Overcoming (Sequel to Back To School)
by: BuffyAngel68 (Send Feedback)
Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 011 Word Count: 19405
Warning(s): BDSM, Kink
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Alternate Universe, Angst/Drama, Established Relationship, Romance
Summary: Jethro chooses to tackle one of Tony's big issues in an unusual way.
1Title: Overcoming (Sequel to Back To School)
Rating: FRAO graphic language, sex. Light bondage and gentle, loving D/S
Summary: Gibbs tackles one of Tony's big issues in an unusual way...
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, making no fundage. (If wishes were horses, right?)
Hope they're happier in my hands, though...
FRIDAY EVENING - TWO WEEKS LATER:
Watching Tony from the corner of his eye, Gibbs sighed quietly. The younger man had gone from squinting at his computer screen to hanging his head and rubbing the bridge of his nose with finger and thumb, a clear sign that a severe headache was in his very near future. Laying his work aside and closing down everything in his own space, he rose and moved to Tony's desk, laying a hand on his young protege's shoulder.
"Let the report go for now, Tony. It's been a rough day, rougher week. Time to go home."
"That sounds so good. Can't wait to fall into bed and sleep 'till Sunday."
Tipping the other man's chin so that their eyes met, Gibbs gazed intently down at Tony, delivering a silent message. "Oh. Gotcha. What time?"
"Now. Grab your gear."
"Uh... boss?" Tony asked, curiosity warring with caution.
"On your feet, Anthony." Gibbs replied calmly. Tony instantly responded to the verbal shift.
"Yes, sir. Ready in just a second..."
Bag over his shoulder, computer and lights shut off, Tony followed the older man down to the garage and slid into the passenger's side of his dom's car. Forty minutes later, after a brief stop for groceries, Tony was kneeling in Jethro's living room, head bowed as he waited to be released. Once all the items were put away, Jethro returned to Tony's side.
"Well done, sweet boy. You've come so far..." he murmured as he stroked Tony's neck, freeing him to stand. "Strip and drop everything down the laundry chute."
"I didn't bring anything else."
"I'm aware of that."
"Understood, sir." Tony answered after a momentary pause. As he turned to head for the bedroom, however, he was halted by a hand on his elbow.
"Not this time. From now on, you strip here."
"I'm not asking anything difficult, Anthony."
"No, sir. It shouldn't be by now..."
"This isn't about trusting me, is it?"
"What are you afraid you'll do?"
"Disappoint you. I'll forget and cover myself, or let my embarrassment take over and turn away so you can't see..."
"Then you do. This weekend is about getting this out of your way once and for all. If you slip, you'll be corrected and we'll move on."
Tony paled slightly at Jethro's use of the dreaded word.
"It's not what you're thinking. If you jaywalk or litter, do they give you ten years in prison?"
"Of course not... oh. There are levels. Right."
"In the House, or any time multiple players are involved, correction is automatically a little stronger to make sure nothing gets out of hand. When it's just you and me, you have some leeway. My rule is three shots at the same mistake before I correct you at the lowest level."
"Exactly. The next level is ten minutes kneeling, alone and in complete silence. Beyond that... we'll discuss it if we end up there. I believe in you too much to think we ever will."
"Good. Now I asked you to do something and you questioned me, which is your absolute right. We talked it out and I think I gave you a reasonable answer. Agreed?"
"You said I'm allowed to make mistakes, within reason... and that you're trying to break me out of this mindset so I don't think twice about showing you my body. Yeah... yeah, that's more than reasonable."
A deep breath or two and Tony finally began to comply with Jethro's request. When he was finished and looked up, he was greeted with a proud smile and a gentle kiss. "Good job. It won't be half the struggle next time, guaranteed. Finish up and come right back."
It was only a few moments before Tony returned, moving swiftly and easily back into proper position.
"What now, sir?"
"You'll be staying this way until Monday morning. I'll be taking you through a few tests and exercises over the next two days and nights, but for the most part I want this to just be a relaxing weekend at home. We'll eat, talk... and hopefully get even closer."
"Home... I'm not sure I ever really knew what that meant before. I've had apartments, lived with my parents in a big house... but I'd hear other people say 'home' like it was something so amazing and... I just didn't get it."
"Now?" Jethro asked, caressing Tony's cheek.
"Now I understand. Home means being safe and cared for and wanted. It means you."
"Wouldn't mean a damn thing if you weren't here. C'mon, let's go get something to eat." He proposed, touching Tony's neck a second time. The younger man took a slow, deep breath, grasped Jethro's hand and followed him into the kitchen.
TWO HOURS LATER:
His reading glasses slipping down his nose a little, Jethro fought off the weariness dragging him down and re-focused on the book in his hands. A few moments later, however, a drowsy Tony whined, grumbled and snuggled closer to his dom for warmth, convincing Jethro to give up the novel as a lost cause. Laying it aside, he kissed Tony gently on the temple and spoke in his ear.
"Was there a message in there somewhere?"
"Full belly. Wanna sleep... but 'm cold."
"Mmmm. It's not that late. Been an eight day week, though... early bed sounds like a good idea. You awake enough to make it upstairs?"
"Barely... like it better here... I'm comfy... don't wanna go crawl into th't ice-cube guest bed..."
"You don't have to."
This statement woke Tony fully and he gazed uncertainly up into Jethro's eyes.
"You mean it? You want me to stay with you?"
"Not just tonight or this weekend. This can be your permanent home... if you choose to stay."
"Jethro... that's a really big step..."
"I know. We'll talk more about it later. Right now we both need showers and sleep."
"Okay. I promise I'll give it serious thought over the next couple of days."
"Good." Jethro replied as he stood up. Tony followed suit and both men headed up the stairs. Once the water had reached a temperature both could agree on, somewhere between Jethro's preference for scalding and Tony's for warm and soothing, the older man stripped as well and the pair stepped in together. Surrounded by heat from both sides and lulled by Jethro murmuring love and praise against his skin, Tony's knees were soon wobbling. His dom chuckled and pulled the young man up. "Hey, no falling asleep in the shower. You start snoring and you'll drown."
"I don't snore. Sir."
"Uh-huh." Jethro snorted faintly. "Let's finish up and get to bed before we *both* drop."
Within a few minutes, both men completed their ablutions and had thoroughly dried off. Jethro turned and headed for the bedroom, Tony close on his heels. When he moved to climb into bed instead of dressing, however, Tony hesitated to join him. Jethro smiled softly and explained.
"You need to get used to me being nude, too. You didn't seem to mind much at the House."
"I had a lot of distractions, if you remember. Besides, it's not that. I actually... I like seeing you. I just suddenly realized I don't... I couldn't help but notice... damn."
"Anthony. Come sit down."
When Tony complied, Jethro grasped his hand tightly and gazed deeply into his eyes, locking the other man's attention on him. "I don't care what area we're talking about, you more than measure up to anybody, including me. In some things,*especially* me, you know that. The only things you can't compete with me about is how much I love, want and need what we're building and how much I want us to keep getting stronger... and far as they go, I hope to God you never stop trying to pass me up."
"That's what you asked of me that first night... that I always try, even if I'm scared or not sure I can do it. Come hell, high water or an embargo on coffee beans, I won't break my promise."
"Good to know." Jethro laughed. "Under the covers, sweetheart. We've both got a long forty-eight hours ahead of us..."
As sleep gradually released its grip on Tony the following morning, he grinned lightly, enjoying and savoring the slow realization that the warmth and weight settled against his back belonged to someone who truly loved him and had committed to him, and to his welfare, for the long haul. As good as that knowledge felt, however, he knew he hadn't yet fully accepted the reality of the promise they'd made to each other. Being utterly new to the deep, sustained, balanced give-and-take relationship Gibbs was offering, Tony readily admitted that he was struggling, but the confession had so far remained in his head. Part of him still insisted he would be summarily rejected if he gave voice to his worst fears and doubts.
In the midst of Tony's intense ruminations, an arm slid around his waist and warm lips briefly caressed the sensitive nape of his neck before shifting up to murmur softly in his ear.
"Hey. You're thinking too loud."
"Sorry. Got a lot going on in there. Wondering about this weekend, anticipating the next weird and wonderful aspect of my new life... working out why I keep fighting when you ask me to fall, even though I understand the concept, now. And those are barely the tip of the iceberg. Right now, there are several hundred hamsters having coronaries on their wheels just to keep things going in my head..."
"Mmmm. Like I'd expect anything less from you. That's why you have trouble sleeping sometimes. Your brain can't shut down and let things go long enough for you to rest."
"Yeah, maybe. Right now my stomach's the one in control."
"Again, not a surprise, but it'll have to wait a little while."
"A test? Before food?" Tony asked plaintively, turning in Jethro's embrace so they faced each other.
"No tests." The older man chuckled, dropping a light kiss on Tony's mouth. "Just some questions I need honest answers to."
"I know the rules. No lies, especially calculated ones."
"Good man, but that's not what I meant this time. You may be tempted to shade your response to put rose-colored glass between us or because you think you're protecting me. Unacceptable. Clear?"
"Alright. Deep down, what really scares you the most when you think about making love on stage?"
Tony spent a few moments staring into Jethro's eyes, carefully pondering his reply, before he actually spoke up.
"At first... it was the pain. I'm sure my first time will hurt, at least a little. I was worried about getting tense and shutting down on you... not showing you everything I'm feeling, good and bad. Then I remembered what you described to me in the shower at work that night. I know you'll be gentle and slow... and if there's any hurt, I'll barely... What?" Tony questioned when Jethro's eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up. Propping himself up on one elbow and reaching out with the other arm, he stroked two fingers across Tony's brow and down his cheek.
"You want the ceremony to be your actual first time?"
"I thought... isn't it SOP?"
"No... it isn't."
"Oh. Well... we can do it, right? It's not against a rule or something, is it?"
"Not that I know of."
"Then... do you have some reason for not wanting it, sir?"
"Not at all. Of course we can do it if it's what you really want, it's just... the night will already be so important for both of us. That you're willing to share such a special moment with the community... that just takes it to a whole other level. God, Anthony... I didn't think I could love you any more or be any prouder... boy, did you just shoot that theory to hell." Jethro praised, leaning in and initiating a much deeper, more passionate kiss. Tony moaned into it, relaxed and let his dom have total control. When Jethro finally pulled back, he was pleased to look down into glazed eyes and a goofy smile. "That good, huh?"
"Always... next question?"
"If the hurt isn't what scares you now, what does?"
"The crowd. I get panicked thinking I'll react wrong or... or you'll ask me to please you and I'll mess it up. Then I'll look out at the audience and they'll either be pitying you or laughing at me... probably both."
"You haven't really met anyone in the wider community yet, so I can understand why you might feel like that, but it's not true. It just won't happen. When you do start to socialize a little, you'll see I'm right."
"You really think they'll just accept me? That it'll be that easy?"
"Not easy, no... but they will take you in, I guarantee it. You're beautiful outside, inside and upside down, Anthony... the way it shines from you, how could they *not* see?"
"Just because you do... doesn't mean they will."
"Just because you don't, doesn't mean I'm wrong."
Tony smiled and nuzzled his face against Jethro's shoulder, knowing that continuing the argument was useless.
"Did being tied with those scarves really do anything for you?"
Tony's expression became slightly unsure as he looked up to find Jethro sporting a wicked grin of his own.
"Uh... wow. Wasn't expecting that..."
"I... I can't get this wrong?"
"Okay... they did something. I'm just not sure what. Harm was doing other things, he was talking to me... it's impossible to know how much of a part the... the tying up played in how intense my release was."
"More intense than usual?"
"Are you open to finding out the truth?"
Tony hesitated only a few moments before repeating himself, this time with a decisive hitch in his voice.
Jethro touched Tony's face once more then tossed back the covers, rose up to his knees and straddled the younger man's hips. Grasping his sub's wrists lightly, he leaned forward and gently pressed them to the pillows above Tony's head. He was rewarded by watching Tony's eyelids lower to half-mast and his skin begin to flush.
"Mmm. That's a good sign." Jethro commented dryly.
"You're getting hard... and I haven't even *thought* about touching you yet."
"God, I hope that doesn't last long..."
"I guess the experiment is a success, hmmm? Light restraint is definitely a turn-on for you..."
"Definitely. God, I never thought... I'm changing so fast... everything's changing..."
"And you're not scared." Jethro replied, his tone leaving no doubt that the words were a statement, not a question; not commanding an emotional shift, but merely confirming what he saw in the young man underneath him.
"No... not with you leading me. Please, sir..."
"Easy... easy, Anthony. I won't leave you hanging, you know that. Tell me what you're feeling... why this excites you."
"I... I don't have to try... don't have to make things happen... it feels so amazing to just let go... let you be who you are... so I can be who I am... finally..."
"And who are you?"
"A submissive... your submissive, always. Willingly and gratefully."
"Not at the beginning." Jethro teased gently.
"I would've been if I'd known... I didn't understand."
"Now you do. I've seen it over these past few weeks. You're happy?"
"I'm valuable, but not breakable... protected, not bubble wrapped... loved, not smothered. Of course I'm happy. I couldn't have it any better, I know that. "
"Neither could I." Jethro affirmed. "I have to touch you, Anthony. When I let go leave your hands where they are."
Bracing himself on his fists, Jethro leaned down and planted a lingering, smoldering kiss on Tony's mouth. At the same time, he pushed his knees back and slowly lowered his weight onto the younger man's body. As Jethro broke the lip-lock, Tony gasped and began babbling.
"Oh... oh God, I feel you... we're... Oh God, oh God, oh God..."
"Love it when you get incoherent... one more question."
"Can you hold out until I ask you to come?"
"Try... I'll try..."
"Okay... the first key is to breathe slower. Faster equals less oxygen equals less sensation. Ease up... there. Better. Now look at me... open your eyes and look right at me. Perfect. Focus on what you see there... the desire... the pride... all the love I have for you... and hang on tight..."
Slowly, Jethro began shifting forward and back, grinding their hips together.
"Ohhhh... oh, Jethro... it's..."
"I know. Breathe... look at me, Anthony..."
"Sir... God, you feel so good... never... been like this..."
"Hang on a little longer... just a little... breathe slow... feel my cock sliding against yours... I'm as hard and ready as you are... that's what you do to me... your brains, your heart, your spirit... the more you give me the more I want... yeah, that's it... push up... push against me..."
"Count to ten, Anthony... out loud, nice and slow... then we'll both come together... you can do this, I know you can..."
"Ten... nine... eight... seven..."
"Great... perfect. Almost there... lift up... push hard."
"Three... two... one..."
Tony loosed a bright, powerful cry as his release finally overtook him. Jethro groaned his sub's name and stilled his deliberate motions, wanting his lover to feel only the uncontrolled trembling and muscle contractions his orgasm had imposed on him.
"Anthony... God, you are amazing... completely, utterly amazing. Everything I ask, you say yes... every challenge I put in front of you, you find a way to conquer."
"I do my best, sir..." Tony wheezed faintly, still caught in a swirling, giddy descent from the heights Jethro had guided him to. "Food now?"
"Shower first, then breakfast. After that... the day really gets going."
Tony groaned and laughed as Jethro dragged him out of bed and toward the bathroom.
Draining the last of his coffee, Jethro set the cup on the table, smiled and beckoned to Tony.
"C'mere. Kneel by me."
The young man complied swiftly, gazing up at his dom with eagerness and excitement. "Very nice. The day starts now, Anthony."
"Beautiful boy... tell me; do I own your body?"
"You own all of me. I gave it all to you the first night here... body, mind and soul."
"I'll ask again and don't answer so quick this time. Give it some serious thought. Do I own your body?"
Eyes momentarily lowered, Tony let his mind drift, contemplating what other shadings of meaning Jethro could be inserting into the seemingly simple question. When the truth struck him, he brought his gaze back up to meet Jethro's, understanding slowly blossoming in his expression.
"Oh. No, you don't own me. Sometimes you control my actions, and you ask me to obey the rules for my safety and my benefit... but you've never said you owned me."
"Who has that privilege?"
"I guess... I do. I want to, at least. I'm not there yet."
The other man cupped Tony's chin and lightly held it in place, knowing the reaction his next words would engender.
"What is trust?"
Tony's brow furrowed and he began a response, but paused almost immediately, rethinking what he'd been about to say.
"Trust is con... no. Trust is giving up control."
"More. Dig deep and talk to me about that. Tell me what it means to you."
"Excavating old cesspools is never a good idea, sir. All you get is stink and mess and a lot of stuff nobody wants to look at."
"I do, and you need to if you ever expect to truly fall... to know the perfect release of total surrender. Now talk."
"I... I wish you could understand... I'd love that, but if you didn't grow up like I did... I'm just not sure you can. The kid of an alcoholic can't depend on anything but the drinking. You trust yourself and learn to give everything and everybody else the hairy eyeball, you know... thinking nothing will ever happen the way it's supposed to. You try to put as much as you possibly can in your hands and only yours. My mind just screams that it'll only work if I'm doing it... "
"... if you control it."
"Yeah." Tony confirmed quietly. "Practically my whole life, Gibbs... my whole life. Thirty some years believing trust was a fantasy and anyone who made themselves completely vulnerable... was an automatic casualty. I'm not sure it matters that I'm a natural submissive. In the years that counted... what I learned may have screwed me forever."
Gibbs shifted his careful grip to the crown of Tony's head, tipping the younger man's gaze up just a bit more.
"I can see you're asking me for something here. What is it you want, Anthony?"
"For that not to be true. Please... make it not true."
"I can't do that by myself."
"I'm not giving up... God, you know I'm not, sir. I just... if I get to a point where it seems like I'm stuck, I need you to know you won't coddle me... that you'll push hard enough to get me past it."
"Anthony... baby, I... hell."
"I know you love me. It's all over your face right now. What I'm saying is that because of my past... the time's gonna come when you have to *tough* love me, too. I'm begging you, sir... tell me you'll do it. Don't let me stay like this..."
Gibbs swallowed hard and breathed deeply for a long time before he responded.
"Agreed. If your progress stalls, which it hasn't yet... I will do what's necessary to help you keep going."
Tony shuffled forward enough to wrap himself around Jethro, sighing as the hand in his hair slid to the back of his neck and began to caress and massage.
"Thank you, Jethro." he mumbled into his dom's chest. "Thank you."
"Save the gratitude until I've found the guts for the job. Knowing it'll cause you pain..."
"You could talk to A.J. Ask him how he gets through it with you... how he's teaching Harmon to deal with it."
"That's a really good idea. I'll try and catch him while you're napping after lunch."
"You think I'll need a nap?"
"After I'm done with you? Absolutely. C'mon up here..." he instructed, patting his thighs. Tony favored him with a questioning smile. "Trust me, you're miles away from being too heavy. C'mon... straddle my legs. Good. Settle in... perfect. Now, hands on my shoulders... that's right."
"What are we doing?"
"Smarts and insight get rewarded. Close your eyes... and tell me about the first time you realized you were hard. I want all the details you can remember."
"It was embarrassing for every man, Anthony. I still want to hear it."
"Damn... okay. I was... man, I think I was eleven. Maybe Kate was right and I have been a horndog from birth. Anyway, I was in gym class, just standing in centerfield, waiting for the next batter to hit... out of breath from snagging a long pop fly a minute before... and I felt it start. Not that I really knew what *it* was at the time. I mean, I'd heard my father ramble about his affairs... what he did and for how long... but I didn't understand. It scared me... and made me excited at the same time. I wanted to go somewhere by myself... explore, figure it out... but it was the middle of a school day. All I could do was hope and pray that it'd vanish before anybody noticed. After a while it finally did. I was so relieved... and a little disappointed."
"And if you'd had that chance? If you'd told the gym teacher you just couldn't wait 'till the end of class to hit the head... and you ran off and locked yourself in a stall? What if you knew nobody would come looking for you once you got in there?"
"I... I don't know..."
"Dream it, baby. Be that little kid again... aroused for the first time and with all the freedom to find out what it means. Let yourself fantasize, Anthony... tell me what you would've done."
"I'll try. First off... thanks to all my father's stories, I at least know guys make a mess somehow so, being smart, I check there's enough paper on the roll to clean up after, just in case. Then I... I push my gym shorts and my underwear down to my ankles. Can't believe I'm about to do this. I stand there, staring at it... without the slightest idea what to do. I touch it... just with one finger, just for a second. God..." he snorted "... it bounces when it's like this. Not much, but still...Does his do that? And if it does, how do girls not laugh their heads off?"
Gibbs suited action to the words he was hearing, but kept silent, not wishing to break Tony out of his fantasy. "Try again... touch it a little longer this time. Whoa... okay, that's... totally not a bad thing... hey, it gets bigger! Man is that a relief. Guess I don't have to worry anymore. Reach down... let my hand stay there a while. Yeah... it feels good, but that's not enough. I need... Shoot, what was it he said the other night? She wrapped her hand around his... around it and stroked him off. Crap, it better *not* come off or I'm in such big trouble... I'd die before I'd ask the nurse how to put my thing back on!"
Gibbs valiantly fought down his laughter and waited, his fingers resting lightly on Tony's cock, for the story to continue. "Okay, so... wrap around, huh? Like this... jeez, what's stroke mean exactly? Maybe I could... ooooh. Yeah... that's really, really... oh... oh man... wow! Ohhhh boy... I'm shaking... all over... this can't be right... I should really stop... in another minute... I swear, in another minute... oh no... what... what's happening... I can't... can't... help! Oh, somebody help... Ahhhh! Oh... oh... it's okay... you're okay... just gonna... have a seat... I'll clean up... when my legs work again, I'll definitely clean up..."
With his free hand, Jethro tugged Tony's head down to rest against his neck and spoke gently to ease him away from the intense pictures still swirling in his mind.
"Come back to me, Anthony... back to the here and now. Slow breaths... that's good."
"I'm here. God almighty, sir... what was that about?"
"Of what?" Tony asked huskily, still recovering his faculties.
"I know how you get when you're undercover... how you're able to just shrug off who you are and slide into being someone... somewhere else. You did that just now, without hesitating, because I asked. You took a complete mental vacation... trusting you'd be safe with me."
"I did? I did... but... no way. That can't be all there is to it. It has to be... no way!"
"Don't overcomplicate it, sweetheart, okay? Let it be what it is, for now... a victory. The serious, deep stuff will hit you later, when you're not focusing on it."
"Hmmmph. Yeah, probably."
"Let's go get cleaned off."
"Oh... hey, I didn't... I wasn't aware..."
"It's okay. I orchestrated it, didn't I? I knew what was gonna happen. C'mon... up." he encouraged with a light tap on Tony's exposed rear end. The younger man faked an outraged expression and rose carefully to his feet. "Maybe I'll just consider it fate and jump on the birthday suit bandwagon for the rest of the day." Gibbs proposed as he also stood and moved away.
"Not like I'd mind, sir." Tony snarked in response.
"Go wash. We've got more work to do before you earn lunch."
THIRTY MINUTES LATER:
Clean and having downed most of a glass of water, Tony now sat cross-legged on the living room floor, a soft cushion underneath him to protect his bare skin from the slightly chilled hardwood. At least on the surface, he'd been waiting patiently for several minutes, keenly anticipating what new experience Jethro would offer him next. Inside, however, he was beginning to feel edgy and jumpy.
Finally, he heard his Dom's slow footfalls behind him and craned his neck around to smile at him and try to get a glimpse of what he'd gone down to the basement to retrieve. He was thwarted by strong fingers wrapping lightly around the crown of his head and returning his gaze to the front.
"Ah-ah. None of that. This isn't a movie theater and I don't do coming attractions. You'll just have to go with the flow."
"Follow your lead... got it."
"Good man. Close your eyes."
Tony complied, frowning uncertainly when he felt Jethro stretch a band of cloth across his face and secure it behind his head.
"Um... if you're going to ask me to find my way through the house... have a first aid kit ready."
"Don't worry, it's nothing like that. For this exercise I want you depending on your other senses. Visual cues are easy. I smile, you smile back. I lick my lips, my eyes get dark... what you see gives your brain the message that I want you and your body responds. Figuring things out just by touch and sound and smell... that's a little harder."
"Wow... okay. I'll... give it a shot."
"Glad to hear it." Jethro responded wryly, dropping onto his own pillow a few inches in front of Tony, his legs stretched out and open instead of tangled together. "Relax... breathe slow and deep. Good. I want you talking to me all through this, okay? Tell me what you feel, what you're thinking... everything. Don't hold back a single word."
"Just like earlier."
"Pretty much. Go on, now..."
"Yeah... here goes. No correction for unintentional eye pokes, right?" Tony asked, stretching out his hands.
"No... but take it slow and careful and there won't be any."
"We can hope. Damn... your skin is so soft! I never would've thought... I mean..."
"It's okay, Anthony. No correction for being surprised, either." Gibbs replied, suppressing an urge to laugh. "Keep talking."
"This is so cool." Tony murmured, running his fingers lightly across Jethro's forehead. "I can... wow, I can feel the lines! Your hair... oh man, you don't know how long I've dreamed... It's thick and it feels so good. Right there... I swear this is the spot on your neck where it throbs when you get really ticked off over something at work."
"No..." Tony conceded, using both hands to confirm his thought. "... but this *is* the left side and it only does it over here. This jaw is a piece of granite... solid and strong. Major contrast, here. Your lips are... God, I can't think of a good word, I just love touching them. Throat... silky and warm. Swallow for me?"
Gibbs flushed and complied, smiling when Tony jumped at the sensation of slight movement under his fingers. "That was... fascinating. It reminded me of..."
"What? No censoring, remember."
"I don't know. I've heard women talk about the first time they felt their baby move. Just a little tickle, barely there at all... it was kinda like that."
Gibbs tried to reply, but couldn't make any sound emerge past the lump in his throat. Tony interpreted the silence as rejection, swiftly covered with humor and tried to move forward, but gentle fingers laid against his lips halted his words. "Right. Visit my website clumsytongue.com, for more ridiculous things I let come out of my mouth at totally inappropriate moments. Let's just keep..."
"Stop that, damn it. You just choked me up a little, that's all. The analogy was really beautiful and it took me back... into a memory that's not easy on me."
"I didn't mean to. I was trying to do what you asked. The memory..."
"Not now, okay? I swear to you, after the ceremony... we'll stay up for hours and any secret you ask for... I'll give you."
"Me too. Anything you want..."
"I'd be honored. Back to the exercise?"
"Oh yeah. Shoulders... damn, hell of a scar. That's from him." Tony stated cautiously, knowing the associated memory would be just as difficult for Gibbs as the previous one. "Another discussion for later." He conceded and received a stroke through his hair as a reward for his patience.
"Lots of those. Might take us more than one night."
"God, I hope so. Moving on..."
As gentle, tentative fingers ghosted over his collarbone and down to his chest, Gibbs reveled in the intimate touch and had to hold his breath for a few seconds in order to maintain control. "Oh. I expected the hair to be coarse here, but it's light... and soft. Gotta say, I love this. Still can't believe I'm so close... that I get to know you this way. It's amazing..."
A moment's brush of fingertips over his nipple forced a hiss out of Gibbs and Tony's brow furrowed with momentary concern. "Sir? If I caused pain..."
"Did it sound like I was hurt?"
"Sort of. Wait, you mean... you like that, sir?"
"Huh. I guess if women... then guys can be... huh. Should I do it again?"
"Not right now. I'm walking a tightrope at the moment. Your touch..."
"Wow. Seriously? I've... I made you..."
"I could sink pilings into solid concrete."
Tony chuckled nervously, but it only lasted a second or two.
"Um... so... you want me to..."
"In time. Work your way there. I can hold on, believe me."
"The pain will be more than worth it. Finish the exercise."
Over the next half hour, Tony talked and caressed his way around the rest of his Dom's body, legs and feet included, prudently avoiding the critical area.
"Almost. First we go through all your available senses one by one. Start with hearing. And don't forget I know how powerful your ears are."
"Right." Tony snarked faintly, amused as always by the amount of things his mentor observed and understood "You're trying to control your breathing, but I can still tell. There's just this tiny hint of strain. If you relaxed right now... I think you'd be panting and groaning loud enough for people on the sidewalk to hear."
"I can smell it... like nothing I ever... damn. That is just so... I know your arousal now... what it smells like. I could pick you out of a hundred other people. Strong and musky and... God, who knew you could smell heat? It's more than sweat... that's in there too, but this is... warm."
"Good... great work so far. This next I need you to be honest, now. No sugarcoating to make me happy."
"Sugarcoating is lying, lying is breaking a rule. I love you, so I wouldn't do that."
"I love you too, Anthony. That's what all this is about. Open your mouth just a little... trust me. That's perfect... alright. Tell me."
To Jethro's immense relief, Tony seemed to be intently savoring the trace he'd been offered. The younger man's verbal response didn't appear to match the delighted smile on his face, but Gibbs knew which one to believe.
"Bitter, sharp, salty... you. Totally amazing. Don't think I'm ready for more than that little bit yet... but I will be. Someday, I wanna know you that way too, Jethro..."
"Yeah... someday. For now, we need to get to the last sense pretty damn quick." Gibbs laughed, his voice shaky as he guided one of Tony's hand down between his legs and laid the other on his abdomen. "You've done this before, it shouldn't be scary."
"Not blind I haven't." Tony joked back, though he was also trembling slightly.
"The point is to focus your other senses, remember?"
"No way I could forget. Solid... man, your skin is soft everywhere. So hot... whoa! I can feel your pulse! That is so cool! The feel of your... it's silky under my fingers... like lotion. I never thought about... oh man. You're ready to..."
"How do you know?"
"The tension up higher. The muscles sort of... knot up. I get that way too, just before I..."
"Sounds like I... need to work on your... vocabulary... a little faster, Anthony, please... and firmer... mmm, that's the way...be ready..."
Once Jethro's release began to wind down, he leaned in close, kissed Tony deeply and stroked him to his own orgasm. Gradually, the kiss softened and the pair pulled away from each other slowly, faces still shining with happiness and passion.
"Sir.... Jethro... you didn't have to..."
"Just say thank you, Anthony."
"You're entirely welcome. Keep your eyes closed for a minute after I take the blindfold off. Then open them a little at a time."
Tony blinked until his vision normalized then focused expectantly on his Dom's face.
"We share a shower, we eat a good meal, you sleep."
" 'Till after your nap."
"I don't get to know?"
"You'll find out when it's time. Go on, head for the bathroom. I'll be there in a minute."
Still pouting faintly, Tony rose lithely and strode off to do as he'd been asked. Gibbs got to his feet more carefully, cautious always of his knees. Just as he was about to follow in Tony's wake, the phone rang and he detoured to answer it.
"Jethro, good to hear your voice again. It's been too long."
"Cody? Hey, buddy. I didn't think you were out on this coast anymore."
"Been back for a little while. Look, Marcus has an event planned for tonight. Guaranteed to be a blast, as usual. I was hoping..."
"Where on the visual spectrum?"
"Strictly light and bright."
"Fun for all ages?"
"Absolutely. Mama Katherine is in charge of security, and you know how she is about the little ones staying safe."
"I remember... all too well. Okay. Tell them both we'll be there."
"We? Got a new chick under your wing?"
"I do, but this one's not leaving the nest."
"Oh my God. You said you never would."
"I know. When you meet him, you'll see... you'll understand."
"Lord above, now I'm really chomping at the bit. See you at the usual place. Six-thirty is cocktails and a light supper, games start at eight."
"Okay. See you later, then."
TWO HOURS LATER:
Tony woke to the feeling of gentle, slow hands sliding over his brow, nudging his hair back off his face. He opened his eyes gradually to find Jethro lying next to him and favoring him with a loving, enraptured smile.
"Awww. Nap over?" the younger man protested playfully.
"Much as I'd love to keep watching you sleep, I can't be selfish. We have work to do."
"Yeah, I guess we do." Tony conceded, extending a hand to lightly touch Jethro's throat. "I don't like it when that spot starts throbbing, you know?" he continued quietly. "Knowing you're that mad or under that much pressure always made me scared... but I never really understood why. I used to think it was fear for myself... that you'd take it out on me. I was so wrong. I was afraid you'd have a heart attack... or something even worse. I was terrified of losing you."
Jethro kissed his sub softly, but lingeringly.
"I'm right here, sweet boy. Not going away any time soon. Hey... how would you feel about setting aside the plan, just for a while tonight?"
"Depends what for, I guess."
"I got a phone call while you were getting the shower started earlier. We're invited to a get together downtown. Food, games... relaxed fun."
"And going out isn't clothing optional."
"That kicks in when we get there." Jethro told him, his easy smile transforming into a wicked grin.
"We don't have to go."
"No, I want to. Proud of my body, able to show it when you ask me to. That's the lesson for the weekend, right? As long as I can ease into whatever's required..."
"Then I'm in."
Tony received another series of kisses for his courage and positive attitude, with praise between each one.
"Sweet... strong... smart... beautiful. God, the community's going to love you as much as I do."
An odd expression briefly crossed Tony's face, bothering Jethro enough to question him. "What?"
"That word. I'm still getting used to hearing it, I guess."
"And believing it?"
"That's the hardest part. People don't love me, Jethro. They lie to me, they laugh at me, they exclude me or they use me until they get what they want... but they don't *love* me. You're the first one to ever mean it when they tell me that. I don't understand real love or how to respond to it... and no, I don't have clue one how to believe in it. I'm just so scared that..."
"That what? C'mon, keep going. You're doing so well, Anthony. Please don't stop."
After a deep breath and a swipe over his face with one trembling hand, Tony was finally able to continue.
"Everybody's patience has limits. My dad used to say I got people there faster than anybody he ever saw. I'm scared that'll happen here and this is too important. I'm trying so hard for you... trying my best to do what you ask and be what you expect..."
Gibbs pulled Tony into his body and began to caress his back and shoulders.
"Anthony, Anthony... I'm going to tell you something else you've probably never heard. I want you to burn this into your brain... as if it's rule number six. If you can't find it in you to totally believe anything else I ever tell you, you need to do it with this: You are enough, Anthony DiNozzo."
Once his distress had eased and his breathing had calmed, Tony was able to respond.
"Not the rules... my affirmations."
"Much better idea. Four affirmations, now."
"Everything I was belongs to you. All I am at this moment is yours. All I will ever be I pledge to you."
"And the new one."
"You can. *I*... believe in *you*."
"I am enough." Tony whispered then clutched Gibbs more fiercely.
"See? I told you. Excellent work, Anthony. You ready for more?"
"Yeah. Soon as I catch my breath again." Tony chuckled. "Man, you have a real talent for making me a soppy, emotional mess."
"Better than the way we usually are, don't you think? Let's go, love. Time for your next exercise."
Gibbs led the way back to the spot of their previous session. Everything seemed the same though Tony noted the cushions had been replaced with clean ones. Once they were both settled, Jethro secured the blindfold around Tony's face again. "Comfortable?"
"Good. Now... the idea this time is to do exactly what you did before, in just as much detail and with the same honesty... but for your own body."
"Me? I'm not exactly objective, sir..."
"I've noticed. Like you said back in the bedroom, just do your best. That's all I want and all I'll ever ask."
"Okay. If I get too negative..."
"You'll hear about it. Go ahead."
"Yeah...guess I'll start in the same order. Crap... lines here, too. That's your fault, you know that, right?"
"My skin better be soft, the way I moisturize every morning. And if you ever tell McGee that you'll pay big time." Tony warned with a grin.
Tony repeated the swallowing experiment and was surprised when it still made him shiver. Before making his way down to his chest, he hesitated for a few seconds, but then laughed quietly at his insecurities and continued. "What just went through your head?"
"I've never been shy about letting a lover know what I like. Suddenly, with you... I don't know, It feels weird."
"Do what I do. Keep it to as few words as possible."
"Right. Okay... I really like having my chest touched and played with. It... it gets me going pretty fast."
"Oh... Yeah, I meant I like my... my nipples played with. Damn it, why are the real words so hard to say, sometimes?"
"Speaking your wants and needs means risking rejection. For you, especially, that's an incredibly scary chance to take. You'd probably rather jump out of that plane again than ask and have someone say no."
"Mmmm. *Without* a parachute this time. I know you'll give me anything I ask, though, as long as it won't hurt me. I *know* it."
"You've only been with me for a couple of months, Anthony. That's not near enough to overcome three decades of damage from other people. We'll get there, but you have to quit pressuring yourself to do it at Mach 1."
"Four affirmations, now. Four affirmations..." Tony mumbled, his chin tilted slightly down and his brow furrowed as if he were determined to permanently imprint the idea that this mentor, this friend would not walk away the moment things got frustrating or difficult. This time he wouldn't be left alone.
Jethro reached out and gently brought Tony's head back up, but didn't speak, giving Tony space to say whatever he needed to. "I'm enough." The younger man finally recited, though it sounded more like a question. Knowing they'd both heard it, Jethro interrupted before any negativity could emerge.
"We'll get there. Say it, Anthony. You don't have to believe it, yet. Just say it."
"We'll get there."
"I'm loved. I can be patient. We'll get there."
"I'm loved. I can be patient. We'll get there."
"I'll believe it for you until you can take over, Anthony. As long as you always believe in *me*..."
"Okay, then. On with the exercise."
"Right. Shoulders... man, I hate thinking about that stupid shipping container. That was one of the worst days my career has ever seen. Hmmphh. I need to get to the gym more often. My biceps are lumpy oatmeal compared to yours."
"Anthony." Jethro admonished lightly.
"Hey, just being honest. The gym at the office is only a few floors down and I make excuses not to go. Wow..." he intoned wonderingly as he moved down to his hands. "... wasn't aware I had calluses too. Different places, though... and not as thick or rough."
"From what?" the other man asked, genuinely curious.
"Yeah... I don't like to talk about it, sir. It's another part of my life that used to be pretty important, I've been ignoring it and I'm a little... embarrassed."
"Damn... I can't resist when you do that. I, um... I play the piano. I used to, anyway. At this point I'm not sure I could still manage Chopsticks."
"I guarantee you, we're going to find out."
"Move on to the next area, Anthony." Jethro interjected, allowing no protest. Tony sighed and reluctantly complied. After another half hour of mildly crabby self-examination, he was finally given leave to go to the one area he'd been asked to temporarily by-pass.
"Oh... oh. Touching myself without being able to see... I can... feel more. Bumps and... and texture I didn't know about. Oh my God... the fluid... it feels so different now! I have to focus i-in a new way and... oh...."
"Senses, Anthony. One at a time, just like before. You've done touch, now talk about hearing. Let the words go for a few seconds and see what else you can pick up on..."
"I... I breathe really loud when I'm... this way... I can hear my hand moving.... that sounds *so* weird... but it's exciting too..."
"Almo... nnnhh, almost the... the same... but my... I'm a little sweeter th-than yours... like just a... a touch of... vanilla got thrown in... still musky, though... strong... still sweat, still... heat..."
"This is the tough one. Ready?"
"Yeah... yeah, do it."
Dipping one finger lightly into the fluid that had collected at the head of Tony's cock, Jethro then touched it to his sub's tongue.
"Same as yours... but the sweetness is there too... that's amazing... sir, I need to..."
"I know. Go ahead."
Leaning forward a bit more, Jethro laid both hands along Tony's Abs, wanting to feel the muscle reaction for himself. Once Tony'd begun to wind down, the older man shifted up to his knees, took DiNozzo's head in both hands and bent to whisper in his ear.
"I want you to repeat after me, okay? Do the best you can."
"I just stroked my cock..."
"Jeez... I just... stroked my cock..."
"... until I came."
"... un-until I came."
"My lover watched me come..."
"My lover watched me come..."
"... and found it so beautiful...."
"... and found it so beautiful..."
"... that he came without ever touching his own cock."
"...that he... Jethro? You're not... you don't mean..."
"... that he came without ever touching his own cock. Please, sir, can I take the blindfold off?"
Stripping away the cloth, Tony blinked furiously then stared down, incredulous, at the evidence that his dom had spoken the truth.
"Jethro... sir, I..."
Fully aware that Tony wasn't ready to hear any of the words of endearment that were on the verge of pouring out of his dom, Jethro kissed Tony deeply and passionately until he was sure they had both been sufficiently distracted and diverted.
"Let's go clean up?"
Tony nodded slowly, the only reply he was able to manage just then, rose and followed the older man out of the room.
Tucked into Jethro's side on the couch, half-drowsing, half reading a book, Tony gazed dreamily up at his dom.
"Time to start getting ready."
"Yeah? I was so peaceful... I didn't notice."
Jethro leaned in and kissed him lightly on the nose.
"And I love seeing that in you, but we need to get moving."
"What am I supposed to wear, anyway? I don't have anything here." Tony asked as he sat up and stretched.
"Actually... you do. C'mon, I'll show you."
Both men rose and Jethro led the way to a large closet. When he opened the door and flicked a switch to turn on a light, Tony's jaw dropped and his eyes went wide. "Every once in a while I see something I think you might like or would look great on you and I pick it up... put it in here."
" I know, it's a little much, but I've been filling it up for a while."
Surrendering to a sudden impulse, Tony gleefully embraced his dom.
"Not too much. Not, not, not..."
"Didn't know you did imitations of Abby." Jethro responded wryly. Tony pulled back with a slightly rueful expression.
"It's okay. I also love seeing you excited. You pick something while I get dressed in our room. In case you decide you feel like playing, I'd recommend no underwear."
Jethro returned twenty minutes later to a stunning sight. Tony had selected a simple white, button down cotton shirt, left open a bit at the collar, and black boot-cut jeans that molded sinfully to his lower body.
"Wow... very, *very* nice, Anthony. You'll find a small chest in there with socks. Shoes and boots at the back."
Tony merely nodded, transfixed by the vision of his dom in a dark green, short sleeved
T-shirt and faded denim jeans that did at least as much for his assets as his sub's did. "Okay, enough ogling, even if I am occasionally worthy of it. Get something on your feet or we're not going anywhere."
Shaking himself out of his vapor-lock, Tony moved close and returned the gentle peck he'd received earlier.
"Trust me, you're always worthy, sir. You could show up in a gorilla suit or a tutu... I wouldn't care."
Jethro laughed and nudged his sub in the direction of the closet.
"Love you too. Go..."
A few minutes later, Tony was fully dressed, including a coat, and the pair was on the road.
"So where are we going? Is it anything like the House?"
"Nope. There are a few clubs around D.C. that lead double lives, all run by members of the community. A couple you'll never see, with or without me, and I'll make sure you know which ones."
"Do I wanna know why?"
Jethro was silent for a few minutes, his expression clearly showing that he was working on phrasing his answer so it wouldn't frighten or distress the young man beside him.
"There's a side of this life I don't want you to know about. The people who gravitate to it... they either like hurting or being hurt. When A.J. first told me I should take you to the House, tell you how I felt about you... I really wasn't sure."
Gibbs let silence spool out again, weighing and structuring his next words even more carefully. "Don't get me wrong, now, I've loved and wanted you for a long damn time. The thing is..." he admitted, the sentence breaking momentarily as he focused on a turn at an intersection. "... I know how down on yourself you can get sometimes. I finally saw that I could lose you to someone convincing you that you were right to think like that... that the only way you'd ever feel better was to let somebody punish you. As if damaging your body cleanses your soul..."
Pulling up to a red light, Jethro gazed intently at Tony, reached across and touched his face. "Ones like you, the Marzipan Angels...they're easy prey for the darkness and they can get trapped before they realize what's happened. The thought of you being hit or treated like some medieval penitent... I couldn't let it happen, so I finally got the balls to make the leap and believe that you wanted me, too."
The car eased forward into traffic again, but Tony felt as if a huge part of him was still hanging back where they'd paused, waiting for the light. Jethro glanced quickly at him as they continued on, worried that he hadn't heard a response. "Hey, you alright?"
"Yeah... I'm fine. I've just never heard you say that many words before. Not all at once, anyway. I guess... you really meant it. I did want you, by the way. I do. Guts was as much my road-block as it was yours. You know... I've heard about people who do that kind of stuff for pleasure... branding, cutting, whipping. Supposed to create some kind of endorphin high. I never understood it, so I... put it out of my head. Too disturbing to dwell on..."
"I don't want you to understand. I want you to always concentrate on being safe and loved and respected. Long as you're with me, you'll never be anything else."
Tony flushed and grinned, glad that the color creeping up his face was much less obvious in the dark.
A short while later, Jethro pulled into a large, half-full parking lot, taking a space a row back from the building. Both exited the vehicle and Tony watched his dom lock up, but when Jethro moved off, Tony held back.
"Sorry, I just need to know how to... is this a kneel and wait kind of place?"
"Sometimes, but not tonight. Supper, games, catching up with people you haven't seen in a while... that's relaxed enough not to require the formalities. There is one thing, though. As we go in, slide one hand into my jacket pocket. Once they all see that... well, you'll find out."
"More than one over the course of the night. They'll all be pleasant, I guarantee. C'mon..."
Tony complied with Gibbs' instructions the moment they were inside. Jethro could feel the hand now in his pocket trembling a bit and it drew a light smile out of him. When he saw a familiar face heading through the crowd in their direction, he murmured to Tony. "Relax, sweetheart. Just let her see who you really are. Oh, and call her Mama Katherine or just Mama. Got it?"
"Uh-huh. I hear and obey." Tony confirmed, but as the tall, imposing black woman approached, his hand clenched into a loose fist against Jethro's ribs.
"Easy does it, child. No danger here." she soothed, grasping his chin gently and turning his head right and left. "I just wanted to look you over. My, Jethro, he is an exquisite boy."
"I'm fully aware."
"Thank you very much, Mama Katherine." Tony responded softly.
"And polite as well. Getting rarer these days, so it's a sweet surprise. What would your name be, hmmm?"
"Anthony DiNozzo, Mama."
"Welcome, Anthony. There are other little ones here tonight, so please don't feel as if you're the only new face. Now, I'm in charge of security tonight. I consider all the guests close friends, but human nature being what it is when alcohol is involved... people can get foolish. If anything frightens you tonight, or any*one*, and Dom Gibbs isn't within range, *I* will be. Find me and I'll take care of it, alright?"
"Fine. Come in and mingle a bit. Food should be ready in about twenty minutes. I'd keep that hand where it is for a few minutes, just until most of the crowd has seen it and the word has spread that you'll be under my protection for tonight."
"He couldn't be in better hands, Mama." Jethro purred, dropping a kiss on her cheek as they moved past. They left her chuckling behind them as they made their way into the main area of the club. Tony's head was on a swivel as he was led to a nearly empty table. The only other occupant rose and held out his hand as they arrived. Gibbs grasped it and held one for several seconds before all three sat down.
"Cody. Almost didn't recognize you."
"Pot calling the kettle, Jethro. Don't recall you having anything that impressive on your arm the last time we met."
"Cody, this is Anthony DiNozzo. Anthony, this is an old friend of mine, Cody Bonner."
Tony grinned, took a deep breath and focused his wandering attention.
"Hi. I like the name."
"Fan of cowboy movies, are you?"
"In black and white... yeah. I'll watch pretty much anything that way, actually."
"No modern movies?"
"Oh yeah, absolutely. It's just... sometimes I get a craving for simpler motives, simpler thinking. Like 'High Noon.' Doesn't more stripped down than that, right? The clock, the girl and the fight. When those are all you really have to concentrate on, the deeper themes are so much easier to pick up and take in."
Cody sat back in his chair and laughed quietly.
"Sorry, sir." Tony mumbled, dropping his chin and trying to hide his face. Jethro tilted his head down and nuzzled the younger man tenderly.
"Don't, love. It's okay. I told you to be yourself and that knowledge is a big part of you. Within the community... you don't have to feel ashamed of getting excited about your favorite subjects."
"You were so right, Jethro. I do see." Cody commented, his eyes shining with moisture. "Been forever since I saw that in your face... have to say, I'm massively jealous. I ever find out you were stupid enough to let him get away..."
"No chance of that."
"I see that, too. You can probably take that hand back now, Anthony. Half the room already knows that you're not to be touched without multiple authorizations, including yours of course. The rest of the crowd will likely be alerted before we're called to supper."
"He's probably right. You'll need both hands to eat, anyway."
"Cute..." Tony snarked lightly, shifting his hand onto Jethro's forearm the moment it was free. Gibbs gazed down at it then back up at Tony. "I want everybody to know you're mine, too."
Suddenly Jethro's eyes were also shining.
"Have been since the day we met, baby."
Cody choked back a mixed sound of joy and distress and rose to his feet.
"Dear, God... sorry, gentlemen, only so much true love I can watch without breaking down and I swore I wouldn't embarrass myself tonight. I *have* to get a drink, but I'll be back..."
Jethro watched him hurry away toward the bar with a confused, anguished expression. A moment later, he felt a hand squeeze his shoulder and turned back to Tony.
"It's obvious something's wrong. Go talk to him."
"You'll be alright?"
"Like Mama said, I've got a guardian angel when you can't be here."
Jethro kissed him lingeringly and offered a smile bursting with pride and passion when he pulled back.
"I wasted so much time... but I swear to God I'll make it up to you. Every day, every minute..."
"You better. Cody needs you, sir. Go on."
After a few more moments staring at his sub, upset that he had to choose, Gibbs stood and moved off, hoping to catch his old friend before he could leave.
Jethro found his friend with both hands braced on the bar and his feet back a little, as if he were prepared to be frisked and arrested. Gently, he laid one hand on Cody's shoulders.
"No... this is supposed to be fun night. I'll go home before I bring anybody else down..."
"Damn it, you stubborn cuss... talk to me. You know I won't give up."
Straightening up a bit, Cody dropped heavily onto the stool beside him, hung his head and whispered a name.
Jethro sank down on the next stool, his brows drawing down and his face swiftly losing color.
"He didn't leave me... at least not voluntarily."
"Oh, no. Pancreatic cancer."
"A month ago. You know... I used to think hope was a good thing, Jethro. Now I know better. He fought so hard to stay positive, to keep believing all the official, professional voices were wrong... it didn't do any good."
"I would've been there... hell, I would've walked or crawled to get to you, Cody."
"You remember how it is right after, Jethro. All you want to do is hide, isolate... forget the world that brought you together still exists. I'm just now climbing out of the pit. I was thinking tonight could be another step up... but watching you and Anthony just might be too much."
Jethro slid his hand from the middle of Cody's shoulders over to firmly grip the one nearest to him.
"When Shan died I thought I was done... that nobody in the world would ever be what she was to me. If I hadn't been stuck in that mindset, maybe one of the other three... Anyway, I ignored even the idea that I could have Anthony. I wanted him, but I was scared, angry... and too proud to ever risk making a fool of myself again. Finally somebody opened my eyes... showed me that it didn't have to be the same to be just as good. It is, Cody. Anthony gave me back my faith and my heart. I'm not saying you should be out looking for someone else right now, buddy... just that when they come along you've gotta be open to the possibility."
"Yeah... I can't see it yet... too soon..."
"Come back to the table? Let us make it better, just for a little while?"
"Mmmm... I'm willing to let you try. Plus you really shouldn't leave your beautiful MA alone too long. Most of the group will have no problem resisting temptation, but there are always a few who don't even *try*."
"True. You'll be around D.C. for a while?"
"Oh, yeah. Quite a while. At the moment, escaping memories is high on my priority list..."
"I hear you. I'm thinking about the ceremony. He'll be ready in six months... maybe less. It'd be amazing if you could be there."
Cody lifted both eyebrows and studied Jethro skeptically.
"You've been together how long?"
"A little over three."
"That would mean... not even a year? Jethro..."
"Don't judge him on a five minute conversation. You have to get to really know him, Cody. You'll be as much a believer as Clay and A.J. are."
Cody sobered instantly on hearing the names.
"You're throwing around some serious weight there, my friend."
"Call either of 'em and ask about the play-date we had a few weeks ago."
"He's already... and he did that well?"
"My God. If he's got you this deeply dedicated, I guess I *had* better get to know him. He's heard the standard best friend warning, I imagine." Cody inquired, now smiling impishly.
"I have no clue."
"Let's go find out."
Cody led the way back to the table, halting right in front of Tony. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer, television series; season four, Willow to Riley at the frat party." He announced, delighted when Tony's face lit up.
"If I hurt him you'll beat me to death with a shovel. Understood. Trust me, not happening."
Cody half-turned to soothe Jethro, knowing full well that the older man would be utterly bewildered by the exchange, but the soft, distant sound of a gong interrupted him. "Whoops. C'mon Jethro. I'll try and explain over supper."
Shaking his head, Jethro held out his hand to Tony, who gripped it firmly and rose to his feet. The three strolled over to a curtained off area, Tony and Cody gleefully debating the relative merits of the original film over the Buffy T.V. series, while Jethro grinned indulgently and stayed silent, waiting to contribute until they backtracked and began discussing what he considered more worthy films or possibly John Wayne, whichever came first.
90 MINUTES LATER:
Jethro chuckled to himself, reached over and gently pried Tony's spoon and dessert dish out of his hands. The younger man pouted faintly, but didn't argue or fight to get it back. Commenting was not prohibited, however.
Tony grinned suddenly and Cody, sitting on the other side of him, felt warmer than he had in weeks.
"Could be. You'll see when we get home."
"Yes..." Tony whispered, valiantly repressing his gleeful reaction that, nevertheless, was still going on inside. Cody couldn't stop the laugh that bubbled out of him.
"Oh to be young enough that something as simple as chocolate can make you that excited."
"Hey, I may not have gotten very far in this world yet, but I've worked with him for years. He doesn't do anything halfway. If I get chocolate... it'll be world-class quality. That's something to get wound up about."
"Hard to argue with that logic."
The gong sounded again and the large group began to rise and gradually make their way back into the main room. Once again, Jethro offered his hand and he and Tony stood up together. Cody followed a little behind them, intently pondering Jethro's earlier advice to him. He couldn't believe he'd ever find someone like Anthony; that combo of young, smart, sweet and eager was far too rare. Still, the faintest hope that he would eventually care again, yearn and need and desire again, stirred deep within him and he held to it tightly. Just the thought that it might happen, could happen, was somewhere he hadn't allowed himself to go in quite a while. For now, it was enough.
"Jethro, what the..."
Tugged out of his musings, Cody snuck a look over Tony's shoulder. No one had been informed precisely what the entertainment would be and he was curious what could be so shocking as to have stopped Tony in his tracks. Unfortunately, he didn't understand what he was seeing any more than the younger man did.
"I'm with him." he commented, his tone brimming with curiosity and amusement as he studied the dance floor, which, in their absence, had been divided with masking tape into a large four-by-four grid. A sheet of paper with a short message had been placed in each square, but from a distance they couldn't be read clearly. "What's your theory, Jethro?"
"Don't have one..." Jethro replied. "... but I'm sure Marcus is about to explain." he reasoned as he led the way back to the table. Just as they settled in, Jethro's prediction came true. Carrying a microphone, a slight, grinning older man picked his way carefully onto the dance floor and stopped near the center to address the crowd.
"Good evening, everyone! It's wonderful to see so many of you here tonight. I'm sure you're wondering about the strange transformation up here... well, though I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, I've finally done what my community friends have been nudging me to for years now. At last... I'm reading fan fiction."
He paused to give a hooting, cheering crowd a moment to quiet down again. "Yes, I know, you were right. Slash has me utterly hooked. If any of you don't know what I'm talking about, catch me later. I'm happy to pass on the obsession. Now for the explanation of what you're seeing. About a month ago I discovered an online fan fiction competition... called Kink Bingo."
He waited once more until a milder round of laughter and appreciative noises died down. "The idea is that writers sign up and are assigned a board with each space containing a particular kink. They then have to write a piece, short or long, involving that kink somehow. Success is, as usual, measured by completing a whole line of squares. Well, tonight I decided we're going to bring the concept to life. Instead of writing, we'll be doing! There will be two rounds. First we've planned a PG to light R session for the younglings, the shy or anybody with a self-imposed curfew who needs to get home at a decent hour. The second go 'round will be much longer and much closer to NC-17. And before you ask, or, knowing you people, before you complain... yes, we have prizes for those who complete a line. You have ten or fifteen minutes for first level sign-ups, starting now."
Jethro stole a sideways glance at Tony, who had paled slightly.
"I'm okay, sir." He insisted, returning the glance. "Just... taking the idea in. It... it'd fit perfectly wouldn't it? With the goal for the weekend, I mean."
"It might. I haven't seen what they'd be asking of the players, yet."
"But if you approve..."
"It sounds fun. I'd say yes. Final decision would be yours, though."
Tony bit his lip and looked down. Jethro watched him struggle, longing to jump in and help, but he forced himself to stay silent. Believing he knew best made him a good Dom, but it didn't make it true in all situations, so he held back and ached for his sub while Tony made the difficult decision on his own.
"I'd really like it if you'd go look... then come back and give me an idea what the papers say."
"I can do that." He agreed casually. "Be right back."
Kissing Tony on the cheek, he rose and moved off to examine the game board. Cody hesitated, but after a minute or so, came up with a fairly delicate way to ask the question.
"Body image issues?"
Tony tensed a little, but he managed to respond calmly.
"Something like that. I'm working through it."
"That's what you meant by the game complementing the goal for the weekend."
"Hhh-hmmm. Before we got invited here, he... I was spending the weekend at his house. Naked. He's teaching me... Jethro wants me to believe I'm beautiful."
"Hardest thing you've ever tried to do?"
"In my entire freaking life." Tony confirmed, shooting Cody a thin, anxious smile. "Not discussing the reasons, so don't ask."
"I wasn't about to. I'm honored you've told me as much as you have. I really think it's going to be a privilege knowing you, Anthony."
Tony's grin became more natural and relaxed, but he still didn't look up and he didn't answer. A moment later, Jethro returned and cupped his chin, tugging his head up.
"It's mild. French kissing, masturbation, oral sex. PG to a light R rating, like he said."
"But it's... public."
Tony spent several seconds staring into and searching his Dom's eyes for some clue as to what Jethro wanted his answer to be, but the dom ruthlessly kept his expression neutral. If he pushed, even a little, and Tony went along only to please him, Jethro knew he'd never forgive himself.
"It's completely up to me."
Tony took a deep slow breath.
"Sign me up."
"Since you're still what they consider a toddler, we both have to go, so Mama can be sure you aren't being forced or coerced."
"But... you'd never do that."
"I know and so does she, but it's the rules."
"I'm not a kid..." Tony grumped under his breath, making both Cody and Jethro chuckle.
"Remember what we talked about in the car?"
"Oh. Yeah, but..."
"Rules are rules, whether they're yours or someone else's, and if you say respect them, I should respect them. Let's go."
Jethro grinned and tugged the younger man away to the sign-in table.
45 MINUTES LATER:
"Couple six? Your turn!"
Gibbs smiled broadly, gazed over at Tony and grasped his hand.
Tony swallowed and returned a shakier version of the grin beaming at him.
"Yeah. I-I think so."
"I told you the decision was up to you. If you're having second thoughts..."
"I'm not. Ever since you told me about the ceremony, I've been thinking about this. The playdate... you and I never really had much time together. Not with everybody else's attention on us, anyway. And now the lessons this weekend... I want the chance to show other people how much we love each other. I need to try."
Jethro kissed him softly and gazed deeply into his eyes.
"I do love you, Anthony. More and more and more..."
"I know." Tony responded, choking up slightly. "Sometimes my feelings are so strong, I swear people must be able to see it pouring out of me or... or hear it like music."
"Anima bella... I see, I hear. That's all that matters. C'mon..." Jethro said as he rose to his feet.
Tony's eyes widened in shock, but he quickly joined him.
"Hold up, since when do you know Italian...."
"Since I fell ass over tea kettle for one. Let's go, or they'll give away our spot."
As they approached the MC, he reached out and clapped Jethro on the shoulder, keeping the wireless mike at his side and his voice, while joyful and enthusiastic, modulated so that the crowd wouldn't hear.
"Dom Gibbs! I was thrilled to see your name on the list, my friend. I'd begun to think we might never see you again. And... oh my. This exquisite creature must be your sub."
Gibbs looked at Tony and the younger man coughed and spoke up for himself.
"Errmmm... yes. Anthony DiNozzo, sir."
"Wonderful to meet you, Anthony, and welcome to the community. Don't be too anxious or nervous about the game, alright? That's all it is, really. The idea is to have fun, so no pressure. Plus, you'll find that when things get difficult we're a compassionate, supportive group as a rule. If you need a boost or a nudge and your Dom doesn't mind, just ask and anyone here will jump right in to help. Ready to begin?"
Tony grinned and nodded. "Splendid." Marcus praised, lifting the mike back up. "Ladies and gentlemen. Attention, please! Half of our next couple is a long-lost familiar face, at least for most of you, and the other half is brand new to us. Please give your wholehearted applause and a warm welcome back to Dom Jethro Gibbs... and the proper appreciation for his stunning new sub Anthony. The game board is yours to pick from, you two. Enjoy yourselves. I'm sure we're about to..." Marcus joked, stepping back. Jethro quickly led Tony around the dance floor, allowing him to read the directions in every square.
"Okay. You decide where to start." He told him. Tony frowned slightly, but only for a moment, then walked over to the left side of the board and stepped into the second section. "FRENCH KISS. I really hoped you'd go there, but I wasn't about to exert undue influence." Jethro laughed. When he met Tony's gaze, however, he sobered instantly, enraptured and compelled by the desire he found there. A few of those at the closest tables, recognizing what they were seeing, emitted quiet gasps and then began to whisper and murmur, passing the information back to the ones not near enough to perceive fine details. After a few moments, the room quieted again, went utterly, expectantly silent in fact, and Tony flushed and chuckled under his breath.
"We're on..." he said. Jethro took his hands and nodded.
"For damn sure."
"Better start the show then." Tony replied, leaning in and lightly pressing his mouth against his dom's. As the kiss deepened, he pulled his hands away and brought them up to frame Jethro's face. The older man slid one around Tony's lower back and let the other rest just below his shoulders, the fingers gently clutching and massaging the muscles. Neither man ever completely closed his eyes, choosing instead to observe and absorb the other's reactions to a brush of tongue or a nibbled lip. When they finally separated, both panting just a bit, the room erupted in a brief round of clapping and shouts of 'Bravo'. Marcus got back on the mike, fanning himself with his unencumbered hand.
"Lord above... if that's the opening act I may not last until curtain call! Doesn't mean I want you to stop, though! Next move, gentleman!"
Tony hesitated, gazing around at his choices, then decided to continue their trek across the center, stepping forward onto a space where the paper read FREE: PLAYER'S OPTION. Jethro's eyebrow arced upwards, but before he could speak, Tony laid a finger across his lips, clearly asking for permission to do as he liked. Favoring him with a gentle, intrigued smile, the other man silently consented.
"Thank you, sir." Tony murmured into Jethro's ear before placing a light kiss on the high point of the appendage. Efficiently working his way down to the lobe, with kisses only, he then pulled back and studied Jethro's expression. "Nothing, huh?"
"No problem. I have a couple other ideas. Hang on tight, just in case..."
Bracing his hands on his dom's shoulders, Tony now began a slow series of licks along both sides of Jethro's jawline. The gradually building tension he felt under the spots he was gripping told him what he wanted to know this time, but he still withdrew and checked his progress. "Uh-huh. Better... but still not what I was hoping for."
"Anthony..." Gibbs chuckled, with only the barest hint of warning underlying the pleasure.
"One more. Please, sir?"
"You can keep going 'till doomsday if you feel like it. I'm just letting you know where you are in this little game of Hot and Cold you seem to be playing..."
"Closer to the Sahara than the Arctic?"
"Good to know. Here's hoping third time's the charm..." he said, running the tips of his fingers upward over Jethro's throat, almost not touching the skin at all. When the older man's face showed definite encouragement, Tony drew his hands down again, but a little more firmly. Again, he saw only positive reactions when he gazed up, so he moved on to his final tactic. Leaning in, he ran his tongue up over Jethro's Adam's apple, then shifted sideways, lingering on the pulse point in the artery. After pausing a moment to gather his courage, Tony added his lips to the spot, sucked once, gently, and retreated. Just to confirm what Jethro's face was telling him, the younger man briefly stole a glance at the Dom's nether regions. He looked back up with a wicked smile, which was quickly tempered into something he prayed was more appropriately humble. The single word he spoke next, however, was closer to the first smile than the second.
"Boy, did you ever." Jethro responded, swiping at his brow. "If my control wasn't so good... Okay, moving on. Next square?"
Tony stepped forward again, but when he read the paper on the floor, he frowned in mild confusion.
"Ummm... the words I think I get, but..."
Jethro read the instructions for himself and grinned.
"HAND JIVE is pretty straightforward, yeah. A double-headed arrow means it can go either way. I can give to you..."
Tony shook his head. "You sure?"
"I am. If you are..."
"Of course. Always with you. Go for it, baby..."
Tony turned away a little to hide his reddening face and mumbled a question. Jethro motioned Marcus over and repeated the request and a condom was discreetly pressed into the dom's hand a few moments later. Working carefully, to avoid a potentially painful zipper accident, Tony eased his dom's cock free of his jeans, opened the small packet and deftly rolled the slippery latex tube into place. "Hmmm. One thing I don't have to teach you, obviously..."
"True." Tony chuckled softly. "Learned the basics not long after somebody first told me what one was, where it went and why."
"God... that feels so good, sweetheart. Your hands are the perfect size... like you were designed for me."
"I've wondered about that myself. Tell me what you like... how to please you, make it last..."
"Doesn't matter. Like you said... just you being close, touching me... that's enough to drive me wild. Do what you'd want from me... show me what turns you on."
Tony choked the emotions threatening to overwhelm him, leaned in and whispered in his dom's ear as he sped up the motion of his hand.
"The confidence you give me... is the biggest turn on I've ever known."
"Anthony... oh hell... you're..."
"That's it... just let go... let go. Yeah..."
As Jethro caught his breath, Tony kissed his brow over and over and murmured to him. " *So* totally cool, sir..."
"Actually... it was pretty damn hot..."
"Ask Cody later."
"Guess you should clean up, hmmm?"
"After we finish. One more square for a prize."
"Let's see... oh. Oh crap."
Jethro turned and glanced at the final paper, ORAL EXAMS, and discovered why Tony was suddenly a bit pale.
"It's okay, love. No pressure, remember? Marcus' prizes are usually pretty good, but it's not a million in gold and jewels. You don't have to."
"I... I want... there's another arrow. If... will you take over? Are you okay with that?"
"Okay. Good. I just..."
Tony let the sentence drift into silence as he quickly did a visual search of the room. When he saw the person he wanted, he beckoned with his eyes and his head and Mama Katherine quickly strode to his side.
"How can I help, child?"
"Ummm... I want to do the last one in the row, but it's... awkward."
"Let me look. Ah. Understood. Taking or giving?"
"I'll be receiving, but still..."
"... a little extra courage would be welcome."
"More like essential."
"Then I'm at your disposal. Whatever I can do."
"Thank you so much, Mama." Tony breathed, relief suffusing his face.
"Of course. Supporting my little ones is my greatest joy. Here... turn and face him." she instructed, wrapping a hand lightly around each of his biceps. "Close your eyes and breathe slowly... excellent. Drink in the feelings... he's easing you free, now. Breathe... yes, very nice. Don't let it overwhelm you yet. Time for that at the end. Don't hold the words and sounds in.... let him hear how wonderful he makes you feel."
"Ohhhh... good, good, *good*... Jethro... need you... love you..."
"He knows. He can see it... we all can. Your passion makes you even more beautiful, Anthony. If you're close, tell him, little one... ask for what you need to help you take the last step over the edge."
"Nnnhhh... under, Jethro, please... just one lick, a little pressure... please..." Tony ground out. Jethro complied and was soon effortlessly swallowing every drop of his sub's release. Mama Katherine held the younger man steady until the tremors from his orgasm diminished and he seemed to be recovering.
"Anthony... that was splendid. Just tremendous. What an extraordinary young man Jethro's found... " Katherine praised.
"That... that's what everybody keeps saying. Gonna... take me a while longer to... believe it."
Jethro tucked Tony away, but didn't zip him up, and got up off his knees slowly.
"Wow..." he added, kissing Tony briefly. "Everything I expected, love. Extraordinary doesn't half cover it. Clean up time."
"Prize?" Tony reminded him plaintively, surprising a bright laugh out of Mama and the audience members close enough to hear.
"Not like we'll be in the bathroom for the rest of the night, kiddo. Trust me, Mama won't let Marcus give 'em all away before we get back." Jethro insisted gently, tugging Tony towards the restrooms. Reassured, the other man went along with good grace, displaying a pleased, slightly goofy smile.
Through their connected hands, Jethro could feel Tony vibrating with restrained energy all the way to the men's room. When they finally made it inside and the door had closed behind them, he released the younger man and pushed him away gently to be sure he wouldn't be inadvertently hurt by the coming cyclone.
"Go on, get it out of your system." He told Tony with a relaxed grin. The younger man dropped a swift kiss on his dom's cheek and proceeded to gyrate, sing and do various touchdown dances all over the far end of the small space. Gibbs completed his clean up while Tony wound down. Tucking and zipping, he washed his hands and turned around to find Tony leaning on the wall and beaming an enormous smile at the world in general.
"Thank you, sir."
"You're welcome. Just for the record, I don't mind you getting that excited once in a while." Jethro assured his sub, strolling over and gently, slowly returning the kiss then leaning his forehead against Tony's. "I know how fiercely you deny that little boy inside... the one you never got to be. That stops here and now, okay?"
Tony swallowed hard, but pushed aside the emotions Jethro's revelation had brought up and kept the moment as light and casual as he could manage.
"Just not in the office... and especially not on a crime scene. I start trying to play freeze tag with the dead bodies, I'll be in a shrink's office before I know what hit me. Although I'd never lose playing with somebody who can't *un*freeze, so it could be fun *and* a good confidence builder..."
"Later, please. I'll be open about the past later. Just not tonight. It's been so good. I haven't even gotten my prize yet..."
"That's a promise and I'm holding you to it."
Jethro sighed quietly, smiled and pulled away.
"Wash your hands and we'll go see what you won."
A few minutes later the couple stepped back out into the club and were met by Mama Katherine.
"Marcus asked that I bring your gift to you so the current players won't be disturbed. So... large or small?"
Tony studied the distant table for a moment before deciding.
"You trust me to choose?"
"Thank you, child. Go ahead back to your table. I'll join you there."
As Jethro and Tony reclaimed their seats, Cody held out his hand to the younger man. Tony looked surprised, but accepted the gesture and shook hands firmly.
"That was the most beautiful, genuine, passionate display I've seen in a very long time, Anthony. Courage personified. Easy to see why he chose you as his one and only."
Tony blushed furiously and turned away, ostensibly looking for Mama Katherine, but really trying to hide his embarrassment. "Whoops, there I go again. He really isn't accustomed to compliments, is he?"
"I'm working on it." Jethro responded wryly. "Anthony..."
"I know. Working over here too, sir. Just... give it time." he mumbled as Katherine approached and held out a box wrapped in paper striped with subtle shades of sliver, green and blue. Tony accepted the gift and gave her a soft smile in return. "Thank you, Mama."
"You more than earned it, child. It was a true pleasure having you here tonight. You're a credit to your dom and I think you'll be a great asset to the community. I'll be looking forward to our next meeting."
Echoing his smile, she gently brushed her fingers over his brow then turned and glided away. Jethro allowed him a few moments of staring after her in shocked wonder before prompting him.
"You plan on opening that or preserving it as is?"
"Huh? Oh... right."
Contemplating the box briefly for tape placement, Tony began to very carefully peel the thin adhesive away. Jethro's eyebrows slid toward his hairline and he chuckled.
"Who are you and what'd you do with my sub?"
"Yeah, yeah. I love presents and normally I'd be doing a Tasmanian Devil on this thing... but this paper is us, you know?" Tony replied absently as he worked. "Your hair... both our eyes. I wanna keep it... as a touchstone to help me remember my intro to the community. Besides... doing it this way shows you I understand what you've been trying to tell me about patience. It might take me a while to get where we're going... but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow will be so much more worth it... if every step along the way was done right the first time."
Jethro gulped and had to fight back tears. Cody squeezed his wrist lightly to get his attention and offered a smile meant to show understanding of what he was feeling as well as express his ever-deepening amazement at the treasure the other man had found. Jethro showed him silent gratitude and returned his gaze to Tony, who was slowly opening the box. Cody and Tony both gasped quietly at what was revealed. Jethro, seated across the table, eventually had to request a viewing.
"Well? Do I get to know the secret, too?"
"Oh... Sorry, sir. Here..." Tony said, turning the box around to show off the sterling silver key chain inside. Jethro tugged the box a little closer so he could read the fine, delicate inscription on both sides of the attached tag.
Love, eternal and true, I give to you.
Sent out like the tide, it returns to my side
"It's gorgeous.... and perfect."
"Yeah. It is."
Cody watched the two of them gaze at each other for a short while, shoving away his envy and heartache, then interrupted with a quiet, barely forced, laugh.
"I'm sure Marcus won't mind letting the pair of you lock up and put the chairs on the tables... but I got the impression you wanted to get home fairly early."
"True. We do need to get going." Jethro replied, pushing up to his feet. "You will be coming over to stay a couple nights with us next weekend, right? We've got a lot to catch up on."
"I don't know, Jethro..."
"I do." The other insisted gently. "We want you there... and you need somewhere safe to start connecting again."
Cody glanced at Tony, who grinned and nodded.
"Totally. It's been forever since I had somebody I could really dig into the deeper levels of film with. My classic westerns collection hasn't had a good workout in years."
Cody hesitated then rolled his eyes dramatically, making it obvious he was playing, sighed and surrendered with a smile.
"The things I'll do for a friend... Fine. I'll call you next Thursday to finalize the plans, Jethro."
"Good. You won't regret it. C'mon, Anthony. Full day tomorrow, we need to get back."
"Can't be too full. There isn't much we haven't done already."
"You'd rather I change my plans? My car could use a thorough detailing. You could follow up by cleaning the whole house... starting with the bathrooms."
Tony rapidly swept up his prize and stood.
"Uh, that's okay. Nobody complaining here, nope, not at all. Great to meet you, Cody. Can't wait 'till next weekend. Sir, I'm really sleepy, can we go now?"
Jethro smirked at his old friend.
"Nothing like the threat of a dirty toilet to motivate somebody."
Cody laughed heartily and rose to give Jethro a parting hug.
"Hell of an evening, Jethro. Far better than it would've been without you and Anthony. Thank you so much..."
"It'll happen again for you, buddy. You just have to hang in there and believe until your heart says you're ready."
"Well you won't let me give up, that's for sure." Cody joked as they separated
"You got that right. Talk to you Thursday. If you need me before then..."
"... I still have your work and home numbers. You have a cell?"
"I'm between cell phones right now."
"I forgot, you and technology don't always get along."
"Always? Ever. When you call I'll give you the new info."
"Okay. Have a peaceful night, both of you."
"It usually is."
Jethro and Tony moved off, retrieved their coats and headed back out to the car. Tony spent the first few minutes of the drive home silently staring into the tiny box. Jethro finally broke into his contemplations with quiet words.
"Hey. Talk to me."
"I'm just... thinking. Do you believe all that eternal and true stuff? I mean... it's kind of sappy."
"It exists. I found it once. It didn't last, but it wasn't anything either of us did wrong. Now I've got it again and I'm not letting go this time."
This simple statement made Tony's head spin, but a moment later his usual reaction kicked in and he felt disgusted with himself. He tried desperately to push it away, but the words kept circling and filling up his head, no matter what he did.
'He can't mean me... He can't mean me...'
Once Tony had stripped down again and been released, Jethro led him upstairs by one hand. Though Tony tried to press for a double shower, the older man calmly, gently shot him down, knowing if he didn't the clean-up process might take twice as long as he intended. As a consequence, both were showered, dried and settled into bed within half an hour. Sleep should have followed not long after, but the spot on Tony's stomach where Jethro was resting his hand kept collapsing inward and rising, taking his hand with it. Despite knowing his sub had good reason to be laughing, Jethro decided light admonishment was in order.
"Sorry, sir. I can't help it."
"Still a little high, are we?"
"I'm a shuttle astronaut. Man, tonight was just... I mean..."
"You have every right to be proud of yourself. " Jethro told him, nuzzling against his neck. "To be so willing and brave your first time in a situation like that... never seen anything like it. What made *me* the most proud, though... was that you weren't ashamed to ask for support when you needed it. It impressed Katherine, too, and that's not easy, believe me."
Tony huffed slightly and didn't respond. "What?"
"I need a nightlight on this side."
"You do? Why?"
"You must've seen 'It's A Wonderful Life', right?" Tony asked, his voice now quiet and wistful.
"Sure, everybody has."
"Remember when he comes home... and the youngest girl, Susan, is in bed sick? He goes up to see her... that's how he gets the rose petals. When he tells her to go to sleep she says... she says..."
"I want to look at my flower."
"Yeah. Well... I want to look at my key-chain." Tony explained, staring at the spot on the nightstand where he'd placed it before his shower, even though the box and the nightstand were practically invisible in the pitch black room. Now it was Jethro's turn to chuckle softly.
"In the morning, love."
"I'll never use it, you know. Not as what it is. I'll find a safe place... maybe keep it in my car or my backpack. I'll never put a key on it, though. The memory of what I accomplished to earn it is just too big to be... casual with it. C'mon. Can't I just see it one more time tonight? Please?"
"It'll still be there when you wake up, I promise. Besides, if you don't get to sleep soon... I'll reconsider the second present you're getting after breakfast."
"Another one? You mean it?" Tony responded, twisting to look at his dom.
"Only if you close your eyes right now so we can both get some rest."
Tony grinned and swiftly burrowed back under the covers.
"I'm already asleep. Look at me, in five seconds I'll be snoring. Just wait, you'll see."
"You only snore at work, when your head is tipped all the way back."
"You know this how?"
Jethro laid his head back down and began to give Tony a slow, easy scalp massage with his free hand.
"I watch. Hard not to. You look about nine years old when you sleep... so sweet and open and carefree. Draws every eye right to your face. First time I ever saw you like that... I was done, over and out. I fell for you so hard and sudden I could hear the air screaming by my head and feel the splat at the bottom. I looked up, saw the same things in McGee's face and.... I had to walk away before I took after him with the nearest blunt object. He never knew it and he never will... but he almost died a Probie."
"McGee? No way... c'ndn't be..." Tony slurred.
"No lie. He ever looks at you like that again, I won't be so in control, trust me."
"S'okay, sir. I... only love you... only, ev'r, always..."
"I believe you, bella. Now I just have to get *you* to believe it goes both ways..."
Watching Tony down his meal at a dangerous rate, Jethro grimaced, frowned, raised his eyebrows and finally reached out and stilled the hand Tony was holding his fork in.
"Anthony, for God's sake, slow down. Chew the food, drink the juice. Swallowing whole and inhaling aren't getting you to your surprise any faster."
Tony smiled ruefully and carefully swallowed the mouthful he'd just shoveled in.
"Sorry. You know me and presents..."
"You told me last night you were starting to get the idea of patience."
"I am. I don't know... it's like that T-shirt. 'God grant me patience, but could you hurry it up?' I'm trying. It's just... hard."
"I get that. Hang in until I get the dishes and pans soaking."
"I'll help." Tony offered brightly, leaping up from the table.
"Uh-uh. Rule 5."
"Protect my health and always tell you or Ducky when I'm sick or hurt."
"Eating well is most definitely included in health. I'll take care of this, you finish your breakfast. Slowly."
Tony sighed, but did as he was told. By the time Jethro had completed the minimal work, his sub had his plate, glass and utensils ready to go in the sink. "Thanks. Now go kneel in the living room, close your eyes and wait for me."
Tony complied eagerly and spent the next several minutes fighting not to peek. The sound of something thumping down onto the hardwood close by and his dom's intense presence made it even tougher, but somehow he managed to hold out. When he was finally stroked on the neck, he found Jethro on his knees beside him and a large wooden chest on the floor in front of him. The disappointed look he gave the object confused the dom. "What is it?"
"My surprise... it's socks?"
Jethro burst out laughing and nearly fell over.
"No... not even close. Look again."
"Ah. The one last night wasn't locked. So, um... what's in here, then?"
Jethro handed him a key that had clearly been recently made.
"Open it and find out."
"My own key. This box is something special, isn't it?"
"Very. Go on..."
Tony fitted and turned the key in the padlock slowly and with great care, as if he utterly believed in the importance that Jethro had just placed on the contents of the chest. Pushing the lid back cautiously, Tony stared at what was revealed, his jaw falling open. Toys and devices of all kinds, such as he'd seen in the cabinet during their visits to the House, filled nearly every inch of space in the box.
"Sir... wow. I... I... wow. This is... incredible. I have a key to... this? The trust that shows..."
"The key is only part one. I want you to choose three items you think you're ready to explore here with me... or maybe things you just want to know more about."
Tony glanced from the box to Jethro, uncertainty flooding his expression.
"You've had a little experience with this aspect of play, Anthony. There's no need to be shy or anxious. You're free to pick anything you want. Take something you're familiar with or a toy you've never seen before... anything."
Returning his gaze to the chest, Tony studied each item for a few seconds, entranced by the shapes and the possible uses for the ones he didn't recognize, until a particular item called out to him. At first all he dared to do was run one finger over the material, shivering at how it felt, but finally, with a deep blush, he extracted it and handed it to Jethro.
"Padded leather cuffs. Good choice. Next?"
Still colored bright red, and still fervently wishing he wasn't, Tony looked a little more and eventually selected a ring and harness combo similar to the one A.J. and Clay had used on him at the House "Good. Last one."
Tony had known what his final item would be since he'd opened the chest, but he couldn't bring himself to even reach out for it this time. The steady direction of his gaze said what he wasn't able to, but that wasn't enough for Jethro. "Tell me."
"That... that one."
"Oh yeah... please. That one."
"Say it for me."
"Try. Tell me which one you want, Anthony. Loud enough so I can hear you clearly."
"I want the... God, this is so... I want the long, battery operated, tube-looking thing that buzzes and makes me crazy when it touches my ding-dong."
"Not the time for cute. Now you've got two words I need to hear. The proper term instead of the euphemism and the one you haven't managed yet at all. Let's go, kid."
"You can do this. Once each and you're off the hook. For now anyway."
"Okay...I want the... the vibrator because it makes me crazy when it touches... my cock."
"Nicely done, bella."
"It's not the only thing that does that, either."
"Avoidance and compliments for the sake of distraction will get you precisely nowhere. Undo the Velcro and hand the vibrator to me."
His blush deepened and he stammered continuously, but, after several minutes, Tony did as he'd been commanded. "Excellent." Jethro praised, closing the chest. "Now... tell me why you chose the first two."
Breathing deeply, Tony touched the cuffs again.
"These... the reaction I had to the scarves was totally fascinating... but I'm ready to move up a level. At least I think I am."
"We'll find out. The ring?"
"Wiping last night off the bar graph, I have a pretty good track record on stamina. Good isn't good enough anymore. Not for you. This... the ring and harness will help me learn what I need to do to stay in control longer."
Jethro tipped Tony's chin toward him and up so they ware gazing directly at each other.
"Tell me you weren't hard the minute you stepped on that game board and kissed me."
"I can't. It's true."
"Do you know how long it was between that kiss and the blow-job?"
Tony frowned lightly, suspecting where his dom was going with that question, but reluctant to accept the inevitable conclusion.
"Not a clue."
"Almost half an hour. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your natural level of stamina, Anthony. You can have the ring and harness, I've got no objection... but like I told you that night, it's for pleasure as much as for training."
"Okay. I can do better than half an hour, though. Promise you'll use it to teach me, at least sometimes?"
"Yes, love. Sometimes."
"Gather those things up and come with me." Jethro requested, freeing Tony with a second caress. He led the younger man into the kitchen and over to the trash can.
"You want me to... why? I don't understand."
"Now that I know what you want, you and I are going shopping tomorrow after work and get you your own versions of these. You're dumping the old ones so there will never be any doubt or jealousy between us. I don't want you wondering who I used these with, what they looked like... whether I loved them. Everything with you and I has to be new and clean. Only our memories, our dreams. No ghosts allowed."
Tony studied Jethro solemnly for a long time then looked down at what he held. Slowly he opened his hands and let the items fall. Turning, he shocked Jethro with a powerful hug and a few minutes of shallow, anxious breathing against his neck. When he gradually pulled away, Jethro touched his cheek, smiled gently and questioned him.
"What was that about?"
"Not sure yet. I need to think about it for a while. On to the next lesson?"
"No more lessons. When I realize the student's teaching me, I know it's time to surrender. Except for lunch and dinner and maybe a late snack... you and I are spending the rest of today in bed."
Striding back up the stairs, the pair stayed as close together as they could, but once they reached the top, Tony hurried ahead into the bedroom. Jethro entered to find Tony on his side of the bed, his back to his dom. Moving to sit beside him, he saw that the younger man held the key in one palm and was staring at it solemnly.
Mmmm. I'm great. Just... thinking." Tony offered quietly.
"Okay. Care to let me in on the process?"
"I changed my mind."
Instead of responding verbally, Tony reached out and retrieved the box with his prize in it, lifting the small lid off and sliding it around to the bottom so that the box fit into it. "Oh."
"When I said it last night, I meant it. I just didn't know you were planning on..."
"Hey, new information means re-evaluating, sometimes."
"It'll be the only key on this ring. Ever."
"Well... maybe a house key could join it. Someday."
"You don't lock your doors." Tony reminded him with a grin.
"Not now. Nothing here I care that much about losing. After the ceremony, though..."
Tony's head snapped up and his eyes gleamed.
"You mean that?"
"With everything I am."
"Jethro... oh my God..."
"That's a yes, then?"
"It is. Absolutely."
"Good." Jethro replied, dropping a brief kiss on Tony's nose. "Go on. Get it on there. I wanna see how it looks."
Slowly, with extreme care, Tony worked the tiny key onto the ring then held the combination up for his dom's appraisal. "Beautiful." He said "Just like its owner."
Tony blushed and looked down and, just that once, Jethro let it go, knowing there would be more than enough time in the weeks and months ahead to guide Tony in correcting negative assumptions and false beliefs about himself. Once the key ring was back in the box and the box replaced on the nightstand, he tugged Tony onto his feet. Turning back the fresh sheets he'd put on the bed after they got up that morning, Jethro waited for Tony to lie down then slid in beside him and resettled the covers. Leaning in he kissed his sub lingeringly and looked deeply into his eyes.
"What do you feel like doing? We can just lay here and talk... we can sleep... we can wear each other out. Whatever you want."
"I don't know... talking sounds good for now. Maybe we can play a little, after. The other morning... when you held my wrists? That was so good..."
"Yeah, it sure was. You're so responsive... so sensitive in so many places. It's going to be an absolute blast discovering every inch of you."
"I get to... don't I? I want to."
"I remember. Made me so high, listening to you at the House... hearing how bad you wanted to touch my body... how all you needed and craved was to be right up next to me... pressed against my skin. You said one kiss... and it'd just be the two of us, nobody else in the world. You said my touch burned sometimes... that I have a certain smile that lets you know I'm proud and that you live to earn it. It was all so incredible. The only thing that scared me that entire night... was when you told me you would've let Clay make love to you if I asked. All I could think was... what if somebody without a conscience had found you before I got up the guts to make an approach? The pain you could've gone through, the mental and physical abuse..."
"Shhh." He soothed, touching Jethro's lips. "Stop, okay? What you talked about in the car will never happen. You got there first and day by day you're proving to me that I deserve all the good stuff. You're my hope, now... the hope I gave up on a long time ago. I'm too smart to walk away when the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter all the time."
Jethro chuckled darkly.
"I'm your dom. It's my job to worry about Amtrak and supernovas and ten foot tall monsters with giant flashlights."
"I get that and I'm so grateful... but when we're alone, safe in your house... you're allowed to stop. Nobody's getting between us, nobody's taking me away from you... and I'm not leaving unless you make me."
"Not a chance in hell."
"Thank God for that. Play now?"
Grasping Tony's wrists again, Jethro lightly pushed them up over his sub's head. "Keep them there and not a word from you until I say so." he ordered with a wicked grin. "Sounds are acceptable... just not speech."
Tony's brow furrowed in confusion, but he nodded slowly. "Thank you."
Shifting under the bedclothes, Jethro stretched out over the younger man, gazing down at him and praying Tony could clearly read everything he was feeling. "I love you. I love every... single... thing... about you." He murmured, punctuating words with kisses that moved down and down until he reached Tony's collarbone. Briefly, he suckled the rounded end where it pressed up against the skin. Tony arched his back and gasped, pushing into Jethro's mouth and drawing a low, pleased chuckle from his tormentor, who was creating a mental list of spots to return to as he went along.
"I love how you don't hide when it feels good... you let me see it all. I soak that up... as if I'm slowly drinking really *good* red wine... and it makes my head spin and warms me all over the exact... same... way." Jethro told him as he kissed and licked from the collarbone down to the narrow crease between Tony's pecs. "Ever since I watched you with Rabb... I've been dying to see this reaction up close.... to know it was me who made you that crazy. Don't have any silk on hand... but I think this should work just fine..." he murmured, swirling a tight circle around Tony's left nipple with his agile tongue. The younger man squeaked then tightened his lips and produced a combination hum, whine and heartfelt groan. The strange vocalization drew a chuckle out of the dom. "I love your noises, Anthony. They tell me everything... like how close you are to coming and how bad you need my touch..." Jethro told him lightly, giving the other nipple a bit of attention as well. "And, God, you taste fantastic. Honey Dust will make it even better, though. Gotta find us some... and lots of feathers. I'll spend one whole day and night... finding all your ticklish spots... and using them shamelessly, one by one... to make you come over and over..."
This time Tony's groan was too close to pain for Jethro's comfort and he knew it was time to finish. Shifting down a little, he lined his cock up with his sub's and began pushing against him, slowly at first but with increasing speed and pressure as they both approached orgasm. "Speak to me, Anthony... say anything you're feeling... sing for me if you want to..."
As his release overwhelmed him, Tony sobbed wildly and began to empty the contents of his heart and soul directly into Jethro's ear.
"God, I love you... always have... my hero... teacher... only one that... ever knew me... yours... now and forever, Jethro... only yours... please... please don't leave me... I'll do what you ask, do anything... I'll fall, I swear I will... just don't give up on me... I'll die if you go away..."
Moving back up, Jethro soothed Tony with soft kisses on the brow and cheeks and swiped at his tears with gentle fingers.
"Shhh... it's okay. I'm here... right here, love. Easy... easy."
As Tony began to calm and realized what he'd just done, he blushed furiously, bolted upright and tried to scramble out of bed, but Jethro held him back. "Oh, no. Not gonna happen."
"Shit... let go, sir, please. I never meant... I didn't..."
"I know. Anthony, hold still. Now look at me. Running away from problems isn't how we do things in this house."
"You don't understand..."
"... where those words came from? Of course I do. You grew up believing you couldn't depend on the world for anything. Comfort, stability, strength, motivation... that all had to come from inside you. The idea that you could need somebody so much... it scares you to death. Well you know what? I'm scared too. I've never even considered taking a permanent, lifetime sub. One more person ending up mad and disappointed in me... I couldn't even stand the thought. Now... now I can't remember what life was like when I wasn't connected to you this way. I'm feeling things I forgot I was *able* to, Anthony. Leave? Give up on you? They'll have to knock me out cold and drag me away."
Tony leaned into Jethro's arms, wrapped his arms around his dom's back and breathed out slowly.
"Even unconscious you wouldn't make it easy."
"Got that right."
MTAC - NCIS Fic