Two Masters: 1. Part One


Tony stared at the glass in his hand. He was drunk – no doubt about it. Pleasantly drunk. Not so drunk that he couldn’t walk, but not so sober that he could stop himself doing what he was about to do next.


He put the glass down, got up, and left the bar. It was late, but hell, it was Friday, so he could stay out all night and not risk the full Gibbs death glare that came with staggering into work with a hangover the next day. And Christ, if Gibbs hadn’t been such a bastard these past few months then maybe he wouldn’t need to do this at all.


“So it’s all his fault,” Tony told himself, nodding vigorously, and trying not to be aware of the fact that he’d walked to the end of the street and was now standing outside a small, unprepossessing little bar with the name “Murray’s” written above the door.


“Murray’s.” Tony hesitated in the doorway. “Murray…I don’t know who the hell you are, but I’m coming in. Or maybe that should be coming out.”


He took a deep breath, then pushed open the door and stepped inside. A man was seated at a desk in the small mirrored vestibule within.


“Good evening, sir,” the man said politely. “I’m Gary. You are aware that this is a members’ only bar, aren’t you?”


“Yeah.” Tony fumbled around in his pocket and pulled out the laminated card that had been burning a hole in his pants for the past two months. He gave it to the guy who swiped it.


“Mr. Yates? It’s been a while since you were last here, sir,” Gary said pleasantly, gazing at his computer screen.


“Well, you don’t get out much when you’re dead,” Tony muttered.


“Sorry, sir?” Gary raised an eyebrow.


“Nothing…uh – look, I’ve kind of forgotten where to go? Like you said – been a while.”


“Of course, sir. Just follow the stairs down into the main bar area. Tonight is regular dress but Saturdays are fetish wear only. If you want to book any of the private rooms then just ask – they aren’t available on Saturdays as they’re used for open displays – but any other night you should be fine.”


“Okay. Good. Uh…what kind of fetish wear?” Tony asked, intrigued.


“Here’s a leaflet, sir, but pretty much anything goes. Leather, rubber, costume – we hold themed nights on the first Saturday of every month. Tomorrow night it’s pirates.”


“Pirates?” Tony stared at him, trying hard not to laugh. “As in Captain Jack Sparrow? That kind of pirate?”


“That’s right.” Gary smiled pleasantly. “We’ll set up a whipping post with a rack of cat o’ nine tails next to it for anyone who wants to try out some good, old-fashioned, sea-faring discipline.”


Tony gazed at him blankly. Maybe he *had* drunk too much after all. “I know something about sea-faring discipline. Spent a few months handing it out recently. On a big ship. At sea,” he added mournfully.


Gary grinned. “Well then – come along tomorrow night, Mr. Yates. I’m sure there will be some unattached sailors looking for a good flogging, and you look like the kind of man who knows how to deliver one.” He gave a slightly coquettish wink.


“Uh…I do?” Tony glanced at himself sideways in the mirror. He was dressed in his clubbing clothes – black jeans, loose dark green and black striped shirt, and an expensive black leather jacket. He wasn’t sure that he looked like the kind of guy who handed out good floggings. What *did* those kinds of people look like anyway?


“Yes, sir.” Gary pointed at his computer screen. “You filled in a questionnaire with your preferences when you joined, Mr. Yates.”


“My preferences…?” Tony asked blankly.


“You’re a dominant?” Gary glanced at him. “A top? That’s what we’ve got here. Is that wrong, sir? I can always change it…”


“No! Uh…that’s fine. Leave it.” Tony shrugged. “Dominant. Yes.” He thought of Jeanne, laid out naked on his bed, wrists confined in a pair of fluffy pink handcuffs, gazing up at him, so sweetly submissive. “Yeah. Dominant,” he muttered.


“My boss likes to make sure we have a good mix of people – too many subs looking for doms or vice versa, and people get disappointed,” Gary explained.


“Right. Yeah. Of course. Hadn’t thought of it like that,” Tony said. Thinking about Jeanne had sobered him up. He gave Gary a nod, paused for a moment, screwing up his courage, and then walked down the red carpeted stairs and into the bar below.


He wasn’t sure what he’d expected but the warm, welcoming room he stepped into somehow seemed incongruous after all that talk about floggings. There was a fire burning in a grate in the corner and sturdy dark oak fixtures and fittings. Tony’s investigator eyes took in the hooks embedded in the beams at various points around the room though – and the crossed whips on display on the far wall were hard to miss.


A few men and the occasional woman were dotted around the place, dressed perfectly normally. It wasn’t exactly bustling, but then it was pretty late. Tony wondered how to start. Did you just go up to people and ask them straight out, or did you wait to be approached? Was it like a regular bar, or were there some strange rules and etiquette that he didn’t know about? Maybe he should have done more research. Months spent trawling through the pages of various bondage websites every night somehow hadn’t equipped him for this.


He didn’t know what to do, so he went over to the bar, sat down, and ordered a whisky. The barman was a tough, wiry, older guy with a battered face. He gazed at Tony searchingly as he reached into his jacket, pulled out his wallet, and paid for his drink.


“Don’t think I remember you,” the barman said. “Have you visited us before?”


“Uh…yeah. I’m Brad Yates,” Tony replied, flashing his laminated card at the guy.


The barman nodded thoughtfully and poured Tony his drink. Then he disappeared out the back. Tony gulped down his drink in one go and glanced around some more. One of the guys at a nearby table smiled at him. He panicked and turned away. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. What the hell was he doing here anyway? He was so far out of his comfort zone it was unreal. Gibbs would laugh his ass off if he could see him now. Thinking of Gibbs just made him angry. The barman reappeared, so Tony ordered another whisky. If nothing else, at least he could get even more stinking drunk than he already was.


He nursed his whisky miserably while he looked around again. Maybe he should come back tomorrow evening, but…pirates? Where the hell was he going to get a pirate costume and just how dumb-assed was the whole idea of dressing up like Captain Jack Sparrow anyway? Tony couldn’t see himself in dreadlocks. Then there was the whole flogging thing. Had that guy back there mentioned a cat o’ nine tails? What did one of those look like? What would it feel like to be stripped to the waist and tied to a whipping post while some guy laid down lines of fire across your shoulders and back? Tony felt his cock respond just to the mental image, and he took another gulp of his whisky to quell it. What the hell was wrong with him?


That guy was smiling at him again. Tony ordered another shot of whisky and then took it and staggered over to a booth in the far corner of the room, so he could sit in the shadows and not be looked at. Maybe he wasn’t ready for this. Maybe he’d got this all wrong.


He stared into his drink moodily, struggling with himself for the next half hour. He didn’t want this. He shouldn’t want this. Christ, he didn’t even know what the hell it was he wanted. He had vague, half-formed thoughts and ideas, but the reality…? Who the hell knew?


He had made it through another couple of whiskies when the shadow fell over his table. He looked up into a pair of dark brown eyes.


“Anyone sitting here?” a deep voice asked.


Tony swallowed – hard. The guy standing in front of him was probably his own height but much broader, with heavily muscled shoulders that the soft folds of his expensive sweater did nothing to hide. His impressive chest tapered into a flat belly and slim hips. He had long legs, encased in a pair of plain black chinos. His smooth, bald head and the glasses he wore spoke of a bureaucrat, but he had an aura of authority that belied that. He carried himself with a self-confidence that reminded Tony of…


“You a Marine?” he asked, the drink making him stupid.


The guy raised an eyebrow. “Interesting question.”


“Got an interesting answer?” Tony grinned.


The man grunted. “Been a long time since I was in the Corps, but yes, I’m a Marine.”


“Thought so.” Tony nodded. “Can always tell. When you work with one for long enough…” He tapped his nose. “And then we’re always coming across dead ones as well. So I know all about Marines.”


Mr. Marine shook his head and sat down across from him.


“Didn’t say you could sit there,” Tony said. The guy gave him a look of pure danger, the kind Tony was all too familiar with from eight years working with Gibbs. “Didn’t say you couldn’t, either,” Tony muttered. He finished his whisky and yelled at the barman for a refill.


“You’ve had enough,” his uninvited guest said.


“Yeah. I really have.” Tony grinned. “Did anyone ever tell you that you look kinda like Daddy Warbucks from the movie ‘Annie’?”


“Only people who weren’t invested in living,” Mr. Marine replied, deadpan.


Tony grinned. “Okay. I won’t call you ‘Daddy’ then.”


“That’s wise. In a place like this it could be misconstrued.”


Tony laughed. “Who’re you?”


“I’m a friend of the owner. He called me – asked me to come over here and talk to you.”


“Why?” Tony glanced over to the bar and saw the barman gazing at him steadily as he dried some glasses.


“Well, first off – because you’re carrying a knife,” Mr. Marine said pleasantly.


“How the hell did he…?” Tony looked down, befuddled. His knife was very well hidden, but obviously the barman had some kind of special observational powers. “Look – I didn’t mean anything by it – I’m not looking for trouble!” Tony protested. “It’s just – it’s a rule, you see. Rule Number Nine: Never go anywhere without a knife.”


“Do you like living by a set of rules?” Mr. Marine asked.


Tony grinned. “Don’t have a choice.” Those brown eyes continued to gaze at him, an assessing expression in their dark depths. “Yeah,” he muttered. “I like it. His rules anyway. I like his rules.”


“That why you’re here, Mr…?”


Tony searched his memory for the right name. “Yates!” he said at last, triumphantly.


“No – your real name.” Mr. Marine folded his arms across his broad chest, suddenly looking very dangerous. “You see, Brad Yates was a regular here up until a couple of months ago.”


“Really?” Tony wondered if he was still sober enough to stand a chance in a fight with this guy. Shit, now would be a really bad time to have to call Gibbs and ask for a rescue. Not *here* of all places. Probably better to take the beating that he felt sure was coming his way than call Gibbs out to this place and explain what the hell he was doing here.


“Yeah. Brad’s a nice guy – commander in the Navy, commended for bravery a few times – but he’s in his fifties – and you’re not. You’re not Brad Yates. So, the question is…”


“Who am I?”


“And where did you get his member’s card,” Mr. Marine agreed, with an easy nod of his head.


“Okay…I’m sorry. Brad Yates is dead,” Tony explained. Mr. Marine’s expression darkened. “Hey – that’s not my fault!” Tony said hastily. “Natural causes as it turned out, although we didn’t know that at first – cerebral haemorrhage. He ended up on one of our autopsy tables, and we did an investigation. His card was in his pocket, and, well, I might have borrowed it…I admit that. But I’d heard about this place, and I was curious, and he didn’t need the damn card any more, and it wasn’t evidence…well, not real evidence…I mean…okay, so maybe technically, but…”


Mr. Marine stared at him sternly, looking completely unimpressed by what he was hearing, and Tony winced. Then suddenly, much to his surprise, the other man started to laugh.


“Did I say something funny?” Tony demanded.


Mr. Marine shook his head. “Nope – you just remind me of someone.”




“Oh, just someone I know – someone who also allows his curiosity to over-ride all good sense. Someone who gets himself into a lot of trouble that way.”


“Am I in trouble?” Tony licked his lips hopefully. This guy was pressing all the right buttons. He was a Marine, just like Gibbs, and he exuded an air of solid authority. He looked more laid back than Gibbs, but he had that same “don’t mess with me” aura that Gibbs had. He was older than Gibbs, and God knows Tony didn’t even want to think about how much that appealed to him, with all the fucked up daddy shit he had going on.


“Oh yeah,” Mr. Marine said. “You sure as hell are – but then I figure you’re used to that. Now, tell me who you are and what the hell you’re doing here – and if you lie to me, I promise you that nobody in this city will play with you – ever. Got that straight, boy?”


Tony liked the way he said that word. Boy. Vance sometimes referred to him as Gibbs’s ‘boy’, and he loved the way that sounded.


“You have the power to do that? Stop anyone in the city playing with me?” Tony asked, surprised. “I mean, there are other bars and clubs besides this one…”


“Yeah. And I can get you kicked out of all of ’em.” Mr. Marine sat back in his chair and stretched out his long legs. “So start talking, boy. Let’s see if you’re as good as *my* boy at talking your way out of trouble.”


Tony felt a slight pang of disappointment at the realisation that this guy already had someone in his life. Just his luck. He realised there was nothing left to be gained by lying, and he recognised that uncompromising look in the other man’s eyes. It was like facing Gibbs after a screw-up; you just had to get on with it and tell it straight. Gibbs always knew when he was lying, and he had no doubt that the man sitting opposite had the same weird gift.


“My name is Tony DiNozzo,” he said with a contrite smile. “I’m sorry I stole Mr. Yates’s card. Like I said, I was curious…but I didn’t want to use my own name because…well, because I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t even know what I’m doing here. I just…there’s a guy…”


“Yeah, I figured,” Mr. Marine commented.


Tony ducked his head, gazing morosely into his empty glass. “I fucked up…and I got sent away to sea as a punishment…and now I’m back it’s like he can’t stand to have me around. He doesn’t laugh at the stupid shit I do just to get his attention, and he won’t even slap my head when I screw up any more. It’s like he’s shut down on me. And there was this girl…you figure that too?”


Mr. Marine just gestured with his head for Tony to continue.


“I know, I’m drunk and not making any sense,” Tony babbled. “But I really liked her. Maybe I even loved her…I dunno. But she used to ask me to tie her up and do all this kinky stuff to her, and I’d look down on her and all I could feel was fucking envy, y’know? I just…I wanted that. Not from her…from him – from the guy I was telling you about. But he blames me for Jenny’s death, and I did fuck up there, and sometimes I just wish he’d slap me around until he feels better ’cause that’d make me feel better too, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t know that I spent months at sea drinking too much and thinking about him and how I’ve screwed everything up. And now I’m back, and he can hardly stand to look at me, and it’s been a long time – and I mean a very long time – since I last had sex because I don’t want anyone else but him, and you have no idea how big a fucking revelation that is to me.”


He ran out of steam and gazed at Mr. Marine pathetically. The other man gazed back at him silently.


“I can’t even apologise to him,” Tony sighed. “He hates that. Calls it a sign of weakness. Is that a Marine thing by the way or just him? Shit. I think I said too much. I’m very, very drunk.”


“Oh yeah. You are,” Mr. Marine said quietly.


“Still in trouble?” Tony asked.


“Oh, I suspect you’re always in some kind of trouble,” Mr. Marine said, with a glint of amusement in his eyes. “I figure that’s just the way you like it.”


“This boyfriend of yours…I don’t see him around.” Tony grinned at him suggestively.


“He’s out of town. He’s a writer. He’s away researching something right now.”


“He sounds kind of boring.” Tony wrinkled up his forehead.


Mr. Marine laughed. “Oh, he’s many things, but nobody has ever accused him of being boring.”


“You in love with him?” Tony asked mournfully.


“Yeah.” Mr. Marine’s whole demeanour changed when he spoke about his absent boyfriend; his expression softened and his entire body relaxed. “Yeah. I am.”


“Been together long?”


Mr. Marine shrugged. “About ten years – and he still surprises me all the time. Keeps me on my toes. Never a dull moment when he’s around.”


“Great. Just what I wanted to hear. Look…I should go…”


Tony got to his feet – and then immediately fell over. He would have crashed to the ground if Mr. Marine hadn’t grabbed his arm in the nick of time. Tony lolled against the big man’s solid chest, and then he leaned over and threw up all over the table.


“Damn it!” Mr. Marine growled. “You’re in no state to get yourself home.”


“Sorry,” Tony belched pathetically. The barman came rushing over, an annoyed expression on his face. “Sorry,” Tony said again, helplessly. The room swam around him, and he cursed himself for getting this wasted.


“You okay to clean up, Hammer?” Mr. Marine asked. “I’ll take care of this one – get him home, so he can sleep it off.”


“Sure,” the barman sighed. “Just get him out of here.”


“He the owner?” Tony asked, as Mr. Marine picked up his arm, slung it around his shoulders, and walked him towards the stairs. “You said you know the owner. That him? Is he Murray? No…wait…you called him something else. Hammer? That his real name?”


Mr. Marine paused for a moment, a fleeting expression of sadness in his eyes. “Yes, Hammer’s his real name. And yes he’s the owner. Murray was his boyfriend – and his dom. Murray died a couple of years ago,” he said quietly. “Heart attack. He hadn’t been well for some time. Hammer bought this place after he died to give himself something to focus on – named it after him. Murray was a good friend of mine. I like to help out here when I can. Like tonight.”


He dragged Tony up the stairs and out into the street. Tony wasn’t aware of much of what happened next apart from being slung into a car and then driven someplace else. Next thing he knew he was sitting in a beautifully decorated bedroom, and Mr. Marine was kneeling down in front of him, undoing his shoelaces. He removed Tony’s shoes and then his socks.


“Bathroom is that way,” his benefactor said, pointing in the direction of an en-suite. “If you want to throw up – do it in there. If you miss, you’ll be clearing it up yourself in the morning.”


“Okay.” Tony nodded solemnly.


Mr. Marine helped him out of his leather jacket and then unbuttoned his shirt and removed it. His hands moved down to Tony’s belt.


“You gonna fuck me, Boss?” Tony asked.


“No, Tony. I’m not going to fuck you,” Mr. Marine replied with a chuckle. He undid Tony’s pants.


“Oh. Right.” Tony felt a pang of disappointment. He shifted his hips so the other man could remove his pants.


“And I’m not your boss.”


“No. Sorry.” Tony gazed at him stupidly.


“Has anyone ever fucked you, Tony?”


“No.” Tony shook his head. “Thought if I chased enough skirt I’d be able to pretend I didn’t want it. Didn’t work.” He stared up into a pair of sympathetic brown eyes. “Don’t even know your name,” he muttered.


“We’ll talk in the morning. I’ll tell you then. You wouldn’t remember it if I told you now in any case,” Mr. Marine said, with a roll of his eyes.


He folded Tony’s clothes neatly and put them on a nearby chair. Tony’s badge fell to the floor, and his new friend picked it up.


“NCIS? Figures. I suspected you were a fed.”


“Yeah?” Tony gazed at him, trying to focus. “Why?”


“Well, I knew you were a cop because of what you said about Yates. And as for being a fed – takes one to know one.”


“You’re a fed too?” Tony wished he hadn’t drunk so much. He had a feeling this was important.


Mr. Marine grinned. “FBI.”


“No offence, but I can’t stand you bastards,” Tony told him solemnly. Mr. Marine laughed and pushed him down on the bed. He pulled a blanket over him. “D’you know a guy called Fornell?” Tony asked.


“Yup. He’s one of my people as a matter of fact.”


“Oh. Shit.” Tony sighed. “You gonna tell him about this? About me?”


“Nope.” Mr. Marine shook his head. “He’s not the one who needs to know. Get some sleep, Tony. We’ll talk in the morning.”


“Sounds bad.” Tony made a face.


“Yeah. Now sleep.”


Mr. Marine grinned at him, and Tony grinned back and then closed his eyes. He was vaguely aware of Mr. Marine moving around the room. A moment later, he felt a hand smoothing his hair and heard the big man sigh loudly.


“You sure as hell are trouble, kid,” he murmured. “Question is – what should I do with you? Lost boy like you…I figure you should be returned to your owner, don’t you?”


Tony mumbled something incoherent and turned over onto his side. His eyelids flickered, and he watched hazily as Mr. Marine pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and flipped it open. He looked at it for a moment, as if trying to make up his mind about something, and then he dialled a number.


There was a pause. Mr. Marine glanced over at Tony, shaking his head ruefully, and then looked away again as his call was answered.


“Hey – it’s Walter Skinner,” he said softly. “Sorry to call you so late, but I think I have something here that belongs to you, Jethro…”






Walter Skinner put some coffee onto brew and then sat back and waited. Fifteen minutes later, he buzzed an old friend into the building, and two minutes after that he opened his door to him.


“Gunnery Sergeant Skinner?” A familiar figure stood in the doorway, a little grin on his face.


“Private Gibbs.” Skinner opened the door wide to let him in. Gibbs held out his hand, and Skinner took it – but only to pull his old friend into a bear hug. Gibbs gave a little laugh and slapped his back heartily. “You still getting into fights?” Skinner asked when he released him.


“Yeah. You still breaking ’em up?” Gibbs glanced at him from those steely blue eyes of his.


“Not so much these days,” Skinner grinned. “Mostly, I sit behind a big desk and send other people out to get their hands dirty.”


“I heard – Deputy Director of the FBI.” Gibbs made a little motion with his head. “Don’t know how you can stand all the paperwork – and the making nice with stupid people.”


“Ah – you haven’t changed, Jethro,” Skinner laughed. “I hope you know that you have quite a reputation in the corridors of power. I’ve known Secretaries of State go to ground rather than take a call from you.”


“I try to avoid them as much as possible too. They should do their jobs and leave me to do mine,” Gibbs grunted. “Do I smell coffee?”


“Of course. I started a brew when I knew you were coming over.”


Skinner gestured him into the kitchen and motioned with his head for him to sit down. He poured them each a cup and then sat down opposite his guest. Gibbs took a sip and sighed.


“Real Marine coffee,” he said in a satisfied tone. “Just how I like it.”


“Miss the old days?”


“Sometimes. Don’t miss you chewing out my ass on the parade ground and making me scrub bathroom floors with a toothbrush though,” Gibbs chuckled.


“Well, you were a stubborn little shit, Jethro. For awhile back there, I wasn’t sure if you’d get yourself killed within five minutes of seeing action, end up in Leavenworth, or turn out to be the best damn Marine I ever trained,” Skinner shrugged. “I’m glad it turned out to be the latter. Hell, Jethro – you’ve exceeded all my expectations. So I figure it was worth riding your ass so hard when you were just a punk kid with a hot temper and quick fists.”


“Still got both of those,” Gibbs grunted. “Just keep ‘em under better control now. Learned that from you, Walter.”


“Yeah. The hard way as I recall.” Skinner sat back in his chair, remembering how he’d once kept a rebellious Private Leroy Jethro Gibbs standing to attention on the parade ground for a solid six hours before he’d finally seen some kind of submission in those stubborn blue eyes.


“Is there any other way?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow, and Skinner was pretty sure he was remembering the exact same thing.


“Always knew you had the potential to be the best, Jethro – and you haven’t proved me wrong,” Skinner said softly. “I’ve followed your career at NCIS – your solve rate is phenomenal. I’m proud of you.”


Gibbs actually looked touched by that. Then he cleared his throat and shifted in his chair, looking uncomfortable.


“You said you have something that belongs to me?”


“Yes.” Skinner nodded, immediately becoming brisk and businesslike. “Found him in a bar, getting drunk – very drunk. He used a fake ID to get in.”


“What kind of a bar?”


“My kind of a bar, Jethro.” Skinner folded his arms across his chest. “One of *those* kinds of bars – that’s why he needed an ID to get in. Oh – and he was carrying.”


“His gun?” Gibbs looked angry.


“No – a knife. Said he had to. That it was a rule. One of your rules.” Skinner sat back in his chair and studied Gibbs.


“He mentioned me by name?”


“Hell no! Boy might be stinking drunk, but he’s sharp. He didn’t tell me he worked at NCIS either; I figured it out – and his badge fell out of his jacket when I was putting him to bed.”


“You put him to bed?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow.


“Yes, Jethro. He was wasted, so I put him to bed.”


Skinner noticed that Gibbs’s knuckles had turned white where he was clenching his fist around his mug of coffee. So that was the way it was.


“Didn’t take long to figure out that the man whose rules he liked following had to be you. Never met anyone else with a set of rules they live by,” Skinner grinned.


Gibbs just glared at him. “Who did the ID belong to?”


Skinner sighed. “He stole it. From a dead naval commander you had in your autopsy suite.”


Gibbs’s expression turned thunderous. “He stole evidence from a corpse?”


“That’s what he said. I think he’s been plucking up the courage to use it ever since.”


“Christ. I’ll kick his ass so hard he won’t know what’s hit him,” Gibbs growled.


Skinner laughed out loud. “Figured you’d say that. Look, Jethro – that boy is trouble. Anyone can see that just by looking at him. But he’s the good kind of trouble, I think. The kind of trouble you were, back when I first knew you – the kind that makes all the discipline and hard work worthwhile. Am I wrong?”


“No. But he’s worked under me for eight years, and I’ve slapped a hell of a lot of good sense into him in that time. I’m surprised he’d do something like this. It’s a rookie screw-up,” Gibbs growled. “You don’t ever tamper with evidence! He knows that!”


“He’s desperate,” Skinner shrugged. Gibbs looked up, startled. “He knows what he wants, Jethro,” Skinner told him quietly. “I think he’s wanted it for a very long time. And looking at you, I think you want it too. So, question is – why won’t you step up and give you both what you need?”


A flicker of something passed across Gibbs’s face. “No. I’m not doing this again, Walter.”


“That boy belongs to you, Jethro. He’s just waiting to be claimed. Leave him much longer, and you’ll see him spinning out of control and pulling more stunts like this. Trust me – I know. I’ve been there.”


“Yeah…” Gibbs glanced around. “Where is Fox, Walter? Out chasing after little green men again?”


“Don’t let him hear you calling them that,” Skinner grimaced. “Or you’ll get the full hour lecture on the fact they aren’t green.”


“What colour are they then?”


“Grey,” Skinner grinned. “I know I’m talking to a sceptic here, but he knows what he’s seen, Jethro, and I don’t doubt him for a second. He’s out of town this week doing research for his new book – he’ll be back on Sunday. But we’re not talking about him – we’re talking about you and that boy in my bed.” Skinner leaned back in his chair. “How many men work for you, Jethro? Not the women – the men. How many men have you got on your team?”


Gibbs frowned at the question. “On my immediate team – two. If you count the wider team then four…I guess. What the hell has that got to do with anything?”


“I haven’t told you the name of the one snoring his head off in my bedroom right now,” Skinner said. “But you know which one it is, don’t you?”


If looks could kill, the expression on Gibbs’s face would have laid waste to an entire city.


“Y’know – that look didn’t scare me when Private Leroy Jethro Gibbs was fighting a losing battle with his Gunnery Sergeant back in boot camp – and it sure as hell doesn’t scare me now,” Skinner told him. “I saw how you looked when I said he was sleeping in my bed, Jethro. You didn’t like it. That boy’s yours, and you know it. The longer you let him run off-leash like this, the more likely he is to get into trouble – or get himself hurt.”


“He’ll be fine,” Gibbs shrugged. “He’s a grown man, Walter – not a boy. He’s my best agent. He can take care of himself.”


“Sure.” Skinner nodded. “I agree. Fox was about the same age when I took him in, and he was a brilliant agent – the best – but he’s still my boy. He always will be, even when we’re both old men. And Tony’s your boy. You know that, Jethro, in your heart.”


Gibbs’s eyes flashed when Skinner said Tony’s name. Skinner leaned forward.


“What’s the problem, Jethro? Why won’t you claim him?”


“Is that what he wants?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “Does he want what I can give him? Does he really know what it will entail?”


“He’s a newbie.” Skinner shrugged. “So what? When I took on Fox he’d been around the scene for a few years and learned all kinds of bad habits. We had to work on those. Took about a year of hard work to help him unlearn them. I had to take him down deep, Jethro. Right back to basics. Took him down and built him up again, and we’ve never been happier since, but Christ – that first year.” He shook his head. “It was tough. It’ll be easier with Tony. You can train him up from scratch. He’s eager to please, and you’re good at the training part.”


“I don’t think he has the first idea what he’d be letting himself in for,” Gibbs growled. “He’s probably got some stupid damn fantasy in his head – and I don’t want to be the one who ruins that for him.”


“Who says you’d be ruining it?” Skinner queried. “Way I see it, you’d be fulfilling it.”


“You said he’s a newbie?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow.


“Yeah – he mentioned some girl he topped. Said he envied her and wanted that from you. He was pretty clear about it. He knows what he wants, Jethro.”


“He doesn’t have a damn clue!” Gibbs snapped, thumping his fist down on the table. Skinner stared at him steadily, and Gibbs had the grace to look a little abashed by his outburst. “You mention a girl – the Tony DiNozzo I know has chased more skirt than you can possibly imagine, Walter. He’s never given the slightest hint of being bisexual.”


“You sure about that?” Skinner asked. “‘Cause it seems to me that he’s devoted to you to the point of obsession. The way he said he liked following your rules…are you seriously telling me you’ve never noticed that?”


Gibbs made a gesture of annoyance with his jaw and it clicked, loudly.


“You know. You’ve known for years.” Skinner shook his head wryly. “You are a mean son of a bitch, Jethro, keeping the boy hanging on like this, all this time.”


Gibbs leaned forward. “He even been fucked by a guy, Walter?” he asked quietly. “I bet he hasn’t. He’s not just a newbie, he’s Snow fucking White.”


“And are you telling me you can just stand by and allow some other guy to be his first?” Skinner demanded. Gibbs’s jaw tightened again.


“I told you – I’m not doing this again, Walter. You know how it was with Jenny – and then with Stan. Training them up, looking out for them, caring about them – and then losing them when it’s time for them to move on. It hurts too damn much.”


“Then keep this one,” Skinner said softly.


“What?” Gibbs looked up, startled, as if that idea hadn’t occurred to him.


“Keep him. The way I kept Fox. Allow this one to share your life, Jethro, the way you never allowed Jenny or Stan to – not really. You were a damn good dom to them both, sure, but you always kept them at arm’s length. They knew it, and you knew it. That’s why they moved on in the end.”


“At least Jenny and Stan both knew what they were getting into. They were both experienced subs when I met them – hell, Jenny knew more than I did! Tony doesn’t know a thing. If we start this, and if he hates it – then I’ve lost him right there. Not just his friendship and trust, but our working relationship too. There’s no coming back from that.”


“And if you don’t start it, you’ll never damn well find out. Christ, Jethro – never took you for such a quitter.”


“Says the man who avoided Fox Mulder for a year before finally taking him on,” Gibbs muttered darkly.


Skinner grinned. “And look how that turned out! Taking on Fox was the best thing I ever did. Way to make my point for me, Jethro!”


“I should go,” Gibbs snapped, getting up.


“Don’t you want to check that he’s okay first?” Skinner got to his feet and jerked his head in the general direction of the bedroom.


“Hell no. I’m sure he’s fine. Won’t be the first time he’s slept off a hangover. Or the last.”


“You sure he’s fine?” Skinner asked. “You sure you can leave without at least checking for yourself?”


He saw the hesitation in Gibbs’s eyes and the flicker of annoyance that crossed his face and stifled a smile. Skinner knew exactly the kind of dom Gibbs was, and there was no way he’d leave here if there was even a hint of doubt in his mind that his boy might be in any kind of danger. Skinner had met plenty of more subtle doms in his time but never any more protective – and possessive – than Leroy Jethro Gibbs.


“Where is he?” Gibbs growled at last.


“This way.”


Skinner led him up the stairs and along the hallway to the bedroom. He opened the door quietly and allowed Gibbs to peer inside.


Tony was a messy sleeper. He was hugging a pillow to his chest, and his legs were entwined in the sheets which he’d kicked back at some point to reveal the fact that he was only wearing boxer shorts. Skinner saw Gibbs’s expression darken.


“Who undressed him?”


“I did.” Skinner gazed at him calmly. He knew that look in Gibbs’s eyes – it wasn’t an expression he’d seen in them in a long time, but he knew what it meant. Gibbs wasn’t happy to find his boy lying half naked in another man’s bed – Gibbs wasn’t happy *at all*. “He was out of it. Asked me if I was going to fuck him – and if I’d wanted to, I could. He was in no state to know what the hell was going on.”


Gibbs’s jaw tightened so much that Skinner was surprised he didn’t hear it snap.


“You wouldn’t have taken advantage of him, Walter,” he growled.


“I wouldn’t, no.” Skinner shrugged. “So it was lucky it was me he met in that bar tonight, wasn’t it? Could have been someone else; someone who didn’t mind taking advantage of the pretty kid with the big smile and tight ass.”


Gibbs turned on him with an expression that was distinctly murderous.


“I’m just saying,” Skinner said softly. “Another time he might not be so lucky. If you don’t claim him, Jethro, someone else will – and he’ll let them, while wishing all the time that it was you. You want that to happen?”


At that moment, Tony turned in his sleep, muttering something. He stretched out, revealing even more naked flesh than before. He had long, solid legs, and a broad chest covered in a thatch of dark hair. He was a beautiful boy – Skinner knew plenty of doms who would love to have a submissive like this in their beds.


Gibbs clenched his hands into fists, and then he turned and walked stiffly away. Skinner closed the door on the sleeping Tony and followed him.


“Jethro!” Skinner caught up with him by the front door. “When he asked me if I was going to fuck him, he called me ‘Boss’.”


Gibbs paused, his hand on the door, his body rigid. Skinner reached out to touch his shoulder, but Gibbs shrugged him off angrily.


“No,” he hissed. “No. I’m not doing this again, Walter. Damn it…haven’t I lost enough people?”


Skinner gave a nod of understanding. “Jethro, I know what’s going on. I know why it didn’t work out for you with Jenny or Stan – and I know why all your wives left you too. I know you don’t trust yourself to love again. I was there when you lost Shannon and Kelly, remember? Same as you were there for me when I lost Sharon.”


“Then why the hell would you do something this fucking cruel, Walter?”


“Because I know how it feels! And I know that at some point you have to stop punishing yourself for it – for not being able to prevent it, and for not being able to keep them safe. You have to trust yourself to love again, Jethro.”


“I can’t,” Gibbs said hoarsely. “I can’t keep losing people, Walter. I can’t do it again.”


Skinner sighed. “There are no guarantees, but it doesn’t have to happen again, Jethro. Look at me and Fox. He leads about the most dangerous life of anyone I’ve ever known, and yes, maybe one day that’ll kill him. But I’ve had ten years with him – ten years I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t taken a risk in the first place. I wouldn’t change those ten years for anything – not one second of them – not even if I lost him tomorrow.”


There was a stubborn expression in Gibbs’s eyes that Skinner remembered all too well from when Gunnery Sergeant Skinner had faced off against Private Gibbs on the parade ground. Neither of them had been prepared to give up without a fight. Skinner had won that one but not before Gibbs had pushed him to the very limits of his patience. He suspected he’d need a similar amount of patience this time around too.


Skinner opened the door. “Think about it, Jethro,” he said softly. “I’ll keep him safe while you make up your mind.”


“I already have, Walter,” Gibbs growled, stalking out of the door. “I already damn well have.”






Fox Mulder let himself wearily into the apartment, threw his bag on the floor, took off his jacket, letting it drop where it fell, and made for the stairs. He might get spanked for the mess in the morning, but right now he didn’t damn well care. He was just glad to have put a few hundred miles between himself and the boondocks – and the creepy in-breds there who’d chased him out of town with pitchforks.


“Which is something that really should only happen in the movies,” he muttered to himself. His body ached from all the running, and he just wanted to crawl into the warm circle of his master’s arms and relish the comfort of being home.


He undid his shirt as he climbed the stairs and dropped that where it fell too. Then his pants. His master might cut him some slack in the morning, once he explained, but Mulder suspected that if he delivered a heartfelt enough blowjob that would make Skinner mellow enough to ignore the breadcrumb trail of clothes leading from the front door to their bedroom. He kicked off his shoes outside the bedroom door, peeled off his socks, dumped his boxers, and then silently let himself into the bedroom, closing the door behind him, trying his best not to wake his sleeping master.


He slid into the bed, and his master moved and muttered something in his sleep. Mulder grinned and slipped his arms around…a very unfamiliar body.


“Whoa!” Mulder jumped back out of the bed as if he’d been bitten by a snake. He looked around, mystified. A dozen possible explanations leaped into his head, although his first thought was that a shape-shifting alien had taken Skinner’s place while he’d been out in the boondocks.


He turned on the lamp and gazed into a pair of sleepy green eyes. The man in his bed was about ten years younger than him, with tousled brown hair and a lazy, hazy smile.


“Who the hell are you?” Mulder demanded.


“Tony,” the man replied happily. “S’nice to meet you, thanks v’ry much.” His head dropped back down onto the pillow, and he started snoring.


Mulder gazed at him from narrowed eyes. Then he stepped forward, took hold of Tony’s hair, and pulled his head back. Tony blinked.


“I’m on it, Boss!” he said blearily. His hands moved involuntarily, as if typing on a keyboard.


“Who the hell are you, and what are you doing in my bed?” Mulder demanded, shaking Tony hard, pulling on his hair.


“Hmmm?” Tony smiled at him.


“Where’s Walter?”


Tony frowned, as if trying very hard to concentrate. “Walter? He the big guy? Met him at Murray’s. Gonna fuck me, Boss?”


Mulder glared at him. “You a sub, Tony?” he asked, in a dangerous tone of voice.


Tony smiled happily. “Yeah.”


“And Walter picked you up in Murray’s bar?”


Tony’s grin widened. “Yeah,” he said again, in a dreamy tone of voice.


“I’m going to fucking kill him.” Mulder dropped Tony like a lead weight and looked around the room. “Where the hell is he?” He ran into the en-suite, but there was nobody in there. “Tony? Where the hell is he?” Mulder demanded, but Tony was fast asleep again, his almost naked body wrapped around the pillow he was hugging. Mulder stared down at him angrily, and then he snapped off the light and strode out of the room.


“Walter!” he roared, almost tripping over his own abandoned shoes as he ran along the hallway. “WALTER!”


He tore into the spare room, still yelling, and snapped on the light…to find his master reaching blearily for his glasses that were lying on the nightstand.


“Fox? I thought you weren’t due home until Sunday?” Skinner said, in a befuddled tone of voice.


“I wasn’t! I came home a couple of days early because the natives wanted to tear me limb from limb, and because I damn well *missed* you, Walter, and then I crawl into bed to find you’ve got yourself another sub in my absence! What the fuck is going on?”


Skinner sat up in bed and gazed at him calmly. “You done?”


“No, I’m not fucking *done*,” Mulder snapped. “I can’t believe you did this, Walter. For God’s sake, after all we’ve been through…” He broke off, the enormity of it suddenly hitting him. His legs shook, his knees buckled, and he felt winded. He sat down on the side of the bed, feeling like someone had reached into his body and pulled out his heart.


“Walter?” he whispered.


“Idiot,” Skinner said, rolling his eyes.


Mulder gave a shaky little laugh. “There’s a really good explanation for this, isn’t there?”


“Oh yeah,” Skinner grinned. “Come here. You’re naked – and it’s cold.” He pulled Mulder towards him and wrapped the blanket around him. Then he slid his large, capable hands over Mulder’s cold skin, holding him close and warming him. “Like I have the patience and energy to take on another slave,” Skinner muttered, kissing Mulder’s jaw tenderly despite his gruff tone.


“Hey – I come home early, and there’s some good-looking young sub asleep in your bed – what the hell am I supposed to think?”


“That clearly I haven’t had sex with him because I’m sleeping down the hallway in the spare room?”


“There is that, yeah,” Mulder said wryly. “Okay, then who is Tony, why did you pick him up in a bar, and what the hell is he doing in our bed?” Mulder asked, snuggling up close against his master’s body for warmth. “Why isn’t HE in the spare room, if he has to be here for whatever reason you’ve taken him in?”


“Because he’s so damn drunk I didn’t think he’d remember the way to the bathroom, and he’s already thrown up once tonight. Our room is the only one with an en-suite. I figured he was less likely to have an accident in there than in here.”


“Oh. Right. That does kind of make sense.” Mulder rested his hand on his master’s thigh and stroked. “And the reason he’s here at all?”


“I was doing a favour for an old friend – two old friends in fact. Hammer called to say that someone had got into the bar using a fake ID. I went to investigate and found Tony. He was too wasted to get home safely. That’s where the favour to the *other* old friend came in. I knew a certain Leroy Jethro Gibbs would kick my ass if I allowed his boy to roam around the streets in that condition, so I had no choice but to bring him back here to sleep it off.”


Mulder gazed at him, intrigued. “There’s someone out there who can kick your ass? Who the hell *is* this Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and when can I meet him?”


Skinner gave a little laugh. “You just missed him as a matter of fact. Christ, what a night!”


“You’re telling me,” Mulder sighed. “Got the shock of my life when I found Tony in our bed.”


Skinner suddenly sat up and looked down on him. “Did you hurt him?”


“Of course not!” Mulder retorted. Skinner raised an eyebrow. “Okay, so I might have pulled on his hair a little, but he’s so out of it I don’t think he noticed.”


“What have I said about establishing all the facts and gathering all the evidence before jumping to conclusions?”


Mulder frowned. “I thought that only applied to conspiracy theories and investigations involving black oil?”


Skinner gave a little bark of laughter and rolled his eyes. Then he settled down beside his slave and gathered him up in his arms again. “Nice to know you still care enough to get jealous, even after ten years.”


“Jealous?” Mulder snorted. “Yeah. Right.”


“You were.”


“Was not.”


Skinner slapped his ass affectionately.


“Gonna spank me?” Mulder asked.


“For being jealous? No. For jumping to ridiculous conclusions and assaulting Tony? Probably,” Skinner told him.


Mulder sighed and rested his chin on his master’s shoulder. “Been awhile since you punished me.”


“Been awhile since you were last a total idiot,” Skinner grinned. “Now…it’s been one hell of a night, and I want to get some sleep. So shut up.”


Mulder closed his eyes happily. He didn’t care about the punishment. He was home, Walter hadn’t cheated on him, and his master’s strong arms were wrapped firmly around his naked body. It really didn’t get any better than this.






Tony groaned and opened an eye. Beside him, on the pillow, two vivid blue eyes gazed back at him curiously.


“Boss?” he muttered.


A white paw came his way and batted at his nose playfully.


“What the fuck?”


He sat up – too quickly – and his stomach roiled. His head was pounding, his vision was blurry, and for a second he thought he was going to throw up. He went back down again with a thud. Then the moment passed and everything came back into focus.


He found himself staring at a cat; a white and grey cat, with big blue eyes. That paw came towards him again, and he turned over to avoid it…only to find himself looking into two yellow eyes instead. Tony gave a little yelp. “Where the hell am I? Planet of the cats?”


This cat was a creamy colour and much smaller than the other one. Both its paws were tucked under its chest, and it was gazing at him with solemn scrutiny.


Tony groaned and sat up again. He had a vague recollection of the events of last night, and he winced. Christ, he’d made a total fool of himself, and now he was in someone else’s bed, in someone else’s apartment, waking up with someone else’s cats watching him. Not that it was the first time this had happened. It was never easy to make your excuses and sidle out of the door with your tail between your legs, hoping against hope that you never saw that person again.


He slid out of the bed and walked across the room to the pile of clothes lying on the chair. His heart gave a little thud when he remembered that he’d taken his NCIS badge to that bar last night. If Mr. Marine had stolen it, then Gibbs would surely kill him – but not before making him go through the entire story, from humiliating beginning to equally humiliating end. Tony heaved a sigh of relief to find that all his belongings were there – including his badge and knife.


He looked around and saw an en-suite bathroom. It didn’t take him long to take a shower and get dressed, and then he took a deep breath, put his hand on the bedroom door, and steeled himself for whatever horrors the new day held.


There was nobody in the hallway, but he could see a flight of stairs, and he could smell coffee somewhere down below. He took another deep breath, wishing his head would stop pounding, and then walked slowly down the stairs like a man going to his certain doom.


He couldn’t remember *everything* about last night, but he was pretty sure that Mr. Marine wasn’t the kind of guy who let you just sneak out. In fact, the man reminded him a hell of a lot of Gibbs, and he couldn’t imagine Gibbs allowing some idiot he’d found using a fake ID in a private members’ bar to just leave without asking him a lot of angry questions first. Especially not if the fake ID belonged to a naval officer. And…oh God, hadn’t Mr. Marine said he was FBI? This just got worse and worse.


He froze, his hand on the banister, his heart racing. Supposing this guy knew Gibbs? He made a face and tiptoed the rest of the way down the stairs. If he was lucky, his benefactor from last night would be in the kitchen making breakfast, and Tony could make a run for the door.


He emerged at the bottom of the stairs into a large living room. There was a kitchen off to one side, and he could hear the sound of clinking cups in there. Good. He began walking towards the door, still on tiptoes…and suddenly came to a surprised halt.


There, standing in the corner of the room, nose pressed to the wall, was a naked man; a naked man with a glowing red ass.


“What the hell…?” Tony was startled into speech by the unexpected sight.


The man glanced over his shoulder, sighed, and then turned back and rested his forehead against the wall with a little whimper.


“I could say the same thing,” a dry voice behind him said. Tony twirled around to see Mr. Marine standing there, wiping his wet hands on a dish towel. “You weren’t going to sneak out on me, were you, Tony? After all I did for you last night?” He raised an eyebrow.


“Uh…no…obviously…” Tony plastered a bright, false smile on his face.


“He so was,” the naked man in the corner said. “He was tiptoeing across the living room on his way to the door.”


“Naughty.” Mr. Marine shook his head. “You.” He pointed at Tony and then at a chair. “Sit.”


Tony did as he was told with a little sigh; like Gibbs, this man was the kind you really didn’t want to piss off.


“You’ve caused me enough trouble for one night,” Mr. Marine told him sternly. “In fact, you’ve caused me more trouble in one night than Fox has in an entire year. I’m not sure if that says more about how well I’ve trained my slave, or more about how much trouble you are, Tony DiNozzo.”


“Your…*slave*?” Tony glanced at the man in the corner of the room and back at Mr. Marine.


“Yup.” Mr. Marine nodded. “Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”


“Shit.” Tony held on to the edge of the table tightly as the room swam. Then he risked a glance back over at the naked man. “He uh…he…did you…?”


“Spank him? Yes, I did. Oh – and he has something to say to you. Fox?”


The naked man turned his head again. “I’m sorry,” he muttered.


“What the hell for?” Tony frowned.


“I uh…might have tugged on your hair in the night.”


“Oh. Right. Well, maybe. I don’t remember…oh wait…I do remember something.” Tony put his hand up to his hair and smoothed it and then turned back to the big man with a look of alarm. “But…shit – please don’t tell me you punished him for that?”


Mr. Marine shrugged. “What I punish my slave for is between me and him. Now – you look like you need coffee.”


“Thanks…uh…?” Tony winced, racking his brain. “Were we ever introduced?”


“Walter.” The man held out a hand to him. “Walter Skinner.”


Tony shook the hand, frowning as he tried to remember where he’d heard that name before. “Oh shit,” he said, as it suddenly came to him. “You’re the Deputy Director of the FBI, aren’t you?”


Skinner grinned. “Oh yeah. And you are the insubordinate NCIS agent who tried to get into a private members’ bar with a fake ID he stole from a dead naval officer, aren’t you?”


“Oh shit,” Tony said again, burying his face in his hands. “Can today get any worse?”


“In my experience – yes,” Fox said, from his corner. “That’s just me though. Your luck might be better than mine.”


“Or he might not be as much trouble as you are,” Skinner retorted.


“Are you kidding?” Fox snorted. “Look at him! He’s trouble personified.”


“Fox does have a point,” Skinner grinned. He went into the kitchen and returned a few seconds later with a couple of mugs of coffee. He put one in front of Tony and slapped down two headache tablets next to it. Tony swallowed them gratefully. Skinner sat back and watched. “I hope they clear your head, ‘cause you’re gonna need all your wits about you for what comes next.”


“Sounds bad,” Tony muttered, taking a deep sip of his coffee. He glanced at the man standing in the corner again. There was something about him; something familiar. If his head wasn’t hurting so much, Tony was sure he’d be able to place him.


Skinner leaned forward. “Tell me, Tony, do you have a boss? Someone at NCIS who should know that you stole evidence from a corpse during an investigation?”


Tony stared at him blankly. “Uh…”


“Whatever you do, don’t lie to him,” Fox said helpfully from his corner. “He can always tell.”


Tony closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and then opened them again. “Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs,” he said quietly. “He’s my boss. He’s gonna kick my ass to hell and back for this, but he’s the one you should tell. Or, you know, not, if you wanted to take pity on me.” He gave his best and most charming grin.


Skinner nodded thoughtfully. “Well done, Tony. You just passed the test. You’re trouble, but you’re a good kid at heart, so I’ll help you.”


“You will?” Tony looked into those dark brown eyes and felt more hopeful than he had in months.


“Yes, I will,” Skinner said firmly.


“Aw! Can we all hug now?” Fox butted in, from his position over by the wall.


“You know, the whole point of corner time is for quiet reflection on the wrong-doing that got you sent there in the first place,” Skinner shot back at him. “But seeing as that’s wasted on you right now, get dressed and get your ass over here where I can keep an eye on you.”


Fox gave a whoop and scrambled into action. He got dressed in seconds, in a pair of sweat pants and a tee shirt that were lying on a nearby chair, and then he joined them at the table. He was about to sit down in the chair next to Tony when Skinner gave him a malicious grin and snapped his fingers.


“Not there. If you won’t stand quietly in the corner, then you can kneel beside me in deep submission.”


Fox glared at him. “In front of the newbie?”


Skinner raised an eyebrow. “You know, it seems to me that I already spanked you pretty hard this morning, but there’s plenty more where that came from. My right arm is nowhere near tired.”


Fox was by Skinner’s side in seconds. He sank to his knees with a sad sigh, and Tony was just starting to feel sorry for him when Fox glanced up, looked straight at him with eyes full of mischief, and winked. Skinner clicked his fingers, and Fox lowered his gaze submissively to the floor.


Skinner took a sip of his coffee and then dropped his bombshell. “So, tell me, Tony, how long have you been in love with Jethro Gibbs?”


Tony choked on his coffee, and Skinner patted him helpfully on the back and then went to the kitchen to get him a glass of water. He returned with a dishcloth as well to wipe away the coffee that Tony had spewed all over the table.


Tony drank the water gratefully and then looked at Skinner through narrowed eyes. “You know, I admit that I was wasted last night, but I don’t remember mentioning any names.”


“You were, and you didn’t,” Skinner agreed. “But Jethro and I go back a long way, and from what you were saying, it didn’t take me long to figure out that you were his boy.”


“Yeah. Well. I’m not.” Tony watched as Fox rested his chin on Skinner’s thigh and closed his eyes. Skinner moved his hand absently to stroke Fox’s hair. Tony’s gut clenched in envy. “That’s kind of the problem, isn’t it?” Tony said with a wry shrug.


“You can’t take your eyes off him,” Skinner said softly, looking at where Tony was looking. “Is this what you want for yourself, Tony? You want something like Fox has with me?”


Tony cleared his throat. “Yeah. Something like that. I don’t pretend to understand the master/slave stuff, or how that even works, but…being his, belonging to Gibbs like Fox belongs to you…that…yeah…that.”


Tony gazed stonily at the table. He’d gone to that club last night with only a hazy idea of what it was he wanted. Now, sitting here, seeing Fox with Skinner – it suddenly all slotted into place for him, and now he knew *exactly* what he wanted.


“So, how do you know Gibbs?” Tony asked, looking up again.


“Known him for years. I was his gunnery sergeant back when he was a raw new recruit. They gave me the tough ones – the ones that nobody else could tame. Jethro had already gone through a couple of other gunnies before they threw him in my direction.”


Tony gave a smile of pure delight. He loved imagining a young Gibbs testing the resolve of even the toughest gunny.


“He was the most stubborn, infuriating, pig-headed bastard I ever met.” Skinner grinned.


“Still is!”


“And the best Marine I ever trained,” Skinner added. “We went head to head a few times, but once I finally managed to instil some discipline in him, got that wild temper of his under control and won his respect, he turned out to be one of the most loyal, honourable men I ever had the pleasure to serve with.”


“So you’re the guy who tamed Gibbs?” Tony gave an awed whistle. “Wow. And you’re still alive? I’m impressed.”


Skinner laughed. “Oh, I don’t think Jethro is the kind of man you ever really tame,” he said, shaking his head. “He’s feral – you can invite him to sit by your fire, and he’ll fight at your side and share his kill with you, but he’s a lone wolf at heart.”


“Yeah,” Tony said quietly. “I know. He doesn’t want anyone sharing his den, huh?”


“I’m not so sure about that,” Skinner mused. Tony glanced up, surprised. “Even a lone wolf needs a mate,” Skinner said with a shrug. “He had one, and a cub too, but he lost them. He’s kept the world at bay with that growl of his ever since, and God knows, his bite is even worse than his bark.”


“Oh yeah.” Tony grinned. “I know all about *that*.”


“But he’s acquired a pack, whether he likes to acknowledge it or not,” Skinner said. “He wants people to look out for, to take care of. And you – you’re trouble, but I figure you’re the kind of trouble he enjoys.”


“Maybe once,” Tony sighed. “But not for a long time. Look, Walter, I won’t lie to you; I screwed up. He can barely stand to look at me now, and he doesn’t…” He paused. Skinner raised an eyebrow. “He doesn’t hit me any more,” Tony finished with a little grimace. “He used to slap the back of my head all the time – it felt affectionate, felt like he liked me, like I belonged. Then I screwed up, and Jenny died, and he hasn’t slapped me since. Now I don’t know where I stand with him. I don’t think he likes having me around any more. I got sent away as a punishment – not by him, but he didn’t do anything to stop it, and I was the last one he brought home. Kept saying he was working on it, but seemed to me like he was taking his time.”


“Tell me about Jenny,” Skinner requested.


Tony shook his head. “I can’t. Gibbs would kill me.”


“Thought she died in a fire,” Skinner pressed.


“She died because I screwed up. I was supposed to be protecting her, but I was out having a good time instead.” Tony gazed at the table again, unable to meet Skinner’s stern brown eyes. Skinner and Gibbs – they weren’t the kind of men who tolerated screw-ups. Not when members of the team got killed as a result.


“Look at me, Tony,” Skinner said firmly. Tony braced himself and then looked up, fully expecting to see contempt in Skinner’s eyes. It wasn’t there. Skinner’s dark brown eyes were stern but compassionate. “You been punishing yourself for that ever since, Tony?” Skinner asked.


Tony bit on his lip, remembering night after night on the Seahawk, when he’d drunk himself quietly into oblivion in his bunk.


“Yeah. Sometimes I just wish he’d do it for me. I know it’d be bad, but I could take it, if it meant I won back his good opinion. If I got things back to how they used to be between us. He used to respect me – I used to deserve his respect. Nowadays, I just say stupid ass things all the time because I know he already thinks I’m a screw up. Nothing I can do to change that. Might as well just go along with it. Be who they expect me to be. Used to think he saw through me, but not any more. Not for a long time. If he does, he doesn’t care.”


“Did Gibbs ever say that he blames you for what happened to Jenny?” Fox asked, unexpectedly, from his position at Skinner’s knee. He glanced up at Skinner who nodded at him to continue. “Just…before Walter took me in, guilt was pretty much my middle name. I blamed myself for a lot of stuff, and when I felt bad about it, I’d spin out of control and start doing stupid things. Walter knows how to bring me down, how to get the pain out. It’s not always nice, and other people don’t really understand it, but it works for us.”


“He’s never said it, no – not in so many words, but then Gibbs isn’t a great talker. Thing is, Gibbs and Jenny had a thing once. She was special to him,” Tony shrugged. “So of course he blames me. I think the two of them would have got back together eventually.”


“Bullshit!” Skinner said. Tony looked at him, startled. “Look, I’m not going to talk about Gibbs’s personal life, but I will tell you there’s no chance he would ever have got back with Jenny,” Skinner told him firmly. He glanced at his watch. “Okay. I think we’ve sat around for long enough. I said I’d help you, Tony, and I will. You got any pets at home? Anything that needs looking after?”


“Nope.” Tony shook his head.


“Good – then you’re staying here today. And tonight…” He leaned back in his chair and gave a wide grin. “Well, tonight I believe it’s Pirate Night at Murray’s bar.”


“Oh God,” Fox sighed. Tony glanced at him; Fox rolled his eyes. “Walter is the perfect master in many respects,” Fox confided. “But he has a terrible weakness for dressing up. Which wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t also like dressing me up.”


Tony couldn’t help laughing out loud at that. Skinner grinned happily at his slave.


“No point keeping a slave if you can’t dress him up every now and then. Tony – you look like a man who appreciates the finer things in life, judging by those expensive shoes you’re wearing,” Skinner observed. “So maybe you don’t have Fox’s reluctance to dress up. Now, I’m going out for awhile, but when I get back we’ll pick out some outfits to wear. Fox – while I’m gone, I want you to show Tony some of the items in the playroom. Tell him how it is for you – how our living arrangement works. Don’t leave anything out – the bad or the good. Tony needs to make a decision about just how far he wants to go with this.”


“How far?” Tony raised an eyebrow. Skinner got to his feet.


“Me and Fox – the only thing that works for us is a 24/7 master/slave relationship, but that’s not the only way to do things,” he said. “There are other ways. You need to decide what appeals to you most, Tony, and then we can go looking.”


“Go looking?” Tony frowned.


“For the right sexually dominant man to give you what you need,” Skinner told him. “Isn’t that what you were doing at Murray’s bar last night? I mean, I presume you didn’t expect to bump into Gibbs while you were there? So you must have been looking for someone who’d do instead. You hit on me at one point.”


“He did?” Fox narrowed his eyes. Skinner tapped his head reprovingly.


“I turned him down. Plenty of doms wouldn’t. Now, can I trust you two not to get into any trouble while I’m gone?” He glared at them with mock severity.


“Hey, I’m a trained federal agent!” Tony protested.


“So was Fox when I first enslaved him, but he’s been trouble his entire life.” Skinner grinned. “Don’t do anything stupid and don’t leave the building unless there’s some dire emergency like a fire.”


“Where are you going?” Fox asked, getting to his feet. Skinner gave Tony an entirely inscrutable glance.


“Out,” he replied, bestowing a kiss on his slave’s cheek. “And I mean it about the bad parts, Fox. Be honest with Tony. He should get the full disclosure. I won’t be around to hear any of it.”


Fox grabbed him and kissed him back. “There’s nothing I’ll say to Tony that I couldn’t say to your face, Walter.”


Skinner’s eyes suddenly blazed with a fierce love behind the spectacles, and Tony felt that stab of envy again. He couldn’t imagine Gibbs ever looking at anyone like that, least of all him.






Gibbs returned home, dumped the bag of groceries on the kitchen table, and then froze. Someone was in his house. Nothing had been touched, but he could hear a faint noise emanating from downstairs. He drew his gun and walked silently towards the basement door. He kicked the door open, gun raised, and then he lowered his hand with a sigh.


Walter Skinner was crouching on his boat, the sleeves of his expensive shirt rolled up to his elbows, the sander in his hand, working on the wood grain. He glanced up as Gibbs made his dramatic entrance.


“What the hell are you doing here?” Gibbs demanded.


“You missed a bit.” Skinner pointed.


“I didn’t miss anything. I just hadn’t gotten around to that part yet.”


“Nah. You missed it.” Skinner grinned at him.


“Anyone else but you would have a bullet through their hand right now for touching my boat,” Gibbs growled, running down the stairs into the basement.


“Yeah, and you don’t like the idea of anyone touching what belongs to you, do you?” Skinner raised an eyebrow.


Gibbs glared at him. He took the sander off Skinner, threw it onto the workbench, and then examined the area Skinner had been working on. Damn it, Skinner was right – he *had* missed a bit.


“Hey – it was me taught you how to build your first boat,” Skinner reminded him. “Back then, you were more into getting your hands covered in grease with those stupid damn wrecks of cars you were always trying to get working again. I showed you how to build something from scratch, with your bare hands, Jethro.”


“And now you want me to do it all over again,” Gibbs grunted.


Skinner grinned. “Tony isn’t a boat, Jethro. I think he’ll give you more trouble than this fine young lady here.” He slapped the wood heartily. “But the sense of satisfaction will be all the greater for that, my friend.”


“I haven’t changed my mind, Walter, so if that’s why you’re here you can just turn around and leave.”


“This place feels lonely,” Skinner said, glancing around. “Did you ever allow Jenny or Stan to stay over? Bet you didn’t. Been a long time since you shared your space with anyone, Jethro.”


“No intention of ever doing it again, Walter. Now, I have some groceries to unpack. You can see yourself out – same way you saw yourself in.”


He strode towards the stairs and took them two at a time. He was almost at the top when Skinner spoke.


“Why does Tony blame himself for Jenny’s death, Jethro?”


Gibbs paused, his shoulders tensing, and then glanced back down. “That what he said?”


“Yes.” Skinner gazed up at him steadily. “Seems to think you blame him too. Christ, what the hell happened to you, Jethro? If he screwed up, then you deal with it, work through it with him. You don’t just leave him hanging. Didn’t I teach you anything?”


Gibbs turned and stomped back down the stairs, his temper flaring. “You don’t know a damn thing about this, Walter!”


“I know that kid is beating himself up. I know he’s eaten up with guilt inside. I know he’s drinking too much, and I know it’ll only get worse if you don’t handle it.”


“Damn it!” Gibbs slammed his fist down onto the work bench. Skinner gazed at him dispassionately. Gibbs grimaced; Skinner was the one person in the world who could face him down and win. Gibbs might not like it, but he’d learned it the hard way, a very long time ago. “You don’t understand,” Gibbs said quietly. “It’s more screwed up than you can imagine.”


“How did she die, Jethro?” Skinner asked. “Not the bullshit story I saw on the news – something about a fire? The truth, Jethro; was it Tony’s fault?”


Gibbs sighed and ran a hand over his chin. “He was supposed to be protecting her, but she sent him away. She was dealing with the fallout from a mistake she made a long time ago. She didn’t want anyone hurt in the crossfire – so she ordered him away.”


“She actually made it a direct order?”


“Yeah.” Gibbs nodded. “She didn’t tell him what was going on – he just assumed she wanted some personal time. Then she was killed in a shoot out. Too complicated to explain, but we had to find a way to cover it up.”


“No wonder Fox always believes in his conspiracy theories,” Skinner commented dryly.


“No offence, Walter, but I’ve always thought Fox was a little crazy,” Gibbs said, with a glimmer of a grin.


“None taken. I’ve met that forensics scientist of yours, so I figure we’re even in the crazy stakes.” Skinner grinned back at him. Then his grin faded. “So, you *do* blame Tony.”


“I didn’t say that, Walter!” Gibbs protested. Skinner just kept on looking at him, with those brown eyes that had always been able to see through any bullshit. Gibbs sighed. “Look, if it had been me – or you – there’s no damn way we’d have cared if it was an order or not, Walter. We would have done our jobs – and Tony’s job was to protect Jenny. He screwed the pooch.”


“Yeah. He kind of did. And so did you, Jethro.”


Gibbs grabbed a bottle of bourbon off the shelf, unscrewed the cap, and took a deep gulp, straight from the bottle. “How d’you figure that?”


“So the kid screwed up – but it was an honest mistake, and he was obeying orders. Now, you can kick his ass all over town for it – you can bawl him out and give him a hard time if he deserves it – but the one thing you don’t do, the one thing you never do, is give up on him.”


Gibbs slammed the bottle down on the workbench and glared at Skinner. “Who the hell says I’ve given up on him?”


“He does,” Skinner said firmly. Gibbs felt his gut clench. “He says you stopped slapping his head.” Skinner raised an amused eyebrow. “Says you’re cold towards him these days – distant. Says he was sent away as a punishment, and that you didn’t try too hard to get him back.”


“My hands were tied!”


“So?” Skinner took a step forward so that he was in Gibbs’s face. “That sounds like an excuse, Private, and I don’t damn well accept excuses. I remember a young Marine who screwed up once. They were going to throw him out of the Corps, but I saw something in him, so I pleaded with them to give me one more chance with that kid. Hell, I went to the *line* for that kid, and I’m glad I did. He turned out to be the finest Marine I ever trained. But I could have given up on him back then, and neither of us would’ve ever known what he could become. I didn’t give up on you, Jethro – now don’t damn well give up on Tony.”


“I told you, it’s more complicated than that. *He* is more complicated than that.”


Gibbs reached for the bottle of bourbon again, but Skinner got there first and grabbed it.


“This isn’t going away, Jethro. You handle this, or I swear *I’ll* kick *your* ass all over town, because I’m not giving up on you this time, either. You’re lonely, and this place feels cold and empty. Now, I know what a stubborn bastard you are – Christ, if anyone knows it’s me – but Tony’s a good kid, and he deserves someone who’ll give him what he needs. If that’s not you, then I’ll find someone else for him.”


Gibbs felt a savage burst of fury at that, and he gave Skinner the kind of glare that stopped most men dead in their tracks. Skinner just raised an eyebrow.


“If you don’t claim him someone else will. Won’t be what he really wants, because for some reason what that poor kid really wants is you. But he’s looking for something and won’t stop until he finds it. I’m going to make sure he stays safe while he’s looking, and if that means introducing him to the kind of people who can help him, then that’s what I’ll do.”


“Fine.” Gibbs shrugged. “I really don’t give a damn, Walter.”


Skinner gave a wry shake of his head. “Sure you do, Jethro.” He pressed the bottle of bourbon into Gibbs’s hands. “Sure you do,” he repeated softly.


He strode towards the stairs, jogged up them, paused when he got to the top, and glanced back down. “I’m taking him to Murray’s bar tonight, Jethro, if you want to show up.”


“I don’t,” Gibbs grunted. “No time for the scene, Walter, as you well know. All that dumb-assed dressing up that you seem to like so much. Bunch of posers in leather, playing at it.”


“They’re just having fun, and not all of them are playing at it, Jethro, as you well know. Even if they are, there’s no law against it. And I really hope you weren’t including me in your little tirade.”


Gibbs glanced up to see the dangerous glint in Skinner’s eyes.


“Hell, I know you’re good at what you do, Walter. They appointed you their leader didn’t they? Guardian of the DC S&M scene, or some kind of crap like that?”


Skinner chuckled. “It’s a responsibility I take very seriously, old friend, and you’re lucky that you *are* an old friend, and that I know what a lonely, miserable bastard you are, so I’m prepared to let your comments pass. As Guardian of the House, I know many of the best doms on the scene, and I’ll be very pleased to introduce Tony to them this evening – if you have no objection.”


Gibbs glared at him. “Do what the hell you like. Like I said, I really don’t give a damn.”


Skinner nodded. “You just keep telling yourself that, while you skulk down here in your lonely basement, with only your boat and your bourbon for company. If, however, you feel like taking a chance and claiming someone who desperately wants to belong to you, then you know where to find him. Just don’t leave it too long – or someone else might get there first.”






Tony wasn’t entirely sure that he wanted to be left alone with Fox. Skinner’s slave had intense hazel eyes and an eccentric demeanour, and Tony suspected that he was some kind of chaos-magnet. His monotone voice was also misleading – Tony could never tell if he was joking or not.


Fox gestured with his head, and Tony followed him up the stairs and along the hallway. Fox paused outside a door and then pulled a key out of his pocket and opened it. Tony found himself gazing up at an unexpected flight of stairs. Who put stairs behind a locked doorway? It was as if they were going into a completely separate apartment. Fox led him up the stairs.


“So…Walter was your boss at the FBI before he became your…uh…?” Tony hesitated.


“Master?” Fox grinned at him over his shoulder. “Yeah. He was. I was always storming into his office, demanding his attention. Took me a long time to figure out why. You do much of that, Tony?”


“Storming around? With Gibbs? You gotta be joking,” Tony winced. “I want to live.”


“So you don’t go all out to try and get his attention?” Fox glanced down at him again, with a raised eyebrow.


“Uh…well, I didn’t say that,” Tony grinned. “Just…it’s a different kind of attention-seeking.”


They reached the top of the stairs, walked along another hallway, and stopped outside another door. Fox reached into his pocket for the keys again.


“Why did you leave the FBI? He didn’t make you, did he?” Tony asked.


Fox shook his head. “It’s complicated. Walter and I lead complicated lives. There are a lot of people who want me dead, and there are things going on that…well, let’s just say that our arrangement – the whole master/slave thing – that’s probably the least controversial thing about us.” Fox gave a broad grin, and Tony suddenly knew where he recognised him from.


“Shit! You’re Fox Mulder, aren’t you?”


Fox grinned. “Aw! You guessed. Just how many other people called Fox are there out there anyway?”


“Uh…I just figured it out. You write all those crazy…uh, I mean…interesting books on little green men.”


Fox sighed. “Grey,” he said in a world-weary tone. “Now, Lost Boy, are you ready? Because it’s time for you to enter Neverland.”


Tony was about to roll his eyes and say something cutting when Fox swung the door open – and Tony’s jaw hit the floor.


He was standing on the threshold of a massive room, filled with all kinds of bizarre apparatus. Fox put a hand on his shoulder and shoved him inside.


They were at the top of a tall apartment block. In front of them was a bank of floor to ceiling windows. Above them, a skylight offered even more light, making the room feel airy and spacious.


“Feels like flying,” Tony said, gazing out of the massive windows at the views over the city.


“When Walter has me in the harness and is working on me with those big hands of his, it *does* feel like flying,” Fox told him.


Tony gazed around, feeling like a kid in a kinky candy shop. There was a massive, upholstered throne at one end of the room, and a wooden, cross-beamed post over to one side. An elaborate harness hung from hooks in the ceiling, and next to it was a rack full of all kinds of interesting toys.


Tony went over and examined them. There were leather cuffs and various implements of discipline.


“Wow,” he muttered. “And I thought my fluffy pink handcuffs were kinky.”


“The kind you can buy in any old sex shop? Beginners’ equipment,” Fox told him with a disdainful shrug. “This stuff is for serious players.”


“That’s what you are?” Tony asked. “Serious players?”


“That’s what you’d call us, I guess. Walter would say we don’t play at all. For us, it’s real,” Fox said. “Okay – Walter also said to give it to you straight, so I will. Being his isn’t easy, but not for the reasons you might think. I trust him implicitly to never harm me, to never give me more than I can handle, and to never, ever fuck with my head. Enough people have tried to do that in my life.”


Tony nodded. He could empathise with that. He shoved the thoughts of his dysfunctional childhood out of his head.


“The sex is fantastic,” Fox told him bluntly. “That’s never been a problem. Life is harder – but once I learned he was always going to be there for me, and he was never going to let me get away with my shit, then it all became much easier. The simple truth is that I’m his, and he’s mine – I submit to him because I enjoy it and so does he. Our relationship is entirely consensual – I pursued him, in fact, not the other way around. I like what he does to me – and even when he does things I *don’t* like, it helps me get into a headspace that I like very much, so there’s a point to it. I can talk to him about anything, and I can tell him anything. In fact – that was the hardest part – getting to the point where I trusted him enough to tell him everything that goes on inside my twisted little brain.” Fox put his finger against his forehead and twirled it around in a circle.


“You tell him everything?” Tony asked quietly.


“Everything.” Fox nodded. “It doesn’t work for us any other way, although it took me a long time to realise that. You think you’d have a problem with that?”


“Yes.” Tony shrugged.


“Yeah. I thought you would too.” Fox grinned at him. “I used to be a profiler, Tony, years ago, back when I was young and thought the worst evil this world had to offer were serial killers. Now I know better of course, but I still have those skills. You’re an interesting case study. You hide everything behind that big, easy smile, and the smartass comments. You act like a big kid, but you’re intelligent, and you’re perceptive – and something happened to you once, a long time ago, something bad, and…” His eyes narrowed. “You still feel guilty about it, don’t you?”


Tony gave an easy smile. “Sounds like something a fortune teller would say to get my interest and make me hand over my cash. Ooh, look at my mysterious, unknowable past. Look how cool and deep that makes me sound. Your character analysis flatters me, Fox, but you’re way off the mark.”


“Oh – and you’re good.” Those intense hazel eyes flickered in appreciation. “You’re really good, Tony. In fact, you’re quite the pro. But I’ve been there, Tony, and I know everything there is to know about guilt.”


Tony remembered reading a magazine article about this guy once. Something about his sister being abducted when he was a kid, and how he’d blamed himself for it his entire life.


“You ever find out what happened to her?” he asked, watching carefully to see if the barb hit home. “Your sister – you ever find out?”


Fox didn’t even flinch. “Yes, I found out. And I know it wasn’t my fault. I was just a kid.”


“Walter help you figure that out?”


Fox grinned. “Oh you really *are* good. When did you become such a master in the art of deflection, Tony?”


Tony glanced around the room again. “So, what kind of things do you do here? How does the harness work?”


Fox laughed out loud at the bluntness of that little piece of deflection. “You ever heard the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for?’ Tony?”


Tony fought down a wave of annoyance. Usually, when he tried to deflect people, they had the good manners to *be* deflected.


“Well duh. Who hasn’t?” Tony rolled his eyes.


“You should remember it – because if this Gibbs of yours ever does step up and take you on, then he’ll strip you open and lay you bare, and are you sure you’re ready for that?”


“Hey – I’m only in this for the kinky sex!” Tony protested. “Not any of this soul-searching crap that you seem to think is involved.”


Fox grinned. “Yeah, that’s what I thought too – once. Walter soon set me straight about that – took him a year, and a damn hard year it was too. He demanded everything I had, and no matter how hard I tried to hide from him, he always saw right through me. Of course, Gibbs might be a less demanding dom, but if Walter trained him, and I suspect he probably did, then I doubt it.”


“Gibbs isn’t into this kind of thing at all. Walter knows him because they were in the Corps together – not because they once traded tips on how to hand out a good whipping,” Tony said, with a tight smile. “Now, perhaps we could go back to looking at all the hot sex toys?”


“If you want,” Fox shrugged. He leaned against one of the far windows and gazed at him inscrutably. “Do you want to be punished for something, Tony?”


Tony grinned. “Sure – isn’t that the point?” he said easily.


“Do you want to be punished for something *specifically*?” Fox asked. “For what happened to Jenny? Or for something else? Or maybe it’s a bit of both? Is that why you’re in this? If so, then I can tell you it doesn’t work that way. Seems like it should, I know, but it doesn’t.” He gave a wry shrug.


“Christ, you only met me a few hours ago. What’s with all the psycho-analysing? You don’t know the first thing about me,” Tony snapped, irritated that despite his best attempts at deflection, Fox kept on returning to the same old theme. He thought Gibbs took the prize for dogged determination, but this guy might even have the edge on him.


Tony turned away and began striding towards the door. If all else failed, running out had always been his backup plan of choice.


“Sure I do. I used to be you, Tony,” Fox said quietly behind him.


“You and I aren’t even remotely alike,” Tony retorted, hesitating, one hand on the door handle. He looked back over his shoulder.


“Agreed.” Fox inclined his head. “We have very different personalities. I suspect you’re a sensualist, just like Walter. And you’re not a rebel – you don’t give Gibbs a hard time at work. You do as you’re told – in fact, you’re eager to please. You rush to it whenever he hands out an order, and you’re always trying to anticipate what he wants. I wasn’t like that when I worked with Walter. It didn’t come easy to me – my natural inclination is to distrust authority and give it as hard a time as possible. But you’re a sub, Tony, and so am I. And while we might be different kinds of subs, with different needs, we both share one fundamental thing.”


“And what’s that?” Tony opened the door, and stood there, one step away from leaving.


“We both want to belong to someone,” Fox said softly. Tony’s head jerked up. “Yeah, you can deny the rest as much as you like, but that, my friend, is what led you here, and what will keep you on this path until you find what you want. That’s your bottom line, Tony.”


Tony hesitated in the open doorway.


“And now you’ve gone and let the beasts from the hell mouth into the room,” Fox sighed.


“The what…?” Tony looked around, startled, and then saw the two cats from earlier. One of them was pacing around the harness with an intent look in its eyes, while the other was sitting happily on the plush, upholstered throne, washing its bottom assiduously.


“They’re the devil’s spawn,” Fox chuckled. “They get me into trouble with Walter whenever they can, but he worships their naughty little asses, so he’ll never believe me when I tell him they have an agenda.”


“They’re just cats.” Tony gazed at the cats, bemused.


“And that there – that kind of complacent attitude – is why I go out hunting down little grey men, while you just go out hunting the regular kind of bad guy,” Fox told him. “I see the bigger picture, Tony. There are conspiracies *everywhere*, and these cats might look harmless…” He scooped up the white and grey one and kissed it affectionately. “But underneath, they’re plotting to take over the world.”


“Seriously?” Tony had no idea what to make of this strange man.


Fox laughed at him. “No, idiot, but my motto is ‘trust no-one’ – even cute furry beings like this one here.”


“You trust Walter though,” Tony said softly.


Fox stroked the cat gently and then lowered it to the floor and released it. The cat clearly adored him and twined itself around his ankles.


“Yes, Tony. I trust Walter. He’s the one exception I made to my rule and thank God I did, because I don’t think I’d be alive now if I hadn’t. Do you trust Gibbs, Tony?”


“Yes,” Tony replied immediately, without even thinking about it. Fox arched an eyebrow.


“You think you do, and in many ways you do, but not completely. Or you wouldn’t be so scared of him finding out who you really are. You don’t trust him with *that*.”


Tony felt a spike of hostility towards this man, who spoke these truths in such a flat, monotone voice. Fox was clearly crazy – but the kind of crazy that made the rest of the world look insane.


“What are their names?” Tony asked, gesturing with his head towards one of the cats.


“The one with the yellow eyes is Eugene – she’s about a year old.”


“Isn’t Eugene kind of a weird name for a female?”


“I named her after someone I once knew – she reminds me a bit of him – something about the eyes.” Fox grinned to himself. “We mostly call her Genie anyway. The other one…” He glanced at the white and grey cat. “He’s incredibly nosy – always poking around where he shouldn’t. Walter always says he reminds him of me, but I don’t see it,” Fox shrugged. “We named him after the greatest singer/showman of all time.”


“Elvis?” Tony hazarded. “Frank?”


Fox grinned. “It was a close one, but nah. Freddie. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’?” Fox raised an eyebrow. “Besides, he doesn’t look like an Elvis.”


Tony wondered whether everyone felt disoriented during conversations with Fox Mulder, or if it was just him.


“Freddie’s nearly two. We got him when Wanda died,” Fox added.


“I know I’m going to regret this, but – who the hell is Wanda?” Tony asked.


Fox grinned, a nostalgic little grin, full of fondness. “She was Walter’s cat when I first knew him – he worshipped that little madam, and boy did she know it! She deserved to be worshipped though. Took me awhile to appreciate her in all her divine majesty, but when I did…” Fox shook his head, laughing to himself. “Well, I fell for her too. Broke our hearts when she died. Walter said no other cat was fit to even tread in her pawprints, but he moped around like a bear with a sore head and drove me crazy. So I went out and got Freddie. Then we got Genie to give Freddie someone to play with so he wouldn’t drive us *both* crazy.” Fox glanced up. “Also, truth is, I’m away a lot, and Walter’s the kind of person who needs things to take care of.”


“Yeah – I kind of got that from the way he brought me back here last night.”


Tony noticed two picture frames hanging on the wall, and he wandered towards them, wondering what they were. They didn’t contain pictures – he could see that much – they seemed to contain two typewritten documents. His gut did a little flip when he got close enough to read what they said.


The heading on one was “Slave’s Contract” and on the other “Master’s Contract”. Fox’s messy signature was scrawled at the bottom of the first, and Walter’s more elegant flourish at the bottom of the other.


“Slave contract? You have a contract? He’s your, uh, master?” Tony asked, startled. “I mean, I knew you two guys were kinky as all hell, but it’s a formal arrangement?”


“Yes. It had to be,” Fox said, coming up behind him and looking at the framed contracts over his shoulder. Tony glanced at him.




“Because of the person I was when he first took me on. I was self-destructing – big time – this was the only way he knew of keeping me alive.”


“And now?” Tony asked.


Fox shrugged. “Well, now it’s a little less formal – we’ve kind of settled into what works for us. Sometimes we live the master/slave thing to the hilt and other times it’s less intense. It depends on what’s going on in the rest of our lives. But I am still, and always will be, his slave, just as he is. and always will be, my master,” Fox said fiercely. “Make no mistake about that, Tony.”


Tony was surprised by his vehemence. “Ten years together, and it still works?” he asked, noting the date on the contracts.


“Yeah.” Fox gave a surprised little shake of his head. “Ten years together, and it *definitely* still works.”


He walked over to the rack containing all the interesting toys and rested his hand on a long, black whip.


“You got any more questions, Tony? Because I don’t want you telling Walter that I held out on you.”


Tony turned to look at him, clearing his throat. “Earlier…” He paused, flushing wildly.


“When I was standing butt naked with a red ass in the corner?” Fox raised an eyebrow.


“Yeah.” Tony made a little face. “You enjoy that?”


Fox grinned. “It’s complicated, but yes, I do. Kind of. I like the way it feels, knowing he’s in control, and all I have to do is accept. I lead a difficult life, Tony. It feels good knowing there are some certainties I can rely on.”


“He punished you – did that hurt?”


“Yes.” Fox shrugged. “Sometimes it’s a good kind of hurt – the kind that turns me on and makes me scream in ecstasy – and sometimes it’s just a punishment. But either way, it works for me, Tony, and I enjoy it even when I don’t.”


“That makes no sense,” Tony frowned, feeling frustrated.


“I know. To be honest, talking about it *doesn’t* make any sense. It’s like trying to explain water – you can describe it all you like, but until you actually drink it, or bathe in it, it’s meaningless. And if you were drowning, you’d describe it differently than if you were dying of thirst. I know what it means to me – all this, all I have with Walter – but what you want, what is right for you, and how you’ll feel about it – that’s your journey, Tony. You have to take it yourself. Nobody can tell you what it’ll be like.”


Tony nodded his head in the direction of the whip that Fox was fondling. “Don’t you ever ask yourself why you want this?”


Fox shrugged. “Not any more. I used to, a long time ago, but not now. I’m at peace with it now. I know that I want to submit to Walter. I want the thrill that comes from giving myself up to him, and that sensation of total trust that I only get when I surrender to his will. If it were easy, if it wasn’t sometimes hard and didn’t sometimes hurt, then it’d be meaningless.”


Fox pulled the whip out from the rack and then made it snap through the air with a loud crack. Tony jumped. “Close your eyes,” Fox ordered.


“Why?” Tony asked suspiciously.


Fox sighed. “Just do it. I won’t hurt you.”


Tony did as instructed. Fox came over to him and placed his hand on the leather handle of the whip.


“How would you feel if it was his hand on the whip, Tony?” he asked. “How would you feel if you were naked, helpless, completely in thrall to him? Imagine it now. How does it make you feel?”


Tony pictured himself in his mind’s eye, kneeling in Gibbs’s basement by that stupid damn boat, with Gibbs standing over him, holding the whip.


“Excited,” Tony breathed. “Turned on.” He imagined Gibbs threading his flat, dextrous fingers through his hair and then pulling his head back. He wondered what it would feel like if Gibbs ran a finger down his exposed throat. His breathing hitched, and he felt a wave of intense longing. “Scared. Happy. Safe.” That last word took him by surprise, and his eyes snapped open.


Fox was smiling at him. “You’re a sub, Tony. You are totally a sub in here.” He patted Tony’s chest, over his heart. “And you have the whole beautiful, intense, crazy journey ahead of you. Good luck, my friend – I think you’re gonna need it!”






Gibbs packed away his groceries, trying hard not to think about his conversation with Skinner. They were the kind of old friends who could go years without seeing each other and then pick up again as if no time had passed. Skinner knew him. He’d been there for him when Shannon and Kelly had died, and he’d even come to a couple of his weddings. They hadn’t seen each other socially in awhile, but they occasionally ran into each other during the course of their work.


It had been Skinner who had taken Gibbs to his first S&M club after his break-up with Jenny. Gibbs had been surprised when he’d run into Stan there – but after the initial embarrassment of meeting a co-worker in a place like that, they had started playing. While Gibbs was more used to relationships with women, he was surprised to discover how much he enjoyed dominating a man. In fact, the sex with Stan had always been great. If he was honest, he still missed that side of what they’d had, if nothing else.


Gibbs finished packing away the groceries and headed towards the basement – and then hesitated. He went up the stairs instead and into one of the spare rooms. He opened the closet and crouched down in front of the hand-carved wooden chest inside. He’d made it himself, a long time ago, but he hadn’t opened it in eight years. Not since Stan had told him he wanted more, and Gibbs had replied that he didn’t have anything more to give; this was it – take it or leave it. Stan had been sensible enough to leave it.


Gibbs ran his fingers over the carvings on the chest. After Stan, he’d told himself he wasn’t going to do this again. It had been the right decision then, but was it still the right decision now, all these years later?


Gibbs opened the chest and looked down at the variety of implements and sex toys inside. He picked up a black leather cuff and remembered tying Stan’s wrists behind his back, then slowly fucking his helpless body. Stan had been such an easy sub to dominate, but loving him had never been part of their deal. Tony was a different kind of sub. Gibbs knew that he wouldn’t be able to dominate Tony without loving him; Tony needed to be loved.


Gibbs threw the cuff back into the chest and slammed the lid shut.


He still didn’t have that to give.






Tony gazed at himself in the mirror. He was wearing a pair of tight black leather pants that hugged his ass a little too closely for his liking. He pulled at them ineffectually, wishing they left at least something to the imagination. He wasn’t sure if they belonged to Fox or Walter, but whoever it was had slimmer hips and a flatter ass than him. He was also wearing an over-sized cream shirt that laced up at the front.


“If only Abby could see me now,” he muttered.


“She’d love it,” a voice behind him said, and Tony turned, prepared to fire off a quick retort, and then stopped, his mouth hanging open.


Walter was standing there, in full pirate regalia, including boots that went half-way up his thighs. He was wearing a similar shirt to the one Tony had on, although his was half undone to reveal his broad chest. Over that, he was wearing an old, weathered leather waistcoat. There was a red bandana tied around his bald head and a flogger hanging from his wide black belt. The whole effect was only slightly undermined by his spectacles. Tony gazed at him, dumbstruck, his mouth opening and closing pathetically.


“You had something to say?” Walter asked, an amused glint in his brown eyes.


“Yeah…uh…Fox is a really lucky guy,” Tony managed at last. Then he laughed out loud. Walter raised an eyebrow. “Just…can’t really see Gibbs ever dressing up like that,” Tony explained.


Walter gave a little chuckle. “Nope. Me neither,” he agreed. “As for you…you look good, Tony, but you need to loosen up a little – get in the mood. Here – this might help.” He came towards Tony, brandishing a dark red strip of cloth which he tied around Tony’s head and knotted against his hair.


“Feel kind of stupid,” Tony muttered.


“They won’t let you in unless you’re dressed appropriately for the night’s theme. Or naked.” Walter shrugged. “Want me to take you in there naked?”


“Uh…no thanks,” Tony shuddered.


Walter grinned. “Here – your shirt should hang open more at the top – like this.”


He flicked his fingers through the lacings, untying them, and yanked the shirt open to reveal a fair amount of Tony’s chest. Tony remembered once doing something similar to Kate when she’d been going out on a work-related date, mussing up her hair and pulling down the straps of her dress to make her look more like…a sex object. Was that what he was now? He gazed at himself in the mirror again. Yeah. That was exactly what he looked like in this outfit. He wondered if any of the doms at the club would be interested in him, and that made his stomach clench in fear and his cock throb hopefully at one and the same time.


“You’re with me tonight,” Walter said, as if reading his thoughts. He put a hand on Tony’s shoulder and gazed at him in the mirror. “Nobody will hit on you without my permission.”


“Aw, thanks, Dad,” Tony grinned. Walter cuffed the back of his head lightly, and Tony’s smile faded.


“Sorry,” Walter said softly. “That’s what he does, isn’t it?”


“Used to,” Tony shrugged.


“There’s something about you – just kind of begs for it. Don’t know how he can resist doing it – or this.” Walter moved his hand and tousled Tony’s hair.


“Well, he’s never been big on that,” Tony said, flushing at the sudden sense of pathetic longing he was feeling. “He saves that one for when he’s handing out praise, and that’s only happened once – to me anyhow.”


He ducked his head, unwilling to meet the other man’s eyes, not wanting him to see how much it mattered – or how much he wanted it.


“You ready for this, Tony?” Walter asked. “All you have to do is stick beside me. Ask any questions you want – and if you want to try something, it can be arranged.”


Tony nodded, gazing at himself silently in the mirror. His own outfit was much tamer than the one Walter was wearing, presumably in deference to his novice status, and he was glad about that. He felt like enough of an idiot as it was. And yet…there was something kind of fun about it too.


“You’re right – Abby *would* love it. Wonder what Gibbs would say?”


“That grouchy bastard? He’d say that you looked like an idiot – but he wouldn’t be able to take his eyes off you all the same,” Walter winked. “Not in those pants.”


Tony flushed wildly again. He’d always taken care, in all his short-lived relationships, to be the one in control. He was the active one, the pursuer. He made all the moves, and the women he chased allowed him to catch them. It felt very different knowing that in this scenario he’d be the one being looked at, appraised, and then…whatever the hell happened after. And, right now, Tony had no idea what that was.


He knew he wanted Gibbs in that way, but he’d only rarely been attracted to other men. Those he had been attracted to had all been of the same type; they had all been men like Gibbs – and like Walter. He was pretty sure he knew why, but he didn’t want to think about it too much.


“Time to go – see you downstairs,” Walter said.


Tony nodded. “Uh…what should I do with my regular clothes?” he asked, pointing at them. “Have you got a bag I could put them in, so I can take them with me?”


Walter shook his head. “Leave them here. You’ll either be coming back here after, or you can come back and collect them another time. Either way, I want to make sure we see you again.”


Tony grinned. “Fox was right; you really do like taking care of people – must be part of the whole dad thing you’ve got going on.”


Walter didn’t smile back at him. “Did your dad take good care of you, Tony?” he asked unexpectedly.


Tony was about to make one of his usual smart replies when he saw the expression in Walter’s eyes. His grin faded. “No,” he said quietly.


“Didn’t think so. That’s the third ‘dad’ comment you’ve made since I met you.”


He tousled Tony’s hair gently and then left the room. Tony stared after him. Maybe Fox was right. Maybe it was going to be harder than he thought to keep himself hidden. Usually he managed it pretty well, but both Fox and Walter seemed able to see right through him. He wondered if Gibbs did too and had just never said anything, in true Gibbs style.


He pushed that thought away and went downstairs into the living room. He paused beside a massive fish tank, full of brightly coloured tropical fish, and gazed at his dim reflection in the glass. He adjusted the dark red strip of cloth that Walter had tied around his head.


“You’re doing this, Tony,” he told his reflection. “No running away this time.”


Walter and Fox came down the stairs, and he turned, a bright, confident smile plastered on his face. Nothing prepared him for the stab of envy he felt upon seeing the thick black leather collar around Fox’s throat; the intensity of his reaction took him totally by surprise.


Fox was wearing a similar outfit to his own, but his shirt was made of a thinner fabric, and Tony could clearly see the outline of nipple rings beneath it. His cock suddenly ached. Fox raised an eyebrow at him, and he realised he was staring.


“Uh…piercings,” Tony croaked, pointing. “Abby has some I think…but not…I mean, I don’t know if she has them…*there*…or in other uh places…or… I’ll shut up now.”


Fox grinned. “Walter did them for me – soon after he first enslaved me. He also branded me – but that was much later.”


“Walter pierced you himself? Uh…there…” Tony gestured with his hand vaguely in the direction of his own chest area. “Didn’t it hurt?” he asked feebly.


“Oh yeah,” Fox grinned happily. “Learning how to walk on the end of his nipple leash hurt more though,” he added.


Tony put out a hand and held on tight to the end of the fish tank. He had no idea what a nipple leash was, but he could guess. It was all so fucked up and yet all so completely normal too. Fox talked about it like this was the kind of life everyone led. He seemed so at ease with it. Tony wondered if Fox has always felt this way, or if it had taken him some time to get his head around it.


“Okay, boys, let’s go,” Walter said briskly, grabbing his keys.


Tony stared out of the car window on the drive to the club, wondering if he was caught up in some bizarre, kinky daydream – or nightmare. He wasn’t sure which yet. Fox hadn’t been wrong in welcoming him to Neverland. Tony felt like he was trapped in a dreamscape – and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to wake up or not.


Murray’s Bar looked completely different to the previous evening. There were various pirate themed decorations around the place, barrels labelled “rum” stacked up around the bar, and a large stretch of rope rigging against one bare brick wall. The place was heaving with people, and suddenly Tony’s costume didn’t seem so ostentatious amongst the colourfully dressed throng – he just blended in.


Walter got them a table that gave them a view of the entire room, and Tony sat down. Walter sat down beside him, and Fox, much to Tony’s surprise, knelt beside his master and put his head down.


“We don’t get a chance to play in public very often,” Walter explained to Tony. “So we make the most of it when we do. Fox wanted to go right down this evening, so I gave him permission. We’ll put on a show later.”


“What kind of a show?” Tony asked, intrigued.


“Well it is pirate’s evening – so I think it has to be a flogging,” Walter grinned. “Yes, Fox?” He put his hand in Fox’s hair and pulled his slave’s head back so that he was looking at him. “I think these shoulders need a good flogging – yes?”


Fox smiled at him, and there was a dreamy look in his eyes that Tony hadn’t seen before.


“Yes, Master,” he replied softly.


“Hammer’s put up a fine mainsail to tie you to,” Walter said, nodding at the large wooden post in the middle of the room, with a sturdy wooden crossbeam studded with hooks. A pair of heavy metal manacles hung ominously from it.


“Are you seriously going to…?” Tony looked at the mainsail and then at Walter. “I mean…it seems kind of barbaric.”


Walter laughed. “You think I’d really harm my beloved slave?”


“Uh…I’m not sure how this game is played. Or the rules,” Tony pointed out, feeling out of his depth.


“We’ll show you,” Walter assured him.


He ordered them some drinks – nothing alcoholic, Tony noted, not even for him.


“In case you choose to play later,” Walter explained. “Alcohol and drugs are a definite no-no when you’re playing. You won’t be able to judge how much something hurts if you’re off your head, and you’ll over-estimate your endurance.”


The party got into full swing around them, and Tony watched the proceedings, utterly fascinated. He saw a man being tied to the rigging on the far wall, and another was soon subjecting him to a sound strapping. Tony winced at the sound of leather on skin, but he couldn’t stop watching all the same.


A tall, dark man with muscled forearms approached their table, and Walter nodded to allow him to join them. He and Walter chatted for awhile, and Walter clearly knew him. Tony stayed out of their conversation – he was too busy gawping at what was going on around him.


“What did you think of him?” Walter asked when the man left their table a few minutes later.


“Seemed okay,” Tony shrugged.


Walter sighed. “As a potential dom, Tony.”


“Oh. OH!” Tony flushed. “Uh…I dunno. I wasn’t really concentrating.”


“Well focus,” Walter ordered. “He’s very interested in you – you’re exactly his type. I’ve put the word out, so we’ll be getting a few visitors.”


Tony suddenly felt incredibly threatened. It was one thing to have a stupid private fantasy about Gibbs and another to have strange men eyeing him up like he was a sex toy. Nothing in his past sexual history had prepared him for this. He was torn between finding it a turn on and wanting to run out of the club and never look back.


A shorter man, with big shoulders and a long, wild beard took his place at the table. He grinned at Tony, flashing a few gold teeth in the process. Tony cringed inwardly and nudged Walter’s foot with his own under the table. Walter got the message. He chatted with the guy pleasantly for a couple of minutes and then brought the conversation to an end. Goldie gave Tony a gold-mouthed leer and disappeared back into the melee.


“Definitely not,” Tony said.


Four more men took their place at the table in turn, and Tony didn’t like the look of any of them. He nudged Walter’s foot each time. After the last one had gone, Walter turned to Tony with a look of exasperation.


“There are only so many suitable tops on the damn scene in DC you know,” he growled.


“I’m sorry!” Tony sighed. “Maybe this isn’t right for me. I mean…none of them seem very attractive. Maybe I’m in the wrong place. Maybe I should be looking for someone a bit more…”


“Like Gibbs?” Walter raised an eyebrow.


“I was going to say ‘female’,” Tony replied, making a face.


Fox moved his head and rested his chin on Walter’s thigh. Walter put his hand on his hair and stroked it. Fox made a contented little mewling sound in the back of his throat, and Tony felt his gut ache in envy again.


“Or maybe not,” he muttered.


“Hey – Walter!” Hammer waved a hand in their direction. “Time you opened up the floorshow, isn’t it?”


Walter grinned and waved back. “Okay,” he said to Tony. “Watch – and let me know afterwards whether you want to invite any of those doms back to our table.”


He clicked his fingers, and Fox got to his feet. Walter got up too, put a hand on Fox’s shoulders, and ushered him over to the mainsail-cum-whipping post in the centre of the room. Tony watched, transfixed, as Fox stood obediently beside the post, eyes down. Walter leaned forward and said something to him, straight into his ear, and Fox shivered.


Walter turned him around, pushed him against the post, grabbed his shirt in both hands, and tore it open from behind, exposing Fox’s back and shoulders. Now Tony understood why Fox’s shirt was made of a thinner, cheaper material. He had no doubt at all that Walter had planned this moment to get his slave in the mood for whatever was coming next.


Walter took hold of one of Fox’s hands and fastened it into one of the manacles, snapping it shut around the wrist. Tony’s throat felt suddenly dry. Walter did the same with Fox’s other hand, securing him to the post. Then he pulled the remainder of Fox’s ripped shirt away, leaving his back and shoulders completely exposed.


Walter grabbed Fox’s hair and pulled his head back. “Who do you belong to, slave?” he demanded.


“You, Master,” Fox replied.


It should have been cheesy, but somehow it wasn’t. Tony felt as if the leather pants he was wearing had suddenly become even tighter. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.


“Don’t ever forget it.”


Walter released him and then took a step back and unhooked the flogger from his belt. The room went quiet. Walter paced for a few seconds, shaking out the flogger as he walked. Then he glanced back at Fox, raised his arm, took a couple of paces forward, and launched the flogger against his slave’s shoulders. Tony expected it to leave some kind of mark, but it didn’t. Then he realised that it was made of a soft, suede material – it might sting a little, but he doubted it hurt much – if at all.


Walter stepped back and released another stroke, and then he got into a steady rhythm. Tony realised that he was increasing the intensity as he went on – the first few strokes were gentle – a warm-up – but then things got serious, and the strokes were harder. Walter paused and unhooked something else from his belt – something Tony hadn’t seen before as it had been hidden beneath the flogger. It was the long leather whip Fox had been fondling in the playroom earlier. Tony winced – this was a different kind of implement altogether.


Walter paused to hook the flogger back to his belt, and then he went over to Fox, grabbed a fistful of his hair again, pulled his head back, and whispered into his ear. Fox looked out of it. His hazel eyes were dreamy and unfocussed, and Tony could tell that he was enjoying every single second of this.


Walter stepped back and released a stroke of the whip. This left a definite red line on Fox’s back – not a cut, or a stripe, as Tony had expected, but it definitely left its mark. Walter delivered another stroke, and Fox’s body jerked in the manacles. Tony felt his cock harden almost unbearably in his pants. He longed to take Fox’s place – to know how it *felt*.


Walter worked Fox expertly with the whip for awhile longer, leaving his back and shoulders red – but without breaking the skin. The whipping reached a crescendo, and Fox gave himself up to it, not holding anything back, yelling and writhing in his bonds. Then, finally, it was done. Over. Fox was hanging limply from the manacles, looking completely spent. The mesmerized audience broke into a round of wild applause, and Walter went back to the post and gently unfastened his slave.


Fox lolled against him, and Walter caught him. He pulled his slave against his chest, grabbed his hair again, pulled his head back, and kissed him hard on the mouth. Fox moaned softly into the kiss, clutching onto Walter for support, and Tony thought that if it was possible to come from just watching a kiss then he could do it, in these borrowed leather pants. There was such a symbiosis between these two men. They were so comfortable with each other and knew each other so well.


They returned to the table, where Fox sank down on his knees beside Walter again and placed his chin on his master’s thigh. Tony examined his back at close quarters and while pretty red, there wasn’t any actual damage.


Walter took a deep gulp of his drink and then turned to Tony.


“Well?” He raised an eyebrow.


“I want to try it,” Tony said hoarsely. “All that, what you and he just did – I want to try it. Tonight.”


“Think you’re ready for it?”


“I have no idea, but I do know these pants feel several sizes too small right now.”


Walter grinned. “Okay – any preference as to which dom you want to take you there?”


Tony glanced at Fox. His hair was sweaty, but the expression on his face was one of total bliss. He was high as a kite, and whatever drug he was on, Tony wanted a taste of it.


“I only top Fox,” Walter added, “In case you were about to ask.”


“Yeah, I figured that out already,” Tony sighed. He glanced around the room. “That first guy,” he said. He hadn’t paid much attention to the guy at the time, but he hadn’t liked any of the others, so he guessed the first guy – the tall, dark one with the brawny forearms – would have to do.


Walter nodded. “Blake? I’ll go talk to him. See if he’s still interested. There’s a queue for the post, so there might be a wait. Give you time to psyche yourself up for it.”


Tony nodded, his leg jigging up and down impatiently under the table. He didn’t want time. He didn’t need any more time. He wanted to get on with this. Walter left the table, and Tony looked at Fox, who gave him a spaced out smile in return.


“That good, huh?” Tony asked.


Fox didn’t reply, but then he didn’t need to – the expression in his eyes said it all.






Gibbs put down his tools and glanced at his watch. It was late, but he knew there was no chance of him getting to bed for a few hours. He was doing a good job of losing himself in the smooth grain of the wood and the smell of the sawdust, but even so, he had to keep himself occupied. If he went to bed and allowed his eyes to close then he knew exactly what kind of images would rise up in his mind.


He scrambled down the side of the boat, reached for the bourbon, and then stopped. He had avoided drinking all night, because he knew that if he started he’d finish the whole damn bottle and probably make inroads into the unopened one next to it as well. All the same, it was tempting. If he got drunk, then he wouldn’t have to think about Tony doing whatever it was he was doing in that damn bar Walter had taken him to this evening.


Gibbs grabbed the bottle and hurled it angrily at the wall where it shattered, leaving a dark trail of bourbon on the paintwork. He winced, annoyed with himself for letting this get to him so much. With a sigh, he reached for his hammer and turned back to the boat. An hour of bashing his pent-up frustration into some defenceless wooden pegs would probably help.


His cell phone rang, and he answered it, frowning as he heard the sound of people talking and laughing in the background.


“Hey, Jethro. You still working on that boat?”


“You call me for a reason, Walter?” Gibbs snapped.


“Yeah. I’m giving you one last chance. How d’you feel about that boy of yours tasting the kiss of another man’s whip?”


His gut suddenly ached. Gibbs wrapped his free arm around his body and gazed at the dark stain on the wall. “You called at this time of night just to ask me that?”


“Yeah. Like I said – one last chance. If you don’t get your ass down here, right now, Jethro, then he might be licking someone else’s boots before morning.”


“For Christ’s sake! Just leave me the hell alone!”


Gibbs closed the phone, and then, in a sudden wild burst of anger, he threw that against the wall too. It shattered and fell down among the broken glass. Gibbs felt winded, and he went down on his haunches and crouched there, staring at the wall.






Tony’s mouth was dry as Walter pushed him towards the whipping post. Suddenly, he wasn’t so sure about this.


“Okay, Tony, here’s how this will go,” Walter said to him. Tony tried very hard to concentrate. It wasn’t easy when he was standing beside the post. Up close, it was bigger, and the manacles looked even more menacing.


Walter grabbed hold of his chin and made him look at him.


“Listen. This is important,” he rapped out. Tony nodded, blinking hard, trying to do as he was told. “Blake won’t use the manacles – you can hold onto the leather straps.” Walter gestured with his head to the straps hanging off the crossbeam.


“But…” Tony began.


Walter gripped his chin harder to shut him up. It worked. “Tony – I’ve been doing scenes with Fox for ten years. I know his body language, I know what he wants, and I know how he responds. You met Blake for the first time a couple of hours ago, and you’ve never done anything like this before. If you want him to stop, then just let go of the strap and raise your hand. He’ll stop. Immediately. You’re in control of this, Tony. Understand?”


“I think so,” Tony said nervously.


Walter’s fingers dug into his chin again. “Do. You. Understand?” he demanded.


“I let go of the strap. I raise my hand. He stops,” Tony repeated, concentrating hard on every word as he spoke.


“Good. Do not endure it just for the sake of it. I’ll be watching you closely. If anything happens that I don’t like, or if I think you’re not handling it well, then I’ll step in and bring it to an end. Got that?”


“Yes.” Tony nodded.


“Then let’s get started.” Walter smiled at him and tousled his hair. “Enjoy it, son,” he said softly. Tony smiled back, his nerves abating slightly.






Gibbs stared at the wall for a long time, and then he finally got to his feet and returned to his boat. He grabbed the sander – the action of sanding down the wood always helped him relax. His shoulders felt so knotted they were sore.


He climbed onto the boat and began gently sanding her down. He tried to lose himself in the action and tried *not* to think about Tony DiNozzo, stretched out, ready and waiting for some other guy to work on his body.


Gibbs felt the smooth grain of the wood under his fingertips and wondered what it would be like to have Tony to work on instead. How would it feel to hold Tony down and slowly explore him? How would it feel to be his first? What would it be like to watch him surrender, to take him on the journey into his own submission? What would it feel like to have Tony writhing, begging and sweating under his touch? He could see Tony in his mind’s eye, stretched out, tied, naked, waiting for him.


Tony was strong, tough and intelligent beneath the clown’s mask that he so often wore…but what was at his core? It would be so sweet to take him right down and find out. Sweet…but dangerous. Tony was complicated. Gibbs had worked with him for long enough to know that most of Tony was hidden. What would he find if he started to dig down? Something dark – he knew that. He’d only seen glimpses of it, but he knew that darkness was there. He had a sixth sense for that kind of secret – he’d carried his own around for long enough to recognise the signs. Did he want to step into that darkness and see what it was that Tony kept hidden behind that mask of his? Did he want to force Tony to show him? Was Tony ready for that?


He and Tony had shared a symbiosis these past eight years. He knew they were doing it, and he suspected that Tony did too. He dominated Tony every day at work, and Tony submitted, and they both knew that it went far deeper than a boss/subordinate kind of relationship. They enjoyed it too much – they played around with it, pushing here, demanding there…


Gibbs disciplined Tony with slaps and looks and his own body sometimes, getting in his space, glaring at him, keeping him in check. And Tony responded more sweetly than if he was actually his sub. He knew how to look at Gibbs with a glint of mischief in his eyes, how to tease, and how to provoke him into the little daily acts of domination that they both craved so much.


And now Tony was finally calling him on it. Now he was demanding that Gibbs stake his claim, or let Tony find someone who would go all the way and not just play at it. And the thought of some other guy getting his hands on the man who had been his de facto sub for all these years was driving Gibbs crazy.


Gibbs swore under his breath and threw the sander down. He jumped off the boat and ran to the stairs, taking them two at a time. He went up to the spare room, opened the closet, and got out the wooden chest. Then he stood there, chest heaving, gazing at the contents.


He wouldn’t use anything on Tony that he’d used on Stan, so that ruled out everything except the long, black, expensive leather whip, still wrapped up in its original packaging. Gibbs undid the wrapping around it and shook out the whip. The leather was the finest quality – soft and supple. Even after all these years lying in here, unused, it was as good as new.


Gibbs did an experimental throw through the air. He didn’t want to offer Tony something he couldn’t deliver. Tony was too important to him for that. If he took him as his sub, then he had to see it through this time, the way he hadn’t been prepared to do with Stan.


Was he ready to do that, finally, after all these years?






Blake stepped forward and pointed at the post. Tony flinched. Walter looked at him thoughtfully and then untied the strip of dark red cloth from around his forehead.


“Would you find it easier if I blindfolded you?” he asked. “Might make you relax more, so you can lose yourself in the sensation instead of worrying about how everyone’s looking at you. You can always take it off if you don’t like it.”


Tony nodded. He liked the idea. This way he could pretend…


“Don’t go there,” Walter said, as if reading his mind. “It’s not him, Tony. He’s not here. Give Blake a chance.”


Tony nodded again, and Walter gave him a reassuring smile. He turned Tony around and tied the fabric over his eyes. The darkness was a welcome relief; Tony felt himself relaxing immediately.


He felt hands on his shirt, tugging it over his head – he didn’t know if that was Walter or Blake – and then he was stripped naked to his waist. It should have felt embarrassing, or stupid, but it didn’t. The blindfold helped, blocking out his view of the crowded club and the people watching.


Someone pushed him gently but firmly towards the post, and placed his hands on the two leather straps. They were high, and he had to stand close to the post, but he liked the way it felt. His body felt exposed and vulnerable. He wondered how he looked, standing here, arms outstretched, waiting…






The guy in the vestibule glanced up as Gibbs walked in.


“I’m sorry, sir, this is a members’ only club. Do you have an invitation for this evening’s event?” the man asked politely. Gibbs just glared at him. The man’s expression became flustered. “Uh…well…invitations aren’t completely necessary on the first Saturday of the month, as it’s our big, themed, party evening, so…”


Gibbs raised an impatient eyebrow.


“Okay…but because it’s our themed evening, we do ask that guests wear appropriate outfits for the theme – and you’re not.”


Gibbs opened his jacket, grabbed the handle of the whip which he’d tucked into his pants, and drew it out. The man glanced at it and then back at him.


“Well, it’s a little unorthodox, but you seem to have the right…uh…credentials,” he squawked. “If you’d like to go down…”


Gibbs pushed past him without saying a word.






Tony hung onto the leather straps for dear life, keeping his eyes tightly closed behind the blindfold. There was silence in the room, and then he heard a rustling sound. He tried to remember what Walter had told him. If he didn’t like it, all he had to do was let go of the strap and raise his hand…


Something whistled past his ear, and he heard the sound of leather on skin but felt nothing…then the sensation kicked in a second or two later. It stung a little, but it didn’t really hurt. He wondered what kind of a flogger Blake was using and wished he’d looked before Walter had blindfolded him.


Another whistle, and the flogger fell on his shoulders again. He closed his eyes behind the blindfold, trying to lose himself in the sensation. Blake began flogging him harder and faster, and Tony could tell immediately that he was no Walter Skinner. The flogging wasn’t smooth – it felt a little clumsy, a little stop-start. Sometimes the flogger wrapped awkwardly around his waist, making him gasp, and that jerked him out of his headspace.


He wasn’t sure if he was enjoying it or not. It wasn’t an ordeal, but it wasn’t exactly pleasurable, either. He wished he knew how to reach that high that Fox had clearly been on. Maybe it took time, or practice – or maybe it took a different kind of dom to help get him there.


He wondered if this was how it was supposed to feel. If so, it was kind of disappointing. Maybe the issue of who was holding the whip mattered more than he’d expected. He wondered whether to raise his hand and bring it to an end. It wasn’t hurting enough to give him the kind of cathartic satisfaction that came from pain, but it wasn’t delivering any pleasure either.


So what the hell was the point?






Gibbs ran down the first set of stairs, reached a landing, turned a corner, and found himself at the top of a flight of stairs leading down into a bar area. He paused to gaze down on the scene below – and all the muscles in his body tensed up immediately in response.


He didn’t see the people, or the bizarre clothes some of them were wearing, or anything else. He just saw Tony, stripped to the waist, wearing a pair of sinfully tight black leather pants that moulded to his ass, leaving nothing to the imagination. His body was pressed up against a whipping post, and there was a blindfold around his eyes. And behind him…behind him, some bastard was raising a flogger and preparing to lay a stroke on Tony’s exposed back.


In that moment, Gibbs got his answer. Tony had forced his hand, flushed him into the open, and brought him to this crossroads. Gibbs knew that he was going to do this, and do it properly. Tony had given him eight years of silent devotion – now it was time to reward him.


His presence at the top of the stairs caused a stir, and people turned to stare – all except Tony, who was blindfolded – and the man flogging him, who was too engrossed in what he was doing.


Gibbs strode angrily down the stairs, and the crowd parted in front of him to let him through. He went up to the man flogging Tony and grabbed his outstretched arm, forcing him to pause in mid-swing. The guy turned, an angry expression on his face, but Gibbs just dug his fingers into the man’s wrist until he gave a little whimper and backed down. Gibbs grabbed the flogger from his hand and threw it onto the floor with a disdainful flick of his fingers.


He saw Walter coming towards him and gazed at him stonily. Walter said a couple of quiet words to his rival, and the man melted back into the crowd. Gibbs turned towards Tony, who was still standing there, locked up in his own little world behind the blindfold. His back was a little pink, but clearly the flogging had just been in the warm-up stage.


Gibbs removed his jacket and handed it Walter.


“If he lets go of the strap and holds up his hand…” Walter began.


“I’ll stop. I know.” Gibbs nodded, unbuttoning his shirt sleeves and rolling them up to his elbows.


An expectant little buzz went up around the room. Gibbs ignored it. He hated performing to an audience, but Tony wanted to know what this was like, and he wasn’t damn well going to disappoint him.


He flicked out the tail of the whip, turned back to where Tony was standing, waiting for him, and then raised his arm.






Tony was dimly aware that the room had gone quiet. He waited patiently, wondering if Blake was changing over to a different kind of whip, the way Walter had after he’d completed his warm up. He wrapped his hands more tightly around the leather straps and clung on for dear life, wondering what the hell was going to happen next.


The next stroke took him completely by surprise. It was definitely delivered by a different implement, but he had no idea what. It was like being stroked by a butter soft strip of leather, and it felt more like a caress than a whip lash. The next one was just as good. He relaxed against the post, opening up his shoulders for more.


Blake’s former clumsiness seemed to have disappeared. Now each stroke was expertly delivered and felt smooth, laid on with well-judged precision. The strokes started slow and predictable, warming his shoulders and back gently, and then the pace picked up. Tony gasped as the blows rained down faster, the tempo rising to a crescendo that took him to the very edge…and then slowly back down again, the pace decreasing.


Then it built up slowly once more. The strokes were harder now, and while Tony thought it might hurt later, when he came down, it didn’t hurt at the moment. It just felt good. His body was buzzing with endorphins, and he had to hold on tight to the leather straps, or he thought he might spin off into space.


His mind was hazy, floating away, and his entire body felt warm and relaxed. A little buzz was going around the room, and he was glad he couldn’t see the people watching him. Right here, right now, there was just him and the man standing behind him, rapping out this hard, beautiful, intoxicating rhythm on his bare skin.


The pace built up to another crescendo, and now it really was starting to hurt. Tony had no intention of raising his hand or stepping away though. This was between him and the man behind him. He felt as if they were dancing, or playing some piece of complicated music together, and he wasn’t going to be the one to break their invisible bond and bring it to an end.


He put his head back and yelled instead, allowing himself to really let go, the way Fox had let go. It felt so good, like punishment and pleasure all rolled into one. He thought of Jenny, and Gibbs, and Jeanne, and his whole damn stupid fuck-up of a life, and allowed the pain to wash it all away.


Soon, he could think of nothing except the savage kiss of the whip on his bare skin, and the commanding presence of the man behind him, making him take it. Then he was done. Spent. His arms felt heavy, and he hung from the leather straps, his head down, moaning softly to himself.


His tormentor seemed to sense that he’d had enough and the pace slowed and then stopped completely. He just dangled there, stupefied, completely out of it. He’d had no idea it could feel like this; that it could be so good, so intense, and so incredibly cathartic all at once.


He felt a hard body press up against his own, and he gave a hoarse shout as a cotton shirt rubbed against his deeply sensitised skin. Two hands closed over each of his, where they were still holding onto the leather straps for dear life. He knew that if he released his grasp he’d fall. His legs felt boneless – they couldn’t hold him up any more.


“You need to let go now, Tony,” a low, familiar voice said in his ear.


“Hmmm?” he gasped hazily.


“Let go. You’ll fall, but I’ve got you.”


He did as he was told, the way he always did when that voice gave him orders. He collapsed immediately, but a pair of strong hands held him up.


They stood there for a long while, until Tony got his breath back. White lights sparked behind his eyes in the darkness of the blindfold, and he was grateful for the support of that hard body against his own.


Then he was being moved, guided towards a chair. He sank onto it, relieved that he didn’t have to try and stand up any more. His body felt strange, disconnected, as if it didn’t belong to him. It burned and ached, but it felt so incredibly good.


“Close your eyes – I’m going to remove the blindfold, and everything will seem too bright at first. Keep your eyes closed until you feel ready to open them,” that firm, authoritative voice said to him.


Tony tried to concentrate. There was something he should know, or maybe something he should say – something really obvious. He did as he was told anyway and closed his eyes. He felt fingers in his hair and then the blindfold was undone and removed.


“Keep them closed for a bit longer,” that voice said again. “And here – put your damn shirt on.”


He felt the shirt being slid over his head. His arms were guided into it, as if he was a child, and then the cool fabric settled against his warm, aching body.


“That’s better. Can’t stand seeing all these damn idiots gawping at my sub’s body,” the voice said, in a possessive growl.


Tony’s eyes snapped open, and the room spun around him, seeming far too bright.


“Your sub?” Tony asked blearily, and at that exact same moment the room steadied, and he found himself looking into a pair of intense blue eyes.


“My sub,” Gibbs told him firmly. “Unless you’ve got any objections?” He raised an eyebrow.


Tony stared at him, completely and utterly bemused. He had no idea what was happening here. Where had Gibbs come from? What had happened to the other guy? Why was Gibbs looking at him like that? Had he just said…?


“No,” he found himself replying. “No objections. Your sub.”


“Good.” Gibbs put his hand in his hair and gently smoothed it away from his sweaty forehead. Tony blinked at him in surprise; this wasn’t the Gibbs he knew so well.


Tony saw the long, soft whip in Gibbs’s hand and glanced back at the whipping post. He was suddenly overwhelmed by the memory of that breathtakingly intimate whipping.


“That…uh…that was you?”


Gibbs nodded. “Most of it. I took over from the idiot who doesn’t know one end of a whip from another. Don’t *ever* let another dom go near you again, Tony. Drives me nuts. Makes me want to kill people.”


“Wouldn’t have had to if I’d thought you were interested,” Tony muttered.


Gibbs slapped the back of his head. “Don’t be an idiot. Now, I’m gonna have a word with Walter, and then I’m taking you home.”


“Home?” Tony was still as high as a kite, and he wasn’t entirely sure what Gibbs meant by that.


“Home. My place. You’re coming back with me, so we can figure out exactly how this is going to work.”


Gibbs looked around to find Walter and then beckoned him over.


“That was quite an entrance,” Walter said, with an amused little grin. “Glad you came to your senses in time, Jethro.” Gibbs glared at him, and Tony winced.


Fox came over and crouched in front of him. “Hey – you back with us yet?” he asked, with a broad grin.


“Not yet.” Tony grinned back at him, feeling hazy and happy despite his confusion over what the hell was going on. Walter and Gibbs were having some kind of tense, stand-off conversation, but Tony couldn’t follow what they were saying. “What happened?” he asked Fox. “Where did Gibbs come from?”


Fox chuckled. “Oh, it was good – the best entertainment they’ve seen around here in a long time. There was you, stretched out half-naked against the post, and Blake…well, he’s no Walter Skinner – or Jethro Gibbs, either, come to that.” He gave a little wink. “Then Gibbs just appeared at the top of the stairs. Why the hell didn’t you tell me the man is such a natural dom? No wonder you have the hots for him. He’s not even dressed for the event, but nobody dared turn him away. I think Walter might have warned Hammer that he could be on his way.”


Tony glanced up at Gibbs, to see that he was wearing his usual ensemble of jeans and a dark shirt over a white tee shirt. He looked just like he did every day at work – except for the whip dangling incongruously from his hand – the whip he’d just used so expertly on Tony.


“Did Walter give him that?” Tony asked.


Fox shook his head. “No – he was holding it when he came in.”


“Gibbs owns a whip?” Tony frowned.


Fox laughed out loud. “Tony, I think you need to get your head around the fact that Gibbs isn’t a novice at this. In fact, judging by that extremely expert whipping he just gave you, I’d say he’s an old hand – and he’s clearly been trained by the best.”


“Walter?” Tony glanced up at the two doms again. Their body language was less strained now, but Gibbs still looked kind of pissed. Walter, on the other hand, was about the only person Tony had ever met who seemed unfazed by Gibbs’s death stares. He was just standing there, arms folded across his chest, face impassive, as Gibbs talked to him in a low, gruff voice.


“Yeah. Walter. I have a feeling that Gibbs has played hardcore before – and I suspect that Walter was the one who taught him how. Although, I think Gibbs has been out of the game for awhile, judging by a few things Walter’s said. Took you to tempt him back in.”


“And he’s pissed about that. Oh shit. He’s gonna kill me,” Tony sighed.


“Really? Looked to me more like he wanted to drag you back to his cave by the hair and fuck you into the ground,” Fox replied, grinning again.


Tony closed his eyes and swallowed hard at that thought.


“You should have seen him when he first came in,” Fox continued. “Keep your eyes closed, and let me paint the scene for you, because this was good. So, he’s standing at the top of the stairs, and you…you’re stretched out below, and then Gibbs sees you…and boy, the expression on his face – you’re lucky you were blindfolded, Tony.”


Tony gave a little moan; a pissed-off Gibbs was not a good thing. Fox laughed.


“I wasn’t sure if he was gonna grab you and haul you the hell outta here, or stay and finish the whipping. I’m glad he chose to stay – that was one hell of a well-paced whipping and damn good to watch. You’re lucky, Tony – you have a lot of those to look forward to.”


Tony’s eyes snapped open again. “You think?” he muttered feebly. Fox was still grinning at him.


“Oh yeah. You’ve been claimed, Tony. Welcome to your life as a sub.”


“Is it too late to run?” Tony glanced around, looking for the exit.


“Oh, I don’t think Gibbs is the kind of man you can run from.” Fox laughed. Then he leaned forward, and spoke directly into Tony’s ear. “I envy you, starting out like this. It’s good – if you surrender to it, and don’t fight it. I was an idiot – thought I could play Walter in the beginning. Thought I could hide from him. It didn’t work, and it caused us both a lot of pain until I got my head around the fact that I was his, and that was all I really wanted to be.” He traced his fingers over a faded scar on his chest as he spoke.


“Christ, Fox…” Tony leaned forward and examined the scar in more detail. “That looks like…he didn’t carve his initials into you, did he?” He glanced up at Walter, horrified.


“No.” Fox shook his head. “He didn’t. Someone else did – to hurt him – to hurt us both. Walter took care of me after, although God knows I didn’t deserve it. I was an idiot, and I paid for it, but he stuck by me all the same and never gave up on me. This scar reminds me of that all the time – and the fact that he turned it into something good. Something positive came out of it, in the end.”


“Think I’ll be so lucky?” Tony asked, glancing up at Gibbs. Gibbs turned, and gazed at him at that exact same moment, and Tony flushed and looked away again, unable to meet his boss’s eyes.


“You’ll be fine,” Fox replied. “Might be some bumps on the road but trust me, the journey will be worth it.”


Gibbs finished talking to Walter and turned back towards Tony.


“Oh no…what the hell happens next?” Tony hissed.


Fox grinned. “Well, judging by the way he’s looking at you, he’s going to haul you off and show you exactly what belonging to Leroy Jethro Gibbs means. Good luck, Tony. You’re going to need it!”


He gave a wide, knowing smile, patted Tony’s head patronisingly, and then hopped back over to his master’s side.


Gibbs crouched down in front of Tony, his gaze assessing. “You still flying?” he asked. “Or are you coming back down now?”


“A bit of both,” Tony muttered.


“Think you can walk?”


Tony nodded.


“Good. Then let’s go.”


Gibbs stood back and watched as Tony got shakily to his feet. Gibbs put a hand under his elbow to steady him, and Tony held onto Gibbs’s shoulder as the world swayed around him. Gibbs smelled good – and Tony was suddenly aware of how hard his muscles were beneath his fingers and how close he was. Close enough to… Gibbs’s blue eyes were looking at him, as hard and unreadable as ever.


Tony released his grip on Gibbs’s shoulder, stood up straight, and then took a couple of deep breaths. Gibbs furled up the long, soft whip in his hand, and Tony stared, unable to take his eyes off it. Gibbs picked up his jacket, hiding the whip beneath it, and then jerked his head at Tony. “Follow me,” he said tersely, turning to go.


“Yes, Master,” Tony muttered under his breath. Fox heard that and gave him a delighted smile and a thumbs up gesture. Tony made a face at him, and then he took his life in his hands and followed his new dom slowly out of the bar.


The cold night air was like a slap to his face, especially as he was so warm after the whipping. Tony shivered and wrapped his arms around his body. He ran after Gibbs, who was striding far ahead of him. Gibbs reached his car and got in, and Tony got in beside him.


There was silence. Tony grimaced.


“So…look…I was curious. I suppose Walter told you that I stole Commander Yates’s card to get in there last night? I know that I’m in all kinds of trouble, but I was just…you didn’t have to come down here and do that…I don’t know what Walter said to you, but…”


Gibbs turned in his seat and shot him a dark stare. Tony trailed off.


“We’ll talk when we get home,” Gibbs told him.


“Right…only…I thought I should…”


“What did I just say?” Gibbs asked.


“Uh – that we’d talk when we got home?”


“So why are you still talking?”


Tony bit on his lip. This didn’t look good. He nodded and fastened his seatbelt in silence.


The drive back to Gibbs’s house seemed to take forever. Tony glanced sideways at his new dom every so often, to see if he could gauge his mood, but it seemed to be an even more intense version of Gibbs’s usual ‘very pissed off’, so that didn’t help. Tony wrapped his arms around his body even more tightly, for comfort as much as warmth.


He was both relieved and apprehensive when they reached Gibbs’s house. Gibbs still didn’t speak to him, and Tony followed on behind, wondering what the hell would happen next. Was Gibbs going to kick his ass for stealing the ID card and for making him go down to the bar to rescue Tony from his own insanity? Or was he going to throw him over the nearest hard surface and fuck him senseless?


What he actually did took Tony completely by surprise. He strode into the living room, turned to Tony, and said; “Take your shirt off.”


Tony blinked. “Uh…Why? Back there you wanted me to put it on, and I’m kind of cold, so I’d prefer to keep it on now…”


Gibbs moved so fast that Tony didn’t even see him coming. Suddenly he found himself staring into a pair of very close, very pissed off blue eyes.


“It’s not a debate, DiNozzo. It’s not a damn request, either! You’re my sub, and I just gave you an order. As you’re new I’ll explain it, but I don’t expect to explain myself in future. Back there, I wanted you to put the shirt on because I don’t like anyone – and I mean *anyone* – ogling my sub’s body. Now we’re home, and you took a sound whipping tonight, so I want to see if your back is okay, or if it needs some attention. Now, I repeat – take your shirt off.”


Tony swallowed hard and gave a silent nod. He took off the shirt, gingerly, aware that his back was hurting more now that he was cold and the high from the whipping was fading.


Gibbs put a hand on his arm and turned him around so that he could examine his back. Tony felt his cool fingers spidering across his skin, and he flushed. Gibbs didn’t usually touch him in this intimate way, so the caress made him acutely aware that their relationship had changed – radically. It also reminded him of the incredible intimacy of that whipping. He felt as if he’d shared something with Gibbs back there, something dark and powerful, something he wanted to taste again – and soon. Gibbs’s fingers were firm but gentle. When he’d finished, he turned Tony around again.


“Skin wasn’t broken. Nice to see I haven’t lost my touch. You’ll feel it more in the morning.” He looked straight at Tony and gave a feral kind of smile. “How did it feel?” he asked, his blue eyes suddenly looking very intense. “Back there – my whip on your body. How did it feel? Was it good? Was it what you wanted?”


Tony swallowed down a moan. “No, it wasn’t good,” he said. Gibbs’s eyes flashed. Tony grinned. “It was better than good – it was *incredible*. It was exactly what I wanted. But you know how it was – you were there.”


Gibbs gave another one of those feral smiles, looking very pleased with himself. He reached out and brushed Tony’s hair with his fingertips. “Yeah. I was there. I’d forgotten what that felt like. The power exchange. You got off on that too, didn’t you, Tony? I could tell by the way you were breathing and those little moaning sounds you were making. You were all caught up in it. Felt like it was just you and me, despite all those damn onlookers.”


Tony nodded, transfixed by the Gibbs standing in front of him. This new Gibbs seemed to understand the darkness of Tony’s desires and be only too happy to fulfil them for him.


“I want more,” Tony whispered, his gaze never leaving Gibbs’s blue eyes. “Will you give me that? Please? I need it, Gibbs.”


“Being whipped?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow.


“Yes. Please. And anything else you want to hand out.”


“Anything?” Gibbs asked dangerously.




Gibbs gazed at him for a long time, as if assessing exactly what he meant by that, and then he nodded, and his fingers tangled in Tony’s hair again, smoothing it.


“I can do that,” he said softly.


The moment passed, and he drew back, glanced down, and frowned. He slid his fingers carefully over the right side of Tony’s torso, and Tony took a sharp intake of breath. He looked down to see some grazed bruising that he hadn’t realised was there.


“Wrap marks,” Gibbs growled. “But not from my damn whip – must have been that goddamn amateur who got there before me.”


He looked furious, and Tony winced at his tone. Gibbs stalked out of the room, muttering a few curses under his breath as he went. Tony wondered whether he was supposed to stay here or follow. He felt really stupid standing here, half-naked, in these ridiculously tight leather pants.


Gibbs returned a second later with a tube of some kind of ointment. He smeared some on his fingers and then touched them gently to Tony’s bruising and rubbed the ointment in.


“Nobody ever touches you again – got that?”


“Uh…I guess,” Tony replied, with a shrug.


“No – that’s not good enough,” Gibbs snapped. “Nobody touches you again – do you understand?”


“Yes. I understand.” Tony nodded.


“Good.” Gibbs exhaled a deep breath. “Damn it. I knew this would happen. Walter has no idea how I get when I…” He broke off. Tony raised an eyebrow. “When I have a sub,” Gibbs finished.


“So you’ve done this before?” Tony asked quietly. His stomach did a little flip as he wondered who Gibbs had been with before him. Who had he whipped with those expert hands of his? Who had he caressed with that narrow strip of leather? One of his ex-wives? Someone at work? Jenny…?


“Yes, Tony, I’ve done this before. You haven’t though. And I wanted to keep it that way,” Gibbs grunted.


“Why?” Tony reached for his shirt again.


“Because I don’t think you have any idea what you’re letting yourself in for.”


Gibbs snatched the shirt out of his hand and tossed it onto the nearby couch. Then he put his hand in Tony’s hair and thrust him up against the wall. Tony went, feeling like a rabbit trapped by a wolf.


“I didn’t tell you that you could put the shirt back on,” Gibbs hissed. His face was close to Tony’s, and he was more intimidating and intense than Tony had ever seen him in their working lives – and that was saying something.


“Uh…I…just thought…” Tony began.


“No. That’s just it.” Gibbs put a finger over his mouth. Tony swallowed hard. “I don’t want you to think. This isn’t work, Tony. There are a different set of rules for you to follow here.”


Tony groaned. “Not more rules, Boss…”


“Ssh.” Gibbs shook the fistful of hair he was holding, and Tony twisted in his grasp. Gibbs pressed his hard body against Tony’s semi-naked one. He opened Tony’s legs with his knee and pushed up against him, so that their groins were touching. Tony felt himself go hard immediately. Gibbs grinned at him. “That’s a good start. You’re my sub now, Tony. In the morning, we’re going to talk about exactly what that means, but for now it’s late, I’m tired, and you’re barely standing. Just understand one thing: your ass belongs to me now.”


“Always did, Boss,” Tony muttered weakly.


“Well now that’s going to take on a whole new meaning.”


Gibbs tightened his grasp on Tony’s hair, pulled his head forward, and kissed him, hard, on the mouth. Tony gasped, surprised by the unexpected move. Gibbs opened Tony’s lips expertly with his own and slid his tongue between them. Tony let him in, relaxing in his grip. He couldn’t move – he was pressed up against the wall by Gibbs’s strong body, and Gibbs’s hand was in his hair, holding him tightly in place.


It wasn’t so much a kiss as a statement of intent. Gibbs left Tony in no doubt about who was in charge and what was expected of him. It was dangerous, but that made it all the more thrilling. Gibbs demanded control, insisting that Tony yield totally to him, and Tony gave him everything he asked for. Gibbs continued to kiss him long past the point of Tony’s surrender, and Tony hung there, shocked and dazed, as Gibbs claimed him with his mouth.


When Gibbs finally released him, Tony just stared at him, too stunned to speak. If he’d had any doubts about Gibbs truly intending to take him as his sub, they disappeared in that instant.


“Looks like we’ve found a way of shutting you up.” Gibbs grinned, patting Tony’s cheek affectionately. “One way at least. I have several more. Now – it’s late, and you’re in no fit state to have the conversation we need to have right now. Follow me.”


Tony did as he was told, following on in a haze as Gibbs walked up the stairs. His jaw ached from that raw, powerful kiss, his head stung from where Gibbs had grasped his hair, and his back was sore, but he felt like he was walking on air.


Gibbs grabbed a small, single mattress from one of the other bedrooms, and dragged it along the hallway. He threw it into the main bedroom, and then he threw some blankets and a pillow on top of it.


“You’ll sleep there tonight,” he ordered. “Where I can keep an eye on you.”


Tony felt a stab of disappointment. “Don’t I get to sleep in the bed with you?”


Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “Who the hell do you think you are? My fifth wife? You’re my sub, Tony, and you’ll sleep on the floor until I decide I want you in my bed.”


Tony was too tired to argue, and he had a feeling that wasn’t a good idea anyway. He peeled himself out of his leather pants, so he was just wearing his boxers, and threw himself down onto the makeshift bed on the floor. He was suddenly exhausted and wanted nothing more than to fall into the welcome oblivion of a deep sleep. He stretched out on his stomach and rested his chin on the back of his arm.


Gibbs disappeared into the en-suite bathroom and returned with a bottle of some kind of green gel. He crouched down next to Tony and applied the gel to Tony’s back. Tony gave a little yelp as the cold liquid descended on his warm skin.


“You’ll thank me for it in the morning,” Gibbs chuckled, as he carefully worked the icy gel into Tony’s tender flesh. “You might be sore for a few days, but I think it was worth it. Yes?”


“Hmmm?” Tony blinked up at him.


Gibbs rolled his eyes. “Forget it. Sleep.”


Tony barely heard him. He closed his eyes and was aware of the blanket being pulled up over his body. Then he felt a hand gently smooth his hair.


“Good night, boy,” Gibbs said softly. Tony leaned into that gently caressing hand, and he heard a sad little sigh. “Damn you, Tony,” Gibbs whispered. “You are going to be far too easy to love.”


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