Ghosts: 1. Chapter One




The Ferrari ate up the road, its sleek, red, highly polished exterior drawing admiring glances from all the other road users – well, in Tony’s mind anyway. It was entirely possible that a proportion of the admiring glances were directed at his handsome passenger, because Gibbs was a damn fine looking man and all the more so for being dressed in his formal funeral garb.


He had shed the black jacket and tie, his crisp white shirt was open at the neck, and he was laughing, looking happy, relaxed and carefree. Hell, the man looked younger now than when Tony had first laid eyes on him in that bar all those years ago. Then his eyes had been full of shadows, and he’d carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. Now he looked like he’d emerged from a long, lonely sleep, prepared to face the world again.


Tony didn’t give a damn whether people were admiring his hot car or his hot passenger; he was the happiest guy alive, and he had the car and lover to prove it.


Tony pulled into a motel just before dusk, swerved the car in an elegant loop around the parking lot, and then swung it effortlessly into one of the available parking spaces with an entirely unnecessary flourish of his wrists.


“Show off.” Gibbs rolled his eyes.


Tony raised an eyebrow. “And this would be different to that shit-eating grin you had on your face when freewheeling your yellow charger down Stillwater Main Street how?”


Gibbs laughed out loud, and Tony didn’t think he’d ever tire of how exhilarating it was that he could make that sound emerge from Gibbs’s usually taciturn throat.


“I guess that where our choice of cars is concerned, we’re both kids at heart,” Gibbs acknowledged.


“Yeah – although you rescued yours as a heap of junk and spent months patiently trying to get her working again – whereas I just coveted this beauty for her looks.” Tony patted the Ferrari’s glossy red exterior through the open window and then glanced sideways at Gibbs. “Why do I get the feeling I’m more shallow than you, Boss?”


Gibbs gave an amused shake of his head. “You just wanted something you couldn’t have. Plenty of us do that.” His smile faded. “I’ve been doin’ it for years.”


Tony gazed at him, unsure how to reply. He knew Gibbs came with baggage – hell, they both did. His own father was barely cold in his grave, and Gibbs knew all about his daddy issues. But Tony had seen Gibbs in the aftermath of Shannon and Kelly’s deaths and witnessed, first hand, all the anger and self-destructive behaviour that had accompanied that dark time in Gibbs’s life.


“You sure about this?” Tony asked quietly, remembering all of Gibbs’s failed marriages and equally failed affairs. He’d seen some of them crash and burn with his own eyes – Stephanie, Jenny, Hollis…and he had a pretty good idea why they hadn’t worked out. “I didn’t mean to rush you into anything, and this all happened pretty fast. I don’t want you feeling like you owe me anything just because I was this loser kid you took under your wing once, and who couldn’t let you go.”


“Nobody ever hung in so long for so little.” Gibbs gave a wry grunt. “Don’t know what made you so sure I’m worth it, Tony, because I figure you’ve only ever seen the worst of me.”


“Not true. You took care of me, Jethro – back when I was nineteen, and every day since I started working for you. Okay, so you’re a bastard…” Tony grinned. “But you’re my bastard now.”


Gibbs snorted, and Tony wondered if he got it. Gibbs had been kicking his ass and keeping him safe from the minute he’d first met him, and Tony didn’t just enjoy the combination – he needed it. He had never once doubted Gibbs’s honest affection for him, no matter how big a bastard he could sometimes be.


He reached out and touched the side of Gibbs’s face, drawing his chin up so he could look straight into those vivid blue eyes.


“You threw me a lifeline, Jethro,” he said quietly. “You gave me a chance, and you never turned your back on me, no matter how much I screwed up. Even when you ran out on me all those years ago it was to protect me. If I’d known it was you paying for my education…well, I’d have felt obligated, and I’d have come to resent you for it.”


“When you weren’t offering to offset the costs of that education with blowjobs no doubt,” Gibbs said, with just a quirk of a grin.


“Oh, you cannot expect me to hear the word ‘blowjob’ from your lips and not react!” Tony exclaimed, feeling his cock harden in response. “What the hell are we doing sitting in the car when there’s a motel room with our name on it just over there?” He jerked his head and moved to open the car door.


Gibbs caught his arm firmly and pulled Tony back down into his seat. “How about you? Are *you* sure about this, Tony?” he asked. “Only…there’s a big difference between what you wanted when you were nineteen, and what you might want now, as an adult.”


Tony saw that same dark, brooding look in Gibbs’s eyes that he recognized from a time long past.


“I’m sure,” he said firmly. He glanced at the shiny red car and then at Gibbs. “And there’s no damn difference at all, Jethro. What I wanted then is what I want now. No question.”


Gibbs released his arm, and Tony gave it a rueful little rub. He saw the apology in Gibbs’s eyes that he knew he’d never hear from the man’s lips.


Tony jerked his head in the direction of the motel. “C’mon. You look way too hot in those clothes for me to let you stay in them for long.”


He gave Gibbs a wicked grin, and then he scrambled to get out of the car with Gibbs following on behind at a more leisurely pace, a little smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.


The motel room was small but clean. Tony threw the bags onto the bed and kicked the door shut behind them.


“Bring back memories?” He reached for Gibbs and pulled him close. “You and me, alone in a motel room…” He grinned suggestively.


“Yeah, except you’re not a hustler, and I’m not drunk this time around.”


“At least I was a good hustler – you were a lousy drunk.” Tony began unbuttoning Gibbs’s shirt urgently, wanting to get at all that taut flesh underneath.


“You’re kidding right?” Gibbs chuckled. “You were a lousy hustler. You turned your tricks for free.”


“Just one trick. Only you. All the rest paid.” Tony slid Gibbs’s shirt off his shoulders, trapping his arms by his sides, and trailed a line of kisses over Gibbs’s newly exposed collarbones.


“How many were there?” Gibbs asked.


Tony paused and glanced at him. “This some weird jealousy thing? You know what I used to do, Jethro. You always have.”


“No.” Gibbs shook his head. “Just…you’re mine now, Tony. I don’t like to think of what you had to do to get by. Don’t like to think of where I was in my head when I first met you, either. Those memories you talk about…they’re one hell of a mix of good and bad. Good that I found you; bad that we were both so fucked up back then.”


“I know. That’s why we have to make new memories.”


Tony stared into Gibbs’s eyes, noticing the hints of uncertainty there – Gibbs wanted him, he had no doubt about that, but he was afraid, too. Tony could see the fear there, and he understood, instinctively, what it was about. Gibbs hadn’t truly loved anyone since Shannon – and even seventeen years later he was afraid of laying his heart on the line and having it shattered again. Tony wasn’t sure Gibbs could survive that happening a second time; he’d been broken enough.


“You said it, Jethro,” he murmured. “I’m yours now.” He slid his hands around Gibbs’s back, pressing the flat of his palms against his warm skin, pulling him in. “But I’ve been yours for seventeen years, and I’ve spent the last eight of them by your side. I’m not going anywhere, Jethro. You’ve got me. You always did.”


Gibbs was still held captive by the arms of his shirt, and Tony took advantage of that fact and kissed his lips gently but firmly. It was like waking a sleeping giant; Gibbs’s brief moment of doubt disappeared, and he surged into action. He flung off his shirt, freeing his arms, grabbed hold of Tony, and kissed him back. He pushed Tony over to the bed and threw him down on it, then paused and looked at him, a predatory gleam in his eyes.


Tony grinned and moistened his lower lip slowly and maddeningly with his tongue, knowing that the action would go straight to Gibbs’s cock. Sure enough, Gibbs gave a low growl and the front of his dress pants tented appreciatively. He launched himself onto the bed, landing just to one side of Tony, and began caressing him with that slow, passionate, smouldering intensity that Tony remembered from seventeen years ago – and last night.


They got naked quickly, and Gibbs fished the lube and condoms from the side of Tony’s bag. Within seconds, Gibbs was sliding his cock into Tony, and Tony was gasping, his body rising to meet Gibbs’s fast, forceful thrusts. It felt so good. It was as good as he remembered it being when he was nineteen – it just felt so right to be gazing up into Gibbs’s intense, blue-eyed gaze as he made love to him.


Tony reached down and slid his hand along his own cock in time with Gibbs’s urgent thrusts. They were both in such a hurry that they came at almost the same time, gasping out their orgasms with little panting shudders of pleasure. Then Gibbs lowered himself down onto Tony’s body and lay there, his hair soft beneath Tony’s chin, while they both recovered.


“So, I’m thinking if this was a film, it’d be Pretty Woman,” Tony mused, wrapping both his arms around Gibbs’s back. “You do kinda have a look of Richard Gere, Jethro.” He ran his fingers through Gibbs’s silver hair to illustrate the point. “Only better looking of course,” he added hastily as Gibbs glanced up at him with a frown.


“Well, I hate to break it to you, DiNozzo, but you look nothin’ the hell like Julia Roberts,” Gibbs replied, resting his weight on his elbows and gazing at Tony quizzically, his cock still embedded in Tony’s body.


“Hey! We both have big smiles!” Tony grinned to illustrate the point.


Gibbs rolled his eyes.


“Did you know that whole movie was based on a fairy story?” Tony said, his usual post-sex chattiness kicking in. Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “Cinderella,” Tony informed him with a smirk.


Gibbs grinned. “Cinderella huh? Suits you.”


“Hah! If I’m Cinders that makes you Prince Charming!” Tony laughed out loud. “Yeah, I can totally see you in that role, Boss!”


Even lying on top of him, with his cock up Tony’s ass, Gibbs still possessed the ability to deliver a might fine head slap. Tony grinned even more and pushed up, forcing Gibbs off him. He rolled over onto his lover and now it was his turn to look down at Gibbs.


“I think you belong in a different fairy story though, Jethro. I think you have your own story.” He leaned down and sucked gently on Gibbs’s earlobe, loving the way Gibbs went totally still beneath him.


“Oh yeah, DiNozzo? What’s that? Be careful here…you could be on dangerous ground.” The expression in Gibbs’s eyes was halfway between amusement and arousal as Tony continued to suck on his earlobe.


“Think of you more as Sleeping Beauty, Jethro,” Tony whispered huskily in his ear.


Gibbs rested his hands on Tony’s ass, looking both curious and amused. “I know I’m gonna regret this, but go on, tell me why.” Gibbs sighed.


Tony drew back and rested his weight on one elbow. He ran his hand gently through Gibbs’s hair. “Seventeen years stuck in a lonely tower, waiting for someone to get through all the brambles and briars keeping the world out – waiting for someone to force their way through those walls and bring you to life.”


Gibbs gazed up at him, a startled expression in his eyes. “With a kiss?” he asked quietly.


“With a kiss.” Tony moved his head down and gently captured Gibbs’s mouth with his own.


Happily ever after, Tony thought, as he explored Gibbs’s mouth with his tongue, sinking in deep. The trouble with fairy stories was that they always ended just as something big and important was beginning. It was all very well finding out how the couple in question got together – but what happened after Cinders had been rescued from a life of drudgery and Sleeping Beauty had been awakened with a kiss?


What the hell happened next?








Tony glanced around the crowded gym, looking for Gibbs. He’d been here a few minutes ago… Tony frowned and moved away from his group of friends.


“Hey, Tony, you coming with us?” Jason asked. “We’re going to Matt’s place for a party.” He leaned in close. “Looks like we’re gonna get lucky tonight,” he leered, glancing at the gaggle of girls clustered around them. “Nothing like being on the winning team for getting the babes all wet and ready, huh?” He made an obscene gesture with his tongue.


Tony looked at the pretty girls, and a couple of them eyed him back suggestively. He could have his pick – he knew that. He was the star of the team, he was popular, he was good looking…he could bury himself balls deep in one of those girls tonight and enjoy every single second of it. And yet…he glanced around again.


“Anyone see where my old man went?” he asked.


Jason looked at him as if he’d gone nuts. “Forget your old man – we have some partying to do, Tony!”


“Yeah…sure…you guys go ahead. I’ll catch you later.”


Tony made a run for the door. Why had Gibbs just shot off like that without saying goodbye? Why hadn’t he waited around to give Tony a lift back to the motel room? Had Gibbs thought he’d prefer to party with these kids than go back with him? If so, he couldn’t be more wrong.


“Idiot,” Tony muttered to himself, running out into the parking lot. “Damn stupid idiot.”


He liked his friends, but they were just kids. They’d lived soft, easy lives. They didn’t have that darkness in their eyes that Gibbs had – and that Tony somehow connected with, even though he didn’t know why. Those girls smelled good and looked pretty but they weren’t Gibbs. Tony knew he wanted to be on his hands and knees being reamed by Gibbs’s hard cock rather than pounding into some doe-eyed girl who hung on his every word.


He wanted to smell Gibbs’s earthy scent and feel the rasp of his stubbled chin as he kissed him – one of those long, deep, possessive kisses that sent Tony wild. He wanted to be pinned down by strong, muscular arms and feel a hard, toned body against his own. He’d never felt about anyone the way he felt about Gibbs – hell, he hadn’t felt this way since…since military academy.


Tony didn’t want to think about his first love or how that had ended. He was a fast runner, and the motel wasn’t far away. Maybe Gibbs had gone to get drunk in the nearby bar – if he had, hopefully Tony would be able to drag him out before he was too drunk to get it up. Not that Gibbs had been drinking so much over the last few days. When Tony had first met him he’d been so sure he was an alcoholic like his mom. However, it seemed that although Gibbs could drink mom under the table he could also stop whenever he wanted, which she had never been able to do.


Tony was still warm from the basketball game and the run back to the motel was easy. He had just reached the parking lot when he saw the tail lights of Gibbs’s car disappearing off up the road. He stopped and stood there, panting heavily; where the hell was Gibbs going at this time of night?


Tony had a bad feeling about this. He fumbled for his motel room key, unlocked the door, and then shoved it open and turned on the light. His stuff was where he’d left it, strewn all over the room in a dozen different places, but he saw immediately that Gibbs’s stuff was gone.


Tony’s heart was hammering in his chest as he ran into to the bathroom. He frantically checked to see if Gibbs’s shaving gear and toothbrush were there – but there was only an empty gap where they’d been this morning.


He ran back into the bedroom and threw open the closet door, but the only clothes hanging inside were a couple of his own shirts. He shut the door with a savage swing of his hand.


“You bastard. You fucking bastard.”


He dropped to his knees, feeling like someone had punched him in the gut. It hurt. He’d finally found someone he liked, someone he trusted, and someone who had been there for him when he was hurting. His dad had never been that person – hell, nobody in his life had ever been that person…until Gibbs. And now he was gone.


“Fuck you!” he screamed at the empty room.


He knelt there, arms crossed over his belly, panting heavily. His hitching breaths morphed into bitter, angry sobs, and he wiped his arm across his eyes, trying to scrub the tears out of them.


He didn’t want to feel this way. He wasn’t the same damn stupid kid who’d got caught fucking another boy at boarding school and hauled off in disgrace. He wasn’t the same stupid child who’d allowed his father’s endless stream of criticism and acutely timed jibes to get under his skin and hurt him. He’d told himself he wouldn’t be that person again. He wouldn’t let this latest rejection get to him, either. Fuck Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He’d managed just fine before he came along, and he’d manage just fine without him.


He glanced around the room bitterly and saw the note lying on the table in the corner. He got up, went over there, and picked it up.


Dear Andy,


It’s time for me to move on. The room is paid for until the end of the month so that gives you three weeks to figure some stuff out. I’ve left you some cash under the pillow for food. Do not go back on the streets.


Take care,




“Fuck you. You’re not my father – you don’t fucking get to tell me what to do.”


He scrunched up the note and threw it on the floor and then threw himself on the bed. The pillow smelled of Gibbs. It was a smell that reminded Tony of warmth, safety, a gruff kind of loving, and nights of endlessly hot sex.


He slid his hand under the pillow and found the cash – then whistled as he saw how much Gibbs had left for him. Between this and the motel room he wouldn’t have to go back to the bars looking for trade for weeks. Although how the hell Gibbs thought he’d figure anything out in that time was beyond him. It wasn’t like his situation would have changed by the time the money ran out.


He heard a car pulling up outside and got up, feeling the surge of hope. Maybe Gibbs had changed his mind. Maybe he’d realized what a mistake he’d made and turned tail and come back. Tony ran to the door and threw it open – to see a young couple get out of their car, talking and laughing as they made their way to their motel room.


“Idiot,” he berated himself, slamming the door shut again. “Why do you always ruin everything by falling in love?”


He said the words without thinking, and then the sudden blinding realization hit him. In love. He was in love with Leroy Jethro Gibbs. This was only the second time he’d been in love – the first time had ended in disaster, and the second time, it seemed, hadn’t ended much better. “Don’t do it again,” he warned himself. “Don’t ever give someone the power to hurt you like this again.”


He stood in the doorway, looking around the little room that had been his whole world these past two weeks. Everywhere he looked he saw a memory: Gibbs lying in a drunken stupor on the bed, unshaven, his eyes red-rimmed and his tee shirt stained with liquor. Gibbs sober – and completely naked – standing by bathroom door, grinning at him, his cock jutting out proudly, hard and ready for a vigorous bout of fucking; Gibbs sitting in the chair beside the bed, feeding him medicine and rubbing ointment into the worst of his welts; Gibbs sleeping on his back, hair dark against the white pillow, snoring away.


Tony had spent hours awake at night just watching the man sleep, his chin resting on Gibbs’s chest while Gibbs snored. There was something about him that fascinated Tony. He longed to feel those strong arms wrapped around him again, longed to inhale the scent of the man, and to feel those firm, mobile lips pressed against his own.


Tony went over to the note he’d thrown onto the floor and picked it up. Gibbs had packed up, taken everything he owned, and vanished into the night. Tony knew nothing about him except his name. He didn’t know where Gibbs had come from or where he was going. He didn’t have a clue why he drank so heavily, or why he slept with a gun under his pillow every night. He didn’t know why an air of shocked grief hung over the man like a permanent cloud; Gibbs was as much as a mystery to him now as he had been when they’d first met.


All Tony had left of Leroy Jethro Gibbs was his memories of the two weeks they’d spent together and this note. Tony smoothed out the creases gently with his fingertips and then folded it up carefully and placed it inside his wallet.








They went to a diner across the street to grab something to eat and on their way back to the motel room they passed a bunch of local kids playing basketball. Tony grinned at Gibbs and ran off to join them, ignoring Gibbs’s sigh of exasperation and shout of “you’re way too old for this, DiNozzo!”


The kids didn’t seem to feel the same way – especially when they saw how good he was.


“Too old? Like hell! I’ve still got the moves!” Tony called out to Gibbs as he dribbled around his opponent, rose up into the air, and landed the ball in the basket with that satisfying whoosh of air that always made his heart beat a little faster. God he loved this game!


As he played he was aware of Gibbs’s eyes on him, and he was nineteen again, back in that gym, playing in front of his ‘dad’. His own father had never once come to watch him play. He was always too busy or just plain disinterested – he never had given a damn about Tony’s passions. He wanted his son to be a mini-me, a little version of himself with the same interests, the same goals, and the same sexual orientation. It had infuriated him beyond belief when Tony had made it clear he was different in every single way. No wonder the old man had disowned him.


Tony faltered as he began a jump, remembering what it had felt like to stand in his father’s dark, oppressive study and hear the old man tell him that he wouldn’t be getting a cent out of him. He was a fucking *fag*, a queer, and a dumb little shit as well – he was no son of his.


The lapse of concentration cost him as his opponent launched himself at him, and Tony fell sideways, landing awkwardly and falling into a graceless heap on the ground. He felt the impact grazing his shin and knee and growled out a curse. A few seconds later a shadow fell over him, blocking out the light.


“Still having a good time, DiNozzo?”


Tony looked up into Gibbs’s amused blue eyes.


“Ow. No.” Tony gazed up at him pathetically. “You’re right – I *am* getting too old for this.”


Gibbs grinned and held out a hand; Tony grabbed it and allowed him to haul him up.


“Ow,” he said again as he limped a few steps. He could feel the blood trickling down his leg under his jeans. Gibbs took pity on him and pulled his arm over his shoulder and began walking him back to their motel room.


“I’m getting a strong sense of déjà vu,” Gibbs muttered as they walked.


Tony laughed. “Me too! That case a couple of years ago – we went to a Navy base, and I threw a few hoops with the guys – then landed badly on my ankle. You had to haul me off the court back then too.”


“Always wondered if you played that day just to get my attention,” Gibbs said softly. Tony turned to look at him. “Andy was pretty thrilled when I went to watch him play that time,” Gibbs explained.


“Yeah.” Tony smiled to himself. “And yes, I played basketball that day to get your attention, Jethro. I wanted to see in your eyes if you remembered.”


“Get any answers?” Gibbs quirked an eyebrow.


“From you? Are you kidding! Remind me never to play poker with you. I just assumed you didn’t remember – that you had no idea I was Andy so watching me play basketball was meaningless to you.”


“Oh, it wasn’t meaningless, Tony.” Gibbs gave a tight little smile. “I couldn’t stop thinking about you – about Andy – for days after that.”


They reached the motel, and Gibbs propped Tony up against the wall and opened the door, then helped him inside.


“And this is bringing back another memory,” Tony said, as Gibbs deposited him on the bed.


“Yeah. Bad memory. You sitting on the step outside the motel room, all beat up.” Gibbs jerked his head at Tony’s jeans. “Get ‘em off. Let’s see the damage.”


Tony undid his fly and peeled his jeans down his legs, pulling the fabric gingerly away from his sore leg. His knee was badly grazed and blood was flowing freely down his shin.


“Damn it,” he muttered mournfully as he surveyed his injured leg. “I really thought today was going to turn out better than this.”


“Been kind of a rollercoaster, hasn’t it?” Gibbs said, going into the bathroom.


Tony could hear him turning on the faucet, and then Gibbs emerged a couple of seconds later with a wad of toilet paper and a glass full of water. He knelt down in front of Tony.


“First you bury your dad, then you get a Ferrari, and then you smash up your knee.”


“You missed out the bit about the bone-meltingly good sex.” Tony grinned. “One thing I never forgot was how damn good you are in the sack.”


Gibbs grunted, but Tony thought he looked pleased. He dipped the toilet paper in the water and gently bathed the blood away from Tony’s shin and knee.


“There have been so many times these past eight years when I’ve sat across the squad room from you, watching you, and remembering what it felt like when you rammed that big, fat cock of yours into me.” Tony smiled happily.


Gibbs frowned. “Clearly I wasn’t working you hard enough if you had all that time to think about sex.”


Tony laughed. “Don’t tell me you never once looked at me and thought about how hot we were together! There was never anyone as good as you, Jethro – and I sure as hell went looking. Nobody else ever measured up.”


“Hmm.” Gibbs finished washing Tony’s leg and reached into his bag and rummaged around for a few seconds before fishing out a small first aid kit.


“Aw, c’mon, don’t tell me you never once remembered how good it felt when I had my lips wrapped around your cock! We’re good together in bed, Jethro. We always were. You have to admit that,” Tony chided.


Gibbs made no reply, but Tony didn’t miss the small, secret, very satisfied smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth. He opened the first aid kit and found a band aid.


“Who travels with a first aid kit anyway?” Tony wrinkled up his forehead in disbelief.


“Me. Always,” Gibbs replied. “You never know when the idiot you’re with is going to get himself hurt showing off.”


He stuck the band aid onto Tony’s knee and then sat back on his heels. “There – all done.”


“Thanks, Dad.” The words were out of Tony’s mouth before he realized it, and then he could have kicked himself. He saw Gibbs’s shoulders tighten and suddenly there was an atmosphere in the room you could cut with a knife. “Not gonna throw me out for calling you that this time, are you?” he asked softly.


“Don’t be an idiot.” Gibbs stood up and his back made a popping sound. He threw the band aid wrapper and soiled toilet paper into the trash can.


Tony thought about making a joke to diffuse the tension, but then he realized that this particular issue would always be between them – they had to find some way of getting to grips with it.


“I didn’t know – back then. Christ, you’d only just lost Kelly – no wonder you freaked out.”


Gibbs flinched when Tony said her name – it was only a tiny movement, but Tony caught it all the same.


“Ghosts,” Tony murmured. Gibbs turned around, a question in his eyes. “My father, Kelly, Shannon – those ghosts were always in the room with us back then, Jethro; looks like that hasn’t changed.”


Gibbs rubbed a hand over his chin, and then he came and sat down on the bed beside Tony.


“I’m not…this is not stuff I’m good at, but I will try – for you. Never could before. Not for any of my ex-wives, but I want this – us – to work out.”


Tony saw it again – that little spike of fear, so unlike Gibbs. That fear that he’d never made a relationship work since Shannon’s death, and that fear, also, of loving someone again – of giving his whole heart and having it shattered.


“My ‘daddy’ issues, your ‘being a daddy’ issues.” Tony gave a wry smile. “We are broken in such complementary ways, Jethro.”


Gibbs shook his head. “Not broken, Tony. Mike Franks once told me that I was battered and bruised but not broken. And you aren’t broken, either – hell, you went ten rounds with your father before he died, and he never once landed a knockout blow despite you pulling your punches more than he deserved. I almost broke though – back then, when I was on my liquored-up road trip.”


“You slept with your gun under your pillow. I never knew if one day you’d put it in your mouth and pull the trigger,” Tony said quietly.


“And you slept in dumpsters and turned tricks in bars. I think…” Gibbs hesitated and then ploughed on determinedly. “I think that finding you stopped me from breaking, Tony. I think I was close to it.”


“And finding you stopped me from…well, I have no idea what the hell would have happened to me if I’d continued with that kind of lifestyle, Jethro.”


“I was such a shit back then; the drinking, the gun, the weird reactions that must have freaked you out. Why didn’t you just move on and forget about me? Why the hell did you come looking for me all those years later?” Gibbs asked, looking genuinely puzzled.


“Oh, that’s easy.” Tony smiled. “You left me a note.”








“Hey, DiNozzo – you coming to the bar later?” Daley asked.


“Hmm?” Tony hid the brochure under a pile of papers and glanced up at his partner. Daley was a big, capable cop who ate too many donuts, but he’d taken Tony under his wing when he’d first arrived at Baltimore PD and had been a good friend to him.


“Bar?” Daley sat back in his chair and his shirt rode up over his ample belly. He patted it proudly. “Beer,” he added unnecessarily.


“Maybe.” Tony glanced surreptitiously at the brochure.


“What you got there? Picture of Susan in her birthday suit?” Daley grinned. Susan was his latest girlfriend – Tony was always careful to parade his girlfriends around the police station to draw attention away from his frequent trips to gay clubs when he was between women. He’d learned the necessity for camouflage the hard way as a teenager, and it wasn’t a lesson he was going to forget.


“Hah! Wouldn’t you like to see that!” Tony gave a lascivious wink.


Susan was a former model and beauty queen, with a statuesque figure that made all the guys’ heads turn. Tony liked her well enough, but it wasn’t as if it was going to go anywhere. The sex was good, but he never felt connected. If he’d never known any different he might have thought this was as good as it got…but he did know different. The only time he’d ever connected with anyone during sex, and enjoyed it on a whole other level, had been with Jethro, all those years ago. He’d been searching for it ever since but never found it. If it hadn’t been for those two weeks with Jethro he’d never even know such a connection existed. But he did. And he couldn’t forget.


“Yes I would…” Daley could move surprisingly fast for such a big guy and a second later he’d snatched the brochure from Tony’s fingers and was holding it aloft, with a triumphant grin on his face. “What beauties do we have here…?” he began, only to trail off in surprise when he saw what it was. “NCIS? What the hell is that?” He glanced at Tony.


“Federal agency. Navy cops,” Tony muttered, shame-faced.


“And you’re reading their recruiting brochure? Why?”


Tony sighed. “Can’t stay here forever, Bill.”


“Why the hell not? I intend to,” Daley retorted. “Seriously, Tony – you’re thinking of becoming a fed? Why?”


Tony grinned. “Aw, c’mon – being a fed is way more attractive to the chicks than being a cop, Bill. Think how many more hot babes I’ll get.”


“You already get more than your fair share, pretty boy.” Daley threw the brochure back at Tony. “But if you wanna impress the ladies, then join the FBI. Ain’t nobody even heard of NCIS.”


Tony grinned and quickly stowed the brochure away in his desk drawer again. But when Daley left to get coffee he reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet, took out an old piece of paper, and gently smoothed it out in front of him. He knew the message by heart, but he liked looking at it anyway. He traced his finger over the signature.






Leroy Jethro Gibbs.


Tony was a cop – he was good at tracking people down. He’d resisted the urge to track down Gibbs for years, but that piece of paper had burned a hole through his wallet, through his pocket, and right through to his skin, and in the end he’d had to go looking just to ease the ache.


It had taken him awhile, but he’d found out where Gibbs worked. Maybe he should have been more surprised to find that his old lover was in a similar line of work to him, but he wasn’t. He thought Gibbs would make a good federal agent. There was something so tough and focused about the man.


Daley was right about one thing though – Tony sure as hell hadn’t heard of NCIS; he’d had to read up about the place where Jethro now worked.


Tony fingered the ad he’d attached to the brochure. He’d printed it off the NCIS website during one of the many long sessions he’d spent browsing the site. There was a vacancy in the Major Crimes Response Team, headed up by none other than the object of his fascination himself. Tony would have to get accepted as an agent and go through the FLETC, but he had all the right qualifications for the job.


Did he dare do it?


Could he walk into an interview, sit opposite that man he’d known all those years ago, and pretend like it never happened? Or supposing he went in there, all piss and vinegar, and reminded Gibbs of what they’d once shared, with a cheeky raised eyebrow and an invitation on his lips? What was he expecting Gibbs to do? Throw his arms around him and tell him he’d missed him? The man would more likely kick his ass and throw him out.


“Damn it!” He got out the brochure again and threw it in the trash. “Thinking with your dick as usual, DiNozzo, you stupid idiot.”


He could hear his father’s voice in his mind, throwing out all his usual taunts.


“What the hell makes you think he’ll even remember you? You were just a sniveling little shit when he met you, sucking off strangers in bars like the whore you are – the whore you’ll always be inside. He hasn’t thought about you for even a second since he high-tailed it out of your life. As for you – a federal agent? Don’t make me laugh, boy. They don’t take lazy little shits like you.”


He sat there for a moment, thinking about it. “You know what, Dad? You’re probably right.” He picked the brochure out of the trash, a grin on his face. “And you know another thing? I always did love proving you wrong.”





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