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Honesty

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He wakes up, snuggled deep into his sleeping bag on the couch, the television muted but still flickering with some late night infomercial. For a moment it confuses him why he is in his sleeping bag and not just sprawled on the couch with his pillow and blanket as is his usual habit, but sitting up, he catches sight of Bishop on the other couch, only her blond hair showing, the rest of her hidden in her own sleeping bag.

Right. The team is spending the night at his house because none of their apartments had power during this interminable winter storm. He glances over at Bishop again, her hair shining brightly in the relative darkness of the room. The case they just closed had been rough on her. It had been personal. He hopes she will be able to walk away from it after this, and to trust in her team and work with her team the next time instead of going to confront the killer by herself. Even though he’d yelled at her afterwards, reminding her of the rules that she’d broken, he immediately forgave her too. These were the hardest rules to follow. He should know.

Sighing, he unzips the sleeping bag partially and crawls out, feeling the cold air. The fire in the fireplace has died down some. Immediately he worries about Tony and Tim on the cold floor. He sees McGee zipped up like a burrito, only his nose, forehead and hair showing, eyes closed, in a deep sleep. Tony’s sleeping bag is unzipped and empty.

Where has the man gone? Last thing he remembered was him shushing Tony when the younger man complained about the pacing of the movie they had been watching. Holiday Inn. No doubt Tony would have been able to rattle off the year it was made, the director, the actors and probably at least three amusing anecdotes about the filming of the movie, and then launch into a diatribe about the issues he had had with the pacing of the movie. Hence the pre-emptive shushing. But that was hours ago. Where the hell was the man and why wasn’t he in his sleeping bag?

Tony had better not be snooping around, he thinks grumpily. Tony should have already done most of his snooping during the first weeks that they had started working together all those many years ago, when Tony had ended up staying with him after leaving Baltimore, staying with Gibbs until his apartment was available. So he should really be done snooping by now. But if Tony wasn’t poking his nose where it didn’t belong, then where was he?

Gibbs pokes the fireplace, stirs it up and places a few more logs in it, ensuring that the room will warm up some. He stops to check his thermostat, adjusting it a little, before going to relieve his bladder. He sees that the door to the basement is cracked open a little, and a sliver of light coming from it.

He’d better not be messing around with the goddamn boat, Gibbs thinks, still grumpy with sleep. Tony might be multi-talented and multi-faceted, but woodworking is not his strong suit. Stifling a yawn, he quietly moves to the door to the basement and carefully steps in to the top of the stairs. He sees Tony immediately, back to him, sitting on a sawhorse at his workbench, scarf wound around his neck, ears plugged up with something connected to his little music player iPod thing. He seems to be typing things into his laptop and humming quietly under his breath, occasionally swaying to the music and moving his hands gracefully in the air, fingers fluttering, apparently moved by the music.

For long moments, Gibbs stands and watches him silently, smiling to himself. It is rare that he is able to observe his partner and friend of fifteen years in such an unguarded moment. Being able to observe Tony in private, a Tony without the usual masks, a Tony who is being honest with himself, that is a very rare occurrence and Gibbs stands there, appreciating the view for a long time. Tony is listening to something that seems to be making him genuinely happy and that in itself seems to be something even rarer these days.

Tony’s hands alternate between typing on the laptop and fluttering in the air in time to the music, long fingers moving gracefully. Although the man is humming quietly under his breath, Gibbs’ sharp ears are able to pick out that he is not pulling his punches, and his under-the-breath humming is sweet and melodious. Tony tries hard to sing badly in front of people, but as Gibbs has always suspected, his actual singing voice is more than adequate. Beautiful, even. Tony’s voice dips into a lower register for a moment, and the vibrations deep within his chest makes Gibbs’ dick harden in his sweatpants.

He closes his eyes and thinks of McGee making out with Abby’s elderly nun friend Sister Rosita, which quickly makes his erection die down. For a moment he contemplates just crawling back into his sleeping bag and leaving Tony to have his moment alone, but then he wonders why the man is up at – he looks at his watch – 0300, and typing away into his laptop. Has he turned into McGee and started writing novels in his spare time? He smiles as he scoffs at the idea. Unlike McGee, Tony is far too full of life to sit and write about it instead of cannonballing himself into participating in it, eyes wide open. He’s too busy experiencing life to sit and reflect upon it or write about it. He sees Tony writing his very colorful memoirs when he is old and feeble, but probably charming a very beautiful young woman to scribe it for him. He smiles at this image.

He moves quietly and deliberately down the stairs. Tony is oblivious – still typing on his laptop and humming tunefully under his breath. When he is right behind the man, he peeks over his shoulder and sees that Tony is completing NCIS paperwork – was that requisition forms? Huh. Still working late at night then, just not dragging himself into the office as often. Gibbs still keeps an eye on the night time security feed in the bullpen to monitor Tony’s nocturnal work habits, thankful to see a lot less of it in recent years, but now he realizes he should speak to Abby to see if she can track his nocturnal work online from home.

He places a hand on Tony’s shoulder, making him jump, squeak, wrench his arm away and pull out and unfold his knife in one quick move, a shocked response.

“Motherfucker!” Tony swears when he sees that it is Gibbs, his heart pounding in his chest. “You just about gave me a fucking heart attack!” The swearing is uncharacteristic of him, at least not usually directed at Gibbs.

“Sorry,” Gibbs says, causing Tony’s eyes to widen. Had Gibbs just apologized to him? Gently, Gibbs pushes the hand with the knife out of his face and sheepishly, Tony folds it up and slips it back into his pocket.

“Yeah, sorry, Boss,” Tony says meekly. “Didn’t mean to pull a knife on you in your own home, at a time when you literally took us in out of the cold. Usually you head slap me when you sneak up on me. Wouldn’t have reacted this way if you’d done that.”

Gibbs waves the apology away wordlessly.

“What are you doing up?” he asks the younger man.

Tony shrugs. “I always have trouble sleeping through the night and the floor was doing nasty things to my back. I thought about snuggling up to McGee to at least use him as a pillow or a cushion but didn’t think he’d appreciate that,” he grins saucily.

Gibbs has to contain the anger and possessiveness at the thought of Tony cuddling up to McGee but his mind shies away from thinking about who he thinks Tony should be cuddling up to instead.

“Besides, there’s always a ton of paperwork to do, so I just came down here to work. I didn’t wake you, did I?” Tony continues.

“No, I had to hit the head,” Gibbs shakes his head. “How is your laptop even connected to work? I don’t have the internet here. On purpose.”

“Ah, the power of the wifi hotspot,” Tony grins, holding up his phone.

“Whatever,” Gibbs purses his lips, frowning. “You do this often?”

Tony is already turning back to his laptop and typing away, listening to Gibbs with half an ear. “Do what often?” he puts his earbuds in and fiddles with his iPod.

“Get up and work in the middle of the night.”

“You know I do my best work at night,” Tony quips with a grin. “Plus this means tomorrow I get to do something cruel and unusual to McGee and Bishop instead of boring paperwork. So it’s totally worth the hassle of getting this done tonight.”

Gibbs grunts. “Don’t do anything too awful.”

“I haven’t superglued anyone to anything in a while,” he says thoughtfully. “Haven’t been able to think of original ways to get him. Might mean I’ve been picking on the Probie too long.”

“Might mean you need to stop pranking him.”

“But then what would be the point of my life?” Tony’s words are light, but Gibbs is taken aback at the slight edge of bitterness and maybe even desperation in his tone. Tony has been pulling back in the last few months, not coming around to the basement, not seeking his counsel on things. Their usually familiar relationship outside of work has cooled considerably of late. He had had to hear about Tony breaking up with Zoe second hand. And although Tony seems to be kidding now, there is something there. He has been soul searching of late, and Gibbs has been trying to keep himself more aloof than usual, so as to not influence Tony’s conclusions and / or decisions. But maybe that was a mistake? He tries to recall the last time Tony had come by and hung out in the basement with him, and it might have been when the younger man had dropped by to give him a garment bag to use to pack his things before his trip to LA, after the Mitchell case.

“Hey,” Gibbs pulls the earbud out of one ear, deciding to close the distance between them. “What’s going on with you?”

“What do you mean?” Tony looks genuinely surprised.

“You haven’t come around for steaks and beer for a while.”

Tony shrugs, his expression suddenly shuttered, his green eyes carefully bland. “Didn’t seem like you wanted me around.”

“Why would you think that? My door’s always open.”

Tony gives him a pointed look. “Think I don’t know when I’m not wanted?” he says quietly. “Given what you know about my family, you, of all people, know that I know when I’m not wanted.” He plucks the earbud out of Gibbs’ hand, plugs it into his ear, and deliberately turns away from Gibbs. “I’ll be out of your hair in the morning.”

“You have no power at your place. You’ll turn into a popsicle.”

He grunts a response, turns up his music, and goes back to typing. “Won’t be the first time I’ve slept in my chair at work.”

“Even if the rest of the team is still here?”

Tony sighs and turns back to Gibbs, trying to keep his expression bland. “Look, I know you’ve put up with me for fifteen years. You’ve made it clear in the last few months that you think it’s time for me to get my own life and leave you alone. You even got yourself a new probie and you’re actually taking an interest in her this year, the way you used to take an interest in me – so I got the message, OK? I’m looking around for other opportunities. But I’m taking my time. Cause I really don’t want to leave DC and start over completely in a new city, the way I did before this job. Surely you wouldn’t be so cruel as to push me out into the cold without any support.”

“What?” Gibbs is genuinely surprised at Tony’s words and the underlying bitterness accompanying it. “What exactly are you talking about?”

Now Tony cannot hide his expression, he looks tired and put upon. Keeping his voice low, and without meeting Gibbs’ eyes, he speaks tonelessly, as if he has said these things to himself many times. “Look, Gibbs, I get it. I’m all grown up now. You’re done with me and you’ve made it clear since I got back from Hong Kong that my place is no longer on your team or on your six. I might be persistent, but after fifteen years of you being my boss, you’ve got to know that I get what you’re doing. You’re pushing me out of the nest. Asking me to think about what I want in life? Making me make decisions that upset our team’s chain of command? I get it. OK? I’m looking for opportunities. But you also have to understand that, at the end of the day, you guys are still the only family I know…” Tony’s voice stutters a little at this, “so I really would prefer to stay in DC rather than move someplace new and start completely over. I’m too old for that shit, Boss. I’d miss you guys too much if I had to move from DC. So I’m looking but I’m looking for something that’s right for me but still in the area.”

Gibbs sighs, and Tony practically jumps out of his skin when he puts a hand gently on his shoulder. “I didn’t mean for you to move across the country or anything. Or do anything immediately.”

Tony shrugs. “I know when I’m not wanted, Boss. I get it. I’ve been bugging you for fifteen years. Even Burley only lasted five.”

“Steve?”

“Fuck, Gibbs. The man’s name is Stan,” Tony rolls his eyes.

Gibbs shrugs, uncaring. “I never got your name wrong.”

“For which I’m eternally grateful. Not to mention I am grateful for you being a big part of the best years of my life, Boss.”

Gibbs sighs again. “I was surprised you stopped coming around. Thought maybe you would come and talk to me about this before you did anything.”

Tony arches an eyebrow and purses his lips but remains silent. Gibbs finds himself staring at the deep dimple in Tony’s left cheek, something that he has been obsessing about for the past fifteen years.

“Let’s be honest tonight, Tony,” Gibbs says, and his use of Tony’s first name surprises the younger man.

The younger man frowns. “It didn’t seem like you would want me hanging around your house, if you were pushing me out at work,” he finally says, very softly, stiltedly. Almost in an undertone. He cannot stop from flushing at his extreme honesty, and he turns his reddened face away.

Gently, Gibbs cups his face and turns it, waiting until Tony raises his big green eyes to meet his. He smiles fondly. “I told you before, I don’t waste good. At this point, you know you’re wasted being my second. You need your own team. I don’t want to stand in the way of that. Didn’t mean you weren’t welcome for dinner, or down here. Even after you get your own team.”

Surprisingly Tony’s eyes fill with tears which he quickly banishes by sheer willpower. “Thanks, Boss,” he says softly.

“’Sides, you can’t leave it so I only talk to Taft and Fornell outside of work.”

Tony shudders at that thought. “That does sound pretty dire, Boss.”

“It is.”

They stare at each for a long moment before Gibbs taps his chin once and releases it, and Tony visibly shakes himself. “Got it, Boss. Separation of work and home then.”

They stare at each other, and for the first time in months, Tony feels like they are communicating non-verbally again. Gibbs’ eyes are warm, reassuring and welcoming, and they understand now where the other is coming from. Gibbs picks up a mug and blows on it, reaching for the bottle of bourbon. He pours them each a drink.

“You going back to bed, Boss?” Tony asks, turning back to the laptop and beginning to type again.

“Might work on the boat.”

Tony nods and starts to plug the earbuds back in. “Mind if I stay down here and work while you do that?”

“Just told you you’re always welcome.”

Tony flashes him a grin, small but genuine. “Got it, Boss.” He puts the earbuds in and turns the music back on. But before Gibbs moves away, he puts a hand on Tony’s shoulder again. The younger man takes the earbud out and fiddles with his iPod, a questioning look on his face.

“Didn’t mean to hurt you,” Gibbs says quietly, regret coloring his tone. “Didn’t know how to have this conversation with you. I should have found a different way.”

Tony’s smile shakes a little at the almost apology. He nods. “It’s OK.”

“Don’t really want you to go,” Gibbs continues, committed to the honesty of the moment. “But it would be a disservice to you for me to keep you with me.”

Tony’s heart skips at this, and his shaky smile widens.

“Meant it when I told your father you were the best young agent I ever worked with. Now you’re just the best agent I ever worked with.”

“You saying I’m old now, Boss?” Tony says playfully, prepared to duck the head slap, but Gibbs slowly moves his hand from Tony’s shoulder to the back of his head and pets his hair softly.

“Never. You’ll always be my golden boy, Tony,” Gibbs words are soft but heartfelt, and Tony’s eyes fill with tears again. This time he brushes it away quickly with a sniff.

“I appreciate that, Boss,” he says just as softly. “You’ve been everything to me for so many years, it will feel like I’m being orphaned when I go.”

Gibbs tries to ignore the stab of pain in his chest at the thought of Tony leaving his team.

“But if I can come over every so often, then maybe I won’t be completely orphaned.”

“You do that. Consider it an order.”

Tony’s pleased smile lights up his face. “Thanks Boss.”

Then, the men turn to their separate tasks. Tony goes back to the paperwork and begins humming under his breath again while Gibbs picks up a sanding block and begins the painstaking work of sanding down the boat. After a while, he pauses his motions. Tony’s humming keeps affecting him. All this honesty is making it difficult for Gibbs to tune out his feelings, not to mention an honest and open Tony, a Tony showing his true self and some of his vulnerabilities is a truly attractive Tony. And either Tony isn’t aware that he’s humming using his real voice (his sweet, soulful voice), or he is aware but has decided Gibbs is allowed to hear it, either way, Gibbs is finding it very distracting.

He walks back to the workbench, tosses down the sanding block and his safety goggles and waits for Tony to look at him. When the younger man looks up, eyebrow raised in question, he plucks the earbud out of one ear.

“Oh sorry, Boss, am I bothering you?”

“What are you listening to?” Gibbs asks, ignoring Tony’s question.

Surprisingly, Tony flushes again. “Uh, well.”

“Not some sappy song?”

“Well. Kind of,” Tony makes a face as he takes the other earbud out and gestures to Gibbs to put the earbuds on.

Throwing caution to the wind, Gibbs nudges Tony with his hip to make him scoot over and sits himself down next to him on the sawhorse, their hips and thighs flush so they both fit on it. He lifts his chin to signal to Tony to keep one and he puts the other earbud in his ear, and both men keep their heads close together to hear the music. To Gibbs’ surprise, he hears classical music. Stringed instruments of some sort, and not very many of them. The music is slow, melodious, and dramatic.

“The hell is this?”

“Brahms String Sextet in B-flat,” Tony says, his tone uncertain. “The second movement.”

“You listen to classical?”

“Well, you know I double majored in Phys Ed and Music at OSU, right?”

Gibbs grunts, listening to the music and finding himself strangely moved by it. “You playing in this?”

“Oh, hell no,” Tony grins. “No, I don’t play violin, viola or cello.”

They listen together, and Gibbs finds himself watching closely when Tony closes his eyes, a small smile teasing his full lips, swaying a little to the music. “This piece is special to you,” he says, a statement, not a question.

Tony opens his eyes, and grins sheepishly. “Yeah. My mother, you know, she used to drag me to the symphony, the opera, and the ballet when I was a kid.”

“Weren’t you eight when she died?”

“Yep.”

“She took an eight year old to the symphony, opera, and ballet?”

“I was probably much younger when she started taking me. I don’t even remember not going with her. My dad, well, let’s just say he wasn’t the kind to do this with my mom, so I got to go,” Tony says matter of factly. “I didn’t mind. At least I got to wear a suit suit and not the sailor suit. Anyway, I liked those performances OK. I just liked spending time with my mom, I think. But when I went to college, I went to my first chamber music concert, and this was the first piece I ever heard performed live. It was in this small venue, and this girl from my music class invited me to go to this concert. It was amazing. Unlike those big productions my mom took me to, this was small, this was intimate, this was personal,” Tony flashes an intense look at Gibbs. “They were playing for us. Honestly, it got me so…turned on,” he looks embarrassed.

“I bet the girl you were with was happy about that.”

Tony starts chuckling and shaking his head at the memory. “Actually no, cause I ditched her and hit on the first violin and the first cellist after the performance. Went home with them, if I recall correctly.”

“Bet that made music class interesting after that?”

“Eh. It was worth it,” Tony’s eyes are far away. “Mmm. That first violin was something else.”

“She was tiny and delicate?”

“No, that was the cellist. She was tiny and delicate. No, the first violinist was delicate I suppose, but uh, he was definitely not tiny.”

Gibbs finds himself raising his eyebrow at Tony’s words, his heart pounding. While he had strongly suspected this about the younger man, he had never had real confirmation of it. “You were into men?” he asks carefully.

“Still am,” Tony shrugs. “Didn’t advertise that, especially when I was a cop. Helps that I enjoy women too, of course. I just always thought you knew that about me. You didn’t know about my preferences? Or I suppose, lack of? Which makes me sound like I’d sleep with anyone, but really, I do have standards.”

Gibbs suppresses the urge to slap his head to stop his nervous babbling. “I guessed it, but I didn’t really know for sure,” he tells him.

“Well. Hope that doesn’t change what you think about me.” Gibbs could hear the uncertainty in Tony’s words.

Gibbs snorts and cuffs the back of his head gently.

“Thanks, Boss,” Tony smiles at him. They sit in silence, listening to the rest of the movement, heads almost touching, connected by the wires of the earbud, shoulders occasionally brushing.

When the music ends, Gibbs smiles at the younger man. “That was nice.”

Tony smiles shyly. “Yeah? Not as good as hearing it performed live.”

“You still get…turned on by that?”

“Guaranteed,” Tony sighs, smiling at the memory.

“Whatever happened with the violinist and the cellist?”

“Uh, well, I don’t have the best track record for monogamy now, Boss, and I was even wilder back then. Although can you call a threesome a monogamy?” Tony frowns as he thinks about that. “Anyway, it didn’t last.”

Gibbs shakes his head.

“But man, was it good while it lasted,” Tony grins wickedly.

Gibbs snorts a response, rolling his eyes.

“Maybe you’d like to come with me to a performance some time?” Tony says hesitantly. “I mean, I know it’s not your thing. And I haven’t really been open about it being my thing…”

“You gonna ditch me for the performers?”

“No way, Boss. You’d be way hotter than anyone else there, for one thing.” There is a pause, and Tony stares at Gibbs, eyes wide. “Uh, any chance I only thought that and didn’t actually say that out loud?”

“No, you said that out loud.”

“Right. This honesty thing might be a bad idea, Boss. Uh, so you gonna kill me now or later?”

Gibbs stares at him for a long moment – Tony’s green eyes are wide with worry, his breaths coming in short pants. They are still sitting so very close together on the sawhorse. Without thinking about it, Gibbs leans in closer, getting in Tony’s face. The younger man takes a deep breath and holds it, ready for his punishment. His eyes widen as Gibbs moves even closer and tentatively brushes his lips over his, a soft caress, soft lips exploring his tentatively. Completely stunned, Tony freezes, his entire being focused on Gibbs’ lips on his, so surprised by this development that he forgets to respond, staying still, not even breathing.

After a moment, Gibbs pulls away and looks into Tony’s stunned eyes. “Is that honest enough for you?” he asks quietly.

Tony nods, swallowing audibly.

“You OK with that?”

Tony nods again.

“Want me to stop?”

Slowly he shakes his head.

“OK if I do that again?”

He nods.

Smiling, Gibbs leans in and presses his lips on Tony’s again, this time sucking his lower lip in, cupping the back of the younger man’s head as he nibbles and sucks on the lips that he has fantasized about for years. He swipes his tongue on Tony’s lips, requesting entry, and when Tony responds with a breathy moan and begins kissing back, opening his mouth, Gibbs pushes his tongue in and begins exploring his mouth thoroughly. He pulls away when the need to breathe is overwhelming, and Tony’s whimper makes his already hard cock throb and weep.

“We can’t go into this right now,” he says softly, fingers still in Tony’s hair.

“Right,” Tony nods, face falling, taking it as a rejection.

“Because the rest of the team is upstairs,” Gibbs reminds him.

“Oh, right,” he nods again, smiling slightly now.

“When power is restored, and they’ve all gone back home, come for dinner.”

“Dinner?”

“I’ll cook.”

“Like old times?”

“Hopefully not,” Gibbs rolls his eyes. “Like a date, DiNozzo.”

“A-are you asking me out?”

Gibbs nods.

For a moment Gibbs thinks he will say no, but then he smiles, a wide open smile, a smile that Gibbs hasn’t seen in a long time. “OK,” he says. “I’d like that.”

“Good.”

Tony grabs the front of Gibbs’ hoodie and pulls him close for another kiss. This time, he is the aggressor, mouth slanting over Gibbs’, sweeping his tongue into Gibbs’ mouth, exploring it fully, sucking on Gibbs’ tongue, nibbling on his lips.

When they pull apart, they are both breathless and panting, and definitely aroused. They kiss again, slowly, deliciously, arms around each other, pulling each other close, moaning softly into each other’s mouths.

“Maybe it’s a good thing, you pushing me out of the nest,” Tony mutters into Gibbs mouth as they continue to kiss.

“Why is that?”

“This might get in the way of work. Aren’t we breaking Rule 12?”

Gibbs smiles. “We’ll see,” he says.

Finally they pull away and Gibbs puts his hand on Tony’s cheek, caressing it gently, letting his thumb dip into the dimple that has fascinated him so. “So, dinner with me?”

Tony nods. “Sounds good.”

“Maybe you can take me to a concert sometime. Chamber music, was it?”

“I’ll look for a good one for your first experience.”

“No ditching me. Not even for a threesome.”

“No way. But I might not be able to keep my hands off you during the performance.”

“I’ll be counting on that.”

Tony’s surprised smile is worth it.

“But first, we’ll need to talk some things through.”

Tony’s green eyes are wide and solemn now. He nods quietly.

“Even if nothing comes of this,” Gibbs gestures between them, “I still want you to know that whatever happens at work, you’re always welcome in this house. You hear me?”

Tony nods again, his expression serious. “I hear you, Boss.”

Throwing a quick glance at the top of the basement stairs, Gibbs leans in and claims Tony’s lips again, and this time neither man holds back, kissing with passion and expressing their feelings through the kiss, sighing and moaning into each other’s mouths. Gibbs pulls away, smiling at Tony’s whimper of protest. “I need to step away from you or I won’t be able to stop with just kisses,” he says softly.

“Maybe I don’t want you to stop,” Tony says, his eyes glazed with passion.

“And when we make too much noise, and Bishop and McGee walk in on us, wouldn’t that certainly be an interesting conversation?”

“You assuming I can’t be quiet?”

“I’m assuming we won’t want to be quiet.”

Tony grins. “They should know to keep out of your basement.”

Gibbs caresses Tony’s face and sighs as he stands. “And we should talk first. Before we go further.”

Tony’s eyes widen at the open admission that there would be a ‘further’ to explore. “OK,” he agrees. They smile at each other for a long moment before Gibbs stands up, reluctantly.

“Gonna work on the boat.”

“I’ll get back to work, too.”

And with that, Tony plugs himself back into his iPod and with one last longing look at Gibbs, he turns back to the laptop and forces himself to go back to work. Tony resumes humming under his breath after a while, but Gibbs can tell that he is no longer listening to the song that they had been listening to together, and for some reason that makes him smile. They work in companionable silence until about twenty minutes later, McGee comes shuffling down the stairs.

“Boss?” he mumbles sleepily. “What are you two doing up?”

“Boat,” Gibbs says tersely. He goes over to Tony and puts his hand gently on Tony’s shoulder. McGee is surprised to see Tony turn and give Gibbs a huge smile, one that actually looked genuine and sincere. Tony hasn’t smiled like that to anyone in a while, McGee thinks. Gibbs inclines his head, and Tony turns to see McGee on the stairs. He pulls the earbuds out of his ears and the smile turns into more of an inquiry.

“I woke up and neither of you were up there. Boss is building his boat. What the hell are you doing?”

“Working,” Tony answers honestly.

McGee sighs and rolls his eyes. “Case is over, Tony.”

“I know.”

“Thought you were done with the case reports.”

“I am. Just doing other administrative paperwork. We should set up some time to go over all the paperwork that I do so you know how to pick them up.”

McGee frowns. “What?” he asks sharply. “Why do you want to go over all your paperwork? You going somewhere?” Tony has trained him well. He is suspicious.

“This way I can take my next vacation in peace?” Tony says easily.

McGee keeps frowning. “Things are OK down here?” he asks, trying not to sound too suspicious. Gibbs has been noticeably colder towards Tony in recent months, and while McGee is enjoying the attention that he’s getting, and so is Bishop, he has noticed that Tony has gotten quieter and less exuberant, less Tony-like in response. Despite all their bickering, McGee is more than fond of Tony and worries about the fact that he has chosen to live his life so alone and so separate from the world. Gibbs withdrawing his attention from Tony had to have been a huge blow to the Senior Field Agent, and Tony is his friend and a sweet guy underneath all the bluster and the exterior crap.

“It’s all good,” Tony confirms. He puts his earbuds back in and his finger pauses over the iPod, “you need anything else?”

McGee shakes his head, seeming to be appeased now. Tony turns his music back on and turns back to his laptop screen. McGee sneaks over and looks over Tony’s shoulder.

“He’s actually working, Boss,” McGee turns to Gibbs, eyes wide.

“He works hard,” Gibbs agrees, suppressing a smile.

“Shit, I hope this doesn’t mean he’ll be super glueing me to my keyboard tomorrow,” McGee grumbles as he goes back up the stairs. “I really haven’t missed being an uncooked macaroni in Tony’s toy box. Good night, Boss.”

Gibbs grunts a response. “Put another log on the fire when you get back up there,” he orders McGee.

“On it.”

When McGee has disappeared upstairs and there are no further creaks in the floorboards – he has settled back into his sleeping bag – Gibbs goes back and nudges Tony, making a face at him.

“Yeah. That would’ve been awkward,” Tony responds with a grin, pulling out an earbud.

When they are done in the basement about an hour later, they decide to go back up and try to get a couple more hours of sleep.

“Want me to sleep on the floor?” Gibbs offers.

Tony waves it away. “McGee’ll freak if he wakes up next to you unexpectedly,” he grins.

“Maybe I don’t want you to wake up next to McGee.”

Tony’s eyes widen at the possessive tone in Gibbs’ voice. “Jealous much?”

Gibbs blushes at the rebuke.

“Besides, he’s McGee. He’s my Probie. He doesn’t do anything for me. Unlike you,” Tony bats his eyelashes playfully.

“You remember that.”

“Grumpy Gibbs,” Tony slides an arm around Gibbs’ waist, daringly, and kisses him softly. “I promise, nobody else will get their hands on me until we have our date and the talk.”

Gibbs grunts. “You could come on the couch with me.”

“Yeah and when Bishop and McGee see that, that won’t raise any questions?”

Gibbs sighs. He knows that Tony is right.

“If we’re here tomorrow night, you trade with McGee and we can both be on the floor,” Tony suggests.

Gibbs nods. Once upstairs, Gibbs tends to the fire before settling back down in his sleeping bag on the couch. Tony flips his sleeping bag so his feet are to the TV and his head near the couch. Tony falls asleep first, still smiling up at him. Gibbs slides an arm out of his sleeping bag and places it on Tony’s head, fingers in his hair before he finally falls back to sleep.

Two nights later, power is restored to Bishop’s and McGee’s apartments. Tony’s apartment is still without power, and might remain so over the weekend.

“You can stay with Delilah and me this weekend, Tony,” McGee offers.

Tony grins. “Thanks, McBednBreakfast, but I have a hot date tonight, and my date has assured me that there will be a warm bed for me to sleep in. For as long as I want it,” he smiles lewdly. “I may or may not be sleeping in the bed, but I’m sure we’ll both be warm.”

McGee groans. “Tony,” he objects. “Don’t you think it’s time you looked for something more…serious?”

Tony shrugs. “Didn’t work out with Zoe, McGeek. Maybe serious isn’t in the cards for me.”

McGee sighs. “Don’t just give up on it.”

“I’m not,” Tony says lightly. “But no point holding my breath either. Don’t worry about me. I appreciate your offer for this weekend.”

“If it doesn’t work out with your hot date, you’ll call me?”

“Sure thing, McGee.”

Chapter Text

After work, Tony drives to his cold apartment building and packs more clothes, keeping his coat, scarf and gloves on. His apartment feels like a freezer. He looks at his piano with concern – it will need some TLC when power is back on. He makes a mental note to call the piano tuner and make an appointment for the following week.

He stops to look at himself in the bathroom mirror, trying to recall what he looked like when Gibbs first met him. His hair had been longer and darker, and his dress much more casual. Danny, his old partner in Baltimore, had been the one to encourage him to dress better. He had somehow taken that advise, and combined it with all the years of observing his father, he’d somehow ended up becoming a much better dressed, better groomed, and somehow designer-driven fashion plate version of himself. A far cry from the leather jacket and tube socks person he’d been back then, back before Gibbs and before NCIS. A whole lifetime, and maybe a whole different person ago.

And now – there are more lines on his face, hair shorter and impeccably styled, nails manicured, a few more bullet wounds, broken ribs, and other damage, and he is a few pounds heavier perhaps (his ego faltered at this thought), but essentially still the same wicked grin, the same sense of humor. Perhaps it was not really a whole different person ago, but outwardly at least, he is a more polished Tony DiNozzo. He’s also grown through the years with Gibbs. His investigative skills have been honed, his own gut nurtured and practically rivaling Gibbs’, his experience extensive both foreign and domestic, and his leadership skills much improved. Despite his clowning around, McGee and Bishop do snap to and obey him when he uses a certain tone of voice. His time as acting Team Lead while Gibbs had been recovering and rehabbing from being shot by Luke had been a very different experience to his four months as Team Lead during Gibbs’ Mexican vacation, and not just because he had been playing where in the world is Carmen San Diego with Daniel Budd. But because this time, his teammates had been supportive, helpful, and obedient, respecting his leadership, instead of being intractable and unwilling to cooperate.

Gibbs was right. It was time, and he was doing himself a disservice staying as Gibbs’ second. He could contribute more and serve his country better, leading his own team. This is what he has wanted to do since that long ago Baltimore fire. A few days ago, the thought of leaving the MCRT to lead his own team had been one that filled him with such debilitating pain. But after that night in the basement, it had been reduced to more of an ache. A yearning for things not to change. But such was life – change. The team had changed over the years. People had come and gone. People had died (he suppressed the old hurt of losing Kate so violently). He’d been offered his own team several times over the years, but had always turned down the opportunity, always feeling like he would lose everything, lose his family if he left. But Gibbs’ reassurance has gone a long way to making him feel better about this. Hell, the man had ordered him to keep coming to visit, even after he left the team, so leaving the MCRT would not result in him losing everything and everyone that he cared about.

And then the very surprising kiss. Kisses, plural. And Gibbs had asked him out. On a date. He smiles at the almost old-fashioned way that Gibbs had done that. Asked him over for dinner.

He’d always been attracted to his boss – the man had been magnetic from the beginning, and those ice blue eyes, fodder for his dreams (some of them quite wet) for years. But he’d never thought Gibbs would have any of those kinds of feelings for him. He was a Marine, for god’s sakes. Even more important, he was Gibbs. So he’d buried his feelings deep, figuring that nothing would ever come of it.

But the kisses, and the date – which he was going to be late for. He looks at his watch and flashes himself a quick grin, fussing with his hair a little to ensure its perfection, wondering if Gibbs will even notice if he makes an effort to look nice, and if he will mess it up with his fingers if they kissed again.

Heart pounding, he throws a few more things into his go-bag and looks around his apartment, surprised that he can see his breath indoors. He cringes as he looks at his piano before he leaves. He walks back to his car and sits with the heater blasting to warm up for a few minutes before he drives to Gibbs’, stopping to pick up beer on the way.

At the front door, he hesitates. He would usually just barge in, as Gibbs never locks the door and people freely wander in and out to talk to the man. But if this is a date, shouldn’t it be different? Should he perhaps knock? Not that Gibbs would need to ‘get ready’ for his arrival, not like some prom date. But still.

He raises his hand to knock on the door, then lowers it. He’s overthinking this. He should just walk right in and not think about it. So he puts a hand on the doorknob, but then he talks himself out of turning the doorknob again. This is a date. It’s his first date with the man. He should knock. He raises his hand but hesitates again.

He repeats this a couple of times, not actually knocking or turning the door knob, before the door swings open and Gibbs glares at him impatiently.

“You comin’ in?”

“Uh, yeah. Coming, Boss.”

“Jethro.”

“What?”

Gibbs ignores the question. “Were you standing out here deciding if you should just leave?”

“No, no. Not leaving. Definitely coming in. Uh, definitely not just leaving. Just couldn’t decide if I should knock or just walk in.”

“Why were you trying to decide if you should just come in or knock first?”

“Well,” Tony’s ears turn pink. And not because of the cold. “It’s supposed to be a date, right? Dates don’t just barge right in. Especially not first dates. But I wasn’t sure. Date etiquette with you, a little out of my purview.”

Surprisingly, Gibbs breaks into a wide smile. “Come in before you freeze your ass off.”

“Thanks Boss.”

“Jethro.”

“Uh, what?”

“It’s a date. You can call me by my first name.”

“Uh, right. Jethro,” Tony flashes him an uncertain grin as he walks into the house. He hands the case of beer off – Gibbs’ favorite microbrew, and Gibbs smiles and leans in, kissing his cheek, his smile widening when Tony actually blushes.

“Make yourself at home.”

Tony puts his go-bag on the floor by the door, and takes his boots, coat and scarf off. He’d taken a quick shower at work and changed into a fresh shirt before stopping by his apartment. He’d kept the same suit on that he’d worn to work, but has left his tie off and unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt. It is a pretty good look on him, he knows. He feels like he should be shaking himself – had he just planned his look for dinner with Gibbs? Even though it is a date, it’s still Gibbs. Gibbs has seen him in just about every state of undress (or dress), from being naked in the locker room, to his best suit, to his outfit undercover as a male prostitute once, to his oldest and most comfortable clothes, the ones that he likes to wear when he’s sick or injured. They have undressed each other during times of illness and injuries multiple times over the years, and seen each other at their worst. Hell, he’d probably thrown up on Gibbs a few times during their years together, and he certainly coughed up enough blood and snot and mucus on the man during his bout with the pneumonic plague.

But…this is a date. It’s nice to look nice on a date. Even if the date is with his boss that he’s known for fifteen years, and has seen him in just about every situation he can think of. Well, except for this one. The one where he’s actually on a date with his boss. A real date. One that began with a kiss on the cheek just for showing up.

Suddenly he grins to himself. He is overthinking this. At the end of the day, even if this is a date, it is still Gibbs. He pads to the kitchen and opens the fridge. “Need help with anything?” he offers.

“All under control,” Gibbs replies.

Tony pulls a beer out for himself and hands one to Gibbs. The older man accepts, twists the cap off and looks at Tony. Tony’d thought that in all the years that they have been partners that he had seen all the different looks Gibbs had for him, but this is definitely a new one. Gibbs is looking at him with what looks like barely contained lust. It’s a look he’s used to receiving from men and women alike, but definitely not one he had ever even expected to see directed towards him from Gibbs.

“Maybe we should talk first?” he suggests, sipping his beer, trying to wet his suddenly dry mouth.

Gibbs blinks, and the lust is suddenly hidden. He nods. “Let’s sit,” he inclines his head toward the living room.

Tony nods and goes back to the living room, choosing to sit carefully on the far end of the couch, his beer in his hand. Gibbs seats himself on the other end of the couch, leaning against the arm, turning himself to face the younger man.

They stare at each other wordlessly for a long moment before they both start chuckling.

“So, this is a little weird, right?” Tony says.

“A little. Yeah.”

“I mean. It’s us. It’s you and me.”

“Yup.”

“You’ve been married four times, Boss! To women!”

“And how many women have you been with?”

“Point.”

The look at each other silently again.

“I’m terrible at relationships,” Tony says warningly.

“Three divorces.”

Another silence, and Tony keeps biting his lips, teasing Gibbs with the dimple in his cheek blinking in and out with the movements of his lips.

“Would this be a relationship?” Gibbs suddenly asks.

“What else would it be?”

“I don’t do casual.”

“I know. I knew it when you asked me on the date.”

“Good.”

“Besides, I’ve lo--known you for fifteen years,” Tony shies away from the word he’d started to use, this honesty thing is definitely tricky. “This, between us, could hardly be a casual thing. Or some kind of fling. Or a one night stand. I mean I know I have a certain reputation, but all those people knew up front what we were in for, what we were both looking for. And more importantly, what we weren’t looking for. I tried hard not to ever get involved with people who wanted…complications.”

“Am I a complication?”

“Well, that came out wrong. You know what I mean. I was always clear about not looking for a commitment with all those people. But this, this is different.”

Gibbs nods. “You want to try your first sentence again?”

“Uh. What?” Maybe pretending like he didn’t understand would work.

“You changed the word you were going to use.”

Nope. Feigning ignorance never works. He should know better by now. “Any chance you could just pretend to ignore that?”

“Nope.”

Tony sighs. He puts the beer down on the coffee table and draws his legs up off the floor, putting his arms around them and his chin on his knees. “You’re going to make me say it?”

“Maybe it’s worth saying?”

Tony rolls his eyes and exhales loudly, rubbing his face. “Fine,” he says grumpily. “So…maybe I love you. Maybe I’ve loved you and been in love with you forever.”

“Maybe?”

Tony sighs, and keeps his eyes down. “There’s no maybe about it,” he finally says softly.

“So you…love me?”

Tony nods. “Pretty much since I first saw you. In that alley in Baltimore. Under me.” He swallows hard. “Even when I thought you were a criminal, I was…attracted to you. Then yeah, when we started working together, I fell for you.”

“You never said anything to me.”

“Do you blame me?” Tony grins and shakes his head. “You’re my boss. You’re Leroy Jethro Gibbs. And I’ve always been a screw up. Plus I didn’t know you had any interest in non-redheaded women. And definitely didn’t know you were interested in men, for that matter. Or maybe it’s just red-headed men. Which I’m not. Well, I’m a man, obviously. But not a redhead. Man or woman. Also, I loved working with you and for you. Didn’t want to screw that up.”

“You’re not a screw up. You’ve never been one,” Gibbs grins fondly at him, enjoying his awkward babbling.

Tony looks up and gives him a shy smile, thanking him wordlessly.

“I’ve been known to mess around with a guy or two,” Gibbs says quietly. “Never had a relationship with one, though. Other than you.”

“We’re not in a relationship, are we? Maybe not…yet?” Tony frowns, confused.

“I’ve been…interested in you from the beginning too,” Gibbs admits. “Always so dynamic, so alive, so attractive. And I couldn’t ask for a better partner at work. You play but you’re always so good at what you do that you get away with all that playing around. And I like it when you’re being so…you. You make me laugh. Make me come out of myself. So yeah. We’ve been a relationship all this while. Just a platonic one. But it hasn’t strictly been a work only relationship.”

Tony thinks about this for a while. “OK,” he finally says. “Guess you’re right. Zoe complained that I was too quick to abandon her whenever you called, whether it was work related or not. So I guess I have always put you ahead of others, even outside of work.”

“Back when you just joined NCIS and was moving here from Baltimore, I let you stay with me when you were waiting for your apartment,” Gibbs told him. “Even back then. NCIS would have paid for a motel for you. But when you asked if you could stay with me, I couldn’t say no.”

Tony looks at him searchingly.

“Imagine me saying yes to McGee staying with me when he moved up here from Norfolk,” Gibbs says, one eyebrow raised.

Tony wrinkles his nose. “Shit, I can’t even imagine him even asking you back then. Or you actually saying yes.”

Gibbs nods. “Me neither. Can’t imagine saying yes to him now either. But you, I’ve had you here overnight with me how often? Some weekends after too much booze, or when your apartment has issues, or when you’re recovering from injuries, and just other random times. I’ve never extended that kind of welcome to anyone else on the team. Ever. Until the sleepover of the last few nights and you all were here. You were here with them though. It wasn’t just them.”

Tony nods and grins. “OK. We’ve been a platonic not strictly work-only relationship all these years,” he agrees. “But how do you actually feel about me?”

Gibbs looks surprised. “We’ve been in a relationship,” he repeats slowly, as if Tony is brain damaged.

Tony throws his hands up. “So? You’ve known Fornell longer than you’ve known me. That’s a relationship too. Platonic, I hope,” he shudders and makes a face. “No offense.”

Gibbs can’t help but laugh at that. “None taken,” he grins. “Fine. You’re going to make me say it now, huh?”

Tony grins back. “Seems fair. Might be worth saying,” he says Gibbs’ words back to him.

Gibbs clears his throat, and keeps his eyes on the younger man, on the beautiful green eyes, so good at hiding things as well as expressing them. “Love you too,” he says clearly. “In love with you.”

Tony seems taken aback by this. He frowns, unable to look away from Gibbs’ calm blue eyes, seeing the truth in that gaze more than just the words from his mouth. “Really?” he sounds genuinely surprised.

Gibbs nods and grins wryly. “Really.”

“But why?”

Gibbs glares at him. “Why not?”

“No, really, Gibbs.”

“Jethro,” Gibbs interrupts.

“Really, Jethro,” Tony says, rolling his eyes. “I’m not the kind of person that people love. I’m flighty. I’m pretty. I’m eye candy, and arm candy, and I’m a good lay. But I’m not the type of person people want to take home to their parents. I’m not the kind they want around long term.”

“We’ve been together fifteen years, Tony. That’s longer than my last three marriages put together. If that’s not long term, then I don’t know what is. You’re not flighty. You hide everything except for what you want people to see. But I see you,” Gibbs says firmly. “The fact that you’re fucking gorgeous is a bonus, but I love what’s inside you. What you try so hard to hide from the world.”

This silences Tony and he stares, wide-eyed at Gibbs. Finally he clears his throat and blinks, biting his lip again. “You have always been the one to see through all the masks,” he finally acknowledges.

Gibbs grunts his agreement.

“You really think I’m…gorgeous?” Tony asks hesitantly. Not at all his usual suave self.

It surprises Gibbs how much Tony’s insecurity actually hurts him. That Tony believed that he isn’t someone people love, or want to keep around long term. “I believe I said you were fucking gorgeous. Inside and out,” he says fiercely.

Tony blushes, surprising them both by this reaction.

“You want to move to a…non-platonic relationship?” Tony asks shyly. “With me?”

Gibbs nods. “If you want it too.”

Tony’s smile is breathtaking – one that Gibbs has never seen. It is the most open and honest smile that he has ever seen on the younger man. “I want it too,” he says hoarsely. He grabs the beer and drinks a few mouthful before putting the bottle down, trying to suppress his overwhelming reaction to the thought that Gibbs, of all people, the man who’s been his rock for all these years loves him and wants to pursue a non-platonic relationship with him. Gibbs is in love with him. Gibbs!

Gibbs closes the distance between them, moving Tony’s arms from around his knees, wedging a leg in between Tony’s and putting one calloused palm on Tony’s cheek. The younger man closes his eyes, sighs, and leans into the hand.

“Good,” Gibbs says. “Did you really just tell me you’re a good lay?”

Tony’s blush deepens. “I’m good in bed,” he says softly, keeping his eyes down.

Gibbs grins at him. “I really don’t doubt that at all. You’re good at everything you put your mind to.”

Tony stares at him wordlessly, unable to look away from those piercing blue eyes.

“We done talking now?” Gibbs asks, looking at him as if he is a trapped deer and Gibbs is about to pounce on him like a wolf.

Tony’s eyes widen, meeting Gibbs’ hungry blue ones with level green eyes. He nods. “We’re done.”

And then Gibbs’ lips are on his, devouring him hungrily, tongue exploring the inside of his mouth thoroughly – a fierce, possessive kiss, one that claims him even more than the words they exchanged does. Tony finds himself being pulled into Gibbs’ arms, feeling one hand on the small of his back, under his shirt, lighting his skin on fire with every touch, and the other hand on the back of his head, holding him close, clutching at his hair, angling his head to kiss him even deeper. His own hands are helplessly wandering up and down Gibbs’ back, pulling his shirt out of his pants and finding skin, gripping, caressing, scratching him as he moans into Gibbs’ mouth.

When they pull apart, chests heaving, panting, and ridiculously hard, Gibbs’ eyes flash with a possessive glint, taking in Tony’s blown pupils, kiss-swollen lips and disheveled hair. He smiles, and Tony can practically hear Gibbs’ voice in his head. Mine, it clearly declares.

He nods, acknowledging the claim. Yours, his eyes tell Gibbs silently. Who was he kidding? He has always been Gibbs’ and it feels good to finally admit it to himself.

Gibbs pulls him in for another kiss, this time a sweet, gentle kiss, exploring him, learning his taste, pledging himself with this kiss. Tony smiles into the kiss, pulling Gibbs closer, trailing kisses down his jawline to his ear, giving his own wordless promises.

Finally Gibbs pulls away, smiling. “Better eat first. Before we get too far. I know how you get when deprived of food.”

Tony nods. Gibbs leans forward and presses a gentle kiss to Tony’s lips before standing up. He begins cooking his special cowboy steaks in the fireplace while Tony peels potatoes, cubes them, and tosses them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some dried herbs from Gibbs’ cupboard, before throwing them in the oven to roast. There is no sign of a vegetable in Gibbs’ fridge, which makes Tony smile.

They sit at the kitchen table and eat together, each cutting their steaks with vicious-looking knives pulled from their pockets. Tony compliments Gibbs on the steak, and Gibbs grunts his own appreciation of Tony’s crispy, roasted potatoes.

“Does it count as a date if I made the side dish?” Tony asks suddenly.

Gibbs rolls his eyes. “You just angling for a kiss?”

“I don’t know. Did it work?”

“Eat,” Gibbs points to Tony’s plate with his knife.

“On it, Boss.”

“Jethro.”

“Right,” Tony smiles. “Jethro.”

After dinner, they fall into their old habit of Gibbs washing the dishes and Tony drying them. When they are done, Gibbs looks at him. “Want to watch some TV?”

“Only if we can make out while we do that.”

“OK.”

They settle on the couch and Gibbs finds a basketball game and puts it on. They sit side by side on the couch, as they have done a thousand times before this, but only for a few minutes before Tony scooches himself closer. Gibbs slings an arm around the younger man’s shoulder and pulls him close, letting Tony settle his head on his chest.

“This OK?” he asks.

Tony looks up, grinning. “Yeah.”

Gibbs stares at Tony’s face, his expression open and honest for once, his feelings shining through his expressive green eyes. He leans down and kisses those full, inviting lips, and before they know it, Tony is straddling him, one knee on either side of his legs, fingers in his silver hair, kissing him as if his life depended on it, grinding his hard cock against Gibbs’.

“Forget the game,” Gibbs says, pulling away. “Wanna go upstairs?”

Tony nods breathlessly, kissing and nibbling Gibbs’ neck. Gibbs’ fingers are in his hair, pulling him back and angling his head for another deep kiss, and he moans as he grinds their cocks together. They are plastered to each other, kissing hard when Tony’s phone vibrating in his pants pocket makes them both jump and part almost guiltily.

“Fuck!” Tony curses, pulling his phone out even as he tries to continue kissing Gibbs. He glances at the caller ID. “It’s Dispatch,” he swipes the phone to answer it. “DiNozzo,” he says, a little breathlessly, biting back a moan as Gibbs begins nibbling on his neck. “What? Isn’t Balboa’s team on call? We’re not on call this weekend. Ugh. Fine. Yeah. Text me the address. I got it. I’ll call him.”

He ends the call and sighs as he pulls Gibbs off his neck. “Caught a case. High profile. Admiral’s wife was murdered at a gala. They requested our team. Dispatch tried to call you but you didn’t answer so they called me. This is me, calling you.”

Gibbs growls in frustration, leaning his forehead against Tony’s still-heaving chest.

“Where’s your phone?” Tony asks.

“On the charger in the kitchen.”

“We gotta go.”

Gibbs nods and pulls him down for a long and thorough kiss. “Delayed, but not canceled, OK?” he says softly.

“I gotcha, Bo--Jethro,” Tony smiles at him as he grinds their hardened cocks together one last time before getting off Gibbs’ lap and holding a hand out to help him up. “You want to call the others or you want me to?”

They slip back into work mode, and Tony calls his teammates while Gibbs calls Ducky. They decide to drive to the crime scene together, in Tony’s car.

As they begin working the case, McGee looks at Tony – lips still kiss-swollen, hair obviously tousled by another’s hands before he pulled his NCIS cap on over it, newly formed hickeys darkening on his neck, still dressed in the day’s work clothes – and grins in sympathy. “Coitus interruptus?” he asks quietly.

Tony grunts grumpily as he sketches and photographs the crime scene.

“Looks like a good date though.”

Tony smiles shyly, almost self-consciously, surprising McGee. “Yeah,” he admits softly. “Good date.”

“You really like her!” McGee exclaims.

Tony shrugs, still smiling. “This one might be a keeper,” he agrees.

“Quit dawdling,” Gibbs’ voice surprises them both. “Finish up so you can start interrogating the witnesses. There’s a whole bunch of them. No one has been allowed to leave this party.”

“On it, Boss,” Tony responds, snapping back into work mode, photographing and sketching efficiently, measuring everything, and listening to Ducky and Palmer’s initial findings.

The case takes over a week to solve, a week of intense, sleepless 24/7 workdays. It is a high priority, high profile case, and there were a large number of suspects at the gala, and neither the Admiral nor his wife had been liked by anyone. Practically everyone they spoke to had had a beef with them.

Finally, Tony has a breakthrough and deduces that the Admiral had been having an affair with the caterer, and that he had masterminded his wife’s murder using his mistress to accomplish it. McGee hacks into the Admiral’s computer, finds a secret email account that corroborates Tony’s deduction. And Gibbs and Bishop break the mistress in Interrogation, and she confesses to everything.

A day later, after the case has been solved, the perpetrators caught and charged, and all reports completed and filed, Vance sends the team home giving them the next two days off. An exhausted Tony opens the door to his finally heat-infused apartment and shuffles in, ushering Gibbs in.

They take turns showering, eat the pizza that Tony ordered in, and fall asleep in each other’s arms on Tony’s sofa, completely exhausted, but unwilling to part from each other. Sometime in the middle of the night, Tony awakens and drags them both to his bed where they shimmy out of their clothes, fall into the bed, and curl up in each other’s arms falling right back to sleep.

Chapter Text

When Gibbs wakes up, his internal clock tells him it is late morning, which is incredibly late for him. He is usually up early and rarely sleeps through the night unless drugged on pain pills. But the other surprises are that he is not sleeping on his couch, he is not in a bed that he is familiar with, and he has an armful of DiNozzo sleeping on him. Tony’s head is on his chest, such that when he looks down, his face is in Tony’s hair. He inhales that scent that is Tony – clean, masculine, musky, and somehow citrusy. Tony has always smelled the same way, ever since he ran Gibbs down and tackled him in an alley in Baltimore. Even though he has switched colognes, aftershaves, shampoos and body washes multiple times over the years (Gibbs’ sharp nose always catches the slight difference in his scent when this happens), underneath it all is this familiar smell that never changes, and this morning, it puts a smile on Gibbs’ face.

Tony’s face is buried in his chest, one arm around his waist and their legs are hopelessly tangled together. Tony has somehow ended up using him as a body pillow. Gibbs finds that not only does he not mind this at all, but that he quite enjoys it. Tony’s soft exhales on his chest and the proximity of Tony’s forearm to his boxer-clad groin is practically all that he can think about, and his dick twitches and begins to harden. He tries to adjust his position but Tony ends up scooting himself even closer, his elbow practically on Gibbs’ rapidly hardening cock and one knee bent up high on his thighs.

He pets Tony’s hair, and the younger man moans softly in his sleep – which increases his dick’s interest in the whole waking up process. He smiles to himself.

“Tony,” he says, gently rubbing Tony’s shoulder.

Tony mutters something in his sleep and repositions himself, moving his head up farther and tucking it in the crook of Gibbs’ neck. He moves his arm off Gibbs’ cock and up around his neck. He straightens the leg that is on Gibbs’ thigh, rubbing his entire body against Gibbs’ side, including his morning wood. Gibbs’ cock takes a special interest in the fact that Tony seems to be stark naked and rubbing up against him so deliciously.

Who knew, Gibbs thought. Who knew that Tony, prickly Tony who can only accept hugs from Abby and, as far as Gibbs knows, is unable to be anything but awkward with actual physical affection, is turning out to be quite the cuddler. He doesn’t even think that Tony ever spends the night with any of his numerous bedmates and is notorious for never bringing his hook ups home. Women prefer to sleep in their own beds, he remembers him saying. But here he is, having spent the entire night in Tony’s bed, doing nothing but sleep, and Tony is literally all over him.

He grins to himself, knowing that this is one of those things that would embarrass the hell out of Tony. His train of thought is interrupted when Tony begins to sleepily kiss his neck, still mumbling incoherently. He stifles a moan, but when the younger man’s mouth opens, and he feels hot, wet kisses on his neck, he is unable to stop himself from moaning in pleasure.

The sound makes Tony freeze and stop and Gibbs swears he can feel his eyelashes on his skin as he blinks rapidly, waking up.

“Boss?” Tony’s voice is husky with sleep, his tone confused. “Dreaming?” slowly he stretches himself like a cat, his spine cracking noisily, rubbing his erection on Gibbs’ thigh.

“Not dreaming, Tony,” Gibbs tells him.

Immediately, Tony pulls away, disconnecting himself completely and Gibbs feels the withdrawal keenly. Tony frowns at him, eyelids still fluttering, sleepy and confused. Despite the full night’s sleep, he still looks tired, circles still dark under his eyes. He’d gotten very little sleep in the past week, taking on the responsibility of most of the interviews and interrogations that they’d had to do. “What’s going on?” he mumbles.

“Shhhh. Go back to sleep,” Gibbs turns on his side and runs his fingers through Tony’s thick hair, soothing him. His exhaustion plus years of obeying Gibbs’ orders pay off when he puts his head back down, his eyelids close heavily, and his breathing evens out. Gibbs carefully maneuvers his pillow into Tony’s arms and crawls out of bed, watching as Tony curls around his pillow, burying his face in it. He stands and watches the sleeping man longer than necessary before he starts his day, needing to relieve himself, his mind on copious amounts of coffee.

A couple of hours later, Tony peeks out cautiously, and relaxes when he sees Gibbs sitting on his sofa, drinking coffee and reading one of the books from his bookshelf.

“Hey,” Gibbs looks up and smiles at him.

Tony returns the smile, but Gibbs can hear Tony quietly putting the safety back on his SIG. Which confirms it for Gibbs – Tony never brings anyone home and had probably had a slight freak out when he realized that someone was waiting for him in the living room. “Hey,” the younger man croaks out, voice still husky with sleep. “Let me throw some clothes on.”

He reappears soon dressed in a tight t-shirt and sweatpants, heading straight for the coffee. He brings his huge mug over to the sofa and sprawls down at the other end of the sofa, yawning.

“Still sleepy?” Gibbs asks, amused.

“I don’t know how you do it, Boss,” Tony sips his coffee. “I always need a couple days of sleep after the kind of week we just had.”

“I’ve only been up a couple of hours,” Gibbs admits.

Tony looks at him, surprised. “Huh. Aren’t you usually up at the crack of dawn regardless of what time you went to bed?”

Gibbs shrugs. “Apparently you help me sleep.”

Tony blushes at the compliment and hides behind his mug.

“I hope you don’t mind. I showered and found myself some clothes to wear.”

Tony glances at the OSU t-shirt and sweat pants that Gibbs is wearing. “My clothes never looked so good,” he grins.

Gibbs smiles at him. “How come you’re sittin’ way over there?”

Tony shrugs and grins guiltily.

“C’mere,” Gibbs says, and Tony almost involuntarily scoots over. “Did you sleep well?” Gibbs asks, putting his arm around the younger man and pulling him close.

Tony nods wordlessly.

“Me too.”

“I, uh, don’t usually bring anyone home,” Tony says cautiously. “And I don’t usually enjoy sharing a bed with anyone after, you know, the sex part is over.”

“We haven’t actually had sex, Anthony.”

“I know,” Tony says ruefully. “Believe me, I know that. But I still slept like a baby. It’s not like me.”

Gibbs grins. “You remember much about last night?”

Tony shakes his head cautiously. “Why? Was I snoring horribly? Or hogging the blankets? I was seriously out like a light last night, Gibbs.”

“Jethro.”

“Right. Jethro,” Tony grins guiltily. “Gonna take some getting used to.”

“You’re a cuddler.”

“Am not!” the response is quick and automatic. “Can’t stand it,” he shudders. “People always say they need it but I don’t even understand it.”

Gibbs snorts. “Yeah, I’m probably going to need photographic proof, aren’t I?”

“Are you saying you cuddled with me last night and I didn’t try to squirm out of your grasp?”

“I’m saying that you cuddled me, Tony.”

Tony rolls his eyes. “Yeah, whatever. I don’t do that stuff,” he says firmly. “I’ve been told by enough people that I need to loosen up about that.”

Gibbs smirks, one hand on the back of Tony’s head, fisting his hair. “I don’t think you’ll have that problem with me,” he says confidently, before kissing Tony thoroughly. As before, Tony finds himself straddling Gibbs, completely absorbed by the kisses, unconsciously grinding himself against Gibbs’ hardness. He slips a hand into Gibbs’ pants and wraps his hand around the hard cock, causing Gibbs to thrust up against him and moan into his mouth.

He smiles at Gibbs’ reaction and slowly begins stroking his cock, fingering the hole with his thumb. Gibbs continues to moan into his mouth as they kiss. Gibbs raises his hips as Tony pulls his pants down and off of him. Then he pulls Tony’s pants down, forcing him off his lap momentarily to yank it down and off him before pulling him back down onto his lap. When his calloused hand grasps Tony’s weeping cock, the younger man moans and leans his forehead against Gibbs’ shoulders, giving in to the sensation of Gibbs pumping his cock, spreading the pre-cum and using it as lube. Tony moves closer and rubs their dicks together, causing them both to moan. He grasps both their cockheads in one hand and presses them together, his hand squeezing the heads together and moving in a slight up-and-down motion.

“Fuuck,” Gibbs gasps softly, thrusting up, causing their cocks to slide against each other within the circle of Tony’s hand. He spits on his hand and wets both their dicks and then puts his hand over Tony’s encircling their cocks, and Tony begins thrusting against him, moving their slicked up erections against each other. Every time the ridges of their cockheads rubbed against each other, they moaned.

Tony gets into a rhythm, his breaths coming in short pants, green eyes intensely watching Gibbs’. Gibbs puts his other hand on Tony’s face, fingering Tony’s lips and he sucks his fingers in lewdly, and Gibbs is unable to look away. When he releases Gibbs’ fingers, the older man pulls his hand away. He shuts his eyes and groans deep in his chest when Gibbs moves his hand down, rubs the crease between his cheeks and gently inserts a wet finger in his ass, and he begins thrusting faster, moaning urgently when Gibbs finds his sweet spot and begins rubbing it in time to the thrusting. Unable to stop himself from keening with pleasure, Tony keeps thrusting their dicks together and fucking himself on Gibbs’ fingers, fast losing control.

“Oh god, oh fuck, I’m gonna come,” he pants urgently, fucking himself hard on Gibbs’ fingers. “Oh fuck, don’t stop, that’s so fucking good. Fuck…yeah…” he breaks off, trying to stop himself from coming, to prolong the pleasure.

Gibbs sucks hard on his neck, moaning hard, feeling Tony’s balls slap against his, his cockhead getting overstimulated, and he feels his own balls tighten and pressure zinging through his entire body as it gears up to climax. “Come for me,” he orders, as his fingers press hard against Tony’s prostate.

With a harsh cry Tony comes, spilling thick and hot over both their intertwined fingers and onto Gibbs’ chest, fingers of his other hand digging hard into Gibbs shoulder, muscles spasming around Gibbs’ fingers, and unable to stop himself, Gibbs joins in, coming so hard that he spurts onto Tony’s chest and belly.

Tony collapses on top of him, breathing hard, and Gibbs puts both arms around the younger man, holding him tightly while they recover. Tony finally raises his head and smiles at Gibbs, a wide-open smile that takes his breath away. He kisses Gibbs, a slow, deep kiss and laughs when he pulls back. They both still have their t-shirts on, bunched up around their armpits, and now smeared with cum.

Gibbs rolls his eyes but smiles back.

Tony pulls both his and Gibbs’ t-shirt off, mops up their pooled cum off their hands and bodies and tosses the shirts carelessly off to the side before claiming Gibbs’ lips again. They are interrupted by the sound of Tony’s phone ringing.

Sighing, Tony slides off of Gibbs’ lap and pads into the bedroom, naked. Gibbs hears him speaking softly for a moment before he returns, smiling that trademark big DiNozzo smile.

“Last minute change of plans: I got tickets to a chamber music performance tonight. It’s actually going to be a couple of String Sextets, including the Brahms one we listened to that night. You still want to come with me to this?”

Gibbs grins up at him, leering at Tony’s bared flesh. “Definitely. I definitely want to come with you.”

Tony raises an eyebrow at Gibbs’ suggestive tone. “Are you…? Shit, I can’t believe that you’re saying that to me and leering at me.”

“Do you blame me?”

Tony blushes again and shakes his head clucking his tongue. “You degenerate,” he says fondly. He glances at the time and curses. “Fuck, it’s already past 1400 now. Thing starts at 1900. Let me make us something to eat now, and I’ll hit the shower and take you home. Maybe we can go for a late dinner after the concert?”

“Sounds good, Tony.”

Tony drags his sweatpants back on and takes their soiled shirts away, coming back with clean t-shirts for them both. Gibbs sits on a barstool in Tony’s kitchen while the younger man looks into his refrigerator and freezer. Before long Tony is chopping up vegetables and making a pasta frittata. He also has a pan crisping up bacon nicely and finds some bagels in his freezer that he throws into his toaster oven.

“The frittata might be a little sparse,” Tony says apologetically. “Haven’t had time to go grocery shopping.”

“Yeah, I get that. I’m surprised. You look like you know what you’re doing in here.”

Tony shrugs. “I’ve been living alone all my life, Bo--, uh, Jethro. You learn what you need to as you go along,” he says quietly. “Besides, I had some lean years in college and had to make all kinds of groceries stretch or go hungry.”

“How come you’ve never cooked for any of us?”

Tony gives a guilty grin. “Everyone thinks I’m happy to eat take out all the time,” he says easily. “Kind of hard to disappoint you all with my actual boring habits. Besides I made you potatoes on our first date.”

“That was good,” Gibbs remembers, and looks forward to the breakfast spread.

When the food is ready, they sit at the island and Tony dishes out the pasta frittata and bacon while Gibbs smears cream cheese on their bagels. Gibbs closes his eyes and moans in pleasure at the frittata. “This is good, Tony,” he mutters around a mouthful of food. “Really good.”

“Thanks,” Tony grins self-consciously.

They eat in companionable silence, punctuated only by Gibbs’ appreciative moans and comments. After they are done, they clean the kitchen up together.

Tony shaves, takes a long shower and dresses for the concert, choosing a pair of once-black jeans, now faded to an attractive dark gray. These jeans were comfortable, yet nice enough to be paired with a charcoal gray blazer and still make his ass look good. A heather gray dress shirt under the blazer brings out the green of his eyes and he smiles as he fixes his hair, choosing to go for a slightly disheveled look – a little artsy and sexy – instead of his usual immaculate and impeccably styled look for work. It is worth it when he walks out of his bedroom. When Gibbs catches sight of him, the man takes a sharply indrawn breath (could Leroy Jethro Gibbs have possibly gasped?) and gives him a thorough once over with his eyes.

“Very nice,” Gibbs growls, practically drooling over him.

Tony finds himself blushing and tongue-tied for some reason.

“If I’d known that flirting with you would shut you up, I would have done it years ago,” Gibbs tells him, circling around him, eyeing his ass appreciatively. “So, we’re going with kind of dressy but not full suit and tie dressy then for this chamber music thing?”

Tony nods mutely. “Ready to go?” he finally finds the words.

Gibbs is dressed in the previous day’s work clothes and they grab their coats and Gibbs takes a moment to wind Tony’s scarf securely around his neck, touching him more than was probably necessary. Tony loses his ability to speak again when Gibbs takes his hand and holds it all the way to his car.

By the time they drive over to Gibbs’ house, and he showers and dresses, it is almost time to head to the concert. Tony openly admires Gibbs when he comes downstairs dressed in one of his new suits – dark blue, complementing his eyes, and a crisp white dress shirt, the top few buttons undone. This time Tony takes Gibbs hand and opens his car door for him. Despite Gibbs rolling his eyes at the gesture, he smiles at Tony, enjoying the attention and admiration from the younger man.

They have a little time to kill, so they sit at a coffee shop talking about their recent cases until it is time for the concert to begin. The venue is a small, private art museum. Gibbs watches as Tony picks up his tickets and exchanges air kisses with a few people, introducing him to them slightly awkwardly. It shouldn’t surprise Gibbs that Tony would know people attending this concert, but for some reason it does. Mostly, everyone expresses concern at not having seen Tony in a while, and seem to be surprised that he has brought someone with him.

Tony leads him to the room where the performance will take place, one of their middle-sized exhibition rooms. A dais has been set up in the front of the room and they are surrounded by artwork on the walls. Comfortable chairs have been set up facing the dais in small clumps rather than a traditional set up of neat rows of folding chairs.

“You come here a lot?” Gibbs asks when they settle in to their seats – a two-person cushioned love seat on the far right with an unobstructed view of the dais.

Tony shrugs casually. “I used to be a member here,” he sees someone wave to him and returns the wave with a smile. “A season ticket holder, you could say. But work always got in the way so I’ve really cut down on coming here.”

“You usually come alone, though?”

Tony chuckles quietly, his ears turning pink. “I don’t usually advertise my interest in this type of music to anyone other than the people in this circle,” he confesses. “Doesn’t go with the image of the big, bad Federal Agent, if you know what I mean?”

“Not even dates that you don’t expect to see again?”

“Those kinds of dates don’t usually want to come to a classical music concert,” Tony says wryly. “Meeting at a bar and hooking up afterwards doesn’t tend to lead to a quiet evening listening to music they wouldn’t even appreciate.”

Gibbs nods. He could definitely understand that. “How many of those women’s mud-wrestling things were actually something more like this?” he asks shrewdly.

Tony laughs. “Some, but not all. I did go to a few mud-wrestling events.”

Gibbs notes the careful absence of gender specification in the sentence. “You kept this very quiet, Tony.”

“Well, can you imagine what McGee would say if he knew this about me?” Tony rolls his eyes. “Not that I couldn’t take the teasing, but there just are things that I would prefer to keep to myself. And not have to justify it to anyone.”

“Maybe you could date someone who likes this stuff and they could be your beard?”

“But I’d rather date you,” Tony’s response is quick and sincere, accompanied by a winsome smile showcasing his deep dimples which makes Gibbs’ heart skip a beat.

“So what are we listening to today?” he asks, clearing his throat.

Tony grins happily. “They’re performing both of Brahms sextets, so you’ll hear the movement that you heard with me the other night. And I think four of them will play Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge as the finale. It’s going to be just friggin’ awesome.” He prattles on, knowing details about the music and the composers the way he knows the details about movies, and this makes Gibbs smile inwardly. Definitely not the usual image that Tony likes to cultivate. Much more cultured than he would like to be publicly known. Gibbs wonders what Kate would have thought of this Tony, and smiles. She would have been outraged at being fooled by the man.

A few more people come over to their seats to greet Tony and he air-kisses the women and even a few of the men, smiling fondly at them, always politely introducing Gibbs, getting better at it with every try. The looks that Tony is getting makes Gibbs put his arm around his waist possessively as he shakes hands with these people, ensuring that there is no misunderstanding about their relationship.

When the lights dim, they all find their seats and watch as the six performers file out. Tony gives a double take and scrabbles to look at his program with a quiet “Huh!”

“Problem?” Gibbs whispers in his ear.

“Uh, no. No problem,” Tony whispers back, although he has tensed up a little.

Then the music begins and Gibbs finds himself losing himself in it and losing himself in watching Tony enjoy the music. The younger man seems to have forgotten whatever caused the tension and looks like he is vibrating with the music and absorbing its energy. When the second movement begins, Tony grabs his thigh, eyes bright. Gibbs recognizes the music. It is the music that they had listened to together on Tony’s iPod.

Tony listens, rapt, his hand fondling and caressing Gibbs’ thigh. Gibbs barely breathes as Tony closes his eyes, allowing himself to be taken away by the emotion-filled performance, his eyes glassy with tears by the end of the movement. He pulls Gibbs into his arms and continues to work on Gibbs’ thigh, surreptitiously skimming his hard cock every so often. During the Intermission, Tony buys them drinks (bourbon for Gibbs and red wine for himself) and they walk around the museum to look at the artwork and to socialize with the other attendees.

When the music starts again, Tony goes back to fondling Gibbs and kissing his neck as the music goes on. By the time the performance ends and the applause dies down, Tony has practically pulled Gibbs into his lap and is kissing him, long, deep kisses. Gibbs surrenders to Tony’s lips, teeth and tongue, trying to stop himself from moaning in public.

Well, at least nobody will misunderstand their relationship now, he thinks smugly, even as Tony’s mouth slants over his, devouring him and making him forget that he is not a fan of public displays of affection.

“Anthony DiNozzo!” a booming voice calls out, and a finger taps Tony’s back insistently.

Tony pulls away from Gibbs’ lips with a barely stifled moan and looks up at the newcomer.

“Anthony DiNozzo. As I live and breathe. You haven’t changed a bit!” the man pulls Tony to his feet and to Gibbs’ surprise, pulls him into his arms and kisses him soundly on the lips, right there, right in front of him.

The man is tall, at least four inches taller than Tony, and outweighs him by easily thirty pounds. Tony struggles and pushes away, and the man releases Tony and smiles at him almost predatorily. Gibbs frowns as he realizes that this man who is kissing his date is one of the performers, one of the violinists.

“H-hey, Carl. Long time no see,” Tony stutters.

Gibbs stands, a dangerous glint in his eye, making the tall man take a step away from Tony. Tony looks around, and sees that they have attracted attention and people are now watching them.

“Uh, Carl. This is my bo--, uh, this is Gibbs, my Gibbs. Uh, this is Jethro Gibbs,” he begins the introduction, obviously flustered, hoping that Gibbs won’t be mad at him for this. “Gibbs, this is Carl. We dated briefly. In college. Like years and years and years ago.”

Gibbs glares at the man who laughs cheerfully. “Nice to meet you,” Carl says, grinning. “Don’t worry, I told Tony a long time ago that he owed me a goodbye kiss. So I came to collect.”

Tony smiles weakly as Gibbs’ arm snakes around his waist.

“Are you still performing?” Carl asks him.

“Uh, no,” Tony shakes his head, turning bright red. “I’m a Federal Agent.”

“No shit?” Carl looks at him curiously. “I know that the broken leg took your pro football career away but I thought you were going to fall back on the piano?”

Tony shrugs. “I kind of got called into law enforcement,” he says quietly.

“And how do you know our Tony?” Carl turns to Gibbs.

“We work together,” Gibbs says curtly.

“Yeah. He’s my boss.”

“No shit?” Carl raises an eyebrow at Tony. “Didn’t think you were that kind of guy.”

“Well, Gibbs is special,” Tony smiles. “What about you? Married?”

Carl grins. “Ah, two ex-wives and one ex-husband. Two kids. No current spouse.”

“Still the same old Carl,” Tony grins at him. “Anyway, good to see you. But it’s time for Gibbs and me to go.”

Carl cocks his head at Gibbs. “You must be special,” he says seriously. “The last time Tony brought a date to one of my concerts, he ditched her and went home with me instead.”

Tony tries to tug Gibbs away but the man stands his ground.

“That so?” Gibbs says, one eyebrow raised. “Let me guess. His freshman year. You were the first violin. And there was also a pretty cellist involved?”

Carl laughs out loud. “So you know the story!” he grins, rubbing Tony’s shoulder in an altogether much too familiar gesture.

“Yeah, he knows the story. We gotta go, Carl,” Tony almost jumps when Carl leans down to kiss his cheek.

“Bye, Tony,” Carl winks at Gibbs and slips a card into Tony’s shirt pocket. “Call me. Maybe we can all three play together sometime.”

“Yeah, that’s nice but, uh, no…” Tony’s face is bright red, sure that Gibbs is about ready to kill him now.

“Maybe,” Gibbs tells him, making Tony whip his head to look at him in surprise. Gibbs grins easily, saying goodbye and pulling Tony away. Tony slaps a fake smile on his face and waves to anyone who waves to him but both men hurry away. When they are sitting in Tony’s car, he blows out a breath and puts his forehead on the steering wheel.

“You didn’t actually mean ‘maybe’ to Carl, did you?” he finally asks hesitantly.

“I don’t share, DiNozzo,” Gibbs replies.

“Oh good. Cause I don’t want to share you, either,” he says, relieved. He takes a deep breath and pulls himself together, forcing his heart rate to normalize and his fingers to stop trembling.

“That was unexpected,” Gibbs says softly.

“Yeah,” Tony sighs. “I didn’t even check to see who was performing. I put out feelers for a performance and thought I had the perfect concert to take you to.”

“I enjoyed the concert,” Gibbs takes Tony’s hand.

“Yeah?” a small smile tugs at Tony’s lips and he turns to Gibbs. “Did you like the music?”

“Amazing,” Gibbs says, meaning it. “Very different from any of the other classical shit I’ve been dragged to.”

“Who would drag you to classical music shit?” Tony makes a face. “Well, other than me, obviously.”

“Three ex-wives,” Gibbs snorts. “You wouldn’t believe the shit they dragged me to.”

“Uh, does that make me another person who drags you to things you didn’t want to go to?”

Gibbs rolls his eyes. “Just shut up and kiss me, Tony. You’re right. The music definitely made you horny, and you made me all horny too.”

Finally grinning, Tony leans over and they resume the kiss that had been so rudely interrupted earlier. When they pull away, Gibbs smiles smugly as Tony tries to apologize again for the encounter.

“Eh,” Gibbs brushes it off. “You didn’t ditch me for Carl this time,” he says.

“No way, Boss!”

Gibbs reaches into Tony’s pocket, pulls Carl’s card out, lowers his window and carelessly throws it out.

“Did you just litter, Boss?”

“Jethro,” Gibbs corrects him.

“Right. Jethro,” Tony flushes.

“For the record, you can introduce me as Jethro to people.”

Tony starts chuckling. “Fuck, that was a little awkward, right? I knew it but I don’t know, it was like a train wreck and I couldn’t stop myself,” he shakes his head. “I told you I’m not the type people bring home to their parents. And the thought of introducing anyone I’m actually interested in to my dad…” Tony shudders.

Gibbs shakes his head. “I did like it when you got all flustered and told Carl I was your Gibbs.”

“Did you?” Tony grins. “It’s still going to take time for me to call you Jethro.”

“You have no problems calling me whatever you need to when you’re undercover.”

“But I’m not undercover. I’m me. I don’t want to pretend to be someone else to call you by your name.”

Gibbs stares at him for a long moment, making him nervous again. Then he pulls him close and kisses him hard. “That’s probably the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” Gibbs says softly.

“Yeah?” Tony draws out the word. His pupils are dilated and his pulse elevated.

“Let’s skip dinner out. Go back to my house, order in, and spend the rest of the night in,” Gibbs suggests huskily.

Tony licks his lips and nods. He purses his lips, his dimples deepening, as he starts the car. They decide on Chinese which Gibbs calls in to time it with their arrival at his house. As they eat, Gibbs keeps staring at Tony, struck by how sexy he was sitting on his sofa, struggling with his chopsticks, jacket off and shirt sleeves rolled up. He’s seen Tony dressed in so many different styles of clothes and behaving so many different ways for their cases, especially when undercover, that sometimes he wonders if there is still a real Tony left underneath everything else. But this, this is the real Tony. This is the Tony that he most enjoys – the one who laughs easily, smiles sincerely and speaks honestly. Usually he has to get Tony fairly drunk to get this Tony but tonight he is given this treat without the aid of copious amounts of alcohol.

While Tony clears up their dinner and puts the leftovers in the fridge, Gibbs drags the mattress from the downstairs bedroom and places it on the floor in front of the fireplace, and makes it up with pillows and a pile of blankets. The fire is crackling in the fireplace. When Tony gets back from clearing their dinner, Gibbs is tending to the fire, building it up a little more.

“What are you planning here?” Tony asks, his eyes bright and eager.

“I thought maybe I could talk you into spending the night in front of the fireplace with me.”

Tony closes his eyes and practically shivers. He nods, losing his words again.

Gibbs walks to him and pulls him into his arms, kissing him gently. “You OK?” he asks softly.

Tony nods, his arms going around the older man. “Keep thinking I’m going to wake up alone in my bed. That this is all just a dream and I’ll be stuck needing to jerk myself off all by myself.”

“Not a dream, Tony,” Gibbs smiles, cupping his cheek gently. “And I have much more planned for you tonight.”

Tony’s cock hardens and aches at Gibbs words, and he smiles. “I do like the sound of that.”

“You bring your music player thing?”

Tony nods.

“Put that song on. That we heard today. That you like so much.”

Tony grins and digs his iPod out from his backpack. He even has a little portable speaker that he attaches to it and programs his favorite movement to play repeatedly. Then as the music plays softly, slowly, they peel each item of clothing off of each other, baring their flesh, admiring each other. Gibbs pulls Tony down onto the mattress and covers him with his body, kissing him, reveling in the feel of the hard, naked body underneath his, the body that he has kept his eye on secretly for so many years. He trails kisses down his jawline to Tony’s ear, licking the shell, breathing into it and feeling Tony shudder underneath him and moan as he kisses his way down Tony’s neck, sucking, nibbling and licking his way down, paying special attention to Tony’s collarbone and the hollow at the bottom of his throat, then moving down to each of his nipples. Tony tries to stifle his needy sounds of pleasure, but Gibbs nips sharply at his nipple, causing him to gasp and arch his body up.

“I want to hear you,” Gibbs tells him, looking into his eyes while his fingers tweak both nipples.

Tony moans and grinds himself up against Gibbs, hard and already dripping with pre-cum, his fingers caress their way up and down Gibbs’ back and shoulders, down to his ass and the crease of his ass.

“Better,” Gibbs growls as he keeps moving downwards, lavishing kisses down Tony’s belly, tasting every bit of skin down to the juncture of his thighs where his cock is standing at attention, weeping with moisture. Gibbs growls his approval and before Tony can fully appreciate the situation, he wraps his lips around the cock, pressing his tongue into the slit and sucks his way all the way down to the base.

“Fuck!” Tony curses, thrusting upwards involuntarily.

Gibbs takes him all the way in, feeling his cockhead brush the back of his throat. He begins bobbing up and down, swallowing the bitter and salty pre-cum, rolling Tony’s balls with one hand. Tony’s hand is in his hair, and he pushes himself up on one elbow to watch as Gibbs swallows around him and hums. He moans and arches up into him, unable to stop his deep moans even if he wanted to, the image of Gibbs sucking his cock etched indelibly into his brain.

Somewhere along the way, Gibbs has found time to lube his fingers and gently pushes one into Tony’s hole as he sucks on his cockhead.

Tony moans as he presses down into Gibbs’ finger, his muscles clenching around him, tight and hot. Slowly, teasingly, Gibbs inserts another finger, scissoring them inside him, lovingly preparing him. When he curls his fingers and presses on Tony’s prostate, the younger man comes off the mattress with an epithet, and begins begging.

“Please, please,” he moans, pleadingly as Gibbs slides another finger in and torments him. “Please, oh fuck, that’s so fucking good. Please.”

“What do you want?” Gibbs asks him, releasing his cockhead.

Tony gasps and whimpers at the loss of stimulation, pushing down against his fingers. “You,” he moans. “Fuck me, Gibbs.”

“Jeth-ro,” Gibbs corrects him patiently, rubbing his prostate to each syllable of his name.

Tony groans, eyes shut tight, panting irregularly. “J-jeth-ro,” he gasps. “Please, please fuck me…” he breaks off to moan, his fingers digging into Gibbs’ shoulder even as he pushes himself down further on Gibbs’ talented fingers. He begins chanting “Jeth-ro” in time to Gibbs rubbing his prostate, before he goes back to begging for more.

Gibbs pulls his fingers out and Tony’s groan of protest makes him smile. He kisses his way up Tony’s body and abruptly finds himself on his back, Tony on top of him, mouth latched onto his throat. Tony grinds their erections together, making the older man moan, and smiling wickedly, proceeds to kiss, lick and nibble his way down Gibbs’ body. He gets to Gibbs’ rock hard dick and leans down breathing his hot breath on it, making it bob and weep. He wraps his lips around the cockhead and sucks on it, pressing his tongue on the ridge on the underside of the cockhead.

Gibbs arches his back and tries to thrust himself deep into Tony’s mouth but the younger man holds his hips down and works on his cockhead, causing Gibbs to growl in protest. When he finally bobs down and takes him in all the way, Gibbs moans and thrusts himself upwards. This time Tony lets him fuck his mouth, rolling his balls and massaging his taint, feeling the older man’s body shiver in pleasure.

Gibbs pushes a condom and the lube towards him and Tony skillfully sheathes the older man and lubes him up. Straddling him, he leans down to kiss Gibbs lips as he rubs Gibbs’ cock over his opening and slowly impales himself, his body hugging the older man’s cockhead snugly. They both moan when Gibbs’ cockhead slips past his tight muscles. Their lips sealed, Tony slowly works his way down, watching Gibbs’ face intently, memorizing the intense look of pleasure and control. With a small grin he impales himself fully on Gibbs’ dick in one quick move.

Fuck!” Gibbs yells, pulling away from the kiss and arching up, thrusting himself in deeper, breathing hard, trying to regain his control. Buried so deep in Tony’s snug heat is bringing him close to orgasm much faster than he would like. Tony begins riding the older man, arching his back and cursing when Gibbs’ cock brushes against his prostate. He loses himself in the feeling, riding him hard, Gibbs’ hands on his hips slamming him down on his cock with every downward motion.

Then Gibbs turns them over, Tony on his back, and begins driving himself into the younger man. Tony wraps his legs around Gibbs’ waist and arches up to every thrust, keening when Gibbs’ dick brushes against his prostate. The older man wraps a hand around Tony’s cock and begins stroking him in time. Even though Tony tries to hold his orgasm back, it is too much. His muscles bunch and tighten, readying him for his release. Gibbs’ thrusts place just the right amount of pressure on his prostate and his hand stroking his cock twists his cockhead.

“Yes, right there, fuck yeah,” he moans urgently, pulling Gibbs’ head down for a savage kiss, before he pulls away, arches his back and cries out as he finds his release, coming so hard that cum spatters on both Gibbs’ and his own chin and their chests. His muscles contract and tighten around Gibbs and the older man roars Tony’s name as he comes, deep inside Tony’s body and collapses on top of him.

A long while later, Gibbs pulls out of Tony’s body, ties off and tosses the condom away, and lies on top of the pillows, pulling the younger man with him. Tony’s breathing has slowed and his limbs and eyelids are heavy. He hums in satisfaction, purring happily at Gibbs as the older man wipes them both down with a towel, placed strategically by their makeshift bed.

“You really are always prepared,” Tony says, crawling into Gibbs’ arms. The older man grunts as he pulls the blankets up over them, settles down on his back and pulls Tony onto his chest. The younger man leans up for a sloppy kiss before he puts his head down on Gibbs’ chest and wraps an arm around Gibbs’ waist.

They lie quietly in each others’ arms, watching the fire dancing in the fireplace. Tony sighs in satisfaction and thinks that this is the happiest he’s ever been in his life.

“You OK?” Gibbs asks him.

Tony nods and hums a response, looking up to smile at the man in his arms.

“I’m not used to you being so quiet,” Gibbs continues.

Tony shrugs and sighs. “Any words I say just wouldn’t be enough,” he says quietly.

“Enough for what?”

“To tell you how happy I am,” Tony answers honestly. “This is exactly where I want to be.”

Gibbs' arms tighten around him and he kisses Tony’s hair and rubs his cheek on the top of Tony’s head. “It’s exactly where I want you to be, too,” he sighs.

They watch the fire silently for a few minutes.

“What did Carl mean, about you performing?” Gibbs asks.

Tony smiles up at him. “Piano. I was serious about it for a while.”

“Classical?”

“Jazz. I mean I can play classical, but there was talk about trying to make a career as a jazz performer. I used to play in jazz bars and in some jazz ensembles. For money, I mean. It was a nice, easy way to make money when I was juggling school, sports and everything else. Plus you always know where the parties with the good booze were. Made pretty good money as a session musician too.”

“Didn’t realize you were that good.”

Tony shrugs. “I was fair. Wouldn’t have made it big, but probably would’ve done ok in the long run. But turns out my heart wasn’t in it. Especially after the fire.”

Gibbs nods, remembering Jason King and his sister. The mood turns somber and Tony is too silent for too long.

“You are, you know?” Gibbs breaks the silence.

“I’m what?”

“A really good lay.”

Tony bites Gibbs’ chest hard, and the older man yells, laughing. “That’s going to fucking leave a mark,” he grumbles when Tony releases him.

“Good,” Tony says, satisfied, although he soothes the bite by licking and kissing it gently.

They are silent for a while.

“Why’d it take us so long to get here?” Tony asks finally.

Gibbs shrugs. “I’m a stubborn man.”

“I had to grow up, I guess.”

“Just glad we were honest with each other finally.”

Tony hums in agreement. He looks up at Gibbs and frowns hesitantly. “Would you be mad if I told you that I applied for a position on this new joint taskforce between NCIS, FBI, DoD and DHS?”

Gibbs chuckles. “No,” he says firmly. “Fact is, I recommended you to lead the new taskforce.”

“What?” Tony raises his head to look at the older man.

“You’re the most qualified. All your years of experience as a cop, then as my Senior Field Agent. Plus you’ve got the most international experience, traveled extensively in the Middle East and Asia, hunting people down – successfully, I might add.”

“What?” Tony pushes himself up on an elbow. “You did what?”

Gibbs stares at him.

“Really?” Tony says, amazed.

“Really,” Gibbs says firmly.

“I’d be based in DC.”

“Yep.”

“I’d still have you and Abby, and Ducky, McGee, Bishop, Palmer. Everyone.”

“Yep.”

“And maybe we can still continue seeing each other?”

“Try and stop me.”

They smile at each other. “Well, doesn’t mean I’ll get it,” Tony says pessimistically.

Gibbs shrugs. “But you’re going for it. Proud of ya,” he says gruffly, one hand caressing Tony’s cheek.

Tony smiles, a heartbreakingly beautiful smile that makes Gibbs’ chest tighten with love. “Love you,” he says quietly.

“Love you, too,” Gibbs replies pulling him down for a long, slow kiss.

Tony puts his head back on Gibbs chest and settles himself comfortably against his body. They lie together, watching the firelight until they both fall asleep.

Chapter Text

In the morning, when Gibbs awakens, he finds Tony draped around him, clinging to him like a limpet. He grins. Not a cuddler, he scoffs. This time he takes advantage of the situation and runs his hands over Tony’s body, smiling as the younger man moans deliciously in his sleep, throwing a leg over Gibbs and scooting himself even closer.

Gibbs finds the tube of lube and smears the fingers of both hands, reaching down to wrap his hand around Tony’s half-hard cock, stroking it into hardness as he pushes two fingers of his other hand into Tony’s ass. The younger man comes awake with an agonized moan.

“Good morning, cuddler,” Gibbs whispers in his ear.

“Fuck,” Tony pumps himself into Gibbs’ hand and fucks himself onto Gibbs’ fingers, realizing that he is plastered to Gibbs’ body. He is cuddling. But right now Gibbs’ hands are making him not care about that.

Gibbs watches Tony’s face intently as he continues to stroke his cock and ass. When he carefully presses on his prostate, Tony’s eyes close and his mouth opens, and he begins panting Gibbs’ name again. Gibbs brushes his sweet spot over and over, smiling as Tony begins chanting his first name in time to it again.

After continuing for a few minutes, Tony writhing against his side, helplessly moaning, his hot exhales on his neck making his own dick throb and weep, Gibbs extracts himself from under the younger man, pulls him onto his knees, ass up, and feels around for the condoms.

Tony places a hand on his wrist. “I’m good without if you are,” he pants.

Gibbs stares at him intently. “Sure?”

Tony nods emphatically.

The thought of putting his cock in Tony without barriers makes him so hard. He lubes his own hard dick. “I’m going to fuck you hard this morning,” he growls.

Tony pulls his knees up further and wiggles his ass. “Fuck me,” he responds.

Without preamble, Gibbs thrusts himself into the younger man, still loose from their lovemaking of the previous night. Tony scrabbles for purchase, pulling the pillows and bedclothes as Gibbs begins driving into him, a punishing rhythm. Moaning helplessly, Tony grips the edge of the mattress and pushes himself back, impaling himself even deeper onto Gibbs’ cock. There is only the sound of flesh slapping on flesh and their panted gasps and moans. Gibbs adjusts his angle, finding Tony’s prostate and the younger man begins babbling a stream of curse words, reaching one hand back, pulling Gibbs’ hip trying to pull him in even deeper. Gibbs pulls his upper body up and both of them on their knees, continues to thrust, short, hard, thrusts into him, twisting his nipples and biting his neck. Tony begs incoherently for more, and harder, and right there, rocking himself back into the thrusts.

When the older man pushes him back onto his hands and knees and wraps his hand around Tony’s cock, the younger man’s moans become urgent and he grunts with every thrust.

“Fuck, Jethro. Oh fuck me. Harder. Harder. God that’s so fucking good,” he moans. “I’m not gonna last, Jethro.”

Gibbs thrusts even harder and jerks his cock even faster.

“Fuck, I’m gonna come, oh fuck. Fuck, yeah. Oh fuck! Jethro!” Tony screams as he empties himself convulsively onto the mattress.

Gibbs follows, yelling his name as he comes hard, painting the inside of Tony’s body with his cum, filling him up.

As they collapse onto the mattress, breathing hard, they hear a throat being cleared. Gibbs is still buried deep inside Tony’s body, and both men look up to see Fornell standing over them.

“Well,” Fornell says, his face bright red.

Gibbs pulls out of Tony’s body and the younger man is unable to suppress the low moan when Gibbs cock is withdrawn.

“Seriously?” Fornell shakes his head. “I bet you don’t even have the coffee started yet.”

Gibbs pulls his boxers on and covers Tony with the blankets as he gets up, leaning down to kiss his temple and ruffle Tony’s hair. “Something up, Tobias?”

“Not anymore,” the other man shakes his head ruefully. “You finally succumbed to DiNotzo?”

“Hey!” Tony objects, trying to reach for his clothes.

“Relax,” Gibbs tells the younger man. “I’ll make coffee.”

He throws Tony’s go bag over to him and heads into the kitchen with Fornell. Tony pulls a clean t-shirt on and debates what kind of pants to put on – sweatpants to signal that he’s staying, or jeans to mean that he’s leaving.

“What are we doing today, Boss?” he calls out.

“Jethro,” Gibbs corrects him.

“Uh, yeah, Jethro,” he shakes his head. Fifteen years of calling Gibbs ‘Boss’ is not going to be an easy thing to change.

“Thinking maybe some grocery shopping. You can cook me a meal today. A real one.”

“OK.” So stay it is, he decides, pulling his sweatpants on. He pulls another clean t-shirt out of his go bag and hands that to Gibbs when he pads barefoot into the kitchen. Gibbs accepts the shirt with a smile and kisses his cheek, making both him and Fornell blush.

“Hey Toby,” Tony grins wryly at him, sitting down at the kitchen table.

“DiNotzo,” Fornell nods at him, looking at him observantly, making him squirm. “How long has this been going on?”

“Second date last night,” Gibbs says quietly.

“Looks like it was a good date,” the FBI agent snickers.

“Did we have something planned today?” Gibbs says, annoyance bleeding through.

“Nope.”

“Was there a reason that you came over?”

“Yeah, came to talk to you about DiNotzo, in fact.”

Tony looks surprised. “Should I go?” he asks Gibbs, standing up.

Gibbs shakes his head. “Sit,” he barks.

Tony nods and sits back down.

“Heard your boy applied to the new joint task force. Wanted to see how you felt about that,” Fornell says quietly.

“I put his name forward to lead the task force, Tobias,” Gibbs says mildly, pouring himself a cup of coffee even though the coffeemaker wasn’t done brewing.

“Then I guess you don’t have a problem with it.”

“It’s time,” Gibbs said.

“What do you think, DiNotzo?” Fornell turns and looks at him, asking him seriously.

Tony sighs. “It’s time,” he says quietly.

“Good. Then I know what to say,” Fornell grins at them. “I agree with Gibbs. I’m going to push for you to lead this thing. This way it’ll have a real chance of succeeding.”

Tony’s eyes widen in surprise. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Fornell pats his back. Tony grins at him awkwardly and after staring at Fornell and Gibbs for one tense moment, decides to take his coffee up to the bathroom to shower and leave the two old friends to chat in private.

Fornell eyes Gibbs sharply. “DiNotzo?” he asks again.

Gibbs shrugs and purses his lips.

“You love him?”

“Why?”

“That boy’s been in love with you since he met you. Wouldn’t be healthy for him if you’re toying with him.”

“Not toying with him, Tobias.”

Fornell scrutinizes his old friend for a long moment before he grins. “Good. About time, too. Boy’s heart keeps breaking over you.”

“He’s not a boy, Tobias.”

“Always be your boy.”

Gibbs grins at that.

“Looked like you were having a really good time this morning.”

“How long were you there?”

“Long enough. You guys are loud,” Fornell shakes his head.

“Tobias,” Gibbs says warningly.

“You’re lucky I was nice and waited for you both to finish. Although I’m pretty sure I don’t want to face you after interrupting you from that – “ Fornell makes a rude gesture with his hand, “without at least letting you finish first. Seemed very intense. It’s nice to know that DiNotzo’s reputation in the sack isn’t just all talk.”

“Tobias,” Gibbs growls.

“What? It’s a good thing he’s leaving your team then right? So you guys can keep fucking the crap out of each other. Don’t you have a rule about not dating someone in the workplace?”

“Tobias. I shot you in the ass once, don’t make me do it again.”

Fornell laughs and drains his coffee. “Fine. You take care of each other. I’ll see ya later,” he stands and leaves. At the front door he jiggles the door handle. “There is a reason for locking doors, Jethro. You might want to think about doing that before doing your boy again. What if it had been your Abby walking in on you animals instead of me?”

“Fuck off,” Gibbs grins at his old friend. “Tobias?”

“What?”

“How’d you know he was in love with me?”

“What are you, blind? Everyone in the tri-state area knows that,” Fornell snorts. “No one can be so fucking loyal without there being actual feelings behind it.” And with that the FBI agent leaves, slamming the door behind him.

Gibbs sits, drinking his coffee for a moment, thinking about Fornell’s parting words before he puts his mug down and joins Tony in the shower.

They spend the rest of the day together doing normal things – grocery shopping, going to the lumber yard, eating at the diner, Tony hanging out and chattering away on the basement step while Gibbs works on the boat, Tony making them a nice dinner, and then more sex before going to bed together. It surprises Gibbs how easy it is to be with Tony, how easy it is to relax and just be, to not stress about hiding himself or his emotions as much, to touch and be touched so freely. And Tony is full of touches, now that he has free reign – he holds Gibbs’ hand as they walk around the grocery store, throwing produce into the basket hooked on Gibbs’ arm, and brushes his fingers through Gibbs hair or trails them across his shoulders when he gets up to get them a beer from the fridge.

He responds by touching Tony back just as freely, without expectations or conditions, and the younger man’s bright eyes and easy smile is reward enough. Little touches with such openly happy responses that makes Gibbs think how starved he must have been for this affection, that head slaps from him had been enough to keep him around for so many years.

Fornell is so right. If Gibbs had come into this looking to treat Tony like Tony treats his usual sexual partners – as temporary stopgaps – it would have been cruel. Tony did not deserve that kind of treatment, given the obvious depth of his feelings for Gibbs. So it was a good thing that he wanted to keep Tony by his side forever – even if it won’t be professionally, not anymore, but definitely from a personal standpoint.

The next couple of weeks go by quickly. They easily maintain their normal working relationship at work, and both men are more than experienced at hiding their emotions and at undercover work, such that there is not a hint of suspicion about their change of status on the personal front. Nobody suspects that Tony has spent every night in Gibbs’ arms since their night out at the concert. They stop at Tony’s apartment every so often so he can replenish his clothes and his supplies. They spend their free time together, staying in or going out. Tony is still outgoing and social, taking Gibbs out to dinner, the movies, and to another chamber music concert – this time minus the overly affectionate ex interrupting their evening. But they also spend time at home, Tony sitting on the basement step the way he used to, chattering about normal things like their cases and things that happened at work while Gibbs works on the boat. The difference now is that instead of needing to ply Tony with alcohol to help him be honest, all he needs to do is ask the question. Another difference is that he sometimes goes over and kisses the younger man, and has thrown him up against the boat and fucked him several times, fulfilling a long-held fantasy of his.

Tony continues to have trouble calling Gibbs by his first name, other than during sex. Whenever his prostate is rubbed – by Gibbs’ fingers or cock, he’s not particular – he begins chanting Gibbs’ name. This only makes Gibbs laugh. It amazes Tony how much Gibbs has been laughing since they started seeing each other.

McGee notices that Tony has stopped flirting, almost completely, falling back on it only when they need him to charm a suspect or a witness. But he has stopped his normal everyday flirting and his habit of turning to ogle a hot piece of ass going by. He corners Tony in the men’s room one afternoon as Tony is washing his hands and touching up his hair.

“This woman you’re seeing, is she good to you?” McGee asks him quietly.

Tony looks at him, eyes wide in surprise. “What?” he asks stupidly.

“Don’t even try to lie to me, Tony. You’re seeing someone and it looks serious. You barely notice beautiful women now, and you don’t respond even if they throw themselves at your feet.”

“I always notice a beautiful woman, Probie,” Tony rolls his eyes.

“But you’re not responding to them,” McGee insists.

Tony sighs and bites his lips. “Fine,” he finally agrees. “There’s someone.”

McGee grins happily. “Great! It’s not Zoe again, is it? Cause you know, you guys do this. Break up, get back together, fight, and have some kind of weird kinky sex thing.”

“It’s not Zoe,” Tony says quietly.

“Not some dubious undercover op again?” McGee has to ask. He won’t be able to watch Tony go through another Jeanne Benoit situation, especially since they already had to face her in the fall.

“No. Definitely not. This is real.”

“You sound pretty committed.”

Tony shrugs, not denying it.

“When do we meet her?”

Tony sighs, back to biting his lips. “What’s the big deal, anyway?” he asks, huffing a breath.

“You seem happy, Tony.”

Tony shrugs again, trying to stop his face from flushing. “I am happy,” he admits softly.

“Good. I don’t see you happy very often. So if she makes you happy, then we need to meet her and make her part of the family. Maybe she can come to dinner with Delilah and me, and we can keep it low key for now?” Unspoken there is the need to keep Abby out of it, if they want to keep things low key. Abby does not do low key.

“Aw, Tim,” Tony is at a loss for words. “Let us talk about it, OK? And we’ll let you know.”

“Good,” McGee smiles at him, wondering if Tony realized how easily he had slipped into talking about himself and his girlfriend as a unit, using ‘us’ and ‘we’ without hesitation. He hadn’t been like this with Zoe. “This is good, Tony. I’m glad you’re happy.

Tony nods and grins awkwardly, trying to quell the blush. McGee pats his cheek gently and leaves the bathroom. He knows not to push Tony too hard when things are this personal and important to him.

That night he discusses this conversation with Gibbs as they eat their dinner together on the couch.

“Do you want to start telling people…about us?” Tony asks hesitantly.

“I don’t want us to be a secret,” Gibbs says. “I was waiting for you to be comfortable before we tell anyone. Well, obviously Tobias already knows.”

Tony frowns. “I don’t want us to be a secret either,” he finally says carefully. “But I’d rather keep us quiet, at least until we confirm a new position for me? So there’s no weird crap at work for either of us, given that you're my boss?”

Gibbs nods. “That’s fair.”

Tony smiles. “I’m still looking around for other stuff and not just waiting about that joint op thing. No telling how that will end up. There are open positions at the FBI but seriously, who wants to work for them,” he wrinkles his nose, making Gibbs laugh.

“What are you going to tell McGee about dinner?”

Tony blows out a breath. “Probably that you’re not quite comfortable meeting my family yet?” he makes a face. “That sounds believable, right?”

“Sure. Hey, will I get to razz you about your new girlfriend when McGee starts talking about it openly?” Gibbs asks innocently, and laughs when Tony growls at him.

A week later, Director Vance walks purposefully into the bullpen. He clears his throat and the MCRT, hard at work finalizing their reports for the case they have just closed, all look up at him.

“I was going to do this in private, but I think this needs to be done in the open,” he starts.

The team exchange glances with each other, but everyone looks puzzled. Although Gibbs looks more annoyed than puzzled at the interruption.

“Special Agent DiNozzo,” Vance barks, and Tony immediately jumps up and stands at attention, belying his military school background. Tony bites back the automatic “I didn’t do it,” and stands there waiting.

“I wanted to be the one to give you the news, and to be the first to personally congratulate you on being offered the position of the head of the new Joint Anti-Terrorism Taskforce, and a promotion to Associate Director of NCIS!” Vance breaks into a wide smile.

McGee and Bishop are open-mouthed in surprise.

Tony stares at Vance, shocked at the announcement. “No shit?” he finally asks softly.

“No shit, DiNozzo. Congratulations. You deserve this!” Vance takes his hand and shakes it heartily. “You do our agency proud by being unanimously voted head of this taskforce by all of the agencies involved.”

Tongue-tied, Tony stares wide-eyed at Gibbs, and suddenly McGee, Bishop and Vance all look at the Team Lead, expecting an eruption at the thought of Tony leaving their team.

Slowly Gibbs stands and moves out from behind his desk, his expression inscrutable. He gives Tony a nod, and opens his arms wide. Amazed, everyone in the squad room watches as Tony crosses the space, practically flying across the way and is pulled into a bear hug by the grizzled Marine. Gibbs embraces him tightly, rubbing the back of Tony’s head.

“Atta boy, Tony,” he says, pride ringing in his voice, even as he pushes away the stab of sadness at losing his Senior Field Agent. He tightens his hold on the younger man, closing his eyes and kissing his cheek tenderly.

McGee and Bishop have come around their desks, approaching the two men, McGee texting Abby ‘911’ which is their code for her to get herself, Ducky and Palmer up to the bullpen ASAP.

Gibbs pulls away, looking into Tony’s eyes and smiling proudly. “You’ll do,” he says, echoing his words from so many years ago. “You’ll do so very well.” And in the bullpen, in front of Vance, McGee, Bishop and the whole squad room, Gibbs claims Tony’s lips, kissing him thoroughly as the younger man melts into the embrace, kissing him back with fervor.

Abby arrives, skidding into the bullpen just in time to catch the end of the kiss and her audible gasp causes Tony to spring away from Gibbs. The older man keeps an arm around Tony’s waist, pulling him back against him possessively. He glares at everyone, awaiting their responses.

Abby squeals and jumps into Tony’s arms, pulling Gibbs into an awkward group hug.

“Well, I guess Abby’s OK with us,” Tony grins at Gibbs.

Bishop and McGee look dazed, and Vance stares at them both in surprise.

Abby disengages and looks around. “Well, surely Tony and Gibbs finally getting together isn’t that big of a surprise?” she asks.

“Well, Abby, it kind of is,” McGee says, unable to look away from Tony, seeing the barely contained happiness. “But there’s more.”

“More?”

“Tony’s leaving the MCRT,” Bishop tells her, although she cannot take her eyes off of Gibbs’ arm around Tony’s waist.

What?” Abby exclaims. “No! Bossman, you can’t let this happen!”

Gibbs sighs. “I recommended him for this position,” he says gently. “Tony’s got his own path to walk now.”

“No!” Abby objects, tears welling in her expressive eyes. “No! Tony, you can’t break the team up!”

Tony hugs her. “Abs,” he says gently. “It’s time. I can’t stay in the same place forever. It’s not fair to me, or to anyone else.”

“He should’ve taken the promotions offered to him years ago,” Gibbs tells her.

“But…”

“It doesn’t mean I’m done with you guys,” Tony looks up, smiling. “I wouldn’t turn my back on you. I hope you won’t turn your backs on me. I’ll still be based in DC, still even be part of NCIS.”

“Associate Director DiNozzo,” McGee smiles. “Shit. That’s cool, Tony,” and McGee pulls Tony into a fierce hug. “Don’t be a stranger, OK. And don’t forget, bring the Boss to dinner with Delilah and me so we can vet him. Make sure he’s good enough for you.”

Tony nods, speechless, while Gibbs gives McGee an approving smile.

“Don’t go,” Abs says softly.

“Well, the Boss and I will be spending time together anyway, so it’s not like I’m going anywhere. I’m just not going to be part of this team anymore,” Tony says reasonably.

And Tony’s face falls at the thought of not being part of the MCRT and he is almost overwhelmed by sadness. His eyes fill with hot tears. Gibbs takes his hand and cups his face. “You will always be part of all of us,” he tells him, gently brushing away the tears. “Do us and NCIS proud in your new job, DiNozzo.”

Tony squares his shoulders and nods, offering Gibbs a small smile. He turns to Vance who is smiling at him.

“I take it you accept this position?” Vance asks.

Tony nods. “I accept the position,” he says, his voice strong.

“Congratulations,” Vance says again, and this time Tony sees that Vance is congratulating him not just on the new job.

“Thank you, sir,” he grins, his trademark shit-eating grin.

Then he is surrounded. By his teammates, by the Director, and Ducky and Palmer who are late to the party, and the rest of the squad room, all come to offer him their congratulations.

Later that evening, McGee, Bishop, Abby, Ducky and Palmer have all invited themselves over to Gibbs’ for an impromptu pizza party to celebrate, and they have had a rowdy night, teasing each other, reliving old memories, enjoying each other’s company. Money changes hands, as the friends settle up on bets about the nature of Tony and Gibbs’ relationship, and everyone is openly happy for the two men. But by the end of the evening, Tony falls silent, refusing to leave Gibbs’ arms. One by one his teammates leave, realizing that Tony is starting to fall apart, despite his earlier confidence and exuberance.

Abby frantically signs to Gibbs, urging him to take care of Tony and he nods, assuring her with his eyes. When they are finally alone on the sofa, Tony curls into Gibbs’ body, making himself as small as possible.

“Hey,” Gibbs says, rubbing his shoulders gently. “Talk to me.”

Tony silently burrows even further into Gibbs’ chest.

“It’ll be OK,” Gibbs says softly. “You won’t ever lose us, any of us. This is what you were looking for, and I fully support your decision. You’re the best candidate for this position.”

Tony shrugs his shoulders.

“Look at me,” Gibbs says firmly.

Slowly, Tony lifts his head.

“What are you thinking?”

Tony sighs. “I know this is what I’m supposed to do, and I know I’ll do a good job. And I know I won’t lose you or anyone else.”

“But?”

After a long pause, Tony finally answers. “I don’t want to leave the team,” he whispers.

Gibbs pulls him close, kissing his hair. “I don’t want you to leave the team either,” he says, his voice breaking. “But you know that it’s time, and you know you’re more than ready to lead, have been ready for years, and this change will be good for you.”

Tony sighs. “Doesn’t mean I want to leave.”

“I know.”

“As long as we’re clear on that.”

“We’re clear.”

“Good.”

“Proud of you,” Gibbs tells him, holding him close, Tony holding him just as tightly. Gibbs’ feels the front of his shirt getting wet with Tony’s silent tears. When Tony has pulled himself back together, he sighs and pulls away. “OK now?” Gibbs asks him.

He nods. “Thank you,” he says simply. “Love you.”

“Love you too,” Gibbs smiles at him.

Tony gets a faraway look in his eyes. “You know what this means?” he says softly.

“What?”

“I’m going to need a lot of super glue to get through these last few weeks on the team,” he says, nodding determinedly, a dangerous glint in his eye. “A lot of it.”

Gibbs laughs and slaps the back of his head before pulling him in for a long kiss.