The first time they had sex, Tony was convinced it was a mistake. He hadn't said anything at the time, of course – he was too busy enjoying the scrape of Gibbs' teeth against his skin, the feeling of another man pressing his body down into the mattress, the sweat on his skin, the final culmination of years worth of fantasies as he gasps out his orgasm.
He waits until he's sure that Gibbs is asleep before he gets dressed, goes home, and tries to ignore how empty his own bed is. The next day, he ignores the inquisitive look on Gibbs' face and the slight ache in his ass as he begins his workday.
It'll hurt less in the long run, he tries to persuade himself. It's all for the best.
The second time they have sex, Tony knows he'll regret it. Once is an aberration, twice is a mistake. The feeling of Gibbs' hands on his skin is too good to pass up, though, and when Gibbs brushes his lips across Tony's, he gives in. He tries to tell himself that it's just release, that they're just too wound up from too many cases and too much cruelty in the world. When Gibbs touches him with something akin to reverence, he tries to convince himself that it's just because the other man is so tactile.
He can't let himself believe it's anything more than that. It'd absolutely break him.
This time, he doesn't wait to make sure Gibbs is asleep before he leaves.
When Gibbs looks at him quizzically the next morning, then spends the rest of the day snapping and snarling and head-slapping him more than usual, Tony feels a strange sense of relief at the fact that nothing has changed. He ignores the worried looks that other people send his way as they wonder what he's done this time, why Gibbs is being more brusque than normal, and when they catch a case he can't help that be relieved that he's got something to take his mind off things.
The look that Gibbs keeps giving him is unnerving, and it's getting harder and harder for him to ignore it. He has no other choice, though. He can't let himself read too much into it.
He's too old to get his hopes up, and he knows it.
The third time they have sex, Tony nearly says no, but he's too strung out and tense to resist. He's nearly frantic, and he leaves scratches and bruises across Gibbs' back as he begs, babbling about all the filthy things he wishes Gibbs would do to him. It's too intense, Gibbs keeps looking at him, and if it wasn't for the fact that it's Gibbs looking at him like that, he'd let himself get lost in the sensations and sheer need that's threatening to overwhelm him.
It's the least gratifying orgasm he's had in his life, and he's never been more grateful for it.
He forces himself to ignore the blue eyes watching him as he gets dressed and leaves. He can't let himself stay, he's too close to the edge already, and he just can't.
The next day, he's already braced himself for Gibbs to be a bastard before he even leaves for work. Clad in his Armani armor, he plasters on a carefree smile, ignoring the concerned glances thrown his way across the bullpen as he tries to get through the day without breaking. If there's a little too much bite in his jokes, a little too much teeth in his smile, no one says anything. He's thankful for it, he doesn't know that he could handle someone caring right now. He's too raw, too brittle to survive it right now.
Deep down, despite all protestations otherwise, he's not sure he deserves the chance to be happy. He's never been someone's white picket fence dream, he's the one someone goes to for a good time. This thing with Gibbs, it's just relief, and it's taking more and more energy to keep himself from wanting more. It's getting harder and harder to keep from breaking, and when 5 o'clock comes, he's nearly running for the door.
When he picks up a bottle of wine on the way home, he doesn't try to justify it to himself. There's no nice dinner planned, he just wants to escape – food would only interfere with that. He doesn't bother with any of the standard niceties when he gets home, he merely throws his bag on the floor and tears the foil off the neck of the bottle as he heads for the kitchen to grab the opener. When the cork breaks, he doesn't bother trying to fish out the bottom half – he just stabs it into the bottle, pouring himself a glass as he tries to ignore the shaking of his hands.
The glass is half gone before he even bothers loosening his tie. Somewhere between the second and third glass, he heads for the couch, not bothering to turn the light on as he sits down and finally, finally allows his body to melt into a boneless heap. He doesn't care that his holster is digging into his side uncomfortably, or the fact that it's not exactly a good idea to be sitting there, drinking wine with a loaded gun on his hip, or the fact that the pinot noir he's drinking isn't exactly quality... He's just tired and needs the escape.
It's no surprise when the phone rings, and it's Gibbs. He just can't , though, and for the first time in his life, he rejects the call and turns his phone off before pouring the rest of the bottle into his glass. The wine is already giving him a headache, but he doesn't care because he's finally numb , and it feels like he can breathe again. His jaw aches from clenching his teeth all day, trying to hold back the storm of emotions that's brewing inside him, emotions that have finally faded into the haze from the wine.
He doesn't even realize his glass is empty until he lifts it to his lips again. He knows he should stop, that he's got work in the morning and the last thing he needs is to show up hungover, but he just wants to forget now. Putting the glass back down, he shakes some of the fuzziness from his head, realizing that he's still fully dressed and that Gibbs is probably furious that he's breaking Rule 3. He can't bring himself to care, though, and he begins to strip down and head for the bedroom, tripping slightly when his pants get caught on his shoes. It doesn't take long before he's standing in front of his dresser, wearing only a pair of dress socks as he pulls on the most comfortable pair of pajama pants he owns, ignoring the fact that the blue plaid reminds him of the person he's trying to forget.
Knowing that a locked door has yet to stop Gibbs, he opens the front door and leaves it cracked before heading back to the kitchen to grab another bottle of wine and the corkscrew before finally heading back to the couch. This time, despite his half drunken fumbling, he manages to get the cork out in one piece before pouring his fifth glass of the night.
Sometime midway through the sixth glass, he dozes off, the wine glass balanced precariously in his hand. He jerks awake when he feels the glass move, and it's no surprise that Gibbs is standing there in front of him, gently placing it on the table next to the re-corked bottle. He wants to protest, but he's too drunk and too drained to bother, and so when Gibbs pulls him up and begins to lead him towards the bedroom, he follows obediently until he's standing next to the bed.
He doesn't argue when the other man strips him down and helps him into bed, then climbs in behind him. He tries to move away when Gibbs pulls him close, though, but there are kisses being pressed into his hair, a hand running soothingly across his chest as Gibbs spoons against him, and it feels like his heart is breaking , like he's caught in the middle of a vortex of emotion that's threatening to pull him apart, but Gibbs is whispering soothingly to him as he chokes out a sob. There are tears in his eyes, but he refuses to cry, instead breathing heavily as he tries to hold back.
The arm slung around his chest is suddenly suffocating, and he begins to struggle, but Gibbs doesn't let go - he merely pulls Tony closer and talks to him softly, the slight rumble of his voice helping to calm the other man down as Tony rolls on his side towards him, slightly head butting Gibbs while he tucks his head underneath his chin and holds on to him like a lifeline.
The words washing across him are like a balm for his soul, because of course Gibbs knows what he needs to hear, and Tony's never been more grateful that the other man always means what he says than he is now. Even though Gibbs is calling him a damn fool and an idiot for running, he's finally breathing regularly again, and the reassurances work better than any sedative he could have taken. It's not long before he's asleep, and even as he snores softly into Gibbs' chest, Gibbs keeps talking, murmuring all the things Tony's always needed to hear, yet never has.
And in the morning when Tony finally wakes up, bleary eyed and hung over, Gibbs is still there.