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Staring Problem (or What the Hell Happened to Palmer's Uncle's Dog?)

by: slashscribe (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 4485
Rating: TEEN
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto
Category(ies): First Time, Fluff, Humor
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Summary: Somebody (Gibbs) keeps staring at Tony and everyone is talking about Palmer's uncle's dog.

Chapters: 1

The first time it happened, Tony thought he must've been hallucinating. After all, there was no way Gibbs would be staring at him for an entire minute (which, unlike the short minute it took to order a pizza or shove a piece of said pizza in his mouth, was a long time). For the duration of that entire, very long minute, Tony had been sitting at his desk, reading some emails and responding to the important ones, and he'd kept glancing at Gibbs out of the corner of his eye - and there he was, blue eyes trained on Tony, not even subtly shifting left or right when someone walked by or glancing down at his coffee cup before he took a sip.



The second time, Tony thought maybe someone slipped him a drug and he was having extended hallucinations, because there was no way Gibbs would be standing by the van, "supervising" with his eyes trained solely on Tony. (Tony thought Gibbs spent a lot of time "supervising" while the rest of the team was out doing dirty work and he was honestly a bit jealous, since "supervising" often included such difficult work as drinking coffee and thinking and occasionally snarking.) But, it had happened for sure, because he started to get a bit nervous and twitchy - dropping bags and making worse jokes than usual - and McGee actually took him aside later and asked him what the hell he'd done to make Gibbs stare at him like that.



Which got Tony to thinking about a very important issue: what the hell had he done to make Gibbs stare at him like that?



He was still thinking about it while he was standing in Abby's lab with the rest of the team that afternoon, listening to her give a speech about something with way too many scientist-type terms for him to pay attention when he could just wait to hear Gibbs snap at her because then she would get to the bottom line and he could skip over the techie-jargon - but then he saw that Gibbs was staring at him again! Only that time, Gibbs had a good reason; Tony was so engrossed in thinking about why Gibbs was staring at him that he himself was staring, eyes unfocused, at a little doll on Abby's computer desk rather than responding when Abby asked him a question. He took that one off his list of mysterious Gibbs stares because, really, there was no mystery in being stared at by Gibbs when you were acting like an ass.



The third time it happened, McGee and Ziva were out speaking to a witness while Tony was stuck in the bullpen looking through phone records (Tony thought this was completely ridiculous - everyone knew McGee was supposed to do the boring paper-work/geeky type things while Tony went out and did the old-fashioned police work and dealt with actual living humans) and then he'd looked up and Gibbs was there, sitting at his desk, staring at Tony with the same unreadable expression. Tony thought he must have simply appeared there because he definitely hadn't heard him enter the bullpen.



He stole furtive glances at Gibbs, trying to figure out a plan of attack. He wasn't sure if he should let Gibbs know that he knew what was going on - but then he thought maybe he should, because maybe this was some kind of weird test about his skills as an agent and Gibbs thought he was so dense that he wouldn't notice someone staring at him like some kind of stalker - and just as he was about to look up and actually say something and maybe figure out what the hell Gibbs' problem was, Gibbs was gone.



That really did not help his hallucination theory, especially since there was no one around to confirm that yes, Gibbs was actually sitting at his desk, and no, it was not some sort of weird hologram or ghost or figment of his imagination.



--



"Abby, I need to ask you something," Tony said one morning, spinning from side to side in her desk chair as he watched her adjusting the collar around her neck in front of the mirror in her office, twisting it a bit so that the closure was centered on the back of her neck.



"If this is about that Malaysian-"



"No, no," Tony said quickly, putting his hands up in front of him defensively. "Definitely not."



"Oh," Abby said, disappointed. She finished fiddling with her collar and turned to face him, pigtails swinging as she moved. "What's up?" she asked as she perched on the side of her desk, leaning against it and crossing her striped-socks-clad ankles in front of her.



Tony frowned for a moment. "Well," he said, "it's kind of strange."



"Are you sure this isn't about the-"



"No," Tony said vehemently. "It's just, well, Gibbs has been staring at me."



"Okaaay," Abby said slowly, brow furrowed in thought. "And?"



"What do you mean, 'and'?" Tony asked, annoyance creeping into his voice. "You're supposed to act surprised and tell me why he's fucking staring at me all the time!"



Abby grinned. "I'm supposed to act surprised? Tony, Gibbs stares at you all the time, everyone knows that."



"What?" Tony said. "What are you talking about? He does not. He's just been doing it this past week, and it's starting to creep me out."



"No, he stares at you a lot," Abby said. "Ducky and I were talking about it the other day, actually, because he has been doing it more often than usual."



"Wait, you've discussed this with Ducky?"



"Well, yeah, and also Jimmy, because he's always there, but he started telling a weird story about his uncle's dog and-"



"I don't care about Jimmy's uncle's dog," Tony said grouchily. "Why are you all talking about Gibbs staring at me? And why have none of you talked to me about Gibbs staring at me?"



Abby frowned for a moment, thinking. "That's a good question," she said. "I guess I just thought you knew."



Tony stared at her, dumbfounded, and wondered just how long this had been going on before he noticed - and more importantly, why he hadn't noticed, and also, he wondered just a little bit what exactly happened to Jimmy Palmer's uncle's dog - and then Gibbs was standing in the doorway of Abby's office, shoving a Caff-Pow into her hands, and Tony suddenly felt very flustered. He stood up fast, awkwardly knocking Abby's chair into the edge of her desk with a loud thud, and stared at Gibbs as the chair spun itself around after its impact with the desk.



"Got somewhere to be, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, looking amused.



"Wha-? No, no, just-"



"I think you do," Gibbs remarked.



"I...do?" Tony asked, thinking for a moment about where exactly he was supposed to be when he was fifteen minutes early to work.



"Yeah, your desk," Gibbs said, as Abby watched them, sipping her Caff-Pow and noisily jostling the ice around the cup with her straw.



"I got here early!" Tony protested.



"Won't be early anymore in three minutes," Gibbs pointed out.



"Okay, okay," Tony relented, "I'll go." He stood still for a moment, though, body in contrast to his words, as he mentally noted that Gibbs was blocking the doorway. Abby continued to watch the two of them, the corners of her mouth turned up in a smile as she sipped.



"Thought you were going," Gibbs commented.



"Um, you're in the way, Boss," Tony said.



Gibbs snorted a bit (Tony didn't dare consider it a laugh), and then moved aside so Tony could leave. Tony gave Abby a little wave, which she returned without removing her mouth from her Caff-Pow, and made his way out of her office, uncomfortably aware of Gibbs following behind him. He'd been thinking all night the night before (well, for the five minutes it took him to fall asleep when he collapsed in his bed after work), and he'd decided to bring up the staring to Gibbs - only he was questioning if that was the best idea since Abby said that Gibbs had apparently been doing this for quite some time without his knowledge. He needed to rethink his strategy.



"Something on your mind, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked while they waited for the elevator.



Tony thought of a few possible responses to avoid an awkward conversation, but decided to go with the truth. With a shrug, he said, "Just wondering if McGee brought me breakfast like he was supposed to. Ziva better not steal it." (He was a federal agent, after all; he was capable of thinking about more than one important topic at once.)



"Better get there before Ziva then," Gibbs remarked, taking a sip (gulp) of his coffee.



"Yeah, guess you're right," Tony said, rubbing the back of his neck as he waited for the elevator to come. He had a brief internal debate (ask him ask him ask him DON'T ask him ask him), and just when he had built up the courage to say something and he'd opened his mouth and awkwardly turned towards Gibbs, hand still on the back of his neck, eyes averted, the elevator arrived with a cheery ding. Tony eagerly walked in, striking up a conversation with one of the mailroom workers and studiously ignoring the smirk he knew was on Gibbs' face.



He needed a plan.



--



When Tony felt Gibbs' eyes on him as he was typing an email later that morning, he avoided the urge to check for leftover crumbs on his face from the muffin McGee brought him, and instead, allowed his fingers to keep moving like he was typing an email (really, it said "ieourkm,cvn09832r5eskzkvnduioeursjafnvcx") and worked up the courage to go through with his plan. It was time.



He let his fingers keep typing and silently counted to three - and then to five - and then finally, when he got to eight, he told himself he was being ridiculous and with what felt like more courage than it took to face down a mob of angry Mossad agents, he forced his eyes to meet Gibbs'.



He wasn't sure exactly what he was expecting, but for Gibbs to continue staring at him blankly, and raise one eyebrow just so was not really it. He was expecting maybe surprise on Gibbs' face that he got found out, or some kind of word of acknowledgement, or better yet, for Gibbs to look away - but Gibbs just kept looking and looking and looking, and with a nervous swallow, Tony turned back to his computer, scolding himself for looking away first and only just managing to keep the disappointment off his face.



He decided it was time to move on to plan B - he just had to wait for the right moment, and in the meantime, to find out if it was possible to un-send an email because crotchety Betty in accounting was not supposed to receive the mess he had just typed; she would probably come ask him about it and choke him with the overwhelming scent of mothballs and rose perfume that surrounded her at all times.



--



Tony hesitated outside Gibbs' house and didn't actually grab the doorknob until the fourth try, and it wasn't until the sixth attempt that he managed to turn it and enter the house. He wasn't sure why he was so nervous, because he'd known Gibbs for ten years after all, but there was something scary about having Gibbs of all people stare at you unendingly for unknown reasons.



He heard sounds of movement from the basement, so he made his way down the stairs, feeling his nerves grow when Gibbs didn't look up from his woodcarving upon Tony's approach. Since Gibbs didn't acknowledge him, he didn't acknowledge Gibbs - just walked in and leaned against the counter across from where Gibbs sat at his workbench, and watched him work for a while.



He liked when Gibbs was wearing his USMC sweatshirt; he thought he seemed much more natural and accessible that way. So much so, that he didn't even feel as nervous as he did when he first entered Gibbs' home when he saw him sitting around looking comfortable and homey - but that didn't mean he was going to abandon his plan.



"Kinda funny, Boss - when I want you to look up at me, you don't, and when I don't want you to look at me, you stare," he said, watching Gibbs carefully for a reaction.



Gibbs didn't look up, just kept whittling or carving or scraping or whatever it was he was doing to the wood in his hands. "You want me to look at you, DiNozzo?" he said, turning the little wooden block back and forth in his hands and then addressing the lower left corner with his knife.



"Well, yeah," Tony said, "I mean, I just walked into your basement and you didn't say hi."



"Seems kinda rude to walk into someone's house and not say hi," Gibbs countered with a shrug, still not looking up.



Tony's jaw dropped - really?? - but he decided to ignore Gibbs' comment, because he knew Gibbs was playing some kind of Gibbs-ian game with him, and so instead he grabbed a couple of mason jars and poured some bourbon. He took a sip of one and dropped the other in front of Gibbs and leaned against the workbench beside him.



He thought for a moment about how to bring it up and what to say, and he mentally ran over all of the subtle leading statements he'd thought of all day long, trying to pick which one to use. "Why do you stare at me all the time?" he finally blurted out, words coming fast and hurried and not at all like he'd planned.



Gibbs set his woodworking down and turned to Tony with an expression on his face that was halfway between a smirk and a smile. "Why not?" he said.



"Why not?" Tony stood up again, gesticulating strongly as he spoke. "What do you mean, why not? All you do is stare at me! You're Gibbs! It's freaky! Abby has even talked about it with Ducky-"



Gibbs grimaced. "Yeah, I know, did you hear about Palmer's uncle's-"



"Wait, what? You-" Tony cut himself off and grabbed his bourbon, taking another long swig and forcing himself to calm down as Gibbs chuckled - chuckled - and picked up his woodworking tools again.



"It's a good story," Gibbs said casually. "His uncle's first wife had this-"



"I don't want to hear it!" Tony interrupted, sipping (gulping) again and then forcibly setting the bourbon back on the table - he didn't want to lose his wits, after all.



"You can't just-" Tony paused for a moment, frustrated, and tried to think of the right word as he ran a hand through his hair and over his face. "You can't just stare at me," he finally said.



"Why not?" Gibbs said again, and Tony resisted the urge to reach out and throttle him, mostly because he was pretty sure Gibbs could kill him in less then the time it would take him to cross the short distance between them with his hands and reach for his neck.



"It's kind of weird," Tony said after a moment, glancing at Gibbs to gauge his reaction. Gibbs didn't say anything, just kept carving. Tony wondered what the hell the stupid block of wood even was, but forced himself to stay on track.



"It's just - I'm trying to work, you know? And you're staring at me. I thought I was imagining it at first. Then I thought maybe you were trying to keep me on my toes. It kinda feels like a bad 80's horror movie, you know? I mean, not that you're some kind of monster or anything, Boss, it's just, you know, you're, well, you, and it's kind of intimidating-"



"I intimidate you, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, that weird smirk on his face again as he continued to carve.



Tony just stared, mouth agape, and wondered what the hell he was supposed to say. "Would you just tell me why you stare at me all the time?" he finally asked, beginning to feel legitimately frustrated and confused because sometimes talking to Gibbs was like pulling teeth, and he felt strangely nervous and he just wanted answers.



Gibbs put his tools down again and turned to Tony, pulling his eyeglasses off and just looking at him. "I like to," he said simply, shrugging his shoulders and not taking his eyes off of Tony.



With Gibbs staring at him, Tony found it suddenly hard to hold onto his frustration, and he felt strangely vulnerable - Gibbs may be shortsighted, after all, but he didn't miss a thing when it came to Tony. And then Tony realized what Gibbs said, and he felt an unusual flush build on his cheeks.



"Wait," Tony said, "you like to? Why?"



The only reasons Tony could think of for why Gibbs might like to stare at him - well, he didn't even want to go there, because he was pretty sure that was a sure sign of hallucinations, because there was no way Gibbs would like to look at him for those reasons.



"You're fun to watch," Gibbs said.



Tony looked at him in confusion. "Why?"



Gibbs shrugged, leaning back in his chair and letting out a long breath. "You make funny faces," he finally said thoughtfully. "You do this thing with your left eyebrow when you're confused."



"I do not!" Tony said indignantly.



"You do," Gibbs said confidently. "You just did. You flatten your nostrils a little when you're mad, too. Doing it now," he added, before Tony could protest.



Tony just stared at him open-mouthed, unsure of what the hell he was supposed to say, and so he just turned to the workbench and grabbed his bourbon. Gibbs did the same, and drank quite a bit of it in one go.



"Is that really why you stare at me?" Tony finally said. "That's honestly why you spend half the day fucking watching me?"



Gibbs smiled at him. "Not the only reason," he said with a shrug.



"Are you gonna tell me the rest?" Tony said, irritation creeping into his voice.



Gibbs just stared at him again, head cocked to one side as if he expected to find some kind of answer on Tony's face, one that Tony didn't know he was expected to give.



"Depends if you wanna hear it," Gibbs finally said.



"I do," Tony said emphatically. "Come on, Boss."



Gibbs reached to his right and dragged a stool over to where Tony stood. "Sit down," he said, patting the seat. Tony did as he was told and sat facing Gibbs, so close that their knees were almost touching.



"Are you gonna tell me now?" Tony finally asked.



"I already did," Gibbs said. "I like to watch you."



Tony looked at him in confusion, but before he could interrupt, Gibbs kept talking.



"Right now, you're confused," he said. "And kinda pissed."



"No shit," Tony said, but Gibbs put a hand on his knee and shook his head, and Tony immediately fell silent, eyes trained on Gibbs' strong hand on the fabric of his worn jeans - he kind of liked seeing it there.



"You like my hand on your knee," Gibbs said, his voice a bit softer than usual.



Tony looked up at him, embarrassed, but found that Gibbs was looking at him earnestly.



"Widened your eyes a little," Gibbs said in an almost apologetic way. "Eyebrows moved up in the center, too."



Tony looked at him in shock, already knowing that Gibbs could see the complete confusion all over his face. "What-"



"I like my hand on your knee, too," Gibbs said.



Tony blinked, feeling his heart begin to speed up a little bit. Just where was this going? He knew where he wanted it to go, but he almost felt like Abby and Ducky and Palmer and Palmer's fucking uncle's dog were going to pop out from behind some pile of basement-debris and start laughing any second - but the basement remained silent and movement-free, and Gibbs was still staring at him.



Tony swallowed, the movement convulsive and anxiety-ridden, and stared at Gibbs with wide eyes.



"So - so what am I thinking now?" Tony asked, voice coming out in an embarrassingly breathy tone.



Gibbs smiled, a real smile where the corners of his eyes crinkled and little dimples formed around the corners of his mouth and the sides of his nostrils shifted up just a bit - Gibbs wasn't the only one who could stare, after all - and then his free hand was cupping Tony's face.



Tony was pretty sure his heart stopped beating, and that shock was evident on his face, and that Gibbs was feeling his pulse go crazy because Gibbs' hand was on his jaw, and Gibbs was actually really smiling -



- and then Gibbs leaned forward a bit, and Tony's eyes widened when Gibbs was up close, so close that he could feel Gibbs' breath on his lips and see Gibbs' eyes flicker to his mouth, then back up to his eyes, and he was staring at Gibbs, feeling completely shell-shocked but at the same time somehow comforted by his familiar gray hair, and that little scar just underneath his earlobe, and the little sun spots on his cheekbones.



It wasn't until Gibbs closed the distance between them and pressed his lips against Tony's, mouth surprisingly soft and lips surprisingly gentle, that Tony realized he'd been completely frozen, and it was like someone flipped a switch and all of the sudden he came to life and everything made sense, and then he was kissing Gibbs, his hands reaching out and tugging him closer, and this was insane, but completely perfect. Gibbs felt different than a woman, but so much better, and just as Tony let his hands feel the breadth of Gibbs' shoulders and the strength of his back, Gibbs pulled back, just a little, still so close that Tony could see all of the little details of his face, like the flush on his cheeks - that was new, at least to Tony - and then Gibbs leaned forward and pressed a chaste kiss against his lips, and pulled away completely and sat back on his chair again, watching Tony carefully with a little hint of a smile on his face, a hint so small that only someone well-versed in Gibbs-watching would notice it.



Tony just stared at him, and Gibbs stared back, looking completely at ease. Tony, on the other hand, just knew that he looked shocked and confused - and okay maybe a little turned on - and he felt frustrated that Gibbs would just do that and not say a damn thing.



"Is this a joke?" Tony finally said, alarmed that of all the things he could say, that was what he said, and in such a choked voice, too. "I mean, are Ducky and Abby gonna-"



"I don't joke, Tony," Gibbs said. His voice was gentle but firm, and all hint of a smile was gone from his face. He was definitely the serious Gibbs that Tony knew well, with the strongly set eyebrows framing earnest eyes and the squared shoulders, leaning in towards Tony just enough to let him know his intent.



"I mean, I'm not exactly getting younger, Boss," Tony rambled. "I'm not - not such a playboy anymore. I don't mess around, you know? I mean, I could, right? But-"



Gibbs snorted. "You're not getting younger?" he said, amused. "Don't think I am either."



Something about old age jokes with Gibbs brought back some normalcy to the situation, and Tony felt relief wash over him, and he laughed, just a little at first, and then enough that he had to wipe at his eyes and his shoulders shook. Gibbs was chuckling a bit, too, and when Tony looked up at him, hand still half covering his face, eyes dancing with amusement, shoulders relaxed and low, Gibbs was staring back at him with a smile he'd never seen before, and he lowered his hand and looked at Gibbs very seriously.



"You can keep staring at me if you want," he said. "But you don't have to," he added.



"No?" Gibbs asked, watching him fondly.



Tony smiled at him, a smile that he thought was maybe new to Gibbs, too, if it was anything like the smile Gibbs wore. "Nah," he said, "you can have me. You don't need to watch from far away." He paused for a moment, praying to God or whoever the fuck was listening that he was not misinterpreting this situation. "I'm yours," he added for good measure - because if he was wrong, he'd already made an ass of himself, so he may as well go all the way.



Gibbs smiled and leaned forward, cupping Tony's face again and bringing his mouth so close to Tony's that Tony held his breath in anticipation, already imagining the feel of Gibbs' mouth on his again, and the way it would feel to have his hand tangled into Gibbs' short hair.



"You've been mine for ten years," Gibbs all but growled, and when he kissed him it was possessive and strong, and Tony held onto him and pulled him as close as possible, and wondered why the hell he hadn't noticed Gibbs' staring sooner - because this was something he couldn't understand having lived without.



(And also, overwhelmed by Gibbs as he was, he couldn't help but wonder what the fuck happened to Jimmy Palmer's uncle's dog - but then Gibbs did this thing with his tongue - and that thought was gone.)



--



The next time Tony felt Gibbs' eyes on him, staring at him across the bullpen, he merely smiled and continued to type his email, not bothering to look up - at least, until he began to smell mothballs, at which point his nostrils twitched and he saw Betty from accounting leave the elevator and head straight for him - he knew he shouldn't have ignored her responses to his email asking why he thought wasting her time with "uwieyrakd,vm nonsense" was something he should be doing at work. He looked at Gibbs in a begging sort of way, but Gibbs only smiled in amusement and gestured towards Betty, who was rapidly approaching Tony's desk looking rather angry.



And while Tony sat, eyes watering from the overpowering scent of mothballs and rose perfume, Gibbs' eyes still trained on him as Betty began to rant, he couldn't help but smile - he thought he could even deal with the overpowering smell of Betty from accounting knowing that Gibbs was his.



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