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The Trial, Love and Murder

by: AzureKMello (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 63081
Rating: ADULT
Warning(s): Other (See Author's Note)
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Ducky Mallard, Abby Sciuto, Ziva David, Timothy McGee, Jimmy Palmer, Mike Franks
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Character Study, Established Relationship
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Summary: Tony's father's trial puts strains on everyone's relationships. Now that Tony has got Gibbs he plans on keeping him. This is a sequel to Plans, Rules and Yachts. There are some spoilers for season seven.

Author Notes: Written: 6-30-10 to 11-15-10
Warnings: This story deals with a long court case, child abuse in the past for a main character, has multiple (non central) original characters: frat brothers, neighbors. There's tons of sex with consensual mild power plays, toys and bondage. Minor Abby/McGee, nothing graphic.
Spoilers: Man on Fire, Doctor Who, Cinema Paradiso, Terminator, Terminator 2, Terminator 4, Starship Troopers

Chapters: 1

Tony loved his life. He loved having his stuff in Gibbs’ drawers, his TV in the living room. He even loved the fact that he’d given Gibbs checks to pay for the property taxes on the house every other month without Gibbs arguing too much. He loved that he sometimes fed Gibbs’ fish. It was his house too, sort of. It was awesome.

Moving had been crazy. He’d been afraid of breaking his lease. He’d been whining about it at work and McGee said, “How much does your place cost a month?” And when Tony told him McGee said, “It’s a hundred bucks cheaper than mine.”

“How? You live in a hole.”

“In the center of the city, that’s fully furnished, that I only have to sign two month leases on.” Then he sighed, “But yours is so much nicer… I could buy furniture.”

“What, seriously?”

“It’s a lot nicer. I like your neighbors, you could still come a cook for them. And I’ll be nice to Mr. Carter when he knocks on my door at four thirty in the morning because he’s sure the world has gone silent. Could be good.”

Gibbs came in to the squad room and they both stopped talking. Gibbs rolled his eyes, “I have to throw out all of my furniture that Tony’s is replacing. You wouldn’t need to buy anything. Now if you two are done talking Better Homes and Gardens we have a body.” He looked between them both and then tossed the truck keys at Ziva. “Gas the truck.”

“Hey!”

“The only reason you didn’t join in is because you’re playing solitaire on your computer.” He pointed at the elevator, “Go.”

That weekend, they moved all of Tony’s stuff to Gibbs’ place, the stuff Gibbs was getting rid of to the apartment and McGee’s few belongings to Tony’s old place. It was fun, there was lots of pizza.

And Christmas, that had been really awesome. One night, about a week after Tony moved in, Gibbs had been cooking meat and Tony was making a salad and Gibbs had said, “How do I go about getting an invite to the Sciutos for Christmas?”

Tony blinked at him and said, “What, seriously?”

“Well, yeah, DiNozzo,” Gibbs said sarcastically but with a smile.

“We could have Christmas here, just you and me.”

“Is going to the Sciutos fun?”

Tony nodded, “Yeah, they’re really fun people. Hell, they produced Abby, didn’t they?”

“Then let’s go.”

“Okay, well, next time I speak to them I’ll ask to bring you and they’ll get really excited.” Tony was pretty sure that Gibbs was only doing it because he’d arrested Tony’s dad. But he knew Gibbs would have a good time at the Sciutos so he didn’t fight about it.

But then about a week before Christmas Gibbs’ dad had called and Gibbs had signed to Tony, “I’m sorry. My dad wants to come for Christmas. Okay?”

Tony laughed, and nodded and signed, “Of course, idiot.”

Into the phone Gibbs said, “Tony and I will see you when you get here.”

After he’d hung up Tony said, “You told him about me?”

Gibbs had nodded, “After you picked up the phone that time, he asked why you were here I said you lived here. He asked if you were evicted. I said no. He said ‘Ah’. That was really the end of it.”

“He didn’t get pissed?”

“In the forties his best friend, Leroy Jethro, was a black man. He’s always been more open minded then you might think.”

“So you don’t want me to go to the Sciutos?”

Gibbs shook his head, “No, it’s you and me, all the way. Would never keep you a secret.” Tony was warmed by it. Then he said, “I don’t know why he’s coming. But he’s coming tomorrow.”

Tony had crossed the kitchen to kiss him slowly, “He’s your dad and it’s Christmas. When we were in Stillwater it seemed like maybe you would mend fences.”

“Yeah,” Gibbs said and that was the end of it.

But that night Tony had seen Gibbs at the linen closet, “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Getting blankets to make up the couch.”

“Why?”

“So he has some place to sleep.”

“Why can’t he sleep in the guest room?” Tony asked with a smile.

“We might have a fight, rule three.”

“I don’t fight at Christmas,” said Tony. Gibbs didn’t reply. “Jethro, he’s trying. I don’t know what he did. But he’s trying. He’s coming for Christmas. He seems like a proud guy, but he called. Does he have to sleep on the couch?”

“He brought a date to the funeral. That’s what he did.”

“That’s awful.”

“It was the one time I needed him since I was a kid and he brought himself a shoulder to cry on.” Tony just nodded and Gibbs rolled his eyes, “Aren’t you going to say it?”

“Say what?” asked Tony.

“That I arrested your dad and that my dad didn’t kill anyone so I should be nicer.”

It had hurt and Tony had huffed out a breath of air feeling like he’d been hit before he said, “I had no intention of playing that card, Jethro, and you know it. You’re just being mean because you know I’m right. And maybe you’re thinking about my dad but only thing *I* was thinking is that your dad seemed like he had a bad back when we were in Stillwater. It’s up to you, Jethro, he’s your dad and he hurt you. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t murder, he hurt you. But it’s Christmas.” Then he walked away, leaving Gibbs to make his decision.

He went into the bedroom to watch a movie, picked Cinema Paradiso and sat back. A few minutes later Gibbs came and sat beside him. “When you first started coming over you said you weren’t sure you had any dubbed Greek films you didn’t mention that you don’t have any Italian, Greek or Spanish films with subtitles either.”

“It’s so cheap to buy them without subtitles. There wasn’t a rule one yet and I didn’t want my boss knowing how many languages I know.”

Gibbs studied his for a moment, “Never stop calling me out when I’m wrong.”

“It’s not a matter of wrong or right,” said Tony. “Hurt feelings never are. And I’m not trying to force you to do something you don’t want to do.”

“Yeah, but I said I would try to forgive him and it’s petty to make him sleep on the couch.”

“Okay,” Tony said. “Want me to change to another movie?”

“I’m sorry, Tony, I was mean about your dad. I’m sorry.”

“It’s Christmas, I don’t fight with people at Christmas. You don’t need to apologize.”

“Yes I do. You’re going to have to narrate this movie to me. I don’t know much Italian.”

“You can pick something else.”

“No, let’s watch this, you like this. Narrate for me?” He put an arm around Tony and pulled him close. It felt so good and Tony spoke throughout the film, telling Gibbs what was happening but then they started making out and that was better. Gibbs stripped him and between kisses said, “I know you like watching films without getting jumped half way through but, please, Tony: want you.”

“I don’t mind when you interrupt my movies, you’re Jethro.”

“I’m sorry when I’m mean.”

“Shut up and take off your pants.” He said as he reached for the lube and a condom. He stretched Gibbs as Gibbs stroked him to hardness. “Tomorrow we’re going to have to shut the door. God, you feel so good inside. Jesus, Jethro.” Gibbs kissed his neck and Tony slid into him and moaned. He rolled them so that Gibbs was beneath him. Tony liked that sometimes he got to be in charge and that he felt so powerful when he was taking care of Gibbs.

When Gibbs came he panted, “Tony.” He stroked Tony’s hair and rocked with him until Tony came.

He held Gibbs close, “Christmas is hard, Jethro, it’s this time with obligatory cheerfulness. It’s stressful because you want to enjoy it but there’s the social expectations of what you’re supposed to do. So it’s okay to lose it sometimes, you don’t need to apologize.”

“I do. It was wrong of me.”

“Okay, then I forgive you.” He pulled out of Gibbs slowly and threw away the condom before settling back into Gibbs’ arms. Glancing towards the screen Tony said, “So now we’re back in the present and the funeral is over and he just realized that that little girl looks just like Elena.”

“It’s not worth it, Tony, I’m lost.”

Tony smiled and reached for the controller, “I’ll turn on the subtitles.” Gibbs laughed, “You can’t buy Oscar winners that don’t have subtitles, it’s impossible.”

“So why didn’t you turn them on?”

“Because I like talking to you, I like telling you stories.” Gibbs laughed again and kissed Tony’s cheek. “Here: I’ll switch to the dubbed version.” He changed the audio track. None of the voices sounded right but Tony didn’t mind, he was starting to doze. Gibbs was cuddling him close and Tony relaxed against him, “I too heavy?” Tony slurred.

“No, you feel great, stay right there,” Gibbs stroked his hair and Tony drifted off.

The next morning Tony was dressing when he heard Gibbs talking downstairs. He styled his hair and pulled on his suit jacket before he headed downstairs. Jack was holding the TV controller and looked sad. Tony said, “Hey, Jack. He told you there’s no cable?”

“Hey, DiNozzo. I thought you were a slave to the box.”

Tony passed him and opened the closet door, “Here,” he gestured to the three huge bookcases filled with his movies and TV box sets. “All of them are alphabetized. They used to be alphabetized by genre but Jethro doesn’t know the genres so I simplified it. Let me show you how to use the DVD player.”

Tony showed him the set up and said, “We gotta go to work but at least this will keep you a bit busy.” He grabbed one last cup of coffee. “There’s really good soup and bread and cold cuts in the fridge. And our cell phone numbers are by the phone.” He chugged the coffee. Then he passed Gibbs in the living room and said, “I need to pick up my dry cleaning so I’ll see you at the office.” To his surprise Gibbs kissed him, it wasn’t a dirty kiss but it still stunned him that he would do it in front of his dad. “Later, Jethro. Bye, Jack, have a nice day.”

It was later, in autopsy over the body of Lieutenant Thom Ellis, that Gibbs said to Ducky, “Duck, there is something wrong with my dad. He turned up out of the blue and seems off. He seems confused.” It was an obvious way of telling Tony without breaking rule one. “Can you talk with him, Duck? If you get a chance?”

They worked hard on the case, loss at Christmas was hard, even harder than usual and the family deserved an answer. Of course, the way it turned out, maybe the family didn’t want to know. He went with Jack to get a tree. Gibbs had raised an eyebrow Tony said, “Trees are fun.” And when Gibbs finally found out what had happened in Stillwater he had had a quiet talk with his dad. Tony found the whole thing depressing and when they finished the case late on Christmas Eve Tony told everyone to come over the next night. Ducky, Jimmy, Abby, Ziva and McGee. Gibbs gave him a dirty look but Tony just smiled at him, “It’s Christmas, Jethro, you can be a cold bastard for three hundred and sixty-four days a year but on Christmas you have to be nice.”

“How nice?” asked Gibbs.

“Not too nice.”

“Okay,” Gibbs said and Tony had been excited.

Ziva had pointed out she was a Jew and Tony said, “Something you should know if you want to be American: Christmas doesn’t have to involve Jesus. Be over at seven.”

Tony cooked all day the next day, including things he would have preferred to do a few days in advance. He enjoyed it, a cooking marathon the day after a hard case. And then McGee called early in the day and said, “Ellie’s son took all her pension a few days ago. She’s thinking of going to a soup kitchen tonight.”

“Dude, you don’t have to ask permission to bring her,” Tony said.

McGee said, “I wasn’t asking just letting you know to add another place setting.”

“You’re doing a good job over there. Thanks, McGee. We’ll see you both at seven.”

When Tony told Gibbs the man said, “The woman whose son sometimes steals her pension.”

“Yeah, she was going to go to the soup kitchen.”

“Is he in any way connected to the Navy?”

“I wish, I’d love to have him in our jurisdiction. I’d find a reason to arrest him.”

Everyone arrived a little after seven and the night was fun, they didn’t get up from the table for over two hours because Tony had made courses, first with a salad and cold meat and cheese, then homemade ravioli, then the roast lamb with tons of vegetables, then the dessert with struffoli, zuppa inglese and panpepato. There was way too much food, as he’d intended. Even before McGee had said he was bringing Ellie Tony had been intending to send McGee home laden with leftover for everyone in the building. The wine flowed easily and Jimmy needed to be driven home. It was pretty awesome. Especially as Gibbs still acted like Jethro, he wasn’t cold or aloof. He laughed and chatted.

Afterwards once everyone was gone Gibbs said, “Go set up It’s a Wonderful Life, I’ll do the dishwasher.”

Tony got the caramel corn out from under the tree. He heard Jack in the kitchen, “He’s good for you. I haven’t heard you laugh as much as I have in the last few days since you were a little boy.” Gibbs grunted. “And he’s too good for you.”

“Yeah,” said Gibbs.

“Don’t ruin it for yourself.”

“No intention of it.” Tony got it all sorted out and then Gibbs and Jack came in and Gibbs sat down next to him, putting an arm around him. He kissed Tony’s forehead. “I’ve never seen this movie.”

“Seriously?”

“I mean, I know what it’s about, but I’ve never actually seen it.”

“Wow, you’re in for a treat.” Tony placed the caramel corn on the table and curled into Gibbs’ side. He liked that Gibbs still acted like his boyfriend around Jack.

He got sucked into the movie and ate the popcorn happily. About half way through Jack said, “I’ve got to turn in. Thanks for a great dinner, Tony.”

“Thank you for coming, Jack. It’s so nice to have good company at Christmas. You sleep well.”

“Merry Christmas, Dad,” added Gibbs.

“Merry Christmas, both of you.”

And then he was gone and Tony and Gibbs finished the movie and ate a ton of caramel corn. “Your dad’s wrong: I’m not too good for you. You’re perfect for me. This has been the best Christmas Day ever. I’ve never been this happy in my whole life. You’re perfect for me and I’m not going anywhere because I love you too.”

“Are you saying this because I told you the guy is coming next week to install wireless internet?”

“Awesome present, but no, that’s not why I love you. Honestly, Jethro, you’re amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing about you because you’re amazing. Thanks for being so cool today.”

“I really enjoyed it.”

“The bit where I helped you bring toys to the kids and gave you that really cool hand drill?”

“No, the part where you bought a tree, forced me to have dinner with all our friends and watched your favorite Christmas movie on the couch. It was great, haven’t had a fun Christmas in years. November to January used to be all Christmas all the time. All those terrible seventies claymation things: A Year Without a Santa Claus, and the Rudolf one, the Frosty one and the one where Santa was a fairy or something…”

“The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus was actually made in the eighties. I can’t believe you hadn’t seen It’s a Wonderful Life before.”

Gibbs smiled, “Right, well, Kelly loved those terrible movies. And Shannon loved Holiday Inn and White Christmas. I asked once about It’s a Wonderful Life and Shannon said she liked Christmas movies with singing. Thank you for today. Haven’t had a Christmas tree in years.”

Tony looked at the tree covered in decorations and lights, “My parents always got a decorator to put up huge trees with elegant glass ornaments and white lights… they were gorgeous and cold. I like our colored, sparkling lights and fun ornaments it’s much nicer.”

Gibbs kissed his cheek. “Come to bed and I’ll do dirty things to say thank you.” Upstairs Gibbs said, “I’m gagging you. I love all the noises you make but my dad is not a heavy sleeper.”

“I like it when you tie me up.” Five minutes later Tony was tied to the bed, gagged and being fucked hard. Gibbs’ hands dug into Tony’s hips and it felt so good. He felt loved and safe as Gibbs pounded into him, kissed his cheeks, eyelids and forehead.

“I love you,” he whispered over and over. “You’re so beautiful. Merry Christmas.” Gibbs held him so close and Tony came hard and shook in Gibbs’ arms. And Gibbs kept fucking him though Tony was soft and sleepy and he liked it even more, liked the feeling of complete surrender and when Gibbs came he bit Tony’s neck hard. He held Tony still for a few minutes before he untied Tony’s wrists and the gag. He kissed Tony slowly and sweetly while massaging his wrists.

“Best Christmas ever,” said Tony. “Your dad’s wrong. You’re perfect for me and I’m lucky to have you.”

He curled into Gibbs who put his arms around him. He always slept better with Gibbs. And it was a good thing because some things in his life weren’t great, some things were terrible. His dad’s case was all over the news all the time. It was pretty much impossible to not hear about it consistently. They were having a hard time finding a jury who didn’t have preformed opinions. Tony had been in the grocery store when he’d heard someone tell a joke.

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Tony DiNozzo.

Tony DiNozzo who?

You’re qualified to be on the jury.

Tony hadn’t heard the joke since the O.J. Simpson trial. But JAG was doing a pretty good job. They’d gotten an honest judge who hadn’t granted bail and had sequestered the jury. Even though nothing had happened, the lawyers had yet to make opening statements, every Tom, Dick and Harry had theories about the case.

Tony tried to ignore it but the Starbucks by work was packed one morning. He was the last person in line but the barista greeted him with a, “Hey, Tony, the usual?” which cheered him up a little.

“Yeah, please,” said Tony.

“I need a last name on the cup today, so many people, there’s already a Tony in line.”

Tony had faltered, “DiNozzo.”

The barista smiled, “I know you’re a joker but do you really want to cause a stir in a crowded Starbucks?”

“That’s my last name,” said Tony.

“Wow, that sucks, man.”

“Yeah, sucks more that I’m Tony DiNozzo Jr.” He said and then moved to be waiting by the pickup area. He couldn’t look anyone in the eye because he saw several baristas looking at the cup then looking at him then back to the cup. So instead Tony examined his shoes. When they called his name people around him started to murmur and Tony just grabbed his venti nonfat hazelnut caffč misto and left as quickly as possible but the place was packed. As he was crossing to the door his cell rang and he picked up, “Yeah, DiNozzo.” McGee warned him that Gibbs was looking for him and Tony didn’t mean to snap but said, “Yeah, McGee, I know I’m late. And today already sucks.”

Gibbs chewed him out for being late and Tony just nodded. Gibbs went up to MTAC and McGee asked Tony what had happened and Tony didn’t lie. There wasn’t a body that day and for a while McGee and Gibbs disappeared in the middle of the day and came back loaded with stuff from Starbucks: drinks for all of them, a Caf-Pow for Abby, tea for Ducky, a frappachino for Jimmy and a ton of croissants. Tony didn’t question it just drank his second venti nonfat hazelnut caffč misto of the day.

Later Gibbs told him that he had taken McGee and gone to the Starbucks to inform them in person that they had lost themselves seven regular customers and about ninety bucks plus tips a day because of the treatment of one Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. They’d then walked to the Starbucks two blocks over and spent over a hundred bucks on stuff then handed it out to the team while quietly telling them not to go to the old one. Gibbs finished the tale by saying, “It was lunch hour so I didn’t break rule one.” They were in the kitchen and Tony had jumped him against the counter.

Then Gibbs pushed McGee out of the way and got hit by a car, breaking his arm in the process. Gibbs was irritable when in pain and refused to take the pills. Tony had pointed out that Gibbs had made him take his pills when he broke his ribs. That just made Gibbs mad and he said it was different. When Tony asked how it was different Gibbs had growled, “I still take the damn glucosamine and chondroitin.” So Tony went about it with the old fashioned pain management ways and gave him a blow job, which helped take his mind off the arm.

McGee kept trying to help, to take care of Gibbs. Eventually Tony cornered him and said, “Probie, back off.”

McGee said, “I feel responsible.”

“So send him flowers. I’m the one who this falls to, not you.”

He washed Gibbs’ hair, cooked a lot and drove him to work. It was nice, in the past when Gibbs had gotten hurt Tony had worried about him but couldn’t help him. It hadn’t been his place and he’d worried that Gibbs would see through it and realize how gone for him Tony was. Now he could do it all. But when Gibbs rolled over in bed at three AM and told him he needed to go to the office Tony had blinked a few times and said, “I love you so I’ll help you into clothes and call you a cab but there is no way I’m leaving our warm bedroom to go out in the snow when I don’t need to go to the office.”

And then there was Ms. M. Allison Hart. Who walked around assessing them all. She looked at Tony with judgment in her eyes and he couldn’t read her well enough to tell whether she disliked him for his police work or for the fact that his dad was a murderer and the apple never falls far from the tree. Either way it was obvious she didn’t like him. But she did like Gibbs and that pissed Tony off more than her disliking him.

“I’m not going anywhere,” said Gibbs one night in bed.

“No, she isn’t a redhead,” said Tony softly.

Gibbs looked at him and asked, “Why won’t you accept that I’m not going anywhere?” Then he sighed at sat up, “Except the guestroom because I don’t want to break rule three and now I’m way too pissed to sleep here.”

Gibbs stood and Tony said, “Jethro, I’m sorry.”

“I know,” said Gibbs, “but you need to start trusting me.” He left and Tony felt like he’d been kicked in the face. It was late when he finally fell asleep and then, after a couple of hours, he felt the bed dip and, half asleep, he felt Gibbs’ gathering him into his arms. “Couldn’t sleep without you.” When Tony woke up the next morning Gibbs was awake, watching him and holding him. “Why would I go for anyone when I have you? Hell, apart from anything else, she’s a lawyer. I wouldn’t want her even if I wasn’t with you.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust you, Jethro. Of course I trust you. It’s just that I want you all for myself. Nothing this good has ever lasted and I don’t want it to end.”

“You do have me all to yourself. It doesn’t matter who looks at me. Not even if she was a redhead.” Gibbs made love to him as the sun was coming up and it felt more like worship than sex. And even though Ms. M. Allison Hart turned up at the office that day Tony didn’t care. She looked at him with her usual disdain and at Gibbs with hunger but Tony thought it was kind of funny.

Later in interrogation, instead of looking at her, Tony watched Gibbs from behind the glass. The vibe coming off Gibbs was sheer contempt and it made Tony feel warm. He got home earlier than Gibbs with the case *finally* closed and she was sitting there on the couch in the dark. “I see, we need search warrants but you can break and enter.”

“You are too,” she said. “The door wasn’t locked.”

“That doesn’t make it legal, it’s still trespassing.”

“You shouldn’t be here either.”

“I live here.”

“I didn’t know Mr. Gibbs had a roommate.”

“*Special Agent* Gibbs doesn’t,” said Tony stressing Gibbs’ proper title. He sat down in the arm chair. “Y’know, for weeks you’ve been walking around, interrupting our work and being rude. You have acted as though we’ve been weighed, measured and found wanting. You have acted as though we’re all assholes. You’re all over us because your client Merton Bell has a problem with Gibbs. That’s great, that’s fine, professional. Whatever. You don’t like me because… well I’m not quite sure. Fine. Right up until this minute I’ve kind of hated you but now I kind of pity you. You think you have us all figured out and you turn up, break in here and sit in the dark wearing an a thousand dollar trench coat, nine hundred dollar Christian Louboutin heels, sexy stockings with the lines up the back, equally sexy garters I’m sure and nothing else.
“The only thing you’re certain of is your reading of people. You think Gibbs’ angry I-hate-you-and-all-lawyers-get-out-of-my-interrogation-room vibes are actually sparks of sexual tension so you turn up here wearing seventeen hundred dollars of sexy nothing to seduce Gibbs for a night of hot angry sex. So, even though I’ve intensely disliked you, in this moment I have to feel for you. You’re wondering what I’m doing here because I said I live here but I’m not his roommate. You hate that I’m the one who found you essentially naked in the living room. For all of your supposedly amazing people reading skills, you managed to miss that Gibbs actually dislikes you and is in a deeply committed relationship with the guy you dislike. So why don’t you leave before he comes home and laughs at you because I think that will make this even worse for you. From now on don’t look at me like I’m a prick because I’m saving you from quite a lot of embarrassment.”

She looked at him with horror. “He’s been married three times.”

“Four, but that’s not really the point.”

“You’re lying,” she said.

And then Tony heard the kitchen door open from the garage. “Hey, babe,” Gibbs called. “You know those ‘I Hate’ videos on Youtube that I called stupid?”

“Yeah,” Tony replied hearing Gibbs turn on the coffee pot.

“Well, I hate murder cases with more than four bodies. I hate murders that are gang related. Sometimes I think we should just let them kill each other because none of them want our help. I hate that we haven’t been alone in five days. I hate that autopsy is always cold. I hate that Ducky goes off on tangents when I should already be at home. I hate that McGee got shot even if it was just a tiny wound and he’ll be back at work on Monday. I hate that that lawyer won’t stay out of NCIS: just file a complaint if you hate my actions that much. I hate that she won’t realize that I’m not interested. I hate that she keeps calling me ‘Mr. Gibbs.’ I hate that it’s February because what I really want to do is take you out on the boat for the next three days and be naked all the time.
“I hate your father. I hate that I can’t turn on the TV without seeing him smirking even though he’s wearing an orange jumpsuit. I hate that you can’t relax until this trial is done. And let me just repeat that I hate that lawyer and part of it is that she could be so useful if she would just wake up and see that Bell is a bad guy. We handled his case so by the book and really I would have liked to stab him because he hurts women and children. I hate that when I hear about people hurting women and children the place my mind instantly goes to is Shannon and Kelly, I miss my girls. I hate that I *do* respect the law so I didn’t shoot the bastard. I hate that we only have three days off after not sleeping for five days. The only things I don’t hate are the facts that we have a huge lump of salmon in the fridge for dinner and that I have three days alone with you. And even though I hate that McGee got shot I’m thrilled that he won’t be coming over here on Saturday to watch that stupid show. I’m not sharing you with a Doctor Who marathon this weekend. I love you, Tony.”

“I know,” said Tony. “That was a great rant. You should post it on Youtube.” The lawyer just looked horrified. “Go,” Tony mouthed at her. But she seemed to be frozen to the spot.

“Come shower with me and get the night back on track.”

“Be up in a second, Jethro.”

“You okay, ya sound funny?” asked Gibbs and then he was there. And Tony really did feel badly for the lawyer because Gibbs laughed. “Well, once the company’s gone, come shower with me.” He looked her up and down, taking in the sexy stockings and the fact that the neck line of her coat made it pretty obvious that she was naked. He laughed again and went up the stairs.

Tony sighed, “I was trying to be gentle.” He stood, “I’ll show you out. Don’t break in again. I’ll actually arrest you next time.” He took her to the door by her elbow. “Goodnight, Ms. Hart.” He shut the door behind her and locked the hook and eye. He stripped as he went up the stairs. In the bathroom Gibbs was still chuckling and Tony smiled. “You’ve got to feel a little badly for her.”

“People who eaves drop rarely hear anything good.” He laughed again. “Hey, at least she’ll stop giving me the eye.”

Tony stepped under the spray and kissed him slowly. “So, did you see her car before you came in?”

“What do you think?”

“Mean.”

“Efficient.”

“I knew you knew,” said Tony. “You don’t call me babe, and you know that it’s tuna in the fridge not salmon. But I liked that you said it. I know it’s mean. But I liked that you said it.”

“Y’know, Tony, you hit on people all day long. And I don’t mind, I don’t mind because I know you love me.”

“But they don’t know me. She hung around too much.”

“Well, I’ll do my best, but sometimes I won’t be able to run them off or sometimes it might be useful to flirt for the job… I like that you’re the jealous sort, it’s kind of sexy. But get angry at them, not me.”

“Okay,” said Tony as Gibbs started to wash his hair. “I know you’re not going anywhere but, well, you’re amazing.”

They had a weird case with a drowned master diver who wasn’t and had to work with CGIS which was fun and distracting. The weather was still cold, only late March but the feeling of spring was in the air. And then the trial began in earnest. The night before the lawyers were to make their opening statements Gibbs said, “Tony, take a personal day tomorrow.”

“You think I can’t do my job?”

“I think you shouldn’t have to. Take the trial off; get your head around this.”

Tony nodded, and then said, “I think I’ll go to the courthouse.”

“Well, I’ll see you there.”

“Will you take me, right now?”

“Yeah, I’d like that,” said Gibbs and pulled Tony close.

The next morning he went to the courthouse and sat outside the courtroom door. He could hear what was going on inside without needing to be near his dad. He sat with his coffee and they were about a half hour in, the prosecution had just finished their opening statement and the defense was just about to begin when someone sat next to Tony and said, “I got you a refill, Ramen.”

Looking up he saw Dan. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Jethro called me a few days ago.” Dan sat down next to him and Tony saw he had a suitcase. “He said he was going to convince you to take time off, that he couldn’t take time off as he’s a witness for the prosecution and asked if I would come up to spend some time with you. So I cleared my schedule for the week. I got off the plane, called Jethro and he gave me directions to here.”

“Thank you for coming.”

“You should have called.”

“Maybe. When you’re an adult you’re supposed to be able to cope with stressful things.”

“Cope? Your estranged father killed your favorite fake uncle. Your team, family, are the ones proving he did it. Your boyfriend can’t sit here with you because he’s testifying. How exactly does being an adult prepare you for this?”

“Shush, the defense is about to start.”

As his dad’s lawyer began Tony saw a security guard coming towards them. Tony reached for his badge and had it out by the time the guy reached them, “Hi, I’m a federal agent. I can vouch for him.”

The guard studied the ID and said, “How long will you be here, Special Agent DiNozzo?”

“We’ll take a break at lunch. We’ll move Dan’s luggage to my car and come back afterwards. I plan on sitting here, probably, for the duration of the trial. But no more suitcases.”

The guard nodded and handed back the badge. “I’m sorry, you understand.”

“Completely and, as one law enforcement officer to another, thank you for your due diligence.”

The man walked away and Dan said, “What was that?”

“You brought a large suitcase into a federal building after nine-eleven, Dan. That was him coming to check if your bag was a word that we don’t say in a federal building after nine-eleven, starts with a ‘b’.”

“Jesus, I didn’t even think of that.”

“Yeah, you live in Miami, you wouldn’t.”

They fell silent and they listened as the lawyer said that Mr. DiNozzo was being unfairly prosecuted as a public figure. As she went on and on about the fact that this was unjust, Tony sort of zoned out. He saw Gibbs walk in the door with Abby and Ducky and Tony leaned over and whispered to Dan, “That’s Jethro with Abby and Ducky.”

“Not what I was expecting.”

“What were you expecting?”

“Way you talk about him: a demigod, the paradigm of man.”

Tony chuckled, “He is.”

Gibbs passed him giving him a small smile and nod, Abby gave him a tiny wave and Ducky gave him a gentle smile. They went into the courtroom.

“Cold,” said Dan sounding surprised.

“No, clever, neither the defense nor the prosecution wants to call me but if he’s coddling me outside I will get pulled in and they will call me.”

“Why would they call you?”

“Well the prosecution could prove he’s an abusive bastard and violent and the defense could say that Gibbs and everyone are prejudice because they love me. Both could be thrown out by the judge but you can’t make a jury un-hear something. The defense might try to do it to Gibbs anyway. I’m too damaging to both their cases for me to get on the stand.”

The defense finished their opening statement and then prosecution called a witness from the party, someone who’d seen Craig take ill and go upstairs, had seen Tony’s dad follow him, had seen Tony’s dad come back forty minutes later in new clothes. The defense pointed out that it was hard to account for anyone at a party full of people. The prosecution then called Gibbs as a redirect, saying that the bulk of his testimony would come later they just needed clarification on the subject. Gibbs told them that everyone was accounted for, most in the main room, two women together in the downstairs bathroom and ten people in the back yard smoking no one was missing except Tony’s dad. There was a break for lunch after Gibbs got off the stand Dan said, “McGee and Ziva are meeting us at La Tavola di Contadino, let’s go. We can drop my bag in your car.”

Tony couldn’t be cheerful during the meal. It had been hard to see Ducky, Abby and Gibbs going into court. “I can’t go in there,” said Tony apropos of nothing.

“Then we don’t go in,” said Dan. “Do you want to go back there or do you want to go someplace else? We don’t have to go back.”

“No, I just want to sit outside. Sorry, terrible vacation.”

“That’s okay, I didn’t really come for a vacation. I came to be with you.”

“Thank you,” said Tony.

“We should go back soon,” said Dan. He whipped out his credit card and put it on the table, “This is on me. You can give me the card back later. Remember, movie marathon tonight.”

“Really?” said Tony feeling just a little bit excited.

“Jethro said you bought the new Terminator. So it’s one, two and four. Three is too painful to watch.”

“Cool.”

Dan smiled and stood from the table, “Let’s go, Ramen.”

“I’ll cook something,” said Tony to Ziva and McGee.

“You do not need to do that,” said Ziva. “We have everything ready.”

McGee nodded, “We don’t have a case so we’ll see you around four thirty.”

“Cool, movie marathon,” Tony said and turned to followed Dan. They passed a Starbucks and Tony said, “Can we get more coffee?”

“Yes,” said Dan and opened the door for Tony.

Once they got back to the courthouse they took their seat on the bench. People were still going into the room and people walked by him without glancing at him. One person bumped into him and said, “Oh, sorry.”

He looked up at Abby and said, “That’s quite alright, Ma’am,” with a wink.

As she passed him Tony noticed the note in his lap. He smiled and picked it up. There, in Abby’s sharp, angular, goth script, were the words, “We love you, Tony. We’re all on your side. Make Dan hug you for me. Gibbs says check your inner pocket.”

Tony handed the note to Dan and then reached inside his jacket. He never used the pocket and there he found two strawberry flavored candies. He chuckled, unwrapped one, popped it into his mouth and handed the other one to Dan. “My boyfriend slipped me candy because he’s awesome.”

Dan hugged him, “That’s from Abby,” he said and then unwrapped his own candy.

They fell quiet as the prosecutor called Tony’s dad’s doctor who testified about Tony’s dad coming to him two days before the party complaining of agonizing back pain. The bottle of pills were entered into evidence. He had written him a script for a very powerful pain killer. The doctor had warned him that the drug could make him very drowsy and he had replied, “That’s exactly what I’m looking for.” Which had seemed off to him at the time. The defending lawyer objected to the opinion the judge sustained. The prosecutor asked the doctor for his medical opinion about the situation.

“While all the symptoms told me that he needed the prescription he did not appear to be in any pain. I wrote him the prescription because he’s never been a complainer: he’s never tried to get pills from me before. He comes in for his yearly physical and that is the only time I ever see him. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and wrote him the prescription. And he grinned so much you would have thought he’d won the lottery.”

The defense asked him if it was possible that Tony’s dad could have taken the five pills himself in the three days he’d had them. And the doctor shook his head, “Half a pill a day, no more than that. Five pills in seventy-two hours would cause hospitalization.”

“If Mr. DiNozzo were a habitual drug user, had a problem with pills, is it possible that he could have built up a tolerance to the pills?”

“No,” said the doctor.

Tony turned to Dan and said softly, “If their excuse is that he’s a druggy this is going to be more entertaining than I expected.”

Across the lobby Tony saw Richard Teeve and the sight made his heart hurt a little. The man looked so much older than Tony remembered. The man was moving to go into the courtroom but stopped short, “Junior?”

“Hi, Mr. Teeve.”

“You grew up.”

“It happens to everyone,” Tony said with a shrug.

“Are you going inside, son?”

Tony shook his head, “Haven’t seen him in twenty years and I can’t do it now. I’m going to sit here and listen.”

“I know how close you and Craig were. I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you, you too. Speaking of frat brothers, this is my brother Dan. Dan, this is Mr. Teeve he’s my dad and Craig’s brother.”

“It’s Richard to adults,” said Mr. Teeve reaching out to shake Dan’s hand. “I have to go inside, Junior. I’m testifying next.”

“It was nice to see you, Mr. Teeve.”

“You too, Junior.” He passed and went into the courtroom.

“It’s starting to feel like a weird version of this is your life,” said Tony softly. He heard the doctor being excused and Mr. Teeve being called.

The prosecutor asked him about the rings which had been entered into evidence. He told the court all about the frat brothers’ individual rings, how none of them had the same two. He told the court that Tony’s dad had been wearing them the night of the party, that he had disappeared for a while, that he had come downstairs in a different shirt and tie but still wearing his rings. The defense asked him if it was possible Mr. DiNozzo had another reason to change his clothes. Mr. Teeve agreed it was possible. He was excused.

Abby was called to the stand and the jury was again informed that she would be testifying later but that right now she was being called to speak about a specific piece of evidence which was entered, a tie. Abby identified the tie as the one his dad had been wearing prior to going upstairs, she pointed it out in photos taken at the party. His shirt was not recovered. His tie, which looked completely clean, actually had traces of Craig’s blood which contained large amounts of the drug. The prosecutor asked if it was possible to tell where the drug came from. Abby said that the drug had been ingested no more than an hour before and that all drugs now had a tracer ID built into it per FDA regulations and that the drugs in Craig’s blood came from his dad’s prescription.

The defense asked her if the drug could have come from another day and Abby said, “Well, yes, the blood could have been in the same physical state for up to a week. However, knowing that the prescription was filled only two days before the party there is no way that blood could have been on the tie prior to the party. That dosage would have led Craig to be violently ill, as he was when he died. Had he taken the drug prior to the party there’s no way he would have made it to the party.”

“Can you be sure of this? You aren’t a doctor.” Tony could hear the disdain in the lawyer’s voice.

“I have a BA in Sociology, a BA is Psychology, a Master’s in Biology, a Master’s in Criminology, a PhD in Forensic Science and a PhD in Chemistry. Having studied his blood and his physicality I can tell you with absolute certainty that he was drugged no more than an hour before his death and that the blood was deposited on the tie in question at the time of his death. Mr. DiNozzo’s sweat was on the tie as well. The tie that has been entered into evidence belongs to Mr. DiNozzo and was worn on the night of the party.” Abby sounded completely calm, friendly even. Juries don’t like surly or defiant witnesses and Abby knew that.

“I had no idea that Abby was that over educated,” said Dan.

“She had her first BA before her seventeenth birthday and she’s a lot older than she looks or acts,” Tony replied. Abby was excused from the witness stand. The judge was calling things to a close, reminding the jury that they were not allowed to leave their hotel and saying that the trial would resume at nine AM. “Let’s go before people come out.”

“I got a taxi here,” said Dan.

“Want to drive my new car?”

“Sounds great,” Dan agreed.

Tony felt like he was fleeing as he went to his car. He tossed his keys to Dan and slid into the passenger side. He sighed and said, “What’s the defense doing?”

“I don’t know enough about court to know what you’re asking,” Dan replied.

“They’re helping to prove the prosecution’s point. I don’t get it.” He gave Dan directions to the house and he saw that a lot of cars were out front. “Is the whole team here?”

“Yeah, figured it was a team night. Tomorrow we’re going out to dinner with Steve, I haven’t seen him in ages.”

“You’re just going to keep distracting me, aren’t you?”

“Going to try my hardest.”

“Thanks,” Tony got out of the car and took Dan’s bag out the back. They walked inside and saw that McGee, Ziva and Jimmy were already there getting a ton of food out. “You were serious when you said I didn’t have to do anything.”

“Go change into jeans,” said McGee.

“I’ll show you upstairs,” he said to Dan. He was still holding Dan’s huge bag and headed for the stairs. He paused in the front hall as the door opened. Gibbs stepped inside and as always Tony felt his heart jump. “Hey.”

“Hey,” said Gibbs. “You okay?” Tony nodded. “Rule four,” said Gibbs softly as he came to him.

“No, I’m not really okay.” Gibbs pulled him into a hug and Tony put down the case to hug him back. He saw Abby and Ducky heading in the front door behind Gibbs but he rested his head on his boyfriend’s shoulder. “This sucks.”

Gibbs stroked his back, “Proud of you today. Didn’t freak out and shoot anyone.”

Dan laughed but cut himself off when Abby and Ducky didn’t and realized that Gibbs was serious.

“Didn’t bring a gun, just a concealed knife. All I did was sit in a hallway.”

“And that in and of itself is pretty impressive.” Gibbs stroked his hair and then tugged his head back to kiss him gently on the mouth.

“Thanks for the candy.” He pulled back, “Oh, hey. Jethro, this is Dan. Dan, Jethro.”

Jethro let go of him to shake Dan’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you. I’ve been borrowing your bowling your shoes.”

“Good to know someone’s getting some use out of them,” replied Dan.

“I’m going upstairs to change,” said Tony. Abby was holding a garment bag. Tony took in her dress suit, heals and loose hair, “I’m guessing Abby is too.”

“Ugg, I hate court clothes. I look like a freak.”

Tony picked up Dan’s bag and headed up the stairs. Dan, who was following him said, “It’s good to see you, Abby.”

Tony sort of tuned them out, he liked it when Gibbs touched him in front of people, liked that Gibbs didn’t push him away. He was slightly dazed when he showed Dan the guestroom. He heard the master bedroom door shut behind him without his touching it. He turned and found himself being thrown against the wall and being kissed hard and demandingly. He wrapped one leg around Gibbs’ waist to pull him close. Gibbs’ held his face still and kissed him until Tony felt boneless. He gave in and he didn’t stop kissing him when he felt himself start to tear up. Gibbs started to pull back but Tony moaned and didn’t let him go. Gibbs leaned back into him and slowed the kiss down. It felt so good that Tony wanted to stay there forever. Breathing through his nose became difficult through his tears which caused snot and he had to pull back.

“Now that it’s finally going on, I don’t know if I want him to go down.” Gibbs nodded. “I just know that I don’t want to go in there, Jethro. I don’t want to see him like that.” Gibbs nodded again. “I want him to have not done this.”

“I know,” said Jethro. “I know. I’m so sorry, Tony.” He didn’t move away, “I’m so sorry, Tony.”

“What does he look like in there?”

“His look of boredom is faked but the hints of worry and confusion that his lawyers aren’t doing their job are real.”

“I don’t get it,” said Tony. “What are they playing at?”

“I’m still figuring that out,” Gibbs stroked his cheek. “We should get changed: we’ve already been up here for twenty minutes.”

“Seriously?”

“It’s easy to get lost in your mouth,” Gibbs said with a small smile. He tugged his tie loose and started unbuttoning his shirt. Tony watched him covertly, enjoying the skin as it was revealed. “Tony, stop watching me and change.”

“Okay,” said Tony and he started to undress himself. “You think we could stretch the time up here just a little bit more?” he batted his eyes.

“All our friends are downstairs and Ducky’s cooking lamb burgers, I think if we’re up here much longer they’re going to send a search party.” Tony laughed and pulled on a clean t-shirt. He stripped out of his pants and pulled on comfy, torn, beaten up jeans and toed on flip-flops. Gibbs pulled on jeans and a sweat shirt and went barefoot. “Ready?” asked Gibbs.

Tony scrubbed his hands over his face, “Yeah, okay.” Gibbs opened the door and Tony said, “Thanks for calling Dan.”

“Does he know everyone other than me?”

“Yeah, you never come out with us. So you never got to meet any of them.”

“Well, next week I get to meet Clark.”

“No way, Clark’s leaving California?” Gibbs nodded, “He swore off the east coast.”

“I called him, he’s coming,” Gibbs shrugged.

“Thanks,” Tony said. Then he headed down the stairs calling, “Ducky, that smells awesome.”

He spent the afternoon eating with his friends and having a marathon which always made him feel a bit better. At one point Dan sort of made fun of him: implying that that Tony and Gibbs had snuck upstairs for very different reasons. Ever since the horrific day in Abby’s lab where he’d had to be honest with his team he hadn’t lied to them, glossed over things but not lied. So now he shrugged, “Had a bit of a panic attack. Monsters are supposed to stay under the bed. They aren’t supposed to go to court or prison. Or they’re supposed to be stuck on answering machine tape.” It was a redirect but he was glad that Dan laughed.

“What?” asked McGee.

“We all clubbed together to buy the house an answering machine,” Dan began. “That was when they were still expensive and they still had tape. And one night, in our sophomore years, we’re having a party. And no one hears the phone ring. But we all hear it when he starts laying into Ramen over the answering machine. Just lecturing about all the ways Tony’s let him down.”

Tony picked up the story, “And it was sort really depressing until Mike who was a brother of ours, he was a senior shouts, ‘Okay everyone, new game: every time Tony’s dad says something truly awful everyone takes shot.’ And then it became really funny. He’s going, ‘You’re a dreamer just like your mother and you’ll never amount to much,’ and Mike’s going, ‘Insulting Tony *and* his mom? That’s a double shot, people!’ And it was a big party, so probably a hundred people are getting drunk because of my dad.”

Dan added, “We were all shattered after forty minutes.”

“Dave puked on the couch and someone puked all over the back steps,” said Tony.

“He went on for forty minutes?” repeated Jimmy.

“Would have been longer but the machine ran out of tape,” said Dan.

“We never deleted the funny ones. That one of Matt’s mom just rambling about when her flight was coming in, and about how she had gifts for all of us and how we’d better be eating right. She just went on and on with completely mundane things that only a mom could think were important.” Tony thought and then said, “She was cool. She made dinner for the whole house.”

Dan laughed, “Remember that great message of Liam, when he was so drunk and lost and at a pay phone?”

“Oh yeah, and then Clark picked up.”

Turning to the group Dan said, “The old machines, they didn’t turn off when someone picked up.” Tony laughed just thinking about it. “So Clark’s trying to figure out where Liam is. And Liam’s crying because his girlfriend and he had a fight, and he’s lost, a drunk and had just peed on his own shoes. And Clark goes, ‘Okay, man, look around do you see any street signs?’ and Liam, sounding totally pathetic goes, ‘Yeah, I see a sign, it says one way.’”

Tony was fighting to breathe through his laughter, “We had to form search parties, everyone with a car driving with three look outs.”

“Took two hours. Of course if he’d figured out he was on Mt. Titmore we would have found him in about two minutes.”

“I still have all those picture of us pointing to the street sign. That was the frat’s official photo that year,” said Tony.

“I have one of them framed in my study. Alice sometimes tries to talk me into getting rid of it.”

“It’s just too funny. There were two sororities on that street.”

“I don’t get it,” said Ziva.

It set him and Dan off again and Dan said, “It’s only funny if you’re a teenage boy.”

“Or a frat boy of any age,” said Gibbs with a sniff.

“Remember how Al used to use it as a verb, ‘I’m gonna go mount Titmore.’ He had that beautiful girlfriend, what was her name…” Dan trailed off.

“Claudia. She was a Pi Beta Phi, she was gorgeous but she also wasn’t very bright. Really nice lady but impossible to hold a conversation with.”

“As someone who has a legal prescription pad I’m willing to say she was clinically dumb.”

“She liked ponies, a lot.” Tony laughed again. Al had been a Senior when they’d first entered the frat. He was so cool. Tony had had a crush on him but had managed to tamp it down. “They got married and have three kids.”

“She was really nice,” said Dan.

Gibbs had a hand on him at all time. Gibbs was his awesome boss, who was scary, demanding, harsh and the best, fairest superior Tony had ever had. He remembered those terrible months after Ziva had first come home when Gibbs was so cold to him. Gibbs had hated everyone, even Tony, and then everything had changed that night Gibbs had invited him over to pizza. Gibbs treated him like his Senior Field Agent and it made work so fun and easy. And now he went home to Jethro who loved him and made no bones about it. And every time he acted like Jethro around other people it always felt like a little gift to Tony, the free prize in the Cap’n Crunch. Jethro surprised him all the time but this was the biggest surprise: the man didn’t pull away from him with company. If he was off the clock he was Jethro, no matter who was around.

They were half way through the second movie and Tony was feeling pretty relaxed and happy. He looked around at his friends and it felt nice. He remembered when Ziva had been new at NCIS and had thrown a party without him. It had hurt. Even Jimmy had been invited and he wasn’t really a part of the team back then. Tony and Ziva hadn’t been friends yet but the fact that the team had gone when he wasn’t invited, that hurt. It was stupid and childish but true. And now, now he had no doubts because his team stood behind now when he really needed them and he was grateful for that. He made no apologies for his personality. Maybe he was loud, brash, obnoxious but he was kind, generous and a good man.

He hadn’t changed one iota, the team’s view of him had. His harsh personality had gotten him through some of the worst years of his life and maybe some of it was over the top, but it was his way of coping. His team had gotten used to it over the years and they’d become a family and his best friends. Now they knew all about his past and he’d been afraid of them looking at him differently. They now knew where parts of his carefully constructed personality came from and they treated him exactly the same way as before. He was still their silly, fun, incredibly efficient coworker.

But he didn’t have to try so hard. They liked him. He sat quietly watching one of his favorite films with his friends. Gibbs was stroking his hair and Ziva who’d been lounging on the floor sat up and rested her head on Tony’s knee. “I don’t get it,” said Gibbs.

Tony turned and said, “What don’t you get?”

“He sends some guy back in time to protect his mother from the robot knowing that the man is his father so that is a problem.”

“Yeah well, wibbly wobbly timey wimey,” said Tony who then put his hand out to fist bump with McGee. Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “Doctor Who,” said Tony as an explanation. “Time bubbles, time flux, whatever. Just go with it.”

“Okay,” said Gibbs slowly. “That’s not actually my question. Why does he then send the same model of robot to protect himself knowing it will freak out his mother?”

Tony nodded, “Well, there’s the long answer which is kind of complicated. But really simply: they wanted Arnie to be in the second movie.”

“If he can reprogram a Terminator why not send a reprogrammed T-1000?”

“Jethro, stop asking questions.”

“Also, why didn’t his dad warn his mom that a T-1000 would come and a Terminator would protect her? And if they do destroy Skynet then he won’t become a leader and then he won’t send his dad back in time so he won’t be born so Skynet will win.”

“Jethro, you’re over thinking it. This isn’t a cinematic masterpiece. It’s fun just enjoy it.”

Jethro kissed his cheek, “Okay.”

But then Ducky said, “Actually Jethro raises a very good point.”

McGee groaned, “Wibbly wobbly timey wimey, just go with it.”

Tony rested his head on Gibbs’ shoulder to watch the rest of the film. People brought up other questions, discussed details but for once Tony didn’t feel the need to be the one to answer them. He just relaxed against Gibbs. “You watched this that first night,” Gibbs whispered in his ear.

“I love you,” Tony whispered back. “Love that you remember that.”

The movie ended uneventfully. The last words making him feel hopeful as always. “I need a break,” said Ziva.

Which Jimmy countered with, “I made cupcakes.”

Tony stretched, “You don’t seem like a baker, Palmer.”

“I’m not,” said Jimmy. “But I’m even less of a cook. I wanted to bring something and following the instructions on the back of the mix box seemed like the safest option.”

“I love cupcakes,” said Tony.

After cupcakes and fruit salad they watched Salvation. Ziva said, “Why are we skipping the third one? I like the third one.”

“Ziva, Americans do not admit that. We lie if we like something bad.”

“You told me that as an American I had to belligerently defend my beliefs even when obviously wrong.”

“Okay,” said Tony slowly, “cool people don’t admit to liking something lame.”

“Are you calling me cool, Tony?”

“Not when you admit to liking Rise of the Machines.”

They fell to watching the film and chatting on and off. Ducky called bullshit on the heart transplant in a tent in the desert without so much as a bottle of Purell. It was a comfortable evening. And it was late when the film ended. Tony was a little tipsy from the beers he’d consumed over the course of the evening. And people started to head out. Jimmy was drunk, Abby said, “That’s why I drove him,” and took his elbow to lead him to her car.

Tony yawned as everyone left. “Bed,” said Gibbs.

“I’m not going to argue,” said Tony, “I’m exhausted.” He turned to Dan, “Do you have everything you need?”

“Yeah, Ramen, I’m good. You sleep well.”

“I’m a little drunk so it shouldn’t be too hard.”

Gibbs smiled, “I’ll be up in a couple of minutes. I’m just going to clean up a little.” Tony just nodded and headed up the stairs.

He stripped naked and slid into bed. He was slightly drunk and he felt too warm. Standing he went and opened the window a little and slumped back on the bed, on top of the covers. Gibbs came in and chuckled. “I’m really hot.”

“Well, yeah, DiNozzo, I know that: I have eyes.”

“No, hot-hot.”

“I know, Tony.” Gibbs opened the window wide and the cold February air wafted into the room.

“Are you hot too?”

“No,” said Gibbs. “I’ll wear sweats.” He held out a glass of water and a few Advil. “Swallow these and drink this, you don’t want a hangover.”

“Thank you.” Tony gulped down the pills and water and put the glass on his bedside table.

“You really did make me proud today. Did you have fun tonight?”

“I like that you still act like my boyfriend when the team’s around. I never expected us to be so good together, never thought it could be this easy. I knew we’d work but I expected it to take work too. But we really work.”

“Yeah, we work perfectly, work or play.”

“I love you, and cupcakes and Kyle Reese. I had the hugest crush on him when it first came out, all strong, hardcore, brave and kind. I don’t know if I wanted to be him or date.”

“Y’like me more?”

“Of course I do, silly.”

“You’re drunker than you think you are,” said Gibbs. He stripped naked and then pulled on sweats and a long sleeve tee-shirt.

“You still like me?”

“I love you so much I’m willing to sleep in a fridge.” He left his socks on as he lay down next to Tony. He pulled Tony’s naked body to him and said, “Am I too hot?”

“No, you feel good. Can we just sleep? Would that be okay?”

“Why wouldn’t it?”

“I don’t know. We haven’t gone a night without sex if we’re both home, we’re not too tired and uninjured.”

“And?”

“And, we’re guys. Sometimes chicks just want to cuddle but what red blooded man wants that?”

“I want that, it’s been a long hard day. Let’s go to sleep.” Tony curled up on top of him, “That feels good, you being heavy and warm.”

He stroked Tony’s hair and the cold air from the window played over his skin and made him feel better. “I’ve never been this happy with anyone. It’s never been like this.”

He felt Gibbs smile against his shoulder, “Well, there’s no one else like me.” He kept stroking Tony’s hair, “I love you, you make me so proud.”

Tony fell asleep being stroked. When he woke up it was still dark but that didn’t mean much as the days were still short. The room was freezing. He slid off of Gibbs and shut the window. When he turned back to the bed he saw Gibbs was blinking at him. “Didn’t mean to wake you,” Tony said softly. Gibbs just pulled the covers down and climbed into bed, patting the mattress next to him. Tony climbed back into bed and Gibbs draped the sheet and comforter over him. He kissed Tony’s forehead and wrapped a leg around Tony.

The alarm went off and Tony blinked his eyes open. Gibbs was watching him and Tony asked, “Did you get any sleep after I got up to shut the window?”

“Lots,” responded Gibbs.

“I think I was drunk last night.”

“Really?” said Gibbs sarcastically, “I had no idea what with the falling up the stairs, stripping while still on the landing and wanting the room to be winter cold.”

“I didn’t fall on the stairs.”

“The bruises on your palms and knees say otherwise.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, seriously.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. You were having a good time with your friends. You were allowed to get drunk. Hangover?”

“No, you gave me water and pills. I feel fine.”

“Good, don’t run today: come shower with me?”

Tony nodded and got out of bed, languid and still sleepy. The room was cold and he said, “Sorry I made you sleep in a freezer.”

“I had a hot blanket I didn’t mind.” They headed across the hall to the bathroom. Tony peed while Gibbs adjusted the water. As Tony moved to the sink to brush his teeth he said, “So there’s a Petty Officer and a Marine in a bathroom at the urinals. The Marine finishes up and turns to leave. The Petty Officer says, ‘Excuse me but in the Navy they teach us to wash our hands.’ The Marine replies, ‘In the Marines they teach us not to piss on our hands.’”

Gibbs kissed his cheek as Tony started to brush his teeth. “That was a terrible joke,” he said and reached around Tony for his own toothbrush. “I like being this comfortable with someone. Thank you, Tony.” Tony leaned back against his chest.

“It’s a hardship,” said Tony around his toothbrush. He spat and climbed into the shower as Gibbs finished brushing his teeth. He washed his hair quickly and put in his conditioner. Gibbs smirked at him and Tony said, “You love my hair, you play with it, stroke it, tug it, so you don’t get to laugh at how it gets to be so soft.”

Gibbs nodded as he spat, “That’s fair. I do really like your hair.” He stepped into the shower and reached for Tony’s face to kiss him slowly. “Take me?” Tony kissed hum hungrily. “And don’t be too gentle.”

Tony laughed and turned him roughly to face the wall, “How ‘not gentle’?”

“As rough as you like. Just don’t leave marks anywhere my suit doesn’t cover. Don’t want bruises showing on the witness stand.”

Tony slapped his ass hard, “Don’t talk about the trial when I’m trying to fuck you.”

“Yes, sir,” said Jethro. Tony bit his shoulder, hard and Gibbs moaned. “Fuck, Tony, so hot.” Tony reached for the baby oil on the shelf. Usually he used it on his elbows, it was better than moisturizer and usually Gibbs made fun of its presence in the shower but now as he opened Gibbs up with slick fingers the man just moaned. “Want it. Fuck.”

Tony stopped biting him to whisper in his ear, “Dan will hear you.”

“Dan can walk in here and watch for all I care. Feels so good.”

“I love you,” said Tony as he fucked Gibbs open mercilessly. “You have no idea how powerful I feel when you give me the control.”

“You can always have the power, as long as we both feel good I don’t care. I take the power when you need me to. Right now you need to be in control.”

Tony said softly, “I need to be in control of something.”

“I know, Tony,” Gibbs gasped, “God, right there, God, Tony.” Tony removed his fingers and Gibbs sighed, “No, want it.”

“Shush, it’s okay.” Tony kissed his cheek. Then he paused, “I don’t have a condom.”

“Don’t care, we’re both clean, this isn’t casual. I want this. Want this, please, want it.”

Tony loved it when Gibbs got verbal; it was so rare for him to ramble. He loved being the one to get Gibbs this way. “You sure? That’s a big step.”

“I’m not going anywhere. It’s not a big step with you, want this.”

The words made Tony harder and he lubed up with the baby oil and slid home into Gibbs’ body, “Jesus, Jethro, you feel so good.” He didn’t let Gibbs get used to it, didn’t give him any time to adjust. He fucked Gibbs hard, the man had to brace himself against the wall and Tony bit his neck to hold him still. Gibbs didn’t say anything just panted and gasped. Tony reached around to stroke Gibbs and made him come with rough pulls. Thrusting in one last time he spilled into Gibbs and pulled out slowly, “Stay right here, I’ll be right back.” He pulled back the curtain and repeated, “Stay.” He wrapped a towel around his waist and darted back to the bedroom. He reached under the bed, took out his box and pulled out what he wanted. He ran back to the bathroom and shut the door.

Dropping the towel he stepped back into the tub and pulled the curtain back. Gibbs was in the exact same position. “Good, Jethro, awesome.” He dropped to his knees and pushed Gibbs’ cheeks open. The come was slowly seeping out of his hole and Tony blew cool air against him and watched the opening twitch he slid one finger through the mess and pushed his finger inside, putting the come back inside of him. Then, ever so slowly, he slid the plug he’d taken from the bedroom into the slick hole. “Want you to feel me all day. Can’t talk to you in court but you can feel me.”

“Like the sound of that,” said Gibbs.

Tony stood and turned Gibbs around to kiss him slowly, “I love you.”

“I love you too. You should wash that conditioner out. Been way more than three minutes.”

“Oh shit!” Tony started scrubbing his hair. Gibbs laughed and started to wash himself. “Not funny.”

“It’s a little funny,” responded Gibbs as he washed his hair. Tony scrubbed himself clean and Gibbs shaved by touch and then he handed Tony the razor. It was true, what Gibbs had said, it was wonderful to be so comfortable with someone. When he was finished Gibbs turned off the water saying, “Thanks for the orgasm.”

“Right back at cha, big guy.” Tony stepped out and handed a towel to Gibbs. “I hope my scalp isn’t too oily now.” Gibbs chuckled, “Not funny, Jethro.” They crossed back to the bedroom and Tony said, “Check and see if you can sit down. You might be on the stand for hours.”

Gibbs sat on the bed, “No, feels good. I like the stretch.” He rubbed his towel over his hair and Tony leaned down to kiss him.

Tony went to the closet, “What suit are you wearing?”

“My sharp, blue one: makes me look like someone juries can trust.”

“Good call,” said Tony as he tossed it onto the bed next to Jethro. “Y’want a tie? I’ve got one that would go great with it.”

“Nope, don’t want an expensive looking tie, gonna wear my gray one. That one makes me look relatable.”

“You’ve been listening to the jury consultant, clearly.”

“It’s a high profile case,” said Gibbs as he buttoned his shirt.

“Yeah,” agreed Tony. He didn’t put on a full suit, just slacks and a button down. “I’ll be down stairs, I’m gonna make us some pancakes.” He went down to the kitchen without gelling his hair. The counter had his and Gibbs’ coffee makers set up. They both had timers and were both filled with fresh coffee and now he poured himself a cup of the good stuff. He started making the batter and Dan came down. He smirked at Tony. “Shuddup or you can’t have pancakes.”

“I didn’t say anything,” said Dan.

“You were thinking it.” Then he sighed, “Do you want tar or candy for your coffee?”

“Will Jethro be okay with one less cup of coffee?”

“Yeah, he’ll get two ventis on his way to court.” Tony started to pour batter into the hot frying pan.

“Seriously?”

“If we’d all been born twenty years earlier we’d all chain smoke, as it is we chug our socially acceptable drug.”

Dan poured himself half a cup of coffee, took a sip, added a little more coffee and then topped it up water, “That is so strong.”

“I know, it’s shocking that he doesn’t have an ulcer.”

“Who’s to say I don’t?” asked Gibbs walking in on silent feet.

Tony flipped the pancakes and said, “Give me two minutes and you can have the first ones. You have to meet with the JAG lawyers?”

Gibbs nodded, “Yeah, I have to give my main testimony today.”

“You nervous?”

He expected Gibbs to say no, to play it cool. But Gibbs said, “Yes, it’s your dad, of course I’m nervous.”

“Just do what you always do, your best, that’s all anyone can ask.”

Gibbs nodded again and poured himself some coffee. “You going to wear a coat?”

“My gray jacket, why?”

“No reason,” Gibbs said, “you were so hot last night I wasn’t sure.” Tony slid the first pancakes out of the frying pan and onto a plate handing it to Gibbs. Gibbs kissed his forehead, “Thanks, Tony.” He ate them with orange marmalade like it was any other pancake morning and Tony found it comforting. He finished the second plate and handed it off to Dan. Gibbs ate his plate clean and put it in the dishwasher before coming to stand behind Tony at the stove. Wrapping an arm around Tony’s waist he kissed the back of Tony’s neck and said, “Love you.”

“You’re gonna be late, Jethro.”

He kissed Tony’s neck one more time, “I’ll see you later.” He pulled away and left.

Tony was sliding the rest of the pancakes onto another plate and turning off the stove. “How were you ever afraid of him?” asked Dan. “He’s such a nice guy. I mean, you, McGee and Ziva always say he’s terrifying but he’s so chilled out.”

“You are seeing him at home.”

“Yeah but, I mean, why were you afraid of telling him?”

“He never let’s anyone see him at home, not until recently. I never would have made a move. He’s been married four times, he’s not easy to get along with. You’re not only seeing him at home, you’re seeing him in protective over drive where he’s being the kindest, calmest version of himself.”

“He’s nice… even if he is loud during shower sex. Then again, you’ve always been loud.”

“He’s all marked up under the suit, all marked up by me. I like that; he’s mine even when he’s testifying.”

“I like him a hell of a lot more than Gina.”

“Well he hasn’t broken my heart.”

“She never loved you, Tony, she was always so bitchy and mean to you and you loved her. She tore you down all the time and you didn’t see it because she was smart, hot, witty and let you see her naked. But Jethro, man, he loves you like mad and if he is a bastard he turns it off for you which means a hell of a lot.”

“He’s awesome,” Tony said with a wide smile.

“Do you remember that guy Tyler?”

“Well, I am the one who dated him. He was really hot. Jesus, that was freshman year.”

“How’s that end again?” asked Dan, smirking.

“He caught me cheating on him with my professor and punched me in the mouth.”

“Yeah, don’t do that again.”

“Do you remember the professor?” asked Tony.

“Not really.”

“Older, handsome, really smart, not that talkative, demanding of his students, really passionate about what he did. Why would I cheat on Jethro when he’s the guy I would cheat with? That’s just stupid.” Tony finished his pancakes and his third cup of coffee. “You ready to go?”

Dan nodded and Tony drove them to the court house. They stopped at Starbucks and sat down on the same bench in the court house as the day before. “I wonder who’s on today,” said Dan, “other than Jethro.”

“They haven’t set up motive. They’ll have someone who can attest to the motive. Then maybe more from Abby, Ducky, maybe. I don’t know.” Tony shrugged.

“You okay?”

“No, not really, but I’ll keep it together.” He saw Vance walking towards him and said, “Oh, I guess the Director is testifying.”

Vance came up to him and said, “How are you holding up?”

“I’m doin’ okay, sir. Thank you for the leave time.”

“Well, with the amount of vacation time you’ve saved up there’s no argument.”

“I’ll be back right after the trial.”

“No, Special Agent DiNozzo, you’ll be back right after your psych eval says you can be.” Then he turned to Dan and said, “Hi, Dan, I’m Leon Vance.”

Dan reached to shake his hand saying, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. But I’m slightly concerned that the Director of a federal agency knows who I am.”

“Tony’s desk has three pictures of your son on it.”

“Well, he’s a great godfather,” said Dan with a smile, “and Malachi is the prettiest baby ever born in the history of babies being born.”

Vance smiled at him and then said, “Special Agent DiNozzo, NCIS stands behind you. If you need anything you let me know.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The Director left and Dan said, “He calls you Special Agent DiNozzo.”

“He’s not sure what to do with me. He’s never liked me. Then I refused to work on this case and he sort of respects me for that. So now he doesn’t know what to do should he go back to calling me DiNozzo or he should call me Tony? Until he decides he’ll call me by my full title.”

Gibbs, Abby and Ducky walked by and into the courtroom. Gibbs put his hand into his pocket and then removed it again as he walked in and Tony took the hint. He reached into his pockets and felt hard plastic and string in both pockets. He removed the objects and laughed at what he saw. Dan looked at them, “Are those ramp walkers?”

Tony held out the plastic toys, “The riding cowboy and the astronauts. My mom gave me the exact same ones when I was seven. I played with them for hours. I brought them to boarding school after she died but someone stole them.” He sat them both down on the bench, hanging the strings and weights over the edge and watched as they walked along. “He must have found them on the internet. I always cheated and made the cowboy win.” He tugged on the cowboy’s string to speed up the horse. He outpaced the astronauts and got to the edge first. Tony repeated the process again and again, never letting the astronauts win. While he played he listened to his dad’s assistant talk about the fact that Craig’s business plan included a hostile takeover of DiNozzo International and that his dad had said he would stop him at any cost.

Then Gibbs was called to give an overview of the whole case. He was talking to the prosecutor on the stand for over three and a half hours. There was so, so much evidence. The bathroom crime scene had been covered in blood which had captured foot prints from shoes belonging to DiNozzo and his finger prints had been found in the blood on the counter top. His tie was found in the dumpster with his medication. He was the only one unaccounted for at the time of the murder. His ring had made an imprint in Craig’s wounds. He gave a full confession and attempted to bribe Gibbs. Tony listened as they showed the tape of his dad waving a lawyer, admitting everything and bribing Gibbs. When his dad said, “I admit it, Special Agent Gibbs, he attacked the thing I love most and I lost my temper. And my actions are regrettable.” It felt like a knife twisting in his chest. Once it was over the prosecution entered the check his dad had cut Gibbs into evidence. The prosecutor said he had no more questions. The defense said that, with the court’s permission, they would wait until after lunch to question Gibbs.

“What do you want to do for lunch?”

“It’s up to me?” said Tony.

“Totally.”

Tony stood and started walking, “Come with me, Dan.” As he walked to his car he sent a text that just read “Ricky’s”. He unlocked his car and said to Dan, “There’s this really good little barbeque place.”

After ten minutes Dan said, “Where is this place?”

“Couple more minutes.”

“Is it really this good? It’s only a forty-five minute break.”

“Trust me, this is totally worth it.”

“I always trust you,” responded Dan. As they pulled in and got out of the car the smell of the barbeque swept over them. “Wow that smells good.”

Tony nodded, “I know.” They walked in and Tony went right to the counter, “Hi. Can I get three of the goat sandwiches, two coffees and, Dan, what do you want to drink?”

“A Coke.”

“And a Coke, please,” Tony smiled at the guy behind the counter as he handed him the money and Tony took their ticket and their drinks.

“Three?” said Dan as they sat down at a table.

“Well no one’s going to drive for twenty-six minutes of their forty-five minute break to come here, are they?”

“Ah, I see,” said Dan as Gibbs walked in through the door.

Gibbs sat down and reached for one of the coffees, “How you holding up, DiNozzo?”

“Boss,” Tony sighed, grateful that Gibbs wasn’t being his boyfriend right now. He needed his calm boss, not his consoling boyfriend. “I had no idea how much evidence you guys had.”

“You didn’t need or want to know about it,” said Gibbs.

“I know, still came as a shock.”

“Would it have made today any easier if you’d known?”

“No, boss, not really.”

“I have some bad news,” said Gibbs, in his gentle-console-the-family voice. Tony just looked at him. “Your father has a lot of lawyers sitting around him. Today one of those lawyers was Alison Hart.”

Tony felt his heart drop. He heard their number called and Dan took the ticket from him gently. “So that’s their game. I mean I thought…”

Gibbs gave him a smirk, “If you run, they can’t subpoena you and they can’t get a bench warrant for you.” Tony tried to laugh. “Pull it together, DiNozzo.”

“If they call me then he’s going to prison, no doubt. But I’ll have to be in the same room as him.”

“And you don’t know if you want him to go down.”

Dan sat down and they started to eat silently. Finally Tony said, “I gave you permission to arrest him. He killed Craig.” Tony didn’t really want to dwell on it. “Are you going to the office today?”

“If I can get off the stand sometime this century.”

“May I have some cold cases?”

“Do you think you’re up to them?”

“Well, me reading them while distracted is better than no one reading them.”

“True,” agreed Gibbs, “and it will keep you sharp. I don’t want my senior field agent losing his edge.”

“Thanks, boss.”

“They might not make you testify. We’ll see if they crucify me. If they do maybe they won’t want any chance of you fixing it.”

“I doubt it. If they weren’t planning on calling me they would be taking more time to question everyone else. They’re going with the old, ‘Don’t defend the defendant attack the cops’ routine. They’re going to open the doubt with you and they’re calling me.”

“Probably, DiNozzo.” They went back to eating in silence.

“Look what I got,” said Tony pulling out his ramp walkers.

“Well, they’re age appropriate,” said Gibbs sarcastically. Tony laughed and set them up on the table. He gently nudged the cowboy to make him go faster. “Why are you doing that?”

“I like the cowboy to win.”

“Well, I got that, DiNozzo. But as the cowboy has a heavier weight he’s always going to win.”

“Huh,” said Tony and redoing the race he saw that, sure enough, the cowboy won. “Vance is gonna make me see a shrink,” he said.

“You’ll trick them into thinking you’re fine, they’ll clear you and that will be good enough for me. If you can trick ‘em that shows you’re up to the job. Everything else you can work out on your own time.” As Gibbs finished eating he said, “Good goat. Gotta get back to court.”

“Be right behind you, boss.”

After Gibbs was gone Dan said, “You two have a very weird relationship.”

“I needed my boss not someone to cuddle me.”

“It’s a little bit dissociative identity disorder-ish.”

“Please don’t try and shrink me right now, Dan.”

They drove back to the courthouse without talking much, Tony was nervous as hell. He didn’t even stop to go to Starbucks. When they sat down on the bench Gibbs was being reminded that he was still under oath. The defense didn’t start lightly, but it wasn’t M. Allison Hart. The male lawyer started by asking Gibbs if someone on his team hadn’t worked on the case.

“Bang,” muttered Tony, “I’m getting called.”

Gibbs said that no, his senior agent Special Agent Tony DiNozzo Jr. had not worked on the case. Tony heard a collective gasp from the courtroom. The lawyer asked how they identified the rings. Gibbs responded that Abigail Sciuto had recognized the marks in the wounds from a scar on Special Agent DiNozzo’s chest. Was it fair to say that Gibbs cared very deeply about his team? Yes that was fair. Did Special Agent Gibbs know where Tony’s scar had come from prior to that day? No. With all of the evidence Special Gibbs had against Mr. DiNozzo why had he waited until after he had matched the rings? Gibbs paused then.

“I was praying,” said Gibbs. “I do care very deeply about my team and I was praying that I wouldn’t be forced to arrest my Senior Agent’s dad. I was hoping that Abby’s tests would come to a different conclusion. I was praying that I would get another suspect.” He was then asked what he’d known about Mr. DiNozzo prior to the case. Gibbs told the court about Tony’s dad bribing Tony’s boss in Baltimore and that he’d offered Tony the job at NCIS on principle. Had he ever had any contact with Mr. DiNozzo?

Tony was shocked when Gibbs said, “Yes.” When had he had contact with Mr. DiNozzo? “Five years ago. Special Agent DiNozzo contracted a modified strain of the pneumonic plague that was untreatable. It was a pretty close call. The doctor was positive he was going to die. I ordered him not to die and Tony always does his best to follow my orders. But I wasn’t sure. So I called Mr. DiNozzo and told him to come. He informed me that he had no interest in seeing Tony and did not consider him to be his son.” Did that make Gibbs make Gibbs angry? “Of course it did. However, just because you’re a terrible father doesn’t mean you’re a murderer. I knew Craig was important to my Senior Agent. I went into this case with no agenda except to find the murderer.”

The lawyer said, “On Youtube there is a video of you-”

“Objection, Your Honor, relevance,” the prosecutor called.

“Sustained,” said the judge. “If you would like to bring up the video when it’s your turn to make your case you can do so but right now question him on this evidence.”

“I have no other questions at this time,” said his dad’s lawyer.

The prosecutor did a redirect. Tony stood and started to pace. Gibbs reiterated that he had waited, to make sure he got everything pertinent, he said he hadn’t wanted to arrest Tony’s dad. Then he was asked about his career to show his credibility as an investigator. He talked about his rank in the Marines and his rise in NCIS. The prosecutor asked if Gibbs had ever been considered for a raise in NCIS after almost twenty years of service? “I’ve been offered the position of Director three times.” Tony stopped pacing, he hadn’t thought he could have been shocked twice in Gibbs’ testimony. He was asked why he hadn’t taken the job. “I’m not good with politics. I’ve arrested too many politicians. You have to be a diplomat to be the Director of a federal agency. I step on toes and say inappropriate things to reporters which get put on the internet. I get asked to handle the high profile cases because I’m willing to make horrific decisions to do the right thing even when it makes me look like a jerk. My team was asked to handle this case as a personal favor to the Secretary of the Navy because Mr. DiNozzo is his close friend. And what do I do? I arrest the man, the Sec Nav’s friend and the father of my Senior Agent. Because that’s my job and I’m good at my job.”

Tony resumed pacing. As Gibbs was excused he heard the judge say that there would be a half hour break before the last testimony of the day. “Coffee,” said Tony, “please, coffee.” He started walking towards the door and felt Dan at his side. “I can’t believe he called my dad.” Dan didn’t say anything. He was walking fast and wasn’t making eye contact with anyone.

“Are you okay?” asked Dan.

“Of course not. I’m angry at my dad, I’m angry at Gibbs, I’m angry I’m not like a camel and can’t store caffeine in some weird fat deposit, I’m angry at Sec Nav for dragging us into this, I’m angry at the court system, I’m angry at my surprise and disappointment, I’m angry that I got the plague in the first place, I’m angry at you for asking me if I’m okay.” Then he sighed, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be angry at you, I take it back; you flew all the way up here: I’m not angry at you.”

“No, anger is good,” said Dan. “Anger is way better than a lot of other things.”

They exited the building and headed over to Starbucks. “I can’t believe he didn’t tell me at lunch.” He sighed. “I thought we got over this withholding shit years ago. Do you know that in eight weeks time I’ll have worked for that bastard for a decade? A fucking decade and he still keeps me in the dark.”

“I’m sorry, Tony.”

“I don’t think I want to go out tonight. Can we cancel with Steve? Would you mind if we just stayed home?”

“I thought you were angry at him?” asked Dan.

“Not at Jethro. Totally different.” Dan laughed, “It’s not Multiple Personality Disorder; it’s just different modes. Do you act like a shrink when you’re having a conversation with your wife? No, because Alice would beat the hell out of you if you tried to psycho analyze her in bed.” He held the door for Dan. He walked to the counter and ordered for both of them. “Would you mind if we put Steve off for a night?”

“No, of course not.” Dan whipped out his phone and dialed as they waited for their drinks. He moved away from Tony and spoke quietly into his phone.

The barista working on the drinks smiled, “You know, I hate people on cell phones in public places. And then someone like your friend speaks into one at a normal level and I remember that actually I just hate shouters.” Tony forced a smile. “Court?” asked the barista. Baristas were sort modern bartenders and were always there for strangers to unload on.

“I’m going to get called to testify on a trail and I was really hoping to avoid it.”

“You’re the caffč misto?” Tony nodded. “Would you like a shot on the house?”

“I thought you guys weren’t allowed to do that anymore.”

“We’re the Starbucks closest to a federal court house the company turns a blind eye.”

“I would love a shot.”

Dan came to him shutting his cell phone, “Steve is totally cool.”

“Good.” The barista handed them their drinks. “Thanks for the shot,” said Tony.

They went back to the court house and their bench. “He added liquor?” asked Dan.

“A shot of espresso, Dan.” He drank his coffee and listened as the Director was sworn in.

He listened as the prosecutor questioned the Director about the case. Vance was saying that Sec Nav had informed him that Mr. DiNozzo had specifically asked for Gibbs’ team because of his son’s presence on the team. No, Special Agent DiNozzo hadn’t worked on case; he’d asked to be removed before the rest of the team had even been briefed. He hadn’t touched or even seen any of the evidence until asked by Abby Sciuto to take off his shirt. Why hadn’t he wanted to work on the case? Because he’d not had contact with his father in twenty years, he thought it was unethical for him to work on the case and he was deeply upset by the news of Craig’s death. Special Agent DiNozzo had informed his team that he was off the case because he cared too much about the outcome and asked them to leave him out of the loop and catch the person who’d killed someone he loved.

Someone stopped in front of him, “Hey, are you Tony DiNozzo? We went to school together. I remember you were on the football team.”

Tony looked up at him, “I hate your profession. Do you guys sit around sharing stories about ridiculous ways you got people to admit to their identities? All the research you do. Do you say, ‘Oh, this one time I told this jockey I had shoed his horse before the big race and he actually thanked me for my good work before I handed him his subpoena.’ It’s not funny. Ask me the question correctly.”

“Are you Anthony D. DiNozzo Jr.?”

“Yes,” said Tony.

The guy pulled out an envelope, held it out to Tony and said, “You’ve been served.”

“Yeah, I know. Go away.” Tony literally shooed the man away. He opened the envelope and pulled out the subpoena. “Next Thursday. So, Clark will be here.”

“I’m sorry I can’t stay longer.”

Tony didn’t look up, kept reading the subpoena but he responded to Dan’s words, “Dude, it was great that you came at all. Needed a friend this week. I’ll have Clark, it’s okay.”

“What will you do when you have to testify?”

“I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There’s no gag order on this. I’ll call the prosecutor tonight. See you have to tell the truth but you can manipulate the questions that you’re asked.”

“That’s kind of cold.”

“I have a job, Dan, it’s to make bad guys go to prison. And, as much as it pains me to say, my dad is a bad guy.” He read it over again. “I’m being called as a character witness.”

“You don’t like your dad.”

“Yes, but it gives them way more leeway in what they can ask me. This is dangerous. So I’ll talk to the prosecutor and we’ll come up with a plan.” He listened to Vance now being cross examined about why he’d allowed Gibbs’ team to work the case after learning of Tony’s relationship with his dad. It seemed that he had recounted his entire conversation with Tony from the day Tony had refused to work the case. “I want to make lasagna tonight. Are you in the mood for lasagna or should I freeze it?”

“No, lasagna would be great.”

Vance was being questioned as to whether or not it was wise to put a team with a personal collection a case. “No,” said Vance, “but Sec Nav had told me to so I didn’t argue. When he asked for an update I informed him of the conversation Special Agent DiNozzo. He said that it was right to remove him and right to put the rest of the team on the case.”

“I thought you said they weren’t going to bring you up.”

“I didn’t realize how much evidence they had. They’ve got their backs against the wall, they’ll fight their way out how ever they can even if that means showing their client to be a mean bastard.”

He listened to the redirect as the prosecutor asked what the Sec Nav had said, “He said that it was right to have Special Agent Gibbs’ team on it despite the fact that Special Agent DiNozzo was off the case because Gibbs’ team is the premiere team in our Major Crime Response Unit. They’re the best and despite the connection to the case they can be trusted to do the best work and get the cleanest results.”

The prosecutor asked the Director to explain to the jury the video they were about to see and the Director said, “The first part is Special Agent DiNozzo being exposed to the evidence for the first time. The second is his explanation of the evidence.” He was excused from the stand.

Tony heard himself, panicking when he first saw the pictures of Craig’s body. “Let’s go,” he said, “Please, Dan, let’s go.” He didn’t want to listen to himself break down. It had been bad enough to lose it in front of his team without hearing him do it in a courtroom.

Like yesterday Dan drove them home. Unlike yesterday no one was waiting for them. He went into the kitchen where he had set up his sound system when he’d first moved in. When he had moved in and they’d moved some of Gibbs’ stuff to Tony’s old apartment for McGee he’d traded a lot of Gibbs’ cooking stuff for his own, his stuff was better quality than Gibbs’ and he was the one who liked to cook so he kept the good stuff and let McGee have the basics. Sinatra sang as Tony got out his pasta maker. Dan got them beers and pushed himself up onto the counter.

Tony smiled but said, “We’re not nineteen anymore. Get your butt off my clean counter while I’m cooking. Pull up a chair and tell me all the news about Alice and my godson.” And Dan did as he was told and launched into a story all about Alice and Malachi. In college Tony would sometimes cook for the whole frat, thought it was kind of fun to cook for forty people all at once, and Dan would sit on the counter, handing things to Tony and rambling about his classes. It made Tony feel happy and normal to hear it now, brought him back to good times. He made the dough with semolina, salt, eggs and olive oil. Dan turned the handle of the pasta maker for Tony. Tony put it through the machine several times to get it really thin. He liked to make the pasta really thin because he liked to make lasagna with lots of layers of cheese and meat.

Dan went upstairs to change him clothes. Tony started to cook the meat. The front door opened and shut and he turned as Gibbs walked into the kitchen. They watched each other for a minute and Gibbs said, “You want two minutes?”

Tony nodded and then said, “You should have told me about calling him.”

“You came back too soon as it was, too scared of losing your position on the team. If I’d told you, you would have come back the minute Brad had let you go, to prove you were important to us.”

“I’m not arguing with what you did at the time, boss. You should have told me at lunch.”

“I was hoping it wouldn’t come up. I was hoping they would go with the sleeping with a subordinate route. I was hoping to protect you. It’s my job to keep you on an even keel so you can do your job. Rule eighteen.”

Tony nodded, “It’s better to seek forgiveness than ask permission. It was still fucked up to leave me hanging. I wouldn’t do that to a subordinate.”

Gibbs nodded, “You’re a kinder boss than I am. I’m just pragmatic.”

“The second b is for bastard. But why do you do it with your team? We back you all the time.”

“I needed you calm, DiNozzo. And right now you’re fragile.” The words hurt like a physical injury. And then Gibbs sighed, “Can we stop?”

Tony nodded and crossed to him to hug him, “I had a terrible day, Jethro. I loved the ramp walkers.”

“I changed the weight on the cowboy.”

“That’s awesome.”

“I had a terrible day too. I had to make an awful decision and I made the right choice but the best agent I’ve ever worked with is really pissed at me.”

“He’ll get over. He’s just a little fragile right now,” he couldn’t quite keep the bitterness out of his tone as he said the word.

“I think he’s holding up really well under the circumstances.” Gibbs stroked his hair as he said it. “Aren’t we going out with Steve?”

“No, I want to change into sweats and eat on the couch.”

“Sounds good,” said Gibbs. Then he whispered into Tony’s ear, “I haven’t sat comfortably all day.”

In the horror of the day Tony had forgotten about the plug. It sent a small thrill through his body. “Give me a minute and I’ll fix that,” he said waggling his eyebrows at Gibbs who laughed. Tony pulled away, turned off the stove and put the pasta in the fridge. “Come upstairs,” said Tony softly, “I’ll make you feel better.”

He shook his ass as he walked in front of Gibbs. Gibbs knew what he was doing and chuckled softly but Tony didn’t mind because it wasn’t a mean laugh. It would matter if it was anyone else, if he was really trying to be seductive. But he knew Gibbs thought he was sexy and a little silly and that was good and real. As he walked up the stairs he heard Dan on the phone with Alice and went past the room. If Dan got off the phone before he and Gibbs were done he could amuse himself. He heard Gibbs shut the door and instantly stripped off his shirt before turning around to face Gibbs.

“I really did love my cowboy and astronauts.”

“You know you’re going to get little prizes every day, right?” asked Gibbs as Tony came to him and untied his tie. Tony leaned up and kissed him gently. He unbuttoned Jethro’s shirt. Jethro had left his suit jacket downstairs and Tony pushed the shirt off of Gibbs’ shoulder and let it hit the floor. Jethro kicked off his shoes and unbuttoned his pants and let them fall.

But Tony shook his head, “You have three suits, you have already worn two. More than two suits in the course of one trial is a bad idea, it makes you look rich which makes you un-relatable. You will be called again.” Gibbs rolled his eyes but picked up his pants and smoothed out the wrinkles then threw them onto the chair. Gibbs pulled off his t-shirt and underwear as Tony striped off his shoes, socks, pants and boxers. He pulled Gibbs close to him, holding their bodies flush against each other. “You feel good.”

“I’ve been on edge all day. Every time I shifted it hit my prostate.”

“I couldn’t tell at lunch.”

“Well, I was being your boss not your boyfriend and your boss doesn’t let on when he’s being driven crazy.”

Tony kissed him, “On your stomach.”

“Tony, please, I’m desperate,” Jethro whispered against his mouth.

“No teasing,” promised Tony. “It’s been a really hard day. I want to get you off and cuddle for a little while.”

“What about getting you off?”

“No, I’m too stressed out. Later: after lasagna and a movie I’ll be up for it. Right now I just want to taste you and hold you. Now lay down.” Gibbs did as he was told. And Tony went to the bedside table for lube. He went back to the bed and kneeled between Gibbs’ legs. He parted Gibbs’ cheeks and gently pushed the plug in. Gibbs hissed, “Hurts?”

“No, it feels amazing. Doesn’t hurt at all.” Tony twisted it slightly and jiggled it side to side. Gibbs groaned and even though he was still well lubed inside Tony reached for the lube and added more under the edge of the base. He gave the plug little thrusts to work the lube into Gibbs’ body. “Thought you said no teasing.”

“Not teasing, Jethro: making you feel good.” He slowly pulled it out slowly. “Roll over.” Jethro was rock hard. “No teasing,” Tony whispered and deep throated him without preamble. Jethro gasped and reached to stroke Tony’s hair. Tony knew he’d been on edge all day and it didn’t take long for Gibbs to spill into his mouth. Tony lapped him clean and then crawled up the bed. Gibbs kept his hands on Tony’s head the whole time and stroked his cheeks as he kissed him. “I love you, Jethro.”

Gibbs looked him in the eyes, seeming to search for something and said, “You know that you’re the most important person in my world, right?” Tony nodded.

Dropping his head to Gibbs’ chest he said, “Got my subpoena.” Gibbs stroked his hair. “I can’t believe he didn’t come when I was dying.”

“I hated him from that minute on.”

“Thank you for never telling me.”

“I was going to keep that secret for the rest of our lives.”

“You’re sure he did it right?” joked Tony.

Gibbs gave a sad chuckle, “I would never have charged him if I was uncertain. I would never have done this to you if I was unsure.”

“This is a career killer, Jethro.”

“Maybe,” Gibbs agreed. “But we knew that when I arrested him.” He stroked his hand down Tony’s back. Eventually he rested one hand on Tony’s hair and one on his ass.

Tony joked about Jethro loving his hair but Tony was pretty sure that Jethro only played with his hair so much because Tony loved it. They lay together silently for a few minutes. “I should get back to dinner and Dan.”

“He knows how horrible today was and he knows what we’re doing. He can occupy himself and dinner can be a little late. Stay.” He kept his hand in the same position, one on his head and one on his ass and he held him there gently. “Stay for a little while longer.” Tony didn’t fight it because he really didn’t want to, loved being naked with Gibbs all the time.

“Can I lift my head to make out with you?” asked Tony, kissing Gibbs’ chest. Gibbs released him and Tony leaned up to kiss him and it was a lazy kiss, nice and comfortable. Gibbs didn’t push it just let Tony be in charge with the slow kisses.

Gibbs pulled back after a little while and said, “We should go down.”

“Really?”

“You really do lose time when kissing don’t you?”

“You haven’t figured that out yet?” Tony climbed off of Gibbs and looked at his watch. “Jesus, when did it get to be that late?”

“It’s only been an hour-ish,” said Gibbs sitting up.

“I need to get dinner on the table at some point.” Tony pulled on sweats and a tee shirt. He looked Gibbs up and down and sighed, “Sadly: you should put on clothes.”

Gibbs laughed as Tony left the room shutting the door behind him. Tony went across the hall to the bathroom where he washed his hands and brushed his teeth. It was bad manners to talk to guests with blowjob breath. He went down to the kitchen where Dan was reading something on his laptop and went straight back to cooking dinner. Dan said, “Alice posted on our channel.”

The wives had always made fun of the frat brothers for making a private Youtube channel. They would post videos saying, “Hey, I’ll be in LA for a week, let’s hang out if anyone else is there.” Or, “Hey I’m relocating to Seattle, anyone in the northwest want to help me move furniture?” Or, “I know we said Vegas for spring break but my company’s got a deal going with Carnival Cruises.” Or, even, “Dudes, I learned this really cool trick: watch this.” The wives had thought it was stupid. Then people started having babies and the wives had started getting into it, posting the babies on line for all the “family” to see.

Tony said, “Give me ten minutes and I would love to see it.” He shocked the pasta in boiling water as he made the cheese mix. Then he layered the lasagna with eight thin layers of meat and cheese. Toping it with sauce and more cheese he wrapped the top in tin foil and put the whole thing in the oven and sat down next to Dan. Dan switched from what he was reading to Youtube.

There, on the screen, were Alice and Malachi. She waved the baby’s hand at the camera, “Say, ‘Hi Daddy and Tony. Hi.’”

Tony got completely sucked in and didn’t notice Jethro until he dropped a kiss in the top of Tony’s head. The rest of the evening was nice, quiet. But as evening turned to night Tony got antsy. “Do you care if I call the prosecutor now, is it too late?” Tony asked the room in general.

“You’ll never sleep if you don’t,” Gibbs replied. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed for Tony.

Tony hit send and when the prosecutor picked up Tony said, “Hi, it’s Tony DiNozzo, the son not the guy on trial. Um, I got subpoenaed today and I’d like to speak to you about it.” The man asked if they could meet now. “Yeah, I’m at Gibbs’ place, do you have the address?” The guy confirmed it and they hung up.

He went back to trying to relax on the couch. But whatever movie Dan had picked didn’t register. When the doorbell rang Tony jumped to answer it. The prosecutor seemed to startle at the promptness of the door being opened. Faces and names were something Tony was good at. But while he knew he’d worked with this JAG lawyer before he couldn’t, for the life of him, remember the man’s name. “Hi there. Come on in.”

“What are you doing at Gibbs’ house?” asked the man.

“There are things that are going to come out while I’m on the stand. We should get you a drink and sit down this will take some time.” So Tony told the guy everything and fed the guy questions to ask him once he was under oath.

“You can’t lie on the stand.”

“Well, duh. This isn’t my first rodeo. But you and I both know that there a thousand ways to tell the truth.”

“Do you want your father to go to prison?” The man asked sounding surprised at how much information Tony was giving him.

A beat went by as Tony tried to think finally he said, “Ask me on the stand and I’ll give you an honest answer. But I can tell you this: he’ll go down. You ask the questions and you’ll win. What I want isn’t really all that important. I’m a Fed and he’s a murderer.” Gibbs stroked his hair and Tony’s ingrained response was to lean into it and take the comfort. “This Hart woman is going to do the questioning, no doubt. We know how to fight that.”

The rest of the week was a blur. He had tons of sex with Gibbs, drank a little too much, worked on cold cases solving two of them without ever stepping in to the office and sat in the courthouse. His friends came over almost constantly, they went bowling and he waited for the next Tuesday. Gibbs put presents in his pockets every day. Candy and gadgets, crossword puzzles, toys and lots of notes. On Thursday night he said, “Jethro, are you testifying tomorrow?”

“No, tomorrow is just Ducky and Abby.”

“Will you take Dan to the office? I’d like a day to myself in the courtroom, just to get used to it.”

“Sure, I can do that.”

The next morning Gibbs made eggs, toast and Canadian bacon. Tony turned to Dan and said, “You get to go see the office today.”

“Don’t get too excited, it’s cold cases,” Gibbs said. “I’m down a Senior Agent, an ME and my science girl.”

“We’re not going to the courthouse?” asked Dan.

“I’d like to go alone, I need to go alone, just today,” said Tony

Dan nodded. That day Tony found a Mowgli figure just like the one he’d had as a child in his pocket. He held it in his hand all day. He listened as Ducky gave a thorough run down of his autopsy and then Abby was called to go over the physical evidence again. All the evidence laid out like that made him tear up, poor Craig. He must have been in so much pain. And the prosecutor said, “The defense questioned you on your credentials and you spoke about your very impressive education. But I want to know about something more current. How many federal court cases have you testified on?”

“Over the last sixteen years I’ve testified in seven hundred and twenty-four cases, thirty-two were actually Supreme Court. And have had convictions in six hundred and thirty-eight, twelve were questioned over scent evidence but that’s now been used in three Supreme Court cases so it’s conventional. Nineteen cases really didn’t have much physical evidence.”

“Thank you, Ms. Sciuto.” The defense couldn’t really come back at that. It wasn’t a big day. The prosecution rested but the lawyer said that he would save his closing argument until the end.

He got home before Gibbs and Dan and cooked a ton of cookies. He sat his Mowgli next to him on the counter and told the figurine all about the process of baking in Italian while doing a spot on impersonation of Julia Child. It made him feel a little happier in a strange sort of way. He filled the house with the smell of cookies. But when he heard the door behind him open he felt relieved to not be alone.

“Smells good,” said Gibbs.

“How was your day?”

“Terrible. How was yours?”

“Horrible. Why was yours terrible?”

“Vance assigned us a body and after all the times when one of us has been sick or injured and he’s kept us on down time now he thinks it’s a good idea to throw this at us. You’re out and Ducky and Abby were in court. Not a good time to change his MO. How are you? I was listening to the trial on the radio.”

Tony shrugged, “I’m glad it’s half over. Thanks for Mowgli.”

Gibbs leaned forwards and kissed him gently. “I’m going to go change into comfier jeans.” He went towards the door.

Tony realized that Dan hadn’t said a word and once Gibbs was gone he said, “You okay, Dan?”

“He’s terrifying,” said Dan.

“What did he do?”

“Well, first he went upstairs and screamed at the Director behind two closed doors but you could hear him downstairs. Then he barked at people all day, never sat down, refused to let anyone eat lunch, hit McGee on the back of the head a couple of times, drank five cups of coffee and told Ziva and McGee that they’re not allowed to go home ‘til they figure it out.”

“Did he throw anything?” asked Tony.

“No.”

“Did he stand really close to anyone and speak too close to their face?”

“No.”

“Huh, he must be pretty relaxed.”

“That’s relaxed? He was terrifying.”

“Now do you see why I was afraid of telling him that I loved him?”

“If you never saw him like he is outside of work I don’t get why you liked him,” said Dan.

“So you didn’t find it kind of sexy? The incredibly driven way he marched around and shouted at people didn’t turn you on?”

Dan looked at him like he was an idiot, “No.”

“You weren’t hoping to somehow break the case and make him proud of you?”

“No.”

“When you break the case he gives you a smirk and says, ‘That’s good work, DiNozzo.’ and sometimes if it was a really hard case and he’s really impressed with your work he buys you pizza. Sometimes he even brings you coffee.”

“I really don’t get it.” Dan actually looked shaken, like Gibbs really had scared him.

“The whole intense, righteous anger didn’t get you hot?”

“No, just frightened.” Gibbs walked in on silent feet and stood behind Dan as Dan said, “He’s angry and mean.”

Tony nodded, “Did he stand right behind anyone as they talked about him today?”

“Yeah, he would just appear.”

“Glad I impressed you,” said Gibbs and Dan almost jumped out of his skin.

“Did you earn coming home?” asked Tony.

“No,” said Gibbs rounding Dan and picking up a cookie from the cooling rack, “I didn’t earn this cookie either.” He took a bite and chewed. “But you earned your boyfriend at home for the night and to be nice I need to eat something because I’m edgy.”

“You should go back to work, Jethro.”

“I’m fine.”

Shaking his head Tony said, “If you kept the team there it’s clearly hot. First thirty-six hours are the most important and you didn’t have your ME or Abby for the first eight hours, you’re making them all work over night. You should be there, Jethro, you know it and so do I.”

“He’s not going to kill anyone else. It was a mugging gone wrong, nothing more.”

“Well, without a real connection to the victim that makes him even more likely to get away. And just because it was voluntary manslaughter not murder doesn’t mean you can ignore this.”

“I’m not ignoring it: I’m paying attention to you.”

“You’ll never sleep tonight.”

“Sure I will.”

“Liar. You called Dan up here to keep me company when you can’t. So go do your job.” Gibbs gave him a small smile. “You know I’m right.”

“Yeah, I know. I just don’t want you to be.” He kissed Tony and then shoved the rest of the cookie into his mouth.

“I love you too,” said Tony sarcastically.

“It okay if I take some cookies?” He took another cookie and popped the whole thing into his mouth.

“Seriously? You’re gonna give them cookies?”

“No, Tony, they haven’t eaten since breakfast: the cookies will be ransomed for information and will be given out one by one.”

“They’re small cookies.”

“If they’re too satisfying they can’t motivate enough.” He said eating another.

“Eat something real before going back. You totally earned it by prioritize and coming to see me. There’s left over roast beef and mashed potatoes.”

“You’re just saying that because I’m more of a bastard when I’m hungry.”

Shrugging Tony said, “Usually I’m there as a buffer. I hear you’ve been hitting McGee.”

“He was irritating me and not being useful,” Gibbs said and then paused, “I should eat a sandwich.” He went through the fridge and made himself a roast beef and potato sandwich. He bolted it down as Tony packed a bag full of cookies and said, “I will get home before you’re asleep.”

“Jethro, I’m not alone in this. It’s not just a manslaughter case; they’re going through this court case too.”

Gibbs nodded and kissed him as he took the bag, “I’ll be home by midnight.”

“Stay all night if you have to, have fun.”

“Always. I hope I catch him and he resists arrest. I haven’t gotten to punch someone all week.”

Dan just looked queasy as Gibbs left, Tony laughed, “You okay?”

“He is terrifying. I’ve been in high security criminal mental institutions with people less scary than him.”

Tony laughed again, “I’m so glad I know him better than you do. So I’m thinking pizza and one on one at the Y.”

“Awesome, I haven’t handed you your ass on a basketball court in a while.”

It was fun. They ate pizza and played without keeping score but Tony was the obvious winner as always. They stayed out past midnight but Tony wasn’t surprised that Gibbs wasn’t home. “Sort of surprising,” said Dan.

“Dan, he has a job and he knows that I’m not alone. When the verdict comes down he will be at my side but tonight he needs to find a killer. You think he’s kind at home and scary at the office. I think he’s awesome no matter he’s doing. So he’s being my awesome boss right now and when he comes home he will be my awesome boyfriend.” He sighed, “It’s time for cookies.” The coffee machine was filled. “Coffee, beer or milk?”

“Beer,” said Dan making a beeline to the fridge while Tony poured himself a cup of coffee and got the tin of cookies out.

“Do you dislike him?” The answer mattered to Tony. He always called Dan his brother leaving off the modifier of frat because in his mind it was true. He wanted Dan to like Gibbs. He took a bite of his cookie. Damn he was good at cookies.

“No, because you love him and he clearly loves you. I just don’t really understand how you can both act as totally different people in different situations. Plus, he’s scary.”

“Did Ziva or McGee seem scared of him? Genuinely scared? Not like we’re-gonna-get-caught-and-screamed-at scared but actually scared?” Tony put the other half of the cookie in his mouth.

“No.”

“Yeah, because we’re scared of disappointing him, we’re not scared of him. We want him to be proud of us. Ziva’s got daddy issues, McGee’s got self-esteem issues and I have trust with authority issues. Gibbs addresses those problems and makes us the winners. But first we have to win. They don’t want his approval as badly as I do but they don’t want to end up in bed with him. When he went back there McGee and Ziva wouldn’t have eaten, not if they hadn’t found the name and address of the killer. They won’t eat until they’ve earned it whether or not he’s there.”

“I’m glad you’re so happy. I’m glad that you fit in, I’ve always liked the team and you’ve always spoken so highly of him he loves you, you’re comfortable around him and you don’t do that nervous rambling of yours. He’s a nice guy when he’s not at work.”

“Glad you think so, Dan,” said Gibbs opening the door and Dan jumped again.

“Did ya catch him, boss?”

“Him turned out to be a her and her turned out to be stupid. She went shopping at Arundel Mills with the stolen card and then went to a late night movie. She didn’t realize she killed the Ensign. She came quietly. I didn’t get to hit anyone.”

Tony took a sip of his coffee and held the tin. “Cookie?”

Shaking his head Gibbs said, “I’ve eaten twelve already. I broke the damn case so I ate most of the cookies.” He sighed, and took a sip of Tony’s coffee and grimaced. “Disgusting.”

“There’s yours in the pot.”

“Too much caffeine in mine. I’ve had ten cups of coffee already. Want to sleep at some point.”

“Hard day,” agreed Tony. “I’ve only had seven. Want to go to bed?”

“Yeah, we’re going to the Zoo in the morning.”

Tony laughed, “Seriously?”

“Too cold for mini golf, you like snakes and monkeys.”

“I do,” agreed Tony.

The weekend was nice. Tony drove Dan to the airport and picked Clark up on Sunday morning. Sunday night he couldn’t sleep, knowing that the defense was going to start. The team was back in the courthouse the next day and Tony sat outside with Clark. He found a note in his pocket that read: 7 PM, Chinese food, bed, Total Recall, Starship Troopers, blowjobs, be there. Tony turned and asked Clark what he was doing that night. “I’m going out with Steve. Gibbs said you had plans.”

Tony nodded and responded, “Great plans.” But it was the first day of the defense’s argument and he had a hard time trying to be excited. He listened as they called McGee. They re-showed the video of Tony seeing the pictures and freaking out and telling them about his dad. And then worse than that, they showed the video of his dad beating him. Clark put his hand on Tony’s arm as they listened to his much younger self crying and screaming and begging and then Crysta and Maria asking him to show his wounds and his begging alternatively in Italian Spanish not to talk about it. And them telling him firmly that they were going to speak in English.

He remembered the day vividly, and how Crysta had kept him on her lap all afternoon and evening. She and Maria had stayed with him all day and put him to bed together. It was always a little funny to hang out with them both. They would attempt a little English but would end up just asking Tony to pass on messages and would hold whole conversations through him.

Once it was done he heard the lawyer ask McGee if he’d seen the video. “I saw the end of it; that was a very busy day. I only saw when Tony was being asked to show his wounds to the camera. I had to go and talk to Richard Teeve about the rings.”

“How long have you worked with Special Agent DiNozzo?”

“Seven years.”

“You work in a very high risk job has Special Agent DiNozzo ever saved your life?”

“The number of times Tony has pushed me out of the way or warned me about someone behind me is too many to count. Just after Tony had the plague he came back too soon, he was still sick. I accidentally triggered a bomb that the minute I took pressure off of it was going to blow. Tony carefully switched positions with me and told me and our then partner, Kate, to run. He’d been panting and blowing all day, his lungs were still recovering. But he got us out of there before outrunning the blast.”

“Is it fair to say you’d do anything for your partner?”

There was a long pause. “No, I helped to arrest his dad. Everyone in this room watched the video of Tony freaking out over the rings. If I really would do anything I would have tried to bury this. I don’t want a whole room of strangers seeing my partner being abused as a kid. So no, I don’t feel like a very good partner right now.”

That seemed to throw the lawyer. “You wanted to let him go? Are you saying you like Mr. DiNozzo Sr.?”

“No, I found him completely repulsive upon first meeting him and the more we got into the case the more I disliked him. But we don’t arrest people just because we don’t like them. There’s no law against being a horrible person.”

The lawyer shot back, “Did you know that Mr. DiNozzo beat his son?”

“Tony once told me that he made a Halloween costume out of his dad’s expensive ski suit and couldn’t sit down until Christmas. I assumed he was just using the expression. That was all he ever said. I knew that Tony didn’t really talk to his dad but he always played it down. He never made a big deal of it and lots of people don’t get along with their parents. I never really thought about it much. And as much as I didn’t like Mr. DiNozzo when I met him I didn’t get an ‘abusive dad’ feeling from him. But as we accumulated more and more evidence against him it became clearer why Tony didn’t keep in touch, why he didn’t talk about it and why he didn’t want to work on the case.”

“According to your reports you had enough evidence to arrest him prior to identifying the rings. Why wait?”

“He was under surveillance. In a case this high profile we always try to get all the information prior to arrest, not enough to arrest the suspect and then keep digging. Once it gets out that you’ve arrest someone well known it becomes very difficult to get more information.”

“If you didn’t feel he was a flight risk then why did your team advise against bail?” The man sounded laidback but Tony could see where it was going.

“He tried to bribe Gibbs. When he thought he was going to get away with it or pay his way out he wasn’t going to run. The minute Gibbs said no to the bribe Mr. DiNozzo became a flight risk.”

“Are you sure you weren’t just trying to throw a man you didn’t like into prison?”

“Objection!” shouted the JAG prosecutor.

“Sustained.”

“No further questions, Your Honor.”

Tony shrugged, “He’s very good. They can’t prove him innocent but they can try to get him found not guilty by reasonable doubt.”

The prosecutor asked McGee to go over the chain of evidence. And after McGee had explained the procedure the prosecutor asked, “Was Special Agent DiNozzo ever in possession of any of the evidence?”

“Well, he had the video of his dad beating him, but as you know, it’s not evidence of this crime.”

“He never touched anything pertinent to the murder?”

“No.”

“Now the chain of custody: you take pictures of the evidence before you touch, as you touch it, as it is bagged. You sign the bags with your name and the time. Correct?”

“Correct.”

“According to the reports all the evidence save for the ring was in your custody prior to Special Agent identifying the rings. Correct?”

“Correct.”

“So is there any chance it was contaminated?”

“No.”

“Could it have been altered?”

“It’s all documented on the bag, twice in hard copy and backed up on the server, there are photos of everything. No one could have altered it. Not Tony and not us. It’s a Federal level case: all of NCIS’ work has to be unimpeachable.”

“Thank you, Special Agent McGee. That will be all.”

“Nice,” Tony nodded. “Nice, no backbiting, just a shutdown. Next will be a real character witness, someone who likes him.” Some kid took the stand and talked about how Mr. DiNozzo had helped him out by giving him an after school job when he was in high school, and was helping pay for his college. “So he’s not a bastard to kids anymore. I guess that means he can’t be a murderer. Then again, this kid wanted to be heir I never was. Besides, he probably doesn’t look like Mom.”

“Want me to take a look?”

“No.”

“Sure?”

“I don’t want to know what he looks like.” Tony shoved his hands into his pockets. Before he’d found the note in his right pocket, where Gibbs usually left his surprise. He hadn’t checked his left pocket. He pulled out the object and found a small Rubik’s Cube keychain. He played with the toy for the rest of the day as the defense grilled his friends about how much they liked him and how much they disliked his dad. Each time the prosecution shot it down. It was tiring just to listen to it. “Would you drive me home?” asked Tony. “Then you can take the car when you go to see Steve.”

“Fantastic,” agreed Clark standing.

“You still living sober?” asked Tony as they walked to the door.

Clark shrugged, “I know they say you can drink after a kidney transplant but a borrowed kidney only lasts ten to fifteen years and I’m eight years in. I’m not poisoning it, it belongs to David really. I’m not messing with David’s kidney.”

“That takes a lot of fortitude.” Tony unlocked the car and handed Clark the keys.

“I’ll have a drink at Christmas and a couple of times of year, but not frequently.”

“I like getting drunk.” Tony felt better in the car, away from the court.

“I do too I also like not being on dialysis.”

“That’s fair. What do you *do* with Steve if not drink?”

“We interact like adults.”

“Weird, I can’t ever interact with him like we’re anything more than about twenty-two.”

Clark laughed. They slipped into silence and pulled up to the house ten minutes later. Gibbs’ car was in the driveway because the boat had the garage for the winter. With the masts it was too large to fit in the basement. Inside Gibbs was drinking a beer and doing dishes. He turned to them and Tony tossed the cube to him. “You solved it?” said Gibbs sounding surprised. “I just thought you’d mess around with it.”

“There’s a really easy trick to solving them,” said Tony.

“What’s that?”

“You peel off the stickers and put them on the right side.”

Gibbs laughed. “Well that would do it.”

Clark excused himself to take a shower. Tony said, “So, Starship Troopers? You’ve always said no to Starship Troopers.”

“Well it doesn’t sound fun. You say it’s a violent comedy about the fact that war makes fascists of us all. But I’ll give it a chance.”

“Thank you.”

“For watching your movie?”

“For everything.”

“I’m just trying to make it easier.” He reached for Tony and held him close. “It’s true, what they’re all saying on the stand, none of us wanted to put you through this.”

“I gave you permission.” Gibbs just sighed, “I forgive you.” Gibbs kissed his forehead. “I don’t want to testify.”

“Can’t do much about that, but hey, get through tomorrow and Friday and on Saturday there’s the season premiere of Doctor Who.”

Tony laughed, “Jesus, you really are trying to cheer me up.”

“You and McGee will sit there agonizing over every detail and judge the new guy.”

“I refuse to like him: he’s not David.”

Gibbs chuckled, “You said the same thing when David took over from Chris.”

“David’s better than Chris.”

“Give it a few episodes and you’ll say this guy is better than David.”

“Maybe,” said Tony then he added, “I’m starving.”

“Chinese food?” asked Gibbs. Tony just nodded. Gibbs picked up the phone and hit speed dial four. Tony was one, Ducky two, his pizza place three, then Chinese, then the office. “Hey, it’s Gibbs. Yeah, I’ll take that order now… Thanks.”

“You preordered?” asked Tony.

“I’m not wasting time on the phone tonight, I called them during a break at court, listed off what I wanted and said I’d place the actual order later.”

“You’re awesome.”

“Try to be,” said Gibbs. He pushed Tony up against the wall and kissed him slowly. “Way too much to do tonight to dick around over the menu when I already know what we’ll order. Clark’s going out soon and then you’re all mine for the night.” Tony smiled against his lips. “Tonight’s not just movies and food.”

“I was promised blowjobs,” Tony reminded him and then heard Clark clear his throat from the doorway.

“I’m, uh, headed out. Have a good night.”

Tony heard him leaving but Gibbs didn’t move, didn’t let Tony move. He just smirked at Tony and spoke softly, “I intend to make it one.” He moved back just enough to reach the fridge. He grabbed the necks of four bottles of beers and took Tony’s hand, “Bed.”

Tony didn’t protest that it wasn’t seven yet. Gibbs led him up to bed where Tony instantly stripped. He liked being naked around Gibbs because Gibbs couldn’t take his eyes off him. When he’d first moved in Gibbs had looked at all the boxes of his movies and said, “Where did they come from? You only had four bookshelves full.”

Tony had smiled and said, “In the bedroom, yeah. You never went into the guestroom, where there were six more sets of shelves. The ones in the bedroom were just the ones I watch the most. I own thousands movies, let’s get real.”

Now there were three in the basement, three in the closet downstairs and four in the bedroom. He pulled Total Recall and Starship Troopers off the shelf. Gibbs stripped and put on sweats. “I have to wear pants until we get food.”

“Unfair,” said Tony. He put the disk into the player and brought the control to the bed. He opened two of the beers and handed one to Gibbs. He took a long sip and climbed onto the bed. “Before blowjobs can we watch the film a little?” Gibbs nodded and came to the bed, lying down behind him and pulling Tony back against him, stroking a hand over Tony’s abdomen. Tony hit play. They got as far as the prom scene before the doorbell rang. Gibbs kissed the back of his neck and stood as Tony paused the film. Gibbs came back with two huge bags of food, plates and forks. “Did you order the whole menu?”

“Just the highlights,” Gibbs pulled off the sweats, got back onto the bed and spread the food out over the comforter. “You order one of four appetizers and one of four main courses. So I figured we could skip the decision.” The amount of food on the bed was staggering for two people. It must have cost Gibbs an arm and a leg and it was completely out of character, Gibbs was a miser, so the gesture wasn’t lost.

“Are you liking my movie?”

“It’s poorly scripted and overacted.”

“On purpose,” said Tony. “It’s commentary on propaganda.”

“You remember I’m a Marine, right?”

“Unlike Johnny you didn’t join to impress a girl, it wasn’t propaganda to you,” said Tony as he hit play and filled his plate with food. Boneless ribs, cold sesame noodles, shrimp fried rice, orange beef and garlic chicken all on one plate. He ate happily and drank his beer and as they introduced characters he asked, “Do you want me to tell you who you can get fond of?”

“That’s assuming that I’ll get fond of any of them,” said Gibbs with a sniff.

Tony laughed and enjoyed his movie and two plates filled with food. But in less than an hour Gibb was drawn in and when the asteroid took out Johnny’s home town he said, “Do you think the bugs really sent it?”

Tony shook his head, “Human race wants to blame someone and they want an excuse to go to war.”

Gibbs laughed at the dead dog and said, “Jesus this is over the top.”

“I knew you’d get into it.”

And when Xander irritated Johnny into a fight Gibbs said, “Officers can be such dicks. They think they’re so much better than enlisted.”

“Xander mans up when it comes to battle.”

“It’s bull that a man shows his colors in battle. You do what you have to do when the bullets start flying. You try to get everyone out and get through it alive. The real times are when things are calm.”

“You think so?” asked Tony meaning the question sincerely.

“Yeah, but propaganda wants you to think that battle makes you a man, ‘be all you can be,’ you can be all you can be as a civilian. But they won’t show that in this, because it’s propaganda. Besides Xander’s just wrong, jarheads are way better than naval officers.” Tony chuckled and kissed him and Gibbs said, “Pause it for me? I want to put the leftovers in the fridge and I don’t want to miss anything.” Tony smiled, happy that Gibbs was into the film. He paused it and helped Gibbs bring everything down to the kitchen and poured them each large glasses of water to bring back to bed. Gibbs hit play the minute they were in bed. Tony sipped his water and lay down next to Gibbs who curled around him.

It could have been any night except it wasn’t. Gibbs commented on the film a lot more than usual and Tony figured he was trying to distract him. He made jokes and said, “I think he should go for Dizzy: she’s not a bitch like Carmen and she’s a redhead.” Later he said, “How is it that in all war films they always have time to stop in battles and have moving speeches?” And at the end he said, “I can’t believe Dizzy died and Carmen survived. I should have let you tell me who to grow fond of. I’m pretty sure we weren’t the good guys in that film.”

His diversions didn’t really work and, as brilliant as Starship Troopers, when the movie was over he wasn’t feeling very relaxed. He rolled over and said, “Can we skip Total Recall?”

Gibbs stroked his face. “How are you holding up, Tony?”

“It was easier when we weren’t together.”

Not pulling away Gibbs said, “How do you figure?”

“No one took me very seriously back when I was a player. I was the fun, hardcore agent, laid back guy. Now they see me a lot more clearly. Then all this happened. It makes it harder to fake being okay, they see through it. Hell, I faked it after I had the plague, when Kate died, when you abandoned us. I faked it then but I can’t now. And I’m trying, I’m trying to play Very Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, but it’s so hard to pull it off knowing that they’ve all seen the tape. They know everything. I blame you for that a little bit. I was never that comfortable in my own skin before we got together, I’ve forgotten how to fake it. Hell, before you brought me to NCIS if this had all come out I would have just moved, left my job. But now I have great teammates, a fantastic job and the perfect love life. I don’t know how to be Very Special Agent Tony DiNozzo anymore.”

“Do I apologize?”

Tony shook his head, “I just don’t know how to fix it.”

“Maybe you don’t have to,” said Gibbs. “Maybe you should just be you and let the team help you.”

“I don’t want them to.”

Gibbs rolled them over, pinning Tony beneath him. “Did you think of McGee any differently when you found he’s a bestselling author?” Tony shook his head. “When we found out that Ducky killed that boy to stop him from being tortured did you think less of him?” Tony shook his head. “Did anything change when we found out just how twisted Ziva’s dad is?” Tony shook his head. “What about when I told you that I killed the man who killed Shannon and Kelly?”

“That’s different, that’s just you and me. That’s not the team.” Tony sighed, “I don’t want anything to change.”

“Tony-”

“Wouldn’t you take back your secret if you could? Wouldn’t you rather have Shannon and Kelly to yourself again? You had all your shit together and then we found out. Didn’t having us know make it worse in a way?” Now it was Gibbs turn to reluctantly nod. “I was awesome and the cool one. Now I’m the one who speaks all different languages because his parents weren’t there, the one who got the shit kicked out of him all the time by his dad, the one who used to do committed relationships before he got his heart broken in college. All the silly, fun, carefree Tony stuff? That was all a lie and it’s glaringly obvious. Everything superficial is a lie. Before this we could just get on with our lives as a team, make fun of McGee for being secretly famous, get behind Ducky when it comes to autopsying Muslims, understand Ziva, not mention your family. At work the secrets made no big differences. But how can this not change things? I fucked up the team. I don’t want things to change.”

“They don’t think less of you, Tony.”

“No, but they pity me.”

“They feel for you.”

“It sucks. I just want to be me. And you know, once this cools down, there is going to be so much talk. People are going to say that I have daddy issues and I don’t. I’m just fine when he stays the fuck away from me. I have boss issues, I know I do. I have a real problem with people in power and that’s partially his fault. But now there’s going to be whispers about you and me.”

“I know you aren’t looking for a dad. I know you want me for me. You want my respect and love because you respect and love me, not because of your father. I know that and you know that and if anyone makes comments that mess with my Senior Agent’s performance they will deal with the anger of Gibbs. You aren’t looking for anything from your dad but for him to vanish and not kill people. You kept a secret, that’s not a sin. I’ll get you through this. You got them through me abandoning the team, you passed up a promotion when I came back because I wasn’t ready, you have carried my weight when I couldn’t. I know you can do it by yourself. You did it when you were a kid, at boarding school, at college, as an adult but you don’t have to this time. The team is on your side, and if they aren’t being on your side in the right way I will correct them. I promise you as your boss and your boyfriend. Just let me take care of it.” The words made Tony feel relieved right down to the bone. Gibbs got it, of course he did. Gibbs always understood him. He nodded. But it apparently it wasn’t enough of an answer, “Say it,” said Gibbs.

“I’ll let you take care of it.”

“And why am I taking care of it?”

“Because you take care of me.”

Gibbs nodded. “So what do you want tonight? Whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be blowjobs, that was just to make you laugh.”

“I want to do what we did the night you arrested my dad.”

“You want me to take you down?”

Nodding Tony said, “I promise I’ll stop being so needy soon.”

“You aren’t needy you’re hurt and it takes a while to heal. I like taking care of you.” He slid his hands down Tony’s arms and pinned him even more, “I love taking control of you because you don’t let anyone this close.”

“You want to get the toys?” asked Tony. They’d put the box under the bed when Tony had first moved in.

“No, no toys, just you and me.” He leaned down to kiss him slowly. It wasn’t enough, too slow too gentle. He tried to pick up the pace but Gibbs just forced him into the bed. “I’m in charge, there is no safe word. Do you want me to stop?” He said the last sentence haltingly, making every word count. Tony just shook his head, “Then stop trying to make me do things I don’t want to do. Slow down. Stop thinking and let me do this.”

“I need more.” Tony needed hard, rough and fast, he needed to be mindless.

“Tony, give in. Just stop trying to be in control.”

Tony nodded but couldn’t help it: he kept trying to force the pace. Gibbs was just kissing his chest, caressing him. Every time he tried to take control Gibbs would just pin him again. Gibbs didn’t say anything, didn’t tell him off, he let Tony work through it by himself. When Tony stopped fighting it Gibbs said, “There’s a good boy. That’s it, Tony.”

A feeling of euphoria slipped over Tony as he felt Gibbs’ hands roam over his skin. Gibbs leaned up to kiss him slowly. He’d gotten used to the too intimate sex he and Gibbs had. But this was something else. It had taken a while for him to become comfortable enough to let Gibbs be in charge but giving up power completely was still difficult for him. And as Gibbs slowly made him relax by stroking his skin Tony felt so much tension falling away and as he accepted that it wasn’t going to be fast and hard he felt himself getting more turned on. “Jethro,” he moaned, “Jesus, that feels so good.”

“Rollover,” Gibbs said, letting him up. Tony rolled over and Gibbs started massaging his back. “You have more knots than cheap lumber. I wish this was easier for you.” He straddled Tony and worked his way down his back, kissing a path behind his hands. Tony sank into the bed. He worked all the way down his back, down his legs and the back to his shoulders and Tony was a puddle by the end. “That’s what I’ve been looking for.” He started stretching Tony slowly and carefully, kissing over his skin the whole time and Tony moaned low in his throat. After a few minutes he said, “Roll back over for me. I want to see you; love the look on your face when you come.”

Tony was sweating even though he hadn’t done anything. Gibbs stroked Tony to hardness with fingers inside of him. Tony kissed him slowly, didn’t try to make it dirty, it was sweet and deep and comfortable. Gibbs let go of him long enough to reach into the drawer for a condom. Tony felt confused until Gibbs said, “I don’t want you to get uncomfortable when come starts dripping out of you. I don’t want you to take a shower tonight. I want to skip that part so that you smell good in bed. It’s not a step backwards, I promise.” He kissed Tony again and slipped his fingers out of Tony’s entrance to open the condom and put it on. He entered Tony slowly and Tony pulled him close. “You okay?” Tony nodded. “Gotta hear you say it, Tony.”

“I’m okay, but please stay here with me.”

“I’m not going anywhere; I promise.” Gibbs wrapped his arms around Tony and held him even closer. “You’re not alone in this. I’m right here. I’ll there for you tomorrow; I’ll always be there for you. You never have to worry about that.” Tony loosened his grip but Gibbs didn’t. He kissed Tony slowly. “I can’t promise you it will all be okay but I promise you that no matter what happens tomorrow, when you come home I’ll still be here.” Tony just nodded. Gibbs started to move and Tony moved with him. Gibbs was the sole point of Tony’s focus and it felt like coming home. They didn’t speed up, just rocked together, enjoying the feeling of their bodies. “Better than mindless?”

Tony kissed him slowly, and ran his fingers through Gibbs’ hair, re-tilting his head. He couldn’t believe he’d wanted it any other way. Gibbs stroked him slowly in time with his thrusts, drawing it out. Pulling back Tony said, “Thank you for this.”

“You never have to thank me for loving you, Tony, that’s ridiculous.”

Tony shook his head, “Don’t know how I would have gotten through this without you.”

“Well, thankfully, you don’t have to know.” They moved together kissing and Gibbs stoked him more insistently. Tony came with a gasp and Gibbs kept moving for a few moments then stilled. “We met in Baltimore ten years ago today. Thanks for not quitting on me.”

“Ohrah,” Tony replied. Gibbs smiled and pulled out very slowly. He threw away the condom in the trashcan by the head of the bed and kept Tony close as he moved onto his side.

Gibbs kept stroking his body and said, “How was that?”

“Amazing.”

“Think you’ll be able to sleep now? It’s almost midnight.”

Thinking about it for a minute Tony shook his head, “My head’s gonna fill up again. You’ll drift off and I’ll be left with my thoughts.”

Gibbs nodded and sat up. “I have a plan.” He slid out of bed and went to Tony’s drawers and pulled out sweats and a long sleeved t-shirt. “Put those on.” Tony did as he was told and Gibbs turned to his own drawers and did the same. Holding out a hand to Tony he said, “We’re going to go someplace where only good things happen.”

Tony didn’t really see the logic but he allowed Gibbs to pull him out of bed. He followed Gibbs down the stairs. He expected to be led into the basement to work on the new boat for a while. But instead Gibbs pulled him into the garage where Tony’s boat was stored for the winter. Tony chuckled and climbed the boat’s ladder, he went to the stairs that led below deck and flicked on the inside lights. It was cold in the garage but only cool below deck. He went to the bedroom and flicked on the lights in there. Gibbs was turning off the lights behind them. Tony pulled out the pillows from the cupboard and threw them onto the bed.

“Think this will work?” asked Gibbs.

“Smells like wood, varnish, the sea and the burgers we cooked last time we took her out. She smells nice. You’re right: nothing bad ever happens here. It’s just you, me and the weather.” He climbed under the sheets. Gibbs joined him shutting the door behind himself, making the tiny room into a cocoon. “This bed is perfectly designed, you have to be close, there’s no other option.”

Gibbs curled around him, “I’m not sleeping until you do.” He snapped off the light and the room was pitch black.

“Might take a while, boss.”

“I’m patient.”

“Yeah,” agreed Tony. He was surprised to find himself drifting as Gibbs caressed his hair. He woke up with Gibbs sucking him to hardness. “Morning,” he croaked as he reached to stroke Gibbs’ head. “Best way to get woken up.” He fell silent, breathing and enjoying it. He came with a moan of, “Jethro.”

Gibbs pulled his sweats back into place and said, “Go shower. I’ll make you breakfast.” Tony opened the headboard/door and walked through the boat, over the deck, down the ladder and into the kitchen.

Clark was eating cereal covered in coffee in the kitchen. “You slept in the garage?”

“In the boat,” said Tony.

Clark nodded, no questions, which was nice as Dan would have probed it. “You eat your cereal with coffee?” asked Gibbs. “Thought that was a Tony thing.”

Clark shook his head, “I think it was a Ralph thing, he was a senior when we were sophomores. It’s a good way of getting caffeine and cereal all at once.”

Gibbs nodded. “I’m gonna take a shower,” said Tony.

“I’m gonna brush my teeth and then cook breakfast, save a space, Clark.” Gibbs followed Tony upstairs into the bathroom Tony stripped and Gibbs watched him appreciatively before turning to take a leak and then brush his teeth.

Tony stepped under the spray and started to wash as Gibbs left. Washing quickly Tony managed to wash, do his hair and dress in his third nicest suit in under twenty minutes. Gibbs was dishing up omelets. “Eggs are my favorite.”

Gibbs winked at him and handed him a plate and a cup of coffee as he kissed Tony’s forehead. “Sit down, eat.”

Tony nodded and Gibbs said, “I’m going to take a shower. I’ll see you at the courthouse. Proud of you.”

“For what?” asked Tony.

“For falling asleep and staying asleep for over six hours.”

Tony laughed. Gibbs kissed him again, gently on the mouth. “Go,” said Tony.

Clark was eating his omelet and said, “You two are really healthy.”

Tony nodded, “It’s nice.” He ate his omelet and heard the shower going upstairs. He didn’t wait for Gibbs. “Let’s go.”

Then it was like Tony was in a fugue state. One minute he was getting into his car and the next he was being sworn in. It made him feel nauseous. He never looked at his dad. Allison Hart stepped towards him and Tony said, “I can’t help your case, Ms. Hart. I think I should be excused.” His voice was soft even to his own ears.

“Mr. DiNozzo-” she began.

“Special Agent,” he corrected.

“What?”

“Ms. Hart. I know you don’t like affording me my official title but for the court record I think you should call me Special Agent DiNozzo,” he said it like he was hurt by her slight.

“Okay, Special Agent DiNozzo,” she sounded pissed which was not good for the jury to see. Tony could tell by her face that she was giving herself a pep talk. “How long have you been working under Special Agent Gibbs?” Her tone was more even, less irritated.

“Almost a decade.”

“How long have you been sexually intimate with him?”

The prosecutor shot out of his chair, “Objection, Your Honor. Assumption of facts not in evidence.”

The judge sighed and seemed to realize that Tony was going to be on the stand for a long time. “Your Honor, it’s very relevant,” said Allison.

The Judge thought for a moment and said, “I’ll allow it.”

Tony nodded, accepting it. “Almost six months. Since mid October.”

“Before this case came up?”

Tony nodded, “A couple of months.”

“When did you move in together?”

“After he arrested my dad.”

“Was it a thank you?”

“Objection, Your Honor.”

The judge looked like he was torn, “On what grounds?”

“It is leading.”

“I’ll allow it.”

“Would you like me to repeat the question?” asked Allison.

“I wasn’t thanking him,” said Tony swallowing hard and looking down at his hands. “I was upset. Craig and I… we were close when I was a kid and to find out… I was upset. And Gibbs was just trying to make it easier, knew how upset I was. I’d just seen proof that my dad killed Craig, it was hard and Gibbs was trying to make me feel better.”

“Was Gibbs aware of the fact that your father was abusive?”

“We never spoke about it. He knew that my parents were alcoholics, that my dad had bribed my last boss and that I spent most of my time with the staff.”

“How does your team feel about you?”

“We care for each other. We’re friends.”

“How do you think they felt when they found out your father was abusive?”

“I’m sure they were upset. They look pretty upset in that video of me talking about the rings, don’t you think? We haven’t really sat around talking about it.”

“Did you and Special Agent Gibbs talk about the case at all?”

“Um,” Tony paused and swallowed again. “I asked him if Craig was in pain. I asked him if my dad had said anything about me. But that was all. I really didn’t want to know anything about it. And,” he sighed, “I didn’t want to taint anything.”

“Did you believe your father had committed the murder before knowing any evidence?”

“Objection, Your Honor,” the JAG lawyer stood again, “speculation.”

“I called Special Agent DiNozzo as a character witness it allows for a wider spectrum of questioning under the law,” Allison tossed her hair.

The judge nodded, “I have to allow it.”

Tony didn’t wait for her to repeat the question, “Yes, I thought there was a very good chance he had done it without knowing the specifics.”

“Special Agent Gibbs claims to be able to read people. Do you think he can read you?”

“Yes.”

“Your boyfriend, who cares for you, knew you believed that you believed that your father was the possible killer?”

“He never said anything to me.”

“No further questions, Your Honor.” She turned and sat down looking smugly pleased.

The prosecutor approached Tony and spoke gently, “Would you like a break before we begin?”

“I’d rather just get this over with, thanks.”

“What was your reason for stepping down from the case?”

“I thought he’d done it. I thought the only reason he’d want the son he always called incompetent on his case was if he’d done it. Either my team was useless and wouldn’t solve it, or we would cover it up because I’m still afraid of him or he could call me to the stand and make everyone question the police work. I didn’t want to be Mark Fuhrman.” He paused and could sense that the jury was now feeling for him. “I figured if he did it Gibbs would find out if he didn’t Gibbs would get the killer. I didn’t want to touch it. I loved Craig, he was so kind. I was upset and I didn’t want to deal with it. I hoped, Jesus it’s sick, I hoped that maybe my dad just wanted to see me, didn’t think of my team one way or the other, was innocent, just wanted to get to know me. But when he didn’t press Gibbs to see me I gave up that hope.” Now the jury was fully on his side.

“Nowhere in the defense’s briefs does it say that they have any information on your relationship with Special Agent Gibbs. As you know, to present any evidence collected in an investigation, lawyers need to tell the court where they obtained it from. Yet the way they learned of your relationship is mentioned nowhere. Is your relationship common knowledge?”

“No, not really. We’ve told our friends, we’ve told Director Vance. But we haven’t exactly taken out newspaper space about it. We’re pretty discreet, we go out to dinner sometimes but we go out to dinner with a lot of different people. It’s not like we’re hand-holders.”

“Did you file a change of address?”

“No.”

“Did you file anything to show you’ve moved?”

“No, I get all my mail to a P.O. box and all of my rent and electric bills were put through my front door and addressed to ‘Current Resident’. There’s no paper trail. I just moved.”

“So how does the defense know about your relationship and your living situation?”

“Ms. Hart let herself into our house to try and seduce Gibbs.”

“Objection!” she interrupted.

Before the judge reacted Tony said, “Ms. Hart is right, I don’t know her intention. I do know she was naked except for her coat and heels.”

“She ‘let herself in’. How exactly did she get into the house?”

“The door is never locked… I guess it will be after today. It’s still considered breaking and entering and is illegal. You can’t walk into someone’s house without being invited. She knows that, she’s a lawyer.”

“So what exactly transpired?”

“Well, I came home alone, Gibbs was at the office. I got home. She was there, mostly naked. I explained why she was making a mistake and she should leave. She called me a liar-”

“Why would she do that?”

“She doesn’t like me. We’ve come into contact before because of cases and she just doesn’t like me.”

“Okay. Please continue.”

“Well, Gibbs came in through the kitchen ranting about why he hated her. When he saw her, well he was in a really bad mood, he laughed. I showed her to the front door. That’s how she knows.”

The lawyer nodded, “Your Honor, I move to have Ms. Hart struck from the case for having personal involvement with the case, purposefully harassing the witness and for illegally obtaining evidence.” The jury looked at her with disgust.

The judge nodded, “Bailiff, please remove Ms. Hart to the gallery. Would the government like to move for a mistrial?”

“No, Your Honor. I don’t want to put Special Agent DiNozzo though this again.” He turned back to Tony. “Special Agent DiNozzo, how long have you been in law enforcement?”

“Eighteen years.”

“Good career?”

“Great career.”

“But you had the plague?”

“Yeah, a woman sent it to us because she thought her daughter’s case was mishandled.”

“You almost died?”

“Came pretty close.”

“Your medical records say you were in an explosion shortly after returning, is that correct?”

“Yes, a car bomb went off while I was trying to stop it the day I came back from medical leave.”

“How many times have you been shot?”

“I’ve had eight gunshot wounds, and five bouts with broken ribs because of bullets hitting my vest.”

“What other wounds have you sustained in the line of duty?”

“I was stabbed a few times, broke an arm, twisted my ankle, poisoned four times, been in two -- no three -- explosions and I was tortured four times oh and once while being tortured I was force fed a truth serum which is sort of like being poisoned so I guess that brings the poisonings up to five.”

“And yet you call that a great career?”

“I love my job. I like mysteries, puzzles, helping people. I like catching bad guys and telling families we got the bad guys. I don’t mind the wounds, people act like they must be really brave to do this job and it’s not true. You have to be a little bit stupid, a little cocky and you have to love it. I know I could die but I love it. Director Vance said we’re the best. Gibbs’ team we have a lot of threats against us because we’re the best. We get the best cases, the most interesting one, the most pressing ones, the most dangerous ones. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I don’t like getting injured but I love the job.” Now the jury not only liked him but respected him: he was a goddamn all-American hero.

“Anything you don’t like?”

“We never get mentioned on the news. I mean, the FBI catches someone the news says, ‘The FBI caught someone.’ But NCIS catches someone the news says, ‘Federal agents caught someone.’ Last month there was that dirty bomb. And the news said, ‘Federal agents disabled the bomb.’ It wasn’t just nameless Feds it was Gibbs and McGee and I just wished we got a little more credit. They almost died, and I would really appreciate it if that got recognition.” Now the jury liked Gibbs and McGee, the bomb was so recent and so frightening and they were alive because of these people. “I’m sure all small federal agencies want that. The last few weeks we’ve been on the news a lot but not the way I wanted.”

“Ms Hart asked you what you if you thought your father had committed the murder before knowing the evidence. What do you think now?”

Tony sighed, “I know without a shadow of a doubt he did it.”

“Because of the wealth of evidence?”

Shaking his head Tony said, “The evidence has nothing to do with it. My team arrested him. Even without knowing anything about the case I know that if my team arrested him he did it.”

“You have that much faith in your team?”

“The defense is right: my team loves me. They know this hurts me. But they arrested him, which shows me they had no doubt about it. If they had had any doubt whatsoever they wouldn’t have arrested him. They have no reason to like him. But if they could have avoided this they would have because they care about me and didn’t want to air my horrible past. I love my life. I love being Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. I haven’t spoken to my father in twenty years, he hasn’t had touched or tainted my NCIS career. I was doing wonderfully. I’m a highly respected Senior Field Agent. And then he pulled me back in by asking Sec Nav for a favor.” He almost started to cry and took a deep breath, pulling himself back together. He’d thought before he got up here that he could act, play the part of the upset son. But none of this was an act he felt like he was going to lose it. “Then he tried to bribe the most honest man in the world. If my team could have kept this away from me they would have. I’ve been falling apart for two weeks straight, I’ve been in the hallway outside listening, freaking out and Gibbs keeps hiding presents in my pockets, my team keeps trying to distract me and keep me surrounded by friends, they even arranged to have a couple of my frat brothers to come stay with me. Gibbs actually slipped a Tootsie Pop into my pocket this morning, that’s just pathetic. My team loves me; they don’t want me to be having melt downs in the Federal Courthouse, they don’t want me on a witness stand talking about these things. If there had been any chance of not arresting him they would have taken it. But they have to do their job and relationships have to come second.”

“What do you want to happen here?”

“What do you mean?” asked Tony.

“Do you want your father to go to prison?”

Tony tried to think and finally said, “I don’t know. I know he did it. But… I don’t know. He’s my dad. I’m kind of pulled here. We take an oath; we take an oath to become Feds to uphold the law, to do everything within our power to catch the bad guys, to do the right thing. I believe in that oath. I believe in the honor of the law. He plotted out a method and murdered a good man because of business and then he tried to pay to cover it up. He should go to prison. But my father has always been a terrifying and untouchable person and it’s really horrible to think of him in prison.” He shrugged. “Maybe I hope the Mark Fuhrman defense will work. I don’t know. I guess I’ll trust the judicial system. Whatever the jury says, I’ll just go with it. He did it so he should go to prison but he’s my dad and I just want him to be back in New York: unseen, unheard and unthought-of, we’ll see.”

“Thank you, Special Agent DiNozzo. I have no further questions, Your Honor.”

The judge turned to his dad’s lawyers, “Would any of you like to do a redirect?”

One of his dad’s lawyers, a man, said, “No, Your Honor, we have no further questions.”

Tony risked a look at his dad. His father was staring at him with a mix of anger and disgust that Tony was achingly familiar with. The jury was looking between them and Tony dropped his head. That was the final nail in the coffin the jury hated his dad for the look. His dad was going down. He practically bolted; he couldn’t be in the room anymore. He heard the judge saying there would be a recess before the last witness of the day. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder and he turned as Gibbs pulled him close.

“I just put my dad in prison,” he said. “I just sent my dad to prison.” Gibbs said nothing, kept hugging him. “I did my job. He’s guilty. But Jesus, I just sent him to prison. And prison sucks for child abusers. Jesus.”

Gibbs slowly released him, “Let’s go get you some coffee: you’re shaking.” Wrapping his arm around Tony’s shoulder Gibbs led him out and to Starbucks. Tony let Gibbs guide him, he felt sick and scared. In Starbucks Gibbs brought him to a table, “Sit, I’ll get the drinks. Want a snack? It’s lunch time.”

Tony nodded but didn’t say anything. Gibbs kissed the top of his head, “I’m so sorry, Tony.” Tony only nodded again.

Gibbs went to the counter and Tony searched for whatever else was in his pocket. There was a note it said, “I love you. I’m proud of you. No matter what happens today: pizza, beer and cuddling on the couch. Clark’s getting to know our friends better. Cary Grant/Humphrey Bogart?”

He smiled down at the note and Gibbs came back holding a couple of apple turnovers. “You okay?”

“Where’s Clark now?”

“I asked Ducky to corner him.”

“Mean.”

“I just wanted a little while alone with you.” He walked to the counter and brought back their drinks. “The barista put in a free shot for some reason.”

Tony glanced to the counter and saw the same guy as before. “Oh, we’re best friends from way back.” Tony gave the guy a slight wave and the guy shot him a smile.

Placing a hand over Tony’s Gibbs said, “How you doing?”

“I don’t think I want a movie tonight I just want to be with you.”

Gibbs nodded, “Sounds good.” They drank their coffee silently. Gibbs ate his apple turnover while Tony just sort of played with his. He drank a second venti before Gibbs said, “We should go back. Or we can just go home.”

“No, I’m seeing this through to the end. Who’s next?”

“Sec Nav.”

“Seriously?”

“He’s been in the courthouse on and off though out the trial.”

“Jesus. I didn’t even notice him.”

“He’s their closer. Tomorrow they do their closing arguments.”

“I’m glad it’ll be over, I don’t think I can cope with it much longer. I’m pathetic.”

Gibbs gave him a gentle smack to the back of Tony’s head, “You can cope with it for much longer: you’re Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. Don’t call my Senior Agent pathetic he’s the person who has my six. And he just held up on the stand.”

Tony felt centered for the first time all day. He smiled as he said, “Won’t happen again, boss.” He stood and went to the door holding it for Gibbs. Back in the courthouse he said, “You go in; I’m staying out here.” Clark walked towards them with Ducky. “Look, there’s Clark. I’ll be okay. Honestly, Jethro, go in.”

“You sure you don’t want to come in? You’ve seen him now. You looked him in the eye.”

“I’ll come back in for the verdict.”

“See you in a little while,” Gibbs gave him a tight smile before going through the doors.

People were watching him intensely as they walked into the court and it made him feel like a car accident. Dan came and said, “Ducky is a fascinating man.” Tony nodded. “He has amazing stories. McGee wants me to go to his Scouts meeting tonight to talk about organ transplants. Kind of odd, nice guy though. And then Ziva and Abby want me to go out to dinner. I’m feeling stupid for swearing off the east coast. Your friends are so nice.” He sat down on the bench. “I’m assuming I’m being gotten out of the way.”

“I was just informed of that.” Clark laughed. “We’ll do something before you go. I promise.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll come back this summer.”

Tony just sighed. He saw the Secretary of the Navy walking towards him and he felt himself stand even straighter than normally. The man stopped in front of him, “Special Agent DiNozzo.”

“Hello, Sir. I’m sorry about the press this has been getting.”

“I’m sorry I dragged your team into this. I just wanted to say right now I have nothing but respect for you and your team. If you’re worried about job security you shouldn’t be. Although,” he smiled, “they are going to put you through the psych ringer.”

Tony nodded, “Yes, Sir, I know.”

“You and Craig were close when you were a kid. I’m very sorry for your loss. I met him a few times through your father he was a very nice man.”

“He was. Thank you for your condolences, Sir.” Tony heard the man being called. “You better go.”

The man nodded and passed him. Tony sat down next to Dan and said, “It’s a veritable who’s who. Least the team isn’t getting fired.”

They listened as the man was sworn in. “You are friends with Mr. DiNozzo?” asked one of the defense lawyers.

“Yes.”

“He requested Special Agent Gibbs’ team. Why?”

“He said that he’d like to see his son in action. We’ve been close friends for years. I saw no reason to deny his request.”

“Did Director Vance tell you that Special Agent DiNozzo had stepped down from the case?”

“Yes.”

“Did he tell you about the relationship between Special Agents Gibbs and DiNozzo?”

“Yes. He also told me the reason why Special Agent DiNozzo stepped down.”

“And you didn’t see a conflict there?”

“All teams are emotionally connected to one another but I told him to keep them on it because always get clean results and they are honest. Agent David investigated her own brother for terrorism she had to shoot him and McGee worked on a case where his sister was a suspect. This team can work on anything and keep emotions separate from the job. As the Secretary of the Navy I keep a close eye on NCIS, I know the teams. I trust Special Agent Gibbs. He was offered the position of Director three times and I may very well offer it to him again when Director Vance eventually retires. I don’t think Leon is a lifer but Gibbs will be.”

“How do you feel about Mr. DiNozzo now?”

“I don’t like child abusers.”

“It’s interesting that you say child abuser before murderer. Why is that?”

“He has yet to be convicted of murder whereas his own lawyers admit that he abused his son. I believe that Tony’s innocent until found guilty on the charges of bribery and murder. But even if he’s cleared we won’t be friends.”

“Thank you,” said the lawyer. Tony thought it was a good testimony. He didn’t see why they were trying to impugn the honor of the Sec Nav.

Clearly the prosecutor agreed, “How long have you been the Secretary of the Navy?”

“Four years.”

“The Sec Nav is appointed by the President of the United States, correct?”

“Correct.”

“And calls for the approval of the Senate, correct?”

“Correct.”

“And you approve of Special Agent Gibbs and his team?”

“Yes.”

“No further questions, Your Honor.”

“Redirect?” asked the judge.

“No, Your Honor,” said the defense lawyer.

The judge said, “Okay, we’re adjourned for the day. Tomorrow-”

The defense lawyer interrupted, “Your Honor, with your permission, I would like to call the defendant. It’s still early in the afternoon.”

The judge sounded irritated, “Fine.”

Tony felt cold panic wash over him as his father was sworn in. And the lawyer jumped right in. “Did you abuse your son?”

“For years. I was an alcoholic, I had a drinking problem, *have* a drinking problem but I’ve been sober for five years. I was a terrible father. I have no excuse. Even as an adult, I was awful to him. I refused to pay for his college, hurt his career and I even refused to see him when he was dying. When I was drinking I blamed him for his mother’s death.”

“Did you kill Craig Vincent?”

“No.”

“You confessed to it.”

“Special Agent Gibbs is terrifying.”

“You attempted to bribe him.”

“I was panicking, it got me out of trouble back in my bad days. I didn’t kill Craig.”

Tony felt Clark’s arm around him and Clark said, “Breathe, breathe, Tony. You’re going to pass out.” Tony took a deep breath. “He won’t fool anyone. They saw the way he looked at you, like he wanted to kill you, they know. The jury isn’t stupid.” Tony didn’t reply, “Bro, you have to breathe more.”

His lawyer didn’t question Tony’s dad for long, seeming to think that everything that needed to be said had been said. Then the prosecutor jumped in. If Tony had been able to think he would have been impressed with how prepared the man was considering it had just been thrown at him. He went over every terrible piece of evidence they had asking how his finger prints were in Craig’s blood, how his tie was covered in his blood, how his medication had made it into Craig’s drink, how his rings had been on the fist of the killer. It just went on and on. His dad couldn’t explain any of it.

Then the prosecutor replayed the video of him hitting Tony. The prosecutor stopped it before the part where Tony was talking to Crysta and Maria. “Were you drunk in that video, Mr. DiNozzo? You weren’t slurring, your motions were very precise. Are you sure you were drunk?”

“I must have been drunk. I don’t even remember it.”

“Because you hit him so frequently you don’t remember one incident from another?”

“Yes.”

Then he replayed Tony’s dad’s murder confession. “Are you honestly asking the jury to believe that the man in that film is panicking? You seem very calm to me.”

“Objection,” called his father’s lawyer.

Tony knew it would be objected to but the prosecutor had gotten his point across and had refreshed the jury’s memory on the confession. “Sustained,” said the judge.

“No further questions.”

“Redirect?” asked the judge.

“No, Your Honor. The defense rests.”

“We’ll reconvene tomorrow morning at nine,” said the judge.

“Tony, they won’t believe him,” said Clark.

The doors opened and people started to come out. McGee was one of the first. “The jury didn’t buy it for a minute, Tony. They know. The looks on their faces? They hate him and would like to lynch him not just send him to prison. Don’t worry.”

Gibbs came out and was all business. “Clark, McGee said you were going with him. He takes the bus. So why don’t you take Tony’s car and you can drive?” Tony reached into his pocket and handed Clark his keys. “There we go. Come on, Tony, let’s go home.” Tony nodded and followed him out to the car. He slid into the passenger’s seat. When Gibbs held the gearstick Tony placed his hand over Gibbs’. Gibbs smiled at him. “We’ll be home in a few minutes.”

Tony remained silent until they got home. Inside he started stripping in the living room. He felt hot and the clothes felt tight. He threw his jacket onto the couch. “He made us out to be liars.”

“His lawyers have been doing that all week,” Gibbs pointed out softly.

“Yeah, but he hadn’t said it.”

“Tony-”

“He wasn’t drunk all the time; he was more sober than drunk. It wasn’t like he only hit me when he was drunk.”

Gibbs walked to him and wrapped his arms around Tony’s naked shoulders. “I know. The jury knows. It was very obvious he wasn’t drunk in the film: his motor actions were too good. They know, I know.”

“He was an alcoholic but he wasn’t like Mom, he wasn’t always drunk and she was but she never hit me.”

“There’s no excuse, even if he’d been drunk all the time, there’s no excuse for how he treated you. He failed you,” he stroked Tony’s back. “No one believes him; they’re all on your side. They know.”

“I wasn’t sure,” said Tony.

“Weren’t sure about what?” asked Gibbs.

“That I wanted him to go to prison.”

“You sure now?”

“He claimed you scared him into confessing. He called us liars. And he made excuses for hitting me, he made excuses. If he’d just let his lawyers talk I wouldn’t have thought about it one way or the other. But now I remember how much I hated him when we used to talk. And now I hope he rots. Isn’t that fucked up? I wasn’t sure after he murdered someone but the minute he’s a prick on the stand then I want him to go down.”

Gibbs pulled him to the couch and sat down next to him, still rubbing his back. “You didn’t listen to him killing Craig but you did hear him today, it’s different.”

“He hasn’t changed, can still find something to blame his problems on.”

“Your testimony has already closed the case.”

“I tried to love him.” Gibbs said nothing just pulled Tony close. “I always tried to be a good man, to make him proud, to make him realize I was worth something. But I’m not even worth a real apology.”

“He’s a bastard and a sociopath; he doesn’t know why he should feel ashamed he’s putting on the act. He’s not apologetic just trying to fake it.”

“I hate him.”

“Oh, Tony,” he said sadly.

“I don’t think I ever really hated him before.”

Gibbs sat with him silently. After a few moments of just holding him Gibbs said, “Why don’t we go upstairs and get changed in sweats?” Tony nodded, “Okay?”

“Sure. Can we work on the new boat?” Tony stood and headed to the stairs with Gibbs behind him.

“Of course, if that’s what you want.”

Tony turned as they came went into the bedroom. He saw that Gibbs had brought his discarded shirts, tie and jacket. He barely remembered taking them of, he’d been too busy freaking out. “I want to. Who’s getting the new boat?”

“I don’t know yet. Maybe Ducky. He’s been sad without his mother. Maybe he’d like the distraction. I guess we’ll see.” Gibbs loosened his tie and Tony watched his Adam’s apple as he swallowed. He went to Gibbs and kissed his neck. He untied Gibbs’ tie by touch. And started in on his buttons. But Gibbs stilled his hands. “Tony, let’s spend the evening together. Okay? Let’s work on the boat. Mindless isn’t the best, right?” Tony pulled back and looked away. “I’m not shooting you down. I want you. But I think we should actually talk tonight. I think we both need that. I want to spend time with you.”

Tony nodded and took a step back but changed the subject. “So how many Kellys are there?”

“Three Kellys one Tony. Mike has one, Hetty has one and a friend from the Marines who helped me after Shannon and Kelly died. I think all of them are well liked. I hope so.” Gibbs ran his hands up and down Tony’s arms. “I love you and like spending time with you when you’re fully dressed. After today I want to remind you of that. Your father is wrong, Tony, you’re worth everything: you’re worth staying dressed for.”

Tony smiled, “That’s probably the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me.” Gibbs gave him a gentle smile, stripped down to his t-shirt and boxers and then pulled on sweats. Tony pulled on a clean shirt and sweats and put his shoes back on.

As they went downstairs Gibbs said, “I should put a lock on the door.”

“Do you have one?” asked Tony.

“Yeah, bought it years ago: never installed it. Should do it now. After seven PM the neighbors might get pissed at construction noise.” He kissed Tony’s forehead, “Why don’t you relax? It’ll take me twenty minutes tops.”

Tony went to the kitchen and turned on the sound system to listen to the soundtrack of De-Lovely. He slumped down on the couch as Gibbs went into the basement and came back up. He was holding a box in one hand and a small saw in the other. Coming towards him Gibbs put the saw in the box and pulled out something else. He handed a key to Tony. “Wow. I’ve never had a key before.”

“You’ve been living here for months. You paid the taxes.”

“But I didn’t have a key. No one’s ever keyed me before,” Tony stood and kissed him, leaning over the box to do so. “Thanks.”

“If I’d known how pleased you’d’ve been, I would have put in a lock the minute you moved in.”

Tony smiled but felt sad inside. “I’m sorry you have to put a lock on it.”

Gibbs smiled at him gently, “I don’t care about a stupid lock.”

He moved to the door and started to cut and drill. Tony didn’t watch. He went to the player and skipped Be a Clown, it was a bad song for today. A song all about how if you’re a clown everyone likes you but when you’re honest they can judge you harshly. He’d lived his life by that creed. He went back and lay on the couch playing with the key. He liked the way the noise of Gibbs working mixed with his music. The CD looped as Gibbs worked. Tony was singing along with Night and Day when he heard someone coming up the stairs of the porch and stopped instantly.

“Hi,” said Gibbs, Tony was around the corner and couldn’t see who it was.

“Gibbs, I see you’re actually installing a lock.” It was the Jag lawyer whose name Tony still couldn’t remember. “I came over to talk to DiNozzo.”

“He’s unavailable to visitors.”

“I just heard him singing.”

“I didn’t say he wasn’t here.”

“I wanted to congratulate him on his performance on the stand.”

“It wasn’t a performance,” Gibbs said coldly. “He’s very upset by this whole thing.”

“I wanted to ask him to come in tomorrow.”

“Why?”

“Because Craig Vincent doesn’t have any family to be in the room grieving him. The jury likes him; I want them to see him.”

“Tony opened a door for you all you have to do is walk through it. Stop asking for more.” Gibbs said and then was silent for a moment. “We’re about to do something historic. You’re the very first person this has ever happened to in this house.” Tony heard the noise of the door closing and the lock slipping into place. He called over his shoulder, loudly enough to be heard through the door. “Our lock works.”

Tony laughed as Gibbs came to him. Gibbs put out a hand to him. “Dance with me.”

Tony laughed again, “Seriously?”

“Yeah, but I lead.”

“I took dance class when I was little. My mom wanted me to learn ballroom. I hated it but I loved the shoes.”

“I’m still leading.” Gibbs said as Tony stood. He took Tony’s hand in his and wrapped an arm around his waist.

“I always followed. I danced with this big girl: Ella. She never let me lead. I was short and she was two years older so I didn’t get a say. But the teacher said, ‘Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire but backwards and in heels.’ I didn’t mind so much after that because I was five and fine with being Ginger, she was way prettier than Fred.” Gibbs chuckled and then stepped on his foot. Tony sighed, “It’s better that I’m following. I can follow someone who can barely lead, I can compensate. I can’t lead someone who can’t follow.” Gibbs stepped on his foot again. “How did you make it through four weddings?”

“Shut up, I’m trying here, Tony.”

“Stop thinking,” ordered Tony. “Just listen to the music.” He rested his head on Gibbs’ shoulder and actually subtly started to lead Gibbs, just like he had with Ella when he was five. He moved his hips in a way that forced Gibbs to move with him.

“I know what you’re doing,” said Gibbs.

“Don’t ruin it, Jethro. Just dance. It’s a good song.”

Gibbs stroked his back as he pretended to lead. Gibbs didn’t pull away when the song ended. They danced through another two songs before they hit Anything Goes and Gibbs said, “I can’t do fast. I can’t do slow either.”

“I liked it,” said Tony pulling back slowly. “I’m gonna order the pizza.” He went to the couch where he’d left his jacket and pulled his phone out of the pocket. He’d changed all of his speed dial restaurants when he’d moved. Now he hit six and ordered the usual from Gibbs’ normal place.

He headed down to the basement with Gibbs behind him again. The boat was still just a rough frame. Tony picked up the plane. He fucked it up on purpose, digging it in too hard. Gibbs stepped close behind him and put his arms around Tony, placing his hands on top of Tony’s, guiding him. “Gently, like stroking a dog.”

“Dogs like a firm hand.”

“Okay, like a baby.”

Tony watched as the thin curl of wood fell away from the plank. “I don’t have much experience skinning babies.”

Gibbs chuckled against his neck and kept guiding his hands. “You dug it in on purpose, didn’t you?”

“Of course I did, it’s not far enough along to fuck it up really badly.” Gibbs didn’t release him even though Tony didn’t need the guidance. Gibbs simply rested his hands there, not helping at all. Tony liked it. They didn’t speak for a long time when Tony moved on to the next plank Gibbs moved with him. Tony leaned back into him as he worked. “I like this staying dressed thing.” Tony moved again and Gibbs went with him smoothly. “You’re so good at this dance. Why do you suck at real dancing?”

“This isn’t contrived like dancing.” He kissed Tony’s neck.

“Thanks for staying dressed for me.” Tony craned his head back for a kiss. The doorbell rang and he said, “Wow, they usually just open the door and shout.” He handed the plane to Gibbs. “Fix the damage while I get it.” He bounded up the stairs. The music was still going. He went to the couch for his wallet that he’d stashed in his coat pocket and then went to the door. He paid the delivery guy who looked confused by the locked door. Tony didn’t try to explain just gave him a tip before relocking the door. Grabbing beers he headed back to the basement.

Gibbs had put down the plane and was playing with the VHS player. Tony expected to see himself as a young child. He couldn’t really see the point of watching it. But the screen went blue and then cut to a child who wasn’t Tony being held by a redheaded woman in a swimming pool. Tony recognized the pool as the one at the Y. She was being taught to swim. Her mother, beautiful and alive, was holding her hands as she kicked. A voice Tony knew so well was calling from behind the camera, “That’s great, Kelly! You’re doing really well!”

“Jethro?” asked Tony.

“Come sit down,” said Gibbs. Tony moved to the arm chairs and handed off a pizza and beer.

They clinked beers and began eating. Shannon was slowly walking backwards in the pool as Kelly began to propel herself with her kicks. Shannon switched positions to hold the little girl’s waist. “Now do the arms like Daddy showed you.”

The little girl was laughing and Shannon smiled at the camera. “Doin’ great, Kelly,” Gibbs repeated.

“Daddy come in,” said Kelly. She waved at him and the camera shut off. There was a few seconds of static and then Kelly was in a party dress singing in a Jem and the Holograms song in a talent show.

“I married three women who looked like my dead wife.” Gibbs fell silent for a minute. “Sometimes I feel guilty for being with you.” Tony didn’t know how to reply to that. “I dumped Hollis Mann because she harassed me about Shannon and Kelly and then listened to a cassette of Kelly playing the piano. I don’t like it when people get close to them. I thought that I really liked Hollis until she listened to the tape and then I realized she was just another redhead. But then there’s you who I love and talk to about everything, who I can show this to, share this with. I never felt guilty for the wives… they didn’t matter. And I’m stubborn. My fourth wife left me because I refused to sleep in the master bedroom. I’m also a bastard, started sleeping in there the day after she left me. I didn’t want to move on. I woke up, next to a redhead, missing my girls everyday and every night I went to sleep next to a redhead resenting being in a world without my girls. Magical thinking, I expected to someday wake up next to the right redhead. Somehow Shannon and Kelly would come back if I faked it long enough. If I didn’t move on they’d come back. But I’m not waiting for them anymore. I feel a little guilty for that. But then I realize that Shannon would be pissed at how long it took me to move on. She would be pissed about the clones not about us. I wake up next to you and you’re the person I want to be waking up next to. It took me eighteen years to get here. Am I pathetic?”

“No.”

“So why are you pathetic for being upset during this trial? Your father is a murderer. Your boyfriend locked him up. And the whole country is watching as your childhood is being dissected. How could you possibly be okay? I sleepwalked through eighteen years of my life and you helped me move on. You make me happy. So stop thinking you’re somehow weak.” Tony nodded. “Now let’s watch my girls. You’re the only one I would ever share this with.”

“Thank you.”

“I share everything important with you.”

Tony went back to his pizza. On the screen Gibbs and Kelly were playing cat’s cradle. “Never told me you were asked to be the Director three times.”

“Right, because that’s really not important. That’s a punch line. I mean who the hell would think I would make a good director?”

Tony laughed and watched the movie. Kelly finished two laps of the pool and got a participation ribbon. Gibbs picked her up and said, “Show Mommy the ribbon.” Kelly was holding the ribbon out to the camera. Gibbs kissed her cheek, “So proud of you, sweetheart.”

“Y’wanna hold my ribbon, Daddy?” she asked and Gibbs took it with a smile.

Gibbs took a sip of beer. “Still have that upstairs.”

“Yeah?”

“Her room is still set up,” Gibbs shrugged. There was a door on the landing with a nameplate in girly script that said Kelly.

“I never opened the door.”

Gibbs smiled, “First person not to.”

“Dating a guy is way better, right?”

Gibbs smiled again, “I’ll clear it out someday.”

“Only when and if you want to.” On the screen Kelly and another girl were singing Why Should I Worry? Tony smiled, “You said she liked Oliver and Company. Who’s the other girl?”

“You should recognize her: you gave her mouth to mouth.”

“Huh?”

“Maddie Tylor.”

“Oh, right. I saved you both from drowning because I’m awesome.” Gibbs raised his beer in a mock toast with a smirk. “Roll your eyes if you like but you’d be dead if it wasn’t for me.”

Gibbs shrugged, “Well, yeah, DiNozzo, but I’ve saved your ass just as many times you’ve saved mine.”

“You’re awesome too.”

Maddie was walking on her hands with Kelly holding her ankles. “Girls,” Shannon called and Gibbs turned the camera towards the door where she was standing, “there’s ice cream when you want.”

“I like ice cream,” said Gibbs behind the camera.

Shannon rolled her eyes but smiled, “Well, there’s ice cream when you want.”

The screen went blue. Gibbs was smiling gently. “I have two other tapes.”

“Yeah?”

“One that’s all Christmas stuff. And one that they made me for when I came home. I found it, when I came back. They went to the beach.”

“I’m glad you have them.”

Gibbs nodded. His pizza was done and he said, “Boat or a movie?”

“Movie takes too long. I want an early night.”

Standing Gibbs said, “Pick out a movie, something you don’t care about.”

“Why?” asked Tony.

“Because we’re going to fall asleep in front of it.” Tony went to the Disney section and pulled out Tarzan.

At Gibbs’ raised eyebrow Tony asked, “What?”

“How old were you when this came out?”

Tony shrugged, “It sucks because when you’re a guy you can’t go to Disney movie without a kid. You have to wait for them to come out on DVD. This is really good, better than the 1932 one. But I firmly believe that Johnny Weissmuller is the best Tarzan ever.” Tony smiled, “A nice thing about Disney movies is that you can get them in every language. This one is in English and Greek.”

“Perfect. Come up to bed. We’ll watch it in Greek.”

Tony allowed Gibbs to lead him up to bed. Gibbs set up the DVD player which was shocking and impressive in and of itself. Tony stripped and climbed into bed while Gibbs set the language to Greek and put on English subtitles.

“The door,” said Tony. “Clark won’t be able to get in.”

Gibbs nodded and reached for Tony’s cell phone. “Be right back.” He left and Tony sighed. He wasn’t sure he could sleep. The events of the day replayed themselves in his head. He felt exhausted but he didn’t know if he would be able to sleep. Gibbs came in pulling off his shirt. “Hid a key outside. Told Clark where it was. Lie down.” Gibbs fell into bed behind him and said, “Close your eyes.” Tony looked at him, and Gibbs spoke gently. “You didn’t sleep well. Listen to you movie and go to sleep.” Tony still looked at him. “You’ll fall asleep listening to a bedtime story in one of your favorite languages. Surefire ward against nightmares.”

“Really?”

“I used to play a Jem and the Holograms VHS when I couldn’t sleep. They were the only nights I didn’t have nightmares for years. It works.” Gibbs stroked his face. “Get comfy and close your eyes.”

“If I get really comfy you won’t be able to see the screen.”

“I can always watch it some other time.” Tony nodded and pushed Gibbs onto his back. Draping himself over Gibbs Tony shut his eyes. Hands stroked over his back as he listened to the film. The songs were still in English being sang by Phil Collins. He got about twenty minutes into it before he started drifting in and out.

The next thing he knew Gibbs was saying, “Time to wake up.”

“Morning,” said Tony blinking. He looked at his watch, “Jethro, it’s really early.” It came out as a whine.

Gibbs rolled them over and sat up. Straddling Tony’s hips he reached for the bedside table and opened the drawer. Pulling out the lube he said, “It’s not too early for cardio.” He opened the lube and began stroking Tony with slippery fingers. “Nightmares?”

“No. You were right, All I dreamed about were Gorillas and pony rides. That feels awesome, Jethro.” He bucked into Gibbs’ hand.

“Pissed that it’s early?”

“You know I’m not,” Tony reached for the lube and started to stretch Gibbs. “You feel so good. I’ve loved you forever.”

“I know. I love you. And before I was in love with you I was so proud of you.” He leaned down to kiss Tony slowly and gently. “Always made me proud. Even when I worked with you in Baltimore and you weren’t on my team. I loved watching you work, outside of the box and clever. I knew I wanted you on my team. I liked that you had fun with the work. You make it fun for yourself, and I wanted that attitude on my team. Wanted it in my life.” Tony stroked him inside with the fingers of one hand while playing with one of Gibbs’ nipples.

“Condom?” asked Tony.

“No, there’s time for a shower. No bruises, just want happy sex.” Gibbs slid onto him and Tony sighed. “But you’re in charge.” He rolled them again Tony groaned.

Tony moved with him, slowly, kissing him all the time. It was warm under the sheets and cool in the room and Tony broke the kiss to say, “God, Jethro, I want to stay here all day. You and me in a little bubble.”

“We can do that, if you want. Just stay here. I’ll make omelets and we’ll watch movies and have sex.”

“No, we can’t.” Tony resumed kissing him, not wanting to discuss it. He wanted to enjoy their bodies, in their bed, in their home. He loved their shared life, despite the problems in his life right now, Gibbs had stood by him. The most shut off man Tony knew wanted to share his life with him, showed him videos of his family and talked to him about how he felt. Tony knew it had to be hard, knowing how hard it was to talk about his own past, but Gibbs made it seem effortless in how open he was with Tony. He stroked Gibbs, loving the feel of hard flesh in his hand.

Breaking away Gibbs said, “I’m not going to last long.”

“Do you want to slow down?” Tony panted.

“No, just a warning.”

“I don’t mind. If we’re fast I’ll make us Spanish scrambled eggs.” Gibbs smirked against his lips.

“You’re so clever,” Gibbs reached to hold his face. He didn’t kiss him instantly instead he studied Tony’s face and smiled, caressed his cheeks.

Tony sped up, moved faster. Only then did Gibbs start to kiss him. Tony let his eyes fall shut. “I love slow mornings with you.” Gibbs made a noise of agreement. They fell into silence as they made love. Tony never liked the phrase, had never used the term, at least not seriously. He’d said it as Tony Denardo, said it to get into people’s pants but never honestly. Now he was using it in his head. Gibbs came and clamped down around him. The feeling pushed Tony over the edge. He slumped against Gibbs. “Great, Jethro, totally great.” He folded his hands over Gibbs’ chest and rested his head on his hands. Gibbs chuckled and played with Tony’s hair, sort of ruffling it. “I can’t wait for today to be over. I hope the jury makes a decision today. I want to get back to our regularly scheduled life: same bat-time, same bat-channel.”

Gibbs’ hand stilled for a moment and then he said, “I want that too. But it might take a while. No matter what I won’t get angry and I won’t get bored. Okay?” Tony nodded. Gibbs went back to playing with his hair. After a few minutes Gibbs said, “We should shower. Unless you want to stay here all day.”

Pulling slowly away from Gibbs Tony said softly, “I just want to prove it to myself. Y’know? I want to know that I faced this in its entirety. I don’t want to hide.” It was still early. Tony knew Clark wasn’t awake yet so when he stood he didn’t reach for a robe he just cocked his head to the door. “Wanna shower with me? There’s loads of time.”

They made out in the shower and Gibbs only teased him a little bit about his conditioner. Then they got dressed and went downstairs to find Clark at the table drinking Tony’s coffee and reading the paper. Gibbs tried to help cook the eggs but he just kept getting in Tony’s way. Tony shot him a look and Gibbs put up his hands in surrender and got himself a cup of coffee. About ten minutes later Tony served up the eggs. They ate quietly, handing around bits of the paper. Clark pulled a key out of his pocket and put it on the table saying, “I like the lock, by the way. It looks like it was always there.” He also pulled out Tony’s car keys.

“I re-stained the wood,” explained Gibbs.

After they finished their eggs Tony went down to the basement to get his house key. Then they went to the courthouse in Tony’s car with Gibbs driving. As they were driving Gibbs said, “Can I sit with you today? I’d rather be with you. Would that be okay?” Tony nodded, feeling nauseous the closer they got to court.

Sitting outside they listened to the closing arguments. The prosecutor closed strong reiterating all the evidence, talking about the strong police work, talking about his dad’s motive and agreeing that he did have a violent past, that drinking was not an excuse and finished by replaying the video of his dad confessing and trying to bribe Gibbs. As the video stopped the man said, “He said it himself, Craig Vincent attacked the thing he loves most and he lost his temper and killed him in a well thought out, perfectly executed manner. His biggest mistake was requesting an honorable team, believing they would cover it up and then trying to bribe a man who has three times been asked to be the Director of a Federal agency.
“He wasn’t drunk in that interrogation room. He wasn’t drunk when he committed these crimes. I’m asking you to make the right decision, consider the incredible amount of evidence and find this man, who has admitted his crime, guilty of attempted bribery and murder in the first degree. Tell him that being rich and powerful doesn’t make you above the law. Tell him that there are consequences for actions no matter who you are.”

It was a good closing argument but Tony braced himself for his father’s lawyers. The female lawyer called it persecution said that Tony’s dad had made terrible mistakes in the past but that he was sober now. She spent her allotted half hour talking about how much Tony’s Dad regretted his past actions, how he could never do this, how he was sober now. She talked about how the team loved Tony and that they weren’t bad people but their judgment was clouded. She finished by urging the jury to look beyond his past and see that he was innocent.

They wouldn’t buy it would they? The jury was told that they were to go deliberate and court would be called back into session once they had made a decision. Tony turned to Clark, “Take an exit poll? Gibbs and I can’t do it.” Clark just smiled at him and stood.

Clark stood in front of the doors and asked random people as they came out, “Did he do it?” Every single person he asked said yes. He followed up with, “What about the questionable police work?” And they all said the work was just fine, they were Feds.

He came back and said, “Seventeen out of seventeen say guilty. Coffee?”

Tony was starting to feel hopeful and the nausea started to recede. Standing he said, “Sandwiches or pizza.”

“Your two favorite food groups,” said Clark.

Tony looked to Gibbs who was still sitting. “Bring me something back; I’ll call you when the verdict comes in.”

“You think it will be that soon?” asked Clark.

Rolling his eyes Gibbs said, “I don’t know, Clark, what does seventeen out of seventeen say to you?”

Tony gave him a tight smile and headed towards the door, “If it’s open and shut they’ll be out for three hours. But we’ll get it to go.” Clark nodded. They went to the closest pizza place and ordered three pies. They sat at the counter for the twenty minutes it was cooking. They didn’t talk but Clark repeatedly reached out to pat Tony on the back. Finally Tony said, “Clark, I’m okay, man, honestly. I’m not about to kill myself.”

“I wouldn’t be okay,” said Clark.

Tony nodded, “Yeah, well. That’s why I’m an underpaid Fed and you’re a wealthy corporate accountant.” Clark raised an eyebrow, “Too caustic?” He shrugged and paid as they were finally handed the pizzas. Tony took all three boxes and Clark took the sodas.

They headed back to court and saw Gibbs was talking to the JAG lawyer. The lawyer smiled but Tony didn’t meet his eye. “I was just telling Gibbs that I’ll call you when the verdict comes in.”

Without looking the man in the eye he said, “Great, thanks. Let’s eat outside. It’s really nice out. Sunny and cool.” Jethro took the pizza boxes and they headed outside. They walked the five minutes to the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial. Sitting on one of the benches Tony said, “I forget we live so close to so many awesome things.” They dug into their pizzas and drank their sodas. It was starting to really feel like spring. Tony focused on the weather, view and food. Thinking beyond the good was just too hard. After lunch they went for a walk. Tony turned up the dial on his personality and fell into tour guide showing Clark all the around the area which was covered in monuments. He related stories of different cases while walking through the park. It had been about four hours when Gibbs’ phone rang.

He answered it with his usual, “Yeah, Gibbs.” He listened for a moment and then said, “We’ll see you in ten minutes.” He hung up and said, “Quick march. They’ve made a decision.” They walked back quickly. And, after entering the building, Gibbs looked at him at the door of the courtroom. “You want to go in?” Tony nodded. “You don’t have to.”

“I know, boss. Let’s just get this over with.” Tony opened the door. He led the other two to about two thirds of the way to the front. Gibbs and Clark sat on either side of him. He watched as the jury walked in and filled the box.

“Madame Foreman, has the jury reached a verdict?” asked the judge turning to them.

She nodded, “We have, Your Honor.” She handed an envelope to the bailiff.

The judge took the envelope from the bailiff and read the sheet of paper. “On the charge of attempting to bribe a Federal Agent how do you find the defendant?”

“We find the defendant guilty.”

“On the charge of murder in the first degree how do you find the defendant?”

“We find the defendant guilty.”

People started to cheer. The judge whacked his gavel down loudly and the room went silent. “Let the record show that the jury has found the defendant guilty on all charges. Sentencing is set for three months from today. Madame Foreman and the jury, the court thanks you for your time. You are relieved of duty. The defendant is remanded to Federal custody until sentencing. Court is adjourned.”

Before the bailiff could say, “All rise.” Tony was up.

Gibbs grabbed at his arm but Tony knew if he didn’t talk to his dad now he never would. He didn’t even know what he wanted to say. The guards were approaching to cuff his dad and the judge was beginning to rise as Tony leaned over the rail, “Dad, I’m-” it didn’t matter that Tony hadn’t figured out how to end the sentence because his dad hit him so hard across the face that he fell back into someone. He hadn’t braced himself, for some unknown reason he hadn’t expected it. “Oh.”

The courtroom had fallen silent and the guards were now rushing to them. “Your mother died because she wanted to get away from you,” said his father. Everyone in the room heard it. Tony shut his eyes, wanting it to be a dream.

The someone he’d fallen into turned out to be Gibbs who said, “Try convincing an appeal jury you were drunk for that.” Gibbs tugged on his, “Come on, Tony. Let’s go home.”

Gibbs tugged him out of the room, the building and into the car. Clark was there too but Tony could barely register it. “He hit me.”

“Yeah,” agreed Gibbs.

“He fucking hit me,” said Tony.

“Yeah.”

“And he accused me of killing Mom… again.”

“He’s a sick fuck. He’s a bastard.”

“I don’t know what I thought would happen. I just thought it would be a good idea. I thought… Jesus, I don’t know.”

“We’ll be home soon. We have plans for tonight. Well, we have several plans. You get to pick.”

“He fucking hit me,” Tony said, “I can’t get over that.”

Clark said, “It sucks that you have to wait three months.”

“Please,” said Tony sarcastically. “He murdered a decorated Admiral, he bribed a Fed and he beat his kid. He can’t be tried for that but the judge can say it shows his violent streak. He just slapped me in front of the judge. I’ve testified in front of that judge before. He’s kind to victims. Max penalty for murder one in twenty-five to life and the max for bribery is five years. Dad’s going to get thirty to life and not be eligible for parole until he has completed thirty years. Dad’s not a young man: he’s going to die in prison.”

They fell to silence. When they pulled up to the house he saw lots of cars. “Whole team?”

“Not Vance,” responded Gibbs.

“Well he’s only on team Gibbs he’s not on team DiNozzo.”

“He’s starting to come around to team DiNozzo. But he’s not fun to hang around with.” Gibbs parked the car and handed Tony his keys, “Drives like a dream.”

Tony looked at his keys and said, “How did they get in?”

As they started up the stairs to the house Gibbs said, “I re-hid the guest key and told them where to find it.”

Tony said, “I was looking forward to trying my key.”

Gibbs gave him a gentle smile, “This is easily fixed.” He took out his keys and locked the front door. He stepped back, “There you go, try.”

Tony unlocked it, “Ta-da.” He should have felt stupider than he did but he felt out of it, almost drugged. Shock, maybe. He liked having a key. “I love my key.” He moved inside and saw that everyone was in the living room. “We have a lock.”

Ducky nodded. “My dear boy, you look terrible.”

“Gee, thanks, Ducky, that’s so sweet of you.”

The man looked flustered, “I just meant-”

“I know, it’s okay, Ducky. Didn’t mean to upset you.” He gave them all a weak smile. “So what’s the plan? Jethro said there were plans.”

The listed them out. Ducky said dinner at a nice place and a movie. McGee said a Doctor Who twenty-four hour marathon until the new one came out. Ziva said going to a gym and beating each other up until they all wanted beer and wings. Palmer didn’t have a plan. Abby said bowling. And Gibbs said, “Bar in Georgetown, all drinks – shots to margaritas – are two bucks, they do food and it’s karaoke night.”

Tony thought it over and said, “Ducky, yours doesn’t sound distracting enough. McGee, everyone but you and me will be bored. Ziva, yours is perfect expect that half the group would hate it. So I think we should vote on the bar or bowling.”

“You get to pick,” said Abby.

“I know, but I’d be happier with voting,” said Tony, “it’s fairer.”

Gibbs said, “So hands up for bowling.” Abby and Ducky raised their hands. “We’re going to the bar.” He told them all the address and said, “Eight o’clock, and Abby dress McGee.”

She saluted him and McGee groaned. Tony laughed, “McGee, we’ll have a marathon tomorrow, hungover and in sweats.”

People left to get ready and Tony went up to change. Gibbs followed him upstairs. Tony put on a grey tight shirt that made his eyes pop. Gibbs stood in the door and said, “Sex on legs.”

“I like looking good.”

Gibbs smiled, “I understand. It’s a good thing I’m not the jealous one. I don’t mind if you flirt.” Maybe it was a little sick but Tony wished Gibbs would be a bit possessive.

“I don’t flirt off the clock, Jethro. I only want you.”

“I know, that’s why I don’t mind it. I actually enjoy it. I like that they want you but you’re coming home with me, turns me on. So if you want to flirt go for it. I won’t get jealous. It’s fun for you. You’re the one who’s always saying that you don’t want me to change. I love you for who you are and you’re a flirt. So if you want to buy shots for girls, or impress guys with your college sports stories I won’t mind. But don’t make out with anyone.” Tony felt himself relax and nodded as he pulled on tight jeans. “Flirting let’s you be someone else for a little while, I don’t see a problem with that.”

“I like flirting.”

Gibbs came to him and stroked his cheek, “I want you to have fun tonight.”

~~~

Gibbs watched him closely, had been keeping an eye on him since the trial began. He watched as Tony sang and as some college kids flirted with him and convinced him to do a group song with them. He watched as Tony bought the kids (all of age) shots. Watched him flirt with men and women. He watched as Tony left them playing spin the bottle. He heard Tony say, “I’d love to. But while my boyfriend couldn’t care less about flirting he’s gonna be pissed if I join this game. Hit me up if you want to do a song.” Tony had come back and forced McGee to do a shot with him.

At first McGee tried to get out of it. It wasn’t through arguing that Tony convinced him. He simply kept saying, “One, two, three, go. One, two, three, go,” over and over until McGee had no choice. Then he hit McGee on the back as he coughed and said, “You deserve a beer, y’girl.”

“Tony-” Ziva began.

“You can take a shot without coughing, Ziva,” Tony interrupted. “Ducky, they have David McCallum’s Communication! You have to sing it. Gibbs always says you looked like him when you were young.”

So Ducky sang, and then McGee was kind of drunk and sang a song with Jimmy who was, as he always was at parties, wasted. But Gibbs noticed that Tony wasn’t smiling except when people were looking at him. He ate a lot of wings and nachos and drank almost continually as he roped people into singing with him. Gibbs wanted to help him but wasn’t sure how to fix it. He wondered if this was how his friends felt after Shannon and Kelly were killed. It hurt to watch Tony in pain. There was an air of desperation in his attempts to keep people entertained. A little past one AM Gibbs took Tony outside.

Tony smiled brightly, too brightly, “Are you taking me outback to neck in an alley?”

“No, it’s hot in there. I wanted a second to breathe. How are you doing?”

“I’m great.”

“You sure?”

“Well I’m drunk, with friends, there’s good food and hot college kids. How could I be unsure? Y’know what I like about college kids? Even though I keep getting older they stay the same age.”

Gibbs forced a chuckle, “You got McGee doing shots.”

“We used to do it in boarding school, forcing people to do something through repetition. We’d have these really boring speakers and we’d start clapping when they were about halfway through. And we’d just keep clapping until they had to stop. It was awesome. I’m having a great time.”

“Did it work?”

“About sixty percent of the time. Other times the people who started it would get in trouble. For a lot of my high school it was the only time I saw my dad, when the headmaster would make him come to campus. I know he did a lot of bad things, I know he’s a bad guy, I’m glad he went to prison. But sometimes I wanted to get in trouble just so I could have his attention for a little while. And when he got me alone he always kicked the shit out of me. But I wanted to see him. I used to do stupid, dangerous things just so that the school would have to call him. I’m pleased that he went down but… it’s hard to be happy. So I just want to drink with hot people and sing with my hot friends. I’m tired and I want to be able to fall into bed and sleep as opposed to lying awake thinking. So, a few more songs, few more drinks, a whole lot of wings and maybe some mozzarella sticks. Then home for cuddling and passing out.”

With a nod Gibbs said, “That sounds awesome.”

“Totally epic cuddling,” Tony agreed and was too drunk to remember to stop nodding. “Will you sing with me?”

“I don’t sing in public. I’ll sing to you later if you like. But I’ll do a boilermaker with you now if you like.”

Tony smiled, and it seemed like the first real one of the night. “Fair-trade.”

Gibbs led him back inside and ordered, “Two bourbons and two dark beers, please.” He paid and handed Tony his beer. They each took a long sip and then dropped the shot glasses into the beers. They clinked their pints together.

“To finality,” said Tony and then they chugged them down quickly. Pulling a face Tony said, “One more, Jethro?”

Gibbs waved to the bartender, “Once more, please.” After repeating the process Gibbs kissed Tony’s cheek.

“Go get Abby to sing with you.”

Within five minutes of Tony stepping away he and Abby were on stage singing A Cowboy’s Work is Never Done. They ordered more food and booze and closing in on two in the morning Ducky said, “It’s no good, my young friends, I must go to bed.” Tony hugged Ducky.

“Thanks for coming, Ducky. I know you would have rather gone bowling.”

“My dear boy, I would have gone to a bordello for you tonight.”

As he pulled back Tony laughed, it sounded fake to Gibbs, “Huh, no one suggested that.” Ducky patted his shoulder and was off. Gibbs had been quite clear about the night before they’d began making plans. No one had driven. Gibbs had thought that Abby was still dating the divorced guy but he saw the way she put her hand on McGee’s arm.

As Ducky was making his goodbyes Gibbs signed, covertly to Abby that he wanted a word she moved towards him and he moved away from the group. Speaking gently he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, “You broke his heart once, Abby. He’s grownup a lot, he’s gotten stronger and he’s become a man but you stomped his heart into dust and it took him a year and a half to start dating again. Then he wasn’t that important to the workings of the team so his personal life wasn’t any of my business. Now he’s integral to my team, I need him at his best, so don’t break him again. He’s grownup a lot, but he’s a soft person, Abs. Be kind to him.” She nodded. “Thank you.”


“We’re going to end up together, y’know?” said Abby.

Gibbs nodded, “We all know that, Abby, but if you have too many false starts he might give up. He’s always been in love with you. Don’t use him because you’re both hurting. He’s not using you.”

She nodded, “I know.” She reached out for a hug and he responded accordingly. “I think this one’s the real deal. I met his parents.”

He smiled, “Hope that’s true, Abs. I’m a little worried about how many times I’ve had to enforce your restraining orders.”

Then McGee came over and said, “Abby, you want to share a cab?”

“Gibbs knows,” said Abby.

Eyes wide, like a child being caught out, McGee sort of stuttered, “Um, well, boss. I-”

Taking his arm Abby said, “Let’s go to your place. The coffin’s small with two people. Goodnight, Gibbs.”

He watched as people said their goodnights and then he, Tony and Clark hailed a cab. In the cab he wrapped his arm around Tony. Tony and Clark were both dozing but he sat awake wondering how he would fix things. Stroking Tony’s hair Gibbs looked out the window and enjoyed being a passenger. As they finally pulled up outside the house Gibbs paid the man and said, “C’mon, guys. We’re home.”

Gibbs and Clark, who didn’t drink, had to lead Tony up the porch stairs. Sitting down had caused the alcohol to catch up with him. Tony nuzzled into his shoulder, “Epic cuddling. I’m cold.”

“We’ll get some sweats, drink a couple a glasses of water and go to bed.” Tony let his head loll in a nod. He saw Clark lock the door behind them. With a look of thanks to him Gibbs started to help Tony up the stairs, stroking his back gently saying softly, “There’s a boy, Tony.”

“I think I need to puke,” said Tony. He lunged into the bathroom fell to his knees and started vomiting up an impressive amount of liquid.

“Okay, Tony, it’s okay,” he stroked the back of Tony’s head. Clark left silently and Gibbs hoped he’d gone to get water. Tony kept stopping for a few moments to flush before going back to vomiting.

Clark came back with big glasses of water. “This is definitely a boyfriend’s job,” said Clark.

“Goodnight,” said Gibbs as Tony said, “Gahni,” while vomiting.

After a few more minutes Tony sat back, pale and sweaty. “I think I’m done, Jethro.”

Holding out the glass Gibbs said, “See if you can keep any of this down.” Tony took tiny sips.

“Sorry,” said Tony between sips.

“You’re okay,” assured Gibbs.

Tony got about half way through his glass and Gibbs stood up, “I’m gonna get the ibuprofen. Keep drinking.” Tony nodded listlessly.

Gibbs went into the bedroom. The bed was unmade and Tony’s stuff was scattered about. At one point that would have bothered Gibbs but he liked Tony and didn’t care that he was messy. He went to his dresser for the pills. Tony was still on the floor, his glass was two thirds empty. “Good job,” said Gibbs. Holding out two pills he said, “Swallow these.” Tony did as he was told and Gibbs reached for the now empty glass and refilled it from the tap. “One more glass, then bed.” He sat down beside Tony and sipped his own water.

Tony drained his water and stood up suddenly. He washed his face, stripped out of his clothes, threw them into the hamper, brushed his teeth and stumbled out of the towards the bedroom. Gibbs brushed his teeth and followed him when he heard a bang. Tony was on the floor, one leg in his sweats. “I fell over.”

“Can see that,” Gibbs picked him up and put him on the bed. He pulled on Tony’s sweats. “That’s better.” He grabbed a t-shirt out of Tony’s set of drawers. “Arms up.” Tony did as he was told and Gibbs pulled the shirt on for him.

“I’m uncomfortably drunk,” said Tony.

“I know, get into bed.” Tony wriggled his way under the sheets. Gibbs dressed for bed and then turned off all the lights.

“Room’s spinning,” Tony muttered. Gibbs got into bed beside him and pulled Tony close. “Feels good.”

“Yeah?”

“Pretty soon I’ll have been in love with you for a decade.”

“Yeah?”

“That night we beat the shit out of each other in that bar. That’s when I knew.”

Gibbs remembered that night. Tony started on the job the same day that they got a missing person case of a five year old. They worked it intensely for four weeks. Gibbs had figured it was actually a good crash course in how to work under him. When they finally found her Gibbs wasn’t surprised she was dead. She’d starved half to death but what had killed her was internal bleeding from being raped repeatedly. They’d caught the bastards and Tony had said, “We lie to her parents, right? I mean that SOP for here too, right?”

Gibbs had rolled his eyes, “Well, no, DiNozzo, I was planning on drawing them diagrams. Go home, DiNozzo. We’re taking tomorrow off. I’ll see you Friday.” He didn’t know Tony well enough to know how he gave people bad news so he went to her parents alone. And he told them that she had been killed shortly after being taken, before the ransom had been demanded. They asked if they would be able to have an open casket and he had told them that it wasn’t possible. It had been the kindest thing possible.

Earlier in the week Tony had reprogrammed his cell phone’s speed dials. Smiling he’d said, “You’re replacing my favorite cab service.”

He’d rolled his eyes, “I’m honored.”

When his cell phone rang at two in the morning he put down his sandpaper and answered with a, “Yeah.”

A very drunk Tony had replied, “Hi! It’s Tony DiNozzo. I’m at the Blues Alley Club, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. Will you send someone, please?”

“It’ll be about fifteen minutes,” Gibbs replied.

When he’d gotten there Tony was easy to spot, slutty ripped jeans, eyeliner, a tight black t-shirt, lips kiss bruised and eyes glassy with booze. It had taken Tony a few beats to recognize Gibbs. He’d smiled brightly, “I didn’t know you partied in Georgetown, boss.”

“I don’t. You called me.”

“No, I called a cab.”

“No, you called me. Let’s get you home, DiNozzo.” He taken Tony’s arm but Tony had swung at him with his free arm.

As drunk as Tony was he still managed to connect with Gibbs’ jaw. It was a good excuse for Gibbs to punch him back. He wanted violence that night. They beat the hell out of each other. When the bartender tried to break it up they’d both flashed their badges and said, “Federal Agents.”

It didn’t matter to the guy who’d pointed at Gibbs and said, “You’re barred,” and to Tony he’d said, “Tony, you’re out for a week.”

They’d walked out and in the cold night’s air Tony seemed slightly more sober and even though his nose and lips were bleeding he said, “I worked homicide for two years. I’ve never seen a body that little.”

“It doesn’t get easier,” Gibbs said.

“Kids are little but they take up so much space, loud and energetic. I’ve never seen a kid so still. It made her smaller.”

Gibbs knew then that he should have brought Tony with him when he told the parents. As brash as Tony was he was obviously a kind man, an empathetic man. “Can I give you a ride, DiNozzo?”

“Yes please, boss. That would be good.”

Now Gibbs stroked his back and held him close. “Rough case.”

“You took me home. We have a good energy.”

Gibbs made a noise of agreement, “How you feeling?”

“Less like I’m going to puke.”

“Good, shut your eyes and try to get a little sleep?”

“Hmm,” said Tony and nuzzled against him. Gibbs stayed awake, stroking him and enjoying the closeness. But he slipped off at some point. The noise of Tony’s cell phone woke him. Tony picked it up and made sleepy, affirmative noises. He finished the conversation by saying, “Bring food.” Then Tony rolled out of bed and padded towards the door. Sitting up slowly Gibbs rubbed his eyes and looked at the clock and saw it was past eleven. Through the door he could see Tony brushing his teeth in slow motion. Gibbs stood and pulled on socks. Going to the bathroom he shut the door behind him to take a leak while Tony finished brushing his teeth. “Sorry I puked on you.” Tony said it in his usual hungover whisper.

Gibbs shook his head, “You only puked near me.” He kept his voice quiet for Tony’s benefit.

“McGee is coming with food.” Gibbs said nothing but flushed and went to wash his hands and brush his teeth. Tony kissed his cheek, “Want a DiNozzo Defibrillator?”

Gibbs nodded and Tony left. When Gibbs got downstairs he saw that Tony had two glasses and was pouring fizzy water into the glasses. He then added hot sauce, lemon juice, sugar and salt. He held one of them out, “Drink this down, fast works best.” He took his own glass, considered it for a moment and then chugged it. He pulled a face and coughed. “I feel better already.”

It looked disgusting but it tasted worse. “Jesus, that’s horrible.”

Tony shrugged, “It works.” He moved to the coffee pots and poured them a cup each.

“Feels like its eating through my chest.” But his head did feel suddenly clearer.

“That show’s it’s working. It’s pulling the alcohol out of your body.” He passed Gibbs a cup then he heard the shower turn on. “Clark’s up.” He paused, “I want my slippers. Be right back.” He did seem less hungover as he headed out the room towards the stairs.

While Tony was upstairs a knock came at the door. Gibbs went to open it and saw a very hungover McGee who had a couple of bags and Jethro the dog with him. “I have food.”

“Good, that’s the price of admission.” He headed towards the kitchen. Where McGee laid out a big box of doughnuts, and then laid out a bunch of croissants, and then four sausage, egg and cheese biscuits. “That’s a lot of food.” Gibbs sat down and picked up a doughnut.

“I get hungry when I’m hungover. Tony likes grease and everyone likes carbs.” He let the dog off the leash.

Tony came in and said softly, “I smell sausage.”

“Sandwiches,” McGee pointed vaguely. “How was the rest of your night?”

“I puked a lot. How was yours?”

“Abby decided that we should have a ‘where are we going’ conversation. She shunned me when I did that years ago.” McGee sat down across from him and started in on a croissant.

“How’d that go?” asked Tony as he started to unwrap and eat a sandwich.

“I think we’re engaged to be engaged. There’s definitely another dog and three kids in our future. She’s moving in and I don’t know what’s happening with her coffin but I’m not sleeping in it. It’s uncomfortable. The whole thing is a bit of a blur. We were drunk it was almost six AM by the time we fell into bed. I may need your help in picking a ring.”

“Wow. Congratulations, man. That’s awesome,” said Tony. The dog came over and looked at Tony as he ate, “Jethro, I know McGee fed you, no people food.” The dog rested his chin on Tony’s knee. “There’s a good boy.”

“I want the next one to be a bitch. Two male dogs are a lot to handle. But that might not be for a while. I think you need a house to have two big dogs.”

“Wow,” repeated Tony. “It was a pretty in depth conversation.”

“Well, it was over three hours long,” McGee said.

“You pleased or just confused?”

“I’m pretty pleased, a little surprised, but y’know, engaged to be engaged is cool. I mean it’s weird that we’re sort of engaged and she’s moving in but this morning she left my apartment to break up with the three other people she’s been dating. That’s a little weird, right?”

“Well, it’s Abby.”

“I think it was maybe this trial, I think maybe she wants something a little more permanent. And I think it may have started her biological clock too.”

“How?” asked Tony.

“It’s the thought process: your dad was a sick bastard, she’d be kind to her kids, I’d be a great dad, we always knew we’d get together, it’s time to get together. I’m thirty-three and she’s – well I think that’s a secret – we’re not getting younger.”

“She’s thirty-seven,” said Tony.

“How do you know that?” asked McGee sounding shocked.

“You realize you have security clearance to look in her file, right?” Tony asked sarcastically. Having finished the sandwich he moved on to a doughnut. McGee gave him a look. “What? I’m nosey, this isn’t news. Want me to tell you what your psych profiler wrote about you?”

“Want me to punch you in the face?”

“I’d like you to try,” Tony said with a bright smile. “Coffee?” he asked, standing to refill his cup.

“Yeah please,” said McGee going for another croissant. “If you want another sandwich go for it. I can’t face the grease this morning.”

“I’m not ready for a second.”

Clark walked in with a chirpy, “Good morning!” Gibbs and the other two groaned. “There are some perks to being the sober one.”

Tony spoke in the same soft tone they’d been using all morning, “This is the volume we’re using. Learn it, love it, speak with it.” He handed McGee the coffee then said, “McGee, would you like a DiNozzo Defibrillator?”

“No, they scare me.”

“It works,” said Gibbs, eating one of the sandwiches.

They moved into the living room and broke out important episodes of Doctor Who. Tony and McGee picked them carefully, talking about thematic arcs, about plot continuity. Gibbs let it wash over him. He ate and drank coffee as Tony and McGee tag teamed explaining the show to Clark. Once the decisions were made Tony settled down next to him. That was always Gibbs’ favorite part, sitting with Tony close as Tony got wrapped up in one of his shows. Tony acted like TV was magic.

Gibbs could see the little kid Tony had been: a sad kid who lost himself in fantasy to get away from a hard reality. He was doing it again, ignoring the fact that his Dad was in prison, and slipping into the magic world of fiction. It was easy for Gibbs to pull Tony close and stroke his hair. He kissed Tony’s temple and Tony turned and smiled at him before turning back to the Doctor and Kylie Minogue running around. The show didn’t interest Gibbs in the least but he loved watching Tony watch it.

For the whole day they stayed on the couch eating and watching Doctor Who in sweats. Abby came late in the afternoon and slid into McGee’s lap, kissing him deeply. She looked hungover and was dressed more casually than usual, in black tennis shoes, a black miniskirt, black tank top, oversized black sweatshirt and her only jewelry was a black studded collar. “I like this episode,” she said. Which was odd as Gibbs couldn’t tell one episode from another.

They ordered Chinese food and at seven McGee said, “Okay, it finished at two thirty, someone’s put it on the web by now.” He reached for Tony’s laptop and said, “It’ll take about fifteen minutes.”

“I’m still hungover,” said Abby.

“I’m fixed,” said Tony. “Y’want a Defibrillator?”

“No, really no. It’s too late in the day.” She cuddled into McGee, who reached around her to type. It was an odd match but they’d always worked so well together. McGee kissed her neck and she smiled. They ate the Chinese food and watched the new episode.

Afterwards Tony said, “Damn it.”

“Yeah,” agreed McGee.

“I like him,” Tony continued.

“Me too.”

“I feel like I’m betraying David Tennant.”

“Yeah. But this guy’s so good,” McGee sounded like it pained him.

“I forgive him for not being David. I’m not ready for the marathon to be over.”

So they watched a couple more episodes. Then it was getting late and McGee said, “I think we all need to go to bed. Last night was pretty rough.”

“I’m taking Clark on a walking tour of all the monuments tomorrow.”

“Fun,” said Abby.

“Join us if you like.”

People left and Tony had one last cup of coffee while Clark continued to eat Chinese food and Gibbs started shutting off the lights and locking the door. They went up to bed and Tony stripped naked and slid under the sheets, “You want me?” asked Tony. Gibbs drank in the sight of Tony’s naked chest.

“Every minute of every day.” Gibbs undressed and got into bed. “Tony, we should talk.”

“Good talk or bad talk?”

Gibbs pulled him close, “How are you doing?”

“Do we have to do this?” asked Tony.

“If you don’t face it, it won’t get better.”

“No, it’ll go away. I’ll just run away from it.”

“Yep, know all about that. But years from now you’re going to get blown up and have amnesia and it will all rush back to you. Trust me, I know.”

“I don’t know how to deal with it. I don’t know how to face it. Ignoring it just seems easiest. I didn’t know how to deal with him when I was little. I don’t know how to deal with him now. I went to him, I went to him, to offer – I don’t know – compassion, or to bring him things in prison. I went to him as an adult, as the one with power and he hit me. So how do I face that, Jethro? I’m a thirty-nine year-old successful man with daddy issues. What I really want is Mom, and she’s not here. She’s been dead for over twenty-five years. So what should I do? Because right now I just want to surround myself in good things and fake being okay. Why isn’t that acceptable?”

“It is acceptable, of course it is.”

“I want him to be proud of me. How sick is that? All these years later, I still want my lying, bastard, murdering dad to be proud of me. My friends, you, the Federal Government is proud of me. Why do I need his approval? Why does it hurt that he doesn’t like me when he’s scum who has hurt me my whole life? So what am I supposed to be talking about, Jethro?”

Gibbs shrugged, “I don’t know.”

“I want my mom. When I was little and she was sober she always kept me away from my dad. She was so beautiful, she looked like a movie star, she really did. She always smelled really good, like perfume and hairspray. I worshipped her. She loved my dad, like, really, madly loved him. And it wasn’t the money. He was the love of her life. He wasn’t very nice to her, I mean, he didn’t hit her but he was always short with her. Maybe it was a bedroom thing, I don’t know. And she didn’t like the way he treated me. I think that’s why she drank so much she loved him and she loved me and I think she felt lost.” Tony turned his head and slowly kissed Gibbs. “So as none of that can be fixed can we please have sex and go to sleep? Please?” Tony moved to straddle Gibbs. Gibbs reached to hold his face and kissed him deeply.

Rolling them Gibbs pushed Tony down, “Is this what you want?” Tony smiled up at him, the totally open, trusting, relaxed smile that was only for private use.

They started kissing in earnest. Gibbs hadn’t made out with anyone like this since he was young but he had a hard time keeping his hands off Tony. Sometimes even at work it was difficult. Tony wrapped his legs around him and held Gibbs’ ass to get him closer as Gibbs ran his hands all over his body. Tony moaned into Gibbs’ mouth. It was nice to be alone with Tony.

Tony fumbled for the bedside table and Gibbs pulled back a little to get the lube. “Love when you look all kissed out.” Tony looked slightly dazed as Gibbs started to gently stretch him. “I like Clark, but I can’t wait for it to be just us again.”

“I like cooking naked.”

“I like to watch you cook naked.” Tony threw his head back and his legs tightened around Gibbs, “Like that look too.”

“Feels great.”

“You’re right.” Gibbs kissed and nipped at his neck Tony reached for Gibbs head to pull him down for a kiss.

As Gibbs slid inside of him Tony said, “I’ve never felt this close to anyone in my entire life.”

“I’m really glad it’s me,” said Gibbs. They went back to kissing as they moved together. There was nothing lustful about this sex. It was comforting and known. Gibbs remembered when they’d first gotten together, how much difficulty Tony had had with intimacy, how he’d struggled against personal sex. Now he treated it as his right. He still had problems with giving Gibbs control but the closeness no longer bothered him. Tony rolled them and it changed the angle making both of them gasp. It allowed Gibbs to stroke Tony’s back. Tony almost cuddled into him and Gibbs obliged by holding him close. “Tony,” he whispered, “it’s going to be okay. It’s going to get better. And I’ll be right here. I love you, Tony.”

Tony was kissing his neck but he raised his head to look Gibbs in the eye, “I love you too, Jethro.” Then he smiled, a playful smirk, “I get to go back to work on Monday.”

Gibbs pulled him in for a kiss. He meant what he’d said to Tony. He was truly happy with Tony, his life was good again. All of his happiness he owed to Tony, and it was his job to make Tony happy again. He stroked Tony to completion, Tony shook but didn’t stop moving. Gibbs came within a few beats and he tightened his arms around Tony getting him to still. “How fast can you get out of psych?”

“Six hours, with a break for lunch.”

“Usually it takes you under an hour.”

“It’s harder this time. I’ll do my best.”

“I can’t wait to be telling you to grab your gear.” He ran his hands up and down Tony’s back.

“I can’t wait to be useful again.”

“You’ve solved two cold cases, while having company, while going through hell.”

“I know, but it’s not the same as having a bad guy on the hook.”

“Sometimes I don’t think you know how good you are.”

“My boss tells me, by buying me pizza and coffee and sometimes even by saying it.”

“He’s not very nice.”

“I don’t know what to do about him. He hurt me by leaving me out of the loop for the thousandth time. I’m pissed but I don’t want to be angry anymore. I’m sick of being angry.”

“How could it be fixed?”

“He said he didn’t tell me because of rule eighteen.”

“It is better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.”

“Yeah only problem is he never ‘seeked’ forgiveness. I never got so much as a ‘my bad’ and he left me hanging in the breeze. Rule eighteen trumps rule six.”

“I was trying to protect my senior agent. Not just because I want him on his game but because he’s important to me. I would have kept that secret from you: it’s a terrible thing to learn. I would have kept it from you forever. So I am sorry, I’m sorry you found out.”

“Apology accepted,” said Tony. Gibbs chuckled. “I love it when you laugh and you’re inside of me. I love all of the vibrations.” Tony moved away from him slowly, flopping down next to him. “Now I can be really excited about going to work. I have some fun ideas stored up for McGee.”

Gibbs felt himself rolling his eyes. “You’re going to get some work done though, right?”

“You know you love the fun.”

“Of course I do. But if it gets out of hand, I’ll have to slap you down.”

Tony smiled, “Yeah, that bit’s fun too.”

“Tony?”

“Yeah?”

“Go to sleep.” He threw a leg over Tony’s.

“On it, boss!”

They did a walking tour for Clark the next day and when they dropped him off at the airport he said, “I’ll come back. I don’t know why I stayed away for so long.” On Monday they took separate cars. Gibbs saw Tony in the navy yard but the man was going towards to building where psych was located and Gibbs left him alone so he could get into the right headspace. Tony never made it to his desk that day.

That night he bitched that he’d gotten the only diligent shrink in the agency. “It’s a problem that everyone knows we’re together. I flirted like a mother and it got me nowhere. She asked me how we were doing as a couple. Flirting got her questioning whether or not you and I are okay.” Gibbs laughed, “No, Jethro, don’t laugh. It’s not funny. I want my gun.” Tony had a nightmare that night. Gibbs didn’t know what it was, Tony didn’t say anything. At around two in the morning Tony sat up, panting. Jethro looked at him, waiting for an explanation but Tony just shook his head and curled into Gibbs’ side.

The next day Tony still never made it to the squad room and when he got home he was swearing. “I hate this, did you get a body?” Gibbs shook his head. “I want on the team and I want a body.” He had another nightmare that night, he didn’t wake up, just kicked a lot.

The third day the psych trip stopped being funny. Mid afternoon Gibbs went up to Vance’s office and shut the door behind him. “DiNozzo’s not okay.”

“I know that, Gibbs,” said Vance not looking up.

“But this isn’t helping him. You’re making it worse. You’re telling him that the people who he trusts, the agency he believes in doesn’t trust or believe in him. Give him his gun and his security clearance. He’ll heal on the job. You’re screwing with his mind, Leon. I want my Senior Agent back! My team is being sidelined. If you’re trying to help him and not punish him, let him come back.” He studied the man.

Vance nodded and picked up his phone. Someone picked up and he said, “Clear DiNozzo… I don’t care, clear him.” He hung up and said, “He’s cleared.”

“Good,” said Gibbs, “now you can have the good team back.”

Tony walked in with a huge smile as Gibbs was coming down the stairs. He called, “Thanks, boss,” up to Gibbs.

It took less than ten minutes for his phone to ring. As he got the information he saw Tony start to smile. He hung up and shouted, “Grab your gear.” Tony was grinning like crazy and, when he passed Gibbs, Gibbs slapped the back of his head. “Don’t get excited about murder, it’s tacky.”

“Yes, boss. Won’t happen again, boss.” But he was still smiling and Gibbs couldn’t blame him. They worked the case for the next five days solid, they didn’t make it home for more than a few hours. Tony was on, the whole time, bringing rested eyes to the case. It was too intense for jokes or playing. It was a tri-state manhunt. In the end it was Tony who chased the guy, pushed the guy to the ground and read him his rights. After cuffing the suspect Tony popped back up, pulling the guy up from the ground he smiled and said, “It’s good to be back!”

Having missed the weekend they took Tuesday off. Tony spent the morning naked except for shoes: he cooked breakfast and worked on the boat. Around lunchtime Gibbs said, “You need to get dressed.”

“I thought you liked me naked?”

“I’m not jealous like you but I really don’t like the idea of everyone at the marina knowing about the mole above your left ass cheek.”

“We can put the boat in the water?”

“Yeah, the marina opened for the spring yesterday. But you need to put on clothes.” Tony beamed at him and ran up the stairs. Gibbs watched his ass appreciatively. He called after him, “Bring clothes for the morning.” He’d already covertly put groceries in the galley that morning. As Tony came back down with an overnight bag and a garment bag Gibbs said, “We’re going to have to line up to use the slip. But it’s midweek and the kids are in school so it shouldn’t be that bad.”

They ended up lining up for over two hours. But Tony obviously didn’t mind as he never stopped smiling. He was over excited and talking to everyone who passed. That talked about when it would be their turn and came up with a plan they would get the boat in and Gibbs would take it to their dock while Tony parked the car. When it was their turn they did it in half the time of everyone else because they worked like a well oiled machine. The waters were pretty calm and before too long they were sailing out in the sea. Gibbs put out fishing lines and, at Tony’s dirty look he said, “You don’t have to do anything. I know you hate fishing. I just want to see if we catch anything. We’re at the peak of Tautog season. They’re delicious.”

Tony smiled at him and as Gibbs finished setting the lines Tony said, “Take the wheel. I’m going to put on the music.”

“Would you get me a soda?” He asked as he took the wheel and kissed Tony’s cheek. Tony nodded and headed down the stairs. Gibbs never drank on the boat. It wasn’t that he was afraid of getting drunk, he knew his limits and would have been fine with a few beers in him but Tony hadn’t liked the idea of sailing because he equated boats with his drunk parents so Gibbs never had a drink of anything when they were on the boat, never wanted Tony to feel anything but happy here. He heard Bob Dylan start to sing and Tony came back up the stairs with a couple of cans on Coke.

“Saw the groceries. But I’m hoping for fish,” he said as he handed off a soda.

“Me too.”

Tony adjusted the sails. He’d gotten good at the boat back when he’d broken his ribs now he sipped his soda and sang as he worked. “I missed the boat.”

“I’m glad you like her.”

“I love her, best present ever.”

“Better than the ponies?”

“Completely, you made her for me. She’s perfect.” One of the lines went taut. “You are dealing with that.” He moved to the wheel as Gibbs reeled in the fish and it was big, over two feet. Gibbs wacked it against the boat to kill it. “Don’t get blood on my boat.”

Gibbs rolled his eyes at Tony. Gibbs cleaned the fish off the side of the boat and said, “Are you hungry?”

“Yeah, I could eat.” Tony smiled. “Let’s put down the anchor and put out the beacon lights.” They were close enough to shore to anchor for the night and out of the way of the other boats. Gibbs watched as Tony set about preparing the boat for the night and went downstairs to cook the fish in a skillet. Tony came down and said, “Smells awesome.”

“There’s a salad in the fridge and chips in the grocery bag.”

“We gonna come out here tomorrow?” asked Tony as he got out the salad.

“If we don’t get a case that keeps us in the office all night.”

“We should swing by the car tomorrow and get the other car. I’m gonna inconvenience you tomorrow morning, I need to go to Starbucks and get to the office early.”

“Why?”

“Because I haven’t had a chance to prank the team yet.” Gibbs rolled his eyes. “Please? I won’t feel comfortable until I mess with them a little. Please, Jethro?”

“Whatever you want.” He put the fish onto plates as Tony dished out the salad. They sat down at the little table and Tony opened the chips and putting the bag between them.

“This is good,” said Tony, “really good.”

“See, fishing is good.”

“I don’t believe in killing my own food.”

“I think it’s a good skill.”

“That’s because you’re manly.” Tony didn’t say it as a joke, smiled at him warmly. “Come the apocalypse you can kill us the food and I’ll supply the entertainment by recounting films.”

“Sounds solid. We’ll get Ziva to spy on other survivors for us and McGee can do the laundry.”

Tony smiled and they slipped into silence as they finished eating Tony said, “Thank you for talking Vance into letting me come back.”

“You’re doing great.”

“I missed it. I’m not good at time off when I’m unhappy.”

“I know.” Tony yawned and Gibbs smiled, “Let’s go to bed. You look exhausted. We’ve barely slept.”

Tony nodded. “I am exhausted.”

They cleaned up the kitchen and head back towards the bedroom. Tony brushed his teeth as Gibbs made the bed. And when Gibbs came back from the bathroom Tony was naked and kneeling on the bed. Tony reached out and started unbuttoning Gibbs’ shirt. “I thought you were exhausted,” said Gibbs.

“Jethro, I’m tired, not dead.” Tony smiled, “Want me?”

Gibbs shrugged out of his shirt and ran his hands over Tony’s body, “You’re so sexy.” And he really was, he had such an amazing body cover in scars though it was and Tony was smiling widely. Tony reached for his fly and Gibbs moved closer. “I want you to ride me,” said Gibbs.

“Sounds fun,” agreed Tony. He began to stroke Gibbs to hardness as Gibbs stepped out of his pants. “I wish we could be naked all the time. Love seeing you naked.”

“Well, we could always quit our jobs, but that seems a little foolish.” Tony kissed his shoulder. Gibbs climbed into bed and kneeled next to Tony. But as Tony stroked him Gibbs said, “You could talk me into it.”

“Sounds good.” Tony reached up to the compartment for the lube and said, “Please, Jethro. Don’t tease me tonight. Want you.”

He handed off the lube and stroked Gibbs with a slippery hand. Gibbs started to stretch him open with slick fingers and Tony kissed him hard. Gibbs moved, lying back on the bed and pulling Tony onto his lap. Tony writhed against him and was hard without being stroked. “You feel so good, you’re like velvet inside.”

“I’m ready, Jethro, I’m ready.” Tony was supporting himself with his hands on Gibbs’ chest, playing with his nipples. As Gibbs slid inside of him Tony threw his head back. “God, feels so good. Can’t believe we went nine years without ever doing this.”

“Wanted to; didn’t think it was on the table. Didn’t want to ruin the job.”

“Have we ruined the job?” asked Tony.

“So much more fun now.” Tony leaned down to kiss him. “Being with you is fun.”

“Yeah?”

“Most fun I’ve had in my life.”

Tony smiled and started rocking in his lap. “Do you want anything special?”

“Just you.” Gibbs raised his legs slightly, giving Tony a prop to lean back against. “You’re special.”

Tony moved, picking up speed. “Love you. Can’t believe you built me a boat.”

Tony leaned down again to kiss him and the angle was fantastic. “Stay like that, please, stay like that.” He grabbed Tony’s ass.

“What happened to me riding you?”

“Change of plan.” Gibbs grabbed his hips and rolled them over. He fucked into Tony without pause. Tony brought his hands to Gibbs’ face but Gibbs pulled Tony’s hands away, pinned them to the bed. “Let me,” he said, “it’s all okay.” Tony bucked against him. Tony craned his head up for a kiss. “I love you.” Tony nodded and met Gibbs’ thrusts. Gibbs pulled Tony’s hands above his head and held them in one of his so that he could reach down and stroke Tony into coming. Tony tightened around him and Gibbs came hard. As Gibbs released his hands Tony brought his arms down to hug him. “Good?”

“Pinning me down and taking me hard and fast? You’re the only person who could do that and I would find it sexy as opposed to date rape. You know I don’t like being dominated but you make it so good. It was awesome. You can do it any time you like.” Tony cuddled into him, the way he always did when they had intense sex. Gibbs slowly pulled out of him and pulled up the blankets. Tony rolled them over and curled on top of Gibbs.

“You okay?”

“Loved it. You’re my best friend, Jethro, have been for years. Even when you were my mean angry boss, still liked you most. Don’t tell Abby or Dan.”

“Still your mean angry boss.”

“Only from nine to five.”

He stroked the back of Tony’s head with one hand and hugged him with the other. “You’re so good for me. You’re my best friend too.”

“I’m up against stiff competition: Ducky, Franks and Fornell. You sure about that?”

“Completely.” Tony smiled. “Don’t tell Duck.”

“Never would.” He held Tony close and felt as the other man drifted off. He was still worried about Tony. He was fine at work but he was too quiet at home. Throwing Tony off balance in bed was good, getting him out of his comfort zone here and making it feel good showed Tony that he could feel out of control and still be safe.

When his alarm went off Gibbs got up trying not to disturb Tony. He took a shower and got dressed. He leant down and stroked Tony’s hair. Speaking softly he said, “Tony,” Tony blinked his eyes open, “time to shower.” Tony sat up, blinking. “Any nightmares?”

“Never had a nightmare on the boat.” Gibbs smiled and kissed Tony’s forehead.

“I’m going to get us back to the marina. There’s coffee once you’re dressed.” Half an hour later Tony came up to the deck fully dressed and with coffee in hand, he drained it empty. Gibbs was just sailing into the marina and was trimming the sails in the early morning light. “Hey there, good looking.”

“What cha got cooking?”

Gibbs smiled and said, “How's about cookin' somethin' up with me?”

“I’ll buy you breakfast at Starbucks.” Tony put out the bumpers and brought down the sails as they pulled up to the dock. Gibbs jumped onto the dock and Tony threw him the ropes. Tony climbed out of the boat and said, “Nice morning.” Gibbs made a noise of agreement.

They went to Starbucks where Tony set his plan in motion for McGee and bought them both breakfast sandwiches. At the office Tony riffled through Ziva’s desk, pulling out the pictures of her latest, secret boyfriend. He got post-its out and drew an arrow with the words underneath “Who is this?” and then on five other post-its wrote the guy’s life story. It took him under five minutes and when McGee came in Tony was back at his desk. “Hey, Probie, brought you a coffee.”

McGee looked surprised but said, “Thanks, Tony.” He drank it as he started in on his paper work.

Ziva came in five minutes later and looked at her desk Tony was reading a cold case and fully engrossed in it to the point that he had missed that she’d come in. She picked up her stapler and snuck up on him. She wacked his hand hard.

“Ouch!”

“Do not go through my desk.”

“He seems like a lovely man and he has no idea who your dad is.”

“Do not touch my things!”

“Okay,” he smiled at her, “okay.”

Gibbs knew that she and Tony were going to be fine and that her reaction had excused her from a prank war. She was treating Tony normally. When McGee finished his coffee Tony said, “Is there something written on the inside of your cup?”

McGee raised an eyebrow and took off the lid, “Warning: contains ex-lax.” He looked up looking horrified. “Tell me that’s a joke.”

“I think it’s funny,” said Tony.

McGee looked upset but somehow resigned, “Seriously?”

“I guess you’ll find out sometime tonight.”

McGee didn’t hit him, didn’t really react at all, “Damn it, Tony.”

That was all. Gibbs knew that the war was on. McGee wasn’t reacting because he was still feeling badly, didn’t want to be mad Tony while Tony was hurting. Gibbs saw Tony’s eyes go cold. Now he would treat it as his job to get McGee angry at him. Once McGee got angry and treated Tony normally Tony would be a hell of a lot happier. They didn’t get a case and Tony was irritated all day. They went home after work to pick up Tony’s car and Tony was still pissed.

“So what’s your plan?” asked Gibbs.

Tony looked sad and said, “I’m going to test him. See if he’ll take another coffee. This one I’ll fill with salt. What’s on the boat do we need supplies?”

“We have food in the fridge, we’re good. But I’m thinking of taking you some place tonight.” As they pulled up to the house. Gibbs said, “Let’s grab clothes and get out of here.”

Within an hour they were on the boat, it was just getting dark. “So where are we going for dinner?” asked Tony. “Are we just hanging out on the boat until we go to this place?”

“No, we’re sailing there.” Tony smiled at him and they sailed down the coast to a place Gibbs liked, it had a dock to tie up to and had nice pan-Asian food. They drank wine and ate noodles.

Tony said, “It’s nice to go to an Asian place that doesn’t make you ask for a fork.”

Gibbs snorted, “You and chopsticks.”

“I don’t think utensils should take effort,” Tony said as he spun noodles onto his fork.

Gibbs chuckled and used his chopsticks effortlessly. “Glad you’re enjoying it.”

“How’d you find this place?”

“I was sailing around with Franks and we found it. He didn’t like it.”

“I like it.”

They sailed back to the marina; it was too rough to sleep out in the sea. At the marina Tony jumped out to tie the boat up as Ernie was walking by. They had a quick conversation with him and then they went to bed where Tony took him slowly and sweetly. They slept in later than they had the day before as they didn’t need to sail home.

Tony was up first and woke Gibbs saying, “It’s your turn to take a shower.” He kissed Gibbs slowly, “That was a great date last night.”

“That was a great orgasm,” Gibbs responded.

“Yeah,” agreed Tony. “I’ll see you at the office.” As Tony was turning to leave Gibbs grabbed his wrist and tugged him back for a last kiss. “Your coffee’s waiting in the galley but I’ll bring you a cup at the office.”

It was another nice morning and Gibbs felt good. He hoped McGee would act normally. He didn’t. When Gibbs got there he saw McGee’s first sip. McGee pulled a face as he swallowed. “Salt, Tony? After yesterday I was expecting a break. I was up half the night because of you.”

Tony looked pissed. At least McGee didn’t suffer through it, he threw it away. Yet again they didn’t get a case and Gibbs was slightly relieved because McGee was throwing Tony off. Gibbs didn’t get involved; he’d leave it one more day. That night Tony gave him a blow job on the deck out in the dark and then Gibbs fucked him hard against the railings before they went down to bed. In bed Tony said, “I’m putting soap in his coffee tomorrow.”

Gibbs had expected sobbing after the trial, he had expected Tony to break down. It hadn’t come. He’d expected the sort of crying that would make a man feel ashamed and emasculated if it weren’t for how painful it was. He’d expected the screaming, crying shouting that was usually accompanied with throwing things. He’d expected it after the trial, he’d expected it when Clark went home, he’d expected it when psych kept saying no. But, for some unknown reason, he wasn’t fully prepared for it now.

Tony said, “Craig was murdered not me. And now McGee is treating me like a fucking victim and it’s not fair, not by a long shot. I’m a Fed, a well respected one. A fully grown man who can take care of himself.” His voice got angry, “And it’s fucking insulting! McGee’s a kid who hasn’t been through anything and to have him condescend to drink my fucking coffee like he’s indulging me is fucking rude. I’m not the fucking victim! I haven’t been for a long time!” Tony started to cry then, not softly, not a few tears. “I’m having nightmares, ones where I’m little and Dad’s so big and mean.” The words were choked out between sobs. “It’s bad enough that I’m a victim in my sleep without McGee treating me like one in the bullpen. It’s offensive! Ziva, man, she smacked me with a stapler and it really hurt. Why can’t he react like that? And I’m starting to hate him, really hate him. I don’t even want to watch Doctor Who with him this weekend.” He was quiet for a few moments except for his ragged breath. “I promised to let you help. If he doesn’t get me tomorrow then you can help.”

“Okay,” Gibbs stroked his back, “You only have to deal with tomorrow. He will get you on Monday, I promise.”

“Bad things happened to me but that doesn’t make me a victim!”

Gibbs rubbed small circles into his back, “I know that.”

“I just want to be normal again. It’s distracting.”

“I know.”

Tony stopped talking and just cried, the kind of crying which made the crier wonder if they would ever be able to stop. Gibbs didn’t try to stop him. Eventually Tony stopped not because he felt better but because he fell asleep. The next day McGee took a sip of the soapy coffee and threw it away saying, “Come on, Tony, knock it off.” Gibbs saw Tony’s eyes go hard.

They got a missing child case, Richy Simms, and Gibbs wanted to scream because Tony was off. Abby called him about the ransom letter. Standing Gibbs said, “Abby’s got tech, McGee, you’re with me.” In the elevator he hit the switch and smacked McGee hard upside the head. “You’re not helping him. Pity drinking the coffee? What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Trying to be a friend.”

“He’s starting to hate you. Said he doesn’t want to watch your stupid show this weekend because he hates you. Act like his goddamn teammate.”

“I don’t know how to.”

“When I was blown up, I threw my team at him and when I came back I threw him out of his chair. He was offered a huge promotion and you were talking about how he didn’t deserve a team. He stayed with us. Not because he liked me or you at that moment but because he’s a team player and he knew that I wasn’t ready to be the boss again. Be a team player, McGee. He doesn’t want to be treated like a victim he wants to be treated normally.” McGee looked horrified and ashamed.
“Act like it was any other time. Get him back, I want you and he to be normal. He put laxatives in your coffee. It’s war. If you want to be his friend then be his friend. Don’t treat him like he’s damaged.” McGee nodded. “I told him that if you didn’t get him this morning I would make sure you did on Monday. But he likes surprises and he’s not going to have his in the game until you two are normal. So do it today, McGee. Do something horrible. The truth is he doesn’t like just pranking you, he likes being pranked, he loves the game. He isn’t a bully and he isn’t picking on you: he’s trying to get you to play. Get your head on straight and fix this. You’re messing up my team.”

“I never meant to hurt him, boss.”

“I know, McGee, but right now you are. And usually as the boss it wouldn’t bother me but you’re throwing him off his game.”

“Yes, boss. I’ll fix it, boss.” Gibbs hit the switch. “Abby doesn’t have any tech does she?” Gibbs rolled his eyes. “Right.”

Abby explained the handwriting: male, middle aged, left-handed. “I told you I don’t have much. I’m still rendering the video to get a license plate and faces. Why’d you come?”

“I needed a word with McGee. You keep working, Abs.”

They went back to the bullpen and Tony was re-watching the video. “DiNozzo!” shouted Gibbs. “What are you doing?”

“I’m missing something, boss. McGee, get me financials.”

“On who?”

“The parents. Find me all of their financials for the last two years.”

“DiNozzo,” Gibbs repeated, he didn’t really like it when anyone other than him gave orders.

Tony turned away from the plasma and said, “Boss, I know this movie but I can’t place it. Ziva’s gone to have a look at where Richy was grabbed again to re-question people in the area.”

“And you didn’t think it was worth going with her?”

“Boss, the answer is staring at me. I just need to figure it out. Ziva’s not going to get anywhere. I’ll figure it out, boss.”

“McGee, get him the financials. I’m going to interview the parents.”

The mother was a young Petty Officer and the father was an older business man. “We can pay ransom, Special Agent Gibbs, if they want money we can do that,” said Mr. Simms. “Please find our boy.”

“The FBI says you don’t pay the ransom, NCIS disagrees. If they ask for it we say pay.”

They spoke for a little while longer and then he went back to the office where Tony was staring at financials. Tony didn’t look up but said, “Abby got the video rendered, still can’t see faces, got the car model and plates. The plates are stolen probably the van the plates are on was also stolen, we put out a BOLO.” He looked up finally, “Parents helpful?”

“They’re worried and already said they’ll pay.” Tony’s eyes were unfocused. “DiNozzo!”

“It’s on the tip of my tongue, boss.”

McGee went and got them Italian take out. He gave Tony the same look he’d been giving him all week. “Got your favorite,” he said and Tony just rolled his eyes and ate, still reading his folders. Once he’d eaten McGee said, “I also got pastries,” in a tone that showed he was trying to curry favor. Tony didn’t make eye contact as he grabbed the one cannoli in the box without saying thank you. Biting into it he pulled a face and stuck out his tongue. He leaned over his garbage can and started scarping his tongue clean as McGee laughed.

“Shaving cream,” said Tony gagging and rinsing his mouth. “That’s disgusting. I can’t believe you would do that to a cannoli.”

McGee leaned over Tony’s desk. “When you brought me that coffee I thought we’d finally gotten over this. I thought we’d grown up. But then I found you’d slipped me ex-lax. I knew that there was no way I could get you to put anything in your mouth for a couple of days so I suffered through salt and soap to get that shaving cream in your mouth.”

“You got me,” said Tony and now he had a smile on his face, a genuine open smile.

“Got you? No, no, this was an opening volley, this was me throwing down the glove. Watch yourself, DiNozzo.”

Tony smiled at him, wide and easy. “Bring it; I’m not backing down.”

Five minutes later Tony sat bolt upright and said, “Man on Fire.” He was clicking and sent a page of the parent’s financials to the plasma. “Man on Fire.”

“Isn’t that the thing Abby goes to in the desert?” asked Gibbs.

“That’s Burning Man, boss. Man on Fire: 2004 movie where Marc Anthony hires Denzel Washington as a body guard for his daughter who is kidnapped. Turns out dear dad paid the kidnappers because he has,” he pointed the clicker at the screen and blew up one line of the statement: Insurance Funds Limited, “kidnapping insurance. The plan is to share the ransom with the kidnappers.” He paused, “Mr. Simms bought this policy thirteen months ago. It reimburses him for ten million.” He hit the clicker again to the father’s company’s finances, “The company is struggling on the quiet. He’s about to get millions off of this.”

“Proof?” asked Gibbs, internally he was thrilled, this was the DiNozzo he expected.

“No but I’ve got a test. We stay on trying to find out who they are and where the kid is. When they call for the ransom they will demand to deal solely with the father, that’s the first sign. He will keep us in the loop: the insurance plan says law enforcement must be involved. We get Abby to plant those almost invisible tracking devices on the money. We let him go to the drop in his own car; tell him we’ll be backing him from a distance. I’ll bet you most of that money never leaves the car.” Gibbs thought about it and Tony says, “The parents requested NCIS. This could have gone to the FBI, they have jurisdiction over kidnapping, but they say you don’t pay the ransom. Why go to the lesser known NCIS? Maybe because the mom’s navy but we say give them the money.”

“You think the mother’s in on it?” asked Gibbs.

“When we spoke to them this morning she seemed more panicked then him. I thought he was trying to be strong for her but… most mothers are unwilling to endanger their children for money. When moms kidnap their kids or have their kids abducted it’s usually to get them away from fathers for whatever reason. But the way she was holding her husband’s arm showed she loves him, was taking comfort. So either she knows nothing or she’s an amazing actress.”

They got a hit on the BOLO and found the car abandoned outside of Arlington. Going over it they found none of the kidnappers’ prints. “Professionals,” said Ziva.

“They weren’t wearing gloves in the traffic cam vid,” said McGee, “must have wiped it down.”

In the back the boy’s prints were everywhere, with hand prints on the window. “Scared,” said Tony, “shows he didn’t know them.”

“Well he looked pretty scared on the video, DiNozzo,” said Gibbs sarcastically.

“He was grabbed from behind, boss. He couldn’t see them. But if he got in the car and realized he knew them Richy’d calm down pretty fast. There wouldn’t be so many slaps on the window.”

Gibbs accepted that to be true. Kids were easier to calm down then scared adults. If they saw an adult they knew it made them more tractable. Looking at the floor in the back he saw scattered DUPLO blocks. “That’s a good sign,” he said, taking pictures.

Tony nodded and McGee said, “Why?”

“Shows they want a clean outcome,” said Tony. “Why try to keep the kid calm with toys if you plan on killing him once you have the money? If you don’t care about the kid getting hurt you truss him up, you don’t give him toys.”

“Shows they might have been paid,” added Gibbs. “‘There’s an extra hundred in it if you don’t bruise my kid’,” he said sarcastically. “Might be right, DiNozzo.”

“Hope so,” said Tony softly, “Richy has a better chance of surviving if I am.”

When they got back to the office Abby went through the van and Tony said, “If you find anything that can help us find the kidnappers let’s keep it quiet. We want the dad to think they’ll get away with it.”

Abby found a protein shake that had fallen on the floor and been mopped up. It was from a local organic place. Tony and Ziva went to get the security camera footage. McGee was with Abby helping to make her tiny trackers. Gibbs had a few minutes by himself. Having nothing to do on the case Gibbs did paperwork with the video of Richy being grabbed again. The kid looked terrified and Gibbs hoped Tony was wrong because it was hard to think of another sick bastard father. But if Tony was right Richy had a better chance of living. Tony and Ziva came back and Tony said, “Matched one of the guys on the tape to the guy who was driving. He paid with a credit card. Will K. Baker.” Tony slid into his chair and started typing. Ziva did as well and it was pretty obvious that they were racing. After a couple of minutes Tony said, “Found him!” he stuck out his tongue at Ziva.

“Do not make me wait, DiNozzo.”

“Will K. Baker, dishonorably discharged four months ago for drugs, was a shipmate of Petty Officer Simms. Which sadly means the mother may be involved,” said Tony.

“Or the dad knew him. Or Baker knows that the Simms are loaded. Known associates?”

“None,” said Tony. “I’ll start tracing back, see if I can find any hints.”

“Good. Ziva, get me all of his financials.”

They were both quietly typing and Gibbs watched Richy get grabbed again. Gibbs’ phone rang and he picked up, “Yeah, Gibbs.” He listened to the woman at security and said, “Send him right up.” He nodded at Tony as he looked up and Tony cleared the plasma. Hanging up he said, “Mr. Simms is on his way up.”

The man came up and he looked gray. Gibbs watched him. The man was sweaty. He looked at Gibbs with a sort of blank desperation. “I didn’t hear it ring.” He held out his cell phone. “I didn’t hear it.” Gibbs took the man by the arm and nodded to Tony who followed him into the interview room with the camera.

“Let us hear the message,” said Gibbs gently.

The man dialed with shaky hands. It was on speakerphone. Someone with a voice distorter demanded eight million dollars at noon on Sunday with a location to come. They said that they would only deal with him. Gibbs nodded. “Okay. Can you get eight million by noon on Sunday?” The man nodded. “How soon can you get it?”

“Late tomorrow night?” it came out as a question.

“Okay,” Gibbs nodded, still using his kind voice. “Bring it here. We’ll take care of it so you don’t have to worry about having it in the house.”

“Will you count it? Double check for me? I’m so scared.”

“Of course,” said Gibbs. Then he told the man that they would send him in alone. That they wouldn’t interfere, because that plan had the best likelihood of a positive outcome. “We’ll go after them once Ricky is out.” The man nodded. Gibbs showed the man to the elevator and said, “Just bring us the money as soon as you can, so we can double check it for you.”

Tony was walking behind him. After the door shut behind the man they walked back to their desks and Gibbs slammed his fist down on his desk so hard, files fell off the edge. “Damn it, DiNozzo.”

“I know, boss,” Tony said. “I wish I’d been wrong.”

“He did it?” asked Ziva.

“He’s waiting on a ransom demand and he doesn’t have his phone on him? Bullshit, that’s totally bullshit. He wants us to count the money so that we’ll say, ‘Yes, it was all there.’ What a bastard.” He hit the desk again and his stapler fell off.

“Boss,” said Tony gently. “You’ll be no good to Richy if your knuckles are too bruised and swollen to hold a gun right.” Gibbs gave him a dirty look and Tony grinned.

DiNozzo stood and started walking to the elevator. “Where do you think you’re going?” asked Gibbs, well shouted.

“Going to your office to get shouted at privately,” DiNozzo shot over his shoulder. Everyone in the bullpen was watching them. Everyone in the office always had peripheral knowledge of their cases because they were – as Tony liked to point out – the cool kids. And everyone had to be making the same connection between a bad father and Tony’s recent pain. Tony stepped into the elevator and held the door for Gibbs. As the door shut Gibbs hit the switch and the elevator’s lights switched to emergency. But, instead of waiting to be shouted at, Tony dropped the smile and smacked him on the back of the head which shocked Gibbs.

Tony spoke softly, “I get it. A kid in danger reminds you of Kelly and a dick of a dad reminds you of your boyfriend’s. I get it. But there is a five year-old child out there who needs you to keep working. You are freaking out your team. If you would like to hit something go into the bathroom and punch the wall like everyone else does. Until that boy is safely with his mom you are not allowed to lose it. I’m going to go get us pizzas; I ordered them about twenty minutes ago. The team needs food: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There’s a finish line. In forty-eight hours this will be over, then you can fall apart.” Gibbs gave him a dirty look and Tony didn’t look away. “You helped me today, got my head in the game by getting McGee on board. Now it’s my turn. Ducky’s not here to tell you off so I have to do it. Do you want me to bring you a coffee?”

“No.”

“C’mon, boss, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. How many shots do you want?”

“Five.”

“Okay, I’ll be back in twenty minutes.” Tony gave him a smile. “You’ll feel better with some caffeine and grease in you.”

“Don’t do anything to McGee’s coffee.”

Gibbs hit the switch again and hit the door open button. “Won’t happen again, boss!” Tony called after him. Gibb turned and smirked as the doors shut.

Going to the team he said, “I sent DiNozzo to get food and coffee.” McGee groaned. “I ordered him not to mess with yours. So what do we have on the man with Baker?”

McGee and Ziva listed off eight possible men, men who Baker knew from school who were crooks, a couple who’d been dishonorably discharged around the same time, a couple from the boat who seemed according to Ziva, “Drawn.”

Gibbs looked to McGee, “She means sketch, boss.”

Gibbs stared at him and from behind him Tony said, “Suspect in activity but never officially charged with anything.”

“Thank God someone still speaks English,” Gibbs said as Tony put down a coffee and a pizza in front of him. Tony handed off Ziva’s coffee and pizza and put his own down on route to McGee’s desk.

McGee gave him a distrustful look and Tony spoke soothingly, “It’s ten-thirty at night, McGee, and we’ve got a missing kid. You’re hungry and tired, I wouldn’t screw with your food right now. Come seven AM it’s fair play again.” Tony looked at the plasma at the eight men. “Do we have footage of them walking?”

“What?” asked McGee.

“We can’t match their faces, they all have the right build. What we have is this,” Tony tapped his keyboard and the video of Richy being grabbed appeared on the plasma. The man who wasn’t Baker came around the door and opened the door for Baker to throw Richy in the back. “We have how he moves. See if you can find stuff. The perps he went to school with, there must be footage of them.” Tony started to type.

“Ziva, pull up the footage from the docks around the time Baker was discharged,” said Gibbs. “DiNozzo.”

“Yes, boss. I’m going through their pasts, what I can find, to see a good fit.”

“Are you a psychological profiler?”

“No, boss, but I figure me looking over it is better than no one looking at it. Ducky has six bodies for Geraldie’s team alone, someone went on a spree. He can’t look at it. But I think guy number four -- Alex from high school, who robbed a bank with a fake gun -- isn’t a likely fit. Not enough planning, stupid move when he was nineteen and needed to pay for his girlfriend’s abortion. But number six -- Leo from the ship who also got kicked out for drugs – is a possibility, recent camaraderie, needs the money, military training. The camera never saw his face, he thought about it, that’s a hell of a lot more thought than Alex ever showed.”

“Okay, keep on it.”

As Tony worked Gibbs saw the pictures of the suspects moving on the plasma, being repositioned. Gibbs assumed that Tony was changing them to the order of likelihood. McGee found one of the guys on video as they watched him Tony put an X over the guy’s face.

It was closing in on two in the morning, Gibbs was coming back from the head, when he heard McGee say, “We’re getting nowhere.”

“We’re down to six,” responded Tony, “and two more don’t seem likely.”

“I know it would be bad for Gibbs to have to walk into interrogation and ask the guy’s name but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. You said they want a good result.”

Gibbs went to McGee’s desk and saw the man gulp. Gibbs picked up a pencil. “I will take care of this until you would like it back then you’ll give me a nickel for taking care of it.”

“Okay.”

“Want it back?”

McGee reached into his desk for his wallet, “Yes,” he took out a nickel.

“Actually it’s fifty bucks,” said Gibbs.

“What?” said McGee.

Gibbs snapped it in half, “Too slow.” He threw it onto the desk. “If they want more money and he hesitates or, Richy’s dead. Doesn’t matter that they want a good result; people get greedy. I need to know who we’re dealing with before we get to the exchange.”

By eleven AM they had it down to two of the guys. McGee went out for coffee and Gibbs went to brief Vance who was there on a Saturday and not too pleased about it but he was a father and he wasn’t going home when there was a missing kid. When he came back downstairs he saw McGee open his desk to put his wallet away. Seven snakes from snake-in a can jumped out and McGee jumped back as Tony and Ziva laughed.

“DiNozzo,” Gibbs said sharply.

“Printed out copies of the full back ground of our two suspects, boss. Left one on your desk.”

“McGee.”

“Got you five shots, boss, Abby needs help with the trackers. I’m on my way there now.”

“Ziva.”

“Watching the father’s financials, he’s taken out six million so far.”

“Found his off shore bank account, boss,” said Tony. “Under his mother’s maiden name. He’ll wire in the cash later.”

They studied their two suspects intensely along with Baker and Simms, getting to know the players. Ziva said, “He just hit eight million dollars.”

Gibbs nodded and then his phone rang. He picked up saying, “Yeah, Gibbs.” He listened for a few moments and said, “Come right in, Mr. Simms.” Tony cleared the plasma screen. And put up a picture of the van instead. Gibbs nodded. They waited and Gibbs called Abby’s lab to tell McGee to stay there. Then they waited ten minutes for the man to come in with his money. When he came in he looked gray and he handed off five briefcases. “Mr. Simms, go home, try to get some rest for tomorrow.” Once the man was gone they went to Abby’s lab. She and McGee had made over a hundred of tiny trackers it wasn’t enough. He, Ziva and Tony sat on the floor and placed the clear, almost invisible trackers on the bills in random spots. “I want one hundred and fifty of these, Abs.”

“Working on it, Gibbs,” she replied. They’d finished the first briefcase and moved onto the second one. It didn’t take them long once Abby and McGee finished making them all.

When they were done he said, “Go home, get some rest, I need you sharp for tomorrow. Be here at eight.”

“You want us to go home while there’s a kid missing?” said Tony with shock in his voice.

“No, DiNozzo, I want you to sit here all night going over the same things getting nowhere so that tomorrow, come go time, you’re tired and distracted.” Gibbs looked at him sharply.

Tony turned to McGee, “Let’s put off Doctor Who until tomorrow. We’ll have a little celebration once the kid is safe?” McGee nodded. Tony stood. “Goodnight, everyone.” Then he was gone.

Abby showed Gibbs how the trackers worked and then Gibbs went home where Tony was thawing Bolognese. Gibbs came up behind him and kissed his neck. “I hate bastard dads,” said Tony.

“Making comfort food?” Tony nodded. “You okay?” Tony shrugged, “Want to watch a movie? Anything you like in any language even ones without subtitles.”

“Even a slasher film? I’d like mindless blood tonight.”

“Sounds fun, whatever you like,” Gibbs kissed his neck.

“Will you make garlic bread? I love your garlic bread.”

“I’ll do whatever you like,” Gibbs whispered into his ear.

Tony leaned back into him. “Poor Richy doesn’t know that the cavalry is on his side and that his dad’s a sicko. He doesn’t know we’re going to arrest his dad who I’m sure he loves. I know what it’s like to love your dad who’s a bastard. It made me want pasta, but I’m not making spaghetti, not in the mood.”

Gibbs kissed his neck one more time and then said, “I’ll make the garlic bread.” He pulled back and Tony turned to smile at him.

“Friday the Thirteenth? Can we watch that?”

“The one with Jason? Abby tried to explain it to me once.” Gibbs got the bread out and started to make the garlic spread.

“It’s fun.”

“Y’know what else is fun, Tony?”

“What?”

“The fact that I’m going to tie you down later and do awesome things.”

“And how did I earn that?”

“You don’t need to earn it. My Senior Agent earned a lot with his Man on Fire break, probably bring him coffee tomorrow. But my boyfriend is going to be worshipped because I’ve been spending long hours at work and I miss your mind, your body and your mouth. So first I want to spend time with you, eat and watch your movie. Then we’ll get to the bit with the rope… or maybe cuffs, I haven’t decided yet.” Gibbs put the bread in the oven. “Twenty minutes.” They worked together to make dinner.

When McGee had moved into Tony’s place Gibbs had given him the two arm chairs from the basement and had brought his couch down to the basement so that they could put Tony’s leather one in the living room. So when they sat down to dinner in the basement they sat on the couch, close together and ate watching mindless gore. When he finished his food instead of working on the boat he stretched out one leg on the couch and pulled Tony to sit between his legs. Tony relaxed back against him and Gibbs held him close. He stroked Tony’s stomach and Tony stretched almost like a cat. When the movie ended Gibbs said, “No special features, no making of, bed right now.”

Tony gave him a smile and nodded. He shook his ass as he walked up the stairs the way he always did to tease Gibbs. Gibbs chuckled, “I could bite that ass.”

“Can if you like.”

“I know, once I’ve got you bound I can do whatever I like.” Tony shivered, “Like that?”

“I like that, yeah. You know I do. Love giving it up for you, Jethro.” As they entered the bedroom Tony turned for a kiss. “Don’t gag me? I want to kiss. Please, Jethro?”

“Sure, Tony, anything.” Tony’s belt buckle was one of those complicated things but Gibbs had gotten used to all Tony’s belts and had him naked in a few moments. “On the bed.”

“You gonna get naked?”

“When I’m ready. Bed, Tony.” Tony sat down in the middle. Gibbs got out the box. He loved the way Tony blushed whenever Gibbs opened the box. “The question is do I blindfold you?”

“That’s up to you, Jethro, it’s all up to you. I just want to be kissed and touched. Anything else is up to you.”

“Good boy, Tony. That’s what I like to hear.” Tony smiled at him, beamed more like. “I want you to see me.” Tony swallowed hard, “Do you want a safe word?” Tony shook his head. “You sure?”

“You threw away the most painful toy I own.”

“I would never hurt you but I plan on keeping on edge for hours. Once I’ve cuffed you you don’t get a say.”

“You know my limits, and you know how to push me beyond them,” Gibbs laughed.

Gibbs came to him and said, “Hands out.” Tony put his hands in front of him. Gibbs used soft, padded cuffs and Tony swallowed again. He sat down on the bed and tugged Tony to him. “You’ve been amazing, holding it together even though this case has got to hurt you. Do you know what good boys get, Tony?”

“No,” Tony shook his head. Gibbs pulled him over his lap, face down and stroked his ass.

“Y’know, when you had the plague it wasn’t *just* women calling for Spanky.” One of the wonderful things about Tony was his emotions. His emotions were so deep and Tony always had a hard time hiding them. And now he blushed. Gibbs couldn’t see his face but Tony’s neck blushed. “Why does that embarrass you?”

“Because I didn’t want my boss to know and that was years and years ago. You weren’t supposed to know.”

“But why do you blush now?”

Tony tried to roll over to face him but Gibbs held him down with one gentle hand on the small of his back. “Have you been with men, other than me?” asked Tony.

“Sure,” said Gibbs.

“Not sex, Jethro, a relationship.”

“No, only you.”

“Well, I did date boys. Lots of them, usually at the same time. But for the last decade they were all stand-ins for you. The idea of you talking to them is embarrassing because I don’t want you to know about that.”

Gibbs smacked his ass, “Did those women who called you Spanky ever spank you?”

“No,” Tony said on a sigh, “God, Jethro.”

Gibbs smacked him again, not in the same place. He wasn’t trying to hurt Tony. “Did the men?”

“Sometimes.” Gibbs smacked him again. “Not like this.”

“Like what?” asked Gibbs with a smack.

“So good,” Tony moaned.

Gibbs smiled and smacked him again, “Why’s it good?” he smacked him again. Tony didn’t say anything. “Tony, if you don’t pay attention I’ll make you count.” Tony froze and Gibbs stopped, “Tony.” Tony didn’t say anything and Gibbs quickly turned Tony over, pulling him to sit in his lap. He stroked Tony all over, soothing him.

Tony hid his face against Gibbs’ neck, “You can go somewhere nice inside, go to the Hamptons,” said Tony. “But he made me count, it keeps you there.” Gibbs felt the tears against his neck, “With you it’s so good, I was drifting, wasn’t running away.” Tony nuzzled closer, unable to hold him with his hands cuffed, “Is it weird that I love it when you do it?” Gibbs made gentle negative noises. “Feels so good. You love me, don’t you, Jethro?”

“Of course I do,” Gibbs held him closer.

“Feels so good. Is that weird?”

“Why would it be weird? To want someone to show you what love can do. I want your ass all warm and tingling so that when I slide into you everything buzzes.”

“I want that too. Can we try again?”

“When you’re ready.”

“I am ready,” said Tony.

“Then why won’t you look at me?” asked Gibbs and Tony slowly, almost regretfully raised his head. Gibbs rewarded him with a slow kiss.

“Now?” asked Tony. Gibbs shook his head. “Why?” whined Tony.

“You’re not turned on. Your head’s not right.” Gibbs repositioned Tony so that he was straddling Gibbs’ lap and his cuffed hands were behind Gibbs’ neck. He kissed Tony without holding back and Tony slowly started to rub against him, getting into it.

Pulling back Tony said, “I’m getting pre-come on your pants.”

“Unlike most of yours these are machine washable.” Gibbs brought Tony’s head back to him to kiss his mouth. After ten minutes he said, “Okay, now you’re ready.” He moved Tony back to his prone position. “Stay with me this time. Drift if you like but hear my voice.” Tony nodded. He spanked him, warming his ass. It wasn’t hard, he was still getting Tony ready. “Why is this different from when those other men spanked you?”

“You love me.”

“But the physical act, why is it different?”

Tony paused, not drifting, not lost just thinking. “You’re not playing a role, you know what you’re doing. I don’t have to imagine that your hands are Jethro’s, like I did with those men. Your hands are solid, firm and all calloused in all the right, Jethro places, all the places they belong.” Gibbs spanked him again, starting to pick up speed. Tony started to writhe but Gibbs gently held him down with the hand on the small of his back.

“No moving, your body is mine, no moving.” Tony stilled. “Good boy.” Gibbs smacked him without giving him respite and he could feel how tightly Tony was holding himself. “Relax,” said Gibbs and he felt as Tony went loose. “I’m not stopping until you’re ready, Tony. I’m not stopping until it’s only me, I’m not stopping until all those pretend Jethros are gone forever, until I’m the only one who ever touched you like this.”

“You are,” said Tony, “only one who ever touched me right.”

“I want you to forget everyone who ever touched you wrong.” Every once in a while he interrupted his smacks to stroke Tony. His own erection was pushing against his pants. He was spanking Tony fast and furious and Tony was moaning, happy and turned on. “How are you doing?” he asked, not stilling his hand.

“I’m fighting not to come.”

“Don’t you dare,” said Gibbs, “not until I say.”

“I guessed that,” Tony said and there was humor in his voice until he moaned. Without warning Gibbs stopped, just stroking the hot, red ass. “Don’t, don’t, don’t. Please, I want it. Need it, keep going, don’t stop.” Gibbs reached for the lube. He slid his fingers into Tony, stretching him and Tony was still trying to writhe, trying to get friction against his erection. Gibbs reached into the box and slid what he wanted into Tony’s hole. He turned it on and Tony almost screamed at the vibrator’s motion, Gibbs fucked it in and out.

“I’m getting you stretched,” said Gibbs. “I want you so stretched, loose and fucked out that when I slide into you it’s a relief.” Tony moaned. Gibbs reached for Tony’s stretcher. He slid it in around the vibrator and slowly stranded to twist it open. Tony panted and gasped. Though Gibbs had removed the hand from the small of Tony’s back Tony no longer tried to buck. He stayed where he was and just took it. The vibrator became too small for the hole now stretched wide.

As Gibbs removed it Tony moaned, “No, no, no, need it.”

“Haven’t you figured it out yet, Tony? Haven’t you figured out that you’re not in charge?” Tony nodded slowly. “But you haven’t figured out my game.” He reached for a larger dildo. He lubed it up carefully, turning the stretcher all the time, he slide in just the tip dipping it in and out. Tony was kissing his knee through the material of Gibbs pants, showing how far gone he was. Gibbs started to fuck it into him in earnest and Tony was babbling nonsense. Gibbs was still turning the stretcher and the words spilling from Tony’s mouth turned.

Instead of begging for more he was saying he couldn’t take it, it was too much, had never been this far. Gibbs ignored them, fucking Tony open. “Wish you had a safe word?” he asked softly and Tony thought for a long time, actually falling silent. Gibbs didn’t give Tony respite even though Tony’s tears were falling, soaking Gibbs’ leg.

When he finally spoke it felt like Gibbs’ reward, “Never. But please, I don’t think I can-”

“Yes,” said Gibbs, “yes, you can.” Finally he pulled out the last thing he wanted from Tony’s box. He held it down so that Tony could see it, “What’s this called?”

“The Great American Challenge,” said Tony softly.

The name made Gibbs chuckle though it was apt. The vibrator was over fifteen inches long and at least six inches wide at its thickest. “Think you can take it?”

Tony started to franticly shake his head, “No, never. It’s a joke. It’s not for use. It was a gag gift. No, no.”

“I know you can,” said Gibbs. He removed the last dildo and started to work the toy into Tony’s abused hole, slowly, dipping it in and out. Tony was shaking and sobbing. And after a while, when Tony was starting to get used to it, when his sob were becoming nothing more than hitched breath Gibbs turned it on. And Tony fought, sobbing again, he slid it in and out of Tony’s body and finally removed the stretcher. Tony screamed as all of his flesh settled against the toy. His bound hands scrabbled against Gibbs’ leg. Gibbs fucked him with the toy and Tony’s words were rough from crying and shouting. And he gently removed the toy and Tony was still sobbing Gibbs stroked his ass for a long time. And Tony slowly started to come down.

Gibbs leaned down to kiss along Tony’s shoulders. “You were so good for me.” Tony nodded. “And you didn’t come, good boy.” He rolled Tony over, careful not to put pressure on Tony’s sore ass. He leaned down and kissed him slowly and gently and Tony kissed back hungrily. “I love you.” Tony nodded. “I need to get up to get naked, okay?” Tony looked scared. “I’m not going anywhere. I just need to get undressed.” Tony finally nodded. Gibbs moved out from under Tony and undressed quickly.

He picked up Tony and moved him to the head of the bed. Tony watched him, looked at his erection and at his face. Gibbs pushed Tony onto his back and hooked Tony’s bound hands behind his neck so that he could be closer to him, so that Tony was almost hugging him. Tony’s hole was so loose and it was easy for Gibbs to slide into him. He was gentle and slow and Tony writhed and bucked against him, still crying a little. Tony held him close, making sure Gibbs couldn’t get away. Tony was moaning, “I love you, I love you, I love you,” over and over.

Leaning in Gibbs whispered in his ear, “Come for me now, Tony.” Tony came so hard it actually hit Gibbs’ chin. Gibbs held him close as Tony spasmed around him and Gibbs finally allowed himself to come. He kissed Tony sweetly, “Have you figured out my game?”

Tony was practically limp but he said, “It was all for me.”

Nodding Gibbs said, “Exactly. Did you like it?” Tony was still crying but he nodded. “Not too much, was it?”

“From you it could never be too much,” said Tony and Gibbs kissed him softly. Gibbs started to pull away but Tony panicked, “No, I’m really not ready for that. Please, Jethro.” Gibbs instantly stilled, hushing Tony and stroking all over his body. “Stay?” Gibbs nodded and Tony smiled. “Was I really good for you?”

“Made me proud,” Gibbs stroked him gently. “I need to lean up a little to get the key to the cuffs. I’m staying inside of you.” Tony unhooked his hands and let Gibbs lean enough to grab the key. He unlocked the right cuff but then cuffed left wrist to the bed, “Want to take care of you all night.” He sighed, “Tony, I need to pull out. You’re so hot and slick. It’s like being nineteen, I’m gonna get hard again.” Tony wrapped his legs around him and used his free hand to pull Gibbs down for a kiss.

“Stay, get hard and take me again. Want you more than toys, had toys longer than you. Take me again, slow like before. Please, I don’t like ‘make love’ but will you? Make love to me again?” Tony writhed a little underneath him. “Please, Jethro?” Gibbs started to move slowly, getting hard again inside of Tony. “Yeah, so good, just like that.” Tony moved with him and kissed him continually. “Pushed me so far and it was so good, but I need this, Jethro. Need to belong to you, not the toys. Love the feel of you inside of me.” Gibbs started to stroke him to hardness.

“You can come whenever you like. Don’t need permission.” Gibbs tilted Tony’s head to kiss him lovingly. They rocked together and Tony held Gibbs close with his one free arm. Tony came quickly, the strain from the last time showing. Gibbs came weakly and slumped on top of him. He kissed all over Tony’s face. He pulled away slowly, staying by Tony’s side. He caressed Tony and said, “Tony, you’re amazing, totally awesome.” Tony beamed at him. “You want a beer?”

Tony shook his head, “Stay with me for a little while, I like this.”

Gibbs reached into the drawer and softly, “Roll onto your side.”

“No more toys,” Tony moaned. “I’m done for the night.”

Gibbs smiled and kissed him again, “I know, I know. I think you’re done for a week. You did so well, no more toys.” Tony nodded and rolled onto his side. Gibbs opened the bottle of lotion. “This is a cream with Advil and lidocaine. It’ll help you sit down tomorrow.” He rubbed the cream onto Tony’s cheeks and around his hole. Tony sighed, “Does that feel good?” Tony nodded. “Did you like everything?”

“I can’t believe you used the Challenge.”

“Did you like it?” asked Gibbs massaging the cream into his flesh.

“Yeah, never thought I could take that.”

“But you did, you sexy boy.”

“Jethro, I know you want to take care of me but un-cuff me? I want to hold you.”

“You sure?” asked Gibbs and Tony nodded so Gibbs reached out and unlocked it. Tony instantly curled around him. “Good?” Tony nodded. Gibbs caressed him and gave him words of praise, telling him how proud he was of Tony. After about twenty minutes he said, “You want that beer now?”

“Can I come, too?”

“If you like, but I’ll be right back.” Tony looked at him with lost eyes, he’d been brought down deep into himself and was dependent on Gibbs for a little while. Gibbs had pulled him to pieces and put him back together and Tony needed a little while to feel even again. Gibbs took his hand and said, “Let’s eat the last of the garlic bread.” He held Tony’s hand going down the stairs and handed him a beer in the kitchen. After getting the garlic bread out, he sat down and pulled Tony gently into his lap, mindful of his ass. He handfed Tony cold garlic bread. It showed how far gone Tony was that he didn’t comment on it. He ate from Gibbs’ hands as though it was normal, licked Gibbs’ fingers as though they were their own. Gibbs took odd bites and fed Tony while Tony cuddled into him. “We have to go to bed soon. Have to be at work by eight.” They drank their beer and Gibbs fed them the bread. When it was done he said softly, “I think you should take some Advil before bed.”

Tony nodded and Gibbs stood them up and went to the cabinet for the ibuprofen he held out two which Tony swallowed with the last of his beer. “Good boy.” He brought Tony up to bed and pulled back the covers and draped Tony over himself. He took the cream and rubbed another layer into Tony’s abused ass. “You gonna be able to sleep?” asked Gibbs.

“Like a baby,” said Tony leaning up to kiss him. Gibbs waited until Tony was snoring to allow himself to pass out.

He woke up to the noise of the shower turning off. Tony came into the bedroom naked and rubbing his fingers through his gelled hair. Tony smiled and said, “Can you help me with the cream without getting off track?” Gibbs sat up in bed and gestured for Tony to come to him. Tony turned for Gibbs to see the damage which wasn’t actually much because he’d been careful not to smack the same place over and over. Tony had a slight bruise over his whole ass but not one patch of deep bruising.

“You’ll be able to sit without too much difficulty,” he observed.

“It’s good work, Jethro, it burns so nicely.”

Gibbs smiled and as he finished rubbing in the cream he kissed just above his right ass cheek, “You’re done.”

“Thanks,” said Tony. “Go shower. I’m gonna make us some breakfast.”

Gibbs grabbed his hand before he left the side of the bed, “How are you after last night?”

“Perfect, calm, loved but if some girl so much as smiles at you today I’ll wish her dead because I gave it all up to you last night and they don’t deserve even a smirk.”

“You were amazing.” Tony blushed a little at the praise.

“You know how to push me right.” Tony pulled away and started to dress and Gibbs went to shower.

When he got down to the kitchen breakfast was ready and they ate in companionable silence. Gibbs left before Tony. When he got to the office he put a coffee in front of Tony. “For the Man on Fire break.”

Tony smiled, “Thanks, boss.”

Gibbs remembered how cold he’d been with the team when Ziva first came back. He’d been hardest on Tony and Tony had gotten lost, had almost left. Now tiny things like coffee and pizza worked so well in the place of “Good work, DiNozzo,” that Tony was always happy. He was working his hardest because he was happy not because he was desperate.

They sat around, cleaning their guns and going over the plan. Midmorning Tony hit the head and Gibbs went to check in with Abby. When Tony came back he sat in his chair which instantly fell to pieces and Tony laughed before shooting McGee a warning look and fixing his chair. He later heard McGee ask Tony why he was limping and hoarse and he heard Tony say, “Thought you didn’t want to hear details about my sex life, Probie.” McGee blushed.

At about eleven Tony hung up the phone and said, “SWAT and op. support are all briefed and ready. SWATs already there, hidden.” Gibbs nodded.

Simms came in and they all had to fake concern for him. He looked gray and Gibbs wondered if any of it was real, if he was starting to worry. They followed him at a long distance, knowing where he was going. They skirted around it. McGee had a tiny laptop going keeping track of the money. They actually beat him there and stayed in position. McGee still had the tiny computer as the money was handed off and he whispered, “Four of the cases are empty.” Gibbs nodded. He watched as the man handed over the cases to the armed kidnappers and as Richy was brought out, obviously scared witless. And once Richy was safely away from the kidnappers and around the other side of his dad’s car the team made their move.

“Drop your weapons. Everyone down!” screamed Gibbs.

“Federal Agents!” Tony added. The kidnappers got down fast. But Simms remained on his feet. “On your stomach, Simms.”

“My son,” the man started but Gibbs cut him off.

“Down on the ground, hands on the back of your head, now,” Gibbs kept his gun level.

Ziva and McGee started to handcuff the three men while Gibbs covered them. Tony went around the car to Richy and Gibbs heard him saying, “It’s all okay, Richy. We’re Navy cops. Here’s my badge. I’m Special Agent Tony. You okay?”

The kid started to cry. “I want my momma.”

“I know,” said Tony. “We’re gonna go to our office and your mom will come get you. Okay? We’ll get you home as soon as we can.” Op. support came in and got the three guys into the van. Gibbs rounded the car and saw that the kid was crying and clinging to Tony who was stroking his back. “You hurt?” asked Tony. The little boy shook his head. “You hungry?” The little boy nodded. “What about some Burger King?”

The kid sniffed, “Momma says Burger King is ‘sometimes’ food.”

“I bet she’ll agree with it after how scary your week’s been. We’ll go in Dad’s car, and stop at a drive-thru. Okay?”

“Daddy doesn’t let people eat in his car.”

“That’s okay, don’t worry. Today’s a freebie day.” The little boy didn’t let go and Tony said, “Want me to sit in the back with you?” the kid nodded. “Let’s get Special Agent Tim to drive us. Okay?” Richy nodded. Tony called “Hey, Agent Tim, come meet my friend.” McGee jogged over. “Richy, this is Special Agent Tim. Tim, this is Richy. Would you drive us to headquarters via Burger King?” The kid whispered something to Tony and Tony nodded. “Tim, Richy wants to see your badge.” McGee pulled out his badge and held it out, Tony took it and handed it to Richy who studied it before handing it to McGee. The van with the three guys drove off and Richy whispered to Tony. Tony smiled and said, “They’re taking Dad to our office to ask him some questions.” He smiled, “Boss, you can go. Tim and I can handle this. We’ll meet you back at work.” Turning back to Richy he said, “Let’s call Momma and tell her where we’re going, okay?”

Gibbs got to the office and made sure the three men were in different interrogation rooms. The mother came in and Gibbs quickly escorted her into the meeting room with the camera. It didn’t take long for Gibbs to read her, the woman was terrified for her baby and had no idea of her husband’s involvement. Gibbs could tell just from looking at her that if she’d been able to get to her husband right then she would have gladly murdered him. Tony came in and the little boy saw his mom and ran to her and she scooped him up and held him close.

Richy was babbling about how scared he’d been, how cold he’d been and about how Special Agent Tony had let him have a Coke at Burger King. The woman thanked Tony who just smiled and said, “It’s no problem at all. We’ve had to impound the car.”

“I don’t care about his car,” there was vehemence and hatred in her voice.

“Of course,” said Tony gently. To Richy he said, “We do something special for kids who are brave.” He went to his desk and printed the color image Abby made him almost a decade ago. Gibbs saw McGee roll his eyes. “This is an official certificate showing that you are an honorary NCIS Special Agent.”

The kid, who was clearly enamored with Tony, was underwhelmed. His mother prompted him with a, “Wow, what do you say, Richy?”

“Thank you, Special Agent Tony.”

“Do you two need any assistance getting home?” asked Tony and the woman shook her head. Tony looked to Gibbs who nodded, “Well, you guys are free to go.” Once they were gone Tony turned to Gibbs, “Ziva?”

“Sent her to help Abby.” Tony nodded. “You take Baker he’s going to be difficult, I’ve got the dad, McGee the friend – Markum – he’s shaken. Be nice to him and get his confession.” None of them moved to go towards interrogation, wanting to give the men some time to work themselves into panics.

“You were good with Richy,” said McGee to Tony. Tony shrugged. “You usually suck with kids.”

Tony looked at him almost distrustfully, as though McGee would make fun of him for his answer. “If you’re good with kids you get two questions: Did you ever want kids and why are you so good with them. I have to skirt both of them. Yeah, I wanted kids but now I’m thirty-nine, with a guy, am not rich and I have a dangerous, time consuming job. Nobody is going to let me adopt. And I’m good with them because I spent most of my childhood scared and I know who made me feel safe and happy and I know why they did. I didn’t want to deal with those questions. Gibbs, Abby and Ducky are good with children, there was no need to blow my cover. But now everyone knows so there is no point in faking it.”

McGee smiled, “You sucked with Willy Shields.”

“Willy Shields was, as my mom used to say, a little toe-rag who when presented with a real NCIS hat took my special order sunglasses that didn’t say NCIS anywhere.”

McGee laughed, “You always give little kids that certificate like it’s gold but none of them care.”

Tony shook his head, “We’ve dealt with thirty-four little kids in the ten years here. Six of them loved it. I used to have one like it when I was a cop. I dealt with sixteen little kids then, eight of them loved it. Fourteen out of fifty is good. When you were a kid you wanted to be a rocketeer I wanted to cop. If, when I was a kid, a cop or – even better – a fed said, ‘Tony, you’re so awesome you get to be one of us,’ I would have flipped out. And some of them really have been thrilled, a couple have said they were gonna frame it. So I’m going to keep handing out my lame certificates to kids, because some of them don’t think it’s lame.” He stuck his tongue out. Standing he picked up his file on Baker, “McGee, I’m really tired. We get tomorrow off because of the weekend hours. Can we put on the Doctor off, one more time? Sorry.”

McGee nodded, “But we have to have a truce on off time.”

Grinning Tony said, “Deal. I’m gonna go break Baker.” Tony walked away whistling.

The dad took longer than Gibbs expected, but finally he talked about his money woes how he was really doing it for his family. Gibbs was disgusted and threw him into holding. He saw that the door to interrogation room three was open. He opened the door to the observation and asked the tech, “Where’s DiNozzo?”

The guy smiled, “He made the perp cry. Tony threatened him with Guantanamo, said kidnapping incites panic which is terrorism. Baker spilled fast.”

Gibbs grabbed his coat and called Tony’s cell. Tony picked up and said, “My report’s on your desk. I’m home, where are you?”

“Meet me at the boat? We’ll get dinner later. Dress warm and comfortable okay?”

“You’re not going to write your report?”

“It will wait until tomorrow. I’ll do it while you and McGee watch your show.”

“Okay, I’ll see you soon.”

Gibbs and Tony had clothes on the boat so Gibbs didn’t go home, just straight to the boat. Tony was on the deck, waiting for him. Tony smiled at him, “I wanted to be alone with you this afternoon.”

Gibbs looked him up and down, “I always want to be alone with you.”

“Yeah, you’re antisocial.”

He’d played with Tony’s body for over four hours last night and Tony looked rough. It was early in the afternoon but Tony yawned. “Come take a nap with me,” said Gibbs passing him and going towards the stairs. Tony followed him docilely. Gibbs stripped as he walked down the stairs to the bedroom. He could hear from the way Tony’s feet fell that he was stripping too. He pulled out the pillows and climbed into bed. Tony slid into bed next to him. Gibbs rolled over and pulled Tony to lie on top of him. He kissed Tony’s forehead and asked softly, “Good?”

Tony reached to pull the door shut, giving them a headboard and making the room a small haven. “I’m perfect now. The minute we got Richy to his mom I wanted to be alone with you.” Gibbs stroked his back and Tony started to relax into him and then snore. The boat rocked gently and Gibbs drifted off easily.

He woke when Tony started to move off of him. His stomach started to growl. He turned on the lights. Looking at his watch he said, “Do you want sandwiches for dinner? There’s a deli that delivers.”

“I love sandwiches,” said Tony rolling over and scratching his stomach. “What time is it?”

“Seven.”

Tony yawned, “What our plan for tonight?”

“First Sunday of the marina’s season there’s fireworks at ten.”

They hung out of the boat, ate and just sat enjoying the night. It was cold and Gibbs got a heavy blanket he stayed downstairs, preparing things. Tony called down, “What are you doing?”

Not responding he came back up. They were anchored a ways from land for a good view of the fireworks. They had a couple of fabric deck chaises longues Gibbs set up one and said, “Take off your pants and sit down.” Tony laughed. “No, seriously.”

“Jethro, it’s cold out here. Someone could sail by.”

“I know, take off your pants.” Gibbs put lube in the cup holder built into the armrest.

Tony rolled his eyes and did as he was told and then Gibbs took off his pants and sat between Tony’s legs. He pulled the blanket over them and reached around himself, stroking Tony to hardness just as the first fireworks started. Tony reached for the lube and went to stretch Gibbs open. But when he touched Gibbs hole he moaned, “Did you prepare yourself?”

“Yeah, want you fast.” Tony slid into him and Gibbs threw his head back. “Fuck, Tony.” Tony held him still. And they watched the fireworks in silence for a few moments before they started to move together. Tony kissed his neck, “Never did it like this before you. Never bottomed.”

He felt Tony’s smile against his neck as the man asked, “Really?”

“Wouldn’t want to do with anyone else.”

Tony was stroking his in time with his thrusts while his other hand slipped under his sweatshirt to play with his nipples. “But you like it right?” asked Tony.

“Do I seem,” Gibbs gasped, “reluctant?”

Tony chuckled. And fucked him harder. Tony stroked him into coming. And pulled him closer, fucking into him until he came. He leaned back in the chair, reclining and dragging Gibbs back against him. They watched the last of the fireworks Tony’s hands playing over his skin the whole time. He felt the lassitude of post sex slipping over him. He relaxed back against Tony, slumping into him. Tony kissed his neck and said softly, “If we don’t get up soon we’re going to end up sleeping out here. And while that sounds kind of awesome my poor ass won’t appreciate me putting pressure on it all night.”

Gibbs turned slightly to look at him, “How is your ass?”

“Still feeling used.”

“Good. You liking it?”

“Yeah.”

“Good. Ready for bed?”

Tony nodded. Gibbs slowly moved away from Tony and reached for his pants. Pulling them on under the blanket he handed Tony. Tony tugged them on saying, “I’m getting come in my pants.”

Gibbs just laughed. “Come downstairs and I’ll wipe you off.” But actually it was Tony who wiped them off with a washcloth wet with warm water. Gibbs couldn’t wait for it to be warm enough to turn off the engine. A sail boat wasn’t supposed to have engine noises. But it was nice to sleep in the warm. Tony pushed him onto the bed. He climbed on top of Gibbs and kissed him rubbing against him. Gibbs held Tony’s face and pulled away slightly. “Tony, you’re amazing and I want to touch you all the time, you know I do. But four times in one day? It’s out of my reach nowadays, wish it wasn’t but I can’t get hard again. Not without some rest.”

Tony smiled at him, “But that doesn’t mean we can’t fool around, right? Feels nice, right?”

Gibbs stroked his cheeks and said, “I don’t think it can go anywhere.”

“I just want to be close. We don’t need to come to be close.”

Gibbs nodded, “Okay, good.” He pulled Tony’s face back to him and they kissed slowly. He wrapped his legs around Tony’s waist, pulling him down.

They rubbed together and made out without expectations. Gibbs massaged his back and ass and Tony sighed into his mouth. It never picked up speed. He yawned into Tony’s mouth and Tony laughed, “Tired?”

“We’ve barely slept in days.” Tony curled up on of him and Gibbs kissed the top of his head. Holding Tony close the boat rocked him to bed.

The next few weeks were crazy. They worked hard all the time, but it was nice to get back in the groove. The war between Tony and McGee got so bad that Gibbs had to put a stop to it. First Tony put a loudly ticking clock in McGee’s desk that freaked McGee out, he thought it was something that might explode and put his head on his desk to listen to it and got his face and palms glued to the surface. Then McGee got an exploding pen that he put on Tony’s desk. Tony tried to write a note and ruined a two hundred dollar shirt. Tony retaliated by going to the biggest Thom E. Gemcity porn story sites and posting McGee’s cell phone number. McGee had to change his number. The final move was McGee’s. He put an anonymous personal ad with Tony’s number on the internet that asked for a dirty good time and asked people to call him and tell him the dirtiest thing they wanted to do to him, all ages and genders welcome. That was when Gibbs put his foot down and brought the war to a close. Tony and McGee were back to being friends and the war was no longer necessary, McGee had finally put the trial behind him.

One morning he got out of bed early and kissed Tony’s forehead, “I need to go to the office early.”

Tony mumbled in his sleep, “Have fun.”

He didn’t go directly to work, he had things to do. He still got there before the others. He got out paper plates and plastic utensils. And when the team rolled in he put a box down in front of Tony. “DiNozzo, you are the first person to make it to the decade mark.”

Tony beamed at him, “No way, boss! A Fudgy the Whale, I love ice cream cake.”

“You’re actually the first person to make it past six years and, let’s face it, if you hadn’t been here to take the brunt of my anger McGee would have left years ago.” He smirked, “So I got you an extra layer of fudge and ‘crunchies’.”

“Wow, boss, that’s so awesome. Thank you.” Tony reached for a plastic knife. “Can I cut it, boss?”

“Well, no, DiNozzo. I thought we’d just stand here and look at it.”

Tony beamed at it and cut the cake into huge lumps. They weren’t going to get a case that morning. There was a ceremony to give Tony two awards. One that Tony was calling the “Attendance Award,” a medal for ten years of exceptional service. The other one was what Tony was excited about, he’d broken the record for most cold cases solved by a single person in a decade: forty-two cases solved. Tony was really proud of that, had been surprised when Leon had told him, he’d no idea he’d solved that many. He was bouncy as hell this morning, over excited and happy. He called autopsy and told them to come get cake. When they came up he said, “Gibbs got me cake because he’s totally awesome.” Abby came for a slice and was her usual cheerful self. She promised to be there when he got his commendations. Tony waved to Leon who was standing at the railings above them and pointed at the cake. So Leon came down for a piece. Tony gave a slice to practically everyone in the squad room.

Later Tony got his two medals and couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. When he came back to his desk he put them in the locked box where he kept Gibbs’ medals. He smiled brightly at Gibbs and said, “My two can keep all of yours company.”

McGee snorted, “Why do you keep all of Gibbs?”

“Because he would throw them away and we’re proud of him.” He smiled at Gibbs. “And if he didn’t throw them away he’d use them as projectiles. Their cases have sharp corners and my face is too pretty to scar. So they stay locked in my desk and now two of them are mine, which is so cool.”

It was only about twenty minutes later that they got a call and ended up dealing with stolen weapons for the next four days without sleep. When they got the guns back and had the idiots who stole them in cuffs he told the team to go home. Tony stopped at his desk where he was finishing up. “Thanks for the cake, boss. I love working for you. Best ten years of my career.”

Raising an eyebrow Gibbs said, “Is this your way of quitting?”

Tony laughed, “No, I want the watch they give you at the twenty year mark. It’s my way of thanking you. I’m only the agent I am because of you. So thanks.” He smiled brightly at Gibbs. “Night, boss.”

A half hour later he walked into the house and saw Tony in sweats. Tony beamed at him. “How are you?” he asked.

Gibbs made a noise of contentedness and said, “How are you?”

“Totally awesome. I have an awesome boss. I got some awesome medals. We got an awesome case. And my awesome boss got me a Fudgy the Whale with extra fudge and extra crunchies. I love my life.”

Gibbs smiled, “We haven’t been home in four days.”

“It’s been awful not getting to see you naked but I love my job. And ice cream cake.”

“I know,” said Gibbs. “And the crunchies and fudge are your favorite bits.”

Tony smiled. “You know what would make my week totally complete? Giving you a blow job, eating something awesome from the freezer, watching a movie while you work on the new boat and going to bed.”

Gibbs chuckled, “Sounds fun.”

“Tuscan Bean Soup?” asked Tony. “We have some of the bread I made left.” Gibbs nodded and Tony dropped to his knees, opening Gibbs pants and pulled him out. He stroked Gibbs to hardness. Tony deep throated like a pro. He looked up at Gibbs with adoration in his eyes and it was fast work, dirty, sexy and good. Tony stood slowly tucking Gibbs in and kissing him gently. “That’s step one. Go put on sweats.”

When Gibbs came back down Tony was defrosting soup. He wrapped an arm around Tony and pulled him back against him. “You smell good.”

“I think you’re hungry and smelling the soup.”

“That smells good too.”

Tony smiled, “Go pick a movie. I’ll be down in a couple of minutes.” Gibbs left him and went to browse the movies in the basement. A few minutes later Tony came down with bowls of soup and bread. “Pick a movie yet?”

“No. What are you in the mood for?”

“Musical.”

“My Fair Lady? Always one of Kelly’s favorites.”

“Awesome,” Tony nodded. He set up the movie and moved to sit next to Gibbs, eating his soup happily. He always looked so young watching movies and Gibbs never got tired of it. Instead of moving to the boat when he was finished eating he pulled Tony back against him. He hummed along with the movie and stroked Tony’s hair. Tony himself was transfixed by the film. And afterwards he rolled over and said, “Sex?”

Gibbs slid his legs open and drew Tony closer. Life was nice, it was quiet for the first time in a long time. Then Abby was asked to go to Mexico to give a lecture which seemed fine until she was asked to help solve the cold case of one Pedro Hernandes. He stopped sleeping and Tony rolled over one night a couple of weeks in and just looked at him. Tony didn’t say anything, didn’t ask, just stroked Gibbs’ hair and gave him a commiserating look. Finally Gibbs said, “Pedro Hernandes was the man who killed Kelly and Shannon. Abby’s going to figure it out.”

Tony was silent for a while and then said, “I’ll deal with it. Get a little sleep. Everything is going to be okay.”

Tony left early and said, “I gotta go get a Caf-Pow. Abby will be there. Come get me if we get a case. I’ll be in the lab.”

When Gibbs got the call he went to the lab. Abby and Tony were standing with their backs to the security camera and were speaking softly. “Can you do it?” asked Tony.

Abby laughed, “I’m paid to solve murders, Tony.”

“Abby-”

“Look, Tony, I’ve always said I could kill you without leaving forensics. But could I corrupt left evidence to a point where it couldn’t be solved? I don’t know,” her voice was teasing and it was pretty obvious this conversation had been going on a long time and she’d been trying to wheedle out information.

“Abby, every marker I have ever had with you. every favor you have ever owed me, every scary boyfriend I have ever handled for you, all of it disappears if you help me.”

“Well duh, Tony: you’re asking me to commit a felony and you won’t tell me why.”

“I can’t. You don’t want to know and if you know and someone asks you then you have the problem of lying.”

“What are we covering here?” asked Abby.

“Abby, will you help me? Please,” his voice was an honest plea.

“Of course. I can start untraceably contaminating the evidence right away.”

“It’s not a felony because it’s a foreign case.” Tony kissed Abby’s forehead. “I gotta go, Abs.” As he turned he saw Gibbs and said, “Hey, boss.”

“We have a case, DiNozzo.”

“On it, boss!” He kissed Abby one more time and said, “You’re the best.”

The case was yet another dead Petty Officer. But for the first in weeks he could concentrate. The work felt fulfilling again. It took them seven days to catch the killer, a woman whose heart he’d broken. When he finished his report he went to see Abby. “How’s your cold case going?”

Abby shrugged, “It’s done. I couldn’t match the case to the round in him. The case was too badly damaged to match to a brand. The killer damaged the bullet before loading it making it impossible for me to match it to a gun. Ducky’s autopsy while thorough wasn’t useful to me. And Mexican law enforcement doesn’t know the first thing – that’s not fair the third thing – about evidence storage. I sent my report to the task force. I’ve got nothing and no one else will ever get any farther.” She gave him a light smile. “Tomorrow is bowling night, you coming?”

“No, I’ll let you two have the fun. I’m sorry you couldn’t solve it.”

“Some things are more important than cold cases.”

When he went home he saw Tony on a laptop. Tony looked at him and said, “Why ask a little agency like NCIS to send, let’s be honest, an ambassador to Mexico?” Gibbs looked at him, “I mean I know Abby’s amazing. But what’s the likelihood that they would give her that cold case? So I looked into Abby’s friend Alejandro Rivera who it turns out is the son of Pedro Hernandes brother of Paloma Reynosa who was the one who accosted Abby in the desert. That’s too many coincidences. So I called the cantina and got a hold of Franks. Said Rule 44, he didn’t say where he was going to take his girls but he said he’d be gone within the hour and would give you a call when he was wherever. Your dad is on a bus, he’s coming to see us. I asked Ziva for a favor, um, you might not want to know about that. I think we’re good.” He raised his hand and Gibbs just looked at him. “No high-five? Seriously. I fixed the problem in a week flat while dealing with a murder case and I don’t get a high-five.”

“You helped me cover up a felony.”

“Which really deserves a high-five.” Tony dropped his smile, “I covered up for my boyfriend who did the right thing. You shot a bad guy, drug dealer, murderer. You didn’t have a warrant but if you’d been a cop and shot him there would have been an inquest and two months of desk work. The only problem was that you didn’t have a badge. Jethro, for the last ten years you’ve been the man who visited me in the hospital when I got injured, the guy who laughed at my jokes, the person who has backed me up – you’ve been family for ten years and you do what you can for family when they’re in trouble. You didn’t do anything wrong but the law is black and white.” Gibbs leaned in and kissed him. Tony put his hand up again and gave Gibbs a meaningful look. Gibbs rolled his eyes but gave him a high-five anyway. “You’re dad’s going to be here a little after midnight. I figured he was safe until Abby sent her report. I didn’t know she’d be done so soon.”

“What’s Ziva doing?”

“You sure you want to know?”

“Yes.”

“There’s a big drug war going on. No one is going to notice if two people die.”

“Tony!”

“Don’t worry, Ziva’s not doing it. She didn’t say who was doing it. She didn’t ask me why it needed to happen.”

“Tony,” Gibbs felt angry. “That’s not good. That makes it worse. You don’t even know if he’s a bad guy.”

“Oh, no,” said Tony turning the computer to Gibbs, “he’s a bad guy. Look at the people he gets off, look at the bills he’s pushed, the contracts he’s made, the drug paths he’s opened, the people who’ve gone missing around him. He’s as bad as his sister.”

“Tony, you’re crossing a line.”

“No, their father did when he killed a woman and child, that was the line and now they’re following him, following his path. Whole families have gone missing around these two. Ziva’s contact is taking out dogs not people and I don’t feel any guilt.”

Gibbs watched him for a few moments and then nodded, “Thank you.”

“I have the man I’ve been in love with for years; you’re not allowed to go to prison now.” Gibbs laughed. And Tony leaned in to kiss him again. “I’m not letting a twenty year old cold case get in my way. Ziva said she wasn’t sure how soon it could happen so I want your dad here and Franks out of reach.”

“You don’t even like Franks.”

“No, he sort of scares me and he’s hard to feel comfortable around. But he’s like your big brother and you don’t like my brother Steve but you wouldn’t let him get hurt.”

Gibbs knew he was hard to read, that most people never really knew what he was thinking unless he told them and he had been nice to Steve so he wasn’t sure how Tony knew. “Why do you think I don’t like Steve?”

“You over use his name when talking to him. That’s cool, I was never totally sure how it worked with him and Kate. I like him and you’re nice to him so I don’t see it as a problem. It’s exactly the same with Franks. Also, I’m pretty sure he’s uncomfortable with the fact that I’m sleeping with you.”

“Nah, I doubt it. One time, when I was still grieving and lost, he had to come pick me up from some guy’s house the morning after because I was still too drunk to drive and my car was at the bar from the night before. I’m pretty sure I had come in my hair. I think he’s uncomfortable because he’s never seen me happy.”

Tony smiled at him, “We need to clean up the guestroom.”

“Who slept in it?”

“You. We had a fight about my laptop being in bed.”

“I don’t remember that. I love your rule three. I hate sleeping with someone when I’m pissed. It makes me hold a grudge.”

“You always hold grudges. You made me gas the car all week for one tasteless joke at the crime scene.”

“You’ve been a cop for eighteen years. You should know better.”

“Jimmy does it all the time and my jokes are funnier.”

“Jimmy doesn’t report to me and a joke about his burned genitalia is not funny.”

Tony shrugged. “Do you want to order something for dinner a little later? I think your dad will want something when he gets here. Chinese maybe? Your dad loves orange beef.”

“Sounds great. Let’s order at nine.”

Tony shut the computer and said, “Do you want to do the laundry or the guest room?”

“You hate laundry.”

“That’s why most of what I own is dry clean only.”

“Go deal with the guestroom.” Tony leaned in to kiss him and Gibbs held him there a moment. “Thank you, Tony.”

“Hey, we help each other when we’re a mess, right? It’s not just your problem anymore.” Tony stroked Gibbs’ hair.

Gibbs went to pick his dad up at eleven thirty and said, “I’m sorry you had to take the bus down.”

“Tony wasn’t real clear on why I had to come, just that I had to come.”

“I killed the man who murdered Shannon and Kelly, Dad.” He didn’t know how to continue.

“And there’s going to be problems?” asked his dad.

“It was twenty years ago. But some people found out and it’s not safe for you to be at home because they might come after you.” That was all he said. And after years and years of rubbing together his dad didn’t ask any questions.

“You never told me.” Gibbs said nothing. “You could have told me, Leroy.”

“No, Dad, I couldn’t tell anyone. Franks knew I was going to do it, and knew when it was done. Tony’s the only person I’ve ever told.”

“You talked to your mother and she died and you didn’t talk to anyone. You talked to Shannon and she died and you didn’t talk to anyone. I’m glad you have Tony.” He was silent for a few moments. “Did you talk to any of your other wives?”

“If I had they might not have left me,” said Gibbs, making himself smirk. He pulled into the driveway and said, “I’m glad you’re here, Dad. You hungry? I ordered you some Chinese food.” Gibbs picked up the bags from the back of his car and said, “Did you pack weights?”

“Tony sort of implied someone might burn down the house. I took some important things. Your gold medal from track, family bible, some pictures.”

Gibbs laughed as they headed to the house, “I think that might be Tony exaggerating a bit. Maybe even to see the pictures.”

Inside Tony lit up at seeing him and said, “Jack, hi!” He gave his dad a hug and seemed kind of bouncy. “It’s good to see you. You look good.”

“You too, Tony,” said his dad holding Tony at arm’s length.

“There’s orange beef for you if you want. Bed’s all made if you’re tired. I left Dark City on your bed, I can’t believe you haven’t seen it. Charlton Heston and Lizabeth Scott are amazing, you will love it. Do you like bowling?”

His dad just laughed, “You talk fast, Tony. Sure, I like bowling.”

“Awesome, you can come tomorrow night, meet the nuns, hang out with Abby. It’ll be great!”

His dad smiled, “I’d like that, Tony. I got a sandwich on the road. Think I’ll hit the hay.”

“Okay, night, Jack.” Tony smiled at Gibbs as his dad went upstairs. “I like your dad.”

“He barely got a word in.”

“I’m excited he’s here.”

Gibbs chuckled, “It’s nice to know he’s safe.”

Tony yawned, “I’m exhausted.”

“From the case or plotting?”

“Multitasking,” Tony yawned. “Now that Jack’s here I feel like I can relax.”

“Thanks for calling him. Let’s go to bed?”

Tony nodded. And he didn’t attack Gibbs in bed, just pulled him close and kissed him gently before yawning and passing out. Gibbs ended up going bowling. He and his dad played each other while Tony, Abby and the nuns played against another team of nuns. After the nuns left they played for a little while longer. Abby kept watching his dad and said, “It’s really nice to see you, Jack.”

“It’s nice to visit the boys. Tony said they’d just finished a seven day case and that they’d be on cold cases for a week. Figured it would be a good time.” Gibbs thought it was a good excuse and then his dad hammered it home by leaning in and mock whispering, “Tony has made my boy loosen up, he gets less irritated with me nowadays. It’s easier to get along with Tony around.” Gibbs laughed. “See?” he added.

Tony just smiled. Tony kept Jack occupied all weekend, the two of them talked ceaselessly and in bed Sunday night Tony said, “What was it like, growing up with such a cool dad?”

“He never shut up.”

Tony smiled, “Yeah?”

“God, I remember when he used to take me fishing. I don’t think we ever caught anything, he scared the fish off. Never shut up, always telling me some story. Thursday night we always took stock of the store and he would just talk the whole time while I was trying to keep the books.” He saw the wistful look on Tony’s face and quickly changed his tune. “He was always trying to help me. I used to get beaten up in high school a lot. Chuck and his friends didn’t like me. They thought I was snooty because I didn’t talk much. Dad stood up for me, and at the time I was really embarrassed, but I think they would have beaten me to death if they could have. I was close with my mom. After she died he tried his best but I spent years resenting him for the effort. I was pretty hard to live with, totally silent when I wasn’t shouting, but he never gave up. Kelly loved him, she never really took to Shannon’s mom. I don’t know why not, Joann doted on her and Kelly liked her a lot but she loved my dad.”

“I think your dad’s awesome.”

“We can share him.”

Tony smiled, “Really?”

“Absolutely, he can be yours too.”

Tony chuckled, “Thanks.”

It was easy to bring his dad to work during a cold case rotation. Vance called him into his office and Gibbs said, “Either he chats with us while we work on cold cases or he sits at home with four agents.”

“Think he’s in danger?”

“Think he might be.”

Vance looked at him, “Fine. But if something turns hot you better not bring him with you.” Gibbs laughed as he walked away.

Thursday afternoon Ziva got a call. A couple of hours later Ziva said, “I finished that movie you lent me. I liked it.”

“I knew you’d like it,” Tony said with a nod.

When they got home Gibbs said, “I’m glad the danger’s over.”

His dad looked at him, “How do you know?”

“Tony didn’t loan Ziva a movie.”

“Oh,” his dad nodded. “I guess I should look into a bus.”

“No!” said Tony. “No, stay. One more day of cold case work and then we can have the weekend. We’ll drive you home on Sunday. Please? It will help sell that it was a visit, and y’know, it could be a real visit.”

His dad looked to him and Gibbs, “It’s nice having you here, stay for the weekend? Please.”

They spent most of the weekend on the boat. Tony was below deck when his dad said, “Did it make you feel any better?”

Not needing to ask what he meant Gibbs said, “Worse.”

“He killed your girls.”

“I thought it would make me feel better, but I felt nothing, which made it worse. Feeling anything would have been something, I was so empty and killing him didn’t make me feel any less empty. I wasn’t less angry, less lonely, less hurt, I didn’t hate him any less and I didn’t miss them any less. Killing him changed nothing and that made it worse.” That was really all he wanted to say on the matter, he fixed one of the sails which didn’t actually need fixing.

Tony came upstairs and studied Gibbs for a minute. Gibbs said nothing but Tony kissed his cheek and handed him one of the sodas he was holding. Tony said very softly, “I don’t think Jack’s back will like a night on the boat.” Gibbs nodded and they sailed to a burger place with a dock. Afterwards they sailed home.

Sunday morning his Dad showed Tony the family bible and pictures of Gibbs when he was little. That afternoon they drove him home. It took under four hours and Gibbs promised himself that from now on he would pick his dad up. Years of resentment were too much. Tony was right, his dad was a good man and it was time to let go. “Next time we get some time off I’ll come pick you up. Busses aren’t comfortable.”

His dad smiled, “I always like seeing you, Leroy.”

Then it was back to regularly scheduled life. Which was nice, no visitors, no drama just case after case and tons of sex in the off time. Sometimes there was bowling, Doctor Who and dinners out but mostly there were movies, boat building and sailing. It was great. The team was well oiled, no one was injured and everything was going smoothly.

Chapters: 1

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MTAC - NCIS Fic