Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 5339
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Jenny Shepard, Other Female Character
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Episode Related, Character Study
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo, Tony/OFC, Gibbs/OFC
Summary: A truthful discussion of their current situation.
Author Notes: My sincere thanks to BC for betaing...and keeping me sane.
Title: In Vehicles Veritas
Rating: FRAO (NC-17)
Category: POV, angst, dab of humor
Summary: A truthful discussion concerning their current situation.
Warnings: Language, implied sexual situations, implied het.
Spoilers: Season Four through Skeletons
Notes: My sincere thanks to BC for betaing…and keeping me sane.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement intended.
There are times when I feel just being physically close to Jethro Gibbs is almost like going a round or two with a fully functional, Black & Decker power sander: feeling the course, sharp bite of the gritty abrasion, grinding continually over the sensitive, healthy skin, slowly but steadily rasping away the delicate layers, one level at a time, until all that’s left is a raw, bleeding mass of exposed nerves. Yeah, a power sander…but without the fucking electricity. That would only be a waste of good juice. Just the firm press of his single-minded, muscular will against my own is all he ever needs, trying to conform me to the basic designs set solely in his own mind, like a collection of personal blueprints crafted and drafted to his unique, individual specifications.
Right. Like I’m going to do what he wants and be what he wants without any say in the matter. Not damn likely. Well, okay, not *anymore*. Those days are long gone for me now. Oh, sure, in the beginning I think I must have jumped through his strategically placed hoops or sat up and begged a time or two…dozen…before finally locating my balls and standing up to the man but who wouldn’t have a healthy respect for someone like him? He’s Jethro Gibbs, for Christ’s sake!
But tonight it’s just going to be him and me…man to man…mano a mano, with nothing or no one to interfere with our private, *equal*, and way overdue bit of conversation. I may not have a lot of time, so I’ll need to make each moment count. Oh, yeah…
I’ve just spent the last twenty minutes talking with Len Grady’s neighbors…or those who would answer their doors…and have quickly come to the conclusion that more and more people are just using their homes as a buffer against the world outside, closing themselves off to reality, and hoping no one comes a-knocking to intrude in their personal version of solitude. Man, talk about a case of deluded isolation. How do people live like that?
Anyway, I’ve completed my task of speaking with the good folks of Mr. Grady’s neighborhood and am on my way back to the vehicle, hustling the last few yards to get out of this light, misting rain. I hate nights like this with a passion, when images of Nightmare on Elm Street come rushing back in unbidden, and I have to wonder why I wasted so much of my youth watching those inane, gory, mindless, sicko horror movies like I did.
Heh. Because I *liked* them, that’s why.
It was just another thing on a very short list of great ways to escape reality back then. Oh, yeah. I’d watch those young, nubile, scantily clad girls in peril run down deserted alleyways, their boobs bouncing and swaying and shaking, screaming their heads off, sometimes literally, blood spraying everywhere, while chain saws sang their tormented melodies in the background, and heroic-minded teenage boys tried their best to fight off evil creatures that just wouldn‘t die. Man, those were the days.
Sure not like what’s being offered now in the cinemas. Hell, no. Last time I went to see a horror flick I quickly made up my mind they no longer held any attraction, especially now that the industry has developed the means to make everything look so damn *real*. I see enough blood at work; I certainly don’t need it, even in fake form, as a means of entertainment in my free time. Just give me a good, old, action flick any day…or even some corny romance…I don’t care. As long as I don’t have to see people torturing each other or, worse, eating each other alive in some zombie-laden berserk-fest, I’ll be happy. I’m so glad I’ve invested in all the old classics now…I can just stay home, pop some corn, and curl up comfortably on my couch. Now, *that’s* a good night.
Not like tonight.
Glancing up as I reach the front of the sedan, I can clearly see Gibbs holding his binoculars up to his eyes, gaze fixed solely on Grady’s house, studiously ignoring my approach. Right. I have to smirk at his lame attempt to keep focused on the case because, deep down, I know what that sharp, multi-tasking mind is doing. Oh, yeah. He’s been aware of my every step through this creepy neighborhood, while also keeping an eye open for Grady…and he’s probably been checking out my ass, too. That’s my Gibbs…
“Nobody’s home, Boss,” I report as I settle comfortably into the seat, glad to be out of the cool mist and, more importantly, finally alone with Gibbs. McGee and Ziva are positioned somewhere on Grady‘s property, keeping a closer watch, and I grin as I recall how pleased I felt when Gibbs directed me to return to the car after speaking to those dwelling nearby. “Neighbors say he went out about an hour ago. What do we do?”
Gibbs shifts a bit but never looks my way. “We wait.”
“Okay,“ I nod in understanding but I can’t just stop there. I know he probably doesn’t want to hear this now but it‘s way past time we had this little discussion and this is a great segue into the conversation. “Colonel Mann still in with the Director? What do you think they’re talking about?”
There’s a big, honking pause and I kind of think he’s not going to respond but that’s just not his style. No. If I push just right, he’ll…
“We wait,” he repeats quickly, all but gritting through his teeth again, still refusing to look my way. But then he adds, “Silently.”
Well, that’s what *he’d* like but I sure as hell don‘t plan to be silent. He’s not getting away from me tonight without answering a few questions and clearing the air. We’ve been dancing around Jenny and Hollis…and Jeanne…for quite a while and I think this is a perfect time to voice some of our concerns. Well, okay…maybe *my* concerns. But I have to take the indirect route…can’t appear too heavy-handed.
Heavy-handed? Me? Right…
“Think their firing up to duke it out over you?” I ask with feigned innocence.
He just grunts out his reply. I can’t tell if it’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no‘, so I continue.
“Maybe we’ll get to see a good-old, hair-pulling, nails-scratching, voices-screeching, cat fight before this all plays out,” I prod softly, tipping my chin up a bit and looking at his silhouette through my slightly lowered lashes, watching as he continues to ignore my presence. “Think they’ll do it right there in the middle of the bullpen? Or better yet,” I’m just getting warmed up to the idea, “they could do it down in the gym and we could charge admission. What do think…five dollars a head? That sound about right?”
The binoculars are wavering a bit and I can see his shoulders stiffen. Good. Let’s see if I can do a bit of sanding of my own now. Hhmmm, where should I begin?
“No,” I slyly reconsider my description of the imagined altercation between the two women, rubbing a finger thoughtfully across my chin in mock contemplation, “they’re both trained in hand-to-hand, aren’t they? They’d go after each other like terriers or a couple of real ass ninjas,” I catch him shifting uncomfortably before he can disguise the move. “Do you think they’ll start ripping each others clothes off? Wow, we could charge ten bucks a head for something like that!”
“Shaddup, DiNozzo,” he almost snarls this time…still not looking at me. Bastard.
But I haven’t pushed enough yet. Oh, hell, no. We’ve known each other for a fairly good amount of time now and I know when it’s ‘enough’…and this is not it. He hasn’t reached his limit…not quite.
“Oh, come on, Gibbs.” Now I’m going to cross the line, I know it and he knows it, but I just can’t stop myself at this point. “You know you’d like to see that. Just think of all that fine, soft, female skin pressing and mashing together, slicked with sweat, and sliding all over the mats.” I give a little fake shiver of delight and let a soft moan sound deep within my chest, just for effect. “Hell, maybe they’ll turn out to be a couple of munchers and just do each other right there in front of us. Now, *that* would be something.”
The binoculars are easing away from his face and *now* he’s turning, just enough to cast an incredulous look my way. “Munchers?”
Oh, goody…he’s fallen right into my trap. Might as well step it up just a bit more.
“Come on, Gibbs,” I smirk and roll my eyes at him, “I’ll bet a month’s worth of pay they both speak in tongues.” He really looks confused now. Good. “They have little Dutch boy fingers…” I add, waving a hand and wiggling the digits, but he’s still confused. Okay, time to call out the big guns. “You know…Lesbyterians.”
“Lesb…” the word is quickly bit off at the end and I can almost see the light bulb go on over his head when comprehension strikes. Gibbs huffs a big, long-suffering sounding sigh, like I’m some kind of misguided adolescent or…
Er…okay, that’s…that’s not a very good analogy. Forget I even started in that direction.
Anyway, the binoculars are in his lap and his head is tilted slightly downward and, I swear, he looks really, really tired…
Ah, hell. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
“Just say what you really want to say, DiNozzo,” he mutters softly, raising his face to look out the front window again. The light mist is settling a bit on the clear glass but our view out is still good. “You think I put McGee and David out in this weather just because I could?”
“Well, yeah.” Duh. That’s a no-brainer…isn’t it? But judging by his body posture, I may now have to reconsider. “Er, you didn’t?”
“Hell, no.” Those keen eyes are back on me and I can clearly see he’s mad. Well, not *exactly* mad but not happy either, more like slightly pissed off or kind of irritated…or, maybe, that’s disappointment I’m seeing.
Crap. That’s precisely what I’m seeing. I’ve disappointed him. Well, shit…
I blow out a breath and slump slightly in my seat. This is not what I was planning on happening. I don’t ever want him to be disappointed in me, no matter what becomes of our relationship. It’s time for an apology, even though I know how much he hates to hear them, especially from me.
“Sorry,” I mumble and twist a bit, flicking my gaze back to him. Time to eat a big, old slice of humble pie. “You know how I am, Boss. I really didn’t mean anything by it.”
“Yeah, DiNozzo,” he sighs and pins me again with that laser gaze, “you did. Something’s been eating at you for a while and I don’t have to be an investigator to see the signs to know what’s stuck in your craw. Just spit it out.”
Well, talk about cutting to the chase. Okay, I can do this. Just take a deep breath and say it…
“I want to know what’s going on between you and Lieutenant Colonel Mann.”
There…it’s out in the open now. All I have to do is sit back and hear what he’s got to say.
But he’s not saying anything…just staring at me with those all-knowing, all-seeing, all-fucking-beautiful eyes of his…and I’m bound and determined to just keep staring right back. See, the whole trick with Gibbs is to not look away, to maintain direct eye contact, to show I’m really serious about having this conversation, here and now, before another day goes by. And I am.
“I never ask you about your relationship with Jeanne Benoit…” his deep voice barely carries across the small distance separating us but it’s ripe with a sharp undercurrent of cold brittleness that chills me immediately. “You’ve been involved with her for a long time…almost as long as I’ve known Hollis…and I’ve never asked you about her.”
“Do you want to?” I can’t help inquiring because he’s never shown any inclination and the thought of him being even the tiniest bit envious is really kind of nice.
“I don’t do jealousy, DiNozzo,” he bites out, reading my mind and dashing my hopes. “Never have, never will.”
Hell, I should have known better. Well, actually, I *did* know better. Gibbs has always been the kind of person who keeps everything bottled up inside, letting emotional problems fester away like some pus-filled boil, slowly eating at his insides and growing more infectious and irritating, until finally erupting. I only saw that happen a couple of times since I’ve been at NCIS and, frankly, it is *not* a pretty sight. I don’t want that to happen now, for him to feel I’m trying to box him in, but I’d sure like some honest answers…just something to ease a few of these fucking insecurities I’m currently experiencing. But maybe I’m asking for too much…
“Okay,” I nod in mock understanding but this is me…trying to get some answers…and I’m usually pretty damn good at getting what I want, even from Gibbs. *Especially* from Gibbs. I shift a little and bring my left knee up to rest on the seat between us, my body angling directly toward his, my jeans stretching tight across my crotch. His eyes drop automatically to check me out before he quickly looks away, bringing those damn binoculars back up, but just that one, swift glance at my package tells me so much. Time to up the ante. “So, you planning on cutting me loose and taking it up with Mann on a more permanent basis? Because if you are, I’ve just got to tell you, I think that’d be a huge mistake.”
The binoculars waver a bit before he tightens his grip on them but the movement was just enough to show me I’d scratched a bit away from his hard, inflexible veneer. Okay, I’ve gone from sanding to scraping but, for me, maybe that’s the only way to go. I’ve never been any good using tools anyway…that’s Gibbs’ arena, not mine. Unlike me, he has the control and the finesse and the eye needed for the delicate handwork. Sometimes I’m just lucky to hang on to things by my fingernails.
“Are you listening to me?”
“This isn’t the time for…” he begins and the words just fly all over me.
“This is the perfect time!” I hiss angrily, interrupting his thought, tired of him delegating the when and the where and the why of our relationship. His head swivels and those eyes are back on me, wide with surprise. Good…it’s nice to know I can still shock him somehow. “No one is going to hear us or see us or even give a flying fuck what we’re discussing right now.”
“We’re in the middle of an investigation…”
“We’re *always* in the middle of an investigation,” I point out needlessly, my voice rising a bit more, “or we’re chasing our tails following old leads or reviewing cold cases or…”
“Can you possibly sound *any* more like my ex-wife?” He snaps, blue eyes blazing.
“Which one?” I snap right back without missing a beat, feeling my blood pressure rise, amazed he‘d stoop to comparing me to one of those women.
“Any of them! All of them!” He snarls angrily and shakes his head at me, those stupid binoculars trembling within his grip. Any more pressure and they just may snap. Good. “Christ, DiNozzo, what the hell is wrong with you? You think just because I‘ve sucked your dick and fucked your ass you‘ve got some kind of claim on me?”
What? Claim? What the hell is *this* crap? Surely I don’t…surely he doesn’t…
I’m so fucking furious now, I’m actually spitting and sputtering instead of forming normal words. I know I must resemble some floundering, gaping goldfish, laid out on a grungy, rough slab of concrete, the remains of my shattered, scattered home laying in ragged shards within quickly evaporating puddles of life-sustaining water. My world has just cracked and splintered.
Or was that just my stupid, trusting heart?
The words echoing round in my head just won’t form or leave my mouth with any semblance of cohesion or order or sense and all I can think about now is getting as far away from Gibbs as I possibly can. This was a foolish, selfish idea, and I should have realized long ago I’d never be anything more to him than what I was before we started screwing around. Christ, I’m such an idiot. Reaching for the handle, I almost don’t feel the hand grabbing at my arm.
“DiNozzo! Wait…” Gibbs’ voice is rough sounding, filled with…something. “Tony…”
I try to jerk away from his grasp, wanting to ignore the tired regret I can plainly hear in his voice now, but it’s just not that simple anymore. This is a side of him that’s not easy to ignore, a side he’d kept hidden from me for a long, long while, a side that belies all the course roughness and gruff pissiness he exudes to others most of the time. But I’ve seen him tender and playful and so full of true joy that the sudden memory of those carefree times almost brings tears to my eyes. Almost. I haven’t observed that side of him for many months now and all I’ve been doing lately is imagining him cozying up with Hollis Mann, talking quietly with her into the wee hours of the morning, sharing a bond with someone who’s considered an equal peer, instead of a subordinate…a *male* subordinate…and forgetting all about me and the times we’ve shared.
So, I don’t want to hear that familiar, coaxing tone in his voice now…I just want to get back out in the fresh air where I can breath freely again. I can’t do that in here with him…I just can’t. I fumble with the handle again, trying to make my escape, but his hand catches hold and hangs on tight, the fingers gripping to the point of bruising.
I stop my struggling and just freeze. This is stupid…he knows it and I know it. We’re on the job and supposed to be looking out for a serial killer, not airing our dirty laundry and looking for the telltale stains. Crap, time to just throw in the towel…
“What?” I let the word rush out with my breath, keeping my face averted, remotely wondering how things got so screwed up between us. Oh, yeah…I opened my mouth and started talking. Figures. I shake my head at my own stupidity.
I hear a soft sigh and feel Gibbs’ grip relax slightly but he doesn’t let go and, for some perverse reason, that makes me feel somewhat better. I don’t know why it should…it’s not like he means anything personal by it…he’s just trying to keep me from exiting the vehicle and blowing the illusion of our casual surveillance. Len Grady’s neighbors may not have been watching him very closely during his ‘activities’ but that doesn’t mean they’re not watching us right now.
“I haven’t been with Mann for just over a month,” he finally offers, voice quiet and pretty damn calm. “I spent one night with her after that incident with Mamoun Sharif…that’s all.”
Huh? That’s sure not what I expected to hear and I find myself blinking dumbly toward the window as I silently try to process this newest bit of information. One night? Just over a month ago? That…that doesn’t make any sense. If it was just one night, then where’s he been since then? And with who?
“I…I don’t understand,” I confess, confused by his admission, tremendously glad he hasn’t been putting it to Mann every night, but perplexed as hell.
I have to look at him now and, when I do, I can’t stop from reaching out with one hand and grabbing a hold of his arm, even though he’s still holding on to me, too. It seems strange and it’s a bit awkward but neither of us seem to mind. Well, at least *I* don’t mind.
“Gibbs,” I have to clear my throat before I can continue with my thought but he’s patient, those clear, blue eyes steady and, ironically, supportive. He’s going to let me talk again, so I’d better make it worthwhile and not screw up. No euphemisms, no snide remarks, no lame attempt at humor this time. I swallow thickly and take a deep breath…it’s now or never. “If you weren’t with Mann, where the hell were you?”
Gibbs is letting go of my shirt and I already miss the warmth of his hand where it bled through the fabric. “Where the hell were *you*?”
What? Where was I? What does he mean…
Oh, shit. Jeanne.
I heave another sigh and let my head drop back against the closed window, ignoring the sharp crack and the dull pain that follows. What do I tell him without going too far?
The truth and nothing but the truth, that‘s what. It’s only what he deserves.
I close my eyes and just start speaking, letting it all come out. “You already know of my involvement with the La Grenouille case. I’m sure Director Shepard has filled you in and, probably, told you more than she’s even told me. I know you two have a history and that she was your partner, so…“
“Tony,” Gibbs chides gently and I swiftly stop that useless line of thinking.
“Sorry.“ I open my eyes and reluctantly let go of his arm, placing my tightly closed fists against my thighs, and trying to get my scrambled thoughts back in order. Christ, this is hard…maybe one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in life. “Jeanne Benoit is… well, she’s part of it, too. I…I was directed to make contact, to get close, to…to become intimately familiar with her.” The words sound so clinical when stated like that but that sure wasn’t how it happened. I have to close my eyes again, giving myself a false sense of isolation. I‘ll never get the next part out if I don‘t because I realize saying this shit is going to do more than just sand or scratch away a tiny flaw in our relationship veneer…it‘s going to take a huge gouge right out of it. “So, I did. I got close to her, Gibbs…very, very close. She’s beautiful…and smart…and funny. And sweet…real, real sweet”
“You fell in love with her,” Gibbs’ voice is soft and filled with something I can’t quite identify, so I‘m not even going to try.
“No…yes…no. Oh, hell…I don’t know,” I admit reopening my eyes again, my utter confusion apparent. “She’s nothing like I expected and…and she’s easy to be with.”
“Unlike me,” he says with a quick, brief twist of a smile.
I have to offer a small grin back. Christ, he can make things so comfortable when he wants to.
“Well, you *are* an acquired taste,” I tease softly. It’s good to be able to speak honestly with him and, maybe, that’s been the problem with us all along. Between his injury and memory loss, and then his unexpected return to NCIS, I was keeping this confidential, undercover job for the Director completely from others as best as I could, juggling two worlds at one time. And I kind of closed off more of myself than I realized in the process: I was sneaking around everywhere, ducking out from work whenever I needed to see Jeanne, keeping myself apart from the others, and never letting myself get caught doing anything compromising. I’m damn good at undercover work…maybe too good.
But I’m also playing this game with Jeanne concurrently, keeping a big part of myself isolated and protected from her but, damn it, sometimes it’s so hard to remember the objective, especially when she’s got those fine, long legs wrapped around my hips and I’m sinking into her warm wetness. The sex is outstanding, I can’t deny it, but there’s more to Jeanne than just her body. She’s a terrific person, too, and I can truthfully say I haven’t had a relationship with a women like her in…well…I‘ve *never* had a relationship like this. Ever. I have to wince as I think about that…how pathetic does that make me as a human being?
“Go on,” Gibbs breaks my short foray into self pity, his eyes sharp with understanding. I think, maybe, he knows what’s been running through my head but, like always, it’s up to me to voice the words.
I can do this…I *have* to do this.
“I didn’t start out to have feelings for her,” I can only hope he can hear the sincerity in my voice but decide not to dwell on the possibility that he can‘t. Either he’ll believe me or he won’t, it‘s as simple as that. “When you came back from Mexico, I was knees deep into the case. I’d already been overseas for Shepard once, digging into a few leads, and was having to tell all kinds of lies to McGee and Ziva. I hated it but it was necessary.” Gibbs is nodding slowly, dividing his visual attention between me and the surrounding area but I know he’s totally focused on my words. “I’d been undercover before, of course, but I never had to work both sides at the same time like this, keeping secrets from my partners…and my boss. I always had someone to talk to when things got too intense.”
“Is that what was going on between you and *Jen*?” Gibbs is looking conveniently at something over to the left but there’s enough of his profile visible to allow me to see the corner of his mouth curve up. “I thought you two were getting awfully cozy.”
He’s teasing so I should feel better but, for some reason, I don’t. There was a time when I *really* needed his support and advice, when the thought of taking the next step with Jeanne was eating away at my insides until I‘d almost made myself sick with worry…when all Shepard would offer in counsel to my inquiries and concerns was a simple ‘good luck’. Fucking bitch. Some help she turned out to be.
“I missed you,” I blurt out unexpectedly, taking us both by surprise. But it‘s true…it‘s really true. “I missed you so damn much.”
Gibbs’ head whips around and he looks at me with stunned amazement, his mouth slightly open as he processes this new bit of information. His hand is extending back out in my direction and I immediately reach for it, clasping it tightly in one of my own, twineing my fingers and holding on. I think I’m shaking a bit but his grip steadies me…and my pounding heart.
“I…” he begins but stops, glancing down at our clasped hands. There’s a frown forming between his eyes and, for some reason, it makes my pounding heart hurt.
He’s uncomfortable. I can sense it immediately. This is all too ‘touchy-feely’ for him.
“It’s okay, Gibbs,” I manage to whisper through my partially closing throat, relaxing my grip and starting to let go of his hand, “you don’t have to say anything.” I have to give him an out, to let him know I don’t expect anything in return. Humor…if I can just find something, anything, funny to say, I can gloss this over. I offer what I’m sure is a fairly lame smile and force a chuckle . “Hell, Boss, you know how I am: leave me with a woman in charge and…”
“I missed you, too.”
Huh? What? Did…did Gibbs just say he missed me, too? He must have because he’s grabbing at my fingers again and squeezing them pretty damn tight…and he’s leaning towards me across the seat.
Holy shit! I think…I think he’s going to kiss me…right here!
There’s a movement not far down the street, a figure walking slowly down the sidewalk, and we both catch the motion out of the corners of our eyes. Both Gibbs and I turn and wait silently, our fingers still entwined, until the figure becomes more visible.
It’s Len Grady.
Gibbs is suddenly turning back to me, his other hand gripping my chin, forcing my face back toward his. “We are not finished with this conversation yet, DiNozzo. Do you understand?”
My eyes drop swiftly to his mouth and all I can think about is kissing him. Well, maybe that’s not really *all* I can think about doing to him but, right now, we’ve got other business to attend to.
“Okay,” I agree quickly, licking my lips, and leaving Gibbs with something to think about. I tip my head back toward Grady’s approaching form. “I’ve got him.”
He nods once and I’m out of the car, quickly starting around the front. Before I open my mouth to identify myself to our suspect, I swiftly look back as Gibbs exit’s the vehicle on his side, and notice the sparkle in his eyes. It’s good to see the return of that twinkle and, even though there’s still a lot between us to work out, I think our unplanned session of sanding and scratching and smoothing has paid off. There may still be a few bumps and dents and dings to work out but the relationship looks better now than it has in a very long while. All we need now is some serious polishing.
Offering one more smile of my own, I turn back, and get back to the job. “Len Grady? Freeze! Federal Agents!”