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"My point is," Tony says, still scrutinizing the item's specifications on Amazon, "your underwear shouldn't be antique."

McGee makes a muffled noise of either utter despair or indigestion, or possibly both, considering the breakfast burrito he ate this morning. "Tony, it's a cup, not underwear. You don't wear it every day -- that would be seriously uncomfortable."

Tony snorts. "Okay, whatever, Gibbs does it, and the man is like --" He makes a hand motion that might suggest holding a pair of grapefruit.

"Like what?" Ziva asks, totally straight-faced.

"Like the kind of man who could appreciate innovations in design," Tony says with deep satisfaction. "Probie, you need to move on from the banana boat into the new millennium of athletic cups. I mean, do you really trust anything made in the eighties to be in contact with your groin?"

McGee's eyes do the thing where they almost cross in complete horror. "Tony, don't talk about my groin. Or Gibbs' groin. Or really, groins ever."

"How do you know he is wearing a cup?" Ziva asks.

"Oh god, please stop," McGee moans.

Tony thinks about that for a moment. "Well. I don't know for sure that he's wearing it every day. I just know he wears the old-school kind. The pre-banana version."

"Why do you know these things?" McGee asks, his voice still plaintive.

"Obviously, because he spends time looking," Ziva says.

Tony scowls at her. "Okay, it's not like I spend every waking minute staring at Gibbs' crotch."

"I should hope the hell not, DiNozzo," Gibbs says from right behind him.

Tony winces and turns slowly in his chair. "Morning, boss," he says weakly.

Gibbs takes a long sip from his coffee cup, and almost in spite of himself, Tony's eyes start to trail downward.

The ensuing headslap is expected, but maybe more deserved than usual.


Tony is more than a little glad that Gibbs paired Ziva up with McGee for hand-to-hand training. Not because Gibbs won't beat the living crap out of him -- he will, and Tony will be grateful after the bruises stop hurting. But Ziva's got a gleam in her eye that doesn't bode well for McGee's future prospects of contributing to the gene pool, and Tony's really not looking to have someone demonstrate to him personally why a cup isn't invincible.

"Pay attention," Gibbs says, in that intensely quiet way that Tony knows to take utterly seriously, even if he weren't pinned to the mat with one arm twisted up behind him and Gibbs' hand warm and heavy at the nape of his neck.

"I think she's going to nail him," Tony says unwisely, his face half-smooshed into the mat.

"I'm going to nail you if you don't start paying attention," Gibbs growls.

Tony knows Gibbs means it the same way Tony did, but his brain is still on the new breathable weave of TrainSmart's jock strap, and he can't help shivering a little under Gibbs' hands.

But he manages to twist and move and flail a little, and it's enough to dislodge Gibbs' hold, albeit not gracefully.

"Better," Gibbs acknowledges after shoving Tony's face in the mat another dozen times.

McGee's not faring so well, but he manages to escape the session with all sensitive parts intact. Later, changing back into their work clothes, McGee says, "Remember that first time we trained with Kate?"

"Yeah," Tony says, and he can't help smiling, even though thinking about Kate still makes him want to watch movies with an overabundance of Depeche Mode on the soundtrack.

"I mean, boy, did I never make that mistake again," McGee says. He stops and contemplates the locker in front of him. "Is it kind of weird that I'm reminiscing about her kneeing me in the balls?"

"Nah, that's our Kate," Tony says fondly, and claps McGee on the shoulder.

Out of the corner of his eye, Tony can see the corners of Gibbs' mouth twitching into a smile.


Tony spends a good portion of the next morning trying to covertly determine whether or not Gibbs is wearing a cup. Of course he was wearing one for training yesterday -- accidents happen, and also, it's common knowledge that Tony is liable to play dirty when backed into a corner.

He doesn't see the tell-tale mark of jock straps under Gibbs' dress pants, which proves nothing. He could be wearing compression shorts. Or his ass could still just look that good, which Tony actually finds rather inspiring and maybe even a mark in favor of crazy ex-Marine daily squats and lunges.

"Why don't you just look when you're in the restroom with him?" Ziva suggests when Gibbs has gone out for coffee.

"Ziva," Tony says with extreme pity, "You might glance in the men's room. You don't look. And you don't have conversations about your underwear, either."

"Really, you should have no conversations at all," McGee says. "Unless Gibbs wants to know something right away, in which case you are apparently supposed to tell him."

Tony actually has busted into the men's room before to give Gibbs an update on a case, and it's actually not all that weird. Then again, Tony and Gibbs routinely have conversations in the men's room when they're alone, against all guy etiquette. They had a weird argument this morning about Home Depot, but Tony still doesn't know what the hell that was about, really.

Ziva has a thoughtful look on her face. "So you glance, Tony."

Tony flutters his eyelashes. "Guy's got to keep an eye on the competition."

"Tony, tell me you don't look at me," McGee says, sounding a little strangled.

"Where would he find the time? He's too busy looking at Gibbs," Ziva says.

And because Tony is just that unlucky -- or Ziva is just so much better at timing salacious comments -- he feels warm breath on his ear before Gibbs says quietly, "If you haven't found something on Kender, so help me, DiNozzo, I will put my boot so far up your--"

"I've got something, boss," Tony says, and he knows the right thing to do would be to bolt for his desk and hand Gibbs the tax records he found, but instead he stays utterly still. Gibbs is standing so closely behind him that he can feel the heat from Gibbs' body, and he has one wild, insane thought that if he just leaned back, he'd know for sure --

"Today, Tony," Gibbs says, his voice all silky threat.

Tony does bolt then, but not before registering the weird looks on Ziva and McGee's faces.


Despite interesting advancements in technology, Tony does not routinely wear a cup. This is largely because he is not crazy, and also, his underwear collection is extensive. He had a six-month monogamous love affair with boxer-briefs from Calvin Klein, which is definitely his longest-standing relationship to date. It might have gone on longer if he hadn't been seduced by a pair of slinky bikini-briefs that he bought on a whim after his stint in prison. Nothing says, "I'm a free man," like a pair of slutty underwear, or so his reasoning went.

"Hey, Tony," Abby said as he walked into her lab. "Fancy pants today?"

Tony gives her his most charming smile. "How could you tell?"

She leans in conspiratorially. "There's a little extra swing in your hips."

"It makes me feel pretty," Tony says, and then looks over his shoulder automatically. There's no Gibbs to be found, and he sighs in relief.

"They don't ruin the line of your pants, either," Abby says.

Tony attempts to look at his own ass. "They don't, do they?"

"I'm pretty impressed. That's hard to pull off with really frilly garters."

Tony sputters. "Who told you I was wearing garters?" He immediately suspects McGee for spreading that particular filthy lie, possibly as revenge for totally cockblocking him with that girl from the evidence garage. Tony looks over his shoulder, and sure enough, Gibbs is standing right there, looking at Tony with that expression that says he is possibly amused but he'll be damned if he'll smile.

"What do you have, Abby?" Gibbs says.

She scowls at him. "I told you -- the test has two hours left to run. It's not going to be magically done sooner just because you keep asking."

Gibbs takes a long sip of his coffee. "DiNozzo?"

Tony preemptively winces. "Yeah, boss?"

"Get back to work."

Tony turns around warily, still expecting Gibbs to administer a stealth slap to the head. When Gibbs just looks at him steadily, Tony inches past him to head back upstairs.

Gibbs is good at creating the illusion of safety -- which is probably why Tony yelps so loudly when Gibbs smacks him soundly on the ass on his way out.


The arrest does not go smoothly. Tony loses his gun when Kender slams him into a wall, and then loses his pants when Kender attempts to knife him. Once the immediate threat of danger is over, Tony thinks he's more upset about the pants than anything. They cost him some obscene amount of money, and they really did make his ass look fantastic.

"God, do you have to?" he pleads with Ducky, who is doing horrible things with a scalpel to his beloved grey Armani trousers.

"Anthony, you are bleeding," Ducky says.

"Not that much."

"DiNozzo!" Gibbs barks.

Tony subsides but continues to make low sounds of suffering at the butchering of his most favorite pair of pants ever.

Ducky cleans the cut and does things with surgical tape and butterfly clips. "I was given to understand you were wearing garters," Ducky says after a moment.

Tony looks up at the ceiling. "For the last time, no, I am not wearing women's underwear," he bites out with as much dignity as possible, coming from someone who is wearing slinky black underwear that rides low on his hips.

Ducky gives him that we're-men-of-the-world chuckle that always precedes some totally horrifying story. "Well, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Why, I once knew this man who wore--"

"Ducky," Gibbs cuts in, and Tony could almost kiss him in gratitude.

"He'll be fine," Ducky says. "Some ibuprofen and sleep, and you'll be good as new, Tony."

"Good," Gibbs says. "Then you can finish the paperwork for the case tonight."

Tony makes incoherent noises of protest and gestures at the ruined mess of his pants and his clearly visible underwear. He's not sure what he expects Gibbs to do about the situation, besides mock him, so when Gibbs slides his long jacket off his shoulders and swings it around Tony's, the shock renders him effectively speechless.

Also, standing in the elevator with Gibbs while wearing Gibbs' jacket makes him kind of feel like a girl at the prom, which is so much outside his ordinary day-to-day existence that he obediently follows Gibbs back to their desks and writes up the rest of the reports for the case without much in the way of backtalk.

When they've wrapped everything up, and Ziva and McGee had left an hour before, Gibbs stands up and stretches and says, "Come on, Tony."

Tony figures he'll just hand Gibbs' jacket back to him in the parking garage and make a dash for his car, so he's a little surprised when Gibbs flicks the switch to stop the elevator mid-descent. He makes a move to shrug Gibbs' jacket off his shoulders when Gibbs crowds him against the wall. "Boss?" he asks, swallowing a little. He tries desperately to think what he might have done to piss Gibbs off, and doesn't come up with anything more awful than accidentally taking a sip out of Gibbs' coffee cup (which was right next to his, so it's not like the mistake wasn't understandable, if Gibbs were remotely sane about his coffee).

"You really think you ought to be taking things so far at work, Tony?" Gibbs asks, and he's warm and close but face-to-face with Tony for once.

Tony has two inches on Gibbs, not that it's ever seemed to matter, and especially not in times like these. He licks his lips once, and says, "Okay, right. No more checking you out-- er, checking out your-- okay, boss. Got it."

"You do?" Gibbs asks, and it's the kind of deceptively quiet voice that always makes Tony pay special attention when Gibbs uses it in interrogation.

So of course, Tony babbles. "Look, I just -- I just thought I could tell if you --"

Gibbs steps in the rest of the way and slides one hand around the back of Tony's head to pull him into a kiss, wet and hot and gentler than Tony might have expected. That is, at least until Tony moans into the kiss and Gibbs presses him even tighter against the elevator wall, and holy crap, he knows the answer to the question of whether or not Gibbs is wearing protection.

Gibbs pulls back but only slightly, so that his lips brush over Tony's when he speaks. "I'll give you a ride home."

Tony tries to think of something coherent to say, which is kind of difficult to do when Gibbs has one hand inside his cut-up pants, his fingertips sliding under Tony's slutty, slutty underwear. "I can drive home myself, really--"

"I didn't mean your home, Tony," Gibbs says.

"Okay," Tony says faintly, and Gibbs starts the elevator again.


There is a package from Amazon on his desk the next morning. He didn't order anything, and even though it's unlikely that it's anything harmful, Tony is still a bit skittish after the whole thing where he got the pneumonic plague via the mail.

The mail is irradiated, he reminds himself, and slits the box open with his knife. He sees TrainSmart's logo, and his eyebrows raise. There are only two people who could have sent this to him, since Gibbs seems to think that Tony's just been trying to get into his pants and back into his house, instead of Tony being on a simple reconnaissance mission. He lets himself smile, and says, "Geez, guys, you didn't have to -- I mean, it's a little weird that you're buying me what amounts to intimate apparel, but I'm kind of touched. Not in the bad way."

McGee and Ziva are both studiously not looking at him, but he thinks he heard an unmanly squeak out of McGee. And that's when he checks the packing slip, and sees that it lists, "TrainSmart Ultimate Athletic Support - Youth Size."

He rolls his eyes. "Youth size. That's great, guys. Hilarious." He fishes it out of the box and dangles it from one finger. "What am I going to do with this?"

"Get us sent to another sexual harassment seminar," Gibbs says from right behind him. Actually, from really right behind him.

"Are you wearing a cup, boss, or are you just happy to see me?" Tony asks. Both Ziva and McGee's faces go a little white in either shock or horror. He's guessing that they thought he would do anything except ask Gibbs point blank, and even Tony can admit this is probably taking his life into his own hands. Or it would have been about twenty-four hours earlier, before Gibbs had taken him home.

Gibbs smacks him upside the head just as hard as usual, which doesn't bother Tony at all. Gibbs' lecture on discretion had sunk in, but Tony is always going to be inappropriate.

Once Gibbs moves past him and sits at his desk, Ziva and McGee both mouth, "Well?"

He just smiles, and tosses the cup in McGee's direction. He'll never tell.