Lessons in Twenty-First Century Courting

by: slashscribe (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 7833
Rating: ADULT
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Fluff, Humor
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Summary: When Tony hears about McGee's new girlfriend and the strange circumstances of their relationship, he comes to a few startling realizations about his own relationship with Gibbs.

Chapter 1

When Tony sees McGee strut into the bullpen with an extra spring in his step and a way-too-satisfied expression on his face, the idea of working flies out the window; he has a probie to interrogate!

Tony watches thoughtfully as McGee greets Ziva with a pleasant smile, and when Ziva looks up from her computer and gives McGee a sweet smile in return, it's all Tony can do not to gag.

"No sucking up to Probies, Probette," Tony reprimands from behind his desk. He pauses, brow furrowed. "Actually, Ziva, why are you sucking up to McGoo?"

"I am not sucking up to McGee," Ziva replies, sweet smile gone in favor of her usual scowl in Tony's direction. "I am merely greeting my co-worker in a cordial and mature fashion."

"You don't greet me that way," Tony complains, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms over his chest.

"No, I do not," Ziva agrees. "That is mostly because you greet me with ill-disguised sexual innuendos."

Tony's immediate reaction is to protest that accusation, and he's about to do so when he remembers that it's true. He glares at Ziva instead and swivels in his chair before standing up dramatically and heading to McGee's desk, where McGee has just sat down and is in the process of turning on his computer and typing lots of passwords that Tony isn't sure have any purpose other than looking pretentious.

"What's with the strutting, McSwagger?" Tony asks, giving himself a mental pat on the back for rhyming with McJagger, though he's not quite sure McGee's worthy of the poetic association.

"I wasn't strutting, Tony," McGee replies haughtily, eyes still on his screen. It's not the whine it would have been a few years ago, and Tony can't help but feel pride in his probie for that, even if it is annoying.

Tony rolls his eyes. "You were," he insists. "Shoulders back, chin up, bounce in your step, a little McSmirk going on - that's strutting, Probie. Did you get asked to the prom?"

McGee looks away from his computer screen to roll his eyes at Tony, and Tony feels a grin building; he loves getting McGee all riled up.

"I did not get asked to the prom," McGee says, and then turns back to typing in yet another password. Tony is dying to know why McGee has so many of them, but he knows he has to stay focused. He decides to save those questions for another time and he goes back to figuring out why McGee is so satisfied today.

"Does this have anything to do with the phone call you received at 7:42 last night?" Tony uses his serious interrogator voice and leans against the side of McGee's desk, watching him intently.

McGee's hands freeze over his keyboard and his head turns quickly in Tony's direction. "How do you - are you stalking me? Are you checking my phone records?"

Tony grins, posture relaxing instantly. "I will never reveal the sources of my intel," he says. "Now spit it out - details, McGee! Booty call? Hot female gamer looking for love from a certain high-level Elf Lord?"

McGee scowls at Tony, giving him his full attention. "Yes, I did have a phone call last night. Yes, it was from a woman. No, I will not tell you anything else, so leave it, Tony," he says firmly, turning back to his computer.

Tony reaches out and tugs McGee's keyboard out of reach, relishing the look of complete horror on McGee's face when Tony's computer-illiterate hands threaten to infect the nerd-purity of his keyboard.

"Give me details or I'll control-alt-delete your computer," Tony threatens.

McGee gives Tony a look of disbelief. "You don't even know what that means!"

"That's not the point, McKnowItAll. Who's your new lady friend?"

"I, too, would like to know the answer to this question," Ziva says suddenly. Tony turns and glances at her desk, where she is standing up and approaching McGee like a shark. Tony knows McGee doesn't stand a chance now.

Ziva stands in front of McGee's desk and looks at him thoughtfully. "You have been taking phone calls more frequently than usual lately, and you smile more often. You have charges on your credit card from a florist-"

"Wait, how do you know what's on my credit card bill?" McGee asks, staring at Ziva in horror.

Ziva smirks, and Tony looks at her in admiration. He'd thought the phone tactic was good; credit card statements? She was Mossad for a reason.

"Listen, McLoverboy, you might as well just tell us," Tony says reasonably. "Don't make us get security footage-"

"Fine!" McGee says, and Tony resists the urge to gloat; that was way too easy. "I met a girl recently. We went to MIT together and I saw on Facebook that she moved to DC so we met up, and we've been seeing each other for a while."

"Oooh, the nerdy type," Tony says with a waggle of his eyebrows. "What a surprise. How long's a while?"

"About a month and a half now," McGee says.

"McGee!" Ziva says. "You have been seeing her for this long and you have neither mentioned her to us, nor introduced us?"

McGee gives her and Tony both incredulous looks at this, and Tony can't help but grimace.

"Probably a good move, Probie," he admits. "But that doesn't mean I support it! Now tell me all there is to know!"

"Not much to tell," McGee suddenly says. "She's pretty old-fashioned."

Tony's eyebrows rise and his mouth drops in shock. "McGee!" he admonishes. "You've been seeing her a month and a half and you haven't sealed the deal? Do we need to have a talk?"

"It's not like that, Tony," McGee says, sounding equal parts exasperated and haughty. "She doesn't like to...you know...until at least three months in."

"I'm sorry, McVirgin, I don't know, can you explain it to me?" His initial horror at McGee's situation has quickly dissolved into amusement when McGee can't even say the words "have sex."

McGee rolls his eyes. "Shut up, Tony. It's kind of nice. We're actually, you know, getting to know each other. I really like her," he says with a shrug, turning back to his computer.

"That is actually quite admirable," Ziva says. "You are a good man, Tim."

"Thank you, Ziva," McGee says with a smirky little smile, and Tony wrinkles his nose in distaste when he sees that the two of them are back to their little polite games.

"How is it admirable that McCelibate hasn't gotten any for a month and a half?" he says incredulously.

McGee turns to Tony with a pitying expression. "You probably wouldn't get it," he says.

"Wouldn't get it?" Tony asks. "I am the king of romance! I am the master of women! I am-"

"Oh, please," Ziva interrupts, clearly disgusted. "That is revolting."

"What?" Tony asks. "I'm just being honest!"

"You're the king of emotionally detached sex," McGee says frankly. "What I have with Mandy is much more than that," he adds.

"Mandy?" Tony asks. "Her name is Mandy? Does she dot her I's with hearts?"

Tim ignores that. "We're forming an emotional and intellectual connection to build the rest of our relationship on," he says.

Tony looks at Tim like he is a creature from outer space, and then something occurs to him and he is horrified. "McGee," he says faintly, reaching forward and putting a hand on McGee's shoulder. "Is she brainwashing you? You need to get out of this while you still can. You need to see reality-"

Ziva steps around the desk and swats Tony's hand off McGee's shoulder. "It is called courting, Tony. Something you would not appreciate," she says haughtily.

Tony rubs his hand where Ziva smacked him, eyeing her with distrust. "I know what courting is," he says. "And I also now that the year is 2011, not 1750, so people don't do that anymore."

"Actually," McGee interrupts thoughtfully, "I guess maybe I am courting her."

Tony's mouth drops open and he steps back and sits heavily in his chair, sure he's going to die of shock. He's always known that McGee's a nerdy, reclusive, crazy, writer-type, but he never thought it would go this far. He's considering contacting the NCIS shrink when McGee continues.

"It's not obvious things," he says. "I mean, I did buy her flowers, but that's because we had a conversation about lilies, so I wanted to get her some. I just try to do thoughtful things for her that let her know I care. If she has a bad day at work, I'll make her dinner. If she's not feeling well, I'll bring her soup or stay with her for a while. She had a flat tire the other day, so I picked her up and got it taken care of for her so she wasn't stranded-"

"McGee, that is impressive," Ziva interrupts. She does look impressed, and Tony rolls his eyes.

"What's the point?" Tony asks. "Why go through all that trouble if she won't even put out?"

McGee looks at him in pity again. "Tony, it's not about that," he repeats. "I like her, and I want to see her happy, so I do things that make her happy."

"I'm sure you make an excellent boyfriend, McGee," Ziva says with a smile, and then a challenging smirk at Tony.

Tony looks at her like he looks at people who trip little old ladies on the street and then turns back to McGee. "Okay," he says. "So, you're courting her. How long do you court her before it turns into something else? What are the rules?" He pauses for a moment, and then adds, "Do you have to ask her father's permission to see her unsupervised?"

Tim rolls his eyes. "No, I don't have to ask her father anything. But I have met him, and he's really nice. Gave me this jacket - he'd gotten it as a present and it's too small. It was chilly one day when I was over there, so he let me have it," he says, gesturing to the one draped over the back of his chair. Tony eyes it appreciatively and thinks that courting might not be so bad if there are Armani jackets involved.

"And there are no rules," McGee continues. "I mean, she wants to wait three months before we...before we have sex, and I'm okay with that. If she wanted to wait longer, I'd be okay with that, too, because she's worth the wait," he adds with a shrug.

Tony's brows shoot up in surprise and, okay, a little tiny eensy-weensy bit of respect that is greatly overshadowed by the idea of no sex for so long, and he eyes McGee speculatively. He's about to respond when a hand comes out of nowhere and smacks the back of his head.

"Ow!" he says, flinching away and rubbing his head, not surprised to see Gibbs standing behind him.

"Stop harassing McGee," Gibbs says as he rounds the corner of the partition, dropping a coffee on Tony's desk.

"I wasn't - okay, I was," Tony admits as Ziva hurriedly sits at her desk and McGee turns back to his computer with another self-satisfied smile; one too many, especially this early in the morning, in Tony's opinion. "Why the coffee, Boss?" Tony adds, picking it up and sniffing it warily.

Gibbs rolls his eyes. "Think I poisoned it?" he asked. "Wouldn't be dumb enough to make it traceable by smell if I did," he adds.

"That's true," Tony says, not relieved in the slightest, still looking at it askance.

"It's not poisoned, DiNozzo," Gibbs says with a roll of his eyes when Tony still looks like the coffee is about to kill him. He sounds rather exasperated. "You were here until 0300 this morning. Don't want you falling asleep when you're supposed to be on my six," he adds.

"Oh," Tony says. "Good point, Boss." He takes a sip and it tastes like heaven, a hazelnut brew with just the right amount of cream and sugar. Gibbs always gets it right.

"Now write your damn report," Gibbs threatens, heading to his desk.

"On it, Boss," Tony replies automatically, swiveling around to his computer and getting to work, taste of hazelnut sweet on his tongue.

--

Tony is juggling his keys, the mail, and a bag of groceries when he enters his apartment, cursing when he drops the keys. He kicks them out of the way and then closes the door with his foot, wrinkling his mail in the process but glad he's managed not to drop the eggs this time. He sets his groceries down absently as he sorts through colorful envelopes, all of which contain junk.

As he tosses them into the trash, he shivers; the chill of fall is beginning to set in, and it's a bit cold in his apartment. He considers turning on the heat, but refuses to on principle since it's only October; he tries to hold out until at least early November.

In the mean time, he needs a sweatshirt, so he puts his groceries away and heads to the bedroom, giving the pile of dirty laundry in the corner a look of distaste before tugging open one of his bureau drawers.

He's about to pull out his favorite Ohio State sweatshirt when a little bit of cream-colored fabric catches his eye, and he can't remember which sweatshirt that is, so he tugs it out with a frown that quickly turns to a wide grin. He realizes that it's not a sweatshirt at all - it's the sweater Jack Gibbs had given him in Stillwater. He gleefully pulls it on, the material warm and soft and cozy. He heads back to the kitchen with relentless cheer, even whistling a bit as he pulls a beer out of the fridge.

A thought occurs to him and he freezes, beer in hand, fridge door half open, sweater suddenly stifling in its warmth.

He'd been thinking about what an idiot McGee was for his silly courting ideas all day long, and suddenly, his mind is spinning in circles because all he can think about is Gibbs bringing him a coffee that morning, and all the times Gibbs brings him home after a tough case, or gives him dinner, or lets him stay at his place, or checks in on him when he's got a concussion, which, to be fair, is pretty often.

And he thinks of the stupid jacket McGee got from Mandy's dad - and realizes he's wearing a perfectly cozy sweater from Gibbs' dad - and he thinks of McGee saying how he helped Mandy with a flat tire the other day, and he thinks of the times Gibbs drove him around after his car got blown up -

And then his brain goes back to the sweater, because really - and suddenly he's blinking fast, brain whirring whirring whirring, and he kicks the fridge closed and hurriedly opens the beer, taking a long gulp.

He sets it down on the counter with a bang, pulling his hand away quickly when the foam suddenly erupts out the neck so as not to get any on his sweater because he loves that sweater -

And then he steps away from the counter with a start, staring at his sweater sleeve in alarm. He loves that sweater. More than his Ohio State hoodie, more than his various NCIS sweatshirts, more than any sweatshirt he owns.

And he loves when Gibbs makes him dinner or lets him stay over or takes care of him when he's sick, even if he'll never admit it unless he's under duress or threat of courting-related-obsessive-thoughts. He realizes that Gibbs fits right into McGee's definition of courting, and it's an even crazier realization that he likes it.

He shudders, wondering if feeling like he's being courted makes him Mandy in this relationship - and then he realizes that if he's Mandy, then Gibbs is McGee, and that's just all sorts of wrong, and then he freezes again, because, okay, he's not Mandy and Gibbs is not McGee, but is Gibbs actually courting him? And, wait - relationship?

Tony leans against the counter, takes a deep breath, and tries to make sense of the thoughts spinning around in his mind, and then he suddenly puts his hands on his hips, determination flooding him. He is not some damsel-in-distress in need of courting. He's Tony DiNozzo, dammit, and he is a man.

He takes a long swig of his beer and then belches to satisfy any doubt he might have had that his manliness is suffering.

And then, with a determined gleam in his eye, he pulls his sweater tighter and sits down to plan.

He'll show Gibbs who's Mandy in this relationship.

(...Or at the very least, who's not a woman.)

--

Rather than McGee, Tony is the one to walk into the bullpen with a satisfied smirk and an extra spring in his step the next morning, only his posture quickly relaxes and his face turns to a disappointed scowl when he realizes he's the first one to arrive and no one is there to witness his triumphant entrance.

He sighs and dejectedly plunks a coffee down on Gibbs' desk before heading to his own, turning on his computer and eyeing Gibbs' empty chair every so often, hoping Gibbs will pop out from underneath it or something and thank him for the coffee.

That doesn't happen, though, and soon Ziva arrives, and so does McGee, and both of them ask where Gibbs is, since he must be in the building due to the coffee on his desk, and Tony tries not to look disconsolate when he shrugs.

Gibbs finally does come in, coffee in hand, and he takes one look at the coffee on his desk before staring at the team suspiciously.

"Where'd this come from?" he asks, gesturing towards it like it's a bomb. Tony grimaces; no way he'll own up to it now.

"Dunno, Boss," Tony says with a shrug. "Was there when I came in."

Gibbs frowns and throws it out before sitting at his desk, and Tony watches in disappointment, going back to his emails with phase one of his plan ruined. He brightens, though, when he remembers phase two.

--

When lunchtime rolls around, Tony eagerly volunteers to go pick it up. They're getting Chinese and Gibbs is out of the building, but Tony knows exactly what his order is.

So Tony gets an extra order of Moo Shu Chicken and an extra container of Hot and Sour Soup, just to be safe, and strolls back into the bullpen feeling extremely satisfied with himself; not only did he get Gibbs' extra-special lunch without being asked, but he also has actual witnesses for his self-satisfied strut, unlike that morning. He sets the bag down on his desk and turns to dazzle his team with his generosity when he sees Gibbs biting into a big Philly Cheese Steak.

"What is that?" Tony asks, glaring at Gibbs' sandwich.

"Flllchssk," Gibbs answers with a look that says, 'what the hell is your problem, do you have eyes?'

Tony rolls his eyes (yes, he does have them). "I know it's a Philly Cheese Steak," he replies. "But I just picked up Chinese!"

Gibbs shrugs, swallowing his mouthful. "Didn't know. Wasn't here," he says. "Abby got this for me." He takes another big bite and Tony stares for a moment, overwhelmed with both annoyance and a strange sort of mesmerized feeling as he watches Gibbs' mouth, and then he hurriedly turns back to his bag of Chinese food.

"Waste of money," Tony grumbles as he sorts through the containers, but really, he's disappointed that phase two of his courting plan hasn't worked, and he takes a little pleasure in "accidentally" puncturing the side of McGee's rice container when he hands it to him. Stupid McGee and his stupid courting.

--

Tony hasn't really worked out the details of phase three of his plan; he'd just assumed that phases one and two would be so amazing that phase three would come naturally and Gibbs would swoon into his arms.

He suddenly sits up straight in his desk chair, ignoring his inbox for a moment as the realization of the error of his ways sweeps over him.

Gibbs would never swoon, he realizes, and he'd never want him to! Gibbs is no Mandy! Gibbs is no female for that matter, and Tony has an urge to bang his head on his desk repeatedly, but he resists, because then he would have a concussion and Gibbs would probably end up taking care of him (courting him!) and the whole thing would start over.

Tony frowns thoughtfully for a moment, head cocked to one side. If he's not Mandy and Gibbs is not Mandy, then maybe there's no courting going on after all, and he misunderstood.

And then he realizes that of course neither of them is Mandy; they're both men! And for that matter, of course neither of them is McGee; they're both men!

He's about to headslap himself for being such an idiot when he realizes that he would then look like even more of an idiot, and he turns back to his computer screen, pretending to read an email.

He thinks about the situation, and then comes to the conclusion that this is totally out of his league. Deep down, he's sure Gibbs is courting him, and he's just as sure he's courting Gibbs. And when he thinks about it, that's been going on for a while; probably ever since he tackled Gibbs in Baltimore and became totally intrigued - okay, obsessed - with the taciturn, smug bastard and the way his body felt pinned underneath his own.

He thinks he might be involved in some kind of strange 1750's courting ritual, but he's not sure how that works if it's two men. He's pretty sure men didn't court in the 1750's, at least not the same way men and women did, and he realizes again just how much revising his plan needs.

He's not really sure where to start, and he eyes McGee for a moment, considering asking him - and then he shudders and goes back to pretending to read his email. No way in hell will he ask McGee for any kind of advice that has to do with courting. No. Way.

He's about to forget about the whole thing and actually read an email when he realizes that Gibbs is looming over his desk, looking down at him with impatience.

Tony resists the urge to blush like he's sure Mandy does and he forces himself to remain the manliest of manly men.

"Yeah, Boss?" he says, pleased to hear that his voice is perfectly deep.

"With me, DiNozzo. Grab your gear," Gibbs says, jerking his head toward the elevator.

Tony frowns in confusion and grabs his backpack and gun, holstering it quickly and following behind Gibbs. With much practice, he ignores the bewildered looks that Ziva and McGee are sporting.

"Um, Boss? We don't have a case," Tony says.

Gibbs merely presses the "down" button on the elevator and glares at Tony, so Tony shuts up and then watches Gibbs thoughtfully once his back is turned. He's pretty sure this isn't part of a courting ritual, and he's so busy thinking about it as they descend in the elevator that it comes as a surprise when the elevator stops at the parking garage.

"Come on," Gibbs says, heading to the left. Tony follows dutifully, wondering where they're going since both his own car and the NCIS-issued sedans are to the right. He sees Gibbs' car come into view, and he frowns. Maybe this is a courting ritual. He eyes Gibbs suspiciously, but clears his face of it and smiles when Gibbs turns around to face him.

"Get in," Gibbs says.

"Okay," Tony agrees, walking around to the passenger seat and sliding in, shoving his backpack on the floor. "Where to, Boss?"

"My house," Gibbs says.

Tony's eyebrows shoot up in surprise; definitely a courting ritual, then. "Oh," he says. "Your house? What for?"

Gibbs doesn't reply. Instead, he gives Tony a knowing look before peeling out of his parking spot, and Tony shifts low in his seat, both in apprehension for his life because of Gibbs' driving and also apprehension for his life because of that look.

Tony's mind is busy replaying his conversation with McGee from the morning before, and his consequent realization that he and Gibbs are courting, and he sits up with a start, ignoring the way Gibbs looks at him out of the corner of his eye. He's not going to slouch down and be the blushing bride while Gibbs goes all caveman and drags him home; he's going to be Tony DiNozzo, dammit - suave and debonair and manly!

He prides himself on his ability to smooth-talk his way into and out of any situation that pops up, and he grins. "Hey, Boss, did you ever see -"

"Don't wanna talk about movies, Tony," Gibbs interrupts.

"I was gonna ask if you've ever seen McGee's new girlfriend, Boss," he says, which is not actually true, but it's the first thing that comes to mind and he instantly regrets it because it's bringing this conversation way too close to courting territory.

Gibbs gives him a look of pure disbelief, and Tony frantically gestures towards the road because Gibbs drives way too fast to even think about taking his eyes off the road. Relief washes over Tony for more than one reason when Gibbs' eyes are off him and back where they should be.

"Guess you wouldn't have met her," Tony says a moment later, once the car is back in their lane.

"Ya think?"

Tony looks out the window as Gibbs drives and it occurs to him suddenly that this is not just some convoluted thought process of his anymore; this is not a game, or a new way to tease McGee, or a funny plot on a sitcom that distracts him from his life for a while.

This is his life, and it's been his life for ten years. Tony thinks on his feet a lot, sometimes for the best and sometimes for the worst, and this is one of those times where he looks back on his plan and wonders what the hell he was thinking.

For all he knows, Gibbs isn't courting him at all; he's merely being caring, but Tony doesn't really have a lot of experience with that, either, and he's not really sure where to draw the line between caring mentor/boss/friend and something more. He knows he's never had a boss or coworker treat him the way Gibbs treats him. He's never had a friend treat him the way Gibbs treats him, and for that matter, he's never had a more than friend treat him the way Gibbs treats him.

He decides it's best to fall back on his rarely used Plan C: be patient, wait, and see what happens, and most importantly, think before speaking. He can't remember the last time he's used this particular plan, and he feels unnerved to say the least. He has a certain feeling, though - a gut feeling that he needs to not mess this up, and deep down he knows that Plan C is necessary.

So when they arrive at Gibbs' house, he gets out of the car and feels surprisingly confident despite his nerves. He reassures himself that there's no way Gibbs could know what he's thinking, and that he could be totally off-base and Gibbs has never had any inclinations towards him beyond those of a boss. Even though it's a disappointing thought, he can handle keeping things as they are for the next few years as long as it means Gibbs is still in his life.

He follows Gibbs into the house slowly, tossing his backpack next to the door and keeping a cautious eye on Gibbs as he heads into the kitchen. Gibbs grabs a couple beers out of the fridge and opens them, handing one to Tony and heading wordlessly into the living room.

The beer is cold in Tony's hand as he follows, and it feels good against his flushed skin. He sits next to Gibbs on the couch, the same way they always sit, eyes forward, elbows on their knees - but this time, Tony feels a tension in his spine that he doesn't normally feel, and he's all too aware of Gibbs' body next to his, of the mere centimeters that separate their knees, of the fact that if he just twitches, his leg will brush against Gibbs'.

Hesitantly, he glances sideways at Gibbs, and shivers when he sees that Gibbs is staring at him, and something in the room shifts. He suddenly feels unexpectedly exposed and vulnerable, and he has a feeling Gibbs knows just what's on his mind.

"Thanks," Gibbs says abruptly, and Tony leans back and glances at him curiously.

"For what?" he replies, eyes flickering over Gibbs' face. As usual, it's hard to read.

"Coffee this morning," Gibbs says. "Shoulda told me it was from you."

Tony feels surprisingly embarrassed. "Um-"

"This have anything to do with that conversation you had with McGee yesterday morning?" Gibbs asks, looking at Tony shrewdly.

Tony sits up straight, brows rising in shock. "How do you..." He pauses, thinking about the tricks he learned during his short time as team leader, and about all the times over the last ten years when Gibbs has proven himself to be pretty damn omnipotent. He feels the urge to headslap himself yet again, but instead, gives Gibbs a cavalier grin. "Why would this have anything to do with McGee's Amish romance?"

Gibbs arches a brow and shrugs. "You tell me, DiNozzo."

Tony has an inexplicable urge to tell Gibbs to call him Tony, and to push him back against the couch and kiss that little smirk away, to rumple up his cheap Sears polo and pull it off -

He sighs and takes a long swig of beer instead.

"McPrude's never had sex with his girlfriend," Tony says. "Isn't that weird? And he - he has a jacket. From her dad. I mean, it was his and he just gave it to him." He glances at Gibbs out of the corner of his eye, but Gibbs isn't saying anything, so he plows on.

"It's weird, Boss. He cooks her dinner and fixes her car and stays with her when she's sick and he says that's enough -"

"Maybe it is," Gibbs interrupts.

"How could it be?" Tony asks, heart suddenly beating fast. His eyes are locked with Gibbs' now, and he knows he looks anxious, he knows his eyes are wide, he knows his cheeks are flushed, but he doesn't care.

Gibbs shrugs. "Maybe for McGee, it's enough. He's not you, Tony, and he's sure as hell not me, either. Maybe it's what he wants."

Tony blinks, unsure of what to say. He's trying to use Plan C, to think before he speaks, but it's not working. "How can it be enough?" he asks, surprised by how pleading his voice sounds. "For him to - to court someone for that long, and just wait until the right time, and never have any gratification? How -"

"It is gratification," Gibbs interrupts, staring at Tony so intently that Tony leans forward a bit, his eyes softening as he listens because a passionate Gibbs is one that needs his full attention. "Not sexual gratification. It's building a relationship - a relationship that works," he says, and Tony's not sure he's had this intense a conversation with Gibbs in ages.

"But how..." Tony pauses, clearing his suddenly dry throat, setting the beer down because his palms are clammy already and he doesn't need the added condensation. "How is that enough? How can it go on for so long -"

"McGee's only been dating her a month and a half," Gibbs interrupts, and Tony visibly deflates, a sudden crushing feeling in his chest. He blinks, staring at his beer, wondering how he'd thought Gibbs had been maybe thinking about them during this conversation - and then he remembers that Gibbs is a master interrogator, that Gibbs knows how to read people, that Gibbs brings him coffee in the morning sometimes, that Gibbs took the time to bring him home and give him a beer tonight, and most importantly, that Gibbs is a private person with tons of failed relationships, and he knows that Gibbs doesn't give himself away easily. He knows that Gibbs is cautious, is self-protective, and that he has to be, and he swallows, steeling himself and then turning to look at Gibbs with eyes that are suddenly kind and understanding and serious.

"Wasn't talking about McGee," he says, proud his voice remains steady even if it is soft and hushed and just a little bit hoarse.

"No?" Gibbs asks, and somehow, his voice is that way, too, that grainy soft quiet tone of a shared secret, of a conversation with the potential to change their lives and send them spinning into orbit.

Tony shakes his head, shifting his leg and letting it brush against Gibbs'. It's like electricity, and he can't believe it took McGee's courtship for him to realize this - their potential, their connection.

"How's it enough for you?" Tony asks, voice soft. His eyes flick back and forth between Gibbs', and he leans forward, just a little. "Ten years, Gibbs. You've been - " He pauses, allows a small smile to grace his features. "You've been courting me for ten years," he says, heart beating so fast it feels like fluttering wings in his chest. "Right?"

Gibbs shrugs, one corner of his mouth twitching a bit. "I'm not the only one," he says.

Tony's confused. "What do you mean? You let me stay here, and you make me dinner, and Jack gave me his sweater -"

"You programmed that new phone thing for me," Gibbs says. "You get me coffee and lunch, fix my ties, watch my back, understand me when I don't -"

Tony's heart is pounding and he thinks, Fuck Plan C, and decides thinking before speaking and waiting patiently to assess a situation is for morons. As much as he wants to hear what Gibbs has to say, his heart is practically coming out his throat and he can't wait another second. He leans forward and tangles his fingers into the short hair at the back of Gibbs' head and kisses him, pressing his lips against Gibbs'.

It's simple at first - a short but demanding touch of lips, Gibbs' a bit dry and Tony's damp. When Tony pulls away and looks into Gibbs' eyes from only inches away, though, his breath hitches with need. Gibbs licks his lips, tongue darting out, and then it's like a switch flips and Gibbs' hand is warm and calloused against the back of Tony's head and their eyes lock for just a second - it's one of those familiar moments in which they don't need words, just a gesture or a glance - but in that one glance, Tony knows things will never be the same, and then Gibbs is urging Tony's head forward, and Tony lets his lips part and then Gibbs' tongue is slick against his own.

It's desperate, it's needy, but at the same time it's real, and it's patient, and Gibbs pulls away after a moment and Tony feels an ache in his chest that he didn't know was there dissolve into a strange floating sensation. It's like he's drunk, and his face is still so close to Gibbs that if he twitches, their noses will bump, and so he does, eyes crinkling at the corners when Gibbs smiles at him and presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth in retaliation.

"This mean our courtship's over?" Tony asks playfully, eyes flickering between Gibbs' lips and his eyes and his nose and his cheekbones, taking in all the details of his face from this close, giddy in anticipation for the seconds and minutes and hours and days and years to come.

Gibbs face breaks into a smile and he laughs. "Damn right," he says.

Tony grins and leans forward to kiss Gibbs again, but they're both smiling and it's a strange press of stretched lips, and then they're laughing, stealing kisses when they can, and Gibbs' hands are warm and comfortable and solid, one at the back of Tony's head, one drifting over the planes of his back, and Tony feels so content that he thinks maybe this courting thing isn't so bad after all.

"Maybe McGee's got the right idea," Tony admits a moment later, last vestiges of laughter gone from his face. "Tell him that and I'll kill you," he adds as an afterthought.

Gibbs shrugs. "Maybe," he says doubtfully. "Even McGee'd probably think ten years is a little long," he says.

Tony laughs and kisses Gibbs again because he wants to and he can, and that thought is exhilarating. "So, maybe it's time to end it? Ten year courtship over...time for something else to start?" His voice falls deeper at the end of his question, and his heart is beating fast again. He's sure Gibbs can tell; they're practically on top of each other, and all he can think about now is them actually being on top of each other, and his heart is quickening again.

"Time for what to start?" Gibbs asks, leaning closer. Tony knows it's an intentional interrogation tactic; he knows Gibbs wants to hear it straight from his mouth that he's taking this seriously. He doesn't have the best track record, after all, and he hates using the word he's about to use, but for Gibbs, he'll make an exception because it's with surprising clarity that he realizes this is what he wants.

"A relationship," he says, and his voice is quiet but firm, and he's proud that it doesn't come out as a question.

Gibbs looks at him and there's something a lot like pride in his eyes, and Tony knows he's chosen the right response. Gibbs kisses him again, and this time it's with intent, and Tony feels the twisting pull of lust coiling tight in his stomach and suddenly his skin is on fire and Gibbs' mouth is no longer gentle and patient, and their kisses have turned hot and desperate.

Gibbs' hands are pushing the jacket off his shoulders, and Tony eagerly twists out of it, breaking contact with Gibbs' mouth as little as possible. He's already rock hard; ten years of fantasies abruptly coming to life will do that to a man. And what they have is better than fantasy, better than anything his imagination has ever conjured up because he just couldn't have known the way it feels to have Gibbs quirk a smile right against his cheek, or the way it feels when the warmth of Gibbs' breath ghosts over his lips, or when Gibbs pulls him in for a kiss, or when Gibbs' hands tug his shirt free of his pants.

He's breathless when he breaks the kiss to shakily undo the buttons of his shirt. Gibbs' hands are on his hips, thumbs underneath his shirt and rubbing circles over his skin, leaving goose bumps in their wake. It's all he can do not to shiver at the feel of Gibbs' fingers on his skin, and he pulls his shirt off eagerly, tugging his undershirt over his head, pulling Gibbs in for a kiss and then breaking it to tug Gibbs' polo off.

Tony focuses on kissing Gibbs again, shifting until he's straddling him, getting as close as he can and kissing him with such intensity that it's like he's trying to get ten years worth of want and need and desire out in the next thirty seconds, and then Gibbs' hand is on his neck, thumb rubbing soothingly over the base of his skull, other hand running up and down his spine, and Tony slows down, pausing for a moment to get control. He pulls back and rests his head on Gibbs' forehead, breathing heavily. His chest is heaving and he knows his eyes are full of emotion, but Gibbs' are, too, and it's a lot all at once. He closes his eyes and lets his nose rest against Gibbs', and when he feels a bit more composed, he pulls away and opens his eyes.

"Don't have to rush," Gibbs says, thumb still moving in circles over the base of his skull. Tony nods, unsure he'll be able to speak. Gibbs pulls him down for a kiss and this one is gentle again, mouths slow and soft. The feel of Gibbs' bare chest on his own is making him even harder, and he wants release desperately, but at the same time, he doesn't want this to end.

Gibbs' hands drift lower, caressing his back, making him shiver and press closer and moan breathily against Gibbs' skin. When Gibbs undoes his belt, fingers grazing against his stomach, Tony's breath quickens in anticipation, and he reaches down to do the same to Gibbs, but Gibbs bats his hand away and takes care of it himself. That's okay with Tony; he knows he'll have plenty more opportunities.

Tony kisses Gibbs right below the ear, and he makes a mental note to explore that spot more later; he likes the way Gibbs' breath hitches when he does that. He stands up and undoes his pants, tugging them down along with his briefs unabashedly. He pulls Gibbs up and hooks his thumbs into the waistband of both Gibbs' pants and boxers and pulls them down together.

"God," he says, unable to take his eyes off of Gibbs' body. He's seen it before, of course, in the locker room or the showers, but never like this. He steps close again and kisses him, and the feeling of Gibbs' hard cock against his own is overwhelming and he feels like a teenager, liable to come at a moment's notice.

Gibbs pushes him towards the couch and then Tony's sitting, but Gibbs presses a hand into his shoulder, and Tony understands what he wants. He lies down, spreading his legs a bit, and Gibbs settles on top of him. Their cocks are lined up just so, and when Gibbs shifts, Tony can't help but groan and pull him into a kiss. His hips are moving of their own accord, desperately trying to find friction, and then Gibbs reaches down and grabs hold of his dick, and Tony arches his back, pulling away from the kiss. Gibbs buries his face in the crook of Tony's neck, hand pumping fast.

Tony reaches down and wraps his hand around Gibbs' cock, too, pumping in time with Gibbs. His breath is coming faster and faster and so is Gibbs'. He adjusts his grip a bit, and loves the groan that comes out of Gibbs' mouth, and it turns him on so much that the lust coiling in his stomach is spreading out to his limbs, and he can feel his toes curling and Gibbs is pumping harder and panting and then Tony's free hand is tangling into Gibbs' hair and he's coming hard, groaning at the same time that Gibbs stiffens on top of him.

When it's over and Gibbs is collapsed on top of him and they're both trying to catch their breath, Tony thinks it's the best sex he's ever had - and that's saying something; he's had lots of sex in lots of different ways and lots of different places, and nothing compares to this, to lying in a sweaty and sated heap with Gibbs, feeling Gibbs' hand on his chest, feeling Gibbs' breath on his skin.

Tony smiles when Gibbs absently presses a kiss against his collarbone, and then he's grinning like an idiot, pleased beyond belief and unable to clearly comprehend the turn his life has suddenly taken.

"We can do that again, right?" Tony asks.

Gibbs snorts and shifts so he's propped up on his elbow, still squished against Tony on the narrow couch. "Damn right," he says. "And I don't share," he adds, but Tony knows that; he's Gibbs, after all, and Tony's not willing to share him, either.

Gibbs wrangles himself away from Tony and stands up, and Tony feels frustratingly cold all of a sudden. He watches Gibbs step into the bathroom, eyes taking in his naked form appreciatively. When Gibbs comes back, rubbing his stomach with a wet washcloth, he perches on the edge of the couch and carefully cleans up Tony's stomach.

"Thanks," Tony says, watching him fondly.

Gibbs just nods, and when it looks like he's about to stand up and get rid of the washcloth, Tony stops him, grabbing hold of his wrist and tugging him closer.

"Definitely worth waiting ten years," Tony says, and when Gibbs grins and leans down to kiss him, Tony feels a sense of smug superiority and knows McGee and Mandy have nothing on them. He sees many self-satisfied struts into the bullpen in his future, and just as he's thinking of the best way to put McGee in his place come Monday, Gibbs is straddling him, and all thoughts of McGee are gone.

With Gibbs' body pressed against his own again, their lips and tongues sliding together, he realizes that for the first time in ten years, he has everything he wants. He pulls Gibbs closer, still marveling at the idea of lying naked with Gibbs, and feels overwhelmingly lucky and appreciative to have Gibbs in his life in this way.

He thinks maybe ten years is the perfect length for a courtship, and grins into the kiss. Gibbs pulls away and grins, too, and then presses a chaste kiss to the corner of his mouth. He stands up and grabs his underwear and pants, and Tony watches as he pulls them up, letting his eyes linger, eventually sitting up and tugging on his own briefs.

"Dinner?" Gibbs asks, and Tony nods. Gibbs kisses him and then heads into the kitchen, and Tony follows behind with a grin. He'll have to thank McGee - after all, in a roundabout way, McGee is slightly responsible for him realizing exactly what kind of relationship he's been building with Gibbs all these years.

He makes a mental note to add superglue to his shopping list, and opens the fridge to help Gibbs with dinner. He realizes that for the moment, life is perfect, and for the foreseeable future, it looks pretty damn good. With a ten-year courtship under their belts, he's pretty sure he and Gibbs can face anything and come out on top - especially armed with super glue.

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MTAC - NCIS Fic