"So, I made a bucket list this week," Tony says with an airy wave of his hand. Nothing big, just some random moments of being hyper-aware of golden lads and girls and dust, it implies.
Gibbs sips at his beer. "Heard about it."
Tony watches the flames leap and flicker for a while in the fireplace. It's peaceful in Gibbs' house, even if the unlocked door makes Tony uneasy sometimes. Anyone could walk in.
He does, after all. Often. More often than Gibbs likes, maybe, but he's learned not to look at Gibbs' eyes in that first split second when he walks in. Ignorance is bliss.
"Whole point is that you try to cross things off it before you die." Tony clears his throat. "Not that I plan to die without clearing it with you first, boss."
Gibbs smiles without looking at him. The firelight makes his skin look warm. Touchable. "Good to know."
"I've been planning out how to whittle the list down." Whittle. Funny word. Gibbs whittles. Tony tries not to think about strong, capable hands smoothing rough edges with a sure, confident touch and swallows hard when he fails. "Some of them, well, I'd need to take a month's leave, more--"
Gibbs is brief, terse, and to the point. "No."
Tony preens just a little, keeping his satisfaction mostly on the inside. He likes being needed. Loves it when it's Gibbs doing the needing. Gibbs is as possessive as a man can get and still be this side of legal. Tony doesn't mind being owned.
"But there's one I could take care of in about thirty seconds. One I never wrote down." Tony taps his head. "The real list's up here."
Keep your enemies close and keep your secrets, well, secret. Tony never needed Gibbs to teach him that. He's got a reputation as a babbler, but he never gives himself away, not the real stuff, at least.
Gibbs lets the half-empty beer bottle swing, trapped between his thumb and finger. "I've given you thirty seconds' worth of free time here and there. No excuse for not clearing that one, whatever it is."
"Oh, but there is." Tony turns on the couch, his arm resting along the back, and meets Gibbs' profile head-on. "See, it would have...ramifications. Consequences."
"Yeah?" Gibbs finally looks at him, a sidelong glance, quizzical, amused. "If you're going to punch someone--"
"I'm going to--" His courage fails him when it comes to saying it, or maybe there's a rule about not handing out warnings in advance, though if there is, he can't remember the number. So Tony just leans in, his hand cupping Gibbs' face lightly, and kisses Gibbs' parted lips with a swift rush of panic-spiked arousal that reminds of the last time someone shot at him. It's not his best kiss. It's off-center and lacks finesse. The moan he makes when he gets a solid hit of Gibbs, up close and personal, the smell of him, the taste, the roughness of his chin, the surprising softness of his lips, only adds to Tony's embarrassment.
Gibbs jerks back, his eyes wide, startled, and he rubs at his mouth like a kid would do after a sloppy smooch from an aunt he didn't like.
Shit. He blew it. Shit.
"You can punch me if you want," Tony offers when the silence gets too much for him, thick like fog, hard to breathe in. What did Ducky call them? Pea-soupers? Nah, even for the English, that's too weird to be right. Fog isn't green.
"If I wanted to, I wouldn't ask permission first." Gibbs lets his hand drop away. He licks his lower lip tentatively, then asks mildly, "Why was that on your list, Tony?"
He rates a Tony. Okay, that's something. Or maybe Gibbs -- Jethro -- is just making sure this disaster is between them as men, separate from work?
Tony shrugs, smiling as if it doesn't matter, any of it. Insouciant. That was in the crossword last week. It's a good word, even if it meant that he'd gotten 23 down wrong. He's as insouciant as it's possible to be for about four seconds, then Gibbs' hand smacks the back of his head and thank God, he can stop smiling and give Gibbs his best anxious puppy look instead.
"Always wondered what it'd be like. What you'd do."
"They're two separate things," Gibbs points out.
Abruptly, Tony's tired of it all, the games, the fantasies, the fucked-up reality, all of it "Yeah. Well, now I know what it's like and I know what you'd do." He stands. "Nothing. The same nothing I've gotten for years because you've got rules and you're still..." He hesitates. Some doors Gibbs keeps locked. He compromises with, "You're not ready."
"I could've punched you."
Tony eases his jaw as if it's felt a fist slam into it. "You want me to say thank you because you didn't? I'll pass."
"No." Gibbs gets to his feet. "You can cross kissing me off your list." His meaning is plain enough and it's a gentler 'no' than Tony deserves after that disaster of a kiss.
Tony nods and leaves, walking through the door that's never locked and letting it close behind him.
It's pulled open again before he's taken more than a few steps and he turns back. That's never a good idea in the fairytales or the Bible, but his curiosity gets the better of him. Always has, always will. It's part of what makes him Very Special.
Gibbs' eyes are glinting dangerously. When they do that, Tony's reminded of flints and fire and cavemen sitting around plotting the demise of a mammoth. Not that he's -- he's lost six pounds in two months, at least.
"Get back here." Gibbs crooks his finger and Tony's reeled in, helpless, his feet carrying him back until he's standing close enough that he can see Gibbs in close-up, every gray hair, every wrinkle. Gibbs isn't perfect, but he doesn't have to be. He's Gibbs.
"This list of yours," Gibbs says, sounding so soft and dangerous that Tony's dick gets hard even as his balls try to crawl up high and hide. "How many times am I on it?"
And only Gibbs would be arrogant enough to think that he's worth more than one line on the to-do list of a lifetime, but Gibbs isn't really arrogant, just confident, and he's confident because he wrote the damn crossword, so of course he knows what 23 down is.
Gibbs gets up in his face. "Yeah? You going to screw them, up too, Tony? Because let me tell you, that kiss sucked."
"No, boss. I mean, yes, boss, it did, but I wasn't actually planning to do any more of them. Not the ones involving you, anyway. Consider them deleted."
Gibbs' hand flashes out and Tony cringes -- his head's gone through a lot the last few days -- but this time it cups Tony's head gently and pulls him closer, close enough to be kissed. Gibbs starts out slow, then moves his hand back an inch, giving Tony room to back off.
Gibbs grunts, a satisfied 'huh', and the kiss turns dirty and just a little sweet. There's tongue. And teeth. Tony wants every kiss for the rest of his life to be variations on this one, it's that goddamn good. He feels it down to his toes. He's hot and trembling and he needs to be naked and coming more than ever before in his life, not counting the summer he turned sixteen and existed in a permanent haze of lust.
"You delete them when you've done them," Gibbs says. "Not before."
"You might not like them all," Tony warns him, his ears heating up as he thinks about the one involving Gibbs in uniform, the one Gibbs would never, ever-- Would he? No. He wouldn't.
Gibbs tilts his head and gives him an appraising, thoughtful look, as if he's trying to hook every filthy, delicious fantasy out of Tony's head.
"I like the one where you get your ass back in here and on my couch again," Gibbs raises his eyebrows. "That's on your list, right?"
"It is now," Tony assures him. When he closes the door behind him, he locks it.
Gibbs doesn't stop him.