CHAPTER 18 - The Luckiest Man
It was early March, six in the evening, and Jethro would be coming home soon. It was still light out, but Tony left the foyer light on before he went upstairs to their bedroom. He had a quick shower and towel-dried his hair.
These days, he sported a beard, a neat one that covered the scars along his jaw. The scar that ran from his cheekbone to his forehead had healed well with intensive treatment, and in a certain light it might appear he had freckles; in the bright light of day it was more obvious, rough and discolored. By now he was used to people staring, or avoiding looking at it altogether. Okay, so maybe it was more like he was inured to the curious looks. Sometimes he explained what had caused them, more often he did not.
After pulling on socks and tight-fitting shorts, he got into position on the bed and waited. It wasn’t long before he heard the front door open, the clink of keys being dropped into the dish on the table, and Jethro calling out, “Tony? Where are you?”
Tony didn’t answer as he turned on one small bedroom light (the one Abby had given them for Christmas, that had what she called ‘a romantic glow’) and settled on their bed to wait. Jethro had forgiven Abby (somewhat) so things were easier between them these days. His own car keys were already in the dish, so Jethro would know he was home.
He’d left a beef and noodle casserole in the oven, set on low, as they were sure to be hungry later on. Jethro was walking around downstairs, floorboards occasionally creaking. Tony could tell when he was in kitchen, opening the oven to see what smelled so good, as the oven door had a slight squeak.
The basement door opened, and after a few seconds closed. It would be obvious Tony wasn’t down there, with no lights on. Jethro had been working on his boat again, which was great for his mental health, and he hadn’t had any more issues with his heart or the scarring that had caused him trouble. That seemed to annoy Dr. Taft, so Tony mentioned to Jethro he thought the man thrived on his patients’ pain.
Jethro was in stealth mode as he climbed the stairs, and Tony wouldn’t have known he was approaching if he hadn’t been expecting him. The bedroom door opened slowly, and Jethro walked in and came to a sudden halt only two feet into the room. He stood still and stared, as well he might.
Tony was lying on his side, on top of the covers, his head propped up with one hand. He was wearing nothing but black triathlon shorts and tube socks, and he was getting exactly the reaction he’d hoped for. In his best sultry voice, he said enticingly, “Hey, Navy cop. I hear you like the kinda man you can pin up on your wall.” Tony ran his free hand across his chest, tweaking his own nipples, and slowly trailed his fingers down his stomach, stirring the dark hair that grew there. When his hand reached his shorts, he snapped the waistband, a little too hard – “Ow!” – and tried not to laugh.
“If you were my man, I sure as hell wouldn't pin you up. I’d pin you down hard. On the mattress,” Jethro said, his voice rough.
“Well, I am your man, and I have expectations, and some serious needs, so how about you climb up here and get yourself some of this?” Tony asked, cupping his package and rubbing himself suggestively, adding a soft moan into the mix.
Jethro started to undress, removing his shoes and socks, pants and underwear in record time, but as soon as his jacket came off, Tony pulled him onto the bed. He was still wearing his shirt, one of his trademark polos, and today’s was a maroon color that Tony liked.
What’s more, Jethro was wearing a shoulder holster. He’d worn one ever since Tony had told him how sexy he was when wearing it, so when he leaned over for a kiss, the hard holster pressed against Tony’s side.
Tony asked, “Hey, is that your gun, or are you just happy to see me?”
“Damn!” Jethro quickly got off the bed, stripped off the shoulder holster, and stored the weapon in a gun safe they kept in a bookcase on the far wall. He hurried back to the bed, where Tony greeted him with open arms.
“It looks like you are happy to see me,” Tony said with a laugh, taking hold of his lover’s semi-erect cock. Jethro had always hardened up fast. It only took a few strokes and he was groaning.
Jethro rolled Tony onto his back and braced his arms on either side of his head. “What you do to me…you have no idea.”
“Oh, I think I do, because I feel the same,” Tony said. He looked straight into Jethro’s eyes and said, “I love you. I love you like fucking crazy.” The way Jethro looked at him, with so much love and fucking adoration, it was almost more than Tony could stand. He wondered why he’d thought it would be so hard to say those words, to really mean them. But once he’d actually said them, they were easy to repeat. He held Jethro’s face in his hands and kissed him, lightly at first and then more deeply, murmuring into his mouth, and between kisses, “I love you. I love you, Jethro.”
They had a laugh over getting Tony’s shorts off, and Jethro’s shirt got stuck on his ears because he’d forgotten to unbutton the top button. His muffled swearing with the shirt still over his head had Tony rolling with laughter. Finally, they were both naked, breathing hard, and just looking at each other.
Jethro stroked Tony’s face, his scarred skin and soft beard, and kissed his cheek and then his mouth. He did that often enough that Tony believed he was trying to get him to associate his past injuries with love. They didn’t bother Tony much, even when people stared at the rough mottled scars on his face. He didn’t tell Jethro that because he loved the way he was so tender, kissing his scars, there and all across his shoulder blade. Those scars on his back, the fifty or sixty of them, now a purple-brown color, were just marks to him, like freckles or skin blemishes.
His eye had completely healed, his vision back to 20/10, thank God. Hearing was good, too. The abrasions on his right arm had healed up ages ago, and he’d recovered surprisingly fast from the concussion and bruising from the blast.
They had IDd the DC van bomber as a Virginia man named Mayfield Rogers, whose fifteen-year-old brother, Brad, had been involved in The Calling – one of Daniel Budd’s boys. Brad had been killed six months earlier while fleeing NCIS agents; he had taken off on foot and had run directly into traffic. He was hit by a delivery van. The other teens he’d been with had been captured, and were awaiting trial.
The ATF had tracked the origin of the explosives to an international arms dealer who had sold them to the now deceased Daniel Budd. They concluded that Mayfield Rogers had worked alone and his motive was revenge. His target had been SecNav Porter, for giving the orders to capture all remaining members of The Calling on US soil, and for being responsible for the death of his brother.
In addition to the bomber, who had died at the scene, two innocent people had died as a result of the bomb, and fifteen people injured. The numbers were surprisingly low. Tony had incurred the worst injuries of the survivors. Still, as he told his friends and colleagues when he returned to work in early February, on part-time desk duty, he felt like a very lucky man.
“Make love to me,” Tony requested, and Jethro stroked his erection, wringing out pleasure that was almost painful, and then entered him, slowly, kissing his chest, sucking on his nipples. Tony writhed and moaned, hands gripping Jethro’s shoulders, his ass, trying to pull him in deeper, and deeper still, and finally Jethro was thrusting and withdrawing, faster and harder, and God, this was more than he could stand, and he screamed, and came so hard he saw lights. Jethro stiffened, and finally, with a deep groan, shuddered his release.
Tony could have remained like this forever, sated, warm, being held in Jethro’s arms after a bout of incredible lovemaking. He sighed happily, rubbing his cheek against Jethro’s chest.
Jethro stroked a callused hand down his arm. “You okay?”
“Was there some special occasion?”
“You mean because of this?”
“Well, it isn’t every night I come home to a pin-up man in my bed,” Jethro said.
Tony smiled up at him. “If you’re good, maybe you can expect more surprises like this from now on.”
“You’re feeling that energetic, are you?”
He had been feeling good for the past few weeks. Physical therapy, swimming regularly, and getting a lot of sleep had all contributed to his wellbeing. “I passed my physical today,” Tony announced proudly. Just two months ago he’d been afraid he’d never pass, but he’d slowly increased his workouts, and had hired a personal trainer to keep him on track. It had been a bit like training for the triathlon, though with a different goal in mind.
“That’s great!” Jethro said, giving him a resounding kiss. “How’s the psyche eval going?”
Tony shrugged. He was seeing Dr. Cranston, or, as he called her, Dr. Kate’s Sister. “She can see too much. She’s tricky, too.”
“Sounds like you’ve finally found a shrink you can’t fool,” Jethro said with a chuckle. After a long silence, he asked, “Is there something else you need to tell me?”
“You know I submitted the report for the SMUT unit.” Rob Cox and Joanna Teague had helped him write the final report (Garcia was somewhere, deep undercover), and when it was done, they all gave a big sigh of relief. They were proud of the work they’d done and hoped it would go through. Tony couldn’t help grinning. “They didn’t take long to review it, and we got the call today that it was accepted, as is: the course, the recruitment and implementation plans, the whole package.”
“Where’s the champagne?”
Tony shrugged. “Maybe a beer with dinner.”
“You’re not happy? Okay, what’s the catch?”
“Oh, I am happy, I’m thrilled, pleased beyond belief… Only they want me to be the head of the program. To get it up and running in four months,” Tony revealed. He watched Jethro’s face fall as he realized what that meant.
“I see. But you want this, don’t you? Really badly?”
“I’d love to do it. I feel like it’s my baby. Only… I’m not sure I want to leave NCIS.”
Jethro nodded. “You should do it.”
Tony got up on one elbow and stared at Jethro. “You want me to take the job?”
“Sounds like it’s exactly what you need. Why d’you look so disappointed? You know I’ve been encouraging you to move on, Tony, to take a leadership position.”
“You mean you’d be okay with me working long hours at the SMUT training camp up in Hope Lake? To live away from you? Don’t you… want me anymore?” Tony asked, getting upset over Jethro’s lack of understanding about how torn he was about having to make a choice.
“I don’t want to get between you and this opportunity,” Jethro said firmly.
“You mean you don’t care enough to put up a fight for me?”
“Hey, you’re getting all bent out of shape over nothing, Tony.”
“It’s not nothing! How can you think that? Fuck!” Tony got out of bed and pulled on his pants. “You know what, you can go fuck yourself, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, because I’m not staying with someone who doesn’t give a fuck about me!”
Jethro was out of bed in a second, and grabbed Tony by the upper arms. They struggled a little, but Tony was too upset to put up a real fight.
“You finished?” Jethro asked.
Tony stared at the floor and said, “Let go of me. Please.”
Jethro dropped his hands but he stood between Tony and the door. “You didn’t let me talk.”
“Oh, I forgot, Mr. Talk Therapy Man is no longer a functional mute,” Tony said sullenly. “Fine, speak.”
“First of all, of course I’d love to work with you for the remainder of my time at NCIS, which, by the way, has been extended to age sixty.”
Tony looked up, surprised.
Jethro smiled, knowing that had piqued his interest. “When you were hurt, right after you came home, I thought you might need long-term care, so I talked to Vance about retiring early. The SecNav didn’t want me to leave and asked if I’d do consulting. Then you got better. Looked like you were going to come back to work. Sounded good to me but then she and Morrow wanted you to head the SMUT unit…”
“Wait a minute! They told you they wanted me to head SMUT?”
“That was their plan all along,” Jethro said.
“I thought I was just the guy who went in and did the prep work,” Tony said, thrown off balance.
“They never made it clear? Didn’t you read the contract you signed?”
Tony shrugged. “I dunno. Not the small print.”
“And you want me to stay on your team?”
“Of course I do, but we both know that’s not the best choice.”
“But… I don’t want to be five hundred miles away from you! I want to sleep in your bed, and eat breakfast with you, and cook cowboy steaks, and work on your boat and–”
Jethro steered Tony back to bed. “It’s too fucking chilly to stand around fighting in my birthday suit.” Once they were under the covers, Jethro spent a while kissing Tony, soothing him and letting him know he’d never abandon him.
“What am I supposed to do?” Tony asked, from under a cocoon of blankets.
“Are you gonna let me finish now?”
“You’re still in talking mode?”
“Well, yeah. So, as I was saying, I don’t know if you understand just how much clout you have, since you prevented Porter and Morrow and a whole restaurant of DC bigwigs – hey, did you know the director of the CIA was there, gonna have lunch with you? – from getting blown sky-high. So I did some negotiating on your behalf, and got myself a few more years of leading the MCRT while I was at it.”
“You negotiated what for me?”
Jethro turned to Tony and grinned. “It just happens that only forty minutes from this house is a recently decommissioned CIA compound, complete with a pistol range, ball field, swimming pool, dorms for fifty people, and a fine kitchen. And, it not only has a helicopter landing pad, but it also has…”
Tony knew his mouth was open, so he closed it, swallowed and asked, “A helicopter?”
“Give the man a prize! Starting on the first of April… and no, this isn’t some joke… it will become the new SMUT headquarters. The compound is being run by Joanna Teague – who told me about the place being empty – but you will run SMUT.”
“Fuck yeah!” Tony extricated himself from the blankets and threw himself on top of Jethro, kissing him hard.
“My sentiments exactly,” Jethro said, still grinning. “You know, you once told me if you were a millionaire you’d have your mice delivered by helicopter. Looks like you’re going to have that helicopter.”
“And I told you I’d rather have you, because I love you and you love me, and I’m the luckiest man in the world.”
“Damn right you are,” agreed Jethro.
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