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by: sperrywink (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 003 Word Count: 23300
Rating: TEEN
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Friendship, Romance
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo
Episode(s): 3-23 Hiatus (1), 3-24 Hiatus (2)
Summary: AU after season 3. Spoilers for Hiatus. Gibbs wakes up from his coma different: A little softer and a lot more gay. For the wtf27 Wake Up Gay prompt.

Author Notes: All errors and inadequacies are mine. Earlier versions were beta'd by silveryscrape, raveninthewind and coreopsis, but it has changed significantly since then, hopefully for the better.

Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3

Next Chapter

The day was hot and sunny, but that described the weather most days since Gibbs had come to Mexico. He was in shorts and a Marines t-shirt, and the sun was warming his back and shoulders.

He had refinished the bathroom, replaced the rotting planks in the deck, fixed Mike’s listing kitchen table, and was just now finishing up re-shingling the roof. Gibbs had gotten bored with sitting around drinking after the first week. Actually he had gotten bored after the second day, but he gave it a shot for the full week. He didn't know how Mike had been doing it for fifteen years.

Gibbs put down the hammer and stretched out his bad knee for a moment. He shifted to rest and look out over the ocean and admire the view. Mike’s shack might be a hovel, but the view was outstanding.

The roof would be finished before sunset and he didn’t have the next project lined up. He was too restless to settle on any one. Gibbs’s original intention was to build his own house or boat to live in, but that felt too permanent now.

Missing Shannon and Kelly was a constant, burning ache inside his chest, but as he remembered more and more about his life, he knew that it would fade to manageable levels. He hated that fact almost as much as the desolation.

Gibbs sighed and got back to work. As he finished up the last shingles he heard a “Hola, Probie!” shouted up at him. Mike was coming up the path from the cantina. “You joining the rest of us or are you going to hang out on that roof all night?”

Putting down his tools, Gibbs grinned down at him and said, “My liver isn't going to thank me for coming to stay with you, Boss.”

“Mine hasn’t complained yet, Probie. You worry more about how we're going to fit a hot tub big enough on this tiny deck.” As the sun began to set, Gibbs walked down to the cantina with Mike and discussed the details about the hot tub. It seemed like his next project was picked for him.

As he and Mike settled into the cantina with casual greetings from the rest of the patrons, Gibbs relaxed, letting his eyes wander. It was the usual crowd with Maria waitressing and Miguel behind the bar. Miguel nodded at him and gave him a small, secret smile which Gibbs returned.

Five beers for Mike and one beer for him later, Mike said, “How you can ignore that fine Maria, I’ll never know. If she would give me the time of day, I’d give her the time of her life.”

Gibbs knew why he could ignore Maria these days, but since he felt no inclination to share, he just snorted. “Prove it.”

Mike sipped the remainder of his beer down. “Aw, you know she won’t give me the time of day.”

Mike waved over Maria who strutted over with a swaying walk that had Mike’s eyes fixated on her legs. Gibbs suspected he wouldn’t have always been immune, but now it left him cold. When Maria left with a new beer order for the two of them, Gibbs said, “There’s other fish in the sea. You could find someone else. Why didn’t you ever remarry?”

“I like being single, Jethro. Answering to some harping woman just isn’t for me.” Mike gave him a knowing look. “You looking to settle down again?”

Gibbs looked away from Mike. He didn’t know what he was doing anymore. Maybe he was looking to settle down again, being alone had never suited him, but he just couldn’t imagine finding someone new. All his feelings were wrapped up in the past that was slowly unraveling in his memory. One thing he did know, though. “I’m not looking for the same things I wanted before. I know I can’t replace Shannon. It was wrong of me to try in the past.”

“See, marriage isn’t the answer.” Mike seemed to think that was the final word on that topic. He started talking about the hot tub again.

Gibbs fundamentally might not be as footloose as Mike, but he did know that marriage to some random redhead or Mexican waitress wasn’t the answer to his restlessness anymore. Especially since it was the sultry eyed Miguel that he was attracted to these days. Wanting Miguel evoked no memories of Shannon.

Gibbs knew Mike could see his restlessness, so neither was surprised when Ziva’s call for help had Gibbs packing his bags immediately. Luckily, he had finished the teak hot tub just before Ziva called asking for help.

He missed NCIS and his relationships there. Those emotions weren’t as sharp as the ones he had about Shannon, Kelly, and Kuwait, but he knew they were the only ones he could recapture. He remembered Abby, Ducky, Tony, Ziva and Tim with fondness and caring and he wanted to feel that again instead of this listless apathy. He was close to Mike but it wasn’t the same kind of camaraderie.

He knew he was different, knew that he couldn’t go back to the way things were before, but he hoped he could build new relationships on the foundation of the old ones. He officially arrived back at the NCIS offices with some trepidation, but he hid it behind his bastard image. It was at least good for that. No one would be surprised if he was gruff.

“Director.” Remembering having sex with Jenny but with Shannon’s memory and his love for her so fresh in his mind felt like a fresh betrayal of Shannon. It made every moment with Jenny feel obscene now. This was one relationship that definitely needed to change.

With an understanding smile, Jenny said, “Jethro. You look tan.”

“You want to discuss skin tone, Jenny?” Gibbs knew he sounded like the old him, but he couldn’t help it. The images floating through his brain put his teeth on edge.

“No. I want to discuss your role in NCIS, but I thought we might be social first. My mistake. Things have changed, Jethro.”

“We were never friends, Jenny. And I expected things to change.” Jenny gave him a sharp and disappointed look. He remembers getting that look numerous times in the past. Some things couldn’t change, he guessed.

“Agent DiNozzo will remain a team leader and will keep his team. You’ll have to make do with a team of entirely new agents. I’m happy to have you back, Jethro, but I had to move on in your absence.” Luckily she seemed to have caught on to his continued discomfiture in her company and was treating him more distantly now. She had even pushed back her chair, creating more distance between them. He could handle that better.

“Tony was ready for the promotion even before I left. Thank you, Director.”

Gibbs was already halfway to the door when she added, “It really is good to have you back, Jethro. I know everyone will be happy to see you.” He was glad his back was to her because he hoped it was true and he was sure it showed on his face.

Having new agents to teach and mentor as the new-old him was just what he needed. He could start over with none of his team relationships colored by the old Special Agent Gibbs, second B for bastard. He could clearly see all the mistakes that bitter, old bastard had made and he had no intention of redoing them or of perpetuating their fallout.

At first he was happy to be waylaid by Ziva and Tim by the stairs. He did want to maintain those relationships, but one close look at their faces and he knew this conversation was going to be about things he didn’t want to discuss. That shouldn’t need discussing.

“Gibbs, we need to talk.” Ziva blocked the hallway in front of him. She had her hands in fists on her hips. Tim shuffled less comfortably behind her.

“About what, Officer David?”

“About Tony, of course.” Definitely didn’t need discussing. Gibbs gripped his coffee tighter and then deliberately relaxed his grip.

He said, “Don’t you think you should talk to Tony, then?”

Ziva made a sound of frustration. “Why are you being this way? What was the Director thinking? We’re your team!” She waved one fist through the air. Tim ducked out of the way just in time to avoid being hit. Ziva didn’t notice the close call at all.

“No, you’re Tony’s team. I gave him my badge, gun, and team for a reason, Officer David, and I stand behind it.” Gibbs felt the truth of that statement in his bones and relaxed further. This was the way it should be. He knew it.

“With all due respect, Boss, we’d like to continue learning from the best.” Tim looked nervous but determined as he interjected.

“Are you saying I didn’t train Tony to be the best, Tim?”

Tim said, “Ah, no, Boss, of course not, just that, well, Tony may not have been paying attention all the time.”

“So you’re saying I wouldn’t recognize poor performance, then?” Gibbs’s face hardened as he stared down Tim.

Tim stuttered and turned red.

He said, “Listen up. I taught Tony everything I know and everything that he needs to know. You didn’t try to switch off his team all those months before I came back, so stop trying to jump ship now.”

Ziva did not look mollified, but it shut Tim up. He even looked thoughtful.

“Ziva started to say, “Gibbs,” but he interrupted her.

“No, Ziva. I’m happy having a new team to train, so you’re going to have to work with Tony regardless.”

Ziva got an even more obstinate look on her face. She never did like backing down. “I was just going to say it’s not fair for you to come back just to cut yourself off from us.”

“I’m not doing that, Ziva. I’m here if you need me, just not as your boss. You remember how friends work, right? You called me as one not so long ago.”

Ziva crossed her arms and smiled. “Friends, huh?”

Gibbs nodded and gave her a small smile back. “You know my door is always unlocked.”

Ziva finally relaxed and said, “Come on, McGee, we need to ask Abby about those security tapes.” Ziva tugged Tim away towards the elevators. Tim looked less happy. He’d adjust.

Gibbs chuckled. He waited until the elevator doors closed behind them before he said, “You can come out now. They’re gone.” Tony strolled from around the corner.

“I will learn all your tricks one day, sensei,” he said with a grin. He also had a cup of coffee and smelled of the fall air. “Thanks.”

“Nothing but the truth, DiNozzo. Besides I’m going to enjoy watching all the boundary testing they’re going to be doing in the next couple of months.” Gibbs shark-grinned at Tony and then took a nice, large gulp of his coffee.

Tony smiled back but then sobered. “Wait! You don’t think they’d really?”

Gibbs walked away laughing. He really was glad to be back. He had high hopes this friends thing would work and maybe even work better than being the boss. He needed it to.

Working late at his desk Gibbs was verifying his agents’ reports from their closed case. It was the first time they had really gelled as a team and Gibbs was proud of all of them. Not that he would tell them that especially with reports like these, because, really, even he had heard of spell-check.

Out of the corner of his eye he spied Tim getting off the elevator but instead of going to his desk in the next aisle over, he came by Gibbs’s. Gibbs just stared silently at him as Tim visible swallowed.

“Hey Boss, I didn’t want to do this, but you know Abby and no one can refuse her. Plus, well, I forgot her Caf-Pow today so I’m already in trouble. Anyway she wants me to tell you that the new redheaded secretary really likes you and that you might want to ask her out before Tony puts her off men forever with his ogling.” Gibbs wondered how Tim could say all that without breathing but he guessed Tim wanted to get it out before he lost his nerve.

“Hey!” Tony yelled from his desk. “Women like it when I ogle them. It makes them feel sexy.” His team had a hot case so they were all working late; Ziva was with Tony working on something on the plasma screen. She was looking at Tony in disbelief as he continued, “And the redhead really likes me. She thinks I’m funny.”

“Right, Tony. You keep telling yourself that,” Ziva said.

Gibbs broke into their banter and said, “I don’t date women anymore, McGee. And definitely not redheaded women.” He’d been looking for a way to bring the new him into his old relationships and coming out was a part of that. They weren’t his subordinates anymore, he was trying to build friendships with them. He didn’t want to make the same mistake of hiding things from them as he had done previously with Ducky regarding Shannon and Kelly. Ducky was still distant and their relationship was still colder than it had been.

“Okay,” Tim answered with long, drawn out vowels just as Tony and Ziva rounded the corner of their partitions and Tony asked, “What’s going on?”

Ziva was in khaki trousers and a tight t-shirt, but it was Tony that kept his gaze. Tony was in one of the suits he now habitually wore, minus the jacket and tie. It would be a drop dead gorgeous look on him if he didn’t look so tired.

Gibbs didn’t know when he had first started checking out Tony, but now that he recognized what he was doing, he wasn’t going to make it noticeable. Gibbs remained silent and smoothly shifted his glance off Tony’s fitted trousers and over to Tim. With more gumption than he remembered, Tim said, “The Boss, er, Gibbs-Boss that is, says he doesn’t date women. Especially redheads.”

Tony answered, “You should know better than to fall for that, McGee,” and then scrutinized Gibbs’s face more closely. He must have seen something because he said, “What about the ex-wives? Mystery woman in the convertible? Madam Director?” Tony grr-ed at the end of his list of Gibbs’s conquests and then gave a conspiratorial smile that faded at Gibbs’s continued stare. But contrary to Gibbs’s memory, Tony didn’t back down.

Tony looked torn, like he didn’t want to bring up why things were different recently, but he persisted, “Boss, really, you’re not gay.”

“Well, he has seemed more content these days, Tony, although I don’t see what that has to do with dating redheads,” Ziva offered.

“Gay as in homosexual, Ziva, not gay as in happy.” Tony put his usual emphasis on Ziva’s name.

“Why would you Americans use a word like that for two such different things?” Ziva asked in exasperation. Both Tony and Tim ignored her.

“Since when?” Tony asked as he turned back to Gibbs.

“Since recently,” Gibbs said.

“That’s usually not something that changes, Boss.”

“It didn’t. Not completely.” He had vague memories of being attracted to men as a teenager, but he didn't know if they were real memories or just whitewashing the past. He couldn't bring up any faces or names in particular. Regardless it was the seventies and he didn’t grow up in San Francisco or New York. He grew up in a small Virginia town where you got beat up for being queer. Gibbs was different now and times were different now. He could have a do-over and he wanted it, even if it included being gay. Hell, especially if it included being gay-happy. Being gay certainly couldn’t be worse than what he went through with his ex-wives.

Tony said, “Not completely. So it changed somewhat-ly?”

“Something wrong with that, DiNozzo?”

With a look of disbelief, Tony finally came to the point. “I’m just. Are you saying your coma made you gay?”

Gibbs was happy to finally get to say his piece out loud, even if they wouldn’t accept it. “No. I’m saying waking up from my coma made me gay.”

“Okay,” Tony dragged out the vowels just like Tim did earlier. This was almost fun. “But I’m saying, if this is just since your accident, maybe your marbles haven’t all unscrambled yet. Have you seen Ducky about this?” Tony turned and yelled, “McGee! Call Ducky up!”

Tim had been watching them like a tennis match so he jumped at Tony’s yell and it took him a couple seconds to snap out of it before starting towards his desk. Gibbs waited until he picked up the phone before he yelled, “McGee! Put down the phone!” He gave Tony a hard stare and said, “I don’t need to speak to Ducky. I’m fine.”

“What is the problem if Gibbs wants to be gay now? He can just date redheaded men,” Ziva interjected but was still ignored. She sighed and shook her head before leaning against the desk opposite Gibbs.

“You have a choice, Ducky or Abby, and do you really want to bring an excited Abby into this? You know she will try to hook you up with the mail boy or something.” Tony had gotten a lot more stubborn in the months Gibbs had been gone. He resolutely stood there with his arms crossed and a new, firmer look then he had ever given Gibbs before.

“I’ll go to Autopsy.” Gibbs said as he stood up, knees cracking, and headed for the elevators. He had told them, which was all that he had wanted to do. The fun in baiting them was in not getting dragged into it for long. Besides he should really tell Ducky anyway. Things had been tense since he had returned and he didn’t want to add to the walls between them.

Tony shouted after him, “We’ll call ahead!”

Look who was the bastard now. He shouldn’t have taught Tony so well.

Ducky was waiting for Gibbs in Autopsy. Palmer was suspiciously absent. Ducky, never at a loss for words started with no hesitation, “Yes, Anthony called me. I sent Mr. Palmer up to converse with Abby. Are you all right, Jethro?”

Gibbs said, “Just fine, Ducky.”

After a minute of silence Ducky said, “I was hoping you would be more forthcoming.”

“Are you looking to find out how many sexual partners I’ve had?”

“While as your physician that may be pertinent information if you aren’t being careful, which you are, aren’t you?” Gibbs nodded and with barely a breath Ducky continued, “Well then, I’m more interested in your emotional well-being, Jethro. This is a drastic change and if there is anything you feel the need to share, you know I am always here for you.”

“I know, Ducky, but really, I’m fine,” he said with a shrug.

“Fine and of the homosexual persuasion?”


“Does this have to do with your first wife?” Ducky crossed his arms and he got the tight look on his face that reappeared whenever something reminded him of Gibbs’s coma.

“Yes. No. Not just Shannon, but she is a part of it.”

“But you’re not going to share more than that.”

“Not just yet.”

Ducky broke into a story about a corporal he had known who had woken up from a coma thinking he was a woman, and a half an hour later as he waited for the elevator, Gibbs was relieved that he had gotten out of Autopsy with so little trouble. He would feel glad, except he knew his quick pardon was due to Ducky’s continued anger over the way he had left after his coma.

His relief was only short-lived, however. When the elevator doors opened, Abby was standing inside the elevator with her hands on her hips. Tony or Tim must have ratted him out while he was with Ducky. His money was on Tim. He was the bigger gossip for all that he ribbed Tony about his nosiness.

It was going to be a long afternoon.

Supervising his team as they processed a car in the evidence garage, Gibbs was bored out of his mind. The car was from a hit and run that would probably be ruled accidental, but they couldn’t be sure until all the evidence was in. Unfortunately, his rookies had come a long way, but were by no means able to be left unsupervised. Still, if he wasn’t so bored, Gibbs was positive he wouldn’t be indulging Tony’s antics.

Tony’s team was in the next bay over with what appeared to be a suicide. Tony had just been telling him how his gut was telling him something hinky was going on. Tony was letting Tim and Ziva handle all the dirtier jobs while he had wrapped up photographing the car a little while ago. Ziva was still good-naturedly bitching about it.

“Check under the floor mats, Wilson!” Gibbs suddenly yelled. Gibbs’s youngest team member startled like a deer and then flushed and began processing under the floor mats. Yup, definitely not ready to be on their own.

“Are you even listening to me?” Tony said.

“I heard every word, DiNozzo. You’re right to be suspicious.”

Tony looked startled and then pleased. He craned his neck to check on Tim and Ziva’s progress and relaxed more fully next to Gibbs. “I never doubted it for a second.” Tony took a drink of his coffee and then returned to one of his favorite topics. “I can't believe you turned gay in Mexico. Have you seen the women in Mexico?”

Gibbs said, “You sound like Franks.”

Tony looked horrified. “That's just not funny, boss.”

“Besides the men are equally good looking.” Gibbs left Tony leaning on the tool chest and leaned down to check the tires that Madison had just finished processing. He felt Tony move up behind him and heard a flashlight click on. The tire rims were shiny and he could see Tony shining the flashlight on the back of his head.

He said, “Don't even think about it.”

Tony clicked off the flashlight and stepped back. “Just checking.”

“If you’re done goofing around, I think McGee has found something for you, in *your* bay.”

Tony shouted, “Tim, what have you got?”

Gibbs sighed and said, “DiNozzo.”

Tony grinned and said, “Gone, boss.”

Gibbs hid his grin behind his coffee.

Gibbs had anticipated Abby’s interest in his sex life, but he hadn’t expected his own enjoyment in sharing tidbits with her. After their initial talk, he had begun to reveal the most about his the new life he was trying to build to her. As a bonus, his opening up to Abby had filtered its way back to Ducky and Ducky was actually more friendly with Gibbs as a result.

Ziva had even joined them on occasion. The evidence that he was serious about this friend thing helped ease tensions there.

“So have you been dating? Is it different? What am I saying; of course it’s different, at least for you at your age-” Abby was always excited to see him when he wasn’t on a hot case. He could share a few minutes with her and give her the time and attention to share all her thoughts with him. He still found it cute.

“I haven’t been dating, Abs.” Gibbs had shied away from dating and love. That was too much associated with Shannon in his mind. On the other hand, the men he hooked up with didn’t remind him of Shannon. They were hard and rough and not smooth and sweet smelling. Maybe he was ready for a relationship if it followed the pattern.

“Gibbs! You’ve got to get back in the saddle. You can’t be alone forever, let alone not getting any.” Abby had a stern look on her face. It was not helped by the pigtails with little skull and crossbones hair ties.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t getting any.” Gibbs smiled at Abby and tugged one of her pigtails. He knew she would think the worst, not that it wasn’t far from the truth, just probably not with the frequency that she would imagine.

“Gibbs,” she responded in a breathy voice. “Tell me, tell me! I want all the details. Did the book help?” Gibbs almost blushed at that. She had given him The Joy of Gay Sex and then tried to quiz him on what he liked or thought he would like. He liked sharing with Abby, just not to that level of detail. He had nipped that conversation in the bud quickly.

Just then Tony and Tim came into the lab arguing evidence but came to a stop when they saw Abby and Gibbs cozied together by her computer. “What’s going on? And can anyone join?” Tony asked with a lascivious smile. Gibbs could see Abby was already excited about responding and drawing everyone’s attention, so Gibbs felt safe in letting his eyes travel down Tony’s body in a quick flick. He knew the smile was not for him specifically. It was automatic. But he was finding himself much more susceptible to Tony’s generic flirting these days. He liked to let his libido have these little moments so that it didn’t build up and sandbag him.

“Oh! That’s perfect, Tony!” Abby squealed gleefully. “You can be Gibbs’s first gay date. We know you like transvestites and although Gibbs is the furthest thing from a transvestite, you at least have experience with the guy-on-guy thing. Plus, you do have that crush on him.” Tony’s smile was diminishing as Abby’s speech continued and by the time she got to the word crush, he just had a blank, shocked look on his face.

“For the hundredth time I didn’t know Voss was a guy! You know, never mind. And I don’t have a crush! Abby!” Tony looked outraged and not his play-outraged either. Tim was looking at Tony thoughtfully, however.

“It’s all right, Tony. It’s not like everyone here doesn’t know,” Abby said.

“There is nothing for everyone here to know. Tim, you know I don’t a crush, right?”

Tim hesitated. This was the wrong move as Tony moved into Tim’s space to intimidate him and said, “Careful what you say, McGeek.”

Tony looked menacingly at Tim, but Tim was growing into his own and the ‘McGeek’ crack was sure to get him going these days. Yup, Tim just raised his chin and replied, “Well, I have thought on occasion that your need for Gibbs’s approval was a bit extreme.”

Tony sputtered and smacked Tim on the back of the head as he said, “Team solidarity, Probie! This means the elf lord thing is never dying, I hope you realize!” Gibbs just leaned back against the counter and smiled as Abby and Tim argued with Tony. Tony was letting Tim grow in confidence, that smack was the lightest tap, and it was nice to see. Tim confirming Tony’s crush was also a nice bonus for Gibbs’s libido.

Abby, never one to be deterred picked up her new favorite idea again. “It’s perfect. Tony is cute enough for Gibbs and it’s the ideal way for him to get his feet wet since Tony just flirts with people but doesn’t get serious about them.”

Gibbs could see Tony was uncomfortable with Abby’s description of him and he figured enough was enough but just as he said, “Ab,” she spoke over him with a resolved look on her face.

“Gibbs. Tony,” Abby said.

Tony was looking conflicted now.

Gibbs knew Abby wouldn’t leave it alone so to nip it in the bud, he decided to just do it. He ignored his dick seconding the decision. It didn’t have to mean anything and Abby was right. He’d have to take the plunge sooner or later and Tony wouldn’t say no to him. “You know something? Fine. Tony, how about tonight?”

Abby clapped and jumped up and down in her excitement. Tim looked stunned but no more than Tony did. “What?” Tony’s jaw dropped open.

Gibbs repeated, “A date with me. Tonight.”

“A date? With you?”

“Have you always been this slow or has the absence of smacks to the head made you slower? Just say yes and make Abby happy, Tony.”

“Yes?” Tony still looked completely gobsmacked.

“You could sound a little more enthusiastic, Tony,” Abby interjected.

Tony said, “I would if I knew what you two were up to.”

Abby replied, “We told you, Tony, honestly. Don't you want to help Gibbs get his groove back?”

“I'm pretty sure Gibbs has never needed me to get his groove on, Abs.” Tony’s eyes never left Gibbs’s face.

Gibbs said, “It’ll help Abby think I’m getting my groove back, DiNozzo, that’s good enough.”

Tony gave him a calculating look while Tim looked on in confusion. He'd be gossiping with Abby before Gibbs and Tony were ten feet out the door. “Come on, Tony, you can give me directions to your place. I'm not sure I remember correctly.”

Tony followed Gibbs out, but he was unusually quiet and sneaking little glances at Gibbs.

At the elevator, Gibbs said, “So all this really does change your perception of me, doesn’t it, DiNozzo?”

“Not just this. You’ve done nothing but change my perception of you since you came back. Not in a bad way or anything. Actually, I like it. And, hell, to be perfectly honest, I’m just amazed you’re voluntarily spending the evening with me. Off the clock, I mean. You do remember saying ‘over my dead body’ the last time, right?”

Gibbs ignored the warm feeling he got from Tony’s revelation. He followed Tony to his desk where he began writing out directions. Tony looked like he wanted to forget he said anything and it gave Gibbs a good exit so he just took the paper and said, “That was the old me. I’ll see you at 7 o’ clock,” as he headed back to the elevators.

It always paid to get the last word with Tony.

Gibbs arrived at Tony’s apartment at seven sharp and rang the doorbell. He was a little surprised at how nervous he felt. He knew to Tony it wasn't a real date but it was his first official date as a gay man, and even a date with a friend was a step in the right direction. He smoothed down his shirt. Abby was right that he had been avoiding romantic entanglements. He was afraid. Afraid this would become like redheads for him, so he had played it safe. Gibbs was tired of safe. That wasn’t who he was.

Tony opened the door dressed in nice, tight jeans and a silky button down shirt. Gibbs didn’t try to hide the sweep of his eyes this time.

Tony smirked at him but only said, “Hey, Boss. I just need to grab my coat.”

“Good.” Gibbs watched as Tony swung his coat on and then started packing his pockets with his wallet, cell phone and… was that binoculars? Well this should be interesting.

As they walked down to the car, Tony asked, “So, what’s the sit-rep, Boss?”

“What do you mean?”

“Are you ready to tell me what kind of operation this is? Why isn’t the rest of the team in on it? I mean I know why your team of so green they practically need Miracle-Gro isn’t involved, but why couldn’t we include Tim and Ziva? Why all the song and dance?”

Gibbs looked at Tony in amusement. “You think this is some kind of covert operation?”

“Well. I mean I didn’t at first. I thought you were just pulling my leg, but then I realized that you usually don’t go that far with these kinds of things. That was more Kate’s. Well, anyway, I figured there had to be another reason. So I got ready and prepared just in case and here you are, so something is up.”

“And that something would be a super-secret stake out?” Gibbs said dryly.

“Well, yeah.” Tony was beginning to catch on, but he still looked like he hoped his wild supposition was the correct answer.

“It’s a date, Tony.”

“Come on! You can tell me now. You know I’m better when I know what is going on.”

“I asked you out. You agreed. It’s a date.” Gibbs knew he had a fond grin on his face, but he couldn’t contain it with that look on Tony’s face.

Tony said, “You can’t be serious.”

Gibbs said, “I’m serious.”

More thoughtfully Tony replied, “You’re serious.”

“Classic date in fact. Dinner and a movie.” Gibbs’s grin widened.

“And we’re not meeting contacts or surveilling terrorists.”

“Nope. Just you and me. Dinner. Movie. I figured we’d go to that new steak house over on New Jersey Avenue and then to see a showing of Casablanca that the revival theater has.” Gibbs opened his car door and leaned on the roof so he could look over at Tony.

“So a date. With Casablanca. Actually,” Tony paused by the passenger’s side door as he finally accepted the startling fact that this was a real date, “Actually, that’s a pretty good date. But you do know that I didn’t wake up gay from a coma too, right, Gibbs?”

Gibbs rolled his eyes. “I guess you’ll just have to let me down easy then. Although you have been known to kiss men as Abby pointed out, so I would think an apparently pretty good date like this one should rate at least one goodnight kiss.”

“Now, you’re just toying with me.” Gibbs grinned again. Baiting Tony would never lose its appeal. Tony sighed, but he finally had a grin lurking too. “When are you guys going to stop throwing that in my face?”

“Oh, That’s never getting old, Tony. Never.”

They both got in the car and Gibbs started it up. Tonight just might work.

Tony seemed to accept that Gibbs had no expectations. Given that Tony was always happy to have Gibbs’s attention focused solely on him; his humor and good cheer easily won out. For a first date, the evening was going remarkably well, even.

Over dinner they talked about what went on at the office during his absence. Tony really loved his Campfires. He liked making things his. He always had. Gibbs knew this was the reason the old team hadn’t fallen apart after he left or when he came back.

“You’re just indulging your laziness, Tony.”

“Like I said, my stamp.”

Gibbs laughed. Tony looked startled for a moment but then he grinned at Gibbs. Gibbs knew he wouldn’t have laughed before, but before he was Tony’s team leader, now they were equals.


“Ziva’s still a little uncontrollable, but getting better. Tim is coming into his own. You were right about them flexing their muscles after your little talk. If I have to hear one more time “That’s not what Gibbs would do,” Tim might lose a limb.”

“I’m not sorry I came back, Tony.”

“No, no neither am I. I’m just saying. They missed you. We miss you. Working with you, I mean. Not that I’m not also happy to spend the evening away from work with you. I just mean we’d all be here for you if you like.” Gibbs raised an eyebrow at Tony. Tony blushed slightly and hastily added, “You know what I mean.”

Tony might not feel more than friendship for him and he was not really sure what he felt for Tony, but he liked the proof that they could become closer friends. He was happy to have another sign that this life was worth coming home to. “I know what you mean Tony. I miss the old team too. But I’m happy having new agents to teach. I’ve changed; it wouldn’t have been the same anyway.”

On the walk over to the theater they laughed about Tony’s newfound addiction to coffee and Tony tried to convince him that the high-end coffee house were the only places to get good coffee. He defended Dunkin Donuts just to watch Tony sputter.

Tony grinned when Gibbs bought the movie tickets before Tony could get his wallet out and proceeded to bat his eyelashes ostentatiously at Gibbs at the concession stand. Gibbs said, “You know, Tony, I never thought you were this type of mercenary date.”

“Are you saying you don’t want to treat me right, Boss?” Tony answered with a sly duck of his head and another quick flick of eyelashes.

Gibbs had a sudden flash of memory insisting on being called Boss or Gibbs when he first hired Tony. He never thought that would change, but it was the least of the changes now. He said, “If I’m just your boss, I don’t have to treat you right, now do I, Tony?”

Tony hesitated but then said, “But I’m sure Jethro was taught better, huh?” For just half a second he had a heartbreakingly vulnerable look on his face before it blanked into stillness.

Gibbs lost his breath and bought Tony the popcorn and soda. Tony smiled in triumph but it was bittersweet.

As retribution for the playfully coerced snacks, when the movie started Gibbs deliberately took Tony’s hand. It felt nice, if different, holding a man’s hand. Larger and more callused. He expected Tony to pull away, so it felt even better when Tony laughed and squeezed his hand back saying, “All right, all right, I’ll be this type of date.”

Tony slouched down spreading his legs so that his knee was in contact with Gibbs’s and then dropped his head on Gibbs’s shoulder and whispered “I love the way this opens,” into Gibbs’s ear. Gibbs knew he was flirting to rattle him on purpose, but a tingle still flowed down his body and he stopped lying that he felt only friendship for Tony.

Gibbs knew Tony must have seen this film a million times, but he was entranced from the opening credits straight through to the end. Gibbs wasn’t. Or at least he wasn’t by the movie. He resisted staring at Tony’s profile, but he did bask in the warmth from Tony’s body. Every now and then he would adjust his grip and slide his thumb along a different part of Tony’s hand. Along his knuckles or fingers. Tony never looked but he always squeezed back.

After the film, Tony did movie quotes the whole way home in a horrible Humphrey Bogart accent. At first Gibbs remained impassive so as not to encourage him, but then he remembered he was no longer the boss and he let his laughter show.

Tony chuckled when Gibbs got out of the car with him and walked him to his door. He was in the middle of recounting another Bogart-Bacall movie anyway. Something about a storm in Florida. After Tony unlocked his door and turned back, Gibbs made his move. Tony wasn’t surprised and after only a slight pause moved into the kiss.

He wasn’t aggressive and Tony accepted the kiss willingly, if hesitantly. Gibbs went for a soft, open-mouthed kiss. It was obvious Tony intended to leave his eyes open, but Gibbs closed his. He felt confident that his attraction to Tony was real, but it couldn’t hurt to concentrate and make sure. Gibbs had only kissed women for decades (he hadn’t lied to Abby about getting any, but kissing had never been involved) so it was unfamiliar to reach up to hold Tony’s face and to feel the slight stubble under his palms. Their chests were brushing slightly as Tony’s hands came to rest lightly on his hips.

Tony tilted his head to the right to make the fit better and responded to his kissing easily. Tony’s lips maintained a firm, soft pressure as the kisses evolved from a soft barely there brush into a full, eager kiss.

He felt his gut tighten and his hands slid to the back of Tony’s head, cradling it.

Oh, yeah. This definitely worked for him.

The kiss continued for longer then he intended but it felt so good, so natural he couldn’t bring himself to stop. He had thought Tony would pull back first, but he had forgotten how daring Tony was.

When he pulled back Tony was opening his eyes and licking his lips with a reflective look on his face. He quietly said, “Hey.” and then waited while searching Gibbs’s face.

Gibbs let his hands smooth down Tony’s hair and then he tightened his hands in a hard squeeze around Tony’s neck for a second and said, “Thanks, Tony,” before he pulled away and took a step back. Tony dropped his hands and let him go, but he looked torn.

“You do know you can talk to any of us, right?”

“You want to talk about my feelings, Tony? That seems kind of gay.” Gibbs knew it was cowardly to deflect Tony now, but he needed time to decide where to take this. He consoled himself with the thought that it was obvious Tony wasn’t ready for anything deeper just yet and Gibbs couldn’t talk about these things with Tony without making it about them.

“Well, obviously Ducky or Abby might be... Gibbs!”

Gibbs just laughed and started walking away. He turned when he heard Tony calling back to him. Tony was leaning out of his doorway and said, “Hey, thanks for the date. I had a good time.” He gave Gibbs a big, patented, DiNozzo smile.

Gibbs couldn’t resist grinning back. “I already know that, Tony. The kiss gave you away.”

Tony looked uncertain but then his face smoothed out and he winked and smiled big before going inside. Tony always did go for the offense as his best defense when vulnerable.

Gibbs smiled and walked back to his car. Being Jethro instead of the boss felt pretty damn great.

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