Damage: 12. Daylight Part Two




Tony’s eyes snapped open. The clock said it was 4 a.m.

“You do love me, Tonio, don’t you?” an insistent voice said in his ear.

Tony blinked. The memory of the first time Quinn had raped him was in his head. Maybe that wasn’t surprising in the circumstances. Tony put his hand on Gibbs’s hand where it was resting on his stomach. He was safe here. Quinn was in prison now. He couldn’t hurt him any more. Hell, Gibbs hadn’t let Quinn so much as catch a glimpse of Tony since his arrest.

This memory was a particularly difficult one for him, and one he’d often tried to push down. There was no point in doing that any more though; he’d learned that the hard way. This time he let it come, holding onto Gibbs’s hand the entire time for reassurance.

Roy had been excited, like a randy teenager, his body quivering with excitement as he locked the hotel room door behind them.

“We’re going to do something special today, Tonio,” he said, his brown eyes alight. Tony didn’t like the expression in them. It didn’t look like Uncle Roy was in there any more. He seemed strange and distracted, and he was looking at Tony in a really weird way.

“Are we going to see a movie?” Tony asked, wondering what Roy meant by ‘special’.

“No – something much better. We’re going to do something very grown up. You do love me, Tonio, don’t you?”

Tony nodded, reluctantly. Roy had asked him this before, and he knew how upset he got if Tony didn’t agree.

“Say it,” Roy prompted.

“I love you,” Tony said listlessly. He didn’t like all this sappy stuff, but Roy liked it and if saying it made Roy happy, and meant he got to see a movie later, then what did it matter?

Roy’s face lit up. “Do you know what people do when they love each other?” he asked.

“Kiss?” Tony hazarded. That was usually the answer Roy wanted. Roy beamed at him.

“They make love, Tony,” he said softly.

Tony stared at him. Making love was something that happened between the beautiful women and equally beautiful men on movie screens. It didn’t happen between old guys like Roy and kids like himself.

“I don’t get it,” Tony said.

“I’ll show you.” Roy reached out and began unbuttoning his shirt. Tony fought down a little wave of revulsion; Roy had done this before, and it wasn’t so bad. Roy removed his shirt and folded it neatly. He always folded everything neatly. It was like some weird compulsion he had. Then he turned back to Tony and ran a nicotine-stained hand over his bare chest. “You’re so beautiful, Tonio,” Roy sighed, his breath hitching in his throat. “That’s why I must have you. You do understand that, don’t you?”

Tony nodded uncertainly, unsure what Roy meant. Roy’s fingers fumbled at Tony’s pants, and Tony stood there, unresisting. Roy had done this before as well. He liked to put his hand inside and play. Tony didn’t like it exactly, but it wasn’t that bad; Roy liked it, and when Roy was happy he could be so nice.

“It’s going to be so good, Tonio. Your first time. Our first time together,” Roy told him as he finished undressing him. Tony bit on his lip, feeling anxious, but he nodded anyway. What was going to happen? “You mustn’t tell anyone though,” Roy warned him. “This is our special secret. Nobody else must know. You like secrets don’t you, Tony?”

Tony nodded again.

“Good boy. Such a good boy.” Roy kissed him on the mouth, and Tony felt himself flinching. He hated the smell of cigars on Roy’s breath, and the way he tried to put his tongue in his mouth. Roy pulled back, much to his relief. “Go and lie on the bed, my beautiful boy,” he said, pushing Tony over towards the bed. Tony went. This was new, but then they’d never been in a hotel room before. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. Roy started undressing, and he closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see Roy naked. He felt Roy get onto the bed beside him, and then he began stroking and kissing him. His fingers were gentle but invasive.

“This is good isn’t it, Tony? You’re loving this aren’t you? Oh, I can tell you are!” Roy said. Tony bit down hard on his lip. He didn’t like it, but Roy seemed to think he should. Maybe there was something wrong with him?

Tony felt his breathing hitch at the memory. He knew that he could roll over and wake Gibbs, and they could talk through the memory. They’d done this a few times and it often helped. But it was the middle of the night, and Gibbs had had one hell of a day. Tony decided to ride out the memory alone.

“I love you, Tony,” Roy crooned as he stroked him. “You’re such a good boy. I love you so much. There, just let me do this…that’s right…you’re such a dear boy. Remember, you must never tell anyone about this, Tony – this must always be our special little secret.”

“It hurts,” Tony said, wriggling.

“Hush now, Tony,” Roy told him, his hands clasping Tony’s thighs more firmly. “I’m always doing things for you. I’m always buying you presents and taking you places. This is just a little thing you can do for me. It only hurts to begin with – you’ll soon learn to love it, I promise you, Tony. There, there…good boy. Let me stroke you until it feels better, hmm?”

Tony took several deep breaths, calming himself. The rest of the memory was mercifully blurred. He’d kept his eyes closed through the worst of it. He’d wanted to crawl off that bed and run away, but he’d felt paralysed. He could remember his rising sense of panic, how he’d struggled to breathe and longed for it to be over, but he hadn’t moved. He’d just pushed all those feelings down and kept them repressed for years.

Back then he’d wanted to escape, but hadn’t been able to get away. Now he wanted Gibbs, but he pushed him away every time he got too close. The irony didn’t escape him. Even after all these years, he felt as if Roy was still controlling him.

“You still belong to me, Tonio, in your heart. I shaped you. I made you what you are.”

Tony eased himself out of the warmth of Gibbs’s arms and got up. He pulled on a bathrobe and paused to gaze back at the bed. Gibbs was still asleep, his silver-grey hair resting on the pillow, one arm flung out, laying claim to the bed the way he always laid claim to everything. Tony didn’t mind being laid claim to by Gibbs. It had been pretty much all he’d ever wanted.

He walked quietly out of the bedroom and wandered along to the spare room. He hadn’t slept in here since that night he’d smashed his hand through the kitchen door. That seemed like a lifetime ago now. He’d been a different person then. Now Quinn and Parrish were both behind bars, and if Gibbs would just let the thing with Marco drop, then maybe they could get on with their lives. Except he wouldn’t. Tony knew that. There was no way Gibbs would ever let that drop.

Tony glanced around the room. Boxes of his stuff were dumped on the bed. They still hadn’t completely cleared out his apartment – they’d made the occasional random journey over there to pick up some of his stuff, but he hadn’t had time to unpack it, and he was also unsure about how much space he could take up in Gibbs’s life. Tony didn’t know how moving in worked, and Gibbs was a territorial kind of man; he liked his own space and his own stuff. Tony was starting to trust that Gibbs meant to keep him around, but he didn’t want to push his luck.

Living with Gibbs had been surprisingly easy. By rights, it should have been harder. Gibbs had, after all, gone through four wives, and Tony had never lived with anyone as part of a couple before. Somehow, they just seemed to get along without annoying each other too much.

Tony closed the door to the spare room and walked downstairs. The kitchen door was shut. He touched the glass with his fingertips. He hadn’t fugued in months – not since the hotel room. Once he’d stopped trying to shove that boy into a box the fugues had stopped.

It wasn’t easy though. The memories would hit him when he least expected it. Anything could set him off – a stray word here or there, or someone standing too close behind him. Tony allowed the memories to come now, instead of pushing them away. They didn’t have the power over him that they had once had.

Tony opened the kitchen door and went inside to get a glass of water. He returned to the living room and twitched open the drapes to look out at the yard. It was pretty outside in the early morning light; Gibbs was a gardener as well as a carpenter, and the yard was in full spring blossom. Gibbs liked working with his hands; he was practical, a craftsman, and he displayed a patience at those tasks that he rarely showed at work. Tony could see the qualities that had made him such a good sniper.

Tony glanced down at his own hand, where it was holding the glass of water, and traced a finger over the faded scars on it. He wasn’t patient. He had wanted to bypass all this pain and skip straight to recovery. Even now, he knew that if he could pack this all up and never look at it again then he would, but he also knew that it didn’t work that way. Ignoring it, squashing it down, only stored up problems for later. Dealing with it was harder – and at times frustratingly slow – but it was the only way forward. He’d learned that the hard way.

There was a photograph of Gibbs, with his arms around Shannon and Kelly, on the shelf in the alcove. Tony picked it up and looked into Kelly’s bright blue eyes. She’d been such a pretty little kid. Tony suspected there were elements of the bereaved father and the lost child in his own relationship with Gibbs. It was part of what connected them, and what made it work so well between them. The different damage they’d suffered made them uniquely qualified to heal each other.

The family grouping in the photograph looked so natural – like they all belonged together. Did he and Gibbs look that way? Like they belonged together?

“How can you belong to him when you still belong to me?” Roy’s voice purred insidiously in his ear.

Tony put the photograph down and reached up to rub the back of his head. He didn’t want to do this, but it felt undone, unfinished. It felt like something he was avoiding, and he knew where avoidance led.

“Hey,” a voice said quietly behind him, and he glanced over his shoulder. Gibbs raised an eyebrow at him. “What’s going on?”

Tony continued rubbing the back of his head. Gibbs moved closer and reached out a hand to stop him. His fingers were warm around Tony’s wrist. He held it loosely in his grasp and gazed at Tony searchingly.


“I need to see Roy.”

He watched Gibbs’s eyes darken.

“No. Remember what happened when you saw Parrish?”

“Yeah, I remember,” Tony grimaced. “But I have to do it anyway. Roy’s where it all started for me – and I don’t think I’ll ever be free of his voice in my head until I face him. I need to see him, Jethro.”

“What the hell for?”

“Because he’s the one thing I’m still avoiding,” Tony said quietly. “The times when I faced up to it; when I told you all about it; when I saw Parrish; when I went to that hotel room; and when I finally found the guts to tell my father what had happened and *make* him listen; they weren’t easy, but they were breakthroughs. I need to do the same with Roy.”

“He’s a sick bastard,” Gibbs warned. “You won’t like getting a glimpse into the inside of his head. I know I sure as hell didn’t.”

“I already know what the inside of his head is like,” Tony said bitterly. “I’ve been there, Jethro. I’m still there, in a way.”

“Then why…?” Gibbs began.

“Because it isn’t finished for me until I do!” Tony said forcefully. “Listen, Jethro – the way you feel about finding Marco? That’s how I feel about facing Roy. It’s just something I have to do if I’m ever going to get over what he did to me and move on.”

That got through to Gibbs. He might not like it, but he’d supported Tony in every decision he’d made this far, and he’d do it again. He gazed at Tony for a long time, a muscle in his jaw twitching furiously, and then, finally, he nodded. He wrapped an arm around Tony’s shoulders.

“Okay. I’ll make arrangements in the morning,” he said in a tight tone of voice. “But there’s no way I’m letting you go alone. I’m coming too. Now – let’s go back to bed.”


Roy Quinn sat waiting expectantly for his visitor, wondering who it was. So far nobody had been to visit him, not even when he’d first been arrested. To be honest, he was a little disappointed by that. He had once had so many friends, but it seemed they had all abandoned him now. He missed Alessandro the most; they had been the best of friends for so long. Maybe his visitor was Alessandro. He hoped so.

The door opened, and Roy’s heart missed a beat as he caught sight of a tall, broad-shouldered figure. The years rolled back, and for just an instant he was in Vietnam with Alessandro again, helping his injured friend to safety, and then the moment passed. This wasn’t Alessandro standing in front of him; this was someone even more precious.

“Tonio,” he murmured, pressing his hand against the transparent panel dividing them. Tonio was all grown up now, in his mid-thirties, a big, solid man just like his father. Roy struggled to reconcile this handsome, confident-looking adult with the boy he’d once known. He gazed at the man in front of him searchingly, and then he saw it: Tonio – his Tonio – was still there, peering out at him shyly from green eyes that were suddenly achingly familiar. Roy didn’t see the self-assured federal agent – he saw the boy – and he felt his eyes grow suddenly misty.

“You didn’t forget me,” Roy said softly. “You came to see me, Tonio.”

He suddenly became aware that someone else had followed Tonio into the room, and he stiffened: Agent Gibbs. He hated that man and feared him even more.

Tony sat down in front of him, while Gibbs took up position leaning against the wall behind him.

Roy ignored Gibbs, choosing to concentrate on Tonio instead. “I knew you would want to see me, Tonio,” he said, smiling happily. “I knew you couldn’t resist. Agent Gibbs doesn’t understand what was between us – he says I damaged you – but it wasn’t like that, was it, Tonio?”

“That’s not my name,” Tonio replied bluntly. His green eyes were dark as he leaned forward. “That’s not my name, Quinn. My name is Tony. The only person I ever wanted to call me Tonio was my mom. Not you.”

“I understand.” Roy nodded. “It was such a sweet name. It suited the boy you were then but not the man you are now, so tall and grown up. It’s not the right name for you now, I can see that.”

Tony leaned back in his chair, staring at him. Roy stared back. “You look a lot like your father,” he commented. “How is Alessandro?”

“He’s fine,” Tony said shortly.

“He hasn’t been to see me.”

Tony looked at him incredulously. “Did you really expect him to visit you after he found out what you did to me?”

“What did I do?” Roy raised a surprised eyebrow. “All I ever did was love you, Tony. People don’t understand – Agent Gibbs doesn’t understand – but you do, Tony. You were there. You know how it was between us. We were in love.”

Roy heard an angry little growl emanate from Gibbs’s throat, but he was too scared to look at the man. He was such a dark, glowering, brooding presence, standing over there by the wall. Roy wished he wasn’t here, spoiling this precious reunion.

“That wasn’t love, Quinn,” Tony said quietly.

“Ah, I see he’s poisoned you against me,” Roy murmured sadly. “I’m sorry about that, Tony because you’re only lying to yourself. Just think about all those long years you kept our little secret – why would you have done that if you didn’t love me, hmm?”

Tony’s eyes were troubled and confused. He looked as adorable as he had all those years ago, during their affair. Roy smiled at him indulgently.

“I didn’t want to remember it,” Tony said. “I tried my best to forget.”

“I don’t believe that,” Roy replied, still smiling. “I never loved anyone as much as I loved you, Tony. There were others – I’m not denying that – there have been so many others, but I didn’t love any of them as much as I loved you.” He leaned forward. “Has there ever been anyone else for you, Tony?” he asked eagerly. “Can you honestly say that anyone has ever loved you as much as I loved you?”

“I ran away from you, Quinn,” Tony replied. “Doesn’t that tell you something about how much I loved you?”

“I was hurt,” Roy admitted with a nod. “When you went away to boarding school, I thought I’d at least see you in the vacations, but you always stayed just out of reach. When you did come home, you avoided me. I was very hurt by that, Tony.”

“You raped me,” Tony told him quietly. “You gave me to other men and let them rape me.”

Roy shook his head vehemently. “I always loved you. Yes, I had to make some difficult choices, and I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your time with Gianni and Matthew as much as I’d have liked, but I’m flattered too, in a way. Your heart belonged to me – you didn’t like giving yourself to anyone else.”

Tony laughed out loud. “Christ, you’ve got a unique way of looking at things, Roy.”

Roy grinned. “Oh, you still have such a beautiful smile! You were such a serious little boy – I always loved it when you smiled.”

Tony’s smile faded, and he leaned forward. “I want you to listen to me, Roy. You ruined my childhood. Not my life – because I’ve made a success of that, despite you – but you completely fucked up my childhood. Every memory of me that you treasure is one that makes me feel sick. You exploited my loneliness and fractured my relationship with my father. You didn’t love me, and I sure as hell didn’t love you. You used me to satisfy your own sick fantasies. When I think of the way you used to touch me – the way you used to fuck me – it makes me want to throw up.”

Roy moved his hand up to his throat and felt the pulse fluttering there, in his own neck.

“You don’t mean that, Tony,” he said softly. “This is Agent Gibbs talking, not you.” He glanced over Tony’s shoulder and caught Gibbs’s icy stare. He leaned forward. “When I look in his eyes, I see the thousand different ways he wants to kill me. Does he scare you too, Tony? He should. He’s a monster.”

“No, he doesn’t scare me.” Tony shook his head. “And he’s not the monster, Roy. You are. I can’t believe I came here. You’re a sick bastard, Roy. You’re not worth my time.”

He got up, and Roy gazed at him pathetically, wanting him to stay just a little bit longer. “I always asked after you!” he said hurriedly. “I always asked Alessandro how you were and what you were doing. I followed your career. I’m so proud of you, Tony!”

Tony’s jaw was taut, his hands bunched into fists. “I’m not yours to be proud of, Roy.”

“Of course you are,” Roy insisted. “You’ll always be mine.”

Roy heard a low, feral growl emanate from Gibbs’s throat, and he flinched. It wasn’t Gibbs who slammed his hand angrily against the transparent screen dividing them though – it was Tony.

“No, I’m my own damn person!” Tony said forcefully. “So don’t think about me again, Roy. Any time you find yourself thinking about Tonio, and all the sick things you did to me, remember me the way I am right now. I’m not that little kid any more – I fight back now.”

“But Tonio will always be in my head – in my heart!” Roy protested.

“Not any more.” Tony shook his head. He seemed suddenly big and intimidating. “He doesn’t belong to you any more, Roy. He belongs to me now. So if you ever try using him in some sick jerk-off fantasy in your jail cell, I promise you that little kid will turn into me and beat the shit out of you. I’m in your head now, Roy, the way you’ve been in mine all these years.” He stood back and gave a tight little smile. “How does it feel, Roy? I hope it hurts.”

Gibbs stepped forward, and Roy cowered back instinctively, terrified of the man.

“You know, I don’t think it’s me you should be scared of, Quinn,” Gibbs said, in a wry tone. He nodded his head in Tony’s direction. “It’s him.”

Roy looked up into Tony’s cold green eyes, and his heart flipped anxiously in his chest. Maybe Gibbs was right. He couldn’t see any trace of his adorable little Tonio in Tony now. All he could see was the icy fury of a strong, resilient man – a man who hated him.

Tony glanced sideways at Gibbs with an expression Roy had never seen on his face before: It was love, affection, and trust all rolled into one. Tonio had never looked at him like that.

“I’m done. Come on, Jethro. Let’s go,” Tony said softly.

Roy watched them leave. As a prisoner, friendless and alone, he had nothing except his treasured memories, and now they had been ruined. Tony had stolen them from him. Roy glanced down at his own hands to find that they were shaking. Then he glanced back as the door slammed shut behind his visitors.

Tonio was gone.


Tony strode out of the prison feeling strangely euphoric.

“He’s pathetic,” he said as he got into the car beside Gibbs. “I can’t believe he ever had any kind of power over me. He’s just a deluded old man.”

“Yup.” Gibbs grinned.

“Christ, what a complete loser.” Tony shook his head. Gibbs just continued grinning at him. “What?” Tony asked.

“I just liked what I saw you do back there. It’s what I’ve been waiting for.”

He started the car and began driving. Tony gazed out of the window for awhile, lost in thought, before finally registering that he didn’t have a clue where they were.

“Uh, where the hell are we going?” he asked. Gibbs shrugged.

“You’ll see.”

Tony leaned back, wondering what this was about. They pulled up in the middle of nowhere an hour or so later, and Gibbs got out of the car.

“This is it?” Tony frowned.

“Nope. First we have to do some hiking.” Gibbs opened the trunk of the car and pulled out a couple of fully packed rucksacks.

“You have got to be kidding me!” Tony protested. “I hate hiking.”

“I know.” Gibbs gave him an infuriating grin.

“There aren’t any horses around, are there?” Tony glanced around. “The one thing I hate more than hiking is riding.”

“No horses. Just a good, long hike and then some camping.”

Tony gazed at him in disbelief. “Camping? We’re going camping? Don’t I have a say in this?”

“Nope.” Gibbs threw the rucksack at him; it was so heavy Tony almost dropped it.

“Is this some weird Marine thing?” he asked, as Gibbs began fastening his own rucksack onto his back.

“Nope. This is a Gibbs thing. Come on. We have some distance to travel before sunset.”

Tony glared after him as Gibbs set off without a second glance. Finally, with a resigned sigh, he pulled the rucksack onto his shoulders and set off after him.

They walked for what felt like miles to Tony’s city-slicker legs. He was fit enough for his NCIS work, but he never kidded himself he was in Gibbs’s league. The man was still Gunnery Sergeant-fit, and could probably drop to the floor and do a hundred push-ups without breaking into a sweat.

Tony trailed along behind him, feeling increasingly angry. They still had a few days vacation time left, and Gibbs wanted to waste it communing with the great outdoors? What the hell for? What was so great about nature anyway?

They climbed up the side of a mountain – or that’s what it felt like to Tony – and he arrived at the long, flat summit panting, the sweat trickling uncomfortably down his back, to find that Gibbs had removed his rucksack and was busy unfurling his bedroll.

“What took you so long?” Gibbs demanded. Tony glared at him.

“This isn’t fun.”

“Sure it is. Look at the great view.”

Gibbs pointed, and Tony had to concede, grudgingly, that it *was* a great view. The countryside stretched out for miles beneath them, and the sun was hanging low in the sky, bathing everything in orange light. Tony fought to get his rucksack off and then turned to find Gibbs had finished with his bedroll and was busy unpacking some food.

“Tell me you at least brought a tent,” Tony grumbled.

“Nope.” Gibbs grinned at him. “There’s nothing like spending the night looking up at the stars.”

“We could get eaten by wild animals,” Tony complained. Gibbs rolled his eyes.

“I brought my rifle, but somehow I think we’ll be safe, Tony.” He put a hand on Tony’s shoulder and pushed him over to the edge. “What do you see?” he asked.

“Nature?” Tony shuddered.

“How does it make you feel?” Gibbs was giving him an oddly intent stare.

“Like I want to kill someone, preferably you right now,” Tony muttered.

“What did you say?” Gibbs demanded. Tony stared at him; this was weird.

“That I want to kill someone?” Tony repeated more hesitantly.

“What’s the problem, Tony?” Gibbs asked, getting in his space. Tony thought about it for a moment.

“This is my vacation too, Jethro, and you didn’t ask me if I wanted to spend it hiking up some fucking great hill. You might be my boss at work, but we’re not at work now.”

“So, you’re pissed with me?” Gibbs was nose to nose with him now, completely getting in his face. “It doesn’t sound like it.”

“Yeah, I’m pissed with you,” Tony muttered. “Kinda.” He didn’t like the way this was heading.

“I never see you get angry,” Gibbs told him. “Or at least never with anyone but yourself. You’re entitled to be angry with me. You’re right – I didn’t ask you if you wanted to come out here.”

“Why the hell did you bring me here then?” Tony asked sullenly.

“To get you mad. Get mad for me, Tony. We are out here, right in the middle of nowhere – there’s nobody for miles around. Nobody can hear you. Yell at me. Scream at me. Just find the anger, and get mad.”

Tony thought about it for a moment and then shrugged. “It’s not really my thing.”

“Sure it is. I once heard you yelling at some little kid inside your own head – why can’t you yell at me?” Gibbs demanded.

Tony frowned. “That was different.”

“Why? Because he was a defenceless little kid who couldn’t fight back? Bullshit!”

“No – because…I don’t know…” Tony shrugged helplessly.

“You’re angry, Tony. You’re mad as hell,” Gibbs told him. “I know you are – but you won’t let yourself feel it.”

“What’s the point?” Tony snapped. “It won’t change anything.”

“It’s part of what’s holding you back. Tony – some men once took you to a hotel room and raped you, repeatedly. That wasn’t your fault. You were just a kid. It was their fault. Get mad about it, the way you got mad at Quinn back there. Get mad about what happened to you. Find that anger and get it out.”

Tony gazed at him helplessly, feeling both sullen and confused. “I’m not like you. I don’t growl and snarl whenever I’m pissed off,” he muttered.

“No – you just turn it in on yourself,” Gibbs said. He moved a step closer. Tony stood his ground. “Do it, Tony. Shout, scream – lose control. It’s safe. I’m here, and I can take anything you throw at me.”

Tony looked around. Gibbs was right about one thing – they were in the middle of nowhere.

“Remember how good it felt back there,” Gibbs said softly. “Remember how you felt, finally standing up to Roy Quinn and telling that twisted bastard the truth? Where’s that anger, Tony? It’s in there. I know it is.” He put his hand on Tony’s stomach, and Tony heaved in a deep breath. “I can feel it,” Gibbs hissed. “You can feel it too, can’t you, Tony?”

Tony found his breathing coming in deep, harsh gasps. There was a fury inside him, buried so deep he hadn’t even been aware of it. He never got angry; even when he was annoyed he didn’t do more than snap. He was always in control. He never let his feelings out – he had to keep them contained, in case someone got hurt. His rage felt so big, and went so deep, that he thought it might tear him apart if he let it out.

“That kid wasn’t to blame for what happened to him, Tony,” Gibbs continued, his hand warm against Tony’s belly. “You weren’t to blame for it. Those men were. Scream at them, Tony. Scream at the pain, and the fear, and the confusion, and the degradation. Scream at the injustice of it. Scream it out.”

“I feel like an idiot,” Tony said, pushing Gibbs’s hand away, clamping down hard on the rage inside and trying to make it go away again.

“So?” Gibbs growled. “I’m the only one here to see you. I’ll scream with you if you want.” He threw back his head and yelled at the darkening sky overhead. Tony watched him, fascinated. Gibbs always seemed to find it so easy to access that anger inside.

Tony opened his mouth and managed to squeeze out a small growl. It sounded pathetic to his own ears, like a cub trying to emulate a wolf.

“What the hell was that?” Gibbs taunted.

Tony felt a surge of anger, and he opened his mouth and screamed. The scream seemed to rip out of his belly and fly across the deserted landscape, taking him by surprise. God, it felt good!

Tony paused for breath and then opened his chest and yelled again. Gibbs was right – he *was* angry. He hadn’t realised just how angry until he got up here and started yelling. The fury felt like a twister that started in his stomach and emerged from his lungs in a constant flowing torrent. He surrendered to it, flinging out his arms and roaring out his rage.

Tony turned around and around, screaming at the top of his lungs, furious with the world. He was angry with his mother for dying, and he was angry with his father for not being there for him. He raged against the injustice of what had happened to him, and he yelled out his fury towards Quinn, and Parrish, and Marconi for what they had done to him.

A warm breeze rustled through his hair, and he felt his shirt billowing out around him. Gibbs was there, goading him on and guarding him at one and the same time, his blue eyes shining in the orange half-light.

The anger was so massive, and went so deep, that once he started letting it out he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to stop. He thought that maybe he’d just have to stand on this hillside forever, yelling at the sky. His body was a conduit for his fury, and it just kept rising up inside, on and on, too big to be contained.

He yelled, he hollered, he shouted, and he raged. He lost control. He prowled around the hillside, screaming until his throat hurt and his voice was hoarse. He wasn’t aware of himself any more – he was just a ball of burning anger, blazing so brightly he was sure he had to be visible for miles around. And through it all there was Gibbs, standing beside him, watching over him, and keeping him safe.

Tony wasn’t aware of time passing. He wasn’t aware of anything except his own fury. Then, suddenly, it was over. He found himself standing with his arms outstretched, a shout dying in his throat. His body felt weightless, as if all that anger had been weighing him down, making him heavy.

“You done?”

Gibbs came up behind him and placed a hand on his shoulder. Tony swung around, knocking the hand away. He seized Gibbs, and for a moment he wasn’t sure if he wanted to scream at him or hit him, and then he realised that he didn’t want to do either of those things. Another need rose up inside him, just as powerful as his rage had been earlier, and he pushed Gibbs over towards the bedding.

“Fuck me,” Tony whispered urgently into Gibbs’s ear. “Fuck me into the ground. Fuck me so hard that I can’t think about anything else. Fuck me. Please…fuck me.”

Gibbs didn’t say a word; he just began stripping Tony of his clothes. When he was done, he pushed Tony down onto the bedding. Tony pulled Gibbs down on top of him, undressing him urgently. Gibbs was solid and powerful, his scent familiar and reassuring. He kissed Tony hard on the mouth, and Tony lost himself in the sensation. He wasn’t thinking now; he was just feeling.

Gibbs moved over him, caressing him with his mouth and fingers, igniting Tony’s senses wherever he touched. The stars were starting to come out above, little pinpricks of light in the almost-dark sky. Tony arched up against Gibbs, his body acting on instinct. He wasn’t watching from the sidelines any more – he was lost in the moment, and it felt so incredibly good.

Gibbs took control, and Tony surrendered to his expert touch. It was such a relief to just let go, and let Gibbs take care of him. Gibbs’s hands and mouth were everywhere, touching him all over, and this time it didn’t freak him out – it turned him on. He opened his legs to allow Gibbs’s slippery fingers inside his body, and then mewled, wanting more. Gibbs grabbed his arms and pushed them above his head, and Tony went limp and angled up his head for a kiss. Gibbs covered his body with his own, and kissed him hard, exploring Tony’s mouth forcefully with his tongue. Then he drew back, his eyes holding a question.

Tony nodded, not needing to even think about it. Gibbs kissed him again and then grasped Tony’s buttocks in his hands and positioned his hard cock between them. Slowly, carefully, he began pushing inside. Gibbs was big, but Tony’s body stretched easily to accommodate him. Tony gave a moan of pleasure – it felt so incredibly *good*.

“Okay?” Gibbs asked, looking down at him.

Tony nodded. “More!” he panted.

Gibbs grinned and thrust forward, surging into him with more force. Tony wrapped his legs around Gibbs’s back, wanting to pull him inside as deep as he’d go. Gibbs paused, buried to the hilt inside Tony. Tony nodded again, and Gibbs moved his hips back and then thrust forward again, even more powerfully. Tony gasped as white lights exploded inside his head.

“Oh shit,” he whimpered.

“More again?” Gibbs asked.

“Mmmmm,” Tony replied incoherently.

Gibbs drew back and then surged forward once more, filling him completely. Tony lay there, gazing up at Gibbs blindly. He wasn’t aware of anything except how good it felt to have Gibbs moving inside him. Gibbs thrust into him deeply, every inward movement of his hips sparking flares of rippling pleasure through Tony’s body. Gibbs’s gaze never left his face as he thrust in and out, and Gibbs’s hand was firm on his cock, stroking it in time to the movements of his hips. Tony didn’t have to do anything except enjoy. He was boneless, weightless – and totally not in control.

Tony screamed again, but this time he wasn’t angry. This time he was ecstatic. He screamed out his orgasm as every single nerve-ending in his body exploded at the same time. He thought he was coming, but he wasn’t sure because everything seemed hazy. There was just him, and Gibbs, and the stars above, and rolling waves of intense pleasure.

Tony’s screams became whimpers and then they slowly died away. Gibbs rested himself on his elbows, his cock still lodged deep inside Tony’s ass, and kissed Tony tenderly on the mouth. Tony moaned into the kiss, and Gibbs held him there, kissing him for what seemed like hours, until the sky had turned completely black overhead. Then, finally, he rolled off him and pulled the spare blanket over them both.

“I fucking love you,” Tony whimpered.

Gibbs grinned and stroked his fingers lazily down Tony’s chest. “Love you too, Tony.”

“I still hate hiking, and nature, and camping, and all that shit, but I fucking love you – and I fucking love being fucked by you,” Tony sighed.

“That’s a lot of fucking.” Gibbs leaned over and kissed his mouth again.

“Yeah.” Tony grinned stupidly. “And you gotta promise me there will be a whole lot more.”

Gibbs laughed. “Hell yeah! That’s something I can definitely promise.”


Terry Dyer glanced up at the apartment block as he walked past. He often came this way. He told himself that it was the quickest route to work, but he knew there was another reason. Every time he passed by, he always looked up and counted along the windows to Tony’s apartment. He often wondered what had happened to Tony. They had shared such a strange, dramatic night. It was like catching a tiny glimpse of a TV show and wondering how it had ended. There hadn’t been any sign of Tony though, in all these months. The drapes were always open, even when it was dark, and there were never any lights on in the apartment.

Terry glanced away from the window, and his eye was caught by a man loading a box into a car in the apartment parking lot. He was wearing faded, ripped jeans, a red tee shirt, and a baseball cap with the letters “NCIS” emblazoned across the front. Terry paused, in shocked recognition, and at the same moment the man looked up and saw him.

“Hiya!” Terry said feebly. Tony gazed at him.

“Hi,” he said uncertainly. “Uh…have we met?”

“Kind of. Once.” Terry made a face. “Typical – he doesn’t even remember you, Terry. I remember you though, Tony. Of course, you were only conscious for the first half hour of our acquaintance, so I suppose I have to forgive you for forgetting me.”

Tony flushed and made a face. “Shit. Sorry. I remember now. Not the best night of my life.” He sounded apologetic at least.

“I always wondered if you were okay,” Terry said. “Nobody called. I gave Mr. Grumpy my phone number, but I never heard anything.”

“Mr. Grumpy?” Tony looked confused for a moment, and then his face split into a delighted grin. “Oh man, I can’t wait to use that one on him.”

“Unwise, DiNozzo,” a voice said, and both Terry and Tony jumped. Gibbs appeared seemingly from nowhere, carrying a box. Like Tony, he was dressed in jeans and a tee shirt. Gibbs dumped the box in the car and turned back to Terry. “Mr. Dyer. How are you doing?”

“Fine. Nice to see someone remembers me,” Terry said pointedly. “Although, to be fair, I might have been on a one night stand with you, Tony, but I ended up talking more to him.”

Terry glanced at Gibbs. The guy looked a hell of a lot more relaxed today than he had that night. He still looked like he could kill you with a flick of his hand, or that icy stare of his, but right now he was smiling and looked happy.

“Are you okay now, Tony?” Terry asked, with a little flutter of his eyelashes.

“Yeah.” Tony glanced at Gibbs, who rested a territorial hand on his shoulder.

“Oh. Right. I see,” Terry sighed. “I wondered why I hadn’t seen you in the clubs since that night. I guess you don’t need to pick up those Mr. Grumpy clones any more now you’ve got the real thing, Tony. God help you.”

Gibbs gave a wry chuckle, shaking his head. “You and I never did exactly hit it off, did we, Mr. Dyer?”

“What the hell happened while I was out of it?” Tony asked, looking from Terry to Gibbs and back again, a confused expression on his face.

“Oh, he was just jealous of me,” Terry said. Gibbs laughed out loud at that, and it was so unexpected coming from a man like Gibbs that Terry couldn’t stop himself barking out a little laugh too; Gibbs’s laugh was surprisingly infectious. “You moving, Tony?” Terry asked, glancing at the boxes.

“No…I kind of moved ages ago. Just never got around to clearing out the rest of my stuff. Should have done it before, but we were too busy with…things.” Tony shrugged. “I’m living with Mr. Grumpy now,” he added, grinning sideways at Gibbs. Gibbs grinned back at him and moved his hand. Tony hunched his shoulders, as if expecting a slap, but instead Gibbs just stroked his hair. Tony laughed out loud and relaxed. There was something so easy between them – so right. Terry envied them.

“Well, good luck,” he said. “Nice to, uh, bump into you again.” He waved his hand and began walking away.

“Hey, Terry,” Tony called after him. Terry turned, and Tony gave him a megawatt smile that made his heart skip a beat. “Just wanted to say thanks – for not running out on me that night. For, you know, taking care of me, and for calling Jethro.”

“Jethro?” Terry raised a surprised eyebrow in Gibbs’s direction. “That’s his name? Wow, the world is full of surprises,” he muttered to himself. “And you’re welcome, Tony. I’m glad you’re okay.”

Terry turned and continued walking. He glanced back over his shoulder and saw them closing up the trunk of the car. Then Tony turned and looked up at his old apartment window.

“I just realised I never slept here again after that night,” he murmured. “Feels like a lifetime ago.” He glanced through the car window. “Hey, where are my black satin sheets?” he demanded. “Are we missing a box?”

“Aw, did I forget to bring that box down?” Gibbs asked.

Tony’s eyes narrowed. “I spent some damn good nights on those sheets, Mr. Grumpy.”

“Call me that again, and you can sleep on them again – in the spare room.”

The teasing banter faded behind him as Terry passed out of earshot. He knew that he wouldn’t need to come this way again. Handsome princes never did end up with guys like him anyway. He should know that by now.


McGee was sure it was ridiculous to feel nervous about going to work, but he did. It was like the first day back at school after the summer break. They had all been working on the fallout from that stolen laptop and camera for so long that he was sure it would feel strange to go back to their old jobs.

Director Vance had assigned a different team to cover for them at crime scenes for the past few months. McGee knew that he’d offered Tony the job as team leader, but Tony had turned it down. McGee still wasn’t exactly sure why, but he suspected that Tony hadn’t wanted to be split up from his team, even if he wasn’t able to work on the pedophile cases with them. More specifically, McGee was sure that Tony hadn’t wanted to be far away from Gibbs. That was understandable – after hearing what Tony had been through as a kid, McGee had a whole different perspective on his obsession with Gibbs. He’d always been aware of it – hell, anyone with eyes had been aware of it – and they’d all teased Tony about it over the years. Now, it kind of made more sense.

Still, it was going to be weird working with Tony again. McGee wasn’t sure whether they could ever go back to the way they had been before. It seemed like such a long time ago, and they all knew so much more about Tony now. McGee longed for the old days of easy banter, but they seemed long gone. These past few months had been intense, and there hadn’t been much time for goofing off. Tony had only been a semi-detached team member for that time, sitting at his desk but working his own cases, so they had interacted with him much less. Annoying though he could be, McGee now saw exactly why the team needed Tony so much. He provided light relief, and for the past few months that had been missing.

The elevator pinged, and the doors opened. McGee squared his shoulders and then walked out into the squad room.

Tony was sitting with his feet up on his desk, sipping a cup of coffee as he flicked through a magazine, and Ziva was perched beside him, reading the magazine over his shoulder, sipping her own coffee.

“Hey, McProbie! Coffee!” Tony pointed to the cup on the side of the desk without taking his eyes off the magazine.

“Why thank you, Tony,” McGee said, with a surprised smile. Maybe it wouldn’t be the same as before. Maybe it would be better. McGee certainly liked the idea of a new, improved Tony. On the other hand, McGee was sure he could see pictures of scantily clad people in the magazine, so maybe Tony hadn’t changed all that much.

He took a sip of his coffee and then spat it out again. Tony and Ziva burst out laughing.

“Soap? You put soap in my coffee, Tony?” McGee tried to make his tone sound threatening, but he was barely able to keep a straight face. God, it felt good to be laughing with Tony again, instead of tiptoeing around him!

At that moment, Gibbs swept into the room, and Tony almost fell out of his chair in his hurry to stuff his magazine hastily into his desk drawer. Gibbs went over to his desk, grabbed his gun and badge, and then made for the elevator.

“Come on, people, gear up,” he said impatiently. They all scrambled to grab their stuff and follow him.

“What we got, Boss?” McGee asked, wiping coffee off his tie.

“Dead petty officer in an alley outside a bar,” Gibbs replied as the elevator door opened.

“Why is it always the petty officers that get themselves killed?” Tony mused as they stepped inside. “Why not the lieutenants? You should start a spreadsheet on it, McGeek.”

Gibbs reached out and slapped the back of his head soundly.

“Ow!” Tony rubbed his head. “What was that for? I’m right about the petty officers!”

“Maybe.” Gibbs shrugged. “But that was for reading trashy magazines on my time, DiNozzo.”

“Yes, Boss. Thank you, Boss,” Tony said promptly, still rubbing his head.

The elevator doors closed, and McGee’s face creased into a massive grin. Just like that, everything seemed to be back to normal.


Ziva glanced around the crime scene. The dead petty officer was a woman in her late twenties, with long dark hair.

“She was pretty,” Ziva mused.

“Yeah.” McGee took a photograph and then paused and grinned. “Hmm. Feels good to be back.”

“I doubt our dead petty officer would agree with you, McGee,” Ziva pointed out.

She took in a dozen different details that she wouldn’t have noticed a couple of years ago; the position of the dead woman’s body; the slightly paler band of skin on her finger where a wedding ring might once have been; and the blood on her knuckles.

Tony was kneeling beside the body. He got up when Gibbs came over.

“What you got for me, DiNozzo?” Gibbs asked.

“Our dead petty officer is called Sara Sharma. She was drinking in the bar last night. According to the barman, she saw a guy being abusive to his girlfriend and got involved. There was a fight, and the barman threw them all out – that was the last he saw of her.”

Ziva watched as Gibbs wrote something in his notebook.

“Is Tony still staying with Gibbs?” McGee asked her in an undertone. She frowned at him. “I mean, isn’t that kind of weird?” McGee whispered. “I could understand it a few months ago when Tony was falling apart, but now?”

Ziva watched as Gibbs said something to Tony, and Tony arched an amused eyebrow in reply. They shared a momentary joke. Ziva frowned thoughtfully. Something had changed between them; something subtle. Tony was still Tony, but he seemed less fidgety now and far more relaxed. He wasn’t pulling faces at Gibbs or getting in his way any more.

“Have you not figured it out yet, McGee?” she asked. McGee gave her a startled look. “Tony is no longer trying to attract Gibbs’s attention,” she said softly.

McGee glanced over at them. “You’re right. But what has that got to do with him still staying at Gibbs’s house?”

“Tony does not need to attract Gibbs’s attention any more,” Ziva told him, with a little smile. “Because now he has it – and he knows it.”

“Oh.” McGee still looked stumped. Then the realisation hit him. “Oh!” he said, looking back at them again. “Really? Tony and Gibbs? I mean, I had noticed they seem pretty close, and I’ve seen Gibbs put his arm around Tony a couple of times, but I assumed he was just looking out for him.” He looked over at them again with a frown. “Are you sure?”

Ziva smiled. “Yes, I am sure. I am a trained investigator. I see these things.” She laughed at the bemused look on his face and patted his arm. “Tony isn’t staying with Gibbs any more, McGee,” she said softly. “He lives there now.”


“My poor dear girl. How did such a pretty thing meet such a sad end, hmm?” Ducky mused, as he worked on the body in front of him.

He glanced up as a shadow fell over the corpse. “Ah, Jethro. Punctual as ever.”

“You said you had something for me, Duck?” Gibbs asked.

“I do, yes. I have empathy,” Ducky said. He watched in delight as Gibbs gave him an entirely predictable glare. “Empathy,” Ducky repeated. Gibbs made an impatient motion with his head, but Ducky had no intention of letting him off lightly. It had been months since they’d had a chance to chat over a dead body, and he intended to positively relish the moment. “Empathy – the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings,” Ducky explained.

“I know what it means, Duck,” Gibbs said, with just a trace of a sigh. Clearly he knew he wasn’t going to be allowed a quick getaway today.

“Our dead petty officer has evidence of several old injuries,” Ducky explained. “Scars on her back, fractured wrist, broken nose…I would go so far as to say that she was regularly beaten. And judging by this…” Ducky held up her hand and pointed to a slightly paler area of skin on her ring finger. “I would say that she was once married – but not any more.”

“Your point, Ducky?”

“I’m getting to it. Slowly.” Ducky smiled happily to himself. He loved his friend dearly, but sometimes Jethro was far too impatient. “I spoke to Anthony earlier. He said our dead petty officer got in the way of an arguing couple at a bar last night. Empathy, my dear, Jethro. This poor young woman got involved in a fight that was nothing to do with her because she had suffered an abusive relationship herself. I’ve heard that it is often the case that those people who have known the greatest pain are most able to empathise with the suffering of others.”

He glanced at Gibbs sharply.

“For example, I have often found Anthony to be an extremely empathetic person, underneath all the silliness. And I am glad that in his hour of need there was someone nearby who had experienced great suffering himself and was therefore able to give Anthony the time, space, and support he needed in order to heal.”

“Is this going somewhere?” Gibbs asked impatiently.

“I believe it already did,” Ducky said softly. “I’m not blind, Jethro, and nor am I easily shocked. I am delighted that you have found happiness, and even more delighted by who you have found happiness with.”

Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “You called me down here to tell me that?”

Ducky grinned. “Yes I did.”

Gibbs rolled his eyes and strode towards the door. He paused when he got there, and glanced back. “I read that book you told me about, Ducky.”

“Hmm?” Ducky frowned.

“The one about the fox?”

“Ah, The Little Prince! Technically it’s not actually about the fox, Jethro. In fact, he’s a relatively minor character. What did you think of it?”

“Irritated the hell out of me.”

Ducky laughed. “Ah, I rather thought it wasn’t your kind of thing. It is full of wise little sayings though. ‘It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important’,” he quoted happily.

“Roses, foxes, princes, sheep – couldn’t understand a word of it,” Gibbs grunted.

Ducky shook his head. “Just don’t neglect that boy, Jethro, the way you did some of your wives. You can be frighteningly single-minded at times.”

Gibbs grinned. “No intention of neglecting him, Duck, but thanks for the unsolicited advice. As usual.” Then he turned and strode out.

Ducky watched him go with a fond smile and then turned back to his dead petty officer.

‘One runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed’,” he quoted to her. “You know, my dear, I was never really sure whether the fox tamed the prince, or the prince tamed the fox,” he mused, as he returned to his work.


“What you got for me, Abs?” Gibbs demanded as he walked through the door. Abby turned, with a delighted smile. It had been just over a week, and she hadn’t stopped smiling in all that time. She loved having her team back together.

“Well…you didn’t give me much to work with,” she told him.

“I know.”

“But I’m good – I mean, *really* good.”

“I know that too.” He handed her a Caf-Pow.

“Thank you, Gibbs!” She took a happy sip and then returned to her keyboard, fingers chasing over it at top speed. “So, I ran all the tests I could think of and the upshot is…” She pressed one final key and a picture came up onscreen with the words “Positive Match” flashing over it in big green lettering.

Gibbs’s expression changed, and he gazed at the screen intently. “It’s him?” he asked quietly.

“It’s him,” she said, nodding.

“Good work, Abs.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek and then strode towards the door.

“Where are you going?” she called after him. He paused and turned to her, one eyebrow raised. “Okay. Stupid question. But what about the case?”

“Tony is perfectly capable of handling the case.”

She was familiar with the dark look in his eyes, but it made her sigh anyway.

“Oh no – now you’ve gone all scary again,” she said, making a face. “And that’s a shame, Gibbs, because I like the way you’ve been all week.”

“The way I’ve been all week?”

“You know – kind of relaxed and smiley. I just assumed it was because of all the great sex you’re having with Tony, and I’m so happy for you, Gibbs! And for Tony, because if anyone deserves great sex it’s him, but…uh…did I just say too much?” She winced.

“Uh-huh.” His blue eyes were glacial, but she saw just a glimmer of amusement in there somewhere.

“Sorry.” She put her hand over her mouth. “Is it a secret? I just assumed everyone knew. I mean, there are some things you don’t have to be a forensics expert to figure out.”

“It isn’t a secret, Abby, but it’s not…” He grimaced. “Just keep the sex comments to yourself, okay?”

“Okay.” She drew her finger over her mouth, like she was fastening a zip. He shook his head and then turned and strode out of the room. “Be careful!” she called after him.

She put her fingers in her hair, twirled her pigtails anxiously, and then turned back to Major Mass-Spec.

Half an hour later she heard footsteps, and Tony walked into the room.

“What’s going on, Abs?” he asked. She frowned.

“No – it’s ‘what you got for me, Abs’?” she said, in her mock-Gibbs deep voice. “Gibbs left you in charge of the case, didn’t he?”

“Yeah – but I’m not trying to be Gibbs, Abby.”

“You’re not?” She frowned at him. “But you always do Gibbs when Gibbs isn’t here.”

“I used to, but now I’m doing Tony.” He grinned at her. “And Tony says, ‘What’s going on, Abs?’. That’s his catchphrase. Good, huh?”

She gazed at him. “I think it could use some work. Also, you should stop referring to yourself in the third person because that’s just freaky.”

“Understood.” He grinned at her, and she launched herself at him for a hug. She had got the hugs down to a manageable two a day, but it was hard. There were times when she felt that she just *had* to hug him, and he seemed okay with that.

“So what *have* you got for me?” he asked, with a resigned sigh, when she finally released him. She walked back to her workstation and was about to fill him in when she realised that he’d gone very quiet. She looked around to see him gazing at the picture onscreen, all the blood draining from his face.

“Oh shit! Tony, I’m sorry, you weren’t supposed to see that.” She slammed her hand down on the keyboard, and the picture disappeared.

“That picture – that was Marco…Gianni Marconi – wasn’t it?” he asked quietly. She winced.

“Yes. Sorry,” she said again.

“And Gibbs just disappeared in the middle of a case.”

“Yes,” she sighed.

“Gibbs never disappears in the middle of a case.”

“No. He doesn’t.” She twisted her pigtails anxiously in her fingers again.

“You gonna tell me where he went?”

“Uh, no.” She made a face. “Gibbs would kill me if I said anything, and you want me to live, don’t you, Tony?”

His expression softened. “Of course I do, Abby.”

He reached up and rubbed the back of his head absently. This was a danger signal they were all familiar with by now. She grabbed his hand and squeezed it.

“Sister Rosita has been asking after you. If you’re not doing anything later, would you like to go bowling with us?”

“Yeah. Okay.” He smiled at her, but those shadows were back in his eyes. She felt honoured that he didn’t feel he had to hide them around her any more. “Hey, Boy 43.” She pulled him down into another hug, and he put his arms around her and held on tight. “It’s okay. I’ve got you,” she said softly.


Nurse Roberts glanced at the ID that was flashed at her and then at the man holding it.

“You’re Agent Gibbs?” she asked. She’d never met a federal agent before, and this one was grim-faced and intimidating.

“Yeah. I phoned earlier.” He put away his ID and gazed at her expectantly.

“You were asking about Gianni?”

His jaw tightened, and he gave a curt nod.

“Well, he’s in intensive care. I didn’t realise his case was being investigated by the government.”

Gibbs frowned. “His case?”

“Yes – isn’t that why you’re here? Because of what happened to him?”

“What did happen to him?” Gibbs asked.

“Oh – I thought you knew. He’s just a harmless old homeless guy, but a few months ago he was brought in with third degree burns over half his body.”

A muscle in Gibbs’s jaw twitched. “Do you know how he was injured?”

“Well, I assumed that’s what you’re here to investigate. The local police think he was deliberately set on fire.”

“Any idea who did it?”

“Nobody’s sure, but there are rumours it was a bunch of kids.”

Gibbs gave a frightening little smile. “Let’s hope so,” he said. Nurse Roberts frowned.

“I’m sorry?” she murmured, assuming she’d misheard.

“Can I see him?” Gibbs asked.

“Sure.” She led him towards the room where Gianni was being cared for. “He can’t really talk much though – his lungs were badly damaged by smoke inhalation. Also…” She paused, one hand on the door handle. “I don’t know how familiar you are with burns victims, Agent Gibbs, but you should prepare yourself. He’s in a bad way. He’s in terrible pain, so we’ve put him on a constant morphine drip, but that means he’s pretty much out of it for most of the time. We’re just offering palliative care really – he won’t be with us for much longer.”

“I understand.” Gibbs nodded.

“It’s such a shame,” she sighed. “Poor old guy. What on earth did he do to deserve this? I honestly wonder what the world is coming to. I mean, what harm did he ever do anyone?”

Gibbs didn’t reply. He just gave her another one of those tight, disturbing smiles as she opened the door to Gianni’s room.

~*~ Gibbs walked over to the bed and looked at the man lying on it. His skin was red and oozing in some places and looked like it had been melted off his body in others. He was a mess.

“I did warn you,” Nurse Roberts sighed. “Gianni – you have a visitor,” she said loudly.

The man on the bed moved his head a fraction, and Gibbs found himself looking into one dark eye.

“We couldn’t save his other eye,” Nurse Roberts told him.

“Could I have a few moments alone with him?” Gibbs asked.

“Sure.” She nodded and walked towards the door. Gibbs followed her there and shut the door behind her. Then he returned to the bed. Most of the skin on Marconi’s body had been badly burned, but there were patches that were untouched. There was a small area of unharmed skin on his neck and another on his wrist. Gibbs glanced at it, and his jaw tightened as he saw a tattoo – three red droplets of blood dripping down Marconi’s forearm, part of a larger tattoo that had been burned away.

Gibbs sat down on the chair beside the bed and opened up the bag he’d brought with him. Then he leaned over and spoke directly into the man’s ear.

“You don’t know me, Marconi, but I know all about you. You’re dying, and to be honest, there’s nothing I really want to do make that happen any faster. I don’t want to put you out of your misery. I just want to tell you a story – but I want you to be fully conscious when I do, so I’m going to remove this.”

Gibbs leaned forward and removed the morphine drip from Marconi’s arm. Then he leaned back and took a file out of his bag.

“This story goes back a long way, Marconi,” he said quietly. “I’d start with, ‘Once upon a time’, but it isn’t really a fairy story – although there are children involved. It belongs more in the horror genre I think.”

He opened the file and showed it to Marconi. The man’s one eye flickered. “I don’t know if you remember this kid. I don’t know his name, but we’ll call him Boy 51. He’s Vietnamese. You should remember him – you had sex with him, and you murdered him.”

Marconi made a gurgling sound in the back of his throat. Gibbs leaned forward.

“What’s that? I didn’t hear you.”

“Fuck…you…” Marconi mouthed. Gibbs grinned.

“You don’t like my story? That’s a shame. I have several more I want to tell you. Let’s move on to another boy. We do have a name for him. His name is Anthony DiNozzo, and you raped him several times. You hurt him so much the first time you raped him that he had to be drugged the next time just so you wouldn’t rip him up again.”

He turned to another page in the file. The pictures had all been cropped, so they were just faces – Gibbs didn’t want Marconi taking any kind of vicarious pleasure from looking at them.

“This is Tony. Do you remember him?”

Marconi’s one good eye flashed at him, and Gibbs saw that he did. “Are you in pain now I’ve taken away your morphine, Marconi?” he asked. “Tony was in pain when you raped him. You made him bleed.”

Marconi made a gasping sound in the back of his throat, and he gestured feebly towards the morphine drip.

“We caught Parrish and Quinn,” Gibbs told him, ignoring the gesture. “They’re in prison right now, and that’s where you’d be heading too if it wasn’t for the fact that a different kind of justice seems to have caught up with you instead. Nurse Roberts said a bunch of kids set fire to you? Rough justice, sure – but you have to appreciate the irony.”

He gave a tight little grin.

“There are a lot of kids in this file, Marconi, and we don’t have names and stories for all of them, but I want you to see a picture of each and every single one of them before you die. It might take awhile.” Gibbs shrugged. “But you can do without the morphine while we do it, can’t you? I know it must be painful, but then so is bleeding internally because some bastard twice your size raped you.”

Marconi’s breathing was more shallow and pained now, so Gibbs guessed he was really missing the morphine.

“I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to arrest you,” Gibbs said, conversationally. “But this will have to do. Nurse Roberts says you don’t have long to live anyway, and, like I said, I don’t want to do anything to put you out of your misery. I hope you linger on in pain for another few weeks. Now…where was I?”

He turned a page in the file. Marconi moved his hand and grabbed Gibbs’s wrist. Gibbs leaned forward.

“Fucking…little…brats. Enjoyed…every single…one…” Marconi mouthed. Then he leaned back, a triumphant look in his eye.

“Yeah, I thought you’d say that,” Gibbs growled. “That’s why this is going to take a couple of hours. If the pain gets too much, you let me know. I won’t do anything, but it’ll sure as hell make me feel good.”

He gestured to the file. “This is Boy 32. His name is Ryan Watson…”


Tony was lying on the couch, dozing, when he heard the front door slam. He looked up as Gibbs walked into the living room. Tony gazed at him searchingly; he looked drained and exhausted but grimly satisfied.

“Hey.” Gibbs leaned over to drop a kiss on his head. “You still up?”

“Yeah.” Tony grabbed hold of his head and pulled him down so he could kiss his mouth. “Where have you been?” he asked when he released him.

Gibbs shrugged. “Tying up some loose ends,” he said evasively.

“Right,” Tony said slowly. “And are they all tied up now?”

“Yes.” Gibbs nodded firmly. “They are.” He stretched, and his back made a little popping sound.

“I saw Marco’s photo on Abby’s computer screen,” Tony said quietly. Gibbs sighed. “Not her fault,” Tony added.

“I’m not angry with anyone. I was going to tell you anyway.”

“So – are we done? For good this time?” Tony felt his gut clench anxiously.

Gibbs took off his jacket, flung it down on a nearby chair, and then turned to look at Tony again.

“Yeah. We’re done,” he said. “For good. Gianni Marconi won’t be hurting any more kids.”

“Want to tell me about it?” Tony asked quietly. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know. Judging by that look in Gibbs’s eyes, he probably didn’t.

Gibbs shook his head. He ran a hand over his chin, and Tony heard it rasp on the stubble. “Trust me?” he asked.

Tony gazed at him for a long moment, and then, finally, he nodded. “Always,” he replied.


Gibbs gave a tight little grin. “I know it’s late, but I need to go work on my boat,” he said to Tony.

It felt like a compulsion. He needed to lose himself in the grain of the wood and the smooth feel of it under his fingers. Tony nodded. Gibbs knew he understood – he knew all about the need to lose yourself in something.

Gibbs went upstairs first and got changed into a pair of soft, old, grey sweatpants and his very old, very faded, NIS tee shirt, and then he went to the basement. He paused at the top of the stairs. Tony had got there first and was sitting on the sawdust-strewn armchair in the corner.

Gibbs smiled at him, recognising immediately that he was in the presence of Boy 43. It had taken him awhile to identify the shifts in Tony’s personas, but he’d become an expert at it now. He was fascinated by the process Tony had gone through, integrating the shy, introverted boy he’d once been into the extrovert, fun-loving persona he’d adopted to protect himself. Both were recognisably Tony, but the extrovert Tony, always the protector, was usually the more dominant. At work, Tony was pretty much the same as ever, but he allowed Boy 43 to shine through more often than before.

Boy 43 made most of his appearances at home, where he felt safest. He liked to follow Gibbs around and sit, quietly, as close to Gibbs as possible. He was happy to hang out in the basement, saying nothing, just enjoying their time alone together. The extrovert Tony found the boat boring, and either tried to persuade Gibbs to abandon it in favour of sex, or just left him to it and went upstairs to watch his DVDs. Gibbs had offered to get a big plasma screen for the basement, but Tony preferred watching DVDs in the comfort of the living room, and Boy 43 never wanted to watch DVDs when he was in the basement. He preferred to hunker down in the armchair and watch Gibbs working on the boat.

Gibbs didn’t mind which of them he was with – at least life was never dull, and he liked spending time with the quiet, sensitive Boy 43 as much as with the more talkative, extrovert Tony.

Gibbs ran down the stairs and poured himself a glass of bourbon. He took a sip and then set to work on his boat. Tony sat there, curled up into a ball on the armchair, eyes half-closed, watching him work. Every now and then, Gibbs paused to take a sip of his drink and tousle Tony’s hair, or drop a kiss on his head. Tony didn’t speak, but his eyes gleamed at these small gestures of affection.

Gibbs worked well into the night, climbing over the boat, banging in wooden pegs and sanding down the curved prow. He liked the way Tony’s eyes followed his every movement. He loved their quiet intimacy, and the way neither of them felt the need to fill the silence.

Gibbs allowed the peace to soothe him and slowly dissolve the cold, hard knot of vengeance he’d nursed in his belly for so long. It was over. The bad guys had been dealt with. Justice had been done. Tony was safe. He would always carry the psychological scars of what had been done to him, but he was over the worst of it. He’d faced up to it in a way that made Gibbs proud. He’d been right, that night back at Tony’s apartment, to describe him as brave. He was. Gibbs thought he was the bravest person he’d ever known, and he’d known a few.

Gibbs’s glanced over at Tony and saw that he was fast asleep, still curled up in the armchair. Gibbs smiled, and grabbed the blanket he kept under the boat. He shook out the worst of the sawdust and then gently placed it over Tony.

It hadn’t been easy. When he’d made that promise to Tony, all those months ago, that he’d stick by him every step of the way, he hadn’t realised just how tough it would be. He hadn’t once considered walking away though. Loving Tony came as easy to him as breathing, no matter how much it had hurt at times. And it had hurt. It still did sometimes. But with the pain had come greater rewards than he’d ever expected.

He’d forgotten how good it felt to be in love. Ever since Shannon’s death, he’d kept his heart frozen and aloof behind the high, cold walls he’d built to keep himself safe. Only Tony’s heart-breaking vulnerability had persuaded him to venture out and take a risk. Now, looking at the sleeping man in the armchair, he was so damn relieved that he had.

That reminded him of something. He took his cell phone out of his pocket and dialled a number. It was late, and he wasn’t expecting anyone to pick up, so he wasn’t surprised when his call went straight to voicemail.

“Hey, Walt, it’s Gibbs,” he said, speaking quietly so as not to wake Tony. “That thing we were talking about a few months ago – the thing you kicked my ass about? Well, I took your advice, and it all worked out fine in the end, so tell Cyndi she can stop bugging you about it.”

He paused and looked at Tony sleeping in the chair, a little sprinkling of sawdust in his hair.

“Oh – and Walt? Thanks.”

The End

I have to say, this one took a lot out of me. Your feedback is always much appreciated :-).




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41 Comments on Damage: 12. Daylight Part Two



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41 Comments on Damage: 12. Daylight Part Two


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