case, and I know you didn’t want to but it’s important.”
He breathed out slowly, “In your lab?”
“Okay, but, get a camera and one of the tec guys from interrogation. I don’t want to contaminate anything. You can’t get a conviction when one of the investigators has a vested interest in the outcome. Can I shower and have coffee?”
“Yes, just get here soon.”
Tony hung up and rubbed his fingers through Gibbs’ hair, “Jethro, I have to go back to work.” Gibbs blinked sleepily. He kissed Tony, sloppy and sweet.
“Time is it?”
Tony reached for his watch, “About five.”
Gibbs nodded and sat up, “Gotta get going too. Told McGee and Ziva to meet back at six.” He stood and stretched. “Shower, I’ll make the coffee.”
By a quarter to six, Tony was walking into the lab, “What you need, Abs?” The tec guy turned on the camera and Tony nodded to him but said nothing. The tec guy wasn’t supposed to be part of the conversation, only there for documentation.
“Tony, you didn’t gel your hair.”
“You made it sound urgent, Abby.”
“You could have done your hair.”
“Abby,” he said sharply. “I’m not on this case. I’m working on a fraud case. What do you need?” She put a crime scene photo up on the plasma. “Jesus Christ,” he breathed out slowly, “poor Craig. Jesus, Abby, why are you showing me these?”
She turned them off quickly, “I’m so sorry. I thought you’d seen them.”
“I’m not on the case.” He whined, “What I know is what Vance told me. My father owns a house in Georgetown: news to me. Craig, who I haven’t seen in over twenty years, was killed at a party at the house. He was a great guy, I adored him when I was little, I didn’t want to have anything to do with this, and I sure as hell didn’t want to see the pictures. What happened to him?”
“Drugged with a drink and beaten to death in a bathroom.”
“Poor Craig,” Tony repeated breathing in raggedly. “You would have liked him, Abby.” He blinked, “So what do you need, Abs?”
“It’s about a thing,” she paused, “I’m going to need to show you a blown up picture to explain it.” He swallowed and nodded. “So the beating was vicious, bare fists.”
“Got that impression, Abby.”
“Thing is, the right fist was wearing something like knuckle dusters. There was an impression left in the wounds,” she was gesticulating and Tony focused on her hands, pretending that this was just another case. “So, in six of the wounds there were really clear impressions.”
“Still not hearing what you need from me.”
“Okay, here’s the clearest of the clear,” she hit a key and the picture flashed up on the screen.
“I don’t see what it is,” Tony tilted his head. Abby tapped some keys and a web of lines went over the picture. Tony instantly recognized it. “Oh.”
“So,” said Abby. “I thought to myself, I’ve seen that before but not like this. You have this scar just under your ribs.”
Tony stared, feeling sick, “There’s no way you can match an ancient, worn scar to a wound that didn’t even scab over.” Except that Abby could, because she was awesome and scary.
“There’s a program that allows you to age and de-age scars, sort of like the program they use to age missing kids.”
“Can it be used in court?”
Tony nodded, trying to breathe normally, “So what do you need?”
“I need you to take off your shirt so that I can take some pictures.”
“Can I say no? I mean, other than seeing me shirtless you have no proof that it matches. You can’t get a warrant for a scar.” He could feel the panic rising.
Abby nodded, “That’s true. But Gibbs can charge you with impeding a federal investigation, which is a crime. Are you okay? You know this stuff. I just need a couple of photos. You don’t need to say anything. If it matches then you will.” She gave him an apologetic look. “Are you okay?”
He untied his tie and started unbuttoning his shirt, “Abby, a dude I liked has been murdered, at a party at my dad’s house. So even before this, it seemed pretty likely that I knew the killer. Now you think an old scar on me was made by something the murderer was wearing on the fist that punched Craig to death.” He shrugged out of his shirt and pulled his tee-shirt over his head. “No, I’m not okay. This is why I didn’t want to be on the case. Do you want to know now?”
She leaned in with her camera and took a couple of close up shots. “No, I need to be scientific and match them without knowing what they are. If they match, well, I’m really sorry, Tony.” She stood and kissed his cheek, “Still friends?”
“Of course.” He pulled his tee-shirt on and started to button up. “If you’re right… how long does this test take?”
“Little less than an hour? To age them to the same point and then find points of exact matching.”
“Okay, I’m going to run home. I’ll be back in forty minutes.” He tied his tie. “I have something that might be useful. But only if it matches.” He leaned in and kissed her cheek, “No matter what happens you’re still my best friend and we are still bowling on Saturday night.”
“Yeah and we’re playing the Sisters of Grace.”
“Bring you’re A game.” He forced a smile. To the tec guy he said, “I know you should be in interrogation. But I want my time in here documented. I don’t want there to be any questions of prejudice when it comes to court time.”
Abby smiled, “I’ll call you both when I need you back here.”
Tony left and took the stairs. He wanted to avoid people and didn’t mind taking the stairs. He exited into the car park using his ID to open the back door and sprinted through the cold to his car. In the driver’s seat he paused and allowed himself to breathe.
When he was little, lots of Tony’s favorite movies had dickish fathers. Meet Me in St. Louis? The dad wants to uproot them all right before the fair because of business, Margaret O’Brien kills the snow people, and then the dad says that they won’t ever leave even though he might lose his job at the law practice. Mary Poppins? Mr. Banks wants a nanny who will beat the kids into line, he steals Michael’s money to impress his boss, and then he learns how to tell a joke and takes the kids to fly a kite. Sound of Music was Tony’s favorite after his mom died. The Captain was awful: he didn’t let them play or sing, he used whistle signals instead of names, and he was never home. But then they started singing, and playing, and then he married Julie Andrews and it didn’t even matter that they had to leave all their stuff and run away from the Nazis because they were all together. After his mom had died he had hoped that his dad would marry Crysta or Maria, he didn’t mind which. If he’d married one of them it would have been awesome.
Somewhere, deep down, he’d always sort of expected his father to man up and become the dad from the movies, the one who has an epiphany and has a happier life. As Tony grew up he had stopped wanting a dad who loved him, hell Tony was almost forty so he didn’t really need a dad anymore. What he wanted was for his father to figure out that money and power weren’t everything, that his business made him both filthy rich and miserable. He’d hoped his dad would get a hobby or learn to relax. And that maybe, just maybe, his dad would realize that Tony wasn’t a fuck up. But hell, Tony’s dad had murdered his best friend so who was the fuck up?
Finally he put the key in the ignition and went home. He didn’t waste any time, knew that Abby’s program could ping at any moment. He’d spent too much time in his car freaking out. Scanning his VHS shelf he realized the tape wasn’t there. But why would it be? It wasn’t something he’d never been able to bring himself to watch it. He thought for a few moments and went to his closet. When he was little he used to put scary things in boxes, toys that he was given that creeped him out, books with sad endings. As an adult on the shelf at the top of his closet there was a shoebox. It had bad performance reviews, a couple of Dear John letters, and the tape in question. It was dusty as hell but he’d let Abby figure that out.
He went back to NCIS and just as he pulled into his parking space his phone rang. He checked the caller ID and picked up saying, “Hey, Abs.”
“I’m sorry, Tony: it’s an eight-four percent match which is more than enough.”
“If we apologized every time our work upset someone we’d never get anything done. Can you call the team and get them to your lab and fill them in? I’d rather only do this once.”
By the time he got up to the lab they were all there and Abby was saying, “I took the pictures and he ran out of here like a bat out of hell.”
“I panicked,” agreed Tony. He saw the light go on the camera and sighed. He held up the VHS. “I don’t know if this will be admissible in court. He can’t be prosecuted for what’s on there but they can use it as a character witness but it could be considered prejudice. I guess it all depends on the judge.” He handed it to Abby.
“This is coated in thick dust. It’s going to take some cleaning.”
“Well, it’s thirty-three years old and it’s not exactly must see TV,” he shrugged. “You don’t have to watch it, just get it clean and hand it off to someone who processes the evidence in the locker. It’s not something that needs a scientific eye.” He paused, “I’m not doing very well at this.”
“In your own time,” said Gibbs. “Treating this as a witness statement. Tell us the story with as much detail as possible.”
“But you’ve got to go make the arrest.”
“We have all our suspects under surveillance,” said Gibbs.
Tony nodded, “You know, right? I mean, I’m not on the case and I don’t know what you’ve got but at the same time… it’s not going to be a shock, right?” Gibbs shook his head and Tony figured that if he was going to do this he would say it all, just this once and never say it again. “My mom had this ring. When I was little, back before Mom drank so much she could barely make a sentence, she used to talk to me about it. She was never a touchy mom, she didn’t cuddle or coddle me because she wore really nice dresses and she didn’t want them to get crinkled. But she used to show me the ring. She always wore it on the ring finger of her right hand. It was her grandmother’s and it was this huge diamond, three carats but it was cloudy and the color wasn’t good and it had a big fault right down the middle so you couldn’t cut it to make it better but I loved that ring, it was rose cut. And she said, ‘Anthony, when you grow up and find the girl you’re going to marry I’m going to give you this ring because it’s not worth anything. Your last name is a problem and I don’t want you marrying a girl who’s marrying money. You need a girl who wants just you and who thinks this ring is gorgeous when you get down on one knee. And then, once she has a baby you buy her the nicest, most expensive stone you can find because having a baby hurts and she deserves a prize.’
“And I really liked that idea. She started drinking a lot, I mean a lot, and other than when she dressed me I never spent any time with her. And then when she got cancer she was so sick and she didn’t really want anyone around because she was in a lot of pain and tired all the time. She left me the ring in her will, valued at two hundred and fifty dollars. The will said that my dad should take care of it until I was ready to get married.
“At the end of my senior year of college I had the perfect girlfriend, I mean, amazing. So I went home a week before graduation to get it. And my dad said no, said he’d spent enough on my high school and that that was why he’d refused to pay for college because I was a loser and majored in P.E. and that he wasn’t giving me the ring. But it wasn’t his to keep. And I stood up to him, which I never did when I was little because he was so scary and he didn’t need a good reason to beat me so I just kept my head down. But I needed the ring; I’d planned it all out.”
Tony paused, “People think that childhood is this perfect time in your life. And it’s not. And I’m not just saying that because my mom was a drunk and my dad was abusive. I think it’s a pretty general thing. Childhood is no easier than being an adult. You don’t have to worry about work, or money, or your family. But there’s school, and nightmares, and friends. People forget about that, like to believe that there’s a period without problems. But the thing that makes it better is that you don’t know much and adults are always right. So there were lots of excuses. My mom used to say that Dad was stressed out by work and that he only worked so hard because he loved us and wanted us to have nice things. So it wasn’t Dad’s fault, he was tired. And he wasn’t mean, it was just that Mom drank so much and he said that was my fault. And he didn’t want to do it; it was just that he missed Mom every time she went to rehab. And he only hit me because I was too loud and I showed off because I wanted his attention and he was busy. He didn’t like beating me but Mom died and that was my fault because she wanted to get away from me. He wasn’t abusive he just wasn’t good with kids and he didn’t know how to be nice. He only did it because he missed her and I looked too much like her. And if those failed well: I could find a reason because he was my dad and I loved him so he must have loved me too so it couldn’t be that he did it because he could and he was a bastard.
“You don’t really think about the excuses once you grow up, you don’t have to, it’s in the past. I hated when he sent me away. A couple months after my mom died he got this girlfriend and she didn’t like me much, thought I was competition. I don’t know why. Right after my Mom died he wrote me out of the will, and sold my ponies, said I didn’t deserve anything and wasn’t his son, only hers. But his girlfriend talked him into boarding school.
“And actually, it was a good thing. I really missed the staff. But I could be someone new. I wasn’t the kid whose mom dressed him like a freak. And I grew a couple of inches before the end of the summer so I wasn’t too short anymore. Being someone new who could be a part of the group was nice because I’d never really had many friends. And I got a girlfriend, which was awesome. I only had to go home in the summer and at Christmas. My dad would always take his latest wife somewhere warm for Christmas so I didn’t have to see him then, I could just hang out with Maria and Crysta which was really nice. And he never took a summer vacation so he wasn’t around in the day. As long as I avoided whoever my stepmother was that summer I could have a nice time. At first it was still pretty bad when he was home; I had to make sure I stayed out of his way, but… I wasn’t home enough for it to really matter. The only thing that really sucked was that he still made me go to those stupid Civil War reenactments where he made me carry around buckets of poo.
“But all those excuses that worked, well, they kind of stop working when you’re almost twenty-two and your dad’s beating the hell out of you because you asked for your dead mom’s worthless ring. And for the first time I hit him back, not hard, just hard enough to snap him out of it. He seemed to have this realization that he wasn’t beating up on a little kid, that I could have hurt him. I mean, by then I was built. I was on the basketball team and the football team, I had grown up. And he gave me the ring. I had a broken rib and was bleeding right where his college ring and his frat ring dug in. That’s the scar. That’s what it’s from.
“Worst part is that if Abby matches the rings to the wounds then there’s no way around it. He had eight frat brothers and there were four designs for their graduating class and two for their frat. They all got different combinations. None of them have the same two rings. And they’re pretty ornate rings, with the raised numbers and writing so there’s no way he could get them totally clean.” He exhaled hard, “I really didn’t want to be on this case. I never went home again, I haven’t seen him again, I had my mom’s ring and I never went back there. When I was on my way out, Maria gave me the tape. Apparently they made it when I was little trying to figure out whether or not to go to the cops. She thought maybe I would want to report him but I loved my dad. I’ve never watched it so I don’t know what’s on it.”
“Why didn’t they go to the police?” asked Ziva and she looked like she was itching to kill something.
“Ziva, when there was a murder at his house he went to stay with Sec Nav, he has friends in high places. He’s charming. And when charm fails he pays people.” Tony ran a hand through his hair. “When I was about eight he paid off a social worker who the school sent by after one too many black eyes. One time my dad went off on me in public and when a cop said something to him my dad threatened him by saying he knew the commissioner and would make him unemployable. Hell, look at the company’s EPA record. It sucks. You honestly don’t think he’s paying someone off? The only thing that would have happened was that the staff would have been fired and then there wouldn’t have been anyone to be on my side.”
“You knew,” said Gibbs. Tony looked for condemnation in his eyes but saw only sadness, no judgment.
“I hoped I was wrong. There is a large difference between being a child abuser and being a murderer. I really hoped I was wrong. But I didn’t want to be the one to finally peg something on him. I don’t want to be the reason he’s goes to prison. I stayed out of it and knew you’d get the truth. And I figured that if I was on the team there was no way it would stick and he deserves to go to prison: he killed a man.”
Gibbs nodded, turning to the tec he said, “You can go back to interrogation. Get the tape transcribed.” The guy nodded, turned it off, and left very quickly which made Tony smile.
The air was tense and McGee said, “You were engaged?”
“No, Gina dumped me when I proposed. I think I told her too much, you should avoid that when you’re dating someone.” He could feel Gibbs’ eyes on him but he didn’t look away from McGee. “She said that a child of abuse wouldn’t make a good father. She pointed out the flaws in the ring. She told me that she’d been cheating on me with Justin Kemp and that they were going to get married. Remember? The metro cop. Ziva thought he was hot.”
Ziva interrupted, “You said you dated her for four months.”
With a shrug Tony said, “We were together for two years, she cheated on me for four months with Kemp. It seemed like a downer to tell the truth that close to Christmas. Plus you were all, ‘Don’t you wish you’d gotten married and had kids? Isn’t Christmas about family?’ So what could I say, ‘Yeah, and Kemp talking about building bikes and dollhouses actually makes me want to stab something because he’s living my life’? I endeavor to be cheerful at Christmas.”
Gibbs cleared his throat, “McGee, get Richard Teeve back here to talk about his rings, back up Tony’s story to make sure his dad can’t weasel out of it. Ziva, get me a warrant for the rings and his arrest.”
“DiNozzo was wearing them when we questioned him the other day,” said McGee over his shoulder as the pair left.
Tony rolled his eyes. But turning to Gibbs he said, “Do you have enough to arrest him?”
With a nod Gibbs said, “He was the only one unaccounted for at the party at time of the murder. Craig was drugged with a prescription your father filled two days before. We found the bottle half full in the garbage with his prints on it. And Craig’s company was about to take over your dad’s, very hostile.”
“He killed his best friend over money,” Tony nodded, “well, sadly, that makes the whole thing make more sense.” Glancing at his watch he said, “I need to get to work on the fraud case.”
He wasn’t surprised when Gibbs followed him to the elevator or when Gibbs flipped the stop switch. “Let me break rule two,” he said and Tony nodded. Gibbs pulled his close and kissed him hard, holding his face. “I love you, and nothing is going to change that. You got that?” Tony nodded. “What do you want me to do? I could let him get away; just forget the warrant for his arrest on my desk when we go to get the rings. That’s gives him an hour head start.”
Tony barked out a laugh, “Gibbs, you can’t let someone get away with murder.”
“It’s not like we’ve never done it before, where it was warranted.”
“Yeah,” Tony agreed, “We’ve let people go when they were really doing the right thing, when they were victims who got their own back or whatever. He drugged Craig and beat him to death over money. Besides, messing up a case this big? It would destroy your career.”
“Arresting a close personal friend of Sec Nav’s when we were sent to clean up the mess might destroy my career anyway. Hell, maybe it’s time to retire.”
Tony rolled his eyes, “You love this job.”
“If you want to have kids they’re going to need someone at home.”
It hurt and Tony said, “That’s not funny, Jethro.”
“Wasn’t meant to be.” He watched Tony for a few moments and said, “I wouldn’t say yes to the ring.”
Tony chuckled, “No, but don’t worry, I’m not going to get down on one knee.”
“You’re not understanding me. I wouldn’t be saying yes because of a ring.”
After studying Gibbs for a few moments Tony said, “Gay marriage isn’t legal in DC or Virginia and you’ve been pushed into too many marriages already. I don’t want to pressure you into something you don’t want.”
Gibbs nodded, “Okay, move in with me.”
“Are you serious?” asked Tony.
“Yeah, you can visit with all the old people but I want you to move in with me. I’d move in with you but there’s no basement. I’ll even throw out all my crappy furniture.”
“You like your furniture.”
“I like yours more. Move in with me, Tony. I mean it. I want you with me all the time.” Tony nodded slowly and Gibbs smiled. “We’ll figure out kids later, adoption, surrogacy, whatever, you’d be a good dad.”
“Yeah really, it would be good. Now,” he said without a smile, “tell me what you want me to do. I don’t care about my career.”
“I want him to pay for being a murderer. Arrest him.” He leaned in and kissed Gibbs, “We gotta get back to work.”
Gibb nodded and hit the switch. “I thought about getting down on one knee, but I figured you might just laugh,” he said, straightening his jacket.
“That would be rough on your knees which would be a problem if my dad ran.”
Gibbs shrugged, “Those stupid pills work,” Tony laughed, “do not tell Ducky.”
Tony nudged him, “I needed some good news today.” He smiled, “I’ll start packing tonight.” The door opened on the squad room. “Later, Jethro.”
They’d wrapped the fraud case before Tony even got upstairs and the buzz was going around the building. Everyone knew exactly what was going on. Special Agent Renaldo said, “Go home, DiNozzo.” Tony didn’t really want to but he didn’t want to cause a scene.
McGee was sitting alone in their area of the bullpen. Tony walked over, “Would you tell Gibbs that Renaldo sent me home?”
McGee nodded and wrote something down on a scrap of paper and handed it to Tony, “That’ll keep you busy.”
Tony looked at the website address, “Is this porn?”
“It’s something you will be able to make fun of me for for months.”
Tony laughed, “You’re a good person, McGee.”
McGee was glad that Tony had left because a few minutes later the CNN that was always playing on the plasmas around the edge of the room showed Gibbs and Ziva arresting Tony’s father from Sec Nav’s house. The case had been on the news almost constantly. Tony hadn’t paid any attention, seemed to block it out completely and now McGee understood why. He kind of wanted to hug Tony but knew that Tony wouldn’t appreciate it so instead he’d given Tony fodder which seemed pretty fair.
When McGee had called Richard Teeve the man had said he’d be only too happy to come in and help but could he come in after his granddaughter’s school assembly because she was singing a song and McGee had agreed quickly, pleased to hear that one of Mr. DiNozzo fellow frat brothers and business men took time off to pay attention to his family. McGee had asked security to call him when Teeve arrived so he was free to wander around but had to be at his desk when Gibbs came in because he’d been assigned a job.
As the elevator doors opened Gibbs shouted, “McGee, find DiNozzo and tell him to stay out of interrogation: I don’t want to be interrupted.”
It was null because Tony was way too smart to interrupt Gibbs but it was part of the script and McGee replied, “I can’t.”
“Why not?” asked Gibbs irritably.
“He took the rest of the day off and is on his yacht.”
Mr. DiNozzo’s eyes widened and Gibbs said, “Works for me,” as he led the cuffed man towards interrogation.
Gibbs pushed the man into the seat facing the mirror and saw that the light on the camera was lit. “Mr. DiNozzo, you have waved your right to a lawyer?”
The man smiled at him, “I don’t think that will be necessary.” Gibbs pushed the waver and a pen to the man who signed it quickly. He had Tony’s jaw and brow and hair lines but the rest of him was so different and Gibbs remembered what Tony had said about looking too much like his mother. It was odd; Gibbs wanted to be with Tony not here. This had never happened to him before, not since Shannon. The job always came first: murderers were always prioritized over romance but not anymore.
He outlined all of the evidence, it was a lengthy list, and finished by saying, “In twenty minutes our forensic scientist will tell me if your rings match, with everything else against you I have no doubt it will match. So while I don’t need a confession it would be nice.”
The smile on the man’s face made him feel ill.
Having completed his assignment McGee went to bring a Caf-Pow to Abby. Before he got all the way into the lab he heard a young child crying and saying, “Why are we talking English? I don’t like English. Only Mommy talks nice in English. Daddy only shouts and Mommy’s in the clinic. And kids at school make fun of me when I speak English, they don’t like my voice.” McGee walked in and saw the little kid, five or six in a woman’s lap, being cuddled his accent was hard to place, not one language or another.
“We speak in English for camera.”
“Why is the camera on? I don’t like this.”
“We just need to show camera how you hurt. That is all, then we go to hospital and doctor will fix it.”
The little boy nodded. His cheek was swollen, his lip bloodied, and his wrist was out of place. McGee remembered Tony once talking about a Halloween costume he’d made out of his dad’s clothing and how his dad had hit him so hard he couldn’t sit down until Christmas. He’d always thought it was hyperbole. The woman lifted Tony’s shirt to show red angry marks on his chest. His legs were covered in fading bruises. Tony seemed calmer and said, “We won’t tell the doctor, right? We tell him I fell off Asime. The doctor won’t get angry at me that way. I don’t want Daddy to get in trouble.”
“Whatever you want, Antonio.”
“I don’t like the hospital, they look at me.”
“We come back here and watch Casablanca if you want.”
“Marie Galante?” asked Tony.
“If you want,” she said. “Stand up so I show camera your back.” There were welts on Tony’s back, red and sore and still forming. “Okay,” said the woman, “We go to hospital now.”
“Possiamo parlare l'italiano ora?” asked Tony.
“Sì, eravate molto coraggioso,” she said and Tony smiled at her as she hugged him. The screen went blue and it was obvious the film was over.
McGee wrapped an arm around Abby who was crying and said, “Why didn’t you send it to evidence? It wasn’t science.”
“He didn’t even want to tell us. There was no way I was sending it down to those gossips in evidence, they don’t even like Tony. You missed the beginning, shot through an open door of the fucker beating the shit out of him. And he’s so little.” Abby never swore aloud, sometimes in sign but never aloud. She buried her head in his shoulder for a few moments.
“Brought you a Caf-Pow,” he said softly.
“I’ve got the program running on the rings, but the three-dee rendering’s going to take a while.”
His cell phone rang and he sighed, “I’m sorry, Abby, Teeve is here.”
She nodded, “Go. I’m okay.”
He went down to the squad room and saw Mr. Teeve talking to Ziva. He was glad Ziva had opted to interview Mr. Teeve with him as opposed to watching Gibbs, he needed backup today. “Thank you for coming in, Mr. Teeve.”
“I heard on the radio: you arrested Tony.”
“We can’t really talk about that. But if you would please come with us we just have a few questions for you.” McGee picked up the file he had made on Teeve when first interviewing him and led him to one of the conference rooms that had a camera and McGee hit the record button as he walked in.
The man sat down, McGee handed him a bottle of water, and Teeve said, “I’m not too surprised he was arrested. Tony always had a bad temper. But he always took it out on people who worked for him. He never seemed violent.” The man paused, “But he was terrible to his kid. He used to beat the hell out of Junior. I thought about going to the authorities but, well, the child welfare services in the early seventies weren’t as good as they are today and I thought he could end up some place worse.”
“Really?” asked Ziva, “Did you ever witness any abuse?”
“Once, at a party. Junior was a quiet little kid, always avoided parties but once he came, tiny little kid, only about four. And he told a joke, I didn’t hear I just heard people laugh. But Tony didn’t find it funny. He grabbed that boy and said he was going to bed. And that kid cried and struggled and said his dad was hurting his arm. My wife had made a dessert for the party and I went back the next day to get the bowl and Junior was cast from his wrist to his shoulder. And when I asked what had happened he said he’d fallen off his pony. It was nine in the morning, there was no way he’d had a chance to ride, fall, and get casted. I’m pretty sure the staff had taken him the night before.”
“My God,” said Ziva softly. “That is terrible.”
“Yeah, poor little Junior, never had an easy time of it. Badly bullied in school, his English wasn’t too good, made fun of for his accent and for his clothes; his mother dressed him like a doll. And he was such a little boy, he was an easy target. I still wonder what happened to him. I heard he became a cop and that worried me, policemen can be bullies. And people who were bullied frequently grow up to be bullies.”
McGee thought and then said, “He’s not a cop. He’s NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo and he’s not a bully. He can tease you and make fun of you but he’s not a bully. He doesn’t pick on people who can’t stand up for themselves, and he’s never mean in his teasing, and he’s always the first one to take blame for a mistake so that someone weaker doesn’t get in trouble. Now, we need to ask you about your rings.”
And as the man confirmed everything Tony had said McGee really wished he was with his partner just so that Tony wasn’t alone.
The man smiled at him and said, “I admit it, Special Agent Gibbs, he attacked the thing I love most and I lost my temper. And my actions are regrettable.”
“You killed him.”
The man nodded, “I did.”
“But it wasn’t a loss of temper. You drugged his drink, waited until he felt ill and went to the bathroom, and then you beat him to death.”
The man nodded again, “My anger can get away from me and can simmer for quite a while.” He was still smiling, “You seem like a sensible man.”
“Some people might agree with you.”
“So I’m going to level with you. How much is it going to cost to get all of this to go away?”
Gibbs studied him and decided that the man wasn’t just a smooth operator, he was a sociopath. But Gibbs could work with that, “Two hundred thousand.”
“That include the tape disappearing?”
“Yep.” Gibbs nodded.
The man got out a check book and wrote a check. He ripped it out and handed it to Gibbs. “Are we done, Special Agent Gibbs?”
“No, I lied,” said Gibbs standing, “now I have you on tape attempting to bribe a federal agent and admitting to murder.” Holding up the check he said, “This is evidence, I’m going to be adding to the charges. Get a lawyer: you’re not paying your way out of this one. Some people can’t be bought,” he called over his shoulder as he left. A junior agent was waiting in the hall and Gibbs said, “Put him in holding.”
He spent the rest of the afternoon talking to people. First he talked to Abby, getting confirmation on the rings matching. She told him that they had blood on them that matched Craig Vincent’s type but that DNA would take another two hours even though she’d put a huge rush on it and that the tape was horrific but that she’d cleaned it. Gibbs watched it with her and sent it to evidence. He gave her the check and started the chain of evidence. Then he spoke to Ziva and McGee, McGee looked green. Then he spoke to Vance, filling him in on everything and he could see Leon becoming more and more agitated. He wrote up his report and included every single scrape of evidence. He spoke directly to Judge Advocate General, going to the top of JAG, not wanting to pussy foot around. And he went through the whole thing again, telling him to make sure that the case got a good judge and that they secluded the jury and that DiNozzo didn’t get bail, and about the tape of child abuse and that it might not be admissible but that they were sending it. He informed him that they would send all the evidence but would keep copies of everything so that nothing would slip through the cracks. It wasn’t quite a threat but it was close enough.
Finally he looked around and saw that it was six o’clock, Ziva and McGee had both given him their reports, and for once Ziva’s was perfect. Abby brought down the DNA proof: it matched. He sent everything over to JAG and it was done, closed. “Go home,” he said, “Vance gave us tomorrow off. Mr. DiNozzo is being picked up in the morning and we don’t need to be here for it.”
“Would it be alright for me to come over for Doctor Who tomorrow?” asked McGee.
Gibbs shrugged, “Talk to Tony.”
“May I come as well?” asked Ziva with a small, pathetic, smile.
“Call Tony in the morning,” Gibbs put on his coat and picked up his briefcase and left.
He heard laughter in the hallway before opening the door to Tony’s apartment. Tony was stretched out on the couch. There were half packed boxes of stuff on the floor but he had his laptop on his knees. “What’s so funny?” he asked as he kicked off his shoes. He walked to the couch and picked up Tony’s legs to sit down and then put Tony’s legs on his lap.
“McGee gave me a website that’s awesome. It’s a Thom E. Gemcity fansite. McGee’s fans write porn about his books. I know what to do about kids: I can knock you up as you’re a vampire and male vampires can carry half human children and then I’ll get wounded and almost bleed to death but you’ll turn me into a vampire even though you don’t want to take away my mortality but I’ll be happy because I’m with you forever.” Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “The funniest thing is that a lot of ‘em are compelling and well written. Some of them are better than the damn books. And some of them are hot: Amy and Lisa open a box with a fine powder and need to shower together in Amy’s very small decontamination shower and are overcome with desire for each other.”
“So what made you laugh?”
“McGregor has poison ivy on his testicles and Tommy’s licking it better,” Tony started laughing again, “McGee is never living this down.”
“So you started packing?”
Tony sighed, “It wasn’t distracting enough, and then all my brothers started calling so I turned off my cell phone: sorry.”
“That’s okay. How are you doing?”
“The porn is more distracting than packing. How did it go?”
“He admitted everything and bribed me on camera. His rings matched and Craig’s blood was on them.”
Gibbs took the laptop and put it on the coffee table and pulled Tony to him so that he was actually in Gibbs’ lap his back against Gibbs’ chest.
Tony tried to pull away, “I’m not a girl or a child, Jethro.”
But Gibbs didn’t let him go, “I know, I know you aren’t. I need this, Tony, just stay like this.” One of his hands slipped beneath Tony’s layers to stroke his abdomen, like he did when they watched movies in bed. With his other hand he stroked Tony’s hair gently, “Give me this.” Tony relaxed, “I watched the tape.” Tony re-tensed. “If these charges don’t stick I’m going to need you to go down to Florida for a few days.”
“Jethro,” Tony began.
“Don’t worry, Ziva and McGee will be my alibis. Hell, they won’t find the body for years. He’ll pay for everything.” Tony said nothing and Gibbs kissed his neck. “You’ve changed my life you know.”
“I didn’t mean to,” said Tony and it sounded apologetic.
“I get lonely now, when you’re not around. That’s why I need you to move in, I miss you and I get lonely.”
“You get lonely when you’re alone?” said Tony with mock shock. “What a novel idea.”
“It is for me,” said Gibbs seriously, “and if feels good, being lonely, I haven’t felt like this in such a long time. Haven’t had someone who mattered to me. I want you and your stuff, and your multiple TVs in my house because I don’t want to be lonely when I can have you and I’m never letting you go.”
Tony turned a little in his lap to kiss Gibbs slow and deep. And then it became more desperate and Tony turned more so that he was straddling Gibbs. “Jethro?”
“I’ve been going crazy ever since Vance called me up to his office. I’ve had to keep control of myself all the time so I didn’t meltdown or mess up the case. I had to be so careful and I was so angry and,” he paused like he didn’t know how to say what he wanted, “I just want to give in.”
Gibbs studied him for a few moments, “I know this place we can go where you can scream for hours if you want.”
Tony shook his head, “That’s not what I want. I want you to take me to bed and I don’t want to have any control at all. I want you to do whatever you want. I want to stop thinking and I want to just drown in you, nothing else. I want kinky, hot sex and I want to submit to you completely.”
“Safety word?” asked Gibbs.
“No,” rested his forehead against Gibbs’, “because that gives me the power, that’s the whole point of safety words, and I don’t want any power. I want to give in totally and know that no matter what happens it’s all okay because the person in charge loves me.”
The words turned Gibbs on and he ground up against Tony. He wanted Tony to give in, had been aiming for it for weeks. “Anything I want?” Tony nodded, “What about the box?” Tony blushed but nodded.
Tony had a box under his bed that had toys. He hadn’t actually seen inside it. Tony kept his fluffy cuffs in it but when he’d kept his back to Gibbs precluding his view. “Whatever you want,” Tony repeated and asked, “bedroom?”
“Now,” Gibbs said and Tony smiled as he stood and almost ran to his bedroom which made Gibbs smile. He followed Tony at a more sedate speed. “Strip,” he said lingering in the doorway. Tony swallowed and did as he was told, “Good boy. You are so gorgeous. Sit on the bed.” He turned to the closet and took out Tony’s tie rack. Tony had to have forty ties hanging on it. Bringing it to the bed he said, “Pick your least favorite three.”
“That’s really hard to do.”
“I need a blindfold, gag, and to tie your wrists.”
“There’s all that stuff in the box.”
“Are you in charge, Tony?” Tony shook his head and picked out three ties. Gibbs leaned down to stroke his face and kiss him gently, “Still want this?” Tony nodded. Gibbs turned and hung the tie rack back up and then he pulled the box out from under the bed. He didn’t tie Tony up yet, he wanted him to see Gibbs touching all his stuff. He opened the box and smiled at Tony, “You really will do anything, won’t you?”
“If it feels good.”
Gibbs knew what he wanted at a glance but he still wanted Tony to watch him and he didn’t want Tony to know what he was going to use. But Tony hadn’t been lying, three different blindfolds, eight pairs of cuffs, and all different gags: two rings gags, two different shaped pecker gags, butterfly gag, a bit, a ball gag, and a ball gag that was covered in holes. He studied it for a few moments.
“It’s good if you have a cold because you can still breathe. If you use the big ring gag I can give you a blowjob but I still won’t be able to talk.”
“You’ll also be drooling and uncomfortable. I don’t want a blowjob; I want to hear you making sexy noises.”
He touched everything, pulling things out and putting them on the bed. A soft whip, different anal beads, a paddle, a couple of cock rings, a flogger with rubber tresses, nipple clamps, vibrators, plugs, vibrating plugs, a box of honey dust. They all gave him great ideas for other nights. But there was one flogger that made him wince, it had a long malleable handle, and rough rope tails that had knots and beads and sharp ends. It would cause an awful lot of damage. He held it up and shook his head, “I could never use this on you.”
A small smile slipped over Tony’s face and his eyes were happy, “I know that.”
He’d wanted to keep Tony in the dark about his plans but he added, “I can’t hurt you tonight.”
Tony kept smiling, “I didn’t ask you to. I told you to do whatever you want, no restrictions, no expectations. You can throw the cat away if you want, I don’t care. I like what you do way more than a toy.”
Gibbs walked to the trash and dropped it in, “No one is allowed to go that far.” Tony swallowed. Gibbs had used harsher things in the past, had whipped people’s backs to shreds, but the idea of using the cat on Tony made him feel ill. “I don’t care what you think about it or your beliefs: you’re too good for that.” Tony smiled wider. He walked back to Tony and kissed him slowly. He reached for one of the ties, the widest, and tied it around his head, blocking his eyes, “Too tight?”
“You don’t have to ask me that.”
“Until you’re gagged you have an option.”
“It’s not too tight.”
He took another tie and bound Tony’s wrists, “Good?” Tony nodded. He kissed Tony sweetly and then said, “Open your mouth.” He slid the tie between Tony’s teeth, wrapping it around his head twice, “Uncomfortable?” He asked and Tony shook his head. “Good. That’s the last thing you have a say in.” Tony smiled around the tie. “Sit still,” he ordered and put everything back in the box except the honey dust and a cock ring. He got a condom and the lube from the bedside table. He knelt in front of Tony and kissed the inside of Tony’s thigh as he pushed his legs apart.
Taking Tony’s bound hands, he slipped them over his head so that he was closer to Tony. He licked Tony and Tony jolted, “You’re okay,” Gibbs reassured him and Tony said something but through the gag all Gibbs could tell was that Tony was happy. Gibbs sucked the head into his mouth and stroked Tony’s shaft and messaged his testicle. And Tony was rock hard, already dripping into his mouth. He pulled off and Tony moaned. Gibbs slid the cock ring onto Tony and Tony moaned, “You aren’t coming until I say.”
He sucked Tony again and Tony was continually groaning. Gibbs gave him a reprieve and said softly, “We’re going to stand up.” He placed his hands on Tony’s waist and said, “Move with me.” He kept his body close to Tony’s and they moved together, it was clean and steady, just like they were in the field. He moved Tony to the head of the bed and laid them down and he unhooked Tony’s hands from behind his head. Moving to the edge of the bed he stripped and then settled himself back on top of Tony, rubbing their crotches together. Taking Tony’s bound hands he forced him to put his arms over his head, effectively holding him still even as Gibbs rocked against him. “There was something in your box that I’ve been interested for a while and we’re going to try it out.”
He opened the box of honey dust, dipped in the feather, and tickled it over Tony’s skin, “Now, apparently this makes a woman's skin feel silky smooth. When kissed, it tastes like honey. Let’s see what it does to a man.” He kissed and licked a path behind the feather and Tony was shaking, “Nope. You taste better without it.” He moved off Tony, “Let’s test it on your back.” He usually let Tony do most of the talking during sex but now Tony was defenseless, lost in the gag, blindfold, and couldn’t touch, and Gibbs wanted to keep him a little bit closer with the noise.
He turned Tony over and placed his hands over his head. He traced the dust over Tony’s shoulders and ran his cheek over the skin, “It does feel good though, real good.” He kissed, licked, and sucked his way down Tony’s body. Tony was rubbing against the bed, “That’s not going to help, Tony, not gonna make you come.” But Tony didn’t stop moving. Gibbs kissed the dip in Tony’s back, just above his ass. The taste was amazing; Tony was sweaty and raw, “Screw the honey dust.” He held Tony open and lapped at him, licking inside. Tony bucked up with a muffled scream. “Feels good from this side too,” he licked him open and grabbed the lube and slid one finger inside, “So hot.” He added a second finger and fucked him with his fingers and tongue.
He wanted Tony loose and comfortable, had plans and none of them included Tony being in pain. When Tony was moaning from the feeling of being licked and stretched with three fingers Gibbs sat back, opened the condom with his teeth, and slid it on. Tony made a displeased noise as Gibbs removed his fingers but tensed and sighed as Gibbs slid inside of him. He reached around to stroke Tony who made a whimpering noise through the gag. “I’ll let you come soon, I promise.”
There was no slow draw out he fucked Tony hard. Reaching up he held Tony’s hand where they were so that Tony couldn’t buck against him, he was in complete control. Playing with Tony had turned him on and he didn’t hold anything back, bit Tony’s neck to steady himself and came hard. He pulled out, still not finished with the body he was teasing. He threw out the condom and poured lube on both his hands. And rubbed them together, slicking up above his wrist, “Soon,” he repeated softly into Tony’s ear, “But not yet.”
He kissed his way down Tony’s back, leaving bite marks in his wake. Tony was looser after being fucked and it wasn’t difficult to slide four fingers into him. Tony made a noise of frustration. “Shush, enjoy it.” He held Tony open with his other hand and rubbed the muscle from inside and out. Tony was writhing and Gibbs figured that the tie was going to be chewed to shreds. Tony’s cock was dripping with precome as Gibbs finally managed to slip his thumb inside, “God, you are so hot and tight.” He moved gently inside of Tony, rocking in and out of him with his whole hand and wrist. He rubbed over his prostate insistently and removed the cock ring. Instantly Tony came in repeated spurts all over himself and the bed. Gibbs eased his hand out very slowly.
Tony was sniffing hard and struggling to breathe and Gibbs quickly untied the gag, “You’re okay,” he said softly, “breathe. It’s okay.” Tony sobbed and Gibbs rolled him over to kiss him gently, “It’s okay, just breathe,” He untied Tony’s hand and Tony wrapped his arms around Gibbs. And then he undid the blindfold. Tony’s eyes were shut but tears were seeping out from the corners. Gibbs kissed each lid, “You were so good for me.” Tony nodded, eyes still shut, still hiccupping his breath. “Did you like it?” Tony nodded again and cuddled into Gibbs. Gibbs rolled them over so that Tony was on top of him. The silence was only broken by Tony’s almost silent crying. He held Tony close and just stayed with him. Asking if he was alright would be stupid, he wasn’t.
A few minutes later Tony wiped his face, leaned up, and kissed him, “I needed that, thank you. I feel a lot better now.”
“I don’t need to thank me.” Gibbs ran his hands up and down Tony’s back. “Did I hurt you?”
Tony shook his head, “No, I don’t know why I cried, sorry.”
“I know why. You’ve been under so much stress. You had to talk about things you’ve never told anyone on camera. Your father is a sociopath and now the world knows that. And I tied you up and did dirty things to you.”
Tony shook his head again and earnestly said, “It wasn’t dirty, didn’t feel dirty to me.”
And Gibbs nodded, “No, not to me either.”
“Y’know what really pisses me off about the whole thing?”
Unsure of what Tony was referring to Gibbs just asked, “What?”
“That he didn’t even try to cover it up. That he just assumed that he could pay his way out of it. That he could meet you and Ziva and McGee and still think that he could make it good with money. He killed his best fucking friend and one of the kindest men I ever met and he didn’t even attempt to cover it up. At least if he’d met you and ran I could have thought he had some shred of decency in him. It’s the brazenness that pisses me off.”
The reasoning behind it didn’t make much sense to Gibbs but he said, “He’s a sociopath, Tony. He is completely sociopathic.”
“I wanted him to be innocent.”
“I know,” said Gibbs, rubbing Tony’s back. “McGee and I worked your yacht into the conversation. Your dad looked envious.”
Tony smiled, “Really?”
“Like he was pissed that he wasn’t going to get an invite.”
“Thank you,” said Tony then his stomach growled. “Have you eaten? I wasn’t hungry before you got home.”
“I was in too much of a rush to get here to eat.”
“There’s this awesome taco place that delivers.”
“Sure, that sounds good. Do you want to shower?”
“No, I just want to towel off the worst of it and watch a movie. If that’s cool.”
Stroking Tony’s face Gibbs said, “Sounds like a good plan to me. Pick the movie.” Gibbs gently pushed Tony off of him and went to the bathroom. He washed himself quickly at the sink and then wetted a towel. Tony was standing at the bookshelf looking over the films.
“Starship Troopers? I know how you feel about modern warfare but what about futuristic wars between us and bug people?”
“That doesn’t sound like my thing,” said Gibbs stepping behind him and started to wipe Tony off. “Pick again.”
Tony relaxed into his hands and said, “Okay, Cool Hand Luke.” He stayed still as Gibbs cleaned him up.
“I got lube in your hair,” Gibbs said, tilting Tony’s head back.
Tony chuckled as Gibbs ran the towel over his hair. “You also got lube on three perfectly good ties that can’t be washed but it felt so good that I really don’t care.” He sighed, as Gibbs rubbed him dry. Then he put on sweats, ordered the food, and put on the film. He stripped off the top layer of the bed, throwing aside the ties and honey dust, and crawled under the covers.
Looking at him Gibbs said, “Do I need to wear pants?”
“No, it’s just that the taco place is really close and I want to be able to open the door. It would be a crime for both of us to wear pant.”
Gibbs got into bed and pulled Tony to him, “You taste better without honey dust.”
“That’s because you love me.”
“I do,” agreed Gibbs. They settled into the film but Tony was too quiet for Gibbs’ tastes.
The food came about twenty minutes after Tony had first called. They ate watching the movie in near silence. On any other day it would have been comfortable and nice but not today Gibbs couldn’t take it anymore.
As they finished eating he said, “I’m going to tell you a story,” he spoke softly, ignoring the film. Tony looked at him saying nothing. “I first met Shannon at the Stillwater train station.”
“You don’t need to tell me this,” said Tony quickly, “you’re allowed your privacy.”
“I know, but it’s a story you’ve wanted to hear for as long as I’ve known you.” Tony blinked, because he hadn’t even known about Shannon and Kelly before a few years ago. “It was the day I was leaving for the Marines. I’d known her for years, seen her at least, but we’d never spoken. I figured that as I was leaving I could finally make a move because if it went poorly I would never have to see her again. But if she hadn’t spoken first I would have lost my nerve. I asked her if I could sit with her and at first she said that it was a long trip and it was a clear brush off. Then she added, ‘But I guess you’re not a lumberjack.’ And she said that she had a rule, either rule one or three: never date a lumberjack. I asked her if she had a rule for everything and she said that she was working on it because everyone needs a code to live by. We spoke for all six hours that we were on the train together. We wrote everyday and I learned her rules. I wasn’t polished when I was eighteen and I formed my own rules to get by. When we got married they changed, and with Kelly they changed even more. Rule twelve: muddy shoes have to be taken off at the backdoor, rule nine: never let anyone tell you that you can’t wear a tutu to the supermarket, rule four: no bikinis until you’re fifteen.” He trailed off for a moment, “It wasn’t the Marines, Dad, or Mike Franks, it was Shannon.” Tony was quickly straddling his lap and kissing him and Gibbs smiled, “Told you that you wanted to hear it.”
Tony stayed in his lap, “Is this the part where I tell you a nice story?” He didn’t sound very happy about it.
“It’s not tit for tat, Tony. You don’t have to say anything.”
“I don’t know anything that would make sense.”
Shaking his head Gibbs said, “It doesn’t need to make sense to me, as long as it does to you.”
Tony sighed, “I hated parties when I was little. My mother paraded me around like a show dog and my dad was always drunk which was never a good thing. I used to sit under a table with a tablecloth. And I would tell myself stories, good plots of movies. I remember once one of the stories made me laugh and at the same moment my dad laughed at something. It felt like we were laughing together. I never understood my dad but for just a second it felt like we were in sync, like we were friend.” He dropped his head to kiss Gibbs’ shoulder, “I love you, Jethro.”
“I built you a boat,” Gibbs replied, stroking Tony’s hair. He yawned widely.
“You haven’t had a real night’s sleep since this began. Go to sleep, I’ll be in later, I’m going to pack.”
“Do you want company?” asked Gibbs, he could fight off sleep for a few more hours.
“No, I think I need a little time by myself and I have to call Dan.”
Tony was telling the truth and even if he’d been lying, Gibbs would have accepted it, because it was what Tony wanted. He fell asleep almost as soon as Tony left.
He packed for a little while. It was sort of surprising, not that Gibbs wanted him to move in, it had become clear that Gibbs wanted him around that Gibbs enjoyed having Tony with him, but that Gibbs would throw away his stuff. Gibbs didn’t throw anything away. It wasn’t that he was a packrat it was that he was cheap, why buy new stuff or throw anything away when you might need it later? Tony got the feeling that the wives had had to deal with it. After all, if they’d bought new stuff together the wives would have gotten half of it. Whereas when it was all his furniture they had to walk away without it. Gibbs’ willingness to throw things away showed that Gibbs believed in them, believed that it wouldn’t end. That more than anything made Tony happy. He wrapped his stuff in his living room and called Dan before it got too late.
Dan picked up after the first ring sounding groggy. “S’up, Tony?”
“Did I wake you?”
“I’s okay. How are you? I saw Gibbs and Ziva arresting your dad.”
“A year after graduation I called you drunk and upset and asking why my life sucked.”
“I don’t remember that.”
“You said that someday my life wouldn’t blow and that I would think of the time that sucked as being a nightmare. I called you an idiot and you said when it happened I would call to say thank you.”
Dan spoke sounding embarrassed, “Well, I still think it will happen someday. But I really thought it would have happened by now.”
“Gibbs asked me to move in, and he built me a boat, he loves me. All of NCIS is on my side and nailing the bastard once and for all. So, as cliché and pathetic as your advice was, thanks. Now kiss my godson and go back to bed.”