Gibbs' voice rang authoritatively through the bullpen, sparking his team to hastily queue up by the central big screen.
“I have calls in to my CIA contacts for any possible kinks,” said Ziva, pushing her dark hair back from her face.
“You mean, links?” Tony smirked. “Although I'm sure the CIA is plenty kinky.”
Gibbs smothered a smile, rubbing a hand over his mouth. He knew Tony loved teasing Ziva about her malapropisms, which admittedly were pretty funny most of the time.
She rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically. “Yes, yes, link. I thought links were those little sausages one eats at breakfast.”
“Yeah, they are, but this kind is different, and much less tasty. McGee?” Gibbs steered the focus back to the matter at hand: a series of break-ins targeting the houses of Navy sub crews currently deployed. The physical thefts were compounded by computer hacks, so not only were the sub crewmen losing goods, their bank accounts were being cleaned out too.
“Boss, I have sniffers placed on the data trails, and Abby and I are setting up cameras to try and catch the thieves. The regular security cams in the past instances have been shot out or obscured, so we're trying a new kind of micro-camera that we think will be more easily overlooked.”
“Good. Keep me posted, and get Abby to help with any networking or wiring you need to do.” Gibbs turned to Tony. “What do you have, DiNozzo?”
“I'll be scouting out the pawn shops and known fences today, and tonight I'm going to check out some probable targets, going by the pattern we think we've uncovered.” Tony nudged Ziva. “Hey, maybe I can catch some new kinks.”
Gibbs had to stifle a snicker as Ziva rolled her eyes and stalked away. Tony always knew how to push her buttons.
* * *
Tony watched Ziva stalk away before turning back to Gibbs. “Anything else I can do for you, boss?” Get you fresh coffee? Bend over a desk? Tony tried to keep his voice even and friendly without veering into begging.
“That'll do for now.” Gibbs strode briskly away, completely unaware of Tony's eyes following him longingly.
What's a guy gotta do? thought Tony, stifling a sigh. While he wasn't entirely sure that Gibbs would be open to romantic overtures from a man, it was a hope that Tony refused to give up on. He'd fallen for his gruff superior from day one, and pining for so long was making him think of more creative, blatant displays of his affection.
If only he could get Gibbs to actually look at him, and not just like Tony was the trustworthy German shepherd who had Gibbs' six all the time. More like a sexy man who was ready to offer his heart on a plate.
Tony sat on the edge of his desk, tapping a finger against his mouth. What could he do to show Gibbs how he felt—how Gibbs meant so much more to him than just a boss? What would convey the depth of his feelings, the heat of his passion?
A glimmer of an idea wormed its way into Tony's brain. He'd need some help...but it wasn't impossible. Not impossible at all.
McGee looked up when Tony sauntered past his desk. “What's up, DiNozzo? Got a hot date? Another model?”
“Oh, McMonk, If only you knew.” Tony couldn't stop the grin that McGee's question provoked. A hot date indeed...if his idea panned out.
* * *
Abby looked up when Tony bounced into the lab. “Hey, Tony! Have you ever noticed the lab's sliding door sounds like the ones on Star Trek?” She kissed him on the cheek. “What's up, Tony-bear?”
“Abs, I have a problem. And you are the one who can help me with it.” He fixed large, dark, pleading eyes on her. “Pretty please, and all the Caff-Pows you can drink?”
She patted his cheek. “Of course, Tony, anything for you! You know I can't resist those puppy eyes! What do you need? I'm a little cramped for time, Gibbs wants this camera network set up ASAP, but you know I'll do what I can.”
Tony smiled wickedly. “That is just the thing I need to talk about, Abby.” He bent his head to whisper in her ear. She gasped loudly before bursting into laughter at his words.
* * * *
“Check in, Ziva, McGee, Abby, DiNozzo. Suspect is en route.” Gibbs spoke quietly into his headset, watching the action on the bullpen screen. “Let's get this dirtbag, people.”
They'd gotten some intelligence with a solid lead about the next Navy house to be burgled. Ziva, Tony, and McGee were deployed around the house, with Abby monitoring them from the lab and Gibbs watching on the big screen via the cameras. The bullpen was dark except for a couple of low-light desk lamps and the screen itself.
A dark, hooded figure approached the house from the back, emerging silently through the hedges. Gibbs saw it on one camera, then switched to another when the figure disappeared. The figure fiddled with the back door lock, evidently successfully as the door swung open and then entered the house.
“Go,” barked Gibbs.
Ziva and McGee raced through the back door, while Tony cut around to the front door to block any potential escape. Gibbs switched to one of the indoor cameras in time to see the hooded figure run through the front door and straight into Tony's arms. McGee helped Tony take the thief down, Ziva cuffing him as Tony flashed a thumbs up at the camera.
“Good work! Bring him in and put him in interrogation. I'm on my way.” Gibbs felt a flash of pleasure at the efficiency of his team. Not that he'd let them know it, of course.
* * *
When Gibbs returned to the bullpen, Tony could see the quiet air of contentment that Gibbs wore after a successful interrogation. “Okay people, good job. Now get your reports in before you go.” Gibbs sat down at his desk and sipped the coffee he'd apparently stopped to get on the way. Tony could see the steam rising from the cup and sighed, imagining the delicious taste of the black, hot beverage. He licked his lips and returned to his keyboard.
His team was already seated before their computers. They all knew the rule about all paperwork being completed and turned in before a case could be considered done. While McGee was the most adept typist, Tony knew he could get bogged down in the details, so Ziva was often the first one done. She would sashay away, slinging her bag over the shoulder and looking at her teammates with an air of superiority. Tony was okay at typing, but his issue was staying focused; he knew he was easily distracted during boring jobs like case reports, and he was usually the last one finished.
Tonight, though, he had things to do, so he made sure to shut down his browser and remove the temptations of Facebook and Twitter. He doggedly filled out every line and box on the closure report. His fatigue lifted when he triumphantly hit SEND and PRINT, standing up so precipitately that he almost knocked his chair over.
McGee, Ziva, and even Gibbs all looked at him in surprise. “Done!” Tony chortled, practically bounding over to the printer and retrieving his report, which he stapled in one corner with his Mighty Mouse stapler and slapped down on Gibbs' desk.
Gibbs eyed it suspiciously. “It's all set,” said Tony, patting it. “And that means I am done.” He picked up his jacket off the back of his chair. “Good night!”
Perhaps whistling Margaritaville as he left was adding insult to injury, but Tony really didn't care. He had plans. Big, big plans.
Once he was outside the Navy Yard, Tony texted Abby. “Where are we at, Abs?”
“We're good to go, Tony. I put the box in your trunk, and it's already pre-programmed into my network here. Go home and do your thing, and I'll be ready to stream it here. Let me know when you're ready for the big reveal, and all I have to do is push the button!” She giggled. “This is so exciting!”
Tony had to agree—he was pretty excited himself. He thanked Abby and started his car, driving home on autopilot as he giddily envisioned his plans.
* * *
Tony looked around his bedroom with satisfaction. The lighting was low, but threw a pool of soft illumination across the bed. A little soft jazz was playing—it wouldn't be noticed, but it helped to keep Tony in the mood. Tony himself was showered, his dark hair styled carelessly just-so. He was freshly manscaped; his chest hair looked soft and touchable, curling darkly over his pecs and trailing down his belly, but it didn't look like you needed a machete to find your way through it.
And the bed...oh, the bed. Red satin sheets covered it, dark rich crimson spilling in swirls and folds. Tony stroked one corner appreciatively; the material was smooth and cool, and he knew it was going to feel heavenly on his skin.
He glanced up at the micro-camera, parked on a shelf. He and Abby had already tested the angle, and he knew that once he was right in the center of the bed, he'd be in the center of the screen.
“Okay, Abby. Hide your eyes a sec while I get into place!” Tony waited a moment, then cast off his robe, flinging it into the corner of the bedroom before lifting the top sheet and sliding underneath it. He arranged himself and the sheet, wanting to look sexy and provocative without appearing slutty or giving away the goods. Underneath him, the bottom sheet rippled in a multitude of folds. Across him, Tony pulled the sheet into a narrow band over his junk, exposing his muscular thighs and the entirety of his chest and torso. He brought one arm over his head, fingers curled above his dark hair, and kept the other hand on the sheet, as if to keep it from slipping...or maybe ready to push it away.
“Ready!” he called, and turned his face just a tiny bit, flirting with the camera.
* * *
Gibbs sat back at his desk in the dark bullpen. The rest of his team had finally left, Ziva soon after Tony, and an hour after her, McGee. He's spent the last hour looking over their reports, making sure everything was accounted for and marking any mistakes.
Now he rubbed his eyes with a sigh. They felt tired, just starting to burn a little, and he knew it was time to go. He stretched his neck in a circle. This was an all-to-frequent occurrence; a case over, staying until the wee hours working, and all for a reason he refused to acknowledge.
The truth was, his house was dark and empty...except for ghosts. Lately, it seemed to be filled with echoes when he got home, the rooms barely furnished, no true comforts around. He always said he worked too much to worry about his house, but the truth—which he could barely articulate, much less fully acknowledge—was that he felt he didn't deserve anything better. His hollow home served as a form of penance, a way for him to suffer in atonement for everything he'd failed to do and subsequently lost.
As always, fatigue ultimately won, and Gibbs drew the line at sleeping in a conference room. Stacking the reports, he clicked off his computer and stood up to grab his jacket.
His phone chirped. Abby's icon pulsed, so he thumbed over it.
“Gibbs? Are you there?”
“Yeah, Abs, what do you need?” God, he was tired.
“I just got an alert from a camera.”
“Okay, throw it up on the screen here.” He turned to face it.
“Are you alone, Gibbs?”
What other damn fools would be here, this time of night? he thought crankily. “Yeah, Abs, no one here but me.”
The screen beamed that weird blue light it got before transmitting a signal, and Gibbs sighed with annoyance.
Then his annoyance vanished.
The screen filled with lavish red fabric that shone and shadowed with its ripples. It was beautiful, but it was what sprawled in the middle of the picture that took Gibbs' breath away.
It was Tony.
A naked Tony, as far as Gibbs could tell. Strong, tan limbs showcased on that lush material, the red playing up every delightful bit of tan skin on Tony's magnificent body. Long legs, solid shoulders, and yet a delicate hand curled above Tony's thick dark hair. The hands of a piano player...Gibbs remembered Tony had a piano, knew how to play it. An image of Tony's fingers handling his gun with strength and precision morphed into those same fingers moving deftly across the piano, and it made Gibbs' breath hitch.
He stared at Tony's torso, noted the cuts of bone and muscle, the curve of his pecs, the dark scruff of chest hair with the trail that led below the sheet. Jesus, he was fucking beautiful, and Gibbs' intellectual appreciation of that beauty warred with the blood rushing to his cock in blatant physical response. He had to grit his teeth not to touch himself, and the flash of anger at his own baseness galvanized him into action.
Leaping forward, Gibbs grabbed the cord of the big screen and yanked it from the outlet. The screen plunged into black, and he stood there breathing heavily, flinging the cord from his hand and rubbing his face. What on earth was he doing, panting like a lech over his partner? Tony was a good man, an excellent agent; he'd displayed competence, integrity, initiative, and kindness more times than Gibbs could count. And here was how Gibbs repaid him—drooling over his body, popping a boner. He was a pig.
Gibbs dropped into his chair, his breathing slowing. He leaned back, looking up at the ceiling and ignoring the bulge in his trousers, counting his breaths. When he straightened up, he looked around the bullpen, praying that he was still alone, that there was no witness to his meltdown. Thankfully no one was around, and the bullpen remained mostly in darkness.
Tony's desk lamp was still on, and Gibbs wondered if he'd done that on purpose, leaving some literal spark for Gibbs to see. He studied Tony's desk like he'd never seen it before; the jaunty Mickey Mouse stapler, the cartoons on the back wall interspersed with pictures of grateful people. People Tony had helped. Had saved.
He's the best young agent I've ever worked with. Gibbs remembered saying that to the arrogant, self-absorbed DiNozzo Senior when he'd deigned to visit the Yard. And it was true. But as Gibbs sat there, contemplating the night's events, he realized there was more than just being a great agent here. There was Tony himself, Tony the man...beautiful, yes, but so much more. And above all, he was brave. Brave enough to (literally) lay himself out and declare his feelings to his bastard of a boss.
But not alone. Oh no, Gibbs knew that this was beyond Tony's capability, and he knew just who had aided and abetted. Switching off Tony's desk lamp, Gibbs headed for the elevator and the forensics lab.
The usual ear-splitting music wasn't blaring, but the lights were still on. Gibbs strode in with a loud “Abby!”
She jumped and turned around, her face breaking into a wide smile when she saw him. “Well, Boss, what did you think? Did you like your special video?” She poked his shoulder. “Better than Valentine's Day!”
“Abby, what do you know about this?” His spoke sternly, he wasn't going to give her a break yet.
Her face sobered. “Tony wanted to show you how he felt, Gibbs. He's been in love with you for such a long time. Do you even know how long?” She patted Gibbs' chest. “You've been alone for so many years, Boss. You deserve someone wonderful, and Tony—he is wonderful. He came up with this idea, and I said I'd help, because you two are my favorite people and you belong together, even if you don't realize it yet.”
Gibbs ducked his head. Abby always had a way of really putting her finger on the crux of the matter. “Abby, he's...him, and I...I'm just me. A mean old bastard.” He met her eyes, soft and full of life.
“That's nonsense. Time to shake the dust off, Gibbs. There's a life waiting for you, all wrapped up in shiny red satin.” She winked at him and gave him a taste of his own medicine—a Gibbs-smack on the back of the head. “Go get your boy, Jethro.”
Still he hesitated, unable to believe it could be true. His eyes studied her face, saw the utter sincerity and affection that was Abby, and nodded.
* * *
He knew this called for them to talk face-to-face. The streets were empty, and yet he didn't drive the Charger over the speed limit. He needed to think, needed to gather his shredded brain and aching heart back together and think about what the hell he was going to do. Tony was too special to trifle with, yet Gibbs wasn't sure what he could really offer. A closeted relationship? A battered body? And while Gibbs jerked off regularly, that was a hell of a lot different from actually having sex.
He pulled over, leaned his head on the steering wheel as the doubts assailed him. What kind of fool are you about to make of yourself, you son-of-a-bitch?
A glimpse of red caught the corner of his eye. On the passenger seat lay a red sweater, a puddle of fabric. Gibbs reached over and picked it up—it was sinfully soft. Of course it was Tony's, and of course it was cashmere. Gibbs mouth twitched in a grin, and he brought the sweater to his face. Tony's expensive cologne still clung to the fibers, wafting a spicy, citrusy scent that completely evoked Tony's presence.
A flurry of moments cascaded over Gibbs, running though his brain in a hot rush like a shot of whiskey. Tony running to bag a dirtbag, Tony chatting up a pretty girl, Tony teasing Ziva and McGee. Tony wrapping his arms around Abby like the big brother she never had. Tony silently dropping off a fresh cup of strong black coffee onto Gibbs' desk. Tony facing down Fornell at the FBI and Jenny Shepard right here at the Navy Yard. Tony sounding desperate on the radio of the USS Seahawk, quietly asking to come home. Tony laughing, Tony smiling, Tony sitting everyone down with buckets of popcorn to watch It's a Wonderful Life at Christmas.
Tony. Tony. TonyTonyTony...
Gibbs threw the Charger back into gear and peeled out.
* * *
Tony sat all wrapped up in his plushy black robe, one hand nervously tapping the arm of the chair. He didn't know what he was waiting for. Would Gibbs call? Would he come over? Would some burly Marine show up on Tony's doorstep and haul him away for indecent exposure? He drank some wine and debated calling Abby, wondering if she knew anything. Hell, maybe there'd been a power outage and the damn thing hadn't worked at all.
A solid knock sounded on his front door. Perhaps Gibbs decided to come in person? Tony shivered, half in anticipation, half in fear.
He opened the door. Gibbs stood on the mat, as self-possessed as always at first glance.
But Tony knew better than to accept first glance. A second, deeper look revealed the clench of Gibbs' jaw, the way his ice-blue eyes looked skittishly at Tony and then at the ground, the uneven breathing beneath the polo shirt.
“Hey, Gibbs.” Tony went for low-key cool.
Tony scratched his head. “Kinda late for dropping by, Boss. We got a case?”
“No. Uh, no. I just--” Gibbs looked to each side before looking back at Tony. “Can I come inside?”
“Oh, sure. Mi casa and all.” Tony opened the door further and beckoned Gibbs inside.
They stood in silence, regarding each other cautiously. Tony sighed and went to sit back down, taking another sip of his pinot noir.
“I saw your, um, video.” Gibbs spoke quietly.
Tony froze. “Ah...” He cleared his throat. “It's not from my Bergman days, but I think it holds up rather--”
“Shut up,” ordered Gibbs, and Tony's jaw snapped shut. “I was shocked at first, because there you were, mostly naked on the big screen, in all that red satin. Then I got distracted because you were so beautiful, and Tony, you are really fucking beautiful. And I got turned on, but I didn't know what to do about it, or what it was you actually wanted. So I went to see Abby.”
Tony simply nodded. Gibbs nodded too before he continued.
“The thing is, Tony, we've both been really lonely, each in our own way for our own reasons. And I know I'm sick of being lonely.” Tony stood up and moved towards Gibbs, but he held a hand up. “It's just that—being lonely, it isn't the reason to be together. I'm not going to hook up with you just because I'm alone, and I don't want to be with you if it's just that you're alone.”
He ran a hand through his hair and took a deep breath.
“I love you, Tony. I've ignored it and I've pushed it aside because it's...well, it's kinda scary. But I do. I love you, and despite my drinking and my workaholic habits and just being a prick a lot of the time, I find you amazing and special. Tony, if you feel anything like that, then I'd love to take you into my life, make a life with you, and I'd spend my days making sure you feel as loved and happy as I can. And if you don't.” Gibbs' voice grew hoarse. “Then I'll just walk away here, tonight, no harm, no foul.”
Tony stood in shock. Never in his wildest dreams had he thought he'd provoke a declaration like this; he'd been pretty sure Gibbs harbored some feelings under that tough Marine skin, but nothing to this extent. Overwhelmed and overjoyed, he stood like he was in rigor mortis, mouth agape and eyes staring.
Unfortunately, Gibbs apparently interpreted Tony's lack of response as a negative. Gibbs' face fell, and he turned to leave, broad shoulders drooping.
“Wait!” Tony leaped forward, grabbing Gibbs' arm and pulling him back into the apartment. “I accept! I mean, I do! I-I-I reciprocate!” He threw himself at Gibbs, wrapping his arms around the solid figure and holding him close. “I feel the same way,” Tony mumbled into Gibb's shoulder, and smiled in relief as arms wrapped back around him in return.
“We'll have to figure some stuff out, you know,” murmured Gibbs.
“Yeah,” agreed Tony. “But...together.” He turned his head and their lips met for their first, unforgettable kiss.