Hiding In Plain Sight: 6. Chapter Six



Gibbs glanced at himself in the mirror; black suit, white shirt, black tie. He looked appropriate for the occasion – he just wished the occasion wasn’t necessary. Maybe they’d got off lucky, losing only one person in their final battle against Randolph Jordan, but try telling that to Lieutenant Rice’s parents.

Gibbs supposed he should be thankful that he hadn’t lose any of his own subs – and he was – but they’d all been through so much that it was hard to feel any gratitude.

He walked out into the living area of their quarters to find his subs standing waiting – all except Tony who was still in the infirmary.

“Okay.” Gibbs surveyed them all. Like him, they were all dressed in formal clothes, polished and starched up to the eyeballs because they knew that was what he expected of them. “I know I haven’t been around much lately…”

“That’s okay, Gibbs – we know you’ve been with Tony,” Abby interrupted. “Are we going to be able to see him any time soon?”

“As a matter of fact, yes,” he told her with a faint smile. “He said he’d like to see you, Abby – this afternoon, after the service.”

“What about us?” Ziva asked, and Gibbs noticed that her hand had slipped silently into Tim’s.

“Just Abby to begin with,” Gibbs told her softly. He saw the flash of hurt in her eyes and shook his head at her. “Ziva it’s nothing personal. Tony’s been through hell – he’s just taking it one step at a time.”

She looked a little mollified. “Why will nobody tell us what happened to him?” she asked.

“Because it’s his story to tell,” Gibbs said sharply. “If he wants to tell you about it then fine, but I’m not going to and nobody else will, either. Now, I know it’s been a tough few weeks for you all, but I want your full written reports by the end of tomorrow.”

None of them reacted, and then they glanced at each other uneasily, and Gibbs knew they were missing Tony’s smart-assed aside on the subject of writing up a long report to meet the deadline, or at least his vocal groan. Gibbs missed it too. Tony was so integral to their team; he could be a royal pain in the ass, but he brought with him an energy and humour that lifted them all, and that was all the more noticeable now that he wasn’t here.

“After that…” Gibbs gave a little smile. “Well, you’re due some R&R so make the most of being out here. The surf’s good apparently – well, according to General Sheppard anyway – and he’s putting some puddle jumpers at your disposal if you want to visit the mainland. Apparently the Athosians are having a market day on the mainland at the end of the week if you want to go check that out. Whatever you want – you’re on your own time after the end of tomorrow – no need to check in.”

“How long for?” Abby asked.

“Well…trip home on the Daedalus usually takes eighteen days as you know,” Gibbs said, “But I had a word with Rodney Sheppard and he thinks it’d be okay for us to use the stargate this time around.” He grinned at that because, perhaps unsurprisingly, Rodney had been more than happy to bend over backwards to accommodate that request. “However…no need to tell the Director that – she thinks it’s going to take eighteen days for us to get home so let’s leave it at that.”

“We have eighteen days leave to spend on Atlantis?” Tim asked incredulously, his face creasing into a big grin. Gibbs could just imagine his geeky young sub making the most of it to devour the technology in the city.

“Yup.” Gibbs nodded.

“I love you, Gibbs!” Abby swung her arms around him and kissed him and both Ducky and Ziva looked quietly delighted. He was glad about that; they’d all been through a lot and deserved some fun.

“But first…” Gibbs disengaged himself from Abby and straightened his tie from where she’d dislodged it. “We have a memorial service to attend.”

He clipped their leashes onto their collars, feeling a pang as he did so; judging by the way Ziva and Tim were looking at each other this was the last time he’d be doing this. He brushed that thought aside – like Ducky said, he’d never promised to keep them forever and he was happy for them.

They walked down to the main hall together and then he unleashed Abby, who had asked if she could sit with Lorne and his team. He knew that she’d become close to all Lorne’s team – firstly when they’d guarded her after Keller’s murder, and latterly after they’d rescued her. He watched her go to the front of the hall, and slip her hand into the crook of Lorne’s arm. Lorne turned, and his eyes lit up. Gibbs could see that he was upset at losing a man in the field – and Gibbs knew all to well how that felt – but he could also see the look in Lorne’s eyes when Abby was around, and he knew what it was like to feel that way about a sub too.

The Atlanteans seemed to be familiar with holding these services judging by how smoothly it went. The remains, such as they were, had already been sent through the stargate; Lorne intended to visit Rice’s parents and return his effects in person when he next visited Earth. Gibbs stood there with his subs and remembered another memorial service, a year or so ago, when they’d buried Caitlin Todd. It never got any easier.

Afterwards they flung open the balcony doors and went and stood in the sun to eat the sandwiches that had been laid out there on tables. Gibbs unleashed his subs to allow them to mingle and stood leaning against the balustrade, just watching. He saw General Sheppard feeding his husband something from his plate. Rodney was talking animatedly while John fed him, and John was nodding, lazily, his eyes alight with fond amusement as he looked at his sub. At least John was back down from that strange, toppy headspace he’d been in immediately after they rescued Rodney. Gibbs saw the bite mark on Rodney’s neck, and he knew that whatever had happened between them had been intense but ultimately healthy for them both.

He watched Ducky talking softly to Richard Woolsey. He never saw Woolsey look as relaxed as he did when he was with Ducky; he lost the slight stammer he habitually had around tops, and his body seemed softer and less rigid. Gibbs was happy for his friend – Ducky hadn’t felt free to have a normal relationship in years and it was good to see him feeling his way like this. Gibbs didn’t know how it felt to be a switch – he couldn’t conceive of being anything other than sexually dominant – but it clearly suited Ducky to be able to express a side of his personality he’d kept repressed for so long.

Then there was Ziva – he’d never seen her look like this. Her hair was flowing loose over her shoulders, and she always had one hand on Tim McGee, either tucked into his hand, or his arm, or just loosely resting on his ass or shoulder. She’d lost that dark, intense look and seemed genuinely happy for the first time since he’d met her. He saw in her the top she had always had the potential to be, if she hadn’t lost her way. He wondered if she’d taken Tim to her bed yet, but a searching glance at McGee told him that she hadn’t.

Tim followed where she led, and there was the beginning of a beautiful synergy between them, of the kind that existed between tops and subs in good relationships. John and Rodney were the best example of it he’d ever seen, always walking in step, hips and upper arms touching, each seeming to know exactly what the other was thinking. It was good to see Ziva and Tim taking their first tentative steps along that path. Tim was still a little jumpy and nervous, and his eyes, although eager to please, still held the fears of a sub who hadn’t yet been taken by his first top. Gibbs had no doubt Ziva was the right top to take him on that journey, and he almost envied her the experience. He could imagine how beautifully eager to please Tim would be, and how gentle a hand he’d need. He was good at judging subs and thought it would be rewarding beyond belief to be Tim’s first.

He could have done it himself, he thought. It would have saved a lot of time and trouble and he had no doubt he could have cured Tim of his many self-doubts and concerns, but that had felt like a journey Tim needed to take himself. Gibbs had contented himself with just guiding him along the way, getting him used to a firm hand on his leash and giving him at least a glimmer of understanding of how it would feel to eventually submit, heart and soul, and offer himself up to the will and demands of a top. Tim was nothing like the scared boy Gibbs had first collared; Gibbs had found the young agent so petrified of tops that he’d collared him out of pure necessity. Without the protection of a collar, McGee had been useless when questioning tops or dealing with them in any meaningful capacity in the course of his job. Tony, of course, was the complete opposite, and could play tops with consummate ease.

Gibbs found he missed Tony’s presence. Five years was a long time and he was so used to having Tony’s tall, solid body beside him, at the end of his leash. He missed him. He missed Tony’s energy and constant stream of chatter, and, most of all, he missed the way Tony could always make him laugh.

Today was the first day he’d spent any appreciable time away from Tony. He’d been sleeping in the infirmary and sitting by his agent’s bed these past few days, making sure Tony didn’t do anything stupid, the way he had the day they’d brought him back to Atlantis. He made sure Tony took his meds, and wheeled him along the hallway to his visits with Kate Heightmeyer. He was pretty sure Tony was leading the shrink a merry dance, alternately charming her then playing her like she was still in the interrogation room, but she was trained in her job so Gibbs left that up to her to figure out. If all Tony got from it was the sense of having charmed and outplayed an attractive top then that might make it worthwhile of and by itself. Gibbs suspected that it would at least go some way towards Tony regaining a sense of pride and dignity in himself as a sub that he’d lost during his nightmarish time as Jordan’s prisoner.

One thing they hadn’t done was talk, in any meaningful way, about what happened next between them. Gibbs didn’t want anything to interfere with Tony’s recovery – they could talk later, when Carson finally discharged Tony from the infirmary.

“Gibbs.” He was jolted out of his thoughts of Tony by Ziva. “Uh…I wondered if I could talk to you later,” she said in a soft tone. “About Tim? About what we talked about? Uh…about his collar?”

He was amused by her reticence. He supposed it was a delicate subject – asking a top to give up his collared sub – but he’d given his word and besides, it was the right thing to do. First though, he needed to be sure that they were both ready for it. He also had to make them aware of what would – and would not – change in their working lives if she collared Tim.

“That’s fine, Ziva. Come and see me at 6 p.m. in our quarters – I’ll make sure we have privacy. And bring Tim too.”

“Thank you!” she said, looking relieved beyond belief.

At that moment, the small, blonde sub Ziva had spent the night with at the Festival of Deliverance came up to her. Gibbs looked at her more closely – she didn’t look the same as she had that night, when she’d been full of anger and hate. Now she looked smaller and softer, less spiky and antagonistic. Her eyes were full of a weary kind of grief but they were also more hopeful now than they’d been before.

“Kahla.” Ziva enveloped her in a warm hug, which surprised Gibbs; Ziva wasn’t known for her touchy-feely qualities. “I wanted to thank you again for risking your life to help me free Tim.”

“No need, Ziva,” Kahla told her, with a firm shake of her head. “Look…I…” She glanced across the room and Gibbs saw that Teyla was watching her. The Athosian leader nodded, and Kahla took a deep breath. “I wanted to give you something,” she said shyly. “You might not like it – you do not have to use it if it is not right…but…you see, before the Wraith took me I used to be a leather crafter by trade. Ahna – that is my top – she was the creative one. She used to come up with all the designs – but I was good at making them work. She always said I had a great feel for the material.”

“It sounds as if you made a great pair,” Ziva said softly.

“We did…we were going to travel the galaxy through the stargates and sell our work in markets all over Pegasus,” Kahla said, her eyes glowing. “Turns out we did travel
– just not the way we thought we would.”

Gibbs had heard something of this sub’s story, and the top in him responded to her. He hated it when a sub was hurting, and it was clear that Kahla had been badly hurt. In another time and place he knew that he’d want to put his collar on her and see if he couldn’t help that way, but, looking across the room at Teyla, he saw that she already had it in hand.

“I have not worked any leather since Ahna died, and when Teyla first put some in my hands I was sure I would not remember how to do it now, after so long. But I did. In fact…I found my hands working, and hours later I looked up and the sun had gone down and Teyla was laughing at me,” Kahla said, with a shy smile. “It came back to me so easily – the smell and feel of it. I love it as much now as I used to when Ahna was with me, only now I have to design the work myself – but I think I can do that. We used to specialise in collars,” Kahla said, taking a small velvet bag out of her pocket, and pressing it into Ziva’s hand. “You said that you hoped one day to collar Tim. I thought…well, like I said, it has been a long time and maybe it is not very good, but if you wanted to use it…”

Ziva looked overcome. Her eyes were shining as she opened the velvet bag and took out a collar made of the highest quality, soft leather. It was a rich dark brown in colour, with overlays of a softer, tan colour in different shapes around the edge. Gibbs could make out a stargate, a puddlejumper, a knife, and the moons of Lantea circling the planet. The stitching and crafting on it was superlative. A collar like this, back on Earth, would cost a serious sum of money.

“I wanted to include symbols of your time here,” Kahla said. “So that you do not forget us.”

“I will never forget you, Kahla,” Ziva said softly, fingering the collar with the utmost care. “This is so beautiful. Thank you. I hope that you one day find someone who will put such a collar on you.”

Kahla smiled, and nodded, a little too fast. Then she pressed a hurried kiss to Ziva’s cheek and ran away, back into the crowd.

Gibbs put a hand on Ziva’s shoulder, and squeezed. He knew she wasn’t someone who expressed her emotions easily, but she had clearly been deeply affected by Kahla’s gesture. She had made some good friends out here and that pleased him; in the entire time he’d known her she’d avoided getting close to people, too scared of her own nature to allow anyone in, afraid of hurting them. That had been one of the reasons why he’d collared her in the first place.

He was glad that she had started to let her guard down enough to let people get close – and that made his other decision easier. He knew Tim was ready to have his collar removed but he hadn’t been so sure that *she* was ready to be released just yet.

Now he thought that maybe she was.



Tony gazed blankly at the laptop Gibbs had given him just before he’d left to get ready for Rice’s memorial service.

“What’s this for, boss?” he’d asked.

“Your report. Thought you could start typing it up,” Gibbs told him.

“But I’m *ill*,” Tony protested. Gibbs grinned at him.

“Carson said a little light work wouldn’t do you any harm, and I thought you might be bored without me,” he said.

“Without you hovering over me to make sure I take my meds and keep my appointments with Dr Shrinkmeyer? I don’t know why you’d think that.” Tony made a face.

“Anything to keep you out of mischief,” Gibbs told him, eyes narrowing warningly.

“What mischief would be possible in Carson’s prison – oh, I’m sorry, I mean infirmary?” Tony replied.

“Tony, you used to shimmy down drainpipes to go and meet tops when you were fourteen,” Gibbs told him. “So I’m not taking any chances on you shimmying your way out of here when my back is turned. Make sure you’ve done half a dozen pages of your report by the time I get back.”

“I don’t shimmy!” Tony yelled after his boss’s retreating back. “I grew out of shimmying when I was sixteen,” he told his laptop. “And, frankly, it hurts me to think he doesn’t trust me to stay in bed like a good little agent while he’s gone,” he added in a wounded tone.

One of the nurses stuck his head around the door. “Coast is clear – want to join us for that card game you were asking about?”

Tony made a face. “Can’t. I have a report to write apparently,” he said. Damn it, Gibbs knew him far too well.

He gazed at the laptop with a considerable degree of loathing. Where did he start? And just how much was Gibbs expecting him to include? Usually Gibbs insisted on every single detail being reported, down to what everyone was wearing and what they’d had for breakfast. This made report writing long and tedious beyond belief, and Tony had a real aversion to tedious.

He made a few preliminary notes and then decided that it might help his thought process if he walked around. Between them, by use of a technique Tony could only describe as ‘toppy bullying’, Carson and Gibbs had pretty much ensured he remained in bed for the past few days and he thought it was time he regained use of his legs.

“While the tops are away, the subs will play,” he muttered to himself, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He was light-headed for a moment but soon recovered. He pulled on his bathrobe and walked around the room.

He was feeling so much better than he had – his body still ached but the lacerations on his back were healing well and had scabbed over – although they were now driving him crazy by itching all the time.

Tony wasn’t an idiot; he knew decision time was fast approaching, and while he could avoid the rest of the team for now he’d have to see them again soon. A part of him really wanted to see them, but he still wasn’t comfortable with what had happened and he didn’t want to see that discomfort reflected back at him in their eyes. He’d agreed to see Abby later – that was a good first step. He’d see how that went and then go from there.

For now though…Tony glanced at the laptop lying beside the bed, and then at the door.

“Fuck it,” he muttered under his breath, moving slowly towards the door. He opened it, cautiously, looked outside to make sure it was safe, and then tip-toed out into the main infirmary. He found his old instincts kicking in – not only was he a damn fine agent, he’d been sneaking around since he was a kid and he was good at it.

He moved stealthily through the infirmary to the nurse’s station, where he found four of the infirmary staff kicking back with the card game. He crept up behind them.

“Och, aren’t you lads supposed to be on duty?” he asked, in a fair imitation of Carson’s Scottish brogue, even if it did come out sounding more like Sean Connery’s James Bond. They all jumped, guiltily, and he laughed his head off. “Changed my mind,” he told them, coming to sit down with them. “Deal me in!”

He felt normality settle around him again as he played. At least it was a distraction from all the big questions going around in his head – well, some of them at least. He was aware of feeling almost naked without a collar around his throat. He had worn it with pride for so many years and now it was gone, and he was pretty sure, from the way Gibbs was behaving, that he wouldn’t be getting it back. He wasn’t sure why – he could guess at many reasons but he wasn’t sure what Gibbs’s thinking was on it. Maybe Gibbs thought he didn’t need rescuing any more. Or maybe he just didn’t want the complications of collaring a sub who refused to sleep with anyone else while wearing his collar. Gibbs had been pretty clear about the reasons his marriages had failed and why he wasn’t taking any more subs to his bed and Tony could at least understand where his boss was coming from on that. Whatever the reason, Gibbs was adamant that they weren’t going to talk about it until Tony was better and Carson had discharged him, and frankly the waiting was killing him.

As he listened to the nurses’ gossip he realised he was missing his team. It was fun kicking back and unwinding, and Tony loved gossip so he was soon getting the low down on all the people on Atlantis.

“Last hand,” one of the nurses said, dealing out the cards with an anxious glance at the clock.

“Oh come on! I’m just starting to win!” Tony said, picking up his cards with a flourish.

“Dr Beckett will be back soon,” the nurse replied, with a grimace. “And he’ll have us scrubbing out the bedpans with toothbrushes if we’re not working.”

“Ah, he sounds just like Gibbs in a good mood,” Tony grinned. “But we’ll see him coming and you can scatter.”

“We didn’t see you coming,” one of the other nurses pointed out.

“Ah well…you see I learned from a Jedi Master,” Tony said, leaning forward and tapping his nose. “A freakishly sinister Jedi Master from the dark side of the force who uses his powers to appear from nowhere right when you’re in the middle of doing something you shouldn’t.”

“Like right now?” a voice asked dryly in his ear. He jumped and threw the cards down with a wince.

“Damn it, Gibbs,” he sighed. “You have to teach me that trick one day.”

He turned to see Gibbs standing behind his chair, one eyebrow raised.

“Busted, Tony,” Gibbs said. “Only way you even begin to save this is if you finished that report before leaving your room and going walkabout.”

“And if I said no?” Tony asked cautiously.

“Then it looks bad.” Gibbs spread his arms. “Which is it?”

“It’s a no,” Tony sighed. He got up, and swayed slightly as the light-headedness kicked in again. Gibbs’s hand immediately found his elbow, and held him up.

“C’mon, let’s get you back to bed,” Gibbs said.

Tony was about to make one of his usual suggestive comments when he paused – hiding in plain sight wasn’t an option any more, so any invitation for Gibbs to join him in bed would be hopelessly charged. He felt stifled, and kind of angry that this simple pleasure had been taken away from him. He walked back to his room in silence feeling suddenly tired; this whole excursion had taken more out of him than he’d expected, and he was glad now of Gibbs’s strong arm around him, holding him up.

“So, you gonna spank me for this?” Tony asked, as Gibbs helped him back into bed. A part of him wanted to be spanked – it would be a sign that things were back to normal between them at least – but he was all too well aware of the fact that as he no longer wore Gibbs’s collar, Gibbs didn’t had an absolute right to discipline him when he needed it. In the old days he’d have earned a swat or two for this, he thought, but the old days seemed long gone now.

“Maybe – when you’re better,” Gibbs replied, and Tony felt his bad mood worsen at the vagueness of the answer.

He slumped down against the pillows, and turned his head away angrily when Gibbs smoothed his hair with one of those hard, flat palms of his, the way he had been doing since he’d brought Tony back.

“One step at a time, Tony,” Gibbs told him softly, and then he stepped away and left the room.

Tony gazed at the wall, wondering if it was normal to have these mood swings. In all honesty, although he bitched and complained about Gibbs’s micro-management of his stay in the infirmary, he actually found it reassuring that Gibbs had been beside him these past few days. When he’d been hurting, or angry, or unable to get Jordan out of his mind – or all three – Gibbs’s presence had been a solid source of comfort. His top never said much but his hand had never been far from Tony’s hair, or his fingers, or – when he was really wallowing in self-pity – the back of Tony’s head. And hadn’t his mild disobedience this morning been about getting Gibbs’s attention back firmly on him because this was the first time Gibbs had left his bedside for any length of time?

He was jolted out of this train of thought as the door opened again, and Abby crept into the room. She stood there, gazing at him from the protection of the doorway, and he knew she was taking in the fading bruises on his jaw and searching for some clue as to how he was from his eyes. Something broke inside him at the expression on her face and he opened his arms wide. She crossed the room within seconds, threw herself onto the bed, and wrapped herself around him.

“Yikes…easy, Abby,” he said, as her knees dug into various sore spots on his body.

“I’m sorry,” she said, sitting back and gazing at him with big eyes. “But I’ve been so worried about you, Tony!”

“Well, I’m fine,” he told her, flicking at her pigtails.

“You got beat up pretty bad though, huh?” she asked, her fingers gently tiptoeing over the bruises on his face.

“Yeah,” he admitted softly. “Yeah…I kind of did.”

“Gibbs won’t tell us what happened. In fact, nobody will – not even Rodney.”

“Well that’s because I asked them not to,” Tony told her.

He saw her eyes go to the empty space on his neck where his collar should have been, and she brought up her hands to her mouth and made a silent “oh”.

“Did Jordan do that?” she asked, her eyes flashing angrily.

“Well it wasn’t Gibbs and it sure as hell wasn’t me,” Tony told her tightly. “Yeah, it was Jordan. He wanted to get back at Gibbs for stealing Ducky away from him. Apparently Gibbs took Jordan’s collar off Ducky all those years ago, so Jordan wanted to return the favour with one of Gibbs’s subs.”

“I’m so sorry.”

She stroked his neck gently, and he was surprised to find that actually helped. Tony thought it was ironic – he’d seen dozens of movies where a sub had their collar forcibly removed, and sat through the many and various legal and emotional ramifications that resulted, and he’d always thought the subject overly melodramatic. That was before it actually happened to him – he hadn’t realised what a profound psychological effect it could have. Kate Heightmeyer had been banging on about it these past few days and he’d pretty much ignored her but maybe she was right. Maybe this *was* really bugging him.

“What I can’t figure out,” Tony told her, “is why Gibbs didn’t just put it back on me while I was unconscious.”

Abby looked aghast. “Gibbs would never do that, Tony!” she exclaimed. “He’s a gentleman. He’d never put a collar on a sub without getting their permission first.”

“Well he kind of already had my permission, Abby,” Tony pointed out. “I mean, I’ve been wearing the damn thing for the past five years.”

“Yes, but…putting a collar on an unconscious sub is like using a date rape drug or something,” Abby pointed out. “It’s really hinky; kind of coercive and creepy. He’d never do that,” she repeated firmly.

“Well, okay then, let’s assume Gibbs was being ‘gentlemanly’.” Tony made air quotes with his fingers because that sure as hell wasn’t a description he’d ever use about their tough boss. “Why hasn’t he put it back since?”

“Because you’re ill,” Abby said, in a ‘duh’ tone of voice. “He’s just waiting until you’re ready to make that decision again, Tony.”

“I wonder why he thinks I’m not ready yet?” Tony mused out loud.

“Maybe because you’re not?” Abby threw back, softly. “Tony…do you want to wear Gibbs’s collar again?”

Tony gazed at her uneasily – wasn’t that the very question he’d been trying to avoid ever since he woke up and realised the collar was missing?

“The honest truth, Abby? I haven’t figured that one out yet,” he replied.

“Then he’s waiting until you do,” she said. “Tony – do you remember when that Mikel guy took my collar from me?”

“Yeah. I do remember that.” Tony winced. “Gibbs was really not happy about that as I recall – didn’t he shoot that guy?”

“No, he wasn’t and yes he did – but the point is, I know how it feels, Tony.”

“Oh look, I am not turning into one of those sappy subs from the movies who go all mopey over losing their collar!” Tony protested. “There’s no need to do the big tragic eye thing with me. I was just wondering why Gibbs hadn’t collared me again, that’s all.”

“Well, Gibbs didn’t put my collar back on me until he’d asked for my permission – that’s my point, Tony,” Abby said. “It’s the same with you. I was really out of it so he waited until after I’d caught up on some sleep and was feeling up to making that kind of decision and that’s what he’s doing with you – he’s giving you time to figure it out.”

“Hey – didn’t Gibbs give you the mother of all spankings for that whole Mikel thing?” Tony teased, pulling on one of her pigtails.

“Yes he did, Tony,” she replied cheerfully. “But he’s only ever had to spank me once; unlike some other subs we could mention who have to be spanked daily.”

“Ouch.” Tony grinned at her. “Touché, Ms Sciuto.”

Her fingers crept over the bruises on his wrists – the cuffs Jordan had put on him had been tied far too tight, cutting his skin in places, and the wounds had gone deep when he’d struggled against them so they were taking their time to heal. He knew she wanted desperately to find out what Jordan had done to him but he also knew that she would never ask – she’d wait until he was ready to tell her, and if he never was then she’d accept that.

“On the subject of collars,” Abby said, clearing her throat a little nervously. “I was thinking – how off-putting do you think it is to a top to be with a sub who is wearing another top’s collar?”

“Never met a top who let it put them off having a good time if it was on offer, if that’s what you mean,” he said. “I wore Gibbs’s collar for years but I never had any shortage of offers from other tops. I think some of them actually view it as a challenge – see if they can seduce another top’s collared sub. Of course, the ones who actually *met* Gibbs usually backed off pretty quickly, which was, frankly, disappointing. You’d think they’d have hung on in there for the chance of some hot sex with me but no – the minute he went all steely-eyed on them they just melted away and I never saw them again.”

“I’m not talking just about sex, Tony,” she chided. He rolled his eyes.

“Okay, well then, you’ve come to the wrong person,” he replied. “Because I don’t do love, remember, Abs.”

“Really?” Abby saw right through him. “Because I always thought you were crazy in love with Gibbs, and, to be honest, although you talk a lot – a *real* lot – about all the tops you’ve ever slept with, I never actually saw you go home with any in all the time I’ve known you.”

He gazed at her for a moment, appalled by his own idiocy. It seems it didn’t need Randolph Jordan to drag the truth out of him for everyone to hear; some people had already figured it out for themselves.

“Abby – you’re right. I am in love with Gibbs,” he told her, quietly and seriously. “But we’re not talking about me, we’re talking about you and Loverboy Lorne, aren’t we?”

She coloured, and nodded.

“Well, if you want my opinion, if there’s someone out there for you, and I mean someone really right for you who you just *feel* you should be with right down to your bones, then you should go for it. You have to really lay yourself on the line for it, regardless of how scary that is or how unknown the outcome. I never did because I’m a great big coward, but you should, Abby. Lorne’s a good man – did you know he showed up for his ‘please let me date Abby’ interview with Gibbs wearing his dress blues?”

She shook her head, her eyes shining. Then her face fell.

“But I’m worried about Gibbs, Tony,” she said. “He’s been so good to me and I don’t want him to think I’m abandoning him or anything.”

“Gibbs is a big boy, Abby – he can take care of himself,” Tony assured her. “I don’t think he ever meant to keep any of us for this long anyway. Not even Ducky. It just turned out that way. There’s never been much in it for him except a whole lot of trouble.”

“Why do you think he didn’t collar Kate?” Abby asked curiously. “I’ve always wondered. I mean, he said some stuff about his team answering only to him and how he wanted to collar us so he could keep an eye on us, protect us, and keep us in line – but he never collared Kate.”

“Well, that’s an easy one, Abby. Kate kind of had it all figured out – or she liked to think so anyway. Gibbs only collars the ones who need saving; like you and me.”

“And what happens when we don’t need saving any more?” Abby asked.

“I think we’re finding that out right now,” Tony said softly. “Aren’t we?”

She gazed at him, green eyes apprehensive, and then nodded. “I guess we are,” she murmured.

“It isn’t easy, is it? Imagining what life will be like without Gibbs’s collar,” Tony said. “But you can’t go on wearing it forever when it’s not really giving you what you need any more, can you?”

“You talking about me or you, Tony?” she asked.

He smiled. “Both of us, Abby. Gibbs told me why he doesn’t take subs to his bed any more and I understand his reasons but if there’s never going to be a chance for me with him do I just continue wearing his collar forever, knowing that? Maybe it’s time for me to move on. And as for you – he collared you to protect you from your truly abysmal taste in tops. Ow!” He grinned at her as she punched his arm. “But now you’ve found one worth keeping, isn’t his collar kind of redundant?”

She lay down beside him and rested her head on his shoulder, fingers gently tracing over his bruised wrists. He put his arm around her, and kissed her pigtails. He’d never had a sister; Abby was the closest he’d ever come to it, and he felt like he was her big brother. They were silent for a long while and it felt comfortable just holding her like this. He realised she was family, and he could tell her anything.

“Jordan strapped me down in a bunker and put a tube in my arm,” he told her softly. “He drained away a lot of my blood over a period of several hours. Then he stripped me naked, and flogged me with his belt buckle. I was too weak and out of it by then to fight back much.”

She stiffened but she didn’t move; she just continued stroking his wrists with gentle fingers.

“He had Gibbs watch the whole thing, to punish him,” he continued. “The highlight was going to be raping me and then slitting my throat. I know he was kind of looking forward to that part because he kept telling me about it.” Her fingers tightened on his wrists and he kissed her hair again. “It’s okay, Abs. He never got that far because Gibbs got to him just in time and stuck a knife in his belly,” he finished.

She made a little animal sound in the back of her throat and he rested his chin on her head. That hadn’t been nearly as bad as he’d thought and he felt better that she knew, even though it had upset her. Her imagination might only have supplied worse images if he hadn’t, and he didn’t want there to be any secrets between them.

“Lorne told me that Gibbs had to choose which of us to rescue,” she said. “He had to choose the one he loved the most. He chose you, Tony.”

He knew what she was trying to do and he loved her for it but there was no way he was buying it. “Oh, I’m sure Lorne and Ziva volunteered for you and Tim, so it was just a question of him going after the one everyone else loved the least,” he grinned.

“No.” She looked up at him. “You’re wrong, Tony. You are completely, totally and utterly wrong.”



“Why does Gibbs want to see us?” Tim asked nervously, pacing around the lounge in their quarters. Ziva looked just as nervous – she was leaning against the wall, chewing on her fingernails. “And why just us?” Tim muttered. “Have we done something wrong? Or is it about Tony? Or maybe he wants the details from that data burst we received from Earth…but we can put all that in our reports and he hasn’t asked for them until tomorrow evening…although mine’s pretty much done. So why…”

“Tim! Ssh!” Ziva cut in.

“Right. Sorry,” he said. “I know I can be irritating. When I get nervous I talk too much and when you get nervous you go really, really quiet, which I find just as unnerving frankly and…”


“Oh. Right. Okay. Doing it again.”

At that moment the door opened and Gibbs entered. Tim felt his stomach do a flip. It had been awhile since he’d spent any time with Gibbs and he always felt nervous of their top, especially when he wasn’t sure what kind of a mood Gibbs was in.

Today, though, Gibbs seemed to be in a good mood – or at least in as good a mood as Tim had ever seen him. He was carrying three cups of coffee on a tray, and he put the tray on the table and gestured to them to take one.

“You got us coffee?” Tim asked, frowning, because this was unheard of. Gibbs never got anyone coffee. “Are we in trouble?”

Gibbs gave him a look that was half exasperation and half fond amusement. “McGee, have you ever known me get you coffee when you’re in trouble?” he asked.


“McGee?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow.

“You’ve never actually got us coffee at all, boss. Ever,” Tim pointed out. Gibbs looked thoughtful for a moment.

“Hmmm, I guess you’re right, McGee,” he said, grinning. He sat down on the sofa and gestured to them to take their seats on the sofa opposite him.

Tim sat down, and Ziva came over and sat beside him. She was being very quiet and very still and that made Tim feel anxious. He was aware that he was sitting all alone in a room with two of the most dangerous tops he’d ever met and that was enough to make him feel even more anxious. He wished Tony was here. No matter how annoying Tony could be, Tim always felt kind of safe around him. Tony knew how to handle tops and that made Tim relax around them too.

Gibbs leaned forward and gazed at them both, a searching kind of gaze that made Tim want to sink into the floor. He’d spent his entire life hoping tops wouldn’t notice him and Gibbs was about the scariest top in the world to have notice you.

“So…I saw the footage of what happened on PBX-250,” Gibbs said. Tim swallowed, hard. “And I’ve spoken to Teyla, and to the jumper pilot who took you through the gate. I thought you did a fine job out there – both of you,” he added. Tim looked up, surprised.

“You did, boss?”

“Yes. I’m proud of you.”

“Proud? Of us?” Tim asked, amazed. He had wanted Gibbs to be proud of him since the man had first collared him but he wasn’t sure he’d ever done anything impressive enough to warrant it.

“Yes, McGee. Proud. Are you going to question every statement I make?”

“Uh…no, boss,” Tim shook his head hurriedly, and risked a glance at Ziva. She looked even more nervous than he was, and Tim wasn’t sure that was physically possible.

“You’ve both come a long way since I collared you,” Gibbs continued. “Ziva…” he leaned forward and looked her straight in the eye. “You held it together in one of the toughest tests you could have faced. You’re the top I always knew you could be.”

“You knew better than I did then,” she replied. “I wasn’t sure.”

“You doubted yourself but I always knew that you’d step up to the plate if you had to. And you did.”

Gibbs took a sip of his coffee. “And you, McGee – that was one hell of an ordeal but you kept your wits about you and handled the situation with a cool head. How’s the arm?” Gibbs nodded at Tim’s bandaged arm.

“It’s fine. Much better.” Tim nodded vigorously.

“Good. So…” Gibbs gazed at them both for a long time and Tim wondered if he’d forgotten what he was going to say. Then Gibbs sighed, and shook his head, grinning wryly. “So…I knew this day would come, one day, but it’s tough all the same.” He got up and went over to Tim. “Stand up, McGee,” he said.

Tim did as he was told, wondering what the hell was about to happen. Gibbs reached out, and Tim froze as Gibbs’s fingers touched his collar.

“You don’t need this any more, Tim,” Gibbs told him softly.

“Uh…what?” Tim felt his stomach do several somersaults. “Uh…no, I mean…I’m not ready to…did I do something wrong? Is that why you’re going to remove my collar?”

“No, son, you didn’t do anything wrong,” Gibbs said quietly, and he patted Tim’s cheek affectionately. “But you’ve grown up a lot since I put this collar on you and I think it’s time you took your next step, whatever you decide it should be – and that’s up to you.”

He took hold of Tim’s head in his hands, and kissed him gently on the forehead.

“Bye, Tim,” he said. “It’s been an honour having you wear my collar.” And then he plucked the collar open and removed it. Tim traced his fingertips over the empty space where it had been, feeling bereft. Then he felt someone’s hand slip into his, and he glanced down, to find Ziva looking up at him from where she was sitting on the sofa, her brown eyes warm, and he knew then that he could do this, and that Gibbs was right. It *was* time for him to take the next step.

Gibbs slung the collar onto the table and then turned to Ziva.

“Now you – you were a hard one,” he said to her. “I knew Tim was ready to have his collar removed but I wasn’t so sure about you until this morning.”

“I am ready,” she said firmly.

“Yes…I think you are,” Gibbs told her, with a smile. “Stand up.” She did as ordered, and he put his hands on her shoulders and looked deep into her eyes. Tim wasn’t sure what was going on but whatever it was it was something profound. “Ziva, never, ever stop trusting yourself again,” he told her. “The darkness – it’s always going to be there but you’re in charge of it, and if you didn’t give into it back on PBX-250 then I don’t think you ever will.”

“Neither do I,” she said softly.

“However…” Tim saw Gibbs’s hands tighten on her shoulders. “Remember what I told you that time. You hurt him and I will come after you. Understand?”

“Yes – but it’ll never happen,” she said. Tim frowned, wondering what this was all about.

“I hope not.” Gibbs loosened his grip, and then stroked her dark hair affectionately. “Bye, Ziva,” he said. “Thank you for trusting me enough to wear my collar – I know that wasn’t an easy decision for a top to make.”

“I have learned so much from you,” she said. “I will never forget it.”

“Hell, I won’t let you,” Gibbs snorted. He unbuckled the collar around her neck and then slung it onto the table next to the one Tim had worn. “Now…here’s the deal. You might not wear my collars but I still own you – as agents. Nothing changes at work – you do your jobs and when I tell you to jump you don’t even ask ‘how high?’ – you just jump. Ziva – I own Tim’s ass at work and he’ll answer to me, just like in any other chain of command situation. Understood?”

“Yes boss,” Ziva sighed.

“Good.” Gibbs nodded. Then he reached into his pocket and took out a large, wedge- shaped Atlantean key. “This is for some quarters along the hallway,” he said. “They’re a bit cosier than these.” He glanced around the suite of rooms they’d been occupying for the past few weeks. “But I think that’ll suit you.” He gave Ziva a knowing grin and Tim wondered what that was about.

“Uh…we’re not staying here, boss?” he asked, surprised.

“Nope.” Gibbs shook his head. “We only shared quarters because you were my collared subs and I wanted to keep an eye out for you in this place, so far from home. Now you’re not wearing my collars and the danger has passed. Besides…I think you guys might want some alone time,” he added.

Tim glanced at Ziva and found her glancing back at him, a smile on her lips. He wasn’t sure what to make of that. He and Ziva had been inseparable since she had rescued him but she never did more than touch him gently, and slip into his bed at night so they could hold each other, and he wasn’t sure what she wanted from him, if anything. He knew what he wanted to give to her, but he didn’t know if it was a gift she had any interest in accepting. Gibbs seemed to know though, judging by the amused glance he was throwing Tim’s way.

“Grab your stuff and ship out,” Gibbs said, gesturing to the door. “And make sure I have those reports by the end of tomorrow!” he added, as Tim scrambled for his room to collect his belongings.

“Yes boss!”

Tim gathered up his stuff and then met Ziva out in the living area again. Gibbs was nowhere to be seen. Tim glanced around, and Ziva nodded her head in the direction of the balcony. Gibbs had gone out there and closed the door behind him. He was standing, his elbows resting on the rail, gazing out to sea.

“Should we…uh…” Tim hesitated. Gibbs looked kind of sad and alone.

“No,” Ziva said. “He has said his goodbyes, Tim. I think he just wants us to leave now.”

“Yes…but…” Tim stood there, feeling unsure. His head was saying one thing but his gut was saying something else, and if he’d learned one thing from Gibbs it was to trust his gut. He put his bags down, plucked up all his courage, and walked purposefully over to the balcony. He opened the door, strode out there, and pulled his surprised boss into a clumsy hug.

“Thank you,” he whispered into Gibbs’s ear. “For all of it. For seeing something in me when nobody else did; for protecting me with your collar while I figured it out for myself; for standing up to the Director for me when I screwed up over that thing with my sister. “

He pulled back, wincing inside – he knew Gibbs wasn’t really big on displays of emotion – so he was surprised to find that Gibbs didn’t look uncomfortable or angry. Instead he was smiling, and shaking his head.

“Looks like you finally figured out that you don’t need to be scared of tops,” Gibbs said softly. “But then I’m guessing that any sub with the strength and skill to bring Ziva David down from extreme top-space doesn’t need to be scared any more, do they, McGee?” He ran one thumb along the side of Tim’s face. “Go on – she’s waiting for you. And Tim? Take good care of her.”

“I will,” Tim promised. Then he turned and left – not with an apologetic stumble, but with the firm, purposeful stride of a sub who knew who he was now, and what he wanted.

And what he wanted was standing over by the door, waiting for him.




Tony looked up from his two-fingered typing of his report to see Rodney Sheppard standing in the doorway – looking kind of sheepish.

“Hey, Rodney!” he grinned, beckoning the scientist into the room. “Thank god – a distraction from the tedium of report writing.”

Rodney shuffled into the room, came over to the bed, and dumped a bag of some kind of unfamiliar fruit on it.

“Athosian cherries,” he said. “It’s an infirmary thing. Everyone gets Athosian cherries. They’re good.” He proved that point by taking a handful of them and stuffing them into his mouth.

“How’s it going, my friend?” Tony asked, his sharp eyes noticing the bite mark on Rodney’s neck. “Now that – that there – that looks like things have been going well,” he said, with a knowing grin, clicking his fingers and pointing at Rodney’s neck.

Rodney put his hand up to brush the bite mark and laughed. “Yeah. It was that good kind of bad thing that we talked about.”

“Ah yes, I remember those days of the good kind of bad. I think.” Tony sighed. “It’s been a long time.”

Rodney eyed him sympathetically as they both remembered the conversation they’d had when they’d been tied up in that room together. Tony gazed back at Rodney. There was silence. Rodney took another handful of cherries and wouldn’t meet Tony’s eye but Tony had sat through enough of Gibbs’s interrogations to know they all cracked eventually, if you stayed silent for long enough. So Tony waited.

“Um…” Rodney said. “Uh…It’s just…”

Tony narrowed his eyes. “Abby sent you, didn’t she?”

“Yes.” Rodney sat down beside the bed and slumped back in his chair, looking like he’d rather be anywhere else in the universe.

“It’s the collar thing, isn’t it?” Tony sighed.

“Yeah. I told her that someone once took my collar from me, and she told me it happened to her, and now it’s happened to you and she wanted me to…I dunno…do some subby solidarity thing with you to help you get over it.”

Tony made a face.

“I know,” Rodney sighed. “Can I just tell her I talked to you about it, without us having to, you know, actually talk about it?”

“Sounds good to me, my friend,” Tony said, with a nod. “Wow – look at this.” He pulled up a picture on the laptop. “This is from the files we got sent from Earth. Gibbs is making us write up our reports – although how I can be well enough to write a complicated mission report and not be well enough to leave this damn room is beyond me. I swear he even has guards posted on the door.”

“No – he’s got Carson,” Rodney said, making a face. “And that’s even worse. So what have you got there?”

“It’s a picture of Ducky with Randolph Jordan when they were much younger. Some kind of society newspaper report on their wedding and wow – you have to see this.”

Tony turned the laptop around and Rodney gave a little whistle.

“That’s Ducky?”

“I know!” Tony glanced at the picture. “He was *hot* back then, wasn’t he?”

They both stared at the photo. Ducky was in his twenties, with light blond hair, wide blue eyes and an almost ethereally beautiful face. He was a handsome man now, in his mature years, but back then he’d been stunning.

“And as for Jordan…” Tony sighed. “I hate to say it but he was pretty damn hot too.”

“Yeah.” Rodney winced as they both stared at their tormentor. “Bastard.”

Jordan had been tall and imposing but without the muscled bulk he’d acquired later in life. His thick dark hair was swept, mane-like, off his face, and his brown eyes were gazing broodingly at Ducky.

“You know, I think Ducky really was the love of his life,” Tony said. “It was just a really warped kind of love. Seeing this photo kind of makes sense of them as a couple somehow. I was having trouble envisaging Ducky with this guy but now I can see that he and Jordan really did have something going on.”

“They *were* married for twenty or so years,” Rodney pointed out.

“Yeah – and Ducky was clearly a catch,” Tony murmured, gazing at the photo. “He came from a wealthy family, went to Eton, was beautiful, intelligent…I mean, you can see why Randolph viewed him as a trophy sub, to be shown off to everyone. It must have dented his pride beyond endurance when Gibbs took his collar off him so publically, and put his own on him.” He winced. “I’m starting to see why he wanted his revenge – although I could have done without being the medium by which it was enacted.”

“Hey – I was just an innocent bystander and I got dragged into it,” Rodney muttered. Tony grinned at him.

“Good times, Rodney – good times,” he said. Rodney looked outraged for a minute, and then he figured out the DiNozzo humour and grinned back at him. Tony laughed out loud. “Ah, I knew I liked you, Rodney,” he said. “You remind me of this guy I was chained to once during an undercover op. His name was Jeffrey, and it was a similar thing – we were thrown together by fate, and we shouldn’t have got along but somehow we just clicked. I really liked that guy.”

“What happened to him?” Rodney asked.

“I had to kill him,” Tony replied, with a regretful sigh. He glanced up to see Rodney’s look of horror. “Oh, I like you *much* more than I liked him. I mean, he was a criminal murderer type and you…well, you’re not, Rodney. You and I can just be friends and I won’t have to worry about having to kill you at some point.”

“I’ve never been friends with a sub like you,” Rodney said, shaking his head. “Well, to be fair, I don’t have many friends at all. But you – you were one of the popular subs in high school, weren’t you? I used to watch the subs like you – always the centre of attention, everyone always wanting to be your friend. I bet all the tops chased after you with their tongues hanging out.”

“I took whatever was on offer,” Tony said, feeling old and tired. “And yes, Rodney – I was popular. I was good at sports, I played the fool in class, got into a lot of trouble, and I slept with any top I wanted. I’m guessing your high school experiences were a little different?”

“Yeah. I never hung out with the cool kids until John started showing an interest in me. Even now, I still wake up sometimes and wonder how it’s possible he’s with me.”

“He is kind of the ultimate cool kid,” Tony grinned.

“And you should be the kind of sub he ended up with – not me,” Rodney said, shaking his head.

“Nah. I’d drive him insane.”

“You ever been with any top you couldn’t run rings around?” Rodney asked, in a curious tone. Tony looked up, sharply.

“That’s a leading question, Rodney,” he said.

“They aren’t all like you think, Tony,” Rodney told him. “I know you don’t have a very high opinion of tops but I’ve met some amazing tops out here. Elizabeth was…well, you’d have liked her. She was so calm and dignified – she really tried to get things right. And Carson – he’s nice too – well, he’s okay outside of the infirmary anyway. And John, of course – he’s a great top.” He smiled, and Tony felt an old, familiar pang of jealousy at the expression in Rodney’s eyes.

“It’s okay, Rodney – you don’t need to convince me. I met Gibbs, remember. I know they’re out there. I just want…I want to *feel* it, Rodney. The way you feel it with John. I don’t want it to be fake any more – I’m tired of having to pretend. With Gibbs it always felt real but I never felt that way with any other top. But…I guess I’ll just have to go looking again.”

“You won’t go back to Gibbs?” Rodney’s eyes were wide, and a little scared.

Tony bit on his lip, and then winced as he re-opened the cut Jordan had given him, tasting blood on his tongue.

“I don’t think so, Rodney. Five years is long enough to wait, isn’t it?” he asked. “I might play the fool but I’m not a complete idiot. I think it’s time to move on. Now, let’s change the subject because I’m thinking that if someone took your collar off you that John would have gone ballistic.”

“Oh, he did.” Rodney nodded. “This guy – Kolya – he put his own collar on me so you can imagine how John reacted to that. He went after Kolya and from what I understand he pretty much tore him apart, limb from limb. When he came back to me he was a mess; it took me ages to bring him down and he still has nightmares about it, even now.” He was quiet for a moment, and then shook his head ruefully. “Good times, Tony – good times,” he said.

They gazed at each other for a moment, and then burst out laughing.



Ziva opened the door to their new quarters and stepped inside.

“You just need to use the key once,” Tim told her. “Then when you’ve set it like this, it sort of imprints your DNA and opens for you automatically after.”

She went over to the sofa and dumped her large bag there, keeping the smaller one over her shoulder, and he followed on behind her, still marvelling at the wonders of Atlantean technology. She turned and watched him talk, wondering how she could ever have not felt like this about him. She loved how tall and broad he was; she loved his expressive hands and his beautiful eyes; she loved his sweetness and essential innocence. He wasn’t like the subs she usually took to her bed – in fact he was the polar opposite. He was big and clumsy and endearing, endlessly worried about doing or saying the wrong thing. She was longing to touch him, taste him and be his first but she didn’t want to get this wrong. She had to find a lightness of touch to coax and lead him through his first experience of being topped.

She was also a little nervous. He’d just given up one collar – she had no idea whether he’d want another one so soon.

Tim picked up her bag, still chatting, and glanced around.

“Huh…” he said, taking both their bags over to the bedroom. “There’s uh…there’s only one bedroom. Is that okay?” He looked at her anxiously.

“Tim, we have barely spent a night apart since we got here,” she reminded him.

“I know.” He nodded. “But…well…” He coloured. “All we did was sleep,” he said.

“Well, we will be sleeping here too,” she pointed out.

“Right. Yes.” He nodded, and she had to stifle a laugh. Even after all that had gone on, he was still a little unsure of exactly what was happening between them. “Well, I’ll unpack the bags then,” he said. “Could I…would I have your permission to, uh, unpack your things?”

“I’d like that very much, Tim. Thank you,” she said. He looked enormously pleased and she smiled. He might not know what his dynamic was yet but she was pretty sure that she knew.

She got out her laptop and inserted a disk of his favourite music and then turned the lights down low. She opened her smaller bag, took out the candles that Teyla had given her, placed them around the room and then lit them. Outside, the Atlantean sun had just started to drop below the horizon and it was getting dark.

Then, satisfied the room was as she wanted it, Ziva went into the bathroom and changed into the long, cream-coloured satin dress that Teyla had lent her. She didn’t possess a single dress of her own but Teyla had told her that she might enjoy getting in touch with the more sensual side of her nature so she was prepared to try it. She chose not to wear any underwear and she liked how sheer the fabric felt as it settled, cool and seductive, against her bare skin. She loosened her hair so that it spread out over her shoulders like a dark cloak, making a fine contrast with the pale satin dress. Then she gazed at her reflection in the mirror, stroking the empty space where her collar had been. She was the top now and she didn’t need to wear another top’s collar. It felt good to know who she was.

She gave herself one final look and then she picked up the small velvet bag and returned to the living room.

Tim was standing in the centre of the room, looking around at all the candles, a bemused expression on his face.

“Wow, this looks great, Ziva – I didn’t exp…” He turned, saw her standing in the bathroom doorway, and his mouth opened – and didn’t close again for a good few seconds as he drank in the sight of her. “I didn’t…” he whispered. “Uh…I…” He closed his mouth, and then, to her total surprise, he dropped to his knees and bowed his head.

She walked over, feeling her top-space swelling inside her as she walked. She was powerful and beautiful, serene and in charge. There was no need for sex to be a battleground as it had been for her in the past – it could be slow, gentle and sensuous. She reached him and put her finger under his chin and he looked up at her, an expression of total worship in his eyes.

“Tim…will you be mine?” she asked him softly. “I know you just gave up one collar and it might be too soon for you take another but…would you do me the honour? You see…I want to take you but I would very much like you to be wearing my collar when I do. Is that what you want too?”

He looked as if he could drown in her eyes, and he nodded, his own eyes shining.

“Ziva – I’m yours,” he said. “And that’s all I ever want to be. If you want me?”

“I do.” She leaned down, took his face in hers, and touched her lips to his. He brought his hands up to gently hold onto her hips. His mouth was surprisingly soft and mobile beneath hers, and she worked his lips open and kissed him. He opened up even more, so she could slip her tongue into his mouth and taste him properly, exploring him. He tasted firm, ripe and willing and she found that arousing. She wanted to drive forward, hungrily, and take him hard, but she controlled herself, bringing herself back from that place. That wasn’t how this should be done.

She drew back, and gazed down at him. His eyes were still closed, his lips partly open, still wet from their kiss, and his fingers were gently entwined in the fabric of her dress. She opened the velvet bag and took out the collar Kahla had made for her. She loved how soft it was, and how beautifully crafted.

“Tim, look at me when I collar you,” she told him. He opened his eyes and gazed at her, blindly, as if he couldn’t really believe this was happening to him. “This collar is not just for now,” she told him. “It is not just for a few days or a few weeks – it is forever. Are you sure about this?”

“Yes,” he whispered, his fingers stroking her hips gently through the satin fabric of her dress. “Please,” he added, with a little smile.

She smiled back at him as she opened the collar, and then she wrapped it around his neck and fastened the buckle with shaking fingers. She hadn’t realised that she’d feel like this. She had always hoped that she’d one day collar her own submissive but she hadn’t known it would fill her with all these emotions. She finished buckling the soft leather collar around his neck, and he knelt there, trembling, never taking his eyes off her.

“I’ve never done this before,” he told her.

“I know,” she smiled. “You told me.”

“Yes…but…I might be really bad at it,” he said, anxiously.

She frowned. “You are mine now, Tim. I only ask for your submission – and how could that be anything other than beautiful to me?”

“I’m scared of screwing up,” he admitted.

“That is not possible,” she assured him. “Here.” She gave him her hand and pulled him to his feet. He always dressed so formally, in shirts and ties and suits, and she longed to get him out of those clothes and see the flesh and blood submissive beneath, but she would take her time. They had time – lots of it.

She ran her hands over his shoulders and eased his jacket from him, then threw it on the sofa. Then she undid his tie, and that followed suit. She opened the top buttons of his shirt while he just stood there, a dazed expression on his face, allowing her to undress him.

“Good…that is good, Tim,” she reassured him. As his top, she now had full body rights over him but those were rights she thought she’d assert slowly and gently, so he had time to get used to it. He wasn’t a sub like Tony, who had been engaging in play scenes since he was old enough to get an erection and who knew every trick in the book. There was no artifice to Tim. He would need time to get used to the idea that his body now belonged to his top, to use as she wanted, and she didn’t want to spook him by grabbing him and claiming her rights too forcefully.

“Let’s dance,” she said, taking his hand and pulling him close. He came towards her, breathless, his face flushed. She pressed her body against his, enjoying the feel of his hardness straining against his pants. “Learn to hold it for me,” she said, teasing him slightly by pushing her hips against his. He gasped, and she smiled and pressed another little kiss to his lips.

“I’ll try,” he whispered.

“It would please me,” she said, and she saw the light in his eyes as he responded to that. “Do you see what your dynamic might be now?” she murmured, moving one hand down to cup his right buttock as they swayed in time to the music.

“I think so,” he whispered.

As the top she led the dance, one hand in his, the other firm on his right butt cheek, guiding him as they danced. She moved him around the room and he went where she guided, their bodies slowly attuning to each other as they danced.

“You are a good dancer,” she said. Somehow she had expected him to be clumsy, the way he so often was with anything other than computers, but he wasn’t. He didn’t have much natural rhythm but he could move well.

“I…uh…well my mom made me take dance classes as a teenager,” he said.

“She was the top?” Ziva asked, suddenly realising how little she knew about him.

“No, actually – I had two moms but the one who made me take dance classes was the sub. She said a good sub should know how to dance to please their top. I hated it – I felt like I had two left feet and none of the tops in the class ever wanted to dance with me.”

“So how did you get to be this good?” she asked, stroking his buttock with her hand.

“It’s you,” he said, shyly. “I know all the steps – I practised them often enough as a kid – but I was always too nervous to perform them properly when I was dancing with an actual, real-life top back then. With you it’s so easy.”

She pushed him effortlessly away from her and then brought him back in close and he came towards her easily. She moved faster now, manoeuvring him across the room in time to the music, and she was amazed by how sweetly they moved together. She liked the way their bodies were already adjusting to each other – he was tall and she was slight, but somehow they fitted together. He started to relax, and the more he surrendered to her lead the easier it became. He grinned at her, looking genuinely surprised, and she smiled back, longing to surprise him even more.

The slow music came on and she pulled him close and held him against her body. He was still hard, which pleased her. She wondered how long he could last, especially as he was so inexperienced.

She ran her hands over his body as they danced, and he rested his hands on her hips, and his chin on her shoulder, and she drifted her fingers down his back, over his butt, and back up again.

“In a minute,” she whispered. “I am going to ask you to undress. Before I do…do you want to choose a safe word?”

He stiffened in her arms and she held him tight and stroked him some more to calm him.

“Goddess,” he said softly. She pushed him away and looked into his eyes. “That’s my safe word,” he told her.

She smiled up at him and ran her fingers through his short hair. “Yes. Of course it is,” she replied.

He went down on his knees again, and then, to her surprise, he kissed her bare feet.

“There’s something I’d like to do…if you’ll let me,” he said, gazing up at her.

“Go ahead. I like being surprised,” she said, delighted that he felt relaxed enough to suggest something.

“Would you let me draw you a bath, and bathe you?” He looked embarrassed and hopeful at one and the same time.

“Is this a fantasy of yours?” she asked, loving the way his skin flushed pink in response.

“Yes. I…well, obviously, you don’t have to let me…but I’d like to?”

“I would like that too,” she said, intrigued. He kissed her feet again, reverently, and then got up eagerly and began walking towards the bathroom. “Not so fast,” she said, taking back a degree of control. He turned, looking flustered. She smiled. “First…remove your clothes so I have something good to look at.”

He took a deep breath, looking agonised, and she knew how very much he hated tops looking at him.

“You are mine now, Tim,” she told him firmly. “Your body is mine. I want to see it.”

He nodded, although his eyes were anxious, and then he unbuttoned his shirt, his fingers fumbling the buttons. She hid her smile – she would teach him to do this slowly, so she could enjoy it, but for this first time she’d let him get through it as best he could. He took off his shirt, then his undershirt, and kicked off his shoes and then hopped around the room in an effort to get his socks off. Her jaw tightened as she saw the bandage on his arm but his wound was well on its way to healing and wasn’t causing him any trouble.

She relaxed, and enjoyed the sight of him. She liked his body – he wasn’t solidly muscled like Tony but she loved the soft little belly and the tiny tuft of hair on his chest. He took another deep breath and then undid his pants, pushed them down his legs, and kicked them off. Then he stood there, naked. His erection was almost flush against his belly, pulsing, and he was sucking his stomach in.

“Stop that,” she told him, waving her finger. “Just hold yourself naturally. I like what I see so there is no need to be ashamed, Tim.”

He looked shyly pleased about that.

“Turn around – slowly – so I can see all of you,” she commanded, and he did as he was told.

She let her gaze wander over his sweet, peachy buttocks and then made him turn again. She liked the smooth curve of his cock, and the length of his legs. He was a fine looking sub, and he was hers. Her gaze was drawn to the collar around his neck which was now all he wore and she felt a surge of pride. She had collared a sub for the first time, and now she was about to take him for the first time, and that aroused her more than she would have thought possible. She could feel her clit pulsing between her legs, and could easily have pushed him down on the sofa and taken him inside her there and then but he had suggested a fantasy and she wanted to give him that.

She gave him permission to draw the bath and he disappeared, eagerly, into the bathroom. She followed, slowly, and when she got there he knelt again at her feet. The water was filling the tub and she could smell the oils he’d put in it. He glanced up at her eagerly.

“Could I…permission to undress you?” he asked, eagerly, and she gave a little laugh at his desire to see her naked. She couldn’t blame him – she’d wanted to see him after all.

She nodded, and he touched the hem of her satin dress with shaking fingers, then slowly, gently, began smoothing it up over her body. He remained on his knees, gathering the fabric in his fingers and sliding it upwards. He reached her groin, exposing her pussy, and sighed, sweetly, when he got there. His nose was level with her clit, and she longed to push his face against her and have him serve her with his tongue but it was too soon.

He got to his feet, still clutching the hem of her dress, and she noticed that all his usual clumsiness had disappeared now that he was serving her. Now he seemed relaxed and graceful, as if this was him at his most comfortable. He pulled the dress slowly up over her body, and she reached up her arms so that he could remove it completely. Then she stood there, naked before him for the first time. He got down on his knees and kissed her feet again and then stayed there, abject at her feet.

She loved how powerful this made her feel. She didn’t need to overpower him, or bully him into submission, the way she had with so many other subs before him. He offered himself up to her, sweetly and without reservation, and that felt better than anything else. She nudged him with her foot and he looked up at her, his eyes alight with adoration.

“See to the bath,” she said, and he did as he was told, turning off the faucets and then returning to her with a ribbon he’d found in the cabinet. She was struck by the care and thought he put into everything as he tied her hair off her face and then took her hand and helped her into the bath. She noticed he was still hard and although she longed to touch him she didn’t think it would be fair – he was too inexperienced to hold his erection if she did that, and she wanted him to hold it.

He knelt beside the tub, took a washcloth and immersed it in the warm water, and then squeezed it over her breasts. It felt delicious, and she leaned back and allowed him to do it again. She loved watching him work, his entire being centred on her, on pleasing her, his brow creased in an expression of total concentration.

He trailed his fingers through the warm water, caressing her skin with them, and she shivered, her arousal so strong now that she didn’t think she could hold on for much longer. She reached out and pulled him close for a warm, scented kiss, and he moaned softly as she explored his mouth with her tongue.

“Dry me,” she ordered when she released him. He helped her out of the bath, and then brought over a warm towel and began patting every inch of her skin with it. She liked how absorbed he was in his work, and how much of himself he put into it. She found his devotion unbelievably erotic, and could hardly believe that this was clumsy, gauche Tim McGee, the virginal probie who was terrified of tops.

When he was done he came to rest at her feet and kissed them again, before curling down, face against the floor, back exposed to her, completely and abjectly submissive before her.

“Follow me,” she ordered, turning and leaving the bathroom.

She went into the bedroom, knowing he had obeyed her order and was walking close behind. She considered tying his wrists and ankles to the bed and making him serve her with his hard cock alone but decided that was a game for another day. Today, she wanted to feel his hands on her body, making love to her and worshipping her. She found a tube of lubricant in her toiletry bag, and placed it on the nightstand. His eyes followed her every move and she could feel him tensing again.

“Lie on the bed,” she ordered. “I want to explore my collared sub.” He shivered at that, as she had hoped he would, but got eagerly onto the bed all the same. “On your front,” she said, sitting down beside him.

He turned and lay there, face down. She ran her fingertips over his naked body, enjoying the little red marks they made on his pale skin. She came to the swell of his buttocks and then squeezed out a dollop of lube onto her fingertip and inserted it gently in his body. He clenched and she soothed him, stroking his buttocks with her other hand until he relaxed.

“I would like to plug you,” she told him. “Will you take a plug for me, Tim?”

“Yes,” he whispered.

“What is your safe word?” she asked.

“Goddess,” he told her firmly.

“Remember it. I will go slowly, and I will make you take it, but if you need time to adjust, or you need me to go more slowly, you may ask.”

“Thank you,” he whispered, knowing as well as she did that it was a kindness on her part. She could just bend him to her will but she had no intention of doing that; she didn’t want to frighten him – she wanted to coax and reward him. She played with his opening for a long time, teasing her lubed fingers into the hole and out again, and he gradually opened up, slowly, sweetly, becoming looser and more relaxed beneath her.

“I will fuck you here, another time, with my strap-on,” she promised, as she worked. “You will learn to be open for me here, whenever I wish to use you.”

“Yes, Ziva,” he said obediently, and she smiled; he was so sweetly submissive.

She got the butt plug out of her bag and lubed it thoroughly, and then pressed it against his opening. He trembled, but she could see he was trying to stay open for her. She teased it in and out, just pressing a little, and he relaxed again. Only when he was fully relaxed did she push it firmly inside him. He gave a startled cry, his fingers scrabbling on the bedclothes, but he didn’t use his safe word.

“Good boy.” She stroke her fingers over his bottom, calming him. “Does it feel sore?” she asked.

“No…it burned a little as it went in but…I think I’m getting used to it,” he replied.

“You will learn to love it,” she promised. He didn’t seem so sure about that but she was – in fact she suspected he’d have learned to love it before the evening was out.

She straddled his back and trailed kisses down his spine. When she reached his buttocks she played with the plug, pressing on it and moving it, and he whimpered beneath her. He was so beautiful and unreserved in his reactions; everything was new to him, and he shook, trembled and sighed at her every caress.

“Turn over,” she ordered, getting off him, and he obeyed, wincing slightly as the new position forced the plug more deeply into his body. “You have permission to touch me,” she said, straddling his chest. His hands came up immediately, and gently, sweetly, touched her breasts, tracing soft, tender patterns over them, lingering on the hard points of her nipples, his eyes transfixed. She let him play there for awhile, grinding her clit against his body as it pulsed strongly. His fingers were so careful and worshipful on her breasts and she loved the feel of his solid body beneath her thighs.

Eventually she shifted, moving up and lowering herself over his mouth. His hands came up to trace more of those loving patterns on her ass cheeks, and his tongue darted eagerly upwards to embrace her clit.

Aware of his inexperience she guided him gently, showing him how best to lap inside her to make her clit throb and tingle with pleasure. She didn’t hold him down, and she gave him time to adjust and catch his breath as he worked. He was eager to please and a quick learner so before long she was close to orgasm.

“I cannot wait any longer,” she told him, wrenching herself away from his warm tongue. “I must have you – now.”

He gazed up at her with sex-stupid eyes, and she smiled and kissed his swollen lips, tasting herself on them. Then she drew back and ran her hands and mouth over his body as she worked her way back down to his still hard cock.

“Who do you belong to, Tim McGee?” she asked, as she took it in her hand. He gasped, his body convulsing at her touch.

“You…Ziva…Ziva David,” he whimpered, eyes closing. “Oh…please…I don’t think I can hold it…”

“You will,” she ordered, firmly.

He shuddered, his entire body shaking from the effort but then he opened his eyes and she saw that they were firm with resolve. She straddled him again, and then guided his hard cock into her body, slowly, so very slowly, sinking down onto him until he was fully sheathed inside her. God he felt good! She sat there for a moment, gazing down at her collared sub beneath her. He was blinking, looking dazed, but there was no mistaking the adoration in his eyes as he looked up at her.

She ground her hips down on him and he gasped, clutching at the air with his hands, and she knew that the butt plug she had placed inside him had just triggered every nerve ending in his body. She clenched her muscles tight around his cock and moved her hips up and then down again, in one fluid movement, and he cried out.

“Oh my god…oh please…oh my god…” he yelled, sweat beading his face. There was an expression of total, stunned surprised in his eyes as he gazed up at her, and she knew he had never dreamed it could be this good.

“You’re mine…serve me, Tim. Hold on while I ride you,” she ordered, rising and sinking, then again, and again. He was a nice size – not too big but hard and thick, and she loved how eagerly he was trying to serve her. “Do not come before I am done with you,” she ordered and he whimpered again. “Tim!” she cracked out and his eyes focussed once more, and he nodded.

“Not…before…you…got it,” he said, concentrating hard. “I’m yours, Ziva – use me.”

She began riding him in earnest, her body pounding with arousal. She ran her fingers over her own breasts, squeezing her nipples gently as she rocked up and down on him. He was gasping, holding on for dear life, and he felt so incredibly good inside her. His hands were resting on her hips and she could see he was concentrating with all his might on not coming so that she could take her pleasure from him. She was turned on by his devotion, by his obvious desire to please, and by the sensation of total power she felt as she rode him.

He was her collared sub and she could do this to him – she could make him quiver with need, and offer himself up to her, without reservation. She relished his submission and rode him harder, feeling that giddy orgasmic sensation start to pulse deep inside her, building slowly towards a crescendo. She locked gazes with him as she rode him, and now they were moving together as one, their bodies keeping rhythm as easily as they had when they had danced earlier.

“Come for me,” she cried, as her body exploded in a mass of sensation. She felt her orgasm tingle along every nerve ending in her body and then she was coming, her body pulsing sweetly as he came inside her, crying out as he experienced his first orgasm at the hands of a top.

She stayed where she was, riding out wave after wave of pleasure. She hung there, limp and covered in a fine sheen of sweat, her entire body glowing. He looked dazed but intensely happy as he gazed back up at her, still stroking her hips with gentle sweeps of his fingers.

When she had got her breath back she climbed off his softening cock and lay down on top of him; he wrapped his arms around her and held her tight.

“I love you, Ziva,” he whispered fiercely into her hair. “I love you so much.”

She kissed his lips, slowly, gently, affectionately, loving the sensation of his naked body beneath her own.

“I love you too, Tim,” she told him, glowing at the spike of happiness she saw in his eyes as she said the words.

She curled up beside him, facing him, nestling into him, and he pulled the sheets up around them as the sweat cooled on their bodies. She got a thrill from the scent of his leather collar – the collar *she* had placed around his neck – and she liked how he was holding her, the way he always held her at night, as if she was the most precious thing in the world.

“How do you feel about the plug now?” she asked, teasingly. He grinned.

“Amazing,” he told her. “I had no idea!”

“I thought you would enjoy it.” She ran her hand over his face, and down over his collar. “There are so many more things I want to do to you, Tim; so many more things that I think you will enjoy.”

“You’ve got a lot to teach me,” he murmured, kissing her hair.

“And you have a lot to teach me,” she replied, remembering the sheer eroticism of that bath. “I want to hear all your fantasies, Tim.”

“Mmmm.” He nuzzled against her hair, his hands pressed against her skin, and she closed her eyes as they dozed.

She felt a moment’s anxiety as she waited for that hollow, empty feeling to take hold of her, the one that she always had after sex – but it didn’t come. Tim felt her tension and held her tight, soothing her. She relaxed and snuggled in even closer against his warm, solid body, knowing that now she had him she would never feel that way again.



“All being well, this is the last time we’ll have to do this, Tony,” Carson said, unlacing the back of Tony’s gown and carefully removing one of the dressings on his shoulder.

Tony glanced sideways at Gibbs, who was leaning against the wall, sipping a cup of coffee. Technically speaking, Gibbs didn’t have a right to be here during Tony’s medical exam because Tony wasn’t wearing his collar any more, but Tony knew that neither he nor Carson was brave enough to point that out to him.

“Looking good,” Carson said, moving onto the next dressing. “No more dressings required, Tony – it’s all healing up nicely.”

“Does that mean I can go home now?” Tony asked. “Because everyone else is getting R&R on Atlantis and all I’m seeing is the inside of your infirmary.”

“And what is wrong with the inside of my infirmary, laddie?” Carson asked dangerously.

“Well, for starters, it’s boring,” Tony replied, and then he gave a high pitched squeak as Carson ripped off the next dressing a bit too enthusiastically. Gibbs grinned and took another sip of his coffee. Tony made a face at him. “And also, I’m fine now. I’m really fine. I’m well. I can be allowed to get up, and move around, and do stuff.”

“I agree,” Carson said.

“I can be allowed to actually walk places instead of being pushed in a chair and…what did you say?” Tony turned his head and glanced over his shoulder. Carson smiled at him.

“I said yes,” Carson replied. “I already agreed with Gibbs that you can go for a walk around the city after I’m done here. But for no longer than an hour, no further than the south pier, and you don’t go alone – Gibbs goes with you,” Carson added firmly.

Tony didn’t care about any of those restrictions – he was finally being allowed out.

“Ah yes,” Carson said, having removed all the dressings. “You’re going to be fine, son – which, I might add, is testament to the excellent care you’ve received.” He beamed around the room happily, obviously pleased with himself. “Don’t roll your eyes like that at me, Tony – there was a time or two back there when we might have lost you.”

“Nah. Never would’ve happened.” Tony shook his head. “Tell him, boss.” He glanced at Gibbs over Carson’s shoulder. Gibbs shrugged.

“I didn’t give him permission to die, Doc,” he said.

“So I didn’t,” Tony added. “Like a good little sub.” He sat up and Carson helped him into a bathrobe, and then he slipped off the bed and over to the door, and waited for Gibbs, impatiently.

Gibbs took his time, sipping his coffee, and Tony stood there, glowering at him, aware of the conditions of his walk. Trust Gibbs to be all toppy about it and make him wait. He found himself hopping from one foot to the other, impatient to get going, and he could tell Gibbs was toying with him, sipping slowly on purpose.

“Gibbs!” he said at last, unable to bear it.

“Tony?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow. Tony glowered at him.

Finally, Gibbs finished his coffee, set the cup down on the table, and joined him by the door, an amused little smile curving at his lips.

It felt great to be out walking around again; they walked down to the south pier and Tony leaned against the railing, looking up and relishing the feel of the sun on his face.

He saw Abby, a long way off on the east pier with Colonel Lorne and a bunch of his marines, and she waved at them excitedly, and then signed something with extravagantly large hand movements.

“She says ‘hi’ and she hopes you’re not driving Carson completely insane,” Gibbs translated, signing back at her.

“Hah, the other way around more like,” Tony muttered. “So, how did you learn how to sign, boss?”

He’d asked before, several times, and Gibbs had either ignored or sidestepped the question, so he wasn’t actually expecting a reply this time around; he was therefore surprised when one was forthcoming.

“I was deaf once,” Gibbs said.

“What? When?” Tony turned, startled.

“When I was a kid, DiNozzo,” Gibbs said, with a hint of exasperation in his voice, like it wasn’t any big deal. “I was ten, and I used to sneak onto military land nearby and go watch the Marines blow things up on training exercises. Once I got too close and busted my eardrums. They didn’t think I’d ever get my hearing back so I learned how to sign.”

“But then you got your hearing back?”

“Obviously. I can see why we made you an agent, DiNozzo.”

“Oh…wait a minute. Wait just a damn minute…” Tony held up his hand, the penny dropping. “You can’t just sign – you can lip-read too! That explains everything – like, how you always know what we’re talking about when you’re nowhere near. I thought that was just some creepy toppy power you had, but no, you can lip-read, can’t you?”

“Yes, DiNozzo, I can lip-read,” Gibbs grinned. “Which came in damn useful when I was a sniper in the Marines. It’s also pretty helpful dealing with smart-mouthed agents who think I’m out of earshot.”

“How long were you deaf for, boss?” Tony asked, intrigued.

“Just over a year.” Gibbs shrugged. “My dads were great about it – we all learned to sign, and I learned to lip-read pretty well. Then I just recovered my hearing almost overnight. That year of silence made me really aware of body language – it taught me how to see things, to really observe things, in a way I never would have done otherwise. I learned to really concentrate, and be aware of what I could see, touch and smell, in a way I never would have done otherwise. It completely changed the way I view the world.”

“And it explains why you never miss a thing,”

“When you can’t hear someone creeping up behind you, you have to really develop your peripheral vision,” Gibbs said. “I never lost that awareness of where people are standing in relation to me.”

“Nobody ever sneaks up on you by surprise,” Tony grinned.

“Nope.” Gibbs rested his arms on the rail, and gazed out at the ocean.

“So you had two dads?” Tony decided to risk a personal question while they were on a roll. He’d learned more about Gibbs in the past few days than he had in all of the last five years.

“Yeah.” Gibbs nodded.

“I’m guessing one or both of them were in the military,” Tony hazarded. Gibbs grinned at him sideways.

“You guess right, Tony. One was a Marine and the other was Air Force – both of ‘em fought in WW2. Later on, after they had me, they bought a store and ran it together.”

“Which one was the biological?” Tony asked.

“The one who taught me carpentry,” Gibbs replied, side-stepping the question with a chuckle. “He wasn’t a great storekeeper but he used the garage to make some fantastic pieces of furniture – they sold pretty well in the town.”

“They proud you joined the Marines?”

“Hell no! I ran off to join up as soon as I was old enough. When dad found out he slapped the back of my head so hard I thought I’d go deaf again. Working wood gave him these really hard, flat palms – used to hurt like hell when he spanked me.”

“Yeah, well, I know how that feels,” Tony muttered under his breath. “So why didn’t they want you to be a Marine?”

“Too young – and they knew how hard the military life could be – but it was all I ever wanted to be,” Gibbs shrugged.

“I bet you were a tough little kid to raise,” Tony commented.

“How do you draw that conclusion, DiNozzo?” Gibbs said, sounding half amused and half outraged.

“You snuck out to go watch the Marines blow things up on their weapons test site when you were ten, and then you snuck off to go join the Marines and that’s just the two things you’ve told me about,” Tony grinned. “I rest my case. You were a stubborn little brat weren’t you?”

“Maybe I was a little headstrong,” Gibbs conceded. Tony rolled his eyes because calling Gibbs a little headstrong was like calling a Shinzoic Grand Master a control freak.

Gibbs seemed to be in a good mood, so Tony decided to risk asking him for something.

“Boss, I’m feeling better – couldn’t you ask Carson to sign me out of the infirmary now?”

It felt so good to be out here, in the fresh air; he wanted to feel that he was over this and could put the entire thing behind him, instead of feeling like some feeble invalid who needed babysitting the whole time.

“Nope.” Gibbs shook his head.

“Oh come on, boss. You could out-top him,” Tony grinned, deciding that flattery was the best way of getting what he wanted. Besides, Gibbs could out-top anyone.

“You want me to out-top Dr Beckett in his own infirmary?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow.

“You could do it,” Tony said encouragingly. Gibbs gave one of those dry grins.

“Yes, I could, but I’m not going to,” he replied.

“Boss…you said that after Carson signed me out then we’d talk about my collar,” Tony said quietly, dropping the act now because this was what he really wanted to discuss.

“I did, yes.” Gibbs nodded.

“Well I’m fine, so we could talk about it now,” Tony said. This had been eating away at him, and he needed to find out where Gibbs stood on the subject. Did his boss intend to collar him again? Until Tony knew, he wasn’t sure what his response would be, and he felt like he was in limbo while it was still undecided. If Gibbs DID intend to collar him again would he even have the strength to turn him down?

“You miss it that much?” Gibbs asked.

“Honestly? Yes,” Tony said. “I didn’t think I would but I do.” Which didn’t mean he’d accept it back again but it was the truth; he DID miss it. “I’m not saying I miss everything that went with it,” Tony added. “Like having my ass spanked every day – I’m just saying I miss the damn thing being around my neck and what that meant. Like earlier, when you were in the room when my dressings were being changed – you still act like you’re my top, but I don’t know if you are any more.”

“Tony – stop fretting about it,” Gibbs told him firmly. “I told you I’d talk to you about it when you’re better and I promise you that I will but that’s not now. A few days ago you were nearly dead, and there’s time enough to deal with your collar when Carson discharges you.”

“Gibbs…” Tony began.

“DiNozzo!” Gibbs snapped. Tony glared at him, feeling all his pent-up frustrations rising to the surface. Gibbs took a deep breath. “Tony,” he said, in a softer tone. “Did you ever wonder why I spanked you every day?”

“Yes. All the damn time,” Tony answered emphatically.

“How did it make you feel?” Gibbs asked. “Did it make you angry?”

Tony paused, considering that. He wanted to say ‘yes’ but he knew that wasn’t true. “No,” he admitted at last. “It…kind of made me feel warm inside – as if I belonged somewhere, or to someone; as if someone was looking out for me, keeping me grounded – which isn’t to say that I liked it.”

“But you didn’t like it when I missed a day, either, did you?” Gibbs said.

“No.” Tony shook his head. “Although I really hated it when you’d call me over to your place on the weekends just to deliver one swat; seemed to me like you did that just because you could – just to remind me who owned me.”

Gibbs turned to look him straight in the eye. “Tony, did your father ever spank you when he was drunk?” he asked.

“Gibbs, he never spanked me when he was sober,” Tony replied.

Gibbs made a little movement of his head, the way he always did when he was angry, which he was right now but not with him, Tony thought.

“Yeah. That’s what I figured,” Gibbs said softly.

“Thing is, he was often so drunk I could have stood up and walked out of there and he’d never have known the next day,” Tony said, gazing out at the ocean. “But I didn’t. I stayed and let him whack me with his strap.”

“So why did you stay?” Gibbs asked.

“Because I wanted it to mean something,” Tony sighed. “It never did but even as a kid I was a sub to my bones, Gibbs, and I wanted to believe in him. I wanted him to be more than he was. I wanted to trust him and I wanted him to care about what I did and why I did it. I wanted the connection. Whacking me while drunk was the closest he ever came to that. When he was sober he just ignored me, like I wasn’t worth the effort. He used to communicate with me via these little notes he left around our hotel suite.”

“And when he was sober he sent you away to boarding school,” Gibbs murmured.

“Yeah. To be fair, I was kind of a pain to have around,” Tony said.

“Well, I’ve stood having you around for five years.”

“Which is strange because I never took you for a patient man, Gibbs,” Tony commented. Gibbs delivered a highly predictable slap to the back of his head.

“I can be, Tony,” he said. “Now do you see why I spanked you every day?”

Tony frowned. “Uh…no,” he said.

Gibbs grinned. “I think you do, Tony. Now come on – let’s get you back to Carson.”

“Hey, did you know that Ducky was hot when he was younger?” Tony asked, as they walked back. He was surprised by how tired he felt. Maybe Carson was right – he wasn’t all better yet.

“I think he’s still pretty hot,” Gibbs replied. Tony glanced at him sideways.

“Did you and he ever…?” he began, with a suggestive waggle of his eyebrows, and then he ducked, instinctively, as Gibbs’s hand connected again with the back of his head.

“Don’t go there, Tony,” Gibbs warned.

Tony grinned. Now *this* was starting to feel more like old times.



Gibbs wandered around the Athosian marketplace aimlessly. He wasn’t someone who enjoyed shopping but this wasn’t exactly like a trip to the local mall and he had thought it might be a damn sight more interesting.

Athosians usually bartered their goods but they liked Earth gold so Gibbs had bought some from the Atlantean quartermaster in case he saw anything he liked. It would be nice to take home a souvenir of some kind from the Pegasus galaxy.

General Sheppard had ferried him over to the mainland personally – as it was market day, a few offworlders had come through the gate so there was a lot of ferrying going on.

“That’s life in Pegasus,” Sheppard grinned at him as they landed at the Athosian settlement. “Part taxi-driving, part risking life and limb on a daily basis.”

The Athosians mainly sold hand crafted goods – Gibbs picked his way around some stalls piled high with Athosian-style clothing, mostly made of animal hides. Then he moved on to a stall of weaponry.

“Athosian knives are pretty damn good,” Sheppard told him, coming up behind him. He pointed at one with a plain wooden handle and a gleaming, serrated edge. “Nothing fancy – their knives are for killing, not for show. I’m heading off to meet Rodney – see you at the food tent in about an hour?”

Gibbs nodded, and continued browsing. He liked the knives he had, so he wasn’t tempted. He moved on, and saw Colonel Lorne coming out of a tent nearby. Abby wasn’t with him – Gibbs looked around to see if she was close by.

“She’s visiting Tony,” Lorne told him, before he could say anything. “She was here earlier – she left with Lieutenant Hansen so she’s fine. And she just radioed to say she’s reached the infirmary.”

“Just as long as she’s safe,” Gibbs murmured, grinning slightly because it was clear that Lorne remembered each and every single one of the conditions for dating Abby that he’d imposed on the man.

Lorne was holding a little parcel in his hands and he slipped it quietly into his pocket. Gibbs raised an eyebrow but Lorne didn’t offer an explanation; Gibbs decided that he wasn’t owed one.

“What’s this tent?” he asked.

“Jewellery – they’ve got some nice stuff,” Lorne said, gesturing with his head. “Go take a look.”

Gibbs decided to do just that. He slipped inside the tent and was surprised to see some extremely intricate work on display. The clothing and weaponry had been so rough and ready that he’d expected more of the same. There was body jewellery, piercing jewels, bracelets, collars, cock rings, harnesses, necklaces – all beautifully crafted. His eye was drawn to a necklace, made of an unusual red gold, and he pointed at it. The Athosian stallholder came over.

“That is Athosian gold,” he said. “We used to mine it on our homeworld, before we were forced to flee. Now it is very rare, and thus expensive.”

“And this?” Gibbs pointed to a shiny, more silvery looking chain.

“That is Atlantean gold,” the man told him. “We mine it here – neither form of gold will tarnish, and both are beautiful and strong, but Atlantean gold is hard to mine – and therefore just as expensive as the Athosian gold, I fear.” He gave an apologetic smile.

Gibbs looked at the man sharply, trying to decide if he was being hustled, but years of experience interrogating people, combined with his own gut, told him the man was telling the truth. He fingered the gold chains speculatively, allowing himself to fantasise for a moment, and then pulled himself together, shaking his head.

“I will be here, if you change your mind,” the Athosian told him.

Gibbs joined Rodney and John at the food tent half an hour later. They were already there, seated with an enormous plate of food in front of them.

“What is it with perpetually hungry subs?” Gibbs asked, sitting down with them. “DiNozzo eats enough for three people too.”

Rodney paused in mid-chew. “We get so much exercise seeing to the needs of our perpetually demanding tops that we need lots of food?” he hazarded around his mouthful of food. Gibbs snorted.

“You ate like this before I collared you,” John pointed out, holding out a heaped fork of food for Rodney to take another mouthful. “How’s Tony doing?” John asked, looking up at Gibbs.

“Good. Carson says he can return to quarters the day after tomorrow,” Gibbs replied.

“Thank god!” Rodney sighed. Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “Uh…it’s just, he’s driving everyone insane being cooped up in there. He called me on my radio seven times last night when I was working in the lab.”

“He reminds me of you. I’m surprised Carson doesn’t keep you both permanently sedated while you’re recuperating,” John told him, holding out another forkful of food which Rodney gobbled up happily.

“Oh, please! Last time you were in the infirmary Carson practically had a nervous breakdown,” Rodney told him.

John grinned at him fondly, and Rodney grinned back. There was something so easy and joyful about their banter that even Gibbs couldn’t help but be affected by it. It was rare to see a top and sub so completely and perfectly in tune. Gibbs had a feel for dynamic, in himself and everyone around him, and he didn’t think he’d ever met a pair better suited to each other. Sure they had hiccups along the way, like everyone, but they were solid to the core.

“Tony radioed you seven times?” Gibbs frowned. “What the hell did he want?”

“Uh…” Rodney flushed wildly and gazed helplessly at John.

“Answer the man, Rodney,” John urged, with a look that said he was enjoying watching his sub squirm.

Rodney looked as if he’d prefer the ground to open up and swallow him whole. Gibbs gazed at him steadily and expressionlessly – it was his favourite interrogation technique and Rodney Sheppard was hardly a difficult person to break. The silence only lasted about ten seconds before Rodney caved.

“Well…uh…he wanted me to go and spring him out of the infirmary,” Rodney muttered.

Gibbs laughed out loud. “And what did you say?” he asked.

“That I wanted to live, and pissing off the three toppiest tops on Atlantis – you, John and Carson – was not a good way to go about it,” Rodney said with a grimace.

“And he called back six times?” Gibbs grinned. “DiNozzo is nothing if not persistent!”

Rodney took another bite of food from the fork John was offering, and gazed at Gibbs speculatively.

“You know,” he began, still chewing. “You’re not what I thought you’d be when you arrived.”

Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “And how’s that?”

“Well…I thought you’d be into leash etiquette and Shinzoic obedience rituals and all that stuff but you’re not.”

“You thought I was into all that Shinzoic shit?” Gibbs frowned. “Why the hell would you think that?”

“I dunno. Just because you had five leashed subs and they all walked to heel like they were in tune with you.” Rodney wrinkled up his face. “Usually that’s something you only see in the show ring.”

“They walk to heel because they learned the hard way that I don’t stop for ‘em,” Gibbs replied with a gruff laugh. “I don’t have a lot of time for the Shinzoic principles. If a sub and top have something good going on then they just move the way they should – no need to make it into some kind of hard study.”

“Exactly,” John agreed. “Rodney and I spent part of our honeymoon in a Shinzoic retreat,” he confided.

“It was terrible,” Rodney said mournfully.

“Well you wanted to go,” John reminded him.

“I know. I thought it’d be hot but it was the most boring thing I’ve ever done,” Rodney confided. “Those people study for years just to become two halves of the same apple or something like that – two sides of the same coin, the two sides of the moon – whatever. ‘Sub and top moving in perfect harmony, each a working part of the same well-oiled machine’,” he quoted. “Terrible,” he added again, shaking his head.

Gibbs laughed out loud. “I could have told you that. Being a top is instinctive – and I presume being a sub is the same for you, Rodney. Nobody has to teach you – if there’s anything to learn it’s to listen to your gut and be who you are, and never, ever let anyone tell you to be anything else.”

“Agreed.” John nodded, a grin tugging at the corners of his lips. “I knew there was a reason you and I get along, Gibbs.” Gibbs grinned back at him.

“Likewise, General,” he said, meaning it. John Sheppard was one of the finest men and best tops he’d ever come across – and he owed him for helping him rescue Tony.

It was dark by the time Gibbs returned to his quarters. He didn’t expect anyone to be there as Ducky and Abby were both spending their free time with Woolsey and Lorne respectively so he was surprised, when he turned on the light, to find Abby curled up in the corner of the lounge, staring out of the window.

“Everything okay, Abs?” he asked, cautiously, feeling his gut tighten. If Lorne had done anything to upset Abby he’d go and rip the man’s throat out.

“No,” she said, the sound muffled because she had buried her face in her knees as she spoke. “Gibbs…I’m sorry.” She glanced up, and he saw immediately what she was sorry about. There was an empty space around her neck where her collar had been, and she was holding it loosely in her hand.

“Oh,” he said, feeling a little winded. “Well…it had to happen one day,” he told her, going over to sit down beside her on the floor. He put his arm around her and waited.

“I know,” she said at last. “But I didn’t realise it would be this painful.”

“You sure about this?” he said. “Because this time, if you give it back to me, you can never have it back again.”

She glanced up at him, her eyes steady if a little anxious. “I am sure,” she said. “Although it kind of scares me that I’m so sure.”

He kissed the top of her head, and held her close.

“Lorne?” he asked.

“He’s special, Gibbs,” she replied. “And it’s not fair on him to wear another top’s collar any longer. He’s been patient, and he hasn’t asked me to do this but…the thing is, I want to do it.”

“Fair enough.” He kissed her again.

“I want you to know that I am so, so grateful to you for letting me wear your collar all this time.”

“It’s been my pleasure,” he told her, sincerely.

“Are you sure you’re not upset?” she asked. “Only, I know Tim and Ziva have their own thing going on now, and Jordan took Tony’s collar off him and I’m not sure you intend to put it back, so that just leaves Ducky and…are you going to be lonely, Gibbs?”

He laughed again. “Oh, I’m a big boy, Abby – I’ll cope.”

“That’s what Tony said you’d say!” she exclaimed.

“You talked to Tony about this?”

“Yeah. Tony can be really cool when he’s not, you know, pretending to be an idiot,” she said.

“Yeah. I know.” Gibbs nodded. “And he’s right. I’ll be fine.”

“He said you never intended to keep any of us forever, and I remember you let Stan go, and then Ziva and Tim. You even let Tony go, which, I’m sorry, is just wrong on so many levels…but anyway…I just figured it was my time.”

“Lorne works about as far from NCIS as it’s possible to get,” Gibbs pointed out to her. “And I will not lose my forensics expert as well as my sub.”

“I don’t want to leave NCIS – you’re my family…but I can’t promise anything right now. I have to give this a chance, don’t I?”

“Yes, yes you do,” Gibbs agreed. “And Lorne’s a good top, Abby. I like him. If I have to lose you to anyone he’s about as good as it gets.”

“Thank you, Gibbs.” She turned towards him, and he caught hold of her chin and kissed her on the lips one last time. She threw her arms around him and held him tight, and then pulled back, pressing the collar into his hand. He got to his feet and pulled her up.

“Your ass still belongs to me at work,” he reminded her.

She grinned. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, bossman!”

“Bye Abby,” he said softly.

“Bye Gibbs,” she replied, her eyes gleaming as she blinked back the tears.

He watched her as she walked over to the door. She was almost there when she turned and ran back, almost knocking him over with the force of her hug.

“Promise me that you’ll collar Tony again,” she whispered fiercely in his ear.

“Can’t make that promise, Abby. You see, he doesn’t need my collar any more either.”

She slapped the back of his head, startling him, and he put up his hand to rub the sore spot.

“What was that for?” he asked.

“That, is because you are wrong, Gibbs!” she said. “First time for everything,” she added slyly.

“Go!” he ordered, laughing softly. “And Abby – thank *you*. It was an honour to have you wear my collar.”

She smiled, raised her hand in a little wave, and then she was gone.



Abby went to Lorne’s quarters, feeling scared but excited. It was like starting a new life – she had no idea where it would lead her but it felt exhilarating all the same.

Lorne had keyed his door pad to allow her to enter, so she did just that. Now that she was here she felt apprehensive. Supposing he didn’t like her as much as she thought he did? Supposing he actually liked the safety of knowing she was another top’s collared sub? Maybe she hadn’t thought this through enough…

She had worked herself up into a frenzy of over-thinking by the time she heard him at the door.

“Hey!” he grinned as he entered. He was dressed casually, in a stripy navy blue shirt and a pair of jeans. She liked the way he dressed; he wasn’t one of those tops who had to parade around in some heavy leather outfit to make him feel big. “You okay?” he asked, seeing her face.

She got up, slowly, and stood there.

“So…I did something, and I’m not sure how you’ll feel about it…and maybe I should have talked to you about it first but it felt like something I had to decide for myself…and I know I’ve only known you for a few weeks but it feels like longer, and, see, I don’t feel like this is one of those short-term flings but on the other hand, maybe that’s what you feel, and I guess I should have thought about that before I…”

She stopped as she realised he was staring at her neck, his eyes shining. Then he crossed the room at a run and swung her up in his arms.

“So I didn’t do a bad thing?” she said, as he kissed her bare throat over and over again.

“Not a bad thing, Abs,” he said huskily, between kisses. “Not a bad thing at all. Uh…was Gibbs okay about it? He’s not going to come down here and kill me with his bare hands or anything, is he?”

“You see, I have no idea why everyone is so scared of Gibbs!” Abby said. “He’s a really sweet man.”

Lorne laughed. “Abby – if you had been there when he was interviewing me to see if I was good enough to date you then you’d have some idea of why I have a healthy respect for the guy. Also, I’m guessing you are the only person – ever – who has described him as ‘sweet’.”

“Well, he’s always been sweet to me,” Abby said. “Okay, sometimes I can see that he can be a little scary but mainly he’s just misunderstood.”

“Okaaay,” Lorne said, in a tone that suggested he didn’t believe that for an instant. He ran his fingers over the empty space on her neck, smiling at her. “Abby, what did you have in mind?” he asked. “I mean, I know how *I* feel, but how about you?”

“I don’t want to leave NCIS because I love my job and I love those guys but I will – for you,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about it – Rodney could probably use another scientist – I have no idea why so many of them leave but he really needs more help in there. I could apply for a job here – that way we could be together.”

“First Gibbs, now Rodney – you really do have a unique view of people, Abs,” Lorne grinned. “And I love you for it. Although I think even you might find Rodney a hard boss to work for.”

“I would not!” Abby protested.

“Perhaps not – you clearly have the ability to work for difficult bosses,” Lorne grinned. “But…no, I don’t think that’s the right solution, Abby.”

“You don’t?” Abby grimaced. “You think I’m moving too fast, don’t you? I didn’t mean to imply I’d move in with you, or make you feel you have to collar me or anything. I just thought…”

“Ssh.” He put a finger over her mouth. “How about this instead?” he suggested. “I’m owed about three months’ leave. I’ve been out in Pegasus for years and I’ve barely had any time back on Earth. Why don’t I take those three months? I’ll need to ask Sheppard but I’m pretty sure he’ll agree. Then…if it’s worked out between us and you still want me after that time then I’ll request a permanent transfer to Earth, so you can still work at NCIS.”

“You’d give up the Pegasus galaxy for me?” Abby asked. “Really? But it’s so cool out here!”

“Yeah, but I’ve been thinking about Earth a lot lately. My mom is getting older and I know she worries about not seeing me very often. Don’t get me wrong – I love it out here – but I figure there’s plenty of excitement to be had back home, especially if I have a reason to go back there.”

“I love you,” she told him. “Is it too soon to say that?”

“No.” He wrapped his arms around her and held her hands behind her back, the way she loved, making her feel restrained and safe at one and the same time. “It’s not too soon at all.” He kissed her, and she sighed and pressed herself up against him. Then he released her, and stepped back.

“Hey,” she pouted. “I thought we could…” she glanced at the bed.

“Oh no.” Lorne shook his head. “I have plans for tonight. Come here.” He held out his hand and she took it, and then he led her out of the room.

“Where are we going?” she asked, intrigued.

“Well…you told me, specifically, that it should never be boring,” he told her, a gleam in his eyes. “So I’m doing my best to make sure it never is.” Something about the way he was smiling told her that he loved arranging surprises, and that suited her just fine.

He led her down to the jumper bay and they got into a jumper; he closed the hatch, and pulled her in for another kiss.

“Undress,” he told her throatily when he released her.

“Ooh, kinky,” she said, unbuttoning her blouse. He grinned at her over his shoulder as he took control of the jumper. “Sex on a spaceship – I’ve never done *that* before.”

“You won’t be doing it tonight either,” he said. “I have something else in mind.”

She finished undressing and stood there, completely naked, as he piloted the jumper out over the ocean. He threw her something black.

“Put it on,” he ordered as she caught it.

“A blindfold? Hmmm…I like the way this is going.” She slipped the blindfold over her eyes and then stood beside him. “So…this feels weird,” she said. It did – standing stark naked save for a blindfold, while he flew the ship. There was something exciting about it and she could feel herself getting turned on.

He landed the ship smoothly a few seconds later and she wondered where they were and what he had planned. She heard him move around the jumper, gathering up things, and then she felt his warm hand in hers.

“Come with me,” he whispered in her ear, and he sounded more than a little dangerous. She shivered, remembering the night she’d first met him, and how he had turned her on with just some flirting, wordplay and the touch of his hand on her wrist. He seemed to understand her instinctively.

He led her towards the ramp and she felt the warm night air on her naked skin.

“I’m not…you’re not taking me anywhere public are you?” she asked, uncertainly. He squeezed her hand.

“Trust me,” he said, and she did – implicitly. He led her slowly out of the jumper, and she felt grass under her bare feet. The night was warm, and a balmy breeze caressed her skin. She liked how it felt – her naked and vulnerable behind the blindfold, while he was fully clothed and in charge. All she had to do was give herself up to whatever he had planned and she was happy to do that.

They walked a short distance and then he stopped, and she heard him moving around again. Finally he returned, and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Okay…I’m going to remove the blindfold now,” he told her. “Keep your eyes closed.” She did as she was told, and felt him remove the blindfold. “Open them,” he whispered in her ear.

She did so, and gazed around. They were on the cliff-top above Collar Bay, and she was standing by a blanket. Over to one side was a little fire, and all around the blanket were dotted dozens of candles in little jars. She noticed the stakes that had been hammered into the ground around the blanket and her stomach did a little flip in anticipation, wondering what he had planned for her.

“Evan…this is so beautiful!” she said.

“It’s the exact spot where we first met,” he told her.

He stood behind her, and ran his hands down her bare arms. She shivered and melted back against him, loving the feel of his denim jeans against her naked buttocks. He slid his hands over her breasts, cupping them, and teased her nipples into little points with his fingers. She gasped at the sensation flooding through her breasts, and he kissed her neck.

“It’s also the place where I’d like, with your permission, to pierce these,” he said, tweaking her nipples gently as he spoke. She felt a thrill of excitement run through her.

“You want to pierce me?” she asked, excitedly.

“If you’ll let me have that honour,” he said, rubbing her nipples insistently with his fingertips. If she had been his collared sub he wouldn’t have had to ask permission – he could have just gone ahead and done it – but she wasn’t collared – yet. She liked how nicely he was asking, full of respect.

She turned in his arms and kissed him, hard, on the mouth.

“I’ll take that as a yes then,” he said, when she was done. She looked at him, feeling a little dazed.

“Gibbs always said to wait for someone who’d make it special,” she whispered.

“Am I special enough?” he asked, one eyebrow arched.

“Oh hell yes!”

“It’ll hurt but I’ll make it good if you trust me.”

“I do trust you – and I like a little bit of pain,” she told him mischievously.

He laughed, and then that dangerous look was back in his eyes. She remembered the stranger she’d met out here a few weeks ago, and how he had painted a delicious little scenario in her mind. Lorne was an imaginative top but he was also responsible and very skilled. She had no hesitation at all about surrendering herself to him, totally and completely.

“Come here then.” He took hold of her hand and led her onto the blanket, then sat her down. She liked the way the fire felt, warming her skin. It was a warm night so she wasn’t cold but it was nice to feel the heat of the flames on her naked body. “I don’t want you to look – I want you to feel,” he whispered, placing the blindfold over her eyes again.

Now there was just her naked body, exposed on the cliff-top, the breeze tickling her, and his voice, deep and dangerous, anchoring her. He took her hands and bound her wrists with rope. She loved that he used rope – she had no objection to cuffs, and they were certainly more comfortable, but she loved that he knew how to tie a sub so expertly.

Then he took her bound wrists and pulled them over her head, making her lie flat on the blanket. She felt them loop the rope into one of the stakes, securing her there.

“I’m going to tie you tightly,” he told her, his breath teasing her skin as he spoke. He sounded so calm, and so utterly implacable and in control that her clit began to pound with excitement. “I don’t want you moving when I pierce you. I want you still – so I’m going to tie you tighter than usual.”

She moaned, softly; she loved the combined promise and threat in his words. She adored being tied and loved the idea of being completely immobile when he pierced her.

She felt his rope on her body, criss-crossing her skin, and she knew it would leave those beautiful little red marks that she loved seeing after he released her. She wished they wouldn’t fade so soon.

“You’re mine now, Abby,” he murmured as he worked. “And I’m going to place my permanent marks on your body. I’m going to pierce you, and that will show you – and everyone else – who you belong to.” He kissed her throat as he said that, on the exact spot where her collar had once been, and she knew how much this meant to him. She was his now – she didn’t belong to Gibbs any more, and Lorne was going to make his mark on her, printing it indelibly in her skin where it could never be removed.

She wriggled in anticipation, and then squealed as he slapped her thigh.

“Be still, submissive,” he hissed, dangerously, in her ear. She thought she might come there and then but he hadn’t given her permission so she tried her best to relax and do as he had ordered. She imagined that if she could see them his eyes would be laughing at her but she liked that she was blindfolded – it made the scene more intense.

He tied her as tightly as he’d promised, ropes digging into her bare flesh, each of them making her aware of their presence. He pulled her legs wide apart and attached them to the stakes he had placed in the ground until she was completely immobile, unable to move a muscle.

She heard him open something. She wished that she could see what he was going to pierce her with, and then it occurred to her that he must have bought some body jewellery and she wondered what her new decorations would look like.

“You’re so beautiful…and you’re mine,” he whispered, undoing her pigtails so that her hair flowed loosely. He kissed her mouth, and she moaned and opened up to him, but he didn’t linger. He trailed wet kisses down her neck, and then, without warning, she felt his warm mouth on her right nipple, sucking hard. She cried out but she couldn’t move, and it felt so delicious to be bound this tight while he toyed with her.

He moved onto the other nipple, sucking that too, and then slid his hand between her open legs and rubbed her clit. It was already pounding like it was going to explode but it was too soon, and she knew she had to hold on for him.

“Later,” he warned, and she moaned by way of reply.

She felt something cool on her nipples and smelled something medicinal, so she guessed he was using some kind of antiseptic. She shivered. She was about to be pierced. She knew it would hurt, but she loved the idea of experiencing that kind of pain at his hands. It would be intense but so delicious. Besides, she was tied tightly, and couldn’t resist. She was his, and he could mark her any way he liked.

She heard him move over towards the fire, and then he returned. She was glad she couldn’t see him – even though she longed to know what was going on. Being blindfolded made her so much more aware of her body; she could feel the softness of the blanket beneath her, the tight criss-crossing of the ropes digging into her, the warmth of the fire on her skin, and the coolness of the breeze wafting over her bound, naked body.

She thought she’d explode from a combination of nerves, apprehension, excitement and arousal as she felt his body straddle hers. She wished for a brief moment that she could lock gazes with him, and see the intent look in his eyes when he pierced her, but then she squawked as she felt her left nipple being held steady by what felt like a cool metallic clamp. She struggled to draw breath, fearing what would happen next while welcoming it eagerly. Then there was a sharp blaze of pain in her nipple and she wanted to twist away but the ropes held her firmly in place, and she was screaming and screaming and all the time there was that sharpness in her breast that wouldn’t go away. She felt a tugging sensation and then the pain receded into a dull, pounding throb.

“Oh god!” she cried, her body drenched with sweat. His mouth closed over hers and she offered herself up to his searching kiss. She was his, she told herself, over and over again, like a mantra. If he wanted to pierce her she was happy to offer up her body to be pierced. She loved the idea of wearing his jewels in her breasts, even though it hurt so much right now.

“That was good. It looks so beautiful,” he whispered to her when he finished kissing her. “If you could only see what I see – you look amazing, Abby. All bound up beneath me – and the piercing looks so pretty. I love your breasts…so round and white and soft…and all mine now. All mine.”

She felt him plant a kiss on the breast that was hurting, and then he pulled back. She tensed as she felt that clamp take hold of her other nipple in its cold, metallic embrace.

“Please no…please yes…please no…” she whispered, wanting it to happen but afraid of the intensity of the pain all the same.

“Ssh,” he said, soothing her. “Take this for me, Abby. You can take it, can’t you?”

She knew that she could, and she nodded, trembling. Then she felt another blaze of that same sharp pain and she screamed again. He was marking her, and it felt so bad and so good at one and the same time. The tugging began and she screamed again, loving the intensity of the moment. He let her scream – she was glad he hadn’t gagged her – she loved that they were all the way out here, where nobody could see or hear them, and she could be as loud as she wanted, screaming out her joy and agony at one and the same time. Then, as she screamed, his mouth closed over hers, swallowing the sound, and he claimed her for his own with a deep, powerful kiss.

Then it was over, and now both breasts ached, sore but deliciously so.

He kissed her again, softly this time, and she moaned, utterly helpless beneath him. Then she felt his mouth on her body, covering its terrain, mapping it and claiming it for himself.

She felt him untie the ropes as he went, loosening them by degrees between kisses and caresses, until she was free.

“Stay there,” he told her and she obeyed, not moving a muscle. She heard the sounds of him undressing, and then he was back. He sat down beside her and then he pulled her over. She found herself sitting in his lap, and felt his hard cock. He manoeuvred her up, and she allowed herself to be guided down, her wet pussy swallowing his cock easily, her knees bent on either side of his body.

“Hold it there,” he told her, and she sighed, loving the way he felt inside her – hard, strong and pulsing.

She felt his fingers on her face, and then he whisked her blindfold away. She blinked down at him, smiling insanely, and she saw that he was smiling too, his eyes shining.

“You can look now,” he said, and she glanced down and saw the beautiful jewels glowing in her nipples, dappled by the firelight. The piercings were plain steel barbells, but beneath each one swung a cobweb, with seven red jewels glinting along its delicate tendrils. “I thought these suited you. I bought others, though,” he said, nodding his head in the direction of the box by the fire. “We can try them on you another time.”

“They’re perfect,” she whispered. She loved that he didn’t want to change her, and that he’d chosen something so intrinsically her. She reached down to touch them but he grabbed her hands and held them behind her back.

“Uh-uh. These are mine for tonight – no touching,” he said. “Now, ride me. I want to be at eye level with these when I come inside you.”

She loved how he was holding her hands behind her back as she rose up and slid back down on his hard cock. His mouth brushed her breasts as she rode him, taking care not to catch the new piercings, and it felt so amazingly intense that she wanted to explode.

She was bobbing up and down in the dark summer’s air, her breasts bouncing as she rode him, each move of her hips sending a wave of sensation through her body, making her sore nipples ache even more, with a sweet, erotic throb.

She looked down on him, meeting his gaze as he stared back up at her. She could see that he was in his top-space, intent and focussed, his brown hair mussed up, his handsome face and hard, toned body dappled in the firelight. He was so beautiful, and the moment was so perfect, that she lost herself in her own sub-space. She was nothing save the dangling cobwebs hanging from her breasts, and the feel of his hardness inside her body. She was his submissive, and he had marked her as his own, with his own hands.

Her body was a tumult of sensation – pain, pleasure and something darkly beautiful all merging as one. She rode on, her hair streaming out over her shoulders, her body joining his in the age-old dance between dominant and submissive. She was his – his, his, his and she had never felt happier. The crescendo playing inside her built to a climax and then she was blinded by a series of starbursts, white flashes like fireworks exploding in her mind and body, sending ripple after ripple of pleasure through her. Those waves of pleasure kept on coming, over and over again, until she was spent and could do nothing but hang there, looking down on him, completely out of it.

He released her wrists and stroked her thighs while she hung there, gazing at him, lost in the moment. His hands moved up her body and cupped her breasts, and she looked down at the beautiful cobwebs dangling from the steel bars he had placed there.

“You’re not his any more,” he said softly, his eyes dark with emotion. “You’re mine now, Abby. I made you mine tonight.”

“Yes,” she replied. “I’m yours. All yours.”

She fell down on top of him, a jolt of sensation from her sore nipples sending another wave of intense pleasure through her, and he caught her and held her against him, keeping her safe, just the way he’d promised.



Gibbs wasn’t used to R&R. At least back home he could work on his boat but out here, on Atlantis, he had a lot of time on his hands and not much to occupy it. So he spent the day doing what he did best – working.

He read through all his agents’ reports and filed them in a box in the smaller of the two lounges which he was now using as an evidence room. There were other boxes there too – all neatly labelled and filled with various bags of evidence. Gibbs wouldn’t be entirely happy until he got them signed in back at NCIS and they ceased to be his responsibility. They had taken a lot of stuff from Jordan’s quarters, including the P-90 he’d used to shoot Tim. Gibbs went through it all to make sure it had been properly tagged and catalogued.

He broke off to go and visit Tony at lunchtime. He took Tony some clothes, in preparation for his release from the infirmary the following day, and took him on their regular stroll down to the south pier. Then Gibbs dropped him back into Carson’s capable hands – although not before Tony had tried to talk him into getting him released a day early – and returned to his quarters to continue his inventory.

He was still working when Ducky dropped by late in the afternoon.

“You know what they say about all work and no play, Jethro,” Ducky commented, standing in the doorway.

“It makes Jethro a bastard?” he asked, looking up. “Because that’s what I usually get called.”

“Well, I’m fairly sure nobody ever called you dull,” Ducky chuckled. “That’s the way the saying usually goes.”

“I just wanted to make sure this was all exactly the way I like it,” Gibbs said, gesturing with his head at the boxes.

“Jethro, we’ve been working with you for many years – we know the way you like it done,” Ducky told him gently. “Was any of it done incorrectly?”

“Nope.” Gibbs shook his head. “But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t check,” he added.

Ducky laughed, and then his expression changed. “Can we talk?” he asked softly. “It’s not about work – it’s personal.”

Gibbs gazed at him for a long moment, and then sighed. “Et tu, Ducky?” he said, spreading his arms in a gesture of despair.

Ducky gave him a sad little smile in return, then turned and led the way back to the main living room. Gibbs followed him, his gut tightening. This never got any easier – and this one, this was the one he had always known would hurt the most.

Ducky sat down at the dining table and pushed a warm cup of coffee in his direction, claiming a cup of tea for himself.

“Jethro, we both know that I’ve hidden behind your collar for far too long,” Ducky said. Gibbs took a sip of coffee, and gazed at his old friend.

“Yeah, I know,” he muttered.

“Fourteen years to be precise,” Ducky added. “I don’t suppose that any of us thought it would be this long when you fastened that strip of shirt around my neck all those years ago.”

“I guess not.” Gibbs shook his head. “Has it really been that long? Damn that makes me feel old. But he was always out there, Ducky, sending you those threatening letters, calling you, even until fairly recently. It never felt safe for you to take the collar off while he was alive, did it?”

“No. It didn’t.” Ducky shook his head. “And to be honest, I loved wearing it. I was always very proud to be your collared sub, Jethro.”

“But you aren’t a sub at all, Ducky. You’re a switch,” Gibbs pointed out. “And I’ve always respected that. Didn’t really understand it, but respected it.”

“I know,” Ducky chuckled. “I can’t say I’ve done a very good job of understanding it myself. Maybe I’m more of a sub than I like to admit – after all, I wore Randolph’s collar for twenty-five years and yours for fourteen.”

“And now you get a chance to explore who you really are,” Gibbs said. “How are things going with Woolsey?”

“He’s a charming man,” Ducky replied, and he looked younger and more animated than Gibbs could remember seeing him in a long time. “We’re neither of us at an age or of an inclination where we think of sharing plates and buckling on marriage belts and all that kind of thing, but it’s been good for both of us I think.”

“If anyone can help someone like him then it’s you,” Gibbs said. He didn’t know Woolsey that well but he knew a sub who had escaped a bullying top when he saw one.

“Yes, I have rather been there, done that,” Ducky replied, with a wry shake of his head.

“And when we go back home? What happens then?”

“Well we’ve only known each other a short time so we decided we wouldn’t expect too much of each other at this stage. If he wants to see other tops then that’s fine by me, and the same goes for me too, if a sub or top takes my fancy. However… he is intending to make a trip back to Earth regularly – this IOA committee want him to report in person on a monthly basis from now on. We can meet up then. He’s also said I’m welcome to spend vacation time on Atlantis so we can stay in touch and see how it goes. I’ll be thinking of retiring in a few years so who knows what I’ll decide to do then. There are worse places to retire to than the Pegasus galaxy!”

“It’s a long way to come for a visit, Ducky,” Gibbs pointed out.

“Well, I’m sure you’ll find a way, Jethro,” Ducky replied. “You always do, you know.”

“Yeah.” Gibbs took another sip of his coffee. He wasn’t great at dealing with his own emotions, he knew that, and this was tough.

“But my dear boy, I wouldn’t leave you in the lurch,” Ducky said. “You have been the best and truest friend a man could ask for. If you want me to keep the collar then I will.”

“No, Duck.” Gibbs shook his head. “Jordan’s dead, and he was always the main reason for you wearing it. It’s done its job. Like you said, I never intended to keep any of you for good when I first collared you.”

“No, indeed!” Ducky chuckled. “But you did a good job, Jethro. You saved us in various ways – all of us – and now you’re setting us free. You’re a man of honour, my friend.”

He got up, went over to where Gibbs was sitting, and knelt in front of him. “You put it there, Jethro,” he said softly. “I would very much like you to be the one to remove it.”

Gibbs reached out, and touched the plain black collar. Jordan had been right when he said they were cheap – Gibbs had bought them for a few dollars at Walmart. However, the sentiment behind them had never been cheap, and he knew his subs had understood that.

He pulled blindly on the buckle, wondering whether his eyesight had deteriorated overnight because he was having trouble seeing. He felt Ducky’s fingers gently cover his own and they opened the buckle together. Gibbs pulled the collar and it fell into his hand. He threw it onto the table and blinked, and his vision cleared. He wiped his hand across his eyes and was surprised when it came away wet. Ducky stood up.

“Thank you, my friend,” he said.

“Bye Ducky,” Gibbs whispered hoarsely.

“Goodbye, Jethro.” Ducky put a hand on Gibbs’s shoulder and squeezed.

“This place must be jinxed or something,” Gibbs said, with a rueful shake of his head. “I had a whole fistful of collared subs when I arrived but now not one of ‘em is wearing my collar.”

“Well, technically speaking, that’s not entirely true,” Ducky pointed out. “Neither Tony nor you removed his collar, so legally and, I dare say, emotionally, his status remains rather undecided, doesn’t it?”

“Ah, hell. Tony doesn’t need saving any more than the rest of you now,” Gibbs said. “He’s grown up a lot lately.”

“You’re quite right; he doesn’t need saving any more,” Ducky agreed.

“So I guess I’m all out of people to save now,” Gibbs sighed.

“Ah, that’s where you’re wrong, Jethro,” Ducky said quietly. “There’s still one more person.”

“Who?” Gibbs looked up at him, surprised.

“You, my dear boy,” Ducky murmured. “You.” He bent his head and kissed Gibbs’s hair before straightening up. “You deserve to be happy. Be as kind to yourself as you’ve been to all of us, Jethro – you’re worth it.”

“Am I?” Gibbs looked up, straight into Ducky’s eyes. “I couldn’t save them, Ducky,” he said hoarsely. “Shannon and Kelly. Protecting them was my job and I didn’t do it. So why the hell do I deserve to be happy?”

Ducky took his face in his hands and held it firmly. “Oh Jethro. Is that what all this has been about? All these years? Oh my dear boy. No wonder you’ve been saving people ever since. Jethro – listen to me. Of *course* you deserve some happiness. You’re a good man. You’ve always been a good man. What happened to Shannon and Kelly wasn’t your fault. What happened to Tony, Tim and Abby wasn’t your fault either. Now let it go, my dear boy. You must let it go – and that’s not a suggestion, Jethro. It’s an order.” He bestowed a gentle kiss on Gibbs’s forehead, and then released him. Gibbs raised an eyebrow.

“You giving me orders now, Ducky?”

“Yes, my dear boy – I am.” Ducky gave a little smile. “And as for Tony’s collar – there is another reason for collaring a sub apart from saving him, you know, Jethro.”

“There is?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “Like what, Ducky?”

“Love, Jethro,” Ducky told him softly. “Love.”

He stroked Gibbs’s arm one last time, and then he turned and left.

Gibbs sat there for a moment, staring at where his last collared sub had been, feeling numb. He felt wetness on his cheeks and raised his arm angrily to wipe it away. He wasn’t used to this kind of emotion and had no idea what to do with it.

He found himself getting up and going back to the evidence room. He searched through the boxes until he found what he was looking for, and then he slammed the data stick into his laptop and watched.

The camera was fixed into position, so there were no fancy angles. He saw himself, standing on the south pier, looking out at the ocean. Tony was beside him. That much was what he remembered. Then Tony turned and walked away from him, towards Tim and Ziva, saying something. He was a good few feet away from him now. Tim pointed upwards, at a bird flying overhead, and at the same time gunshots rang out. Tony turned, so fast he was a blur, and flung himself on Gibbs. Gibbs remembered feeling all his breath leave his body as he went down; Tony was no lightweight. It had taken him a few seconds to get his breath back and by then Tony had turned, shielding Gibbs’s body with his own, and was reaching for his gun to start firing back, while gazing anxiously over at where Tim was lying on the ground, blood streaming from the wound on his arm.

Gibbs paused there, and then rewound and watched it again. Then again. Then, finally, he paused on it. Jordan had been right – Tony’s love for him had been right under his nose the whole time and on some level he’d even been aware of that – he’d just chosen not to acknowledge it. Then Jordan had hit him in the face with it and now – now what? He loved all the time he’d been spending with Tony recently, sharing little bits of himself, letting Tony in, just a little way. His heart knew what it wanted even if he was stubborn bastard enough to still try and resist. Maybe he’d been locked up inside this prison of grief and recrimination for so long that he had become comfortable inside it – and maybe Ducky was right; maybe it was time to give himself a break.

He got up, went into the bedroom, picked up his backpack and took out the little box he found in there. He walked out to the balcony and stood there, watching as the sun went down over the ocean, painting the sky in various shades of reds and golds as it sank down towards the horizon.

“Save myself?” he muttered, shaking his head. “If it was that easy I’d have done it years ago.”

He opened up the box and let Shannon’s collar ripple through his fingers. Tony was right too – he always had been a stubborn bastard, even as a little kid, and he still was. Maybe it wasn’t always a virtue though. Fifteen years was a long time to grieve. She wasn’t ever coming back; maybe it was finally time to let her go.

He picked up the collar and kissed it, one last time.

“Goodbye, Shannon,” he whispered, and then he raised his arm and threw the collar out, far out into the distance. He watched as it cleared the city’s gleaming turrets and landed in the ocean, where it sank immediately.

He wasn’t sure what he felt. Relief? Sadness? Maybe a bit of both. He did know what he had to do next though.

He strode down to General Sheppard’s quarters, and knocked on the door. The general opened it, a surprised look on his face.

“I need a favour,” Gibbs said.



Tony stood by the open door, glaring at Carson.

“If you’re releasing me then I don’t see why I can’t just go,” he said, through gritted teeth.

“And as I’ve told you a dozen times, son, I’m only releasing you when Gibbs arrives and signs you out,” Carson told him.

Tony narrowed his eyes, and pointed at his throat. “Do you *see* a collar around this neck, Carson? Huh? No. That’s because there isn’t one. So I don’t need any damn top to sign me out.”

Carson’s blue eyes, which he’d once thought avuncular and genial but had since come to realise were steely and no-nonsense, just gazed at him steadily.

“Son, don’t play semantics with me,” he said firmly. “I was there – I saw how that collar was removed.”

Tony bit on his lip; he hated being reminded of that.

“Now, you and Agent Gibbs might have some unfinished business to sort out but you have to respect the man for not just snapping a collar back on you while you were recuperating from being tortured and damn near raped and murdered!” Carson said, his eyes flashing. “You never, ever collar a sub without their consent, and he’s waited until you’re well enough to give full, informed consent, without the influence of pain meds or anything else. He’s acted like your top, and done everything a good top would do. He barely left your bedside those first few days, and he’s visited you every single damn day since. He’s been with you every step of the way through all the hard times – when you were screaming, when you had nightmares, when you were throwing up and when you were in pain, so don’t give me any bullshit about him not being your top.”

“Fine.” Tony threw himself down on the chair by the door and gazed up at the ceiling. He knew Carson was right but he’d been waiting longingly for this day and he was disappointed Gibbs hadn’t come by straight after breakfast to pick him up.

The last time he’d seen his boss had been yesterday lunchtime when Gibbs had stopped by to take him for their regular walk to the south pier and to bring him some clothes, but then he’d gone back to work. Although what the hell work there was to do when the case had been wrapped up days ago was beyond Tony.

“Guy needs to get out more,” he muttered to himself as he sat there, long legs draped over the arms of the chair. Gibbs had brought him his favourite pair of faded denim jeans and his black shirt. He’d even brought him his tan coloured Timberlands. How Gibbs knew these clothes were his favourites Tony didn’t know, but they were.

It had felt so good to actually get dressed this morning. The bruising on his face had completely gone, and his shoulders and back no longer gave him any pain – the marks there would soon fade, hopefully without any permanent scarring.

He suspected that Carson had kept him in the infirmary for longer than was strictly necessary but he also knew the reason why. At times during his stay there Tony had seen, reflected in the doctor’s eyes, the memory of what Carson had witnessed that day Jordan had tortured him. It was a forcible reminder that he wasn’t the only one who’d been traumatised by what had happened in that room. Tony knew that was why Carson wanted to make sure he had done everything in his power to restore Tony to full health before he would release him.

He also knew that they were all worried about his psychological state; he’d run rings around Dr Heightmeyer until Gibbs had stepped in and mercifully put the poor woman out of her misery by removing him from her patient list. As therapy had failed, Tony suspected that another reason Carson had kept him so long was to make sure he had come to terms with what had happened to him, and wasn’t a suicide risk.

“Damn overprotective tops,” Tony muttered under his breath, although he knew he wouldn’t have it any other way. He glanced at his watch to find that it was nearly noon. Gibbs was doing this to torture him, he was sure of it; just another of the little toppy tricks in Gibbs’s extensive arsenal.

Tony knew he was using petulance to hide his own anxiety. The whole collar thing would have to be resolved soon, one way or the other, and while he dreaded the conversation he knew it had to happen and he longed to get it out of the way.

“Worse than waiting for a hard punishment spanking,” he murmured, moving his head from side to side to loosen the tension in his neck. “Hate being kept waiting for the big ones.”

Carson, who was sitting on the side of one of the now empty beds, writing up notes on his chart, chuckled at that one.

“Relax son. I’m sure Gibbs will be here soon.”

“You don’t know Gibbs,” Tony said sourly. “This is his idea of fun. Trust me. And Carson – you can’t be more than three or four years older than me so what’s with the ‘son’ thing?”

“Son, this is my infirmary and I view every single one of my patients as my subs while they’re here, to be cared for to the utmost of my ability,” Carson told him.

“Really? That explains a lot,” Tony muttered.

“Aye – so my patients are ‘son’, or ‘lad’, or ‘lass’ to me, regardless of age, status or orientation,” Carson grinned.

“I’d love to see Gibbs in here as your patient then.” Tony fantasised about that idly for a few seconds.

“Please – don’t wish that on me,” Carson replied, in mock terror. “You’ve turned my hair grey all by yourself – he’d make me go white overnight.”

“Oh your hair isn’t grey, Doc,” Tony grinned, gazing at Carson’s sleek black hair. “It’s kind of a weird style, all pointy on top like that, but it’s not grey.”

Carson glared at him.

“Uh…did I say ‘weird’? That wasn’t the word I meant to use,” Tony said hurriedly.

“Did you open your mouth without engaging your brain again, DiNozzo?” a dry voice asked by the door. Gibbs had appeared, as usual, from nowhere, without making a sound.

“Yes boss, sorry boss,” Tony said. “Thank god you’re here, boss! And what the hell took you so long?” he added.

Gibbs grinned at him. “Impatient to be let out, DiNozzo?”

Tony made a face at him. Gibbs turned to Carson.

“Doc, you deserve a medal for putting up with him for so long,” he said.

“I can’t pretend it’s been easy,” Carson replied with a heartfelt sigh. “And I can’t say that I’m not a very happy man to have him signed out of my custody. Thank god he’s not going to be my responsibility any more. It’ll take me weeks to whip those nurses back into shape – he’s a terrible influence with that smart mouth of his and all his sneaking around, leading impressionable staff astray.”

“Tell me about it. I’ve had to put up with it for years,” Gibbs grinned.

“I’m standing right here,” Tony pointed out.

Carson handed Gibbs a sheet of paper, grinning broadly as he did so. Gibbs glanced at it, and then signed it with a terse flourish of his hand and gave the paper back to Carson.

“So now you are officially free, Tony,” Carson said. “And don’t think you’re the only one celebrating that news.”

“Thanks doc,” Tony said, moving his hips in a little freedom dance. He grabbed Carson and kissed his cheek. “You’ve been great – kinda scary, but great.”

Gibbs rolled his eyes, shook Carson’s hand, and then led the way out of the room and into the main infirmary. Tony high-fived his favourite nurses on the way out. His body felt loose, healthy and relaxed and he was suddenly full of good spirits. He was free!

“DiNozzo!” Gibbs snapped, from over by the door. Tony finished doing a little celebratory lap around the infirmary and chased after his boss – Gibbs hated to be kept waiting.

He followed Gibbs along the hallways, back towards their quarters.

“So…if we asked nicely would Sheppard fly us around in one of those cool little spaceships?” he said, as they walked. “Abby says Lorne takes her all over the place – of course he’s a pilot which helps. I want to get out there and see things before we have to go home, boss. I mean, this is a completely different planet! Okay, so there seems to be a distinct lack of nightlife but I’m sure we can jazz things up, hold a few parties – right, boss?”

Gibbs glanced at him over his shoulder, one eyebrow raised.

“Or not,” Tony said, running to catch up.

They got back to their quarters and Tony felt a rush of déjà vu as they walked inside. He paused, and gazed around.

“Feels kind of strange to be back here, boss,” he murmured. “Last time I was here we were having that discussion about Jordan, and then we set off for that meeting…and man, that feels like a long time ago, boss. The room’s different.”

The investigator in him noticed that the place was tidier than it had been when he was last here – and emptier. Six people living together in a suite of rooms meant that there was always lots of stuff lying around – cups, shoes, files, PDAs, laptops, books…but there was little of that now.

What there was, lying on the dining table, was a plain black collar. Tony stiffened.

Gibbs turned, and saw where he was looking.

“Problem Tony?” he asked.

Tony took a deep breath. Now that the moment had come he knew what he had to do. He hadn’t been sure before but now they were here, and the collar was in front of him, it all seemed clear.

He went over to the table and picked up the collar, caressing the soft leather gently with his thumb.

“I liked how this felt around my throat,” he said quietly, gazing at Gibbs. “It’s all warm, and snug, and comfortable. I liked the way other subs looked at me when they knew I was wearing your collar – I liked that a lot. I liked how tops would chat me up, then back off when they met you and realised it was your collar I was wearing. I liked that it protected me, that you protected me from self-destructing by putting it on me. I liked all those things.”

He raised the collar to his nose, and inhaled the smell of the leather.

“But I can’t wear it again,” he said, looking straight at his boss.

Gibbs gave a little nod. “I understand,” he said.

“Not because I don’t want to – because you have no idea how tempting it is,” Tony said. Now he wasn’t hiding any more, because his cover had been blown several days ago, in a dank room at the bottom of a derelict tower on an alien world. Now he was the Tony DiNozzo he didn’t let anyone see very often because growing up he’d learned it was better to let people think he was a shallow rich kid who played the fool than to allow them to get close enough to hurt him.

“But, tempting though it is, the conditions that come with wearing your collar are too hard,” Tony said. “Last time around I thought I could handle it, and for a long time I could. I can’t do it any more though. It’d be selling myself short and I’ve been doing that my entire life. It’s time to find something real, instead of hanging on hoping for something that’s never gonna happen.”

Gibbs gave a little shake of his head. “I told Ducky you didn’t need saving any more,” he said. “I was right. You’ve come a long way, Tony.”

“Thanks boss.” Tony gave a little nod of his head, meaning it. Gibbs’s praise had always been important to him and he didn’t think that would ever change. “I still love the job – I still want to work with you, if you’ll have me,” he said.

“Think you can handle that? Working with me and not wearing my collar?” Gibbs asked.

“Maybe not. We’ll see,” Tony said thoughtfully. “So…” He glanced around the room. “I suppose this is goodbye. I’ll just grab my stuff – I’ll go ask Woolsey if I can be reassigned to some different quarters – I’m sure you won’t want me around, getting underfoot, now I’m not collared.”

He put the collar down, regretfully, on the table and then walked over to where his boss was standing.

“Should say thank you, boss – for everything,” he said. “I think we both know I wouldn’t still be alive today if you hadn’t put that collar on me back then. I’d have done something stupid, pissed off the wrong people, and been found lying in an alley with a bullet in my brain one dark night.”

“Yeah – I think you would,” Gibbs agreed, with a wry smile.

“Bye boss.” Tony put out a hand and patted Gibbs’s arm. He didn’t want to think about how good it felt to touch the man – that part of his life was over. He had to move on.

“Bye Tony,” Gibbs said, those sharp blue eyes of his betraying nothing.

Tony sighed, and walked over to his bedroom to collect his things. He had hoped for something more – a tear might be too much to ask for but perhaps some sign that Gibbs actually cared about losing him.

“Tony.” He paused as Gibbs said his name. “The collar on the table wasn’t yours,” Gibbs said. “It was Ducky’s.”

Tony turned, frowning. “You took Ducky’s collar off him?” he asked, bemused.

“We took it off together,” Gibbs said. “It was time, and it was what he wanted – what he needed.”

“Wow. Never thought that would happen.”

“He didn’t need saving any more than you do now,” Gibbs said softly. “I wasn’t going to offer you your old collar back, Tony.”

“Oh.” Tony felt a bit deflated by that.

“I was going to offer you a new one,” Gibbs said.

Tony frowned. Gibbs reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a little bag. He opened it, carefully fished out what was in it, and held it up. Tony gave a startled whistle. Gibbs was holding a beautiful collar made of two different kinds of gold, entwined together in strong, chunky links, one a warm red colour and the other shinier and almost silver in hue. At intervals there were smooth, solid, golden rectangles, shaped a little like abstract padlocks. It was sharp and classy – understated but an object of beauty.

“That looks expensive,” he murmured.

“It was,” Gibbs said. “I bought it from an Athosian craftsman on the mainland. That’s why I was late picking you up from the infirmary this morning. I had a very definite idea of what I wanted, you see. John Sheppard flew me over there last night and I told the Athosian guy how I wanted it to look and he said he’d work on it overnight and have it ready for me today. The different colours are new gold and old gold, linked together. I liked that.”

Tony moved closer, his heart beating a little too fast. He held out his hand and Gibbs dropped the collar into it. Up close, it was even more beautiful. He had never seen a collar like this – it was completely and utterly unique. He ran his fingers over the smooth metal and then glanced up at Gibbs.

“This collar – does it come with any conditions?” he asked. “Last one did.”

Gibbs shook his head. “No. This one is a little more traditional. This one isn’t about rescuing you, or saving you from yourself. This one…this one’s just about loving you,” he said softly.

Tony stared at him. He’d never thought he’d hear anything like that from Gibbs’s lips. Gibbs leaned in close, and whispered into his ear.

“You wear this, I’ll want full body rights from you, DiNozzo,” he said, in a tone that went straight to Tony’s cock. “You’ll be mine – in the bedroom, at work, everywhere. Not for a year, or five years, but until the day you die. So think about it, Tony…think about it very carefully.”

Tony could feel the gold warming up between his fingers. He gazed at the collar for a long time, and then shook his head, and handed it back.

“See, thing is, I don’t think I can share,” he said. “I’ll happily belong to you but I’ll need you to belong to me too and that’s not going to happen while you have a bunch of other subs hanging from your leash.”

“No sharing,” Gibbs told him. “There are no other subs.”

“Abby?” Tony asked. Gibbs shook his head. “Ziva and Tim?” Tony said, bemused. Gibbs shook his head again. “What the hell happened while I was in the infirmary?” Tony grumbled. “I come back here and everything’s changed.”

“Everything *has* changed, Tony,” Gibbs told him. “Everything. You accept this collar and I promise you that I won’t collar any other sub. To be honest, I think I’ll have my hands too full to even think about it,” he added with a wry grin.

“What about your first spouse?” Tony asked. “I respect her place in your life but I won’t compete with a ghost – and I’m guessing that’s why all your other relationships failed.”

“You guess right,” Gibbs agreed. “But this time it won’t be a problem, Tony.”

“How do I know that?”

“Because I haven’t been in love with anyone since Shannon – but I’m in love you.”

Gibbs wasn’t a hearts and flowers kind of man but he had always been direct and to the point. Tony doubted he’d ever get any big speeches but he would get simple statements of truth, and that was enough for him.

“Think about it, Tony,” Gibbs said, placing the collar back in his hand and closing his fingers around it. “No need to rush into anything. Take your time.”

He turned and went out onto the balcony, leaving Tony alone in the room. Tony sat down at the table and gazed at the collar in his hand, hardly able to believe that this was happening to him. What would it be like to be Gibbs’s properly collared sub, he wondered? Different to the past five years, that was for sure. He wondered what it would feel like to give full body rights to the man standing out there. He’d never given body rights to any top in his life before, and the thought of it both thrilled and scared him.

All the same, he was a sub to his bones, as he had said many times before, and he had always wanted to find a top to match him. If anyone was that top it was Gibbs. He rolled the collar over in his hand, and that was when he saw the engraving, in copperplate letters, on one of the gold padlocks: Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

If he accepted this collar he’d belong to this man and wear his name around his neck so everyone could see who had collared him. He turned over the chain and saw the engraving on the other side – just one word, but it made his heart skip a beat: Beloved.

He got up and went out onto the balcony. Gibbs didn’t turn around – he just kept gazing out at the ocean.

“The answer’s no,” Tony said. Gibbs turned, his eyes flashing, and Tony laughed. “Don’t be an idiot,” he said. “Like the answer was ever going to be anything other than yes.”

Gibbs’s hand connected, resoundingly, with the back of his head and Tony grinned and winced at the same time. He handed the collar back to Gibbs.

“You sure about this, Tony?” Gibbs asked. “Because before I put this on you there’s some stuff you should know.”

Tony frowned. “What kind of stuff?”

“I’m a demanding top,” Gibbs began. Tony laughed out loud.

“You don’t say? And five years working with you would have given me the idea you’re a pussycat how?” he asked.

“Ex-spouses all said the same thing,” Gibbs shrugged. “They all said I’m unreasonable, stubborn, obsessed with my work, and a whole lot of other things.”

“Oh they just didn’t know how to handle you,” Tony said confidently.

“And you think you do?” Gibbs raised a challenging eyebrow. Tony grinned at him.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “But, while we’re on the subject – are you sure about this too? I’m not an easy sub to top. I have issues.”

It was Gibbs’s turn to laugh. “I’ve handled your issues for five years, Tony. I think I have them all figured out.”

“I have trust issues,” Tony said, counting that one off on his fingers. Gibbs gazed at him speculatively.

“You trust me?” he asked.

“With my life,” Tony answered, with a firm nod.

“Then that’s not a problem. Next?”

“I have commitment issues,” Tony pointed out.

“Tony, you haven’t slept with a top in five years and all because I put my collar on you. I don’t think we need to worry about the commitment issues, do you?” Gibbs asked.

“I guess not,” Tony said, with a little grin. “I have daddy issues,” he continued, counting that one off on his fingers. Gibbs laughed again.

“You think, DiNozzo?” He rolled his eyes expressively. “Do I look like your father, Tony?”

“Hell no!”

“Do I act like your father, Tony?”

“Never,” Tony said, shaking his head.

“Then I don’t think that’ll be a problem, do you?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow.

“Depends,” Tony said, in a more thoughtful tone. “I know you like your JD but do you ever get drunk?”

Gibbs shifted a little, gazing at him searchingly. “Sometimes,” he said.

“That’s fine – I get drunk too, sometimes. Thing is…when you get drunk, I’ll be sleeping on the couch. And those full body rights? They won’t apply when you’re drunk. Just so we’re clear.”

Gibbs nodded thoughtfully. “We’re clear, Tony, and that sounds fine and reasonable to me.”

“And if you ever hit me while you’re drunk then I’ll hit you right back, then take off the collar and you won’t ever see me again,” Tony continued, in a deadly serious tone.

Gibbs’s expression darkened. “Hey – I don’t *ever* abuse subs – drunk or sober,” he said. “Got that?”

“Yeah. I got it.” Tony nodded. “Sorry. Just had to be clear.”

Gibbs nodded. “You were, Tony. I get it – and I understand.”

Tony looked at him for a long time and Gibbs looked back as they got the measure of each other, not as boss and subordinate any more but as potential lovers and life partners. They both had their demons but Tony thought they were demons they could slay if they tried.

“So, if we’re agreed that we’re both a nightmare to take on…” Tony sank down on his knees, and gazed up at Gibbs. “Would you please collar me, boss?” he asked.

“Jethro,” Gibbs corrected him. “I’m not collaring you as your boss. I’m collaring you as your top.”

Tony nodded. “Please collar me, Jethro,” he said. He had thought that it would feel strange, using Gibbs’s first name for the first time, but it didn’t. It felt totally natural.

Gibbs looked down at him for a moment, the sun glinting off the golden collar in his hand. Then he moved around, so he was standing behind Tony, the back of Tony’s head pressing against his groin. Tony put his head right back, and gazed up at him. Trust Gibbs to manoeuvre him into a position of such abject surrender, neck exposed as he looked up and behind him.

Gibbs stroked his throat, fingertips sending spikes of electricity through Tony’s body. He knelt there, facing out to sea, arms behind his back, head back, throat naked…waiting. Gibbs undid the collar, and Tony closed his eyes and offered up his neck to his top.

Tony felt the gold links of the collar slide around his neck as easily as if he’d been wearing it for years. He heard a little click and then the collar was in place. He took a deep breath, and opened his eyes again. He was a collared sub. Gibbs’s collared sub. Gibbs’s *only* collared sub…and he had a sudden realisation of all that might entail.

On collaring, a sub gave themselves to their top, totally and completely. By accepting a top’s collar they agreed to all the demands a top might make on their body, and consented to submit and surrender to whatever their top wanted to do to them. His body now belonged, in the most basic way, to Leroy Jethro Gibbs – and that was a good thought and a scary thought at one and the same time.

Gibbs seemed to read those thoughts.

“I’ve never given a sub a safe word in my life and I’m not about to start now,” Gibbs told him.

“I didn’t think for a second you would,” Tony replied. “I’m guessing that’s the way you’ve always liked to play.”

“Oh, I don’t play, Tony,” Gibbs said, a feral smile on his lips. “I don’t play, I don’t do scenes, and I don’t use toys.”

“What’s wrong with toys?” Tony asked, surprised. Most tops used toys and most subs liked it; he certainly did.

“I don’t need ‘em,” Gibbs said. “If there’s something you particularly like I’m happy to do it for you occasionally, but it’s not my thing. I’m sexually dominant, Tony, and trust me, I’ll be able to dominate you just fine without using any toys.”

Tony had no doubt at all that that was true. “So…no cock rings?” he risked asking.

Gibbs circled him, one hand on his shoulder. “If I ask you to hold it, I expect you to hold it without help,” he whispered into Tony’s ear. Tony’s cock gave a little lurch for freedom at the tone of his voice.

“Nipple clamps?” Tony asked, his mouth going dry. Gibbs’s fingers slid across the front of his shirt, found his nipples, and pinched, hard. Tony swallowed back a yelp.

“That’s what my fingers are for,” Gibbs told him.

“Cuffs? Everyone needs cuffs, surely?” Tony croaked.

Gibbs slid his hands down Tony’s shoulders, gathered his wrists in a vice-like grip, and held his hands behind his back. “Feel like you can escape?” he asked.

“No,” Tony whispered, his cock now hard as iron, pressing painfully against the front of his jeans. “What about butt plugs, or dildos?” he dared to ask, his voice sounding more like a squeak to his own ears.

Gibbs leaned forward, and spoke straight into his ear. “And what’s wrong with my hard cock up your ass?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing,” Tony said, wondering if he’d died and gone to heaven. “Nothing at all.”

“Good.” Gibbs’s warm breath ghosted over his ear, making him shiver.

“You’ve got a strap though – and a paddle,” Tony pointed out. “I’ve been on the receiving end of those more times than I can count. And there’s that damn cane you keep in your basement – you’ve used that on me a few times, although admittedly only when I really screwed up – and, hey, what about that switch you had me cut for you that time when we working that case in Shenandoah National Park?”

“Oh they’re not toys – they’re tools of the trade, and with you they’re a necessity,” Gibbs said, a dangerous kind of smile in his voice. “I’m also an expert with a flogger, the bullwhip and, my personal favourite, the single-tailed whip. Even so, most of the time all you’ll feel is the flat of my hand on your bare ass, Tony.”

“And given how hard your hand is I’m guessing it’s pretty much all you need,” Tony sighed.

“Usually works,” Gibbs agreed.

He put a hand under Tony’s elbow and drew him up to his feet, then pulled Tony’s arm, turning him around so he was facing him. Then he stepped in close – too close – so close that Tony could feel his shirt brushing against him, and the warmth of his body. Gibbs was looking at Tony like he was prey and it felt strange, after all these years of being the one doing the hunting, to suddenly have the tables turned and be hunted instead.

“So,” Tony said, trying to get some control back. “It’s, what, about just after one? I’m thinking you were planning on some lunch, maybe followed by a walk – it’s a nice day out there.”

Gibbs grinned at him, his blue eyes so close and so intense that Tony wanted to back away – only to find he was rooted to the spot by that mesmerising stare.

“Oh no.” Gibbs shook his head. “Oh no, Tony. You’ve been propositioning me just about every day for five years and today’s the day you get to deliver. I’ve been waiting a long time for this and I don’t care what time of the damn day it is. You’re mine and I’m going to take you. Right now.”

“Okay.” Tony swallowed hard. “See, you think that’s scaring me but really it’s just turning me on.”

“Actually, it’s doing both,” Gibbs said confidently.

He took hold of Tony’s hand and led him to the bedroom and Tony went, feeling as if his legs were made of jello. This had been such a long time coming that it seemed hard to believe the moment was finally here.

“Five years is kind of a long time,” Tony said, as Gibbs pulled him into the bedroom. “Be gentle with me, boss.”

Gibbs laughed out loud. “Oh, I don’t think so, Tony,” he said. “And Tony – if you ever call me ‘boss’ in the bedroom again, I’ll spank your ass until they can see it glowing from outer space.”

“Right. Jethro. Okay.” Tony nodded nervously.

Gibbs took off his jacket and Tony watched him, transfixed. Gibbs was wearing a plain black shirt and black pants beneath the black jacket – his sexiest ensemble and one Tony had always found pretty hot – not least the big, shiny gleaming buckle of his belt. Gibbs threw the jacket over the armchair and then turned towards him, undoing his shirt sleeves as he walked. Tony took a step back, and then another – that predatory look in Gibbs’s eyes was unnerving.

“So it’s been five years for me but how long for you?” Tony asked, trying to coax some normality back into Gibbs’s hungry eyes, freaked out by just how single-minded Gibbs looked right now.

“Awhile – but not as long as that.”

“I knew it!” Tony said. “It’s Ducky isn’t it? I knew you and he…ummf”

He shut up as Gibbs pushed him against the wall and placed a hand over his mouth.

“And this is why I don’t need a gag, either,” Gibbs told him with a grin. “And also – this.” He removed his hand but only to replace it with his mouth. Tony sighed and was glad of the wall now, holding him up, as Gibbs kissed him on the lips for the first time.

It wasn’t anything like what he had fantasised about – it was so much better. Gibbs’s mouth was determined and expert, Gibbs’s body was pressed up close against his, pinning him in place, and Gibbs’s tongue was ruthlessly efficient at opening him up and gaining an entrance he was all too happy to allow.

As he kissed him, Gibbs ran his hands down Tony’s arms, reached his wrists, grasped them firmly in his own, and pushed them up over Tony’s head. Now he leaned in even closer, his body firm and solid against Tony’s, his leg pressed between Tony’s legs, their groins touching. He held Tony’s hands in his own, keeping them pressed against the wall, and Tony had just the briefest flash of realisation that Gibbs hadn’t been kidding when he said he would dominate Tony without the need for toys. Gibbs could wield his personality, his hard body, and the sheer force of his iron determination like deadly weapons in the battle for his sub’s total surrender.

Tony was happy to give him that surrender. He relaxed beneath the kiss, allowing Gibbs to take control, giving it all up to him. His body started to unwind as he trusted Gibbs to hold him there, against the wall. Gibbs would keep him up. Gibbs owned his body now – all he had to do was give in.

This wasn’t like any kind of foreplay he’d experienced before and Tony had another realisation that he was in the presence of a master top here. Teasing and playing were out of the question; Gibbs would demand nothing less than everything he had, and he hoped he wouldn’t disappoint the man. This wasn’t a scene, and Tony wouldn’t be able to flirt and wheedle his way through it to get what he wanted. He would have to take whatever Gibbs wanted to do to him and that thought was more arousing than he’d have imagined possible.

Gibbs finished kissing him and drew back, and Tony was about to say something glib to diffuse the sheer intensity of the situation when next thing he knew he’d been flipped around, as easy as anything, and he was now facing the wall, head angled to one side. Gibbs pushed his hands up the wall, his own hands covering Tony’s, and leaned in close.

“Stop fighting me,” he whispered in Tony’s ear.

“I’m not!” Tony protested.

“Stop thinking, stop second guessing me, and stop trying to have control. Just give in.” He kissed the back of Tony’s neck, making him shiver, and all the time he kept Tony pinned there, against the wall, his hands flat on Tony’s hands, utterly unmovable even if Tony had wanted to struggle – which he didn’t. Gibbs’s body was heavy on his own and he could feel his top’s hard cock pressed against his buttocks.

Gibbs continued kissing the sensitive spot between his new collar and his hairline, and Tony sighed, loving the way it felt to have such a dominant partner pinning him against the wall. Gibbs moved his head and nibbled the tip of Tony’s earlobe affectionately, then bit a little harder. Tony gave a little yowl and Gibbs sucked the abused tip of flesh, warming and soothing it.

Then he pulled Tony around again, and, wrapping one hand in Tony’s hair to keep him in place he used his other hand to rip down the front of Tony’s shirt, sending buttons flying.

“Hey…favourite shirt!” Tony protested.

“I know,” Gibbs said. “But it was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He flashed Tony another one of those feral grins and flipped him again, pulling him free of the shirt at the exact same time. He flung the shirt on the chair without missing a beat.

Tony had never been undressed so expertly in his entire life. He wondered where Gibbs had learned this particular skill but before he had time to think about it Gibbs was back on him, one hand planted square in the centre of his back, pushing him against the wall again, face first, and the other tangled up in his hair, making it impossible to move.

He felt Gibbs’s mouth on his shoulders, and then gently teasing the healing wounds on his back.

“This hurt?” Gibbs asked softly.

“No,” Tony replied honestly.

“Good. You tell me if it does. I never want to hurt you by accident – only by design.”

Tony shivered because that sounded both good and bad and he liked that particular combination all too well.

Gibbs was like an octopus, Tony thought, because he was sure the man had more than two hands. It certainly felt that way; he seemed to have one hand on his fly and another tangled in his hair, and he was sure he could feel more hands all over his body but maybe that was just his imagination. Gibbs undid his belt and fly, and next thing he knew his jeans were pooled around his ankles.

Gibbs pulled him away from the wall and then flipped him around and pushed him so that he landed expertly on the bed, jeans tangled up in his Timberlands. Tony reached down to try and untangle them and found his hand seized in a firm grip, and then thrust firmly back over his head.

“See, thing is,” Gibbs told him, leaning over him, that feral look still in his eyes, “I don’t like seeing anyone else’s hands on my sub except my own – and that includes yours.”

Tony gazed at him, wide-eyed. “You don’t want me to touch myself, Jethro?” he asked. “What – ever?”

“Not when I’m touching you,” Gibbs replied. “When I’m not you can do what you like, but when you’re in bed with me your body is mine and I’m the only one who gets to touch it. I’m a little possessive that way.”

“A little?” Tony rolled his eyes. Gibbs grinned.

“You’ll get used to it.”

Tony sank back down on the bed, thumping his head on the pillow. He felt Gibbs’s fingers make short work of the laces on his boots and then they were gone, and so were his socks. His jeans followed suit, leaving him completely naked save for the collar around his neck. He was aware of his hard cock standing almost flat against his belly, seriously turned on by what was happening to him.

“Now that is a good look for you,” Gibbs said, standing over him, looking down.

“One of us is overdressed for this particular party,” Tony said, reaching up and getting as far as Gibbs’s shiny silver belt buckle before his questing fingers were pushed away.

“And another thing you’ll have to learn about me,” Gibbs told him, sitting down on the bed beside him, still holding his hand firmly between his fingers, pressing it back into the mattress. “I really like to be in control.”

“I kind of knew that one already,” Tony said, making a face.

“Then stop trying to take it back,” Gibbs said tersely. “Because this is the first and most important lesson that you’re going to learn, and you’re going to learn it today, even if it takes us all day and all night to get the message home. You’re mine now, boy. You belong to me, body and soul, and submission isn’t optional – it’s mandatory.”

Tony barely had time to process what that might really mean before Gibbs’s mouth was on top of his again, claiming another deep kiss. He loved being naked and exposed, bare skin pressed up against the cool cotton of Gibbs’s shirt, and he loved the taste of Gibbs on his lips. Gibbs’s scent was one of coffee and leather and sawdust – even after weeks away from his beloved boat he still had the faint scent of the woodshed about him. All of those were mingled with good, honest sweat, and it turned Tony on. He lay there and just accepted the kiss, welcoming Gibbs’s deep, probing tongue and the weight of the man as he leaned on him, pinning him into the mattress.

Gibbs was a tall, solid man, but Tony probably had an inch on him in height and several more pounds in weight. Even so, Tony didn’t doubt for a moment that Gibbs could keep him pinned down without any problem at all, by sheer force of will if nothing else. He had finally found a top who could really *top* him, without him having to pretend. He had no safe word, and he knew the only way Gibbs would stop was if Tony removed his collar – and if did that, he was pretty sure Gibbs would never allow him to have it back.

He didn’t want to remove his collar though – he liked the thrill it gave him to be this naked and vulnerable under his top’s expert caresses. It was the kind of thrill he’d been looking for all his life and never experienced before. He had no doubt that Gibbs would keep his word and that by the end of this day he would have learned how to find the true submission he’d always longed for; he also suspected it might not be an easy lesson to learn.

“Close your eyes, Tony,” Gibbs said, and Tony obeyed him instantly. He felt the mattress shift and Gibbs get up, and then heard some jerky sounds which he suspected might be Gibbs getting undressed. Finally, he heard the nightstand drawer being opened and he shivered, suspecting his top was getting out lube. He was startled by a sharp tap on his head, and his eyes flew open.

“See, you’re still not getting it,” Gibbs told him. “You don’t want to be thinking about what I’m doing – you don’t need to be thinking at all. All that you should be doing is submitting. Never mind – I’ll get you there, one way or another.”

That sounded kind of ominous but Tony couldn’t focus on analysing it because Gibbs was standing next to him…and – oh shit – he was completely naked. Gibbs had seen him naked before, several times, but Tony had never had that pleasure where Gibbs was concerned. Now he took his time, almost inhaling the sight of his top.

Gibbs might be fifteen years older than him but years in the Marines and NCIS had kept him fit and toned. There wasn’t an ounce of spare flesh on him and his stomach was washboard trim. He had a smattering of silver curls on his broad chest, firm shoulders, and biceps that were toned but not overly muscled. He had long, lean legs which led up to…Tony gave a satisfied sigh. He wasn’t obsessed with size but he was pleased that Gibbs was bigger than average. His cock was hard, as hard as Tony’s, and almost as vertical right now, curving up pleasingly from a thatch of wiry dark hair.

“Like what you see, Tony?” Gibbs asked, in an amused tone.

“Uh…yes, boss…sorry, Jethro…” Tony stammered, unable to take his eyes off his top’s naked body. He wondered what Gibbs’s ass looked like – it always seemed nice and peachy when he’d followed it into the elevator numerous times back at NCIS, and he hoped he’d get a good look at it if Gibbs would only turn around.

“Good…because from where I’m standing you look pretty fine too,” Gibbs said, and that predatory look was back in his eyes again. “Now, this is where we find out who you are, Tony.”

“We do?” Tony asked, frowning. “Because I thought we were having sex.”

“Yeah, we are,” Gibbs chuckled. “But I’ve waited a long time for a sub like you, Tony – one with something to really give up, and I’ll make you give it up – I’ll make you give everything up to me. You ready for that?”

“Uh…I’m not sure,” Tony squeaked.

“It’ll be sweet, taking you to that place,” Gibbs said, sitting down on the bed beside him. “I won’t stop until you’re there, Tony. Might be a long hard ride but we’ll get there. It’ll be nice not to have to hold back, nice knowing you can take everything I throw at you.”

“You know this how?” Tony asked, feeling seriously scared by whatever was about to happen next. Gibbs smiled, and stroked a dangerous fingertip down his chest, pausing to squeeze his fingers around Tony’s right nipple, eliciting a hoarse shout from his sub.

“Because I know you, Tony,” Gibbs whispered, moving his head close so his mouth was right by Tony’s ear. “And I’m about to get to know you a whole lot better.”

He was on the move again, covering Tony’s body with sweeping movements of his hands, seemingly in every place at once. Tony put his head back, feeling his new collar clink satisfyingly around his throat and the sweat start to trickle down his body.

He heard the pop of the lube cap being removed, and then his legs were pushed apart, and cool, slick lubricant was being slid into his body on the tip of Gibbs’s index finger.

“Relax…we have a long way to go yet,” Gibbs told him, finger working in deeper.

“Like I said…been a long time,” Tony sighed, trying to loosen up. He guessed it was like riding a bike and you never forgot but five years was one hell of a wait. “Maybe Jordan was right – maybe I am virginal again,” he joked, and the next minute he wished he hadn’t, as Gibbs’s hand slammed down beside his head and Gibbs’s blue eyes came into view, looking really pissed off.

“Don’t say his name to me,” Gibbs growled. “You’re mine…I don’t want to think of his filthy hands groping you, his thieving fingers taking your collar from you, his damn tongue on your body – on *my* sub’s body.”

Tony gazed up at him, realising, perhaps for the first time, that while Gibbs might not show his emotions often, they were as strong as you might expect from a top as powerful as him.

“Hey…easy,” Tony said softly. “I didn’t mean anything by it. He’s gone, Jethro – he’s dead now. He paid for what he did to me – you made him pay, remember?”

The intensity flared in Gibbs’s eyes for a moment and then faded, and he stroked his hand gently through Tony’s hair.

“Nearly lost you, Tony…and it damn near killed me,” he said, by way, Tony suspected, of apology. He felt oddly affected by Gibbs’s obvious distress – Gibbs had told him he loved him but this was the first time he’d really seen the depth of his top’s feelings and it was strangely comforting. “Having to stand there and watch,” Gibbs whispered, his voice choking. “Watching him touch you, hurt you, and half kill you.”

“But I’m fine now,” Tony soothed. Gibbs continued stroking his hair, and then dipped his head and claimed a sweet, tender kiss from Tony’s mouth. This was unlike his previous kisses, which had been raw and commanding – this was a kiss of comfort; for himself as much as for his sub, Tony suspected.

Then that side of Gibbs disappeared, almost instantly, to be replaced by the dangerous, feral top again. He slid another finger into Tony’s ass and Tony sighed and relaxed, opening up his body easily. This was easy – Tony loved being fucked, and knew he was going to love it even more if Gibbs was the one doing the fucking.

“What did you say about trusting me?” Gibbs whispered, fingers exploring deep into Tony’s body.

“Trust you with my life, Jethro,” Tony replied, feeling hazy as another finger slipped in. Oh god this was good.

Gibbs finger-fucked him for a few minutes until Tony was boneless and relaxed on the bed. His cock was still hard against his belly but he had a feeling he wouldn’t be coming any time soon so he just enjoyed the sensation without trying to push towards orgasm. He thought Gibbs would probably deny him his climax as a punishment if he tried to do that in any case.

Then Gibbs removed his fingers, and Tony gave a soft moan of protest.

“Ssh…I’ve been patient for long enough, Tony DiNozzo. Time I claimed you now,” Gibbs told him, in a low, throaty growl of a voice.

He pushed Tony’s legs open, rested them on his shoulders, and then settled down comfortably between them.

Tony gazed up at the ceiling, clenching the sheets in his fingers in anticipation of what was coming.

“Look at me, Tony,” Gibbs ordered, and Tony looked down to see Gibbs gazing at him. “I want you to keep looking at me while I take you,” Gibbs told him. “Don’t take your eyes off me.”

He spread Tony’s buttocks with his hands, and then pressed his hard, lubed cock into Tony’s entrance. He went slowly, and Tony hissed as he breached the ring of muscle and then slid in, deeper, inching his way in. There was a momentary familiar burn, and then Gibbs was inside him, pushing further.

Gibbs adjusted his position, and then, without warning, he thrust in deep, with one big shove of his hips, and at the same time propelled his body forward so that his hands were on either side of Tony’s head, and his body was completely covering Tony’s body, chest against chest, Tony’s cock trapped between their bellies. Gibbs’s eyes were now only a few inches away from Tony’s, and that searching gaze seemed unbearably close.

Gibbs shifted a little, manoeuvring himself into a more comfortable position, and then he thrust in again, right up to the hilt.

Tony had expected to be fucked into the mattress, to be taken fast and hard until he was screaming out his top’s name – but that didn’t happen. All that happened was that Gibbs rested a considerable amount of his body weight on Tony, pushing his hard cock as deep inside him as it was possible to go, and then he stayed there, totally covering Tony with his body, arms resting on either side of Tony’s head.

It felt too close, too intense, and Tony shifted, trying to ease the many different aches in his body, and move away from Gibbs’s searching gaze.

“No, Tony – take it,” Gibbs told him.

Tony stared up at him. Was this some kind of test? How long could Gibbs hold it, he wondered? The man was good but he was only human – how long could he stay this hard without thrusting?

“In case you’re wondering, and I think you are…I can hold it for as long as it takes,” Gibbs told him.

“As long as what takes?” Tony panted, wriggling slightly. Gibbs took hold of Tony’s head between his hands, and held him still.

“I said take it,” he repeated. “I’ll know when we’re done.”

Tony felt as if time had stopped still as he lay there, on his back on the bed, his long legs resting, bent, on Gibbs’s shoulders, his top’s hard cock lodged deep inside him, and Gibbs’s weight on his chest, holding him down. He couldn’t move – he was totally trapped there.

He felt the sweat begin to pour off him. His ass felt as if it had been stretched wide open by the force and weight of his top, and the angle of penetration was so deep that all he could feel was Gibbs’s hard cock inside him, pulsing deep within his body. He longed for the release of Gibbs moving his hips back, even if only for a second and even if he thrust straight back in again, but that didn’t happen.

Instead, Gibbs began to rock gently, which served only to make it feel like his cock was penetrating even deeper into Tony’s body.

“Oh shit,” Tony said, trying to wriggle sideways again – anything to escape the intensity of what was happening.

“Give it up to me, Tony,” Gibbs said. He was holding Tony’s head in his hands, and his thumbs gently stroked over Tony’s cheeks.

“I can’t do this…please…you have to let me up,” Tony begged. Gibbs shook his head.

“Not going to happen,” he said.

Tony had never safe-worded out of a scene in his life but this wasn’t a scene and he was suddenly very aware that he didn’t have a safe-word. Gibbs was going to make him take this and he had no choice but to surrender.

His body ached from being held down, his hole felt stretched as wide as it would go, and he was having a hard time adjusting to the depth of this penetration. He’d been fucked in this position before, but never *pinned*, and held down, and nobody had ever found this particular angle before. He guessed that it was partly because Gibbs’s cock was a good length and breadth, but it was also the precision of the entry. Gibbs had known exactly what he was aiming for when he’d pushed into Tony, and Tony couldn’t help but feel a healthy respect for any top this skilled. Now he really understood why Gibbs felt he didn’t need toys – why would he, when he could work a sub this expertly with just his own body?

Tony tried to concentrate on relaxing, surrendering, allowing his body to accommodate the demands Gibbs was placing on it.

“That’s good,” Gibbs told him, but all that loosening up did was give Gibbs a chance to sink even more deeply into him. Tony knew he’d never been fucked so deep before.

“Please,” he whispered again, desperately, gazing up at Gibbs. His top pressed a gentle kiss to his lips and he opened up blindly, needing the reassurance.

“You’re safe. I’ve got you,” Gibbs said, when he finished kissing him. “Now give it up. Give it all up.”

“I have,” Tony said frantically. Gibbs gave a wry smile and moved his hips, just a little, making Tony gasp.

“No. You’re nowhere near,” Gibbs told him.

“I can’t…it’s too deep…you’re everywhere,” Tony panted, trying to struggle, desperate now to push Gibbs off him. Gibbs grabbed his hands and pushed them up so that they were on either side of Tony’s head, using his weight to keep Tony in place, body pressed firmly on top of him.

“It’s easier if you give in to it,” Gibbs advised him.

Tony tried to remember to breathe, taking several big, gasping lungfuls of air.

“Who are you, Tony?” Gibbs asked him. His forearms covered Tony’s forearms, and his fingers were curled around Tony’s fingers, holding his hands in his own, keeping them pressed against the mattress.

“I’m Tony DiNozzo. I’m your agent, your sub…hell I’m whoever you damn well want me to be!” Tony screamed.

Gibbs smiled at him and kissed him again. “Calm down,” he whispered.

He shifted his hips again; it was just a tiny movement but it sent shockwaves through Tony’s body. How long had Gibbs been buried inside him like this, so deep? How long had he been lying on top of him, holding him here, claiming him like this? It felt like forever.

Gibbs kissed him again and again, and the sweetness of those tender kisses made Tony relax. The ache in his ass wasn’t so bad now – his body was staring to relax around Gibbs’s cock, learning to accommodate its presence, even as deep as it was.

“Who are you, Tony?” he heard Gibbs ask again, and his voice seemed to come from far away.

Tony closed his eyes, and saw Randolph Jordan looming over him, his belt in his hand. He flinched.

“Who are you, Tony?” Gibbs asked.

“I’m yours…honestly,” Tony said.

Gibbs shook his head. “Not yet you’re not,” he told him.

“Then what can I say to prove it?” Tony shouted. He wasn’t sure he could take much more of this, lying here, completely and utterly powerless in this man’s grasp.

“Just tell me who you are,” Gibbs whispered in his ear. “Not the fake you, not the mask you’ve hidden behind all these years. Who are you really?”

It was a year ago, and he was lying in a hospital bed, close to death, his lungs aching, his skin covered in sweat. He could hear Kate crying, and the low murmur of Ducky’s voice as he comforted her.

“He’s dying,” she was saying, and he wondered who she was talking about.

“The hell he is,” a familiar voice said, and then he saw Gibbs, standing by his bed. “Tony – you will not die. Understand?” Gibbs said. He wanted to. He felt so ill and it would be so easy just to slip away, and give into it. He felt a sharp tap on his head and opened his eyes, startled. “You will not die,” Gibbs commanded. “You do not have my permission to die, boy.”

“No, boss,” he replied, and he took a deep, ragged breath. Following that easy path to death was no longer an option – Gibbs had taken it away from him. He had no choice now – he had to live.

“Who are you, Tony?” Gibbs asked. He moved his hips again and Tony gasped and convulsed, whimpering beneath him.

It was five years ago, and he was sitting behind a table in an interview room at NCIS. A tall man with steel grey hair, piercing blue eyes, and an aura of total control strode into the room. Tony sat back in his chair lazily; no top with a power complex was going to scare him. He flashed the man his best subby smile – it never failed to work. If he threw in a blowjob as well then he’d as good as have the job. Gibbs raised an eyebrow at him, as if he’d read his mind, and Tony flushed, feeling suddenly small and stupid.

“So, you’ve been fired from or had to leave five different jobs in the past eight years,” Gibbs said. “Tell me why I should take a chance on you, DiNozzo.”

Blue eyes seemed to scour his soul and he shifted, uneasily, in his chair. He knew of Special Agent Gibbs by reputation but he hadn’t thought he’d ever meet a top who could actually make him feel anything other than contempt.

“Well, I don’t know, Agent Gibbs,” he drawled. “But I hear your last agent just shipped out, so maybe you should hire me because you’re as desperate as I am.”

“Oh son.” Gibbs shook his head, laughing. “Trust me, nobody is as desperate as you are right now.”

“I don’t know what you want from me,” Tony told Gibbs wearily. “I didn’t back then and I don’t now. I just want to belong to you. That’s all I’ve ever wanted from the day I met you.”

“I know,” Gibbs told him, and his body felt warm and comforting pressed against him. “There’s more. Keep going.”

It was a little over five years ago, and he was standing in a room in Baltimore PD, with his boss, and his partner.

“Sorry, Tony,” his boss told him, shaking her head. “You’re going to have to take one for the team.”

“But you said…” he began, and then he figured it out. She smiled, and glanced at his partner and Tony knew he was right. “Okay. I get it. You used me. Thanks, Dana – and thanks to you too, buddy,” he said bitterly to his partner, a man he’d trusted with his life out there on the streets.

“That’s the way it goes, Tony,” Dana told him. “View it as a learning experience.”

“What was I supposed to learn? Not to trust the tops I sleep with? I don’t, Dana. I never have. Which is why I taped you and why you’re going to let me resign, instead of being fired,” Tony snapped, watching the smile fade from her face to be replaced by something a good deal less pleasant.

“Fuck you, Tony,” she hissed.

“Oh you already did – royally,” he replied.

He gazed up, blankly, to find Gibbs staring down at him. “Don’t ever betray me, Jethro,” he whispered.

“I won’t, Tony,” Gibbs replied, and he kissed him again, very gently. “Keep going,” he said. “Give it all up to me. Where are you now?”

“I’m getting married again,” his father told him. Tony laughed out loud, and then his smile faded.

“Seriously?” he asked. “You? You think you can stay faithful to any sub for more than five minutes?”

His father’s expression darkened. “Your mom was the one who cheated on me, remember,” he snapped. “And as for promiscuous – you take after your mother there too, just like in everything else. Sneaking out, whoring around”

“If you weren’t always drunk and didn’t abandon me in hotel suites all the time then maybe I wouldn’t need to go out and find my own entertainment!”

“Damn it, Tony, I can’t control you any more. You always do what the hell you like, no matter what I say. Frankly, you’re an embarrassment, and I think you and I just need to accept that we’re never going to get along.”

Tony felt as if he’d been punched in the gut. “If that’s what you think,” he said quietly.

“It is. And I don’t want you hanging around here screwing up my new marriage. I’m sending you away to boarding school.”

“Fine by me. Last thing I want is to have to stay here and watch you play happy families anyway.”

His view of Gibbs seemed suddenly hazy, and he felt his top’s thumbs sweep over his eyes, gently wiping away the tears.

“Yeah…like I said, daddy issues,” Tony whispered.

“Uh-huh,” Gibbs murmured, his thumbs sweeping broad strokes across his face, taking the moisture away. “What’s left, Tony?”

Gibbs’s body didn’t feel suffocating any more, and his cock didn’t feel intrusive either, lodged deep inside him. It felt good, and he thought that maybe he could stay in this position forever. He wanted Gibbs here, inside him, on top of him, everywhere around him, for as long as he lived.

He was ten, standing by his mother’s grave, watching his father take a gulp from the flask of whisky he carried in the pocket of his big, black coat. He had a sudden dawning realisation that things would never be the same again. His mother, his beautiful, exotic, playful, teasing, enchanting mother had gone, and his father had changed overnight from a handsome, vigorous young man, into this bitter, angry person.

“Come on, time to go, Tony,” his father said, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Time to go,” Tony whispered. Gibbs kissed him again, and Tony gazed up at him blearily.

“Time to let it go,” Gibbs told him firmly. “Who are you, Tony?”

He was nine years old, before his mom had died and his dad had changed before his eyes. He remembered watching her work a room full of tops at a party. She was so beautiful, so well dressed and elegant, so fantastically good at flirting. No wonder none of the tops in the room could take their eyes off her.

“Watch and learn, Tony,” she told him, with a wink. “Tops are easy but they can be dangerous. You need to learn how to use them before they use you. Always stay one step ahead and then they can’t hurt you. And never surrender – just let them think you have. If you give them everything they’ll lose interest and move on to the next sub.”

He convulsed up under Gibbs, trying to throw him off one last time but Gibbs held steady, and kept him pinned down beneath him.

“If I tell you, then you’ll leave,” Tony hissed. “I can’t do it.”

“Yes you can, Tony. Who are you?” Gibbs said, insistently.

Tony felt lost, all his certainties gone. Who was he? Who was he really? He’d been hiding for so long that he’d almost forgotten.

“I’m a sub,” he said. “I’ve known that since the day I was old enough to know anything, and all I ever wanted was to find a top to trust in. I want to be that sub I always felt I was, in my bones. I want to be him but everything else got in the way. Can I be him again, Jethro?”

“You already are, Tony,” Gibbs told him. “You always were. Other people just screwed you up along the way.”

Gibbs’s body seemed so comforting now. Tony didn’t know why he’d found it so hard to accept his weight before. Now it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. His whole body felt loose and relaxed, open and content. Their bodies were meant to be together like this, joined as one – it felt so right.

“I can’t feel where I end and you begin now,” he murmured.

“Good,” Gibbs said, and then he kissed him again, and as he did so he moved his hips back a little, and then thrust forward – just a tiny movement. Tony gasped as his body protested the change. Gibbs thrust again, harder this time, and he hit Tony’s sweet spot, making fireworks spark. “That feel good?” Gibbs asked.

“Oh yeah,” he sighed, gazing up at Gibbs with shining eyes. “So good.”

Gibbs smiled and moved his hips again, getting into a rhythmic motion of long, slow strokes that hit Tony’s prostate with each inward thrust. Tony arched up like a cat, abandoning himself totally to Gibbs, submitting completely to whatever his top wanted to do to him.

“That’s good, Tony…that’s beautiful…” Gibbs murmured. He moved his body like a precision weapon, expertly ramming home with every thrust. Tony was lost in the sensation, lost in the moment, and lost in Gibbs as his top claimed him completely. He offered himself up without reservation, letting Gibbs take whatever he wanted from him. Their bodies were moving together in perfect synchronised time and he knew that he’d follow this man to the end of the universe and do whatever he asked of him.

“Now come for me…come with me,” Gibbs ordered, and Tony felt a hand wrap around his cock, and rub with firm, hard strokes.

The combination of Gibbs’s cock hitting his prostate, and Gibbs’s hand on his own cock sent him over the edge and within seconds he was coming, white lights exploding in his head. He couldn’t see or hear anything, but he could feel Gibbs still inside him, and that was all that was connecting him to the world right now.

Time passed. He wasn’t sure how long but now he was on his side and there was a blanket over him, and Gibbs wasn’t inside him any more. His hole felt stretched and sore and his body ached all over but he felt utterly content, in a way he’d never felt before.

Gibbs was lying beside him, facing him, one hand resting on Tony’s hip, possessive and reassuring at the same time. Tony moved forward, and buried his face in the crook of Gibbs’s neck, then wrapped his arm around Gibbs’s back, needing to feel that solid weight of comfort again.

“I’ve got you, Tony. Now and always,” Gibbs told him, kissing his hair and stroking his hip gently. “You belong to me now, Tony. You’re all mine.”



Gibbs was too exhilarated to sleep. His arms were full of his newly collared sub and he couldn’t remember when he’d last felt this content. Tony was exhausted, slumbering peacefully, body nestled against Gibbs as if he wanted to burrow into him.

Gibbs wasn’t surprised Tony was so tired – he was straight out of the infirmary after all, and he’d just surrendered his whole being up to Gibbs – no wonder he was shattered. They had shared something intense today; Gibbs had never taken a sub down further, or had one offer themself up to him so completely.

It had been such a moving experience, and he felt an old, familiar sense of his own dominance coursing through his veins, in a warm, surging flow. Tony was his now, in every single way. He would protect the sub in his bed with his life if need be, and fight any top who went near him. It had been years since he had felt this way but in taking Tony for the first time he’d somehow reconnected with a part of himself that he’d buried a long time ago.

He had been so in tune with his sub, had felt Tony’s struggle and stayed with him as he went down into himself. Then he had been there for him, firm, dependable and unyielding, when Tony reached the core of himself and found who he really was, deep inside.

Gibbs allowed his fingers to drift, lazily, over the golden skin of Tony’s shoulder; his sub was so beautiful. He kissed Tony’s neck, and nuzzled at his hair, and Tony moved even closer, muttering in his sleep.

Gibbs almost felt like laughing – this sub, this amazingly responsive boy, had been under his nose for years and he hadn’t taken him seriously. He hadn’t lifted his head out of his own ass for long enough to see the soul-mate sitting just across the room from him at work. Now he had this boy here, naked and well fucked in his bed, Gibbs couldn’t believe he’d been such a blind idiot.

All those years of watching Tony prance and perform for him and he’d never seen the perfect sub beneath the entertaining act.

He allowed Tony to sleep for a couple of hours, and then kissed him awake.

“Wha…?” Tony sat up, his hair sticking up, dishevelled. He was disoriented for a moment, and blinked, blearily, and then he remembered where he was and his eyes lit up as he responded eagerly to Gibbs’s passionate kisses.

Gibbs moved the sheets aside, revealing his sub’s naked body; Tony whimpered and tried to pull them back and snuggle under them again, still half asleep. Gibbs stopped his hand with his own.

“You won’t sleep tonight if you don’t get up now,” he said. “Besides…I want to examine you.”

“Hmmm. Sounds promising,” Tony murmured with a wide yawn, before closing his eyes again.

Gibbs smacked him – hard – on the ass, and Tony yelped, and sat up, fully awake now.

“When I tell you I want to examine you, you’ll get into position to be examined,” Gibbs told him. Tony gazed at him, green eyes wide. “Hands and knees,” Gibbs ordered. Tony scrambled quickly into position and Gibbs had to smother a grin – this boy was eating out of his hand right now.

He ran his fingers over Tony’s back, checking that their vigorous activity earlier hadn’t caused any damage to his healing scars but they were fine. Then he moved lower, and pulled Tony’s ass cheeks apart with his hands to check he hadn’t torn him earlier. He’d been careful, and prepped Tony thoroughly, but even so, he’d stretched him wide open for a long period of time and he wanted to be sure there wasn’t any damage. Tony’s hole was a little pink around the edges but it looked fine. Gibbs grabbed the lube and slid his finger into Tony’s ass. He was looser now than he had been a few hours ago and his finger slipped in easily. Tony bit on his lip.

“Hurt?” Gibbs asked.

“A bit sore, yeah,” Tony told him. Gibbs slapped his ass again with his free hand, making Tony jump.

“Then you tell me without waiting to be asked – you’re mine now, and if anything’s hurting I need to know about it.”

“Yes, Jethro.” Tony grinned at him over his shoulder. “It’s kind of a good hurt,” he said, with a wink.

Gibbs ran his hands over the rest of Tony’s body, checking him all over, and then, satisfied his sub was fine, he drew back.


“Starving.” Tony nodded.

“Then let’s eat.”

Gibbs got out of bed and pulled on some sweatpants and a tee shirt. Tony followed him, naked save for his collar.

“Where are you going?” Gibbs asked, as Tony headed for his old bedroom.

“Bathrobe.” Tony pointed. “All my stuff’s still in there.”

“You look fine just the way you are,” Gibbs said, beckoning him over. He didn’t want Tony covered up right now; he wanted to look at his newly collared sub and drink in the sight of him. Tony looked a little startled by that but he came towards him. Gibbs grabbed him, enjoying the sensation of having a sub to fondle again after so long. He kissed Tony again, moving his hands possessively over Tony’s back and buttocks as he did so, and then released him and went into the kitchen. Tony followed him, stark naked.

Gibbs filled the kettle with water and placed it on the hob and then leaned against the wall and watched Tony get some cups out of the cupboard. He liked how big Tony’s body was – solid and well muscled – and he liked the way Tony’s cock swung as he moved. Tony turned, giving Gibbs a good view of his firm round ass. Unable to resist he went over and ran a hand over the tight globes of flesh.

“Made for fucking and spanking,” he said. He took another look. “And biting,” he added. He’d been spanking Tony on his bare ass for years and he couldn’t believe he’d been able to resist it for all this time. If he’d been alone he’d have slapped the back of his own head for being so blind for so long.

“Well it’s yours, so any time, Jethro,” Tony told him.

“Too right it’s mine.” Gibbs took a handful of firm, plump flesh and squeezed, and Tony leaned back against him. Gibbs pressed a kiss to the back of his sub’s neck, just above his collar. Then he slapped Tony’s ass and shoved him out of the kitchen so he could make them some toast.

Tony didn’t go far – he just hovered in the doorway, hair still sticking up on end. After a couple of minutes he sidled back in, and then he followed Gibbs around the kitchen.

Gibbs knew what was going on here – he’d taken Tony right down, and that left a sub feeling vulnerable. He had expected Tony might need some physical reassurance after an experience that intense.

It was strange seeing Tony like this, without his usual teasing mask. He wasn’t saying much – in fact he seemed uncharacteristically subdued and Gibbs would have been worried about him if it wasn’t for the way those green eyes were glowing.

Gibbs made a pile of toast and put it on a plate, then added it to the tray with their coffee. They went and sat down at the table and Gibbs took a bite of his toast and then held it out to Tony, without a second thought. Tony gazed at him for a second, a tiny hint of a question in his eyes. Gibbs waved the toast at him impatiently and Tony grinned, and took a bite, and then they ate it companionably.

Gibbs didn’t give a damn about any sharing-a-plate rituals – all that crap about getting down on one knee and asking a sub to share your plate, or buying some fancypants big plate and presenting it to the object of your affection in a romantic setting. Tony shared his bed so of course he’d share his plate as well. No need to dress it up and have everyone send them those dumbass Hallmark cards about it. Tony was his, so he’d feed him; simple as that.

“We don’t have to go anywhere today, do we?” Tony asked as they ate.

“Thought you were eager to do some sightseeing?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow. It was late afternoon – still time to do something if they wanted.

“Not today. I can’t talk to anyone today, if that’s okay. I just want to be here, alone, with you,” Tony said.

Gibbs nodded. Tony looked as if he’d undergone some kind of transformation. His eyes were still glowing, and there was a stillness to him that Gibbs had never seen before. He knew Tony was still deep in his sub-space and taking him anywhere today would be an act of cruelty.

“Sure,” Gibbs said. “Rodney said something about some movies he’s uploaded onto the Atlantis mainframe. Haven’t a clue how to work that but I could call him and find out.”

“Okay.” Tony didn’t look remotely interested in the prospect of watching a movie, which really wasn’t like him. He took another bite of the toast Gibbs was holding out.

“I’ll go down to the cafeteria later and bring back some proper food,” Gibbs said. Tony’s eyes flashed with anxiety and Gibbs could have kicked himself – it’d been so long since he’d taken a sub this far down that he’d forgotten how it could be. Tony wouldn’t want him to be out of his sight for awhile yet. “Correction – I’ll call someone and ask them to deliver room service,” he said.

“They do that?” Tony frowned. “It’s not a hotel.”

“They’ll do it if I ask,” Gibbs replied firmly.

“So…what happens when we go home?” Tony asked, that spike of anxiety still there, in his eyes.

“You move into my place. Consider yourself chained to my bed from now on – figuratively speaking,” Gibbs said, with a little grin. “After I’ve claimed a sub, I don’t like sleeping in an empty bed – ever. Besides, I want you naked and available whenever I’m in the mood to take you.”

Tonys moved his head down at that, and rubbed it against Gibbs’s free hand, looking for a stroke. Gibbs felt winded – this boy was so beautifully submissive he’d be the death of him. He ran his hand obligingly through Tony’s short hair, smoothing out all the bedhead spikes. Tony leaned into his hand like a cat, and Gibbs thought he could never get enough of stroking him.

He got up and Tony followed him immediately, as he’d known he would. Gibbs cleared the table and then ordered Tony to kneel beside him in the kitchen to keep him in one place and avoid tripping over him while he did the dishes. Tony was so zoned out that he leaned his head against Gibbs’s thigh while he worked, and Gibbs couldn’t resist reaching down and stroking his soft hair every so often. He could imagine that when Tony wasn’t this far down he would protest at being ordered to kneel in one place for any length of time but right now Tony was eating out of his hand.

He clicked his fingers and Tony got up and followed hard on his heels out into the living area. Gibbs sat down on the couch and pulled Tony down beside him. Tony saw the laptop on the coffee table, the data-stick still sticking out of it, and frowned.

“Evidence?” he asked.

“Yeah. I was checking up on something yesterday,” Gibbs replied.

“What kind of something?” Tony asked.

“Just some footage Jordan took that I wanted to check.”

Tony stiffened. “Footage from in the room?” he asked. Gibbs could have kicked himself for laying himself wide open to that one.

“No,” he said carefully. “Footage from when he shot Tim.”

“Right.” Tony nodded. “You have footage from inside the room though, don’t you?”

Gibbs sighed. “Yes, we do,” he said. “It was all captured on the Atlantis servers and transferred to data sticks for us to take home and file as evidence on this case.”

“Who did the transfer? McGee?” Tony’s shoulders were tight and tense. Gibbs put a hand on them and felt them relax, immediately, beneath his caress.

“No – Rodney Sheppard did it. The only people who have seen that evidence are the people who were there, or the people who already saw it as it was happening. Nobody else,” Gibbs reassured him. “Tony – it might help if you told them about it – Ziva and Tim? They’re on the team after all.”

“Not yet.” Tony shook his head. “Have you watched it?”

“No.” Gibbs felt his gut tighten. “I already saw it once – that was enough.”

“I haven’t seen it,” Tony said.

“No, and I don’t think it’s a good idea you do see it, either,” Gibbs told him.

“Okay,” Tony said, and Gibbs wondered if he’d said that too fast and too easily.

Gibbs called Rodney, and between them he and Tony figured out how to pull up a list of movies from the Atlantis mainframe movie library on the laptop.

“I always knew I’d miss the McGeek one of these fine days,” Tony said, after Rodney talked them through it the third time, in tones of growing impatience. “Where is he anyhow? And, more importantly, who is he with?” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“I guess you’ll find out – in time,” Gibbs told him, with a grin. He put his feet up on the couch and pulled Tony between his open legs. Tony’s large frame settled effortlessly against Gibbs’s body. Gibbs loved the lack of awkwardness, and the way Tony responded so readily to his non-verbal commands. Their bodies were in tune with each other, fitting seamlessly together. Tony’s naked back rested against his chest, and Tony’s head fitted easily in the space between his shoulder and his neck. He put an arm around Tony’s body and stroked his bare chest idly with his fingers.

“Better than working on the boat?” Tony asked, glancing up at him.

“Oh yeah. Working on you is definitely better than working on the boat!” Gibbs chuckled.

He clicked the mouse and pulled up the list of available movies, then scrolled down.

“Oh, I think it has to be that one, don’t you?” he said, pointing.

“The Wrath of Khan?” Tony wriggled happily between his legs. “You sure, Jethro? Doesn’t sound like your kind of thing.”

“You kidding? I have to check out the competition,” Gibbs snorted. “Ricardo Montalban?” he whispered in Tony’s ear. His fingers found Tony’s nipple and he squeezed, a bit too hard. Tony convulsed against him, laughing.

“Oh he’s nowhere near as hot as you, Jethro,” Tony said. “Trust me.”

“That’s what I like to hear, boy,” he said, with another squeeze.

Gibbs wasn’t all that interested in the movie, although he could see why a teenage Tony had had the hots for the eponymous Khan, all blazing muscles and dark, toppy looks, with a kind of cultured arrogance that a young sub might find attractive.

Gibbs had never been all that into movies, although he guessed he was going to have to start sitting through a damn sight more of them now he had taken this particular sub into his bed. The movie wasn’t important though – what made the experience so pleasurable was lying on the couch with a naked, compliant, utterly submissive Tony DiNozzo in his arms.

They watched the movie, ate the dinner Gibbs managed to talk one of the kitchen staff into delivering, and then watched another movie. Tony followed him around whenever he moved – even into the bathroom.

Gibbs loved these first few hours after taking a sub deep into their own sub-space. There was so much gentle bonding – it was like taming a wild animal, making them yours forever, and he realised his touch was as sure with Tony as it had been when he’d first collared Shannon. The subsequent three spouses, when he’d got it spectacularly wrong because he didn’t really love them, were now just bad memories.

He made sure to kiss Tony deeply and often, and touched him intimately, without asking, just as frequently. He stroked Tony’s ass, pinched his nipples, fingered his cock, cupped his balls, ran his hands over Tony’s bare skin, and touched his lips to his body incessantly for the rest of the day. Submission wasn’t always easy, and Tony needed to know that his body was no longer his own – it belonged to Gibbs now, to touch as often as he liked, in any way he liked. Tony didn’t seem to struggle with that concept at all. Gibbs had known subs who found the transition from autonomous, private person, to collared submissive pretty damn hard; it wasn’t easy to suddenly belong to another person, and to surrender your body to them. Accepting that your own body was now the sexual plaything of another person and out of your control was a hard mental shift to make, even for a born submissive. That was why Gibbs liked to take his subs right down the first time he bedded them, and give them a taste of how good it could be if they surrendered, unconditionally, from the outset. He knew some tops liked to go slow and sometimes that was appropriate, depending on the sub, but he’d always thought that it often wasn’t the kindness it was intended to be. Far better to overwhelm a sub in the first few hours, and then bring them slowly up to the surface, supporting them all the way, than prolong the taking down over several weeks, giving them a false expectation of what life as his collared sub was going to be like.

By the time they went to bed a few hours later, Tony was so relaxed, and so sensitised to his touch, that it was an easy matter for Gibbs to pull him close, slide his hard cock into Tony’s open, willing body, and make love to him sweetly and tenderly before they both fell fast asleep.



Tony woke with a start. He was lying on his side, his head resting on Gibbs’s shoulder, his arm slung across Gibbs’s stomach. Both Gibbs’s arms were loosely cradled around him, and it felt good. He moved his head and glanced at Gibbs’s watch. The illuminated dial told him it was twelve minutes past three. He lay there for a moment, contemplating what he intended to do.

Something in his gut told him that Gibbs was right, and he shouldn’t do this, but something else was insistent. He *had* to do this. He wished he was back in that place he’d been in a few short hours ago, when the only thing he *had* to do was stay in constant physical contact with his top. He had never experienced his own sub-space so deeply before and he wished it was a place he could stay in permanently. Things had been much simpler when all that mattered was being as close to Gibbs as possible, leaning into each caress, and wanting only to be petted and held.

It was a wrench to leave the circle of Gibbs’s arms, and slide out from under the sheets. Gibbs shifted, and moaned.

“Tony?” he muttered, half-asleep.

“Just going to the bathroom, Jethro,” Tony lied.

He got up, and tiptoed towards the door. He passed the armchair on the way and snagged his jeans, soundlessly. He was good at sneaking around – he’d been doing it his whole life and knew how to move almost as soundlessly as Gibbs when he really put his mind to it.

He went into the living room and shut the door quietly behind him. Then he pulled on his jeans and glanced around. Gibbs had to be storing the evidence from the case somewhere – question was, where? He could have stowed it in one of the now empty bedrooms that the other team members had occupied but Tony suspected the most obvious place was the little sitting room off to one side that Ducky had made his own when they first arrived.

He moved quietly over to the room, and silently opened the door and then closed it behind him. He turned the dimmer on the light down low before switching it on, and then glanced around. He’d been right; the room was full of boxes, all neatly labelled, just the way Gibbs liked them. He found some of their gear over to one side and located a flashlight, and then turned off the main light – it was a risk to have turned it on in the first place. Then he used the flashlight to go through the boxes. It didn’t take him long to find what he was looking for. There was a box full of neatly labelled data sticks. He found the one he was looking for and then left the room, as silently as he had entered it.

He went over to the coffee table and placed the data stick in the laptop, then sat down on the couch in front of it. He turned the sound down low, paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and then pointed the mouse at the screen.

“Okay, let’s do this, Tony,” he whispered.



Gibbs rolled over and reached for his sub, only to find the bed empty. Judging by how cold that side of the bed was it had been empty for some time. Gibbs glanced at the bathroom door but there was no light shining beneath it. His gut tightened and he knew, immediately, that something was wrong.

He got up, pulled on his sweatpants and tee shirt, reached for his gun, and then edged cautiously over to the door. He could hear faint noises in the lounge – noises he didn’t like the sound of. Gibbs raised his gun, opened the door silently, looked outside, and then sighed, and lowered his gun again.

Tony was sitting on the couch, bare feet resting on the coffee table, knees bent, his arms around his legs, staring at the laptop in front of him. He was wearing a pair of jeans and nothing else. It was just starting to get light outside, and Gibbs could see that Tony was no longer in that sweet headspace he’d been in the previous evening. Now his face was drawn and pale, his eyes transfixed by what he was viewing – and Gibbs had no doubt at all what that was.

“Oh Tony,” Gibbs said, shaking his head.

Tony glanced up. “Sorry,” he said quietly. “But I had to see it for myself. Memory of that day is kind of hazy…and I wanted to see what everyone else saw – know how bad it was.”

Gibbs walked over to the couch and dropped down on it beside his sub. He removed the cartridge from his gun and placed them both on the table.

“Scared I’ll do something stupid?” Tony asked.

“No.” Gibbs shook his head. “You don’t have my permission to do anything *that* stupid,” he growled. “Ever. Got me?”

“Yeah. Not my style anyway. I fast-forwarded through some of it but I’m just getting to the good bit,” Tony said, nodding at the laptop. “Jordan just came into the room.”

Gibbs glanced at the screen – it was as he remembered it, the stuff of nightmares, and he’d give good money not to have to watch it again but he damn well wasn’t going to let Tony watch it alone. Tony paused the picture and turned to glance at him.

“You going to make me turn it off?” he asked.

“No.” Gibbs shook his head.

“You angry I snuck out here to watch it?”

“No. You and I are going to have a little chat about you lying to me though,” Gibbs said. Tony looked confused. “You said you were going to the head,” Gibbs reminded him.

“Oh. Yeah. Sorry. You gonna spank me for that?” he asked.

‘Never lie to the boss’ was rule number one in Gibbs’s long list of rules for his subs and he’d been drumming it into Tony for five years – but in fact it was the rule Tony had the least problem with. Gibbs didn’t think his sub had lied to him very often in all that time – not to get out of trouble anyway. Tony didn’t have a problem with taking the consequences of his actions – he might be disobedient on occasion but he usually owned up to it and took what was coming without complaint.

“No, I’m not going to spank you for that,” Gibbs told him, wondering if he was going soft in his old age. But he’d had to terminate the sessions with Dr Heightmeyer out of respect for the poor woman’s sanity, and Tony clearly had unfinished business here. He trusted Tony’s instincts – if he thought he needed to see this then he did, and maybe it would help both of them finally put this behind them. “I might spank you for doing this alone though. You should have woken me up, Tony.”

“Sorry. Thought you might not let me watch it if I asked.” Tony shrugged.

“For the record – that’s never a good reason for not keeping me in the loop,” Gibbs told him tersely. “But this is your call.” Gibbs gazed at Tony thoughtfully. “If you need to do it then we’ll do it. Together.”

“I get these flashes,” Tony explained. “And sometimes I’m not sure what’s real and what I’m hallucinating. I thought the room was under water at one point but it looks like that bit wasn’t real.” He gave a haunted little grin.

“It wasn’t,” Gibbs confirmed.

“And you heard all this stuff? Me raving on about my childhood and how I felt about you and all that shit to Rodney?”


“I called you a cold-hearted bastard,” Tony said.

“I know. I deserved it,” Gibbs replied.

Tony gazed at him thoughtfully, and then nodded. He glanced back at the screen, and pointed the mouse at it again.

Gibbs hoped he’d be able to handle this, but at the same time he knew he didn’t have any choice. Tony needed to do this and Gibbs wasn’t going to let him do it alone. What had he once said to Ziva? That a good top put the needs of their sub before their own? He had always tried to live by that rule and he wasn’t going to stop now. This was a sub worth going through hell for – and besides, he owed Tony.

Jordan was pacing the room, talking at the camera. Gibbs could hear his own replies, out of shot. Tony watched, his half naked body stiff and still. Gibbs put a hand on his sub’s neck, and gently stroked the soft, bare skin as they watched.

“You like keeping him on edge, you like making him work hard for your approval,” Jordan was saying. “When you give it to him it’s in these grudging little morsels that always leave him wanting more because it’s never quite enough, is it?”

“It helps him stay good at his job,” he heard himself reply. “I get the best out of him that way.”

Gibbs felt his hand tighten, involuntarily, on Tony’s neck.

“You’ve been playing me a long time, Jethro,” Tony said quietly.

“Yeah, I know,” Gibbs replied. He deserved that.

“And is it always about the job? Or is it sometimes more personal?”

There was an agonisingly long pause, and then, without warning, Jordan reached out and landed a smacking backhand on Tony’s jaw.

Beside him Tony jumped, startled. “Should have answered up sooner there, Jethro,” he muttered.

“I was thinking about it,” Gibbs growled. He could feel the stiffness in Tony’s bare shoulders, beneath his hand. He wondered if either of them would be able to survive watching this through to the end but he also knew they had to get it out of the way, or it would stay with them forever.

“He’s besotted with you and you’ve been cruel to this boy, Gibbs, keeping him on edge when you could have taken him to your bed and given him what he wants. Instead you made him work for it, didn’t you? You made him work for everything – every word of praise, every fond look, and every smile. I almost feel sorry for him.”

Gibbs felt as if he’d been hit in the face with his own shortcomings, and it hurt. It especially hurt now, after having taken Tony to his bed and making him surrender to him so completely and so sweetly. He felt like a total bastard.

Tony was chewing on his lip, thoughtfully, not saying a word. Gibbs winced, and wondered what was going on in his sub’s mind. Maybe this would be the shortest-lived collaring in his life, and Tony would fling that brand new collar back in his face by the time they’d finished watching.

On the screen, Jordan delivered another backhander to Tony in retaliation for Gibbs looking away.

“In my defence, that was damn hard to watch,” Gibbs muttered.

Tony didn’t say a word. They watched as Jordan untied Tony and Tony made a clumsy pass at him, stealing the keys to Rodney’s chains in the process.

“There – see,” Tony pointed. “I did good there, boss.”

“Tony, you’re the best agent I have,” Gibbs told him. “I knew you’d pull something out of that situation, however bad it looked.” He got the feeling this point was important. Jordan had stolen something from Tony that day, and Tony hadn’t yet been able to get it back, whatever it was. That was what this was about.

Jordan was throwing Tony down now, and licking the back of his neck.

“Eew.” Tony wriggled his shoulders, dislodging Gibbs’s hand in the process.

They watched as Rodney tried to knock Jordan out with the chain, and Jordan slammed it into the scientist’s forehead. Now it was Tony’s turn to wince.

“Poor Rodney. He should’ve just run,” he said.

“I knew he wouldn’t.” Gibbs shook his head.

“Wish I’d been nicer to him, you know, back when we first got here. Accusing him of murdering Keller was a really dumb move on my part,” Tony sighed.

“We all have our blind spots,” Gibbs replied. Then he tensed. “I really don’t like this next bit,” he said.

Tony scrunched up his shoulders and gripped his knees more tightly as onscreen Jordan undid his belt and drew it out of his pants. The blow landed, and the sound of Tony’s scream sliced through the air. Tony jumped, visibly, re-living the moment when that first blow had hit his shoulders. Gibbs wanted to slam his hand down on the laptop and put an end to this, and it took every ounce of his self-control to stop himself doing just that.

“Please, Jordan. I’m begging you. You want me to say I’m sorry about Ducky – I will. Anything you want, I’ll say it. You’re the big dom here, Jordan, not me. You’ve won. I’m sorry. Just don’t hurt him again. Please.”

Tony glanced at Gibbs. “You apologised?” he said, one eyebrow raised. “Sign of weakness you know,” he added, and Gibbs was relieved to hear the hint of mischief in his voice.

“I’d have done anything at that point to make it stop. I’d do anything, right now, to make it stop as well,” Gibbs growled.

“Not yet.” Tony turned back to the screen.

Gibbs didn’t remember the beating going on this long before but now it seemed to stretch on for hours. Tony looked like something that had been chewed up and spat out; naked, half-dead, his shoulders covered in welts as Jordan whipped him mercilessly with the buckle end of his belt.

Gibbs felt his hands tightening into fists. He wanted to go out there, find Jordan, and slam his knife into him all over again.

“Easy,” Tony murmured, glancing at him again. They stared at each other for a moment, and Gibbs knew, with a sudden flash of insight, that he’d met his match in this sub. Tony was making him take something, the way he’d made Tony take something yesterday – and he was getting a glimpse of that inner steel that Tony usually kept so well hidden.

“Back then – I thought he’d broken you at this point,” Gibbs said, pointing at the screen, where Jordan had dispensed with his belt and was now groping Tony’s ass. He felt like he was going to be physically sick at the sight of it.

“Only person who could ever break me would be you, Jethro,” Tony told him, and they stared at each other again. Gibbs exhaled slowly, and nodded.

“I know,” he said softly. “Won’t ever happen,” he added.

Tony nodded back at him. “I believe you,” he said.

Tony’s face now filled the screen as he gazed desperately into the camera and he seemed to be talking straight at them.

“I don’t know why you came for me in person and not the others, but I’m guessing it was a bluff to throw him off the scent. So tell him the truth. Tell him it doesn’t matter to you, tell him *I* don’t matter to you.”

“Can’t do that, Tony,” came back Gibbs’s reply. “He already knows it’s not true.”

“But it is…”

“No. No, it isn’t. I love you, Tony. I’ve loved you since the minute you walked into that interview room in that crumpled shirt, and shot me that stupid DiNozzo smile – the one you think charms all the tops. Didn’t work on me, but the eyes did. That expression in your eyes – the one you can’t fake, the one that made me want to slam you down on the table and make you understand who you belong to. You’ve been pushing me for a long time, Tony, but you didn’t need to. You had me all along.”

“Then why…?”

“I wasn’t ready. Sorry, Tony.”

“Never say you’re sorry – sign of weakness.”

“Not with you.”

Tony turned to face him.

“That was the bit I wanted to see,” he said. “I couldn’t remember it properly and I wanted to make sure I had it right.”

“You had it right, Tony,” Gibbs said softly, looking down at his hands. He understood now why they were doing this, and why it was necessary that they did this. Tony reached out, put a finger under his chin, and raised his face so that he was looking at him.

“You said sorry,” Tony said. “And you said it to me.”

Gibbs managed a faint grin. “First time for everything,” he muttered.

“We could have done this five years’ ago, you know,” Tony said, fingering his collar. “You made me wait a long time, Jethro.”

“You already know what a stubborn bastard I am,” Gibbs reminded him. “Besides – you hid the truth from me all that time, Tony. I was just thinking about how little you’ve lied to me but all the time you were hiding one great big lie.”

“And did you believe that lie?” Tony asked.

Gibbs hesitated, and then shook his head. “No,” he replied.

“You’re right about one thing – you are a bastard,” Tony told him.

“I never said I wasn’t,” Gibbs sighed. “Got three ex-spouses say the exact same thing. You gonna make it four?”

“We’re not married and you don’t get rid of me that easily,” Tony told him tersely.

Gibbs felt out of his depth. He never had been good at dealing with these kind of complicated emotions and Tony…Tony was surprisingly adept at it; more adept than Gibbs would have suspected.

Tony turned back to the screen, where Jordan had his pants open and his hands were pulling at Tony’s ass, seeking entry. It was too much for him. Gibbs fought down a wave of nausea and shot up, strode over to the wall, and slammed his hand against it, unable to watch.

Tony watched though. Gibbs could hear the sounds playing out behind him, could hear Tony’s rasping breathing and Jordan’s sickening panting as he tried to rape him.

“This is the bit I don’t remember,” Tony said. “Wow – you guys just appeared from nowhere…and…oh. Right.” He fell silent. Gibbs heard his own voice, low and chilling.

“Nobody hurts what’s mine and lives. And Tony DiNozzo is mine.”

He heard the knife go in, and Jordan’s agonised scream as he twisted it, slowly, once, then twice. Then a crack and a thud as Sheppard broke the man’s neck and dumped him on the floor like the trash he was. Then silence.

He heard Tony get up, and come over to him, and then he was being turned around and a pair of green eyes was too close.

“So, you say you’ve been in love with me since you first met me?” Tony said.

“Yeah.” Gibbs gazed at his bare feet, knowing exactly what was coming next.

“And how long have you known I was in love with you?” Tony asked quietly. Gibbs didn’t reply. “How long, Jethro?” Tony insisted, banging the wall beside Gibbs’s head with a hard slap of his hand, an interrogation technique he’d learned from his top – all too well it seemed.

“About the same amount of time,” Gibbs admitted. He raised his chin, offering it up, waiting for Tony to hit him. He deserved it, and he’d take it if Tony wanted to dish it out. Tony just gazed at him, and Gibbs realised he’d never seen Tony lose his temper. He wasn’t seeing it now, either. Tony didn’t let off steam the same way Gibbs did – he just went quiet and intense when he was feeling angry.

“Maybe not consciously,” Gibbs continued, in a hoarse tone. “But I knew in my gut. I made excuses the whole time, but I knew, and yes, Tony, I used it to motivate you, and get the best out of you on the job, and I knew I was doing that, even if I never admitted it to myself.”

Tony stood back, but that intense gaze didn’t let up. “So why didn’t you say anything before now, Jethro?”

“Because I didn’t want to hurt you,” Gibbs admitted, the honesty searing his voice. “And because I didn’t want to get hurt by you. Losing Shannon damn near killed me, Tony. I didn’t think I was ever going to be ready to risk feeling that way again.”

“And what changed your mind?”

“That.” Gibbs pointed at the screen. “When I realised it didn’t make any difference whether I slept with you or not – losing you hurt just as much all the same. Even then…” He hesitated, and then ploughed on. “Even then…afterwards, I thought it might be kinder to let you go. You didn’t need my collar any more, and I thought about setting you free so you could find someone else.”

“That’s why you didn’t collar me again immediately afterwards?” Tony asked.

“Partly – I wouldn’t have done it until you were well in any case, but yeah. I didn’t know if I *should* collar you again.” Gibbs rubbed his jaw. “Like you so accurately pointed out, Tony – I can be a stubborn bastard. I wanted you so bad it hurt, and the more time we spent together while you were getting well again, and the more times we went out on that damn pier and talked – well, I was just falling in even deeper.”

Tony gazed at him speculatively, as if figuring something out in his head. “You know, ever since I’ve known you you’ve been the big, bad top, Jethro. Right from the beginning, you’ve held all the cards. I was just the little puppy yapping at your heels, desperate for attention, and that’s how you played me, for a long time.”

“I know.” Gibbs wrapped his arms around his body – this was hard to take, but he deserved it – all of it.

“I need to see the man beneath the top,” Tony said, in a low, determined voice.

Gibbs looked down again, his own eyes glassy. Tony took hold of his head, and forced him to look up.

“That’s what I saw in that video,” Tony whispered. “The real man. The real Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and that’s who I’m seeing right now. It’s nice to know that you fuck up just like the rest of us – and god knows I fuck up often enough. I need to know you *feel* something in here,” he said, moving one hand and placing it over Gibbs’s heart. “I wasn’t sure. Even after yesterday, which was fantastic on so many levels, I still wasn’t sure. It still seemed like I was the one doing all the giving, and you were like you always are – in charge and in control, just taking everything out of me and never letting me know what’s going on inside you. I wasn’t sure if you weren’t just playing me still, because you’re so damn good at what you do. I had to see that footage for myself, see how you really feel – those feelings you keep locked away and out of sight.”

“Well, you sure as hell saw,” Gibbs growled. “You’re seeing now, Tony.”

“I need to know,” Tony said insistently, his voice breaking slightly. “I need to *know* that you came to get me because you really do love me, and not because I was the only one nobody else wanted to rescue.”

That was when Gibbs saw it – the vulnerability that Tony kept so well hidden, and which he’d only seen in glimpses these past five years, before yesterday, when Tony had finally opened up to him and shown him who he really was, deep inside. This was a sub who hated being vulnerable around tops – who had spent his entire life avoiding being vulnerable around tops. Then Jordan had come along and made him weak, causing Tony to confess emotions he’d kept to himself for so long, making him feel exposed.

What Jordan had started, Gibbs had finished. Gibbs had taken Tony right down into his sub-space and forced him to give it all up to him, and now Tony had just seen on that tape that Gibbs had been playing him for years. No wonder he was scared right now, and more vulnerable than ever. If there was ever a time for honesty, it was now. He had to *make* Tony understand, somehow, that whatever Jordan had stolen from him, Gibbs would give back – all of it, and more. He’d give this sub standing in front of him everything he had.

“I couldn’t have stood losing any of you,” Gibbs said, and his voice sounded rough and husky to his own ears. “Not Tim and not Abby…but you least of all, Tony. If I’d lost you, I knew I couldn’t come back from that. I didn’t intend to. I already told Ducky that if you died, I wasn’t coming back.”

Tony’s eyes were intense as they gazed at him, and even then Gibbs wasn’t sure he’d done enough to convince him. Tony put his hands on Gibbs’s shoulders and pushed him back against the wall, and Gibbs allowed him to do it, his heart pounding almost painfully in his chest.

“Who are you, Jethro?” Tony asked, his fingers digging into Gibbs’s arms. “Who are *you* really? If we’re going to have a future together, I need to know the answer to that question.”

“I’m yours, Tony. I’ll live for you, I’ll kill for you and I’ll die for you. That’s who I am,” Gibbs said hoarsely.

Tony gazed at him for a long time, trying to read the truth of that in Gibbs’s eyes. Then, he pulled back. Abruptly. Gibbs felt as if he’d been torn apart, and he wasn’t sure what it would take to put him back together again.

“You leaving, Tony?” he asked. Plenty of subs had walked out on him before – one of his three ex-spouses had taken a baseball bat to him on her way out. He wasn’t sure what he did to them to piss them off so much but he did know they had all found him utterly exasperating.

“Don’t be an idiot,” Tony replied. “But here’s the thing – I won’t be one of those subs who rolls over whenever you bark. I’ll get in your face, Jethro, just like this, whenever I think you need it. I told you yesterday that I can handle you, and I can, but you might not like it. You’re my top, yes, but if this is going to work between us then we have to be equals. And just because you’ve got a few years on me and you’re my boss – don’t make the mistake of thinking I’ll let you get away with any of that with-holding crap you do so well.”

Gibbs wrapped his arms even tighter around his body. He remembered having a stand-up, blazing row with Shannon because she got in his face and called him on something, and she’d won that row, hands down. Now Tony was winning this one, and somewhere, deep inside, Gibbs was glad he’d found a sub who’d fight him for possession of his own soul. Nobody had done that since Shannon.

“You’ve been locked up inside yourself for years,” Tony said. “Now you have to learn to share, Jethro. Think you can do that?”

Gibbs gazed at him. “Don’t think you’ll give me a choice,” he muttered, with a tired smile.

Tony smiled back at him, and then came over, unwrapped Gibbs’s arms from around his body, and replaced them with his own. His sub’s body felt hard and warm and so damn comforting. Gibbs buried his face in Tony’s neck and inhaled his scent like a drowning man breathing in oxygen.

“That bit where you told Jordan I was yours?” Tony whispered in Gibbs’s ear.” That was totally hot. And the bit where you slid your knife into that bastard’s gut? Thank you for that, Jethro.”

Gibbs held on tight, relishing the feel of his sub’s naked back beneath his fingers. “I love you, Tony,” he whispered. “Not as a pet, or a plaything, or a pretty trophy sub. I love *you*.”

“I know,” Tony said. “And I love you too, Jethro. Not as a fantasy top, or a daddy substitute, or someone to take me into sub-space and make me fly. I love *you*.”

Tony pulled back, took hold of his hand, and led him towards the bedroom. Gibbs felt like he was in some kind of weird movie, and he shook his head, laughing softly.

“What?” Tony asked.

“Just thinking – Ducky said I needed saving and I thought I’d be the one doing that,” Gibbs told him. “Never thought it would be you.”

“You just don’t like having the tables turned on you,” Tony grinned, pushing him down on the bed. Gibbs grabbed his wrist, and gently kissed the deep scars still on it from Jordan’s cuffs.

“Careful, boy – I’m still your top,” he said, and then he pulled, hard, and Tony fell down on top of him, with a startled squawk. Gibbs stole the sound from his mouth with a deep, lingering kiss.

Tony pushed him back onto the bed, and Gibbs looked up into those teasing green eyes.

“You ever think of marrying again?” Tony asked, almost conversationally.

“Why? You asking?” Gibbs moved his shoulder, knocking Tony’s arm out from under him. Gibbs flipped himself out and was on top of Tony in an instant. “You can get in my face all you like, but never try and out-top me, boy,” he said, grinning down on his sub.

“Oh come on! Nobody’s ever out-topped you, Jethro and nobody ever could,” Tony replied, rolling his eyes. “And no, I’m not asking. I’ve got your collar and that’s enough for me. I was never a great fan of marriage. My dad married four times and it never worked out for him.”

Gibbs gazed at him steadily, and Tony gave a little grimace. “So, his first spouse died, and his three subsequent marriages ended in divorce…but he’s really, *really* nothing like you, Jethro.”

“I know.” Gibbs lowered his head and bit Tony’s ear, gently, just the way his sub liked. “He didn’t have the good sense to keep you around – I did,” he said.

He liked the way Tony’s eyes glowed at that.

“No need to make it official unless you want to,” Gibbs whispered, his mouth roving over Tony’s naked chest, licking, sucking and nibbling as he went. “We can keep it just between ourselves.”

He worked his way upwards, and traced a line of kisses along Tony’s jaw, remembering where every single bruise had been, and kissing each spot.

“I, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, take you, Anthony Daniel DiNozzo to be my wedded husband,” he said, never taking his eyes off Tony’s face. Tony went very still beneath him, gazing up at him, transfixed.

“To protect and to cherish,” Gibbs whispered, knowing the traditional vows backwards. He propped himself up on one elbow, and stroked his fingers through Tony’s dark hair.

“To respect and to discipline…” Gibbs moved his fingers over Tony’s naked chest, spidering over his nipples, gently caressing them.

“To love and to care for…” He kissed Tony’s collarbone, and Tony moaned and arched up into him.

“For better for worse…” He kissed Tony’s throat, and then sucked on his neck.

“For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part,” he whispered, finishing up at Tony’s mouth, and kissing his sub deeply and tenderly. Tony was like a cat beneath him, his body relaxed and compliant.

He kissed him for a long time, savouring the delicious taste of his sub’s mouth, and the eagerness with which Tony welcomed him in. Then, without warning, Tony moved and suddenly Gibbs found himself on his back, and Tony was now on top of him.

Tony pinned his hands to the bed, above his head, just as Gibbs had pinned him the previous day, and straddled him, knees on either side of his body. Gibbs grinned up at him. Tony was big and heavy but even so he knew he could easily flip him off if he wanted. He also knew that Tony knew that but they were both enjoying the moment so Gibbs stayed where he was.

“I, Anthony Daniel DiNozzo, take you, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, to be my wedded husband,” Tony told him, holding him there, never taking his eyes off him. Those green eyes, usually so teasing, were now deadly serious, and it was clear he really wanted Gibbs to hear this. “To trust and submit, to respect and to serve, to love and to obey, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.”

Gibbs moved his hands and grabbed Tony, wrapped his arms around his sub’s body and pulled him down on top of him for another deep kiss. Tony came, as willing and compliant as any top could wish for, submissive to his bones as he’d always said.

Gibbs ripped at his jeans, needing to get them off him.

“Hey, favourite jeans,” Tony protested feebly.

“Don’t care,” Gibbs said, pulling the button free and releasing the zip. He managed to tear the jeans bodily from Tony’s legs and then Tony launched himself at him and made short work of his own tee shirt and sweatpants.

The lube appeared in Tony’s hands, and Gibbs just as quickly managed to slick it into Tony’s hole.

They were both too impatient to go slow; Gibbs flipped Tony onto his front, rammed a pillow beneath him, grabbed his hips, and entered him in one smooth, quick motion. Tony gasped, and Gibbs moved his hips back and slammed into him again, loving the little animal noises Tony was making as he thrust into him. He got into a rhythm, and Tony moved his hips back in time to Gibbs’s inward thrusts, joyfully meeting each stroke of his hard cock.

Then they were moving as one, bodies synchronised in perfect time as they made love. Gibbs loved looking down on Tony’s smooth, golden skin, loved running his hands along Tony’s haunches as he rode him, loved the way Tony was panting, his head half-turned to look at Gibbs over his shoulder, his dark hair spiky and wayward, his eyes heavy-lidded and full of pleasure, his wide, mobile mouth half-open, his tongue wetting the lips.

It was a beautiful sight, and Gibbs savoured it as he thrust into Tony’s warm, willing body. He kept going for as long as possible, holding on until the last moment so he could enjoy this. He had never thought he would find a sub to merge with, so perfectly, the way he was merging with Tony right now, bodies rising and falling in perfect harmony. He reached down under Tony’s body and found his hard cock, took it in his hand, and stroked in time to his inward thrusts. Tony was out of it now, and Gibbs knew it was only his hands on Tony’s body and his hard cock inside him that was keeping Tony upright. He gave one last, hard thrust, and then he was coming, shooting deep inside his sub’s body. He was blinded by white light, and was aware, hazily, of moisture on his hand and knew Tony had come too, and then he wasn’t sure of anything for several minutes.

When he came to, he found he was lying on Tony, still lodged deep inside him. He pulled out, ignoring Tony’s moan of protest, and took hold of his sub in his arms. Then he pulled the sheets up around them.

“Did we just get married?” Tony asked him, a bemused expression on his face.

“Yeah. We kind of did,” Gibbs replied. Not for real, because there had been no witnesses, but it had been real enough for the two of them. Gibbs had a feeling that it wouldn’t be long before he made those vows in front of a whole roomful of people, and made it official.

“Cool.” Tony kissed him lazily on the mouth, and then fell fast asleep in his arms.



When Tony woke it was nearly noon, and the bed was empty. He stretched out, cataloguing all the new aches and pains in his body. He felt like a well-used sub *should* feel, the various sore spots reminding him of all the recent sexual activity. He felt good. Damn good. The last couple of days had been intense on so many levels but he thought that had maybe been inevitable; both he and Gibbs had rough edges that needed smoothing while they adjusted to each other and the roles they would play in each other’s lives from now.

He heard noises in the bathroom and got up and walked over there. He didn’t think Gibbs was the kind of person who gave a damn about having privacy in the head so he opened the door and went right in. Gibbs was standing in front of the mirror, a towel wrapped around his waist, lathering shaving foam onto his jaw. Tony grinned – he would have guessed Gibbs wasn’t an electric razor kind of guy.

“Hey.” Gibbs saw him in the mirror and flashed him a smile. Tony thought that maybe he’d never get used to seeing his top smile like this, so often and so freely. He’d spent the past few years trying to wring those grudging little grins from Gibbs, playing the fool just to get a reaction from his taciturn top. Now Gibbs smiled at him as easily as breathing – and his eyes lit up whenever he saw his sub. It was all Tony had ever wanted, and the one thing he definitely could get used to was the feeling of happiness that had settled in his gut; he hoped that would never leave.

“Hey,” Tony said softly. Gibbs reached for the cut-throat razor in his shaving kit, but Tony got there first. He stepped in close behind his top, his bare chest against Gibbs’s back, put his arms around Gibbs and batted Gibbs’s hand away. “Allow me,” he said, watching his own eyes sparkle in the mirror over Gibbs’s shoulder. He took the razor with a flourish and tested the edge – it was as sharp as he’d have expected from Gibbs – still a marine through and through.

“Trust me?” Tony said, raising it to Gibbs’s throat. Gibbs grinned at him and leaned back against him, putting his arms behind Tony and linking his hands over his sub’s naked buttocks.

“With my life,” Gibbs replied, offering up his throat.

Tony held Gibbs’s head with one hand, and with the other, with perfect, expert sweeps of his fingers, he began shaving his top. Gibbs stroked his buttocks as he worked, and he loved how his cock was nestled right between Gibbs’s towel-clad ass cheeks. It felt close, intimate, and loving.

Tony finished, and then patted Gibbs’s chin and neck with a towel.

“Voila Monsieur,” he said, putting down the towel, wrapping his arms around Gibbs’s midriff and resting his chin on Gibbs’s shoulder. They looked at themselves in the mirror, and Tony was struck by how good they looked together. They looked right, as if they belonged, a sub and top in perfect tune with each other. He pressed a kiss against Gibbs’s newly shaved cheek, inhaling the fresh scent.

“You’re full of surprises,” Gibbs commented. “Where did you learn how to do that so expertly?”

“One of the hotels we used to stay in – there was an in-house barber. I used to hang out in the hair salon when I was bored – he used to let me eat his donuts,” Tony grinned. “I’d go anywhere for donuts. I liked watching him shave people and asked him to show me how to do it properly. I always thought…” He broke off, and gazed at himself in the mirror. He usually lied, casually and without thinking, about various aspects of his childhood, but that was a habit he was going to have to try and break now that he was with Gibbs. “I always thought that one day I might be able to offer it as a service to a top,” he said quietly. “I wanted to be the perfect sub.”

“There’s no such thing,” Gibbs replied, looking at him via his reflection in the mirror.

“I know. I guess what I’m trying to say is…I wanted to find a way to express that side of myself, in everything I do. You asked me the other night who I am, and this is who I am. It’s who I’ve always been inside. It might not be the person people think I am, but it is the sub I am in my heart. I just never found anyone I could be myself with before now.”

“This sub? I like him,” Gibbs said, taking hold of Tony’s hand and kissing it.

Tony grinned, and bestowed a kiss of his own on Gibbs’s shoulder.

“I guess we’re both full of surprises, huh?” he said.

“You sure as hell were a few hours ago,” Gibbs commented.

“Did I scare you?” Tony grinned.

Gibbs rolled his eyes. “No – but I’m glad you got in my face. And Tony? You have my permission to do it again, if it’s ever necessary.”

“You can count on it, Jethro.” Tony rested both his hands on Gibbs’s shoulders and then frowned. “Uh…is this human flesh here or solid rock? Your shoulders are tight as anything, Jethro.”

“It’s been a tough few weeks,” Gibbs said, which, Tony thought, was a typical Gibbs understatement. He remembered how tense Gibbs had been watching that video footage a few hours ago and then winced as he thought what it must have been like for him going through it the first time around, when the outcome had been uncertain. No wonder the man’s shoulders were locked.

“Then allow me to introduce you to another of the weapons in my subby arsenal,” Tony told him. “Massage.”

Gibbs raised a questioning eyebrow.

“I dated a top who played pro football once,” Tony grinned. “He had muscles of iron and they knotted up like rope. I learned how to unknot them as a survival technique – if his shoulders were hurting him his swing was off, and his spankings were really uncomfortable. Of course I only dated him for about three weeks, but I never forgot how to give a good massage.”

He winked at Gibbs, and then ushered his top into the bedroom and pushed him face down on the bed. He whisked Gibbs’s towel away, ignoring Gibbs’s low growl of protest about that, knowing it was all for show. He returned to the bathroom and found some oil and then went back into the bedroom – and stopped. Gibbs was lying face down on the bed, and for the first time since he’d been collared a couple of days ago, Tony got a proper look at his lover’s naked ass.

“And a damn fine ass it is too,” he murmured, leaning against the door and just enjoying it for awhile. Gibbs’s ass was round and peachy, just as Tony had suspected, and it made for good viewing.

“Are you going to stand there staring at my ass all day?” Gibbs asked, over his shoulder. Tony grinned.

“A sub can look at his top’s ass can’t he?” he said, going over to the bed and climbing onto it, straddling Gibbs’s body so that his cock and balls rested on the ass in question. Gibbs gave one of those amused little grunts that Tony loved hearing so much.

Tony poured some oil into his hands and then placed them on Gibbs’s shoulders, and dug his fingers in deep. Gibbs made a groaning sound.

“Hurts huh?” Tony asked. “That’s because you’re a control freak with a rescue complex and an irresistible compulsion to run down the bad guys and save all the submissives-in-distress before the end of the movie. Only your movie never ends. That’s why you need a deep, hard massage.”

He dug his fingers in even harder to make the point.

“You’re calling me a control freak?” Gibbs asked, dangerously, over his shoulder.

“I am,” Tony said happily, working his fingers in as hard as he could, trying to loosen the tension in his top’s shoulders.

“Figures,” Gibbs grunted, resting his head on his hands.

“What does?” Tony frowned. He liked the way his fingers disappeared into Gibbs’s solid flesh, making little red lines as they worked.

“You always get a smart mouth on you when I haven’t spanked you in awhile,” Gibbs said. Tony’s fingers came to an abrupt halt.

“Oh come on! I was just teasing!” he said, nervously.

“I know.” Gibbs looked back over his shoulder. “I’m not,” he purred dangerously. Tony swallowed hard, and began moving his fingers again.

“You gonna start up that whole daily spanking thing again?” he asked, tentatively. He knew he didn’t have any say in whether his top spanked him or not – that was Gibbs’s decision.

“Don’t need to,” Gibbs replied. “Now I’ll be fucking your ass daily you won’t need as much spanking.”

“And will the fucking definitely be daily?” Tony asked hopefully, moving his hands up Gibbs’s back in long, sweeping strokes, ending up at Gibbs’s neck. He paused to kiss Gibbs’s cheek while he was there.

“Oh yeah,” Gibbs chuckled. “More than once a day probably.”

“I admire your stamina,” Tony commented. He stopped digging in so hard and just soothed the sore flesh instead. “So the spankings…?”

“At my discretion.” Gibbs smiled at him over his shoulder, that dangerous smile that both turned Tony on and scared him in equal measure. “But, knowing you, I think we’ll keep them pretty regular.”

Tony’s cock twitched at that. Gibbs’s spankings always hurt like hell but he loved the way they made him feel and you couldn’t have one without the other.

Tony finished the massage in silence, losing himself in serving his top in this way. He thought he’d made a good job of it too, as Gibbs seemed to zone out beneath him and by the time Tony was done his top’s shoulders were a good deal looser and more relaxed than they’d been when he started.

“Thank you, Tony,” Gibbs sighed, rotating his shoulders to test them out. He sat up, and pulled Tony in for a deep kiss. “Time to return the favour, I think.”

Gibbs was as quick and efficient as ever, taking Tony by surprise with his speed and strength, and within seconds Tony found himself face down over Gibbs’s lap, his ass right in the centre, upturned and vulnerable. He gave a squawk of alarm at being so easily out-manoeuvred – although it was something he thought he’d have to get used to. Gibbs was as silent, stealthy and deadly in the bedroom as he was in the field.

“Okay…here we go…” Tony said, stretching his body out, and trying to relax. He loved being over his top’s knees, and even knowing how hard Gibbs’s hand was he knew the best thing was just to surrender, and take the spanking his top wanted to hand out.

Much to his surprise, Gibbs didn’t start spanking him. Instead he stroked his ass cheeks with his fingers, caressing him gently. Tony glanced over his shoulder, surprised – spankings never usually started this way.

“Everything’s different now, Tony,” Gibbs murmured, in answer to his unspoken question. “Which isn’t to say that I won’t still spank your ass hard when you need it…but I just want you to know that I can do the fun stuff too.”

He tapped Tony’s ass gently, warming it, and Tony sighed, and relaxed even more. This was going to be *good*. The taps were tender, although delivered with typical Gibbsian efficiency to be sure, each one unerringly hitting the mark. Gibbs built the heat expertly in his ass, concentrating on little spots at a time, moving on just before it became unbearable, and soon Tony’s ass was a mass of sensation. It felt hot but not sore, and the sting was just enough to get the endorphins going but not enough to really hurt. It was the most deliciously expert pleasure spanking he’d ever received – and he was dimly aware, not for the first time, that he was in the presence of a master top here.

Gibbs alternated his spanks with little caresses, running his hard palm over Tony’s warm, round butt cheeks, squeezing and fondling. Then he leaned forward and blew on the sensitised flesh and Tony moaned, his legs scissoring open, his cock hardening.

“Oh shit…that’s just…”

Another little blast of air on his ass made him tingle, and he opened his legs wider, exposing his hole hopefully in Gibbs’s direction. Gibbs slid a finger obligingly inside him, teasing the opening, stimulating it, and Tony rubbed himself on Gibbs’s lap, back and forth, his cock now rock hard and desperate for release.

“Permission to come,” he gasped.

“Denied,” Gibbs told him, in a wicked tone of voice. Tony sighed, loving how implacable Gibbs sounded. A second later he found himself flat on his back, as Gibbs expertly performed another of those flips on him. Then, a second after that, he screamed as Gibbs’s warm, wet mouth swallowed his cock whole.

“Oh SHIT!” He writhed on the bed as Gibbs deep-throated him expertly, one arm across Tony’s chest, holding him down. His warm bottom was throbbing, his cock was aching with need, and Gibbs – the bastard – was just sucking and sucking. It was fantastic and totally unbearable at the same time – how could he be expected to hold on? It was past the point when any flesh and blood sub could hold it when Gibbs was doing *that* with his tongue, and if he wasn’t allowed to climax soon then he’d just die from sheer…

“You can come now if you want,” Gibbs said, drawing back and gazing down at Tony with amused and somewhat evil blue eyes.

Tony did.

Several minutes later, when he’d recovered, he sat up to see that Gibbs was now fully dressed in black pants and shirt.

“Aw – you got dressed,” he pouted. “I was thinking I could return the favour.” He nodded his head in the direction of Gibbs’s groin.

“Nope.” Gibbs shook his head. “I’ll take you later, when you’re not expecting it – I have a fetish for taking my sub by surprise that you might as well get used to now because it’s going to happen – a lot,” he grinned. “But now – now I want to eat.”

Breakfast, lunch, or whatever it was, was much like it had been the previous day – Gibbs held up the toast and Tony ate. He’d never shared a plate with anyone before – he’d never wanted to – and therefore he was surprised by how much he enjoyed it. Gibbs never withheld food or teased with it – it was just shared, companionably, without comment, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world.

After breakfast, Tony got up and went towards his old bedroom.

“Where’re you going?” Gibbs asked.

“To find something to wear – seeing as you’ve ruined all my favourite clothes,” Tony said. Gibbs grinned, wolfishly, at him.

“They were in the way,” he said with a shrug. Tony rolled his eyes – he already knew how determined Gibbs was at work and how he never allowed anything to get in his way there. He suspected his clothes were going to pay a hefty price for that particular personality trait – maybe he should buy two of everything from now on, just in case.

Tony opened his closet and looked at the clothes inside, deciding what to wear. A few seconds later he heard Gibbs enter the room and then his top was gazing into the closet over his shoulder.

“That outfit there.” Gibbs pointed at the tight leather pants with the lace-up crotch and the tiny mesh tee shirt Tony had worn on their first evening on Atlantis, when they’d attended the Athosian Festival of Deliverance. “They won’t be coming home with us when we leave.”

Tony grinned at his top over his shoulder. “Jealous, Jethro?” he asked.

“Yeah. Hated you wearing them the first time around – all those tops looking at your ass, and trying to grope you. I’m not going through that again. Ever. You belong to me now, boy.”

“Not even for a private viewing?” Tony asked. “Just you?”

“I prefer you naked,” Gibbs replied, slapping Tony’s bare bottom.

Tony laughed. He had a feeling he was going to be naked a lot from now on.

He took a shower, got dressed, and then went out onto the balcony, wondering what Gibbs had planned for the rest of the day. He overheard Gibbs in the kitchen, talking to someone on the radio, and rested his elbows on the balustrade, bending forward, lost in thought. It was a lovely day, and much as he enjoyed being holed up here with his top he thought it might be nice to get out there and live a little before they had to leave this beautiful planet.

He was enjoying the feel of the sun on his hair, and, as usual, didn’t hear Gibbs come up behind him. He let out a startled yelp, taken by surprise as fingers slipped around the front of his pants, undoing them; next thing he knew they had been stripped down to his ankles. His legs were kicked apart, and then he felt Gibbs’s lubed fingers press against his entrance. He pushed back, opening up so his top had better access, grinning to himself at the pleasure of the surprise attack. He’d once fantasised about being taken out here, bent over the balustrade, and it looked as if that fantasy was about to become a reality.

Gibbs stretched him briefly, and then he felt the tip of his top’s lubed cock demanding entry and he concentrated on keeping himself open, so Gibbs could take him. God this felt good! Standing bent over the balustrade, his top thrusting into him without saying a word, just using him as sub should be used, taking his pleasure in Tony.

Gibbs didn’t waste time on foreplay. He grabbed hold of Tony’s hips to keep him steady and then pistoned into him. Tony liked the weight of him, and the feel of his hands on his body, keeping him in place as he fucked him mercilessly. It felt raw and possessive, and he liked how Gibbs wasn’t asking – just taking.

He felt exposed and vulnerable, being fucked like this, the beautiful landscape of Atlantis spread out in front of them, the sun warm on his head. Gibbs kept one hand on his hip, and then grabbed Tony’s hair, pulling his head back as he continued thrusting into him. Tony gasped, loving how primal it felt to be held in position in this basic way while his top made full use of him. He’d experienced Gibbs’s lovemaking in many different ways already, and while he knew Gibbs could play his body as gently and sensitively as any maestro, this wasn’t about that. This was about Gibbs reminding him who he belonged to – and he loved being made to feel it, to really feel it, deep to his core.

He had been stroked, caressed, loved, sucked and expertly spanked over the past couple of days but during all their sexual encounters one thing remained constant – Gibbs was never anything other than sexually dominant to an extreme extent. Tony doubted it was in the man’s make up to be anything else. His dominance was hard-wired, and however slow and gentle he might go during love-making he would always be in charge in the bedroom.

He wasn’t going slow and gentle right now. His hand was tangled tight in Tony’s hair, pulling his head right back for leverage as he slid his hard cock back and forth into Tony’s ass. Tony liked feeling this helpless, unable to move as his top made good use of him, barely a participant at all save for the fact it was his body Gibbs was thrusting into so vigorously. His own cock was ramrod hard but Gibbs made no move to take it in his hand or bring him off – after that fantastic spanking and blowjob earlier Tony doubted that his own pleasure was on Gibbs’s mind at all. This was about Gibbs asserting his rights as Tony’s top, and they were rights that Tony was all too happy to have him assert.

Gibbs came with a little grunt of pleasure. He released his grasp on Tony’s hair and stroked it gently, smoothing it back into place. Still lodged deep inside Tony, he leaned forward and rested his chin on Tony’s shoulder, then deposited a kiss on his sub’s cheek.

“That was good,” he said. “God, I’d forgotten what it’s like to have a sub like you. Someone who responds so beautifully and gives it all up to me; someone I don’t have to hold back with. It’s been a long time.”

He withdrew, and Tony heard him tucking himself away. Then he pulled Tony’s pants back up and fastened them again and it was as if the whole thing hadn’t happened, save for the come he could feel dribbling out of him. He even liked that sensation – he liked that Gibbs had left something of himself behind when he’d used him.

“In future…it’ll save time if you keep yourself lubed and prepped,” Gibbs murmured in his ear. “I don’t like to be kept waiting – when I want to use you, I’ll use you.”

Tony’s cock hardened even more at the thought of that. The idea of being Gibbs’s sex toy, available for his pleasure whenever his top was in the mood, was a total turn on for him.

“And if I forget?” he asked.

“Do you like dry fucks?”

“Not really.”

“Then don’t forget,” Gibbs told him, patting his ass affectionately.

“You gonna get me off?” Tony asked, glancing down at the tenting in the front of his pants caused by his hard cock.

“Nope,” Gibbs said, patting his ass again.

“Can I get myself off?” Tony asked.

“Nope,” Gibbs repeated, with a little chuckle. “I told you, Tony – you’re mine; your cock, your ass – every part of you. I’m in charge of when you come now – and you’ll only come when I say you can.”

“No jerking off?” Tony asked, crestfallen. His hand and his cock had become intimately acquainted over the past few years and he couldn’t quite envisage life without daily masturbation.

“Not unless I’ve asked you to put on a show for me. You jerk yourself off in private and I’ll make your ass pay.”

“How will you know?” Tony asked.

“I’ll know.” Gibbs’s voice was rough and throaty, close to his ear, and Tony didn’t doubt for a moment that he would. “But don’t worry – I’ll give you more than enough sex to keep you happy, Tony. Trust me.”

It was one of the tough parts of being a sub, Tony thought to himself, but with the loss of control came so many great things that he couldn’t complain, and he had no doubt at all that Gibbs would keep him sexually satisfied. If anything, Tony would be the one running to keep up with his very dominant, highly skilled lover.

He turned his head to find Gibbs right beside him, and his top grabbed him and pulled him in for a long, deep kiss.

When he released him, Tony stared at him, feeling giddy.

“Jethro…yesterday…that place you took me to – in my head,” he whispered.

“Mmm?” Gibbs put his hand on Tony’s shoulder and stroked, never taking his eyes off his sub.

“Will you be taking me there again?” Tony asked quietly.

Gibbs smiled at him. “Did you like it?”

“Yeah. Oh hell yeah,” Tony nodded. “I’m not saying I’d like to go there all the time or even most of the time but I would like to go there again – and often.”

“Not always easy getting a sub there,” Gibbs said.

“But you can do it?”

“Sure,” Gibbs grinned, running his fingers lightly over Tony’s shoulder. “Every time. I’m just saying – you might not always like the way I get you there, but you will like it when you’re there.”

“I know.” Tony nodded. “Nobody’s ever taken me so far down before. Nobody’s even come close.”

“I know.” Gibbs shrugged. “Most tops – they play at it. They don’t feel it. And most subs – they just put on a show; they don’t see that it has to be hard – if it’s easy then you aren’t doing it right and it doesn’t mean a damn thing. Taking you there, Tony – it’s beautiful. I’d be honoured to do it again – frequently. Subs like you – they’re rare. You just gave it all up – you trusted me, and you went with me, even when you were scared of it. I’ll never forget how good that was. It’s what a top needs to feel – that sense of total surrender from his sub – and you didn’t hold back; you gave me everything.”

He squeezed Tony’s shoulder, and pulled him in close for another kiss. Tony put his arms around him and held him tight, loving the closeness.

“How come you know all this stuff?” he asked, nuzzling Gibbs’s neck. “How did you know how to get me to that place?”

“I don’t know. I just go by instinct,” Gibbs replied. “Just like you respond by instinct – never had a more instinctive sub than you in my bed.”

“Were you always this good at topping? Or did you have to learn the hard way?” Tony asked, drawing back a little so he could look at his top. Gibbs frowned, thoughtfully.

“To be honest, I never understood why some tops get it so wrong. Take Randolph Jordan for example. When a top is that screwed up it sets my teeth on edge. It’s taking something so right and making it into something so totally wrong. Tops like him just don’t have any understanding of what it means to be a top at all. With me…I just always knew how it should be, easy as breathing.”

“Since when?” Tony asked, intrigued.

“Since I was a little kid. There was never a time when I was anything other than a top – I just felt it.”

“Could you figure out what all the other little kids in the schoolyard were going to be before they knew themselves?” Tony asked him, with a grin. “I always could. Way before they hit puberty I knew – even when they didn’t know themselves.”

“Yeah.” Gibbs nodded thoughtfully. “I had them all divided into tops and subs in my head. I used to get into a hell of a lot of trouble with my dads because I’d fight all the little tops, and try and protect all the little subs. I walked Tom Sampson and Ginny Blair home from school every day because they were so beautifully subby and I wanted to take care of them. Took me over an hour to get home because they didn’t live nearby but it was worth it just to make sure they were safe.”

“Chauvinist,” Tony grinned.

“Never denied it!” Gibbs grinned back. “It’s just instinct, you know? I have a soft spot for subs who need me. Tops can take care of themselves but subs are my responsibility.”

“Not all subs – not any more,” Tony pointed out. “Just this one. Your days of saving subs left, right and centre are over, Jethro. You’re mine now – someone else will have to do the saving from now on.”

“Yeah, just this one,” Gibbs said, kissing his cheek. “I think I’ve met my match with this one,” he added, tousling Tony’s hair affectionately.

“So – who were you talking to on the radio earlier?” Tony asked.

“Abby. Apparently Teyla and Ronon have invited a bunch of people over to the mainland for a meal this afternoon and we’re welcome to join them – Abby is already there and says she can send Lorne back to ferry us over. Are you up to that?”

“Sounds like fun,” Tony nodded. “So…how about I wear those leather pants you like so much…?”

He grinned happily as Gibbs’s hand connected, resoundingly, not with the back of his head but with the back of his pants, delivering a nice, hard spank to his ass.



Tim felt nervous; it was the first time he’d gone out anywhere with his new top, save for occasional trips to the cafeteria – they’d both been too preoccupied with exploring each other to do much exploring of their surroundings. However, the time had come to face the world, and he hoped he was ready.

Ziva emerged from the bedroom wearing a pair of tight black pants and a fitted purple shirt. She looked beautiful, as always, and his throat went dry as he looked at her. He could hardly believe that he belonged to a top this amazing.

“Oh, that is good,” she purred, circling him, one hand on his shoulder, looking him up and down.

“I feel stupid,” he replied, flushing. “People will look at me.”

“I want them to look at you,” she said. “I want them to look at you and know they cannot touch you because you belong to me. You have been hiding behind your geek clothes for too long – people should know what a fine ass you have.”

He flushed even more at that, and she laughed and kissed his cheek.

“Seriously, Tim – you look very sexy. And just think – I could be one of those tops who likes to display their subs naked in public – or wearing those cutaway trousers that reveal the ass. You should count yourself lucky.”

He smiled at her, and stole a kiss. “I do,” he said fervently. “It’s all I think about, every day. I have no idea how a sub like me ends up with a top like you.”

She frowned. “Tim…you should see yourself as I see you,” she said, guiding him over to the mirror.

She stood behind him, and ran her fingers possessively over the green silk shirt he was wearing. It clung to his body and was a deep, vivid colour, matching his eyes. He was wearing a pair of tailored chocolate-coloured pants that fitted far more snugly than the pants he was used to wearing. On his feet were a pair of brown Athosian boots, just as comfortable but more sexy than the brogues he usually favoured. Ziva had bought the entire outfit for him at the Athosian market a few days earlier, and today was the first day he’d put it on. His eyes were drawn, as always, to the soft brown collar around his neck. It fit there so perfectly, and felt so light. It suited him, and looked perfect peeking out from the green silk collar of his shirt.

Tim looked at himself in the mirror and was surprised by what he saw. He looked like himself only softer, more submissive, his body no longer awkward. His limbs were relaxed, and his eyes shone with happiness. He was a well-loved, well-fucked sub – and it showed, somehow.

“You are a beautiful sub, Tim,” Ziva told him softly, brushing her fingers gently over his nipples, making him gasp and them stand to attention immediately. “People will envy me.”

He wasn’t so sure about that but he had to admit, looking in the mirror, that he wasn’t as far out of her league as he’d always supposed.

“Now – one last thing.” She turned him around, and held up a long silver chain. “Will you walk on my leash, Tim?”

“Gladly,” he whispered, his heart doing a little flip. He’d always found it comforting to walk to heel on the leash – something in his submissive heart yearned for that kind of connection with a top, to walk in tune with them, and have it demonstrated so visibly who he belonged to.

He’d always enjoyed walking on Gibbs’s leash but this was better because he would be Ziva’s only sub – and her devoted servant. He wanted to be close by to wait on her if she needed anything and protect her if she was in danger – although he doubted he’d be much use in that capacity, given that she was a trained assassin who could kill people with her bare hands – but there was something in his submissive heart that *wanted* to do that for her, if it was ever necessary.

He was slowly coming to understand the kind of sub he was, under her loving tutelage. He wanted to serve – he would kneel by her side for hours if she asked it of him. He wasn’t cheeky or naughty like Tony. He didn’t need to be spanked, although he’d endure if she wanted to spank him – which, so far, she hadn’t. She had been endlessly patient, gentle and kind with him and he had responded, opening up to her and giving her everything. It was all he’d ever wanted – a top to worship and adore.

Ziva locked the clip of the leash around the ring at the front of his collar and then took the long, silver chain in her hand.

“Now, we are ready,” she told him.

The party was in full swing when they arrived. Abby and Lorne were already there, as were a number of other recognisable faces, including Rodney, John, Ducky and Richard Woolsey. Ziva went off to find them both a drink, and Abby ran over to him, shrieking wildly, and grabbed him, gazing at him as if she’d explode.

“Tim! Oh my god! Tim? Is it really you?” She looked him up and down and instead of flushing under her shocked gaze he stood taller, enjoying it.

“Yeah, it’s me, Abs,” he told her, grinning.

“Oh…she must be *good*,” Abby laughed. “If the way you look is anything to go by!” She reached up and touched the collar around his neck. “It’s lovely,” she said softly.

His eyes went to the missing space around her neck, where Gibbs’s collar had once been, and his smile faded.

“Abby – is everything okay?” he asked.

“Everything is fine,” she replied, firmly. “Evan says he’ll collar me when we get back to Earth if it works out between us. He’s making the collar himself. I’m dying to see what it’ll be like but he keeps hiding it so I have no idea – not that I’ve been trying to sneak a peek or anything,” she winked. “I’m not worried about not having a collar right now though – because I have something else! Something I want to show you – not here though – if Evan sees he’ll kill me. He said I wasn’t to go around showing them off but I can’t resist.”

“Showing what off?” Tim asked nervously.

She pointed to her chest, surreptitiously, and this time he *did* flush, seeing the faint outline of the piercing jewels through her tee shirt.

“I’ll show you later – when Tony’s here. He’ll want to see them,” she grinned. “But nobody else – not Ziva, or Gibbs, or even Ducky. Only subs – it wouldn’t be fair on Evan otherwise.”

“Tony’s coming? Is he okay?” Tim asked. He hadn’t seen Tony since the other sub had returned from his ordeal. Everyone assured him Tony was fine but he couldn’t help wondering what Tony must have gone through that everyone was being so secretive about it.

“I think so.” Abby frowned. “He and Gibbs have been holed up alone for awhile so I guess we’ll find out if everything is fine or not when they arrive.”

“I’d kind of been hoping he wouldn’t be here,” Tim admitted. “He’s going to tease me, Abby,” he explained, flushing again. “I mean – looking like this – wearing Ziva’s collar? He’s going to go into tease overdrive. I’ll be the butt of his annoying jokes for weeks.”

“I’d like to say that’s not going to happen but we both know it will,” Abby said cheerfully. “Or…maybe not,” she murmured, gazing over his shoulder. “Oh shit. Oh my god.”

“What is it? Is Ziva okay?” Tim asked, turning anxiously.

“Oh yeah…it’s just – look who just showed up,” Abby said, pointing. Tim squinted through the crowd in the direction she was pointing, and then whistled out loud.

“Oh my god,” he repeated, echoing her.

“Yeah – so if he teases you, I think you can tease him right back.”

Tim grinned – she had a point. Tony was walking through the little gathering of people wearing a bright, shiny new metallic collar. Next to him, Gibbs was holding Tony’s leash in one hand, and had his other hand firmly attached to one of Tony’s butt cheeks. They were walking the way John and Rodney always walked – completely in tune with each other, both stopping and starting at the same time, their bodies moving as one. Tim knew that this was a top and sub whose bodies knew each other intimately, and who fitted together perfectly. They had also, quite clearly, had sex recently. Lots of it, he surmised, judging by the relaxed set of Gibbs’s shoulders, which were usually so tense, and the wild grin on Tony’s face.

He watched as Gibbs took the plate of food Teyla offered to him. She gave him a ceremonial bow, her eyes gleaming as she looked at Tony, and then back at Gibbs.

“I take it only one plate is required,” he overheard her say.

“Yeah.” Gibbs grinned at her, and then glanced at Tony – and Tim didn’t think he’d ever seen that particular expression on Gibbs’s face. It was soft and tender – and neither of those were words he would ever have associated with Gibbs before. There was something else about his expression as well – protectiveness, love and a fierce kind of pride.

“Wow – Gibbs has it bad for Tony,” Abby muttered. “I knew it! About time too.”

Gibbs took a forkful of food and ate, then piled up another and held it out to Tony. Tony was busy talking but he paused to take a bite of the food, and then Gibbs replied to him, eyes glowing fondly as he gazed at his sub.

“They’re sharing a plate already,” Tim observed. “Wow – that’s fast.” Even he and Ziva hadn’t gone that far yet, despite her collaring him. There was no hard and fast rule that said when a top and sub would start sharing a plate – but he knew, instinctively, that Ziva was going slowly with him, taking care not to spook him, so he wasn’t surprised she hadn’t suggested it yet.

“They look as if they’ve been sharing a plate for *years*,” Abby commented. “Look at them!”

She was right – often when couples started sharing a plate they were self-conscious about it, and their body language made it clear how big a deal it was for them, but Tony and Gibbs looked totally natural and relaxed, as if this wasn’t a new thing for them at all.

“When did all this happen?” Tim asked Abby. “I mean – last thing I knew, Gibbs was having to spank Tony every five minutes for that screw-up over Rodney Sheppard…how did they get from that to this?”

“I have no idea,” Abby said, shaking her head. “Although…I think, maybe, in their heads this is the way it’s always been for them, for a very long time. Maybe that explains it.”

“Tony and Gibbs?” Tim asked, a little surprised. “I mean…I thought maybe I saw something between them, but…you really think this has been going on for a long time?”

“Oh not the sex,” Abby said confidently. “I just think, in their hearts, that they were top and sub in this way for years – they just never admitted it to each other. Now – they clearly have!”

“Gibbs looks…well, happy,” Tim said, staring at his boss who was laughing, his eyes glowing. “I’ve never seen him like this before.”

“I knew Tony would be good for him!” Abby grinned. “Thank god they finally got it on together because that has to be the longest foreplay in the history of the universe.”

“What the hell happened to Tony when he was abducted?” Tim asked her. “You know, don’t you, Abby?” Abby’s face changed, and she chewed on her lip thoughtfully.

“Yes I do, but I can’t tell you, Tim. I do know it was bad but it’s up to Tony to tell you what it was. I think nearly losing Tony is what made Gibbs admit to his feelings for him. Finally!” She rolled her eyes.

“I always knew Tony wanted Gibbs’s attention but I assumed he was being, well, Tony,” Tim said. “Always flirting with the strongest top in the room – and, let’s face it, Gibbs is always the strongest top in the room. I had no idea it was serious.”

“Oh yeah.” Abby grinned. “It always was I think – for both of them – but being idiots they could never admit it to each other. Tony hated being vulnerable around tops so he played that stupid game of pretending he was only flirting with Gibbs the way he’d flirt with any strong top. And Gibbs was so badly burned from all his previous relationships that he just pretended he didn’t give a damn who Tony flirted with. I guess neither of them was being honest.”

“Until Jordan came along and blew their cover,” Ziva said, coming up behind them. She gave Tim a tankard of some kind of unidentifiable brew. He sniffed at it cautiously.

“Are you trying to get me drunk, Ziva?” he asked.

She laughed, and pinched his ass affectionately. “I do not have to,” she told him. “This already belongs to me,” she whispered, patting the spot where she’d just pinched. He flushed and she laughed again, and kissed him.

“You are adorable you know,” she told him.

“Hey – there’s that sweet little old lady who told Gibbs we’d all die,” Abby said, pointing at Mara who Teyla had beckoned over to speak to Gibbs. “Guess she was wrong about that.”

“That wasn’t exactly what she said, Abby,” Tim pointed out. “She told him he’d arrived with five but would leave with one…and, as none of us except Tony are wearing his collars any more, maybe she was right.”

“What about Ducky?” Ziva frowned.

“Oh, I saw him earlier – he’s not wearing a collar either,” Abby said.

“So she was right,” Tim mused softly, still gazing at Gibbs and Tony. Tony saw him, and his eyes sparkled, mischievously. He waved, interrupting Gibbs at the same time, speaking fast. “Oh god,” Tim sighed. “Here it comes.”

Gibbs unclipped Tony’s leash but not before kissing him possessively on the mouth, and then patting his ass as he ran off in their direction.

“Thank god!” Tony said as he arrived at where they were standing. “That old lady freaks me out.”

“Is she still telling Gibbs the future?” Ziva asked.

“Nope – just a lot of stuff about how a Yedahl and a Sedahl joined are a rare gift from the universe, and together they can unlock the true secrets of yada yada yada,” Tony said. “But hey, I don’t want to talk about her when the probie is standing here, all collared up and, if I’m not mistaken – and let’s face it I never am – no longer a McVirgin.”

Tim was surprised to find that he didn’t flush. Instead he just surveyed Tony’s new collar, an assessing look in his eyes.

“Is Gibbs still spanking you every day, Tony – or does the new collar mean he’s found other things to do with your ass?” he asked, one eyebrow raised. Much to his delight, Tony actually flushed – it was the first time he’d ever managed to get the better of Tony and he was elated.

“Hmm, I see that sex isn’t the only thing you’ve learned while I’ve been away, McGee,” Tony muttered. “Aw, our little probie is all grown up. It brings a tear to my eye.”

He wiped away a mock tear, and Tim rolled his eyes. Then he noticed the bruises around Tony’s wrists – they were fading, but the scars went pretty deep. Tony noticed him looking and his expression changed, his eyes darkening. He pulled his shirt sleeves down, trying to cover the marks, but they’d all noticed them. Tony glanced down at the ground for a moment, and then glanced up at them.

“I guess I missed a lot while I was refusing visitors,” he said quietly. “Ziva – congratulations; hurt Tim and I’ll break you in two. Tim – congratulations; hurt Ziva and I’ll be very, very surprised.” He gave a little grin.

“Congratulations to you too, Tony,” Ziva said, her gaze fixed on the shiny new collar around his throat. “Whatever happened to you out there, at least it made you and Gibbs figure out the important stuff – yes?”

“Yeah. I guess.” Tony shrugged. “And about that – Jordan tied me down and drained half my blood from my body. Then he whipped me pretty bad, and was going to rape me and slit my throat when Gibbs and Sheppard showed up, just in time. None of that stuff hurt as much as the fact he took my collar off me. I was ashamed about that and I didn’t want anyone knowing that I was too weak to stop him.”

“My god, Tony – that wasn’t your fault,” Tim said, shocked by what he’d heard. No wonder Tony hadn’t been up to receiving visitors. Whatever Tony said about himself, and god knows he said a lot, Tim knew that was all a smokescreen – the private stuff, the really private stuff, always remained that way. Tony hated admitting being vulnerable with anyone, but especially with a top, and he had clearly had a tough time coming to terms with being unable to prevent Jordan removing his collar.

“Rationally I know that, probie,” Tony sighed. “Emotionally – it was tough back there for awhile. Gibbs wouldn’t collar me again until I was well, and I couldn’t help thinking he blamed me for losing it to Jordan in the first place.”

Tim reached up and touched his own collar, feeling his gut tighten at the thought of someone removing it. Ziva had put it there – he was hers. If someone were to forcibly take it…it would be like a betrayal of her and what they had together. No wonder Tony had been so badly affected by it – especially if, as Abby said, he and Gibbs had been in love with each other for years.

Ziva wrapped an arm around his waist and leaned against him, sensing his distress, and he was glad of her soothing presence.

“You could have told us about it,” Ziva said. “I was angry you would not see us.”

Tony nodded. “Yeah. I deserve that. I just didn’t want the probie here going all big-eyed and sympathetic on me, and you’d have just slammed your fist into the wall and yelled a lot, Ziva.”

“That is true,” Abby told them, in an apologetic tone.

At that moment Gibbs and Ducky came over to join the group.

“Hey – this is the first time we’ve all been together since that night we were all sitting around, solving the case,” Abby pointed out.

“Well, actually, Abs, *I* solved the case,” Tony said. “I don’t like to brag or anything but it was my fine detective work sifting through all those files that cracked it.”

“Only after you nearly arrested poor Rodney,” Abby said. “I still can’t believe you did that.”

“Okay, so that wasn’t my finest hour, but I still solved the case!” Tony said. “Didn’t I, boss?” He turned to Gibbs for confirmation. Gibbs grinned at him, and rolled his eyes.

“Yeah,” he said, and then he slapped the back of Tony’s head. “But nobody likes a smartass, Tony.”

Tim found himself grinning as the old, familiar banter washed over him. It looked as if, despite all that had happened, and despite the fact that only Tony now wore Gibbs’s collar, they were still a team.

As he watched Gibbs, noting the way his former top’s gaze rarely left Tony’s face, he wondered why he’d ever been scared of tops. Sure, Gibbs could be occasionally terrifying but tops were only human, and not the frightening untouchables he’d always assumed them to be. Tony didn’t look cowed by Gibbs any more than Tim felt cowed by Ziva – in fact, Tony looked like a submissive insanely in love with his top, both of them equals.

He looked down as he felt Ziva’s hand slip into his own, and watched as she picked up the leash that was hanging free from his collar in her other hand. She wrapped it around her fingers possessively. He smiled down at her. The relationship between subs and tops, which had always been such a mystery to him, now seemed utterly and completely clear. He had no idea why he had ever been confused when it was this simple.

Gibbs and Tony, Abby and Lorne, John and Rodney, Teyla and Ronon, Carson and Steven, Ducky and Woolsey – and himself and Ziva.

It was all so very right.



“You know I hate goodbyes,” Rodney muttered, as they walked along to the control room.

“Yeah, I know.” John rested his hand on his sub’s shoulder and caressed some of the misery out of his tense muscles.

“It’s like when we left that other universe,” Rodney muttered.

“Yeah. What’s weird though is that you hate people when you first meet them, and then end up going through some crazy bonding ritual with them so that by the time you have to say goodbye you’re best buddies with them,” John pointed out.

“Why is that weird?” Rodney said, glancing at him.

“Well, you could just be nicer to people when you first meet them, on the off-chance that they might actually turn out to be okay. I mean, take you and Tony.”

It was an odd friendship, John thought to himself. The two of them shouldn’t have had anything in common and yet they seemed to have a strange rapport. Tony loved leading Rodney astray, and Rodney basked in the friendship of a sub who was so at ease with people, and so obviously not suffering from Rodney’s own social dysfunction.

Tony seemed fascinated by Rodney, and the two traded banter like old friends, insulting each other endlessly with stupid grins on their faces the entire time. Tony had even talked Rodney into a disastrous trip out on a puddle jumper when John and Gibbs had been busy looking at threat assessments a few days ago. It wasn’t that Rodney’s flying was all *that* bad, but Tony had goaded him into going faster and further than his comfort zone allowed, and two worried and angry tops had been forced to mount an impromptu rescue mission. Neither Rodney nor Tony had sat comfortably at breakfast the following day.

“And Abby – Abby’s great too,” Rodney said softly, and his shoulders hunched again. “I hate goodbyes,” he repeated.

They reached the control room, and found Woolsey waiting there. Spending time with Ducky had been good for him; he was much more relaxed these days, and a lot less obsessed with rules and regulations than he had been. As a result, he and John were getting along pretty well. In front of the gate, the personal bags of the NCIS team and their boxes of evidence were all piled up waiting, ready to go. Rodney ran up the stairs to check the status of the stargate, leaving John at the foot of the stairs, waiting to say goodbye.

There was a noise in the hallway and Lorne entered the control room, hand in hand with Abby.

“It won’t be long,” he was saying to her – she looked as if she’d been crying and he was clearly trying to comfort her. “Just a few weeks and then I’ll be with you for months, getting underfoot and bugging the hell out of you.”

She didn’t say anything – her luminous green eyes said it all. He swept her up into a big hug and held her tight.

“I really do think someone needs to write a book on the architecture of the Ancients,” a voice said, and Ducky, Ziva and McGee walked into the control room. “Of course, architecture isn’t really my thing, but who could not have an appreciation for these gleaming spires?”

“Uh, well…the existence of these gleaming spires is top secret, Ducky,” McGee pointed out. “So I don’t think you’d be able to actually publish that book, if you did write it.”

“Oh I wouldn’t write it, my dear boy,” Ducky said. “You’re the writer!”

McGee glanced at Ziva, who smiled at him. “I keep him too busy to write, Ducky,” she told the doctor.

Ducky smiled. “I have no doubt at all that that is so, my dear,” he said, chuckling to himself. He moved away to say his goodbyes to Carson and Steven, who were standing to one side, waiting to take their leave.

Ziva led Tim over to where Teyla was standing with Ronon kneeling by her side, head down, unmoving. John gave a wry smile – Ronon didn’t like goodbyes either, so Teyla had put him in deep submission to spare him from having to actually interact. It would be enough for the big man that he was here – he’d hate for anyone to see him visibly affected by the NCIS agents leaving.

Ziva and Teyla shared a long, heartfelt hug; John didn’t know what had happened between those two but it was clear something had.

Gibbs and Tony were last to enter the control room.

“I’m not saying it was the *best* movie in the franchise,” Tony was saying. “I’m just saying it was better than the first one. Although not as good as the fourth.”

“Tony – do I look like I care?” Gibbs asked, one hand wrapped in Tony’s leash, the other resting on his bottom – John had a feeling that was pretty much the way they were going to walk anywhere for the rest of their lives.

“Your problem, Jethro, is that you have no appreciation for popular culture. When we get home I’m going to tie you to the couch and make you sit through all ten movies in the franchise,” Tony told him.

“When we get home, if there’s any tying up to be done I’ll be the one doing it,” Gibbs retorted.

Tony grinned, and leaned in to claim a kiss from his top. “You say that like it’s a bad thing, Jethro,” he whispered wickedly.

John felt the familiar sensation in his stomach that he always got when Rodney was nearby – it was as if something inside him relaxed when he was in physical proximity to his sub and, sure enough, a second later he felt Rodney’s body against his, arms and thighs touching the way they always did when they were together.

Gibbs came over to speak to them, Tony by his side.

“Rodney – I take it the gate isn’t having any problem with transports between galaxies this time around?” he asked, one eyebrow raised, a teasing glint in his eye. Rodney had the grace to blush.

“It’s working just fine,” he muttered, gazing at his boots. Tony grinned at him and nudged his toe with his foot.

“Remember what I told you, Rodney – only ever tell lies you know you can get away with. First rule of Lying 101,” Tony told him.

“I’m glad you’re taking him home,” John told Gibbs. “He’s a terrible influence.”

“People say that wherever I take him,” Gibbs sighed. “And Tony, if you ever lie to me you’ll be sleeping on your front for a week.”

“Yes Jethro,” Tony grinned.

Gibbs slapped the back of his head anyway for good measure. John thought that if anyone could keep the incorrigible Tony under control it was Gibbs – and he also thought that Tony, in return, would be good for Gibbs, amusing him and keeping him on his toes in equal measure. A top like Gibbs needed that constant sense of challenge, just as Tony needed a top who would both love him fiercely and control his wilder impulses at one and the same time.

“I want to thank you for your hospitality, General Sheppard. I’m sorry that you and your people were dragged into Jordan’s sick feud with me,” Gibbs said.

“And he never apologises,” Tony butted in. “So he really means that.”

“Well, despite the circumstances, it was good meeting you guys,” John replied, meaning it too. He wondered what would have happened between him and Rodney if Gibbs and his team hadn’t shown up, and if Gibbs hadn’t had that top to top chat with him about what was going on between him and his sub. He didn’t think it would have turned out well. John was a strong, confident top but he would be the first person to concede that he’d learned something from Gibbs. He didn’t think it was all one way either – he’d noticed how much Gibbs had watched him and Rodney together, and he hoped that had had something to do with Gibbs deciding to finally face up to his feelings for Tony and put that fancy collar around his sub’s neck.

“Bye Rodney,” Tony said, patting Rodney’s arm. “And don’t ever let the tops think they’ve won,” he whispered loudly in Rodney’s ear.

Gibbs rolled his eyes, and held out his hand to John. “Been good meeting you, General,” he said.

John shook his hand firmly. “Likewise,” he replied.

Gibbs turned to Rodney. He glanced at John, who made a show of thinking about it for a couple of seconds, then grinned and nodded. Gibbs held out his hand and Rodney shook it. John didn’t feel threatened any more – Gibbs had more than enough on his plate with Tony at the end of his leash – and besides, since when had Rodney ever had eyes for anyone but John?

Then Gibbs turned, and Tony turned with him, both of them moving as one.

Out of the corner of his eye, John saw Ducky bestowing an affectionate kiss on Richard Woolsey’s lips.

“I look forward to your visits, dear boy!” he said. Woolsey looked a little subdued, and John guessed he’d miss the genial doctor. He made a mental note to try and include Woolsey in more of the base social activities.

Abby ran over and threw herself at Rodney, nearly knocking him off his feet, and they hugged for ages. Then she threw herself at John, hugging him tight too, before running back to claim one final kiss from Lorne.

The NCIS agents lined up in front of the gate, and watched as their possessions were sent through on big, wheeled crates. Finally, all that was left was the six of them.

They stood there for a moment, and John took one last look at them. Ziva was standing with her back against her sub’s body, leaning into him – Tim McGee was a big man and she clearly loved the solidity of him. He just as clearly adored his beautiful top. He had one arm loosely wrapped around her as they waited. Ducky was standing next to them, Abby’s hand tucked firmly in his arm. He was talking to her in quiet, gentle tones, and she was nodding furiously, holding back the tears.

Gibbs and Tony joined them, one of Gibbs’s hands wrapped firmly in Tony’s leash, and his other hand resting on Tony’s bottom. They paused for a moment.

John remembered when they’d first arrived, disembarking from the Daedalus, Gibbs holding all five of their leashes in his hand. Now he had only one. Yet, despite that, John thought Gibbs looked like a different man. He might have lost a fistful of subs but he’d gained the one thing he truly wanted, and as a result he looked as relaxed and happy as a man like Gibbs would ever look.

There was a flurry of waves, and then they walked toward the gate and in the next instant they were gone, and the place seemed suddenly empty without them. Rodney pressed against John, seeking his top’s reassurance. John wrapped his arm around Rodney’s waist, and held him close.

“Everything’s changed,” Rodney said quietly, his eyes downcast.

“Yeah, everything’s changed,” John said. “And everything’s remained the same.”

He put a finger under Rodney’s chin and kissed him deeply on the lips and Rodney melted against him, as compliant a sub as any top could ever wish for.

Everything had changed – a lot had happened and the past few weeks had been a rollercoaster of highs and lows – but some things never changed, and never would.

“Let’s go back to our quarters,” he whispered to Rodney. “There’s something I really want to do to you…”

The End


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